Oh, That Shining Realization 

A couple of months ago, well sometime last year (if you want to be critically technical and correct) I wrote about how there was the unbreakable camaraderie that my friends and I shared some long time ago. I now realize that maybe it’s better that bond decided to break.

I honestly think that if I was still friends with the majority of the individuals I was some now 6 or 7 years ago, I would amount to nothing. Yeah, that sounds a bit harsh but, that’s just the way I see it. I think that if we’d all kept in touch, it would either be the greatest thing in the world or the greatest personal tragedy. As much as I used to love them all, I think it would have been a complete downfall.

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about people I used to love so dear and care about almost with my life so bitterly, and I have the perfect answer. I’ve seen the kind of people they’ve become. I know they say everyone changes and indeed everyone does, but it seems to be so different now. Looking back at who we all used to, and who we are now, it’s safe to say that I’m relieved to know that we’ve lost our hold on each other. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I don’t need them. I don’t need certain people around me just to get through my every day, just to breathe. Sure, there are sometimes when it could hurt, the fact that they’re not here mainly, or where I miss them, but I then I wonder…Do they feel the same? If I had to take a good, educated guess, I would have to say no. I often wonder what it would be like, if we all remained friends, if nothing changed at all, but then I realize that I don’t think I would have it any other way.

It’s better that they’re not in my life anymore. It’s better that they’re just fleeting memories. It’s not like we would talk like we did back then, when things seemed endless, almost untouchable. Some 2 years ago, when we were in a sense ‘reunited’, there was this feeling of emptiness in the worse kind of way between us all. Granted, the circumstances weren’t exactly pleasing, but still. It was the greatest shock of my natural life so far that day, to be struck with the news that impaired me to feel and to be among the ones I once felt about so dear.

After all the useless calculating and grinding of memories and thoughts in my head, it all comes down to the one solid fact: I’m so glad I don’t associate with the people I used to. I think that if I did, then I wouldn’t be the type of person I am today. I think I would more than likely become the type of person I don’t really like, someone who I honestly couldn’t see myself being. For what might be better and at the same time possibly worse, I’m who I am and no so-called friend can change any of that. I’m just happy I realized that before I started to actually care too much.

Oh, that shining realization…Better late then never.

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Newsflash From “Heaven”: I’ve Descended Into “Hell”

There’s something that makes every one of us on this Earth question things that we don’t understand, can’t understand or just simply refuse to…Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that it’s safe to say that the concept of religion has always been something that’s second-guessed or questioned.

And if I question that, then what kind of person does that make me?

I honestly never used to question religion. It just wasn’t something that was questioned. You just go with it, and think that it’s something you personally believe. After awhile, it’s all you’re willing to believe. No one can change your mind; your heart is set on that way of life. It can turn you into something you’re truly not, while on the other hand can bring a whole new perspective on things. Which ever you may choose, there’s always questions that will arise that are going to make some wonder and others won’t even pay attention to.

I first started to question religion, being the foundation for my day-in, day-out education at school. I’d been at a Catholic school from Kindergarten to the first half of the 6th grade, and being at a Catholic school, I’d have to go to church every Friday with the rest of my class. There wasn’t an option of not going, and I honestly didn’t mind. We would be rewarded if we were good, anyway. I remember in Kindergarten, I literally thought the priest at my school’s church was a cannibal. I literally thought that when he said the “body and blood”, he really did mean the body and blood of someone. How crazy is that? Really?

What kind of person does that make me?

I began to ask questions about the religion that I’d learned about five days a week and sometimes on Sundays. Whether the questions made sense or not, I have no idea. They probably made absolutely no sense, the reason why no one could give me a straight answer. The questions made all the sense to me though. If Jesus died for everyone’s sins, why do people still sin? I distinctly remember that was one of the questions I’d asked. Yeah, a pretty stupid question. All my teachers probably thought it was, or maybe they thought I was crazy or something. I look back on that now, and think that it was a pretty foolish, but it also makes me realize that any other outrageous question I had would be let right in with all the eagerness, only to be shot down for being utterly stupid.

Now what does all this grade-school reminiscing have to do with my feelings toward religion now? It proves that there are questions that either can’t be answered or are being pushed under the rug. Let’s face it, who wants to believe in something that can’t be answered or proven? I don’t mean to judge anyone here. What the next person believes may not be what I believe, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna jump down their throats about it. That would just be ignorant, and I absolutely hate ignorance. People are more than entitled to have their own beliefs and opinions, despite what other individuals think or say. I firmly believe in that, and truly have the utmost respect for that fact.

I would be much more comfortable knowing that what I’m believing in is, well, worth believing in. Sometimes, I believed that there possibly could be a God, but there are things that come in the way me truly accepting that fact. There are facts and reasonings that are so hypocritical and no way near logical. Say one thing and it doesn’t add up to what’s being said next…Yeah, that makes a hell of a lot of sense…I myself have a hard time agreeing and believing everything I hear because it all just doesn’t sit right with me as a whole. I suppose somethings could be plausible, but that still leaves others unaccounted for and to me, that isn’t good enough.

What kind of person does that make me?

I’ve been asking that question all though this post…What kind of person does that make me? Honestly, it makes me a goddamn human being. Most would say that questions and questioning isn’t the way to go because it will either get you nowhere or everywhere you don’t want to be, but I don’t find that the case. People don’t know if there is indeed a ‘Heaven’ or ‘Hell’ because no one has ever been there. Some are so fixated on something they’ve been feed throughout the years or what have you, and can’t comprehend that maybe there isn’t anything after you die. Maybe there is just nothingness, a creeping sense of darkness that’s just out of our reach with every passing second. Maybe not. ..Does death scare me? Damn right it does. Do I believe in something after death? I’m not sure. There could be something amazing beyond anything we’ve ever seen above and something else amazing in quite another sense of the word way down below, but who am I to know? Exactly. I have absolutely no idea and I think it’s best that way.

If people really (and I mean really truly) knew what happens when you die, they wouldn’t take any risks. If people knew what happened when you die, they wouldn’t be living. The entire point of living is taking risks and taking whatever comes at you, not matter the speeds or intensities. I think that knowing where you’re going to go when you die, totally dictates one’s risk-taking and therefore the entire concept of Life. Some people live that way already out of faith or whatever you choose, and that is entirely their choice. I have absolutely nothing against people with healthy convictions in what they believe in. I think it’s the best thing in the world, please just don’t try to press it on me. While some completely discreet and totally polite about brandishing their beliefs, not pressuring others at all, there are other people that think they know everything that the afterlife has to offer (or religion in general for that matter), down to every detail and I personally don’t believe any of it. Yeah, that probably sounds pretty bad, but notice the things I’ve said so far. My brutal, honest opinion.

I honestly don’t believe what people have to say about what it will be like when you die because they don’t know, they’ve never been there. No one knows, no ones ever been there. Unless of course with the exception of a near-death experience, that’s the closest thing to the afterlife you can get without feeling death unfortunately pull you out of this natural life permanently. Other than that exception, I don’t believe.

I love how the subject goes from the disbelief concerning religion to the disbelief an afterlife. They’re two different subjects that sometimes (maybe more often than none) become intertwined and discussed on the same playing field. I suppose that this is no exception to the conversations on the subjects that came before it. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I honestly don’t know.

When all is said and done, I just don’t believe…Yeah, it might sound like I’m just another teenager (technically I’m not really a teenager anymore, but whatever) who listens to death metal and is ‘brainwashed’ by the ‘Satanic’ lyrics, but I’m here to clarify. While I do listen to my fair shares of black/death/heavy metal, my musical preferences in no way impact my views on religion or the afterlife, as which was mentioned earlier…Or rather there isn’t anything good enough for me to believe in. That probably sounds pretty arrogant and whether arrogance plays a part at all or not, it’s true. I don’t think it’s that there’s nothing good enough for me to believe but actually nothing I feel comfortable really believing in. Hopefully there will come a time when I find something that I indeed feel comfortable enough with to believe in without questioning or second-guessing. Until then, only time will tell.

So I ask you now, as I’ve been asking throughout this entire post…

What kind of person does that make me?

Newsflash from “Heaven”: I’ve surely descended into “Hell”.

A New Appreciation

It seems like it’s been “forever” since I’ve written something music-related. But it honestly hasn’t, it’s just a new year.

I have a new-found respect for music. I have a new-found respect for bands I’d either never heard of, or wasn’t a big fan of before. For some unknown reason, I’m drawn to bands I wasn’t drawn to before, and honestly never thought I’d like. Things definitely changed. For the better.

It’s safe to say that I really like Flyleaf now. I mean, I never fully got into them in 2005 when their self-titled CD came out and everyone seemed to fall in love with them. Strangely, I just didn’t. I’ll admit, I’d fallen in love with “Fully Alive” and “Breathe Today”, but never got into them as much as I would some other band. Call it the rebel in me, but it just wasn’t something I was listening to. Now, that my musical tastes have evolved, along with the help of their new album, I have a massive amount of respect for them. 

I honestly had no idea about their new CD, Memento Mori, until I saw the video for “Again”, and saw the CD on iTunes. When I heard the beginning of the song, I immediately fell in love with it. As it progressed, I fell even deeper in love. Lead singer Lacey Mosley’s voice is just incredible. Her vocals are a lot cleaner and easier to understand. She’s improved on the vocal front, and paired with the rawness of the instruments, it’s just amazing. The whole album is swirling around the need for freedom, while still incorporating their faith and religion in every intricate lyric.

I’m not usually a fan of Christian rock bands, but Flyleaf is definitely an exception. For some reason, I always thought that Christian bands would sing about how their religion was better than every other religion, but that’s not the case with Flyleaf. I guess that’s what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself.

Obviously, I’m not as keen on the concept of religion as the next person might be, but music is music, and if it’s good, then it’s good. It honestly shouldn’t matter what type of faith is put into it, it all goes through your earbuds/headphones the same way anyway.

Music is music, and it’s definitely safe to say that I’m a new-found fan of Flyleaf.

The next band on my rather lengthy appreciation list is another female-fronted band, known to the majority of the world as Paramore.

It is extremely safe to say that I love Paramore again. I first fell in love with them when I saw the video for “Pressure”. I honestly had no idea who they were at the time, but the song just grabbed me. I then fully recognized them when I  heard the song “Emergency”. One of my friends bought me the Warped Tour Compilation 2006 CD, and that song was featured on it. I instantly fell victim to Hayley Williams’s one-of-a-kind voice, and the band’s all around sound.

After their debut, All We Know Is Falling was Riot!, and once Riot! came out, it seemed like everyone was listening to them and saying that they were a Paramore fan. Now, I have absolutely nothing wrong with someone who listens to Paramore because I do too, but things like that aggravate me. With the songs “Misery Business” and “Crushcrushcrush” being what everyone was listening to, I stopped listening to Paramore for a while. Call it stupid, or dissing the band, but I needed to be away from what everyone else was currently listening to.

Despite the fact I stopped listening to Paramore for a while, there’s no sure-fire way to ever stop listening forever. Needless to say, it’s kind of impossible not to listen to Paramore, especially since their newest release, Brand New Eyes.

Paramore prove that they’re so much more than the band they were in the beginning. Having dealt with conflicts, and the near break-up of the band, they’re definitely stronger, and the music on Brand New Eyes totally shows it. Hayley’s voice is better than ever, fitting perfectly with the new-found aggression and strength. The videos for “Ignorance” and “Brick By Boring Brick” should be good demonstrations. Proving all the more that Paramore have grown up not only as a band, but as individuals as well.

I congratulate Paramore on finding their brand new eyes and only becoming stronger. Music is music whether you accept it or not.

The next band I have a huge amount of appreciation for is hardcore act, A Skylit Drive.

I had never heard of Skylit until earlier last year. I found them courtesy of iTunes, and figured I’d check them out. Upon my first listen, the element that surprised and grabbed me the most was lead singer Michael “Jag” Jagmin’s voice. His rather high-pitched voice incorporates with drummer Cory La Quay’s screams beautifully. I think if his voice sounded any different, then it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be A Skylit Drive.

I immediately found myself falling into a trance listening to their EP, She Watched The Sky. All 7 songs are amazing, and their full-length debut, Wires…And The Concept of Breathing, released in 2008, is no exception. Everything about Wires is crushing and brutal, while is managing to be incredibly crafted and beautiful. I find myself listening to “Knights Of The Round”, “Wires…And The Concept Of Breathing”, “I’m Not A Thief, I’m A Treasure Hunter”, and “All It Takes For Your Dreams To Come True” countless times a day.

Their newest release Adelphia, has a very different sound than Wires but it only proves that A Skylit Drive can break out of their genre a little and still create something hard-hitting and original. Jag’s vocals are clearly a lot cleaner and seem to be more present than they were on Sky and Wires. The vocals were obviously always there, but now they seem to be the main focus on the album, rather than Cory’s screams combined with the clean vocals.

Despite the mixed reviews I’ve read about Adelphia, my mind hasn’t changed about the band or the CD. The band is truly original, and Adelphia is genius. Every song is its own entity; no two songs sound the same, making them a stand-out among most bands today. The song “Prelude To A Dream” makes me swoon, and “Those Cannons Could Sink A Ship” and “Eva The Carrier” make me attempt to sing along. Not very good, I might add. The beginning of “Prelude” is just amazing. Jag’s voice is so soft you almost can’t hear what he’s singing, and then the screaming comes to proceed into a damn-good song. The lyrics in “Cannons” and “Eva” are both infectious and you’re kind of entitled to sing along because they’re so catchy.

While I think it was pretty hard to top Wires, it’s safe to say that Adelphia does come close. I love Wires, but I’m beginning to fall in love with Adelphia. Only time will tell which one I end up loving more.

Kudos to A Skylit Drive. Music is music, and I’m happy to say that I’m a fan.

The next band on my pretty lengthy kudos list is Every Time I Die.

I’d more than likely seen them a million times before on TV or something. I just never knew who they were. I remember I’d seen the videos for the songs “Kill The Music” and “The New Black” on FUSE and I thought nothing of it. “The New Black” was featured on the same Warped Tour Compilation 2006 as was Paramore’s “Emergency”, I just don’t think I ever took the time to listen. I figured that they were just like any other band out there. Every song sounded like a carbon copy of itself. Once again, that’s exactly what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself yet again.

This new-found liking for Every Time I Die came accompanied with their new CD, New Junk Aesthetic. The first song I’d ever fully listened to by them was “Pretty Dirty”, and that song caught me. With all honesty, despite the fact that I had the song on my iPod and all, I forgot about them once I erased the contains and started from scratch. The song that truly hooked and held me was “We’rewolf”. The overall song itself was unlike what I was used to hearing. The lyrics were twisted into some kind of new perfection, and Keith Buckley’s voice was actually pretty refreshing.

I knew absolutely nothing about New Junk Aesthetic until I’d heard the song “Roman Holiday”, and read an article in the November issue of Revolver. Leave it to Revolver to fill me in on things in the music world I more-than-often miss. In the article, it talked about how the CD had a more rock-and-roll type of sound as oppose to their previous releases.

Their debut EP, The Burial Plot Bidding War, as well as their full-length debut Last Night In Town, had the hardcore sound they became famous for. While the albums that followed, Hot Damn!, Gutter Phenomenon, and The Big Dirty still radiated that hardcore/metalcore sound, they also incorporated a Southern-rock tinged sound in the guitar department, and Keith proved to have a killer singing voice, in addition to his signature screaming. Compared to their other albums, Aesthetic is definitely more rock-and-roll, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It still shows how talented they are as musicians, and that they still have the “hardcore/metalcore” sound people usually associate them with, just with a different kind of intensity.

Regardless of how New Junk Aesthetic sounds, where it be rock-and-roll, hardcore, or a strange combination of both, there’s no doubting that it’s well-crafted, with flawless instruments and Keith’s better-than-ever vocals. There’s also no doubting that it’s just down-right kickass. Every song is well pieced together, where one dims off in brilliance, the other picks up the light not shy of a few seconds after. It’s honestly no surprise that I probably go from “Wanderlust”, “White Smoke”, “Buffalo 666”, and “Goddamn Kids These Days” and back again in a 40 minute class period of gym. Those songs alone are that awesome and badass.

I would like to congratulate Every Time I Die for being kickass, and for once again reminding me that you shouldn’t judge a band before you actually listen to them.

The last but definitely not least band on my finally finished, very lengthy appreciation list is the Danish act Volbeat.

Once again, with all brutal honesty accounted for here, I had no idea that Volbeat was even a band until I saw something about them in the back of one of my many issues of Revolver magazine. I didn’t look back on it until I found myself looking for a new and interesting band to listen to, which wasn’t until a couple months ago. Last October actually. It’s honestly kind of weird saying ‘last’ October because it still feels like 2009, but that’s not correct. It’s 2010. But enough about the fact that it’s a new year, back to what makes Volbeat original and one-of-a-kind. 

Like the majority of new bands I’ve listened to, I had no idea what to expect when it came to Volbeat. I didn’t assume I had with Every Time I Die or Flyleaf, as previously stated. I just listened…and I found myself in almost a whole other niche in time. Everything about their sound resonates the old-school music that came before them, and that’s not a bad thing at all. They’re like a violent blend of Metallica and The Misfits, along with a splash of Johnny Cash and Elvis mixed in. I think that most people aren’t drawn to the old-school sound because nowadays it seems like it’s all about the next big sub-genre.

When I first listened to Volbeat, I was taken aback (in the purest contradiction of those words) by frontman Michael Poulsen’s voice. The deepness of his voice sort of reminded me of the vocals of Type O Negative lead, Peter Steele, even though their vocal styles are no way near the same. Despite the partial coincidence, his voice is the most unique thing I’ve heard in a while. His voice wraps around the crushing drums and heavy guitars perfectly, only in a way that he can. Volbeat wouldn’t be the same kind of band if his vocals were different.  

Their latest release, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is just amazing in every way possible. Amazing is a word I use a lot when talking about music, and when I say it’s amazing, it truly is. Everything about it is fresh and original, while still having enough venom and bite to surprise and entice. It’s not your typical CD by a band that’s sporting today’s latest sub-genre, nothing even remotely close…

Most bands today, with the exception of a great few, are afraid to break away from the genre they’re currently in and take a chance. I have an extreme amount of respect for bands/musicians that break the mold, while still managing to stay true to their signature sound. It’s like, their signature sound combined with something new and innovative, to create something new that’s all their own. The bands that refuse to go out of the box, and crush the hell out of that mold, seem like they’re either scared to lose fans or afraid of what the so-called “scene” will think. They’re not living up to their full potential.

…Volbeat isn’t one of those bands. If you thought their brilliant, fresh sound was only on Gangsters & Blood, then you’re wrong. Their debut CD, The Strength/The Sound/The Songs released in 2005, displays the same kind of bone-breaking mix of rockabilly, metal, and punk, giving Volbeat their one-of-a-kind sound. I honestly never thought about what it would sound like, mixing three different types of music that all had similarities, but now I’m happy to say that I know exactly what it sounds like. Strength/Sound/Songs is a 15-song joyride that’s just as explosive, as it is in-your-face. It has the same brutality as Gangsters & Blood, only it’s more gritty and rough around the edges. Their follow-up, 2007’s Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil is no exception to the originality and impressive sound. According to my iPod, I’ve listened to the song “Radio Girl” off Rebel/Devil over 30 times, and something tells me that it’s true. It’s a great song; the whole album is pretty great.

Out of all three releases, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is the best. When I first heard “Still Counting”, the first Volbeat song I’d heard…ever, I was in complete shock and awe because of how incredible it sounded. The first thing I heard was the almost Southern sound of the guitar, then the drums came in to coincide with it perfectly. With the assistance of Michael’s branded vocals, the song then totally does a 360 and guitars and drums are leading a full-scale assault on your ears. The title track, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” and “Back To Prom”, almost remind me of the 1950s’. Just the whole feel and sound of the songs echo back to a time vintage cars and gorgeous pin-up girls. “Hallelujah Goat” and “Wild Rover Of Hell” beckon to the metal sound that came before them, executed in perfect heart-pounding harmony. “Find That Soul” reminds me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I honestly don’t know why, but the feel of the song reminds me of the part in the movie where Santa is confronted by the Boogieman, and then the song proceeds to play and that’s when you know that Santa isn’t going anywhere. Call me crazy, but that’s what I thought of when I first heard the song. No matter what the song reminds you of, it’s awesome nonetheless. As is all of Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood.

I take my hat of to Volbeat for being the most original thing this way out of Denmark. Music is music, and I’m without a doubt a Volbeat fan.

I’m happy that my musical tastes changed because if they didn’t, I don’t think I’d be listening to the great bands I just expressed my appreciation for. I’m happy it changed for the better.

Music is the safest haven. When the rain falls too hard to think and the snow falls too lightly to hear a whisper, you’ll always have its comfort.

Defective little dreamcatcher

You know how dreamcatchers are meant to keep bad dreams from entering your little dreamland when you sleep? I wonder if there’s some kind of policy against weird, really awkward dreams, too. If there is, then mine is definitely defective.

I’ve never had a dreamcatcher, but I’ve always thought they were interesting. I was over my sister’s house a month ago or so, and she was getting rid of stuff she didn’t want. I ended up getting her dreamcatcher.

For some reason, I didn’t put it up by one of my windows right away. It just sat on my desk for a couple days. My bedroom is actually in the basement of my house, so I only have two windows, that aren’t that big. I finally decided to put it in the window closest to my bed, the most obvious choice, I guess.

Nothing really changed in Noelle’s little dreamland until a couple days ago. Lately, I’ve been having just down right awkward and weird dreams. Just completely random and just really, really weird. In one of them, my former friend and I both attend the same elite academy and are on some kind of field trip. We’re standing among a bunch of other people, and I’m standing on some platform and for once, I was actually taller than her. With a little help from my Doc Marten’s of course. It’s weird because she’s 5’11” and I’m 4’10” and I was wearing boots and standing on a platform and was taller. She then proceeds to tell me that I look “alot prettier in the summer and winter because of the outfit I was wearing.” I guess it wasn’t pretty enough for her. It was really strange.

In my latest, one of my relatives, who I haven’t seen in awhile, is talking to me, and I’m not paying attention because I’m too busy reading an article on Christian Bale. We were in my backyard and for some reason, she had a pair of binoculars, looking at the houses behind my house. I didn’t even wanna know what she was doing. I really didn’t care. I just wanted to read the article. Out of nowhere, she tells me to “Make her a sandwich”…And I’m like “What? Make your own.” She tells me to “Stop reading and make me a sandwich.” I’m like, “You’re kidding, right?”…Next thing I know, I’m making her a freakin’ sandwich, crying my eyes out. I don’t even know what she wants on it, I just make it. Apparently, I didn’t make it right because she just looked at me and continued to say things I didn’t wanna hear. That’s what you get for not letting me finish the article on Christian Bale. I make you the wrong kind of sandwich. Ha! The other half of the dream was me and my two friends who don’t even talk to each other anymore. All 3 of us were in school, except our school looked really…different. Really weird and just not how school looked. We were in the hallway and this monster-looking thing passed us and took my cell phone. Or maybe I just lost it. But I could have sworn that the monster thing took it. We went into the computer lab, expecting to go on the computers or something. Instead, people were scratching the computer screens with keys to access their email accounts, and people were getting piercings done in the smaller room attached to it. Needless to say, I didn’t go on any of the computers and I didn’t end up getting anything pierced. Even more stranger than the first.

Everything about both of those dreams is just weird and out of the ordinary. If there is some kind of policy on dreams like that, my dreamcatcher is definitely defective.

Sometimes dreams are stranger than reality. Sometimes reality is the sanest place to lay your head.