Retrospect: My favorite album of 2011, and why it saddens me.

Liturgy’s Aesthethica is my favorite album of 2011. It is an awesome piece of work that is wholly original and genre-defining, regardless of any purist complaints. This is an album that has stayed steadily in my rotation since it was released, and the last time I listened to it was yesterday, from start to finish. It isn’t the perfect album, but it’s full of more energy and determination than anything I’ve heard this year. This band, along with Animals as Leaders, is a young act that is crucial to the evolution of heavy metal in the upcoming years. 

Aesthethica depresses me. When I was in my early 20’s I used to listen to Darkthrone and Philip Glass records back to back. Upon doing this I realized the similarities between black metal and minimalist classical music. Another thought occurred to me: what if black metal was played in a major key? I bought a cheap Tascam and recorded several guitar tracks with dual harmonies. It sounded awesome and revitalizing.

Regretfully, I never followed through with this idea I had; at the time nobody wanted to play black metal. Now I’m watching time pass me by, I’m 30, and another band has discovered this concept and made something great out of it. This retrospect isn’t a declaration of my jealousy towards Liturgy for taking an idea I had, because neither of us knew each other, and to be honest I think they did a much, much better job than I ever would with “transcendental black metal”.

What I’m getting at is no one in Baltimore ever wanted to play black metal with me.

Currently I’m the lead singer in an unspecific heavy metal group. We cover bands such as Judas Priest, Type O Negative, and Avenged Sevenfold. Before that I played drums in a post-hardcore group, and while doing such I also backed our lead guitarist on bass in a blues trio. Before that I was in another generic heavy metal group, and when I was a senior in high school I played in some garage band like everybody else. I’ve always accompanied music that was written by someone else rather than music I’ve written myself. Perhaps it has something to do with an introverted personality, but in all honesty I think it has to do with the fact that I desperately wanted to play music, and would play anything with anyone.

I don’t regret playing in any of these groups. I had decent success in the post-hardcore group and we had a strong following; our music even made its way to Northern Europe. The current band I’m in is ready to start playing shows and everyone is a dedicated musician and some great things are coming out of it.

If you’re an aspiring musician and you’re looking to play your own music, I wish you the best of luck and success. Sometimes it’s easier to say the hell with it and play in a cover band or a band that is completely irrelevant to your personal musical endeavors. If you’re looking to play for the sake of playing, you’ll have to compromise. In the end, there’s nothing like being on a live stage and performing the results of months and years of strenuous practice.

However, if you’re more ambitious and want to have your creations head to the masses, compel yourself forward. Just know it’s a tough road ahead and you should never back down from a great idea. Hunter Hunt Hendrix never did, and the results of his concept have led to a strong following and the best thing I’ve heard all year. Cheers to your group of merry men.

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