Before you read any further, keep in mind that there are no new recordings to share at this time. I’ve been rediscovering my love for writing music and been contemplating what I would do next. Discovering new bands and new passions for sounds have reinvigorated my inspiration and creativity.
Several years ago I had reached out to someone who I consider the best drummer in Colorado. He’s been on international tours and has played for some local favorites. We’ve been friends for probably 10 years, but I can’t even begin to tell you how or where we met. While he had been primarily involved in death metal and black metal bands like myself, he wanted to do something more progressive. At the same time, I had barely started listening to rock bands like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Anathema, Blackfield, etc. I asked for more details of what he was looking for and he pointed me to Leprous.
I hadn’t heard of them prior to this point. One thing stood out to me when I listened to this song for the first time: the chorus was written in a minor progression typically heard in black metal, but the vocalist was singing clean vocals. He’s one of the best male vocalists I’ve ever heard. Period.
I had released my black metal album around this time and didn’t bother marketing it except on Facebook and here. I wasn’t proud of it. A deadline was set where I told myself I had to complete it by a certain date, and rushed a few songs. There was no need to. I could’ve put it out with 6 songs. The mixing was horrible, too. I was too stubborn to pay someone to do a good job and it sounded bad. I would like to revisit it, edit some songs, remove others, combine my EP album, and re-mix it someday.
Until that day, there has been no progress in writing music. I kept running into a strong wall of writer’s block. There were some conceptual rock songs I had in my head, but I struggled coming up with more ideas for more songs with a similar style. If I released something it would be 2-3 songs and that’s it. Then I wondered if I wrote more death/black metal songs like I used to, what would the outcome be? I ran into the same writer’s block. I felt like I struggled writing one album with that mindset and certainly I’d fail to do it again.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my problem was not necessarily writer’s block; it was that I was limiting myself to a specific style of music for an album. It hadn’t hit me until recent months when I’ve been writing songs in my head that not achieving any specific sound is completely okay. Discovering a band like VOLA helped me realize that.
VOLA has had two full albums with another on the way plus a few EP’s. Each song can cross many genres, and each album has different styles. Yet, they all sound like the same band. They also feature clean vocals like Leprous, which I had recently become fond of over the years.
The other thing that catches my attention for these two bands – and others – is they’re still considered progressive bands without incredibly difficult instrumentation. What I mean by this is that I wanted to avoid progressive metal because I know I’m not a good guitarist, and recognize I never will be as I don’t want to commit the effort to do so. It feels like every other band is trying to play faster with who can do the most blistering solos, and it doesn’t matter. It never needed to, but I didn’t recognize that until recently.
In 2018, my wife gave birth to our first son. A year and a half later, our second son was born. To say we were busy is an understatement, and I was too tired to sit and be creative. Less than half a year later and the covid pandemic hit. We took our sons out of daycare and now we spend the day with them and work in the evenings. This means from 7am until about 12am I am busy. The last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer and record music. I have been writing music in my head still, and there are plenty of ideas that have formed over the years. Now, I just need to hit the record button and start.
That day won’t be now, but now that there is a vaccine I do see light at the end of the tunnel where I can start focusing on music again. I’m very curious how it will turn out, whatever it ends up being. I’m going to be vulnerable and free my mind this time. For now, I will leave you either another influencer who is also a member of Riverside.