The 7 Deadly Sins: A Musical Perspective – Editorial Series – Part 7 of 7: Wrath

Well, folks, it’s been over two months since the first instalment of The 7 Deadly Sins series hit the e-streets. We pigged out, got greedy, had a nap, got hot and bothered (still reeling from that one… hooah), stuck up our prideful noses, looked over the fence at our neighbours’ toys and now, finally… we get angry. Actually, we don’t just get angry – we get wrathful. Nasty.

Nasty like that banger about to bash our brainy, bespectacled little reader’s brains in with a baseball bat. What could our bearded, sci-fi reading friend could have possibly done to deserve such treatment? We’ll never know. But you get the sense that Mr. Aggressor isn’t up for a debate on whether this skull-smashing will accomplish anything beyond a splash-work mess and a stained bat. Thanks again to my dear accomplice in this sinful series, the talented (and a little twisted, apparently…) Amy Sparrow who has provided an original piece of photography for each sin. Check out her flickr Photostream and have a look at the Sins series as well as her other pieces. Beautiful stuff.

Our last chapter is all about Wrath. I’m not talking about getting miffed because buddy just cut in front of you in traffic (“Ah, come on, man…”), or a bit put off because the server forgot the extra buns you ordered (“Seriously, it’s been twenty minutes…”). Oh no. I’m talking about fist-clenching, teeth-gnashing, every-muscle-in-your-body-flexing, red-faced, unmitigated RAGE. The kind of intense feeling of violent hate which, when it rears its ugly head, prompts your psyche to suppress the incident because it knows that if it lets you remember how bad you lost it, it would mess you up. Nobody needs to remember that kind of thing. Your brain doesn’t stop you from doing it, though, oh no – it just stops recording. Your brain becomes the good cop to your psycho cop. “Hey man, you go ahead and do what you need to do. We’ll pick up when you’re done. Cool? You can’t hear me, can you? . . . Yeah, forget it, he’s gone. I can’t stop him,” says brain.

And your brain’s absolutely right. It’s got nothing to do with any kind of logical thinking process at this point. Now it’s about the extreme, it’s about emotions pushed to the brink, a shot of adrenaline to the eyeball with a dirty needle. It is not logical, it is not sane. It is brutal. It is bloody. It is vitriolic, potentially deadly… hate.

It is Wrath.

Have you ever felt that way? I hope not.

The Hells are alive with the sound of Metal

Wrath in music. Hate in music. Hmmm.

Two things come to mind – the “hate” (not sure if it’s hate, but it’s a damn strong negative feeling) when some awful music comes on the radio. I won’t name names. I’m trying not to bash, remember? If some terrible sound that kills my ears somehow makes you happy, who am I to judge? Rise above, rise above.

It rhymes with “Pickelcrap”.

Moving on. So there’s that – the “aww, gah, can we change this?” feeling when bad music poisons your speakers.

The other thing I think of is music inspired by that feeling. There are songs of sadness, love, happiness, cats, you name it (Yes, “cats” is a feeling.) That wrathful feeling is just another emotion we humans feel. Some of us feel it more than others. It’s more prevalent in certain artists’ music. It’s more prevalent in certain genres.

I admit that I’m biased. Though I hesitate to appoint myself the label of “metalhead” – not because I’m ashamed of it, certainly not, but because it gives the impression that I listen to nothing else – I am, at the end of the day, a “metalhead”. You know all those ridiculous “if you were on a deserted island” questions? If I could only bring one genre of music, I’d bring metal. It would jack me up and I’d get shit done! Shimmy up trees for coconuts while listening to Slayer, chop wood to Hang the Bastard, go fishing with Isis, hunt wild boar à la Meshuggah… It would keep me productive.

Everybody has songs that make them go bananas. Maybe you lose it when you hear Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” on ‘90s dance night at the club. Maybe it’s “American Pie” when you’re driving around… who knows? You know the feeling I’m talking about though, right? I remember when I was in school in Ottawa and we’d go to these… awful… clubs, because that’s where the girls were (…*cough, cough* On Tap… Cabin *cough, cough*). Awful because there was but one mission in these places: find girl, buy girl drink, dance with girl, leave with girl.

Now that I think of it, maybe it’s not the mission that was awful. Maybe it’s the fact that I never accomplished said mission. Hence the bitterness. Ah, I’m not bitter… grrrrr.

I’d be lying if I said there were no good memories that came from those meat markets. I remember when Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” would come in, people (including me, yes) would just… lose it. People would scream. Not just a little “Woo!” either, we’re talking a full-on Macauley Culkin “AAAAAAAHHHH!!!” followed by “I LOVE THIS SOOOONNNGG!” People that had just been phoning in their dancing moments earlier were now jumping as if the floor was on fire, grinning an on-top-of-the-world grin, and hugging their fellow revelers like long-lost family members. (I’m lookin’ at you, Cynthia. Remember those times? Man!)

Music can do that. There’s something about the hook, the voice, the bass, the rhythm, the attitude, the lyrics… all of it – it just gets you. This is what music label magnates try to pinpoint – “How can we make that next big tune?” It’s out there, somewhere, in the ether, and they want to snag it, record it, package it, and make a bajillion dollars.

Sometimes it’s simple. The Beatles figured it out. Whether or not you’re a Beatles fan, you can’t deny the mop-tops collective musical genius. They hit the dead centre of the dartboard time and time again.

Whatever it is, certain songs make certain people go certainly nutty. One of my all-time favourites is Slayer’s “Disciple”. Even though I’m getting older, this is one of the sure-fire tunes that gets me in the pit, makes me feel as big as that three-hundred pound windmill thrasher, and gives me the juice to destroy every little hardcore wannabe in my way. As soon as I hear that riff start at a Slayer show, I take a couple big breaths and tell myself – “Kay, here goes. Three-and-a-half minutes. You can do this.”

Talk about a hate anthem – “I hate everyone equally / You can’t tear that out of me / No segregation –separation / Just me in my world of enemies!” Move over, kiddo. Men are going metal. Mental? Hmmmboth.

Seriously, this song is something else. Your listening to it right now is key to enriching your reading experience. Key! Do it. It’s the last thing I ask of you in this series, I promise. Listen and read the lyrics at the same time. This is Man, shaking his misanthropic fist, not only at his fellow man, but to the empty sky above… bitter, hopeless, and very angry. “I never said I wanted to be God’s disciple!” Pure hate and urge to destroy. Oh, and when 2:45 hits… man… I… I’m seriously getting all worked up listening to it right now. It’s just… how do I put this… If I ever have to go to war, this is #1 on my helmet playlist.  When 2:45 hits… Get… Out… of my Way.

The best is when there’s another metal-nut in there who feels the same way you do, another freak off his rocker who thinks he’s the Most Metal Dude Ever. If you happen to lock psycho-eyes with this guy, it’s over. Challenge accepted. Gauntlet thrown. You can’t back down. “You wanna do this? Let’s do this.” You both know your mission is to annihilate the Other Guy. Go. You run at each other like rams fighting for the last ewe. Pain will happen, you will fall, bruises are guaranteed, cracks and cuts are very possible. That’s all fine. Just do, not, quit.

Then the song’s over, and you help your mortal enemy of seconds ago up off the floor with a “That was nuts, buddy!” and go about your concert, recharged and renewed. And… what’s that feeling? Happiness? You’re happy! How can something so unwaveringly violent and angry make one so happy? How weird is that? I guess that’s catharsis.

Metal gives me energy, yes, but it also lets me spend it. It’s as if I spend the negative and refuel with the positive. So when I’m screaming (and I mean screaming) “I REJECT THIS F*CKING RACE!!! I DESPISE THIS F*CKING PLACE!!!”, I’m not necessarily agreeing with the sentiment. Actually, when I’m screaming this and losing my voice, I am in fact loving this race. I am loving this place! I am loving that I can do this with my fellow metal people. Oh, maybe I’m tapping into a little shred of darkness from weeks/months/years ago where I did feel like that and I stuffed it down and it’s only coming out now. The point is that it’s coming out, and it’s coming out here, on the floor. It’s not coming out in a bar fight, or in some barbaric act of random violence. It’s coming out among my peers at an altar of sacrifice where I’m laying down my hate, my fear, my sadness, my pain… and I’m destroying it, burning it all up. I scream it out. I sweat it out. I headbang it out. I horn-throw it out. It feels so damn good, I weep at times.

I have blared “Disciple” on my phones eight times now. And I have a smile from ear-to-ear. I will never get tired of this. Nine times.

I don’t go to church. I go to concerts.

“It’s all about love and music.”

My friend Max said those words the other day. He wished it to our old friends way over there in Montréal who are gearing up for Heavy MTL 2012 which runs August 11 and 12. Manson, Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse, Dillinger, Gojira, Cancer Bats, DeftonesSystem!  (Maybe I can still get a flight…) Heavy MTL 2010 was one of the best times of my life, with my friends and my music. What a combo. Have fun, guys and gals.

Max is at Shambhala this weekend with his band of merry pranksters. It’s no Heavy MTL, that’s for sure. Completely different vibe. Yet, in a way… I guess the two aren’t so different – at the end of it all, you have thousands of people gathering together to experience the music they love, have some fun, and make new friends. Have fun, girls and boys.

Is there a lesson to this series? You tell me. I didn’t plan for one. Maybe Max found it. It’s all about love and music. Whether you want to apply that to your weekend or your entire life is up to you.

And with that, I wish you all a wild and wicked weekend. Go do something that makes you feel good. Thanks for reading.