I have a neighbor who lives on my floor, and I’ve dubbed him, “Death Metal Chuck.”
As one might imagine, Death Metal Chuck likes death metal.
Or, perhaps it’s not Death Metal per se— it’s like more like “Scene Metal”?
Is Scene Metal a thing?
In any case, you know what I’m talking about— it’s the shit that Hot Topic plays. Lots of angsty screaming.
So, a few times a week, everyone on our floor is treated to a performance from Death Metal Chuck. The volume on his speaker system goes all the way up, and he literally SCREAMS along with the music he’s listening to.
Sometimes, it’s amusing. Other times it’s annoying.
Amusing, because he’s sandwiched between Smoky Joe Kush Blower (a caucasian New Trier graduate who has a particularly mean sub-woofer, and enjoys a… fragrant life) and Shellshocked Steve, a very, very, nervous man who may or may not have been robbed once, outside of The Friendly Confines (not confirmed).
Smoky Joe most likely handles these performances by getting smoky and putting on his headphones, while Shellshock Steve definitely moved out recently, perhaps due to multiple conversations with Death Metal Chuck about things like volume, screaming, and you know… both of those things in tandem, sometimes as early as 7:30 in the morning.
In any case, when these situation arise, I try to sympathize with Death Metal Chuck a bit, or, at least admire the fact that he can scream like PRETTY well. Hell, he’ll occasionally, even put me onto a good tune or two.
Now, not all metal is something you want to scream along to, and I’m sure the shit does a number on your vocal chords. I’ve never actually tried it, but I feel like if I was going to make the dive with all that, I’d PROBABLY make my attempt with Bosse-De-Nage’s, “All Fours.”
I’m not sure how I found out about Bosse-de-Nage. I do know that I loved this album the first time I heard it though.
At first blush, it’s unrepentantly brutal and pervasive. Listening to it, you hear purity in its execution, and there’s just a very inarguable truth about the proceedings.
Listening to it is kinda like watching Scott Kelly get down to it.
For those who don’t know, Mastodon isn’t even his band. Even still, this dude is showing up to HANDLE THE BUSINESS, and PERHAPS, he’s a Master P fan from the wayyy, wayyy back.
(Note: Scott Kelly might not know who Master P is).
Silliness aside, listening to a song like “The Industry of Distance” you’re going to feel something.
It’s a masterfully executed piece of music, with its uncomfortable drone building slowly to crunching power chords and an intricate tapestry of drumming magnificence that Billy Cobham circa 1971 would have KILLED to play.
At 2:26, when all that gives way to a scattered, borderline schizophrenic freak-out by the band, finally graced with Bryan Manning’s unhinged howl, you’re knocked THE fuck out: spinning dazed for the next 3 minutes, trying to wrap your head around the fact that black is now white, and up is now down.
Bosse-de-Nage has a formula here and that’s fine. They do the quiet-to-loud or loud-to-quiet thing, but each time that explosion kicks off, it’s visceral. You’re not bored by it, because there’s purity in the execution, and honesty in the music.
It is a strange album to listen to in one go, and that probably has to do with the fact that the music is just SO intense. Even in the quiet moments such as “(_)”, there’s an unease about what you’re hearing, and you can’t help but feel anxious.
As a whole, it’s exhilarating to be sure, but this is not something you’re putting on to listen to casually. This is something that you’re putting on while you WORK, or while you’re trying to WORK THROUGH some shit.
And I think that’s perhaps why I appreciate it most. The album came into my life at a trying juncture.
I took comfort in the chaos of the music and how it was almost normalized after a certain point. The last minute and a half of “In a Yard Somewhere” was a solid snapshot of my life at that point–slightly deranged, albeit earnest in my attempt to keep the ball rolling even though I sure as shit didn’t know where the ball was at.
“Washerwoman” likely powered any number of very raw drawings sessions in which I wasn’t so much applying ink to my work, as I was performing an exorcism of sorts, slashing at my page with a fat brush, and DRAGGING that motherfucker because something about the texture of the dry strokes brought me joy.
Listening to the album currently, it’s a whole different ball game. For all intents and purposes, I’m pretty happy in the broader strokes of my life right now, and the sorrow in the songs has taken on a new form.
Where my 27 year old ears heard angst and torture, my ears at 32 can’t help but hear a strange sort optimism— something that perhaps even stands on the precipice of beauty. It’s a messy beauty to be sure, and there’s still struggle to be found here, but there’s also joy.
And I think that’s wonderful. Great music grows with you.
Don’t get me wrong, nostalgia is wonderful too. There are few things I’d trade for the feeling I get when I put on, “One Armed Scissor”, by At The Drive In and viscerally recall every bailout, scraped elbow, and summer afternoon spent driving up the skatepark as a kid with my old next-door neighbor.
When a piece of art is able to strike you in different ways at different point in your life though, that’s a gift. It’s the mark of superior craftsmanship, and a sign that a piece of work should be elevated, and praised.
If you choose to listen to this album after reading my rambling, albeit very sincere appreciation, I hope it shows up in your life in exactly the way that you need it to right now.
I hope that it grows with you too.