The sweet secret that people who wanna kill themselves don't tell you is that sometimes it feels really good to wanna kill yourself. You get this sensation of total power. Psych theory has it that this sensation is delusional, which position I accepted entirely when I worked in the field, since the argument makes a lot of sense if you're looking at things from a self-protecting-itself standpoint. Older and having been through the wringer once or twice, I'm less sure about whether that feeling suicides get - of control, of power, of being close to God - is delusional or, y'know, visionary.
I know, I know. This is crazy talk. Still, Arch Enemy. They have these swelling twin-guitar moments and accelerated 4/4 tempos and Angela Gossow's really rasped-out yowling, and it's like listening to a totalitaran rally on the ice planet of the undead. Also, there's a comet heading toward the planet and the undead have decided they are not gonna take that shit lying down. Good for you, undead people of the ice planet. The thoughts of you I get when Arch Enemy really falls into the groove gives me hope.
Some people might think I'm just riffing here, but I'm not. When you wanna kill yourself, and that's the feeling you're living with, you need "escape." During the awful heat of that self-immolating moment, deep in the self-destructive mindset, it can sound real insulting to hear people talking about how what you're looking for is an "escape": as though what you needed was a God-damned vacation or something, or a trip to Magic Mountain. "Fuck that," the suicide wants to say: "I don't want to 'escape' to anyplace. I just want the fuck out."
But those of us who lived to remember what those times were like - here's to us, we fucking made it, and God bless the dead - well, we should be honest. It was all about escape, wasn't it? The real thing. The big flashbulp popping in the consciousness all at once, the clean slate, the step beyond. That's why listening to music when you wanna kill yourself is so crazy emotional: it actually gives you that escape. If you're going in for the lyrics-that-reflect-my-pain thing, then the escape that music offers is an inward sort of escape, but it's still an escape: it's a fresh angle, a turning away from the issue directly at hand, a newly amplified pain sought out because the old one feels infected and scary. And when it's not the lyrics, then it's the groove, the feeling, the intensity, the energy, the mood: something to match up to the churn and swell and spray and crash of what's going on inside, something that seems to say I know what it feels like to have your heart revving so high: I know, and here's how is sounds. The down-in-the-mouth low groany stuff that people listen to when they're depressed or sad, that's different, it's for different points on the graph. What I'm talking about here is the stuff you need when you feel like you've been living in a wave that's just about to vomit you up onto the shore.
I haven't been inside that wave in a long, long time, and I don't expect or hope to ever be there again; another condescending thing people used to tell me was that years later I'd be really glad that I'd lived, and of course they were right. Arch Enemy make me remember what it was that held my hand when it was too dark to see the way forward: it was music, music that wasn't afraid to just wail in the dark. It was music that wasn't afraid to say that the pain felt kinda good. It was music that positively luxuriated in the decadence of really wishing for everything to end all at once. Arch Enemy's turbo-motorboat-atop-the-molten-saltmarsh energy howls like a secret being shared in public which, miraculously, will still retain its mystery, which is kinda the point of heavy metal in general. Hear and hear but never understand. Hear, indeed.
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