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I Never Knew Passion and Never Knew Pain - 90%

Arjunthebeast, September 24th, 2010

2010 comes and goes, more so than the year before and probably less than the year that follows. They say that every year passes quicker than the last because of mathematical fractioning; 1/21st is less than 1-20th or 1/19th. Yes, that’s right, I am a mere 21 years of age and I attempt to sound like I am heading into the “Twilight World” of my life. Yet, we live in times that lead many of us to feel that at any moment all we hold dear will fade away like the sun over the mountains, in my case, the Coast Range from the Sacramento Valley. Much of what was golden to me just a few short years ago has turned to tin. When there is no magic, the matter which can hold it withers and dies, which is why my age group has one of the highest rates of suicide. It is the dawning of real life, where fantasy becomes the stuff of feel-good movies and giftcards. We dispise ourselves because we know our suffering is miniscule and adolescent, yet we cannot help to feel that way. Perhaps we are at the “Edge of Time,” be it 2012, proton collapse, or maybe technological singularity.

There is a joy I found in rock ‘n’ roll in my early teenage years that promised to liberate me from my past, something that could give me masculinity and could help me belong to something bigger than myself, which was in crisis at the time. Eventually I found Blind Guardian in spring 2005 (at the ripe old age of 16) and I thought I found my Messiah. They gave me enthusiasm and courage and every other cliché that people like me can come up with. It was a different time in my life, I felt great things happening around me, and I fell in love with, surprisingly enough, my high school, and everyone there. It was something called positivity, a novelty in the world of metal. Even if they were leading me back the way I came from, Blind Guardian brought me the greatest joy, as they combined the mythic quality of 80’s arena rock with the escapism I found in fantasy and daydreaming of my childhood. For what else inspires nostalgia in my generation than the handful of years before we were born and that which never existed at all? It was a double dose of magic; pure and innocent. I felt I had joined with something wonderful, and now it feels so long ago because it has passed, like all things did.

I wrote a review of the “Myth” album for my high school newspaper back in 2006, and I praised it for it brought me the same euphoria at first like the other albums of the Guardian did. I suspect that a pompous and self-important person like me finds such music to be appealing. Soon, my orgasms faded into tremors and I was left with only moments of the love I left before.

This release is something of a review of the Guardian of the Blind’s past four albums (“Imaginations” through “Myth”) which defines the very nature of the recording. While their last album was something of a searching record (lead single “Fly” treaded in to bizarre euro-pop) and an attempt to pull the group in a different direction after the ridiculously pompous and admittedly awesome “Opera,” this one searches for something in the past, much like anyone would when they feel the best days are behind them. Sometimes, even better times might be ahead if we can pay attention enough to see them through the melancholy.

It took a month for me to get around to purchasing the album, which contrasts with my same day pick up of “Myth” four years ago; I suspect it was because I feared being disappointed (I will answer that later).

When I first popped it in, I felt the same rush of getting head from a dream girl with everyone clapping for you (Clockwork Orange minus rape?), it took me back within minutes to where I wanted to be, and by the time “Road of No Release” rolled around I was in something close to heaven. The next day I took it with me in the truck to listen to on my way to Sacramento State. I felt sadness, for the feeling was lost, a mere 12 hours later. I picked at tracks like “Curse My Name,” “Valkyries” and “Ride into Obsession” for they annoyed me with shadows of what I had heard before from the band. Little did I release then that I have been doing the same thing for the past several years, looking for something.

We hear similar semi-speed metal with similar leads whining at the right moments, we hear similar vocal layering and similar progressions. Who wouldn’t be let down if one of your personal Gods was repeating itself from scripture? Yet, there were moments that did sink into me, the slower pair, “Road of No Release” and “Battle of the Thrones” awoke something even deeper in my past. I realize now that latter day Blind Guardian takes cues from Glen Yarbrough’s work on the animated “Hobbit” and “Return of the King,” to treasured relics of my early childhood. My mother would play those two worn vhs tapes to sooth me to sleep past my growing pains. I always loved those songs, and after watching them a few days ago I was brought full circle. Even if such a thing does not really resolve anything it at least reminds us of something we forgot.

“The man who’s a dreamer, and never takes leave, who thinks of a world that is just make believe, will never know passion, never know pain, who sits by the window, will one day see rain.” It takes a song to make us really understand the catchphrases we pick up from political ads and self-help books. It was never the words of Blind Guardian that moved me back then, nor was it the words of Glen Yarbrough that stuck with me; it was the simple sounds themselves. I think a sound can be so much more personal than a word, for it is not something spoken, but rather hummed or whistled, like we do when we are alone. We all understand it yet we cannot really put words to it, for they are not important at that point. When you’re a little kid and you can’t talk, you can still make sounds, even if they do not make sense. When you’re an adult, and you feel like you can’t talk anymore, then you resort to breaking the silence with a sound.

I wanted to stick with the album because I knew it would also become part of my life. Soon I did not think about it at all when I was listening to it, it just was there. It’s something that would play in my head even when I didn’t have the headphones or the radio turned up. That is what keeps people coming back to something like music, it can enter our bodies and move freely, and when it becomes memory it can stay for as long as we live. The thematic material that the group chooses to play over does not matter to me nearly as much as the sound that it creates. It like how I also couldn’t sleep when I was a baby unless I was moving in a car or sitting on top of the washing machine, the humming of the engines brings peace and lets us forget the silence, that deadly silence that warns us of darker things.

I know I did not discuss the content of the album beyond how it relates to my life, but this is the best way for me to illustrate it. This is a popular band, and while I hold dearly to my experiences, I know them not to be just my own. Other beta and omega males (and females) out there rush to stuff like this to escape whatever it is that ails them.

The point is that I NEED this group. More so than I need so many other things that make me worry and sometimes cry. Whether or not a million other 21 year olds out there are the same way, this is MY story. The group sings to me when I sleep, when I try to remember things I can’t remember, feelings that I lost and cannot feel anymore. It’s that important.

I don’t think I felt the kind of passion described by Glen Yarbrough or Blind Guardian unless I was listening to them, and I never felt the pain foretold unless I couldn’t listen to them. The humming just wasn’t there. Have to find that humming…