Monday, January 30, 2017

Living Vicariously: music

I spent a good chunk of my life either emotionally paralyzed or attempting to be numb.  If I let the feelings out they would rage out of control, often in a bad way. I got through many of those years, strictly monitoring them and often burying the parts that brought anxiety or fear of a bleak future.

My earliest means of coping was through music.  I refused to truly face the wall of emotions that were built up inside of me.  I settled for connecting with them 3-5 minutes at a time... when music brought me there.  I knew that when the song ended, I could return to my state of non-feeling or distract myself with something else.  During those 3-5 minutes I would allow my heart and soul to be ravaged by the storm raging within.  It was all I could do to be a being that could still feel without being overwhelmed.

To put it bluntly, I was horribly sad.  I knew there was one path to salvation.  Without that, I didn't care if I lived or died.

The music that resonated most strongly within my heart was a genre known as emo-core, which was short for "emotional hardcore."  This genre went through several iterations, originally being coined as a genre in 1986 and remained relatively under the radar until the late 1990's.  ~1995-1997 were the first forms of it that were suitable for "mass consumption."  1998 was probably the first year it stood a chance of being popular.  By the time it became a household term in the early 2000's (now known as "emo") the genre was all but dead to me.  The power and heart of the earlier works became diluted to the point where I could barely recognize them.  By the end it had become a dirty word... and its followers were basically the kids who would have listened to the Cure in the 80's.

I do find it quite amusing that the genre eventually became somewhat synonymous with guys wearing bits and pieces of women's clothing, but as with any form of music, once it becomes a Hot Topic fashion, its soul has been dead for years.  Kind of ironic that on a sissy blog I look back upon this with such disdain.

What is most odd is that the songs that became most dear to me... the ones that touched my heart the deepest were all from a specific sub-genre and were mostly released from 1996-1998.  This sub-genre basically sounded like pre-1995 emo-core and was later termed "screamo" = emo + screamed lyrics.  Screamo also managed to dilute itself into crap so the hindsight term used for the bands of this genre became known as Skramz, in order to differentiate it from what happened post-2000.

When all of this happened I was in the later parts of high school (post-driver's license) or in college.  I was in the thick of it all.

When I go back and re-read the lyrics from that era I feel almost... silly... as they are honestly heartbreaking and don't convey a lot of hope.  This was all pre-K, so love's existence hadn't truly been proven to me yet.  All I had was the relationship that only half felt real and fell painfully apart... it was all I knew.  I didn't have a lot of hope.

Before I discovered the lyrics to bands from this genre I never would have listened to them due to the harsh and abrasive vocals.  I learned to tolerate it and eventually appreciate it.  This was the voice of the heart... the sound these feelings would make when expressed openly.  I know many will never adapt themselves to this style, but I wanted to share one anyways as it was at one point a major part of my life.

As a side note, there were only about 20 full-length Skramz albums ever recorded and most of them had a print run of under 1,000 copies.  There were a slew of 7" singles and the like and many have been reissued on compilations... but back when it was happening the following was very small and very intimate.

Feel free to hate these songs.   They will always have a place in my heart.  I'm forever grateful that they no longer apply to me.

Portrait - Missing the Shore

Stall to shatter me.
Fill the best of hope with the grains of a slave.
Why can't you slow down?
Shoot through the dark with no faces.
Call me to settle down.
Roam through your pockets for something you thought was mine.
You say things again for the last time.
Say things again and again.
Call, keep me.
Something that was not mine to save.

She said I told you to throw your life away.
Now is the time you'd say anything.
For the last time I will ask what you want of me.
And he said it wasn't built upon anything.
And he said it wasn't worth it if I made you feel this way.
And he said it wasn't worth it if I made you feel like you're everything.

I don't want to help this knowing how far we've gone.
If it wasn't worth it I'm ready to feel for the last time.
Then no one could touch me.
Then no one could save me.
Love is not for me.
No one could save me from this anyway it's my everything.
For the last time I'll ask you why.

Saetia - One Dying Wish

Because it cuts so deep to see myself wishing upon melting stars
I cut the cords.
I finally give in.
Beyond visions of wretched smiles and the dread that they've befriended.
I have seen an end to you and I (when did we begin?) .
And a warped sense of being that I embrace must exist.
And we with whole hearts, yet broken words, we dream of wisdom.

But i long only for you.
You who would destroy me with words that you have never spoken.
I've drawn a picture of us twisted within yet below this world.
I absorb life from portraits.

As long as we remain abreast of one another, we never meet each other.
As long as we whisper to one another we will never fully hear each other.
As long as my eyelids are weighed down by desire and one dying wish,
I will never know when you appear.


  1. Well, I hesitate to comment, as our taste in music is clearly not in the same galaxy. Let's just say that the vocals on these songs (the sound of that voice itself, not the actual words) would probably force me to cut my wrists if I were forced to endure it for more than 30 seconds at a time. Congratulations for surviving those screeches:)

    1. Thank you Lady Grey.

      Music of this type makes up less than 1% of what I listen to and it was definitely an acquired taste. I am accustomed to it not appealing to others :)

      It is odd to me that I have yet to find another genre that could ever reach me on the same level with the lyrical content.

    2. Before you reply, fur, upon looking back at what I wrote it occurs to me that I was insulting your taste in music. No insult was intended, as it was probably that screechy voice that represented your feelings of frustration at the time. So I apologize for being a bit of a wise ass. Sorry.

    3. No need to apologize, Lady Grey :)

      When I shared these songs I knew that they were going to be outside the scope of just about everyone's tastes. It took me almost a year to adjust to the vocals and that was with the help of a few transition bands that had vocals that were halfway between that and singing to get there.

      One thing is that I do have a lot of respect for bands that are destined to be unpopular. They have no following... will make very little, if any money (most likely they all spend more money out of pocket than what they earn), so they do it just to create their artistic vision. They also existed in the pre-social media days, before high speed internet was readily available so it was almost all don via word of mouth.

      Take care.