Archive for December, 2016

I think it will all be okay

Look how our atmosphere 

Is made. Molecules change

The direction of light and make

A symphony of color 

Each and Every night 

Oh, beauty! Oh, our universe!

Look how it dances free

Free from worry and pain

And yet, if our sun was tilted

By just one micrometer 

Chaos would end our plight

It doesn’t worry – why should we? 

Look how the blue wavelengths 

Scatter, replaced by red. 

Everything, held in balance

By some unknown, unseen force

Maker of dark and light 

Raymond Toro is a virtuoso. He knows what he’s doing. His first solo album, “Remember the Laughter” is proof of that. Writing, arranging, and playing nearly every single piece of music on this disc, the man proves his meddle as a solo artist with catchy vocal hooks, smart time changes, heartfelt lyrics, and passionate vocals. I don’t like it as much as I like the discs he worked on in the past with a band, “I brought You My Bullets, You Brought me Your Love”, “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge”, “The Black Parade”, “Conventional Weapons”(yes, I see it as a cohesive album all by itself), and “Danger Days”, as the primary writer and arranger of the music, but I’m still in love with it. The lyrics alone make it worth a listen, but there’s so much more to it than that. 

“Remember the Laughter” is a concept album about a middle aged man finding a “memory box” and reflecting on moments of his life via the contents of said box. Simple as hell, way less bombastic and complicated than “The Black Parade”, but just as heartfelt and almost as effective. 

A few tracks stand out to me, and they will be the main ones I write about in this review. The first, “Isn’t that Something”, is written from a straight up genius perspective when it comes to music. Good structure, a good balance of traditional music and electronic(just in the beginning really), and some of the most honest lyrics I have ever heard in a song. You can tell that the track is about Toro’s feelings after the MCR breakup of 2013, and it really pulls at your heart, especially if you’re a fan. 

“Mama told me I should stand alone. Papa said your better on your own.”

While I do think My Chem was the greatest ensemble of creators in the history of music, I still think that Ray’s parents were right, at least in a way. He’s finally making the music he’s always wanted to make. Sure, there’s none of that magical teamwork that occurs when a band full of separate artists with separate musical tastes work together to create the sonic hybrid known as an album, but it really does show that this artist can stand on his own two feet creatively just fine. A lot more than fine, actually. 

That being said, this record was A huge surprise to me. My favorite guitarist had always played like he was a hybrid of Brian May and Randy Rhoades – but with this album, he goes the pop route. It’s not “pop” like all that Beyonce shit you always hear, but it’s still catchy as hell. A very strange but very nice combination of modern pop music with 80s rock bands, which makes the disc play like a time capsule, and the record’s narrative lyrically fits well into that aspect of the album. 

“Walking in Circles” is my new favorite love song. The lyrics in it are simple, as is a lot of the music, but the thing delivers. His vocal holds notes extremely well, and the entire song is laced with strings that really give the whole thing an epic scope. As far as the guitar is concerned, this one shows the listener that Ray isn’t interested in shredding and showing off like he did with My Chem. He just wants to make something emotive and powerful with his music, even if it’s simple. But, like I said, there are stringed instruments, so it’s kind of a mind fuck that he would make a song that sounds so simple and then add something really complex on top of it. 

So far, the album has been pretty poppy. But with “We Save”, the music becomes straight up rock and roll, namely, blues rock. I can’t help but make a comparison to “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us in Prison”, chiefly because of the guitar style, but the song still doesn’t sound anything like that one or anything else in My Chem’s arsenal. It’s not heavy, but it’s not soft either-it’s just intelligent rock music that puts a smile on your face. 

Things get more complex a couple of tracks later with, “The Great Beyond”. Orchestral instruments  abound once again, but the real focus is the guitar and the vocals. Melodically, it’s one of the best songs of the album, especially with the soft bridge. I said before that Ray doesn’t really shred on this album – but scratch that, the solo on this song is excellent(I guess he does shred on this album, where the solos are concerned, but he does it sparingly). It’s soft but rockin’, smart, and gets stuck in your head just as much as the vocals do. There’s also a certain highly experimental sound employed throughout the verses that took me a while to get used to, but I love it now, even though I have no clue what it is. Something like scraping or clicking, I guess. 

“Take the World” reminds me of “The World is Ugly” and “the Kids From Yesterday”, but it’s still Signature Ray Toro, not My Chemical Romance. I think it would have worked with Gerard Way singing it, but it actually wouldn’t have been as good. This is the album’s initial single for a reason – it shows with glory Toro’s competence as a songwriter and especially as a vocalist. I’ll admit I like Way’s voice better, but I think Ray’s voice is perfect for this song. 

All the songs are great, but the next one that really stands out to me is “Requiem”. The vocals and lyrics of this record are all delightfully positive, and that infectious happiness shows the most through this track. It’s all about honoring the memories of those we have lost, living life to the fullest, and finding hope amidst the “madness of this world”

“You’ve got one life so make it right. If I had one more chance, I wouldn’t take it back.

Don’t die in vain, please light the flame.

And fill the sadness in your heart with memories of us.”

Just beautiful to the heart, man. Makes me wanna live my life to the fullest. And, at the end of the song, Toro goes full on African with the vocals and percussion. I’ve always loved tribal stuff. It’s just so emotional and real. 

And the last song, title track “Remember the Laughter” is just as powerful and infectious as the rest of them. Great way to end an album, especially with Toro’s “La la la” refrain during the bridge. 

I’ve been listening to this album for a couple weeks constantly, and it resonates with my emotions more than any of the solo efforts of My Chem’s other members. The main focus of the disc is family, and that’s something I desperately needed to focus on at this time. So, thanks Ray.

All in all, a cohesive, well constructed, and just damn good CD.

10 out of 10 

Stay strong, tiny heart

Posted: December 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

Fantastic poetry originally posted by Chithirakshi 

Chithirakshi

A trembling flutter

Uneven

The doc calls it tachycardic

But the rapid beating

changing its rhythm,

makes me wonder…

Will it be alright?

Or will it worsen?

Just that panicky thought makes  my heart a flutter

I don’t want to worry

about my unfulfilled dreams

about my kids

about my loved ones

I just want to stay here

now and then

see, feel and listen

to those loving voices.

Stay strong, my tiny heart

Keep beating, keep going strong.

We have been through heart breaking stuff

Life is about weathering this storm and more

So keep beating, my little one..

Together we will sail

to meet the tomorrow world.

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Immaculate sunshine Fantastical sky

Are the answers in reach

Or is life unattainable
I mean our FULL life

Unclouded by doubt

Untouched by shame

Embrace the love of fate

For joy is our aim
It’s a beautiful life 

Impeccable day

Can we forget the hate 

Or is peace unachievable
I for one believe

Unwavering faith

Unashamed hope

Will be with us to save 

And help us to cope 

Full of decadence

Can we ever see past it?

Nihilistic world

…………………………………

Screens and media

Our hearts are so digitized

No more face to face 
…………………………………
Contemplate the evil earth

Death, end, no rebirth

Salvation: can it occur?

………………………………….

Children are taken captive

Women being raped

The elite turn a blind eye 

…………………………………..

Is there any cause for hope?

I do believe so.

We must all work together 
…………………………………..
Loving, laughing, cradling a heart

Running, crying, straight for a brand new start

        I didn’t like my first time. Sure, I felt a lot of pride from what I had accomplished – which was a necessary objective – but I still didn’t like it. I had just been born. My kind aren’t conscious until we carry out our objective for the first time. However, I do somehow instinctively know that the others and I went through intensive training and testing before we were conscious. 

 You see, we only become sentient, only become able to understand the implications of our function, after we get an owner. And my first owner caused me to carry out my function efficiently and righteously – though I do wish that my function wasn’t even necessary in this world.

 “It wasn’t my fault,” I told myself after the smoke had cleared. “I wouldn’t even exist if not for the creators.”

 To this day, I know that my thinking in regards to this matter has always been correct. But it will never take away the guilt I have over what I was made for.

 As I think back to when I was first used, I realize that the memory is a blurry one. All I can really recall is a man in black bursting through my owner’s front door and rushing towards his daughter. Then, only blackness…until my next use. Time doesn’t really pass much between our uses, especially not from our perspective.

 All of a sudden, I had a new owner, and I hated him. I hated him with every polymer of my lead. My previous owner had used me almost half-ashamedly to protect his family. But this new man – he was the type of person who families would actually need protection from. The same type who almost took my first owner’s daughter. The only type my kind should ever be used against.

 We aren’t exactly conscious between our uses, but we are somehow still aware of what happens with our owners during that time. I can’t really explain it, and some of the events are still clouded to me; but I’m aware of most of the events that transpired with both my previous owner and my current one. What I don’t know, however, is how I came to be possessed by this new man.

 I could have been stolen, sold, found – it doesn’t really matter anyway. The bad ones always find ways of acquiring us, and a lot of the good ones are just too timid to even consider owning us and putting us to our proper use. 

 I also know that they always debate about our control and distribution, but I can’t help but put my tongue in my barrel about all of that. They can never control us. Instead of using us more wisely, they want to eliminate us. But they never can; they are merely kidding themselves.

 The Crystal Demon was once legal, and they eventually eliminated it under law. But anyone can still acquire it. The Drink of Inebriation – which can be blamed for our misuse more than almost anything else – was also once abolished, back in the days of our adolescence. But the people never stopped finding ways to get it – so it became legal once again. I wonder if the same thing could happen with the Crystal Demon.

 Speaking of the Crystal – my new owner consumes it frequently, along with the Nectar of Inebriation. That’s about all he does besides pull my trigger and end lives. Why couldn’t I have been owned by law enforcement, or by a conscientious citizen? Why is fate so cruel?

 Now I fear I am becoming evil, mirroring the heart of my owner. I’m being blamed! They won’t stop blaming me! Can it really be true? All my fault? Why can’t more good people own my kind? I shouldn’t have been made, but it’s too late. Centuries too late. I wish a good man owned me! I feel…I’m becoming…becoming…
SILENCE
METAL
BANG.

This little story of mine has been published by the creative writing group “Creative Quills” into a collection of short narratives titled, Alternate Perspectives

Please check it out and buy a copy! There are many great stories in it from some good friends of mine, all written from the perspective of something not human. 

This isn’t Avenged Sevenfold’s best album. That honor will always be held by City of Evil (one long guitar solo) and, to some extent, Nightmare. 

But it’s their smartest, most ambitious, and most unique album to date. Think “The Wall” by Pink Floyd…but metal.

It’s a concept album, centering around the ideas of artificial intelligence and the implications its misuse has on humanity. Sort of like the Matrix, but less sci-fi and more genuinely scientific. This was the first thing that surprised me about the record. I never would have guessed that these metal giants would make a disc based Around scientific philosophy. Computers become the new God of society, people replace their body parts with mechanical implants so much that they aren’t human anymore, and the world gets destroyed. In my mind, this record is even an allegory for Facebook, social media, and the internet in general taking over the souls of the human race. I don’t really despise social media – but I do think our obsession with it is a bit excessive.

You would think with this concept that the album would sound digital and electronic – and once again, A7x surprise us by making it sound like their older metal core efforts, particularly on tracks 2-5. Instead of going full on 80s metal like they did on their last record, the disappointing “Hail to the King”, the band seems to have gotten back to their roots. It’s a blend of City of Evil and Waking the Fallen, especially where the guitar riffs are concerned. And while it doesn’t sound electronic, it certainly sounds cosmic. You feel like your up in the stars when you listen to it, and the cover art is a very clever play on their beloved logo, the death bat. Stars make up the skull and lightning energy makes up the wings, as you can see for yourself. 

The chorus on “Paradigm” hits mercilessly hard with speed and melody, the riffs on “Sunny Disposition” explode in your face (there’s a really pretty melody in there though at a few points), and “God Damn” combines black metal tremolo picking and drums with clean vocals to a very pleasing effect. 

The final track, “Exit” is primarily instrumental with smart time changes that go on for over ten minutes. There’s more music than lyrics on this one, but when those vocals come your ears will be blown away. This song is basically a narrative for the creation of our universe, the “Big Bang”, and it’s quite possibly the group’s most innovative song. Famed cosmologist Neil Degrasse Tyson even does a spoken word part at the end which he apparently wrote specifically for this album. I wouldn’t have ever pictured him working with a hard rock band, so this was another surprise. 

Yes, the album is full of surprises. It recaptures the brutal sound of their older albums while still remaining fresh and new to the listener. 

The only two problems I have with the disc are M. Shadows’ vocals and Synyster Gate’s guitar playing. Don’t get me wrong – both musicians still sound excellent and totally professional, but their work on this one just doesn’t capture me in the same way their previous material always did.

I award this album a 4 out of 5. If you love metal, go listen to it. Like, right now.