The genius of these songs.
If Hemingway were heavy metal, he’d be Metallica. He would. Metallica’s early stuff was way better than what came later, like Hemingway’s, and their singles and EP’s stayed in history, just like Hemingway’s short stories. Their riffs and motifs redefined the field. Their attention to detail redefined the industry. A lifestyle fueled by excess and obsession, trail-blazing and trend-setting and pioneering their way into an ever-changing, increasingly commercialized art form. A life on the road, binging, shitting and purging, tolling the bell, riding the lightning, the wave. Bleeding on their craft during a moveable feast. Devoting more time to editing and tweaking and perfecting their pieces than to writing them, to the point where it took them ages to release something new, alienating friends and fans in the process. Alienating colleagues and people in general. Alienating spouses and industry people and entire companies. Recovering from pain and excess, some of it self-inflicted, some of it old and formative, chronic. Battling old wounds and trauma, issues all too human and painful, extremely hard on themselves and their heroes, mostly macho and loud, yet somehow sensitive, compassionate. Making strange choices along the way, peculiar endeavors accompanied by bouts of megalomania and inflated self-worth. Insecurity to fill a stadium. And flops, big fat wet failures that led to rejection and obscurity, self-exile, self-loathing, burnout. Accusations of selling out. And heartache, lots of it. They suffered a crash on the road. They lost a friend early on, forever marked by his death. They turned against people they knew, ruthless and cold. They lost themselves inside their own persona, displaying hatred and suspicion of everyone and everything. A loyal fan base at their heels, which they revered and attacked at the same time, a fan base so demanding, it both fueled and consumed their will to continue. Long periods of silence. A comeback to knock the wind out of everyone’s sails. Material waiting to be discovered, old and new. A legacy that will forever define the craft. Haven’t shot themselves yet, at least not with a gun.
If Metallica were literature, they’d be Hemingway.
If Hemingway were heavy metal, he’d be Metallica.
The key is in the drama, the assault on the senses with the aim to shred comfort, replace it with complex and dissonant instincts, conflicting thoughts and flagrant emotions. A devotion to what is most exalted and vulnerable at the same time.
The secret is in the method, in the methodical approach and all that it entails — devotion to the cause, to the craft, professionalism, obsession, conflagration, pursuit. The hunt, all that matters, that and the time spent on the road, seeing the world as it exists beyond the four walls of propriety. The stars in the sky, the depth of the uncentered. The perspective that keeps the dynamic in operation, a progressive engine of ingenuity, conservative as it sometimes appears to be. A world of symbols, symbolism, symbolic interactionism, insinuated intent and simple lines, yet complex, superbly crafted. Lines that sear themselves in one’s mind. Unspoken statements, elliptical, felt rather than spelled out. Traced out and suggested, letting the audience fill in the blanks, complete the experience. Gestalt and invocation. Buildup. Complexity. Conflict and raw instinct. Leanness. Obsession. Repetition that flanks and buttresses the endeavor, keeping the picture intact, the theme evolving, interactive. Expertise that goes the extra step, then another, pushing for perfection and truth, simplicity, surprise. Donning the mantle, then piercing it, redesigning it. The secret is in the method and the way it reinvents itself at will, looking for new ground, a wider, higher vista. Nothing else matters, propriety be damned. The secret is in the method, in the madness leading to it, and in the timing, the sweetbitter timing, and the choice of subject and platform and delivery, and the overall attitude.
Most of all, the secret is in what you withhold.
The genius of these songs, and many songs like them.
The genius of this band, this pack of hunters, and the author they resemble.