By Sean Gonzalez
Every now and then life becomes a big ball of stress that calls for a long drive to block out the suffocating aspects of life. I often find myself just driving around the barren highways at night listening to my favorite music and letting the sounds pull the stressors away from me. Hell, sometimes I take the long way home just to have the opportunity to hear these songs. I invite New Noise readers to come on a drive with me and just sit back, relax, feel the road and listen.
1. “Traveling” – Doe Paoro
As we start our night drive to an empty road at about 11:46, let’s open with something soothing. Traveling is a song that may not be in the realm of what New Noise might be used to, but it doesn’t stop the track from being powerful. What gives it so much grace is the bouncing synths, almost distant at first, but really washing through the soundscape behind Paoro’s delicate but booming voice. It’s a song that puts you into a deep thought while drowning out the rest of the world with a chorus like “I wanted solitude and that’s what I got, now I’m a living island with only one thought; maybe I was wrong.” It’s the perfect song to start our drive to, firing our neurons and opening our ears.
2. “Moor” – Every Time I Die
It’s almost too perfect of a transition to go from a glorious synth lead to a ominous piano tapping on your brain’s dark side. Keith Buckley’s haunting delivery for the first half of this song is not even the best part, as his vicious and virulent nature unleashes itself for his screaming delivery on the back half. The emotion, the anger, the fucking want to seek out his revenge is a cathartic demolition. Go ahead, scream along. This is doom itself and I know I’m not the only the one letting my voice cry out to relieve my inner rage. Don’t lose focus on the road though, it’s hard to praise a hardcore song when not in the mosh pit, but the car serves as a next best option.
3. “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” – The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Okay, that got dark. Let’s let the light back in. I need to thank someone for helping me realize just how great this song fit into this list, thanks Plant Mom. Lyrically this one of the most important songs to be released for the sake of mental health. The imagery is beautiful, the weaving guitars help paint the scene with their delicacy and the drumming is technical, bombastic when need be. As the song builds the vocals become extremely anthemic.The dueling vocals and twisting guitar leads at the song’s close is perhaps the greatest moment of pure passion being displayed in music. It’s one of the perfect songs to sing as loud as possible to while driving. It’s hard not to listen and feel something, let alone not just sit there and fucking smile.
4. “The Pecan Tree” – Deafheaven
It’s about midnight right now and the extreme change of pace hits the eardrums pretty frantically. We go from a beautiful track about climbing out of depression into this chaotic twist of guitars and tortured screams. Give it some time to sink in. Feel the pacing of the drums and grip the steering wheel a little more tightly. The final resolution of this song is arguably one of the best the band has composed. Before that, it begins with a chaotic black metal style, grinding through chords while George Clarke is shrieking above the mix. The tight and aggressive opening is followed by a gazing instrumental section that forces you to be put into deep thought. The reflective tone embedded in the part is perfect for staring through the windshield and out into the abyss. It begs the listener to find peace among the constant distress of life; being led by sliding, dreamy undertones. The tremolo guitar, the piano progression and the bass work together to bring out an introspective nature of the human condition. It’s the end of the track that pulls you back from the dream and into your current spot, right back into not only your drive but reality itself. Crooning guitars, emotional vocals and clever syncopated sections really beat out the last of your emotion, especially if you’ve read the lyrics. The guitar melodies are weeping, the vocals are wretched, the drums match a heartbeat at the most tranquil state, my eyes water up and my hair follicles stand on edge. The sudden change of minor to major key is probably the most beautiful transition I have heard in a piece of ‘black metal’ music. I have written plenty of love letters to this song and have incredible memories attached to it, particularly this one time on Christmas Day where I was driving to my best friend’s house to celebrate (I don’t live close enough to my own family) and just sat there gazing at the sun.
5. “Jane Doe” – Converge
That last track was a fucking behemoth. What can follow an 11 minute epic? Well how about a 12 minute banger in an entirely different style, holding the same level of beauty throughout the entire thing. I will argue with every single person that Jane Doe is the best hardcore/metalcore/whatevercore album to come out in the past twenty, hell even thirty years. The ending title track is an emotional release of wretched vocals similar to the idea of “Tourette’s” by Nirvana, about capturing the joy of music. The progressions are booming, being a track that composition wise offers plenty of fun to listen to. The guitars and drums are syncopated to perfection, never allowing one or the other to outdo each other because they are all needed in an equal presence to bring out the weight of the track. Every section of the track is a destructive force waiting for you to unleash your own might, pummeling the steering wheel in front of you. Bannon’s shrieks are inhuman at times, really adding to the whole beauty of the piece. This is the musical orchestra that plays along to watching someone you love – or think you love – rip everything away from you. This is the sound of their treacherous fingers clawing at your skin. This is the sound of your heart exposing itself and imploding when it all falls apart. Every pounding drum is your heart, beating alone on the ground where it rightfully deserves to be. Every torturous scream is the passion and energy of love, shriveling like a flower before the coming winter. This is what heartache sounds like. This is all of those feelings you don’t want to be involved with but you find yourself crucified to.
You can listen to a Spotify playlist for these five tracks here.