The Year That Was in Metal - 2013 (Part 2)

M. DREW: Addressing Wizard first, I had never before considered the possibility that glam existed as anything other than meaningless party rock. The revelation that glam was part of a quasi-realist take on the Cold War, an effective 'we're gonna get blown up, so we should have sexy parties now!' changes the entire nature of how I view the genre, and also how grunge could ascend thereafter. It makes entirely too much sense that the hubris of glam would have been a cover for the ever-present fear of nuclear annihilation. See, this is where Chris and I are at a disadvantage, because all of this happened in retrospect to us. Venom and Iron Maiden and Accept have always been available to us without unnecessary tape trading or hunting, so the perspective of availability gets lost on us. This is especially true in light of the fact that growing up, I always assumed that glam metal WAS the mainstream and that it never had underground viability.

Two things for the record - 1) The Monkees have one good song. 2) I don't even want to know what a "Sleez Beez" is.

Yet, I think the most important conclusion Wizard elucidates is that grunge was a response to the entire nature of glam and the Second Great Age of American Materialism that the '80s represented (the first of course was the 'Gilded Age,' as coined by Mark Twain.) I'm going to drop the materialism argument because I lack the socioeconomic background to really tackle that as a social convention, but let's talk about the musical angle for a minute. Could it be that this resurgence of blues-based rock and roll is a conscious response to the complication of metal since the turn of the millennium? In the face of increased extremity, hyper-genrification and the rotation of fifteen minute trends (what's the lifeline for djent, really?) has metal reverted back unto its base in an effort to regain some measure of sanity?

Although that hits on something I really want to highlight, which Chris, I think you hit on perfectly in your review of Noctum. How many of these retro artists can create the music of their forefathers, and how many merely replicate it? After all, for every Iron Maiden, there were a dozen Saxons or other equally faceless British heavy metal bands. While the collective floor for metal seems to have been raised in 2013, it still seems like we may walk away with only five or six heavy hitters in the blues-metal department, which wouldn't be that many, considering the number of entries. (The Sword, Red Fang, Graveyard for sure. Too soon to tell for Mothership, Scorpion Child and some others, but they show promise.)

A quick aside to Chris' point about the fan-based metal reviewers - I've often thought of this phenomenon as a snake eating its own tail. How much sway do those reviewers really hold? Are they reaching a broad palette, or do they merely gain the attention of people seeking affirmation of their own fanhood, and thus it becomes a loud, cyclical repetition, but not an actual burgeoning force. Pardon me for the reference which is much too severe for what we're talking about, but since the 35th anniversary went by recently I am reminded of it - if you asked Jim Jones about his sphere of influence, he would have said it was great, but that was largely because he was surrounded by the nine hundred people who believed in his insanity. Outside of Jonestown, he was either thought of as dangerous, or irrelevant.

But anyway, I'm getting sidetracked - blues metal. Speaking of bands who seem to go through the motions, Black Sabbath released an album this year. This is a gateway to a number of points, but let's start at the top - it would have been easy for me to put "13" on my list of disappointments for 2013, but 1) it was fairly decent and 2) 'disappointment' infers expectation, of which I had none. Nevertheless, despite its highlights, "13" still felt like Sabbath had forgotten the formula for being Sabbath. Perhaps more accurately, they stuck too closely to a single formula, which was never the magic secret ingredient that made those classic records sound like, as you said, a warlock was in the studio with them. At the time, I compared Black Sabbath's record to Gypsyhawk and similar ilk, which is good company to be in, but demonstrates how far Sabbath has come back to earth. Sad though it may be, have we hit a point where even the mighty Black Sabbath can manufacture the same product, but has a hard time recreating the feeling and darkness that proper blues doom should possess?

This got me thinking on a whole different cycle - what, realistically, is the maximum number of universally great albums that we can expect from a single artist? What's the life expectancy of a band's potency? Think about it for a minute - Iron Maiden probably has, what, four albums that are universally regarded as 'great'? Judas Priest has four. Slayer (more on them later) has two and a half or three, depending on how you feel about 'South of Heaven.' Sabbath with Ozzy has four or five. Megadeth has three. Danzig has probably three. Venture to the borders of the genre and the story isn't all that different. Nine Inch Nails has two and an EP, Nirvana has one, Rage Against the Machine has three (though their batting average was exceptionally high.) Motorhead, always a singles band, might well have none. Yet, everyone I listed above is an artist that I treasure as part of my collection and would defend to the death. But not everything they did was perfect. Even in other genres, the trend continues. The Beatles probably have seven or eight, but they're the outlier. The Rolling Stones only have two or three. Led Zeppelin has four, maybe five if you're being generous. Public Enemy has two, maybe three. I'm starting to get redundant, but you see my point. In music, particularly in metal, the most impact you can make seems to occur in a short amount of time. Without exception, it seems like those great albums by those above artists all came in succession, or at least within two release cycles of each other.

I am in no way advocating that Black Sabbath needs to hang it up. They can still put a couple good tunes on a record and God bless them for having the desire to do so. Nevertheless, it does beg the question of if "13" ever had a chance at all to be a genre-defining record, or if it was simply going to be folded into the larger catalogue, as Sabbath had already crested their peak. Parenthetically, Sabbath might not be the best example here, since their peak was over twenty-five years ago, and following their membership gets complicated like a Cable storyline. But as a universal question, you get what I mean - how many years/albums can a band produce holy-shit music? How many current bands that we love are already at or have recently surpassed their quota?

CHRIS: My insight on the retro-based rock and metal bands was something I said without putting much thought into it at the time, but now that I've had the opportunity to let the topic roll around in my head, I haven't changed my mind whatsoever. Listening to the parade of bands that harken back to the old days, I'm constantly frustrated by the lack of spark that comes across from all but a few of them. The bands from the 70's sounded the way they did because that was how they interpreted the music (mostly the blues) that inspired them. It was a natural thing. But the bands that are doing it now aren't going through that process. They hear the old-school music, and do their best to recreate the sound they grew up idolizing. The problem is that they don't understand it wasn't a sound that those classic bands were chasing. The music led them in that direction, and when you start out with the aim of copying a sound, there's no way to put an original spin on it. When you listen to a band like Graveyard, you can hear from song to song how the sound changes to fit what the music needs. That's the entire point of songwriting. But so many of these bands write songs to fit the sound, and not the other way around. If you ask me, it's like trying to paint the sky red because it's your favorite color. You can do it, but it's starting from a flawed assumption.

I'm not sure how much sway the more fan-oriented reviewers have, but a large percentage of the articles and reviews I see recommended and cited are from these sorts of places. I won't name them, but they get traffic that dwarfs anything we could ever hope for. Maybe people take it all with a grain of salt, but it's depressing that some of the larger names in the scene are filled with such pathetic content. It strikes me as being contrary to everything metal was at one time supposed to be about. Metal was the intelligent counter-agent to the mindless fluff of pop music, and now we find ourselves with plenty of fans who treat intelligence like a poison.

Like you, I had no expectations whatsoever for a new Black Sabbath album, both because of the amount of time that has elapsed since Ozzy did anything of note, and because Black Sabbath will always begin and end with Ronnie James Dio for me. While I appreciate the legacy of the band's early years, "Heaven And Hell" is the purest heavy metal album ever made, in my opinion. But even a neophyte like myself could sense Black Sabbath fell into the same trap as the retro bands we just mentioned. Rather than go into the studio and see what inspiration they had at this point in their lives, they went in with the explicit mission to recreate their past. Rick Rubin may be many things, but he's a horrible psychologist. Whether it's Metallica or Black Sabbath, his approach is fully rooted in ignoring the passage of time, and the personal growth that comes with it. Tony Iommi isn't the same person he was when he last made an album with Ozzy, and trying to bring him back to that frame of mind is ridiculous. He has grown so much as a guitarist over the decades that Rubin handcuffed him before they could even start making a record. Music is supposed to be an expression of where you are at a particular moment, and instead Rubin wants bands to pretend they're young again. It doesn't work, and it won't work, because you can't recapture youth. Once it's gone, you have to adapt. Black Sabbath didn't even try, and that's why they failed.

How long can a band stay in top form? I think we, as fans, have a lot to do with shortening that window. I won't disagree with your calculations for the number of those bands' great albums, but I have often asked myself a question; what's different about what they do now? Let's take a band like Dream Theater for example. It's the common assumption that they will never be able to equal "Images & Words" and "Scenes From A Memory", but as someone who wasn't around the scene when those albums came out, I look at them with a different perspective. Listening to them back to back, I can't hear this radical deterioration that makes one superior to the other. If anything, the band as they stand right now are better players, James LaBrie is in better form, and their integration of pop melodies is superior to their glory days. So why is their past sacrosanct?

We've had this discussion before, but I continue to believe that so much of the 'classic' music we love is only such because of when it came out. Twenty years ago, Dream Theater defined a new scene, and blew people away. Play that same record today, without knowing what it is, and it would be called derivative and lacking. The biggest issue long -running bands have is that we the fans get tired before they do. After four or five albums that don't show dramatic shifts in sound, it begins to sound the same, and we start to tune out. Iron Maiden is still putting out excellent, challenging records, but because there are already more than a dozen of them, we're never going to be able to look at a new one without comparing it to one we've lived with for years and attached memories to. To answer your question, I'm not sure how many great albums a band can make, but the window for us to acknowledge their greatness is probably right around four records. After that, we've had too much time to live with the older stuff for anything new by the same band to pierce through our emotions.

I don't think it's out of the question to say that every band we currently love has already reached that point. With the amount of releases we hear, the window keeps shrinking. I've long since come to terms knowing that even my favorite band in the world is never going to make another album that can floor me the way their early ones did. Maybe I'm cynical, though.

M. DREW: Hey, you can't rag on Rick Rubin! He's in the Metal Supreme Court! Joking aside, you're absolutely right about Rick's methodology. His M.O has always been to tell a band 'hey, remember what you used to do? Do that.' That works for Metallica who had the same core, but had strayed from the path of good decisions, but doesn't work as well in the case of a fractured history like Black Sabbath or for a band who only ever did one thing (hence why AC/DC's "Ballbreaker" didn't really work out.)

Maiden is the most interesting case study in the discussion of a band's 'great' albums because they've essentially had two careers, which you and I discussed at length during the Iron Maiden tribute project a couple years back. So, let's say hypothetically that "A Matter of Life and Death" was universally regarded as excellent. Would that even count toward the primary Maiden catalogue, or would that be sort of a Maiden 2.0 album, much like the delineation between Ozzy Sabbath and Dio Sabbath? Furthering the point, that speculation becomes even more subjective if you take into account that Maiden's records with Paul Dianno are generally lumped into the same basket as the early, classic Dickinson records, which begs the question of why one division and not two (or three, but no one wants to remember Blaze Bayley.)

That kind of arbitrary divisional question points to music's subjectivity, and while the subjectivity of music appreciation is the beauty of the medium and also a microcosm of human interaction, this is also where the devil lies, much as we've talked about before. We both hate the summary argument 'Record X is a good example of Genre Y' because that makes the dangerous assumption that Genre Y is a worthwhile expression of art and concurrently absolves Record X of culpability if it in fact blows goats. It's akin to when Bill Simmons wrote, and I'm paraphrasing, that any athlete whose antics are referred to with his own name is basically a jackass. Saying it's just 'Manny being Manny' assumes that Manny Ramirez somehow had a different conduct standard to live up to, and so it is with the subjective splinter genres and arbitrary divisions of metal.

Conversely, that same subjectivity also means that there can be albums we love as individuals that may not be universally regarded as great. I'm defining a 'great' album as one that anyone on the street with a baseline knowledge of the subject would say 'yes, that album defined the genre,' or 'that album has many great songs.' But just because there are albums by any band that don't meet that criteria doesn't mean those albums aren't worthwhile. You and I disagree (to use Maiden as an example,) on the subject of the greatness of "Final Frontier." You and I both think "Operation Mindcrime" is wildly overrated, and we both think Anthrax's "Sound of White Noise" is their best album. That doesn't necessarily make us right or anyone else wrong, it just gives us a small window of the music universe to call our own.

As far as Dream Theater is concerned, I think you answered your own question. Twenty years ago, they defined a genre. For better or worse, that's where the bar was set, and it's tough to define the same genre multiple times. We've seen this a disproportionate number of times in sports. Dan Marino never again replicated the video game numbers he posted in his second season in 1984. Brady Anderson was never again as good as he was in 1996. If trends continue, RGIII may not be the QB he showed flashes of as a rookie.

While we're on the subject of bands who have gone through changes and how long they can maintain dominance, let's talk about Slayer. This year's passing of Jeff Hanneman was a profoundly sad event, not only because a talented artist and man passed away far too young, but because the circumstances seemed avoidable. The harrowing details of Layne Staley's death came to mind as more light was shed on Hanneman's final months and days. Unfortunate though the man's death was, his passing also left several cold, stark questions about Slayer and the ongoing career of artists who by definition aren't bringing the same product to the table anymore.

Not only did Slayer lose Hanneman, but they had a severe falling out with Dave Lombardo and booted him unceremoniously from the band, which leaves only Kerry King and Tom Araya left to carry Slayer's blood-soaked banner. My question isn't whether or not they can do that, but whether or not they should. Regardless of how talented Gary Holt or Paul Bostaph are, Slayer's cardinal lineup, the one people pay money to see, was King, Hanneman, Araya and Lombardo. With half of those faces gone, can the resultant product still be called Slayer? Doesn't it behoove the remaining members to move on to a different project? We've seen this over time with a hundred different bands, including such luminaries as Deep Purple (there’s that name again) and The Who.

Now, before everyone gets in a twist, let me be clear: by no means am I suggesting that King and Araya shouldn't make music anymore, nor am I suggesting that they shouldn't make music together. The pair of them are pretty talented in their own right and likely have plenty of songwriting left in them. Still, it seems somehow hollow, or at worst disingenuous, to continue to use the name "Slayer."

I'll let you respond to all that and then we can start to put a bow on this thing, closing as we always do with surprises and disappointments. Who surprised you (pleasantly) this year, and who let you down?

CHRIS: The long, winding story of Iron Maiden is one of the more interesting ones we have to ruminate on (certainly more interesting than Ripper Owens or Queensryche's infighting). There is an arbitrary nature to dividing their career in half, instead of separating it by each change in singer, but I can understand how it happened. That decision was made by a generation of fans who were, like Bruce Dickinson himself, growing out of metal at the time it happened. By the time "Fear Of The Dark" came out, the form of metal Maiden played was passe, and it was only after the Blaze years and the coming and going of grunge and nu-metal, that those fans returned to the classics. At that point, Maiden 2.0 commenced. I would argue that all four of those albums are as good as their classic run, but no, none of them will ever be able to ascend into the pantheon (except for "Brave New World", and that would only be due to the excitement over Bruce's return).

You absolutely hit on one of my least favorite aspects of hyper-genrification; the establishment of genres that aren't really music. A band like Cattle Decapitation might be the epitome of modern ultra-brutal grindcore, but that doesn't change the fact that they still make worthless noise masquerading as 'art'. Somewhere along the way, we as a metal community have devalued the importance of music, all in the name of heaviness. Music is a combination of rhythm and melody, but go ahead and ask metal fans what they think, and I'll guarantee you the majority couldn't care less about melody. You have bands whose entire existence is predicated on nothing but rhythm (Meshuggah, I'm looking at you). Just because an artist hangs a urinal in a gallery doesn't make it art, nor does playing instruments make the results music.

There are plenty of cases where the 'great' albums are contrary to what I would pick. "Operation: Mindcrime" is the first one that always comes to mind, because it is such a seminal moment in metal history, and yet I consider it one of the most disappointing records ever made. This dovetails back into what I was trying to explain with my Dream Theater example. They get credit for defining a genre with their early records, and rightfully so, but so many of the 'great' albums are given that status almost by default. We have anointed them because they were the first good examples of particular sounds, even if the bands themselves would go on to do better. I have never heard anyone make a reasoned argument for why Dream Theater was demonstrably better back then, other than twenty years of similar music making them weary of any more. That says nothing about each new record that comes out, and explains why we keep seeing horrible metal trends coming down the pike. We have little patience with each one, and no matter how good the music continues to be, we crave something new. It's a shame for any band who doesn't have the fortune of good timing, because their great work can go unappreciated.

The Slayer issue is one that probably deserved its own article to delve into the nuances. My feeling on the issue is that while Tom and Kerry (in that order) absolutely have the right to carry on if they choose to, I can't in any way support them being a creative unit after the current album that had long been planned is done. I'm fully behind their decision to make one more record, hopefully using the last of Jeff's best material, but moving on after that strikes me as being in poor taste. This wasn't a situation where a band member chose to leave. Slayer had its heart and soul ripped out. Look back at their best records, and one thing becomes clear; Jeff was the driving force behind the band. Without him, I don't see how Kerry would ever be able to capture what made Slayer great (just listen to the lyrics of "Payback" - Kerry lost whatever intelligence he used to have). I wouldn't have any problem with the band continuing to go out and tour as a legacy act. They could easily persuade people it would be honoring Jeff's legacy. But continuing to pump out new records, especially in a time when records aren't needed to go out and tour, would be pointless.

I usually give bands considerable latitude when it comes to member shifts, but there is a limit, and it usually comes when the core creative force leaves. Slayer without Jeff could never write a true Slayer album. It's a similar issue with Queensryche right now. You have a band featuring one guy who wrote one half of one third of the songs people remember, and that's supposed to be the 'real' band. Seriously? As great as Dave Lombardo is, he is ultimately replaceable. It's the nature of drumming. But Jeff was as much of what Slayer was as anyone. If you rip a dollar bill in half, it's worthless. You need at least 51% of it to still consider it money. I'm not sure Slayer has 51% left anymore.

My biggest surprise of the year was the same as the biggest disappointment; Avantasia. Every previous Avantasia album (bar the first one, which I didn't hear until after its release) competed valiantly for the top spot on my year-end list. This year, I couldn't even find a spot in the top ten for "The Mystery Of Time". That's not to say it's a bad album, because I still like it quite a bit, but I guess you could say the magic was gone. Tobi's straddling of his old power metal life and his newer hard rock tendencies felt so disjointed, and the casting of singers I didn't care for made the album tedious. There were still a few remarkable songs, but it's the first time since I became a fan that Tobi didn't live up to my expectations (Even "Tinnitus Sanctus", the most maligned Edguy album, did. In fact, it's the one I listen to most often.).

But to end on a positive note, the biggest surprise came in the form of my favorite album of the year. Through age and attrition, I thought I have passed the point where music could move me, but I found myself having a reaction to a record the same way I used to when I was younger and just discovering the magic of music. They were days I believed behind me, but I can't tell you how happy I am to know I was wrong.

What were your biggest surprises/disappointments? And, is there a record we can coalesce on as an overarching winner this year?

M. DREW: I love the money analogy. Perfect and absolutely correct.

As for the rotation of genre trends, this dovetails back into two of my earlier points - First, that fans, for whatever reason, seem to want predictable sameness from an artist regardless of whether or not that artist has hit their creative ceiling and concurrent to that, some artists simply are what they are. What gets overlooked in the perfect storm of those factors is that the fan base, and their taste, can't be expected to be static, either. As a fan turning thirty this year, I listen to and for different things than I did when I was fifteen, twenty or twenty-five, and where a record like the one from Raven Black Night this year would have compelled me ten or even five years ago, I found it flat. Some of this isn't RBN's fault; the genre progresses (or regresses,) depending on the subsequent building of new blood. We see this in all life. With the exception of baseball which remains relatively unchanged, all the major sports have incrementally adjusted to time and new development, the end result being that the games evolve. Watching tapes of the Lakers and Knicks before the invention of the three point line isn't as captivating now, outside of an academic perspective, than it was when it happened. There may well come a time when the same thing is said of LeBron James. We are victims of the present moment in this, and that's not an indictment of your argument about Dream Theater, so much as an inevitability. It's actually something Dave Wyndorf mentioned when I talked to him; that we've all been compelled to believe that whatever is next is better than what we have. One could suggest that it didn’t take much work – that humanity has the seed of that belief embedded in our genetic code. At the same time, that doesn't change the history of what already happened, and our memory of that history at one time being the 'next thing.'

Who surprised me this year? Napalm Records, for one. The Austrian label has always been sort of a mid-card in metal, but they added some strong names this year and put out some really great releases. Monster Magnet, Vista Chino, The Answer and Powerwolf was the tip of the iceberg for Napalm this year, and I don't know that they released any total duds. At least none that I heard. I'm not the biggest DevilDriver fan but even I thought their release this year was decent. Traditionally I don't think Napalm has had a huge reception in the US, but this kind of lineup should serve to change that. Good on them.

Also, a nod to Battlecross, who impressed me beyond my expectation. "War of Will" didn't quite crack my top ten this year, but it was my music of choice on the drive to my company flag football games. My team went 2-6 so it didn't help, but at least listening to the first couple cuts on the drive there made the drive much more enjoyable. Nice work outta Battlecross, hope they keep it up. Along those same lines, Otep put out a challenging record and even Black Dahlia Murder showed some flashes.

Lastly, I was surprised by Cream. And no, they didn't release anything new. But as we've talked about your Noctum review and the sentiment in it (and for the record, you said Noctum DID get the point of evil doom metal,) all these revivalist blues metal bands who lack the spirit of the seventies didn't make me want to listen to more of them, it made me reach for the albums of days gone by. So a couple months back I went on a two-week Cream kick and "Tales of Brave Ulysses" remains one of the more under-appreciated songs of the era. Ginger Baker may be a solid contestant for ugliest man ever (it's him or Randy Johnson, right?) but man, when he hit that kit, everyone knew it.

As ever, a couple bands let me down this year, too. Amon Amarth's record was okay, but in the face of strong competition in their particular genre, I really wanted their album to be more.

The bigger disappointment was Five Finger Death Punch. This is where cynics would berate me for not seeing this coming, but I've long been in the corner for 5FDP and I thought (and think) that they're capable of solid, no-frills bar metal. Their double album/two albums "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell" was totally flat for me. There is a school of thought that says rather than write a double album, you should concentrate on making ten or twelve great songs, but there was more to this than that. The music just lacked the bravado and wonderfully low-brow savagery that I had come to anticipate from Five Finger Death Punch. Traditionally, I'm not someone who cares a great deal about whether or not music has commercial appeal - good music is good music. But the tone of this record felt like it was pandering to radio play and it stole from the character of what could have been an enjoyable performance. I'm not selling 5FDP down the river yet, there's a lot more game to be played as the saying goes, but this was a forgettable, disappointing step. It was a down year for me and pop metal overall, as Saliva released a wicked letdown album as well.

I don't know that we have a consensus album of the year, and that's okay if we don't. It makes the accomplishment on the years we do seem more grandiose, I suppose. There were certainly records that I loved that you liked and vice-versa, but I don't know if there's one that we both would take a punch for. In a backward way, that seems fair considering how many of the greater points of the year, as evidenced in this conversation, we agree on, which is both novel and unusual in and of itself.

So that's part of my ultimate takeaway from 2013, I suppose. The ocean got wider, the floor got raised and there seems, at least as far as we're concerned, to be a lot of common sense issues that fans can find common ground about. In retrospect, 2013 feels like it could be a transitional year, the cusp of tides turning in one direction or another, as metal's history seems to dictate that this kind of balance seems untenable, particularly in light of the fact that this year seems to produce as many questions as it does answers. We may not be able to discern the full lesson of 2013 until the end of 2014, 2015 or somewhere further down the line.

At the very least, maybe if we keep saying ‘hyper-genrification’ it’ll catch on. I’m optimistic.

I started this off, so I'll give you the last word. Councilor, your closing argument, please.

CHRIS: One of the big things for me this year was looking back and taking stock. The round number that now signifies my age led me down the path of reflection, and it struck upon me a couple of things. 1) It reinforced how important music is to me. I spend quite a lot of time listening to music, thinking/writing about it, and trying in my own way to make it. Music is one of the few things I can say I truly love, and time has not taken than away from me. 2) I haven't lost the passion for seeking out new bands. I'm still as excited about finding that next band to make a great album as I've ever been. Not much makes me happier than finding out about something amazing I didn't already know of. There's no such thing as too much good music. 3) Most importantly, my self-evaluation crystallized everything I hate about the way music, and metal in particular, has changed.

I don't want to be the old man telling kids to get off his lawn while talking about how things were better "back in my day" (although I have found myself using that phrase too often). I want to be able to embrace change and soak up the greatness of this day, and every other yet to come. But I can't do that, because there are so many fundamental problems at the core of what metal means right now that I struggle to understand where I fit in. People like me, who can't tap into the anger and aggression that has come to define even mainstream rock radio, are left out in the cold, searching for new dark alleys in which to find our next fix.

I've often wondered whether metal has passed me by, and this year hasn't done much to assuage my doubts. While I liked and loved a large number of records this year, very few of them were strictly metal, a trend that has been growing more pronounced. Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I'm getting soft, or maybe I was in the wrong place all along.

All I know is that I'm going to keep looking for the next great thing, all the while hoping the pendulum swings back towards me. And if it doesn't, there's a wide world of amazing music still waiting for me.

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