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Music is the jam of life [The Listserve]

Last week, I was lucky enough to win The Listserve. It's an email list with 22,200 subscribers (and counting - you can subscribe here). Each day a lottery chooses one user to send a 600-word email to the entire list. Here's what I wrote:

My name is Tom, and I'm a fairly cynical guy. Friends and family always call me a grumpy guy, down in the dumps, whatever. I brush it off and frown on into the sunset. But that's fine. Because even beneath it all, I think there's one thing keeping us all spinning on this ball of water, people and green - music.I'm a student of history (and most things) and I think music keeps us all guessing, angling at what's next. That's probably the reason why we haven't blown ourselves up yet. We love a good story. What happens next? What's at the end of the rainbow? We'll keep running toward it, pushing away obstacles and jumping over challenges until we find out. No one wants to be the guy who writes "The End" when we're having such an interesting time.

But music is the way we decorate time and space - art decorates just space, TV and movies and books decorate just time. It's an invisible force that vitalises us - much like air - and brings us closer together. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Europeans invented waltz music to break down the barriers between dancers. Instead of dancing side by side, they could now dance in front of each other. Music may have precipitated the novel idea that love and marriage is for other reasons than money and prestige. Of course, this is just my theory. Well, Shakespeare might back me up.

Though we're not a ritualistic society. Well, not really. Even so, our rites of passage are marked with music. Christenings, graduations, weddings, you name it - there's songs to commemorate them, across every culture. Music is everywhere. After the shocking tragedy in Orlando the other day, people came together to grieve...and sing. It's a release like no other. We cannot change the past but we can make it that little bit better with music.

People gather together to see art and watch films, but they aren't sharing the experience like music. We sit on seats divided by armrests or clump together and walk on to the next painting. I have yet to talk to someone who made a lifelong friend watching a film or proceeding past a bunch of paintings. I can recall sitting on a bench at high school, earbuds lodged way too far in when a fellow traveller walked past and asked what I was listening to. I told him it was Slipknot (don't judge - I was 13 at the time...I still love heavy metal though) and I offered him an earbud. (Imagine doing that now!)

He plucked it in, nodded away for a while and we got talking. We talked about other bands that were hot at the time (Blink 182! The Offspring!) and we've been friends ever since. Music is the neverending story. I think it keeps us grounded, and hanging on to this sometimes awful, sometimes beautiful place we call home.

So what do you think? I'd love to gain a few music loving friends through this, maybe some pen friends (keyboard friends?) I love writing - I'm a copywriter and journalist by trade - so the more correspondence the better!


You can read an archive of the Listserve here.


A Babymetal Cover and an Iron Maiden

I'm turning into one of those "bloggers in name only," aren't I? Fuck it, I was never a "blogger." Sharing useless tips for no money. FIVE TIPS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR ONLINE ONLINEINESS SOCIAL MEDIA GURU BUZZWORD OVERKILL! Please, die horribly.

In the mean time, I wrote another coverstory for Hysteria on the weird and wonderful Babymetal phenomenon. It was more weird but we got there in the end. Download FREE, here.

Another highlight was FOR REAL talking to Dave Murray of the INVINCIBLE Iron Maiden. Yes, that actually happened. Too bad I have to deliver my business seminar Turning Phrases, Turning Heads on the same night. Ugh. Read it here.


Hysteria #40 - Violent Soho

I hate when bloggers apologise for "not posting as often," then falling silent and away. I'm not going to do that, because I'm not the apologising type. What you should do is download the latest edition of Hysteria, with Violent Soho on the cover. They're so hot right now. I talked Netflix n' Blaze with The Bennies, which was an extra special time. Mmm, special. Go on!

Download for FREE, here.


The Top 10 of Metal (and Mosh!) 2015

I'm drawn back to this empty screen each year to secrete my opinion on what I enjoyed this year. I've been doing it since at least 2009, back when I thought writing about music conferred some kind of numinous insight into music. I listen to a lot of bullshit and I'm cynical as hell. Sometimes, I leap out of my chair and whip my (no) hair back and forth in ecstacy. Some of those discs did that to me this year. Here's a numbered list of them.

1. Gazpacho - Molok

These guys are out of this world. Prog rock that's actually progressive and actually rock. It runs from ancient esoterics to futurist wanderings. This is such a trip. At the end there's this code that might blow the world up. For a second there, I tensed up and clenched my eyes tight...

2. Ghost - Meliora

It's pop music painted black. If metal had something close to Pet Sounds, this might be it.

3. Melechesh - Enki

Invoking ancient evil never sounded so badass.

4. Four Year Strong - Four Year Strong

Pop-punk? Fuck off, Tom. This can't be good. Actually no, fuck you. It's brilliant.

5. Hellions - Indian Summer

Saviours of Australian heavy music. Get into them before they burn out in a haze of cocaine dust.

6. Baroness - Purple

Sublime and surreal sounds from Savannah, again. John Baizley is a true artist in every sense.

7. Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannot.Erase

The concept reads like a Hugo winner and sounds like a stoner's dream.

8. Trials - This Ruined World

Thrash done with brains and heart. Riffs born with destinies deeper than "must imitate Metallica" are winners.

9. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic

I never thought Soilwork would make one of these lists again. Boy, I was wrong. Hard.

10. Pyramaze - Disciples of the Sun

lol Power metal. I thought these guys were just a cheap, clean version of Mercenary. Nope. Crisp production and brain-worming hooks do justice to the genre. Finally.

The Honourable Mentions

Gold Award - Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death
Silver Award - Sigh - Graveward
Bronze Award - Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

14. The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal
15. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
16. My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery
17. Killing Joke - Pylon
18. Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero
19. Earth Caller - Degenerate
20. Born Lion - Final Words


Check Hysteria's albums of the year, here!


THE HYST LIST: The Best Ages to Be (According to Rock Stars)

What's the best age to be (according to rock stars?) We answered that question over at

(Yes, I know you never asked!)