Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pills against the ageless ills - Part II: The bad, the worse and the ugly

In my previous post I have written a bit about my current medications, the only medications so far that have had a positive effect on me in absence of any negative side-effects. This post is about the opposite, about all the crap I've been taking in the past that varied between useless and plain awful, and everything in between. They say each person responds to different medications differently, and it's true. So it's trial and error. And from my experience I can safely say that error is in the vast majority, it's just error after error, one error more erroneous that the other.

To start things off lightly, I can simply talk about all the meds I've taken that have had no effect whatsoever. No desired effect, not even any side-effects. Just plain placebos that cost my health insurance hundreds of Euros. A fine total waste of our collective resources.

What will forever top my placebo-list are the so-called SSRIs, or selective serotonine reuptake inhibitors. I've had three of those so far: Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa), and what did they do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing whatsoever. At any dosage, over any period of time taken. They are pretty much the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, and they don't seem to be doing anything at all. In fact the first two, fluoxetine and sertraline, didn't even bother me in terms of SSRI discontinuation syndrome. No withdrawal or anything. Could quit them anytime and wouldn't notice a difference. Citalopram at least had a few of those "brain zaps" associated with discontinuing an SSRI, but those were hardly noticeable and occured rarely. All in all, my entire experience with SSRIs is that they are a waste of time and resources, and should not only not be taken by anyone, but not even produced.

Other meds with no effect whatsoever are from a variety of medication classes. There was pregabaline (Lyrica), which is used for neuropathic pain, which I don't have, but has an off-label use as an anxiolytic approved in Germany. Didn't do a thing for me. Then there is buspirone (BuSpar), which is something I don't remember the type of, which is also used as an anxiolytic, but is rarely effective, and didn't really do anything for me, either. Finally there was risperidone (Risperdal), an antipsychotic, which was given to me for an off-label use of supposedly enhancing the effectiveness of my antidepressants. It neither enhanced anything, nor did it do anything by itself, it was just a very expensive way to flush some chemicals down the proverbial toilet. Last but not least there was haloperidol (Haldol), one of the most feared antipsychotics out there. Did nothing for me, but I took it for too short a time to make a very educated judgement. Actually that was not the last, because I got biperiden (Akineton) along with the haloperidol, because it supposedly counteracts the side-effects of haloperidol. Well, I had no side-effects of haloperidol, and the biperiden did nothing, either. Just more placebos to waste.

Now the fun part starts when meds are not only utterly useless, but fuck up your life with side-effects as well. I've certainly had my share of those. One major annoyance was two meds that made me excessively drowsy all day long. Those two were mirtazapine (Remeron), an antidepressant, and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an antipsychotic. I practically couldn't function with those two in my system, because I'd be dead-tired all day long. I'd sleep forever already, but felt half-asleep during the entire time I was awake as well. Bupripion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant, did the exact opposite, I was so wired and restless I couldn't calm down for a second, and I quickly had to quit it because it fired me up so much it gave me constant panic attacks. Definitely one of the worst drugs I have ever taken.

Finally, there are the schlongicidal drugs. I call them that because they're dick-killers. If you ever wanted your wiener reduced to a raisin, those are the ones for you. Clomipramine (Anafranil) is the first of those I had. Took it, and could say goodbye to any hopes of ever having an erection, let alone an orgasm. Quickly talked my doctor into taking me off that, since that is unacceptable to any man. Had two more of those, duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor), both antidepressants of the SNRI class. Take them and say goodbye to your sexual desires and intentions.

Venlafaxine gets two special mentions, one positive, one negative. The positive one is that it actually had a beneficial effect on my symptoms, but I quit it regardless because of the side-effects. The negative one is that besides the limp dick not being reason enough to quit the med, it also has a rare side-effect that basically causes Candida Balanitis. That's a yeast infection on your little fireman. Disgusting, smelly, and very hard to get rid of. And since we're already at the special mentions for venlafaxine, there's a third: After you've obviously figured the side-effects are too much to keep using it, you'll be hit with the discontinuation syndrome from hell. The "brain zaps" I described earlier? Hellish. Really strong, lasting all day long, for weeks. Venlafaxine gets my vote as the worst medication I have personally ever tried, and possibly one of the worst on the psychoactive medication market as a whole.

Like I said in the first part of this series, it is possible to eventually find some stuff that works for you relatively well with relatively few side-effects, but most of us sure as hell have to go through some godawful stuff before arriving at something worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ten of the best metal albums of all time - Part VII: Samael - Worship Him

There's a very small, perhaps very, very slowly growing movement within the extreme community which seems to promote the idea that for an expression within extreme metal to be valid, it must be some sort of "true art" or whatever, on par with the great composers or painters or writers of the 18th or 19th century. There is considerable effort put into creating a narrative in which bands like Incantation are supposedly on the same level as Beethoven or Mozart in compositional skill, creativity, vision and impact, and for some reason these people are able to take themselves seriously and do not seem to feel ridiculous about their claims at all. It seems to function on a footing similar to those of people who in all seriousness discuss what type of reptile hybrid Barack Obama's secret service agent transformed into in that video that was briefly popular on the internet some time ago. People can believe just about anything, in any artificially created reality they just need to tell themselves as truth often enough.

What leads me to the previous particular opening paragraph for this particular album I'm reviewing is a desire to return to the roots of what drew people into extreme metal in the first place, and being honest to oneself and others about what the extreme forms of metal's core appeals are. Shall we exhibit this required level of honesty and simply admit to ourselves that, whatever artistic depth we have discovered in the style subsequently aside, what pulled us in originally, what we were looking for originally, was how vile, how disgusting, how nihilistic, how morbid, and how evil everything in extreme metal was? This overwhelming quality of overstepping all boundaries to create a force so dark and destructive, so unlike everything created before. An unholy union of qualities you wouldn't have found in any other extreme genre at the time. Sure, extreme grindcore like Anal Cunt or extreme noise like Masonna will have sounded vile and disgusting back around the time most of us discovered extreme metal, but metal didn't stop at vile and disgusting and added a lot more extreme qualities, like extremely dark atmosphere, extremely dense structure and extremely morbid riffing.

There are a number of albums from around the late 80s to early 90s that symbolised this amalgamation of extreme qualities quite perfectly, some have been or will be covered in other parts of this series. One that stands out in particular, though, when thinking of vile, disgusting, nihilistic, morbid, evil, and so forth, is Samael's debut album Worship Him. It has a sound of such pure, unadulterated darkness and such primitive brutality that only the beginnings of extreme metal (if you still count the late 80s as such) are capable of. Suffocating riffing meets an atmosphere from the depths of hell, played with such irreverence for pleasantness and mass compatibility that it was truly shocking for the context of the time of its release.

The riff writing at the core of this album sounds sort of like a cross between what would happen if you sucked any and all trace of NWOBHM out of early Venom and left only the morbidly antagonistic audial devil worship, and the life-drenching doom and gloom of Samael's unforgettable compatriots Hellhammer (and traces of early Celtic Frost.) Both Venom and Hellhammer are similarly defined by a "bulldozing" quality of their assaults on the senses, though accomplishing that sound by greatly different approaches. One relying more of the power of its riffs, the other more on sound and rhythm. Samael have decided to continue that quality and combine both approaches, while at the same time removing anything remotely positivistic or upbeat. Worship Him is not an album to have fun to. Any and all "party music" qualities of its progenitors have been mercilessly extinguished. What's left is a core of riffs that definitely harkens back to the earliest days of extreme metal, but is unforgivingly dark and evil. Exactly the type of stuff anyone who can relate to this review's first two paragraphs was looking for when first getting into extreme metal.

It isn't just the core of riffs that is so brutal and morbid in its primitivity. Both the whole songwriting process and the production process seem to follow the singular goal of sucking anything life-affirming and beautiful out of what had been in extreme metal before. Riffs are arranged in a very simple fashion, but one efficient at its destructiveness. The percussion at the same time reminds of ancient war drums and whips the listener into a frenzy of worship of the dark and evil. It helps create a certain passion that the music otherwise might have lacked, even if the lack of passion would be minimal considering the unhinged brutality of the riffs. The vocals themselves add a charme of irreverence few extreme metal vocalists could provide. The combination of all instruments drips of blasphemy, and it is irresistable to succumb to it. The rough but sharp nature of the production puts it on perfect footing to do its deed. Cutting the air like a razorblade, but foul enough to simultanously drench the atmosphere in utter darkness, it puts the extreme nature of the performance in the perfect frame to achieve its maximum efficiency. Simply perfect for this album.

As we all know, the band only maintained its level of brilliance briefly, releasing one more album that while being slightly weaker by nature of experimenting with higher levels of accessibility, still maintained many of the enduring qualities of this debut, before quickly deteriorating into some sort of circus act through the inclusion of one ill-advised idea after another, eventually packing entire albums to the brim with them. It is always a shame to see such a magnificent band lose its relevance in such a short time, but what remains is a debut album that personifies extreme metal like few others, and is an absolute masterpiece in the field.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ten of the best metal albums of all time - Part VI: Revenant - Prophecies of a Dying World

If I was going to attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the writings of H. P. Lovecraft in music I would probably go for some sort of blackened sludge metal with really downtuned guitars and a really slow tempo, with Portal-like guitar-bend swirls and an array of growls, snarls, hisses and moans for that slimey, tentacle-y sort of feel. And it would probably be godawful and completely miss the mark. But luckily that wouldn't be necessary, because the Lovecraft kind of atmosphere has already been captured perfectly in metal all the way back in 1991 by a "simple" death/thrash band with no need for any such gimmicks as the ones my often wandering mind concocted in the opening sentence.

This album is another fine example of a band doing everything right. I don't know how much creating a metal soundtrack to Lovecraft's stories is actually something the band set out to do, or how much this idea was attached to them in hindsight due to the nature of their lyrics and their art. However, whether it was the ultimate goal or a side-effect of the songwriting process, the band succeeded perfectly at creating the perfect kind of atmosphere for the subject matter. This is indeed accomplished not through the use of atmospheric gimmicks many modern bands would likely go for (and I know a few bands that do), but with beautiful subtlety. The focus is on creating an intense and riff-heavy death/thrash album, steamrolling it with atmospheric elements would only take away from that. Instead, the dark feel is interwoven into the structures with the utmost care and intricacy.

Even without the immersing atmosphere, Prophecies of a Dying World stands as a masterpiece in itself. The Revenant approach to death/thrash metal is one of a kind, even while using ingredients common around the time it was created. In its ferocity and aggression, as well as its darkness, a lot of parallels to death/thrash pioneers Possessed come to mind. There's a certain dedication to relentless force common to both artists. Pummeling rhythm guitars buzzsaw away over blisteringly fast-paced percussion while razor-sharp lead guitars perform the audial equivalent of cutting through flesh. All this is maintained at a very high level of quality of riffwriting. There's not a single weak spot in the riff department throughout the entirety of the album, everything maintains a maximum level of ferocity, aggression, darkness, but also catchiness as well as intelligence. Especially the latter two are rarely combined so seamlessly, with the vast majority of bands choosing to sacrifice one in favour of the other. The riffing on this album is about as top notch as you can get in the style of death/thrash metal, but it doesn't end there.

All-obliterating Possessed-like qualities are only one major element at work here. Another is an emphasis on dynamics that was popularised in thrash metal in the late 80s by many of the most famous bands, such as Slayer (on South of Heaven) or Metallica (on ...And Justice for All). And it is a common rule is metal that what works for more mainstream artists, more underground artists will hone to perfection. Revenant on this album are pretty much as close to perfection in the field of dynamics in thrash as anyone can be. And this is really what sets them apart from more "regular", Possessed-style of death/thrash. It doesn't just bludgeon the listener. It takes the listener on a journey through a dark, multi-layered, multi-faceted world, through constant changes in riffs, tempos and arrangements. All this without losing coherency for a second. They don't just go berserk, it is more akin to following a berserker through the numerous points in time and space and ups and downs of his life. Except in Revenant's case the berserker is not literally a Norse warrior on psychoactive drugs, but some bizarre, dark, slimey, unspeakable Lovecraftian creature from one of the higher dimensions of horror.

The subtle but intense otherworldly atmosphere comes in part from the perfect combination of pummeling Possessed-style ferocity with a sense of narrative dynamics approaching progressive forms of music. But on top of this backbone, the remaining ingredients really drive the point home, really define this music as something you would hear inside your head if you ended up inside an H. P. Lovecraft story. The vocals certainly are a big factor in aiding this type of atmosphere that just does not seem right in this world. They, too, bear resemblences to Possessed, but have a much darker quality to them, as if teleported into our dimension from a world in which fear is the only reality. It is really hard to describe on paper, it is a unique sense of paranoia they carry with them the more you immerse yourself in them. The spoken parts are the icing on a cake of subterranean sludge here. Simply perfect in the context of this album's atmosphere. But what drives both styles of vocals to maximum efficiency is the sheer quality of the lyrics. Analysing poetry was never my strongest points, and I advise you to simply read, or much better hear, them for yourself. There's simply such a schizophrenic, otherworldly quality to them that they suck you straight out of our world, our normal world, into a world of absolute fear and paranoia. It's humbling, even terrifying, but also absolutely satisfying for any connoisseur of dark literature.

All in all this is album is magnificent, and absolutely essential for the collection of anyone who appreciates extreme metal - and metal in general - and H. P. Lovecraft and similar authors. It's relentlessly immersive, and suffocatingly dark, while at the same time invigoratingly catchy. One of the most perfect metal albums of all time.

Pills against the ageless ills - Part I: Introduction and the state of affairs

You probably saw this one coming miles away, didn't you? So many posts about mental health-related themes, it was only a matter of time until the subject of meds would come up. And yeah, in the field of mental health - or the field of mental illness, whether you want to name it by its glass-half-full or its glass-half-empty term - you can't go a spit's distance without running into its pharmaceutical component. It's both good and bad. Good that there's a multi-pronged approach to tackling your problems, bad that you basically become a walking test lab for chemists, being experimented on with all sorts of poorly understood and potentially hazardous substances.

Over the years I've amassed quite the experience with a wide array of psychoactive medications, having been through a good number of changes. There's no grand conspiracy theory about the many changes, no evil pharmaceutical company reptile Illuminati plotting the destruction of my body and/or mind. The changes were purely practical. Something either had no effect whatsoever, or had unacceptable side-effects, so it was taken out, and something new was tried. You see, for those of you with no experience in the field, it's actually very, very rare to start out with a medication and it works for you perfectly and you stick with it. This isn't a case of doctors clearly identifying an illness, and having something that is guaranteed to work, like it is for many physical ailments. Unless you are willing to have a cerebral vivisection, I suppose, finding the root of your problem(s) is actually mostly guesswork, which is the first of two reasons things are more complicated. The second reason is that psychoactive meds don't have the same effect on different people, because every brain is different and works differently. So basically doctors tell you "not sure what the issue is, take this, not sure what it will do." They package it differently, of course, with more confidence in their knowledge and skills.

I will eventually devote a number of posts to things I have taken in the past, with some juicy details as to why I discontinued them. You're gonna love it, you know which part of the male body psychoactive meds like to negatively affect the most. I will also devote a post to the darkest chapter of psychoactive meds: Physical dependency. Anyone with anxiety or sleeping disorders will have at least scraped the surface of that particular subject. For this first post of the new series, however, I'd like to talk about the type of meds that are the most rare, and that you are the least likely to come across: The ones that actually have a positive effect on you.

Chlorprothixene is something many of you from various corners of the world will never have heard of because to my knowledge it is only licensed in certain European countries, Germany included. Why that is I have no idea, I have never had any adverse effects from it or heard of someone who has. Officially an antipsychotic, it has very little potency in actually treating psychosis or any symptoms thereof, which is why it is never used for that purpose. What it does have potency in is in its sedative effect, which is why it is used almost exclusively as a sleeping aid, sometimes as an anxiolytic. Now I can't say much for its supposed anxiolytic properties, it may have such for some people, but for me it has absolutely no effect on anxiety. But damn, did it change my life as a sleeping aid.  I used to have massive difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and it messed up pretty much every aspect of my life. Couldn't plan my days at all because I wouldn't have any idea when I'd fall asleep and when I'd wake up, and how rested and therefore functional I would be. 50mg of chlorprothixene a night, and the issue itself and all associated issues were solved. Take the pill and two hours later I'm asleep, and stay that way the whole night, and wake up well-rested. And there isn't any addictive potential like there would be in traditional sleeping aids, so it's a win-win situation for me. Been taking it for about two years now, and it's a major improvement to finally have a properly set sleep rhythm.

The other medication I am currently taking and have nothing but positive feelings about is ziprasidone (Geodon/Zeldox). Been taking it since early this year, replacing that godawful olanzapine (Zyprexa), and damn has my life made a change for the better. Also an antipsychotic, like the olanzapine it replaced, I don't actually know how well it works in treating psychosis, since I don't suffer from any. I am taking it for its anxiolytic off-label use, and benefit from a few more of its side-effects, like that it helps organise thoughts and feelings when they are a mess, and it even has some antidepressive effect on me. This is a marked difference from olanzapine, which also somewhat worked as an anxiolytic, but had no other positive effect on the mess in my head in general, and contrary to ziprasidone it also depressed the hell out of me. Basically, since the switch, I went from spending all day moping and yawning, generally feeling like doing nothing, ever, to actively living my life, trying new things, doing all the stuff I like to do but never had the motivation for, and with a much increased ability to focus and keep my attention. It's quite a change. The anxiolytic effect remained the same, which means I still struggle with background-level anxiety as I did before, but it also didn't get worse. And with all the positive effects I got in addition, it was very much well worth it.

Those are the two medications I am currently taking, and so far the only psychoactive medications I have had in my life that I am happy with. I take 20mg of ziprasidone in the morning, another 20mg at night, along with 50mg of chlorprothixene, and it's by far the best med regiment I have had in almost six years of psychiatric treatment. There's room for improvement, which may or may not come, but for now I am doing well. And it certainly beats some of the crap I've had to deal with in the past, which I will address in the next post of this new series.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ten of the best metal albums of all time - Part V: Winter - Into Darkness

Even in a review series about some of the very best metal albums of all time, a series which is obviously to be loaded with superlatives in every review, there's bound to be one album which stands out the most. And it doesn't matter into how many parts I decided to divide this series - I picked tenrather arbitrarily - but if it were only five, or up to fifty, this one album would always stand out above all others. This album is, of course, Winter's Into Darkness, the pinnacle, the crown jewel in the history of all forms of heavy metal, for all times to come.

"Words cannot describe..." is a phrase that is not only strangely overused in reviews of such amazing works of art, but also contradictory to the purpose of a review itself, since using words to describe is exactly what one attempts at doing in this endeavour. It is however the first phrase to pop into my mind when beginning to try to wrap my mind around how to get the mind-blowing quality of this album across to the reader. I feel like an astronomer who tries to describe the universe in a few drab technical terms, when in reality it takes a lifetime of internalising all its aspects to realise just how amazing and impressive is in its entirety. Into Darkness, likewise, is something I can only sketch out in a few well-intentioned but never sufficient phrases without ever scratching the surface of its grandness, and no potential listener reading this review will grasp the magnitude of what was put on record here by a few general descriptions of the elements that make up the album's sound.

It is no coincidence that I chose an analogy to describing the universe when beginning to delve into an attempted characterisation of this album, because as the universe is unimaginably big in spacial dimensions, Into Darkness is the same in audial ones. There is a gravity to every note played on this album that evokes images of solar system-sized giants pounding down on planets with star-sized hammers. It feels like the perfect embodiment of the sheer heaviness bands have been going for ever since Black Sabbath played the very first notes of their eponymous song, and that only Winter have reached in this magnitude, and one that can never be surpassed. The amazing production of course does a great job of accomplishing this, with its thick and massive guitar tone and the accompanying strong and heavy presence of the bass. But the major credit lies, as always, with the songwriting, as no producer or engineer has ever created a masterpiece in music, only songwriters have.

How to make heavy metal in all its diversity of subgenres as heavy as possible has been a quest from the start, with a myriad of approaches to achieve this feat, but no band ever succeeded to an extent as Winter did right here, and no one ever will again. The ingredients are fairly simple. Due credit has to be given to obvious influences such as Celtic Frost (in the more uptempo parts) or Amebix (when things slow down), but what Winter achieve here is primarily the result of their own, simple, straight-forward, but utterly effective songwriting choices. Every chord is played with just the right amount of power behind it, and sustained for just the right length, arranged into riffs in which every chord feels to up the ante and increase the heaviness of its preceeding chord. The sheer massiveness of these riffs is almost surpassed by how dark an atmosphere they create, something that only adds to their gravity. It once again brings back the analogy to the universe, and objects that are so massive that not even light can escape them.

Not to be outdone by the riffs, the rhythm section acts with the same remorseless dedication to flattening the listener into residue the size of atoms or smaller. The pounding, warlike drumming in particular is a showcase exercise in brutal efficiency. The analogies in my mind vary between a hammer and an anvil, and the chains of a tank, but either of them at a cosmic size. Sparse keyboards help add keep the density intact at any and all times, leaving the listener no reprieve from the suffocating darkness and gravity of the audial maelstrom created. And above all tower the vocals.

What John Alman delivers here is a performance unrivaled in the entirety of the heavy metal genre. Appearing as standard Celtic Frost-inspired barks on the surface, only lowered by about an octave, they reveal an unimaginable depth of emotional power after repeated listens. And trust me, once your mind properly processes this album, there will be many, many repeated listens. Alman's performance creates a variety of mental images, from a war commander of an army of some form of gigantic, horrid creatures ready to conquer the universe and plunge all civilisations across its span into perpetual darkness, to a mad preacher of some ancient cosmic religion shouting sermons of an impending doom for all that lives in the entirety of space and time. The feeling they create is absolutely huge and suffocating, and leave no doubt that the end of all is nigh, and nothing can be done to prevent it.

The conclusion brings me back to the initial phrase of words being unable to describe, and while I may have done my best for my words to accomplish anything nearing a worthy description, I must live with the realisation that it is simply not possible to put into words what only many repeated listens of the album can achieve. If there ever was any album that needed to be heard, and needed to be heard as often and intensively as possible, it is Winter's Into Darkness. This is the essential metal classic that requires a spot in every self-respecting heavy metal connoisseur's collection. Were I forced to pick a best album of the entire genre at gunpoint, I would name this as my first choice without hesitation.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ten of the best metal albums of all time - Part IV: Demilich - Nespithe

You know, in that alternate universe in which time runs backwards, this album would be the world's most derided as having stolen every single idea bands had after 1993. You can think of whatever band in the world in the late 1990s or 2000s having a really great idea, and Demilich will have said "Hah, we'll take your idea and do it in 1993!" Basically, this album is the culmination of all cool ideas in metal from all the years after this album was released, but Demilich did them before they became cool ideas in metal as a whole.

The problem is that from a neutral viewpoint, amazing quality aside, it isn't very easy to sell this album to those not familiar with it. That is because describing the surface elements doesn't leave a very appealing mix in theory. For example, I will certainly never win an award for being the world's biggest fan of technical death metal, so if you came to me praising this amazing technical death metal album you think I should hear, I'd probably ignore you. Moreover, there certainly is no love lost between myself and death metal that infuses a strong sense of melody, so if you praised the great melodies on this album, hell would freeze over before you got me even remotely interested. Then to top things off you may begin to talk to about vocals that sound like a cross between belching and frog vocalisations, and you can be sure to have given me a mental image of an album I will certainly never give the time of day.

It is a bit of an odd thing that I not only checked this album out, but actually gave it enough listens to fully grasp the genius behind it, because I am usually impervious to the fierce word of mouth propaganda that led to my doing so in the end. The right amount of praise, with the right amount of thought put behind it, by the right people, usually not enough for me to budge, but! Combined with the level of intelligence and creativity seen in the songtitles, it was enough for an interest to be piqued. And just as tenacious as the concerns voiced in the second paragraph were prior to my subsequent indulgence, as swiftly they were washed away by the sheer quality of this album's writing and performance.

Nothing could be a greater mistake than avoiding what is being presented on this record based on what its surface elements look like on paper. It is not simply a question of the album being greater than the sum of its parts. That is an expression more adequately used for something the parts of which would have some appeal of themselves and being put together to something of high quality. In the case of the album I am reviewing, it would not only be an understatement, but the entire approach of that type of thinking would be fallacious. Because simply put, it's not a matter of a couple of good riffs strung up into something great. It's far more radical than that. The parts on this album, and that's the beauty of it, are actually anything but good or appealing by themselves. Take any riff, any melody, any bass line, any drum part, any frog belch, by itself it's actually quite awful. What Demilich does is to interweave these awful parts into a radiant piece of art. It's dumbfounding, but that's the power of amazing songwriting.

Both the sheer level of thought behind these arrangements and the keen instinct for their perfect interwoven combinations leave the listener astonished, almost in disbelief over how something so bizarre and unsettling can be made into something so grand. Every note seems to flow into the next as if written in cosmic stone at the beginning of time and discovered by still primitive humans via some bizarre scientific contraption. Every hit on the drumkit alike, and every utterance of vocalisation, it all fits together like a pre-historic puzzle to be solved once humankind has hit the right level of evolution. It all creates a certain aesthetic flow that can only be compared to the beauty of the workings of the universe themselves. It's a work of genius, no less can be said about it.

I realise that it will never be within my writing abilities to properly convey the majesty of this album's songwriting and performance, and that to many it will continue to be a candidate for dismissal based on it supposedly being just anothter faux-"strange" technical death metal album with too much of an emphasis on melody and vocals that to many can't possibly be taken seriously either by the person who performed them or the confused listener wondering what it was they were meant to accomplished. I don't think any of my ramblings in this review will make any difference to those reluctant about giving this album enough listens to fully immerse themselves in it and discover its genius. The fact that this is one of the best recordings in the whole of metal, and possibly music itself, remains.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stray thoughts from last week - A mental health nightmare

This was a horrifying week. As you could read in my previous post "Retox", I had an outpatient psychiatric nursing service visit me once a week for a few years. Well, about a year ago, there was a problem between the social welfare office which pays for the service, and the service itself, about, as always with the social welfare office, "documents not being handed in completely".

First of all I had no money for all of November for that same reason. Bureaucrat assholes. Second, the social welfare office and the nursing service came to an agreement that the payments would continue, but work would only continue on the social welfare office's terms. And in their infinite wisdom they decided that work should no longer be done by nurses, who in Germany have no college education generally, but by social workers, who studied social work at university. Now I had a very good relationship with my nurse (hi, Harold! (not his real name)), but they decided it wasn't good enough. So a social worker was sent instead.

This week I kicked out the social worker. She kept whining my lovely dog would bite, because my dog barks at strangers. I told her again and again that in over five years my dog has never bitten a human being once, not even another dog. Nothing. No biting. She said it was too dangerous for her to have a barking dog that could bite any second (fuck you, asshole) around, and wanted me to dump it off at my parents' place every time she comes. I told her no. She told me, well, no other worker for the service will ever want to be in that extreme biting danger, either, since my dog has apparently bitten more than half the population of Germany. I told her to fuck off and closed the door. Emailed the service about a replacement who has more than two brain cells in her skull, no response.

So that's it? They cancel a vital service to me because a paranoid lunatic raves about my dog biting, when my dog has never bitten anyone? That's a fucked-up way to treat a human being in need. But I hated her anyway. She kept talking to me in baby language, like I was too stupid to understand a single word she said. I can't handle that. Either treat me as a smart human being with an illness, if I talked to you like a smart human being, which I always did, or get the fuck out, or I'll talk to you like someone from a trash talk show because you deserve it.

No idea what to do now, but that's what you get for life as a mentally ill person in Germany. I have committed no crime, I am certainly not retarded, and yet I am treated as both. Because I have a few panic attacks occasionally but otherwise am like every other normal human being. Going to tear this country apart with my bare teeth one day.