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Category: Albums That Shaped Me

Albums That Shaped Me: U2 – The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

The album that lead me down a cool weird path.

Before I begin I would like to state for the record that I know that Bono is an immense egomaniac and that the band hasn’t made a really good album since the 80’s. I only like their music up to and including this album so I am not one of those modern delusional U2 fans who think they can do no wrong.

I’m pretty sure I bought the cassette of this album in late 1985. It was before Joshua Tree was released and before I transferred high schools so it kind of had to have been that specific year. None of the friends that I had at that first high school liked them so I kind of got into them on my own. I remember hearing New Year’s Day on the radio a few years before and seeing that video on MTV as a young teen. By the time the song Pride, which is on this album, came out they were already on my radar and I decided to take the plunge and buy one of their albums. Thank you mom for giving me the money to buy this!

I can in no way overstate how important this album is to me, because it lead me into liking other bands. I remember reading somewhere about members of The Virgin Prunes growing up with the members of U2. So, I bought one of their albums and instantly got hooked. That in turn made me more open towards other ‘weirdo’ bands like Specimen. Also, I got into a lot of Irish post-punk bands, such as Blue In Heaven, that all had connections with one another or with U2.

So musically what makes this album so darn special? The entire album has a very haunting quality to it. There were hints of this on some of their earlier albums, such as New Year’s Day on War, but they went full force into it on this one. I think the pinnacle of this style on the album is the song The Unforgettable Fire. It’s my all time favourite U2 song and it still gives me major goosebumps.

I know that it’s really ‘in’ to hate all of U2’s work these days, which I think is a shame. Their first five albums are post-punk perfection. If it wasn’t for this album I wouldn’t be the mildly dramatic weirdo that I am today. It made me evolve my musical tastes and widen my horizons.

Albums That Shaped Me: Samhain – November Coming Fire (1986)

This record has been in my top ten favourite albums for about thirty years, and it is frequently number one on that list. In my humble opinion this is the best album that Glenn Danzig has ever made, a pinnacle that he will never reach again. It’s the perfect blend of punk and goth music, and I would even venture to say that this is one of the best deathrock albums ever made. I would definitely place it above Specimen’s Batastrophe and Christian Death’s Theater Of Pain. Yes, I went there.

I found out about Samhain in a very strange way. I went to an amusement park a couple of weeks before I graduated high school in 1989 with some metal friends. I was wearing my Sex Pistols Holidays In The Sun shirt. Back then they weren’t as well known as they are now, trust me on that. With all of that being said a girl walked past me at some point while wearing a Samhain November Coming Fire shirt and called me a poser. During that time I was also into The Dead Kennedys and 7 Seconds, so I was in no way a poser. What she said didn’t affect me as much as the appearance of her shirt did. I stored the band name Samhain in the back of my brain for future reference because I thought maybe they would be as good as their shirt looked.

Later in 1989 I very briefly dated a guy who had a Misfits poster in his room even though he didn’t listen to them. I knew who the Misfits were during that time but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to them yet. I know that sounds strange but I was into so many bands at that point that it was difficult to buy all of that music and the albums of bands I wanted to try out at the same time. Back then you actually had to buy the music if you wanted to own it. I mean you could get some tapes off of your friends but it was always a goal to actually legally own the music and support the band at the same time. After I broke up with that guy I went and bought the Misfits album Legacy Of Brutality. My friend Sheri was also really into the Misfits during this time and she is the person that introduced me to the band Danzig.

The man, the myth, the legend.

I remember going to the Rasputin’s music store in San Lorenzo in early 1990 and buying the Danzig and Danzig II: Lucifuge cds. The store had separate sections for goth, punk and just about everything else, which actually made it really easy to find music. I remember looking through the punk section and coming across the name of a band that looked familiar: Samhain. I cold bought November Coming Fire on cd that day and it was quite possibly one of the best music based decisions I have ever made. I’m not overstating that by any means. Back then I cold bought a whole lot of music on the recommendation of other people or by seeing somebody strange wearing a band shirt.

Usually when you hear an album for the first time you will pick out certain songs above others or maybe not even like some of the songs. I liked every single song on this album the very first time I listened to it. The song order has a certain flow to it. For example the song To Walk The Night is slow and quite introspective, perhaps the most traditionally goth rock sounding song on the whole album. While the next song Let The Day Begin is more quick paced and takes you slowly out of the bleakness, all the while singing about darkness and the evil that is coming. The very next song Halloween II is a Misfits cover which is sung completely in Latin and takes you to the place where the last song’s events were leading you to.

I have always liked both goth and punk music but not that many bands have achieved the feat of seamlessly bringing the two genres of music together. The only other band that I can think of immediately is TSOL, whose two albums Dance With Me and Beneath The Shadows are also favourites of mine. However, what Glenn Danzig did with this album is bring it to a higher level by adding into the mix some very dark theming and lyrical content. It’s like the album is in its own dimension of darkness where no light can reach it. November Coming Fire taught me that it was okay to unabashedly embrace my darkness and relish in it. Don’t be a goth who claims that they are totally normal on the inside, because I’m not. Don’t be a punk who always thinks that non violence is always the answer, because it’s not.

If it wasn’t for November Coming Fire I wouldn’t be the very darkly inclined woman that I am today. Never heard of Samhain or November Coming Fire? Give the below a listen, you won’t regret it.

Albums That Shaped Me: Black Flag – Loose Nut (1985)

For years this album has been my go to when I am pissed off because every song is pretty much about rejection, failed relationships and just wanting to destroy things in general.

My favourite Black Flag era is the one fronted by Rollins because the band experimented with their music and didn’t sound like a stereotypical hardcore band of the time. I think that’s the reason why some people don’t like this era of the band.

I first heard this album around 1990 and it taught me that it’s okay to be pissed off about shit that is out of my control. While at the same time it also taught me that it’s okay to be pissed off at the situations that I put myself in. I actually used to sit in my car singing along with the lyrics trying to calm myself down when I needed space.

I love all of the songs on this album, but the one that really encapsulates all of the feelings brought forth by it is Bastard In Love.

‘Bastard in love, there’s no turning back
Punish your lover, and then turn your back
Punish your future to spite your past
Love turns to hate with every spell you cast

You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel
But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real
You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real
My love is real, my love is real

Bastard in love, they push, you shove
There’s no point in asking; you’ll never know why
You run and don’t listen; I sit home and cry
My heart sinks further with each of your lies

You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel
But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real
You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real
My love is real, my love is real
You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel
But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real
You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real
My love is real, my love is real’

To this day this album means a hell of a lot to me and the lessons it taught me are still with me to this day.

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