As a writer, there is always an element of putting a small piece of yourself into words. This is something I have strived towards perfecting since my very first review and will continue to strive towards until the day I eventually keel over and die. 

However, I’ve always been reluctant to go all the way and write from a solely personal point-of-view. Much of this stems from my own insecurities, a fear of coming across as self-absorbed and a belief that overly-emotional writing benefits absolutely no one besides the author. I usually prefer to let the music to do the talking; to try and convey in words how meaningful Sigur Rós’ (  ) is to me is futile and would result in little more than a few thousand words of emotive drivel. 

Over the course of this year, I have reviewed a great deal of albums that fall under the ‘depressive black metal’ subgenre - perhaps a subliminal method of allowing myself the opportunity to dedicate some words to my own struggles with depression. I’ve failed every time, feeling unqualified to even define the word. In all honesty, trying to label what I feel is something I struggle with every single day. Dredg’s epic “The Canyon Behind Her” is an anthem to me for this exact reason, with its repeated refrain of “Does anybody feel this way? Does anybody feel like I do?”  

Most people tend to associate depression with ‘extreme sadness’ and if that’s the case then I would have to say I’ve never experienced it before. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have never lost anyone that was really close to me, I’ve never dealt with what I would consider to be real hardship and I’ve only ever had to overcome the negative effects of one tumultuous relationship. All in all, I’ve been pretty blessed by whatever deity it is that presides over this life of mine. 

Rather, I would define my depression as a constant struggle to give a fuck. Apathy, self-loathing and social anxiety plague me... and it is only made worse by the fact that I realise I have no right to feel this way. Honestly, I wish that I didn’t. At the very least, I wish I just had something to latch onto to explain why I do. That’s why I would never bother with openly expressing myself; if it’s too difficult for me to understand, how can I expect others to? For this reason, music plays a vital role in my life – it is the only thing I can use the channel how I really feel.

Listening to the tortured souls in Esoteric, Silencer, The Angelic Process and Swans makes me feel a whole lot lighter. To me, it is hopeful music – hopeful in that it brings about the realisation that things are not as bad as they seem. I don’t think that I could ever feel the kind of suicidal longing and insanity that Nattramn did whilst recording Death – Pierce Me. I could also never display the same level of harsh nihilism that permeates Swans’ Public Castration is a Good Idea era. Looking at images of Kim Carlsson’s cut-up body or watching the extremely disturbing video for Nachtmystium’s “Every Last Drop” (depicting the broken lives of heroin users) makes me believe that my feelings of emptiness are merely drops in a vast ocean of fucked up emotions... or lack thereof.

That’s why I listen to the music I do: catharsis. It takes you down into the deepest, most horrific depths of human suffering, forcing you to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about depression and suffering in general. You will come out on the other side feeling worse than you did before and you will have to confront feelings you wish you didn’t have to. But that’s precisely the point. It’s about knowing the enemy; experiencing a darkness that is beyond anything you could suffer in reality. And this is a far more comfortable feeling than falling victim to some bullshit happy ending you know will never come true. 

Am I suffering from depression? I’m not sure. Three years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder... I still don’t know if that’s what I feel. It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that the music I listen to makes me feel more alive. And that’s good enough for me. 

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