Monday, March 21, 2016

Lost Ritual

It’s been said many times before, but it’s true. A cliché is a cliché for a reason after all. Being in a band is like being a relationship.

For a long period of my life Raging Speedhorn was my significant other. We were in a relationship together for ten years. My first real love. It was sometimes turbulent, sometimes intoxicating. When we first met we were head over heels in love, we spent pretty much every waking hour together. We’d both been in some half serious relationships before but we knew that this was the one. Soul mates. But after the first six months or so our individual personalities, both equally strong and pig headed as they could be, started to create cracks and the honeymoon period was coming to its end. But like with any strong relationship, it’s the good stuff that comes once the honeymoon is over. If you make it past the seven month itch then you’re in for a lasting journey together.

Post honeymoon comes the comfort zone, where you can be yourself with your partner, no longer afraid to express your true feelings on matters, or to state your case in a dispute, completely comfortable with each other's presence.. You know, when you get to that stage where you feel at ease farting in front of each other. It’s then that the good stuff happens.

Our relationship was certainly a feisty one though. We had tremendous arguments that on occasion led to vicious fights. There was a lot of passion that stirred the fire within us. When things were good we felt that we had the strength to take on the world together, when they were bad I would feel as though I was on the brink of caving in. It was without any doubt a most dysfunctional relationship. And like so many trapped in a dysfunctional relationship, it was hard to take yourself out of. We’d been through so much together. There was a time when we even tried putting things on hold for a while, took a break from each other. And for a while it seemed like it had helped. We felt happier for it afterwards. And for a few years towards the end it was good again, we were strong, or stronger anyway, although the odd flare up here and there inevitably awoke lingering doubts that we’d last forever.

After ten years of ups and downs, we decided to call it a day. It was completely amicable. We left each other on good terms and we both knew it was the right thing for both of us. We were no longer in love, it had developed into something more platonic. The passion had fizzled out. We had one last holiday, an amazing trip to Japan for a fortnight, and when we arrived back in the UK we went our separate ways, promising each other we’d stay friends. And we have. Although for that to truly work we needed a break from each other. In my experience to make a friendship work with an ex you need to have a period of time after the break of zero contact.

When Speedhorn and I broke up I already had my eyes on another. I’d been flirting with Victims for a while and it wasn’t long after the trip to Japan that we got together. It’s been seven years now and although not as intense as my time with Speedhorn we’re pretty happy. With Victims it’s more like we’re friends though. And that being so it’s pretty laid back, in fact I’m in another relationship with Diagnosis? Bastard! I’m all for polygamy, at least in terms of this by now rather long drawn out metaphor.

So… After a couple of years apart and getting on pretty well, I started getting the sense that Speedhorn wanted to get back with me. And after ignoring its advances for a while I had to make myself clear that I wasn’t interested. It was a mix of things. It wasn’t practical for one thing, we don’t live in the same country as each other and I wasn’t interested in getting back into a long distance relationship again. But on top of that, I’d moved on. I wasn’t the same person anymore. I wasn’t feeling it. I was truly happy with Victims and DB, and I thought Speedhorn was better left in the past. I have to admit though, it was a bit strange seeing Speedhorn together with someone else. Even though I’d moved on, it is weird seeing your ex with a new partner. To add to that, you really like their new partner, they’re actually an old friend of yours.

It took a while to get my head around. And then it happened. I was struck by an epiphany. And it came in the form of their new record Lost Ritual. The ex and their new partner have had a baby? Ok, maybe it’s time to let the metaphorical go.

What happened was this. Frank sent me a copy of the new Speedhorn album. He told me that he was proud of it and really thought that I’d like it, and whilst he was at it he told me that he missed me. I was actually in Corby at the time taking care of some personal family stuff, it would have been nice to meet up with him but I had my hands full.  It wasn’t until I got back home to Sweden that I got around to listening to the album. In all honesty, I was curious about how it sounded, but also a little awkward about it, the first album without me, it was going to be a bit weird. And then I listened to it. And then I listened to it again. And the epiphany was that the band wouldn’t work with me in it today. Jim, the old friend who is playing guitar instead of me, is far more suited to the band than I would be now.

Lost Ritual sounds like old Speedhorn, but more relevant maybe.  I hate to milk another old cliché, but it sounds mature, like Speedhorn grown up. The production is huge, really well done. Massive guitar sound, like the ultimate Eyehategod sound. Gordon’s drumming is more confident and flowing than ever. The first song, Bring Out Your Dead, in my opinion is one of the best songs the band has ever written. And the fact is that I couldn’t have written it. Jim is perfect for them. I can hear a lot of his old band Charger in the record, it’s slower and doomier than I expected it to be. When I listened to the album I felt truly happy for them for the first time since they got together with their new partner. Because it became obvious to me, the fact that we wouldn’t work together anymore. And I’m truly happy for the new couple, may they have a long life of happiness together. It kind of feels like when you get invited to your ex's wedding, they’re marrying someone who was an old friend of the two of you when you were together, and it truly no longer feels weird.

What else is there to say?  Lost Ritual is out in July.  Check it out!

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