Sunday, December 5, 2010

Not Alone, Not To Worry

I have had somewhat of a bad day. Not so much a bad day emotionally, but physically. I cut the top of my left foot on a piece of broken glass, my right knee is really wrenching, and to top it all off, I stepped on the plug-in piece of Brody's night light (freakin' hurts). I'm surprised that it pierced the bottom of my foot the way that it did :(

Shift Gears. Subject: ALL THAT REMAINS.

How have I not blogged about one of the first bands that brought me to Metal? My radar must have been broken. The very first song that made me believe in such a thing as Christian Metal will always be one of my favorites. The title of the song is "The Air That I Breathe." This song was so powerful to me because it made me feel like I wasn't alone, and that I have the strength to overcome temptation at all times. Proof lies beneath :

"I will not relent no, no
Never live with defeat, never falter
This like the air that I breathe
I will not choke on failure

I am a mortal man
But I'm not fallen
I'm not broken
I am a mortal man, But I'll
Hold tight to my beliefs

I have suffered defeat, pain, loss
Still I push to the edge, never falter
For this cement my beliefs
I'll will not choke on failure

I will not relent

I used to sit in church and write these lyrics in a notebook. I love the idea that I am strong enough to do the things I know I should, and not do the things I know I shouldn't.

Coincidentally, there is a song on the same album called "Not Alone." In that song, the chorus says "I'm not alone, with the touch of your hand, I am whole again." That song always made me feel really lucky to be married to such an amazing woman. When I have a really bad headache, just having her hand on my head makes me feel better. I take this song quite literally.

So, I finally got the new album called "For We Are Many..." It's a little heavier, like their older music, but I'm not complaining (I just bang my head harder in the car!!!) There just so happens to be a song on there about strength in numbers, kind of like the album title indicates. The song is called "Keepers Of Fellow Man," and here is why I love it:

"Through the years I have come to realize
That the truth is often right before our eyes
We are aware and know the hearts of fellow man
So let us act as such, and help our brothers to stand

And now we offer this small bit of wisdom
The heart it came from will set you on your way

Ignorance will crush us, destroy all that we have
So let us rejoice that, the powers in our hands
To shape us and make us keepers of fellow man
So let us rejoice that the powers in our hands

Let us find strength in our neighbors' hands


WOW!!!! Great stuff, I know, you don't have to tell me. The song closes with a very bluntly put "It is time to address the fact that alone none of us can survive" I believe that with all my heart. We are not made to be alone. If we were, we wouldn't be born to parents, we would be self-reliant from birth, and we would deny God, which some people do anyways.

I have never had a hard time putting my trust in people. I have even trusted people I wasn't close to with things that I shouldn't have, but arrest me for believing in goodwill. I have been watching a show on the BIO channel lately called "I Survived." If you have not seen it before, the victims of natural disasters, dangerous situations, and victims of violent crimes tell their stories and how they survived these horrible situations. It has really opened my eyes to the fact that people are worse than we sometimes see. It seems that half of the stories are women who were raped, beaten, and left for dead. This breaks my heart. So many of the people telling the stories end by saying things like, "You never know who you can trust," or "You wouldn't think people are capable of doing things like this."

In a world that is headed toward destruction, please be good to your fellow man. What will it hurt. If you are religious, you probably know that you will be judged by God for your actions, and if you aren't religious, what's the worst that could happen, you and the people around you will be happier? Well, that just sounds awful, doesn't it?

I love the people in my life, so if you are one of them, Congrats on being loved. Please love me back. I thank my Father in Heaven for placing you in my life, and usually at times when I need you the most. I will never question the love that I have been shown. I will try to be as forgiving as possible, because I'm commanded to and because it's healing.

For you sucky people, I hope you find what you are looking for. I don't believe in Karma, but I do believe that lies and bad attitudes come back to bite you. Good luck getting over it alone. Start loving people like you know you should.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tender Picture For Tender Subjects

Recent events in my life have inspired some deep thinking. I've really been evaluating a lot of things concerning life choices and religous beliefs. I am very happy to be a mormon, and very happy to have a family that believes in the same things that I do. I feel for those who have made religious choices that family members or friends did not approve of or support. I guess this is one of the large blessings in my life that I have overlooked.

Some of these feelings have stemmed from the death of my grandfather. He worked hard to support his family, he stood by the values and standards of the LDS church, and was proud to be a mormon. He was happiest when he was around his family, especially his grandchildren. I want to be like my grandpa, and my dad reminds me of him more and more as time passes.

Some of the other events have been less impactful. Mostly just everyday things like seeing someone treat others with disrespect or anger, or trying to figure out why people steal, and other things of that sort. Everybody does things that they will regret later on, but it's more of the kind of behavior that you would expect someone to feel guilty about. People who make a habit of stealing probably don't see it as a big deal after they've been doing it for a while.

To get to the point I'm trying to make, a lot of the things we do depends on what we are doing RIGHT NOW!!!! I've seen this many times in life. Just like the scriptures say, we need to choose this day whom we will serve. No man can serve two masters. I've always liked this. People think that the scriptures are so confusing, but what I love about them is the simplicity. We either choose to serve the Lord, or we choose to serve Satan.

The reference to Heavy Metal that I would like to make is that a lot of songs that I listen to preach this very principle, and are a helpful and constant reminder to me that I have an obligation and responsibility to serve the Lord, Jesus Christ, with all my might, mind, and strength. It is of the utmost importance for me to do this RIGHT NOW for the following reasons:

0 I have a family, and I need to set the example
0 The second coming of the Lord is going to happen soon
0 The righteous will become more righteous, and the wicked will become more wicked
0 I want to serve the Lord, and only Him

In the music I listen to, which has primarily been Christian Heavy Metal (a growing genre of metal), I find my strength and inspiration to live in such a way. For example:

Killswitch Engage - "A Light in a Darkened World"

"I see so much corruption
And it's hard to ignore
Living on greed and possessions
Is this what we're dying for?

Now choose this day
Who you will serve
To be the light in a darkened world

Many are willing to only live for themselves
Turning away from morality
Nothing can save you now

Now choose this day
Who you will serve
To be the light in a darkened world
You feel dissolved and the water's beginning to rise
Become the light in this darkened world

Touching upon my grandfather's death once again, I had an opportunity with my dad, brother, and uncle to dress my grandpa in preparation for his funeral and burial. I didn't really know how to prepare for this, or what to expect. For the first few minutes, it was very surreal. I walked into the room thinking that my grandpa was lying there, but after a while i could feel that something was missing. With our mortal eyes, we can only see a person's body, but without their spirit inside, it is just a body. The body is here for the purpose of housing the spirit. I kept expecting my grandpa to breathe or speak, but of course he wasn't. It finally started to sink in that he wasn't there. My brother and dad were very comforting and understanding when I got emotional.

This reminds me of another song by one of my favorite Christian Metal bands, August Burns Red. They use the lyric, "Blinded by the inability to see beyond flesh and blood." I like this because it shows us that by only thinking in terms of this life, we miss out on the big picture. There is also an As I Lay Dying song called "Upside Down Kingdom" that argues that this world teaches us to live it up (eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die), and that the only consequence is regret for the things that we didn't do or try. We are taught by the philosophies of men that we're here until we die, and that's it.

I take comfort in knowing that my grandpa is with his wife after 7 years of missing her, and he is with his son that only lived for a little more than a week on this earth. We need to keep in mind that this life is like a flash compared to eternity, and that we made a choice to come to earth and live by God's commandments. I know that I want to prove to Him that I am worthy for the happiness and blessings that he wants to give to me. I am the only one who can decide if I will carry out the duties that will be given to me for this purpose. I will be the only one to blame if I am not worthy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Metal ruined my life!!!!

I absolutely HATE heavy metal. It has clawed its way to my soul, ripped it out, and beat down upon it with hatred and evil. I wish the guitar was never invented. The damage it has done will never be undone. It isn't even that catchy, when you think about it. How can loud guitars and drums mixed with screaming be called music? That's so stupid, and a waste of anybody's precious time.

Furthermore, I hope nobody ever reads my blog........FALSE :)

I love heavy metal. I am very sad sometimes that some of the above jabber is automatically placed on my favorite form of music before people have given it a chance. I understand that a lot of people hate it, just like a lot of people hate rap, or country.

Venting ---- Complete

Go find some music to bang that head to!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Christ Centered Metal = Controversy

Is it possible for heavy metal to be centered around our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I would VERY, VERY MUCH like to hear your comments on this post. This evening I was watching some music videos on youtube when I saw a very interesting looking video on the right side of the screen entitled,"Is Christan Heavy Metal Evil?" (Of course this sparked my interest) This was about an 9 minute video by a guy who calls himself jezuzfreek777, and he made some great points. I want to expand on these for a brief moment.

One of his first points is one I've heard many times. Not ALL songs are bad in regards to content. There are some Metallica songs that have a great message. For instance, "Master of Puppets" is not implying that Satan is the master, but is more of an anti-drug themed piece of music. It is the bands cry of warning to not let drugs take control of peoples lives.

The next point has to do with the sound of rock and roll, and how it can be misinterpreted. He plays a simple chord with no amplification or distortion. It does not sound objectionable. It sounds very clean and would be accepted by many to be a great sounding music note. Well, what if you are playing in a live show, and you have a few thousand people, you need amplification so your music can be heard. Also, you use distortion to keep your sound unique. It's the same chord. Heavy metal can be simplified, and it would sound very good to a large demographic. What kind of instrument is being played should not matter. If the point of the music is to glorify God, it is not evil or wrong. (I share this opinion)

This is SO the same point I've been trying to make for a very long time. If I thought that the sound of the music was offensive or inappropriate, I would NOT listen to it. I understand the argument that "if Jesus were here, he wouldn't like how it sounds." He may not, but if what I hear is the message of his greatness, power, and holiness, IS IT WRONG? (I am VERY interested to hear some responses, PLEASE)

My friends, this is something I have prayed about. I used to listen to a lot of horrible music that had horrible language and false doctrines. I made a conscious effort to purge these from my life, which I feel I have successfully done. It's a great feeling. I am still haunted by the fact that some do not accept my preference in music as anything but evil, satanic, and wrong.

I am grateful that NOBODY can ever tell me that I don't love the Lord. Only I can make that decision, and for that reason I have made the changes necessary in my life to feel that I can serve him effectively.

MORE CONTROVERSY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A cover song of the popular Christian hymn "How Great Thou Art" has touched my soul. However, it is in heavy metal form. And, oh my goodness, what a stirring of feelings it has created. I completely understand that some may shy away from the idea of hymns being metal-ized. What "EYE" see (lol, pun) is an artist that really wants it's heavy metal followers to hear the great message that is in this great hymn. I already knew that my wife did not like the song as it is covered by Becoming The Archetype, but I asked her to explain her feelings so I could post them for you:

Me: "Mal, how do you feel about "How Great Thou Art" by Becoming The Archetype?"

Mal: "It is very disrespectful. It's such a sweet song, and it's about the Savior, so to hear it this way is very....harsh. I don't like it at all."

Obviously this is not for everyone. This cover song spoke to me in a way that literally made me cry, not out of sadness or hurt, but out of love and respect for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for me; The same feeling one might get from hearing this hymn in church.

Becoming The Archetype named their band based upon a scripture in Genesis. God created man is his own likeness, and in his own image. Jesus Christ was the Archetype of mankind because he was without sin. The songs written by BTA are very christian. I feel the holy spirit when I listen to their music.

Archetype - Epitome, Prime Example, Model, Prototype, Standard, Original, Classic. Definitions that can be used to explain the Savior.

One song that really touched me from the album "Dichotomy" is called "Self Existent." This song is about a man who witnessed the crucifixion of Christ. I would like to share some lyrics from this song:

"Into the darkened tomb
I walked but only found it empty
My mind is tormented
My soul is shaken
As a flame is tormented by the wind and rain
As the earth is shaken by an earthquake
My heart has accepted
What my eyes could never have believed
I watched Him die
I watched Him die
In the silence death is defeated
In my spirit the battle rages on
And then I stepped into the light
I heard His voice, I saw His face
And then He stood there before me
A man buried but never dead
My heart has accepted
What my eyes could never have believed
I saw Him rise
I saw Him rise
HE IS ALIVE! and reigns forever
HE IS ALIVE! He'll reign forever"

There is also a really cool song on the album that is about artificial intelligence vs. humanity. It really bashes the idea of technology defeating biology. One of the most powerful statements (because of the way it's delivered AND the message) on the album is made. "I AM NOT A MECHANISM, I AM PART OF THE RESISTANCE, I AM AN ORGANISM, AN ANIMAL, A CREATURE, I AM A BEAST!"

Thank you again for being patient with me. I feel very loved right now, and I want you all to know that as my brothers and sisters, I love you. We can overcome evil. I know this from experience, but also need to remember it as I will be tempted many more times in this life. I hope I'm good enough to live with my Heavenly Father again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh, Great!! Devon is STILL reviewing metal albums...What a loser!

If you don't like it, too bad. It's what I do. You're going to have to suffer through it, because deep down, you know you want to.

You'd think that at 2 in the morning, I might have better things to do. Something about me that will never change is that when I really get something in my head, the only way to let it go is to share it with others (poor Malorie is usually my victim).

Now, I don't review/share these albums with you just for kicks and giggles. I seriously hope that someday one of you tries with an open mind to listen to some of this stuff and feels the connection that I do. I realize that some of my older readers (Mom, Grandma) are probably not about to stop listening to Billy Joel or Mormon Tab, but as for the rest of you, what do you have to lose?

As I lay Dying...I must admit...has overtaken TriViuM's spot as #1 on my list of favorite metal bands. Are you happy now (Brett & Tyson)??????????

An Ocean Between Us has officially knocked my socks off. Again, it's ironic because I first listened to this album a week after it's release in 2007, but only recently think it's freakin' awesome. How a band can be brutally heavy, musically smooth, and extremely religious is beyond me. Amazing record!!!

As always, some incredibly inspiring lyrics are apparent. That is not even half of the equation. The music is....there's no word...........bowel-shakingly stupendous. The lyrics speak for themselves (pun was intended, laugh). I want to break this album down track by track. It's more of a concept album than most people will realize:

Track 1 - Separation - We begin with this cool little intro. Clean and relaxing guitars ease us into the second track.

Track 2 - Nothing Left - With a Halloween type melody, the drums take over into a breathtaking double bass. Tim sounds very angry, and with good reason. The lyrics make me think of just how much we take for granted the gifts of God. This album is partially about the end of the world.

"If All my sorrow has led me here
Then I would cry all of my tears
To have this chance again
And know there's more than this
And know there's more than you."

Makes me think of repentance and second chances. Wonderful!!!

Track 3 - An Ocean Between Us - With very similar music, Tim screams about how we can't afford to wait for everything/everyone to appease us. We need to be our own person, our own master, and go out there and be what we know we should. I couldn't agree more. We have to earn things. We are not entitled.

Track 4 - Within Destruction - This song doesn't really follow the theme of the album in my opinion, but it rocks my world!! Give it a listen, if you can stand the brutality of metal. Cool lyrics.

Track 5 - Forsaken - Fun little guitar intro to this little number. Be patient, it's a little repetetive for about 55 seconds, then this one hits you with an open fist (is that possible? Yes. Yes it is). I think this song is about relizing that we occasionally leave someone behind, finally realize it, and then feel penitent. I know that there are a few people that I have somewhat abondoned/let down. I definitely understand the feelings found in this song.

"I know you are the one we left behind
Yet somehow we are the ones who are alone
you are the one we left behind
you are the one we left be...

I will no longer turn my head
I will never forget you
You are the one we left behind
You are the forsaken."

Track 6 - Comfort Betrays - Someone obviously pissed of Tim Lambesis. I remember him saying something about his former bass player. Maybe it's about him.

Track 7 - I Never Wanted - This song didn't mean much to me, and was kind of boring, UNTIL I READ THE LYRICS. This song is not only unique musically, but the message is one of overcoming things that once consumed us. For many, it's drugs. For many, it's pornography, for almost all, it's pride. This song is very meaningful to me.

Track 8 - Bury Us All - This song is about seizing the day and not suffering the consequences in the last days due to slothfulness. It's not worth waiting until we die and lose out on the blessings of heaven.

Track 9 - The Sound Of Truth - My personal favorite, both conceptually and musically. This song really calls people out in some ways. Here are the lyrics.

"We have all heard what we wanted to hear
"Truth" that sounds right to our ears

But what wisdom is there within us
To live based on the feeling of our hearts
How many times has instinct let us down
Never to be thought through
Never to be questioned
Say what you really mean
When your ambition calls you
For what use is there in praying
If you will only hear what you want to hear?

We speak of fighting to resist this world
But what about the battle within us?
If we have chosen to live against the grain
Then why are we all facing the same way?
There is no difference between us and them
If we all blindly seek truth from sentiments."

Track 10 - Departed - A cool instrumental interlude. Me gusta le mucho!!

Track 11 - Wrath Upon Ourselves - Once you get past the first 20 seconds, it's pure musical genious. POWERFUL on so many levels. The music on this one takes me on a roller coaster ride. I LOVE IT! Off-beats galore. The drummer kills it on this song, especially when it's only the drums and Tim singing.

"But is regret only a word that the living possess?
I long to see their faces
Regardless of the decay
For in the eyes of the deceased...

We would see hope in our last day
Inside this dying world
For there is still beauty
Inside this dying world."


Track 12 - This Is Who We Are - Bringing it home with authority. "I'd rather be called weak than die thinking I was strong." Takes my breath away. This song gleams of As I Lay Dying's humility. I love these lines:

"Now this is who we are
I am no one's hero
For we are not the giant men
That some may think
You are faithful when we are not

So I'd like to tell this story
The way it is meant to be
Without the burden that's in our hearts
None of us would have ever found You
For You are faithful when we are not
You began a work
That only you can complete."

Mind blowing humility. This is why I listen to CHRISTIAN metal and not Death metal. There are messages that I can't let myself forget. GOOD messages.

Tell me you're not impressed with these long-haired, tattooed, gritty rock stars. They do know a lot of valuable things, and they share it with a lost generation. My appreciation is great. Thank you As I Lay Dying.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Post Life.....Life Post

Life. It's been on my mind. The twists and turns that lead us to unexpected places. The people we happen to meet when it seems to be just the right time. The trying times in which it seems nothing good happens for a small eternity. The highs that we ride when we are proud of something we've accomplished. Somewhere in the middle of all of these feelings and experiences, we will occasionally stop and realize...."I am the one holding myself back."

We probably can't count on a thousand hands the times when we realize that the reason that things don't always go how we want them to go is because we have stepped in our own way. I have ruined so many opportunities, failed so many of life's little lessons, and royally screwed up things that may have been great....but as long as I learn something, I have progressed. For a while, I will be able to stand on my own feet, my own convictions, and maybe help a soul or two along the way. Then, before I know it, I am back to the start. (The inventors of the game of life should have had a "go back to the start" space on the board. Heck, for that matter, multiple spaces of the sort.)

Once in a while, when I am having a hard time trusting my Heavenly Father's plan, he will send someone to kindly scold me for my slothfulness. The person who has had the largest and greatest impact on me is my wife. I couldn't pray for a more perfect creation to help me through this life, or the next. On top of this great blessing of support, I have been blessed with friends that understand some things about life that I really need to work on. I recently had such a friend help me immensely. I am proud to call Joseph Mcmanama my good friend. He helped me better understand what sacrifice really means, and how it is often misconstrued. I would like to expand on this topic.

SACRIFICE - Many of us are very confused about sacrifice. Sacrifice seems to be offering up something of great value for something of a lesser value. The example that Joe gave was that he got home from his mission, and he COULD have said "I sacrificed for two years...I am going to rip of my shirt and tie, and do what I want to do." He later explained that Sacrifice is very different. If we sacrifice drinking coffee or smoking, our health will be better. (That's not a small reward, that is much greater.) Or, we sacrifice something that hinders our salvation....we can recieive eternal life as a result...not a small reward.

The things that I have given up in my life have been extremely difficult to overcome. These were opportunities for me to step back and realize just how much damage my actions affected EVERYONE IN MY LIFE. Obviously, when we are dealing with a serious sin, and we rightfully own up to it, repent, and forsake the sin, we will learn and grow immensely. We are progressing at a rate that is alarming to Satan, and this stirs up the forces of evil against us. Before we know it, we have found another way to transgress Heavenly Father's commandments.

We have to work extremely hard not to be "the natural man" as the scriptures portray. The natural man is impulsive, lustful, and seeks physical needs over emotional and spiritual needs. We all struggle in some way with desires. We need the support of Family, Friends, and the Savior. We CANNOT make it through this life without the love and help of Jesus Christ. Only through him is it possible to live with him after this life. I only hope and pray that I am ready when it is my time.

You may be thinking, "Wow!!! Devon hasn't brought up heavy metal in this post!!! He is starting to learn!!!" I'm going to spoil it for you now :)

The music I listen to reminds me that no matter who I was before, I have the strength to move forward without those tendencies, whithout those distractions, without thoughtless actions, etc...

My Friends have helped me immensely, especially my senior year of high school when I needed help the most. There is strength in numbers. But what we do when we are alone defines who we really are. When I'm alone, and blasting my loud, yet religious music, I'm thinking about what I need to do to be a better person, to progress, and to rise above temptation.

Sometimes when I feel like I'm no good, I remember the words of Coach Larry Gelwix of the Highland Rugby team, "God doesn't make a no-good anything." Coach Gelwix is so right. Stay strong my friends.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Powerless Rise.....VERY POWERFUL

A few months ago, Tim Lambesis and As I Lay Dying dropped a complete masterpiece on their fans (including myself) with their long awaited album, "The Powerless Rise." Upon hearing this album, some crazy thoughts started running through my head:

"Holy Stinkin' Crap!!!!"
"Could it be possible that AILD is better than TriViuM?"
"If I was a single female, what would I do to marry Tim Lambesis?"
"Most powerful album ever?"

To answer the last question, I believe that it possibly could be THAT powerful.

Recently I was reading Tim Lambesis' blog, and I noticed that what he thinks about and blogs about mirror what is found in his music. Tim writes from his heart, which is more than I can say about a lot of other artists. Let me clarify, I am NOT saying that other artists don't write from the heart, I just feel that Tim has guts and believes in what he is writing. In an industry that often sees higher sales in extreme music plagued with vulgarity, Tim Lambesis has made a serious statement by writing very insightful, spiritual, and religious lyrics to present to his heavy metal followers. It should not surprise you to hear that Tim is my hero.

I will admit, I had listened to AILD's older albums years ago, but because of the changes in lifestyle and views, I now respect and appreciate their music much, much more than I did previously. I'm so glad that my buddy, Tyson, offered to buy me a ticket to their show a few months ago, because that is what sparked my appreciation and awareness of the moral message that they share as a metalcore band.

You must read the following lyrics as they are incredible:

From "Beyond Our Suffering"
"The more I focus on myself, then the more helpless that I become.
So why not erase this point of view? My suffering is trivial."
(Sometimes we are the cause of our own suffering, aren't we?)
"Why won't we look beyond us? Why won't we look beyond our despair?
It seems our problems solve themselves, when we look to those truly in hell."
(Not easy, but true. Plus, what kind of awesome metal head writes that?"

From "Parallels"
"We are all comatose. We are overfed and undernourished, yearning for something more. Never starving yet never quite satisfied. Carnal but without useful flesh or mind." (We may know there is purpose, but may not fully understand all the time)
"From all it is we crave, there must be more to life than to simply stay alive." (Again, sometimes the purpose isn't clear, but at least we know it's there)

From "The Plague"
"Familiarity is the great deception, disguised by authority, sealing out subversion. Whitewashed tombs have hidden the truth, for we unknowingly worship icons of ordinary life. Reach out your hand to find forgiveness, only to be plagued by disease. The horrors of beliefs and customs, camouflaged by commonality." (The more we sin, the more we are ok with it, and the more dangerous it will become. Experience has deifinitely taught me well. Peer pressure can make matters even more difficult)

From "Anger and Apathy"
"Many of us have turned off the light outside, erasing what exists beyond our front door. And for you I find it harder to reach common ground than my most glaring opposition. But what about those who've lost the luxury of choice?
...striving for identity, buried by our lack of interest, souls marked as mere history. How much grievance will it take to awaken us?"
(Those who we forget will not feel that we are there to help them when they need it. DO NOT GIVE UP ON ANY OF HEAVENLY FATHER'S CREATIONS, THEY ARE ALL WORTH THE SAME!)
"I need to know that feelings of discontent are stronger than indifference for those too weak to stand." (Feeling sad is better than not feeling at all)

From "Upside Down Kingdom" (My favorite song)
"Many choose to find their hope in the thoughts of afterlife, when there is none to be found right here before we die. So I understand the feeling of helplessness, when we are just taught to wait here...wait here for death." (We aren't here simply to live)
"We are not forgotten, for a kingdom is offered beyond that of golden streets.
We can represent now what will one day be complete. Simplicity is not a curse where strength is humbled and the powerless rise.
This is a kingdom born upside-down.
This is a kingdom where the broken are crowned."
(There is a reward for standing for our convictions. Although we see unrighteous people standing on pedastals, our good deeds are not ignored)

It is my hope and prayer that you have all read these lyrics, and that they are not just words. I do this hoping to help someone. My music is what shows me principles through a different set of eyes. After hearing things the same way over and over for a lifetime, sometimes it helps us to think about things from a different perspective.

Thanks for your time, I hope you don't feel like you wasted it. The Powerless Rise is really powerful to me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feeling Worthless? Are You Appreciated?

Well, simply put, all of your efforts are appreciated....even if nobody is giving you recognition. Lately I have been feeling that I don't get enough recognition for the things I do, whether it be at work, home, or on a golf course. Let's take work for example; I work hard, I do my job, I am always on time, and I have a good attitude. But am I appreciated? Sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Sometimes it feels like people only see the negative things that I do. Mistakes may be small, but they sometimes make me feel like I have failed everyone around me and that people will only see the negative result.

Sound familiar? That little voice in your head probably just told you that you feel the same.

Inspiration hit me about 2 weeks ago. I was sitting in my car on my lunch break, listening to some Metal (duh!), and Tim Lambesis screamed something very inspiring and positive; "We are not forgotten, for a kingdom is offered beyond that of golden streets. We can represent now what will one day be complete."

Just like August Burns Red tried to teach me to look beyond this silly world, As I Lay Dying is telling me to think about where I want to be, not where I am. The only way to live with my Heavenly Father again is to live now as if I were in his presence.

I don't know if you watch The Office, but there is an episode where Kelly and Jim are catching up after not seeing each other for quite a while, and Jim asks Kelly "what's new?" Kelly then proceeds to tell Jim that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes has a baby, and how awesome that is. Then she tells him that Brill Pimm (Brad Pitt) and Angelina Jolie had a baby, and how awesome that is. Then Jim Asks, "Yeah, but what's new with YOU?" Kelly says,"I just told you.".........I realized at this point that I have known people like Kelly; caught up in the lives of others. There are some who could tell you more about celebrities, whose lives are always in the spotlight, than they could say about their friends.

"Simplicity is not a curse, where strength is humbled and the powerless rise. This is a kingdom born upside down. This is a kingdom where the broken are crowned."
(This makes me realize that I have to be ok with who I am.)

I highly recommend the album The Powerless Rise by As I Lay Dying. The song quoted above is called Upside Down Kingdom. Keep an open mind, and read the lyrics while you listen to it, otherwise your non-trained metal ears won't understand the singing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The messages in "Messengers."

Hello everyone. One of my favorite bands is August Burns Red. I love their music because it is very loud and powerful. It truly is heavy metal, but the best thing about it, the message in the lyrics is amazing. I would like to share some of my favorite lyrics from their second album, Messengers.

Before I hit you with the lyrics, I want to point out that there is a lot of metal out there with great, strong messages like this, but all of these came from the same album. Almost every song is packed with phrases that I think about when I feel tempted to do something I shouldn't. I will never forget the things that are this powerful to me, and I hope you will agree with me after reading some of these.

Song: The Truth of a Liar

"Go ahead, partake in it, justify it, it will eat you alive."
(warning about pornography and drugs)

"Blinded by the inability to see beyond flesh and blood. Shifting blame with a log in your eye. Insisting that a string tied to your limbs is what's to blame." (realize that there is a god, and be accountable for your choices)

Song: Up Against the Ropes

"You've abandoned me, you've abandoned all of us. We've forgiven you, so forgive yourself." (forgiveness of others & self)

Song: Composure

"Life can be overwhelming, but don't turn your back on the strongest crutch you've ever had. They have always been there to brace your fall. Wave goodbye to the past. You've got your whole life to lead. It's time to gain some ground." (support and help are always there, look to the future and move on)

Song: The Eleventh Hour

"We've got news for you. The day is soon coming when turning your back won't be an option. You can compromise what you know to be true, and you can turn off all of your senses, but in the end you'll see that nothing stands between a man and his maker." (reference to the second coming? you know the truth, and you can make your own choices, but you will answer to God for your actions)

Song: Redemption

"I am just a man with a heart and sinful hands. I am a fallen victim. Lord, show me the way. I ask of you, Father, let my words be your words. Let my thoughts be your thoughts. To you I give my praise, show me the way. Take me in your arms. Never let me go. Lord, show me the way as I give myself to you. Never let me go. Hold me in your everlasting love. Be my strength. Be my voice. Be my glory."
(WOWZERS!!! That's good stuff)

A reminder: this all came from one album. This astonishes me. This is why I love the music I listen to.

August Burns Red, you represent christian metal-heads very well. Keep it up, gentlemen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How do you defeat an enemy? Hit the "toe."

My golf game is really coming together in many ways lately. I'm still crushing my drives, I am staying relaxed both mentally and physically, and I am hitting all of my irons and wedges the right distance. The biggest enemy in my life, my putter, is behaving much better as of late. Today, while practicing with the wretched flat-stick, I did something that I had read in Golf Magazine some time ago. I lined up the ball with the putter, but not with the middle line, but on the toe. As I did this seemingly insignificant act, I noticed very clearly that my putts were not only going in more often than usual, but when they didn't, they were tap-ins. If I can two putt all day long on the course, I can start calling myself a golfer.

I have a round scheduled for Monday morning, and I'm looking forward to seeing if today's success was merely luck. I hope not, I would love to begin to be a great putter, and then all aspects of my games would start to mesh and I could become a scratch golfer.

I wish that the answer to more problems in life was "hit the toe." Sounds more like a motto for a pacifists self-defense class. That's an oxy moron.

For you non-golfers that are reading, let me put today's lesson into perspective. Let's come up with an every day scenario:

You're driving to work, and there are cars everywhere. You are so stressed and feel crowded. You hate driving to work, and you're confident that you are going to run a yellow light too late, or that your front fender is going to meet the crossing guard's tibia. All of a sudden, you remember that you read a little tip in Car Magazine months ago. "Drive on the other side of the road." You veer into the left lane of a two lane road. All of a sudden, things are working in your favor. The oncoming traffic is pulling over, the crossing guard stays out of the road because she is afraid of what you will do next....the red lights are still a problem, however, so don't run them. Other than that, you have solved the problem. That's how I feel with my putting game.

Life is very good :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Read This First, Hound Me Later

The reason I even started a blog was my good friend Spencer Hansen. He's been blogging off and on for years. Just recently I read some of his blogs for the first time. They reminded me why he cracks me up, but also made me jealous that he has been posting his feelings and views for so long, and I've been holding back for ages.

This morning I was thinking about the title of my blog, and why I chose it. The real reason is because some of my friends and family hound me about the fact that I listen to metal. I've heard it referred to as "devil music" on many occasions. I can see why it would seem that way to the Celine Dion and N'Sync fans out there. There is a lot of really aggressive, bad-themed, and horribly orchestrated "metal" out there. The lyrics are bad, the band members are party animals, and in my opinion, low-lifes. The bands that I choose to listen to are very musical and uplifting in my eyes (and ears).

For the record, I experimented with black metal and death metal. I don't like it. I tried to make myself like it because I wanted to be different. It just does not allow me to feel the spirit/holy ghost very easily. The metal that I listen to consists of the following:

0 Very musical, instrumental
0 Clean lyrics (almost 100%)
0 They can scream as much as they want, but not ALL the time
0 Artist cannot be an absolute loser

That pretty much sums it up. Before everyone starts to judge me and get on my case about my music, I hope they read this. If they still want to get on my case, be my guest. I am willing to tell them what they just read, as well as a few other things about my choice of music. I absolutely love metal. It makes me feel great. It empowers/inspires/uplifts/relaxes me.

If you ever need some suggestions for some great music (metal or not), you can always ask me. I am still one of the only few metal-heads I know that can sing almost all of the words to Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.

P.S. As I Lay Dying was freakin' awesome on Saturday. I had a great time. Thanks Tyson.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mormon Metal-head? Sounds stupid to me...

Firstly, I would like to welcome you to my blog.....I'm not sure how welcoming ALL of the subject matter will be, but nevertheless, thanks for taking time to support my views. I hope I entertain while simultaneously disappointing you :)

A mormon metal-head is something you will not find on every corner. Myself, along with Tyson Halvorsen and Brett Little, are part of what I'm sure is not an extremely large demographic. We are mormons. We listen to heavy metal. We enjoy life. Simple enough for me.

If I were a pie chart, the mormon pie piece would probably be about 1/4 of the pie. I will not go into detail on the other pie pieces at this time, but I will tell you that there is a lot of nonsense involved. "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." I have a very strong testimony of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has gotten me to this point in my life, which I am not complaining about. Some of the greatest and most important life lessons have been learned largely due to my beliefs and the blessings that are part of this great gospel.

Metal, metalcore, heavy metal, thrash metal, progressive metal (probably just words to you). They all mean something different to me. I live to listen to metal. I listen to lots of other music too. My favorite band remains Pink Floyd, but I seem to have a favorite in all of the different genres of muzak. TriViuM takes the cake when it comes to metal. They are so flippin' amazing, and at a very young age.

I will have the privilege of hearing one of my favorite metal bands this evening at The Great Saltair. Tim Lambesis and the rest of As I Lay Dying will rock my socks off as I throw down in the mosh pit. I am very excited for this show, however, there are a few things that are bumming me out:

1. I wanted to see August Burns Red last week more than I want to see As I Lay Dying
2. I spent the last 2 days learning all of the songs from the new album (only had 3 days to learn the new material) and THEN I did the smart thing and looked up the setlists from their recent shows. Not exactly full of new music, mostly old stuff. Now I'm studying lyrics for some of the old stuff that I haven't heard in a while
3. I smashed my pinky at work today and I'm pretty sure it will get jammed a lot at the concert :(

I have mostly been listening to Christian Metal this year. The language is much cleaner, the subject matter is religious and calls out the unfaithful or ignorant to stop being so vain. It is very powerful stuff to me, and helps my attitude every day. Heck, I've even taught lessons in church where I have used heavy metal lyrics that were spiritual to me as part of my lesson.

Only 113 days until BYU Football kicks off against Sarkisian's Washington Huskies!!! That's way too long.