My experience with both failure and redemption in the world of bands, heavy metal, and music in general.
I first started writing my own music back in 2006. This was back in the day when I was in a living situation that allowed me to play drums, oh, more than, a couple times a year. But also at this time, I was just getting into the Swedish progressive metal band Opeth, which, if you haven’t listened to their music already, stop reading this and go buy Blackwater Park right now. I spent a lot of time listening to their records, strumming along the best I could on my acoustic guitar. I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly good guitar player, but especially back then I was pretty clueless. Yet, somehow, in attempting to emulate some of my favorite songs from the Opeth records Orchid, Morningrise, as well as My Arms, Your Hearse, I managed to cobble together my first song, “Depravity,” followed up the next year by “Majesty” and “Liberty,” which all together formed a mini-concept album.
After having recorded some rough demos of those tracks, I put my own creations on the backburner, in favor of joining this new Viking metal band that one of my old friends from school was telling me about. He said that they had songs ready but really needed a drummer. As I was already starting to become a big fan of bands like Amon Amarth, this sounded like a perfect fit for me, and I joined. It was, at the time, one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. Though we had no lyrics, no vocals, and even no bass at first, the music was intense. It was raw, exciting, passionate, and naturally evoked images of Vikings, adventure, and revelry. We at first went by the moniker Asgard, which I knew wouldn’t last long… surely some other band had already used that name. And we were right. In searching for a name that fit our music, I went through the depths of my database, and ended up pulling a term that I had used in both an old Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and as part of a line in one of my songs: Frostfell.
If you looked up that term now, you might see scraps of info about the band, and what is left of its social network. But mostly you will see references to D&D, as I believe it is both part of a campaign setting (in Eberron if I’m not mistaken) and is also a spell in the game.
I don’t like to talk about the band much, because A. It had all of the talent and potential you could ever hope for, yet ended in failure, and B. My now ex-girlfriend was in the band. We had gone several years with no singer, and were willing to entertain any candidates who thought they could match our style. She joined the band before we started dating… we became a couple when the band was on one of its many downtime hiatuses, and then when we started playing again, it was just one of those things that happened with no real thought behind it… basically, it was the realization of, “oh, I am dating a bandmate. I sure hope nothing goes wrong with the relationship, otherwise the band might go with it.”
Well, that did happen. But to be fair, the band probably would have fallen apart eventually. There were too many clashing ideologies, too many conflicting lifestyles, and not every member of the band shared the same vision or level of commitment. I was also not as mature of a person at the time, for my part in this.
If I sound bitter, it’s because, well, I am a bit. I do choose to take with me the positives of course: the band introduced me to my best and most loyal friend in the entire world. It honed and refined my musical skill, especially with regards to playing alongside others. It did give me a few chances to play a live show, which, if you have never experienced it, it truly is a special thing.
But the flipside of that is knowing that four to five years’ worth of time and energy, ended up getting pissed away with little else to show for it. I wrote all of the concept lyrics (some of which were altered or re-written so that a certain person could sing them without complaint), and came up with all of the song titles. All that I asked for when the band was dissolved for the final time, was that credit be given where it was due. I take pride in my writing and creativity. Instead I was fun of behind my back for that, at live performances done by a couple of former members of the band. My best friend (the bass player) was also ridiculed, something wholly undeserved by him on a personal and professional level.
So here I am, using Ethereal Downfall as an expression of my thoughts and feelings in musical form. I also look at it as my opportunity to fulfill the vision which Frostfell originally stood for.
On the extremely remote chance that anyone reading this actually knows any other members of the now-defunct band in person or by correspondence, there is no doubt that you have probably heard a different story. However, anyone who knows me or has been following my writings, knows that I am honest to a fault, and that you will get the true story from me, even if it doesn’t always portray me in the best light.
So, on both a personal and creative level, 2014 is the year that I will rebound from those past failures, and claim my redemption.