Thursday, May 6, 2010


Teen Cthulhu occupy a very special place in my heart for two reasons: firstly, they're named after Lovecraft's grand cosmic horror, and you can't get much cooler than that. Secondly, they had a frightening fixation with suicide and the overall shittiness of life and ten years ago (and sometimes still today) that mindset meant a lot to me. Going back and listening to "Ride The Blade" now i can see, easily, that it was nothing special. You could describe it as symphonic hardcore, i guess, crust metal fused with the most superficial elements of black metal. Other bands like Suicide Nation did this style a lot better, while still other bands like His Hero is Gone crushed Teen Cthulhu in terms of all-out heaviness and atmospheric darkness.
Yet i refuse to part with this record. That owes something to the fact that it's out of print on an incredibly boutique label and worth quite a bit on the collector's market, but more to the idea that it represents a part of my life that i remember with aching vividness and draws me into feelings that seem as real to me tonight as they did a decade ago, under some bitter waxy moon with echoes of romantic despondency in my heart. The cover says it all-i'll spill all this blood, i'll eviscerate myself and injure myself and give up my life for all these stupid problems that seem so fucking important-but none of that sacrifice is going to mean shit to the people you want it to affect. Suicide truly does go hand in hand with hopelessness and Teen Cthulhu are to be commended for tapping in to that blackened horror show and returning with some sort of picture of what it's like there.
Stephen Malkmus recently said that all music is nostalgia. Once you hear a song for the second time, it's more or less ruined and you're just trading on the memory of how the music made you feel the first time it hit you. We're always struggling to regain that feeling, the moment when it meant something and it felt like that was all that mattered in the world. I don't think that feeling diminishes the strength of the songs we love but i certainly think Malkmus's statement is profound and true; emotion is more visceral than anything else and the first time always sets the stage no matter what. Things can change after that but there is always, always that first experience. It embeds itself. I don't want to say that "Ride The Blade" carries any magnificent weight for me but listening to this record brings back something sort of intangible that i can't quite define. A sickly-sweet bitterness, maybe, or a cloudy wash of colour and feeling. It's supposed to work this way, right?

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