Whenever I write songs, it’s a bit like dealing with bats in the attic. They fly around and hide out in there, eventually making a mess the longer they go unattended. It’s not until you go up and swat them out when you’re finally free and clear of the nuisance. Granted, there’s more sense of accomplishment after I write a good song compared to when I swat a bat out of my attic, but the difference is negligible. The point I’m so poorly trying to make here is that writing a song gives a sense of closure to the creative process. It converts ideas into an almost tangible element that we can experience over and over again till our ears bleed.
A decent song is not hard to come by, but a truly outstanding song is quite rare. In many cases musicians will pine over another musicians work, wishing they were the ones to write it for whatever reason. Some wish for the fame that comes with a hit song, but others like myself do it for that bats-in-the-attic feeling. A great song sometimes feels so familiar, almost as if it was lingering in my head long before I ever discovered it. So the thought of composing such a familiar feeling is only natural when it hits so close to home. These are just a few songs I fell in love with over the years that always give me creative déjà vu.
Don’t Fear the Reaper
Blue Oyster Cult
This could go one of two ways, I could talk about my obsession with cowbell when I first added one to my drum kit as a teenager, but I’ll focus more on the song structure. The chord progression here is actually quite familiar in metal music, with bands like Iron Maiden and In Flames using the same template for many of their songs. It’s a somber yet badass arrangement that has always influenced the work I do with Autumns Eyes.
I used to hate Ghost, and by hate I mean obsessively loathe them. It wasn’t until I asked a friend what all the hype was about when he introduced me to Square Hammer, the song that made me obsessively love them. The melody was so infectious and unique, something I’d never heard before in my life, but yet so familiar. Top it off with a band image that rivals some of the greatest show stoppers in heavy history, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Fell On Black Days
This is one of those songs I wish I could sing, but would never have the range or talent to do so. The main guitar riff is so familiar to me, because it sounds like something I’d play during band practice just screwing around while the other members got ready. It gives the entire song a relaxed feel, all while contrasting the severity of Cornell’s haunting vocals.
Alice In Chains
Jerry Cantrell is a master of odd riffs, and it always seems like the simpler the riff, the more effective it is at digging into my skull. This song doesn’t waste any time drilling itself into your subconscious, but the best part for me is how they pull off singing a falsetto “doot doot” during one heavy ass riff. It’s something I’d never have the balls to do, and will always respect and admire them for.
The Birthday Massacre
The band itself is a perfect example of when all elements fall into place perfectly to create a satisfying sound that matches all its sights. Their image reflects their tone, and this song is without question one of their best. Everything about it reminds me of something floating around my own imagination, but the production is where I fall head over heals. The cold atmosphere mixed into the production perfectly lends itself to the composition.
It’s not often you find a song title that actually matches the mood of the song. Once the clean and dreamy guitars begin, you are immediately bathing in ones and zeros. I always respected Deftones ability to mix grooves into heavy metal, something many often lumped into that awful nu-metal trend. Despite the negative labeling that may have fallen upon them, they still wrote some amazing music. Songs like this brilliantly bottle up emotion, and serve it to your ears like a warm blanket on a cold day.
The Beginning and the End
Hands down one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard, and while thats obviously subjective to ones taste, I’ll never stop defending it’s greatness. The chords used here are almost like the ones I talked about in Don’t Fear the Reaper, with a familiar structure found in many metal melodies. However, Anathema are masters of tension building, and they definitely don’t letup when crescendoing this song into a massive climax. It’s one element of songwriting I always strive to perfect with Autumns Eyes, but always tend to fall flat. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to trigger the same type of response in my own material that Anathema’s music gives me.
Simplicity is key to creating a memorable song. It will always be easier to recite an AC/DC song than a Steve Vai song. This is part of the reason Static-X were so successful, and Love Dump is a perfect example of how that simplistic songwriting style can create something memorable. The intro builds into a riff that’s extremely basic in technique, but extraordinarily heavy with its attack and ferocity. While I’d never strive to write lyrics about eating someones ass, I will always strive to create a song where simplicity finds seduction. Something this track does brilliantly.
They have a sound unique to themselves, and are very rarely duplicated when it comes to melodies and chord progressions. The band opened up the flood gates years ago when they decided to have Brann and Brent sing alongside Troy. Songs like Oblivion showcase not only how great a singer their drummer is, but also how detailed their productions can get. It’s one of those songs that gets better with every listen due to all the little elements I notice each time. Detailed production like that is what drives me in the studio, and will always be a key element of what I do with Autumns Eyes productions.