Joe Hill’s Prog-Metal Shoutout


As someone who loves fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fiction, I was pretty thrilled to discover a new (new to me, that is) author this week, Joe Hill.

I started his novel, THE FIREMAN, on Friday, and I was rather excited to find that one of the characters had been the bassist in a prog-metal band, Unbreakable.

Granted, it’s one reference thus far, but outside of the work of Kevin J. Anderson and Ernest Cline, I can think of almost no author who embraces prog at any level.

So, a huge thank you to Mr. Hill.  And, by the way, he’s an excellent story teller.

To order THE FIREMAN, click here.

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 29

Welcome to day two of my ‘Album Of The Year 2015’ countdown. If you missed the opening instalment of what is a series that will either make or break me, you can check it out right here: Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30. Additionally, if you missed my similar countdowns from the past […]

On the Northern Edge of Prog: Leah’s OTHERWORLD

leah otherworldOtherworld EP

On this All Hallow’s Eve, the beautifully talented and talentedly beautiful Leah McHenry released her new EP, Otherworld.  She categorizes it as Celtic Metal, and I’m not one to judge such labels.  Of all of the progarchists, I’m probably the least qualified to comment on anything metal.  Growing up with prog, Rush was the limit of what “metal” I encountered, and Rush doesn’t qualify.  Over the last twenty years, I’ve come to love what progressive metal I’ve heard (such as Guilt Machine and anything related to Aryeon).  But, groups such as Dream Theater and Opeth have never grabbed my attention, even after brief flirtations with the former.

Regardless, I hold a very fond affection for Leah, whatever label we might give her.  To me, her music is just. . . well. . . really, really gorgeous.  Lush, mythic, lulling into punctuated, from dreamy to driven, but always full of purpose and depth.

If someone pushed me to describe her music in terms relative to what we’ve reviewed at progarchy, I’d say it’s as if Sarah McLachlan and Arjen Lucassen got together to make an album.  And, to be even more blunt, Leah and Arjen, I hope you two meet at some point.  I can’t imagine anything but greatness coming out of such a Canadian-Dutch alliance!



Leah+McHenry+Leahphotoshopfun_1264116476Otherworld, not surprisingly, is lush and nuanced.  The songs are a bit longer than the ones she released on her first album, Of Earth and Angels, but they’re much more connected by style and theme.  The first three songs (five total)—Shores of Your Lies, Northern Edge, and Surround—have a welcoming but perilous (as in Tolkien’s realm) tension.  Listening to Otherworld is as much about  immersion as it is enjoyment.  With the opening notes, storming atmospherics, and Leah’s voice, the listener enters into this elven world.  Things of beauty pierce “as sharp as swords” in Leah’s world.

The fourth track, “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep,” is as Celtic as it gets.  This could come from Enya in her darker moments or U2 on the second side of October.  Still, it’s pure Leah.

The final track, “Dreamland,” is, I assume, the most traditional “metal” song on the EP.  A duet, Leah’s voice and character serves as a counter and foil to the diabolic, growling voice of Eric Peterson.  A beauty and the beast moment.

I’ve only known Leah for about a year.  Just after we started this website, Canadian philosopher and progarchy co-founder, Chris Morrissey told me about her.  He also reviewed her first album as well as offering us one of the most extensive concert reviews I’ve ever seen.

haunting LeahGenerally (well, ok, always), I follow Chris’s advice.  So very glad that I do.  Much to my surprise, Leah replied to my first emails graciously, and we’ve developed a good friendship via correspondence.

Indeed, I respect her immensely.  She lives what she believes: she’s a wife and a mother of four; she home schools her kids; she’s active in community life; and she’s serious about her religious and political beliefs.  Really, what’s not to love about her?  Add all of this to the fact that she’s insanely talented as a singer, a musician, and lyricist.  Well, it just doesn’t get much better.  Well, except for the additional fact that she’s also as beautiful as one might expect from someone possessing that voice.  I’m sure she could model professionally, if she wanted.  Oh, and she also makes her own costumes and is proficient with a bow.  So, again, what’s not to love?  Talent, kindness, and integrity, all rolled into one west-coast Canadian!

Only in her twenties, Leah is the future of rock.

leah of earth

Scaling The Heights Of Heavy Prog – Persona Grata’s “Reaching Places High Above”

Reaching Places High Above

It’s probably a blessing and a curse that I tend to compartmentalize progressive rock into sub-genres in order to sort out what I’m hearing.  It’s likely a blessing in terms of having “signposts” of historical reference when trying to determine where a band’s music fits within the prog category, but perhaps a curse that I feel the need to shoehorn the band and music into a sub-genre in the first place, for we all know that progressive music rarely fits neatly into one “slot.”

No matter the reasoning, let’s just say that the Slovak proggers Persona Grata surprised the heck out of me with their new release, “Reaching Places High Above,” which for this prog fan fits nicely into the sub-genre where Dream Theater camps out – one that I’ll call “heavy prog” – and made this album an absolute pleasure to listen to.

“Reaching Places High Above” is at times aggressive, intricate, mellow, adventurous, and dynamic, but always progressive in scope, and a delight to listen to. Sound a bit like Dream Theater there?

It should. Listeners will be treated to a group that, like DT, fires on all cylinders with tight songwriting and arrangements, along with the technical prowess that easily puts them in a league with top-tier prog bands.  It’s worth mentioning in advance that the album is produced and mixed wonderfully, which can’t always be said for up-and-coming groups. It’s a big plus.

“Ace” preps us for the places we’ll go with some airline samples and radio dial tuning, eventually morphing into the track’s intro.  Those who may not be a fan of the two vocal wails at the beginning, fear not – it’s not indicative of what’s exclusively in store from the vocals department; singer/guitarist Martin Stavrovsky has plenty of range and, unlike some capable of wailing in prog, he doesn’t loiter in the high register all that much. The band moves from section to section in rapid pace with plenty of playing that’ll impress anyone who fancies quite a bit of playing in their prog.  However, they steer clear of what sometimes turns people off about virtuosic prog – shredding for shredding’s sake. The band does a fine job of keeping the song in check thematically and the song seems over before it starts.

“Edge Of Insanity” brings things down a notch with an intro electric guitar and flute (man, the flute sure is back in prog, innit?), moving to a first verse that features a lovely male/female harmony verse. The band then crescendoes with layers of aggressiveness for the next set of verses before heading back to the harmony vocals of the first verse. However, dust never settles on Persona Grata, for the prog returns almost as quickly, building to a heavy section of soloing.  Halfway though the track, the band pulls back to a section of acoustic guitar, flute and synth that brings us back to the feel of a couple of the early verses. They build back up to full-tilt, heavy prog, but seeing the bigger picture of arrangement, they bring it back down to reprise the intro.  Fab track.

The band then takes us on a three-instrumental, cross continental-themed musical journey starting with the brief “Istanbul,” which calls to mind elements of DT’s “Home” with sitar/guitar playing over a Tool-esque drum pattern. We’re then taken aboard the “Orient Express,” full of twists and turns in the vein of “The Dance Of Eternity” at nearly 10 minutes in length, then the band brings things to a close with the concluding “Venice” piece, done on harpsichord.

The album’s epic ender, “I Am You,” has an ambient start, then sees the band floating over an intricate, 5/4 piano part, then moving to a heavy yet cinematic feel that’s all ear candy.  Again, the band has a great ear for arrangements, never bleeding a riff to death and flowing from one section to another naturally. The song’s halfway point sees the band put the brakes on the heaviness a la Frost*, giving way to plucked strings that build into a full instrumental section. The harpsichord from “Venice” is back for part of the section and after one more “drop out” to a quiet section, the band cranks up to a fever pitch, followed by the obligatory anthemic finish, fading out to the ambient keyboards we heard at the beginning.

It seems like every year brings a surprise for me amidst the mass of prog releases; last year it was Big Big Train – truly a once-every-decade find for me – and this year has brought Persona Grata to the forefront of my new music listening.  Those bands certainly occupy two different sub-genres of prog, but neither lack in creativity. With “Reaching Places High Above,” Persona Grata have put themselves near the summit of the the heavy prog-rock peak.

More information:

Staring into the Abyss: Darkness, the Ugly Truth, and Comfort in the Lyrics of Tool

Tool2One of my favorite books is ‘The Prince’ by Niccolo Machiavelli.  Anyone having even a passing familiarity with this work knows it is a lightning rod of controversy, with some hotly-debated interpretations.  To say that I like this work is not to say I am a fan of methods that are referred to as “Machiavellian” or that the “ends justifies the means” (an interpretation that I would hotly dispute).  What I like about Machiavelli’s writing in ‘The Prince’ is his stone-cold sober look at human nature – warts and all, and more generally, the unvarnished truth.  Machiavelli has no time for such pieties that people are basically good and, left to their own devices, will do the right thing.  He knows better.

 If Machiavelli were alive today, I’m guessing he would certainly identify with the lyrics of some of Tool’s work.  Heck, he might even write their lyrics.  Aside from the fact that there were not many hippies in Florence during the early 1500’s, it’s not hard to imagine Machiavelli the lyricist penning this verse from Tool’s ‘Vicarious’:

Credulous at best, your desire to believe in angels in the hearts of men.

Pull your head on out your hippy haze and give a listen.

Shouldn’t have to say it all again.

The universe is hostile. So impersonal. Devour to survive.

So it is. So it’s always been.

Machiavelli would have certainly understood the sentiment in the above verse.  And like Machiavelli, Maynard James Keenan and Tool have no illusions about whether or not there are “angels in the hearts of men.”  They know better.

 Tool lyrics range from very disturbing (‘Stinkfist’, ‘Prison Sex’), depressing (‘Schism’), occasionally weird (the Area 51 acid trip of ‘Rosetta Stoned’), and often times take a generally dark view of humanity.  If you are looking for happy, sunny lyrical themes, Tool is most decidedly not your band.

 Before I get into this too much further, I do want to note that I am going to practice a little self-censorship in this piece, as certain Tool songs contain enough F-bombs and S-bombs to cause a collective nervous breakdown of Tipper Gore and her staff at the PMRC.  I’ll simply insert asterisks into the F-bombs and S-bombs.  My reasoning is that I don’t know who reads this site and I don’t want to overrun it with curse words, particularly if any minors are reading.  Well, that, and the fact that the Dept. of Swearing has informed me I used up a significant portion of my lifetime curse-word quota during my six years in the U.S. Navy, and thus need to save the remaining portion of my quota for when it could really come in handy (for example, when my piece of @#*& printer keeps &#!*<?% up).  Rest assured, this is not an editorial decision by anyone else on this site, the decision here is mine and mine alone.

 And one other thing – I’m not going to get too much into the music of Tool itself, which is typically excellent.  Justin Chancellor is an outstanding bassist, and Adam Jones is an exceptionally innovative guitarist.  No discussion of the best drummers in the business today is complete if Danny Carey is not included.  And few vocalists can convey emotion with the sustained intensity of Maynard James Keenan.

 Now, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

 Our Darker Selves

 When we look at the history of the Rome, we like to think of ourselves as better than those Romans who flocked to the Colusseum.  We would never indulge in viewing such violent spectacles, would we?  We don’t want to see people die or get hurt.  Tool isn’t buying it, as spelled out in the above-mentioned ‘Vicarious’:

Eye on the TV

’cause tragedy thrills me

Whatever flavor

It happens to be like;

Killed by the husband

Drowned by the ocean

Shot by his own son

She used the poison in his tea

And kissed him goodbye

That’s my kind of story

It’s no fun ’til someone dies

While ‘Vicarious’ may appear to some to be more directed to the media and the “if it bleeds, it leads” ethos, stepping a little farther back reveals that it’s more about what lurks in the hearts of people everywhere.  Now, in fairness, not everybody wants to watch people die, at least not in real life … but I think more of us are at least insensitive (if not outright desiring) to the witnessing violence we will admit.  In my own personal life, my two favorite spectator sports are American football and boxing – both of which are violent and can take a frightening toll on the participants.  The issue of concussions and their after-affects is an ongoing story that presently puts a cloud over American professional football.  With respect to boxing, most of us are familiar with the plight of once quick-witted Muhammad Ali, now saddled with a severe case of Parkinson’s disease.  And yet I was thrilled, absolutely mesmerized by his titanic battles with Joe Frazier, especially 1975’s Thrilla in Manila, which I have re-watched on numerous occasions despite knowing Ali’s current condition.

Don’t look at me like

I am a monster

Frown out your one face

But with the other

Stare like a junkie

Into the TV

Stare like a zombie

Let me repeat that sentiment – don’t look at me like I am a monster.  Several years ago in a conversation with an acquaintance I mentioned that I liked boxing.  He asked me how I could watch something like that where the only object (in his view anyway) was to “beat the s**t out of each other.”  That was on a Friday. The following Monday he was raving about a hit from one of Sunday’s football games, one in which a player returning a punt was wiped out and carted off the field.

Why can’t we just admit it?

Why can’t we just admit it?

I also remember, later that year, being over at a friend’s house along with dozens of others to watch the heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.  When in round 7 a huge right hand by Lewis momentarily separated Tyson from his senses and put him on the canvas for the 10-count, a deafening roar of approval erupted.

You all feel the same so

Why can’t we just admit it?

Human beings are quite good at not merely watching others fight, but becoming participants themselves – at least at the scale of nation-states and other large organizations having political goals.  This lamentable characteristic is explored in ‘Right in Two’:

Angels on the sideline,

Puzzled and amused.

Why did Father give these humans free will?

Now they’re all confused.

Don’t these talking monkeys know that

Eden has enough to go around?

Plenty in this holy garden, silly monkeys,

Where there’s one you’re bound to divide it.

Right in two.


 Monkey killing monkey killing monkey.

Over pieces of the ground.

Silly monkeys give them thumbs.

They make a club.

And beat their brother, down.


 Fight over the clouds, over wind, over sky

Fight over life, over blood, over prayer,

overhead and light

Fight over love, over sun,

over another, Fight…

The creator has endowed us with a planet having more than enough for everybody, with plenty to spare and in defiance of the most dire Malthusian predictions.  While some of our drive to acquisition and the defense thereof is undoubtedly springs from deep seated survival instincts (not easily discarded, even in times of abundance), much of our conflict is still driven by greed, lust, envy, and ideology.  In the last century, literally hundreds of millions were slaughtered, fighting over blood, prayer, ideology, whatever.  So far, this century doesn’t look like it will be much different.  For that matter, previous centuries weren’t that much different either.

Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here.


 This is not to say that I condone pacifism (I most certainly do not), nor that there is no such thing as a just war.  But still, look at us …

 Destruction of Others, Destruction of Self

 One of the seven deadly sins is wrath.  From Wikipedia (stop laughing), wrath “may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.” Wrath, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries.”  Tool deals with this deadly sin in ‘The Grudge’.

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.

Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.

Desperate to control all and everything.

Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.

Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.tool 3

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.

Terrified of being wrong. Ultimatum prison cell.

Saturn ascends, choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.

Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.

Saturn ascends, comes round again.

Saturn ascends, the one, the ten. Ignorant to the damage done.


 Wear your grudge like a crown. Desperate to control.

Unable to forgive. And we’re sinking deeper.

 Defining, confining, controlling, and we’re sinking deeper.

There is so much truth and wisdom in those few verses it’s really hard to know where to begin.  I’m sure most of us have held at least a petty grudge at some point in our lives, particularly when we were kids.  With maturity, some will outgrow such grudges and avoid their self-destructive effects.  Others will not, or will develop new ones, and will be consumed by them.  That’s what grudges do to their holders – they consume them.

 And it’s not just individuals that hold grudges.  Groups of people, from small clans to the largest of civilizations may also hold grudges.  Hatfields and McCoys, anyone?

 And is it any wonder why wrath is among the seven deadly sins?

 Greed, Gluttony, and General Decadence

Greed and gluttony are two more of the deadly sins, and are among the themes explored by Tool in Ænima.  While Ænima on the surface appears to be an indictment of that “hopeless f**king hole we call LA”, it could just as well be an indictment of the current state of western culture.  LA just happens to be Maynard’s example (via his friend, the late Bill Hicks) of a “bulls**t, sideshow, three-ring circus of freaks” that best exemplifies our decadence.

Fret for your figure and

Fret for your latte and

Fret for your lawsuit and

Fret for your hairpiece and

Fret for your Prozac and

Fret for your pilot and

Fret for your contract and

Fret for your car.


 F**k L Ron Hubbard and

F**k all his clones.

F**k all these gun-toting

Hip gangster wannabes.

Learn to swim.

F**k retro anything.

F**k your tattoos.

F**k all you junkies and

F**k your short memory.

Learn to swim.

F**k smiley glad-hands,

With hidden agendas.

F**k these dysfunctional,

Insecure actresses.

It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?

 It’s been said that politics is downstream from culture.  Cue ‘Intolerance’, from the ‘Undertow’ album.

I don’t want to be hostile.

I don’t want to be dismal.

But I don’t want to rot in an apathetic existence either.


I want to believe you,

and I want to trust you

and I want to have faith to put away the dagger.

But you lie, cheat, and steal

lie, cheat, and steal

you lie, cheat and steal

And yet

I tolerate you.

Veil of virtue hung to hide your method

while I smile and laugh and dance

and sing your praise and glory.

Shroud of virtue hung to mask your stigma

as I smile and laugh and dance

and sing your glory

while you

lie, cheat, and steal.

How can I tolerate you?

I can’t speak for what goes on in other countries, but for my own, does this not hit the nail on the head as to the state of our current political climate (please, though, no political debates on this site)?  While the lyrics above could apply to a number of different institutions, they lend themselves particularly well as a scathing indictment of the current state of American politics and the two wretched parties in control.

 Alas, we can’t just point the finger at the politicians, when we are the ones that keep putting them in power – and willingly give them even more after we’ve put them there.

Our guilt, our blame,

I’ve been far too sympathetic.

Our blood, our fault.

I’ve been far too sympathetic.

I am not innocent.

You are not innocent.

Noone is innocent.


So why listen to these kinds of lyrics?  Why take in so much negativity, so much anger, and so much darkness?  Isn’t listening to music supposed to be some form of joyful experience?  Isn’t it supposed to be entertainment?

Well, no, not necessarily anyway.

 Science attempts to explain the physical world around us. Technology can help us harness the physical world for our benefit. But it is the humanities that grow our minds and convey to us the realities of life that are beyond the reach of science and can’t be addressed through technology.  Literature, poetry, and film, and other art forms fall under this larger umbrella – as do song lyrics such as those discussed herein.  Particular ones of Tool’s lyrics are particularly good at illuminating certain realities of life.

 It is essential to see the world as it is, warts an all, if one wants to obtain any sort of comfort or inner peace.  The great Stoic Epictetus instructed his students to not avert their eyes from the painful events of life, but rather to look at them squarely and contemplate them often.  To do so is to free one’s self from illusions and thereby avoid the unnecessary pain that otherwise occurs in the inevitable collisions with reality we all have.  The world is what it is, not what we want it to be.  And as we have already been reminded, “the universe is hostile, so impersonal.”

Some might choose to descend into cynicism and misanthropy upon contemplating the ideas within the lyrics presented.  But that is taking the easy way out.  Do you actually think Tool is going to let you off easy?  Ha. Pffft.  Think again.

The Way Out

Nope, Tool isn’t going to let you take the easy way out.  They aren’t going to let you fall into the cynical trap.  You’ve still got work to do.  We’ve already discussed some of the lyrics of ‘The Grudge’ above.  But even in a song that explores the deadly sin of wrath, Tool lets us know that it is still a choice – and that another path is there to be taken:

Saturn comes back around. Lifts you up like a child or

Drags you down like a stone

To consume you till you choose to let this go.

Give away the stone. Let the oceans take and

Transmutate this cold and fated anchor.

Give away the stone. Let the waters kiss and

Transmutate these leaden grudges into gold.

Let go.

You can be consumed by a grudge, or you can let it go.  Your choice.  One choice is harder to make than the other one … but the harder choice is the only beneficial one.

 The “learn to swim” lyric noted above in the discussion of Ænima above presents an interesting juxtaposition within that song.  At first glance, it appears to be a reference to saving one’s self when LA falls into the ocean.  But reading between the lines, it could just as well refer to learning to be one’s self instead of denying that and becoming consumed by “stupid s**t, silly s**t.”  Indeed, while we cannot control the culture or society around us, we can certainly make a conscious choice to not let it drag us down.  We can “learn to swim” to maintain our own personal integrity and dignity.

The album ‘Lateralus’ has a number of songs with lyrics that point to the way out of despair.  Take ‘Parabola’ for example:

Twirling round with this familiar parable

Spinning, weaving round each new experience

Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing

A chance to be alive and breathing

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality

Embrace this moment, remember, we are eternal

All this pain is an illusion

We all deal with pain in our lives, but so much of our pain is indeed illusory.  Often times with certain events it is our own perceptions that cause the pain, rather than the events themselves.  And sometimes changing those perceptions can do wonders.

Continued growth of mind is one message to take away from the title track of ‘Lateralus’:

Black then white are all I see

In my infancy,

Red and yellow then came to be,

Reaching out to me,

Lets me see.

As below, so above and beyond, I imagine

Drawn beyond the lines of reason.

Push the envelope.

Watch it bend.


 Feed my will to feel this moment

Urging me to cross the line.

Reaching out to embrace the random.

Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

I embrace my

Desire to

I embrace my

Desire to

Feel the rhythm,

To feel connected

Enough to step aside

And weep like a widow

To feel inspired

To fathom the powertool spiral out

To witness the beauty

To bathe in the fountain,

To swing on the spiral

To swing on the spiral


Swing on the spiral of our divinity and

Still be a human.


 Spiral out

Keep going

Spiral out

Keep going

Spiral out

Keep going

Spiral out

Keep going

The lyrical pattern established in the beginning of ‘Lateralus’ and carries through to the very end is one that instructs the listener to keep expanding the mind, to step beyond the ‘black and white’, to ‘spiral out’.  ‘Embrace the random’ also encourages the listener to accept those realities of life which are beyond ones control and not subject to change, and to accept events as they occur.

 While ‘Parabola’ and ‘Lateralus’ are both fantastic songs, it is the 11-minute plus tour de force of ‘Reflection’ that really points the way out from the cynicism and misanthropy that is too easy to fall into when contemplating some of the harsher realities expressed in songs such as ‘Vicarious’, ‘Right in Two’, and ‘Ænima’.  ‘Reflection’ starts with us being at rock bottom:

I have come curiously close to the end, down

Beneath my self-indulgent pitiful hole,

Defeated, I concede and

Move closer

I may find comfort here

I may find peace within the emptiness

How pitiful.

But even at the bottom of the hole, even when it all seems lost and hopeless, there is still a glimmer:

And in my darkest moment, fetal and weeping

The moon tells me a secret – my confidant

As full and bright as I am

This light is not my own and

A million light reflections pass over me

Its source is bright and endless

She resuscitates the hopeless

Without her, we are lifeless satellites drifting

And it is from that glimmer the direction is revealed.  There is a way out of despair, a way out of the disillusionment, the cynicism, the negativity, out of the darkness that will consume us if we let it do so.

And as I pull my head out I am without one doubt

Don’t wanna be down here feeding my narcissism.

I must crucify the ego before it’s far too late

I pray the light lifts me out

Before I pine away.

So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late

To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical,

And you will come to find that we are all one mind

Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable.

Just let the light touch you

And let the words spill through

And let them pass right through

Bringing out our hope and reason …

before we pine away.

As much as anything, ‘Reflection’ is about a maturation process, a maturing of the soul and the acquisition of wisdom that comes with it.  But, that too is a choice.

tool1As stated above, it’s easy to fall into a trap of cynicism.  It’s easy to hold grudges, and easy to just go along with the wider culture instead of “learning to swim.”  It’s definitely easy to take a dark view of humanity while forgetting what is on the other side of the ledger – art, architecture, a civilization that is more humane with more abundance than anything imagined by our ancestors, and so on.  But taking the easy way out rarely leads to anything good, nor does it get you closer to the truth or lead to real peace of mind.

 During the writing of this piece, I received an email from a friend with a quote from C.S. Lewis that I think really sums up the message in the lyrics of a number of Tool songs when taken as a larger body of work:

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

You certainly will not find comfort in the lyrics of Tool, if that’s what you are seeking.  If you wish to seek comfort directly, go listen to something else, mindful of the quote above.  On the other hand, if you seek truth and are willing to face it, even when it’s dark and unpleasant, then the lyrics of the various Tool works discussed above should not bother you.  Not only will you get a good dose of the truth, you may also find a little bit of comfort as a result.  And most assuredly, you will also hear some incredible music by some exceptionally talented musicians.

Help Leah Write, Record, and Produce Her 2nd Album

leah-metalThe North American Metal Maiden herself, Leah McHenry, is working on her second album.  As our Chris Morrissey detailed in two long pieces last fall, Leah is an astounding artist on the rise.  We’re very happy (indeed, quite thrilled) to support her.  While I don’t know metal in the way that Chris does, I can state that Leah is incredibly talented.  She’s, to my mind, what Sarah McLachlan should’ve become after her third album, 1993’s FUMBLING TOWARD ECSTASY.  Actually, Leah’s first album, OF EARTH AND ANGELS, lyrically as well as musically, is every bit as good as anything Sarah McLachlan did with her first thee extraordinary albums.  After 1993, McLachlan started playing it safe, writing great pop ballads but nothing to match what she did between 1989 and 1993.  Unlike McLachlan, Leah will almost certainly never lose her edge.  Her creativity and integrity seem to be as limitless as the strength of her rather Celtic voice.

On a personal note, I have had the brief opportunity to get to know her a bit through the internet.  She’s as kind and interesting (she’s a mother of four!) as she is talented.  She has a long and fulfilling career ahead of her.

Here (below) is what Leah has posted as an appeal.  Please support her as you can.  She’s been invited to be a member of Progarchy, and she’s welcome to post or review here anytime.  Though, of course, she’s got her family and career to think about.  Regardless, we will continue to sing her praises.–Brad, ed.


I am an emerging celtc-metal artist and songwriter from Vancouver, BC Canada.

In 2012 I released my debut independant album “Of Earth and Angels.”

People have described me as “The ENYA of heavy metal” and “Loreena Mckennitt meets Delain.”

I’m very influenced by celtic, world, and new age music as well as my love for symphonic metal. Fusing different genres together is a challenge I enjoy and that others seem to enjoy hearing!

I have a growing fanbase through the internet, purely from word-of-mouth and social media, since I haven’t had the time to promote my music from touring (I’m a stay at home mom). Despite that fact, I’m absolutely amazed at the number of enthusiastic fans I’ve gained and continue to gain every day!

That is pretty amazing, especially because while I’m committed to being a full-time mother, people are discovering my music all over the world and raving about my album!

This is great! But now fans want MORE from me. If you liked my first album, there is a LOT more where that came from!!

What I Need & What You Get

A production like mine is not cheap, but it’s nothing compared to what big labels spend! The following is an estimate, and one category may need more than the other category, but for simplicity’s sake:

  • $1000 for pre-production
  • $10000 will pay for my producer and studio time
  • $5000 will pay for musicians
  • $8000 for mixing and mastering (this would be a bargain).
  • $3,000 for album artwork, photography, and replication
  • $3,000+  publicity and radio promotion (U.S., Latin America, Europe)
  • $5,000+  videography and editing for official video releases

*** If we can raise more than our goal, we can take the music worldwide. That means radio and press, tv and film, official videos and MUCH more.

leah-magicI’ve chosen a flexible campaign, which means I can if I don’t hit the campaign goal, I can still use the funding that is raised. But it will mean we will need to re-evaluate where and how the money is spent and adjust it accordingly.

Depending of the size of your generosity, all contributors will get something very special from me 🙂

Your contribution and support means the world to me. It means I can:

  • Continue to be there for my family
  • Focus on writing high-quality material that the world will love
  • Have the potential to become known world-wide and still be an independent artist
  • Gives tangible support to the female-fronted metal scene!

Other Ways You Can Help

If you feel you want to contribute and aren’t able to monetarily:

  • Help me spread the word by sharing my campaign with your social networks by using the Indiegogo share tools!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!