READ| 8 November 2018

Text & Title Photo: Tobias Melcher
Pictures: Martin Hufnagel
Picture of Singer: Abigail Buckler

September 2010: How Parkway Drive's Deep Blue album saved my life.

Imagine that your life is a film, one that you don’t know the script of. Every day, every hour and every second has its own right to exist, even though not everything was important or special, or had a deeper meaning for you and your film.

Of course, now a lot of memories are running through your head. Some push to the front of the line and leave others behind, just to appear first before your inner eye. Is it a good or a sad one? Something stupid? A moment of happiness? What is the soundtrack to your memory?

Bit by bit, more pictures arrive before your inner eye and slowly but surely a pattern appears. Your selection of memories says a lot about you. Perhaps less about your temperament or your character, but more about the circumstances you grew up in, the friends of your youth and, of course, the moments that shaped you.

What’s playing before your inner eye?

Is it that one night at the club? Or when you saw a dense fog blanketing a valley in Malaysia? When you were sweating but so happy at a concert? A school trip to Spain or a vacation with your parents when you built your first sandcastle? If you put all these essential moments together you get something like the trailer to your life.

When you watch my trailer there is a short interruption after all these happy and funny moments. For dramaturgical reasons the music is muted, and you see me. It's September 2010, I have both hands on the steering wheel of my old, anthracite-coloured Audi A80, I have the first smile on my face for weeks and tears in my eyes. The record that’s playing is Deep Blue by the Australian Metalcore group Parkway Drive. It’s my first listen to this album, and it’s song number 8, "Deliver Me".

No matter if I’m 35, 50 or 65 years old, every damn time I cut to the trailer for my life you will see me there smashing my hands on the steering wheel and hurling together with Winston, the vocalist, "But I will survive/ I survive. Fury, deliver meeeeee!" into a world that just became less gruesome.

This was the moment of my release, the moment when I reached a new step of self-knowledge. This step…no, this jump I draw on until today.

Three months before this moment I had met a girl, and, typically for me, grew fond of her really quickly. Her relaxed nature, her kisses and the laughter we shared covered up the parts that didn’t really fit. So, for a few weeks we met every day. My heart was hungry for love, and I let myself fall, without a safety net or ground to fall on. After 6 weeks, we couldn’t laugh together anymore, and she noticed what had been obvious: We, or it, did not fit, not for any longer. And so she left, and I let myself fall without having any interest in being caught or putting myself back on my feet anytime soon.

I became a ghost, lost 12 kilos, and after that first bout of crying, a grey film descended over me, making every emotion numb. I couldn’t sleep for longer than a few hours, and when I woke up it was to the exact same thought that I fell asleep to. What is she doing? Is she thinking about me? Will she come back? What on earth did I do wrong?

At first I did not notice, but I had opened the gates to my inner life and the depression was marching in with waving flags. It burned, pillaged and tore me into pieces.

A few weeks later my condition had deteriorated noticeably. My appetite was lost, I was permanently exhausted and nothing interested me at all. Even though I had contact with the girl who had triggered everything, this was a matter of indifference to me. Most of the time I just lay on my bed, stared at the ceiling and searched in this emptiness for answers to questions that hadn’t even popped up yet.

Whether it was intentional or not, I did not listen to any music during that time. When I did it was something dark, just to boost my rotten mood. I worked the night shift. Even in the summer, I was surrounded by darkness most of the time. I chose to live in this isolation, stopped opening the curtains in my apartment and barely switched on a light. After the 3rd week some friends called to ask me how I was doing, wanting to make plans. I just ignored them. During the 4th and 5th week, I was surprised to discover that I had drifted into self-talk. At week 6 I wrote a 14-page long letter to the girl that I never sent and that I eventually burned.

All of a sudden, it was September. I can’t say where I found the strength this day to put some clothes on and why exactly I chose this particular album on my way out to the car. A few years ago, Parkway Drive caused an international stir with their debut album Killing with a Smile because of their primitive Metalcore. Together with the subsequent release Horizons, they breathed some life into Metalcore, a genre that had been declared dead several times already. With some innovation, a close relationship to their fans and their impactful gigs they spearheaded this genre. While other bands tried clean vocals or a new sound to tap into a new active group, the boys from Byron Bay stayed true to themselves, and fans remain loyal until today.

When Deep Blue was released in June 2010, I was with this girl. During that summer affair there was no place for primitive Metalcore, the only music playing was Tracy Chapman and a little bit of Indie.

I put the CD in the player and it took a minute until the opener emerged from silence to the very first words: "Existence is suffering." My head nodded simultaneously with the drums, I turned the key and drove out of the garage.

The door opened and behind it a beautiful summer day was awaiting me. Not knowing where to go, I turned right and followed my inner autopilot when the second song "Unrest" fell upon me. At best you think that every important album was written just for you, for this exact situation. When Winston asked me “Retrace the steps, retrace the steps. Is this what I have become?” I almost had to laugh. It wasn’t a real laugh, more like a wheeze but against the background of my state for the past weeks, this wheeze felt great.

I don’t want to sound derogatory about the musical aspects of this record, but again it was the lyrics that hit me. Every song on that album had a line that made me reflect, that touched me or swept me off my feet. "Consumed, do I feel the rage, growing inside me" ("Sleepwalker"). Immediately, I knew what he was talking about as I recognized the anger in me, which I hadn’t interpreted correctly or even understood up to that point.

Without having any idea where to go, I was heading south at 100 km/h, listening to the next impactful songs. Me nodding to the beat turned into me celebrating. Every good passage I replayed, and listened to it again and again. I regretted not listening to this earlier. It felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. All of a sudden it all felt better. Not great or okay, but better.

I parked the car at a petrol station when “Deliver Me” began. The blasting start, then, “I see a frail hope, crushed by the weight of the world” paired with a deeper growl, more speed, more groove. It was nothing less then perfect. I opened the window. When he said, “Fear it finds me, and it binds me”, I had to rewind. These 8 words are the keys to a door, hidden deep inside my inner self. After all these years it opened and I began to understand a part of me that was hidden before: Fear.

Back then, if you asked me what I feared the most my answer would have been either a funny one (clowns) or the typical things like the loss of friends and family. Certainly, I was under the false impression that I did not have any fear. I didn’t acknowledge it because I didn’t want to be confronted with another weakness.

Instead of facing it, I had allowed a deep fear to lay down solid roots inside me. I feared new social contacts and unknown situations. I was anxious trying something new and being wrong, holding a position that could evoke any criticism or, as I said, owning up to my own fears and shortcomings to better understand them.

A lot of new insights were sprouting inside me and my head swam. Then I laughed. This time it was a real one for the first time in weeks. I could feel it, something bad had departed, and it wouldn’t come back anytime soon. I could see a tear on my face in the rear vision mirror, and I asked myself where my life was heading to now. The song became slower and I could see what I needed to do to become happy. Until then, I had hinged my own self worth on someone else who I could be with, someone I could make happy. Now I understood that I, completely by myself, was at least worth something.

At exactly 3:32 minutes, “But I will survive… I survive. Fuuury, deliver meeeeee!” was blasting through my speakers followed by a heavy breakdown. This man was screaming at me. Just at me. The fear led to a rage and it has never let go of me since. It was a rage against things and people in my life, but most of all, against me. Thinking about it, I had collected a lot of recognition but this had never resulted in action, new patterns or a fresh approach. I never learned from my experience or mistakes so I always stood up for myself too late. Now, this spiral of hate was already a part of me.

When the song ended I listened to it again… and again. At exactly the 3rd time, the scene for my trailer is happening, the trailer for the film of my life. Punching against the steering wheel, happy tears in my eyes, hurling these words and this anger I found a peace of my mind.

I switched off the car and went into the petrol station. I needed about 10 minutes to look for the right beverage but I felt better. I took my steps more easily, the sun in my face felt warmer. Back in the car I just looked into the sky. It had the blue that it only has in summer.

Perhaps it was half an hour, maybe more.

After the engine had started, I kept on driving. The album continued of course, but I noticed how much these first 8 songs had challenged me on an emotional level. Until this day, I divide Deep Blue into 2 parts: the first 8 songs, including “Deliver Me”, and the 2nd half with the other songs. It’s not because the subsequent songs like “Home Is for the Heartless” or “Leviathan I” aren’t any less great, but the emotional rollercoaster during that first half until the salvation makes it impossible to look at this album as a whole. I don’t know any word or sentence to express my gratitude for this moment.

Today, 8 years later, I’m far from being a typical sunshine. Furthermore, I see a lot of bad things in this world, morbid and bleak things fascinate me. I did not win all my battles and in certain aspects, I’m far away from where I want to be.

But I accepted my weakness, and over the years I acquired a very good skill of self-observation. Ever since then, I started to love myself, and that allowed me not only to better understand my actions, but to see my strengths and my shortcomings. Most of the time I was able to express myself and communicate what’s on my mind; I became more and more the person I am today.

On the 30th of January 2016, I was able to witness this song live in all its glory. Of course, it brought me back to that day, back into my old Audi A80, but I was proud of the path that I walked through all those years. It seemed I was bursting with pride, and I became lost in this moment of happiness. I closed my eyes and forgot about all the other people around me, I smiled just before I screamed so loud against all this anger, fury and fear once again... that’s another scene for the trailer of my life.