Look, I know that screaming in music isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. I’ve relied on adrenaline inducing music over the years to help me process emotions and, at times, to feel anything at all.
In January of 2016, my mother died from metastatic colon cancer. Throughout her illness, I was a part-time caregiver, commuting between Kingston and Carleton Place to help out on the weekends where I could.
I’ve always had an affinity for loud, hard music. I listened to a lot of it during this period of my life (and still do).
Enter Architects, a metalcore band from Brighton, England. Their guitarist and primary songwriter, Tom Searle, died following three years with skin cancer in August of 2016. The last album Tom wrote, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, was released just three months before his death.
The album is ripe with themes of cancer. It may have been projection, but at times it felt like I understood what Tom was thinking—and by extension—maybe even some of the emotions that my mom was experiencing.
The timeline of grief that the band was experiencing very closely overlapped my own. I’ve felt that, over the years, I’ve come to relate to the feelings of hopelessness, coping, and acceptance present in their music.
Now, these songs hit in a different way as I process my own cancer diagnosis.
A curated selection
From oldest to newest, starting from the hopelessness of being the terminal patient, through to the triumph of learning to live with the loss as a survivor, these songs really capture the emotions that go along with loss.
Gone With the Wind
This song really drives home what it’s like to experience terminal cancer. It touches on themes of hopelessness and coming to terms with an inevitable death from an incurable disease from the perspective of the cancer patient.
This version still makes me emotional. Now, more than ever, I can appreciate the emotions in the dedication.
This is the first song recorded and released after Tom’s death.
To me, it really captures what it feels like to have to keep going after someone you love dies.
People offer condolences and you’re able to take pause, but time keeps moving forward whether you’re ready to keep going or not. It’s a song about adjusting to the new reality of having a hole where a person used to be, but not quite knowing how to get where you need to go.
This one is about coping and learning that one has to make their own peace with loss.
I think it does a good job of expressing the different emotions that accompany accepting loss and digging out of the darkness.
To me, this song is about loss being an intruder.
On occasion, even with distance and time between loss and the present, the good will be subjugated by memories of loss.
Even still, six years after my mom’s death, there are moments where her presence is noticeably missed.
Music as therapy
One of the great things about music is that you’re able to overlay your own interpretation to the lyrics. There may be some disagreement, but like any other form of art, meaning is subjective.
Thanks for reading.