[OWLS October Blog Tour] Heart Like A Grave

Greetings, it’s me once again who can’t stop talking about visual novels will talk about music and a little bit about light novels later on. Fantasy it is!

In the month of October, we will be exploring the world of fantasy in pop culture. The genre of fantasy focuses on telling stories about our external and internal environments. There are many ways we can interpret the word, fantasy. For example, we can talk about how a fantastical place could glorify what reality should be or the dangers of ideal expectations. Fantasy could also be seen as taking a “wild journey” or a “hallcuination” and how that can affect our psyche and well-being. Fantasy can also focus on our personal dreams and expectations and how those expectations do not align with our reality. Overall, our posts will reflect on how we view the fantasy genre and what we can learn about these pop culture mediums.

One of my favorite bands released a new album earlier this month. It’s their 8th studio album and what can I say… it’s their best one.

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Under these cold northern stars
Songs are filled with sorrow
Brief is the time of summer winds
Moon is sad as the night

So, why did I chose this for the OWLS topic at hand? Because music can be a wild journey. And Insomnium took me on many journeys. Heart Like A Grave is no exception. It is a wild ride into a bleak and tragic world of melodic death metal. Sure, we see tragedy in fantasy stories. Be it the almost suicidal thought process of the last human in the future, struggling to live a normal life, falling in love, only to witness the loss of memories of the one he loves. Certainly not something out of the blue for people who ever had to deal with loved ones having dementia. It could also be a story about someone who gets kicked back to a „save point“ whenever he dies, with all other characters having no memories of that time they spent. Or a simple story during the times of war and star crossed lovers.

Heart Like A Grave is a full length album featuring songs filled with sorrow and sadness. These songs are based on stories from Finland, „translated“ into a more universal way for people outside of Finland to enjoy. The themes are the ones that can come to anyone. Being left behind, struggling with live, traumatic experiences, one’s heart turning black even though it was once pure and untainted. The lyrics are embraced by the melodic and raw sound of metal. Clear vocals were used for a few songs and the majority of the songs were sung in beautiful deep growls, almost a scream at times.

Even though I grew up with metal music as a child, metal was the what shaped my taste in music. It was the style that hit me right into the heart. When I was in my early teenage years I turned to bands like Linkin Park and Slipknot. I was sucked into this way of emotional outlet. After Linkin Park fell off my list after having changed their style in such a way that I simply didn’t enjoy anymore I discovered In Flames and soon after Dark Tranquility. I found my gem there. My fantastical world of melodic death metal. It wasn’t long after that I came across Insomnium. A melodic death metal band and yet unique in its own way. Unfortunately I’m not listening that much to In Flames these days. It’s not that their music is bad, it’s just not the In Flames that I came to love so many years ago.

Here the callous frost slowly crawls inside the hearts
Here the winter’s breeze will break the purest soul
Grown on this rimed soil, we’ve learnt to rue and yearn
Grown in these bleak woods‚ we’ve learnt to forsake our dreams

If I would have to imagine a fantasy world based on this record, it would be a simple world filled with darkness, just a step away from falling into ruin. Buildings crumbling under the pressure of time, forrests and clouds engulfing the lands in shadows. The only ones roaming these lands are the broken souls of those who suffered.

Speaking of shadows, there is a certain light novel that I’ve read not too long ago. A story about two star crossed lovers standing against each other on the battlefield. Both wishing for peace but neither of the two countries has any intention of stopping the war.

Our Last Crusade 1.jpg

„Our Last Crusade Or The Rise Of A New World“ is set in a world with magic but also science. Sounds familar, doesn’t it? The Empire with advanced science and Nebulis the feared Country of Witches. The Empire wants to kill all the witches and Nebulis wants to fight back against it. There’s more background story to it, but I’ll not cover it. Read the book, it’s good. One thing I want to mention is that it is almost funny at how close Our Last Crusade feels to our world when it comes to war. There are so many news about war and terror that it really comes to mind that we probably will never see an end to it unless all of humanity is gone.

The reason why I picked a LN by Kei Sazane is more the fact that the writing style of most of his LNs is striking a really good balance between comedy and the more serious tones, often also a bit more melancholic. Sazane is using just enough tropes to hit the fans but each of his LNs I’ve read is standing on its own feet. All of his stories are fantasy stories that also feel oddly familar to the world we know.

In another of his LNs with the title „Sekai no Owari no Encore“, we follow a guy who looks exactly like a legendary hero of the past. He’s just really weak and looked down upon by others. And yet, at the end he sets out on his own journey with comrades (who were also once comrades of the legendary hero). Sekai no Owari no Encore has the same charm. It feels a bit gloomy at times with just enough comedy and tropes to balance it out. I’m still impressed at how consistent Sazane’s writing is.

For me, the fantasy genre can be used to tell stories with a background in reality in a fantasy world or bring the fantastical things into our world. It can be something simple like „we have magic“ or unleash our real world issues into a new world and give it a spin. I think that you can come up with some interesting ideas on how to mess around with these topics. Saga of Tanya the Evil is also a nice example of having an alternate world with magic and how it plays out. Maybe just the same, just with magic instead of advanced technology? Our Last Crusade takes the Romeo and Juliet idea and places it into a war story with magic, science, and higher ups who may or may not be based on ours. Sometimes you have to go overboard to get a point across. Be it in comedy, drama, or something else.

I highly recommend checking his works out if you want something that is simply enjoyable. I also recommend checking out Insomnium if you don’t mind some nice metal.

That’s it for this month, maybe I’ll be back next month as well.

Yesterday, it was Pinkie’s time to shine!

Next up is Aria on the 22nd!

 

Until we drink again!

 

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