i think ‘the death of art’ by belgian progressive metal band renaissance may be the single most criminally overlooked piece of music in mankind’s entire miserable history. check it out.
background: me and my pal riley were 16 and checking out all kinds of weird new metal. in those pre-internet days, i somehow got a catalogue called ‘metal disc’ from which we could order all kinds of obscure shit. i bought so many type o negative and amorphis shirts, it isn’t even funny. ‘the death of art’ caught riley’s eye so he ordered it. remember that he had no idea what it sounded like, he bought it solely based on the name and description. things were so different then.
the CD eventually showed up and we were both blown away by it. it was really, really…weird. sometimes heavy, sometimes soundscape-y, sometimes industrial, sometimes grunge, but thoroughly and relentlessly artsy. we loved it. the death of art largely became the blueprint for the music riley and i created for the next several years, except ours mostly sucked.
the mastermind behind renaissance was a kind belgian dude named chriss ons. i managed to get in touch with him via myspace sometime in the late 90’s or early 2000’s and spoke with him on numerous occasions. we talked about what music inspired him, what he got sick of, what he was doing now, etc. i wish i still had those messages but alas, they are long gone. i have searched for him many times since but can find no current info. when i last spoke with him, he was working on a project called red nucleus which sounded fairly similar to renaissance. that was about 15 years ago.
at 40 minutes long, the death of art is not a casual listen. i only throw it on maybe a few times a year, but when i do, oh boy. i fucking love it. it moves and changes so much, it encompasses so many different feelings and moods. my favourite parts are the opening piano and following verses, the hushed laughing/weird guitar sounds followed by a groove metal riff and a subtle ‘bing’ that sounds like an elevator reaching a floor (so freaky), and the whole end section. the end section sounds like drowning to me. i think it’s the wash of chorus and delay on some of the guitars that give it that vibe. anyway, that last part just crushes me. there are some pieces of music that, for me, perfectly capture an abstract feeling of the sad, beautiful cycle of life and death, of the big picture of our human experience. the death of art does just that, especially the ending. it’s such a perfect finish to such a varied, interesting, beautiful piece of music.
chriss ons, if you’re out there, get in touch. i want to know what you’re up to and hear everything else you’ve been writing in the last 15 years.