There are plenty of expensive trips geared for retirees to visit some botanical garden on the other side of the world, but I have yet to find an opportunity to take advantage of my favorite dual reasons for packing my bags: music and exploring the outdoors.
It seems a logical combination. Like metal, the plant kingdom is full of death (pitcher plants devour flies, hemlock liquefies your guts), gory putrification (ever smell a corpse flower?), and a general cool weirdness (petals changing color after pollination, Baja’s otherworldly Boojum tree, violently dehiscing seed dispersal….examples are endless).
And, like ecosystems, the metal world is founded on synergistic harmonies (think the Fucking Champs’ anthemic “Extra Man”), discovering and exploring new territory (consider the infinite metal sub-sub-sub…..-genres), and seemingly effortless feats of gut-wrenching beauty (“Fade to Black” is up there, but again, endless….).
This sense of vital creativity — of a pulsing life-force — is the common idea here, whether expressed in the mid-winter burst of cherry blossoms or a killer High on Fire solo. The intensity is mirrored; it’s the same fuckin’ thing, man! If a piece of paper is sunshine and sunshine is a piece of paper, as a Buddhist attempt to describe a relational way of interpreting the world goes, then couldn’t electric guitars be ancient ferns and ancient ferns be electric guitars? It’s hard for me not to be equally inspired from listening to Black Sabbath in a dive bar as lighting upon a wild orchid growing next to a trail.
And lastly, I am similarly pleased by knowing scientific names and going to shows, but am wary of both the snobbery of academia and of any uber-exclusive leather-jacketed scene (funny how that’s sort of the same fuckin’ thing! too). Neither community alone is able to suffice, for me at least. I claim superior expertise of neither plants nor music. But I know what I like, and hope to share that here and maybe even pursue it to the ends of this green and epic Earth.