Between Striking Out and Striking Rich, Just a Risk. One I’ll Take and Take Again…

What a difference a year makes.

My late June blog entry is always about my upcoming birthday and what that means to me. Last year’s entry was a bit darker than others that I’ve written. And after just reading it again to get a feel of what I was thinking at that time, I noticed that I had I said that I had originally written a darker draft of it. I almost wish I had saved that draft just to see how bad it was.

One year ago I felt that I had nothing going on. I was at a dead end job that I could barely afford to work at. My social life was not what I wanted it to be. My financial situation was horrible. I just wasn’t in a good place.

But, as I wrote in the follow up entry, a lot changed very quickly.

I’m in such a better place than I was last year at this time. I have a much better job than last year. The travel time is significantly less (I can walk there), I’m paid better than I was, and I have affordable health coverage.

My social life is better than it was a year ago at this time, but not exactly where I had hoped it would be. By no means is it bad. I haven’t felt lonely in a very long time. I’ve actually felt like I belong in the situations that I’ve been in. Not feeling like an outcast is a massive improvement.

Over the past year, my circle of friends has grown. I’ve had a few people return, only to disappear again. I’ve met some wonderful new people and I’ve reconnected with a few that I honestly thought I might never talk to again.

I’ve recently had a series of things go wrong, that a year ago, would have been financially crippling for me. But when they happened, I was able to take care of them. Now, instead of those things causing me to worry about if I’m going to be able to afford food or if I can afford the gas for my car just to get me to work, I’m just upset that my bank account is lower than I want it to be. I cannot stress enough how much better that makes me feel.
Money may not solve all of life’s problems, but having more of it than you did before certainly does alleviate some burdens.

This entry, like a few that I’ve written recently is difficult for me. Not because I have a hard time discussing my issues, but because I’m not in a bad place right now. Misery is so much easier to be creative about.

I don’t want to say that I’m “happy,” but I’m definitely not “not happy.” I’m not sad, nor am I complacent. I know that I’m in a better position in life than I’ve been in a long time, if not ever. But, I’m also VERY much aware of how bad things have been for me. I don’t want to ever to forget how bad things were. I NEED that perspective.

There’s still a lot that I can improve about my life. There’s a lot that I can change and a lot that I can’t. Unfortunately, the stuff that I can’t change actually does frustrate me quite a bit. I keep hoping for different outcomes there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see one. Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity. I know it well.

The things that I can change are sometimes difficult for me to achieve. My depression and my programming is hard to overcome at times. I get more stressed about things I haven’t done than needing to do them. I don’t know if that makes sense. Part of the problem is how regimented my days have become. Doing extra things seems like a break from a pattern. I know things need to get done, but if they’re done at certain times, they’re interfering with other things. I think this particular topic should be saved for another entry and I should try to go into detail on it.

Last year I said “I do know that I’m tired of starting over. I feel like I’m constantly starting over. I’m just not going anywhere. There’s beginnings and endings. The middle part seems very stagnant.” Ironically, I basically did start over not long after that. It was good for me too. I don’t think I’m going nowhere now. I THINK I’m moving forward, just not at a very fast pace.

In just a few days, I’ll turn 43 years old. Am I where someone my age “should be?” Probably not. But, I am where I am, and that’s not where I was. Where I was wasn’t good. Where I am is not great. But, where I am is a lot better than where I was, and that’s a good thing.

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I’m Wandering Through Thin Skies and the Transparent Air I’ve Missed.

I’ve sometimes joked that there’s never been a better time to be depressed. And honestly, I stand by that statement, as weird as it may be. There’s so many more resources and things available to people that suffer from whatever kind of mental illness that they suffer from.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of hearing stories from some high school kids. I’ve heard about their battles with depression. I’ve seen how positive, uplifting, and even inspiring these kids are. They spoke about how friends rally around them. They spoke about their support system in the school and the support that the school provides. And while I was hearing these stories I thought to myself “where the Hell were these support systems when I was in high school?”
In just a little under a month, 25 years will have passed since I graduated from high school. It looks like a lot has changed in those 25 years.

A friend once told me that she was being bullied by some other students while in 8th grade. She told one teacher about it. He pulled those kids aside and said “leave her alone, you know she’s crazy.”

I remember very clearly when I was speaking to a guidance counselor about a class that I wanted to take. She was told that my grades weren’t good enough for that class and then proceeded to mention how lazy I was. When I got upset about that comment, instead of seeing a lack of motivation possibly due some form of mental illness, she was doubled down on my laziness.

My friend’s example and the my story about the guidance counselor seem to be a stark contrast to the things I heard from the students that I talked to recently. Teachers and counselors are so much more aware of mental health now. Students can go to them for help and not fear being made to feel worse like I did.

The stigma attached to mental illness needs to be eradicated.

I purposely left that last sentence by itself. It needs to stand out. If someone needs help, they should be able to get it. If they’re reaching out to someone, the last thing they need is to be made to feel worse.

I’m now a part of my town’s Stigma Free Committee. I’m proud of that. I’m glad to be a founding member of something so important. But, at the same time, the whole thing terrifies me. I have a bit of social anxiety. I don’t like being the center of attention. I don’t want to be the face of anything. I like lurking in the background and doing what I have to do.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with one of my elementary school teachers. I’ll never forget when he said “I was always worried about you. You were that quiet kid in the corner.” I laughed at that and told him “I’m still the quiet kid in the corner.” But, what I didn’t realize at that point, and probably until the idea for this blog entry started is that I’m turning that “quiet kid in the corner” thing into a strength. I’m not saying it was ever a weakness, but it’s definitely a good thing for me.

As I said, I don’t want to be the face of things. I don’t mind being a part of something, but I don’t want to be the main focus. This blog allows me to do that. Yes, the majority of people that read my entries may actually know me, but my real name isn’t on most social networks. I’m able to hide behind a screen name. I’m able to be in the background, but still make a difference.

Some may think it’s ironic when I say that many of my friendships have been formed due to my misery and depression. But, it’s absolutely true. Music has much to do with that. I listen to a lot of miserably depressing music. And I have a great time doing it. Bands like Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Anathema, and Life of Agony have been therapeutic for me at times. Let me give you an example.

In the summer of 2016 I went to 2 days of a 3 day music festival somewhere near me. The person I was with at those shows saw me watch a band on day 1 and saw me thoroughly enjoy myself. She saw me watch Life of Agony on the other day and commented that she’s “never seen me like that” and wanted to know what was different for me about the experiences. I told that I attend that first bands shows just for a good time. I see Life of Agony to let out my problems.

Life of Agony shows are great experiences for me. I’ve had vastly different experiences at them too. There’s times when I’ve gone to see them when I’ve been in one heck of a depression spell and I’ve walked out of their shows feeling refreshed. There’s also times when I’ve gone to their shows in a great mood and just enjoyed the show for what it was. And not to mention that I’ve made some incredibly great friends at those shows.

I’ve drifted a bit from the original concept of this entry, but that’s fine. I only had a loose set of concepts for it. I’m not going to edit this one much. I’m not going to do a ton of re-writes. I’m going to leave it as it is. I’m going to try to tie the various themes together, but after another brief turn. in the meantime, if you want to read more about my experiences at Life of Agony shows, you can read this entry.

We really do live in strange times. The political climate in the United States may be more divided than it’s ever been, if you don’t include that time leading up to the Civil War. But, Civil War aside, we’re pretty divided. There’s very little common ground anymore. It’s either one side or the other. That’s another reason I like my music and the concerts that I go to. I know there’s people there of different political beliefs as me, but for the time that we’re at that show, none of that matters.
Music can be a universal language. It doesn’t speak to one type of person. It speaks to everyone. It doesn’t know race, gender, religion, or political affiliation. But, you know what else doesn’t know any of those? Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It can impact anyone, regardless of their background.

We need to do something. After talking to the students that I’ve talked to, and after hearing some of the things the schools in my town are doing now to help kids cope, I have to admit that I have a little bit of hope. Although, hope usually scares me. Hope means something could be going well, and it’s my nature to assume that something will go drastically wrong once there’s hope. But, in this case, I want to keep believing in that hope and prove my usual doubts wrong.

I know my blog entries have helped people. There’s been a few people that have reached out to me to tell me. In fact, one of them is someone I met because of the concerts I spoke about earlier. See, I told you I would keep this all tied together.

The things I write, even if it’s just once per month (as it usually is) are very helpful to me. But, if anyone else gets something positive from them, I think that’s great. It’s also a bit overwhelming to know that I’m making any kind of positive impact, even if I’m hiding in the darkness while I’m doing it. But, I’ve said countless times that we need to do something to END the stigma attached to mental illness. And even if JUST ONE person feels the need to reach out to me about something, I’m doing my part.

Will you do yours?

Aware of Some, Aware of Nothing More.

This entry is about Nothing. It’s about how sometimes I like Nothing.
It’s about how I do Nothing. It’s about how others do Nothing. It’s about how sometimes Nothing is good. It’s about how sometimes Nothing is bad. It’s just about Nothing.

Like I just said, sometimes doing Nothing is good. It’s good to sit around and do Nothing after a exhausting days. It’s good to not over exert yourself and just relax. But, of course that only depends on if Nothing is relaxing.

Nothing is sometimes very stressful. Nothing can raise my anxiety levels. Doing Nothing can stress me out. If I have things that I want to accomplish throughout a day and I don’t get to them due to being in a depressive episode, Nothing can make me more depressed. Being depressed about doing Nothing can be caused by doing Nothing.

There are people that I know that do Nothing to help themselves in situations. They’re not proactive at all, they’re hardly reactive. They’re either content, complacent, or numb to Nothing. I think I was there too, for a long time, but now I don’t like doing Nothing. I know what Nothing does to me.

I can’t do Nothing. Nothing doesn’t get me anywhere. Nothing accomplishes Nothing. Nothing causes more problems. I see people doing Nothing to fix situations and that Nothing bothers me, especially when them doing Nothing directly impacts my ability to do more than Nothing.

However, even if I can’t do Nothing. I can do Nothing, and I do Nothing often.

It’s easy to do Nothing. It’s comfortable to do Nothing. It’s very easy to believe in Nothing.

Sometimes doing anything other than Nothing requires so much mental energy and sometimes I just don’t have it. That results in me doing Nothing or making sure that Nothing happens. The problem with that is the cycle that I described earlier. And Nothing usually wins.

In some cases, Nothing is kind of like multiplying any number by zero. The result is zero, or Nothing.

Sometimes I like Nothing. Sometimes I dislike Nothing. Sometimes Nothing makes me happy. Sometimes Nothing makes me sad.

Sometimes I feel that I deserve Nothing. Sometimes I feel that I need Nothing. Sometimes Nothing is just right. Sometimes Nothing is never right.

There’s times that there’s Nothing better than Nothing. There’s also times when any thing is better than Nothing.

Nothing is like Nothing else. My Nothing is not your Nothing. My Nothing is my Nothing.

Maybe I’m good at Nothing. I don’t think I’m good for Nothing.

It’s often said that Nothing lasts forever. Is that good or bad? I guess that depends on what Nothing is.

If anyone reads this entry, I hope they get more than Nothing out of it. I’ve put more than Nothing into it. But, as I’ve stated, this entry is about Nothing.



Living Life Today When Tomorrow Brings This Trail of Desperate Thoughts.

I’ve sometimes written about how difficult it is for me to come up with a quality blog entry when there isn’t much going wrong for me. That’s what I’m dealing with now. I’m still “in a good place.” I’ve been there for a little while. Yeah, I’ve had my ups and downs recently, but the lows haven’t been as low. The highs have been steady. And as usual, it’s confusing for me.

There’s a lot about my personality and thought process that is somewhat contradictory. While I try my best to not take good things or people for granted, I’m still disappointed when I lose good things or the people. Even though I’m always sort of expecting to. I know that doesn’t make sense to some, but it probably does to others.

I’m finally in a position in life that I don’t have to worry about so many things that I’ve had to worry about before. I have a good job. I have good health care. I don’t have much of a commute to work. I’m very much less stressed than I have been in such a long time. But, I’m scared that it won’t last. Is that due to precedents in my life? Is it due to my usual fears? What causes this?

I often talk about my programming. I’ve been programmed by my life’s experiences to not expect good things to happen, and not to last if they happen at all. I’m always expecting the worst. Yet, I still hope for better. I think that bit of contradiction causes some of my anxiety.

I’ve talked about how my life needs a balance. If one aspect of my life is going well, others have to be going poorly. Right now, there’s nothing that’s going particularly poorly. That worries me. While I’m enjoying myself right now, I always have this underlying feeling of “when is it going to end?”

Even as I enjoy how things are going right now, I should probably be enjoying things more, but the worry never leaves. I don’t know when or if it ever will. What would cause me to not worry about the future? I should be able to see the path I’m on right now as a good one. Well, more specifically I should be able to be on this good path and not worry about when it’s going to take a u-turn.

Not only am I enjoying things now, but more and more tasks are coming to me. Some are with my job, some are just things that I want to get done for myself. I know that if I accomplish or complete these tasks that I’ll feel good about them. I know that some of them could very well help my mental/emotional stability. Fear of failure with them is always with me. That’s something that never seems to leave. Sometimes I find it so much easier to not even try because in my mind, I can’t fail if I haven’t started something. Yet, at the same time, that sometimes makes me less motivated to do anything. It’s a bad cycle.

I know that much of what I’m saying in this entry is repetitious. I’ve said much of it in other entries. But that’s how my life is. A series of repeating cycles. I don’t know how much control I have over each of them. I know that some of the cycles can be broken, but I also think that my path/u-turn analogy from a minute ago applies here too. Maybe I can reverse course on some misery and head towards more joyful things. That road seems to be more difficult to navigate though. The road to Misery is a downhill path and the road out of Misery is a steep hill, usually very twisty and with many obstacles.

As I was writing that last sentence I thinking about a way to wrap this entry up. The talk about the “roads” got me thinking about the Allman Brothers Band. The 50th anniversary of their very first show was just a few days ago. One of their more famous lines is “the road goes on forever.” I guess this entry is me saying that I know the road goes on forever, but it doesn’t have to be one way street. I’m not sure how much I can dictate the path that the road takes, but I’ll do my best to navigate.



Step Aside the Scruples in a Stratagem of Strain.

Writing these entries are sometimes difficult for me. Very often I’ll have ideas for something that I want to discuss and I just find it hard to put my thoughts into words. Sometimes I’ll have topics I want to dig deep into, but there’s something preventing me from getting into it. I use this forum to Unpack My Baggage and to express emotions that I’m sometimes not able to express elsewhere. Sometimes I’ll do a quasi-political rant here.

The entries that are the easiest for me to write are the ones that I do when I’m at some of my lower emotional points. I find it very difficult, if not impossible to write anything of substance when I’m “in a good place.” That’s part of the problem I’m having now. I’m in a good mental and emotional place. I’m not hurting emotionally at the moment. However, I can’t say the same about my physical well being.

I’ve been dealing with what I (currently) believe to be the longest lasting lower back spasm that I’ve ever dealt. In these entries, I’ve often said that I hope that my readers don’t fully understand some of the pain I’ve felt, because that probably means they haven’t experienced similar issues. I can say that again here about the back spasms. They’re not fun.

The simple fact that I’ve been able to walk without the use of a cane today is a bright spot. Not being able to support my own weight while trying to stand up is not a good thing.

People, like myself, that suffer from some form of depression will often talk about how difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning. It’s been very difficult for me over the last few days, but not because of mental or emotional issues. I’ve physically been unable to do it easily. I’ve had to pull myself to the edge of the bed and slowly get to the ground and then try to stand up.

Before you comment that I should see a doctor about this, I want to let you know that I have. I’ve already been to my chiropractor twice (as of when this is published) and I went to another doctor that prescribed some medications for me. Part of the reason I’m in a good emotional and mental state is that I don’t have to worry about affording doctor visits or medication because I have a good health insurance plan. I know too many people that don’t have that and something as simple as back trouble could cost them a lot.

This back spasm that I’m dealing with started over a week ago when I sneezed. I’m not kidding. It was just a sneeze that triggered it. It wasn’t particularly bad when it started, so I felt comfortable enough to go to a gym the next day. I was on a treadmill for one minute before I knew I should stop. I did some other cardio machines that had less impact and I felt fine, but I was probably making things worse. I felt a little better two days later and repeated the same thing at the gym, but again, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

If you saw me walking today, you wouldn’t notice a problem. If you saw me walking a few days ago, you would see someone in complete agony. I try my best to not take things for granted, but it’s something we all do. It’s just natural. But, not being able to stand up without assistance is not something I’m used to. Not being able to easily get off of my bed is not something I’m used to. Those are things I never want to be used to.

As of the time I’m writing this, I’m not suffering. I’m in SIGNIFICANTLY less pain that I was a few days ago. I’ve taken the pills I’m supposed to take. I’ve used ice packs on my lower back. I’ve done very little in the way of physical activity. I find it very ironic that I know of some DDP Yoga routines that are good for lower back pain, but I was in too much pain to do them.

I am getting better. There’s still some discomfort. But, like everything else I go through, I just have to take it day by day. I’ve done some stretches and I’ve done some simple DDP Yoga routines. I’ve been able to get out of bed and stand up without help. It’s weird for me to say that like it’s an accomplishment, but after the last few days, it is.

I will get through this. I will be better when all is said and done. If I have to take it easy for a few days and not do any strenuous activity, I’ll do that. If I have to forsake training for races, I’ll do that. I have time to get myself going for those. For now, I just need to get myself to 100%, or at least as close to it as I’m capable of doing.


In the Still Eclipse, Every Light is a Heartbeat.

I end every year with a blog entry where I ask the question “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” It’s not always an easy answer for me. There’s so many variables in it and it’s often difficult for me to say for sure one or the other. This year is very easy. I am absolutely better off than I was at the end of 2017.

As I’ve stated in a previous entry, I started a new job in September. That job may end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. I make more money than I did before, the commute is barely a thing, and I enjoy the job. I really can’t ask for anything more there.

The job and the pay have made my financial issues a bit less worrisome. The stress relief there is almost immeasurable. By no means I am financially set for life or even close to that, but I’m doing A LOT better there now. I’m actually spending more now, because I can. Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace two household appliances. Buying them wasn’t a concern. I could afford them. I didn’t have to worry about if buying them would prevent me from being able to afford enough gas to get to work before my next paycheck would arrive. Again, I really can’t describe how much of an incredible feeling it is to not have to worry about that right now.

My social life is basically where it was at this point last year. Throughout the course of 2018 I went from optimistic to disappointed to very happy to very disappointed and back to optimistic. I don’t have any regrets about the choices or pursuits that I made in 2018. The various disappointments came from issues that were basically out of my control. That doesn’t mean I’m deflecting blame or responsibility, it really means that there was nothing I could do to change the outcomes, because of things that were set into motion long ago. I would like to go through 2019 without the disappointment. But, we’ll see how that goes.

Last year I lamented about how I only ran in 3 5k races. Throughout 2017 I kept saying that I “wasn’t ready” or whatever excuse/reason I had for not doing more. I did 8 races in 2018. I’ve done a total of 31 since I started and 3 of the first few that I did this year are in the bottom 5 of my slowest ever. But, the last one I did was .4 seconds away from being a top 10. So, I ended my year a lot better than I began it. As for my slower ones, I am a little bit bothered by the results, but knowing how completely exhausted I was after each one, I know that I could not have possibly put any more effort in during those races. I literally exerted every bit of energy I had. It’s not possible for me to sign up for the races yet, but I already know the dates of a few races that I want to do in 2019 and I have somewhat of a plan in place to get myself ready for them.

Again, I didn’t come close to reading as many books as I hoped during the year. I think my new job will allow me to have more time to read. No, I don’t mean I’ll be reading books while I should be working. I mean that I have more free time than I did before with this job and I’m also a lot less stressed. Even if I only read a little bit on weekends, I’m so much more relaxed that I’m able to get a few chapters in during a sitting.

Just like every single year since I started doing the program, I still haven’t been able to perform a Black Crow pose in DDP Yoga. One day I will achieve that.

One of the biggest complaints I have about the last few months since I’ve started my new job is that I haven’t been able to listed to the various podcasts that I enjoy so much. I’m not in my car nearly as much as I used to be, and that really cut down my podcast listening time. If that’s one of my biggest complaints, I’m obviously doing a lot better than I have been.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me. I have some ideas for things right now. I have some plans to fix a few things in my house that haven’t been looked at or thought about in years. I want to live in an environment that is as stress free as possible I know that being completely stress free at home is not possible, but if I can make a few changes here and there, it’ll alleviate some of the stresses I currently deal with.

My New Year’s Resolution is always the same. It’s “I want to make it better.” I think I did that this year. Despite some really dark and depressing days for me in 2018, I’m leaving the year better off than I started it. I’m really not able to look at 2018 and say it was particularly bad for me. There were enough highlights. I’m hoping to be able to say the same thing about 2019 when it’s over.

2018 Album of the Year

1- Ghost – Prequelle
2- Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
3- Ministry – Amerikkkant
4- Amorphis – Queen of Time
5- The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Poor Until Payday
6- Bloodbath – the Arrow of Satan is Drawn
7- Muse – Simulation Theory
8- Those Poor Bastards – Inhuman Behavior
9- William Elliott Whitmore – Kilonova
10 – Mayan – Dhyana

If you’re surprised by my choice for Best Album of the Year, well so am I. Even though I saw Ghost live back in 2012, I barely paid attention to them that night or at all ever since. Not long ago, I put a metal station on the TV in the living room to entertain my parrots. A song from Ghost’s new album came on and they went nuts. They loved it. The song was “Faith” and every time I heard it, I liked it more and more. I listened to a few more songs from the album and liked them too. So, I finally bought a copy. I don’t know the last time an album from a band that I’ve never listened to before got to me like this one did. I really feel that Prequelle is one of the best albums from beginning to end that I’ve heard in a very long time. I don’t think there’s a bad track on it. I’ve also recently read articles about the story behind the band and I’m all in. I’m almost upset that I didn’t pay attention to them in the days of Papa Emeritus I, II, or III. But, I am amused by Cardinal Copia.

Although I said that I didn’t think there was a bad song on the album, if I had to pick just a few to sample, I would suggest “Rats,” “Faith,” “See the Light,” “Dance Macabre,” and “Pro Memoria.”

Clutch’s Book of Bad Decisions had to grow on me a little bit. The first time I listened to it, I thought it was good, but not close to their best work. But, it I liked it more and more with each listen. Songs like “Gimme the Keys,” and “Spirit of ’76” stood out from the start, while “In Walks Barbarella” ranks as one of their all-time best songs. “Hot Bottom Feeders” is a hysterical song about making crab cakes, and the video is definitely worth checking out. “Loralei” is a song that I was iffy on at first, but seeing it done live made me like a lot. If you’re a fan of Clutch’s “Pure Rock Fury” style, you’ll love their mix of “Weaponized Funk” on this album.

There is significant evidence to show that Ministry puts out their best albums when a Republican is President of the United States. And furthermore, the less that Ministry likes that President, the better the music is. Amerikkkant is a good example of that. Ministry’s frontman, Al Jourgensen is not a fan of the current President, which is quite obvious by the lyrics of the majority of songs on this album. If you don’t believe me, check out the songs “Twilight Zone,” “Victim of a Clown,” and “We’re Tired of It.”

A few years ago I had given up on Amorphis. They put out a few albums in a row that just bored me. At the insistence of a friend, I listened to their 2015 album, Under the Red Cloud and was very impressed by it. I actually ranked that album as the 6th Best of 2015. Their latest record, Queen of Time is just as good, or maybe even slightly better, since I’m ranking as 4th Best of 2018. It’s difficult for a band to have a unique sound that doesn’t seem cliche for themselves after a while. I felt they were going that way, but they’re back on a good path. “The Bee,” “Daughter of Hate,” “Heart of the Giant,” and especially “Amongst the Stars” are my favorite tracks from this album.

I’ve been a fan of the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band ever since I saw them as an opener for Clutch about 10 years ago. As much as I liked them then, they’ve become so much better of the years. Reverend Peyton’s guitar work is amazing and it’s a shame that he’s not well known. He’s that good. Their most recent album, Poor Until Payday is a great example of how good he is. Some of my favorite tracks from the album include the title track, “You Can’t Steal My Shine,” “Dirty Swerve,” and “It Is or It Ain’t.”

Bloodbaths’s the Arrow of Satan is Drawn is basically what you should expect from the Death Metal Supergroup. It’s a brutal Death Metal album. It’s exactly what I would want it to be, and a little more. “Old Nick” returned for a second album on vocals with the group and I love how rejuvenated his experience in this band and Paradise Lost. My favorite tracks on this album include “Bloodicide,” “Wayward Samartan,” “Deader” and “March of the Crucifiers.”

Muse’s Simulation Theory is the album that I ranked as the 7th Best of 2018. I think it’s good in 2018 and it would also sound great if it came out in the mid-1980s. It has almost a “New Wave” feel to it. This band is consistent in their quality and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live a few times. I’ve never been disappointed. “Algorithm,” “the Dark Side,” and “Thought Contagion” are the songs I recommend checking out from this album.

Those Poor Bastards may be the only band to have appeared on my Top 10 list more than once (three times to be exact) that I’ve never seen in concert. I don’t think they tour often, and if they do, they certainly don’t come to my area. Their latest album, Inhuman Behavior, is just what I wanted from them: A miserably depressing album with their unique Gothic, Country, and Doom sounds. Check out the songs “Snake Tongued Deceiver,” “Cult of Lonliness,” “Heap Bad Medicine,” and “Lonely Dreams.”

Like the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, I first became aware of William Elliott Whitmore when I saw him open for Clutch. Usually, it’s just him and his banjo, but on Kilonova, he has some extra musicians on some of the tracks. The songs on the album are all cover songs, and they’re done very well. Whitmore’s style is very traditional folk and blues. I’m hoping to see him in concert again sometime soon so I can see some of the songs from this album, such as “Fear of Trains,” “Busted,” and “Run Johnny Run” done live.

I have to give YouTube credit for the 10th Best Album of 2018. A suggestion on YouTube one day was a video from Symphonic Death Metal Band MaYan’s album, Dhyana. I had never heard of them, but I checked them out and I liked it. The fact that one of the female singers in the group is Marcela Bovio helped, since I’m fan of her work with Ayreon and Stream of Passion. Songs on the album range from under 3 minutes to over 9 minutes. It’s a good blend of various musicians and styles. If you like Symphonic Death Metal, you should check MaYan out. Try “the Rhythm of Freedom,” “Saints Don’t Die,” and “the Illusory Self” as tracks to start with.

Some albums that didn’t crack the top 10, but were under consideration include Madball’s For the Cause, the Pineapple Thief’s Dissolution, and BillyBio’s Feed the Fire.

Florence & the Machine’s High as Hope, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ Tearing at the Seams, Sick of it All’s Wake the Sleeping Dragon, and Buddy Guy’s the Blues is Alive and Well didn’t keep my interest or just flat out bored me.

I know that Within Temptation will have a new album in 2019. I believe Lacuna Coil will as well. Life of Agony could be recording a new record soon. Other than that, I don’t know who could possibly be appearing on next year’s list. I’m hoping for some surprises. I would also really love for a band that I didn’t have any interest in, like Ghost, to win me over with something that I consider as good as Prequelle. We’ll see what happens in 2019.

A note about eligibility for my 2018 Album of the Year:
– the album must have had a United States street date in 2018.
– the album must be new material (for the band or artist).
– live albums are only eligible if they’re new material.