By: Maggie Hackett
To celebrate the month of love, I’m welcoming my first guest blogger. She is a multi-threat: an incredible vocalist, gifted musician, intuitive artist, deep writer, and the list goes on. Not only that, but she is a close friend of nearly eight years. For her guest blog post, she’s elected to write about one of her (and my) great passions: love songs. Please check out her out at the links at the end of this post and give her some love. Read ahead for Intosky songwriter/vocalist Maggie Hackett’s picks for her favorite rock and metal love songs.- Mary Fran
Everyone has different interpretations of songs, and for me, these are songs that I’ve associated with love in some way. I could be wrong, as I believe the artist’s interpretation is always right because they wrote it. However, these songs are amazing, and I can only hope I’ve done justice in reminiscing over them in this guest writer post! Forgive me if I messed up the lineup for the time the songs were written. I tried to be as accurate as possible.
Without further ado, here are my top six love songs:
6. “Halo” by STARSET:
Rather than romantic love, this song could be seen as a powerful friendship or familial relationship kind of love. To me, this song represents the kind of love that is the strongest of all. It’s the love where one person would die to save the other. The lyrics suggest the person the character loves is struggling with some kind of trauma referred to as the “same darkness.” He assures this person that they aren’t alone and that he will always be there for them. It is about how someone is willing to take on someone else’s demons alongside them and help them through their worst tragedies. This is the most beautiful thing someone can do for another.
The bridge leading into the chorus is truly a breathtaking build with a swell of the instruments. Its like reaching inside your chest and ripping out your heart for someone else and proving your love. The guitar by Brock Richards (guitars, backing vocals) and bass by Ron DeChant (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) supports and leads the instrumental without overpowering the other instruments. Part of what makes this song so great is the cohesiveness and how all the instruments come together so seamlessly to create one beautiful symphony. Whoever mixed and mastered this song polished it really beautifully.
The progression of the second chorus is marvelous and the synth melody is powerful. As the violin and cello swell into the bridge again, the listener is swept into this heroic sonic embrace. It feels like something out of an action film where the hero/heroine swoops in and saves someone from what could have been sudden death. The drums in the breakdown by Adam Gilbert (drums, percussion) are goosebump-inducing in the most titillating way. I also love the way Dustin Bates (lead vocals, keyboards, soundboard) alternates his falsetto with belting on the word “halo.” This gives it such a beautiful effect. He is one of my favorite vocalists and his voice really soars on this musical masterpiece. Overall, this song is just the embodiment of the purest heart on fire and nothing will stop him from being there for his loved one. This cinematic rock band is also amazing live, too, so when concerts are allowed again, I would highly recommend seeing them! I saw them in back in 2015 when they were on tour with Breaking Benjamin and they were amazing, but the band has really evolved since then with the inclusion of Siobhán Cronin (violin and keyboards), Mariko Muranaka Friend (violin, cello) and Zuzana Engererova (cello) in their live performances. Having these other instrumentalists live adds an extra layer of beauty and drama to STARSET’s larger-than-life, explosive, cinematic sound. Nneka Lyn (cello) and Jonathan Kampfe (cello) have also made amazing contributions in STARSET’s sound.
5. “Manchester” by Prospect Hill:
Right off the bat, this song was meant to sweep you up in a cloud of hopeful energy with drums, guitar, synth, and bass swelling into an emotional, musical crescendo. The bass riff by Edgar Troncoso sounds so rich and helps give the song a nice luster. The drums performed by Mark Roberge give the song that added drama and plays off the synth nicely. This is followed by an energetic guitar and vocal melody for the verse and pre-chorus leading into a beautiful, heart-shattering crescendo of a chorus. This song definitely has a twinge of sadness to it, not only in the music, but the lyrics as well.
My interpretation of this song is that it’s about someone who cannot be with the one he loves due to distance and perhaps also busy lives. The lyrics have a longing to them and Adam Fithian does a remarkable job of conveying this emotion. His rich, dark tone has a lovely quality to it, especially when he builds up to a higher resonance.
In the second verse, the guitars have an angelic quality to them that sounds like the word “starlight” to me with a gentle ringing in a faster pattern. This band has three guitarists, so I’m not sure who did what part, but it’s so beautiful all together so all these guys need to be recognized for it! Derek Rousseau, Johnny Roberge, and Andrew Bochart, fantastic job!
I love how the end of the song just rings out with vocals (some echo and reverb) and a guitar chord. It makes you feel like you can hang in that moment a little longer. And that’s all anyone ever wants with someone they love is to have (or have had) more time, so you have to find beauty in those glorious little moments spent together.
4. “3 Libras” by A Perfect Circle:
“3 Libras” is another song that gets me every time. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs (if not my favorite) by A Perfect Circle. Yes, I shed tears over this song of romance and tragedy because it’s heartbreaking. Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel never cease to amaze me with their lyrical eloquence. Keenan’s warm vocal tone and powerful belts really make the song so special. His style is so intricate with unique runs and drawn out word endings, and he is a huge inspiration to me personally as a vocalist myself.
My interpretation of this song is that it is about someone who has tried to do everything “right” in a romantic relationship, but no matter what he does, his partner is so emotionally and probably traumatically wounded that they are only half “present” in the relationship, if at all. This is disheartening for him because, as much as he understands and “sees” this person for who they are and wants to help them, they don’t “see” him in return. More eloquently, Keenan states what this song means to him in the liner notes of their album Mer De Noms, honing in on the unease and fear of exposing one’s deepest vulnerabilities, instead having an open mind and heart.
Now that’s a gorgeous meaning to a gorgeous song! Howerdel’s gentle guitar combined with the violin (Paz Lenchantin) and viola (Luciano Lenchantin) makes for a soothing introduction leading into the perfectly timed drums of Josh Freese that spark this lovely feeling of emotional power behind the sadness that is conveyed vocally. I absolutely love the build at the outro as well. The guitar picks up and drum rolls crash, adding another level of complexity and interest, with Keenan’s vocals shaking the very core of my soul. This masterpiece deserves more ears to enjoy it, so give it a listen!
3. “In This Embrace” by Divine Ascension:
“In This Embrace” is my favorite Divine Ascension song of all time! It’s off their 2015 album, Liberator, and everything about it is just perfect. The soaring, powerful and emotional vocals by Jennifer Borg, combined with the epic instrumentation and melodic structure of the song launches the listener into an amazing tale of love, sorrow, and tragedy that captivates me in every way. The intro to the song builds into an enchanting melody that sweeps the listener up into a glorious, otherworldly headspace.
I love the pronounced, pounding bass from Jason Meracis in the verses leading into a complex, heavy guitar riff by Karl Szulik for the pre-chorus. This is followed by a squeal of the guitar right before the chorus for that note of added drama. This band has a unique style in progressive metal and all these magnificent, talented people combined make this song remarkable. Borg’s vocals are incredible and I am in love with her ringing, powerful vibrato and strong runs in this song. I also particularly love the rapid drumming from Luke Wenczel during the chorus which adds to the urgency of the lyrics and continues that feeling of overwhelming love and tragedy.
My interpretation of this song is that it is about someone who cannot save a person she cares about with her love, although she has tried. This person probably suffers from addiction and cannot give it up. In the chorus, she pleads with her love that she will do anything to help them.
This song shatters my heart, as I’ve also had people I’ve loved suffer from crippling addiction. This song is very relatable. “In This Embrace” is truly an experience, so you have to listen to this song. I am not ashamed I have shed tears over this beautiful sonic tale. You won’t be disappointed!
2. “Love” by Cellar Darling
I have so much love for this special band. They describe themselves as storytellers and they do a fantastic job of it! This song is featured on the album, The Spell, which according to the artists:
“… tells the tale of a girl who is birthed into a world full of pain, damaged and debilitated by the human beings that inhabit it. We follow her as she meets Death and falls in love with him, trying desperately to join him – concluding with an ambiguous ending that leaves the listener wondering.”
It begins with a soothing hurdy-gurdy intro bursting into the sweeping vocals of Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy-gurdy, multi-instrumentalist) and a driving guitar riff by Ivo Henzi (guitars, bass). This, in turn, leads into this incredibly romantic instrumental with a kind of string instrument (I’m not sure which one) preceding the strong, belted chorus. This dance of instrumentals before the chorus is probably my favorite aspect of this song, as it’s just so breathtakingly emotional, my heart and my eyes melt for it every time. It makes Murphy’s vocals hit much harder once they come in, and the music tugs at your heartstrings. Her proclaiming, powerful vocals are emotionally bleeding the meaning behind the song. Her voice is this crescendo of the epitome of love and deep longing.
The idea of escaping the horrors of humanity with someone sounds so romantic. You can truly feel the expressions of the heroine of the story through Murphy’s vocals as well as the instrumental arrangement.
I love the drums by Merlin Sutter towards about 3:09 into the song. They swell with Murphy’s vocals and just create these magical little suspenseful rolls and crashes. This leads into a gorgeous piano part with soloed vocals.
The vocal melody on the last part with lyrics is one of my other favorite parts in this masterpiece. It is fast-paced, but not rushed. To me, it has the essence of a strong wind carrying you away. The guitar solo proceeding this by Henzi is incredible as well. It reminds me of a culmination like the actual “waltz of death” as described in the lyrics.
I also enjoy the progressive arrangements of this song because the structure is so creative. The instrumentals and vocals are ordered perfectly so as not to be overwhelming or minimize other elements. If you decide to check out this song and enjoy it, listen to both of their albums. They are just fantastic! Cellar Darling’s style is so beautiful and harmonious. They also have stunning artwork on the album cover for The Spell and in their videos if you would like to see Cellar Darling’s visual side, which is a major part of this band.
1. “Sextape” by Deftones:
This song is so rich, beautiful and intense. It is a song best enjoyed in good headphones with your eyes closed in a dark room because it’s just so hypnotic. With floaty vocals by Chino Moreno (Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) and atmospheric echoey guitars by Moreno and Stephen Carpenter (Lead Guitar), I can’t help but feel the romantic ambiance of this genius song. Its like you are literally in paradise with someone you love. It captures an energy you get when you care deeply for someone and just want to live in the moment with them. For me, the reason I love this song so much is the feeling it gives me. Rather than just talking about being in love, you are shown what that feels like. It’s like diving into someone’s heart and catching a glimpse of the world through their eyes.
The echo and reverb, especially in the intro, captures the essence of this state of elation. It’s that silky, hypnotic space that is like when you are laying down but it feels like the world is spinning around you. I’ve always loved the way Moreno’s voice ends a word with a little nuance that is so iconic to his style. It’s kind of like expressing a thought and just letting it dwindle off into a sigh which goes perfectly with the feeling of this song.
As “Sextape” progresses, it unfolds into this gentle drumming by Abe Cunningham that swells into a crescendo for the chorus. I love the way the symbols crash as it matches the lyrics “The sound of the waves collide.” The guitars seem to dance together with this progression as well. Sergio Vega (Bass, Backing Vocals) holds down the whole song with the bass and further enhances that vibration that follows the floating sensation. What Frank Delgado (Turntables, Keyboards, Samples) added to this song brought it all together and made it even more magical as well. All these aspects add to the sensuality of the song which Deftones are so good at conveying.
I highly recommend watching the music video for “Sextape” as well. It’s one of the most beautifully directed music videos I’ve ever seen. If you enjoyed this song, check out “Cherry Waves” too. It’s another favorite song of mine by Deftones that has a similar style to “Sextape.”
All of these songs are probably more about a feeling rather than simply how they sound. Yet, it was fun to break down how all the instruments came together to create something truly magical. I hope other listeners will enjoy and appreciate these beautiful songs as much as I have.
Honorable Mentions (no particular order):
– “If I Close My Eyes Forever”- Lita Ford feat. Ozzy Ozbourne
– “Stars”- Sixx: A.M.
-“Kingdom”- Devin Townsend
-“Angel”- Angels Fall
-“Lost in You”- Three Days Grace
– “Spellbound”- Lacuna Coil
– “Not Strong Enough”- Apocalyptica feat. Doug Robb
– “Stars”- Silent Season
Meet the Guest Blogger- Maggie Hackett of Intosky
Maggie Hackett is a multi-talented creative. Her biggest passion is being the vocalist for Intosky, a Chicago-based progressive metal band where she and her brother create mind-bending and thought-provoking music. Her other creative endeavors include creative writing, poetry, photography, and especially art. Primarily a digital artist, she has also experimented with traditional art mediums, occasionally adding digital elements to them. Through all these aforementioned artistic endeavors, she hopes to raise awareness about world issues and express her personal experiences as well.
Connect with Maggie on social media at the following: