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Music and Models

By Jamie Rodney

I’m a music fan. Well, I’m a fan of what I call music. The definitions others attatch to what I listen to on my phone are…well, let’s put it this way- whenever I meet a fellow fan of my favourite band, I have to double check whether their affection is as unironic as mine.

The band I’m talking about is called Sabaton. They come from Falun, in Sweden, and their music is…niche. Most of their songs are about historical battles or armies, and everything they produce is (in my opinion) very very cool.

Now, much as I would like to, I’m not going to spend the next couple of hundred words extolling the quality of Sabaton’s music. Long experience trying to convince my family and friends to appreciate Swedish Symphonic Power Metal has taught me that Sabaton is the kind of band you either like, or you don’t.

Instead, I’m going to talk about something that happened surrounding my relationship with Sabaton a couple of months ago. Now, even the most dedicated fan of any given band can only take so much before getting bored, and I’d listened to Sabaton more or less non-stop for most of 2017 (I know entire albums of by heart, at this stage. I dream about bearded Swedish men bellowing about killing Nazis. And you people expect me to advise you about relationships.)

So, by the end of 2017, I was beginning to look around for an alternative. As anyone in such a situation would do, I started my search with bands that were similar to Sabaton. Luckily, that was pretty easy to do. Enter Civil War. Like Sabaton, Civil War are a power-metal band from Falun, Sweden. Like Sabaton, Civil War mainly write music about military history. The guitarists, keyboard-player and drummer in Civil War are former members of Sabaton.

So, when I listened to my first Civil War track, I was surprised and disappointed to find that, actually, they weren’t the same at all. Sabaton’s audio USP is the deep base growl of their lead singer, Joakim Broden. Civil War lead vocalist Nils Johansson, sings with a caterwauling falsetto. And besides, the subject matter of Civil War’s songs, while on their face similar to Sabaton, is subtly different. More abstract, somehow.

Now, I know what you’re saying. “Jamie, I don’t care about this. This is meant to be an advice column, not a vehicle for your shit hot takes about bands that nobody but you care about.”

Well, yes. I wrote this weird attempt at musical criticism so as to be deliberately boring and finicky, in order to prove a point. My attempt to find a heavy metal band exactly the same as Sabaton, is manifestly pointless, and my irritation at the failure of this source is even more so. That’s an obvious point.

So why am I even writing this?

Well, as wrong-headed as my searches for new music are, lots of people replicate it in their relationships. Generally, friendships- especially friendships we make early, especially firm friendships- have an even bigger psychological impact on people than the songs of Swedish metalheads. When we try to secure new relationships, we use our old relationships as models. But that doesn’t always work. Because no two people are the same, no two relationships are the same either. That’s why the friends we make at Uni are different from the ones we have at school, to use the most obvious example. So it’s better to view each new relationship we make solely on its own values, rather than through comparison to others. Sure, it’s scary. But it can be worthwhile.

I’ve worked out in the last few days that I quite like Civil War.

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