Feature: Records of Purpose, The Songs That Saved Me

Our writer Mark McConville looks back on 5 significant records from his youth, vital in helping him heal during times of deeply personal loss and turmoil. 

The power of music to mark the most significant moments of our lives and tap into the very essence of our emotions is immeasurable. Through music we find connectivity, reason, purpose, love.  It is where we reflect during well-needed times of solitude. It is where we process our feelings.  It is the bearer of so much joy, and also a trusty companion that helps us to keep going during our darkest most painful, fear-ridden times.  It is everything. 
I remember when I was caught up in hysteria, grasping my youth like a hand to a grenade, growing up with music blaring in my ears, music of purpose and hope, euphony built to generate bliss. I was 14 when I first listened to acts like Slipknot and Disturbed, like all upstarts, I had the hoodies and memorabilia, bursting from the seams and my closet. It was enchanting back then, until my music taste changed, until I focused on punk more so than nu metal and metal as a whole. I started listening to music more so when my parents past away. My father died of cancer in 2004 and then my Mother 6 months later. It created a depression in me that was volatile and crippling, self-loathing started to bite into my weak cognition, and I became a recluse, isolating myself. Those days were stark and I was profoundly cascading into darkness, losing grip. But music showed me the light. It was a true antidote, sending hope into my hurt heart. I was ready to immerse myself into the scene, claw myself out of the solitude, and latch onto the sound like a leech gunning for blood. It was my time, my ambitions were flourishing at a steady pace, and my dreams were rooted.

Nowadays I write. I write to evoke and to tell my story…

Here’s 5 records that aided me through such turmoil.

Green Day: 'American Idiot'.
Californian band Green Day catapulted into super-stardom in 1994 with snotty nosed, punk record 'Dookie'. But, it was 2004 when the band saved their careers. 'American Idiot' is the album which rejuvenated the band and sent shock-waves through the industry. It is an opus of stature and magnitude, built on political viewpoints and power chords. Lead singer and songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong created a narrative gem, constructing a fable of rotting suburbia and broken love.

The songs on the record all intertwine. From the bashfulness of opener 'American Idiot' to the subtle 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' and the 9 minute pile-driver 'Jesus Of Suburbia', the album truly defined many youths and went against the grain of the establishment.

Rise Against: 'The Sufferer And The Witness'.
Chicago band Rise Against put out a record of substance and political meaning in 2006. The act, formulated a punk record which rubbed against the underbelly of hope. They were already masters of their craft, but 'The Sufferer And The Witness' rallied a cause and certified them as front-runners in the scene.

The album is full of wonders that include the guitar driven 'Injection' and the beauty of 'Roadside'. It truly is to this day, an opus built on guts and integrity.

Alkaline Trio: 'Good Mourning'.
Chicago stalwarts Alkaline Trio are band of darkness and obscurity. Their music resonates and has built pillars in the punk scene. Lead singer Matt Skiba was born to play those fast-paced, intricate, riffs. And it was blistering record 'Good Mourning' that became the monumental go to album.

'Good Mourning' holds so many raw cuts, these include 'This Could Be Love' and 'Fatally Yours'. It is a record of substance and the story-telling is profound and sublime.

Biffy Clyro: 'Puzzle'.
Kilmarnock rock giants Biffy Clyro released their blistering, pulsating album 'Puzzle' in 2007. It’s a record truly rooted in emotion and pessimism, orchestrated with precision and intent. The songs which make up the record are all magically intertwined, woven to create atmosphere.
Puzzle is truly an album of colossal story-telling too, and lyric pioneer Simon Neil sings the words with a rasping tone. True standouts are 'Folding Stars' and 'Machines'.

Avenged Sevenfold: 'Avenged Sevenfold'.
Avenged Sevenfold released this monster of a record in 2007. It is an album fuelled on quick fired lyricism and intricate, technical guitar lines. It’s an instant hit, more commercial in its delivery, but still stuck to the formula that the band have pioneered. M.Shadows who sings with an aggressive sneer matches up well with the developed instrumentals. The songs which shine are 'Afterlife' and 'Almost Easy'.