Why Listen? To see how form affects function; an example of making private symbolism accessible; how to keep sentiment from becoming sentimentality.
When one thinks of music with compositional subltety and a literary bent, heavy metal doesn’t exactly leap to mind. Sturm und drang and dire denouncements, yes, but not much more. So "Rose of Sharyn," from the progressive metalcore band Killswitch Engage, comes as something of a surprise. In most contexts, this eulogy to lead singer Howard Jones’ mother would seem overly sentimental. ("What would I give to behold / The smile, the face of love? / You never left me. The rising sun / Will always speak your name.") But atonal howls and thundering riffs add gravitas, while its surprisingly melodic bridge lends a fragile beauty. What’s more, Jones refuses to surrender to the achorless abstractions that dominate his genre, instead coopting a biblical metaphor in the song’s title to help communicate private symbolism. There’s some finesse in all this fury.