Discovered in 2011 this album quickly became one of the most important albums to my life. That year I was returning to college after failing out of school and taking a forced year off of school. I was still deeply in love with making music and being in a band. The music I was consuming and creating at the time was a sort of hardcore/metal hybrid. Full of fast drumming, melodic breakdowns, and positive messages; see The Ghost Inside. Then I came across Have Heart and the song “Armed with a Mind.” To me it was the perfect blend of who I was and who I was looking to become. It had the aggressive music that I was into, but stripped of the metal influence, and it had positive, intelligent, and forward thinking lyrics.

I was going to college but I didn’t want to lose the hardcore kid in me. So I told myself I was going to make the two worlds coexist in harmony and Have Heart was a constant inspiration that I could make it happen. They were hardcore kids but they didn’t “look” hardcore, they didn’t have any gimmicks, and they weren’t writing offensive screaming music that was common in the scene at the time. Though their music was aggressive they were kind and whatever they did they did for noble reasons. For instance the money that their last show, one that sold out almost instantly and could have made them one last big paycheck, was given entirely to a women’s shelter in their home city of Boston. They never had the “look at me” attitude. They were aggressive on stage because they talked about topics they were passionate about; defeating depression, avoiding violence, and treating people with respect; to name a few.

This album inspired me to want more for myself and others, it inspired me to be more open about forward thinking ideas, and it inspired me to be unafraid to speak out with conviction against injustice and oppressive ideas. I went back to school because I wanted to make a positive change in the world. We were all freshly off the heels of Occupy Wall Street and, like hardcore kids have been known to be, I was fed up with the world and the systems we lived in. So while I sat and wrote papers about injustice, as I often did, this album became routine background noise. It kept me vigilant and productively angry. Though I am five years removed from that neo-freshman year and I have a more positive-minded ideal for change (not just burn everything down and start over) I still find myself inspired to want better for myself and others and to be fearless in the face of oppression each time as Life is Hard Enough begins and Watch Me Rise ends.

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