Nature's Revenge: Tunes For A Vengeful Planet
Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray
We like to think of the planet we live on as "Mother" Earth, a caring, nurturing parent figure who we thoughtlessly abuse. Well, we at Rocks Off don't know if you've noticed, but Mom ain't exactly helpless. In fact, sometimes she seems less like a benevolent hippie goddess and more like a PMS-ing Old Testament deity. Every year she kills a bunch of us with hurricanes, mudslides, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other "natural" disasters that are little more than a shrug of the shoulders for her, yet can have repercussions that last hundreds of years to us puny humans. Hell, right now Mother Earth has one of her little magma spouts spewing ash all over Europe for no good reason. From Iceland! Jesus, we thought we could trust Iceland. It just goes to show, you can't get too comfortable with this floating ball of dirt and fire we zip around the sun on. Sure, she may be the only reason any of us are here, but that doesn't mean she has to like us. So Happy Earth Day, now here are some tunes from a vengeful planet.
You can never be too sure with Skinny Puppy, but this seems to be a song about the Earth's weather more or less turning on us... or at the very least could certainly be interpreted as such. There are multitude ways nature could take revenge upon us, but that's the only one that's concretely alluded to in the song's lyrics. Kind of a shame, really, but Skinny Puppy have always been more about hissing vague threats than painting clear, stark images. It's what gives them such a killer atmosphere. ("Killer atmosphere," get it?)
We mentioned the Iceland volcano earlier (whose name, for safety reasons, you should neither attempt to read nor pronounce), but that's nothing compared to what's going to eventually happen when the gargantuan caldera beneath Yellowstone National Park pops. Or, you know, one of the other four supervolcanoes which could explode any day now and doom us all. Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT learned of these boiling hot pools of inevitable death in his Earth & Environmental Science class and composed a peppy, silly, upbeat song about it with one of his friends. It's really quite bad, yet way more entertaining than anything on MGMT's new album.
The concept of the Earth taking revenge upon us talking monkeys didn't really emerge until the first time we realized we were a real threat to it. This would be when we first understood the horrifying power of the atomic bomb. Of course, the people who understood it best of all were the Japanese, who, almost immediately after having two A-bombs dropped on them to end World War II, filmed an allegorical fable about the unpredictable outcome of such a cataclysmic event.
We knew so little about the nature of radiation back then, it was not entirely outside the realm of possibility that it could, indeed, mutate some species which would then crawl out of the ocean and start kicking over our buildings like a maladjusted nine-year-old in a field full of anthills. And because the monster was dreamed up in Japan, it also was capable of breathing radioactive lightning. Godzilla is now usually portrayed as something of a protector of Japan, spending most of his time beating the rubber-suited shit out of any lesser-known giant monster dumb enough to attack his homeland.
This kind of ruins the original allegory, so every now and then they reboot the series and make him the bad guy again, and some poor scientist inevitably has to dream up a weapon even worse than the A-bomb to kill him with. So we kill the monsters science has wrought with... more science? That sounds about right. (Also: there was never an American Godzilla movie. We don't care what you think you've seen, it never happened, do you understand us? It. Never. Happened.)
At the other end of the spectrum from the supervolcano, there's this: our wacky Earth mother could up and decide to turn us into a great big hunk of ice again. It would sound stupid, like something you'd see in a bad disaster movie, if we didn't know for sure that it's already happened several times. And, like the supervolcano, it's pretty much a sure thing it'll happen again. With any luck, these two particular catastrophes will occur at the same time and everything will even out.
What are you talking about, of course that's how it works. Shut up. If it doesn't happen that way, maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe our new Yeti overlords will provide each family with a wooly mammoth of their very own. That would be the best pet ever, as long as it doesn't speak with Ray Romano's voice. Hey, speaking of wooly mammoths...
The entire Mastodon album Blood Mountain is basically about various forms of nature rising up and reaming all kinds of homo sapien ass, but we chose this one out of all of them because it's about flying fucking sharks. We don't think that's a metaphor for some kind of airborne modern technology, either. The song describes talons, leather wings, and hollow bones, which of course any flying shark would have to have.
Can you imagine how constantly terrifying it would be, to live in that world? There would be no such thing as a leisurely stroll, that's for damn sure. One second you're holding hands with your best girl, next second you're holding only a severed hand as her screams fade upward into the sky. AWESOME. We mean, awful. That would be awful. And it's only one or two little mutations away. Spare us, O cruel Mother Nature! We mean only to live, love and multiply until we drown in our own waste!
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