We had a good round of winter weather in my area (and across much of the U.S.) a few weeks ago, and are seeing more as winter slowly rolls away into spring. That got me thinking about an odd little story from another notable winter storm many years ago. And as a result, here is a new story and song.
The song is Sightless, from the apparently final Solitude Aeturnus album Alone. The song is a massive doom offering that stays up-tempo despite its harrowing lyrical fare. It’s a highlight from an album that is full of them.
And for our story, which will get into when I first heard the band and the album. It was January 2007 and a major ice storm hit the U.S. Midwest and other parts of the country. My area of southwest Missouri was especially hard-hit. A combination of bad proactive city planning and just the massive nature of the storm left many without power for weeks in sub-freezing temperatures.
The storm came in on Friday night. Back then nothing stopped us from doing what we do, which is to play metal and drink beer. We knew the storm was coming so we headed to a nearby friend’s house to see the action from his huge, covered back deck.
The ice started piling on tree limbs and snapping them. The limbs crashed into power lines and knocked out power through the city. It seriously sounded like a war outside with the amount of trees and limbs cracking and snapping. This was the poor planning part of the whole thing – there were untrimmed limbs all over power lines through town. It was a mass casualty event as far as having electricity goes.
We wandered around a bit as it’s a bit tough to play music without power. The party spots of downtown still had power on Friday night so we hung around there awhile. Later I wound up over at another friend’s house where, in a desperate quest to eat something, we heated soup cans on a barbecue grill on his front porch. We were already settling in to our post-apocalyptic situation quite nicely.
The next night several of us convened at our house to try and find something to do. Power was still out and was going to be for days. The same friend who had offered up his BBQ grill and soup the night before had brought over a CD. My roommate had a boombox with a tape deck going but we had no other way to play the CD so we went out to my car and played it.
The disc was, of course, the Solitude Aeturnus album. We jammed out to a fair bit of it in my nice, warm car. The music was a perfect accompaniment to the surrounding frozen wasteland. While the situation overall could be looked at as quite dire, that bit of time playing the album in that setting just made everything seem peaceful and serene. Even a few exploding power transformers in the distance did not spoil the mood.
We went back to the house after playing a fair bit of the album. We got wind of one bar downtown that still had power so we loaded up in someone’s car and had a few pints there. Our house and neighborhood would not have power for 8 days, some other places went over 2 weeks without. Power crews from across the country came to repair the power lines, some who had worked Hurricane Katrina said our ice storm was worse.
In the end we got power back and eventually thawed out. Solitude Aeturnus would stick with me over time – Alone is a favorite album and I’ve gone back to the rest of their catalog and found other gems. Though the band did not continue on after that time, singer Robert Lowe would have a 5-year turn as the vocalist for doom legends Candlemass that began just a few months after the ice storm. Doom metal was a fitting soundtrack for my life around that time so all of this lined up quite nicely.
That’s about all there is to this story. The ice storm was a massive event that I had never seen before and will hopefully never see again. But at least I had some really badass music to help get through it.