Original Song: When Reason Fades

What's the song about?

There was one day in 2015 when I’ve witnessed two moments, within a matter of hours, at the same location, that caused me to write down these words: "good people in a rotten world".

I was frustrated with people. I witnessed some people being kind and others being despicable when presented with very similar situations.

As the years went by, whenever I ran into situations that triggered this sort of thoughts and feelings, I wrote down additional words to those notes. Thoughts such as "why is she being nice to him?", "why are you being nice to me? What do you want?". We are so desensitized that we immediately assume no good act comes for free.

I knew those notes I took would eventually become lyrics to one of my songs. This is it. The song finally came out in November of 2020.

The Writing Process

Musically, the riff for the main verse ("humanity…"), which is also used as the clean intro to the song, was written maybe around 2010. The same goes for the bridge riff ("in return"). Those three parts always worked well together in my mind. They were written and played on a 6-string guitar (my black Ibanez seen on the video).

Around 2015, I was playing those riffs on my 7-string guitar (the white Schecter on the video), and started to write a heavy riff using the 7th string, which ended up becoming the chorus for the song ("in this world…"). A derivative riff came out of it, and became the rhythm played in the guitar solo mid-section. Still out of those two riffs I wrote the clean arpeggiated part played in the middle of the song.

I sat down to start record the song in April of 2020, wrote the actual lyrics and vocals a couple of months later, and finally finished it in November.

The Lyrics

Humanity never fails to disappoint and disrespect
When reason fades, I won’t let go,
And when you least expect
evil has settled in

Mendaciously, I lead you through
my vicious path, but you can’t see
The common sense is buried deep
and when you think I’m near
I’m backstabbing you

I return to foist darkness upon you
Unkindness incites my control
In return, I reward all my blind sheep
With nothingness, you deserve, now be gone

In this world, I see the faces of those who turn away
The elected pawns are savoring the pain
Can this be the norm we all live in?
What kind of human leads the humankind?

Why do I doubt the acts of good intent?
Inexcusable is the lack of virtue and care
Their soul tainted by their misdeeds
The teardrop, frozen by our coldness

Original Song: Home

I started writing this song in 2012, finished arrangement, lyrics and vocals in 2014, and finally recorded and released it in 2018. During that time period, I had many homes.

What's the song about?

This song is about my thoughts about what home is. Shortly after moving to the US almost two decades ago, whenever I was at the airport either entering or exiting the country, people would ask me "are you going to or coming from home?". I’d catch myself thinking, "is home where I was born and raised or to where I’ve migrated?".

In 2013, I’ve watched this great TED talk by Pico Iyer, "Where is Home?" and was glad to see I wasn’t alone having those thoughts. For a couple of years after that, I collected my own thoughts and turned them into the lyrics I wrote sometime in 2014.

The Writing Process

The writing process started back in 2012 when I was messing around with a cheap acoustic guitar that could barely stay tuned. The melody stuck with me. Months later, I turned the acoustic part into a riff played on the electric guitar and other riffs derived from it. I connected the parts together and did a simple recording to save the ideas. Here’s a video of what that sounded like:

Here’s another video messing with another riff, playing my old friend’s rare Ibanez John Petrucci signature guitar:

After thinking of some vocal melodies for the song in 2014, I wrote lyrics and finished the song’s arrangement.

The Lyrics

Home as I've known it
Through words unsaid
You must always return
Do they wait for you?

If I speak the language
If we look the same
If I was born here
Could I call it my home?

Can I feel at home
at a place, I don't own?
A residence, that is all
We live inside four walls

An address on the phone book
Houses get bought and sold
Your home travels with you
In your mind, your heart, your soul

But I try to find
A place where I'm not down

Home is that place where you're respected,
loved, and cared for
Regardless of what you have,
Of where you were born,
Of where you live

Could home be a state of mind?
Perception changes over time
The place where I can be myself
I can see myself
There is no place like home

Do you know where home is?
Do you know what is it?
Can you feel or see it?
Is it the place you go when you're no more?

The name I put on the mailbox
The pictures I hang on the wall
How well I'm known in the neighborhood
Is this the place where I belong?

'cause I cannot hide
What I feel from myself

Home is that place where you're respected,
loved, and cared for
Regardless of what you have,
Of where you were born,
Of where you live

Could home be a state of mind?
Perception changes over time
The place where I can be myself
I can see myself
There is no place like...

Your home
My home

Do you talk like me?
Do you act like me?
If so, is this home?

Your home
My own

Do you look like me?
Do you think like me?
If so, is this home?

In my life, I have been put aside
Now I want, I want that all left behind
My sorrows drowned in the past
My hopes are on the rise again

Through my eyes I know my heart has learned
Through my heart I feel my eyes have seen
In this place, this place I now stand
I think I may, I may have found my home

Original Song: The Stream and the Mountain

What's the song about?

This song is about dealing with negative thoughts and situations. It's about being patient.

The Writing Process

Most of my songs are built from some guitar riff I have. This song is an exception: I built it from lyrics.

As I was writing this blog post, I picked up a journal where I write down ideas. This journal offers "weekly challenges". To my surprise, the page I opened had the following challenge: "Today, when you feel a negative thought coming on, replace it with a positive one." Well, this is precisely how this song creation process started over a year ago!

At some point last year, I was feeling sad, with negative thoughts filling up my mind. It felt like a mountain of sorrow. But then, I thought of a how a constant small stream of water causes erosion. I ended up writing down this line: "May the stream of joy erode the mountain of sorrow".

A few months later, I either heard or read somewhere about the idea that when in darkness, we need to either create or reflect light.

Many meditation practitioners use the idea of the "blue sky" to find calm: it doesn't matter how dark the clouds are, the blue sky is always there.

Finally, earlier this year, I got really hooked on the show The Good Place. Towards the end of the show, one episode had one of characters say the following lines:

"Picture a wave. In the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through. And it's there. And you can see it, you know what it is. It's a wave.

And then it crashes in the shore and it's gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. You know it's one conception of death for Buddhists: the wave returns to the ocean, where it came from and where it's supposed to be."
Last but not least, a few months ago (around May), I put together all of those thoughts and figured that they should go on an acoustic song, so I picked up my acoustic guitar and wrote the three main parts that have become the song.

Musical Influences

While not keeping any specific musical influences in mind, I know I like classical guitar and some folk songs, so I guess that's what I was somehow channeling here. I'd love to have the violin parts played on a real violin one day!

Writing the Vocals

The vocal melodies came up quite naturally once I had the guitar parts connected. I wanted to make sure the words were delivered clearly, because the message of the lyrics is the highlight of this song for me.

The Lyrics

The waves will form,
crash, transform
The water rejoins the ocean

Two ways to spread light
Create, reflect
Be the candle or be the mirror

May the stream of joy erode the mountain of sorrow
May this gentle breeze take the dead leaves away

Grow resilient as the branch or strong as the trunk
Behold uniqueness, the ancient trees

The sun is always out when covered by the dark clouds
Life goes on through its course at its own steady pace


May the stream of joy erode the mountain of sorrow
May this gentle breeze take the dead leaves away
Let the wind clear the old misty memories
Plant the seed, let the trees flourish once again

Cover Song: Angra's Reaching Horizons

This song was written by Rafael Bittencourt and originally recorded by the band Angra. I have two reasons to have recorded this cover.

Tribute to the late Andre Matos

As a teenager, I used to listened to a lot of music by Brazilian singer Andre Matos, who fronted the bands Viper and Angra back in the day. He passed away due to a heart attack on June 8, 2019, at age 47. I thought of recording one of my favorite songs that feature his voice and release it on the 1-year anniversary of his passing.

If you didn’t know him, here’s a rare live rendition of this song.

Recovery from Injury

In June of last year I got injured; broke my right collarbone. Playing my guitar was one of the things I wanted to make sure I’d rehabilitate back to.

After my surgery, I had to be on an arm sling for a number of weeks. As soon as I was able to put my acoustic guitar between by body and my arm, this was the song I picked up to play during my recovery.

Original Song: Blindfold

In this post I talk about the song Blindfold, the title track off Descent Into Madness’ 2012 EP.

What's the song about?

This song is about people who follow leaders blindly. Leaders could be nation leaders, politicians, religious leaders, or even parents.

The idea that people keep making rules and bending rules to their own self-interest, and the masses following those rules blindly, without challenging assumptions, always bugs me, much like the idea that people believe a "God-fearing man" is a good person. When a person is afraid of something or someone, does it mean the person is good? Not necessarily, I don’t think.

Some believe that everybody has a "mind's eye", but leaders gather their flock, and collectively puts on a blindfold on the group's mind's eye. But it goes down all the way to the individual, when a father forces his children to follow him by means of fear, instead of respect.

The Writing Process

The song was written rather quickly, but it took the band a while to play it live, and even more so to record it. When we started playing it live, though, it immediately became the band’s favorite live tune.

Here’s one live execution of this song:

Here’s also a video of me writing the solo. I’ve changed it a bit when I finally recorded it, but most of it came out of this version:

Musical Influences

The intro to this song is mainly the core notes of the first riff, played on a keyboard and using some weird sounds. The influence for that intro came to me from Angra’s song Winds of Destination.

There’s also one riff in Blindfold that many years after I wrote I sort of figured what could have inspired me: the intro riff on Arch Enemy’s Dead Eyes See No Future.

Other than those two things, I can’t really think of any specific musical influences that inspired the creation of this song.

Writing the Vocals

In order to come up with the vocal lines, I recorded it my own way, and then we worked on figuring out who was going to sing what. Eventually the band decided the first verse should be a tread of lines between Alex and I. I ended up not doing the chorus backing vocals in the studio version (which I used to do live).

The Lyrics

Preaching for the mass
Your attitude lies beyond comprehension
Teaching for the dumb mass
You lie, beyond comprehension

Making the rules, bending the rules
The Ivory Tower crumbles
One can only hope
For a better future without you

God-fearing man, synonymous with good man
Scared minds are easy to control

Father… inflicted fear, I'm your tyrant
Father… you are free will deprived

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where does it lead?

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where will I be?

God-fearing man, synonymous with good man
Scared minds are easy to control

Father… inflicted fear, I'm your tyrant
Father… you're free will denied

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where does it lead?

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where will I be

I, ambush, lie
Land of the free
I, ambush, lie

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where does it lead?

Blind collective mind's eye
Shielded from what's real
Led to a one-way road...
Where will I be?

Preaching for the mass
Your attitude lies beyond comprehension
Teaching for the dumb mass
You lie, beyond comprehension

Making the rules, bending the rules
The Ivory Tower crumbles
One can only hope
For a better future without you

My Guns N’ Roses Top 10 List

I was a huge Guns N’ Roses fan back in the late 80’s. I think Appetite for Destruction was a flawless album, GNR Lies was good with the cover tunes they played and the original acoustic ones, and both User Your Illusion albums had great moments.

I remember when they came to play at Rock in Rio 2 in 1991. It was months before they released UYI, the band was huge, and everyone wanted to see them.

When they were touring for UYI I sort of started losing interest in the band. I did go see them in Sao Paulo in 93, but I thought they just had too many people on stage: 3 back-up singers, a keyboard player, one or two guys playing percussion, etc. Just too much. I liked it a lot more when it was just the 5 guys on stage. That’s why I still refer to their "Live at Ritz" gig back in 88 whenever I want to see them at their best.

Chinese Democracy has a couple interesting pieces here and there, but it overall doesn’t sound like something created by a band. There were just too many moving parts, too many line-up changes, so it lacks consistency.

It’s kind of cool Axl, Slash and Duff got back together to play some shows, but it’s still not the same thing. Izzy was a great songwriter, and Steve Adler’s drumming was an important part of the band’s sound. Axl’s voice seems to be better now than it was in the last several years, but then again, why do they two keyboard players and people playing bongos during Welcome to the Jungle, for crying out loud? I’m interested to see whether they’ll go into the studio to work on new music and hear what that music would sound like.

Anyway, this band was a big part of my life and I keep listening to their old stuff now and then.

#10: Oh My God
Sometime around 93 or so I sort of stopped following whatever GNR was doing. When they showed up for Rock in Rio II in 2001 they played this one song and I thought "wait... that doesn't sound like GNR... it sounds much heavier, and I like it!". It's definitely a unique and different song in their catalog, but I think it sounds cool.
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#9: Think About You
This is one of those songs that keep some memories very much alive for me.
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#8: You Could Be Mine
1991 was a year of my life I won’t ever forget, and any song released that year is kind of burned in my mind. At that time I was a big GNR fan and was looking forward to a new record, after listening to Appetite for Destruction and GNR Lies a LOT. When You Could Be Mine came out I was rather pleased: it sounded like the good material off AFD, it had a great videoclip, and it was the soundtrack to a great movie!
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#7: Paradise City
Cool video. Great song. Lots of memories.

#6: Rocket Queen
It’s hard to pick a favorite out of AFD, but this has always been one of them for me. I like how the 2nd part of the song seems to be like almost a different song. Also, the lyrics in that 2nd part are something I relate to.
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#5: Patience
Lots of memories here… I remember playing this song as a kid. And I remember playing it for years whenever I wanted to bring some memories back.

#4: Welcome to the Jungle
The opening track to their debut album is probably the best example of what this band sounded like in their good old days.

#3: Civil War
I love this song. It’s one of those where lyrics and the music are a perfect match. The tone of the music fits the lyrics and vice versa. This song was also the last one recorded with Steven Adler on drums; while Matt Sorum is a good drummer, Adler’s playing was more organic… it just fit the band better, I think… it was an important part of the band’s sound.
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#2: November Rain
I like piano, rock, good arrangements, memorable guitar solos, epic songs. November Rain has all of that in it. Plus, it’s another song that brings me back important memories.

#1: Estranged
I’m one of those people who prefer Estranged over November Rain. Slash’s guitar melodies on this song are killer, much like the liner notes on Use Your Illusion II said. Masterpiece.

My Dio Top 10 List

Ronnie James Dio is probably my most favorite singer of all time. Out of all musicians who have passed, he is the one I felt the most. Besides being an amazing singer, there are countless stories out there from people who have met him and expressed how great of a person he was.

After creating masterpieces with Rainbow (my Top 10 list) and Black Sabbath (my Top 10 list) he went on to create a couple more masterpieces with his solo band.

When putting down the final touches at my back piece, I asked the tattoo artist to incorporate a little homage to Dio. His music will certainly live on forever through me!

#10: Sacred Heart
Another band I played with in my early days was called Sacred. Guess why?

#9: Lord of the Last Day
Heavy and sweet. Powerful vocals (couldn’t be different with Dio!)

#8: All the Fools Sailed Away
Mighty Dio!!!
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#7: Killing the Dragon
This song reminds of the DVD Dio released when touring for this album, which was around the time I moved to the U.S.

#6: Don’t Talk to Strangers
Dio and his amazing talent to move effortlessly between soft and harsh vocals.
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#5: This is Your Life
This is *THE* voice!!

#4: Rainbow in the Dark
If it wasn’t by Dio this song would be way below average for me. But the man made it great!

#3: Holy Diver
Dio, once again, turning an otherwise below average song into gold!

#2: Egypt (The Chains are On)
Great riff and cadency on this song. And of course, Dio being Dio.

#1: The Last in Line
This is the song that, for me, best summarizes Dio’s solo career. His clean vocals at the beginning of the song are smooth, calm, and then he turns it into a powerful, aggressive delivery. In fact, he shows how to sing aggressively without having to resort to growling or screaming. Not that many singers have been able to do that so successfully.
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Descent Into Madness’ Blindfold EP

In this post I’ll cover the Descent Into MadnessBlindfold EP, released back in 2012. The EP consists of three songs: the title track, To Each His Own, and World Undoing.

The Writing

Back in 2006, I think, while I was gone to Brazil for a month, Alex worked on two new songs (which later became Century of Lies and Chains of Cruelty, but I’ll save those to other posts). When I was back in town, there were many riffs for me to learn. Later that year, Alex was gone to Bulgaria for a month, so it was payback time: I wrote the three songs on this EP!!

We always give codenames to new songs, so we don’t have to call them "new 1", "new 2", etc. The codenames are usually something that have nothing to do with the music itself. Here are the codenames for these songs:

Blindfold = UFO
To Each His Own = Dark Forest
World Undoing = Dump Truck

The Recording

We have played these three songs at rehearsal for a couple of years. We even played two of them (To Each His Own and Blindfold) a couple of times live. However, we were unable to get it properly recorded as a band. When we were short of both a drummer and a bassist, we decided to record the songs as well as we could. Alex recorded the bass guitar, and we hired Marc Norgaard to lay down the drum tracks. We had worked with Marc on one song before and were happy with the results, so we figured we could do that again.

With a click-track created, I recorded a guide guitar track, which we sent off to Marc, along some room recordings we had playing the songs as a band. Marc sent us his first shot at each song, we shoot back some changes we’d like to see, and after 2 or 3 rounds of going back and forth we reached the best results we thought we could with this type of set up.

The main problem of working remotely with a hired musician like this is that we lose the chemistry of all people working in the same room. That being said, Marc did a great job, even more so considering this is not even his main style of music. As with our previous experience, he was very easy to work with.

Most of the guitars were recorded at Alex’s home studio. At the time I had just finished building a new computer and getting me some gear that would allow me to do some recording, and I was able to record my guitar solos back at my home studio. I think those are the best leads I recorded up to that point.

The Artwork

The artwork for this EP is centered around the title-track, Blindfold. I’ll talk about it in another post, after I’ve talked about the song itself.

The Tracks

I’ll be writing individual posts to talk about each song in this release, and I’ll make sure to include some room recording versions, as well as live versions.

My King Diamond Top 10 List

King Diamond is one of those bands people either love it or hate it. I’m in the first group. The concept albums always based on horror stories, the great guitar work, the great drumming, the theatrical concerts, and of course, all the vocal layers King Diamond creates to give life to his stories.

Some 20 years ago I used to play about 30 King Diamond songs on the guitar, as I was getting ready to play in a cover band called Twilight Symphony. Unfortunately, we’ve only rehearsed a couple of times before splitting up (everybody was busy with other things), but learning to play those songs was a great experience.

Even before that, we used to play the song Halloween with my band from my teenage years.

I’ve always thought King Diamond should write the story for a horror movie, where he’d play one of the characters. Maybe Rob Zombie, another metalhead, who’s been directing movies for many years now, could work on that?

I’ll never forget going to a Mercyful Fate/King Diamond concert in Sao Paulo back in 1996. Seeing the two bands on the same night was out of this world!

#10: The Secret
I don't like the production on this album much, but it has some songs I dig.

#9: Twilight Symphony
This song named my King Diamond cover band back in the day.

#8: From the Other Side
Any song off this album (released in 95) reminds me of a Mercyful Fate/King Diamond gig I went to in Sao Paulo back in 96.
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#7: Into the Convent
Playing this song on the guitar years back was fun. Andy LaRocque is such a great guitarist.

#6: The 7th Day of July 1777
One of Andy LaRocque’s finest works. Great songwriting, great solo. And of course, King Diamond delivering the eerie elements the song needs.

#5: The Family Ghost
Another song that was a lot of fun to play back in the day. Also, I think Rob Zombie should team up with King Diamond and make a badass horror movie!

#4: At the Graves
That eerie intro... all the dynamics... the guitars. Great KD track!

#3: Sleepless Nights
The master of horror in metal doing what he does best!

#2: Halloween
This is one of the songs my band from teenage years used to play. Simple, but fun!

#1: Welcome Home
This song is my absolute #1 by King Diamond. Mikkey Dee’s drumming on it is awesome. Great guitars. Great leads. This is one of my favorite music videos, too, as it both shows the band playing as well as it tells a story. It was my favorite one to play on the guitar, too.

My Best Guitar Solos Top 10 List

I dig guitar solos that are well written, memorable, and that fits perfectly in the song they were written for. I’ve never been a fan of the long guitar solo breaks some bands have at their concerts. For instance, while Kirk Hammett has written leads that fit well with Metallica songs, his solo spots at concerts have always been painful to go through for me. Playing notes up and down the neck is easy: writing meaningful leads for a song is way, way harder.

Here’s a list of 10 songs I’m a big fan of the guitar solos and how well they fit into the songs. Enjoy!

#10: Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years
Most songs by Iron Maiden feature at least one solo by each guitarist. Wasted Years is one of the few exceptions, and I think it’s for a good reason: Adrian just nailed the perfect solo for the song, and there was absolutely no need to add anything else to this song. His solo fits the song perfectly, is memorable, and I’ve been "singing" this solo every time I hear it.

#9: Jag Panzer’s Black
Joey Tafolla recorded a perfect solo for this track, written with the perfect balance between shred and simplicity. I also like his guitar tone in this lead, very clear, where I can hear every note even through the fast sections.

#8: Dream Theater’s Under a Glass Moon
I used to play this whole song on the guitar. The solo was so much fun to play!

#7: Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven
Talk about a perfect lead for a perfect song… classic!!
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#6: Judas Priest’s Beyond the Realms of Death
I remember reading somewhere that Beyond the Realms of Death was Judas Priest’s Stairway to Heaven. I have to agree. Epic song with an epic solo by Glenn Tipton. His solo on this song has all the notes that it needs; not a single note must be added or removed.

#5: Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child O'Mine
Slash is such a master when it comes to creating memorable guitar solos. The kind of guitarist who doesn’t need to play a million notes in order to create meaningful leads.

#4: Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Short and sweet. Brian May’s guitar tone and choice of notes for his solos in this song are the perfect fit.

#3: Judas Priest’s Painkiller
Glenn Tipton again. His solo on this song sums up what I expect of a solo in a metal song. K.K.’s solo is always good and fits well with the music, but Glenn’s just absolutely perfect.

#2: Megadeth's Tornado of Souls
Best guitar solo in Thrash Metal. Period.

#1: Ozzy Osbourne’s Mr. Crowley
Randy Rhoads wrote and recorded two impeccable albums with Ozzy. Great songwriter, excellent guitar player, who wrote many memorable guitar solos. His work in Mr. Crowley is outstanding!