Where the fuck have I been? I don’t know what blanket of depression I’ve been living under, but I’ve been ignoring music for far too long. Sure, I’ve listened to what pops up on Spotify or just some glancing items that I see on Facebook. Somehow, someway, I saw this album pop up, and after 53 seconds of ambient noise and feedback, a burst of music pumped out of the speaker ushering in a wave of pleasure, regret and mourning right over me.
I had no idea who Emma or Thou were, whether I should have known who they were or anything like that. What I heard is music that is a harder version of Seaweed with the folksy haunting voice of Emma accompanied at times with the demonic screaming of Thou. It’s the dirtiest of early 90’s Seattle regurgitated into the swamps outside of Baton Rouge near the Comite River and emerging in a sweaty Frankensteinian mess that reaks terror.
I eventually figured that Emma Ruth Rundle is a singer-songwriter from Louisville and Thou are a sludge metal band from, appropriately enough, Baton Rouge who made a Nirvana cover album earlier this year and had somehow been featured on NPR. But all of this I found out after a couple of listens to this.
I don’t know if the nostalgia of the sound hit me, or if was how gorgeous the juxtaposition of Emma’s voice was to the music that threatened to drown her out but never managed to. But I just thought about how I could have missed out on this and how my stupid depression just kept be in a haze that allowed me to ignore everything and stay in a cocoon by myself. And that I must wake up and emerge into whatever world this is.
Sure, this world they paint through these seven songs and 36 minutes is scary and ugly. In “Ancestral Recall,” “I’m not of this world, this decaying existence / I’m not shackled to their cold, cruel and morbid logic / It tells a truth known to everyone who / Truly knows me.” This is a dark world not for us designed to keep us tied up. But there is a dangle of hope there, that we can like them be unshackled to this, that we can get over it.
In “Magickal Cost” which starts out mournfully and explodes in a guitar-fuelled battle, it ends with “My voice reaching back / Of rippling impulse / True, real raw hunger / My voice reaching back.” What we need to fight is within us anyhow.
Maybe I’m making too much out of this. I do acknowledge that the lyrics can come off as a bit cheesy and prog, especially as the album ends on “The Valley” with “You see them there? / Ancient and seething / Up in a pyre / Get them out of my way.” But I guess we need a little of that in our lives sometimes. I mean, how many fucking people loved Game of Thrones?
But I like that despite the bleak narrative, there is something within us that transcends all of that bullshit and help us become free.
Hopefully I can find a little more of that.