So I've been so excited for this since the day it was announced, but did it live up to the hype? Some say no, I'm not some.
This isn't Deathcon 2. This album knows that and doesn't try to be Deathcon 2, similar to how The Unnatural World knows it's not Deathcon 2 and does its own this. This album is a lot slower than The Unnatural World but still has its moments of speed, especially in songs like Trespassers W, Dracula Bells and the Title Track. The album tackles in a multitude of sounds while not new to HANL they're still quite experimental in the pretext that; they haven't been used in a public HANL release before.
Sea of Worry is an excellent opener it's quite quick in the context of the album, while yes it is nearly 5 minutes it still goes by quite quickly. The song sets the tone for the album and we enter the sea of worry. The song is quite punky and heavy and deals with themes of nihilism and existentialism (what HANL does best) but it doesn't do it in the same way albums like Deathcon or Unnatural World do it, as this album has a theme; while I know the previous two had a theme too, this theme is more personal and well, human. The album deals with the worries and scares of parenthood and while it's not blatantly obvious at first, pieces fit together but I feel this is an album that can be taken how you want it to. Songs like Dracula Bells, for example, has deliberately ambiguous lyrics. While put in context of parenthood it does work, it can also be put in multiple other themes. I feel this is an album with multiple meanings, is what I'm trying to say here. It's not a *cough* secular album.
The album also deals with a lot of themes of religion, which is nothing new from HANL of course but they continue to dabble in it in very interesting ways. The first real mention of God is in Dracula Bells in which our narrator who doubts the truth behind God and sees him as a malevolent being. We can put this into one of the themes of the album, which is parenthood but I can also see this fitting into another theme. The theme of religion itself, while this was dealt with in a way in Deathcon I feel this album deals with it in a different way. It deals with religion as a sort of crutch to fall onto. A lot of the songs on here deal with religious themes, and most of them deal with them in ways that don't make them out to be particularly positive but not exactly negative. The aforementioned Dracula Bells still sees our narrator seeking God and even after finding him, still willing to devote if it'll make his life better.
Science Beat also deals with religion, in a more vague way but it's still evident that this being that the narrator speaks of is either God or the Devil. It's left ambiguous for a reason of course as just established previously God could in fact be malicious so taking that into account, these depressing lyrics about feet in fire and ghostly hands could be about God. The song also deals with religious doubts, which the previous did too and the rest of the album does as well but this song is kind of a turning point I feel. It's the breaking point of our narrator in which while he's "not one for the irony" he still wants God, he wants asylum. "All along, I’ve felt an invisible hand guiding my errant heart, I consume and am consumed in part".
Trespassers W is an anti-religious song. Right off the bat, almost the song starts with quite heavy guitars and bass, almost rubbing it in God's face as it was considered that punk rock was sinful music. The song deals with religion yet again but in a more rebel-like light. It talks about devils and angels on your shoulder, nagging you to do things, but then the plot turns... we see our narrator seeking for asylum again. While he's doubtful, at least publicly he still wants that asylum from God as he's frightened to be alone. "I've been chewing the skin in my mouth without you" This again does fit into the parenthood narrative but again, that's not what I want to focus on as I feel this album has a deeper meaning than that.
The final three tracks on the album are a sort of turning point plot-wise. While I said that about Science Beat too this is more of an acceptance run of songs. Everything We Forget is an instrumental cut, right after Trespassers W it can be quite jarring but it works very nicely, think of it like A Warm Place from The Downward Spiral except instead of it being a moment of hope, it's the turning point of hope. The song is very transcendental and is almost drone-like. The song doesn't change all that much throughout its length but it's effective with what it does do. It feels like you're in a locked room, with only you and God. This is the sound of God. Lords of Tresserhorn then, our next track; our penultimate track is another slow burner. It starts off quiet but builds and builds before eventually exploding in a similar fashion to Earthmover (of course not as grandiose as that song but still a similarity). This song deals with a more existential topic. The topic of forced happiness in life. "I am mortgaged to an irrational thought, that we are always, we are always on top". Now on the surface, this song doesn't seem to mention God all that much BUT WAIT is that a religious undertone I hear? The song still deals with religion but in a more subtle fashion. This song deals with our narrator seeing God as someone to look up to, or so it seems. While no our narrator is not giving up to God in this song instead this song is more of a warning to others. We are not on top but, no one is in fact on top. The song tries to tell us this but in turn does give the impression of our narrator falling for God, especially in the final verse of the song in which he chants "Nothing will ever go wrong". In the context of the song also, this is going back to the beginning of the song in which we are mortgaged to the thought that, we will get to be happy forever... if we devote ourselves to God.
The closing track Destinos is our closer to everything here. No, it is not Earthmover 2 but that's a good thing. This song is in a way the epilogue to the album. Look at it as the Mortal Man or Frances the Mute title track. The song deals with religion once again, quite obviously, it opens with a long sampled speech about Hell. This speech is very interesting, especially in the context of the album. We see our preacher speaking about how the idea of Hell is in fact, quite odd and the question that "If God was really an unforgiving being, why would he send people to Hell?" And that is the underlying theme of the song. The song shows us a broken narrator. A broken person in a broken life. Once that speech ends we enter our harsh reality where; God isn't real, there is no heaven or hell, there's no nothing. "I sent this out, into this stupid world that doesn't give a damn, oh, what kind of fool do you think I am?" Our narrator rejects it all, the teachings of God, of religion; of everything around him.
"A snake so full of tail, that it can barely breathe to say it “doesn’t understand.”" is one of my favourite lines on the entire album as it encapsulates the cover art and its meaning perfectly in one simple sentence. This song is the key to put everything into place and I feel that is its purpose. The line is a metaphor for preachers stuck up their own asses about religion and God that, they can't admit that they don't know what they're talking about. The line also just encapsulates the entire meaning of the album, we're scared of God because we don't understand him yet there are people who say they do. They're a snake full of tail. A snake full of lies and deceit. God-fearing folk, lying about God. They fear God but for a different reason, so maybe, God is quite malevolent after all...