America has a fine culture of poetry and it is a diverse one as well: from the mystical ruminations of Whitman to the abstract simplicity of Cummings, Americans have been dancing with words all over the 20th century. One of the main features of American poetry, and in literature as well, is a deceptive simplicity. Handing in the often needless complexity of the romantics but holding on to their emotional capacity, American poetry and conjure the deepest of emotions with the simplest and most common metaphors. Why the hell are we talking about American poetry? Simple: it’s the fuel which makes The Aurora Borealis run. Behind it stands a man called Eric Hendricks and his poetry, simple in a truly American fashion. Joining forces with none other than Drewsif Stalin and his Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors, he has birthed an album steeped in loss, tragedy and a cold, simple efficiency that cuts right to the bone.
Musically, fans of Drewsif’s works will not be disappointed. The World Is A Colder Place Now bears his unmistakably professional production, all massive tones and furious chord progressions. It also has his unique vocal timbres, rich collections of evocative expressions. These make up one half of all the vocals on the album, the rest being composed of Hendrick’s powerful screams. As the vocalist of Carthage, his power of delivery and guttural aggression is well known; it is also well utilized on this album. His screams meld beautifully with Drewsif’s lower ranges. You can hear a fine example of this on “How Cold Can It Get”. It’s middle part is made up of pure aggression, made up of Hendrick’s screams, before it turns over to a brief spat of narration. This narration then gives way to an emotional outro, made up of several tracks consisting of Drewsif’s resounding tones.
This is one half of the album then: well made, modern, emotional melodic hardcore. The other half however is the lyrics and their delivery. Delivering his poetry in a calm yet powerful style, Hendricks lends his narration to most of the tracks on the album. However, because they’re rarely separated into their own track, the words are an organic part of the album and how it grows. Take for example the opening track “For All I Have Left”. The last few lines blend right into Drewsif’s singing, beautifully catching the listener off beat. Where a pause is needed, where the mind wants to stop and think on the words it has heard, there is instead reiteration. Their content itself is also well placed in the beginning, as it sets the stage for the rest of the album:
“The world is a colder place now,
I remember a time when breathing wasn’t this hard
When the wind’s chill didn’t inhibit movement
When my vision wasn’t constrained by the tilt of my neck
But the world is a colder place now
And I’m left recounting the cards that are left”
This is not only placed well here in the beginning and then left. It also communicates with other tracks in the album. “For All We Are” is an obvious candidate for this interlinking, due to the similarity in the title. But the project doesn’t simply stop at structural similarities or obvious comparisons. Instead, you need to dig deeper into the music and the lyrics in order to identify the parallel parts. For example, here the narration is reversed and appears at the end where before it appeared in the beginning. But beyond such simpler symmetries, there is the symmetry of theme and delivery which runs through out and beneath Hendricks’s poetry. Check out this part of the narration from “For All We Are”:
“When you know the cure to the disease that’s spreading,
but the medicines you just stop taking.
You feel alone,
you feel ashamed.
You feel overcome,
and you feel desperate.
And at some point, you feel defeated.
You feel all those things,
but not a one has brought you out of your seat yet.
And even with all that pain,
silence keeps its motionless hold.
Even though my insides are screaming,
I’ll watch it all decompose”.
This common thread which runs through the lyrics delivery and content is what makes this album an album. When fusing two distinct sounds of established musicians together, the risk you run is disparity and confusion. However, by hinging the music, the narration and the atmosphere on poetry that, with such simple tools, achieves cohesion, TABP x DSME have both managed to weave a single creation into being. The biggest payoff of this, other than accessibility and replay-ability values, is the building sense of dread and bitter acceptance which slowly builds throughout your listening experience. As the album goes along, you are hit again and again by these ideas, musical expressions and styles until they finally make up something bigger. The catharsis comes in the form of “Divorce”, where Hendricks’s narration and words clash with Drewsif’s vocals in the most emotionally expressive and massive moments on the album. There’s little this reviewer can say to express the explosive power of those closing moments, especially on the heels of the buildup of an entire album before them. So let’s end this review with the words and nothing more:
“Sometimes I wonder what you’ll think
If I go down that road
And everything that it means
Will the words I say to you mean anything?
I tried desperately to hold to love
But finally understood I couldn’t stop its sink
I know it kills you
But it was rotting me Alive
On one side I knew the cost for you
And the other was mine
I can see in your eyes every time
Just how perfect everything could be
If I could only see
With that same innocence
But mine has been ripped apart
And torn to shreds
There is not an apology or a tear I could shed
To make you believe I didn’t work at it
I can feel you shake
Wishing I could hold you again
When you feel like you are drowning
Sometimes you just can’t keep holding your breath
There was poison in our home
I drank it every day
I know you can’t see that but hopefully someday
Someday you come to know
I wasn’t letting you go
I was trying to hold to my heart
And only in separation
Was I going to not come apart
I am not letting you go
I am trying to hold to my heart
and only in separation
Am I not going to come apart”.
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