At This Great Depth is out now via Transcending Obscurity
Roughly six months ago, we had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing one of Ireland’s most promising metal outfits Soothsayer. At that time they told us a little bit about their latest stellar record At This Great Depth. As it is such an expansive and oppressive exploration into the darkest regions of doom metal, we’ve been chomping at the bit to get more information about the two epic tracks that comprise the release.
Lucky for you and us, we recently had the chance to talk with Liam Hughes (vocals/noise) about the inspiration behind the tracks. He really opened up to explore themes of depression, and defiance while also explaining how a Fibonacci sequence fits into the record.
At This Great Depth
The title doesn’t offer much hope. It gives the impression of being stuck within a gloomy, murky atmosphere. The artwork attempts to compliment that feeling. When painting it, I envisioned exactly that sensation… of being stuck in a lower, darker place while still clinging on to some broken shards of hope. There’s always that little splinter of hope in what we do. The hope in the case of the artwork is represented by the sun, attempting to shine through the haze of burning smog. The ultimate concept upon which the EP is based is always dealing with the struggle at hand but holding out hope for something good to come through. Fight valiantly now and there’s a chance that you may gain peace later.
When usually asked about the meaning of the lyrics for Soothsayer, I often reply with a vague and wishy-washy answer… but considering that this is an in depth, track by track rundown, I figured I’d be as honest as I could. To write this is not an easy thing as I am being extremely honest about things that I would not normally be so open about with anyone save a very select few. Considering this is ultimately about the creative process, then I shall choose to be open, because artistic and creative expression is the single most important thing to who I am as a human.
For as long as I could remember, I’ve always struggled with bouts of severe depression. Depression can be a devastating thing and can have tremendously drastic implications on your life and how you deal with your surroundings. It is something that is near impossible for those around you to understand and can shape your entire life in ways you would not realise. This depressive nature is the primary source of inspiration behind all the lyrics I write for Soothsayer.
Like many others, I have always searched for a deeper meaning behind it all. I came to the understanding that if I don’t remain constantly creatively active, then I start to sink down fast. That is why I must always be working on some sort of creative project, be it with writing, painting or music. I wouldn’t care if a single person did not see my work and result, as long as I managed to expel whatever indescribable feeling that is weighing me down. Sometimes I wish that my personality did not revolve around this “creative curse” and that I could just be an accountant or something… but what can you do.
Honesty and passion runs throughout Soothsayer and that is something that is carried through in every note and lyric. If we aren’t your cup of tea musically, or you simply don’t like us, you can’t deny our honesty or our passion in what we do.
Lyrically speaking, Soothsayer songs usually have double meanings, are often dressed up with esoteric frills, escapism and metaphorical puzzles…yet they all come from a place of real human emotion. That is the most important thing. Human feeling.
Purchase At This Great Depth via Bandcamp.
We recorded At This Great Depth in our rehearsal room with Eamonn Coleman. Both tracks were recorded live with minimal overdubs. We somehow managed to nail all sixteen minutes of ‘Umpire’ in one take. The first five or so minutes hadn’t even been written. The lads jammed it out once and then decided to press record and see what happens. I think that that definitely contributed to the sense of urgency that builds up within those first 5 or 6 minutes of the EP.
‘Umpire’ begins with the feeling of frustration. The frustration is initially crying out from how we as a species are affecting our mother earth, the negative effects and ruination on a physical level. As the song progresses, that feeling moves from just the physical effects, to feeling the mental effects and then the spiritual effects.
There are notes of encouragement creeping in as you try to deal with what’s at hand. The frustration turns to hope, then to malice, then back to hope. There is a metaphysical invocation of a higher power to guide this outward expression of rage and frustration, to focus it on a elitist select few. Those who sit at the top of the human food chain, enabling the ruination to continue so that they may remain upon their high horses. This is where the umpire is needed.
Here is also where the strong anti-establishment sentiments come in. Instead of screaming a straight “down with the system” cry, there is a more mystical and wishful fantasy of working with the earth and it’s magical elements. There is a want to improve our current situation but feeling too much raw emotion to know how to go about it.
“One heart, one love. Two truths. Three eyes. Five tongues. Eight arms. Thirteen lives.” This is a Fibonacci sequence, representing the golden spiral, found throughout many things in nature. In this case, the sequence is spiraling out in between the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path of occultism as one must figure out which energy to use to attempt to solve this problem. Would it be best to choose the Right Hand Path, with the use of white magic and nurture what’s already beautiful? Or choose the Left Hand Path with the use of black magic and cut the throats of those who have wronged us? This is also where the umpire is needed.
Intense feelings of anger and frustration can take you to a funny place.
2. Of Locusts and Moths
‘Of Locusts and Moths’ has become one of my favourite songs to perform. The “hope” element shines through strongest on this track than on any other we have recorded and while it may sound like a menacing, gloomy song, it feels rather uplifting to jam out.
The chanting voices at the beginning were performed by Con (Doyle, guitars) and Steve (Quinn, former bass) standing together in front of one microphone. This was one of the few overdubs we did and I love how it turned out. Their voices add the perfect texture and atmosphere to that intro before I start snarling over them.
Lyrically, this song covers a lot of what I had mentioned earlier about depressive states. Mental health issues can be a good catalyst for artistic creation but that is not really something that can efficiently sustain you in today’s society. This can lead to a lot of inner turmoil. Negative emotions can grow and take on lives of their own, until they become entities. In this case, the negative entities/emotions are embodied as locusts and moths. This song is about really going to war with yourself. Really trying to tackle your personal demons and overcome them. Just keep following your gut, to better yourself if anything. That struggle is probably going to be everlasting but it’s worth the fight. I have zero grand notions of myself, i’m just a guy trying to make sense of life and find my own place in this world… much like everyone else. So a lot of my lyrics, particularly in this song, exposes that sense of sorrow and hollowness… I’ve fought my way through many things since very early on in my life and ‘Of Locusts and Moths’ is a reflection upon that.
On the other hand, the song is a bit of a battle cry on behalf of the whole band. We’re quite defiant in many things that we do. We never write to fit in with any particular genre or scene and always feel like we’re on the outside… and we’re very okay with that.
“For the passion is the remedy and we’ve got much more than this.” This line ties my own personal approach with Soothsayer’s outlook as a unit. We know we have more to offer on a creative level. Our journey has really only just begun. We will surely evolve further and change shape but our core will always remain the same. We will continue to fight and do so with defiance.
This song finishes with an abrupt stop as opposed to the closer on our first EP (2015’s The Soothsayer) which is a slow, drawn out fade. The abrupt stop comes at the end of a 4/4 black’n’roll feeling segment which I love. It seems to come out of nowhere and finish out of nowhere while sticking up two middle fingers… Standing in defiance at this great depth.
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