What if H. P. Lovecraft got thrown into a black hole? I don’t mean the literal person, I mean his ideas, and I mean black hole to work on a couple levels, the light-smashing region of space, and the depths of depression. Keep that in mind, it will come in handy.
If H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic philosophy got chucked into a black hole, I think we’d get this here.
Here’s how the book that comes with it starts: “Sometime in the Spring of 2009 I tried to kill myself. Six months before that, I used a Voor’s Head Device for the first time.”
If you’re still here, check out this video review and then come back and read the rest of this, because it won’t make much sense without the review, unless you’ve been smart and bought the album already. It comes with the book as a pdf file, so you can listen and read at the same time.
First let me talk about the music. I got interested in this album because of track 7, which is the sample on Bandcamp, so go check that out. It seems to be the fan favorite. I normally hate reverb with a passion, especially when stuff is slathered in it like this album. But this works for me. I agree with the video, it’s more about atmosphere. So where does H. P. Lovecraft come in?
In case you don’t know much about Lovecraft, he made up some gods that represented cosmic forces that don’t’ really care about us. Actually, it’s not even really that they don’t care about us. Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode where these two guys crash on a planet, and the one guy finds some little people and goes on a crazy power trip? If you haven’t I’m about to spoil it for you. The guy stays behind, and some giants show up. One of them steps on him, picks him up, and when the other one asks what it is, he says “a little man … some kind of little man”. That’s Lovecraft’s gods, in a nutshell. They don’t care about us not because they’re apathetic or because we can’t cause them any problems, they don’t care about us for the same reason we don’t care about ants or amoebas. Half the time they don’t even realize we exist.
So how in the hell does Lovecraft relate to this album? Well, Lovecraft made his gods to represent cosmic forces, and humanity’s insignificance in the grand scheme of things. So what if you took that and smashed it down to a human level? You get this album. We’ve got a cult, we’ve got books of forbidden knowledge, we’ve got weird experiments, oh, and we’ve got an uncaring universe too.
Remember in the review where he talked about the song Spectral Bride? He says it’s about being so depressed that you want to kill yourself, but you have a loved one, so you’re going to be with them as a ghost. Yeah, kind of. Except he left out a really important part. From the book we learn that Robert Voor believed in something called spectral jail. Essentially, when we die, we’re just sort of trapped here and condemned to wander around the earth or in the atmosphere or something, it’s not precisely clear.
So not only are you so depressed that you want to kill yourself, not only do you have a loved one which will probably make you even more depressed about wanting to kill yourself, you’re also going to be screwed when you do kill yourself. Either you think you have a chance of redemption by being around this person as a ghost, and then surprise!, spectral jail!, or you know about the spectral jail anyway. In either case, being around them isn’t some chance for redemption or the best you can do to be with them or help them out of your depression, it’s just more punishment for the both of you, or you if they don’t know anything about your love. We are not talking about a shiny happy universe here. But it doesn’t seem as though the spectral jail is a punishment, like hell is a punishment. The spectral jail just sort of exists, it’s just the way things work. The universe doesn’t care, and that probably results in our insanity. That could be a theme of this book and album, and it could be a theme of Lovecraft. One’s personal, and one’s cosmic.
We’re not done yet. Remember I mentioned the levels? If you look at this thing right, it’s provoking questions about reality, and how we figure out what it is. Take the Voor’s Head Device, for instance. Is it “real”? Well, what does that mean? If he made up Robert Voor, probably not. But hang on, what if he really did make such a device and wear it? What if that stuff at the end of the first track really is him wearing this thing and having some sort of vision or fit? If Robert Voor isn’t real, did he really try to kill himself? Are these even the kinds of questions we should be asking? The first thing I did after reading the book and listening to the album was google for Robert Voor, and as the reviewer said, everything seems to point back to this album.
But I have to tell you, figuring out whether Robert Voor is real or not won’t make this thing any less harrowing, at least, it didn’t for me. I disagree with the reviewer, I think the book adds whole new dimensions to the album. Taken together, fictional or not, I think they’re a pretty damn powerful portrait of depression and madness. How much of it is mythology, and how that mythology works, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. “True” or not, I think it’s a powerful story, and if you’re not really disturbed at this point and like the music at all, go buy the thing and … well maybe enjoy isn’t quite the right word. It is a pretty awesome album though, but you’d better appreciate horror. If you don’t, well just listen to the music if you like it and ignore the book, I guess. But in my opinion you’re missing a huge chunk of the experience if you ignore it.
Does this thing get it 100% right? Nope. But I think it does a pretty good job. If you don’t mind you some darkness, buy this thing. It’s well worth it. Prepare to be creeped right the fuck out though.