Sad, but true?
There’s a certain reputation heavier styles of music tend to carry, and for a good reason. Outside of the obvious—the usual proclivity toward darkness, despair, the occasional Satanic or occult references and even the dark characteristics of the actual aesthetic, etc—that reputation is often more show than Simon-pure. In portrayal of guilt’s case, what people hear is definitely what they get in legitimacy. The band, who have just released their sophomore full-length We Are Always Alone, manage to convey one of the more authentic representations of actual hopelessness and despair in whatever combinations of subgenera people want to classify them in. It started as a slew of EPs and splits rife with incredibly emotive portrayals (wink) of mental and emotional agony, but We Are Always Alone is the crux of their output so far, bringing on immediate dread within the first few seconds.
From an empathetic standpoint, they want people to feel the intensity of their harrowing and lachrymose state in real time—introductory track “The Second Coming” could lyrically apply to many things, though the overall feel communicates a dissatisfaction with the process of life and death in general (“Birth, awakening/ A life spent suffering/ Silence is deafening”). “Anesthetized” takes almost a Deafheaven-esque sonic approach to deep loneliness some people feel in the deepest depths of our souls. The anchor of the album, though, is “Masochistic Oath,” a track seemingly about suicide that very elegiacally conveys the slippery slope into losing oneself before leaving oneself (“Bathing in agony/ Covered in shame/ This burden of living never seems to end/ As I lay my body and take the devil’s hand”).
Despite how difficult it may be to understand them—a lyrics sheet would be a reading session you wouldn’t regret—part of what makes portrayal of guilt so effective is their way with words. They’re poets, though they’d probably feel more at home with mortuary workers than the beatniks. The title and closing track sums that up, as well as the whole record, perfectly. Taking more of a black metal approach, “We Are Always Alone” is dreadfully sombre. Matt King spews vitriol on the loneliness of dying, with an achingly vile rasp. “Surroundings fade to gray/ A gloom you’ll never know/ Everyone has left me/ At war with myself on the bedroom floor/ No angel has come for me.” Choral-adjacent harmonies sustain this idea, before King and co. blare out their last bits of anguish before the record cuts to black.