September 2, 2012 by Beldrac
(Scroll down for a video if you want a soundtrack :))
I’ve been working on this (inside my head) for a few years now…well soon after I discovered The Old Dead Tree. Strange name, I know, but they hail from the suburbs of Paris, France and during their three-album lifetime they were one of my very favourite bands.
There are a number of reasons for this, firstly and most obviously – the music is awesome. It’s a really great mix of stuff that’s loosely classified as Gothic Metal which for the most part is misrepresentative. The moods (which will soon feature) are very dark and there’s a mix of cleaner vocals and Death Metal-style screams, I would say there’s also a very prominent Progressive influence at work.
Based on my recollection of things I read on the Net, their story goes like this: the band formed in the late 90’s and released an EP before the end of the decade. Either before or after the release their drummer committed suicide, which had a huge impact on what was to follow for the band.
They released their first album named “The Nameless Disease” in 2003 and it dealt entirely with death and suicide. Now in this musical world we live in, these themes are not uncommon, but I think relatively few other bands have actually lived through that. Their experience comes through in the music and the pain and emotion that is expressed in the lyrics can really scratch at old wounds.
Track 1, We Cry As One: The album starts in the church where the funeral service is being held. I don’t care much for funeral services and I attend them only out of principle and respect for the one passed away.
“We’re in the home
Of life and death,
Where each being takes end.
And time flows with the sand!
We cry as one,
Your friends, your family.
Death has stained this day.
And now he’s gone away.
I think you would be smiling
Listening to this priest today
Before his church.
I can still remember
Your songs about Christendom and slavery.”
Track 2, It Can’t Be deals with the realisation of what happened. As is perhaps inevitabe when you lose someone, the first obstacle on your way is coming to accept that the person is gone and that they’re never coming back.
“I have just opened my eyes (again)
But I don’t want to realise.
I can still remember the sound of your voice,
You looked better, you can’t have made this choice
No It can’t be!
I can not stand the idea
That you have been so silent
Eaten by your own pain
You tried suicide again”
Thirdly comes anger. How Could You expresses the anger of the loved ones to the one they loved. The indignation of having been hurt so by someone you cared about is so much you can easily resent them for the choice they made; did you ever consider how your suicide would affect our lives?
“I’m so angry with you,
How could you
Hide your pain this way?
I’m so angry with myself,
How could I
Be so blind?
We lost a friend,
(A) part of ourselves,
It will never be the same!
Something has died
With you this day
We’re the orphans of your smiles!
How could you?”
We’re the orphans of your smiles…
The fourth track, I Won’t Follow Him shifts the focus to the self and confronting suicide head on. I think most people, when days are really dark and these thoughts cross your mind, are swayed away from tragedy by their own love for others and fearing what your death might bring to them. One could suggest that suicide is a extremely selfish thing to do – you’re running away from your own pain but what of the ones you leave behind?
“(I) Won’t follow him!
I think that I would not do some-
Thing like that to the people
Who protected me when I was younger
But I can’t really feel some hate
My friend was so afraid
That he has not realised
The pain he would make me feel
The pain he would make us feel
The pain he would make them feel”
Soon you start trying to make sense of it and try to explain it to yourself. You want to tell them that It’s the Same for Everyone and that we all live and die one day. We all go through the same things every day – heartache, suffering, pain, love, joy, death. We live our life, and then we go:
“Now that you are gone,
Lifeless as a stone
We have learned something,
That it’s the same for everyone
We live our life,
And then we go
But we can’t accept
To stay without you!
A common wish to die
But it’s the same for everyone
You’ve left our life
(But) they have to go on.”
The more I think about it, the more similarities I note in how these guys describe dealing with suicide, with how we usually deal with death of a loved one. It sounds obvious, but the pattern is the same. You inevitable feel guilt about something, and in Something Else we’re confronted with the grave, and feeling guilt about shying away from it. I think some people find comforted in returning to a grave site, while others find it too hard to bear.
(I) won’t come to weep for your remains
Can’t find the strength
Oh yes I’m coward, yes I’m afraid
Oh please don’t look at me now
(I) Won’t come to stare at the show
Of your bed made of stone
Of the worst thing you’ve ever done
Come to blossom your grave
Should fall in pieces
(And) dissolve in my veins”
I think by now dear reader, you’ll understand why I have so much love for this album, the lyrics are poetic and sharp, like a flick to the heart.
Joy & Happiness is self-explanatory and I think it’s the dearest tribute to their friend on this album.
“We can’t forget, we can’t forget
The one you used to be.
But we will always smile
When we’ll think about…
These great moments of joy and happiness.
We miss you my beloved friend,
More than we thought it was possible.
We miss you my beloved friend,
It will never be the same (again).
(Be)cause all this time, all this time we’ve
Passed together has changed us.
All this time, all this time
Obsess our thoughts every day.
And everyday we’ll have a thought
For the soil in which you lay.”
I’m going to start wrapping this up because it’s becoming a very long read. Transition is an instrumental track and on track nine Quietly Kissing Death, we consider his final moments before he died.
“You have preferred
To close your eyes and run away.
I imagine your face
Quietly kissing Death”
All is another short track with one verse only:
“All the things let undone,
All the smiles that are gone,
All the love you won’t know,
All the places you won’t go.”
Now we can go on to the touching finale for what must be one of the most emotionally loaded albums ever to grace our Metal stage. The Bathroom Monologue is somehow tinged with hope and a much lighter spirit than the rest of the album. After such a traumatic event emotionally we’re all as brittle as fine porcelain and even a slightest knock in the wrong place will make a crack. With this also start acceptance, we realise we can go on with our lives – even when it feels like we can’t. All we are left with are fond memories. Truly a beautiful song.
“I can remember a lot of moments with you
Talking and talking again
Dreaming on music
Becoming famous, playing with our idols
Joking about Nicolas car
Yes, a lot of times
So I can’t understand yet
And I start to feel very cold
In this bath that is getting empty
Just like me
I think I couldn’t feel worse
Speaking to a ghost
The best friend I ever lost
Look at me now
You have to realise
How huge is
The mistake you’ve done
No I couldn’t feel worse
A pathetic naked boy speaking to the walls
We could call it the bathroom monologue
What do you think about that?
But wherever you are I hope you keep laughing
Just keep laughing.”
This truly is one of the most inspired and inspiring albums I’ve ever heard. The band projects it honestly and with style where I think it could’ve been real easy to fuck this up. They didn’t and they couldn’t have paid a better tribute to their friend. Sadly the band split up a few years ago after releasing two more albums. I think these themes were carried on to those albums too, but not as prominently as here.