The Herald is the debut concept album by the Italian post-metal act Seventh, formed in 2012.
Written and arranged by the initial core of two members only (Tum and Max), the record deals with the theme of Gnosticism, and more specifically Luciferianism. In the words of the band, the album represents “a conscious journey of the mind and soul. It is the story of an ordinary man who claims freedom and denies religion and cultural restrictions of any kind. Most of all, it focuses on the strong concept of will and on the power for everyone to create its own god out of himself.”.
I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of philosophy. Not long ago I listened to a similar-themed album within the same style, Exile by Regarde Les Hommes Tomber (which I reviewed as well), and I was quite dissatisfied. Primary reason being a lack of poetry, or better a failed attempt at that in my book, as well as lack of memorable moments musically speaking.
In my opinion instead, Seventh’s well-written lyrics managed to craft an intriguing, symbolic narration which elevates to the depiction of appealing imagery with the aid of its dark musical counterpart.
Since I think the album deserves more than just a couple of lines written about (as well as way more than just a couple of spins to be digested), I tried my best to take a chance and analyze, scratching the surface a little bit to accompany you readers through the narrative journey of the presented fictitious character, providing some personal interpretation as well as my usual opinions on the music. Hope I got the message right! If not, bear with me, it’s just my perception.
So, if you can stand some walls of text, here we go. Preferably, wear your favorite headphones and start playing the album along.
If you think you wouldn’t enjoy such a process, just skip to the end of the article.
“The Herald” opens with The Apostate. Max screams over dark riffage and liquid clean interludes, sustained by Cesco’s precise drumming, which I found simple but never predictable or trivial.
As the title implies, the narration opens reporting the character’s tormented first meditations on the decision of committing apostasy, “Treason to rise standing tall”.
He recognizes his own self-worth as opposed to the limiting thought of a higher power, feeling its “Path of the soul deprived of its aim” and the potential for re-discovering “Grand ruins” (arguably representing his own human potential indeed) which are now “Hidden by the desert”, the coercive and stale word of God.
“From these ruins I will rise
Nimrod, thy will be done”
Here we have the first encounter with the band’s use of Biblical and Babylonian mythology, since Nimrod was indeed the Babylonian tyrant who ordered to build the tower of Babel as a sign of his and his people’s opposition to God after the Great Flood (“He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.”).
The idea is further strengthened by the lines:
“At the gates of Ishtar
I deny the word of God
I am bound to ravage heavens
Myself as the only weapon”.
Riffs are simple and memorable, I found just the right amount of repetition and layering of elements without leading to boredom. Samples and skits in between songs add a nice ethnic touch to the atmosphere.
In The Desert, my second-best track, the character takes a stand deciding to begin his path towards the Self, slowly letting his previous faith behind him while at the same time despising what the idea of God stands for, almost as a threat to Him as well as promise for himself to rise.
The lyrics also point to the episode of the fall of Babel’s tower, which marked the subsequent damnation of its citizens for their arrogance in the use of their free will as given by God himself, and the dispersion of languages:
“Two thousand years of pious wane
Ripping off wisdom
The tower is burning in an ocean of sin
Behold! Your holy flesh is rotting”
Coincidentally mentioning the historical fall of Babel, the character then soon finds himself -as well as the ones before him did in the myth- suddenly alone and powerless in his opposition to God.
“Hark is voice
Your belief is falling
We all sink in a saturnian chaos”
The background “owaji-o” choir (Mongolian, maybe?) depicts the feeling of a war in act, I can imagine an army marching. The only thing I didn’t like much is the stop-start moment there.
“Bereft of daylight
Through hail and mist
A fiery deluge will erase it all
Lost in a desert
With no salvation
Fallen the kingdom
Gone is the savior
The oath is taken
I will ascend”
Here are the first signs of weakness and fear of failure in perdition, but finally the man regains strength of will in a clean, meditative passage:
“Then I stumble
And I crawl
As the burning wind blows
But my will is stronger
I climbed that tower
For my throne”
Back to higher energy, the closing heavy passage confirms the protagonist’s perseverance, proceeding on his path to Knowledge with some violent self-affirmations in spite of it all:
“As I walk past the doorgate
The answer lies there
The altar of knowledge
I seek within
The shrine of wisdom I long to see
The spark of reason
I have to keep
My own perdition
I must redeem”
The Tower is a more meditative track in a quasi-ambient mood and marks my third and last selected track. You’re probably wondering which would the standout track be. Just have a bit of patience.
While “climbing” on his journey to re-affirmation, the man reflects on his current state in the process and measures himself with the vastness of the “universe”, the infinite potential that awaits for him as opposed to the stale “desert” he just managed to leave behind himself:
“I glance down: a desert
Where nothing grows and nothing rises
I glance up: the universe
Where my will lives
And my body’ll die
I see the top
The stars blind my eyes
In the closing heavy passage, the protagonist poses yet another invective towards the ones passively subdued to the word of an absent and tyrannical God.
“They kneel here
Praying the eye
No one is answering on the mount Sinai
The throneless lord, so poor, so weak
He pours the water drowning the fire…”
The “Hosannah” passage is quite catchy to me.
The song closes with an unexpected and kind of weird singing sample.
We reach the half of the album with The Exile which marks in fact the turning point in the narration, and is probably the densest track for what concerns symbolism. This surely is my standout track by all means.
The man recognizes his own worth and celebrates his first successful steps in the path to enlightenment. He elevates himself, opposing his own figure to all the other men who refused self-determination and moral independence.
“I am the witness
I light the path
Born from Eos
And raised in chaos”
Note Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn. Also love the metaphor and overall assonance of the line.
“Here on this tower
I saw perdition
Flock of sheep
Where is your shepherd?”
He welcomes the power of knowledge and individualism as opposed to passive blind faith. The below mentioned passage is in my opinion a pretty clear nod towards the philosophies of Luciferianism and Gnostic Satanism (Morning star = Lucifer):
“Shine, morning star
Come forth, and speak the truth
I brought the flames to Eden”
The last mentioned line also makes for a chorus-vibed, catchy moment in the arrangement.
Then we have the theme of re-birth pictured:
“As time flows you drown in the river
Baptizing your life in death
Now you float towards the shore
Call us Ishmael”
Baptism symbolizes the early death of consciousness with the immediate consecration to religion after one’s birth.
The line “Call us Ishmael” is a nod to Melville’s first lines in Moby Dick, and in the intention of the band it would serve as a loose metaphor for a newly beginning story, so the re-birth of the character as his own God.
An obscure breakdown follows, preceding an atmospheric clean section sustained by an ethnic instrument, a Japanese shamisen precisely. In the closing passage, the man urges the entire humanity to awaken, and again declares reliance on his sole human willpower against adversities, immune to any kind of external coercion, and able to fulfill his own goals as a new born God amongst men.
“Brothers and sisters
Rise up on them
For I am blind to the light of your God
For I shall be plural to face the unique
For I’ll be wooden, burned down and rebuilt”
The heavy, pounding ending is pretty strong symbolically and the song concludes with an energetic climax, courtesy of Cesco’s drumming.
“Your pillars have failed
And (the) beacon has crumbled
Dispose of your dead
Now light all your pyres
For those who bow will crawl forever
And those who starve will feed on brothers
Either eradicate the root of weakness
And walk on burnt idols
Or rot with great shame
Step back and dare not
To come forth”
The soothing piece The Monarch comes off as a sort of monologue, starting with clean vocals. In a moment of clarity, the protagonist proudly admires the creation he had chiseled for so long: his own independent Self, elevated beyond religion, laws and morals.
The lines “I reached the sun and stole the flame \ I brought light for you to see” probably refer to the Greek myth of Prometheus, parallel to that of Lucifer in meaning.
The tension and energy increases in the second half, getting progressively heavier through a sort of aggressive spoken passage.
“I, the king
I the ruler
No god nor priests
No men to worship
Hear me, spread my word
I reached the sun and stole the flame
I brought light for you to see
I monarch, master,
Stare as I rise
High above the mountains, towering
I alone, I climbed and saw
I cursed God and broke his rules
Above me there’s no law”
The Dawn is a more condensed clean piece which lyrically serves as the continuation of the previous one. The newborn God contemplates a new dawn, looking down to a
Too small to understand
The Throne finally closes the story with some sinister riffs and harmonies. The man has now elevated as his own God through his own will, reaching Truth and Knowledge.
There are plenty of referrals and assonances to previous lyrics and the narration comes full circle.
“Behold! My will be done
Rising to the sky
To conquer the throne of reason and truth
I am the guiding light
I am the morning star
Let freedom pave my way
Let faith open the sea
Has been built
The sun has risen
Here leaves us “The Herald”, about 45 minutes later.
Wrapping up, my three favorite tracks would be The Exile, The Desert and The Tower in this particular order.
What else to say? Clean \ dirty dynamics provide enough contrast to keep the album interesting. Buildups and breakdowns are nicely rendered.
Some riffs and vocal lines are quite catchy and I found myself humming them throughout the day.
The work didn’t shock me from a musical standpoint, but its worthiness surely lies in the conceptual side! Crafting a concept album is never an easy task. Let alone studying the religious and mythological content to eviscerate the provided symbolism. Congratulations, guys.
Hope my humble work of analysis inspired you to give the album a spin at least!