It’s been over a year since we presented our last piece on Illinois dark neocrust / post metal / metallic hardcore act …BUT THE SHADOWS HAVE FOES (aka BTSHF), and it’s high time for their thick shadow to be thrown upon us once again. Their new striking third offering “Sparks Unknot the Flesh” was released in early October, and we are honored to give you it’s full presentation, along with their quick, but insightful track by track breakdown. The new record serves the perfect crossroads of the mentioned genres and plants a seed of thought in the listener’s head. “Sparks Unknot the Flesh” both demands and inspires repeat listens, and I sincerely encourage you to take a deep dive into it right away.
Sparks Unknot the Flesh is an album written to thematically connect the larger existential crises we face as a species- environmental degradation, creeping authoritarianism, crushing inequality- with the personal crises we face psychologically as individuals. Waking up everyday and watching what we endlessly inflict on the planet, on each other, and on ourselves can’t help but deteriorate one’s mental state. Each song explores some facet of this theme.
This song is about the selfishness and callousness of environmental degradation. What will it be like to be someone who lives a century or two from now, knowing that those of us alive now could have done so much more to ensure they had a better world to live in? How will they look at us?
The worst of our politics is driven by the intersection of insecurity and crass opportunism. People who are scared, depressed, feeling left behind by social change, etc., are sold fake solutions to their problems by cynics who exploit them for personal gain.
A thing that’s come up here in the U.S. the last few years is how surprised people were to see all this authoritarianism, racism, etc., bubble to the surface. This is a song about how, if you were surprised, you haven’t been paying much attention.
A relatively consistent research finding is that there is a rising prevalence of mental illness of various kinds among young people: anxiety disorders, depression, etc. Given how our world dehumanizes people, and given the very real existential crises we face, why should we be surprised by that?
The choices a society makes reflects the power structure of that society. When we write history or identify a particular ideology or religion as “our” belief system, it has real consequences for the people who are written out, marginalized, or minimized by that. Our history has been the slow process of those people, those who are pushed aside by the official recounting of who we are, asserting that they exist in the face of those who would tell them they don’t.
It’s hard to believe that some of the wildly evil people in this world, the ones who run corporations that decimate our environment or make political decisions that destroy lives, aren’t literal monsters. The only way they can keep up their domination of all of us is to convince us that we’re all just as bad as they are. The only way we can resist them is to realize that we’re not.
All the things discussed on this record are both systemic, in that they represent they represent how our society is organized, and psychological, in that they represent how merely getting by in this world forces you to let it colonize your mind. There is a freedom in rejecting that colonization.
In a world that puts us all through this, how can we trust other people?
Ultimately, despite all the above, I personally take comfort in the fact that there are millions of people who experience the world as I do, and who see all its faults plainly for what they are. Put simply: there are more of us, who feel alienated by this world than there are those who run it.