Ropes Inside a Hole (RIAH), composed of members from the renowned Swedish post-metal group Suffocate for Fuck Sake, have followed up their debut album in 2019 with a split record in 2020 with Postvorta, and now their latest offering, A Man and His Nature. The album is steeped in the current zeitgeist of isolation, with the production taking place in seclusion and reflecting a sense of fear, hunger, doubt, and uncertainty that permeates throughout the album.
From start to finish, the listener is transported into RIAH’s world, a world of melancholy and despair, with an underlying sense of musical calmness. A Man and His Nature’s six songs offer no joy, but rather an introspective exploration of the human condition, characterized by themes of solitude and isolation.
The album showcases the group’s continued immersion in the worlds of post-rock and experimental metal, with the incorporation of various musicians from across the globe, including Hernan Paulitti on violin, William Suvanne on saxophone, Francesco “Fresco” Cellini on cello, Mohammed Ashfarf on keyboards, and the captivating vocals of Daniel Loefgren from Suffocate for Fuck Sake.
RIAH’s A Man and His Nature is not merely a collection of songs but rather a cohesive experience that demands the listener’s full attention. Fans of bands like A Swarm of the Sun, Year of No Light, We Lost the Sea, and Mogwai will be captivated by the raw emotion and musical virtuosity present throughout the album.
Ultimately, A Man and His Nature is a testament to RIAH’s continued growth as a band and their ability to deliver music that resonates with listeners on a profound level. To celebrate this great release, we have teamed up with the band to give you a unique track-by-track walkthrough for each chapter of this behemoth of a release.
Was the first song on which we begun to work on. Picture the scene in your mind: Italy is in the middle of one of the most restrictive quarantines that the governments adopted to contrast Covid in 2020. All of us couldn’t step outside the house in a range of 200 meters, everybody was scared and destabilisated.
The boredom, the gloominess, the apathy begun to violently know on our doors.
What a perfect time to write such a song, with such intro dragged by the bass.
The tone keeps soft and suspended for almost the whole song, building, or better, accumulating this gloominess until the explosion at the very end of the track. Releasing the mood and giving to both the listener and us as musicians that seemingly long gone space and freedom.
Daniel’s voice and Francesco’s cello seemed the perfect addiction to such melancholic and gloomy atmospheres.
But it is only the beginning of the album and was only the beginning of the quarantine.
The next song, since the very title, states the feelings that were forming in some of us, those feelings that pushed us to say things such as: “Others are gone. I don’t care”.
The song is kinda a Manifesto for both me (Rocco, the drummer is speaking here) and the way I’ve spent the quarantine. The months spent alone brought out a nasty part of me. I’ve closed myself to others, basking in halo of hatred and isolation.
The one and only thought was “Others are gone. I don’t care.” I think it was a complex mechanism to preserve myself, if the absence of others doesn’t touch me, it couldn’t harm me.
I was wrong.
The song covers the steps of this realization: at the beginning the rhythm quakes, mimicking the inner tribulations, releasing them, all of the sudden, the anger.
The central part of the song symptomizes the immobility in which I was trapped (It is the part in which I didn’t care). The very last part it’s the need for a change, the visceral act of rebellion to one’s self repression.
The feeling here is no more rage or idolization of self harm, but the willpower to begin something new, but the tragedy is always lurking, hunting for someone to be its prey and when it sets its eyes there’s nothing left to do.
If for Rocco the song “Others are gone. I don’t care” is of great importance, I (Diego) can say the same for “Loss and Grief“. The song has a long history behind it: I wrote the first part, the darkest one, in 2018 when I lost my father. All the pain and helplessness I felt at that moment came out of the song. The song remained still for a long time and in writing the new album I decided it was time to finish it. In addition to Daniel’s essential contribution of putting my feelings into words, the explosive ending is what makes the song so liberating for me.
It was a challenge to finish writing a song after so long but a bigger challenge was composing “Feet in the Swamp, Gaze to the Sky“. The backbone of the track is William’s Sax. We have tried to give the right value to his contribution both in the more “jazzy” parts and in the more ambient parts, trying to maintain our identity and heaviness. We are very happy with the final result. Especially the ending so psychedelic and dreamlike. We wanted to enclose a song in another so, with such thought we used a rhythm that Rocco improvised and we had the luck to record with the smartphone.
This, together with the bass’s smoothness, set the base for the saxophone to have its freedom. All the elements contribute to creating a relaxed and comfortable mood in which it’s easy to let yourself go.
But usually after the calm comes the storm and this time there is no difference.
Is the slap in the face, it’s the much needed slap in the face. The song starts ferociously, the harsh guitars hit the listeners as hard as they can, leaving them stunned after they’ve been cuddled in the outro of the Swamp.
Everything assaults you as the frenetic rhythm proceeds. The aim, during the composition process, was to be able to build a cathartic rage against all the impotence and the stasis that imprisoned us all. The end of this song is that much needed release, the necessity for wider view and sound, and we think that perfectly interacts with the end of the album, just like the dusk that precedes the night, or better the “Time to sleep”.
In “Time to sleep” we wanted a strong sense of fragility to shine through and thanks to Daniel’s voice we had it.
The idea of using the acoustic guitar was another important element in the construction of the song. We wanted an intimate and melancholic mood to be created on the one hand and a state of uncertainty on the other which is evident in the central part of the song. The final part with the contribution of Ernan Paulitti’s violin and the final explosion we believe is the best way to close the album.
Regarding the artwork, we have appreciated Domenico Commito’s works for a long time. His painting “L’uomo e la sua Natura” (The Man And His Nature in English) is so evocative and powerful that it could only be the perfect cover for our album.
All the songs have a common thread linked to the moods we experienced and a real connection was immediately created with Domenico and his art. Our collaboration started in this way.