New Music

Screamo act CASSUS: a lyrical study of “Separation Anxiety”

CASSUS live by Eva Bo
CASSUS live by Eva Bo
Fresh off the release of “Separation Anxiety” (React With Protest, IFB Records, Dog Knights Productions), one of the most intense, emotionally charged European screamo records in recent years, Norwich, UK’s CASSUS join our pages to prolong the astounding experience and give us an insightful, in-depth commentary on each and every track that adds its own energy and layer on the author’s whole psychological journey. See more details about the band below and scroll down to dive into the essence of this article, written from personal perspective and focused strictly on the compelling lyrical content.

CASSUS released their first LP “This Is Dead Art; This Is Dead Time; But We May Still Live Yet” in November 2015 (following two self-released split EPs in 2012 and 2013) with the record labels React With Protest, (Germany), Framecode Records (Malaysia), Samegrey Records (Ukraine), Structures//Agony Records (US) and Don’t Care Records (UK) to critical acclaim from blogs such as Circling the Drain, Sophie’s Floorboard, who recently described their second LP “Separation Anxiety” by stating:

Cassus stand as one of the most dynamic and diverse screamo bands in the genre, with a litany of vocal stylings, a blend of melody and chaos, and the ability to craft unique songs that aren’t afraid to defy genre archetypes. This makes for an incredible album listening experience. (…) It’s a rare occurrence to hear a band push the envelope on a genre already mastercrafted by so many incredible acts, but Cassus take the plunge into the unique and experimental, making them a definite talking point for screamo fans

CASSUS have toured extensively around Europe and played festivals: Cry Me a River in 2016 and 2017, Fiducia Fest in 2015 and 2017, and Fluff Fest in 2017 (headlining CMAR 2017, Fiducia 2017 and the tent stage of Fluff 2017). They performed at this year’s Miss The Stars festival in May and will be a part of Cry Me a River festival on June 29th, alongside numerous amazing bands, including German screamo patrons JUNE PAIK, and IDIOTEQ-featured RESPIRE, SALIGIA, WEAK TIES, JOLIETTE and YOTSUYA KAIDAN!

CASSUS LPs

Getting Older Younger is about the methods corporations use to indoctrinate people from an early age. They “endorse” state education in exchange for influence over curriculums and teaching methods. They print textbooks for schools free of charge in exchange for product placement and the power to choose how information is presented. Outside of schools, they advertise everywhere so children can’t escape exposure to their messages. All of these methods are powerful ways to infuse children’s life experience with their ideology, regardless of the influence of their families. Children, especially at younger ages, absorb the philosophies of the society they live in on a subconscious level, and learn to think in ways that benefit the advertisers much more that their audiences. “Tweens” is a common term in marketing referring to a market “between” children and teenagers, and is used in planning campaigns that aim to transition kids into teenage spending habits at progressively younger ages. We are programmed into consumer behaviour that seems natural to us, but are actually the result of a lifetime’s exposure to corporate propaganda.

Lyrics:

regressive mothers use Dettox
tweens expand target markets

you are your aesthetic
you are your aesthetic’s

corporate logos litter schools like confetti

outside the games of tinted light
the young won’t know to look for more
self-worth spills with branded drinks
onto the concrete floors
they’ll follow twisting rays to shape
a broken path to future laws
morality forever changed
by those who went before

the price of maturity is brand awareness

Automate Me is about the anxious, frantic mental state of adult life within capitalism. We feel stretched thin with too many things to do at once. We’re hyper stimulated yet hover in a state of analysis paralysis. We put in huge amounts of work for very little reward. We’re expected to be successful and efficient in various ways that seem forever out of reach, and find ourselves full of insecurities about it. Our attention is endlessly pulled from one thing to another, and we reach a state where we’re thinking so much about what we need to do in the future that we become numb to the present. Our minds are recoded for integration in an abstract, high tech working world, where reflection becomes a weakness and action is detached from meaning. We exhaust ourselves with desires for things that will never improve our lives, but attaining them provides just enough of a short-term fix to keep us coming back for more over and over again.

Lyrics:

hyper stimulated
diffuse concern
time is short
time is short

higher investments
lower returns

impotence arises from demands of omnipotence

continuous frantic impulses
attention shifts
the present recedes

biology recoded for external integration

desire; exhaustion

Curriculum is about the political undercurrent in school education in the UK. Subjects are taught separately so knowledge can be measured for suitability to specialist job roles, but this approach obscures the deeper connections between fields. These separations channel our thinking toward an individualistic, fragmentary view of the world – discouraging interdisciplinary cooperation and making it harder to see a bigger picture – to form our own values and start autonomous projects. School teaches us that “facts” are all powerful, that “the way things are” written in textbooks is the final word – despite acknowledging that progress requires change. It teaches the government’s ideas of right and wrong as gospel, despite claiming religious neutrality. School trains us to fit into institutions and bureaucracies, to accept other people’s rules and avoid asking questions. It does not help us understand how these institutions actually work, whose interests they represent, or why we should accept them in the first place. It teaches us a learned helplessness in the face of ourselves, so that we defer to the confidence of established hierarchy rather than seeing its “objectivity” for the self-affirming subjectivity that it really is: no more right or wrong than countless possible alternatives.

Lyrics:

abject double self
eternal internal conflict

cultural subjectivity ingrained by force
hiding in the shadows of me
school felt like a prison but it wasn’t
it had me build the prison inside myself
scraps of knowledge
out of context
out of truth
drip fed the lie of objectivity
false tolerance of superficial change
and contempt for real difference

separate everything!

don’t think for yourself
it’s just the way things are
don’t question our rules
it’s just the way things are

childhood lost in the desert of the known
drain the life from my eyes

I was taught truth’s set in stone
to accept a world-view that’s brittle and hollow

taught to see in false light
that anything else is a dangerous crime

Equal Opportunity:
your circumstance, your responsibility

and freedom means fend for yourself
yet duty means fend for your master or else

I was taught not to care
that legal injustice is rational; fair

that there’s nowhere else to go
and nobody simply deserves a tomorrow

Ceaseless Tumult is about how we project concepts onto the world around us in order to make sense of life, but in a single moment of realisation (or amnesia) we can see through the cracks and be overwhelmed by just how unknowable existence really is. Every moment we experience is a delicate construction of ideas and memories that is entirely subjective – another person might experience the same event in a totally different way to us; they might even believe a very different event is taking place. Ceaseless Tumult is an expression of how terrifying and disorientating it is to lose hold of our inner universe even for a moment, because that’s long enough to be swept into the unknown – when you see “time” as a concept we project onto the world in order to make sense of things, suddenly the illusion is shattered and you can’t tell the difference between a minute and an eternity.

Lyrics:

mind flails against the inside of itself
existence screams its merry tune

perception pours in
gushes through the eyes
around the insides
moments course through me endlessly
overflow cascades from every pore

a vessel
ravaged
ruptured
dissolved

trapped in the infinitely finite
moment that is consciousness
constantly
erased and rewritten
my head spins without bearings
impossible to find

one night feels endless
in its inconceivable brevity
one mind looms massive in its crippling incapacity for expansion

my limits impassable distance
vast realms beyond the reach of my
corporeal subjectivity
nothing can be known
nothing at all
ever

one thing merges into another
lose purchase in turn until everything is nothing
nebulous existence defies plastic meaning

Being Sick on a Merry-Go-Round carries on the theme of Automate Me, but instead of analysing the state of mind, this song talks about my personal experience of it. It’s about losing yourself, being overloaded with external distractions and worries, which in turn can combine with negative memories and thoughts into a feeling of hopelessness and paranoia. The second half of the song goes onto how hopeless things can seem in the world in general, which is something that I often end up thinking about when I get into that state.

Lyrics:

we say
how sweet the sound
as empty messages play loud
what do you care about?
can’t think as these pictures race round

things aren’t easy
has hope left me?

regrets haunt me
why must I be
clouded by me?
can’t I just be?

I can explore new avenues
new alternatives
but the feeling that I will never see real change grows ever stronger
I can’t imagine how we’ll ever move forward

history’s mistakes repeated in one lifetime

somehow it always gets worse
and we come to care less

Be a Man is probably the most self-explanitory song on the record. It’s about experiencing “toxic masculinity” first hand, written in the voice of the social pressure that pushes kids into certain patterns of thought and behaviour in order to avoid being picked on. Throughout my childhood, the poisonous attitude the song describes was everywhere – it was the accepted norm in most of the local schools. I only realised just how wrong and harmful it was in my teens when I gained the confidence to question conventions and break away from social groups long enough to give me the space to think for myself. After that the bitterness and anxiety I’d been experiencing before all made a lot more sense, but while you’re inside an abusive culture like that it can be almost impossible to reflect – you’re stuck in a cycle of fear and hostility that seems inescapable.

Lyrics:

become the he we expect you to be
stick with us and you’ll be fine
you’ll learn to like it
success defined by your peers, not yourself
don’t invest in weakness
keep love at arm’s length

only cowards choose not to fight
and we’ll soon stamp that out
be a fucking rock
be better, not equal

take life by the balls
sadness is for girls
equate violence to sexual prowess
keep your tears at bay
are you fucking gay?
only anger is masculine
never ask only take
misery in our wake
you’ve got to make somebody lose to win
we’ll crush all those who break the code
until they do the same in turn
we will never fucking ever learn

don’t get sentimental
caring will be punished
you will come to fear sadness

disassociate to prove your strength
until you’re no longer a whole person

hate is valued over love
cruelty rewarded and compassion mocked
we grind each other down in an endless
cycle of abuse yet act surprised
when we produce sociopaths
murderers
suicides

Boundless Torpor continues the theme of Ceaseless Tumult. It reflects on the subjective nature of consciousness; the limitations of comprehension. The world outside of my mind is beyond my mind’s grasp – existence just is, there is no way objectively define anything because I myself am subjective. “Neatly organised ideas shatter” – I lose hold of anything I believed to be true and am forced to accept I can never know anything for certain. (Truth is an impossible concept – it only exists within sets of incomplete data that inevitably rely on assumptions at their root.) It’s painful – and I reference Sartre’s existential anguish here – yet as powerless as it can make me feel, it also sparks new excitement – anything could happen, and there must be so much more to the universe than I can imagine.

The end of the song is about moments I experience a flood of emotion that I can’t explain – I feel melancholy and excited at once, and there’s a sense of meaning as if I’ve discovered something deeper about life, yet as soon as I think about what that meaning could be, it slips away. This usually happens when I’m absorbed either in creating something or in music, a book or artwork, and I wonder if by letting go of myself I may have touched on an openness beyond the confines of conscious thought? It may be “impossible to verify” truth with logic as we know it, but perhaps our romanticised idea of truth stems from an instinctive connection to something we can feel is real but not fully understand?

Lyrics:

one mind so exponentially limited
that even nothingness holds more substance
mortal logic implodes on itself
a seething mass of baseless claims
impossible to verify
impossible

how can I explain
oh I can’t explain this
anguish that wells up inside
oh I can’t explain
oh I can’t explain this
I’ve lost all sense of myself

the needle crashes
neatly organised ideas shatter
amorphous being pours through the gaps

nothing holds up to scrutiny
nothing makes sense

there’s nothing to explain
it was just a feeling
wake me up from standby
please defrag my hard drive

yet moments of feeling break through
flood of meaning makes my eyes sting
it blurs my view and I try to hold on
but it’s already gone

there’s nothing to explain
it was just a feeling

Have You Considered a Balanced Diet? is a lament on the imbalanced philosophy of modern civilisation: projecting itself onto the physical world and remodeling nature in its twisted image. Exploitation of nature creates barren wastelands in one place and overcrowded metropolises in another; whichever place you look, the simple need for balance is sorely evident. We aren’t separate to our world – we are part of it and made from it. Those “resources” we use are our world – we quantify things to detach them from one another, but the numbers only exist in our heads. The damage we do to our environment is all ultimately damage to ourselves because we are part of it. If we live in harmony with nature we find happiness, if we attack it we find death – this has been expressed countless times over thousands of years (perhaps starting with Taoism in ancient China?) yet still we fail to learn from our mistakes.

Lyrics:

centres of commerce bloat the land
nitro boosted
swollen sores

burnt out husks are quickly forgotten in
the rush for increasingly elusive virgin soil
who needs a water wheel when you can make a dam?

shops and concrete and cars and
occasional stunted plants in small enclosures
let’s visit the countryside
none of this is needed!

balance is out of fashion
because fashion is out of balance

our bond can never be undone
we are all one
all
part of the Lifestream
one
all
invested and reflected in everything

no refuge in selfhood
existence runs through us
externality is a lie
permeable
we diffuse

our world is a projection
of self-affirming egotism
an illusion we evidently
won’t survive if we sustain

Tired of Being Tired of Being Tired is the sequel to a song with a similar title on our first LP. This one is straightforward catharsis – a way to vent the frustration of being tired, depressed, demotivated at those times where you can’t see the way forward and want to give up on everything. It’s also about losing sight of your dreams when circumstances hold you back. Missed opportunities and wasted potential are two of my greatest fears, and sometimes writing songs like this helps when I can’t fix my situation (not straight away, at least) and need to get the negativity out of my system.

Lyrics:

energy slips away
every day it slips away
I can barely focus
my thoughts to form these words

dragging myself through
a haze of ennui

too tired
to be angry
too tired
to hope

slow decay
where is my fire now?
fade away
where is your fire now?

Reduced Possibility; Engendered Determinism is possibly my favourite song on this record, but strangely the one I find hardest to describe. It’s a combination of most of the themes in the record – frustration and disillusionment with my role in society, resentment of poverty, culturally engrained yearning for unattainable things (in turn becoming a kind of subconscious masochism), the anguish of realisation when ideologies and beliefs crumble away, and finally tired resignation to the overwhelming odds of my situation. I guess this song summarises a psychological journey, stage by stage.

The tired resignation that comes at the end is bitter and sad, but it’s also relieved. At this point of the journey, I’ve let go of a lot of harmful delusions and accepted there are things I can’t change – I’ve got through an internal conflict and developed a new perspective. For this reason, it’s transcendent as well as melancholy – when I say “it’s for the best, it must be” it is meant half ironically and half sincerely; I originally wrote the line with the implication that “it must be” simply because I have no choice, but then I realised that it really is for the best to come to terms with things you can’t resolve, and the line became liberating. Becoming free of old burdens enables new critical understandings of them; fresh knowledge and increased mental space that open your eyes to new choices and possibilities.

Lyrics:

work the days away
suicide by increments
busy doing nothing
who will remember you?
I am so small yet yearn for so much more

sense of loss with no object
abstract desire; unfocused
detached nostalgia for …what?
my chest only swells at the
thought of things that cannot be

I break my own heart
project my love deep into illusions
so it will shatter with them

sentimentality for the lack thereof
petty, superfluous, material
beyond my control that this is all I can grasp

it’s fine by me
honestly
it’s for the best
it must be

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