Pareidolia is the phenomenon where our minds try to find patterns and try to make sense of things, making something not-so-significant extremely significant. Hmmm.
Well, this is ironic.
This is not a “new thing” I’ll be doing. I honestly have better things to do than analyze every album I listen to. I mean, not every album is worth analyzing. This album is different.
Haken‘s The Mountain is, undeniably, the best release of 2013. It is well-integrated, very emotional, crazy at times and engages you from start to finish. Looking at the lyrics last night, I found several things that I had previously never noticed about the album. Call me unnecessarily deep and extremely bored, but here I shall share my analysis. Maybe no one will care. After all, who would bother searching “haken the mountain analysis” on Google (other than myself)? Well, when I searched that exact phrase, I found nothing. So I decided to take the initiative.
I guess I shall start in Lit Essay fashion. What are the themes of this album? Well, the most obvious theme is ascendence followed by downfall. This can be seen in Falling Back To Earth and several other songs. Honestly, this does not really interest me that much. But the second theme is much more interesting.
The Mountain talks about the natural progression of life and death.
From what I can see, the “Path” refers to this natural progression. The first song The Path states how life is a “gift that we receive”. We can infer that the “Path” starts with birth, the beginning of life. The “Path” is something that we ourselves make. However, while things seem positive at the start, as life progresses, the path has more and more obstacles, and there is a hint of pessimism when the motif appears again in Because It’s There, with the diction of words such as “Broken” and “Defeat”. The song ends with a monologue that starts with “I wish I could be someone.” During life, we have ambitions and goals that we set ourselves so that we can do something useful with our lives. The irony is that life itself gives us obstacles to drag us down.
But how does the “Path” end? The “Path” appears for the final time in The Path Unbeaten. Here, the “Path” of the individual has ended. The “Path” might twist and turn however the individual desires it, but eventually, all paths lead to one thing: Death. In the song, there are no lyrics. This could signify the silence that comes along with death. The title of the song states a universal truth: Death remains unbeaten.
So how about the rest of the songs? Atlas Stone, Cockroach King, Falling Back to Earth, Somebody and Nobody are all about ambition and life after birth, the process of walking the path leading to death as our ultimate destination. The songs are about ambition as it reflects our inherent human nature to progress and be superior to others. This is where the motif of flight comes in, with constant references to flying higher and all that awesome stuff.
Atlas Stone is about how life burdens us and yet we try our best to fulfill our goals and ambitions, rising “to the challenge (we) set (ourselves).” The chorus is very interesting:
“Carry the weight of the world
On my shoulders
Rise to the challenge I set myself”
Okay, so we can obviously infer the meaning that life is a burden (“weight”) that we all have to endure “carry”. But there is a second interpretation, an interpretation that will link all the songs on the album.
What does Atlas do? He carries the celestial sphere (sky, Uranus). NOT the world. The contradiction here reflects the delusional mind of the individual. Also, “carry” can also mean support. Here, the individual feels that he himself can change the world with his ambition, again showing how delusional he is. As this individual is a representative of all humanity, it shows how all of us are delusional and oftentimes escape rational thought.
The underlying theme of delusion is found throughout the album, although it can be a little extreme. A “cockroach king”? “Soaring through the sky”? “I will be dancing on your grave”? What messed up visions does the individual have?! Not only are these images metaphorical, but they are also signs of our delusion. This theme climaxes in Pareidolia. This is my second favorite song on the album, and lyrically, it is the most space-y and isolation-y. (Great choice of words there…)
In Pareidolia, there are constant delusions about places like “desert”, “Universe” and “ocean” as well as material (perhaps even living) manifestations of things such as “fear” and “dreams”. The places I mentioned above are places of mystery and the lack of life. Saying that “fear” and “dreams” are “drowning in the Ocean” is basically saying that these places of mystery destroy life and its two extremes of pessimism and hope. Or basically, our natural delusions bring our lives to a halt.
So okay, Pareidolia is a criticism and exposition on the way nature has made us, in that our very lives lead us to death. What else is there in the song? The second message can be found in the title, and the chorus:
“Be the moon and sun
Be the wind and cross the storm
See the stars begin to swarm
Read the writings in the stone”
Yes, there is obviously some delusional stuff right here, but there is something else as well. “See the stars begin to swarm” could be a reference to how the ancients found patterns in stars and made constellations. “Read the writings in the stone” is something I am not really sure about, but we can infer that it is about analyzing things that are not even there, making it unnecessarily significant. These two lines refer to the title, Pareidolia, whose definition I have stated in the introduction. So what’s the significance?
It reflects humanity’s attempts to understand things that we never may be able to understand, or, we never can cause a change in. We try to find patterns and link up things, forming constellations, religion and science, all of which are incomplete and, to a certain extent, futile. There is still no Theory of Everything, after all.
So I guess that is it for this analysis. Somebody and Nobody are interesting songs, which have their own meaning, but this post is getting long enough as it is. Besides, I have already covered what I had wanted to say. If any of you have still not listened to this album, I highly recommend you do.
So why is this under both categories of Life and Metal? Well, isn’t it Metal about Life?
Bye everybody, and if you actually read the entire thing, thank you.
For the full lyrics of the album, visit this site.
[Update (20/01/14, 7:44pm): This post has, in less than a day, become my most viewed post yet. To all those who read it and shared it on social networks, thank you very much! I can’t really express how grateful I am to all you amazing readers! And I’m being legit. No fake emotions here.]
[Update (21/01/14, 8:16am): …You guys are insane. To the reddit community (especially r/progmetal), thank you very much. Two-record breaking days in a row feels amazing. I think I will go back on what I previously said; when I find and album worth analyzing, I will analyze and share it for all you people.]