Friedrich is our third full-length recorded and released following Rodin and inspired by selected paintings by the German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich. Attempting something new, we will not only use Friedrich’s paintings as inspiration but will also try to tell a cohesive narrative using the mood, settings, and characters from the works. A Monk, at the twilight of his life and overcome with his lack of faith, drowns himself in the sea. “Friedrich” tells the story of this man’s troubled life. The son of a wealthy merchant is shipwrecked on his maiden journey, conscripted into a foreign legion, and eventually escapes to the solace of a Monastery. Here, his experiences and past trauma, gravely, force him to come to grips with his faith. His lack of conviction in every facet of his life – industry, war, and religion – ultimately became his downfall.
Although Caspar David Friedrich was a deeply religious man when he crafted the paintings in which these songs are based, the underlying themes of loneliness, melancholy, and despair are hard to deny. However, Friedrich’s paintings, along with the story of this Monk’s life, are a testament to the fact that with great sadness comes great beauty.
The Monk by the Sea
Reach out and grasp, for the last time, the hands that delivered me this salt that crystallizes in my lungs. In serving others, I serve myself now and with all that’s left I sing this frozen prayer.
Standing beside the sea, gaze out into the water, will this encapsulate me? Breathe in, breathe out. Steps in a cleansing direction. Cold chills across my bones. Please let this overcome me. Tide in, tide out.
…and honestly, I deserve this frigid darkness enveloping me. Every one of my choices has led to destruction. Corrupt institutions, war, and greed drives a spike through the heart of all the good that man accomplished. These are the last tangible thoughts that hang in my mind as the life and the soul gently drain from my body and spill into the sea.
Please let this overcome me. Tide in, tide out.
Steps in a cleansing direction. Cold chills across my bones. Please let this overcome me.
The champagne has yet to dry upon carved wooden breasts. Soldiers, priests and dignitaries queue in class restricted lines, not yet knowing that all men die as equals. A fortunate son with a fortune sum and an entire world ahead. The ailing on board ask “Can we suffer this?”
The sky grows dark, pylons of white shards loom in the distance. Chilled winds bay like the hungry wolves waiting ashore. A beautiful dream fades as an arctic nightmare becomes a reality. You’ve lived a shadow, you mock the dead.
Breached hull. Wrecked hope. Venture drowned under a torrent of sleet.
Fathers will aflame in torchlight. The path set forth battered by frost and gales. Set off from a passionless youth, an expedition. Doomed by ambivalence, the light burns dimly now. Can we suffer this? What can you lose?
A city never loved, a crew never trusted, a cargo unearned. 30 days and nights into the rising sun, castigating stars. Rent upon the waves. Stand on shoals of ice and know the dead around you.
What are these that fell on your watch? Have suffered truth. Have suffered will. We walked the edges and joys of life and knew in it all that we were.
You’ve known not one day that you could call your own. Listlessly vagabond, You’ve known not one day that you could call your own. You’ve lived a shadow, you mock the dead, the dead stare on, “We can suffer this.”
Steps in a cleansing direction. Cold chills across my bones. I’m stumbling in shambles – a creature of habit. It doesn’t take long for an injured fog to be lifted. My eyes – they deceive me. The mirage becomes real. So close I can taste it, just reach out and grab it. This cursed man is given a second chance, I crawl out of the water; plant my feet on the strand. I grasp at shadows beaten down by the moon. I stare at the void and am embraced anew. I fall to my knees and clutch the peat with my hands. My teeth filled fibers of anguished regret. I look for the wounded; the water is littered with shattered lumber and frozen flesh of the helpless. I can’t be the only one – please see me through this.
Stand up and move! Conscripted against my will. Rifle carelessly left in my hands with a target painted on my back. Pointed towards an unfamiliar town and told to burn it all to the ground. I can’t be the only one – please see me through this.
We have lost the path set forth. Our torch, it burns no more
He yet carries the torch forward, snuffed, smoldering. Rake hands through the earth, find something to spark it anew.
The mountain stands in judgment of my choice. The forest oppresses me, I choke on fog that should wet my lips. I trade through others’ lives. The tools of industry and war can bear me as crutches only.
What mark can you yet make? What brave enough to face?
Drop the torch. Close your eyes. Seek truth.
The wound in my leg festers with despair of the lives I’ve taken. The bullet is infected with grime and the memory of my crime.
A white squall impairs my view. My sunburnt eyes gaze upon a lumbering darkness on the horizon, imposing its will on this winter landscape. The behemoth begins to take its shape.
Buttresses flow out like waterfalls, masking the crenelation. Parapets allowing arrows of faith to fly, Is this my beck and call? Will this encapsulate me? Please let this overcome me.
Steps in – please let this overcome me – cold chills – tide in – tide out.
A hearth burns visible through the stained glass. My hands crack from the snow, my leg aches from the chase. My crutch abandoned in search of a new one, I hobble towards the light. I can feel the heat through my blackened toes.
Attended to by robed figures engulfed in plumes of sage, my senses are overwhelmed, my sense of belonging satisfied. Abandoned my entire life outside in the blistering tundra, I walk now towards the light. I can feel the heat through my blackened soul.
Do we give up all that we are for something greater than ourselves in hope that our selflessness will be rewarded selfishly? We’ve lost our identity.
All we’ve built has crumbled to the ground. Rot covers these clawing, gnarling trees. Wonder turned to ruins, a man’s life taken by his own hand in a failed attempt to be baptized by the salt and blood of the grave sins he bore.
The souls of the dead, whose fate were in his hands, call on him to join – feast at the table of the damned.
And yet we stand here questioning the very faith that we thought had been our guiding focus all these years. We see him toil his hardest to repent but after living for himself and others, he died an empty man.
Pulling his bloated corpse from the ocean has tested our resolve. this was a war he could not win. We bear witness to his defeat. We stand as pallbearers to his legacy.
An obsidian box remains filled with the flesh and bone of this once beleaguered man. Only darkness greets him now, a shallow pit of soil and twisted root. Sacrificed his physical being to make sense of his emotional pain. Only darkness greets him now.
An obsidian box filled with his tattered remains. I raise my hands up for them to be swatted down by a void of nothingness; his contribution cannot be in vain.
Let us not be borne away, a mass of black shapes around a grave.