Much has been written by survivors of near-death experiences. As summarized in The Font of All Human Knowledge, in some instances survivors describe positive sensations of “detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light”. For others, there are “sensations of torment and torture”.
The Italian band He Comes Later explore a particular kind of near-death experience in their debut album, Cognizance (released last October), meticulously following the experience of a tortured protagonist who brings himself to the brink of suicide, and over the brink. Through remarkably evocative and eloquent lyrics, the songs trace the path into oblivion — and out again, with a second chance to go on, no longer despising the gift of life.
Just past the mid-point of this musical and lyrical narrative you’ll find the song “Atonement”. In its words, the track finds the protagonist “alone in the void”, “trapped in a cage of torment / horribly plagued by the echoes of the past”, reflecting in agony on the choice he made, harried by hectoring voices, until at the end he reaches an awakening.
Today we’re presenting the music that captures this part of the story, but through the premiere of an excellently executed video in which the band’s performance takes center stage. The music is at least in the orbit of deathcore, a genre we don’t often cover here, but the jolting stop-start rhythms, near-atonal riffs, and battering drums are accompanied by shimmering ambient waves and frenzies of blasting percussion and febrile fretwork.
The music transmits the increasing intensity of the protagonist’s conditions until it seems to relent in the haunting sound of isolated notes… and then a pavement-cracking breakdown detonates like bombs going off. Mystical ambient passages and reverberating notes continue to give the music an eerie, chilling atmosphere, while the music’s bludgeoning, halting physicality is bone-jarring. And the ringing notes at the end do seem to signal an awakening.
Throughout, the lyrics are expressed with an incendiary intensity that suits the narrative, in a changing array of guttural roars, tormented yells, and wrenching shrieks.
The lyrics in the album really are well worth reading, and they’re all available for each song at the Bandcamp page for Cognizance, which you can reach here (and you can listen to the entire album below the video as well):