Dead To A Dying World’s sonically monumental new album Elegy feels like a lesson in destruction that serves deeply set needs of the modern soul. The sprawling music, including songs easily approaching the fifteen-minute mark, illuminates the current track shared among earth-dwellers that ends in death, which it’s important to note does not necessarily entail annihilation. The emotionally poignant flowing compositions resting along the metallic sword of Elegy transform our looming end into something that even if not beautiful in the conventional sense of pleasantry, serves truth in tangibility. The band’s multi-talented James Magruder shares: “We wanted to capture the ultimate grinding end of humanity. The despair of not having a choice to fulfill our basest desires to prolong the species. While in [2015’s album] Litany the choice remained, in Elegy we removed the option from the equation. We wanted to confront our collective deepest fear – death. We took away the crutch of religion and looked at the end with grief for ourselves and a greater hope for life itself. The dichotomy between agony and reverie was always central.”
The band accomplish this deeply probing aim via music that treads through both harsh, pounding metal driving in some of the scope of the end and lofty, elevating textures of the viola and repeated forays into delicate textures with clean vocals, a side that Magruder says will feature ever more prominently in creations from Dead To A Dying World in the future.
Sean Mehl, who plays guitar for the band, shares that he feels the sonic journeys they take on Elegy are really crucial to their overall mission. “With Elegy we were able to expand our continued musical narrative in a way that was unburdened, yet restrained. Some of us experienced great loss during this time, and that certainly impacted the writing in a profound way. Through that grief, we were able to bring new voice to this record.”
He adds: “Things really came into place for Elegy in the way we always felt they were meant to. We pushed ourselves during writing to be more purposeful, while simultaneously pushing our own boundaries and incorporating other collaborative elements in a more deliberate way.”
The diverse elements’ ultimate unifying purpose feels like grandiosity — or as Magruder aptly put it, that “greater hope for life itself,” even in the midst of approaching tangible death on a personal level and a collective one via gradually intensifying climate change, which figures prominently in the themes Dead To A Dying World’s music encapsulates. “At the heart of our narrative themes is really an examination of humanity, the collateral effects of which have manifested in a cumulative and irreversible destruction on a global scale,” Mehl shares. “We have tried to get underneath this in an honest and self-reflective way that speaks to some of these age-old questions in a more intimate, vulnerable, and self-reflective manner. We do not intend to merely dwell on the finite and superficial, but to force deeper questions of ourselves.”
Photo via Kathleen Kennedy
Listen to Elegy below via Bandcamp, available in full via Profound Lore Records. The record features numerous high-profile collaborators from percussionist Thor Harris to vocalists Jarboe and Dylan Desmond, whose main outfit is Bell Witch.