On the new self-titled album from The Buried Heart, project mastermind Jack Wittich has crafted an immersively intense post-hardcore experience hinging on a lyrical tale of a desperate search for lasting meaning amidst looming catastrophe. In the concept album’s story, the sun is about to burn out, but the sincerely poignant moments throughout this album feel easily applicable to more acutely present real world situations, too. Wittich, for example, shares that he imagined the burning out sun in the album’s story as a metaphor for his own drive to make music. He’s endeavoring to tell the personally tuned stories that weigh on him.
The music strikingly conveys the emotional sentiment behind these ideas. Fundamentally, The Buried Heart runs on a core of contemplatively meandering, math rock-infused post-hardcore, but Wittich builds the sound well beyond that point. There’s ultimately a ton of engaging variety, from the moderately-paced, orchestrally sweeping opening track to the pummeling ferocity on songs like “Sol Clamanti.” Some moments, like “The Feeling,” even deliver a kind of jazzy sense, with bouncing along riffs and vocals to match.
Throughout the album, Wittich efficiently and smoothly moves from one extreme to the other.
Listen to the album below! Wittich has provided a comprehensive story for each one of the songs on this album, and you can check that out below.
(All of the content below is written by Jack Wittich.)
Conceptually, the album takes place in the distant future, where every human being on Earth is aware that the sun will explode in their lifetime. Some, like the extremely wealthy, are hoarding the remaining resources and pumping their money into space travel to hopefully evacuate the planet in time. Others, like our Protagonist are beginning to resign to the fact that they will probably die on earth.
Our Protagonist is a late bloomer. Having spent most of his life wrestling with feelings of isolation and self-consciousness, he begins to wonder if he will die a prisoner of his own mind. When news reveals that the Sun is expected to burn out within the next year, he decides to make a conscious effort to free himself, and try to use his remaining time on Earth to find fulfillment and happiness with the opportunity of Life that he has been given.
For the last 6 years of my life, I have been writing music, playing in and eventually touring in multiple DIY bands. While I have been endlessly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in the music scene, it has become increasingly difficult to be a sustainable musician in this day and age. To that end, the Dying Sun within the concept of the album is a metaphor for my drive as a musician. Even though writing and performing music provides a level of spiritual sustenance for me, submerging myself fully into the lifestyle has started to burn me out. What will I do if I cannot do music as a career? How will I be able to define myself if the shit hits the fan? Can I find a source of fulfillment that is more financially stable? These are the questions I wrestled with while writing the album.
Track 1: SOL NOCENT
When I began writing the music for this album, I envisioned it sounding like score to a video game. I started the song with a sample of the PS2 boot-up sequence, as most of my fondest video game memories come from playing JRPGs on the system during my childhood.To this day, I still get excited when I pick up a new Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts game and listen to the music that plays during the title screen sequence. So, I wanted track 1 to be like the title menu / opening credits sequence of the album. I even used slightly-antiquated sounding midi orchestra samples to really capture that “sound” of PS2-era game soundtracks.
Sol Nocent is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “The Hurting Sun.” In the song, my good buddy Jordan White of the band Lost Things narrates a sort of “prophecy” about the imminent death of the sun that the Protagonist “receives” during a dream sequence. There is a recurring theme of “a plan to execute” throughout the album. In this song, the narrator (a God-like entity) is essentially telling the protagonist to believe in himself even if he feels hopeless, but most of the vocals are very “distant” in the mix in order to symbolize the vagueness of the prophecy and trying to make sense of information you receive in a dream.
Joshua Unitt, who I worked with to engineer the album, did a fantastic job with the sound design of this track, particularly on the drum beats. I asked him if we could make each snare hit sound like a meteor flying by the Protagonist, and I believe he achieved that goal perfectly. Every melody in this song also appears at some other point throughout the record. Sol Nocent serves as an overture for all the thematic and musical motifs on the record.
Track 2: ABSENT GOD
This song is a direct continuation of Sol Nocent, and it uses the same piano chords in its chorus. The Protagonist wakes up from his prophetic dream and is trying to make sense of it in the context of his life. He feels a bit frustrated at his current condition, and that frustration grows when he begins to realize how futile it is to try and be some sort of Savior of mankind, given all of the political and societal systems at play that keep everyone isolated and disconnected from one another. Still, even though it seems pointless to try, he “can’t live in this world in the current state it stands,” and makes a conscious decision to try to at least do what he can by being more understanding and compassionate to his fellow man.
This song contains a sample of the “Sinclair Script”, which I highly encourage anyone to familiarize themselves with if they haven’t already (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLjYJ4BzvI)
Seeing this scripted message for the first time, as well as constantly trying to navigate “fake news” in the era of Donald Trump, served as the inspiration of this song. It made me truly aware that what we are told isn’t always what is actually happening. The song is called Absent God because I don’t believe the world’s problems can be solved by an entity–it is up to us to enact the change we wish to see in the world.
TRACK 3: THEATRICS
Even though the Protagonist knows in his heart that there is still hope for fulfillment in this life, he can’t help but marinate on all of the obstacles standing in his way–primarily, his own shortcomings. It is here that the Protagonist realizes how much of his life he spent doing pointless things, such as getting involved in political arguments online. He is now aware that instead of trying to change those that are “wrong,” he should instead lead by example and attempt to be more outwardly compassionate and virtuous.
Spencer Perry, another dear friend and former bandmate of mine, lays down some beautiful vocals on the bridge of this song. With how much screaming this song contains, I wanted something prettier than my own voice to represent the Protagonist’s faint inner glimmer of optimism. The bridge starts with Spencer musing on the importance of growth from trauma. When my vocals come back in and contrast with Spencer’s, it’s supposed to represent the two sides of the Protagonist’s personality conflicting with each other, but ultimately, Spencer’s vocals carry out the ending of the song, signifying that optimism has begun to triumph in the Protagonist’s subconsciousness.
TRACK 4: SOL CLAMANTI
Sol Clamanti translates to “The Crying Sun,” and it is a turning point on the record. Up until this point, all discussions on when the sun would burn out had been well-researched theories from the scientific community. However, this song signifies the beginning of the “countdown” for Earth.
I used the synths at the beginning of the song as a way to represent a “scene change” to a Solar Research lab. The synths are machines that have been monitoring solar activity, and they begin to detect that a massive solar flare is about the rock the earth. Once this solar flare–Sol Clamanti–passes through the Earth, humanity will only have one year before the sun burns out.
When the song kicks in, we switch back to the POV of the Protagonist, who is suffering from a hallucination due to Sol Clamanti. While out on a walk to clear his head, the sky suddenly turns blood red and everyone in his vicinity vanishes. He turns towards the sky and notices winged creatures crashing down to earth from the direction of the sun. Mistaking this grim hallucination for the actual death of the sun, he believes the winged creatures to be Angels coming to usher everybody to the afterworld. Unbeknownst to him though, these creatures are actually departed souls coming back to earth to be reincarnated in a new life (this will be explained further in a bit). As Sol Clamanti ends, so too does the Protagonist’s hallucination, and everything suddenly goes back to normal. Blue sky, people going about their business, etc. He now realizes that he has caught a glimpse of the End, and this motivates him that he can change now, at this very moment, instead of being afraid and trying to take things gradually. I wrote the outro to sound like Level Up music from a videogame, signifying that the protagonist had gained valuable insight about himself through this traumatic experience. This outro also contains motifs from Sol Nocent.
TRACK 5: GLASS CASCADE
The next three songs on the record are brief glimpses into the protagonist’s life over the course of the final year. “Glass Cascade” is essentially about not settling for people who don’t inspire you and push you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. I’m sure a lot of people have experienced being the best-friend of somebody stuck in a toxic relationship, and how frustrating it can be to try and convince that friend that they’re being manipulated. In this song, the Protagonist is thankful that he isn’t spending his last year on earth trapped in a surface-level pleasure pursuit.
TRACK 6: THE FEELING
There is 1 week remaining until Sol Moriente— the death of the sun. The Protagonist, more confident and at peace with himself, decides to go to an End of the World party at his friend’s house. It is here that he encounters a woman named Isis that he immediately hits it off with. The Protagonist usually has an introverted and reserved exterior, but he is immediately drawn to Isis’s wild sense of humor and passionate speech mannerisms. They share a few drinks and just fuck it up on the dancefloor all night. By the end of the song, the protagonist is so drunk, he grabs the mic from the band performing at the party and leads the room into taking “End of the World” shots. The Protagonist and Isis end the night by watching a meteor shower outside of the house before going their separate ways.
Track 7: TRAMPLED
This was actually the very first song I wrote for this album, before I even thought about making a concept record. The lyrics are pretty self explanatory… it’s essentially just a YOLO song. “It’s the life in your years, not the years of your life.” I wrote it during a very defeated time in my life…it’s kinda weird to listen to it now, 3 years after I wrote it. Things have gotten exponentially better in all aspects of my life. I guess when you’re feeling like the end is in sight…just keep pushing through. You never know who or what will present itself. I guess within the story of the album, the Protagonist is finally accepting his newfound peace in life and is ready to keep his head held high until the very end.
The vocals on this song were actually the very last thing we tracked for the record. I thought it was weirdly fitting how the last recorded line was “maybe there’s peace when all of this is done.” What sounds like the protagonist crying is actually my voice completely shredded to shit after recording screams for 8 hours. The vocal takes ended up working really nicely with the theme of the song.
TRACK 8: MI FLOR DE MICHOACAN
This song is meant to serve as an interlude before the climax of the story. It is the night of the Great Eclipse. Once the moon passes over the sun, Sol Moriente will begin. The Protagonist and Isis meet one last time at a bench overlooking a lake. The Protagonist expresses his gratitude for their chance encounter and finds solace in the fact that he won’t die alone, hiding from reality.
TRACK 9: MALIGNANT GLOW
When this song begins, the Great Eclipse has already started. Now hit with the realization that their death is minutes away, the Protagonist and Isis begin to panic. They run into the street and flag down a taxi, and demand that they be taken to the highest point in their city in order to watch Sol Moriente.
I wanted to use the extended intro of the song as a way to set the scene. The squealing, rhythmic synths in the beginning were intended to sound like a car peeling out of a parking lot. The echoing sawtooth synth is a siren wailing in the distance, warning the people of Earth that the end is here. At the very end of the song, we get another reprise of the harp motif from the earlier Sol songs, which leads directly to the finale. The Protagonist tells Isis that the time they spent together were the best moments of his life. They exit the cab and begin to run towards a lone tree at the top of a hill overlooking their city.
Track 10: SOL MORIENTE
“The Dying Sun”. The dreamy guitar in the beginning reflects the two characters running in slow motion to the top of the hill. Once the rest of the instruments drop in, solar flares and streaks of fire ignite across the sky. They make it to the top of the hill and witness their entire horizon become engulfed in flames. The Protagonist sees the winged creatures again, this time flying out of the fire and up towards the sun. He hears them all singing in harmony as they exit the earth together, and at that moment a powerful voice like thunder erupts from the sky.
There is a place we exodus.
The sun swallows the sky
Our souls recede on foreign land,
We never truly die.
These lyrics and cadence reflect the “plan to execute” lines that appear in the other Sol songs. It is the same entity that speaks to the protagonist in track 1, telling the protagonist that though his life here is coming to an end, it is not the complete annihilation of his “soul,” and he will be reincarnated “on foreign land” for his next life.
This sets up the plot for album 2, which will see our protagonist in a new form gradually regain the memories of this life…