KEVIN SHERWOOD - ALONE
A Lyrical Analysis
They buried a well
where the seven fell
Our volunteers die by machine
and living doors lie unforeseen now
This first verse explores the key duality of the song, that of the old storyline and the new, and specifically how they are related by cause and effect.
As some of you may know, “The Well”, within the context of Kevin’s music, is an abstraction of the idea of Knowledge, Mimir’s Well or the Pierian Spring, if you like. “I Am The Well” deals - among other things - with the idea of how this knowledge of the cycle gifted by the Kronorium is futile, and ultimately the “one way the water flows”, the only knowledge worth holding onto, is the way to break the cycle.
Here, the first two lines are a clear allusion to the end of the Aether storyline. The “well”, the knowledge of all the old, died and was “buried” with Primis and Ultimis, what’s interesting however is “Seven”, not “Eight”, perhaps confirming that Eddy’s survival has indeed preserved Richtofen.
The next lines thrust us into the new storyline, as just as with the sacrifice of our old characters to seal away their “well”, new people desperate for such forbidden knowledge sacrifice themselves in order to attempt to break these seals. Unfortunately, they don’t know the existential danger this brings; with the “living doors” to this world, or rather the proof of the danger, in the form of our old characters, no longer being there as a warning.
Seal him in
Project a means to an end
What he breaks we will mend
Once again, a duality is being dealt with here. In our old storyline, Primis and Ultimis worked to seal The First One within the Dark Aether, to reside forever outside of reality, “mending” the existential corruption. Within our new reality, however, the Omega Group sends brave “volunteers”, such as Orlov, into Endstation, sealing the door behind them, “believing” that they have what it takes to restart the Cyclotron and open the rift.
He’ll keep it all for him
Imagine every answer
With no one in his way
Dividing as he conquers
This set of lines is incredibly interesting, as it appears to dial back from the duality of the new and old, and instead focus on the larger, more pressing duality. The First One.
Prior to the resolution of the Duality in Tag der Toten, The First One - the closest analogue to “God” within this story, was no longer existent, instead existing in two incredibly powerful, but evenly and oppositely matched entities - Monty and the Shadowman. However, now that’s no longer the case, and a being of supreme power now exists once again. With “no one” to stand “in his way”, the Dark Aether is his to claim as he sees fit, subjugating any who are pulled through Dimensional Rifts into his new army, and can seek any and all knowledge there he wishes without restriction. We can see this in the quotes of the Megaton, who no longer regards himself as an individual, but a member of a collective, with a singular mind and singular purpose.
We’ll send him far away from
Ad te omnis caro veniet
“Ad te omnis caro veniet” meaning “To you all flesh shall come” is an excerpt from the Latin reading of Psalm 65, often read in a Requiem Mass.
"Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.
O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come"
It should of course be noted that, due to a myriad of scriptural translations, the “flesh” can also be taken as “people”.
A Requiem Mass is one that intends to give peace to dead souls, letting them rest until the time of Resurrection as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. The implication here is that The First One has been sent far away from any hope of a Requiem. He will not rest in peace.
In river he drowns
By storm he is bound
The repetition of “spin around” likely refers to the cycle this entity is now stuck in, though one far more metaphorical than the cycle that plagued the last storyline. Like a tormented soul, he is bound only to thoughts of anguish constantly swirling in his head. The verse then references the song ‘Stormbound’, within which the “River” in question likely represented the Styx - that which all souls must sail on to reach the afterlife, and being wrecked upon its banks. Here, this takes on an incredibly significant meaning when compared to the notions of his lack of a requiem, he is quite literally stranded on the path to Eternal Rest. In a less strict sense, the “storm” that binds him to his course could be that of his own making, his own refusal to accept his fate and his desire to escape.
It’s worth noting here, and keep this in mind in future sections, that this could potentially apply to “Eddy” as well.
We’re running from
We carve it out of stone
Our destiny to die
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
We’re coming home
unless it means
we are alone
There is a lot less to go on here, and so I can really only offer a few points of speculation for the vast majority.
In my opinion, the “We” here is referring to all those souls now becoming trapped within the Dark Aether. Slowly, they are all becoming consumed by the cause of the First One, essentially being rendered cultists with a singular purpose - a hivemind, almost. This is expected, as every case of banishment to the Dark Aether that we know of results in this. The difference now, however, is that there is one being standing above them all, a true higher power. All those within the Dark Aether seem destined to be absorbed into this, becoming of “one” mind and losing themselves. The reference to “Always Running” is particularly interesting, as within the context of that song, the line refers to running a closed loop - a cycle - in the hopes that you never catch up to yourself - but in effect, you are also chasing yourself. If you are to catch up, the both of you will “become one”. My view is that this is a complex metaphor for the inevitability of one’s fate, no matter how you may run, it always eventually converges at an endpoint. This, followed by the notion of “carving out of stone”, gives the idea that this “destiny to die” is definitely fixed.
A further interpretation to parse from this is that this is a clue to the mindset of Eddy, “running from” becoming the same as his other selves, their destiny ultimately being to die regardless.
In the same manner of thinking, The First One is once again a living entity, he no longer has any beings to parallel him. For aeons, he was split in two, and so even when Monty and the Shadowman had long become enemies, they were still equals. Now the duality is resolved, loneliness is the only reality he knows. In a sense, it can be speculated also that they were “running from” this eventuality in order to prevent this onset of loneliness.
The allusion to the song ‘Coming Home’ here is incredibly interesting, as within that song, “Home” is an end goal, a place to strive to and reach once you’ve achieved your objective - much like how we reach the House in Revelations. Here, the narrator wishes to “Come Home”, but refuses to if it means they are alone - they will essentially refuse rest and security if it forces them into isolation.
We buried it well
no revealing tell
where the horns above impale the sky
thorn in our side
The first few lines here again deal with the duality of new and old. As discussed in verse one, Primis and Ultimis buried their “well”, and equally, the Nazis attempted to bury Endstation, either out of fear of what their research revealed, or equally out of fear that the Allies, who were now winning, would come to possess this terrible technology. In both cases there was no obvious signs of the nature of the burial, yet regardless, the truths about the old world were uncovered.
“Horns above” isn’t an immediately clear reference, however to me, the most obvious allusion appears to be to a sort of devil-like figure now residing in the supreme spot once occupied by God. In this case, “Impale the sky” could be confirmation of this - in that Heaven was reached by violence, as opposed to this power being the naturally ordained seat for this being. It has claimed the skies, rather than earned them by right.
“Forsaken born thorn in our side” is a likely reference to Eddy, moreso because it’s the most naturally fitting. In that case, the collective speaking here would be Primis and Ultimis, whose sacrifice is put at risk by his existence.
Warn no one
Our memory just fades away
and the worn
The collective memory here would likely be, as previously discussed, the memories of the old world. Just as was the main thematic in Black Ops Cold War’s campaign, if you aren’t aware of your own history, you are doomed to repeat it, and I believe it’s the same here with Zombies. As the denizens of the new world have no idea of what came before (save for Sam and Eddy), you may expect that they will repeat the same mistakes - but more on that later. As “no one” was warned, this incursion into reality is spawned with what seems like “no warning”, when in actuality, it was easily preventable.
We’ll keep it all for us
Imagine every answer
with no one in our way
Dividing as we conquer
This is similar to the prior repetition, however with one key difference. The “he” is now “we”. As previously stated, as The First One accumulates more damned souls into his hivemind. Once this occurs, there becomes no distinction between the individual and the group.
And end up far away from
Dies irae, dies illa solvet
“Dies irae, dies illa solvet saeclum in favilla” is an excerpt from the "Dies Irae", a latin poetic sequence often used in the requiem mass. In English, it reads, "The day of wrath and doom will dissolve the world in ashes", with the first section being used here. What's interesting here is, when paired with the prior verse and preceding line, it would seem that the First One's army, like the mark of any cult, believe they are the ones who will prevent the onset of the end times.
In river we drown
By storm we are bound
This odd style of listing is somewhat of a feature appearing in many of Kevin Sherwood’s songs, and appears to show the progression of an idea, or a thought process. Here, we see the netting together of a few ideas that tie back to the previous reference to “Dies Irae”, with “Saeclum” meaning Earth. In that regard, we are being told that this wrathful end-time is less of a fixed point, and something more similar, perhaps, to the Norse Ragnarok, an end that happens continuously, like a cyclone or storm - the very same wrathful storm that encompasses The First One (as discussed prior), and therefore his followers. “Circuit Down” may appear to be the odd-one-out, however I believe it is simply a reference to the cyclotron - much like the entire section can be taken to be.
You carve it out of stone
Your mystery to live and die
You are alone
You are alone
Become the one
and find someone to
end the waiting
Before we address the chorus here, it should be noted that it follows on directly from “STOP!”, therefore the first line should be taken to be “Stop running from becoming one”. This, when combined with the change to “you” rather than “we”, gives an incredibly interesting new dynamic to the song, where now we are given a dialogue between two entities. The narrator here is urging the prior entity to stop running from their fate, as thanks to this constant flight, they are alone. The only way to end this is to meet with their fate, and in that, finally encounter the person who will end this isolation.
Given within a martyr
that we made
(Dies in vain)
Riven within a gift of
leaving well alone
No one knows
and nothing will
And no one’s here
so no more fear
We run away from
a way of running
The “martyr” described here is once again, laced with multiple potential meanings. The most relevant to the map could be that of Orlov, who is forced to literally sacrifice himself not once, but twice, both relating to the cyclotron but to two opposite ends.
One that’s relevant on a larger scale is that of Primis Richtofen, a candidate who fits the profile of the “martyr” often described in past songs rather well. As described here, he would have to have been “riven” (torn apart) with a “gift” of “pain”. This makes the tie even more concrete, as the song ‘The Gift’ describes Primis Richtofen’s own self loathing for himself at the realisation of the consequences of his actions, wishing to give “the gift” of pain to his past self - a feat that is achieved in Blood of the Dead.
Ultimately, Primis Richtofen dies there to break the cycle. The “endless skein” (a “skein” being thread of yarn - metaphorically speaking, a tale or story) as a result, comes unwound. This is potentially in vain, however, due to the breach of reality we see in Die Maschine.
“Dissolve in deep unknown” appears to be yet another reference to the Dies Irae, however here, instead of ashes, the word is dissolved into the unknown - potentially the future of existence post-cycle.
“No one knows and nothing will grow now” whilst not a lyrical allusion, may be a thematic allusion to ‘Dead Flowers’. Within that song, it appears that the nature of the flowers is directly due to the inner-nature of the gardener, much like the famous poem by Blake, ‘A Poison Tree’, which is worth reading here for additional context. After enough time of growing these warped abominations of nature, the gardener dies, however in their last breath, realises that these evil creations will now sow themselves. Their violence has effectively changed the world at large for the worse.
However here, as no one knows anything of the old anymore, no change to fate can grow new flowers, good or evil. The ability to change the fate of the world, where once in the hands of our characters, is now seemingly something set in motion and incapable of alteration.
In this regard, the final part of this section reveals its meaning. The “we” here are running not from their fate, but the idea of running from fate itself. They have no knowledge of the truths that govern the world, they cannot sow their seeds of fate. There is no fear of fate, for they have no conception of it, unlike the characters of our prior story who had only one destination. This makes life incredibly uncertain for the denizens of the new world, but equally, gives them endless possibilities. Perhaps the only way to avoid repeating one’s history is not to remember it, but to have no conception of it in the first place - because at that point, it is no longer your history, but that of a bygone age with no bearing on your own fate.
We are alone
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Are we alone?
Cam’t run or breathe
Why can’t I see
How can it begin to be
dark and leave us all
And are we
We all die
The final chorus states that “we” are alone, then immediately brings it into question, a show of the grand uncertainty of this new world, perhaps. After the vast repetition, a singular entity breaks from the collective, noting that they can’t run, see, or breathe. This individual has either become a total slave to fate, as they can neither now avoid it, or even perceive it, however there is a far more interesting alternative. They can no longer run, see, or breathe - in effect, they are dead. In this regard, they are one of two things - a mindless zombie, now part of the ever-growing horde of an eldritch force, or ultimate counter to fate - someone who has already lived past theirs and is still able to speak of it.
The final portion of this chorus has a contradiction once again “Are we", "We are", before the last reiteration "We all die alone". Be you a member of a hivemind, or an elite operative tasked with pushing back the apocalypse, or a demonic god - it fundamentally doesn't matter. Irregardless of your own personal fate or lack thereof, we all meet the same end.