In Svbterranean’s Album Dissections, artists break down the construction and/or lyrical themes of their records track by track.
Today Logroño-based grindcore outfit Ernia have officially released their self-titled full-length record. Channeling the more discordant side of grindcore à la Fuck the Facts and Maruta, this Spanish quintet deliver 13 tracks of pure dissonant fury. To celebrate the release, we invited vocalist Omar I. Sánchez and guitarist Daniel Espinosa to participate in our Album Dissections series. Check out what they had to say about the record below.
01. Dionea Muscipula
02. The Limits of Purity
(Omar) I’d been wanting to write these lyrics and turn them into something “real” for a very long time. When I was a kid I used to have a recurring nightmare where I’d see a giant Venus flytrap at the top of a hill, all tinted in a sort of ultraviolet hue, as if it was being produced by a Blue Sun. Innumerable people of all types, from faceless blurs to friends and family, would then parade in front of this stoic plant’s jaws, like a sort of ritual to prove that they were of pure spirit. When it was my turn, the flytrap would open its mouth and lunge to inevitably devour me, taking me to a state of absolute darkness that meant the end of the nightmare and the return to the real world, jolted awake in bed.
03. Forest Pt. 1 (Blind Willow/Sleeping Woman)
(Omar) The song’s main title is parenthesized, and is based directly on the story of the same name by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. To be precise, it’s based on a poem that the protagonists of the story discuss, but which isn’t related in detail. I took it upon myself to detail what I’d like the poem to be: a tale in which a young woman falls victim to the anthropophagus flies that inhabit the mysterious Blind Willow. Our protagonist, a nameless young man, is prey to the anxiety of not knowing about the young woman’s well-being. He isn’t a typical hero; he’s a weak, fearful human worried about his friend. While the poem proceeds with a theme of visible rawness, the main theme of the lyrics is the anxiety over the unawareness about a loved one, the fear that is felt when someone important to you could be in danger.
04. Sabbath for the Zionist
(Omar) The first set of lyrics I wrote when I joined Ernia, and honestly the one I’m the least satisfied with because of its content, which can be misinterpreted. It deals with the Israel/Palestine conflict from the viewpoint of an extremist, whose background and affiliations are never mentioned. The narrator is one whose archetype is very present today: someone closeminded and lacking information, who thinks he is right about absolutely everything. As the author of these lyrics, I don’t share or ascribe to this fictitious character’s views about the conflict, it was my attempt at illustrating an example of the ignorance displayed by many Internet users when they share their opinions on complex matters that happen far away from the comfort of their own homes.
05. Free of Avidya
(Omar) This song’s title comes from the tenth volume of the Shigurui manga, written by Norio Nanjo and illustrated by Takayuki Yamaguchi. Avidya is the Sanskrit term used to mean “ignorance” among many Buddhists and Hindus; Avidya is, in this way, one of the main causes of human suffering. To rid ourselves of this ignorance we need both knowledge and the urge to learn, the drive to search for answers to questions that are presented to us. Most major religious doctrines today are passed down from parent to child without waiting for children to develop their own conscience and have the ability to make their own choices in this matter. This is something that limits the individual from developing spiritually on his or her own as it should be, even more so when the major monotheistic religions are constantly blemished by terrible scandals that taint supposedly benevolent and peaceful beliefs. Religion should not be imposed, it’s a discovery and a choice you have to make individually. Only then will it be possible to eradicate ignorance.
06. Lunatic Lovers
(Omar) These lyrics are completely extracted from a song sung by Hoichi, one of the protagonists of one of the stories in the manga “Lunatic Lovers”, by Suehiro Maruo. Hoichi, who has hearing problems, sings these chaotic words to the dead accompanied only by his guitar, and they answer him by appearing before him. With complete surrealism and almost excessive abstraction, the song narrates the relationship with the dead, who remain among the living, not as it is usually related in Death Metal songs, but as the memories of them that persist. It all ends with a catharsis, in which Hoichi discovers that all his visions of confusion and death are caused by a ringing in his ears. I wanted to reflect the song in its entirety because I felt moderately identified with the hallucinations that one can feel suffering from tinnitus, coupling it with anxiety. The name of his song is never mentioned, so I thought it best to name the Ernia song after the title the author gave this short story manga.
07. Forest Pt. 2 (The Seventh Man)
(Omar) Based on the story “The Seventh Man” by Haruki Murakami, also contained in “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”. The song’s short length was perfect to deal with this short story that affected me when I first read it due to its cold and dramatic approach. In what seems like a group therapy session, a man recounts how he witnessed the death of his friend (whom he calls K) when a typhoon hit the coastal town where they lived. This immediately scars the narrator, who ends up suffering from paranoia and decides to leave the town. It takes him forty years to decide to face his fears, and therefore K, by going back to the place where it occurred. Upon arrival, his friend appears as a bodily specter fused with the frightening waves that engulfed him. It isn’t just another story about loss and personal afflictions, but about facing those fears which we can’t let go of; in my case, my own fear of being swallowed by the sea, like K.
08. Random Discordant Actions
09. Heroes of Withdrawal
(Dani E.) “Heroes” is my attempt at a song for revolt inspired by the hardcore scene and local band (to us) Raiser, who I think have a very effective way of empowering the listener and calling for direct action. In this case I tried to write about the Spanish Transition to Democracy (started in 1975, after 35 years of dictatorship), or more accurately about how the illusion of a democracy was sold with the direct support of the major remaining Francoist powers, and how this was widely accepted as a revolution. As a borderline post-millenial who has grown up in Democratic Spain this Transition period was interesting to me, and the review that Javier Cercas presents in his book “Anatomy of a Moment” (centered on three key figures of this period) had quite the effect on me. My only real contribution was to try and put us citizens at the same level as the political elite that Cercas discusses by means of direct action.
10. Time to Find the Broken Days (Stand By)
(Omar) I recall that about three years ago I found a very interesting article about the life and (especially) the death of poet John Keats. I this article, which I came across by mere coincidence, I remember Keats being described as lying in his bed, moribund. The article’s author presented how the poet, enduring the pain produced by his tuberculosis, felt the flowers that adorned the walls progressively covering his body from the feet up, practically devouring him.
This is the song’s main theme, but I started the lyrics off with a short extract from the Tank Girl comic, which I thought fit in well with the rest. It tells the death of an anonymous character from the perspective of a third-person narrator, who is close to her. A slow disease has consumed her, and the narrator recounts how the sickness has consumed her body and psyche. Where there once was tremulous, vivid flesh, there are now flowers that bloom to immediately wither.
11. The Flowers on Our Backs
(Omar) In these lyrics, I use of the imagery of flowers as a visible analogy for the pain and guilt that is burdened on our shoulders, as if they were floral-themed tattoos similar to the Japanese Irezumi. I like using flowers as metaphors for tough and hurtful events, as well as the idea of having that guilt depicted as a something that you take with you everywhere you go for the rest of your life, something that has been stamped on your skin through pain. Like a tattoo; like the thorns of a flower. At times we feel this weight, this pain and we don’t even know its meaning or its origin, which makes the burden even greater.
12. Burn the Tail of a Dead Rat
(Omar) The first set of verses here reflect the memory of seeing hundreds of landscapes pass by at top speed through the window of a moving vehicle. The memory of numerous trips I took when I was between 11 and 12 in the company of someone I thought I knew, but who turned out to be a complete stranger who incessantly spewed inconsistencies and insults. That person didn’t know me and vice-versa, however much the years and blood ties bound us. In a maybe abstract and unintelligible way I tried to give a voice to all children who go through the tribulations of not only parental divorce, but of the psychological abuse that can happen and which a child isn’t capable of understanding. The song’s title is a complete counterpoint to what the words narrate: a dumb memory that I share with my bandmates, my friends, that has nothing to do with the lyrics.
13. The Confirmation of the Absurd
(Dani E.) “Confirmation” is somewhat of a cry caused by an early age existential crisis. I wrote it after spending time in my parents’ village and then returning to my provincial city, and there being a horrible smell everywhere just because it had rained. It’s a song that screams out at the absurdity of life in a society where horrid urban planning has turned cities into asphyxiating masses and the countryside into a bucolic, abstract space. When faced with these preconceived images, these unhealthy and simplistic dualities, we usually block ourselves off and take refuge in specific forms of knowledge or entertainment, which is where mass media comes into play. This song tries to be a caveman song of sorts against all this; it could be argued that it’s against everything. It’s inspired by one of the great Spanish philosophers, Miguel de Unamuno, and by the Julio Cortázar novel “Hopscotch”.