Unearthing The Unreal

“Would things be easier if there was a right way?” 

“Honey, there is no right way”. 

Stealing Hozier’s lyrics to describe him? Something I would ABSOLUTELY do. 

Andrew ‘Hozier’ Byrne released ‘Unreal Unearth’ on 18th August, 2023. Let me tell you, it is nothing short of an experience. Every aspect is simply phenomenal.

Give it a listen: https://open.spotify.com/album/0TFpENEamBfIfGISdSTXFB?si=AygOnfyWTl2RVfb3fL5sbw&context=spotify%3Aalbum%3A0TFpENEamBfIfGISdSTXFB

In order to not expose the obvious Hozier fangirl in me, and to present a slightly unconventional music review, I will shed my identity (while providing technical footnotes to satisfy my inner music nerd).


The title is pretty self-explanatory. It celebrates the multifaceted discovery of oneself. We can try to define, but never limit the depths we bear within. 


After carefully interpreting his lyrics, I noticed a pattern. Three dimensions have been brought to light. Discovery of love, the world and oneself. Let me unravel the intricacies of this tapestry. 

Close your eyes, and empty your mind. Imagine a floating soul painting a picture on the emptied canvas. A lost soul is speaking to you. 


[Anything But]

Twisting and turning in turmoil. Don’t we all long for more? To break free, and transcend our own limitations? 


A vibrant tune with profound lyrics. We spend this lifetime drawing comparisons and basking in the glory of things around us. The ‘oh hey’ refrain is a desperate cry for help and change, which sets us on our path. 


[De Selby Part 1]

We face the silence of Night, and endless possibilities. An abyss of darkness. 

Faced with the tedious journey of discovering our soul, we forgo external validation and strive for authenticity. Simply a bared, dancing soul. 


The lilting Gaelic segment adds richness and points to Andrew’s heritage. The ending has a jarring scale drop, like ‘Fission’ from Oppenheimer. A slow but sure descent into darkness. 


[De Selby Part 2]

Find yourself in a new ring of darkness. 

No journey is smooth. A soul in grave trouble will always look for an escape, expressing a longing to be consumed by another soul. 


The scale takes a complete turn. Heavy bass and synthetic echoes beautifully encompass the emotions of outpacing a dark world that threatens to shut you in. It doesn’t matter though. Not unless you are lost together. 


[Who We Are]


To hold me like water 

Or Christ, hold me like a knife 


A part of our picture has been painted. This soul has faced many trials and tribulations. Loss is inevitable and navigating the unknown requires courage. Unpaved paths haunt you as you turn on a torchlight to find them drearier than before. 


This is a slower tune. And the soul is tired and hurting but the long journey ahead dooms it. However, it must go on. 

A lost soul needs a body. It jumps into a young person, in the prime of their life. 


[First Time and First Light] 

“After this, I’m never going to be the same”. 


Meeting the love of your life is supposed to be a big deal. The first time they call you ‘baby’, and you fall in love, you feel transformed. You are born anew in their arms and you are never going back. The skies burst and the colours erupt. The sun is coming up and it has never felt like this before. 


The upbeat, soulful tunes depict this transformation of a person, horribly and magically, in love. 


[To Someone From A Warm Climate]


Love is an all-consuming force. It brings warmth into your soul, like spring after a harsh winter. If you’re falling for the first time, you’ll want to intellectualize your emotions.


The slow melody is adorned with raw candor. The protagonist is processing this new stage of their life. 


[Unknown/ Nth]


Loving someone means taking them off the pedestal and accepting them as they are. 

Someone in love thinks of their partner as an Angel. Yet as time passes, they discover their true nature. They fear being misunderstood, but are ready to bear the pain of a relationship.


Clean guitar to depict a person without filters? The minimal instrumentals are perfect for this song.


True love is a force more powerful than Death itself. 

Our protagonist has a deep, passionate love for their partner that extends beyond the realm of the mortal body. They’ve faced tragedy and pain, but would gladly face it again to relive that romance. 


Heaven is not fit to house a love like you and I 


The guitar, echoes and drums are a beautiful complement to Hozier’s husky voice. 


[I, Carrion (Icarian)]

Adversity is the true test of Love. 


This protagonist has been through a lot. Loss, hurt, grief, doubt. Referring to Icarus and his wax wings, we watch this hero fly past the face of adversity, into a new aspect of their journey. 


Again, a slower tune that can lull you into a new world. The protagonist “carries on” and falls from the “sky” their lover raised them to, down to a fresh, earthly dimension. 

The impact of their fall from the sky caused them to lose consciousness and assume a new form. 


Behold Dante, the main character in Inferno. He is simply a spectator, discovering the real world. 


[Son of Nyx]

A simple but technically brilliant song inspired by a voice note, it covers all the songs from the album. A mastercard indeed!


[Butchered Tongue]

A different vision, a different language, a different way of life.


Dante is beginning to discover the world. He’s fascinated by the power of simple communication. He discovers the intimate relation of identity and language, and realizes the dark turn this connection can take at the hands of people filled with hate. 


A ballad in a heavenly Irish tone. What more could you ask for at 2 AM? 

[Abstract (Psychopomp)]

Dante realizes that the world has its fair share of joys and horrors and in the same reflective mindset, acknowledges every experience. It is the bridge between the superficial layers of the world and ‘Psychopomp’– the guide to Hell. 


The melody induces a trance that encompasses the compassion the world can have. There is still beauty in a world ridiculed for its damnation. 


[Damage gets done]


But I know bein’ reckless and young 

Is not how the damage gets done 


Dante lost his youth in his discovery. He’s observed himself and others lose their carefree spirit with age. The world beats the youth down, they grow up fast. Youth is fleeting and ephemeral. 


The lead guitar is simply brilliant, staccato notes accentuate the transient nature of Youth. 


[Eat Your Young]


Entering the 2nd and 3rd circles of the Inferno, this song touches upon themes of lust and gluttony. The world is a cesspool of power-hungry people. Dante discovers the extent people will go to, to fuel their own gain. 


Pull up the ladder when the flood comes, 

Throw enough rope until the legs have swung 

Seven new ways that you can eat your young 

Superior falsetto and breath control in this one!


[All Things End]

All things end, and are simply remnants of dust. 

No matter how far we travel and go through, everything has an end. Dante carries a significant weight of experience and knowledge with him, and simply needs to pause. He’s traveled long and far. 


The chord progression and accidentals create a melancholy symphony, marking the end of this journey. 


I made an attempt to unearth the unreal amount of art in this album. It’s true when they say you can find just about every human emotion in a Hozier song. I’m grateful for the enriching, high-quality content he produces. 


Written by Dhriti Bharadwaj for MTTN

Edited by Vaishnavi Katiyar for MTTN 

Image by Céline, Balta Darien, InfiniteFiend (Deviant Art), Avery, Small room.

Featured image by Click Roll Boom


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