Photo Credit:Daniel Finkelstein
Awake At Last‘s newly released EP, Life.Death.Rebirth., is just six songs, but its story spans the entire cosmos. A tale written about questions of the soul, fate, and all the other great unknowns, this EP truly needs to be explained to get the most of it. Vocalist Vincent Torres delves deep into the meaning of the band’s critically acclaimed release in this exclusive track-by-track.
The overall concept of this record follows the main character referenced from now on as The Human, who has found his way into the afterlife after dying young from whatever. The premise is that as he’s walking through these planes, he is faced with different fragments of himself that represent the human consciousness and the experiences he had in life. I’ve taken multiple sources into account when forming this concept and have decided to paint a picture of sorts of what I believe. In short, The Human is trying to navigate this afterlife to find out whether he is meant for Heaven where he can live in peace within the cosmos forever, or Hell [which is] an eternal torture where his sins have truly outweighed the good he’s done…Or if he is meant to live again in order to learn more lessons as his soul progresses through infinite existence.
“Purgatorium” is the first track of the album and it works hand in hand with “Analysis Paralysis.” It was created to set the stage for the rest of the concept. There’s an internal perspective and an external perspective that The Human feels while he navigates through the darkness. In this particular concept, when a soul enters the afterlife it is faced with a series of tests that need to be completed and they’re only armed with their experiences and what they’ve earned throughout their life. It’s a dark place and the energies are hostile to an extent but it’s because they represent the human emotions of fear and pride. In order for The Human to overcome [his] trials he has to understand that even though fear and pride are sins by definition, they are also misunderstood allies. Fear is meant to protect you and is your way of closing off your mind from energies that would otherwise overwhelm it, but it can often stand in your way when your worst fear and your worst enemy is yourself and your own limitations. Pride is an exaggerated form of self-worth that, while it can create value in one’s self, can also blind you from the fact that everyone is actually connected and you can’t step on [each other].
This is all represented by The Human’s alter ego who is a villainized version of himself who tries to taunt him and hold him back and not allow him to go forward, but The Human can only overcome this by accepting those things are part of himself. [He’s] deciding to leave his selfish human obstacles, his fear and pride behind and accept who he is in the purest form. This is where the story begins and is the first obstacle The Human must overcome.
“I hope it sheds a bit of light on the questions I think everyone has when it comes to our mortality and inspires hope that we can all become so much more.”
The second song of the album is arguably one of the most important, as it takes the concept of anxiety and depression and the darker elements and gives them life. It was written to represent anxiety and to represent The Human overcoming the fear and doubt he faces. As it’s said, when a soul reaches the afterlife they are faced with the seven Buddha, and at first they represent a peaceful disposition but then they turn dark in order to bring about the fear in The Human. But [they] will return to kindness once [he] realizes that his fear is only his soul shedding his human [self]. The music is dark and intense and paints the picture of anxiety the way I think it makes most people who struggle with it feel. So he fights it and gathers himself together and once he overcomes the fear and accepts it is a part of him, he moves on to the next lesson that he must reflect on.
“Dark Waltz” is the first song on the record that [touches] on the element of Love. I feel that Love plays an extremely important role in the human consciousness and arguably has the most power. The song is lighthearted and expresses the joys that can come with it but also the envy and the despair it can cause. It tells The Human the story of the woman he loved and lost, and forces him to face the decisions that were made and the obstacles that weren’t able to be overcome when he got in his own way. It takes the concept of a relationship, long and prosperous and beautiful, or even short sparked flames and paints it like a dance. [It begins with] the awkward shyness to the deepest feelings to the inevitable losses that happen. [Then,] the happiness and joy and what was important during those times, and then reminds him of envy and greed of wanting to love and have someone with such passion. It’s one of my personal favorites on the record and a very personal song in general and it’s one of my favorite to play live. I feel like the fact it sits perfectly in the middle of the record it represents the peak of our story, as all stories are told with an intro, a rising action, a peak, and then we move to the fall into the rabbit hole with “White Rabbit.”
Whereas “Dark Waltz” provides a broad spectrum of Love, “White Rabbit” focuses in on the darkest elements. Jealousy, Betrayal, Deception — all of these themes are the driving force behind “White Rabbit.” Love has a tendency to take people on a journey and as you dig deeper into a person you unlock parts of them and parts of yourself you could potentially grow to hate. People are flawed by nature and those flaws seem to really hit home when it comes to matters of the heart. The Human felt all of this during his life but has to understand that sometimes the most growth a person experiences is during times of heartbreak and despair. Love tends to strengthen you and teach you a lot about yourself and he’s armed with that knowledge that comes with loving and losing.
“He learns the value of togetherness and understands that he is just a single thread in a tapestry.”
“Constellations” is a call to arms that represents The Human finally overcoming the obstacles that are in his path. He learns the value of togetherness and understands that he is just a single thread in a tapestry. And through all of this he learns one of the most valuable lessons in life: It’s not about him. We all exist through infinite lives full of intimate differences that make us undeniably individual, [yet] everything is a part of a bigger picture and there is much more strength in that then any selfish, prideful conclusions he could come to. [He] reaches out to the others to elevate and inspire them to come together and form the constellations that have told the stories of the human consciousness for centuries. I hope it sheds a bit of light on the questions I think everyone has when it comes to our mortality and inspires hope that we can all become so much more. And that life is a canvas; it’s all part of something bigger.
The final track of the album represents the end of The Human’s journey. As he walks to the proverbial final threshold of his journey he is forced to reflect on everything. Every memory he experienced and all of the trials he’s overcome all sort of lead up to the moment where he realizes it’s time to find out if he’s going to heaven, or hell, or if he’s meant to go back into the cycle of life itself. The track has elements of each of the previous songs that resonate with those specific lessons that become the weapons he’s armed with as he goes to see what happens next.
There are a lot of realizations about human limitations and how most of them could’ve been overcome had he put aside his pride and foolishness, and he realizes that to live is to grow and change consistently with the flow of energy that surrounds us all. The song is about letting go of those last selfish pieces of his human consciousness in order to actually become something more. It represents overcoming the fear of mortality and instead understanding that it’s not the end of the journey but the journey itself that drives meaning. As the final words fade out you’ll notice the record moves right back to the darker undertones of “Purgatorium” to represent that after all The Human experienced in this life and all he overcame, he only learned enough to be put back through the life cycle.