Last time we discussed suffering, and the way out of it. Now it’s time to see where this album leads us.
The first line immediately reminds me of that old gospel song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Here’s that song:
Yes, I picked the version from Bioshock. It’s a really good cover, bite me.
So immediately I think of family, though maybe that’s personal (my mom still can’t hear that song without breaking down, because we used to sing it at family reunions… until her mom died. That was the last time. So. yeah.)
The song helps me out a little here, though. There’s a little bit of family imagery, but it just highlights the characters.
The song sets a scene, finally; in a way, we’re finally getting what the problem is. Though, naturally, it’s generalized in a very characteristic way. There seems to be a conflict in which the principal considers running away. The singer assures us/them that invisibility is an option: if you can leave, you can be unseen.
So I suppose, unsurprisingly, the song brings us back around to that fear of others so many of us harbors. The speaker is the singer, up on the stage, talking about becoming invisible by leaving — though that’s the only way to be present, too. Literally, I guess that means there’s a kind of anonymity to being a performer, because everyone knows you as the performer, not the person. In general, I suppose that points to a difference between how we’re seen and what we really are. The image of the photograph torn in half supports that — we’re all in two.
King of Swords
The king of swords is an analyst, strong-minded and clever. His problem tends to be his removal from the situation. He forgets about everything but the solution. He’s the supervisor who forgets that people have to drive to work when he comes up with schedules — if it weren’t for that, the schedule would be perfect, convenient and efficient. But sometimes it rains…
In the context of the song, I would say that the singer is the king in this case. He has realized a clever trick that grants him some of the king’s distance and strength. He has finally escaped those terrible stories the song opens with. That isn’t necessarily the best thing, but for now it is the thing that is happening. It’s possible to act from this position, which is something that wasn’t true before.
Rainbow in the Dark
The final two songs reference darkness in some way (dark/night). This song feels like it’s the culmination of the entire album. We all feel trapped, and it’s so bad and so disheartening that we’re like rainbows in the dark… which don’t exist. Light is required for a rainbow. You can have rainbows at night — they’re often called moonbows — but that still requires light of some kind.
So where are we left as this song gets punchy? Lightning is the only light we can see from this position. We long for that kind of freedom. Fear approaches us again to caution us as we realize day is not coming for us — we have to go do something for ourselves this time.
Nine of Wands
This card is the perfect depiction of defensiveness (OK, so maybe the two of swords does that better, but still). This card shows us a figure, armed with a flowering wand, holding a fort wall against spears and wands. The sky behind the figure shows only a few scudding clouds. The figure is serious-faced. They are safe for now. There are a few options. Either the figure is defending from an attack, or looking down on their own forces. Either way, the prospect is ok but it doesn’t cheer the person up.
In that context, then, the song demonstrates to us that we have the power to escape our imprisonment, but we have to seize it. Lightning is the wand-blast, the magical consciousness (this is an image from the Kaballah I’m riffing on at this point). If we see that kind of power and freedom and get depressed, as the singer does, then we are in desperate need of that power and freedom ourselves. This card says it’s time to bear down. We have the power, like the wall or the army. We just have to use it this one last time, and then we’ll break through to dawn.
Shame on the Night
The song transitions immediately out of that imagery in the previous song. Now the night should feel shame, or is the place in which we feel shame. This song is the final confrontation. The singer rails against the person or thing that has assaulted them. They know the figure’s name. The singer knows the situation and sees that they should run, as in the previous songs. But now, instead of fleeing pain, it’s a movement away from the source of the problem. Running is now the resolution, not a symptom, of the problem.
The Sun itself gets implicated here, which may indicate that the singer is realizing the world is the source of the problem — or, equally possible, that the singer is the source of their own angst, which causes everything to seem against them.
Knight of Cups
That website gives this card the tagline of a journey ending. That’s appropriate her. The knight, atop a unicorn, is about to cross a river flowing down from the distant mountains. This card shows us the culmination of powerful emotions. The singer isn’t using violence or cleverness or physicality to win — they’re using their feelings. They’re realizing their feelings, even when they amount to shame and jealousy. That opening up and honesty frees the singer from the shackles they’ve been in for so long.
That explains a lot of the album. How can songs gleefully talk about addiction and unhealthy relationships? Because that ability to talk about that stuff, to feel honestly, is freeing and powerful.
Let’s end with this: have you paid much attention to the album’s cover?
Let me put it this way. Ever look at the Waite-Smith version of the Devil?
I’m not claiming the cover is a new version of the card. But they use similar motifs. The devil in both cases chains a human figure. In Dio’s case, the album depicts the devil chaining and chastising a priest. That seems to finish up our reading. The album as a whole is about what imprisons us. It’s also about the attempt to free ourselves, which we have to do through understanding and honesty, not violence. If the priest fights, he’ll drown. His only hope is to accept the water and float on it — which will require him to let loose his chains, his personally-held bonds.
Am I saying that priest will survive? Who knows? It doesn’t look that way. But that’s what will be required for him to survive. We need to survive too, and unfortunately, it’s easier, in the end, to drop our baggage than to change the world. Ironically, that’s when it becomes easier to change the world, to cry out shame on what oppresses us.