After the longest wait in its history, my most beloved band, Nightwish, finally released their next album. I have mixed feelings about the album as a whole, but when it comes to one song in particular, I’ve had an experience only one song has ever given me before, which Nightwish’s own The Pharaoh Sails to Orion.
The song is Tribal.
If the average person listened to this song, particularly the uninitiated, they’re probably going to think it’s heavy for the sake of being heavy, and the aggressive chanting we hear at the 2:00 mark is just typical metal grunting. Hell, that was my view at first of this song as well … until I watched its official lyric video. I went from liking it a lot, to loving it.
The song seems to be cut from the same cloth as Weak Fantasy, from the previous album, except richer and bolder. The song seems to be another criticism of religion, while at the same time seeming to state that religion is just as much a part of our nature as everything else. The song seems to be saying … we are animals. This is the reason for the dancing skeletons we see in the official lyric video. The skeletons are of humans, while in the background we continue to see the more ape-like skull of our ancient ancestors. If our technology and societies were eliminated, we’d all see that we are no different from our primal ancestors. We never truly changed from them.
This is why the song’s artwork is a skull, but instead of a human skill, it’s a more ape-like skull, from back in the days when we behaved no differently, in any way, to our primate cousins.
I love the lyric video’s visual of the countless tombstones. It seems, to me, to be stating, “Look at the millions of our own kind we’ve killed for primitive reasons (like religion). And what do we care? We are as tribal as any other animal.”
Religion is just the face, and somewhat glorification, of our primitive nature. The album, after all, is called Human Nature. It’s this context that makes me love the harsh instrumentals, which are more aggressive than most Nightwish songs.
After 10 years, The Pharaoh Sails to Orion has been dethroned. Tribal is my new favorite song of all time. What helps this is the fact that this song is based in realism, Pharaoh is not, and the song has a deep truthful meaning to it, while Pharaoh is really just a heavy fantasy song. (Something these songs have in common: They don’t have standard song structures, with bridges transitioning into repetitive choruses. I guess I have a soft spot for the atypical. Tribal doesn’t even have lyrics for the entire second half.)
This subject matter is essentially the basis for my entire worldview. So, the fact I love this song to this degree shouldn’t surprise anyone.
10,000 tales for the curious kind
Bazaar of heavens for a hive mind
Abraham cut into three
Man found gods and began to preach
Suffering loves faythe loves suffering
Smile to elders like a good doll
Repent, accept, separate yourself
Suck the aureate tongue
Sing the praise of your creation
Bride-prices, thought crimes, blind minds
The word hides vivid monsters to bed the tribal itch.