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Album Review: Hozier’s ‘Unreal Unearth’

Lauren Sellman, Arts & Entertainment Editor


Hozier's new album, Unreal Unearth. Photo//Rubyworks Ltd./Columbia Records


Irish alternative musician Hozier released what many would call his best work, Unreal Unearth on Aug. 18 2023. Produced by Jeff Gitelman, co-written by Jennifer Decilveo, and inspired by the classic Dante Alighieri's Inferno, this album features cinematic instrumentals and emotional vocals to tell the story of journeying through The 9 Circles of Hell.


The artist is most known for his song “Take Me To Church'' which made his name in 2014.


“Eat Your Young” flew to the most popular songs list on Spotify after being released as a promotional single on March 17, 2023.


Unreal Unearth is made up of 16 tracks that take the listener through the depths of Hell, beginning with the initial descent in “De Selby (Part 1)” and “De Selby (Part 2)”. The ambient instrumentals at the end of “Part 1” fade hauntingly low, portraying the feeling of inevitable sinking.


Although the album is almost entirely written in English, for the first time, Hozier also sings in traditional Gaeilge throughout the album.


Track 4, “Francesca” is based on the character Francesca who is the first damned soul Dante meets in the second level of hell: Lust. Referring to the characters, Hozier sings, “Heaven is not fit to house a love like you and I."


“Eat Your Young” represents the third level of Hell - Gluttony - which he portrays in the form of a feast. The song is a metaphor for overconsumption and destructive consumerism in today's society, highlighting the insatiability of humanity.


Track 9, “Son of Nyx” is an enchanting instrumental, relying on harmonizing tones in the background supporting the gloomy piano and violin. According to Greek mythology, the son of Nyx is Charon, the ferryman who transports souls across the river Styx and into the underworld. The song portrays the Heretic level, where souls are punished for heresy against major religions.


Representing the end of the passage through Hell and the ascent into Heaven, “First Light” is the final song of the album. The combination of soft guitar, background choir singers and Hozier's passionate vocals results in a refreshing breath-out to conclude the heavy journey.


His previous album, Wasteland Baby came out in 2019, and after a long awaited release, this album has received so much positive feedback from fans.


Now available on all music streaming platforms, Unreal Unearth is a beautifully executed listening experience where Hozier’s relatable concepts and unsettling themes take all listeners on an emotional rollercoaster.


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