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Lyric Analysis

Akhlys – Tides of Oneiric Darkness Lyric Analysis

Disclaimer: these interpretations are those of the writer and do not reflect the intentions of the lyricist. If you would like to contribute to the conversation or offer a different point of view, feel free to comment or contact Metal Utopia at promo@metalutopia.com.

Tides of Oneiric Darkness is the second song on Akhlys’ awesome black metal record The Dreaming I. The album is written by Naas Alcameth, the mastermind behind Nightbringer. On it, he shares his haunted dreams and hallucinations with the listeners, both in the music and the lyrics.

Although it would be tempting to analyze the whole album, I could probably write a whole book about it, so I had to choose one song. In Breath and Levitation, the first song on the album, Alcameth ‘levitates into sleep’ and in the next one, Tides of Oneiric Darkness, he describes what I interpret as his first impressions of his haunted nightmare. I chose this one because it’s got a lot of paradoxes, metaphors and ambiguity, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

First of all, let’s analyze the song title: Tides of Oneiric Darkness. The term ‘oneiric’ means that it relates to dreams or dreaming, so I interpret the title as a kind of metaphor in which sleep is a sea that moves over time, that it’s not a fixed world (because of the ‘tides’). The ‘darkness’ in this metaphor could, probably, represent the haunted aspect of the dream, making it into a nightmare.

Voiceless Words birth terror
A body without substance or form casts such horrid shadows

With ‘voiceless words’, the album starts off with a contradiction. In reality, that is. In dreams, however, words often are voiceless, or at least in my own dreams I never recall the voice of someone talking, the message is just there. ‘A body without substance’ could, in the same way, represent the others in the dream, the spirits that dwell there. Both create horror, implicating that it’s not Alcameth’s own being, but that of the other beings in his dream that make it into a nightmare.

Your gaze
Your gaze unseen

Pierced my heart
Pierced my heart

Pierced my soul
Pierced my soul

The ‘you’ in this bit of lyrics is unknown, but with its gaze, it damages Alcameth’s heart and soul, which are often used to represent the spiritual part of the self. This, with its repetition, emphasizes the hurt that the nightmare inflicts on Alcameth.

I was within you
You were without
And you were within me
You showed me the living darkness

The first three lines of this part could represent the indistinctness of place in the dream. Is it Alcameth’s spiritual body that’s inside the nightmare? Is it the nightmare that happens within Alcameth’s mind? Or do both ‘bodies’ reside in an undefined space? I personally think the nightmare happens inside of Alcameth’s mind, because dreaming (as opposed to astral travelling, where the spiritual body leaves the physical body) is something that happens within the mind. The living darkness the ‘you’ showed Alcameth might be explained in the next two verses:

“That which is dead desires to be born
That which is born is destined to die”

You showed me the living darkness
The night beyond night

The quotation marks in the first two lines would suggest that the you-entity is saying this to Alcameth (probably in voiceless words). It’s a paradox about life and death. The fact that everything that’s born is destined to die can be taken for a fact, but the statement that all that is dead desires to be born is less provable. In this statement, however, the ‘you’ suggests that life is something desired by all: even though, or maybe because it’s only temporary.

The ‘night’ in the second verse, following the reasoning of the last one, could be a metaphor for death. If that which is dead is born and, therefore, is destined to die again, the night beyond night could be the second death, after living for a while. The living darkness, in this case, could represent the inevitable death everybody faces. Even though they are alive, there’s a certain darkness, the destiny of dying, hanging above everyone’s head.

“The devil is coming out…
The devil is coming out…
The devil is coming out of me…”

Another quote that might come from the you-entity in Alcameth’s dream. It could suggest that it was possessed by the devil and that, in that case, the devil works through the you-entity. The last verse could build upon this interpretation:

You marked me
Long ago
And I shall seek you
Eternally

The fact that ‘you’ marked me long ago would agree with the interpretation of the devil having possessed the you-entity. In this case, the devil used the you-entity to get to Alcameth, and has been wanting to do that for a long time. If we presume that the whole dream takes place within Alcameth’s mind, it could mean that Alcameth himself also wants to find the devil in his mind, and he can get to him through the ‘you’.

After this verse, Tides of Oneiric Darkness ends. However, it still leaves us with some questions: What could the devil represent? And why would Alcameth want to seek him? In The Dreaming Eye, the fourth song on the album, there’s two verses that could be interpreted as an answer to these questions

A sword of lucidity
I strike into the heart of this place
As a nail to the soil

I affix a moment in timeless time
To awaken my dreaming will
To open the dreaming eye

With his sword of lucidity (lucidity = clarity of mind, power over one’s own dream) he strikes the heart of his dream, which could represent the devil he was seeking. As a nail to the soil, he takes control of ‘timeless time’, another contradiction to indicate the fact that he’s dreaming. He does so in order to awaken his dreaming will, to open ‘the dreaming eye’. This way, the devil in his dreams could be the haunting aspect of his dream, which he has to actively kill in order to stop the suffering.

As a conclusion, the song (or the whole album, actually) is a masterfully written narrative of Alcameth slowly suffering through his nightmare in order to kill the devil that represents the hauntings of his dream and in that way becoming lucid and taking control of his own dream, moving forth Into the Indigo Abyss (the final song of the album).

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