Clarity in an existential crisis with The Sun Came Up Upon the Left

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We’re premiering Sounds We Make Through Wind, the first output from The Sun Came Up Upon the Left in 9 years. This record made me feel some things. I think you ought to listen to it.

Sometime last year I had a mental breakdown. I was sitting at my desk at work, reading the latest IPCC report on carbon emissions and the catastrophic results we could expect from a rapidly warming planet. Something inside me snapped. I locked myself in a rarely used bathroom and felt wave after wave of grief crush my body. Instantly, everything I cared about ceased to matter. I didn’t want to write anymore, much less listen to music. My job felt suffocating, a cage I was forced to spend my days in while the world burned around me. I wanted to drop out of society to focus solely on my family and doing anything I could to stave off ecological suicide. I became paralyzed by fear. By powerlessness. By guilt in my complicity. In the days and weeks after I could scarcely sleep or eat. All the joy, all the thrilling distractions that life has to offer felt hollow and cruel in the face of annihilation.

So I did that thing people tell you to do when you’re wracked with mental anguish. I saw a therapist. I described my problem, or rather, I described our collective problem. My mind was filled with images of drought, famine, poisoned oceans, guard towers, soldiers, and endless death. In return, I got a worksheet on dealing with depression. It didn’t help much.

When you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack it’s tempting to think you might never get out, that you’ll always feel like your guts are being jammed through a trash compactor. But inevitably, eventually, you’ll regain some semblance of normality. You’ll get a decent night’s sleep one night. You’ll make it through a day of work, mostly engaged. You’ll find a coping mechanism or two to ease the terror. At some point, something you used to enjoy will make you feel a spark again.

Sounds We Make Through Wind has hit me with a spark I feared I had lost. This is a record that speaks directly to the climate crisis that embroils our planet and does so without giving in to fatalism or, worse, relishing in human misery as is depressingly typical with metal. The Sun Came Up Upon The Left, formerly a duo and now a one-man operation, takes the blood of black metal and infuses it with a massive dose of fuzzed-out doom. Slow-paced, haunting, and at times ferocious, this record presents an enormous blackened sky that allows a few glimmers of sunlight to crack through. “Sounds We Make” and “Through The Wind” hit you with the enormity of it all, leaving you gasping for air. And then, in an inspiring choice, there is “Witch Hunt.” I can’t say I expected this Moving Pictures-era Rush cut to pop up, but holy shit does it rule. I’m hardly the biggest Rush fan but this cover, a rockin’ dirge, somehow just makes sense in the midst of it all. “Those who know what’s best for us / Must rise and save us from ourselves” is an affirmation I can work with. “New Vision” closes out the record with a hefty dose of straight talk. It doesn’t necessarily qualify as a song, so much as it is a foreboding score placed behind the incredibly wise words of Murray Bookchin as he gives an impassioned speech, damning the greed that has brought us to the precipice of collapse and calling for eco-socialism that works for all across the globe.

Give Sounds We Make Through Wind a listen here and then pick it up on Bandcamp. I hope that it stirs something in you as it did for me. And if you’re interested in a future worth fighting for, check out an ecosocialist group near you.

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