Liminal Rite

The story of the Album

It’s strange to live in a time when information is immortal. While humans have been holding onto images since we could scrape the walls of caves and smear them with ochre, our ability to retain memories and ideas has become greatly sophisticated. I, as with many others, have found myself living in images and music from the past to ease the anxiety of facing the modern era. Moments of uncertainty can be assuaged by a familiar and predictable TV show. The fear of forgetting can be abated by snapping a photo and uploading it to social media. Even further, we can reflect and dwell on memories of past comforts. However, these reflections often turn into sour ruminations. We find ourselves addicted to remembering. To hastily retreat into memory is to search for a community where no one lives, and often those thoughts are interwoven with past mistakes and regret.

Liminal Rite explores and amplifies my own tendency to depend on the past, and examines how nostalgia has become a means of self-medication that has only been magnified in recent years. These concepts are explored from the perspective of The Lost Man. He is an elderly individual who, having become lost in his current life, has made a pilgrimage to his childhood home. Though not explicitly stated through the lyrics, he has begun noticing the first signs of dementia and in fear of losing the present, he has run to the past. Throughout the album he walks the property of his childhood home. He struggles to remember his family, the certainty of childhood, and the joy of familiarity. However, he is also flooded by deep regret for the accidental death of his brother. This event, only loosely alluded to by references to stones and broken glass, lead to his father disowning him and casting him out from his family.

The album ends with the lost man becoming fully consumed by regret and despair. He realizes that his past does not belong to him, as he cannot separate the sorrow from the joy, and because his mind is slowly unraveling from memory loss. He sees that his current life, and as a result his future, is nothing but an existence of continued loss. He cannot have the childhood he remembers, and the memory itself is unraveling day by day. He decides that if he cannot have his past or his future, he would rather die and take his history with him. He sets the house on fire and burns himself along with it, yielding himself to the cold and uncaring insects and animals that live in the surrounding woods.

Liminal rite does not tell the story of suicide and despair as a means to be macabre for its own sake. Rather, it is a call to find a sense of self that utilizes the best parts of our past to move forward. It is a reminder that regret is only valuable if learned from and left behind. As was eloquently said by the late composer Gustav Mahler, “Tradition is not the worship of ash, but the preservation of fire”.

Inspiration

The inspiration for Liminal Rite was quite diverse, but a few things were expected. We all know that Kardashev was originally started by Nico and Mark with the influences of The Contortionist, Fallujah and Aegaeon, but that stopped being the case in about 2015 when they began writing Peripety. Since then a plethora of music, art, media and stories have effected our lives in ways that inspire us and make us think. Inspiration is rarely a byproduct of imitation for us now. We look for non-musical inspiration more than anything. This could be short story, a poem, a video game, or even a well spent evening with friends.

Lately we’ve spent time reflecting on the world around us and how…gray…it feels. Where had all the beauty gone? Which truths are true? How do we measure positive change and an optimistic future?

First and foremost, Jacob Geller’s YouTube channel is rife with excellent video essays about very deep and compelling subjects and Mark will thank him one day.

Here’s the video that inspired the entirety of this album’s subject matter:

He offers an incredibly unique and wholesome take on the little things in life. The petty and forgotten things in life.

Originally, this inspired us to write through the lens of “Rhopography”, focusing on the minuscule and insignificant things that tend to remind us of yester-year and times long gone. This remnant of a concept can be seen in our lyrics as we reference very specific items in some songs. “Coin of pure gold…”, “There, a small chair in the dust…”, “…with cloth torn from her apron…”, and “Folding quilts and avoiding her eyes…”

As the album began to take shape and we discussed the context of the music, Mark and Alex began toying with the idea of a person experiencing the family home and the remaining items within it. They began describing how the story could be narrated and the album could be broken up into rooms within the home instead of objects from the past.

Eventually, Alex wrote some monologue that displayed a great understanding of the tone of the record and was perfect to begin, bisect and end the album. From this, we all agreed that it should be narrated by someone with an awesome voice. Someone older, but not frail or “airy”. Sean suggested that he give it a try since he had quite a good speaking voice and wow does he. His voice is what you hear on this record. In some ways, it captures the sort of journal-like quality that we had hoped for, but also doesn’t lend any aged into senile qualities which was important for the tone.

By the time Sean had narrated the first and second monologues, the band had 9 songs completed. Only after these monologues were recorded did we start finalizing the length and quality of the record as these recordings inspired two additional songs including “A Vagabond’s Lament” and “The Blinding Threshold”.

Song Breakdown

The Approaching of Atonement

“The further from you I get,
The more your face is clouded.”

Liminal Rite opens with The Lost Man arriving at his childhood home. At first, he is flooded with joy, comfort, and even a sense of completion. The cornfield near his home sways beautifully, albeit unkempt and rife with weeds. A wind chime, somehow still hanging from a wooden beam on the front porch, gently rings out across the breeze. However, his joy seems to be deeply intertwined with sadness, which quickly turns into regret. The sweet taste of returning quickly makes him feel even farther away. But, he is resolute. He will remember those he has forgotten. He will reclaim the certainty of life he had as a child. He presses the sorrow down, summons forth a hollow determination, and steps forward into the cornfield.

Silvered Shadows

“I pulled the golden cornsilk from my hair.
Hand made curtains drew me home.
I am a silvered shadow of old air.
Where I lived now overgrown.”

The Lost Man walks through the cornfield and finds an old willow tree he used to play near as a child. He remembers hiding a small tin box of keepsakes he buried near the base, and painstakingly digs it up. Slumped by the trunk and submerged in the swaying green field, he holds up a small coin that he was once so proud of. It reflects the sun and, for a moment, he remembers why he kept it. He removes another small item – a secret note he wrote and tucked away. Unraveling the decaying page, he suddenly remembers the cloth that he used to tie the small scroll shut. He tore it from his mother’s apron….the apron that she made. Wracked with a sudden sense of longing he stands and looks across the field to his home. A ripped and stained curtain hangs in the window. Something sewn by hand. Back when things were made with care. Back when things mattered. Looking down at his wizened hands he feels the distance as an aching reality. A quick breath – he steels himself with a clenched fist and a sharp breath and makes his way towards the sagging house.

Apparitions in Candlelight

“Light the candle in the middle of the room.
Burn your bridges to a past that has been lost.”

The Lost Man stands in what was once the living room of his home. It has been ransacked, squatted, degraded by animals, and blasphemed by the sacrilege of time. He sees a chair toppled over, splintered, and cracked. Looking closer there are words carved underneath. “I am invisible”. He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to remember. What was he hiding from when he wrote those words? What caused him so much fear? A dull flash of recollection glides across his mind. He was young. He had been playing with fire…..he dropped a match. His father was angry….and he, The Lost Child, was scared. Opening his eyes he remembers trying to be invisible and often attempting to be unseen. A cold hole in his stomach begins to grow as he realizes how much of his life is absent from his mind. His fingers turn and rotate a box of matches in the pocket of his jacket. He can’t regain the memories he once had. He has no life to return to. A cool breeze brushes his cheek and he looks up. His mother’s sewing room brings light into the room, catching the dust, and beckons him to come in.

Dissever
Lavender Calligraphy

“Inside the dresser
That was there far before I could stand,
Your molded letter
Folded there in a drawer left unsent.”

The sewing cabinet, his mother’s favorite possession, weakly leans against the wall. A leg is broken and the doors have been ripped off. The white paint has peeled and betrays the splintered, buckled wood beneath. Stepping inside, The Lost Man sees the trappings of nature’s reclamation: Spiderwebs in the rafters, illuminated by light pouring in through a hole in the ceiling, Vines and termite trails trace a filigree along the walls, and the floor wears a carpet of mold, moss, and animal beds. He pulls open a drawer, forcing it against its will. Flooded with memory, his mother’s old prayer book sits torn and warped. The pages crack open to reveal a pressed lavender flower and the written whisperings of a woman struggling against love and fear.

The Lost man closes the prayer book. How did he not see how much pain he had caused his mother? How did he not know that his regret would bleed him dry, and spread to his family for the disease that it was? Placing the book back inside, he notices a folded piece of paper, yellowed by time and damp. Opening it, he reads her apology. The letter was written years after he left. Reading the plea for him to come back causes his knees to buckle and his hands to grip his chest. He had come back, but far too late.

The Blinding Threshold

“There are fragments in my mind of who I once was,
But the memories are obscured by regrets….
By apologies I’ll never have the chance to make”

Regret compounds upon regret, and The Lost Man sinks into the oubliette that is the ramshackle building he has found himself in. His mind lapses as he stumbles from room to room. The walls seem to have moved. The architecture seems to have shifted. The faces in his mind blur and become dithered icons of confusion. Blurred eyes deceive his steps as he lurches through the kitchen and towards the back door. The screen door crashes open and the sun strikes his face. He wipes his eyes, and the yard takes form. His breath catches in his chest as he remembers. A mound in the dirt and a weathered headstone mock him as he steps down from the porch.

Compost Grave-Song

“Show me your face, my brother forgotten.
Let me go.
Let me recall.”

The slow unraveling of the mind is terror, but the curse of remembering is often more painful still. The Lost Man stands by the grave of his brother. The headstone has fallen and the ground is covered in weeds and decaying leaves. The Lost Man lets out a sound of disgust at how close his brother had been buried to their compost pile. Laying a child to rest so close to rotting food and unwanted plants brings up old ghosts of fury that he thought he had locked deeply away. The autumn air has chilled the stone and pressing his forehead against the cold surface seems to close the distance between him and his brother. Tears feed the thistles and Ivy as the past reaches up and pulls him toward the dirt. He threw the stone that killed his brother. He had only meant to scare him, but there was no way to rewrite the story. Death was on his hands. Death has stained his palms for over fifty years, and it continued to haunt him under the skeletal shade of his memory.

Cellar of Ghosts

“This is all I knew…I ran.
Dead men don’t come home…I’ll rest.”

The air is damp and heady, carrying the aroma of moss and wet drywall. The Lost Man smiles weakly as he remembers stealing sips of his parents’ wine. They must have known, of course, and yet he and his brother felt so proud of their mischief. But whatever remnants there are of the wine collection are now unrecognizable and shattered in the corner. The Lost Man closes his eyes and leans his head against the decaying frame. He hears the deep groan of overgrown trees swaying in the wind and pressing into the eaves of the house. But here, below the earth, he is almost able to pretend that his childhood is back. He can imagine that to descend the stairs would be to step back to a time when his brother was alive, when his mother didn’t cry, and when his father loved him. Whereas only moments ago he wished to sleep and never wake again, things were different now. He would stay awake as long as possible, wrestling this small shimmer of peace into submission.

Glass Phantoms

“Shattered glass in the light!
Apparition of thought in my mind!
Clarity caught in my throat!
Oh, It hurts to know!”

The Lost Man’s addiction to control fails him. He ascends the stairs, exits the house, and finds himself standing in the spot where his father knelt so many years ago. Guilt masked by anger grabs him by the chest and he curses the earth beneath him. The death of his brother rises to the surface of his mind like a cloud of locusts swarms a field, ripping and tearing until hunger is satiated. He clutches a stone and sees the ghostly effigy of his father’s hand doing the same. Images of the tragedy that took his brother away flood The Lost Man, and he remembers the fury of his father as the truth was laid bare. But….what was it, that grave mistake that manifested by his own actions? The memory is too far in the ground, buried under broken glass and isolation. But this time will be different. This time he will not be cast aside. He is home, and he would rather die than suffer the loss of his past for a second time.

A Vagabond’s Lament

“For a shadow to be cast,
There a man must stand.
But on the pulled up floors
Of my childhood
Below me –
A sun-bleached love of the past!”

Minutes or hours have passed, but it doesn’t matter anymore. All doors to the trap of The Lost Man’s mind have been sealed and the windows have been shut. The sun no longer peeks through the windows. There is no shadow where he stands. In the squall of regret and longing, The Lost Man has ceased to be. He finds himself back in the living room, but it means nothing. None of these walls are the same that guarded him as he grew. The floors are not the same as those that carried him when he was young. There is nothing but unattached objects of no relationship, and he is nothing more than a coincidence. A fleeting formation of matter. A sharp and stinging smell fills all empty spaces. A small spark roars its dominance. The Lost Man falls backwards onto the floor and gives himself completely to the closure of flame.

Beyond The Passage of Embers

“As a curling silhouette
I can finally let go.”

Fire climbs the walls and licks the ceiling. The Lost Man watches as the flames feed on the last remnants of his memory. The paint bubbles and pulls from the walls and the bones of the home creak and groan. Laying back, he sees black smoke crawling from room to room, and he smiles softly. A tall flame grows in the doorway and he laughs softly. As though the pillar of light is the spirit of someone he once knew, he asks it to take him home. To tell his family that he is coming to them. His shadow flutters on the wall behind him, but the old structure gives way under the heat and hunger of the now blazing inferno. The roof caves in, as does the ground below him. He is swallowed into the depths of his home, and into the crater of his dying mind.

The night passes and the sun rises. There is no man. There is no home. There is only the dirge of insects who do not mourn a human’s passing, and the earth continues to be as it was.

Lyrics

The Approaching of Atonement

Fields of gold sway like waves of the ocean.
Gentle chimes echo through the air,
Their dancing melodies swing with the wind.
A unison of wonder from the heavens.
Surface level beauty apparent to common eyes,
But underneath are my memories.
Below the golden breeze,
A piece of me remains cold and still…
Placed there as a result of my own negligence.
I caused us all so much grief
And the guilt consumes me still.
I left this place,
But you…stayed.
The further from you I get,
The more your face is clouded.
I can’t see you,
And I can’t hear your name.
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want you to disappear.
I need to return.
I need to see you again.

Silvered Shadows

Coin of pure gold
In green oceans,
Or a setting sun
Sinking into
Open hands?
Tucked away there –
Where I’ve hid all my treasures.
One hidden note
In the loose earth
with a map to the things that I’ve found…
Drawn by hand.
Tied together
With cloth torn from her apron

O, crack in a mirror!
A penumbra blinding!
Pulled back to what was!
And Weakness in clouded eyes!

Torn from
The dirt.
The willow tree
I once knew.

Brother!
Sister!
Mother!
Father!

Nights are getting longer now.
In time I’ll be too old.

Now, nothing is familiar!
The shadow is blinding!
This face, and these hands –
Dead trees and dead soil.

I pulled the golden cornsilk from my hair.
Hand made curtains drew me home.
I am a silvered shadow of old air.
Where I lived now overgrown.

Torn from
The dirt.
The man that I was.

Faded thought!
Lost my name
To your ghost!

I pulled the golden cornsilk from my hair.
Hand made curtains drew me home.
I am a silvered shadow of old air,
Where I lived now overgrown.

Apparitions in Candlelight

There, a small chair in the dust
On its side with splintered legs.
Cracks in a mirror
Across from old portraits.
There, a table that I carved into.
Secret note below laid to bare.
I believed what was written –
“I am invisible”

“Light the candle in the middle of the room.
Burn your bridges to a past that has been lost”

The shadows in the room have grown taller.
I’ve been here too long.
Blinded by greed for a past I don’t own –
Crater in the carpet
Where I once dropped the match.
I speak to shadows.
My shadow….
Myself ……
Longing for this room
To be crowded again.
How can I feel what is gone?

Can I be replaced with love?
Kiss away my wooden bones.

I am a pilgrim,
And Oh, I am lost.
The past that I loved
Has been molded and mossed.
A ghost in the window
A ghost on the lawn.
And Oh, how I miss it,
When certainty won.

Arms of the earth lay bare on the ground!
Through broken windows, the cicadas sound!

Light the candle in the middle of the room!
Burn your Bridges to a past that has been lost!
On a bed made out of broken matchsticks and moss….
Light the candle in the middle of the room!

Dissever

(Instrumental)

Lavender Calligraphy

O, Lavender Calligraphy,
You who exist behind every letter!
A faint voice, if I listen…
What was your name again?

Here’s the flower I picked,
“I’m sorry”
That I pressed in the pages before.
“O, god, those weren’t the things that I meant”
Filled with prayers that she made,
“Resentment”
That I locked away deep in the drawer.
“It was you who said that I’d be dead”

Oh she made her mistakes!
Silhouette of a phantom I know.

“Son, you know that you’re going to hell”
Distant voice of a girl who once ran from her father.
Looking back now I know, it was fear.
Loss again –
An explosion
A match.
I live on that day.
I live in that room.
Folding quilts and avoiding her eyes
Dead regret!
Chitin shell underground.

Inside the dresser
That was there far before I could stand,
Your molded letter
Folded there in a drawer left unsent.
“I love you forever,
I like you for always
For as long as you’re with me.”
What was your name again?

The Blinding Threshold

I am transformed.
A shapeless artifact of myself long gone.
There are fragments in my mind of who I once was,
But the memories are obscured by regrets…
by apologies I’ll never have the chance to make.

My eyes no longer see them…
faces and shadows of those who have gone from my view.
The weight of all I have seen blurs my vision.

These eyes are not my own.
I don’t see myself in the mirror.
I do not recognize this image.
Past or present.

These eyes can’t be my own.
I can’t see myself in the mirror.
I cannot recognize this image.
Past or present.

Compost Grave-Song

At the back of the house by the compost
Is the plot where my brother lies dead.
“He got lost”
That’s what I told them,
And I’m mocked by the stone on his head.

How could I have known it would be like this?
It was a mistake!

Moss on the carving
Covers your name.
Return to the dirt….
My memories….
Fading…..
And I am to blame.

I left you in the dirt that day.
How can I stand by your bed?

I am a fragment of stone that was broken.
Oh, your mind..
Still alive in the trees.
Washed away,
My mind is distilled
into the purest form of grief.
Show me your face, my brother forgotten.
Let me go.
Let me recall.
Six feet below…
five decades away.
You are gone but somehow I stay.

Place upon me your blanket of soil.

Dead branches above,
A chasm beneath me.
My regret fades to thoughts I can’t place

My mind aches to join you.
Bring me rest.

Cellar of Ghosts

In the cellar
Underneath the stairs…
Sips of wine stole
When I was young –
Candlelight ghost stories.

Every time that I climbed the stairs –
Sun pouring on flour like fireflies…
Dust-settling room!
Dust set upon my eyes!

I never knew the pain in your hands.
I took for granted the days that I saw you.

What does it mean to be standing here…
To breathe in your ghosts again….
I can’t release this

Come away with me
I know…
I know…
All the hours that
I have spent alone.
Come away with me
I know…
I know…
I am bound by my past.
I should have known!

“I’ll make things right”

Misted face in the mirror, I’ll become your host.
Growing shade of a past I can no longer know.

What does it mean to lose my own name
To thoughts that have left me alone?
I can’t release this!

I’ll stay awake until I am dead!
A shadowsong of memories bled.
A cracking floor,
My old creaking bones.
I’ve lost my life to things I don’t own.

This is all I knew…I ran.
Dead men don’t come home…I’ll rest.

Glass Phantoms

Say you’re ashamed again!
Spit the words out!
This hatred I cannot place
Tears at my throat!
Stone in his hand
As he sobbed on the dirt.
Broken glass memories
Spread on the ground.

I stood upon the porch
that you brought into being with your hands.
Evident memories….
I will not stand for this.
Slave to anger,
Just a shell of a man!
Eat your words, you dying coward!
I don’t deserve this! Let me come home!

Let me come home!

Give me back my mind!
Spare me from this!

Oh, tell my father his bastard son
Has come unto the place of his birth
To take his claim!

Shattered glass in the light!
Apparition of thought in my mind!
Clarity caught in my throat!
Oh, It hurts to know!

O, curse of my eyes –
To see what is gone.

O, curse of the hands –
Never come back!
To cling to the past.

Let me come home!

A Vagabond’s Lament

For a shadow to be cast,
There a man must stand.
But on the pulled up floors
Of my childhood
Below me –
A sunbleached love of the past!

Shades pulled from the bones of my old home.
Torn from the flesh of me!

I never owned this.
Plaster and frame be damned!

Curtain, Candle, and Letter.
Compost, Cellar, and Stone.

Beyond The Passage of Embers

Take me home,
Flame on the floor.
Tell them that I’m home,
Light on the door.
Dancing shadows of me.
Take me home,
Fire.

Roof, open wide.
Eyes to the stars…
The sky.
Attic, come down.
Rest on the ground…
Alight.

My empty hand
An eclipse.

No need to wake again.
I’ll never leave.

Swallow each thought I am!
Oubliette, forget me
Down in the cellar.
Dirge sung in embers
To the cracking of dry bones.
Rise from these ashen walls!
Our censer!

Washed out with the flame.

I will be found in the morning,
And no one will know who I am.

Mind, rise with the smoke!
I’m asking for forgiveness!
I’m being selfish again…
But what else do I know?
As a curling silhouette
I can finally let go.
I can finally let go.

I have made my return
To the place of my earliest memory.
The consequences of my absence are clear.
This place I once called home has gone from me.
Were it not for my existence,
And the remnants of my frail memory,
This tired world of mine would be lost.
Though…
Everything is different.
The animals don’t come here anymore.
The ground has moved,
And the arms of the earth have fallen.
The windows peering through the overgrowth
Seem to face a different direction now.
Even the cicadas sound different.
I cannot fathom how,
But everything has changed.

This is not my home.

Recording Process

Liminal Rite was recorded between 2019 and 2021 while we were all stuck at home during the pandemic. Thanks to the accessibility of modern recording, we each spent time demoing and writing our parts of this album.

Like always, Nico began writing melodies, riffs, and musical passages well before the previous album was even completed (Mixing/Mastering) and as those germs of ideas were developed, he would show them to the rest of the band and the Enlisted Travelers in hopes of their criticisms and approvals. Like always, this helped him confirm or deny the direction of the album and the key moments that would be preserved throughout. Much of this album was written on his Twitch stream with the fans and community.

Gear

  • Hardware
    • Custom Built PC
    • Focusrite 18i20
    • Yamaha HS8
  • Vocals
    • Rode NT1
    • Neumann U67 Tube Condenser Microphone
  • Guitars
    • Ibanez Prestige Uppercut RGD7UCS 7 String Guitar
    • TItan X pickups
    • Fractal Axe FX Ultra
    • Elixir Strings
  • Bass
    • Ibanez SR505 5 string bass
    • DI box
    • Elixir Strings
  • Drums
    • Toontrack Superior Drummer 3
  • Software
    • Propellerhead Reason DAW
    • Reaper DAW
    • Neural DSP Nolly Bass Plugin

Production

Miah Lajuenese and Ryan Williams

Artwork Process

Deciding on a concept for this album’s artwork was a challenge because we knew from the start that we should have a portrait of The Lost Man and that it should be hand painted. We initially asked Karl E. if he was capable of painting a portrait and he suggested we work with his friend, Faith.

Faith wasn’t easy to contact at first and Nico had to eventually leave a comment directing her to her DM’s to begin discussing the commission, but in the end, she was incredible to work with. Very professional, very skilled, and very considerate. She took many progress shots for us to ensure that she was headed in the right direction.

Final Compositions, Fully Scanned

Designing the Layout

Once Nico received the digital copies of the paintings, he began working on the layout for the CD and Vinyl artworks. One of the biggest challenges in this way was using three images across three formats with eleven panels. (CD cover, CD booklet, CD disk, CD back, lyrics page, ETP dedication page, vinyl cover, vinyl back, vinyl booklet, vinyl disc, digital album)

Luckily, about six months prior, Nico had worked with Raul Esquivel to create a new logo, font, color scheme, and twitch layout that would inform the design of the record and it’s various formats.

Acclaim

“…emotion is baked into the band’s sound. It’s the prime mover that everything else here is based on.”

– Wonderbox Metal

Interviews

As a vocalist, you have to sing both death metal roars and those delicate shoegaze melodies. How challenging is that?

Louder Sound

Tell me about the dialogue parts heard in some songs – who and why?

Every Song Sucks

To begin, let’s start with you giving a little bit of background on how you guys have come to be as a band. With the latest additions of Alex and Sean joining as full time members in 2019, how’s the last couple of years have been with them in the fold as well?

Heaviest of Art

Credits

Track 11 – “Beyond The Passage of Embers” Features saxophonist Christoph Clöser (Bohren, Der Club Of Gore)

Track 3 and 10 – Feature pianist, fan, and friend of the band, Christopher Blaney’s accompaniment

All Artwork was painted acrylic on canvas by Faith Veloro

Layout and Designs by Raul Esquivel