1. The Mean Spirits Breathing: I've always said one of our greatest strengths as a band is the choice of bands we rip off. Musically speaking, in this song specifically I recall channeling Bad Brains, Turning Point, Negative Approach, Nofx and Metallica - though the riff that's reminiscent of the theme from The Munsters was purely accidental (I wish I was clever enough to have actually thought to rip that off).
Sadly, this song was truly given life by the death of our dear friend Danny Bobis, drummer of the Long Island band Cipher (who gave us their blessing to use one of their lyrics to kick the song off). In addition to cursorily commenting on the contemptible people still breathing, this song is also our declaration to Danny, how we would trade 1000 lives for the opportunity to have him back for a mere moment just to say a proper goodbye. Small price to pay, really, and an easy decision to make; we've met well over 1000 shitty people.
Matt Fletcher comments: A celebration of the good who too often are taken from us early while the "vile and the wretched" live on and "befoul the air". We punch you in the guts first with a fast song, some heavy breakdowns, and a Megadeth-y part in the middle.
2. I, Saturnine: Our bass player, Mad Matt Fletcher, put it best by describing the music to this song as "tragic." I once described it as the wretched offspring of Shai Hulud and Dead Hearts after a hatefuck. The combination of said music coupled with the song's lyrics create a dark, moody atmosphere - an unfortunately relatable despondency felt and shared by far too many.
Reconsider your manner to exist amongst this chaos.
Matt Fletcher comments: Originally the intro to the entire album (before we said "screw it" and started punching guts with Spirits). Some of our most depressing lyrics about the nature of humanity over extremely tragic music.
3. Reach Beyond The Sun: Now definitely one of my favorite Shai Hulud songs, right up there with "Misanthropy Pure," and "A Profound Hatred Of Man" (must be something about title tracks), "Reach Beyond The Sun" incorporates a melange of the different elements of underground music we love, and also encapsulates everything we are as a band while further pushing our boundaries.
Lyrically this song is positive in nature, though not blindly optimistic; it acknowledges bleak facts and harsh truths. The proposed solution is simple and realistic: take the first small steps toward change. The infinite awaits. Extend. Outreach.
Matt Fletcher comments: Very metallic, very punk, lots of crew back-ups, very positive, very courageous, and very Muad'dib.
4. A Human Failing: For the longest time, before this song was named, we called it "The Candlemass Song" - though potentially more wishful thinking than similar to Candlemass. A couple of the riffs also sound to me like something that might be found on "Kingdom Of Lost Souls" by Damnation A.D. Musically, in this song we stay focused and forward moving as to not convolute the "catchiness" and appeal inherent in the main riffs, making it a blast to play live.
The subject of "true strength" has come up in a few Shai Hulud songs throughout the years. Without going into great detail, we can confidently confirm "true strength" is not allowing yourself to turn cold. In my experience, the people I've met who play "cool" and keep aloof can't survive without a deep support system. They think this makes them "strong." More often than not, they are the weakest, most genuinely frail people I come across. It's truly a cold world. Keep yourself warm.
Matt Fletcher comments: A comment on apathy and heartlessness, and a huge nod to Damnation A.D.'s Kingdom Of Lost Souls. Some of my fondest memories of writing lyrics for the album, particularly this song, in the van on tour with everyone attempting to contribute lines and rhythms.
5. Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With The Pain Of Living: This may be one of Shai Hulud's most unique songs given the snare being on the downbeat for all the verses, and a large portion of the choruses. Additionally, some of the guitar notes and choices are intentionally jarring, which to me makes this song a standout track - and if you think the chorus could be the soundtrack to a haunted house, you're not alone. This song definitely has a distinct flavor that's sure to polarize, kind of like Indian food (which I love), but the stomp part is pretty undeniable.
I tried to attach the latter half of this song title to a few different songs on "Reach Beyond The Sun." First and foremost, I was determined to nod to Fishbone, making sense came second. We got pretty lucky, stumbling on to what the song would be about. All I knew was it was going to be about demons - exactly what about demons, who knew… certainly not me.
When the theme of people turning into demons started coming together, adding the tail end of the song title congealed everything, solidifying the concept, and the remainder of the lyrics flowed in much easier. Not only were we able to nod to Fishbone, we also snuck in a reference to an older Hulud song, and an homage to the original Clash Of The Titans. I love doing that kind of shit.
Matt Fletcher comments: Possibly my favorite title for a Shai Hulud song ever, a metallic fast song with
crushing drops and a snake-charming lead.
6. Medicine To The Dead: If I had to pick a song on the album with the distinction of having the sound most people associate with Shai Hulud, it would be "Medicine To The Dead," no question. Fast and melodic, Shai Hulud's roots. We'll never forget them.
This song is our spin on the famous quote by Thomas Paine (Google the song title), sandwiched in-between paraphrases of Richard III. Brutal and bleak lyrics essentially stating, in the interest of not mincing words, "We're fucked." Yeah, sometimes I fully believe that. A lot of these words ring pretty true as far as I can see; you can't change those who don't feel they need to be changed, and those people often seem to be furthering all of us headlong into oblivion. There is reason to fear.
Matt Fletcher comments: Some of the music for this song was written over ten years ago, finally good to hear it properly realized. A fast, melodic, hardcore song.
7. To Suffer Fools: I remember sitting down with my guitar to write a "mean" riff. When that's the goal, I always think Negative Approach. That was the mindset: Mean; Negative Approach. After the main riff was written, everything else musically followed easily; it all came together very naturally - you know, one of those "the song wrote itself situations." Aside from the part we call "Evil Spaghetti," everything stayed dark, hard, heavy, and groove laden. Short, to the point, no fucking around, yet keeping it unpredictable - different than what you might hear from other bands playing this style.
Musically speaking, there was some discussion as to whether or not Shai Hulud could "get away with this." My stance from the outset was a resounding "YES." The song ended up being everything I wanted it to be. It's a great change of feel and pace on the album. Add uncompromising lyrics about how we all wish we could deal with foolish people from time to time, and "To Suffer Fools" definitely ranks as one of my favorites on the record. Clash, and clash hard.
Matt Fletcher comments: The meanest song on the record, spiteful and vicious lyrics over gangsta music. As a movie, this one is Full Metal Jacket. Does that make sense?
8. Think The Adder Benign: This is one of our drummer's favorites. I agree with him, namely, Matt Covey, when he says this song is "one memorable riff after another." It's progressively structured yet still an easy listen, culminating in what may be one of, if not the heaviest part on the record, appropriately named "Hulk Smash" - it probably should be called "Chad Smash" as I think this is the most harsh and pissed he sounds on the entire album. Stomp or be stomped.
Lyrically, this song means to question the perceptions of optimism and pessimism, and bridge the gap between the two with a keen sense of reality. You know, truth.
Progressive? I don't know, but it's definitely big and melodic, and the outro sounds like a trip through the storming apocalypse
9. Monumental Graves: If I remember correctly, the music to this song was written shortly after our second album "That Within Blood Ill-tempered" was recorded. That's quite some time ago. This is a song I guess you could say I took for granted - having never really paid much mind to it throughout the years. When working out what songs would make it on to "Reach Beyond The Sun" I revisited this one, and after about 15 seconds of playing it my roommate excitedly stuck his head into my room, declaring how awesome whatever I was playing was. That worked for me. Sold.
Originally titled "Misunderstandings, And You The Misunderstood," the lyrical content was coming along slowly. This song took on an entirely new lyrical direction when the phrase "Monumental hearts mean little more than monumental graves" materialized. This song directly deals with the matter of "true strength," and how those who are truly strong, filled with immeasurable understanding and compassion, are often taken down with haste, and in malice. Human history will corroborate this claim.
Matt Fletcher comments: I played this one for the jazz/blues/classic rock- listening cook at my job (a detention center for youth offenders), a guy that would be like your cool uncle that plays a Les Paul. He folded his tattooed arms and furrowed his brow, and commented something along the lines of "majestic pomp". He likes some Metallica and Slayer, so I think he thought it was cool.
10. If A Mountain Be My Obstacle: We were really proud of this one when we wrote it back around 2005; heavy and melodic, technically and structurally sound, complete with a nice groove. It would have been included on "Misanthropy Pure" but it was just too darn positive. Golly. Within the context of "Reach Beyond The Sun," however, it fits perfectly, musically and lyrically - a song about personal triumph based on sheer will alone, a mere man pit against the mass, height, and majesty of a mountain.
Matt Fletcher comments: The most metal track on the album; it crushes mountains. Our original demo for Metal Blade leaked over the internet, and a lot of people were really expecting this on Ms. Pure. Well, here it is, folks, a few years late. Plow hard.
11. At Least A Plausible Case For Pessimism: The idea for this song had been kicking around for a few years; we toyed with some of these riffs a bit before ever committing them to a solid structure. At one point, a very early version of the beginning of this song was slated to open our follow up to "That Within Blood Ill-tempered" prior to deciding on that next record's themes or title; we hadn't thought of "Misanthropy Pure" yet.
I'm glad we waited. All the consideration we gave this song seemed to work in its favor: the title is one of my favorites, the lyrics, regarding the thoughts and feelings of an intelligent, perceptive, and introspective woman, carry an earnest emotional weight, and the music lends itself to closing out an album with the right amount musical grit and emotive passion. There is a lot to sink into here; the musical atmosphere is full and expansive, and lyrically, it's almost as if one can feel the inner turmoil of the song's subject - the conflict between her heart and mind, a familiar conflict that any of us, male or female, who have ever self-reflected for even a moment canrelate to. The sum of the song's final thoughts are both harsh and triumphant; after the pain of true soul searching, ultimately this woman stands collected and strong, unaffected by the thoughtlessness she finds herself immersed in. Like I have always thought, if you want to see true strength, you'll look towards a woman.
Matt Fletcher comments: Ballads for us still have heavy guitars and screamed vocals. It's not really aballad, but it is my favorite song on the album. An extremely "Hulud" song, dark, sad, emotional.
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