Personal Favorites: Sad Albums


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Sadness.  Most people I know cannot stand sad music.  I’ve tried to show some of my favorite albums to past coworkers, only to have them complain about how depressing or sad the music is, even when the lyrics weren’t specifically sad or depressing.  Sad music, to me, is deep music, though.  I really can’t stand overly happy music.  Don’t get me wrong: I love triumphant, uplifting.  I love ethereal music.  I love music that evokes truths and light.  However, music that is happy in an empty way simply depresses me.  Sad music, though, causes me to feel.  There’s just nothing better than identifying and empathizing with the artists; to feel their pain, and to know that they have felt my pain and despair.  Music doesn’t get much deep than that.  Here’s my list.  It is no specific order.

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Memento – “Beginnings”

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You’ve heard me mention Memento’s debut “Beginnings”.  It is not progressive, but it’s content has affected me greatly.  This album is based around the feelings of the artist after his sister was raped.  She then killed herself over not only the pain and depression, but also the judgment of the Christians in her family, including her father and other brother.  This album is an outcry against God and his followers.  The artist compares himself to Jesus Christ as the crown of thorns was crushed into his skull, assuming that Christ felt betrayal and ignorance from his Father.  I could go on and on about the content here.  Obviously, I am a Christian, but I feel every Christian should hear this album and take it to heart.

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Lunatic Soul II

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The whole story of Lunatic Soul is a sad affair; depressing, even.  I honestly should do a spotlight through each album.  However, for my purposes now, I find Lunatic Soul II to be the saddest of the four.  This album doesn’t sound sad, necessarily; and the story isn’t as shocking as, say, “Walking on a Flashlight Beam”.  This album even sounds celestial and ghostly to beautiful effect.  Yet, the last few songs are some of the saddest tracks I’ve ever heard, as the protagonist is forgotten by his loved ones and left to wander everlastingly.

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Pain of Salvation – “Remedy Lane”

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I recently released my spotlight for this Pain of Salvation album, so I hope you are familiar with the story.  This album is absolutely agonizing at times, as the protagonist experiences warped sexual experiences, the loss of a child, and the breakdown of a relationship after that.  Things keep getting worse and worse.  Read my spotlight for more.

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Pineapple Thief – “Little Man”

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The Pineapple Thief and I have a varied relationship.  I often love their music, but the lyrics rarely move me.  “Little Man”, however, is different.  This album is about the loss of a child during pregnancy, and the emotional fallout connects with me on an incredibly personal basis.

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Fates Warning – “Disconnected”

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I did a spotlight on Fates Warning’s “Disconnected”.  I guess I should get it online soon.  Anyways, this album is slightly more depressing than sad, per se, but I included it because the lyrical content really speaks to me because it relates to families, specifically the writer’s relationship with his father as his father is about to die.  If you know me at all, that kind of content connects with me greatly.

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Seventh Wonder – “Mercy Falls”

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This could be one of the saddest albums ever.  Seventh Wonder’s “Mercy Falls” has been on my spotlight list for some time, but the problem is that it is quite over the top while also being incredibly sad.  If you aren’t familiar, it revolves around a man being in a coma after an accident.  His father, son, and wife each come to speak personally with him, and we get to hear his thoughts about all this.  The song with his son is particularly poignant.  The end, however, throws a few twists your way that will keep this album on your mind for weeks.

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Hourglass – “Oblivious to the Obvious”

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Hourglass’ “Oblivious to the Obvious” is a monster double album.  It is very depressing as it examines the mundane life of the protagonist and the emotional abuse that he causes in the lives of his family.  This is some deep, very personal stuff.  The album is not as sad, however, because there is quite the triumphant ending, which makes this a roller coaster rather than a one way ride to hell.

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Hibernal – “The Machine”

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Thinking about Hibernal’s debut album “The Machine” gives me goosebumps.  It’s like watching a train wreck, as the protagonist sells himself and loses all control over himself and his life.  He loses everything to the machine.  Lessons abound in this awesome sci-fi story, but you will feel the emotional weight of this story for a long time.  The excellent voice actors really add to the effect.  I do have a spotlight that I should get online soon.

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Steven Wilson – “Hand.Cannot.Erase.”

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Technically, I connect more with the lyrical content of Steven Wilson’s “Raven”, but “Hand.Cannot.Erase.” is simply sadder.  Songs like “Routine” are incredibly sad, not only because of the loss involved, but also because of the daily grind and the fixation on that pain.  That’s what I feel is the saddest thing about Wilson’s stories: They are so personal, and we get to see the mundane details that we recognize in our own lives.  I think that is why his lyrics speaking to so many people.

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Riverside – “Reality Dream Trilogy”

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Riverside.  Their original Reality Dream Trilogy (cheating, I know) is one long story that has had a personal effect on me.  The story of a struggling relationship is so very real and relatable, but it’s the inner turmoil that is revealed to us that really grabs my heart.  His feelings are often my feelings.  His fears are often my fears.  His darkness is often the darkness that threatens to envelop me.  These albums, then, are not just “favorites”, but life-altering masterworks that transcend even the term “art”.  They are quite simply family.  My spotlights for “Out of Myself” and “Second Life Syndrome” are available on the site.

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Southern Cross- “From Tragedy”

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Another heartbreaker here, Southern Cross’ “From Tragedy” is a look into a life that is falling apart at the seams.  We don’t really get an explanation as to why until the last few songs.  At this point, we get to see a heartrending experience that is the starting point of the storm in the protagonist’s life.  Suddenly, the pain, ruin, and emptiness that fill the album are very understandable and even expected.

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Votum – “Harvest Moon”

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All of Votum’s albums are filled with sadness; however, it is “Harvest Moon” that really cranks up the story to depressing levels.  I also feel like this album completely mastered their ability to add sadness to the music itself, offering sad lyrics and dark music together.  I’m not 100% sure of the story here (Votum albums tend to be complex), but the feelings and atmosphere are undeniable.

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Morph – “Sintrinity”

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Morph’s album “Sintrinity” is an anomaly.  It’s incredibly sad, but almost gleefully so.  The story is one of betrayal and adultery, and a subsequent murder.  The perspective here is about the ruin and pain that all of this creates, and also about the decisions we make every day.  The end, however, is rather hopeful.

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Porcupine Tree – “Deadwing”

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I could have added all the Porcupine Tree albums here, but I didn’t want to do more than one album per band.  “Deadwing”, however, is my favorite of theirs, and the stories therein are all sad in a very human way.  They represent very realistic people and the problems that their “deadwings” cause them.  They just cannot seem to fly and their lives trudge on in pain, brokenness, and despair.  You can read more about it in my spotlight.

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