Hozier rises from his slumber with “Eat Your Young”

Illustration+by+Rachel+Choi

Rachel Choi

Illustration by Rachel Choi

By Rachel Choi, Illustrations/Graphics Editor & Chief Copyeditor & Social Media Manager

Hozier awoke from the Irish wastelands with a fiery bang after dipping his toes into the nine circles of hell with his new EP “Eat Your Young.”

The EP, released March 17, consists of three tracks: ”Eat Your Young,” “All Things End,” and “Through Me (The Flood).” They provide a taste of his coming album, “Unreal Unearth,” to be released later this year. 

Hozier, known for his religious and literary themed lyrics and soul, folk, blues genre music, came back with full force. Hozier’s new music is inspired by 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” particularly the first part of the epic poem “Inferno.” The songs are arranged to use the nine rings of hell depicted in “Inferno” to explore current-day issues shaping society. 

The first track, “Eat Your Young,” is a pop-soul, alternative-indie banger that kicks off the EP with a bone-shaking beat, haunting vocal throughline, and orchestral string build-up that launches into the lyrics with a piano glissando. The song explores the third circle of Dante’s hell—gluttony—and the writing showcases this with disturbingly sensual and graphic words: “I’m starvin’, darlin’ / let me put my lips to something / let me wrap my teeth around the world.” 

The chorus reveals the specific criticism “Eat Your Young” is making—capitalism, and the greed of the powerful within society. It points out their tendencies to leave everyone behind in order to save themselves, and how the youth are sacrificed and corrupted to achieve more power: “Get some / Pull up the ladder when the flood comes / Throw enough rope until the legs have swung / Seven new ways that you can eat your young.” 

The last line of the chorus might also be in reference to Dr. Jonathan Swift’s 1729 satirical essay “A Modest Proposal,” where he suggested that the solution to poverty in Ireland—where Hozier is from—was for impoverished parents to sell their children to the rich.

The second track, “All Things End,” is a soulful R&B cut, with touches of worship music and choral backing vocals that build up throughout. It begins with simple piano chords against Hozier’s melodic singing: “A two tonne weight around my chest feels like / it just dropped a twenty story height,” throwing listeners into a scene where the world has crumbled around them. It’s based on the sixth circle—heresy—and highlights the emotions of a breakup that make one feel like a heretic, going against what they had believed in for such a long time. 

“All Things End” sends a bleak yet hopeful message about life being painful but also worth living through the love that would end up bringing suffering: ”If there was anyone to ever get through this life / with their heart still intact, they didn’t do it right.”

Its chorus highlights the defeated-yet-determined tone. Though everything “we intend is built on sand / slips right through our hands,” “knowing that everything will end / should not change our plans / when we begin again.” These conflicting emotions are especially emphasized in the explosive final chorus, where a choir joins Hozier and shifts the entire mood of the song. “All Things End” turns heresy into something just as holy as the sin itself, a familiar twist in religious symbolism that can be found in many of Hozier’s songs.

The third and final track, “Through Me (The Flood),” dwells on the loss, death, and grief Hozier and many others endured during the pandemic. It’s a blues with familiar sounds to long-time Hozier fans, opening with organ-like, synthesized instrumentals and hums that back Hozier’s singing, more akin to storytelling than singing due to its poetic lyricism: “Picture a man / seen like a speck out from the shore / swimming out beyond the breakers / like he’s done his life before.” His desolate tone feels like one long breath in the best way possible, pulling listeners in like the tides he sings of.

In “Through Me (The Flood),” Hozier repeats the line “I couldn’t measure it,” emphasizing the feeling of grief that’s like “the rising of a wave,” something impossible to fully comprehend at first impact. The chorus, however, moves to something more hopeful, picking up from mellow calmness with drums and chanting voices. The lyrics explain that when struggling against the tides of grief in the face of loss, despair, and even anger, it seems as if one is burning: “Every time I’d burn through the world, I’d see / that the world, it burns through me.” 

However, once you “let go” of that grief, the world would simply “flow through me.” Grief is a back-and-forth battle that can’t be eased by fighting—only by being thrust into the depths of it and learning to flow with its rhythms can someone make it out the other end.

Hozier’s “All Things End” is a thoughtful, soulful, and intelligent commentary on topics many might hesitate to fully delve into. It’s an exciting taster for what’s to come, and invites listeners into Hozier’s personal circles of hell with a tempting, exceptional blend of genres and trademark lyrical prowess.