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Unreal Unearth: behind the lyrics of the new Hozier Album

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

The Irish singer-songwriter Hozier released his third album Unreal Unearth on August 18th. Inspired by literature, this album discusses Dante’s Inferno. Through the lyrics, Hozier guides the listener through Dante’s exploration of the nine circles of Hell as he embarks on a quest to find his deceased beloved.

Unreal Unearth was developed at the beginning of the pandemic, the world situation plus Dante’s Inferno inspiration created the meaning of the album. In an interview for Rolling Stone AU/NZ, the singer said: This piece of literature is about a man who finds himself in new uncertain and dark circumstances and walks his way through this path, through these things, and I felt that to be a fun and interesting device for nodding to the reality of passing through something. It felt wrong not to acknowledge in some way the reality that certainly I had in the period that these songs were born in.

Understanding the album

The album has 16 tracks and the sonority is quite similar to a movie soundtrack. Hozier goes through different genres and feelings for 1 hour and 2 minutes. The tracks complement each other, going through one genre to another, all tied up by his lyrics. It sounds like pure poetry. 

De Selby (Part 1)” is the opening act, which starts with a calming acoustic guitar. The lyrics explore the darkness in a connection context, the connection with yourself, with others, and with time and space. The singer took inspiration from “De Selby” from Flann O’Brien’s novel The Third Policeman. At the end of the song, Hozier sings in Irish which makes the listener feel like they are entering something, maybe hell. “De Selby (Part 2)” follows the same message but in a different genre, the song is way more electro-pop than 1.

The tragedy between Francesca and Paolo

Francesca” was the first single of Unreal Unearth, and it is the third track. The song is based on the story of Francesa from Inferno, the lyrics dig into love. Francesca was killed by her husband, Giovanni, because she had another lover, Paolo. In the song, Hozier beautifully describes the way, even in hell, she doesn’t regret dying for him. Proof of how strong their relationship is, way more than something just physical.

A bit of Greek mythology

The next track we are going to jump in is “I, Carrion (Icarian)“, inspired by Icarus’ story. Before analyzing, let’s take a quick reminder of the myth, that Icarus and his father have escaped imprisonment and made wax wings to get out. Icarus flew too close to the sun in admiration for it, causing his wings to melt. He crashed into the sea and died, as his father had no choice but to continue.

Hozier connects the fact that Icarus has flown to his death to himself to a lover, the experience of flying and love is all-consuming and worth it, no matter the consequences.

And though I burn, how could I fall?/ When I am lifted by everything you say to me.

I, Carrion (Icarian)

According to the singer, “Eat your young” is a taste of the 9 Circles of Hell, specifically the 3rd Circle, Gluttony. The lyrics show how power can move people, it is a criticism about how the rich and powerful consume the world’s resources at the expense of future generations while leaving those who are left behind scrambling for the scraps.

The circle of Wrath is shown in “Who we are“. The lyrics discuss loss, sacrifice, and self-discovery.  The first verse enlightens that love is only appreciated when it is lost. The song explores the struggle to define oneself, and the realization that knowing who we indeed are can be challenging yet essential for personal growth.


There is so much to unpack in this album the whole thing is just devestating #hozier #unrealunearth #whoweare #newmusic #album

♬ Who We Are – Hozier

The end of the relationship is portrayed in “All Things End“, the track also takes up the theme of heresy, while the singer implies that the listener doesn’t believe them. In a certain part of the song, a choral backing vocals starts to sing with Hozier, it reminds a lot of Catholic chorals, making a point with the heresy and bringing a religious side to the song.

The end

The last track of the album, “First Light“, was chosen to close. It represents the end of Dante’s journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. In an interview for the Independent, Hozier said that with this song he discovered that even hell has a way out, he called it a song of “reconciliation”.

Yeah, yeah, like I lived my whole life

Before the first light

(Some bright morning comes).

First Light


The article above was edited bBeatriz Gatz.
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Malu Alcântara

Casper Libero '26

I’m Malu, a journalism student at Casper Libero, still learning the art of writing.