To Feel A Little Less Alone
Updated: May 15
Empathy Test are equal parts tragedy and triumph. Their sublime melodies and haunting lyrics aptly portray what it means to be human in a world gone mad. They are the Ernest Hemingway of synth music.
Insomnia paves the way for some of the finest sonic discoveries. This is how I happened upon the music of Empathy Test.
Synth has been exploding in popularity over the past decade and I had never been much into the genre until seeing the film "Drive" some years ago. Since then, I found a kind of personal retreat in its sound that has helped me navigate my way through thick and thin as life's rhythm vacillates between periods of tranquility and turbulence. Typically when I embark on a discovery for new music, I am incredibly selective. In short, I want an artist's music to hit me like a freight train; igniting within me a flood of emotion that leaves me feeling something verging on indescribable long after the final notes have resonated. It could be something good, bad, or a mixture of the two - but I want to feel something meaningful... and Empathy Test achieves this with stellar accuracy.
“All of my dreams have flown away…” declares vocalist, Isaac Howlett.
“Demons” was a perfect introduction. The song begins gently enough but soon emits with dark energy that careens into an eerie chorus wherein a heartfelt search for love seemingly invites unintended, even sordid outcomes. It has a slick style that instantly sparks enough intrigue to warrant a further study of the band’s discography. Little did I know what the next track I'd select would deliver...
Few songs exist in the world that hold the power of moving me to tears. Empathy Test is now officially the writer of one such song, “Bare My Soul.” “… to be so alone… to be so alone.”
Those words, sung in the way Isaac sings them at the close of the song’s chorus are nothing short of soul-shattering. Yet, at the same time, they are equally consoling because they remind us that we are, in fact, not as alone as we may believe ourselves to be. Such is the power of Empathy Test’s music.
In all, the band has released thirteen musical works including three full-length albums. Their latest album, “Monsters” is seventeen tracks deep. It kicks off with the taut, sexy percussive rhythm of its title track which bleeds into an evocative marriage of transcendent melodies with chilling and pensive lyrics.
“Baby, I’ve got the monsters again…” It is a song that I can relate to a great deal as a person who has long struggled with depression. For me, it encapsulates the mystery, unpredictability, and soaring depths that comprise the episodic nature of depressive states. For you, it may hold a different meaning; nevertheless, it will likely leave you to find something within yourself that isn't utterly apparent but may be essential in better understanding who you are as a person.
Nearer the end of the album is "Love Moves" - a strikingly potent entry that captures the emotions that surface within you when you meet that one person you feel can take all of the pain you hold inside and silence it with one touch, a simple gaze, or their mere presence. "I don't want anything from you... just a light, to light my way." The song's melancholic atmosphere preserves the fear of what a life without this person would mean... how much their absence from your time here on Earth would burn a hole straight through your soul. While, at the same time, it offers a brand of peacefulness and, perhaps, even the discovery of some personal salvation that allows the listener to simply be okay with being in this moment, which we could greatly benefit from in today's cataclysmic world gone askew.
Throughout, the melancholy is not as it seems though; it is sanguine as Empathy Test is keenly adept at composing music that speaks to the regions of our being that, at times, may feel as though we have missed our cues in life or have been forgotten by the world around us entirely. It makes one feel a little less alone in their existence.
This is what music is supposed to do for us: to make us think, feel, and find some degree of solace in our humanity despite the chaos we find ourselves wading through on a daily basis.
Empathy Test gets that. Truly. Visit empathytest.com. Empathy Test is: Isaac Howlett (vocals/songwriting), non-performing founder member Adam Relf (composition/ production), Christina Lopez (drums), and Oliver Marson (synthesizers).