The first time I spoke to Everfrost was back in March of 2018, and I’ve slowly been growing more interested in their music and their world ever since. One of the things that I learned in that interview was that the story from their debut album, Blue Eyed Emotion, was considered to be a bit cryptic, as Benjamin “Benji” Connelly had written it largely on his own and didn’t want to get too personal. As a result of this, as well as the sheer size of the concept, it’s pretty hard to grasp the story from the album.
Now, a few years have passed and their upcoming sophomore album is due out later this year. As such, Benji and I got together to do Musicalypse’s second Unleashed feature, this time about Everfrost and the story behind Blue Eyed Emotion!
The story from Blue Eyed Emotion was first conceived back in Connelly’s high school days, when he was heavily into anime and spending a lot of time drawing. This led to the creation of original characters and a concept involving them overcoming various unfortunate circumstances. One of these characters was intentionally meant to be an outcast who had something about them that would bring everyone together after creating a threat to the lives of everyone.
Connelly had always been intrigued by non-sapient threats, like Majora’s Mask from the Legend of Zelda, so the idea of an antagonistic element came into play. An object can cause a lot of damage, yet can’t feel remorse or show judgment because it lacks sentience. He then had a dream of a cursed tower, which was the inspiration for the “Three-Tier Terror.”
Before we introduce the story, here is the cast of Blue Eyed Emotion.
Asta & Joakim Andersson: A young married couple in their late 20s living in a forest house with their adopted son, Tibbie. Asta is a barista and Joakim is a dog-walker.
Tibbie Andersson: A 16-year-old boy who was in a coma from age 5-12, after getting hit in the head with a shoe while in a park with his birth parents. Not long after he went into a coma, his birth parents disappeared, and the hospital was paid by an unknown benefactor to keep him alive. Upon awaking, he was adopted by Asta and Joakim. Due to having missed 7 years of childhood, he has a more juvenile personality than others his age, and is heavily bullied for it. Since he has no friends, he is very attached to Asta and Joakim.
Casey-Rose Marshall: A quiet, distant girl in Tibbie’s year at school who avoids making friends. This is because her elder brother is overly protective of her and has forbidden her from getting close to others. However, something about Tibbie piques her interest, so for the first time she starts disobeying her brother’s wishes.
Zolberg Marshall: Casey-Rose’s brother, a recluse who avoids the outside world and is very possessive of his sister. He covers his mouth with bandages all the time.
Whether or not this story takes place in the real world is unclear. Everfrost is a walled-off area in a remote, heavily-forested region, with a town in its center. The citizens are strictly prohibited from leaving Everfrost because of a nuclear-scale disaster that happened in a nearby area.
The setting was inspired by Russian and American secret cities during the Cold War era, when citizens were moved to hidden towns and declared dead or missing so they could research and manufacture atomic weapons. The village of Everfrost has been around for several generations at this point though, so their history is unknown to the present-day characters.
You know the backstory now, so let’s get into the songs themselves!
1. The Lonesome Prince
The first character the listener is introduced to is Joakim. When he was young, he and his unnamed best friend used to go exploring in the woods together. One day, his friend told him about a magical place that he found outside the walls that could be seen from a cliff in Everfrost. The two of them made their way to the cliff, but were approached by two hooded figures, and Joakim was restrained. He woke up later in a hospital and was told that his friend had fallen from the cliff.
The lyrics of the song are about the relationship between Joakim and his his deceased friend. Joakim was never able to move on from his friend’s death, and frequently goes out to the graveyard with a sleeping bag, so he can sleep next to his friend’s grave. In the afterlife, his friend tries to give him comfort and help him to move on. Ever since, Joakim has been suspicious of Everfrost.
The cover art also references this story, where you see two figures pushing a third off a cliff.
2. Arctic Scream
Though Casey-Rose keeps her distance, she is drawn to Tibbie. When she comes across Tibbie crouched in the snow with stones and bottles being flung in his direction, she tries to chase them off. Zolberg sees this from behind a wall.
The lyrics are centered around Zolberg, and his immaturity and hatred regarding Casey-Rose’s budding friendship with Tibbie. Zolberg has a haunted past that is first alluded to in this song.
3. Back to the Light
The Andersson family now lives in Asta’s childhood home, which she has painstakingly rebuilt following an accident in her youth, when she accidentally burned the house down while her family was out. Asta has always felt incredibly guilty about this, and struggled with a lot of self-hatred.
The lyrics speak of how Asta met and fell in love with Joakim, and towards the end it is hinted that she has seen him sleeping in the graveyard, even though it should be behind locked gates: “Far past phantom mires / Stuck in slumber-stirring stone / You told me that the gates lock / After midnight / But you’re there lamenting alone.”
4. The Glades and the Cradle
This song is a little interlude from the story and actually refers to the Scottish folk tale, Tam Lin, rather than the Everfrost universe.
5. Silver Nights, Golden Dreams
Tibbie is in despair over the constant bullying and attacks, as well as the social isolation. He draws pictures and escapes from the torment into fantasies and dreams. Though he often thinks of suicide, he has never done it. However, one day his body is found lifeless, hanging from a rope in his room.
The lyrics talk about Tibbie’s struggle with having lost so many years of his childhood, and how he doesn’t fit in with people in his age group because he never had the opportunity to experience the things they did and grow up in the same way.
Obviously, Asta, Joakim, and Casey-Rose are devastated and confused by Tibbie’s death. Joakim looks at the pictures Tibbie had been drawing, and the shapes trigger memories of the day his friend had “fallen” from the cliff after having shown him a strange tower. Joakim’s suspicions begin to grow, and he and the other two begin investigating what it all means.
As can be seen in the artwork for “Back to the Light”, and more prominently in the video for “Clockwork Wilderness” (below), Joakim had seen a “white-haired guy” speaking to Tibbie. When they returned home, Tibbie had killed himself, so Joakim wonders if he had something to do with Tibbie’s suicide. After hearing about this, Casey-Rose realizes that Zolberg had been to talk to Tibbie.
Now it is time to reveal the past: when Zolberg was much younger, he found a way into the forest outside of Everfrost, and came across the same strange tower in the woods that Joakim and his friend had seen. On returning home, he told his mother what he had seen and she grew panicked and started saying, “No, not that place! No!” over and over, before cutting her own throat with a kitchen knife. Zolberg was deeply traumatized by this, and has kept his mouth bandaged closed ever since, avoiding contact with anyone but his sister. However, seeing Casey-Rose befriend Tibbie overwhelmed him with jealousy, and so he told Tibbie about the tower in the woods in the hopes that Tibbie might kill himself as well.
Casey-Rose manages to make Zolberg confess what he had done by threatening to kill herself and leave him alone forever.
7. Clockwork Wilderness
The lyrics in both “Hemlock” and “Clockwork Wilderness” both revolve around the anger and hatred the Anderssons and Casey-Rose feel towards Zolberg for what he has done.
8. Caress the Emptiness
The group decides to find the tower for themselves to figure out what really happened to Tibbie. Casey-Rose forces Zolberg to tell them the secret route outside the walls, and he relents. Casey-Rose, Joakim, and Asta then travel through a tunnel that leads them outside Everfrost’s walls.
The lyrics revolve around the feelings of emptiness they have as they travel through the tunnels, and eventually reach the tower in the woods, where Tibbie’s ghost awaits them: “Walking the halls beneath a dead man’s grave / Facing the curse with a pale complexion / Save your kin from the knight’s last nail / Open your eyes to a ghost’s reflection.”
9. Three Tier Terror
They make their way to the location Zolberg had given them, to the three-tiered structure outside of Everfrost. When they arrive, they find an unresponsive Tibbie standing at the tower in his pajamas. They bring him away, and he snaps to attention, a bit dazed, with no memories of the time since his suicide. Though the four of them return home happily, they have all see the tower and now suffer from the same curse as Zolberg.
It is implied that, because this curse is a secret but not forgotten, that there are some people in Everfrost who make sure that the tower remains secret. This is why Joakim’s friend was killed – to protect Joakim and the town from the curse.
So, we’re left with a fair number of unanswered questions! What is the tower? How was it made and how did it get there? What is its purpose? And what will happen to the characters now that they all bear the curse? The story is just beginning, so stay tuned for Winterider, coming out hopefully in May 2019. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wait!
Text: Amy W. & Benji Connelly | Story & Images: Benji Connelly, Michiru Bokido