Battesimo del Fuoco
WARNING: All sourced links contain heavy spoilers for the story. I am presenting these entries in a format so that anyone who isn’t familiar with the story can follow along. I am providing the links to give credit to those who did the work before me, but if you wish to remain spoiler free do not go to these links.
Battesimo del Fuoco, or ‘Baptism of Fire’ as translated from Latin, is the first track of the first act of the six part saga that is The Dear Hunter. The story observes a boy named Hunter, from his birth to his death. Act I: The Lake South, the River North, introduces us with the setting and a few characters of the story. Casey Crescenzo, the artist behind this project, has stated that this introductory track is actually about the events of the fifth act in the story, Hymns with the Devil in Confessional. This song acts as a premonition of sorts to the ‘ending’ of the story. (As of the time of writing, only five acts have been released, and the overarching story as we know has come to a conclusion. Until details of act six are announced, I’m assuming the story ends at act five.) Most of the lyrical analysis on this song will be relatively vague, seeing as it’s mostly foreshadowing, but I will make it a point to reference back to this song whenever those events take place. A decent amount of the story has already been hinted at or explained by Casey, so a lot of the groundwork has been done for me by both him and other fans. I’m using this as a way to compile any information that I can find on these songs, as well as see if I can decipher and new ideas from the music myself. I will also be updating these posts over time, whenever new information is brought up. I want these to be useful to those coming into the band at a later date, and not to become obsolete after Casey drops a massive twist on us.
The story takes place in a setting based on western society around the turn of the twentieth century. The events, characters, and locations are all fictional but draw influence from the time period. The name of the band, like many other themes in this story, is a play on words. The main character’s name is Hunter, and the phrase is referencing his mother using a term of endearment for him.
Into The Lyrics
Believe you me, the price is clear
A child born, the mother near
To death and life, as hand in hand
A failed life exposed the man
Who led her off into the flame
To cast her back to hell again
But, hear you me, the break of dawn
Will wash away the sins thereof
Unto the lake, beyond the tree
The child waits, alone is he
The flame is gone, the fire remains
This song lays a foundation in the story, acting as both a beginning and an end. Hunter is being born, and likely baptized by a character who will be introduced later in the album. The title being a baptism of fire is alluding to the idea that this is not a good circumstance for Hunter to be born into.
The first line foreshadows a majority of Hunter’s life to come. He is constantly dealing with the consequences of his ill thought out actions throughout the acts. ‘To death and life, as hand in hand’ is likely referencing both the third act, Life and Death, which takes place during a war, as well as events in Act V. ‘A failed life exposed the man - Who led her off into the flame - To cast her back to hell again’. These lines outline the events specifically at the end of Act V.
The second stanza is less clear as to what it’s hinting at. Hunter deals with a lot of misfortune and in turn acts pretty negatively himself throughout his life. Casey has stated that Hunter can gain redemption for his actions through unconventional means after Act V, which could explain the first two lines. The Tree borders the Lake, and both are landmarks near Hunters childhood home. He was fascinated by the tree but also in fear of it, and as a boy never was able to pass the tree to the Lake. The child in the last line could be about Hunter, or possibly about another child that is born towards the end of the acts, after going to the Lake and the River during Act V.
The final repeating line, ‘The flame is gone, the fire remains’ is a recurring phrase throughout every act and takes multiple meanings depending on context. Casey has stated that “The Flame” is referring to Ms. Leading, a character introduced in Act II, but that there’s more to it than that.
Into The Music
For this section I’ll be looking at the instrumentation and music theory of the song. The song is entirely a cappella, or vocal without instrument accompaniment. This was probably done in service to being an album opener, as well as to service the story in that it is an abstract song that doesn’t necessarily fit into the chronological narrative yet. Casey layers his voice in a way that expresses that this is an ominous premonition of what is to come. Starting at 0:58, he adds in another layer to the chorus that swells up in volume each line, creating a haunting atmosphere to the later half of the song. As observed by reddit user u/19594TDH, there’s also (spoiler free link) hidden lyrics layered into sections of the song that repeat “Breathe in, breathe out”. This is a reference to two tracks from Act II, The Church and the Dime and The Bitter Suite 3: Embrace.
The song begins in the key of Eb minor. For a majority of the verses, the backing vocals outline the tonic chord, though every other line they finish on the subdominant chord. The ‘refrain’ shifts into the relative major key -F#- outlining a IV - I - V progression. This drastically changes the mood between sections, going from a verse with only minor chords to a chorus with only major chords.
In the spring of 2015, I managed to stumble across a forum where people were suggesting different progressive bands. When I came across The Dear Hunter in this thread, I decided to give Act I a try after a quick youtube search. Hearing the opening of Battesimo del Fuoco, I was immediately impressed by the artistic choice of an opening song with a chorus of vocals. I had almost exclusively listened to heavier styles of music up until then, having just finished a frustrating and angst filled grade school experience. After reading a bit about how each album was an act in the story I was too interested to care about the genre, and dove into listening to the first three acts on repeat for the whole summer. I initially waited on getting into the story, wanting to try and familiarize myself with the near three hours of music that was already released.
After having listened to these acts, as well as the two new ones that have come since, Battesimo still holds a place among my favorite songs from this band. I love the tone it sets for the rest of the story, and I’ll always remember it as the song that introduced me to one of my favorite bands.