Empty Country have announced the release of Empty Country II through Tough Love Records on 3 November. Previous single “Pearl” sets the scene for an album that presents Joe D’Agostino’s vision of the American Dystopia, and new single “Erlking” widens the lens on this mythological allegory for modern society’s ills. He explains:
“‘Erlking’ takes its name from ‘Erlkönig’ Goethe’s famous poem depicting the death of a child stalked by a supernatural being. Though I wrote this song on the day of the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, the “20 kids” referenced are the Sandy Hook children. In the parallel version of the American dystopia I depict in Empty Country II, Erlkings are ultraterrestrial demons that stalk the innocent and infect the minds of men. These entities’ lives span eons. To them, the whole of our country’s pernicious history is as brief as a Chopin prelude or a TV jingle. One short verse/ 13 Bars/ The force of 50 collapsing stars.”
That’s a lot of information to pack into the economical three and a half minutes of “Erlking”, but in his breathless, poetic style D’Agostino manages to lay out a myriad of ideas – and throw in a guitar solo to boot. As we rattle through this undulating rocker, he points out signs of the apocalypse along the way – “masks shattered / scorched lawns / the end times end / we all sing along” he announces in the anthemic chorus. “We’re all well and truly fucked, my dear,” he confesses at one point, but there is a sense of fearful relinquishing to the inevitable as the song reaches its devastating climax: “No shelter, no shade / It could have been any other way / And it’s a little late to be afraid”.
Watch the video for “Erlking” below or find the song on streamers.