"Umber Tower"
Song by Hungry Lights
from the album The Awry Ascent
October 11, 2015
The Awry Ascent track listing
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A Drunken Stalemate The Nimloks

"Umber Tower" is track six on the Hungry Lights studio album "The Awry Ascent." Remember that this is a summary, not the entire story! It is like 10% of what is actually going on—just the skeleton. It is a rough translation of what is literally going on in the lyrics. There is also a figurative story that is taking place at the same time which goes much deeper and does not involve the fictional character Prill, but that is up to you to find :) It is much easier to discover the hidden meaning when you grasp a decent understanding of the literal meaning first. These are your puzzle pieces, and I highly suggest you study them before pursuing the next albums in the sequence, otherwise emotion and information will be lost, therefore connections will be missed!


When it comes to the literal story, "Umber Tower" is the most ambiguous track on the entire album. It is very unclear what is going on here because there is so much figurative stream of consciousness taking place, and it is mixed in with the literal storytelling. This can be frustrating. According to the lore, the actual Umber Tower is a giant lighthouse/turbine/observatory which a mysterious, ancient mystic named "Flinter" lives at the top of. While the lyrics are only a rough translation of the story, it is safe to assume that during A Drunken Stalemate, Bilac gave Prill some information that led him to this tower and to Flinter.

The scene takes place in an earthy catacomb underneath Umber Tower, and Prill seems to be in a state of arrogance. He is interpreting something that he feels inside of himself, and it is making him uncertain and anxious—distracted, but he deems that he is okay, and that he knows this for a fact because he has never been wrong. Then the wind changes, and it is unclear if the wind literally changed directions for some reason, or if Prill suddenly feels hesitant about his quest and "muffles his roar." A lion is usually a symbol of courage, so it would be logical that Prill is having doubts about everything, especially considering that the chorus is blatantly saying that Umber Tower leaves a sour taste on his tongue, and that he is afraid.

Prill brings up the mask again, then presumably rushes underneath Umber Tower and is harassed by many somethings, but he can only see their shadows. These things continue to mess with him, then Prill states that his own shadow (most likely figurative) is " a faceless no one." This might be code for the entire cavern going dark, Prill going numb, or (knowing Justin) both.

After the lights are gone, Prill is emotionally torn apart. The context indicates that something is internally brought to his awareness—internally because Justin makes a point to mention "still, all around was calm." Whatever is happening to Prill, it is happening inside of him, not outside. It makes him very angry, but these things continue to pester him—barraging him with a question until he finally gives in and answers it. The question itself is not in the official lyrics, however if you listen to what Justin is saying in the background of the bridge after "Just a question had they asked," it sounds like he says, "Is this who you are inside, or is it who everybody else wants you to be?"

Whatever actually happens during this scene, it is very traumatic for Prill because he then has a major epiphany. He talks about having a void inside himself, and that he borrowed courage from elsewhere in order to temporarily fill it. He then admits to being delusional and arrogant, and he voices that he does not know as much as he thought he did. This is the first time that Prill is being real with himself and his desires, and the truth is obvious—he does not know what he actually wants.

Umber Tower is the halfway point of the album, and knowing Prill as a character so far, he seems to teeter back and forth between thinking extraordinarily high of himself, doubting his abilities completely, and being neutral/indifferent. These are three totally different placements on the spectrum, which makes him somewhat of an unreliable narrator because of his irrational and emotional thought process—this is really important to understand before proceeding further.


An umber tower is quiet and looming before me

And I once used nothingness to fill that void

Then the sky must thrown a gauntlet

To detour me from the center I knew

-And I've never been wrong

The winds had changed beyond your shore

Now a mattered mane that muffles the lion's roar

Such a place would leave a sour, familiar taste upon my tongue

How I trembled at the knees!

Underneath a mask, in the gully I hie

And I sank much deeper than I had prepared for

Tailing shades coalesced and converged on the walls

When I turned, they were nothing!

No, nothing at all!

O' such beguiling was their boisterous game!

My own shadow... now a faceless no one

Such a place would leave a sour, familiar taste upon my tongue

How I trembled at the knees!

At sudden, from inside me

I felt a rapid disassemble

And all around had turned to gloom

Still, all around was calm

And I raised my fist!

But there was no confrontation

Just a question had they asked

And with the comfort, I gave in

An umber tower was quiet and looming before me

So I used its gallantry to fill that void

Truly, I had embraced that delusion and glory

So I guess I don't know what I knew after all

Such a place would leave a sour, familiar taste upon my tongue

How I trembled at the knees!

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