May 31, 2024

The debut album from progressive alt-rock band Night Wilds, All That Should Have Been, is both theatrically entertaining and darkly cathartic. It’s an immersive concept album that cloaks autobiography in fantastical fiction. The 17-song rock opera chronicles the story of a boy trapped in a cruel circus desperately performing for a madman ringleader. “For a long time I have been searching the void,” shares Night Wilds’s primary singer-songwriter Seth Micarelli. “This album is about making sense of that journey.”

Seth Micarelli

All That Should Have Been is an album of connection with the self and a homage to the journey we take within. Much like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, along with modern epics by Tool, Radiohead, and even Rage Against The Machine, it blurs the line between entertainment and enlightenment. The record’s thrilling narrative is viscerally enhanced by the project’s strictly analog ethos. No corners were cut on All That Should Have Been—even the string arrangements are real—and the songs feature world-class musicians recorded on vintage recording gear at storied studios in the band’s Seattle hometown.

All That Should Have Been unfolds with cinematic scenery, dramatic turns of events, and literate lyrics teeming with metaphors, and painful realizations. Tucked inside this saga is Seth’s own story of working with the wounded parts and his own personal journey of recovery of the self.

Seth is a lifelong musician, and has played for many years. “Music originally started for me as a way to connect with people, but I didn’t have the self-belief that I alone would be good enough, so I imitated my favorite musicians,” he says. “A few years ago, I realized I would rather be authentic and unliked then performative and loved, and every creative decision I made on this album was based on that realization. That has been so freeing.”

The album commences dramatically with a haunting monologue by a character lashing out at various performers in his show and then focusing on one child for whom this is all overwhelming. As he speaks and yells, a creepy mosaic of musical motifs and sound effects conjure a sick, circus-like atmosphere that sets the album’s ominous tone.

The album’s core emotionality and messaging comes to the foreground on “New Jerusalem,” a wistful and ethereal folk song that swells into a dynamic prog-rock epic, replete with a chorus of heavenly female backup singers and stately strings. Seth wearily sings: Well, there is a wall falling down on me/I don’t remember who I am supposed to be/Cold comfort comes, but I still can’t sleep. The song then builds and builds until the chilling refrain: Stop crying, or I’ll give you a reason to cry/Stop crying, or I’ll give you a reason to cry/Stop crying, or I’ll give you a reason to cry/Stop dying, It’s just so hard on my eyes/Stop. The mournful track comes alive through a powerfully poignant and metaphorical video featuring a young boy lost in a war-torn land where all the players seem to believe there is no war at all.

The symphonic rock-ballad, “City Of Strangers,” represents the cold sweat realization that the album’s central character has been imprisoning his mind based on the experiences of his younger self. The soulful pop-rock tune,“ Long Way From Graceland,” represents a turning point of surrender—it’s a prayer asking God to meet him where he is, far from grace. From these transformative moments comes acceptance in the form of the Springsteen-esque folk-rock song, “Just A Moment More.” Seth’s opening lines on this song are raw and emotive, he sings: Right in front of me/There’s a boy I’ll never be/He is wide open and free/And he can cry.

The album was tracked at Robert Lang Studios (Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Foo Fighters), London Bridge Studios (Pearl Jam, Temple of The Dog, Mother Love Bone), and Electrokitty Studios (U2, Dave Matthews, Kendrick Lamar). The sessions boasted an audiophile’s dream of vintage gear, and exceptional contributions from producer Tom Hall , and longtime Heart drummer Ben Smith.

Seth says: “In writing this record, I wasn’t thinking how the album would be received, and no matter what happens, I am proud to have created a record that is truly authentic.”

All That Should Have Been is a deeply personal album with a message of hope and a belief that we first must venture into the darkest caves to emerge who we really are