Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “The Holy Drinker” — Steven Wilson (2013)

The holy drinker and his curse
In constant serfage to unquenchable thirst
And from his stupor the night gives birth
The devil rises from right out of the earth

With shaking hands and blackened heart,
The glass he pours, this time it’s also the last
In rapt communion with himself
The holy drinker is going straight into Hell…

It’s about time we got some more prog representation up in this thing.

So let’s dial the wayback machine all the way to 2013. The all-purpose musical uber-guru Steven Wilson (singer, songwriter, producer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, etc.) releases his album “The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)” with one purpose in mind: to spook the heck outta ya. 

The efficacy of the project of course depends upon the sensibilities of the listener, but suffice to say Wilson is certainly up to go the distance here; every last song on the record recalls a different tale of the supernatural. Today’s featured tune The Holy Drinker certainly doesn’t shy away from that directive.

The story is simple, direct, and definitive: start with your sanctimonious religious type. Judgmental. Holier-than-thou. Condemning everyone and anyone to eternal perdition unless they follow his particular take on scriptural absolutism.

He also, rather coincidentally, happens to be a serious drunkard.

So the titular Holy Drinker continually enslaves himself to his own demons, which makes perfect ironic sense because who should rise from the ground and challenge him a drinking contest?

Yup, old Scratch himself tempts The Holy Drinker to a throw back some shots with him and see who prevails, with something unspecified offered in exchange for the Drinker’s soul. The Holy Drinker accepts… and with that, we’re only left with the question of who emerges victorious from this nefarious clash.

And that’s answered almost immediately. Let’s just say this aint “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. Satan laughs and unceremoniously drags The Holy Drinker to Hell.

The Holy Drinker is a simple but satisfying story, but musically we have Wilson doing what Wilson does best: incorporate multiple musical themes and progressive motifs into a satisfying, cohesive whole. This time, the soundscape is meant to haunt the listener with a supernatural tonality and man does it work effectively here. Perfect Halloween fare, what with all them howling demons, chilling winds, and mellotrons, electric pianos, and wah-wah guitars swirling about.

So drink up everyone! Death comes unexpectedly for us all, so while we’re here let’s not be dicks about how others are living.

His coffin was made from a tree
Please hammer a nail in for me
The bottle slipped right through
Plague pits now underground
Take me down… down…
Put me in chains…

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