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Hozier travels through Dante’s ‘Inferno’ in ‘Unheard’ EP

Sniper Bruce Dog | Wikimedia Commons

Irish singer-songwriter Hozier released his new EP “Unheard” on March 22 following his third studio album “Unreal Earth.” The EP is comprised of four tracks that were intended to be part of “Unreal Unearth” but didn’t make the final cut. 

The album was heavily influenced by his isolation during the pandemic and portrays it using the lens of the famed poem “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri. But Hozier admits his goal wasn’t to simply write songs about the lockdown. 

He rather wanted “to explore — or at least acknowledge, even as a nod structurally — this feeling of going into something, these new circumstances and experiences in that time and coming out the other side of it,” he said in an interview with

Each of the 16 tracks on his album represents one of the nine circles and the journey through Hell. The four tracks on the EP are also included as distinct songs that represent different circles or parts of the journey. 

In an Instagram post, Hozier explained the concept behind each track. In the context of the studio album, the first track “Too Sweet” is indicative of the circle of gluttony. 

“Wildflower and Barley (feat. Allison Russel)” represents the circle of limbo and “Empire Now” fits within the circle of violence. Lastly, “Fare Well” shows the outward ascent part of the journey. 

Prior to the release of the EP, a snippet of “Too Sweet” was shared to TikTok, instantly popularizing the song and creating anticipation for the release. A variety of TikTok trends and analyses stemmed from the song within hours of the snippet being shared. The gritty texture of Hozier’s vocals paired with the intricately layered peppy musical style captivated audiences and brought in new listeners. 

“Wildflower and Barley” strays from the previous track by leaning into a more folky and calmer rhythm. The natural elements characterized by the sound of birds follow the listener as they begin and end the track, adding to the beautiful harmonies that Hozier and Russel create within the melodic slow song. 

“Empire Now” creates a strong percussive sound with its features of a slide guitar and grinding beat accompanied by a strong bass line. The lyrics inspire a call to arms with the increased tension that resonates through each run of the chorus. The rock-esque quality within the musicality of the song pairs exceptionally well with the intricate lyrics and imagery. 

The final song “Fare Well” captures the audience with its wordplay and rising momentum. The journey that the lyrics and music embody is fitting for a final song, exemplifying the lyrics of not faring well in Hell and signing off as a farewell in the project. 

Hozier’s artful studio album and his EP “Unheard” delight audiences of all kinds by pulling from a variety of musical styles. The story behind each track is as important as the lyrics and music which truly illustrates the time and precision taken to create such a masterful discography. 

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