Folk N Rock
Rotted – Colt Ryder Stone

I’m a sucker for concept albums, especially when they’re made with intricate stories and heartfelt folk music. Recently, I stumbled upon a real gem and it is just fantastic. It’s by Colt Ryder Stone, and it’s a look into a post-apocalyptic world where science and love collide. The story follows a scientist who falls for a guy who’s been mutated by radiation, and the album unfolds like a personal diary, chronicling their struggles and triumphs in the face of some wild circumstances.

“Love Song” sets up the album’s complex relationships with a seemingly simple yet heartfelt expression of affection. The lyrics give off a deep bond with a close friend, possibly a fellow researcher at the institute. The song captures the warmth and gratitude they feels for this person, who has been a constant source of support, understanding, and even medical expertise.

The song’s gentle melody and sincere vocal delivery create a very nice atmosphere of intimacy and vulnerability, giving off the idea that this relationship is a safe haven amidst the turmoil of the other connections. While the song express a love that is profound and all-encompassing, there’s also a wee bit of a more traditional, romantic expression of love, as reflected in the desire to sing a “love song” like in a musical. Which by the way, before I continue I just want say, this is such a cool little story here, I’d actually love to see this as a musical.

“Radiation Sickness” takes a darker turn, both musically and lyrically, as the singer speaks about the grapples with the physical and emotional turmoil of their radioactive condition. The carousel-like melody at the start of the track, with its unsettling undertone, connects well with the unsettling reality of the his deteriorating health. The shift in guitar work and the intensified vocals amplify the song’s emotional weight.

And here it’s all about the internal struggle—the physical pain and decay along with an all-consuming desire for their lover. The imagery is brutal and raw, reflecting the desperation and confusion that arise from being trapped in a body that is both a source of agony and a barrier to intimacy.  And then you have this sort of need for their lover is intertwined with a morbid fascination with their own decay, which is like this self-destructive impulse that is both frightening and yet, not so much.

For example, one of the lines “I want you to rot through me, And have no Sympathy” is a brutal declaration of love and surrender, suggesting that the lover sees their physical deterioration as a twisted pathway to connection. The song’s ending, has him questioning his own desires and sanity. I mean here, I feel like there is this fine line between love, obsession, and self-destruction.

And oh boy, “Mourning” is one emotional ride, hitting hard with its storytelling about staring down a life-threatening situation. It’s not just about the fear and uncertainty, though; the song’s all about fighting back against the darkness. The is this determination and refusal to let their circumstances destroy them..

At this point it’s all about the difficulty of facing a tough diagnosis. There’s a real bond at this point and shared struggle, a feeling of “we’re in this together” that gives the song a powerful emotional punch.  To me this one feels like it’s about finding strength in the face of adversity. It’s a reminder that even when things look bleak, there’s always a spark of hope, a reason to keep fighting. More so when it comes to love.

“Comfort Song (Bloom/Wither)” marks a turning point in the album’s story I feek, shifting from the despair and uncertainty of previous tracks to a radiant affirmation of love and acceptance. The upbeat melody and hopeful tone signal a newfound sense of optimism, as the singer embraces their lover’s radioactive condition with unwavering devotion.

And just as it’s titled, the song gives this comforting reassurance to their beloved, promising  support and an unyielding love that transcends physical ailments. Right here there are some nice references like blooming and withering which serves as a metaphor for the cycle of life and the challenges that love can face. Yet, the singer declares their love to be steadfast, even in the face of their lover’s deteriorating health.

What’s really cool about this song is that it’s not just a part of the album’s story, it totally stands on its own. It’s like, this song could be a comfort blanket for anyone dealing with a loved one’s illness. It’s raw and honest about the fears and challenges, but ultimately it’s about the unwavering love that gets you through those tough times.

“Wonder-Love” is a bit of a heart-wrencher, taking a look into the singer’s curiosity about their lover’s past life before, well, things changed. It’s a mix of sweetness and melancholy, as the singer wonders about their lover’s friends, what they were like, and if they still miss them. It’s almost like they are trying to piece together a puzzle, trying to understand him on a deeper level.

And this song is filled with questions, almost like the singer is having a conversation with their lover in their head. They wonder about simple things, like what color their lover’s friends’ eyes were, but also about deeper questions, like whether they would have even met in a world untouched by radiation. It’s a bittersweet exploration of what was lost and what could have been.

The song’s overall vibe is kind of like sitting by a window on a rainy day, looking out at the world and wondering “what if?” It’s a reminder that even in the midst of difficult circumstances, we can still find beauty in connection and curiosity about the past. This was a cute track, and I really enjoyed it.

“Rotted” wraps up the album on a bittersweet note, with a mix of resignation and lingering hope. The singer acknowledges the reality of their situation, the radioactive decay taking its toll. But even as they face their mortality, their love for the radioactive creature remains as strong as ever.

I feel like there is a sense of regret and self-blame, as the singer grapples with the consequences of their choices. They wish they had found a solution sooner, a cure to save them both from this slow, agonizing fate. But there is a belief that their research and efforts will not be in vain, that their legacy will live on.

To me, this album stands out as one of the most creative releases I’ve encountered this year. The unique theme and the heartfelt connections mixed into the songs make it an out standing storytelling piece of work. While the concept album format adds an extra layer of depth, many of the tracks are strong enough to stand on their own, offering relatable stories of love, loss, and resilience.

Whether you’re a fan of concept albums or simply appreciate well-crafted, emotionally hard hitting music, this one’s a must-listen. The warm vocal tones and intricate guitar work create a rich sounds that feels great. Don’t hesitate to give it a spin, especially if you’re into the heavier side of folk music. But for the full experience, definitely give it a listen from start to finish. It’s a quick trip at just 26 minutes, but trust me, it packs a serious emotional punch.

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Scott