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Maneskin - “Fear of the Dark” / La Paura Del Buio - Lyrics Analysis with Dr. Metalhead/Helevorn!


Helevorn: Hi everyone. Today, I’m joined by Fortunus, and we are going to discuss another song by the Italian rock band, Maneskin, which I’ve previously analyzed on my channel. We’re going to listen and react to their song, and in particular their lyrics for La paura del buio, which translates to “Fear of the Dark.”

For those of you who haven't yet watched my collaborative videos where I have Fortunus as a guest, Fortunus is a graphic novelist and podcaster who has two published graphic novels, “Finding Sam” and “The Book of Joel,” which I have behind me.

Maneskin has many songs, especially on their album Teatro d'ira, about following one's artistic vision against all odds – against pressures from the music industry, such as the mainstream, against the judgments of others, against self-doubt which inevitably burdens us all.

These songs although united by a similar theme are very different in sound; some are more calm and reflective, like Vent'anni, others are full of anger like In nome del padre. La paura del buio is, I think somewhere in the middle.

Fortunus: Yes, I agree. According to the band themselves, the title of the entire album from which this song comes from, Teatro d’Ira: Vol I, or The Theatre of Wrath in English, refers to “cathartic anger aimed at oppressions and oppressors, which leads to venting and rebelling against everything that makes you feel wrong and which, as a result, leads to a rebirth and change.”

Maneskin specifically wanted to place this very powerful force in a context - namely, that of the theatre - which is usually perceived as elegant and calm.

They enjoy the antithesis here - instead of being captivated by the beauty and elegance of a ballet or show, we as the audience are thrown into this explosion of energy.

They believe that this is a great way to represent art, since art isn’t always clean and well-cut. Both Dr. Metalhead and I know this well, since we’re both writers and artists, but art is often messy, passionate, and primal, even. This is what Maneskin wanted to show in this song, and as you’ll see, they do an excellent job at it. They manage to show the powerful emotions behind art, especially anger, disappointment, depression, and even spite, as we’ll see.

Helevorn: Yes, it’s very introspective, and it’s about facing obstacles when following your dreams. It’s also about the doubts that artists face when working towards their goals.

Fortunus: Yes, and as you’ve mentioned in previous videos, this also reflects the lead singer Damiano’s struggles with self-doubt and depression.

Helevorn: Okay, let’s listen to La paura del buio. We’re listening to the live version.

-starts playing-

Verse 1 Part I:

I hear a thousand voices talking, but I don't hear what they're saying

I look in the mirror and I think I'm at the circus

On a merry-go-round of happiness and I do not want to go down

Even if I don't enjoy myself anymore.

Helevorn: The first stanza finds the narrator in the middle of a crowd –he's a performer, always in the centre of attention- but he can't make sense of it.

It's like a cacophony of voices that feel meaningless, and even he wonders what's the point of it all (a “circus”).

He's on a path, a path to accomplishment, to renown, to proving himself and establishing his name, and though it's the path he's chosen, it isn't enjoyable - it's gruelling, at times. But he needs to do it; it's his destiny, in a way. I think it portrays the struggle of being an artist very well, but not only an artist – I think it's relatable to anyone who's goal-oriented.

Fortunus: Absolutely. He’s done a great job portraying how difficult it is to overcome obstacles life throws in your way. But you have to keep on fighting no matter what.

Verse 1 Part II:

Sometimes I feel like a miracle and sometimes ridiculous

Then I lose my mind in a moment, but don't say it around

I'm out of my mind, la la la

I'm out of my mind, la la la

Helevorn: This stanza depicts the meandering path towards success and self-accomplishment. Yes, he is confident in his strengths, he believes in his artistic vision with all his being, but he's still plagued by self-doubt at times: he ranges between feeling “a miracle” and feeling “ridiculous” and it's driving him crazy.

It's like he can't shake off the fear that the world won't recognize his merits, that he won't reach the heights of his potential.

Fortunus: Exactly. And it makes sense. He has a lot of imposter syndrome, so even though he’s on the stage like in the video, a part of him questions why he’s there. He feels ridiculous yet proud at the same time - it’s a walking contradiction.

Helevorn: This reminds me of something - it’s not related to Damiano or the song per se, but you know how the 19th-century British romantic poet, John Keats, wrote this poetry which is infused with the fear that he’ll die before he can make a name for himself in the literary world. This is an obsession that pops up in every poem he wrote. He has the fear that his name is written in water.

I think this fits really well here. Damiano’s also singing about the doubt that everyone who’s on the path to accomplishment has sometimes.

Fortunus: Yes. So maybe being ridiculous and being a miracle are two sides of the same coin.

Helevorn: Exactly.


And ... take me, bite me, take everything away from me

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And even when I'm here on the ground destroyed

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And ... spit me out, RIP my clothes off

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And ... buy me, sell me, do anything

It is only you who have the fear of the dark

We don't, we don't, I don't, I

Helevorn: In this stanza, Damiano addresses those who doubt him, daring them to put as many obstacles in his path as they want – he will never give up. Whatever happens to him, he won't be deviated from the path he has chosen to take – or who has chosen him.

Fortunus: Right, that makes sense. He’s talking about his inner turmoil here. He’s talking about how these dark thoughts are tearing him down, tearing his clothes up. However, he and his friends won’t give up and they’ll keep on pushing against these negative feelings, which are an inevitable part of the creative process.

Creativity isn’t just producing great works - it also involves a lot of lows, which is when you feel frustrated, when you feel like you don’t have anything to say. But after that, you’ll feel good again.

Helevorn: It’s incredibly relatable, as a creator. This is what the dark is - a fear of failure and maybe of yourself as well.

Verse 2:

I prepare my waltz with the devil

Since I was little

You can call me crazy, bastard, sick

I'll toast to it with wine

Yeah, I'll drink to you, la la la

Yes, I'll drink to you

Because I know that even though you hated me

You'll sing my name

Helevorn: So the waltz with the devil - I think it refers to how his personality was forged in blood. He was born to do what he's doing now, to pursue his vision, it's destiny and no one can interfere with it, deviate his course and his vision. He is ready to take on anything in order to accomplish his dream.

Fortunus: Right. The part about the waltz with the devil is interesting because it feels like a reference to Goethe’s Faust, where the main character makes a deal with Mephistopheles in exchange for his soul.

Helevorn: This is a great metaphor for art because artists have to give up so much to create and to do what they want to do. As an artist, this can take a great toll on your soul since you have to pour so much of your soul into your art.

And this isn’t just about art, since Faust isn’t an artist, but anything you pour your soul into.

So the part where he says, “Call me crazy, call me a bastard,” refers to how he’s been judged and insulted all of his life, so there’s nothing that can touch him anymore. He’s immune to this hate and doubt.

As many people say, the best way to deal with your enemy is to smile at them and to show the opposite, so this is what he’s doing to all those who doubted him. He’s confident he can prove them wrong and that he’ll come out of the hate and doubt stronger than before.


And ... take me, bite me, take everything away from me

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And even when I'm here on the ground destroyed

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And ... spit on me, rip my clothes off

They continued not to be afraid of the dark

And ... buy me, sell me, do anything

It is only you who have the fear of the dark

Not us

Helevorn: This is a vision of revenge, of revenge through success that he has earned. Those who criticised him, who tried to stop him and to make him give up, they're the ones who have given up, who are now spent and desperate and alone.

Fortunus: Now, the tables have turned. The people who mocked him are now on the bottom. He’s proven to them that they were wrong and he was right.

Helevorn: Exactly. So he’s now the person he’s always wanted to be. He has been judged, insulted, he's heard it all and this is why nothing can touch him anymore.

The best way to deal with your enemy is to smile at them, and this is what he's doing – he's toasting to all those who doubt him because he's confident they will be proven wrong. He will come out of this stronger, he will succeed. And those who tried to set obstacles in his path will eventually come to respect him and admit his worth.


You'll come back to me looking tired

You'll wear cuts on your arms

You were left alone on the boat

I recognize the marks on the face

You will return to me with your hands clasped…

Helevorn: Also, hands clasped suggests asking for forgiveness, but also a prayer, like he is now a god towering above a repentful enemy.

Finally, the repetition of the hands being joined together emphasises the satisfaction he feels that he's finally up there where he belongs, and the “hater” is beneath him where he belongs.

Fortunus: Absolutely. So he’s conquered other people’s expectations as well as his own doubts which were in large part due to other people’s expectations.

Helevorn: Exactly. Let me just remark that because we just watched the live video so not the one in their studio, how wonderful this band is when they play live. They are fantastic at doing their job and they look amazing, and their outfits are amazing, just like how you mentioned in the beginning that the name of their album, Theater of Wrath, points to these theatrical elements that they incorporated into their music. This really shows in their image and the emotionality of their performance.

Fortunus: yes, you can really see their passion for their music by their body language also. You can see Damiano’s facial expressions, his tone, how he was moving, how Victoria was bobbing her head as she did the bass chords, and Ethan doing an awesome job with drums.

Helevorn: And Thomas also, he did a great job with the riffs on the guitar. The chords really shone! I’m just really excited about this band and it’s awesome that this is the first time we’ve reacted to a live video. On this channel, we’re focusing on the lyrics and not the music or the videos, but it’s great to discuss the music and videos from time to time.

Fortunus: These are so fun to make. Thank you! I can’t wait to make more of these videos with you!

Helevorn: Thank you for listening, everyone. If you like these videos, feel free to comment, like, and subscribe. Until next time!

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