The Writing Process: The Second Age


And so it is upon us, the final installment of the writing process for the Second Age. This week the eye of the Obelisk is fixed firmly on the final track of the second disk: "And Reach The Stars". And Reach as we shorten it to, was a weird one for us. I had the core concept for the verses using those really Ruins inspired, melancholic  chordal melodies. The slow, mournful drag of that rhythm droning out the repetitive melody for me just spoke of an aching, a sense of loss and sorrow that had a terrible machine feel to it. Some true Hybrid Nightmares enthusiasts may notice that the opening riff was taken from one of our unreleased tracks that we only played live once or twice: The Judgement. A lot of riffs came out of that song, it never worked as a composition but the composite parts were reused amongst songs on the Ages. The chorus of And Reach was an experiment I was working on when I was rewriting Labyrinth for Gumley. I started to muck around with a folk-y rhythm and a sweet melody that one guitar could play as well as the chords.

The structure for this one was pretty standard until we got to that extended chorus. I could lie to you and tell you it was for artistic reasons, but honestly, it was an entirely selfish decision on our part. We liked the chorus so much we extended it from the original two repetitions to a ridiculous six. Fortunately, Gumley came to us with a beautiful lead to go over the middle two reps that was like an homage to Maiden, before going into the iconic leads that replicate and elaborate on the chord melodies and run over the final two repetitions.

Lyrically, this song was a piece of teamwork between myself and Loki. I came to the band with about 3/4 of the lyrics and placement done. In the same vein as What It Means To Die, this one was inspired by the Celtika books, focusing on the portrayal of Daedalus the inventor, and his two sons Raptor and Icarus. It is a new take on the classic tale of Icarus and his journey into the skies that ends in tragedy. In the original myth, Icarus has wings made of wax which melt when he flies too close to the sun. In our version, the brothers both have wings made of brass and wire and are charged with discovering the secrets of the gods. During their ascent, one of Icarus's wings breaks and he allows Raptor to use his momentum to push beyond the atmosphere, causing Icarus to fall.

For me, the story told a tragic story that had many moral implications. The idea of a father forcing his dreams and aspirations on his children, to the point that he stitches painful machine wings to them and sends them on a journey beyond their capabilities. The reliance on technology can lead to disaster, the failure of Icarus's wing demonstrates this. The most poignant message for me came with Icarus' sacrifice and the idea that great success can only be achieved by standing on the shoulders of others. It is not a sentiment I enjoy or agree with, but the inherent pain and sorrow within that idea resonates with me deeply.

I think this is the dark horse of the CD, it's not an obvious song. I hope that years down the track, Nightlings will be calling out for And Reach The Stars when we ask if they want to hear a rare one. Give it a spin, listen deep and take away more than you had to start with when that opening riff kicks in your teeth.



The Writing Process: The Second Age


As Korn so famously said; here we go again! Yes it's time for another installment of the writing process and it is time to turn the unholy gaze of the Obelisk upon "What It Means To Die". As I mentioned in the writing process for "Only The Dead Know", this song came about from me noodling around trying to figure out some Celtic reels and I was heavily inspired by Eluveitie and Turisas when I put this song together. I had an idea to have the lead reel playing over something heavier so I mucked around with some Amon Amarth style riffing until I found something that added some gravity to the chorus and made it heavier. The verses in the song are really quite simple, very similar to "Mourn Not the Dead", which this song has sort of become a sequel to. I knew as I was piecing it together that the bridge had to take it in a different direction as the tone from the first half of the song had been quite Celtic and wheeling through these bouncing riffs and catchy lead choruses. I settled on the more Nordic folk style influenced by Turisas for the big "get em up and moving" style riffs with that constant triplets feel that always echoes within a part of me that wishes I could be wielding an axe on a medieval battlefield instead of just studying it from 1200 years later.

True magic happened when Ben tried playing a distorted version of "Only The Dead Know" over the top of these riffs and it gave it a truly epic and mournful feeling that was just perfect for the tone of the second half of the song. We had this idea to have the solo play over the chorus riff (classic metal technique), and to keep in the battle spirit, it became a dueling guitars solo that culminated with a harmony run that brought  us into the heavy and retrospective outro riff.

Lyrically, this was an interesting one. I have a huge and well documented fascination and love of Warhammer 40,000, in particular the Space Wolves. The original lyrics I had written for this song were a sort of funeral rite for a fallen brother of the Space Wolves and hinged on their signature farewell motto "Until next winter". This was the working title of the song for about a year, Loki was focused on other songs at the time and we hadn't really discussed the direction for this one. When we got around to it, Loki really enjoyed the idea of continuing the story from Only The Dead Know, the Celtic king and his missing daughter. He came up with the concept of a war between this king and warlocks who used black magic to try and rule the world. The vocal pattern he conceived of is insane, I still don't know where he finds space to breathe, he follows the damn triplets in the verses!


This song is a fun one to play live (not very  metal thing to say, I know). It is simple enough to allow us to move around and just get into the groove of the riffs and has such a powerful bridge that I can't help but get worked up every time Loki incites the crowd to "clash your arms and beat your chest!". I look forward to seeing the carnage the Nightling Warriors create in the mosh when we play this song at future shows, our fans fear no pain!

Look to your swords, bind and mark your shields and keep your axe sharp. Until next winter, sons and daughters of the Obelisk.

Ps. Skyrim is my life, enjoy this steel war axe and Whiterun guard's shield