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.