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