Hails Nightlings! It is time once again to delve into the madness that is the writing process for Hybrid Nightmares, and this week I will be shedding some unholy light on how we went about writing "In The Labyrinth". The Second Age was always a tricky one for us because it had to tread the fine line between the peace and melody of The First Age, but prepare you as an audience for the sonic onslaught that The Third Age presents with the theme of War. We also faced a challenge with our first acoustic track with clean singing in "Only The Dead Know" but more on that in coming weeks. Here for your reading pleasure is the story of how "In The Labyrinth" came into being. "In The Labyrinth":
So to start with, credit must go to Gumley for creating the raw bones of the song. We met up at his studio one Sunday arvo and he was wriggling in his seat, literally unable to sit still because he was excited to show us the song he had written for the Ages project. He played through the whole thing for us and our immediate reaction was that it was too melodeath for Hybrid Nightmares. We all listen to and appreciate melodeath in one shape or another, and have mad respect for the local bands who put their own Aussie spin on the genre, but for us, it was too similar to what had already been done. Gumley was stricken, forlorn and generally a bit put out.
After we had played a viscous round of HORSE out on the basketball court, Gumley tasked me with "blackening it up". I knew straight away that the core of the song, the structure and the flow of it were fine, it was just the techniques and the scale that were giving us grief. So I immediately shifted it into our tried and true G Harmonic minor over D scale that gave it that Behemoth/Nile/Lamb of God sound and incorporated more of our "melodic chords". These chords are a staple part of the Hybrid Nightmares sound, and simply put, they involve barring a power chord on the bottom three strings while using the other three fingers to work a melody at the same time. We first used this technique on Mourn Not The Dead, and the chorus of Emperor is one of my favorite examples.
Using this scale and implementing the melodic chords, we quickly found the direction the song needed to go in, the tech-y bursts in the verses were our homage to the melodeath origins of the song and then the extended periods of double kicks brought us right back to classic HN sound. Ben still hates playing this song the most simply because he was absent for the writing stage on this one and when we brought it to him, he realized he was left with playing long sections of very fast tremolo picking that take a toll on his hand and wrist. If you watch him during live shows, you can actually see the hate rising like a red tide behind his eyes during those sections of the song.
Loki brought the lyrics in relatively late on the track and he was adamant that 'dust' would feature prominently, but the rhythms and rhymes he span on the track showed that it wasn't for a lack of interest that he was late with the lyrics, but rather that he was working hard to make sure it was exactly the way he had imagined it.
The guitar solo at the end of the track is another little nod to the melodeath beginnings and when Gumley showed us the finished solo, we all thought it was the best solo Dethklok never wrote. We still sing it out loud when we practice it, showing that a solo doesn't need to just be flashy and technical, but catchy as well, with lines that stick with people.
I hope you enjoyed reading about "In The Labyrinth" and that you like listening to it as much as we do playing it (except Ben who is a grouch).
May the Obelisk gaze upon your soul and find you worthy!