Track By Tracks: Final Coil - Persistance Of Memory (2018)


1. Corruption:

Phil: We wanted to start the album with something immediate and Corruption has a really dense, powerful riff that does that, I think. One of the things that really helped develop the track was taking it out and playing it live before we recorded it – you can see from the way the audience reacts what works and what doesn’t – and we shortened some elements of the piece as a result. The big change, in terms of the recorded song, is the way Rich built up the harmonies on the chorus – he did a fantastic job bringing it to life in a way that I’d only hinted at in the demo.

Rich: Phil left me alone with the demo one day, just to add a bit of harmony on the chorus. When he came back I'd added a lot more than he bargained for. I started with a straight echo of the chorus line but wanted to expand it and quite swiftly it grew into a three part retort that once heard wasn't going to be unheard.

Phil: Lyrically, the track juxtaposes two kinds of corruption – the physical corruption of a loved one and the psychological corruption of the pathological liar. In both cases, it is easy to feel helpless and isolated which, in turn, leads to the feeling that you’d trade it all not to have to deal with such a situation. Most people can relate to one or the other, I think, and that’s important. Lyrics often come from a personal place, but they need to be relatable to a wider audience and not just a list of things that tick you off!

2. Dying:

Phil: Not physical death so much as the spiritual death that comes with apathy. The subject of the song (who is generic rather than specific) is completely disengaged from the world around them. A glued on smile hides internal turmoil but, ultimately, it’s just too much effort to try to do anything to deal with the wider world. You might think that it’s a song about depression, but increasingly it seems that a lot of people, particularly in their thirties and forties, are feeling cut off from the physical world thanks to the rapid increase in forms of technology that, although designed to engender communication, seem to have led to an introspection bordering on solipsism. Dying is about that person you pass on the street who is so engaged in the micro-world of their phone that they don’t even notice the world around them

3. Alone:

Phil: Musically and lyrically this was a very different song for us. The metronomic riff that drives the song has a sinister feel to it and, to that, Rich added some fantastic lead work. It’s another track that really benefitted from development in the rehearsal room and we spent a lot of time looking at the various effects pedals we could run the guitars through to get it sounding exactly as we wanted.

Phil: Lyrically, the track is the first (and so far only) song that is explicitly based upon a book. At the time I was putting the track together, I was just finishing up Hemingway’s masterpiece, for whom the bell tolls. It struck me that among the many themes the book deals with, at least one was the lack of communication (either through deliberate lies or careless omission) that serves to alienate the main character. For better or for worse he is alone, even when surrounded by people, and the lyric just poured out of me. That’s often the way, to be honest, and I usually find that the spontaneous lyrics are the ones that need the least refinement.

4. You waste my time

Phil: Oh dear, it’s a rather angry song isn’t it? And the thing is, I didn’t want it to sound angry (well until the end, at any rate), so we worked on juxtaposing those really rather brutal lyrics with a calm, harmonised vocal line. The piece has a mid-90s vibe to it – sort of reminiscent of Paradise Lost’s ‘Lydia’, which is a perfect example of juxtaposed rage and melody – and yet there is a presence there, a simmering tension that explodes on the chorus and in that final, brutal outpouring. It’s a real exercise in tension and release and it’s one of my favourite tracks on the record.

5. Myopic:

Phil: A much heavier song, both lyrically and musically, Myopic has a grinding riff that is really punishing live. It’s a tricky song to get right because you always feel it should be a little faster, but as soon as you play it that way, it loses that doomy vibe that makes it hit home with such force. For me, what makes the track different from what people might initially expect is the way the verse strips back to the drums and bass guitar to allow the harmonies to shine through. Rich and I spent some time getting that right, and it came off pretty much as I had hoped.

Phil: One big difference in the way we play it live and the recorded version is the chorus. Live it has a much more biting vocal, and it is there on the recorded version, it’s just mixed way down. That might seem like an odd choice, but we always think in terms of the album rather than the song, and a harsh vocal at that point would have pulled people out of the dreamy, almost ethereal atmosphere that we wanted to build.

6. Failed Light:

Phil: My other favourite song on the album, failed light was written and recorded entirely in one day and it happened, believe it or not, because of a dream. It was a Saturday morning (which was lucky, because if I’d dreamt it on a work day it would probably never have been recorded) and I woke up stupidly early with this refrain in my head. I won’t say the whole thing was there, but enough of it was there that I needed to record it right away. So, my poor, long suffering wife woke up to find me holed away in our spare room recording this thing, and I remained that way for about eight hours. I didn’t even notice the time pass! I had to get it down before it faded away into the mists of my imagination, and what you hear on the record is very close to that original demo.

Phil: Lyrically, I think it’s a hopeful song because, although the dying light can bring the ghosts of memories past, if there’s someone to whom you can turn, those ghosts can be vanquished. The climactic solo, as well, is full of emotion and Rich was great because he was happy for me to take the lead to start with, and then he added his own take on it, and it was just perfect from the get go. Musical partnerships can be a funny thing, but Rich and I have played together for so long that more often than not, he knows exactly what to add to get the most out of a song.

7. Spider Feet:

Phil: I’ll let Rich tell this story, as it’s his song, but I simply want to add that I love playing this track. It’s a brilliant piece of music and a blast to play.

Rich: This started with a clean creepy riff which is then juxtaposed with the tension of the tight chugging. Once we got the bridge and heavy riff in, it wasn't coming out again because it's so fun to play! We jammed around with it sporadically in rehearsals for quite a while before finding the chorus and adding the breakdown. Melodically it doesn't move around a lot which gives a tense paranoid sense before boiling over in the choruses.

Rich: I wanted to get this real sense of restriction and tension in the lyrics in how the whole world feels to be getting smaller and more claustrophobic just from sitting at your computer and the way our different reactions and webs can pull at each other.

8. Lost Hope:

Phil: This was a really difficult song to write because I had a great lyric (well, I think it’s great at any rate), but it was pinned to a really inappropriate piece of music that we jokingly called I want to be in G’n’R, so you can probably guess roughly what it sounded like. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Guns ‘n’ Roses, but that kind of pastiche is not what we’re about at all, so the music was all wrong, but the lyric… it stuck around. So, one day, I went into the studio and I stripped down the track to what I liked about it, threw away 90% of the music and started again, adding those dreamy layers of synth and piano. It’s a song I’m very proud of, but it’s one we don’t often play live because, without all those layers, it just doesn’t feel right somehow.

Rich: From the original demo this turned into almost a totally different song. Almost a remix you could say. The words and melodies and chords are still the same (and even the essence of the guitar line at the start) but it evolved into these spacey verses to which we added some answering vocals which I think give it a touch of the ethereal. I think the music suits the words well now, which perhaps they didn't so much when it was a very straight rock anthem in structure.

9. Moths to the flame:

Phil: No, not related to the Metallica track (which was released after we’d written the song). This is another of Rich’s tracks and another one that gets aired live a lot. I love that final riff – super doomy and really cool.

Rich: This originally started out as the jangly riff from the quiet mid-section and, as it grew, it became less necessary where it was and became the reflective come-down in the middle. It started out as a shorter track but I struggled to find an end for it. As it grew in flow and scope, the balance of heavy to calm to heavy again seemed to make sense.

Rich: Lyrically it comes full circle from frustration with people self-promoting via pure controversy for the sake of getting people to look in their direction and how we can get suckered into reading this nonsense despite our better judgement. It's just trivial and most people can see past it or forget, even if by just moving onto the next distraction.

10. In Silent Reproach:

Phil: Another example of super-heavy riffs combined with a more relaxed vocal style, In silent reproach was the third and final single from the album and it is always brutal live (indeed, we often use it to start our shows). I always saw it as having a Soundgarden vibe with those big chunky riffs and clean, slightly sinister vocal, but in hindsight I’d not have released it as a single. I think it works better in the context of the record than in isolation, but it certainly serves to give a vicious little kick before we head into alienation.

Rich: A similar thing happened to Corruption with adding vox. I just wanted a little extra in the last chorus to add that extra kiss off and put that part over the top. It felt like it really shouldn't work but I think it's a slightly awkward, but beautiful balance of awkward, elementto bring the track to a close.

11. Alienation:

Phil: I wrote this at a time when I was working in a fairly difficult place and I was feeling very much as the lyric suggests, on display but getting torn apart mentally at the same time. I think a lot of people who have worked or lived in challenging environments become very adept at putting on a positive face, but at the end of the day, when the mask slips, there’s an ever-growing void that can take over if you’re not careful. Musically, I think it’s an ambitious final track because it pushes the more progressive elements of the band further, and I think it serves as a powerful finale and an interesting sign of where we might go next.

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