Track By Tracks: MALACODA - Restless Dreams (2018)

1. The Fog of Memory:

The introduction to the album is an atmospheric instrumental piece which plays on the motifs of the track "I Got A Letter". It's essentially a digitized remake of the main riff in the song played on a mellotron and some other 80's sounding synths. The whole album is a concept album based on Silent Hill 2, and this song represents the feeling of displacement when someone visits a place that they haven't been to in a very long time. At this point in the story, the character is returning to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife telling him to meet her there. The fog in the game represents the concept of the "fog of memory", not quite remembering things clearly but being certain that's how they played out. It's a very central theme to the game's ideas as well as the record's.

2. I Got A Letter:

The first "real" track on the album, here the song fades in from "The Fog of Memory" and starts with a moody clean guitar riff with a lot of delay and feedback in the background. Something I tried to emphasize when writing this record was the use of dynamics: really quiet and moody sections, crushing heavy parts and melodic hooks. This song definitely emphasizes that idea. Here the main character is reading the letter his wife gave him, the clean parts are his thoughts as he's trying to process what he's reading, and the heavy pre-choruses with the growls are the angry words the spirit of his wife is hurling at his subconscious. The chorus is a general overview of the town of Silent Hill and the character's memories of his wife. I use different vocal tones for different aspects, characters or themes- growls throughout the album almost always represent the supernatural elements wandering the town as well as the character of the "dead wife"

3. Wrapped In Laments:

One of the heaviest songs I've ever written, this song also plays with dynamics. Melancholic lead melodies over a frantic, almost djent sounding guitar riff, topped off with a dissonant drawn out scream makes the song sound eerie, angry and sad all at once. The song was inspired by the "Lying Figure" monsters from Silent Hill 2, female creatures that are trapped in a straight jacket of their own skin. They have holes in their chest where their hearts should be and they spew acid if the main character gets too close. They are beautifully haunting and evoke pity and disgust. They represent how the main character's wife felt while dying of melanoma, she felt she was a monster- too hideous to love and trapped in her own skin. I always took the acid spewing from the chest as symbolic to how she was very verbally abusive to the main character in her final days and said things that while hurtful, came from the heart. The chorus brings up the words "lie about" as a common phrase, and it's both referencing how the main character would lie to her about his infidelity, but also how she felt all she could do was physically lie in a bed and waste away.

4. In Static:

Another instrumental that segues “Wrapped In Laments” to “Knives”, this short atmospheric track represents the iconic radio from the game series which warns the main character of danger that can’t be seen. I also see it as representative to how static in one’s memory, much like fog, is preventing things from being seen clearly. He’s being warned of monsters and other danger, but isn’t clearly seeing the link that these monsters are manifestations of his wife’s angry spirit.

5. Knives:

This track is ridiculously complex and I’ve often told people it’s a miracle I was able to build something out of the original idea we had- it was almost scrapped! This song is very influenced by industrial music and Marilyn Manson - even though it’s still very much a progressive metal/power metal sounding song. The production is really distorted and grainy with the vocals dipping in and out of the forefront of the song. I took the symbolism that knives have in Silent Hill 2 and brought it all into this song. Pyramid Head using a massive knife to kill female monsters as a look at phallic imagery in weaponry and male ego is one aspect of it, another is the character of Angela who is suicidal and has committed fratricide and patricide using a knife as her weapon. There’s a lot to be said, but I leave it fairly open to other interpretations as well.

6. Mannequin Heart:

This song was crafted to be a single, it’s a lot more mellow than other tracks but the dynamics are still really present in this song. The Mannequin’s are another iconic monster from Silent Hill 2 and they represent not only the main character’s infidelity but also the thin line between love and lust. I allude to how the city of Silent Hill 2 and it’s buildings are symbolic - a decaying ghost town, much like the main character’s wife’s body. Sexual imagery is heavily implied in this song, relating killing to sex and just how sex can be something that can hold power over people. I consider this song to be the saddest song I’ve ever written. I was trying to evoke Goth rock bands from the 80’s with this track.

7. Youth is Innocence:

Here we bring up a few ideas of reincarnation, dreams, past lives - whether all of this is real or just a figment of the main character’s imagination. The song has this rollercoaster ride feel to it with its steady tempo and odd time signatures. It’s definitely the most challenging song to perform live on all fronts. We introduce the character “Laura” here, she’s a young girl who may or may not be real but is symbol of hope and innocence, of a simpler time when things weren’t so complicated for the main character and his wife.

8. Doppelganger:

I did this song with Mohammad Maki from gothic metal band Shivered on guest vocals. It’s the first duet I’ve ever done. We played this on a twelve string guitar and just played around with a lot of pads and atmospheric guitar layers. Here we introduce a character which is almost an exact copy of the main character’s dead wife, but she’s more bold, a bit more aggressive - and not entirely human. She can be seen as a sad character or an inhuman weapon made by the sinister energy of the ghost town to manipulate the main character. The song is an emotional one; a ballad with a wicked cool prog rock instrumental outro.

9. Darkness Leads the Way:

The last of the instrumentals on the record, here is when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Silent Hill always had an eerie aspect to it that would get turned on its head at certain points in the story and become full blown oppressive nightmare fuel. This song signifies that shift as the town becomes enveloped in darkness, and just as the main character has found some form of confusing semblance of solace with this doppelganger of his wife, she gets taken from him by Pyramid Head and he ends up underground, beneath the town.

10. The Labyrinth Within:

I love playing this track live, it’s a lot of fun and it’s also got an emphasis on dynamics. Here the main character is travelling underground through a weird labyrinth of passageways that connect all the buildings in the town and he’s being taunted by either a figment of his dead wife or the doppelganger behind the iron bars of walls of the labyrinth. It’s here where he’s starting to remember things clearly about what actually happened to his wife and why he’s here, but before he can come to fully realize the truth, he has to survive the labyrinth’s trials.

11. Dominance:

This is my love letter to thrash, bands like Megadeth, Exodus and Evile have always been big influences on my playing style when it comes to writing fast and heavy songs. This song is about how ego can be both detrimental or necessary to one’s growth as a human being, but also how it can harm others. Here the character meets the character “Eddie” who has killed various monsters that look like the main character throughout the town, and who is on the run for harming someone who had bullied him incessantly throughout his life. The main character has no choice but to kill him- proving that he does have the capacity to kill another human being.

12. Abstract Care:

Here we go back to the character Angela from “Knives” and this song is my tribute to doom bands like Black Sabbath, Candlemass, The Sword and Type O Negative. This song goes into detail how Angela was abused physically and sexually by her father and brother while her mother remained idle, and how she killed her family but has now traded one hell for another: the hell of physical and sexual abuse has been traded for the hell of knowing you’ve killed your entire family. It’s a ridiculously fucked up song concept wise and is meant to be uncomfortable on many musical aspects as well with the odd time signatures, sudden stops and key changes with painfully long pick slides that end awkwardly.

13. The Symbol of Pain:

The first song actually written for this record, it set the tone of what I wanted Restless Dreams to be which was a combination of progressive rock and metal from the 70’s and 80’s blended with contemporary gothic metal like Paradise Lost and Katatonia. This song is about Pyramid Head, this creature always symbolized pain in all of its forms: physical, mental, and emotional. The song goes through three different time signatures, and has many other musical “easter eggs” revolving around pyramids, triangles and the number three for listeners who are schooled in music to figure out. The Pyramid Head creature is a dark reflection of the main character and is representative to how he is hiding the truth from himself of what he is capable of doing- and has already done. Pyramid Head doesn’t attempt to kill the main character, but instead kills itself once it feels the main character is prepared to finally accept the truth. He arrives at the hotel building that he and his wife had stayed at when they visited Silent Hill during their honeymoon so many years ago.

14. Our Special Place:

This is our 12 minute long epic closer track and is one of my favourite pieces of music I’ve ever produced. A guest guitar solo is performed by Tom MacLean (To-Mera, Psion, ex-Haken) Here all the revelations are made: the main character killed his wife because he was unhappy with his life and she knew she wasn’t going to live much longer from her illness. She felt terrible for how she abused him, so she begged to be euthanized by him. He kills her by smothering her to death with a pillow and can’t accept the reality of what he’s been driven to do. He meets Angela here who is aware of what he’s done on some level, and when he reaches out to help her so they can leave this place she reacts by jumping out a window to her death. He encounters a ghostly manifestation of his wife, but she’s twisted and monstrous. She accuses him of killing her because he couldn’t cope with the guilt of his own infidelity and it had nothing to do with her wishes to be euthanized. She tries strangling him, but he breaks free and “kills” her. He awakens in his car, parked at the lake across from Silent Hill. Looking in his rear-view mirror he sees the corpse of his wife, still fresh from euthanizing her that morning. He recalls his idea of coming to Silent Hill to end his life by driving into the lake to “be with her forever”. As the song fades out, he drives into the lake and drowns. Whether his journey actually happened or was a vivid dream- or even a supernatural induced vision that drove him to suicide, is entirely up to the listener.

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