Track By Tracks: One Step Beyond - In The Shadow Of The Beast (2018)


1.In the shadow of the beast:

I'd wanted to start the album with an abrupt grinding crunch, rather than a film sample or slow build like we'd previously done. From there much of the song was build around combining a slow chord progression with fast drums and busy melodic lines. There's a cool bass line throughout the verses but I didn't capture it as well as hoped for in the mix. Otherwise I think its got some strong passages, particularly the guitar lead, which worked well enough melodically to warrant repeating it at the end of the song.

Lyrically it's based around the story from the 1989 Psygnosis game 'Shadow of the beast'. It had such strong visuals and beautiful cover art by Roger Dean, who'd done album covers for Yes and other prog bands, real proto metal fantasy stuff. It's such a cool looking world, it's worth watching a bit of a play through on youtube. It was probably the nostalgia buzz we have for it that inspired the idea of having a full album of lyrics based on vintage computer games.

2. The Streetcleaner:

This one has some velocity to it. The lyrics are extrapolated from the premise of this clunky old beat 'em up game named Manhattan Dealers. Nostalgia aside, it's very forgettable, but I loved it. Basically you're a cop who runs around Manhattan beating the shit out of criminals and stealing their drugs. Hopefully the music captures the violence of a chaotic and desperate brawl. It's very much a death metal song with a splash of NYC hardcore. I'm really pleased with the leads again in this one, I think they have some real drama in them.

3. Enlightenment:

This is lyrically based on the ancient Amiga 500 game Druid 2: Enlightenment. Great music in that game. It's on youtube somewhere. This track has maybe a bit of a folk metal swing in parts that hopefully capture some of the vibe of this Druids quest to save his village from destruction. I'm happy with how the bass ties things together in the verses, I think it carries a rhythm and a bit of a melody. The long bridge section gives a really satisfying tension and release towards the end. It's a headbanger. Good fun!

4. Shadow warriors:

With words inspired by the game of the same name, Ninja Gaiden in some parts of the world. It's just absolute violence this track. A non stop battering, just like the game.

5. The Sentinel:

A real change of pace from the last track. It slows things right down, but I think it feels like a natural progression. Lyrics were inspired by the genius 3d platform/puzzle game on the C64 and Amiga of the same title. It was especially hard to conjure words about a game with zero plot, so I just went about describing the process of it. Destruction. Absorption. Ascension. Repeat. I loved it and love this song. I'm a big fan of the first four Paradise lost albums, especially for Gregor Mackintosh's guitar work. I often find myself in minor pentatonic noodlings that hopefully communicate a tenth of the passion and drama that he could play. There are several moments on this track that are attempts to do just that.

6. Atombender:

Pretty straight forward thrash number with the classic verse, pre chorus, chorus structure and a ska groove style refrain. Rocky George is another favourite guitarist of mine and I'm probably trying to channel a bit of his magic throughout the leads here. I got nowhere near his incredible tone from his Suicidal tendencies days though. It's heaps of fun playing this one live. It's all I can do to refrain from holding the bass Steve Harris sniper style during the hook. The lyrics are from the C64 classic Impossible mission. Evil genius wants to destroy the world, super spy has a race against time to stop him. There's even a little vocal sample from the game in there. Anyone who ever played it will know the line. It's iconic. Anyway I think the music here captures the urgency and drama of the story really well.

7. Pitch black within:

There's a passage in the middle of this track that was very much inspired by Edge of sanity's album 'Unorthodox', one of my all time favourites, so you can imagine how chuffed we were to have Dan Swano master the album. Apart from that it's more grinding violence lyrically based on an old beat 'em up. Hopefully it lands some solid uppercuts to the jaw of its own! The game in question is Splatterhouse, a rare horror/gore outing for the time. It had really rudimentary gameplay but a strong vibe. It's very briefly outlined story was great fun to write lyrics for. Somehow there was love, loss, fear and hope all to be found in it.

8. Another world:

I think we've done a solid job of making this an eclectic but coherent album. This is maybe a song that shouldn't fit with what precedes and succeeds it, but to my ears it works. It took several attempts for Justin to find the right timbre for his voice to work here It's probably a song where traditional or power metal vocals might be a more obvious option, but for me he found an attacking, barking roar that feels right. The lyrics are inspired by the cool story in the 1991 game 'Another World', known elsewhere as 'Out of this world'. There's some strong vibes in that game that I think still hold up really well. It was an adventurous game and I think the song has an adventurous vibe.

9. Isolde:

Oh man I think this might be the song I'm most proud of here. There's tragedy, strength and hope all through the music and lyrics. It's story comes from the 1990 Ubisoft game 'Unreal' (there was a much more famous game of this title later). The hero loses his girlfriend (Isolde), she marries an evil ruler on the
condition he spares the life of all those she loves, so of course the hero hops on his dragon and flies across these oceans of fire to rescue her from this sky borne
castle. It's wonderfully fantastical material and was so rewarding to write lyrics to. There's a moment towards the end of the song where the hero is staring down the castle and psyching up for the battle to save her. The music builds up and releases into a full steam ahead charge while Justin screams “Isolde” in his best grind meets black metal scream. That right there is my favourite moment on the album.

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