Track By Tracks: Final Coil - The World We Left Behind For Others (2019)

The World We Left Behind For Others is a concept album detailing the lives and struggles of two people who lived in the shadow of World War II. If you listen to the album as a whole, it’s quite clear that different songs are being sung from different perspectives and, when taken together, they form a narrative that explores how the social divisions now rife in the West have their roots in the complicated social changes that took place in the post-war era.

1. Ash’s:

Before anyone thinks we had some sort of bizarre grammar fails, the apostrophe is entirely intentional! A short prelude to the album, it was actually one of the last things I wrote. When the concept became clear, there were a number of threads that clearly ran through the album, particularly the slide guitar motif that sits at the heart of Imaginary Trip, and it felt natural to open the album with something a little more subtle, rather than simply plunging head-first into the heavier territory of the last battle. Given the connection between the narrative theme of this record and the wider theme of communication that dominated Persistence of Memory, it made sense to me that this record be a a direct sequel, so the opening notes of this record directly follow on from the closing notes of the persistence of memory-closer alienation.

2. The Last Battle:

The Last Battle is written from the perspective of a the demobbed soldier returned to find a society that seems indifferent to his struggles and focused on internationalization that seems at odds with the conflict that has just ended. The natural human reaction in such a set of circumstances is a mixture of fear, bewilderment, and anger; and that comes across as he relates his story in tones tinged with bitterness and confusion. His initial reaction leads, as …and I’ll leave suggests, to alcoholism and a battle to cope; so the battle referred to in the title is both a reference to the actual end of the war and to the battle that the protagonist has to overcome to adapt to a society that seems to be changing rapidly around him. It’s a battle he’s destined to lose and, as his attitudes harden, so living with him becomes increasingly difficult.

The song itself is one of our heavier moments and I love the way Jola’s dark bass gives way to the grinding riff that opens the track – it’s one of those explosive moments that’s just so much fun to play and I really like the way the track opens up to incorporate elements that is almost doom in their construction.

3. Scattered Dust:

Separation from a (former) loved one causes so much grief and anxiety, even if you know that you’ve broken away for the right reasons, that you never truly get over it. Close your eyes and they’re there, along with all the myriad possibilities of what might have happened to them. Scattered Dust deals with those late-night emotions when separated from someone once close, you’re overwhelmed with fear for their wellbeing, knowing at the same time that you can no longer simply reach out to check upon them. Wound up in all that, of course, are the reasons that made you leave in the first place, whether they be personal, political or whatever, and the aching realization that, as the relationship crumbles to dust, you’ve lost a part of yourself along the way.

Musically, it has that kind of metronomic guitar work that the Manic Street Preachers liked to play with on The Holy Bible, but it gives way to some really biting riffs as the track progresses.

4. Take me for a walk:

It’s an instrumental interlude the meaning of which becomes apparent if you consider the context of the wider narrative (as opposed to where it’s placed in the album). It’s one of the more atmospheric pieces on the record and it harks back to years of listening to acts like Mogwai. As soon as I came up with the interwoven guitar figure that runs through the center of the piece, I knew it had to be an instrumental, although I didn’t expect it to turn out quite as heavy as it did in the final mix.

5. Empty Handed:

It seems remarkable to me that it’s possible to reach out to, and be denied by, a charitable organization on the basis of social or cultural differences, but that sort of thing happened (and still happens) all the time. If a person needs help, it should not matter what race, color or creed they are; but far from society becoming more open and more tolerant, it seems more isolationist than ever and it breaks my heart to see people retreat to familiar groupings rather than support those in need. It’s a universal problem, as applicable to the plight of refugees and migrants as it is to that of an individual, and I think a lot of the rage in the song comes from seeing how certain groups, who should be seeking to do good, are so blinkered to the needs of those whom they perceive to be ‘others’. It’s an angry song, much more straight forward than many of the tracks on the album, and it’s a blast to play.

6. Keeping Going:

I don’t know why Blake’s And did those feet in ancient time was echoing around my head, but that well-worn phrase “dark, Satanic mills”, which has connotations both of orthodoxy and the industrial revolution is a perfect metaphor for the personal grind that underpinned the golden age of capitalism, which emerged after the Bretton Woods conference and ran until the end of the Gold Standard in 1971. At any event, the way I envisaged a society in keeping going is something of a cross between Blake’s epic and the mechanistic society of Lang’s Metropolis and the taut, industrial percussion really underpins the lyrical themes. As with all the tracks here, the overarching theme is the way that a war generation became the disposable tools of ever-increasing productivity, and the lingering resentment such treatment inevitably engenders.
Musically, it was a tough song to get because of the incredibly regimented samples that sit beneath the track, not least that tough hi-hat line, which has a NIN vibe to it. That’s definitely one of the areas where, on this album, the sound has evolved. There was a little bit of synth and electronica on Persistence of Memory – tracks like Lost Hope, You waste my time and alienation, but it was predominantly a guitar-based record. On this album, there’s a lot more stuff going on. It’s still a heavy record (heavier, in many ways), but with a lot more texture.

7. Convicted of the right:

The only other song to explicitly deal with the war, convicted of the right returns to our soldier as he looks back to his training and, let’s call it what it is indoctrination. Such indoctrination, whilst regrettably necessary at a time of war has time again proven damaging when allowed to continue unchecked once the conflict has come to an end. How does a society, brought up to fear and hate a significant part of the wider world, let go of those feelings without rehabilitation…

As such it’s a dark piece of music – very atmospheric – and bookended with samples that move from the sounds of echoing conflict at the outset to the distorted noise of a busy restaurant, the latter signifying the claustrophobic effects of PTSD in a crowded place. It’s a very a different piece of music for us, I think, and it’s a challenging piece to play live, but I’m really glad that we were able to make it work for the record.

8. Ashes Ashes:

It’s a nightmare, isn’t it?

9. One more drink…

A short transition: the slide into alcoholism as a means to cope with an unfamiliar world and the ghost of the past…

10. …and I’ll leave:

It takes a remarkable amount of courage to finally walk away from a relationship that is toxic, but it is necessary, even at the cost of wider social disapproval. It’s hard to imagine now, but for a woman to leave her husband at a time when society very much demanded female subservience must have been a truly harrowing experience. My grandmother never spoke of what she endured, but sometimes you can empathize even with that which has gone unstated… That said, it was really difficult to get this song right and I hope I captured some of that combination of self-belief and naked terror that must have surrounded her decision.

Musically, it’s a very nervy riff, once again hotwired by some tough electronic elements running underneath, but it was important to keep that sense of melody.

11. Imaginary Trip:

When I was young, my family lived in East Dorset, in a sleepy little seaside town called Swanage. Imaginary Trip takes the listener along the same walk I used to take with my grandmother as a child. She always loved it there, and I wanted very much to take her back there once more. Although a tribute to her, I think we all return to the places where were happiest when we lose someone close to us, and I hope the song will take the listener to wherever they need to go when they hear it.

12. The World We Left Behind For Others:

The overarching theme of the record is the slow decline of social cohesion in the wake of monumental events. I truly believe that England, in particular, has this strange mix of views that can only come from being caught up on an island that has often punched above its weight for both good and ill throughout history. This song acts as an epilogue to the story that has unfolded over the course of the album and captures some of the sense of rage and dissolution that seems to be paralyzing the country at the moment. It’s a big song, and it takes its time to grow out of a mire of feedback, but when that riff finally emerges, there’s a real adrenalin surge that helps to take the listener through to the end of the album. In many ways, it’s one of the pieces of which I’m most proud and, like many of the longer tracks I write, I never intended it to be so lengthy, it simply evolved that way! Live it’s explosive!

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