Track By Tracks: Sionis - EGO (2020)


1. Ouroboros:

Was written by Caleb during a very dark time in his life. The lyrics and guitar were one of the first completed songs on the album. The song talks about being constantly unhappy, and looking everywhere but the source, for the answers to this unhappiness. The lyrics reflect our tendency as humans to count on a future that will never come. They talk about how we are unhappy at the moment, but convince ourselves it is okay because in the future it will change - we’ll get a promotion or a partner that we really care for, or maybe win the lottery. We believe that some big thing that will change how we feel is going to take place, one day. Of course, nothing really goes the way we want it to. The way we imagine it. So the lyrics reflect how we are constantly stuck chasing our own tails. As negative as this song sounds with the opening lyrics “What kind of life is this? Don’t fucking hold your breath, anticipating, cause’ it won’t turn around”; the song as a whole is actually positive. The message is to stop wishing your life away, to enjoy every moment for what it is before it passes you by. In a more symbolic sense, we as humans have become like the mythical creature - Ouroboros - spinning in circles and consuming our own bodies and minds - eating ourselves alive. The underlying statement in this track is that this way of life is poison to our souls and the positive spin is that because we are the poison- we are also the cure...“we are the elixir”.

2. Avarice: 

Is about one of the most profound downfalls of our society as a whole. Greed. It reflects back to the idea of chasing a future from Ouroboros and losing the moment - but to the culprit of wealth and material gain. The song references being “kings” or rulers of our own lives. Lyrically these symbols act as more of a parody, a contradiction, because even though we think we’re in control - the very act of chasing what we can’t obtain, makes us slaves to our desires. We are consumed by that which we are searching for and in this way, it actually controls us. Values and goals of money, prestige, wealth, and power destroy us. The song further references ruling our own kingdom. But our kingdoms in this regard are made up of our material possessions. The main theme in the song is to show how our goals of obtaining happiness through material gain and wealth lead us astray. Much like kings and queens in the medieval days who held a lot of power and riches and watched as the vast majority starved, this song is also symbolic of how our world operates today. While it is darker in tone, it is also a reminder that just because we are lost in this reality and taught to value this type of kingdom and rulership, it does not mean that we cannot learn from the negative outcomes of these teachings and change.

3. Corporeity:

Was a lot of fun lyrically for Terence to write. Prior to the album being composed, Terence had written a song about greed and being trapped by it but also about being consumed by our physical realities. The symbolism was being a prisoner to our own physical selves, bodies, and the images we commit to portraying. Interestingly enough, Corporeity and Avarice were once the same song that Terence split to have two contrasting but differing messages. While Avarice focuses on the goals of material gain and wealth, Corporeity focuses on the physical gain and perceived level of happiness through meeting a certain standard in our appearances and being able to project our image to those around us. In this way, this song is one of the first to clearly relate the album name, EGO, to the context of the social issues at hand. The idea here is that we, as humans, consume ourselves in the process of trying to consume ourselves - digesting only our flesh and the flesh of others for substance. There is kind of a cannibalistic and vampiric vibe in the song - as seen in the lyrics “we bite into our flesh and watch our world waste away” - but this is more metaphorical rather than literal. The concept that we are surviving off the blood and flesh of one another - both in what we value in ourselves and how we treat each other - is the underlying theme of this track. The lyrics in the chorus demonstrate this well - “as our bodies decay and waste away under the skin, we fear we will not be whole again.... as we thirst and hunger for ourselves, who we never know”. Although the term Corporeity means having a physical body or existence – the lyrical composition in this track asks us to think about what that existence really means.

4. Asthenia:

Is simply about global corruption and humans destroying the planet, because our possessions and conveniences are more important to us than our home. In a big way, this song paints the picture of what we are destined to create when the problems in both Avarice and Corporeity are left to germinate and grow. The lyrics talk about how we are destroying the very ground beneath us and the fabric of connection around us. The very air we breathe. Asthenia means to be sick or weak. To be Ill. The single represents how we as humans and our socially constructed existence on this earth has become a disease to ourselves and the natural habitat in which we are born into. The video concept accompanying this first single shows clips of war, destruction, poverty, injustice, chaos, and death because these are the outcomes of spreading our disease. The song also talks about how we continue to do this even though we see signs that it is not helping us or our planet. The lyrics “warning signs that we fail to heed” are more of a reflective line - to recognize all of these issues as part of the same problem and to correct it. The song also talks about the difference between “having forever or having everything” which is simply about choosing our planet and the life of our children over the need to conquer, destroy and gain power from one another. It directly relates back to the first song on the track as well by suggesting that even though we are a disease - we are also the medicine to that disease and that the time to act on that as society has long since passed. It is now.

5. Outlier:

Was another song written during a very dark time in Caleb’s life. He was listening to a lot of Counterparts’ at the time, and the lyrics took a lot of inspiration from this. Caleb loved how angry Brendan Murphy could sound without coming off as whiny. He essentially took the pain and anger that he was feeling at that time in his life, then cranked the dial to 11 on it and let the lyrics flow. One line that really stands out in this song is “I can’t survive this, being me… But in the end, we all die at peace”.

This line is a reference to some of Alan Watts’ writings, in which he examines near-death experiences. The testimonials from people that have had near-death experiences almost exclusively say that it was the most peace they had felt in their lives, as they were able to let go of all of the anxieties, anger, and general dissatisfaction that we all face as humans. The song also talks about what it is like to feel these emotions and to care about feeling them in a world that is stuck either pretending that they do not exist or that is committed to shaming them away. Meanwhile, they grow under the surface. Overall, the song ask’s what it truly means to be an “Outlier”, someone who thinks and behaves differently than the masses, during a crucial time in our world. The line “in this world of ice my soul is fire” – is symbolic of how emotion and passion can feel – fiery and heated – and how it can be having all of this inside of you while living in a world that seems cold or frozen - cut off to it. In a more general sense, Outlier is a song about struggling to find a place where you really feel like you belong… and where you feel you want to belong.

6. Leviathan:

A deeply personal song to Terence. He wrote it following the death of a friend of his, one of whom was going to originally collaborate on Sionis with him and Caleb. Four days before he was found dead, Terence had sent this friend the earliest version ever recorded of Asthenia – at the time it was called “God's Fingerprint”. This was before the band was ever called Sionis. Days after sending that track to him and talking with him about joining the band – this friend hung himself. The night before his wake and funeral, the lyrics for this song started flowing in Terence, as did the tears. The song essentially started out as a ballad - a deeply meaningful poem and mash-up of phrases and words that Terence wished he could have said. Things he would have shared had he known how intensely and silently his friend was struggling. Prior to this, Terence also lost other friends to suicide over the years and struggled himself at times with the thought of escaping everything around him. This song became a way for him to talk about all of that. What it felt like, what he wished he could say to those who had gone to young, and what he still wanted to say to those hurting and silently suffering. It later fit into the album as a branch off of Outlier to showcase what can happen when we are taught to hide the deepest, most emotional parts of ourselves... who we truly are ... to bury them deep down ... for no one to see ... to exile them to silence and suffering.

The song highlights two sides to this. If we do live true to our inner selves, we can end up feeling like an outcast for not prescribing to the norm. But when we bury ourselves and what we truly feel, to live up to the expectations of everything else around us and to portray this perfect image of who we think we're meant to be, we suffocate. Much like the way Terence’s friend and brother stopped breathing with that noose around his neck. We choke. On all the underlying problems we are taught to never talk about in a world we fear will not listen even if we tried. “We feel hopeless and lost and in despair” - focusing on what we feel we will never overcome and what we think will never get any better. Which is exactly the way a society built on the problems in this album wants us to think.

Alternatively, society and the political state - much of what drives these underlying issues - was termed “Leviathan” by an early philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Our society and political state are one of scarcity, a culture that breeds the idea that we’re never good enough, where fear takes over our ability to love ourselves and where pain floods our minds and hearts until we can’t think of anything else but how to escape it. Were left with a monster growing inside of us, getting ready to unleash its storm. When that storm hits and we feel alone in it, it can seem like there is nothing in the world that can help us escape it or weather it. In some writings, the Leviathan is a mythical sea monster, but in others, the term is also equated to describe something large and enormous – something bigger than most other things. The Leviathan is said to dwell at the bottom of the ocean, alone, as the only creature of its kind. The song was originally called Glass Pasts as a way of reflecting of what had come before and thought about the fragile nature of our lives… but as Terence was thinking of how to honour his friend in a deeper way, the name of his brother, Levi, who had gone to soon, and the message behind the lyrics... Leviathan just made the most sense.

7. Harbinger:

Is a term that translates to something forecasting that another thing is going to happen... especially something bad. In a more general sense, it is also known as a thing that signals the approach of another. In the context of this album, this song honours the deeply felt feelings and outcomes of all the injustices, loss, and issues being faced both collectively and individually. The message in this song is essentially that if we keep doing what we are already doing more bad things are going to continue to happen. In this respect, we could have called it Insanity, but Harbinger was cooler. This song is one of clarity and realization but not from a place of happiness, from a place of pain and dissatisfaction. The lyrics ask us to stand against the voices in our own heads and to deny the messages of a society that has failed us, as well as to think deeper about the agendas of those who rule us or tell us how to live. With lyrics like “this sinking feeling in my chest has got to end because it’s controlling me all over again” and “I go unseen invisible in your eyes... exhausting every effort just to show you that I’m alive”, Terence wanted to paint a picture of someone who was fed up living this way. Of someone who is in touch with these feelings. At times, the song can sound like it is about a relationship, a frailty abusive and one-sided one at that - but that is the beauty of it. It is about relationships, all of the relationships that are this way, including the ones we have with ourselves, our friends and family, and the social systems we interact with. One of the underlying messages in the song is that this isn’t the only way to live even though we’re taught to believe it is, and that “in a world so black and white it’s time to take a stand”.

8. Leucothea:

Is very simply a song about change. While there are many underlying themes of social change and calls to action on the album, Leucothea is without a doubt, the most profound one of all. Before it was called Leucothea, it was titled “The Call” and was written by Terence with the idea of being the call to action on the album - urging people to band together to change the course of our future by learning from our past. In Greek mythology, Leucothea is known as the “white goddess” of the sea. Therefore, the name is largely a reference of what it means to be pure of heart and intention and to return back to a more natural state of being with ourselves and others. The lyrics reflect the way we existed before we were faced with corruption and seduced by the EGO. In some readings, Luecothea surfaces from the ocean to Obysseus and his shipwreck of stranded sailors and offers them a veil of hope in exchange for his cloak and their raft. In this way, she is also symbolic of us giving up our material gains and previous ways of navigating our lives in exchange for a better future. The lyrics here also ask one of the most important questions on the album which is: although this change is needed, are we as a species and a society ready for it? as seen in the bridge before the chorus where it says “Will we rise up again or drown forever in our sleep? Will we awaken or hang our heads in disbelief?”. Essentially this is asking if we as human beings will invite this change or continue to live the way we are and have been forever. Stranded and lost.

Furthermore, because she is the Goddess of the Sea it makes sense to reference Luecothea with Leviathan. Where Leviathan is a reflection of all these problems - being lost and drowning and bringing the storm that follows, and Harbinger is the inevitable outcome of living and feeling this way, Leucothea is the solution, the answer, the light. The name was also chosen because the lyrics in this song talk about change and restoring hope to ourselves and our dreams. In other literature, Luecothea was said to be pale of face because of her ability to restore color to the faces of many and she was also claimed to be an oracle, one who held the answers to people’s questions about their dreams. For this reason, her name was fitting to match up with the opening lyrics “We are the pale faces, never walking free. Trapped in lifeless bodies, neglecting hopes and dreams” and with an ending message of “Don’t be another pale face forgotten on the wall. And fight for your life every time you hear the call”. The “call”.

9. Cenotaph: 

Is the final song on the album that wraps up the ending message of coming together for change. The lyrics talk about rising up from our sleeping and death-like states and taking action. It reflects how we have all been “deprived of irrigation, dying for the life we crave” and further comments on a race that has been alive but barely breathing. The song is about how we are all living on this earth but not surviving in the ways we were meant to and how we are not nurturing each-other and our planet in the way that we need to be. Instead, the lyrics suggest that we live a guided life, a certain dying breath” where were “stuck in annihilation” and “un-united... facing the world abreast”. This one was written with a final message to “Wake up from our graves and rise up off our knees” and it ties together all of the messages of earlier songs and the need to change our ways in one simple concept. A cenotaph. Which is essentially an empty tomb or monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. In this sense the cenotaph is our planet – Earth is the monument and its soil is a gravesite for people who have died or who are living a life unfulfilled - devoid of purpose. It is representative of the physical bodies that have decayed in the ground beneath us, as well as the living souls that seem destined for a similar fate. Although the vast majority of cenotaphs honour individuals, many noted cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of a country or of an empire. In this case, the song is about the loss of humans over the years both from death but also from losing our purpose – sacrificing our humanity to the EGO.

The goal of the song is to one last time drive home the idea that we are all in this together and that we can’t turn back time but we can move forward in a different way. The idea of a gravesite we are all bound within but also connected by is contrasted with the statement that although we are buried together, we are also stronger together and so, we can rise together too. Therefore, the underlying message on this final track is one of hope, that we can and should “rise up from our graves” and become alive and one with our planet each-other again. This song asks us to bury the EGO instead of ourselves, not as the one but as the many - and the lyrics urge people to “be the change that they want to see”. The chorus really makes a profound statement that “if we want to change the world” then we need to “stand together and let our voice be heard”.

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