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Track By Tracks: Illyrian - Aegis (2021)


As a note before we proceed, I will be explaining the songs in terms of themes and concepts, and less the precise details outlined in the video games themselves. Our intention was for the music and story to stand on their own without having prior context, but would be enhanced if you were familiar with the source material.

1. Age of Ancients:

The story goes that the world was once covered in a dense, lifeless fog, where unliving stone dragons roamed the land. In an unknown event, fire was created, and with fire came heat, light, and life. A humanoid race of some design eventually came to be, and among these creatures were a few that found power in that flame. Harnessing it, they were able to hunt the stone dragons down to extinction and declared themselves the new de facto rulers of the land. At their helm was a figure named Gwyn, who in godlike fashion was able to wield lightning and pierce the dragons' stone scales to fell them. This track covers that era of uprising, referred to as the Age of Ancients narratively, and is meant to invoke a sense of inspiration and triumph.

2. Age of Fire:

Now the dominant species, these people move to cultivate and conquer the land, further harnessing fire to build technologies and theologies. This is an age of prosperity and science, of abundance and decadence. In its wake, the shrouding fog is pushed back, and life as we know it is permitted to flourish. Given so, other species begin to emerge and take their own place in the world, with this formative race now taking on a deific status for being forebearers, pioneers, and progenitors. The regal palace they hold as their seat of power can be seen on the right-most quadrant of the cover. The lyrics in this song have a very different tone to them despite being from the same perspective as the first track, meant to bring the listener along with them in a first-person perspective as our protagonist goes from celebrated war hero to grand ruler.

3. Age of Chaos:

Alas, soon the flame begins to fade, and with it so too wanes the power of these now-gods. In an act of hubris to retain their power, they attempt to recreate the power of the flame using their knowledge and technologies, and indeed birth a flame of life... but one that brings life to demons and unspeakable horrors. What took generations to build is reduced to rubble in a matter of months as armies of hellspawn begin to cover the land, slaughtering with no regard for any life but their own. The song is intended to be vicious and bloody, with one of the myriad demons spawned in this event being the centerpiece of the lower quadrant on the cover, decapitating something with horrific brutality. The end is nigh, and only chaos remains...

4. Age of Dark:

In a final effort to stem the tide of destruction, our protagonist, Gwyn, devises a way to provide his own soul as fuel to keep the flame burning, and thus maintain some small bastion of their former power and glory. In doing so, he creates a cycle whereby when the flame is well-fed and alive, life can proceed with some semblance of order, but when the flame begins to fade again, another powerful soul must be fed to the flame to keep it burning. Should the flame ever fully go out, only darkness would remain. Lyrically, this one actually has a bit of a perspective-shift in it, with half the lyrics being from Gwyn's perspective and the other half coming from those that live on beyond Gwyn, now trapped in this cycle of sacrifice-for-life he has created. Narratively, these beings would go on to attempt to usurp Gwyn, and thus would in turn start a new cycle of their own. To capture that in a single image is, admittedly, easier said than done, so we chose to represent it by mirroring the right image into the left one, but have it be set in darkness and ruin.

Many of the themes Dark Souls explores is that of cycles and things repeating themselves, with its most iconic image being that of the "Dark Sign" (the ring of fire you see in the center of the album artwork) representing this. Cyclical iconography is something we see a lot in our own history and stories as humans; it is something inherently understood as representing something perpetual, which is to say it lacks a definitive beginning or end. We get to experience a part of that circle in our own lives, and may even get to see a cycle repeat itself if we live long enough. While our music and lyrics are almost exclusively centered around fictional works, I think we can all find something to resonate with a little deeper in these stories, and we feel a good story is not bound to a certain medium, be that a book, a movie, a song, or a video game. The EP may be based on a specific video game, but the themes that underpin its story can be found in many of our stories and folklore as humans. There's something intrinsically primal about a circle, and how such a simple shape can take on such a profound meaning.

The game's also about slaying demons though - how could we not write a metal album about it?

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