Track By Tracks: Adarrak - Ex Oriente Lux (2021)

1. Final Ethos Demise:

Zigor: Final Ethos Demise is in my view a brutal death metal song about mental illness. It’s one of the very first songs George and I worked on together so there’s lots of great memories there and also seeing it mutate and evolve to how it sounds on the record. It’s got all of those elements that make a song proverbially punch you in the face. When the album was done, I thought that was a great opener, a great brutal starter. What’s funny is that that tends to be the first song people hear and it sort of throws them off since they expect the rest of the album to be like that!

George: I remember that when we were working on our first song, it was primarily focused on invoking the Gothenburg sound as me and Zigor are fans of many bands from those roots, keeping it as what I would call ‘easy listening’. Really happy with how it turned out.

Gustavo: Heavy tune. I have been doing these types of vocals for the last 15 years, so this one came out easily. It was one of those songs whose vocals are exactly the same as when we did the pre-production work. Pretty heavy straight forward song.

2. Into the Abyss:

Zigor: Into the Abyss talks briefly about the Global Financial Crisis of ‘08 when Gus and I were struggling to keep our jobs while George focused on getting money to go see Maiden play live here in Singapore ha ha ha, just kidding. We had Nicholas on this one as a guest. Top muso and bloke. He was really into the tune so George asked him to have a go. We had a great time in the studio. This is probably by far the weirdest song on the album and we also keep hearing that from folks. It’s got a very rather off vibe with lots of technical bits and what not.

This is another one of the very early pieces we did together. It certainly evolved to a weird yet complex tune that has lots happening on the front of the drums as well. I like what Gus did with the vocals, not an easy tune to get around.

George: We built the song with the idea of having a doomish element ala Black Sabbath zing to it. Right after the intro of the song, Lord Chuck Schuldiner gave me some inspiration in altering the style, giving it some augmented space for the rest of the track. As Zigor has mentioned, having Nicholas in helped add some modern feels to it, which he did a hell of a job on in giving a contrasting style; something between the lines of despair to glimmers of hope, only to realise that it’s all bullshit and there was never hope to begin with. Something I feel is pretty relevant to current society.

Gustavo: Up to this day I keep wondering what were these guys thinking when they came up with this song. It took me a while to understand it. I love the slow beginning and I tried to give it that melancholic feeling that the intro has in the music department. There were several bits and pieces created while recording in the studio. Originally, this song had more vocals. Thankfully, the guys added a pretty sick and stylish guitar solo that got rid of a lot of unnecessary vocals. I like the very last part. Doomy and heavy.

3. Mettle:

Zigor: this is another one of my faves and based on numbers so far, folks out there seem to like it a lot too. Lyrics deal with the innate human ability to survive through resilience. I think musically you can feel all that stuff, sort of the “hero’s journey” metal style, dunno -something like that hahaha!

There are some melodic fills in there on the bass department and I certainly had some fun with those Harris’ style chords towards the end. A very fun tune to play for sure!

George: Similar to Final Ethos, this was another Melodic Death Metal driven song but with an emphasis on a melody not from the rhythm side. But as we continued to write the song, other influences kicked in, from Thrash to Power and Groovy ideas to stray away from predictability. Really fun song we’ve done and Gus killed it with the vocals!

Gustavo: I enjoy singing this song. The verses are definitely new territory for me. They have some sort of a Power Metal vibe. I have never done these types of vocals since I don’t consider myself a good melodic singer. However, when I showed the guys the pre production recording they encouraged me to go for it. I believe it was just one take for each verse. I was happy I didn’t have to record them a lot of times. I love the solo. It is sick. I still ask George, Is this you Gboy?

4. Bereft:

Gustavo: This was the very first song Zigor sent me. Another heavy tune. I remember when I sent my demo to Zigor and he was not so sure about the clean vocals. I am pretty sure George hated them. It took a while to convince them to let me keep them. While in the studio I came up with different layers for those clean vocals. I recorded some pretty ridiculous high-pitched clean vocals. Fortunately, Dan Swano didn’t put them right in the front and he created a good balance between the growls and the singing parts.

Zigor: Gustavo here as you can see is a bit of an old fart and his memory fails him. I liked the vocals from the get-go and pushed him to keep working on them. This is also one of the very early tunes we wrote. Having Marty Friedman in there really made it epic. That solo just creates an insane climax that is hard to sustain afterwards. I love how George just musically hands off to him so beautifully - the result of growing up listening to Marty that is!

The track is fast, it’s aggressive and talks about human loss and how Death is the only thing that truly frees us from Earthly suffering. Musically there was also some room there for some fun basslines.

George: This was funny enough, the fastest track we’ve written! For the album, we had the idea of having a couple of guest solos, and this was the first song we discussed doing so. We had a couple of them in mind but Zigor changed everything by bringing up Marty. It got me thinking because with Marty now a superstar in Japan, would he even consider it!!! We tried nonetheless and sent him the track and he got back with positive feedback, and was more than happy to do the solo! I’m a Marty fanboy so this was really high up on my bucket list, and this ranks top 3 of my favorite songs in the album.

5. Withering:

Gustavo: This is another crazy song. I find it to be such a rich tune with so many elements. When I went to the studio to record this song I remember not liking at all the way the vocals were sounding for the intro part. The rest of the song was fairly easy and mostly in one take except for the end. There is a section in the end that George wanted me to growl in a certain pattern. It took me a good 20 to 30 minutes to understand what he wanted to do. Eventually we figured it out and changed the lyrics a bit to fit George’s idea. The very end was also George’s idea. He envisioned some sort of Cradle of Filth end. Impossible for me to do the Dani Filth thing, but it came out pretty good.

Zigor: another one of my fave tracks here. The lyrics talk about the passing of time and how perhaps we’re all just imagining Life the way we know it and living in a deferred reality. The tune is brutal, aggressive and it’s got all the elements I love. I think in this one the icing on the cake was put in by both Gus and George- they really transformed the original song into the in-your-face track that it is. It’s got lots of the stuff I like to have/put in songs: creating a sense of anticipation and then perhaps changing it after a round or two of playing a riff or melody. I would think this is Adarrak at its best or perhaps what hopefully folks might define as the Adarrak sound later on.

George: The origin of the idea came from my love for Scandinavian and Modern Swedish Melodeath/Folk Metal, with a huge bulk coming from Jari Mäenpää and his arpeggio style and Amon Amarth like riffs, invoking a sorrowful sound. Towards the end with the structure of the outro, it reminded me of a Cradle Of Filth idea that fit very well and it ended up extending my already long wah guitar solo. Also one of my top 3, this was what I envisioned with Zigor and Gus in the direction of the band's sound.

6. Through the Fabric of Time:

Gustavo: Another heavy doomy intro. I love these intros, man. I went for another low growling vocal style here that makes contrast with a higher pitch screaming in the verses. The clean part is also fun to sing. It is simple but still catchy. Fun song. One of my favorites.

Zigor: this one is one of those tunes folks have been describing as old school meets new school. I love the doomy parts and what Gus did with the lyrics I wrote. He always infuses such a ton of feeling and doom and despair, it rounds off things nicely. The solo on this one is a beauty.

George: I would call this Into The Abyss’s sane sexy stepsister with the similar doom intro. Played around with some black metal-esque open chords to open the song up from the chugs of death. All in all a pretty straightforward track with a cheeky old-school breakdown ending. The little solo at the end was actually a melody I’ve thought about from listening to some grunge, giving it more groove from the rest of the song.

7. Beneath the Vault of the World:

Gustavo: Another one that has some vocal parts that were created in the studio and ended up being different from the pre-production work. The clean vocals are a little bit odd to me, and I still don’t know if I like them or not. I love the solo in this one as well.

Zigor: A heavy track that talks about laws in certain countries that allow families to shackle folks with mental diseases and keep them in a basement if they don’t have the means to get them help. Brutal. I first read about some of these stories years ago and the more I researched about it and the more I got to know, the more I knew I had to write about this.

Musically this is likely the track I am happiest with from a bass parts perspective. There was quite a bit of room and opportunities in there for the bass to try to shine.

George: By far the most difficult solo on the album because it felt like talking without breathing for more than a minute! Gus and Zigor did an amazing job colouring the song over the more repetitive riff, kudos lads.

8. Fire will cleanse:

Zigor: Fire Will Cleanse, which is instrumental at the end of the album, is all about the Witch Hunts in Europe where I come from which took place from 1450 to 1750. Some pretty fucked up twats believed half the women who didn’t want to sleep with them were witches and that only fire would cleanse them from their evil connection with the Dark Lord… Pretty sick and sad time on our continent. Musically, yes this was the first tune we ever wrote. It sounded pretty darn different to how it came out in the end.

The original riff was played at a slower tempo and it was of course a lot more simplified. There’s this bloke (@edgarpintodrum) I used to play music with when I was in my teens who now lives in Chile and continues to make and play music. In the very early stages of Adarrak (before we’d even approached Rob, our guest drummer) I sent Edgar the very early takes of Fire Will Cleanse and he really brought that tune to another level by adding some of this insane Gene Hoglan style drumming. When we got the trackback from him George and I looked at each other and said “wow, he really turned it into an amazing track” and “our initial stuff is shit, let’s rewrite”. After that transformation, the tune started to sound a lot more like what it sounds like on the album. The breakdown and slower tempo parts were introduced later once we’d decided it was going to be instrumental with all the stuff going on in there. Finally, when we started discussing guest solo players we thought Ed would be perfect for it so we invited him to put down a solo -and what a solo that is! Very reminiscent of the stuff Death or Cynic would have on their albums, in my view.

George: Funny story on this track, this was actually a rewrite from our very first song that we actually did during a studio session. I didn’t really like how the song panned out (Zigor tried to be very open to the song) and we ended up scraping the song. Months later we came back to the song and we tried to give it another shot by altering the riffs. So much was adjusted to the point where Zigor said to me, ‘You know this is going to be an instrumental right?’. And this was all before the changes that came from the drums that led to another rewrite!

I played around with some simple time signature changes in the track, and flirted with hellish ideas of falling into Hell and meeting the Demon playing a cheeky guitar solo; something good ol’ Ed was able to pull off in the best way!

Gustavo: When Zigor told me this song did not need vocals I was totally pleased about it. I love growling and singing, but vocals can be overrated sometimes. Love this tune. Quite proggy and technical.

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