Track By Tracks: Pillaging Villagers - Pillaging Villagers (2022)

Act 1

1. Wretched of the Earth:

This track introduces the listener to the protagonists and the world they inhabit. It explores the sense of pride the Villagers espouse, despite the trials and tribulations they face, representing one side in the debate surrounding any revolutionary action - those who find refuge from the demands of the system in family, friends and the simple pleasures of their lives. This track also introduces the album from a musical perspective - the primary elements of folk melodies, gang choruses, thrash percussion, etc. are all present.

2. We Remember:

This track explores the challenges the Villagers face and the oppression & exploitation they contend with. This represents the other side in the debate surrounding revolutionary action - those who can no longer tolerate the status quo and rage against it.

Act 2:

3. The Count:

This track introduces the first of three antagonists who, together, create the crisis of the narrative and lead the story into its third act. The Count is a stand-in for oligarchs, robber barons and elites and of all epochs, who see the world as theirs to reform, theirs to improve - he represents the wealthy who stand on the backs of labor and seek to claim glory for the accomplishments labor makes possible. The Count pollutes the rivers, destroys the forests, and constructs a dystopian factory to usher in a new age of modernity. Additionally, each antagonist also represents the desires that exist in many of our hearts which, if taken to an extreme, constitute what we consider 'evil' - the Count represents self-determination and single-minded ambition.

Further, these songs also utilize different vocal techniques for each of the three antagonists, giving the second act an 'operatic' feel designed to draw the listener deeper into the narrative.

Finally, Act 2 represents a departure from a musical perspective - gone are the folk instrumentation, gang shouted choruses and other more melodic elements. As the songs progress, they become darker and farther removed from the sound exhibited in Act 1.

4. The Bishop:

This track introduces the second antagonist - the Bishop. The Bishop represents dogmatists and fundamentalists, religious or otherwise, throughout history, who seek to exploit the fears and beliefs of others for the sake of power and fortune. The Bishop also represents faith - taken to an extreme, it has produced the greatest evils the world has ever seen.

5. The Emperor:

This track introduces the final antagonist - the Emperor. The Emperor represents all of history's political leaders, whose hubris and disregard for anything beyond their own glory leads them to crush the innocent in their wake. He is driven to the village by a failed campaign against the Northern Horde; he seeks to use the village as a forward base for his next northern assault. The Emperor's great flaw is his desire to be remembered beyond death - glorious monuments and great empires have always been built on the backs of slaves for the sake of the 'great men' and their base desire for a legacy.

6. The Crisis:

This track culminates in the crisis of the narrative - the low point for the protagonists and the climax of the story. The three antagonists, representing the economic, social and political elites, join forces to pursue their aims; the Count enslaves the Villagers in his factory in order to construct a fortress to preserve the Emperor's territorial gains. The Villagers rebel, but the Count and Emperor enlist the help of the Bishop and his spies to root out and quell the rebellion, imprisoning innocent villagers in his monastery and using them as blood sacrifices in a quest for cosmic power. This song represents a complete break from all elements of Act 1 - absent are folk instrumentation, thrash percussion, gang choruses, etc. Furthermore, the song is organized linearly, with no chorus/verse structure, ends with a fade and is over 8 minutes long, all of which are unique within the album's structure. This track is meant to demonstrate the depths of the Villagers suffering and set up their glorious revenge.

Act 3:

7. Voices to the Sky:

The Villagers can no longer resist their revolutionary instincts - they overpower their oppressors and raise their voices in jubilant song as the musical elements of the first act (folk melodies, gang choruses, thrash percussion, etc.) are ushered back into the composition. The Villagers dismantle the Emperor's fortress and slay his legionnaires and courtiers.

8. Burn the Monastery: 

The Villagers storm the monastery where their comrades were held and tortured, burning their oppressors and the Bishop alive in gleeful retribution.

9. Smash the Factory: 

The Villagers destroy the oppressive factory in which they were enslaved by the Count in a working-class anthem intended to stand in for the modern struggles of labor. Ready to Die: After fleeing from the fortress, the Emperor returns with reinforcements to crush the rebellion. This song represents a second climax in the narrative, where the listener is led to believe that the Villagers will perish in combat, fighting for their beliefs, side by side. However, just at the moment of defeat, the Villagers are saved by the Northern Horde, who sweeps in from the forests and destroys the Emperor's army.

10. Crush the Enemy:

Along with the Northerners, the Villagers annihilate the Emperor and his army. Freedom is Ours: The Villagers celebrate their triumph as a refrain from track 1 closes out the album.

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