Track By Tracks: Darkwave - Thanatology (2023)

Thanatology is a scientific discipline that examines death from many perspectives, including physical, ethical, spiritual, medical, sociological, and psychological.

Despite its title, this album has nothing to do with depression or sadness. This album doesn’t even intend to transmit negativity. On the contrary: Thanatology is an instrumental diary with six “inner snapshots” of a deeply spiritual journey starting with the realization of existential transience towards a glimmer of optimism. “Everybody is going to be dead one day, just give them time” said once Neil Gaiman – and indeed, death puts a big question mark upon our whole existence. Still, Thanatology tries to transmit feelings on a wide scale ranging from sadness and bitterness to joy and positivity that emerges from the realization that acknowledging life’s ephemeral nature can lead to a profound appreciation of the present moment and the beauty of existence.

1. The Last Wasted Dawn:

The opening track – with a title referring to the realization of the fragility and brevity of life – starts with an oriental guitar theme that subsequently melts into a flute solo. I am a big admirer of Devon Graves of Psychotic Waltz, therefore the involvement of flutes in a metal song has always been something fascinating to me. Here, the eerie sounds of the flute intend to paint pictures of a distant “inner desert” – a landscape that represents everything that we should abandon, and leave behind. Then we arrive at the main body of the song which starts with an energetic part with even more flutes and jazzy-sounding piano harmonies (another amazing instrument in a metal track – look, what Francesco Ferrini does in a Fleshgod Apocalypse song!) combined with heavy riffs and guitar solos. Then comes the second – initially slower, then increasingly faster – part of the song with numerous multi-layered guitar harmonies and solos. In these parts I tried to incorporate feelings of bewilderment, bitterness, and confusion that culminate in a fast, thrash metal-like part towards the end of the track (thrash metal has always been one of my major influences, therefore it’s almost inevitable that most of my songs have such parts…). Then the track ends with slowly calming down, by returning to the original oriental motif (however this time without a flute).

2. Stepping Through The Shadow Line:

The second song of the album is somewhat intentionally Janus-faced – just like the situation I tried to depict in the title: a paradox compendium of uncontrollable joy and happiness together with immense frustration and sadness. In other words: the duality of everything that’s left behind, vs. the coming future. The song starts with outbursts of happiness and energy that melt into richly orchestrated melodies while bringing back the oriental feeling of the previous track (you’ll see later that these oriental parts have a somewhat cohesive role in the context of the entire album). Then we arrive again at a thrash-metal-based fast and furious part colored with church organs that culminates in some kind of a “chorus” (I tend to like unconventional song structures – but if we want to make analogies, then I would call this particular section of hectic, disturbing keyboard melodies accompanied with subsequent guitar harmonies a “chorus”). Then the song immediately slows down to become a kind of “marche funèbre”, before the return of the initial thrash metal-like part and the chorus, to wrap everything up with the original energetic and joyful theme.

3. Necronym:

A necronym is a name of or a reference to a person who has already died. Therefore, this song is an obvious recollection of those deserted “personal landscapes” that I already left behind in the first two songs (before “crossing the shadow line”, if you know what I mean…). The jazz-like guitar themes in the beginning of the song are accompanied by slightly unconventional harmonies played on an acoustic guitar. In contrast, the main body of the song is based on a monotonous, pulsating, and rough riff, which tries to dig deep into the mind of the listener, creating a recurring pattern like a continuously returning, unpleasant memory. If you ever wandered in your apartment sleeplessly, haunted by memories from your past, then you’ll understand the motivation behind this section. The piano-based, gloomy middle part is then followed by a bridge section that shows some resemblance to the dissonant harmonies used by the late Piggy of Voivod. The song ends up with the original riff enriched with synth wave fills.

4. Legacy Of The Worthless:

I was around 15 or 16, when I first heard Deep Purple’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra – and in that very moment I realized that there aren’t any substantive differences between the artificially divided “classical” and “modern” music genres. To me, these genres appear as nothing else but different expressions on Art's beautiful face. That’s why I love playing with orchestration, even in the most brutal songs. And this is definitely one of the straightforward ones, trying to transmit feelings of despair and anger, and of being at the bottom of the hole from where one can only proceed upwards. Most of the time I used to play the guitar in standard tuning, but this song was written in drop D, which renders it a deeper, and more robust sound than the other tracks of the album. My enthusiasm for piano harmonies and synth-wave fills is evident here, too.

5. All Shall Perish:

The fifth song of Thanatology intends to be some kind of a recognition of our own mortality, signified by the tolling of death bells in the intro. After haunting piano sounds and guitar harmonies, we arrive at a part of slow brutality supported by the accompaniment of a brass orchestra. Then the jazzy middle part with pianos precedes one of the fastest moments in the whole album: a good old-school thrash metal riff. This is the song of burning bridges: the checkpoint, where we finally realize the transient nature of our own existence – and this recognition triggers us to take a big step forward.

6. Farewell Before Sunset:

The last song of the album is again a thrash metal-based track. The initial section with an almost nu metal-like riff is followed by the ultimate thrashing madness of the album colored with the sounds of a Hammond organ, which somewhat softens the harshness of the fast riffs. Then comes a melody that I find particularly meaningful and emotional - if I should name a single riff that I’m most proud of in the entire album, I would mention this one. For me, it’s like the wrap-up of the whole record’s essence: it’s extremely sad but still, full of hope, like in that old Virgin Black song with Rowan London screaming in his haunting, tortured voice: “All is lost but hope…”. Then the oriental motif from the first track comes back, taking the whole album structure into a frame, fading out at the end, leaving the big questions concerning our own existence open.

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