Track By Tracks: The Wolves Of Avalon - Y Gododdin (2022)

1. Through the murdering night – Featuring Tony Dolan, Venom Inc:

METATRON: Opening the album Tony Dolan commences with a narrative of the Gododdin warriors on their suicidal quest. I have not tried to replicate the original Y Gododdin poem by the bard Aneirin where much of this ancient story comes from, set around 600AD. There are compelling narratives of last-stand engagements throughout history, the most famous being the 300 Spartans. But there have been many more. Call it a glorious end or a stupid waste of life. However, when you look at these brave acts of madness, and those who partook in them, they had their reasons for doing what they did and that has inspired the human race to stand against oppression through the ages. 

JAMES: The idea for the motif right at the start actually comes from a classical pieceby Ernesto De Curtis written in 1894. Listening back you may not hear much convergence between the two, but I wanted to evoke the same tragic emotion that only the classics can. The rest of the song evolves, naturally taking shape with guitars building into a far fiercer backdrop.

2. Men of Gododdin – Featuring Hoest, Taake:

METATRON: With all our guests we are firstly great fans of their work. Hoest has previously done vocals for the Meads of Asphodel, so it was great to have him join us on The Wolves material. Lyrically the track reveals the purpose of the rider to face the Germanic invaders from the south. The Angles had settled in Britain around 450AD, and occupied the south East and thereafter moved slowly northwards towards the homeland of the Gododdin. 

JAMES: The ambition for this track was to create the atmosphere of rapier-sharp knives (metaphorically speaking), cutting and at times cacophonous. Like all our songs it was recorded piecemeal due to the fact I record multiple parts and guests are gradually enlisted. As a result, we managed to record some of the vocals in Devon standing in the middle of Fernworthy Stone Circle with ‘V’ of the project Sentiessence (last appearing on Carrion Crows Over Camlan). His vocals compliment Hoest’s perfectly and are a real highlight for me personally, adding a level of natural chaos hard to commit to ‘tape’.

3. The shining company – Featuring Thurios, Drudkh:

METATRON: Thurios, who has appeared on most of our releases has returned for our latest album which is a great honor for us. The title is taken from the book, The Shining Company, by Rosemary Sutcliff, a fictionalized account of the battle of Catreath based on the poem. It reveals the chosen warriors who had feasted for a year in preparation for the assault on the Angle stronghold. This part of the story takes place about 70 years after the fall of Arthur at Camlan against the Saxons. It was to be one of the last great battles of the British Romano Celts. 

JAMES: This song fell from the ether one night on a walk along the river Cocker in Cumbria, where the river meets Crummock Water. This is one of my favorite places and is home to a lot of ideas. I grabbed a dictaphone and recorded the melody where upon returning to my studio, I replicated it and over time refined the parts. My vocal parts on the chorus also began life as a guitar melody, which Metatron later provided lyrics for which I replaced. This is typically how he and I work, by exchanging parts for lyrics. Regardless, the inspiration behind the music on this track truly belongs to nature, imparted by her entheogenic experiences.
4. Dead men’s cloaks– Featuring Wulfstan, Forefather

METATRON: Lyrically the narrative of this track explores the topic of the riders who had knowingly acknowledged any likelihood of returning from their journey to Catraeth. Wulfstan’s unique clean vocals immerse the tack into a deeper atmosphere.   

JAMES: This track was a real collaborative effort. I had some riffs and chord structures to start before being joined by Mike Lewin, who I have worked with musically for decades including on ‘Boudicca’s Last Stand’ on the track ‘Bonded by Blood and Sword’ and ‘Across Corpses Grey’. Mike’s style for me bares the hallmarks of true classic rock, which to his picked melodies, riffs, solos and licks to the track add a triumphant ardor. Wulfstan’s vocals slipped in perfectly to complete the picture with a great deal of pageantry. Playing out in my mind’s eye, standards blowing in the wind at dusk are intended.  

5. Is this how it's meant to be?

METATRON: A song that laments the final demise of the Gododdin warriors with reflection and noble muse. It is the most atmospheric track on the release, and the slowest. The lyrics weave a sense of hopelessness, and this is the very heart of the Y Gododdin poem. A cleaner vocal line pulls you deeper into the expanding atmosphere until the grand ending. 

JAMES: This track easily took the longest to write and refine with its many moving parts and steady evolution, which was inspired by my love of progressive rock and metal. Also, to communicate a variety of tonalities that lean away from extreme metal exclusively, I felt it pertinent to draw on such influences. There is also an orchestrated mid-section, led by a flute which was inspired by 'Peter and the Wolf’ written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. This is where I wanted to create a fairy tale-like the transition from a medieval balladinto a 'wolf' like entity that follows. The end of the track becomes a gallant affair which is crested by Steve Wallace’s guitar solo, it simply must be heard.

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