Track By Tracks: Shadow Smile - Signed In Blood (2023)

Signed in Blood is the fully crowdfunded debut album from Shadow Smile. A concept piece about the Seven Deadly Sins and how they affect modern society.

1. Se7en:

We wrote this track last when making the album because we wanted to open with 'Signed in Blood' but it comes in with vocals only. We needed something more theatrical and bombastic so this is what Dan, our producer, and I (Connor - vocals) came up with. There are lots of orchestral and cinematic elements inspired by Hans Zimmer and John Williams along with a passage from Dante's "Inferno", a Medieval epic about a journey through hell, which I read out in my best Gandalf voice.

2. Signed in Blood:

This was the first single from the album and probably the poppiest song too. The lyrics depict Mephistopheles welcoming the listener to hell and offering a deal for their soul before introducing the sins on offer. Musically it took inspiration from Danny Elfman's score from "A Nightmare Before Christmas" as well as old-school metal like Black Sabbath.

3. Hellbound Heart:

The first sin enters here, with a study of the concept of Lust and how it drives modern society. A big chorus and strip-club anthem riff helped give the feel here. It was designed to be a modern take on 80s Sunset Strip sleaze metal but with a dark tone. This song has our favorite music video so far with dancers, a cool storyline, and awesome cinematography.

4. Our Morality:

This is where it gets a bit controversial. We decided to look at the sins and what the best representation of them is in the contemporary world. For Wrath, we thought the idea of 'cancel culture' and shutting down ideas that we don't agree with is perhaps the most wrathful element of day-to-day life. Musically this is by far the most aggressive song on the album. Thrashy, hardcore, and Pantera-style groove metal were the influences here and the guitar solo is my personal favourite on the album.

5. Vainglory et Avarice:

Another passage from Dante's "Inferno" appears here before a beautiful piano piece, performed by our friend Stacey Gaunt from Broken Piano. The motifs and melodies here are echoed in the next track. This was really written as a bit of reprieve from the aggression on either side of it.

6. Before Every Fall:

Pride is the next sin under the microscope. The first verse looks at how pride leads to conflict and an inability to back down from the wars and arguments we make. The second verse examines the vanity element of pride and how we obsess over how we look at the expense of the important things in life. We embraced the warmongering side of the music and gave the song a real imperial-march vibe. Then the breakdown hits and goes from hard rock to extreme metal to nu-metal in a matter of thirty seconds. It's chaotic but it works!

7. Take What You Can (give Nothing Back):

This one is about Greed. Taking everything and contributing nothing is evident everywhere you look. Crony capitalism, fake socialism, governments, corporations, big tech: all taking and pretending they care about building a better future. You could call this political but I think, like the rest of the album, it's just an observation designed to ask questions, not give answers. We never want to tell people what to think, each band member has their own opinions and we welcome discussion. I loved writing this because it felt like a very old-school song structure with a nu-metal twist as well as some beautiful orchestration.

8. The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands:

For our song about Sloth, we had to make something very slow but keep the energy levels up. For the verses we gave it an industrial meets 90s alternative vibe, really Deftones influenced. The chorus is pure pop with a metal edge. As the song goes into the breakdown we channeled a lot of the theatrical influences like Alice Cooper. We really wanted to give this one space to breathe and there are moments where there's very little music going on but it still travels nicely.

9. Soul Journey:

The last passage from Dante's "Inferno" appears here. This time sung with a kind of Arabic tone. We went really hard on the autotune to make it 'too perfect'. The idea is that this is a non human, angelic presence. Presenting as pure but kind of weird in a sinister way.

10. The World Is In My Way:

This is the big ballad of the album, discussing Envy. The lyrics blame the world for a lack of success and show real bitterness at someone else who is doing much better on the surface. It's inspired by social media where everyone posts their best moments and we're left to feel inadequate. The reality is life's hard for everyone and we should probably look to improve our situation rather than resenting others. We got to include friends on the gang vocals here which was a lot of fun. I think this one will resonate with a lot of people.

11. Suck the World Dry:

Ending the album with a 70s Glam meets Goth song which has a blistering saxophone solo? Why not? This one is about gluttony and humanity's addiction to consuming food, resources, data and just about everything else we see! It's definitely the most 'fun' song but perhaps the darkest lyrically. This one has divided opinion more than any of our songs before. So I think it's my favourite!

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