Track By Tracks: Final Coil - The World We Inherited (2023)


“Do you begin to see then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself” (Orwell)

Final Coil’s sophomore album, The World We Left Behind ForOthers, was an attempt to look at how the experiences of the older generation created the world in which we live today. It was not an album of absolutes, but rather one that presented possibilities for the listener’s consideration. Rooted in the experiences of my ill-fated grandparents, it was a tribute to my late grandmother (who passed away during the recording of Persistence Of Memory), and a meditation on the series of political missteps that led to issues such as the Brexit referendum of 2016, or Trump’s election in the same year.

In asking how we arrived at that point, it laid the framework for the equally pressing question of where we are headed – a question with which The World We Inherited attempts to grapple. The foundations for the narrative were laid during a long and rambling interview with Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke, recorded whilst The World We Left Behind… was still being mixed. Extremely articulate, Jaz espoused a mix of compassion and fear that seemed to simultaneously represent the paralysis of the once-revolutionary left, and the rancid fear that has allowed the right to flourish in society once more.

The interview, which took place over the course of an hour in the bowels of Rock City, was eye-opening. Jaz spoke openly on a mix of topics, ranging from straightforward political theory to rather more outré conspiracy theory, but always with the same compelling humanity that has underpinned Killing Joke. It was enthralling, and unnerving, and it encouraged me to dig further into the various topics covered. I didn’t agree with everything Jaz said, but I wanted to explore the themes raised and try to understand what might lead people toward them.

The basic structure of the album came together very quickly. Augmented by a mix of Orwell’s collected writings (1984 notable among them, but far from exclusive), The Politics of Fear (Furedi, 2005), and the works of Huntington and Fukuyama (who have done so much to inform modern International Relations), Jaz’s interview provided the basis for an album that evokes the paranoia and confusion that seems to be growing exponentially in the dark recesses of the internet, and spilling over into our media and politics.

Over the course of ten songs, The World We Inherited weaves a narrative around full spectrum dominance, chemtrails, Morgellon disease, the fear of “the other” that inevitably leads to us vs them narratives, and, eventually, the crushing realization that history did not end with the conclusion of the Cold War and that liberal democracies have manifestly “failed to provide the substance of what people want from government: personal security, shared economic growth and the basic public services... that are needed to achieve individual opportunity" (Fukuyama, 2014). “Most importantly [co-existence] will never come so long as our leaders and governments, our newspapers and propagandists teach us incessantly, insistently, that we must hate and fear and despise all the other peoples who share this same tiny world with us. The nationalism of those who cry, “We are the people,” the jingoistic brand of patriotism – these are the great evils of our world today, the barriers to peace that no man can overcome. What hope is there for the world as we cling to the outmoded forms of national allegiance? We owe allegiance to no one…” (Maclean, 2011)

1. The World We Inherited:

This track serves as both a prelude to the new album and a coda to The World We Left Behind For Others. Although the album wasn’t written in order, the first track was the first piece written – I already had it in mind as we finished recording the previous record - and, with this piece completed, the rest fell neatly into place. Sonically, it echoes the previous album, but also draws from across our catalog, with industrial elements and layered vocals creating a lingering sense of disquiet that flows into the following tracks.

Lyrically, it covers the idea that we now live in an era of unprecedented threat. Flashing headlines, endless conflicts both inter and intra-civilizational in nature, and the swirling voices of social media have coalesced to create a cold and unforgiving world – one that has caused a fracturing of societies and, in many instances, a mental ill-health crisis that reflects the reality we now face. As such, it lays out the framework for the unnamed protagonist’s descent into a world lit by the flickering fires of conspiracy and existential threat.


Musically, this came together around the discordant central riff and grew from there. A heavy, punk-influenced track, it has aspects of Sonic Youth in its grimy riff, as well as Killing Joke’s strident brutalism, although the eerie mid-section takes things in more of a Floydian direction because I wanted to keep things dynamic.

Lyrically, although it appears fairly simplistic, the concept behind it is not, as it refers to Morgellon’s Disease. The disease, “also known as “fiberdisease”… defined by the fibers pulled from “infected tissue” (Meffert, 2010), has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories, many of which point to the silence of mainstream media as evidence of a mass cover-up, perhaps of a bio-weapon run amok. It is an example of how a small number of unexplained medical incidents (the majority of which, upon investigation, appear to be rooted in psychiatric, rather than medical conditions) can be conflated to create an all-encompassing conspiracy that serves to fan the flames of fear with regard the “deep state”.

3. Chemtrails:

Musically, this is one of the album’s most straightforward tracks. It’s got one of those nice chunky riffs I love to write, and it came together really quickly. Lyrically, the key is in the title, but here’s some more for the curious: “Some people argue that when contrails do not dissipate quickly [it] is because [they] contain substances added and sprayed for sinister purposes undisclosed to the population (weather modification and biological and/or chemical war are the most common)” (Llanes, Alvarez et al., 2016).

With so much attention being paid to climate change and control, it is hardly surprising that attempts at geoengineering have not only become commonplace but that a number of conspiracies have gathered pace alongside them. “While this belief is marginal, it is not insignificant: a Google search of the term ‘chemtrails’ returns over 2.6 million hits, and a study by Mercer et al. (2011) found that 2.6% of a sample of 3105 people in the US, Canada, and the UK believed entirely in the existence of a conspiracy involving chemtrails (and around 14% believed in the conspiracy to some extent)” (Cairns, 2016).

Such conspiracy theories are increasingly understandable in a climate of increased fear, post 9-11 governmental surveillance (as underscored by the Snowden revelations), international manipulation of democratic practices, and unfiltered access to information which, in the absence of context and critical evaluation, can lead to erroneous conclusions being formed.

At any event, the chemtrails phenomenon, like Morgellon’s Disease, can induce a mortal dread of “the increasingly distributed, networked nature of governance (Hajer 1997; Sorensen and Torfing 2005), and the ways in which the exercise of incumbent power involves a diverse range of actors and informal as well as formal processes” (Ibid).

4. By Starlight:

A very personal track and a tough one to write. I wanted to give the audience a break, and I felt that the album’s central characters, too, would seek to disentangle themselves from the nightmarish world they’d entered, even if they proved unsuccessful. Anyway, I felt that someone attempting to salvage themselves from such an all-encompassing dread would turn to their own memories for sanctuary, so I dug into three of my happiest memories and then set them to music. It was a challenge, to be sure, but I’m really proud of the outcome, because it encompasses a range of styles and (I think) it also has a compelling melody. After those claustrophobic opening tracks, it feels like a breath of fresh air, although the clouds gather soon after.

5. The Growing Shadows:

When I wrote this hulking monstrosity, it was to Orwell I turned for inspiration. Much used, Orwell’s work may be, but it’s still irresistible – not least because it has proven so horrifically prescient. In any event, underpinning the tracks screaming guitars is the following:

“There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget this, Winston— always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever”.

Musically, it’s somewhere between Neurosis and Sonic Youth, and, as befitting a track that sees the character growing ever more paranoid, it just keeps getting heavier.

5. Stay With Me:

This started out as a sketch and I hadn’t initially intended to keep the electronic percussion until I realized that it worked so much better in this format. Drawing on a mix of Massive Attack and NIN, it’s a dark piece of music and very different from anything we’ve done on our studio albums before. Lyrically, it deals with the idea of being physically present, but emotionally absent – how can you reach someone who’s forever locked within the digital realm? In the absence of a coherent family identity, any group identity will serve and, although the character begs people to stay with him, he remains lost in his own bitter thoughts and beliefs.

6. Purify:

This was a hard track to write, but necessary, both for the album and the concept. It’s a sequel to the equally difficult Convicted of the Right, and it looks at the world through the same distorted lens. The original idea started with the following quote, which details the awful banality of evil: “Although the popular media have traditionally stereotyped SS personnel as either brutal, sadistic thugs or colorless bureaucrats, in reality many of the middle-ranking and senior officers were highly educated, creative, technically accomplished members of Germany’s intellectual elite… [they were] the vanguard of a new ‘breed’ of German who would lead the people out of their racial, cultural, political and economic chaos by any means possible” (Weale, 2010).

The track is written from the perspective of someone who, emerging from the fear instilled by conspiracy, embraces the right-wing – something of which we’ve seen a great deal, especially since the Jan 6th uprising (which was some months off when the track was originally written). It is not a mindset that I have ever wanted to inhabit, there’s a level of raw hatred there that I find deeply disturbing. However, I firmly believe that if you are to understand something, you have to consider the viewpoint that led to it even if you ultimately reject it. Indeed, I worry that, by not facing those perspectives with which you disagree, you are in far more danger of being overcome by it.

7. Out Of Sorts:

An instrumental track, Out of Sorts is the soundtrack to someone whose mind has gone, embracing their insanity and preparing to act it out.

8. Humanity:

“Believe me, if I started murdering people, there’d be none of you left…” - Charles Manson A dark industrial track, by this point the central character is completely consumed by the fear and paranoia of the conspiratorial world.

I’d argue that, in writing the arc of this character, I’m not writing what will happen to all conspiracy theorists and people of a right-wing persuasion – but rather what could happen. Like all sci fi, this is a cautionary tale; but it is speculative fabulation, and I think we’ve seen enough, even since this album was written, to justify the perspective that fear and paranoia are powerful motivators to violence.

9. The End Of History:

Francis Fukuyama, in a moment of unguarded optimism at the end of the Cold War, wrote of The End Of History. Huntington, rather more pessimistic, wrote of a Clash of Civilisations. Neither, I feel, were correct, although, only Fukuyama has retracted his initial viewpoint. However, Huntington’s poisoned perspective has prevailed, and his ideas have infected the discourse, even if they have yet to be substantiated (and many academics have tried.

Alas, his work has influenced any number of politicians and political movements to invest ever greater effort in allowing a statist, exclusionary narrative to prevail. By this point, the character of the album is dead, having sacrificed his life in an explosion of hatred; but that last thought remains – what have we done and, perhaps more pertinently, what are we becoming?

It’s a heartsick ending to the album, but it’s not entirely shorn of hope – just maybe, if we could start to think in terms of humanity and not artificially created racial groups and state bodies, we might start to solve some of the myriad issues we now face. If not, then we are truly condemned to repeat the cycle of ever-more authoritarian governments seeking to control the movements of peoples, even as the land slowly shrinks beneath our feet.

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