Track By Tracks: Shroud Of Despondency - LanzerRath - Split (2024)

About the album as a whole:

This album is a split collaboration between Shroud of Despondency and LanzerRath. Both bands could be considered to be bands from Michigan, although I(Rory) have lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for almost 20ish years. When I created the project in the late 90’s, I lived in Upper Michigan(where I was born and raised). LanzerRath is from Traverse City. I believe I first approached LanzerRath about a split release after coming to realize there was mutual respect and shared love of Michigan. What was kind of cool is we were both kind of separately working on a more “cosmic” theme to some black metal songs and once we discovered that, the split just kind of worked itself out. I think it’s cool how much our individual sets of lyrics ended up working with each other. I view it kind of like my set of lyrics handles the origin and subsequent spread of a cosmic threat, an idea I first danced with on 2016’s “Of Origin, Conflict, and Recurrence” album, and LanzerRaths side handle a more individual existential account of the same cosmic terror. Mind you, we never discussed or agreed upon this interpretation, but I think the tracks work well with each other in a way that leaves the whole thing open to interpretation. Now, on to my individual tracks.

1. The Source of Multiversal Degradation:

This song introduces an intrusive energy that sets forth into the cosmos/multiverse. Although the lyrics don’t specifically state it, I have come to view this energy as a collection of unnecessary feelings of guilt, remorse, misguided need for love, etc.

Created by the humans-of all their rot inside.
Now their poison is unconfined
Let loose on all words
To break open all worlds

The lyrics also introduce a passage that I intentionally repeat in the second song I wrote for the split. The passage is intended to stress the idea that this energy sets out to end every form of life and that the cause of this terror is, ultimately, a brand of human consciousness molded by absurd religious principles.

Pilgrimage of a sickness in the soul
An illness that traverses space and time
Atrophy of all wormholes
Cut off from all cosmic worlds
Excursion of all psyches in distress
Collective discomfort now molds all time
Maladies and worldly stress
Create all new cosmic worlds

I also repeat the phrase “be all, end all” in both songs, to further stress the religious connotations.

Musically speaking(and in typical Shroud of Despondency fashion), I feel this song is kind of all over the place. The intro section is more angular black metal, ala Thorns or Wolf’s Lair Abyss by Mayhem, but it eventually gives way to a vs/chorus section that is more traditional late 90’s melodic black metal, maybe something more like Mork Gryning or something. Once the clean vocals kick in around the 5 minute mark, it becomes something a little more folk black metal. I was probably listening to a lot of Ungfell and Borknagar, and if you stripped away all the layers I am sure you could find a riff that rips off one of them. As a songwriter who enjoys long songs, I find the greatest part of writing a song to be how to kind of loop a song back to the beginning section, and this is, I feel, a representation of a successful attempt at doing so. So, the song ends as it begins. This also relates to the idea in the lyrics that this intrusive energy is now responsible for the cycles of creation and destruction.

2. Celestial Venom:

This track continues the themes from The Source of Multiversal Degradation, but now overtly mentions the idea that the origin of this cosmic sickness is earthly religiosity. The lyrics below repeat throughout the song.

It is the function of all life to seek decay and bask in the pain it brings
Fall apart from the inside out
Once disgrace is felt
Blight now beyond Orion’s Belt
To seek decay and bask in the pain it brings
How glorious it is to find the rot away from God
One planet’s fantasy is destiny, cosmic maraud

And, of course, it doesn’t end well in the lyrics. The section below was actually the last section I wrote, but wanted to end the song with repeating the “How glorious…” lyric from above.

Each galaxy
Brought to its knees
By fallacy
Alacrity now profanity
Catastrophe a formality
It had to be-calamity
The apogee of travesty

Musically speaking this song goes for the throat right away, with a very violent 90’s Scandinavian black metal riff to start, but it soon gives way to a vs section that I feel is more akin to something that POT era Anthrax may have written if they were black metal. Side note, the kick drum sample used throughout my side of the split was taken from that Anthrax album. I view the chorus of this song as something more in line with Marduk, but it gives way to a refrain that is my attempt at something more in line with Hellenic black metal melodies. But, by the time all the harmonies were added it came off as more Scandinavian sounding.

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