War of Being

War of Being

TesseracT’s fourth “continuous piece,” 2018’s Sonder, was about “exploring a deep and devouring sense of insignificance.” Five years later, War of Being has arrived. Similarly a concept album and cohesive follow-up, its complexity necessitated that it was conceived in three separate studios. Before it was finally recorded at Middle Farm Studios, founding guitarist Acle Kahney crafted the music in isolation while singer Daniel Tompkins worked with vocal arranger Kat Marsh of Choir Noir to elaborate on the album’s sprawling narrative—envisioned from end to end by bassist Amos Williams. “Rather than a sequel to Sonder, I would say it’s the flip side. It’s looking inwards, rather than outwards,” Williams tells Apple Music. “War of Being is going, ‘I’ve now spent my time looking at the rest of the world and I’ve realized I’ve lost touch with myself.’ It’s about being at a certain point in your life where you feel you are no longer on the path you chose; you are doing things that maybe you’ve done for other people, and it’s about trying to reconnect with yourself and the journey you may have to go on to understand your ownership in that journey that took you to where you are now—as being lost.” Encompassing a 40-minute documentary, a tie-in video game developed by Tompkins, and a novel-in-progress written by Williams, War of Being is TesseracT’s most ambitious work to date. Below, Williams delves into each track on the progressive metal tour de force. “Natural Disaster” “The craft called The Dream crash lands into The Strangeland, and ex and el are separated by Fear. We have a character called ex who cannot see things clearly anymore. It’s like he’s wearing this dark glass in front of his vision that breaks everything down and makes him only see the negative in things. As a result, el is now looking at ex and not seeing the person that they knew. They’re now seeing this monster, and they’re unable to see who they saw before, because Fear has changed how these people behave. They’re separated by this incident. It’s the first step and the first smashing apart of ourselves—where we then end up getting pushed around into the various stories that will try to lead us back towards the end of the story.” “Echoes” “At this point, we are very bluntly split into the ‘male’ arc of ex and the ‘female’ arc of el. There’s a rough introduction into two extra characters that are the female ones. So you have a character called The Scribe. She has the capacity to alter things—but she changes the world rather than what happens to the male character, which is he changes himself to try to survive in this hostile environment. From here, I also introduce the final version of the female character Knowledge, who is somebody that is trying to manipulate all the players on this weird-ass chessboard into a certain place, but can’t do it directly, because she’s completely terrified of what Fear will do.” “The Grey” “‘The Grey’ is introducing the second stage of the ‘male’ arc. Essentially, what’s happened to ex is that he’s been stuck in The Strangeland for years and years. He has no concept of time and he’s chasing shadows, or the echoes of el, trying to catch up with her—unaware that, actually, he’s scaring her away constantly because he’s become this thing that he can’t see himself. It’s your incapacity to see what you have become. I’ve got to a point where I’ve been so riddled with anxiety and depression that I physically cannot speak. You lose your voice and as such you become smaller and more inconsequential. The idea was The Grey is the character that ex diminishes into. He literally becomes part of the shadows. He believes he’s so inferior that [he uses] the same tool The Scribe uses to change the world to try to change himself.” “Legion” “When Dan was recording this with Kat, he was in tears at the end. ‘Legion’ is, from a narrative perspective, talking about the consequences of your actions. I’ve briefly spoken about these tools that are used by both The Scribe and The Grey. When they use them to alter reality or alter their subconscious and their memories, there are repercussions. ‘Legion’ is talking about what happens when The Grey uses this brush to change things: You create individuals that are part of Fear’s legion. You’re constantly creating consequences and they build up. Eventually, they can overcome you. They can be so numerous that they block out the sun. They are hounding you, chasing you. ex crashes into his depression, or what I call ‘the dark waters’—which are just raw, chaotic. That’s what saves him: crashing into his own unknowable psyche.” “Tender” “It’s all about that moment of promise. We are supposed to be this thing that we’re not, and that’s painful. It is ex suddenly realizing that: ‘I have some ownership of what’s going on here. el hasn’t just turned her back on me. I have caused this.’ It’s remorse, basically; an attempt to see himself for what he is. In my mind, he gets pulled out of the story at this point. I see this as a moment when ex sidesteps. He’s got a moment of remorse. He’s stuck, he stops and he’s like, ‘What can I do to fix this? I promised this not just to you, but I promised it to myself. I’ve completely lost that path and I don’t know where to find it.’ It’s not a ballad. It’s about pain, so it’s a lament.” “War of Being” “‘War of Being’ is trying to explore the whole world; trying to show not just one image, one moment in time, but almost all and everything…which I know is impossible, but it’s why the video for it is a relentless battle that goes on and on and on [with] no winner and no loser. When ex and el take some time to look at themselves in The Strangeland, then Knowledge can only manifest in the respect of: You need a consciousness to be conscious. You need to take the time to stop and look at yourself for knowledge to exist. We’re not turning a mirror on ourselves, but blocking the rest of everything out and going, ‘I’m trying to grip hold of things that maybe I shouldn’t be, because I’m going to cause them harm. I need to let them go, but still try to follow the path.’” “Sirens” “Let’s say we’re talking about a moment where, before a tsunami, the waters recede, and in this case, the dark waters recede and you think you’ve built a structure with your life. We’re meeting Knowledge at this point in my mind, and she’s realizing she’s been brought to that point for a purpose. The purpose is that Fear is constantly chasing her, and Knowledge requires Fear to enact a moment of violence so she can free herself. You could interpret that as, ‘OK, you need to have a breakup.’ If you’re in a bad relationship, you need to break that—and that’s the moment of violence we’re talking about here. You can’t know that you’re doing that. You need to be almost tricked into it. That’s where Knowledge has been drawing el all the way through—so she can bring Fear into Knowledge’s safe space, which is like a tower built from the dark waters, and then that can be destroyed.” “Burden” “This also ties into ‘Tourniquet’ from Polaris, which is about cutting part of yourself off—but also the burden and the guilt you feel, because you feel a burden towards honoring other people when you’ve got to really be true to yourself. Again, even in intimate relationships like parents, like children, like partners, sometimes you do feel that they’re a weight, they’re a burden. They’re stopping you from being yourself. It’s a horrible pain. You just want to cut it off. You just want to ignore it entirely, but you can’t. You’ve got to go, ‘Why do I feel this?’ And maybe it’s selfish, maybe it’s narcissistic to feel that, but at this point we have The Scribe knowing exactly what’s going to happen to her. She’s basically going to sacrifice herself by developing from The Scribe into Knowledge—and then we create another cycle of the story.” “Sacrifice” “I initially didn’t want a happy ending. I didn’t want reconciliation, because I didn’t feel like I’d reconciled anything. But the more that Dan and Kat were like, ‘It’s got to be a happy ending, man. This is not going to be cool if there’s no happy ending,’ I became more interested in the idea of reconciliation, and I became more interested in the image at the end of the artwork. We have ex and el holding hands, stood in the rubble, looking at the wreckage of The Dream—knowing full well what they’re going to have to do to put it all together again to escape The Strangeland and get on with their lives. It’s about separating ex and el from this continuous cycle. It’s about bringing them out of that; letting their old selves continue that, because we need the energy, but they suddenly have the vision to try to repair and escape these cycles.”

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