The release of the much-anticipated Odyssey to the West, from the progressive deathcore band Slice the Cake, has been somewhat obfuscated by some internal problems. I do not wish to delve into this, but rather write about the music itself, the lyrics, and the concept surrounding it all. Understand that I do not take any side there, but merely observe the fact that the music is out there for everyone to hear, and that I wish to express my opinions on it, as well as expose the underlying storyline. Today, I will cover the Gallows part. So without further ado, let’s do that!
Odyssey to the Gallows was a surprise… We all stopped waiting for Odyssey to the West, which was supposed to come out last year, but when it finally dropped, on April’s first no less, it came with this single, 28-minute, spoken word, ambient, atmospheric song described as an introduction to the “Odyssey duology”. Claiming Shakespearean and Biblical edges, the ambient/noise piece also takes influences from the video game Dark Souls. I will interpret the story and write it as I see it, so you can maybe more clearly understand what’s going on. All the while, I will be reviewing each passage. Let’s take the path of the Pilgrim.
The Pilgrim, recalling her, she who is unnamed yet so important… With sparkling smile and panting, gasping whispers they lay into twilight ere the sun pours from the horizon. And thus his chastity laid in ruins, torn asunder by his weakness of faith, his corruptible soul. All this brings a maelstrom of emotions, a questioning of his very foundations. Unworthy to praise the God he submitted his life to, the Pilgrim takes Exile from the city, in search of redemption, apotheosis perhaps… His own Sun.
Like all of this piece, and some of the following album, the delivery is very theatrical, emotional, and even treads on harsh singing. I really like this part of it, for it is a rarity to behold such a diverse and heartfelt performance. The music underneath ebbs and flows and complements very adequately Gareth Mason’s soliloquy. This section ends with very aggressive cries, and an upwelling of the background music, full of delays and reverbs. I’m no Dark Souls lore expert, but we can clearly see the influence of the character of Solaire on the Pilgrim’s: he is in search of his own Sun.
Fitful sleepers, those who live without questioning, those who let fate drive their footsteps… They deserve their sorrow, for their shallow being and deathbound lives remain unchanged and futile. Corrupt since their conception and worsening forevermore, they kill with disease and steel. Gods, O Gods of War and Madness, end their misery, end the world in deluge… Oh how fallen has the Pilgrim, against fate he struggles, but only follows the path drawn out for him.
Starting seamlessly where The Exile left, Of Fire, of Sword and the Void is musically intense, exhausting even. We feel the madness into which the Pilgrim slips, thanks to Gareth’s vocals and their audio manipulation. The voices are heavily layered and disjointed, also referring to and supporting the impression of madness, schizophrenia, hate and disgust. There really is nothing quite like this, and that’s also why Odyssey to the Gallows is my favourite part of the experience.
We are all Gods, beings of Light and Energy, so end your self-shadowing and bitter thoughts, and cast away your clouds. Take pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain, take to the West… And the Pilgrim rose from his darkness, staring at his Sun, his newfound reason to live…
That last part takes things down a notch, but only slightly. Here the Pilgrim is bestowed upon his quest, so he finds some kind of peace, at least some kind of purpose. We get, at last, some clean spoken words, and it feels like a true respite after this dip in the underworld of more than twenty minutes. And here, Odyssey to the West takes over…
Although far from being Shakespearean or Biblical, as it claims to be, the lyrics are very cathartic. Feebly draped in metaphors and giving off obvious hints to some of its references, the work is nevertheless good and unique. I have never witnessed another ambient noise music with that level of theatricality and with a story worth reading through. The diffuse soundscapes leave the singer-actor at the forefront and really add a level that I feel could have been better exploited here in order to create a deeper storytelling. I long to find other pieces of music that achieve a similar experience, and I believe you should definitely try this one out for yourselves.
Filetype listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 320 kbps VBR
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels