**Limited edition first press of 500 audiophile cds. Full color gatefold digipak, 20 page booklet with lyrics.** This is (another) strange one. It’s a genuinely ‘lost’ album, by which I mean it is one the band and I recorded then abandoned because I couldn’t find a suitable theme when it came to writing the lyrics. The music evoked a fantasy world, but I had already covered that subject on ‘Duel’ and ‘Grimm’ and felt I couldn’t justify writing more songs about Kings, Queens, castles and decrepit knights. I was certain that a suitable alternative theme would present itself at some point and so I set it aside while I worked on other projects.
Then I was invited to join the Dark Companion label and record in Italy and it receded further down the list of ‘things to do’. For a restlessly productive personality such as myself, leaving projects unfinished is a serious offence, and so there came a point when I realised that four years (!) had passed and that inspiration wasn’t likely to strike if it hadn’t by that time. So I sat myself down and forced myself to ‘work’ at it like the wretched dwarves who toil in the dark digging through the clinker in search of a seam of silver.
I read Norse myths; I read Greek myths – neither brought forth what I was hoping for, so I abandoned the idea of finding a unifying theme that would fit all the songs and went back to writing for each individually. I also sent the half-finished tracks to two very dear friends of mine in Germany – Nico Steckelberg and Joran of ‘fantasy folk’ group Elane - in the hope that their contributions might awaken the muse.
I also took the opportunity to finish a song that I had left incomplete many years earlier (‘Lair of the white Worm’) which I felt had promise. Having recorded a solo ‘baroque acoustic’ version of that song, as well as additional instruments for the other tracks, I took the decision to go back to the studio in England to finish the album using ‘Lair of the White Worm’ as the basis for an extended group track which I would invite Mick and Violet to develop.
And that is where things became really interesting. Having reasserted my independence in a sense, I found I was writing new songs at a rate that surprised even me (21 raw ideas in 3 days after not having written anything new for almost 2 years), some of which would form the core songs for the next album that I would give to Mick and Violet to extend and develop as we had done with ‘Lair’ (which was effectively a try out for that new direction I wanted to take – sparse psych stoner rock).
One theme that had been on my original ‘ideas’ list was ‘Leper’s Bell’ (just a title, no tune) which soon changed into a song about the London Plague of 1644 (prescient or what?). By the time I had finished all the lyrics and recorded the vocals we were visited by the Coronavirus pandemic and there would be no trips to Italy to perform or record for many months, maybe even a year. But on listening to the ‘final’ mixes I realised that one three minute song was merely setting up a decent idea which needed further explanation to do the topic justice. So I needed to make the album more consistent and develop the plague theme by re-writing the lyrics to two songs which at that point were about an entirely different subject and that as a consequence of this I had to re-record the vocals on two songs and re-sequence all the tracks.
So here you have it – finally – a new ‘old’ album which looks back and forward at the same time (back to my earlier albums and forward to those I hope to make in collaboration with the band and guests in the future).
I hope you like it – and forgive me for the inordinately long time in finishing it. - Paul Roland