British prog metal quintet Twisted Illusion will reissue their debut album Temple Of Artifice on May 28. Originally released in 2016, the band have completely re-recorded the album with their current stable line-up.
It heralds the start of a busy period for the band. They plan to release the first of a trilogy of releases later this year. But before that, frontman Matt Jones gives Prog an exclusive breakdown of the re-recorded debut.
“During 2016 I was a 3rd year university student. I had a less than amicable relationship with education. It wasn't for a lack of intellect on my part or even the opportunities available within my university. I just despised the bureaucracy behind it all. Anything with a monetary interest is almost always corrupted eventually. I just felt like another number on a page and I had very little practical reason for studying. I left university in 2016 with a first class degree in media. I was homeless within eight months of graduation. It vindicated my views but being right wasn't improving my life. This cynicism and tongue in cheek downplaying of serious things in my life very much came to inform Temple Of Artifice and the tone therein.
"Lyrically this album is fundamentally about social media and my surroundings creating the lens in which social media is viewed. I have always had immense struggles with the whole concept of social media and the negative implications of it have really interested me so much since TI's inception. I was very aware that I hadn't really had much life experience at this point, so I didn't feel I had much to say about things. This inevitably lead to a more outward focused story in Temple Of Artifice."
Imitate Me: Part 1
Hatred very nearly didn't make it on to TOA. To me it was just too simple and straight-out metal. I didn't want to get pigeonholed, and I felt that with how strong the chorus was, it was just going to become the only song we are known for. I was so happy that absolutely everyone missed the point of this song. At this time the news was inescapable for me. I was doing a media degree and I had a social media presence cluttered with political pundits. Donald Trump had been recently elected president and I wanted to add my own commentary, but I didn't want to write an out and out political song. The premise for the song was about consumerism in general and that if something is packaged simply and effectively, the message within can be hidden and sometimes utterly irrelevant. It's a comment on the superficial nature of our political system and how easily people are manipulated, using their own identity politics to justify their extremely stupid views. The line "...hatred is a virtue..." literally means nothing. Hatred can't be a virtue. It's just a silly statement, but because I sang it with conviction and a strong melody, the message then seemed to have purpose and intent. So, it was a very insular and convoluted way of me dissecting this paradigm but... it did work. So, you know...
Apocalypse...#LOL only really became what it was when I recorded the vocals. Until Excite the Light: Part 2 I never pre-wrote my lyrics before recording. I just loved the spontaneity of coming up with lyrics and melodies on the spot. We were all in very silly moods and very tired when I came to track the vocals for this. The lyrics are daft, as fuck... but then I realised how well it connected to the social media aspect. People are at their most childish on there. It's your most negative self so with a bit of last minute editing I re-framed how the silly lines could come together. The "...hey put down that phone..." line was really what the artwork is about. The apocalypse could be happening and there would be people tweeting and filming. It was a comment on the priority people place on their phones and social media in general albeit, a silly take on that.
Online And In Line
Online was very much the dart to the bullseye of the concept. This was my fundamental lyrical statement all brought together in one song. Very much directed at my relationship with Facebook. I detest the site and what it has done to our social fabric. Vitriol across all spectrums and subsets of social circles. Morons are everywhere my friends and most of them thrive on Facebook.
A Moment of Lucidity
A Moment of Lucidity very much comes full circle for me to accept that my views are in stasis and have the chance to grow and change. I'm not accountable to how I thought 5 years ago. None of us are. It's a song of acceptance, a moment where we step back and question whether we may be wrong. I always loved the line 'free from me, who I was and who I'll be'. I like the idea that through life there are different versions of me. Upgraded and updated along the way, to free me of bugs and imperfections. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this song was the only song on TOA I didn't write by myself. Jess Lawton was our keys player at the time, and she is a great songwriter. She had a host of ideas for the record, but we put our heads together for this one. Jess wrote the second half of the track and I already had the verse, we both worked out the chorus to link the two sections. Musically it's a beautiful song and I am happy TOA has a song like this, stylistically.
Imitate Me: Part 2
Finally, the closing track, Imitate me: Part 2 is about a very specific person who just embodies everything I hate about our social online culture. He caused me an incredible amount of distress as a young kid and social media allowed me to see someone who caused a lot of harm, seemingly flourish without consequence. Social media offered a blank slate for toxic people to re-present themselves. I wrote the lyrics for this song when I was actually about 17. So, they pre date the album by a good 6 years or so. The album finishes with the same lyrics. I wanted the album to feel universal whilst still being personal to whoever heard it.”