Singled Out: Barren Earth's As It Is Written

05/04/2012
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Today Kasper Mεrtenson from Barren Earth tells us about the song "As It Is Written" from their sophomore album "The Devil's Resolve". Here is the story:

Our second album, The Devil's Resolve, has been out for about 6 weeks now. Many questions have been asked about the album as a whole, but many questions have also popped up concerning a certain individual song, namely 'As It Is Written'. This particular track stands out for a number of reasons. Firstly, with its 7:30 length it is the longest track on the album. Secondly, with its lengthy prog interlude it is arguably the album's most adventurous song. And thirdly, with its inclusion of a bag pipe it manages to add unexpected colours to the album's sonic palette.

The main theme of As It Is Written was written long before Barren Earth was even in existence. I actually remember playing the melody to our bass player Olli-Pekka Laine already back in 2003 saying that I'd like to do something with it. But it wasn't until 2010 that I actually got serious with it and started writing the rest of the piece.

The first part of the song has a relatively normal structure in terms of having a verse, a pre-chorus and a chorus. But once the first part was completed, I decided to take the track into a completely unknown territory. I felt the opening half was strong, and knew I wanted to return to those same themes towards the end of the song, but in between I wanted something totally different.

At this point I stopped thinking in terms of riffs or sequences, and concentrated more on the melody itself. With conscious avoidance of repetition it was a question of seeing how long a melody could be carried. I didn't quite succeed in relinquishing all repetition, since there clearly are certain repetitive fragments, but by and large it starts at point A and ends about 50 seconds later at point B, after which it is then repeated with full force by the whole band, as opposed to the solo piano the first time around. Call it prog, if you like.

After the middle part is over, the song returns to the familiar territory of the opening section. But in an attempt to keep things interesting, I decided that instead of overtly repeating the main melody in the end, I'd rather put a keyboard solo there. And so I did, although much to my chagrin many people seem to think that it's a guitar solo. No it bloody isn't! It's a freaking Mini-moog!! The confusion is probably due to me using a pitch-bending technique usually more associated with guitarists than synthetists. Nevertheless, a synthesizer solo it is. And certainly the longest that I've ever played, at least on record.

I had a vision on what kind of vocals I wanted. Originally I wanted growling on the verse, clean singing on the pre-chorus, and then growling again for the chorus. But presenting this idea to Sami Yli-Sirniφ he said: 'You can't be serious.' He had a totally opposing view on how the vocals should go, and proceeded to give a demonstration. Over the years I've come to trust Sami's vision, so I decided to try it his way. And it bloody worked! Thanks Sami, you were right.

Because the main theme of the song has a pretty strong Scottish folk feel to it, the song's working title was 'Scotland'. Actually, we still refer to it as Scotland, not as 'As It Is Written'. While rehearsing it, it wasn't long before somebody suggested, tongue in cheek, that we get a bag pipe player. But when the song was reaching its final stages we came more serious about the pipes, and sure enough decided to get hold of a bag pipist.

With the inclusion of the bag pipes I knew there was a risk of sounding cheesy. But now I find it safe to say, that we managed to avoid the realm of the cheesiness, and the bag pipe is just the right addition for the piece.

The song is dedicated to Scotland. Hawp ye lik' oor tribute!

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!

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