I know this album is truly incredible because as I sit here writing the intro to this post, I am literally at a loss for words. There are so many ways I could try to describe it, so many interpretations I could hypothesize, so many words I could use to try to explain what I believe is one of the Top Five best albums that will be released this year. But trying to put the feelings I get when I listen to “Degeneraterra” into words doesn’t seem to work.
So I suppose this explanation is better left to the man behind the pen: Andrew Wells. He sat down with us and gave us a full run through on the concept of the album itself and the lyrics within it.
On the origin of the album’s title.
“The title “Degeneraterra” is derived from a physics term for the third stage of entropy when talking about the heat death of the universe. The Degenerate Era is an era of brown dwarfs, white dwarfs, and black holes theoretically long after Earth is gone. We wanted to come up with a title that encompassed the scope of the concept, so we took the Degenerate Era theory and applied it to humanities history and theoretical future on this planet. Terra referring to planet Earth and giving it a real world semblance to how our consciousness has degenerated and progressed over our history. The title also refers to the degeneration age in Buddhism, which is supposed to begin 2,000 years after Sakyamuni Buddha’s passing and last for 10,000 years. The lyrics of the album intend to encompass the scope described in the track by track, so the title was the only one we came up with that was perfectly fitting.”
On the album’s concept as a whole.
“The concept of the album is meant to function as a multi-dimensional mechanism and can be observed in a variety of ways. One of the most tangible observations of the concept is in the dichotomy of the songs. Essentially the album is composed in polarity. You’ll notice this more tangibly in track 3 (The Comfort We Find In Our Vices) and track 11 (The Purpose We Find In Our Voices) where the dichotomy is less tongue in cheek and more visually apparent in the titles. Another way to digest the album is in a chronological context, but from a metaphysical standpoint. The album is designed to be listened to on repeat (the outrto can fade into the intro and vice versa, like an ouroboros) as well as backwards and forwards. This is most apparent in the Temples series songs. All containing real world references to periods of time where those structures existed; First Temple focused on the demonology, Second Temple focused on humanity, and Third Temple focused on existentialism and observing creationism from the standpoint of a broad perennial philosophy (as Third Temple is referenced in a huge variety of religious texts).”
“The complexities and nuances of the album were meticulously crafted by Eidola, particularly myself and our bassist James Johnson. The idea was to create a subjective piece of art that could be observed in a multitude of ways regardless of spiritual context, and that way it would remain applicable throughout someone’s life and could be always revisited for new information. In this feature I’ll go over a track by track description of the songs within the dichotomy observation, but for those that don’t want to get too in depth just yet there is a funny, simple way to look at Degeneraterra. Imagine a vagabond time wizard traveling through different periods of human history exploring the dichotomy of religion and science and how each subset methodology impacts one another.”
“DEGENERATERRA” FULL ALBUM STREAM
A Track By Track Explanation of “Degeneraterra” by Andrew Wells
1. “Pseudomonarchia Daemonum” – “The Pseudomonarchia roughly translates into the “Hierarchy of Deamons”, which is an appendix to Johann Wyer‘s De Praestigiis daemonum (written in 1577). De Praestigiis is a book pertaining to an orthodox congregation of demons from the days of King Solomon. This is my personal favorite polarity pairing on the album (with De Coelesti Hierarchia or the book of angels). The songs are in the same key, and you’ll notice the lyrics are structured in the exact same stanza with opposite meaning. This is a great introduction to how the polarities function on the album, this song being absolute heavy cacophony with intense screams, distorted guitars, and pounding drums; while De Coelesti is all beautiful vocal harmonies and tribal auxiliary percussion.”
2. “Omni: First Temple” – “Conceptually this song mulls over observations of King Solomon’s first temple (around 970 – 931 BCE) or the king of Israel documented in the Old Testament, Qur’an, Hidden words (Baha’i Faith), and the Biblia Hebraica (Hebrew Bible). Each of these texts respectfully observe Solomon and First Temple in context, but ultimately as a king whose sins (including idolatry and turning away from Yahweh) led to the kingdom being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam. In some texts, Solomon also came to be known as a magician and an exorcist, with numerous amulets and medallion seals dating from the Hellenistic period invoking his name. I loved the idea of exploring that story as an outside observer to those principals of faith, and discussing the humanist impact I’ve seen in tandem.”
3. “The Comfort We Find In Our Vices” – “This song is really personal to me and, at a core level, is about being human. Over humanity’s existence we have psychologically or morally been tied to vices of some kind as it gives us perpetual purpose. Desire breeds attachment and constantly giving into that attachment has the possibility of cultivating a negatively impacting vice. Arguably, one could become further enamored with the psychological avenues of their vices and eventually find comfort in a belief that (although inevitably harmful) a constant force in a temporary space is better than a life long discipline. This song is about breaking free from that path and cutting out those habits that harm you. In the context of the record, it serves as a fulcrum between human psychology and historical philosophy.”
4. “Humble Ledger (Gnostic States)” – “Humble introduces Gnosticism into the mix, and continues the observation of shifts in human consciousness during the early Christian era. Historically, Gnosticism adherents would shun the material world and embrace the spiritual through philanthropy and openness to the idea of “God” as an depersonalized entity. The primary goal of the Gnositcs was enlightenment to be achieved through searching for wisdom by helping others. In a religious sense, this also relates to modern Kabbalah who use Gnosticism as a way to reinterpret early Jewish scriptures. Buddhism is also introduced in some Gnostic religious combinations, but proven to not have originated from this context. The song intends to discuss the sacred and impacting energy of religious texts and how perceptive/volatile man’s consciousness is to those documents and scriptures. It also talks about how malleable that consciousness is over a long enough time line, and how tangible science starts to blend with modern phases of Gnosticism in unique ways.”
5. “The Great Deception Of Marquis Marchosias” – “The Great Deception/Compromise dichotomy serves as two separate meta-texts within the scope of Degeneraterra. In the Great Deception sub-plot the song tells the story of Marchosias, a powerful marquis of hell who commanded a small legion of demons. He is depicted in the Lesser Key of Solomon (17th century historical text, written well after Pseudomonarchia) as a wolf with gryphon wings and a serpent’s tail who can breathe fire like a dragon. The story goes on to tell that he previously belonged to Dominations (mentioned in De Coelesti) but was cast out after being bound by Solomon. The story tells that he hopes to return to the Seventh Throne but is deceived in that hope (by himself or by an eternal force). The Great Deception is intended to serve as the fictional portion of the two part meta-narrative.”
6. “Traversing Through The House Of Delphi” – “Traversing starts to blend meditation into the Degeneraterra concept in a really unique way. The lyrics focus on the spiritual/religious practicality of certain mystic tools that may be considered “taboo” in a strict monotheistic methodology. It serves as an open mind to the center of the dichotomy and is somewhat a piece on the separation of man and religion. Just as Humble Ledger begins to introduce science into the chronology, Traversing is a continuance of that. Some of the content touches on astrology used as a mystic tool, especially in the context of Hindu astrological tradition where houses (or Bhavas) are used to calculate death and rebirth as well as fate and destiny. Conceptually I also touch on the story of the oracle of Delphi in Greek mythology. The song serves as either an entrance or an exit from religious philosophy and association, depending on if you’re listening to the album forward or backward.”
7. “Contra: Second Temple” – “This song is a personal favorite of mine because it is the center of the story, the middle ground, the fulcrum. The real focus is on the current state of humanity and where we’re headed as a species. Historically, around 70 BCE the Roman empire retook and destroyed Jerusalem along with Second Temple. The song indicates a major shift in global consciousness during that time period, as this sacred land has been fought over for an incredibly long time, and escalated severely over the last several hundred years. The ground, as it stands now, is considered holy territory by a plethora of religions and each maintains some variation of prophesy that a third temple will be built some day (either physically or consciously). The song itself is a modern reflection of human consciousness and the subjective duality of human nature.”
8. “Divide” – “Divide starts to look into the other side of this conceptual dichotomy and introduces observations of sciences and pantheism in the cultivation of human consciousness. It touches on the division of an atom as well as some pantheist concepts popularized in the west by 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. The songs serves as either an entrance or an exit from non-religious philosophy and personal spirituality depending on if you’re listening to the album forward or backward. A fun hidden gem within the record is the triad here of Divide, Compromise, To Know What’s real. For me personally, this song is about building your own belief and the struggle that a person goes through when taking on that process. I was never raised in any sort of faith, but I’ve been interested in studying religion since I was young and have grown to develop my own perennial philosophy of sorts. This song is personal testament to that development.”
9. “Compromise” – “Like I said above, the Compromise/Great Deception dichotomy serves as two separate meta-texts within the scope of Degeneraterra. In the Compromise sub-plot the song breaks the fourth wall and discusses non-fictional topics in the form of an opinion piece meeting with a biography. It chronologically assumes where I was at during the point in time when I wrote the song and makes an honest observation of my personal state of affairs. The song documents a genuine snapshot of us, the writers, immersed in the creation of this album. It also touches on the uses of post-modernism in a social context. Compromise is intended to serve as the non-fictional portion of the two part meta-narrative.”
10. “To Know What’s Real” – “TKWR, in juxtaposition to Humble Ledger, is about the completion of a real world perennial philosophy. I won’t touch too much on this, because we’re writing some new material to further decompound the concept itself. This song should serve as an introduction to that philosophy from our perspective. Knowing what is real through coming to terms with your own personal perception of reality. Not this new age, narcissistic capitalization bull-shit; but a genuine self-awareness through true knowledge and experience. Historically, you could look at this song as an observation of the growth and prominence of Atheism in our culture and what sociological impacts that has for us, positive and negative.”
11. “The Purpose We Find In Our Voices” – “This song is about finding a discipline and following it with all your heart, if you dig deep enough and meditate long enough you will confront yourself. Your ego. And your identity. Pushing past doubt and fear will lead you down a path of eternal success as failure is no longer in your vocabulary. This song is really an observation on the work it takes to let go of your demons and the path you have to continuously walk to do so. It’s moving past the vice completely and transcending to new heights. In the context of the record, it also serves as a fulcrum between human psychology and historical philosophy. Ironically enough, this is the only song I don’t sing on hahaha.”
12. “Omega: Third Temple” – “Personally, I think this is the best song we’ve ever written, even just for the emotional context. Third Temple is revered in multiple religions as a theoretical holy site in prophesy. Jewish doctrine prophesies that a new temple will be built physically on the temple mount, Jews and Muslims have fought over the sight due to the presence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock for hundreds (arguably thousands) of years. Members of the LDS Curch believe the third temple will be built by the Jews after the second coming of Christ, while people of the Baha’i and Buddhist faiths believe that the third temple is inside of all of us as a human temple to explore the historical dichotomy between us and oneness. As you can see, there are a lot of opinions on this because it is such a sacred concept to a lot of people. The song was written as an observation of that perennial concept and how conscious humans have always seemed to craft a god/human dichotomy complex to explore conceptually. If you read the lyrics thoroughly, you’ll notice that the song is a conversation between a creator (the dreamer) and its people. The whole build at the end is the dreamer talking to its people about the world that they’ve built and the these beliefs they’ve formed to separate themselves from one another. Its trying to tell them that we are all one, and that it is no more omnipotent then them in any regard. Lyrically, this is one of my proudest moments and one of my favorite songs to sing live. It’s really special to me and close to my heart.”
13. “De Coelesti Hierarchia” – “The outro track is based on a Pseudo-Dionysian work on angelology, written around 400 CE which outlines:
Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones
Dominations, Virtues, and Powers
Principalities, Archangels, and Angels
Around 399 – 412 BCE a Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian sailed through the Indian Ocean and traveled throughout Sri Lanka and India to gather Buddhist scriptures. De coelesti is an observation of that angelology and how it corresponds with the Buddhist scriptures gathered in support of the concept of Peaceful and Wrathful deities and eliminating conceptualized reality. In my opinion, the nature of the work is outstanding, and really showcases (from a real world standpoint) that we have historically put aside our beliefs for the greater good of humanity and we can do it again. Here and now.”
“There you have it! A track by track of the Degeneraterra concept. There are so many hidden gems that we put in this album and my hope is that people will continue to listen to it and find those nuances. At it’s worst, I hope it’s still a collection of 13 solid tracks from a band of 5 passionate individuals. At it’s best, I hope it will be something you cherish for years to come.
*Thumbnail photo by Aimee Vargas