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993 - Symphony in Extremis

Golgotha's second opus hits the streets

Symphony in Extremis CD CoverBuoyed by the sales success of Unmaker of Worlds, Communiqué Records commissioned a second Golgotha album. Karl already had one. He’d been working away at something even more bombastic than Unmaker - a metal symphony incorporating yet more orchestra, romantic leanings, classical overtones and even medieval undertones. And, of course, lots of rock guitar.

Whereas Unmaker comprises four independent songs, Symphony in Extremis is one work in four parts, each relating to each. The lyrical tone is political, with melody and rhythm devised to illustrate just how dramatic a drift towards dystopia can become, and how it could easily become real if people do not challenge the lunacy of the power-hungry.

Exposition aside, Karl had sold much of the equipment used on Unmaker, and to develop the skeleton of Symph, to a person who refused to lend it back to him when the call for the second album came. Hence a suitable studio was needed in which to reproduce what Karl had envisioned and, thankfully, saved to disk. It was time for a trip to Malvern in Worcestershire, UK, home of Steven Jay’s Merlyn’s Cave Studio.

After some teething troubles persuading the studio computer to read the disks, Steve, engineer Rob Murray-Mason and Karl were ready to let rip, running the orchestral and synth backing from a sequencer, with guitar and vocals rendered to one of the multi-track tape decks used by Queen at Trident Studios.

There was a two-week timeframe, the first week of which was spent mapping Karl’s original sequences to the studio’s synths and samplers, and laying down much of the guitar and vocals. It was a fraught affair, but some great timbres came forth and everything started to gel. The second week was spent tweaking, adding treatments and backing vocals, finishing off the fourth movement and mixing. Fact fans might like to know that the final note of the final movement is three Wagnerian triple-orchestras all playing the same ‘blarp’. That’s how mad things had become.

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