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Track Premiere – Torii – “Gates of Paradise II:  The Cold Masque of Romance”

Looking back at some of the premieres I’ve written recently, there’s a possibility that our loyal Vault Hunters could turn my pieces into a drinking game: take a drink (of cold press juice – we’d never encourage alcohol abuse here at IMV) every time I describe a band as somehow being “different.” What can I say? When it comes to bands, I guess I have a type – and Torii definitely fit that type. Hailing from Rogers, Arkansas (whose claim to fame is being the location of the first Wal-Mart), the duo of multi-instrumentalist Bill Masino and vocalist Eric May–who joined forces with Masino for 2013’s The Shadow of the Mountain, after a pair of all-instrumental albums–have been making music with a pronounced black/death metal influence, but they also being something (you guessed it) different to the genre as well

Consider, for example, “Gates of Paradise II: The Cold Masque of Romance,” which we’re premiering here today at the Vault. The second single from their forthcoming sixth full-length A Judgement Divine, the song plays like a sequel of sorts to the title track from their previous album Gates of Paradise. Writing for blog The Grim Tower in 2016, vocalist/lyricist Eric May said that the album’s title track “mainly deals with the depression that one faces from this loneliness of having expectations fail to be met. One thinks that they should have more, they should be more. They should have a right to be happy.”

“Gates of Paradise” concludes with the line “We shall all feast on this bitter banquet of dead and broken dreams.” “Gates of Paradise II: The Cold Masque of Romance” seems to pick up right where the previous installment ends, but whatever sense of defiance may have fueled that final line is clearly gone. The song opens with the line “Failing to grasp paradise, I sought another method by which to alleviate my lonely life,” and soon thereafter the listener learns that the ‘another method’ is drugs.

The song’s chorus is particularly (and poetically) haunting:

“And everything that I’ve ever loved – I watch it disappear – like a fading hourglass – there’s no reflection in this mirror – everything that I’ve built – crumbles down before me – an empire made of chemicals that crashes down upon me”

Musically, “Gates of Paradise II: The Cold Masque of Romance” is a slow-burning, doom-influenced track that rides an incredibly sinister-sounding arpeggio for a good chunk of its almost seven-minute run time. And much like the The Velvet Underground’s seminal track”Heroin,” the arrangement seems to mimic the rise, peak, and leveling off that happens after ingesting drugs. The only difference, though, is that there’s nothing euphoric in that rush in “The Cold Masque of Romance.” Everything about this song is bleak, even the narrator’s high.

A Judgement Divine will be available from Torii’s Bandcamp page on June 8, and you can preorder it (as well as the rest of their discography) for the insanely low price of $1. Go cop that shit here, and then check out our exclusive stream of “Gates of Paradise II: The Cold Masque of Romance” below. 

EDIT: On the other hand, my interpretation of the song’s lyrics could be totally off base. Vocalist/lyricist May emailed me shortly after this piece went up and offered the following explanation:

‘Gates II’ is not about drug addiction, per se. While discussing with a friend and med student about some internal feelings I had after my last relationship (I’d been mentally fine with ending it, but my body had not been) she informed me that much like drug withdrawals, one can go through withdrawals after a relationship. This is because love is both a chemical compound and a drug. The empire made of chemicals is love, actually. Though it is mostly seen as a good thing, coming down from it can be a very horrible thing. People have been known to become suicidal or even homicidal after these effects. Psychology Today said that being in love was the same as being on crack cocaine.

The focus of the song is about going through withdrawals from the love drug, not just any old manner of addictive drugs. I am happy to say that I have never been an addict in that sense. Unless we mean Dr. Pepper.

If you’re curious to know more, the article to which he refers can be found here.

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