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Lyric Analysis

Slice the Cake – Castle in the Sky Part II – Pieces of Ruins Lyric Analysis

Disclaimer: these interpretations are those of the writer and do not reflect the intentions of the lyricist. If you would like to contribute to the conversation or offer a different point of view, feel free to comment or contact Metal Utopia at promo@metalutopia.com.

To conduct a lyrical analysis on a song is a monumental task that I chose to undertake with the song “Castle in the Sky Part II – Pieces of Ruins” in “Odyssey to the West” by the band Slice the Cake. First I will summarize the history of the band itself and their previous albums, all which created the foundation for composing “Odyssey to the West.” Then I will give context to the narrative found in “Odyssey to the West.” Finally, I will analyze the lyrics and corroborate contextual evidence found in Slice the Cake’s history and in “Odyssey to the West: to justify my claim that the song “Castle in the Sky Part II – Pieces of Ruins” (hence referred to as ‘Castle in the Sky’) is themed around the breakup of the band.

After their successful “Cleansed” EP, Slice the Cake began to take their composition a lot more seriously. Combining orchestral elements with classic death-core breakdowns with technical death metal guitar licks, Slice the Cake ushered the new sound of progressive technical death-core quite early with “The Man With No Face.” Within the same year they released “Other Slices” which essentially was re-recorded material leftover from their previous record along with a couple of new songs.  This album drew even more attention from the metal community, as they depicted themselves as an act to watch out for. After four years of little updates and sudden departures from the band, Slice the Cake finally dropped “Odyssey to the West.” This criminally-underrated album flew under the radar for many fans of metal across the spectrum and only gained real popularity a couple of months after its release. When the band gave news of their release of “Odyssey to the West” on Facebook, they also released a statement that they were officially breaking up and ending all further intentions with the project.

“Odyssey to the West” (henceforth referred to as OTTW) has a narrative that follows the journey of a pilgrim on his voyage of self discovery. Ultimately, he relinquishes his guilt and errors of the past. Initially he loved someone and was committed to finding greatness alongside his brothers-in-arms, but as time came he realized that this project uncovered his uniqueness and necessity to split from his friends and family in order to find his own path of self discovery. The story within OTTW revolves around discerning the full breadth of the act of “moving on.” I believe that this investigation of “moving on” was conducted with a particular situation in mind, that being when it dawns onto someone that they must abandon any particular project, that being filled with naïve but honorable intentions, in order to move on with their lives. I also believe that between the lyrics of this album remains an epic narration of the band’s experience coming together and falling apart as the ebb and flow of time took its toll. The eighth song, that being “Castle in the Sky,” is revolved around the pilgrim realizing that he would have to leave his lover and their “Castle in the Sky” in order for him to begin his journey of self discovery. To a dedicated fan’s ears such as mine, this song serves as an overture for the inevitable parting of the vocalist, Gareth Mason, from his band Slice the Cake. There is no better song on this album that explains to the audience what happened to the project Slice the Cake, and I will bring to light the reasons why.

“Castle in the Sky” begins with a beautiful piano solo accompanied by a harp. Immediately, the listener begins to drown from the sheer melancholy the song exudes. Coupled with a somber-sounding acoustic guitar, Gareth Mason begins with:

Once, I thought I’d found love

Hooked and tethered to the Siren’s Song

An important detail to note is that the The Siren’s Song is a single off “Other Slices.” Around the release of this album was when Slice the Cake became more popular. As their following grew, Gareth began to love the project Slice the Cake. More and more fans began to trickle into Slice the Cake’s media profiles as “The Other Slices” garnered more attention. Eventually, this lead to Slice the Cake headlining the UK Tech Fest in 2015. I can only imagine the love of progress Gareth had when the members met up in person to play their compositions live. To have a dedicated fan base present to hear your music live is a gratifying feeling very little people will actually experience, and Gareth must have been proud to acknowledge that. So quite literally, Gareth did find love for his project around the time their single “The Siren’s Song” was unearthed. However, it is soon revealed that there is a dark side to this moon.

Even though you were near, I was empty.

It must have been so pain’d to see.

 ….

O’, how I injured my love

Singing westward songs unto the setting sun.

Might my suffering be song, if nothing else.

Depression is often described as feeling like an empty shell of the former self. As someone who has assisted friends through depression, I have a suspicion that Gareth is addressing the depression he had while recording “The Other Slices.” There are few things more debilitating than witnessing a friend fade away into an empty shell of their former self, and here Gareth is admitting all of his work with Slice the Cake, specifically OTTW, might have been an outlet for his depression. Despite this admittance, Gareth acknowledges that Slice the cake brought about a unity that never was present in his life.

If nothing else, teardrops fallen from moonlit eyes,

They don’t mind or terrorize the way

In which we coveted and half our candles lit with

One heart beating, one mind leaping

It is revealed here that Gareth’s admittance has made him weep on the inside; the summation of all his work so far was due in part to his depression. However sobering this admittance is, it does not reflect badly on the fact that three individuals came together and became a unit with a singular motive. When all the members of a band have a cohesive idea of what they want to write, the material is that much more enjoyable to listen to and to play. Gareth is happy that this cohesiveness was achieved when both playing and writing their songs.

This is the Way,

that you can find me near.

This is the Way,

in which it’s clear.

This is the Way,

that we can use these pieces of ruins

This is the Way,

to build our Castle in the Sky

It’s sad that Gareth thinks that the individual compositions as ‘pieces of ruins’ that make up OTTW, their ‘Castle in the Sky,’ but the intention is clear. Each piece written by Slice the Cake in Gareth’s perspective was an ode to his ruin, the hinted depression if you will. But it was a constructive method that lead to something as impressive and monumental as a Castle in the Sky.

My darkened eyes and your stormy skies were born to house our disarray, but why?

Our love is a furnace that kills itself, when just as well the embers might be stoked.

Anyone who listens to OTTW would find that it is saturated with outrage, anger, and sadness. This is only made obvious with the first half of this fragment. OTTW was a result of Gareth’s depression and the palpable anger that emanated from the other band members. This combination of depression and anger fueled the furnace that drove their creative process. And it seems, that in their haste to make an album, Slice the Cake burned out and their brilliance shone only for a moment. In a way, this is comforting. When we look up in the sky, we are seeing images of stars that are thousands of years old. OTTW is a supernova, having the same eternal quality we ascribe to the stars and yet its splendor is temporal. There is an option to stoke the embers and keep the flame going, but is it really worth all the effort? Was Slice the Cake even willing to make another album past OTTW? Clearly they have no intentions, but its still an open-ended question whether Slice the Cake was doomed to fail from the start or not.

This is the Way,

that you can find me here.

This is the Way,

in which it’s clear.

Transfixed in your eyes,

like beacons they guide my way to our special place;

your Castle in the Sky.

 …

And I don’t mind, no,

I wouldn’t dare to theorize, no,

For dreams recall our future selves awake and aware.

I know I’ll see you there tonight, in our Castle in the Sky.

Gareth is resolute that Slice the Cake cannot come back together again. There is no point in being upset or theorizing about why Slice the Cake had to fail, but in the end OTTW, the Castle in the Sky, will always be there in our memories and in the music scene. Despite the crashing end that Slice the Cake endured unsuccessfully, each band member will remember the magnificence of their Castle in the Sky. Perhaps, when all is forgiven and reconciliation is plausible will the band members come together under their united cause of their Castle. Akin to the ruins of the Parthenon, OTTW will never be forgotten. Slice the Cake’s stay may have been brief, but they will forever stand in the upper echelons of death metal. The ‘Castle in the Sky’, formally known as OTTW, was Slice the Cake’s last act of composition before things went awry. Although it may be a ruin, it is a glorious one, and I’m glad to have bathed in the splendor of it.

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