If you navigated here through the site’s front page, you probably didn’t miss that we have a new single out, Moed! I made a mention of it in the previous post but lacked the time until now for a proper commentary.
The earliest version of this song dates back to the fall of 2016. At the time, I was updating demos of songs because of a lower tuning on my guitar. I’m pretty sure the main riff of “Moed” is the first new idea I recorded in the new tuning. The other parts didn’t take long to write and so I added this song to the list for a new album which was supposed to be recorded the next year. However, from that list of about six songs I decided eventually to go ahead with only three. Those are the tracks that became the Een van ons EP. The new song, which didn’t even have a working title yet, wasn’t worked on for a while after that. Not forgotten, but certainly not the focus of attention either.
This only changed after the pandemic cooled down in the Netherlands and lockdowns were lifted. Akelei got booked for some shows and I suddenly had to think about a live set again. We obviously wanted to play material from the EP and one or two older songs but the idea came up of playing something new entirely. That’s where the new song came in. The cool thing about it (in a live setting) is that it has a riff that you might say is ‘textbook doom metal’. It’s a nice contrast with most of our other songs, which are much less traditional and moreover, it’s shorter, with a more straightforward song structure. That makes it easier to rehearse.
During the rehearsals however, Josha suggested some changes to the verses would be in place. There wasn’t much going on in terms of dynamics, the song was pretty much full on the whole time. We decided to tone down the verses, make them a bit more quiet so that they would stand out more. In the third verse, we’re actually singing a capella for a bit which is then followed by one of the heavier parts. I think this has worked out quite well, it’s improved the quality of the song a lot.
We first played the song at the 2022 Dutch Doom Days festival in Rotterdam. ‘Moed’ had been its working title for a while by then but the name grew on me and after a while I didn’t have the intention to change it anymore. The lyrics however were still some placeholder words and phrases thrown together with the plan of fixing the eventual lyrics over time. I’m ridiculously slow with writing lyrics and the words to “Moed” were no exception. I knew what I wanted it to be about, I just couldn’t figure out where to start. This is often the case when I want to paint a picture with words. I keep trying to come up with something until there’s a phrase on paper or screen that sticks. Then I’ll build the rest of the text around that. Speaking of which:
Moed means courage. The song is about the guts it takes to stand up against oppression and persecution. Or to be brave like the Ukrainians, defending their country from a murderous invasion. Or the struggle for the right to simply be who you want to be, free from society’s norms, prejudice and discrimination. We stand with you all. Your courage inspires others. In the studio, we added a segment of the recorded radio exchange between Ukrainian border guard Roman Hrybov and Russian cruiser Moskva. On 24 February, the day of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the Moskva requested that Hrybov and his garrison on Snake Island surrender under threat of bombardment. The Ukrainian response was “Русский военный корабль, иди на хуй” (“Russian warship, go fuck yourself”). The phrase went viral in the aftermath and has since become a world famous rallying cry for the resistance. You can read more here.
The studio line up for this project had Matthijs on leads and clean guitars, Harm on bass, myself on vocals and guitar and Josha on drums and backing vocals. Dave engineered the recording and mixing sessions again. We thought we would record the track in one day but we overestimated ourselves once more. It actually took like two days. But I guess that’s also down to us trying out different things and recording way more than we actually end up using. Anyway, we’re very pleased with the result. It sounds more guitar-heavy and a bit more raw compared to the previous year’s EP. It’s good that it’s a bit different again. I also realised afterwards that this is the first Akelei recording to be done completely in our hometown Delft.
The song’s cover photo was also taken here, at the Prinsenhof. The morning that I shot it was very misty. That’s why the Old Church aka ‘De Oude Jan’ is barely visible in the background. It is a museum nowadays but the Prinsenhof was between1575 and 1584 the residence of William the Silent aka William of Orange, leader of the revolt against Spanish Habsburg oppression in the Dutch Republic. William was vehemently opposed to the brutal persecution of Protestants during the time and it’s one of the reasons he rebelled against the Spanish crown, his former employer. For his rebellion, a price was put on his head. William was assassinated at the Prinsenhof and died there on 10 July 1584. He is buried in the New Church.
We’re currently rehearsing this and other songs for a couple of upcoming gigs. More on that later!
Listening to: nocturnal silence