Author Topic: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion  (Read 7055 times)

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Offline Ecko

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Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« on: August 28, 2014, 11:17:30 pm »
I can't believe this thread hasn't already been made. It's time to get down to it, and start cracking the code of this fantastic album :D

What is the main storyline? In what kind of universe does it take place? What is it trying to say to us? Any hidden messages? Does it in any way tie together with older songs? Any specific lines of lyrics that resonated strongly with you or caught your interest in some way?

In short, what is YOUR interpretation of the album?

To get the ball rolling, I will cite Gaz from the following interview that I happened to stumble upon: http://www.nataliezworld.com/2014/08/machinae-supremacys-robert-is-or-isnt.html

"6. Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous ones? What can we expect and what is the message behind it?

Robert: It’s our first concept album. We've had stories in our songs before, but this is the first time we use 16 tracks to tell one coherent story, which itself is part of a greater saga. The story has many subtleties amidst a violent and strong core message, but the main takeaway could perhaps be that good and evil isn't as simple as black and white. And being a force for good is still possible even if your reasons are not altruistic."

All thoughts are welcome.
Discuss!

Offline Cerapter

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 01:08:05 am »
Yes!

I wrote a version and then changed my mind. After going through old lyrics and adding more detail to my imagined storyline, here's one of the possibilities I end up with:

Backstory: Our world degenerates into a petty war where criminals thrive. An evil empire is rising, and fighting them are ninja warriors. In time, the empire wins and kills or enslaves some of these warriors, while some escape. Their leader remains and keeps fighting in subtler ways. The empire then sets about suppressing the people, turning many into grotesque warriors (phantoms, part machine) through several experiments that subdue the mind and drain their souls. Experiments go wrong, and the armies run wild and kill all in their sight, threatening the survival of mankind. To stop them, a God Machine is being built; a mind-controlling satellite and a weapon with the power to scorch the Earth ("Five billion souls incinerated in the doom of the gods"). The Empire wishes to use it to restore order and fulfil their original plan ("the voice of God is everywhere / Now the terror is the other we / and their unholy deity").

Skye (blonde protagonist) and bearded man: she was the greatest of the enhanced warriors, until she was captured by the empire and made to do their bidding. After a long time, the ninja leader (bearded man) finds her and saves her, actually giving her back her soul. In her shock and confusion, she tries to make sense of how to do his bidding, but slowly she is finding a cause and an identity of her own. He actually wants to destroy the world and let it start anew from scratch, purer, more good.

Jovi (redhead), Pearl (RFID-cheek) & Perfect Dark: I'm going to guess this is Jovi and JohannaPearl. She is another of the ex-ninjas, captured and forced through some of the trials of becoming a phantom. Never succumbing, she eventually escaped and restored her will but not all of her mind. As the phantoms attack her, a ninja hero (Perfect Dark) appears and saves her. Now, this guy is truly crazy, a "chosen one", powerful but insane, and he seeks to use both of them and the God Machine to kill everyone and everything  ("bring the fall, the End of All"). He is instead killed by "our" two heroes, a transformative event for Jovi and for their relationship.

Agnes Cecilia (starface) and Sara: Several years ago, starface failed in keeping the phantoms from stealing away her little sister. Presumed dead, Sara is instead turned into a phantom.

Renegades and their leader: Maybe there truly was a grand design by the ninja leader, but he has become a megalomaniac and his decrees are not truth, only opinion. Another voice is the renegades, a pack of criminals who find themselves the lesser evil in the changed world. They value freedom and companionship, and the blonde chick joins with them. Several of the other ninjas of her past have already done so. In their company, she finds meaning and purpose, and a cause for her anger and hatred. She finds a powerful ally in their leader, a psychopath and murderer like her. (I can't find a better fit for the leader than the guy with the glasses on the left of the cover, though I don't like that match.)

Battle: They head for the headquarters of the empire, or what remains of it, to stop the God Machine. They meet the ninjas and team up with them despite their differences, as the phantoms close in. Infiltrating the fortress (on Snake Mountain), many of the warriors face their personal struggles. Sara appears and Starface has to defeat her. The blonde chick has chosen the renegades' side, not the "good guys' side" as her previous master would have it. She shoves her past devotion in his face, but he is proud of her.

Rising: Jovi becomes the first hubnester, by joining his mind with the God Machine, thereby changing its original purpose. Everybody else is dead, and the phantoms are still closing in. He will scorch them all in the hubnester's inferno and end the Empire's metal forged dominion. ("We'd place the light of our sentience within the machine / and we would send it to heaven to end God's regime") He will eventually be the first in a long line of protectors that will turn into a legend in the ages to come. ("in its celestial path in the sky / the great hubnester lies / The Legend of hubnesters fight will be told forever (JP)")
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 01:06:58 am by Cerapter »
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Offline evilcandybag

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2014, 04:44:29 pm »
This is some really good analysis, IMHO. If someone who's a regular at Machinae Mondays could fill in with some band-signed bits, that would be great =)
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Offline Garo

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2014, 05:13:15 pm »
Just browsed around the previous Reddit AMA (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/29r5ua/we_are_machinae_supremacy_back_with_a_new_album/) and found this:

Quote
Quote
Hello! I have been a fan for quite some time and am very excited for the new album. My question is : I noticed there are two females on the picture of your new album that resemble the females on the cover of Overworld and View. Will these be characters that are involved in the concept work of the new album or was that just a picture?
Thank you and keep it up!
machinaesupremacy
Hey! They are characters in the story, yes. The girl from Overworld is called Pearl (i.e. Edge and Pearl) and the woman from View is an activist named Agnes Cecilia, not referenced on View but the voice behind some of the songs there.

So the "RFID-chick" is Pearl and the Starface chick is Agnes Cecilia.

Then I started to browse around the older songs to find lyrics that would be directly referenced in the epic arc. Didn't get far with this, but maybe somebody else has written a good list?

EDIT: Another quote:

Quote
Quote
Hey Rob, just one question. Do you still work (or intend to work) on the (I believe) awesome story of Jovi and Johanna (hubnester inferno)? I'd even support that project financially. (sorry for brackets)
machinaesupremacy
I do want to work on that. And in fact, Phantom Shadow is a part of that very story. The character Jovi (aka "Hubnester") is a supporting character, and the last song is his genesis in a way, called "Hubnester Rising". Phantom Shadow is set before "Hubnester Inferno", but after the image of Jovi and Johanna (Johanna is dead before Phantom Shadow begins). But in short, I'd love to make a graphic novel from this story. The moment I think I can commit to the time it would take, I'd go for it.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 05:17:32 pm by Garo »

Offline Garo

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2014, 05:22:17 pm »
Last quote from the AMA:

Quote
machinaesupremacy
I'm assembling a text to explain the most relevant parts, and characters, which I hope to have ready by the time the album is released. The gist of the story is as follows:
"In Europe, in the near future, a select few have the ability to grant superhuman powers to those willing to pay the price — a piece of their soul. The main protagonist, a psychopathic former assassin, finds herself responsible for the lives of two young activists — one with an important destiny to fulfill — and hunted by the authorities and a dark enemy from her past."

Offline Cerapter

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2014, 01:24:23 am »
I made a tentative list, snippets pasted below. I definitely haven't gotten all of it, and some of it might not belong in the storyline.

Quote from: Origin - Nemesis
A tour de force, a rabid face
behind the weapon kept in place
by tortured hands in cold embrace
A battle unconfused by chance,
come step into our mortal dance
and taste this ironclad romance

For every kill the stronger will
keeps getting stronger and the thrill
of such control is wild but still
A single life, what’s that to me?
A fading light no one can see
yet such a pleasure death can be

    Used to be a single voice
    that vanished in a crowd
    Vague just like a distant sun
    when hidden by the clouds
    Found a way to surface
    and to speak my truth aloud
    Be powerful, stand fast and proud

Quote from: Fury - Hubnester Inferno
solely silently
I stand against the wind
And even though you see
you don’t know where I’ve been

You say that our dreams
come alive when we’re awake
but I can’t even sleep
my sanity will break

    so like the blink of an eye
    just the second before a crash
    time is standing still,
    I am frozen, I can’t feel

anger, such a simple
yet powerful emotion
you’d think I could just rid myself
of these thoughts I stir to motion
Instinct pulls me under
I can’t fight this on my own
my mind has become
the darkest place I’ve ever known

Quote from: Deus Ex Machinae - Insidious
I search the shadows of my inner being
and see reflections of my twisted memories
The darker half of our nature
...
so far from where we once were
save me from this dark and twisted avatar
...
It scrapes the surface of this waking dream
...
Is this the one fallen angel
inside of me?

Quote from: Deus Ex Machinae - Dreadnaught
Now the voice of god is everywhere
...
Turn the world into an enemy,
...
I will never grant you ground
Remember me and why you all bow down
To a metal forged dominion
Silent in a heart of steel
The voice that speaks so any man can feel
You believe in our dominion

Quote from: Deus Ex Machinae - Blind Dog Pride
The last of its kind is
the one with a mind of its own
...
I know now my fate is in my mind
and those soothing words
they just drive me blind
I never sold out human kind
It was taken from me!

Quote from: Deus Ex Machinae - Soundtrack to the Rebellion
They lie! Don't hear their blinded words of dread
The phantoms you fear they put inside your head

Quote from: Redeemer - Oki Kumas Adventure
in its celestial path in the sky
the great hubnester lies

"Kuma was a hero who saved the world.
The Legend of hubnesters fight will be told forever"

Quote from: Redeemer - Empire
only to deceive the memory
begin the words and bleed reality

(Those without a name) Bow down before your Gods
(this is your empire) Close your eyes
(Those without a say) Bow down before your Gods
(this is your empire) Pay the price

Quote from: Overworld - Edge and Pearl
I'm infinite, beyond a doubt
...
I live for this, and I cite my pride
Now is the time when to pick a side
...
I only do what I have to, to win
To wake up our species

Quote from: Overworld - Truth of Tomorrow
They already know how to find you
And soon enough through your eyes see
And they will use it all to bind you
Into a mindless drone

Quote from: A View From the End of the World - Cybergenesis
A soulless angel, devoid of mind,
skin as cold as ice,
...
It was a dream of unmaking this viewless confine,
and to defy all predictions and end this design

Forever the ones who will claim this day
The age of creation will fade as we turn from grace

We'd place the light of our sentience within the machine
and we would send it to heaven to end God's regime
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 02:58:21 am by Cerapter »
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Offline Crazywater

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2014, 12:56:26 am »
Here's the ones I think don't belong ;)

Quote from: Deus Ex Machinae - Return to Snake Mountain
Abused and violated
by those who control
I am re-animated
yet I have no soul

There's no distinction in my mind
You are all my enemies

I will return
to reclaim my broken past
to pay the evil minions back
for my misery at last
I will return
to the fortress to redeem
to wipe this evil nightmare
from my memory and dreams

I will not fade away
and die like all the rest
I will return to wipe out
terminate your nest

Thought I read somewhere this one was about a band member working somewhere and not particularly liking the experience. Maybe it was a joke? Or maybe it spun off quite far from there?

Quote from: Overworld - Dark City
I can't see the mountain over me, the Serpent Hollow
The silent fortress underneath

I think those are references to actual places in Luleå. Serpent Hollow is probably related to Snake Mountain. The silent fortress... there was this weird video of somebody walking around in some tunnel system? Damn what was that about again...

Edit: HERE! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxrAQC-wCOA
Discussion thread: http://forum.machinaesupremacy.com/index.php/topic,5946.0.html

Quote from: A View From the End of the World - A View From the End of the World
I see it all laid to waste in a view from the end of the world
Five billion souls incinerated in the doom of the gods

I thought that one was a criticism of religion. Five billion souls should be anyone on earth today not a christian.

Btw, here's Jovi and Johanna, since I haven't seen them linked lately.
http://nordlander.deviantart.com/art/Hubnester-Inferno-19371339
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 01:16:15 am by Crazywater »
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Offline Cerapter

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2014, 02:56:49 am »
Haha, I see, but it seemed such a good fit! Slavery, resurrection, animosity, souls and kickass - check.

I'll remove from that list as we eliminate.

Now that we know the identities of Pearl and Agnes, my guesses on their involvement seem less likely. The identity of Perfect Dark is also making me wonder, not to mention that line in The Second One, "I lost one of them". And the "crew" that is mentioned in Renegades.

So here's a new guess at some details:

Beardman: is one of those with the power to enhance others in return for pieces of their soul. Obviously, then, Skye the assassin recklessly gave all of her soul in return for insane powers - bringing her out of the "play", but also making her an easily controllable puppet. She became too powerful and unruly, and she was subdued by beardman in the end and he popsicle'd her, only to rethaw her several years later and give her back a piece of soul because he needed her to do his bidding again. The empire is becoming more and more evil, and he wants to form a resistance. He could only give her a short time to live, though.

Perfect Dark: is Redhead, who is not Jovi. He is a subordinate of beardman and also gave part of his soul for powers. He saves Pearl, who does not have special powers but is being a pain in the arse to the empire, who is now coming for her. The same problem of choice, or the condemnation of ignorance that is found in Edge and Pearl, is featured again in Perfect Dark: ("You want peace of mind / or do you want to be alive?"). He loses Pearl to the phantoms and has to kill her in the end.

Skye's decision: ("Whatever was is now a lie, a lie") resonates with her up-yours attitude in Versus. It's about her rather than the world. The "crew" comment refers to a meeting between beardman's gang (Skye, Redhead, Pearl, Jovi?) and the Renegades (Skye's old gang). Killing is her nature, her style. She joins with them again and although she turns down Mr. Goody-beard-pants and his scheme, her murderous actions can still save the day. And let her feel way better than under his condemning stare. Skye is thus The Second One, and she is referring to Pearl as lost.

Throne of Games: I ignored it earlier, but it must play a role. I still prefer my initial idea that this is the empire's lure for ignorant gamers to become part of the phantom army, but it could also be the Renegades' call to arms to use nerds as cannon fodder in the coming war?

Also, Nerdman on the left is the actual Jovi. And Agnes is an atheist activist, while the Empire subdues its populace with religion, probably through use of the God Machine. I think attacking or stopping the machine was her idea. Sara is evil and she is the queen of the Phantoms.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 03:20:23 am by Cerapter »
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Offline Schattenjaeger

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2014, 07:26:00 pm »
I actually think Return to Snake Mountain *does* belong in this grouping, despite the earlier claims, as it fits the "first generation soulless" spoken of in Phantom Battle like a glove - as in, the transformation rendered by the "God-machine" fractured their minds and turned them into ruthless, indiscriminate killers. Whereas the protagonist of the album was already a violent killer, and thus retained more of her sanity in the transformation.
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Offline Crazywater

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2014, 12:47:16 am »
Maybe the story is set in Neo-Luleå  :P
We're open to such things, we've even talked many times about doing it with Inja, but in a way that's redundant because we can already get Erica
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Offline Schattenjaeger

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 06:24:21 am »
Can someone who can hear through the accent transcribe the speech in "Meanwhile (In the Hall of Shadows)"?
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Offline Ziza

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 10:26:42 am »
"If she beats him, she must surely be powerful. But why have we never seen her before?
She's someone new. Or someone old."

Offline Cerapter

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2014, 01:42:23 pm »
And what is the guy really saying in Renegades?

"So you're some kind of... Frigillian shit/chick" ?
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Offline Ziza

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2014, 03:59:48 pm »
"So you're some kinda (??)freak(??) killing machine? Engineered to be a badass?"

Can't say for sure in this one :(
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 04:02:49 pm by Ziza »

Offline Tolkki

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Re: Phantom Shadow - Story Discussion
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2014, 09:09:08 pm »
"If she beats him, she must surely be powerful. But why have we never seen her before?
She's someone new. Or someone old."
I'm 99% sure that it says: "If she beat him, she was surely powerful."

Edit: After reading Cerapters analysis on the album I've started seeing it connect with almost all the songs in MaSus discography from. It's almost like this album clarified the world that they've been building all this time. A very interesting album indeed.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 09:41:31 pm by Tolkki »
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