Out of the 11 songs on the new Ed Hale & the Transcendence album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, there are only 3 that offer any kind of hope, optimism, or hopefulness: track 3 entitled “Solaris,” track 6 “Here it Comes,” and the album closer “Last Stand at the Walls of Zion.” The rest of the album is a dark heavy brooding downward spiral into the lead character’s disillusionment with everything in the world and his own personal life. From the album’s trance-hop meets operatic opening — which starts with a slow dirge-like rhythm and then builds to a climactic crescendo of dissonance punctuated by two competing melodies played by a trombone and guest vocalist Dee Dee Wilde’s gorgeous gospel-tinged wailing — all the way through to the album’s closing track, All Your Heroes Become Villains feels and sounds like the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.
Song by song the lead character vents his anger and disappointment with the society he lives in and his own personal life, aiming his rage at everything from the political system (“Blind Eye” and “We Are Columbine”) to God and religion (“Waiting for Godot”) to friendship and romance (“Indian Princess” and “Messed it Up Again”). The climax of the album is track #10, the majestic seven-minute ‘suicide letter in a song’ the band entitles “After Tomorrow” (already a favorite among adventurous college radio DJs) where it becomes clear that the lead character has had enough of blaming the world around him and has turned inward only to discover that he doesn’t have what it takes to continue any further in a world full of hate, war, disease, crime and betrayal.
And yet amongst all this drama and pathos there is the beauty and hopefulness of the song “Solaris.” In their traditional Britpop meets post-modern rock style, Ed Hale and company deliver a near perfect pop song clocking in at three minutes and thirty seconds that shines a bit of light on the stage of their apocalyptic rock opera. Sweet and tender and yet mysterious, “Solaris” seems at first to be a love song. But the female character being sung to doesn’t appear to even be alive, at least not alive in the traditional sense; on planet Earth. Rather, the lead character sounds as if he is singing to someone far removed from all his earthly troubles, someone who is far far away, living in another galaxy or star system called “Solaris.”
Lead singer Ed Hale summed it up this way, “A girl I knew, someone very close to me, had just passed away. And I found it impossible to deal with emotionally. Right around the same time, I had a chance to see the DVD of this beautiful movie called “Solaris” starring George Clooney. This movie is a trip. Very slow. You have to flow with it. It was based on the book by Stanislaw Lem. Seeing that movie hit me at the right time. I had my guitar with me of course and while I was watching the film I just started strumming these chords and creating this song about my friend… What I did really, was just place her, Julia, into the movie… in order to bring her back to life for myself. I just felt that because it was unbearable to contemplate her passing that at the very least I could make her alive in some other form, like she’s still living but in a different dimension. So the song “Solaris” is me, or the lead character of the album I guess, singing a prayer to her or for her, talking to her… asking her how she’s doing… like “how’s life in your new world Julia?” It made me feel better. And although it isn’t enough to keep the lead character alive by the end of the album, I think it gives him some hope along the way to his final decision… like that.”
- Alternative Rock