1. Falling Dream
Votum likes to be a bit vague when it comes to the concepts of their albums, and sometimes they are even downright deceptive in the way the story unfolds for us. “Metafiction” is no different, and it requires a briefing on the basic concept in order to digest each track fully. The overarching theme is that of a writer who has set out to create his masterpiece. He is pouring his heart and soul into this art, but he soon learns that what he writes has consequences in reality. Not that what he writes always becomes true; but, rather, that what he writes is already true in reality. It is a reflection of himself and his own story, and there is this two-way continuum that has been established between his story and his reality.
So, now that the basic concept is out there, let’s look at “Falling Dream”. I have an angle on this album that may or may not be anything close to what the band was thinking; but, well, I really like it. So, here goes. “Falling Dream” is from the perspective of one of the author’s characters, yet I believe it to be a mirror of the author’s feelings, too (like any good art). This character feels like he is “here” and, yet, “not anywhere”, as he exists, but not in reality. He is lonely, as he is the first part of the story and no other characters are present. The way this story is being built, though, he will not have an easy time of it. “I beg you to let me go,/ Seems familiar?/ Like a broken record, like broken glass …/ I stopped counting rays,/ You know I lost count of days./ Years would frighten, if I knew / It’s like a curse.” He has no limbs. He has no eyes. But he feels because that is how he was created. That is his purpose.
On the outside, we see the author’s feelings. This masterpiece won’t let him go to the point where he is now one with it. He must write it. Time passes and he keeps working, barely even seeing time pass. He’s started to shut everyone out. The loneliness of the central character is a mere reflection of his own depression and emptiness. He’s been swallowed whole by his own creation. Nothing good can come from this falling dream.
2. Glassy Essence
“It was all meant to be a definite solution/ A definite solution?/ No further questioning/ No further questioning?/ It was all meant to be …” Like fragile glass, our author’s grasp of reality is difficult to see. It’s transparent. It begins to break the more he writes.
I’m not sure exactly what he decided to write. We aren’t necessarily given that information. Perhaps “Glassy Essence” is an immediate reaction to “Falling Dream”, where the author writes about the wishes for suicide that his main character has, and the falling dream has now impacted the fragile glass of his reality. Soon, though, the author actually finds himself gasping for air in real life, standing on the window ledge of his study. The glassy essence of the window seems so unreal, like it really isn’t there; but something about his story forced him to that edge. It was such a close call. He had almost killed himself.
But what is going on inside the author’s brain? “One desperate run through the window/ The sun is glittering on crystal vibes/ Running desperate, the glassy essence/ Of broken light, like broken limbs”. Why did he write of suicide as a solution? Why was his character’s run to the window so desperate? What are the questions that neither of them want to answer or ponder anymore?
“Running desperate/ A dream within a dream/ Forgive the acting, forgive the acting…/ Running desperate/ It all seems so unreal/ What am I doing here?/ And somehow/ Stand still gasping”.
Why is our author so melancholy? Why are his characters so hopeless? The answer, we find, is in his family life. “You never comprehend it ‘til it’s gone/ Having all the love she gave, still wanted more./ I poisoned every day we shared with spite;/ How odd we drown the ones we love/ In humiliation and hurt?”
We find that our author has lived his days in depression and bitterness for the past; but, along the way, he has shut out the very ones that love him the most. He has been unappreciative of all he has, and he has been drowning the ones he loves in hurt. Life with him has not been easy.
Yet, life with his love is so pure. So full. So satisfying. If he could only pay attention, that is. And now? He begs for her to stay, despite all his problems. Despite his behavior, he wants nothing more than for her to stay. Even through all of this, life with her feels like home. And there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
The fate of our author’s wife is in the balance. As he finds himself close to taking his own life, he reminds himself of how lucky he truly is to have the love of someone else. Have you stopped to think about that? We are all so messed up and broken: Why would anyone love us? “I’m right back on my feet/ I’m back in the saddle/ You make me whole again.”
And so here he is. Her face—it’s everywhere. His life has become a blur of story and reality, and only her face seems to add clarity and meaning. Yet, “Make me rise and shine/ I’m so anxious to have you/ Sometimes I have them nightmares”. Her face and voice echo in and out of existence as he spirals further into limbo. In and out, back and forth, near and far; her face pops in and out of existence to him. What does this mean for her? If this story is now outside of his control, where will it go from here?
5. Stranger Than Fiction
“I say that you burn/ And you burn”. An unfortunate casualty; that’s all she was. As he ponders the great twist of his fiction, our author decides the fate of his own love. As he pours himself into how amazing his story will be, he destines his own story to sorrow.
“The cause-and-effect rule/ Is it the relentless code of fiction/ That made her steer off the clear track?/ Blurred out of view and faded”. He chose to kill a character in his story: He decided that she would burn. And burn she does. His wife swerves off the road—seemingly without reason—and dies in a car crash. She burns.
“Be it fate or plot – you are tied with me/ Here and there you’re confined in me”. He hadn’t realized that his fiction would spill over into reality. Perhaps his characters, then, were his mental projections of real people? Either way, he has killed. He has maimed. She has burned.
As our author mourns the passing of his love, it is guilt that he feels most. He knows that he caused it. There’s no other way. And how could he possibly mend this problem?
“Safe in the dark/ Let’s hit a new ‘low’ this time”. So, safe in the darkness of the upstairs room—safe in the darkness of his own reclusion and mind—he ponders. He considers taking his own life. He considers the glint of the window in front of him. He ponders the lethal drop to the ground.
He also ponders his own actions. Why had he gotten so wrapped up in his story? Why had he pushed away all that he loved? Now it was too late. They were gone, and he is alone. Alone, that is, with nothing but a bottle for comfort. “Yet another sip/ To gain perspective, to accept the change/ And mend my ways/ Mend my ways?”
7. December 20th
“It’s a cold winter day/ A man wakes up/ Takes a hot shower chasing sleep away”. Well, we are at the end of “Metafiction”, and it’s about to get even stranger. Votum knows how to write a complex tale, as evidenced by their other albums, but this story takes a strange twist at the very end. In fact, the band has pretty much misled us in the story until this point, though this is obviously a reflection of the mental state of the protagonist.
“December 20th” starts out with our author as he gets up for one more day. Suicide is on the brain. Empty bottles are strewn across his room. He’s a wreck, and today will be his last day alive. He has decided to throw himself through the window of his study to break his body on ground below. The window—the glass—meets with his body, and he finds himself dashed to pieces on the pavement. “A bright winter day/ A man leaps out/ Out of the window/ A red halo ‘round his head/ Snowflakes fell like/ Glass”.
The second person we see in this track is our author’s wife. She was dead, remember? Or was she? It seems that she is alive and well, which means that the author’s reality was so screwed up that he couldn’t tell the difference. She is depressed, however, as she cares for the family with an absentee husband locked away upstairs in the attic. In the next verse, I believe we again see her, only it is years later in the same room as her bones ache from the bad memories of her husband’s untimely decline and demise.
She hears the crash of glass and flesh. She sees the lifeless body of her love upon the pavement. And she is shocked by the horror of it all. She is completely in the dark about how all of this came about, which makes it all the worse.
Our writer had no grasp of what was important in life. He had mentally abandoned his wife and kids, and ignored all the milestones and all the little moments that are so important. Eventually, his family became nothing more than mental projections to the point that he could only guess what was happening to them in real life. Instead of being there, he distanced himself. Instead of helping guide them, he imagined their fates. And he paid the ultimate price for this egoism. Friends, don’t wait. Start living real life before it passes you by.