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Song Review – Villified by StringStorm

Villified is a song by StringStorm which talks about the Imperial Inquisition from Warhammer 40 000. Inquisition is an organization of interstellar Imperium of Man, and much like historical Inquisition its role is to protect the society and government from infiltration by the elements that seek to destroy it from within. But the stakes are much higher. Spanish Inquisition had to deal merely with heretics and false converts from Islam working to destroy the kingdom from within. Imperial Inquisition has to deal with heretics and false converts, but also with Chaos Cultists, actual magic and literal demons. Stakes are thus much greater, and room for error much smaller.

Song starts out slowly, but then picks up the pace. Throughout the song, the atmosphere, especially the singer’s voice, switches from subdued to threatening several times. The beginning of the song is somewhat sad. This holds true for both the music and the lyrics. Music is slow and measured and – as mentioned – actually subdued, with main focus on a gentle piano and slow singing. Lyrics themselves speak of the things which singer had lost and evils he had learned of, as well as the sacrifices he has to make to preserve and protect the humanity.

In the next segment, music becomes more aggressive, combative even, while the focus is upon the sacrifices necessary to keep humanity as a whole safe and existing. Aggressive music reinforces the idea that the narrator is ready to do whatever it takes – to sacrifice people, innocence and safety – in order to ensure the safety of mankind. But soon music becomes more subdued again, while song speaks of the need to protect humanity, and to protect children’s innocence. The lines “I cross the line for your sake so you don’t have to / But if that child shall ever think to stray from the path / They’ll know no mercy, they’ll be purged with an unhesitant wrath” sum up the very idea behind, the raison d’etre for existence of the Inquisition.

The last third of the song returns again to the more aggressive theme, but this time it admonishes the audience for villifying the Inquisition for doing its job and keeping them safe. This could be read as both an in-universe jab at people of the Imperium and out-of-universe jab at many if not most fans, as neither truly understand what Inquisition is, what it is doing and why it has to do what it is doing. Singer points out that “If you’d seen, what I’d seen / you’d be devastated, you’d be terrified”, thus warning that Inquisition protects the humanity from the unimaginable dangers – and often has to sacrifice individuals and even whole populations for the sake of survival of mankind.

Overall, the song gets across the idea that while the singer / narrator is not thrilled about his job and sees it as dirty, it is also necessary. Choice of instruments is also used to support the atmosphere. Main instrument in the slower parts of the song appears to be piano, giving it a calm and relaxed musical background. But when it comes to more agressive parts of the song, piano is overwhelmed and eventually replaced by the drums and what might be cymbals, only to return as main instrument during calmer portions of the song.

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