this is the intro to the album where the listener is being placed in a dreamlike sequence. simply there to set the atmosphere, but it's also a reference to "prologue in heaven" in the book it is inspired by (faust).
2) center of the universe
this song is an extension of the prologue, and is directing the listener into his own mind or the "inner universe", where all questions may possibly be answered. this is the first song on the album, but actually the last song that was finished for epica.
the journey begins; in farewell, ariel (the main character) burns all bridges and leaves everything he knows behind. he cannot find the answers he's looking for in science or religion, and wants to explore the world on his own. this song was made on a stormy night in florida in the summer of 2001.
4) interlude i (opiate soul)
in this piece we try to describe the darkness and desperation one can feel having fallen into human addiction.
5) edge of paradise
ariel is balancing on the edge. his encounter with the great world out there has been anything but successful. in foreign countries far away from home, he experiments with alternative ways to find happiness and peace, but is slowly loosing his grip on life.
we chose the mixture of arabic scales and gregorian-like choirs to portray the temptations, pleasures and pitfalls of hazardous reality escape. quite a few bottles of good bordeaux went down during the process of writing this song.
in his desperation, ariel seeks back to a time where love and youth were carrying him on a wave of promises. he understands that these dreams are only sentimental wishes. life has no longer a purpose for him.
7) interlude ii (omen)
at this point ariel is determined to take his own life. the melody is a reference to helena's death scene later on the album.
8) descent of the archangel
when ariel is at his lowest, mephisto as he wishes to call himself, appears in the pale moonlight. ariel is totally surprised as the devil seems to be nothing like what he had expected; in the shape of a beautiful woman, mephisto politely explains ariel what he could bring to his life.
luca turilli from rhapsody plays the first half of the guitar solo on this song.
9) interlude iii (at the banquet)
a lot of people are gathered at mephisto's castle, where ariel has been invited. he arrives a little late, but just in time to catch his host's remarkable entrance.
10) a feast for the vain
at the big party ariel make friends with everybody and has the time of his life. women, drinks, food &mephisto covers any carnal need. at the end of the song ariel signs the deal that will be fatal &
11) on the coldest winter night
after the party, ariel all of a sudden meets helena, the girl from his youth. they share a short, but intense moment together.
this song has a strong reference to cold (as opposed to wander which refers to summer) that symbolically describes ariel's change after his meeting with mephisto. it was recorded live in the studio with djembe and d-bass.
12) lost & damned
helena approaches ariel to tell him that she's pregnant, but never gets that far. ariel is convinced that the deal he has with mephisto will cause her too much pain and suffering. he is anyway seeking a higher goal than love. at least that is what he believes at this point in the story. he tells her decisively to forget all about him and leave.
the tango-like verse in this song is an attempt to musically describe the tension between helena and ariel. fabricio alejandro is featured on the bandoneon.
13) helena's theme
helena drowns herself in the river.
a stunning performance by the american singer, mari, beautifully supported by rodenberg symphony orchestra.
14) interlude iv (dawn)
the town crier reads the news about helena's death.
guest appearance by ian parry (elegy/consortium project).
15) the mourning after
ariel hears about helena having taken her own life, and with her their unborn child. he mourns deeply, but hopes that they will meet again on the other side.
16) iii ways to epica
this song closes part i of the concept. it sums up the album with mephisto clearly representing evil and cynicism, whilst helena reappears as an angel representing good. ariel is still somewhere in the middle &still searching balance and ultimate truth.