Act II: The Father Of Death
2009 | Rock
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"I will not be told where to stand! -- I will not be told what to say! -- Not by man or machine, Not by you, not by anyone tonight! -- You're gonna have to do better than fear. -- You're gonna have to step out of the shadows and fight!"
- Act II: Father Of Death was inspired by Streets Of Fire, a movie released in 1984.
- This sophmore album functions as a prequal to the bands first album.
- The Protomen make Mega Man inspired rock-opera.
THE HOT TAKES
Since this is my favorite band of all the ones featured, allow me to set the stage. Every song on the first two Protomen albums take place as part of a continuing story, much like the kind of thing that Styx would do. This song is sung from the perspective of Joe, a youth not content to live in the dystopian police state in which he lived. He has escaped, only to be pursued by a robotic assassin, a metaphor for the long arm of the state. This is is conflict with the Law, and a temporary victory. In order to tell the full story, the Protomen use the liner notes in their albums, which can be found on Lyrics Wikia. I encourage you strongly to try listening to this album (Act II) from the beginning, with the notes. It builds an incredible, emotive, and distinctly libertarian-influenced story, the likes of which I have never encountered before or since. This gets me every single time: "I will not be be told where to stand! I will not be told what to say! Not by man or machine, not by you, not by anyone tonight!"
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Frank Herbert’s epic book Dune: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Just like the quote, this song has a theme of overcoming fear of the unknown predator and fighting it. Often we are more afraid of the unknown than we are of what we know. To know or understand something is to dismantle your fear of it. Afterall, if you know the shadow is a coat rack, and not a person, then you know there is nothing to be afraid of. Fear is one of the most highly influential emotions that people can fee. It can make people lash out or freeze in their tracks. It has been used by governments of the centuries to control the masses. The us vs. them mentality that is a perpetual favorite of the ruling class, is at its core, one of fear. One of the most insidious ways the government has used it has been to make people so reliant on them that they are afraid of living without it, and being in charge of their own lives. People have literally been taught to fear freedom. Having fear is not wrong. It’s what you do with that emotion that separates you from the the masses. There is only one way through fear and that is to face it and try to understand it. The song states it well.
“You're gonna have to do better than fear. You're gonna have to step out of the shadows and fight! And when they see your face again, they will know what it means to have fear dragged out into the light, drag it out!”
When I listen to this song, i think very specifically about how the state often fels in my own light. Without getting to conspiratorial there is a part of me that lives in perpetual concern about the state waching these every key strokes (Literally just looked over shoulder twice to check for a black hood coming down) to shuffle off the dissenters. We all joke about the Clintons and perhaps there's no truth to it but in all these cases there is a disembodied sense of dread wrapped into the world around us where the state feels likea pair of glowing red eyes staring back at me from my monitor whispering not today. We can see how forcefully they can take their control and at the same time how arbitrarily. We watch as some dissidents never find the inside of a black bag while others disappear. The threat is ofen enough to make even the most stalwart libertarians face that question."What am I prepared to do to be free?"