January 24, 2012

About creativity or controversy epic song theme by Dream Theater

I quote this article from Dream Theater FAQ written by Alexandre Mantovani. On this song analysis I'll try to draw parallels between DT's "In The Presence Of Enemies" (ITPOE) and a manhwa (Korean comic book) called Priest. I'd like to begin explaining some points:
  • A brief overview of Priest's plot will be given, with links to ITPOE. There won't be a deep analysis of the Priest comic book (this would be appropriate elsewhere).
  • Apparently, the song is inspired on the 1st. volume of the comic book (it is possible to identify dialogues of the volume #1 extracted directly to the lyrics of the song).
  • The research made is not yet finished, since He's only just analyzing the book volume #1. There may be direct references from other Priest volumes in the lyrics of ITPOE.

So let's get started!

About Priest: The comic book has 16 volumes and tells the story of humanity's battle against 12 fallen angels, led by an archangel called Temozarela. Despite having fought by God's side in the battle against Lucifer, Temozarela and his allies realize that God had lost interest in them, turning His attention to humanity. They then decide to rebel against God in light of God's favoritism towards the human race, descending upon Earth to 'play God' among the humans who build a temple and statues for them. For their rebellion and acts against humanity, God destroyed their temple and their statues were cast underground, with their souls being trapped within the statues. The story begins when preacher Ivan Isaacs (the hero) make a terrible mistake: unleashes Temozarela from a prison of hundreds of years. Ivan is then cast onto a cross after witnessing his only love Gena die in his arms. To end this eternal suffering, Ivan denounces God and sells half of his soul to a demon called Belial. By doing this, he gains a second chance of life and reborn as an immortal in the service of Belial, devoting himself for vengeance against Temozarela and his followers.

The song starts similar to the comic book: a narrator telling his memories from the past...
"I saw a white light shining there before me
And walking to it, I waited for the end
A final vision, promising salvation
A resurrection for a fallen man"

page 5

"Do you still wait for your God, and the symbol of your faith?"

page 6

"I can free you from this Hell and misery
You should never be ashamed, my son
I can give you power beyond anything
Trust me you will be the chosen one"

page 7

page 7 is also related to the following lines:

"I can lead you down the path and back to life
All I ask is that you worship me
I can help you seek revenge and save yourself
Give you life for all eternity"

let's continue...

"I was forgotten, a body scorned and broken
My soul rejected tainted by his blood
Beyond redemption, a sinner not worth saving
Forever taken from the one I loved"

page 8

"Servants of the fallen fight to pave the way
For their savior's calling, on this wicked day
Through a veil of madness, with a vicious blade
One man rises up standing in their way
Redemption, redemption for humanity"

This part I'd like to link with the events that happen on the next pages of the comic book. Ivan Isaacs is fighting an undead legion sent by Jarbilong, the eleventh fallen angel. Ivan, armed with a gun full of silver bullets, destroys the undead legion and has his first encounter with Jarbilong:
page 10, 11

page 12

page 13

page 14

page 15

page 17

page 18

page 19

entering ITPOE pt. 2...
"Welcome tired pilgrim, into the circle
We have been waiting
Everyone's gathered for your arrival
All the believers"

page 20

"Angels fall all for you, heretic
Demon heart, bleed for us"
There are no direct references with this lines (they illustrate Ivan Isaacs' burden told throughout the book).

"I've been waiting for you, weary preacher man

You have been expected, now we can begin
Let this hallowed day of judgment reign
I have known you father, and your sacred quest
Blessed soldier fighting, you shall never rest
I have known you but do you know me?"

page 21

"Angels fall all for you, heretic
Demon heart, bleed for us
(My soul is yours Dark Master, I will fight for you)"

Again, no direct references with volume #1... This last line is interesting though, it's a piece of Ivan Isaacs' oath made when he sold half of his soul to Belial. The oath continues:
"Dark Master within, I will fight for you
Dark Master of sin, now my soul is yours
Dark Master my guide, I will die for you
Dark Master inside"

The lyrics seem to keep focus on Jarbilong, although the comic book will show him again only at page 113:

"I cannot see his face
But I could feel his spite
A presence from the dead
Abandoned by the light"

page 113

"This shadow will consume him from within
This power that I sense
The rage behind those eyes
Is just a shrouded ghost
A spirit sealed inside
The body and the soul both threats
For they are one"

page 148

page 149

Jarbilong is talking to Armandiel, one of the 12 fallen angels. Armandiel is probably the most powerful angel, he helped Temozarela in the battle against Belial centuries before Ivan Isaacs' pilgrimage.

The hiatus between page 21 and page 113 shows a situation where undead servants of Jarbilong are awaken inside a train. This train carried some caskets, Ivan, and federal marshals that had the boss of a criminal group called Lizzie. She becomes important because of her resemblance with Gena, Ivan's lost love. A series of happenings take place, but an important moment occurs when the demon Belial takes control of Ivan's actions (who fights the undead). Links with ITPOE? Check this out:

"Don't bother trying to find them
They will be coming to you
Fight, fight and destroy
Until you can't take anymore"

page 35

"Stay, spill the blood of the rebels
They are the children of hell
Flesh of the undead
Stopping at nothing to kill
Sin, caught in a moment of weakness
Committed the greatest of all"

I couldn't find direct references in volume #1... =/

"Sold half of my soul
And now it's too late for you"

page 65

"I judge as my eyes see
I judge and I am just
For I speak of the beast
That lives in all of us
Unwelcome once, your time has come"

page 111

The following is a reference to Psalm 23:

"Lord, You are my god and my shepherd
Nothing more shall I want
Walk through the abyss into the shadow of death
Fear, there is no evil to fear now
For I know you are with me
My cup overflows with my enemies blood
I decay in the house of the lord forever, amen
Death will follow me all the days of my life"
Ivan Isaacs reads psalm 23 when he is about to save Lizzie for the 1st time.

page 100

page 101

page 102, 103

page 106

"Servants of the fallen fight to pave the way
For their savior's calling on this wicked day
Through a veil of madness, with a vicious blade
One man rises up standing in their way"


Narrative of some happenings. No direct references...
"(It's time for your reckoning)"


page 86
"My soul grows weaker
He knows and he waits
He watches over me
Standing at the infernal gates
In the hour of darkness
The moment I feared has passed
The moment I lost my faith
Promising salvation
My soul is my own now
I do not fight for you, Dark Master"

Ivan Isaacs is again tormented by Belial. A moment of revolt fills up Ivan's feelings because Belial have had tormented him with what happened to Gena. This happens before Ivan Isaacs save Lizzie for the 2nd time and blow up the train.
page 128
page 129
page 130

The song ends, but the manhwa continues for 15 more volumes telling Ivan Isaacs story and his pilgrimage seeking revenge from Temozarela. Thank you for reading this analysis, and thank you DTFAQ/DTNorway for hosting it, you guys rock!

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