Our upcoming album, Volume I: Calescai, is about three characters and the way their stories interweave. But in reality, there is a fourth, vitally important character: the backdrop, the city of Calescai. It is a strange city high above the ground, with seven gleaming towers that reach up to an oceanic sky above — and dark depths that plunge just as far below.
Turns out, Metropolis did that nearly a century ago.
Though I don't think Metropolis was at the forefront of any of our minds when writing the story of Volume I, its similarities are undeniable. Social issues of class are built into the architecture of the city itself; the social strain (or privilege) experienced by its citizens are almost material. Workers crowd in grungy elevators as they literally descend into darkness. The elite occupy a space high above them among the clouds. In this way, the city is more than just a backdrop, and more than just a symbol of inequality — it actually embodies the hegemony of class. Social stratification is also spatial and architectural stratification.
Granted, as important as the movie was for all sci-fi that followed over the 20th century, it's portrayal of class conflict is arguably reductive and unrefined. Our album has never been about class so explicitly, but it does play an important role nonetheless.
Also, that title sequence is still hot 89 years later. Well done, Erich Kettelhut.