The Gates of Heck album first came to be as a painted homage to Rodin’s Gates of Hell, and Dante’s Inferno. During the two years the painting took to complete, I was inspired to write a set of songs updating Dante’s themes of crime and punishment in the afterlife by culture jamming them into a contemporary context. The songs on the album deal in a variety of genres from rock ‘n roll to avant garde instrumental guitar noise.
Perry Vasquez: vocals, guitar, keyboards
Matt Resovich: guitar, percussion
John Meeks: drums
Sound Engineering by Matt Resovich
Mastering by Francisco Eme
Recorded at Phil Beaumont Studios San Diego
All songs Copyright 2017 Perry Vasquez
As the new century dawned society found itself caught between the astounding discoveries of scientific, technological innovation and the failure of politics to uphold the rule of law. Everywhere the levels of injustice and violence threatened to overturn peacefully functioning institutions. Long held moral beliefs and social contracts were shredded in the name of new forms whose malevolent intentions were becoming alarmingly clear. Every day the price of expressing opposition opinions became more dangerous. Provisional personal and cultural boundaries thrown up overnight hardened into fortified ideological and political borders. Exiles and migrants filled the streets while legions of murdered innocents cried out for justice from the grave.
Such was the familiar state of affairs during Dante Alighieri's life. He himself was a victim of political persecution and as a result was cast into exile and prevented under penalty of death from ever returning to his home in Florence. In response he wrote La Divina Commedia, an allegorical journey through the Underworld with his poet-guide Virgil. In Dante’s epic poem the rights and wrongs of humanity are given absolute meaning and proportion against a background of divine justice and universal harmony.
The Gates of Heck is a halting attempt to respond to La Divina Commedia from the uncertain perspective of the early 21st century. Today, unlike the early 14th century of Dante’s time, the presence of God has fled from contemporary human history. During the intervening 700 years, the reassuring symmetry of a cosmos centered around God has turned into a confusing hall of mirrors. Is it Satan we have to fear, chaos theory or the second law of thermodynamics? I suspect, as did Dante, that love, faith and courage will be the human values that continue to inform our better selves. Will we recognize this in time to save humanity from destruction or, like Robin the Boy Wonder, will we become the inexorable victims of our everlovin’ holy pride?