Post-hardcore collective The Armed shared a new song called “An Iteration” with an accompanying music video that contains several easter eggs from the Metal Gear Solid franchise. After “All Futures” and “Average Death,” it’s the third single released from their upcoming album Ultrapop, which is set to arrive April 16, 2021, via Sargent House.
Musically, “An Iteration” is one of their poppier tracks, a highly melodic song that alternates between a wash of fuzzy guitars and more memorable playing, paired with racing drums and a catchy chorus. The lyrics touch on a conversation with a “Pseudo-sophisticated/Poet laureate-posing/Young white savior” who poses himself to be a blue-collar worker while living on his dad’s money.
At the start of the video, guitarist Dan Greene finds himself sitting in a chair inside a surreal, dark room. A phone rings with the same sound as Solid Snake’s radio communications from the Metal Gear Solid games, and Greene picks it up to hear Solid Snake’s voice actor David Hayter saying, “Previously on The Armed: War has changed. There is no such thing in the world as absolute reality, but everything you’ve felt and everything you’ve thought about during this experience is yours. And what you decide to do with all of that is your choice.”
The part of the video that follows the song appears to be a high-speed flurry of close-ups on faces from some of their old music videos, matched with the track’s lyrics. If there are any easter eggs here, they’re much more likely to be easter eggs from The Armed’s past than from the video games.
After the tune ends, Hayter appears in person, waking up on a couch under the same ceiling fan that Greene observes while inside the dreamscape, heavily implying that the start of the video had been a dream. An original PlayStation console sits on the TV stand and a death screen from the original Metal Gear Solid game flickers on the screen there.
Greene commented on why he believes Metal Gear Solid is relevant, “The story of Metal Gear Solid 2–which seemed like convoluted, impenetrable nonsense when we were kids–has turned out to be disturbingly prescient of society in 2021. I would argue that this video game raised more interesting artistic and philosophical questions than a lot of ‘higher art,’ and much earlier too. We are beyond honored to see David Hayter take on the role of Dan Greene within The Armed Cinematic Universe.”
Solid Snake disappears for much of Metal Gear Solid 2, replaced by a character named Raiden, before the game ends by revealing a highly-involved plot to control civilians through the use of simulations. According to a Metal Gear Solid fan site, the game’s antagonists, the Patriots, implemented an operation called S3, or “Selection for Societal Sanity,” which attempted to manipulate information about world events and prove that they could manipulate individuals as well.
A different page on the fan site explains what the Patriots had been attempting during the events of the game, “The dawn of the digital age had allowed for an overabundance of trivial information that would remain intact forever, and accessible by anyone, which supposedly threatened the development of human society…The memetic information that would be passed on to future generations would therefore be decided by the Patriots, since they believed themselves to be in a stronger position to do so over humans. The Patriots considered most humans’ tendency to prefer politically correct thinking over acceptance of unpleasant truths harmful to society as it would create great amounts of junk information that would bury what was indeed true.”
Greene’s opinion that this plot is especially relevant in 2021 seems to imply that The Armed feels this attempt to control information surrounding world events to relate to the current political situation, and might be saying that this commentary on humans preferring politically correct thinking over harsh truths is also relevant. Whether they feel that is a good or bad thing hasn’t been made clear. By posing “An Iteration” as a dream in the video, and as a simulation through the Metal Gear Solid 2 affiliation, The Armed challenges their listeners to think about the nature of true information in the digital age.