Yes, things have been quite busy as of late. At the beginning of 2020 I decided to start to put a more direct focus towards this project, as in years prior I had always been juggling this as well as several other bands. I started off the process for this album in just February, so at this point it has been 4 months of intense, recording, artwork designing, video making etc. For this new album I did something brand new in designing an artwork for each song, as well as a lyric or stream video to coincide for each. I did a fan vote here a few weeks ago to let them choose which cover art they liked best and the winner became the art I had designed for the last single "Succubus" which also I think is the best video I made as well, release for that last single is June 19th. The full new album will be out July 10th, with all the 6 singles I have released over these 4 months as well as some bonus cover songs at the end (Mercyful Fate, Illnath, Pain, Judas Priest) I did 3 of those last year more or less for fun and inspiration and just released on Youtube only. The newest cover song I did was Pain for a contest Peter Tagtgren had posted online, and i figured why not add it to the album as well.
2.In July you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
The new album "The 7th Sin" I believe is the most diverse of all my albums I have released to this point. The fact being that 3 songs were written 10 years ago, 3 songs are brand new, and then 4 cover songs of various genres in metal, it is in a way a kind of compilation album. The 3 old songs actually have a completely different style then I play now, but when re-recorded and revamped they sounded amazing! The new songs I wrote I would say are a more direct follow up to last years "Zychodia" album style wise, very brutal and technical, I also had alot of pent up anger from some recent events in my life that led to those being extremely aggressive. And as for the cover songs, it was fun to bring my style into stuff that originally is very different than what I sound like. It was a challenge to bridge the gap in style and find my sound within those songs.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explored with your newer music and also how would you describe your progress as a songwriter over the years?
Lyrical topics on this CD are varied, but I would say they all kind of relate in some ways, the opener "Succubus" is a result of something that happened to me recently, a theft, that left me feeling empty inside. So I had this idea from the artwork I was designing, to make the succubus character an actual grim reaper character. So in a sense she is awakened by your sins and comes to take your soul to hell, and some of what is explored lyrically is that it is a deserved fate. Track 2, Morbid Beauty, was actually written by my good friend and musical cohort Kobey Lange (Cerebral Desecration, Scars of the Flesh, Wings of Abaddon) and we duet the vocals, in case anyone doesn't know, he actually wrote all of the lyrics to my last album "Zychodia". We have this magical way of collaborating that it works so seemlessly. The song itself I had the artwork before any music or lyrics, so i gave him that as an inspiration to write about. It in turn became about humanity's morbid obsession with the idea they aren't good enough the way they are, without makeup, plastic surgery etc etc. The song is a more gruesome take on that topic, but so much of what is said in the lyrics rings completely true in our society these days. The 3rd song Tales of the Past, is one of the old songs, this song is a personal one to me. It is basically me talking to myself and how I deal with regrets and many times in my life I have made decisions i regret and wish i could change. It makes for even a bit stranger to have written it in the past about the past, and recording it again in the future haha. It was kind of my way of correcting a past mistake and being able to record the song in such a better quality nowadays. Track 4 Graveyard Hymn is basically a funeral kind of song lyrically, the thought of dying and what's left behind and what is beyond. Are we just food for the worms at that point, is my tombstone just a perch for the crows? Track 5 Pain or Death goes back to 2010 again, this song is a deep one, and written for a friend of mine who was diagnosed with cancer. That night when i went home after she told me, i was devastated for her, but at the same time I had thoughts of what would I do if it was me? If you were given the option of a probable death, would you fight through pain, chemotherapy etc to live? It can be transferred to many scenarios, would you rather live in pain, or just decide that death is an easier solution. A bit morbid yes, but very real thought and scenario. Track 6 Flesh and Steel the 3rd old song and final of the the originals on the album is another that is very personal to me. This song is basically me at my most suicidal moment in life, but instead of doing something final/fatal, I decided to write a song and vent those emotions into a positive. And in doing so the music helped me get through something I wouldv'e regretted. I hope in some way that song and its lyrics can help someone else who might be feeling the same way.
4.Some of your older lyrics covered science fiction and horror themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in those topics?
2016's album "The Haunting at Helmbrook" to many fans is still my best, it was my first take at a full concept album. I have always been very inspired by King Diamond, and his horror stories are some of the best. So for my take on that album I can't even put into words how it all came into my mind, I also did a bit of a weird writing process on that one, and didn't even have a full concept to start, I had the visual in my mind of some scenarios and I literally wrote the story plot as I went through track by track, not knowing how it would end until i got to the end. This album was the first time Kobey Lange had a hand in writing lyrics for one of my albums, I wrote the entire concept up until the last song, and after about 6 months of work I was drained. I gave him the full album, lyrics, and music to the last song and said, sum it up for me, give me a finale. And he knocked that song out of the park. It really helped bring everything together. Fast forward to 2019 and Zychodia was a similar scenario on what started our collaboration on that album. I had been working on the music for the album since right after Haunting was finished, so Zychodia had been about 2 and a half years of writing music, I had what i knew was my best album to date, and I had a concept idea, sci-fi story, I had song names but just a mostly general idea, I have always been fascinated with aliens and sci-fi stuff. And I could not pull myself to get it done, I was at the breaking point and almost about to scrap the album, Kobey stepped in and asked me to let him have a go at it. What ensued was magical to say the least, he took my basic idea and turned it into a novel worthy sci-fi tale, that is so in depth it would take quite a while to explain. If anyone reading is interested I'm sure the lyrics can be found online and you should have a go at just reading it as a story, I hope one day Kobey will turn it into a full on book. With these two albums serving as my concept albums, for the future which topic would i consider doing again? probably something along the Haunting at Helmbrook lines is possible to come up again at some point, we will just have to wait and see what inspires me in the future.
5.With this project you record everything by yourself but also play in a few bands, how would you compare the 2?
Doing my solo project is obviously the most demanding of the 2 because besides occasionally having outside help on lyrics, everything is done by only me, and being the producer, artwork designer (lately). I do the job of about 6 people all myself, it does tend to take its toll on me mentally haha.
I do miss the feel of having a full band when i do things like this all the time, but with Scars of the Flesh my other main band, we started as just a studio project, but this past January we finally pulled together a full band and played a live show, I hope to continue to build that up to be constant thing for the future of that band. Writing music by myself and with others is definitely what I would say defines the two as different. When I am alone writing for my project I am my own critic, and only my opinion matters. With Scars and other previous projects I always like to have the other members put in as much say as I have, so it's not just another BE song under a different name. I still typically grind the studio/producer side of things about the same in all projects I'm associated with, as I have a certain standard of quality of sound I want to achieve, so therefore, you can in fact hear similarities in everything I've been a part of. I guess you can call that my personal stamp on things.
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Yes, the artwork process for this new album was actually very exciting and new for me. Before this I had designed only two albums covers on projects myself, 2018's Winters Plague (The Final Eclipse), and the new Scars of the Flesh (Reaching into the Void) CD we just released in January. Both of those came out cool, but to say I am experienced in that process, I would say no. So when I started this new album, I designed an art for the song Pain or Death first back in February, and I had this random idea of doing an artwork for each song, it was quite a challenge to pull it off in the end. But as a matter of fact I got ahead of myself on the artwork creating and had several of them before the music, so I would say the arts actually helped shape the music. I held a contest like i said previously and let the fans decide which of the 6 arts they like best. I announced the last and final song art for "Succubus" and gave a 3 day voting window online. The fans absolutely loved that art and the Graveyard Hymn art. The voting came down to the wire on those 2, but in the end the Succubus art won out. I did end up changing the full album title to "The 7th Sin' and made a slightly alternate succubus art for the single. That artwork was by far the one i worked the most on, so I can say I am happy it is the one that won in the end. For the physical albums, all 6 artworks will be featured in a full 16 page booklet plus lyrics, as well as a cool art panel for the cover songs.
7.On the new album you also have done a good amount of covers, can you tell us a little bit more about your choices for the cover songs?
The covers featured on this album are personal favorites of mine, I am always really picky with what songs if any I will do covers of, it has to be something that I think will blend with my style nicely. The first one i did was the Mercyful Fate song, I said earlier about how much I love King Diamond, and Mercyful is no exception to that. I remember when the 9 album came out in '99, its always been a personal favorite of mine because it was also the first time i saw him on tour that year. I wasn't sure how good it would come out when i started, but when it was finished it was better then i couldve imagined. The Illnath song is probably one that very few people will recognize, because even if they know of the band, that song was an unreleased version. Their 3rd album was supposed to be "Three nights in the sewers of sodom" but things happened within the band and the singer Bjorn "Narrenschiff" Holter ended up leaving the band. You can only hear the original version on a Youtube stream which i believe there is a download link too. I absolutely love that album even in demo form, the one that did finally come out with a different singer years later is just lackluster to me. So no offense to the band but i wanted to hear a great finished recording of that song and Bjorn has also become a friend of mine over the years and it was cool to give him a dedication through my cover of him. The Judas Priest song is a pretty random one for fans of them, but for me its always been one of my favorite Priest tunes and I knew it would translate very cool with some heavier vocals. The last cover I added was Pain, and like i said earlier, it was a last minute addition, for a contest Peter Tagtgren had posted, I recorded it in one night and did vocals the next day, and with how great it came out I just had to add it to the album too.
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
I had tried for years and years earlier on 2014-2019 I sent out hundreds and hundreds of submissions, emails, mailing press kits etc etc. to bigger labels, to no response. I got interest from a few small labels over the years, but the things they have offered are things I already do myself. So there would be no positive to signing a deal. At this point in my musical career, I am just to the point where if it happens it happens kind of thing, I doubt I will be seeking it out as I have in the past, as nowadays being on a big label doesn't necessarily define your success anyway. The labels will come chomping when the success has already arrived. I'm just trying to enjoy what I do and if i was making music for money I guess i would've quit a long time ago haha. It's the creation process that I truly enjoy.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of melodic black and death metal?
I definitely have fans all around the globe, I get messages from many people from countries all around. Since I ship all physical merch orders myself, I see where they come from and its nice to see how far the music has spread. I honestly believe I have more fans globally than in the U.S. where I am from. I guess that's attributed the style of music I play and how much bigger it is outside the U.S. I hope with each new album I put out that it can reach some new ears, that is always the goal.
10.What is going on with your other bands these days?
Well, Wings of Abaddon had been my main band for years, but we decided to call it quits in 2018, about a year before that we had started Scars of the Flesh which remains as my only active other band currently. We have brought that from just a studio project into a full live band and played our first show this past January for our new CD release. I had joined Cerebral Desecration last year, but more as a fill in. That band features Kobey Lange who was in Wings and is still in Scars too, also Joe Muniz who was in Wings, so it was easy to step into a band with members I had jammed with for years and years. But i decided in 2020 that I would just focus on my project and Scars of the Flesh moving forward, I guess it has become a bit harder to do as much as I had in years previous as I get older. I tend to be a workaholic when it comes to music haha. And if anyone is curious on Winters Plague, that is actually just a solo album I released under a different name, being that it was my original solo project name long ago. I've been asked many times if i will do another album under that name, and right now I can only say I'm not sure. Time will tell, but for now you can look forward to new BE stuff regularly and Scars of the Flesh.
11.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
The future is always wide open for me, there are a few nostalgic projects I want to get out here in the next year or two, more or less studio stuff, re-recordings. We had a project in 2007-2011 called Desert Beast that has a killer album just sitting on my computer that I plan on revamping and getting out to the world, just to at least have one out under that name. It was some killer tunes forsure. This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of my original first band Blessed Agony, we have been talking about doing a few one off tunes in memory of that band, not a resurrection of it, just a tribute kinda thing. Scars of the Flesh is going to be picking back up on writing and jamming for shows soon as the COVID stuff put a damper on our progress when it hit right after our first gig, we had to cancel plans for now, but soon that machine will start rolling again. For now I'm going to stay active in the studio and be productive, I actually have the whole next BE album written musically, as The 7th Sin kinda came in suddenly and got done first, but i was working on a whole different album that is going to be a BIG endeavor. I plan on it being a 2 disc concept album, I am just needing some years to make that one happen. Anyways, fans can expect alot of new tunes in many forms coming in the future. If people are starting to understand something about me is that I put out alot of music hahaha, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Oh man, there is just too many to name! When it comes to what bands i would say influence my sound the most, I would say, Hypocrisy, Old Man's Child, Arch Enemy, At the Gates, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Death, King Diamond. But I could go on and on and on. What I tend to listen more on a daily/weekly basis might surprise people a bit, I tend to have this unquenchable thirst for power metal lol. I absolutely love bands, like Primal Fear, Stratovarius, Gloryhammer, Gamma Ray, Helloween etc etc. One that has me hooked lately, is Allen/Olzon that CD is magnificent, been on a constant rotation here.
13.What are some of your non musical interests?
I have been getting in deep with artwork/design stuff as of late, I have a bit of a side thing going making flyers for bands and shows. I recently did a shirt design for a buddy. I have had a few bands starting to inquire to me about album artwork, and other shirt designs. So its seeming when I'm not doing music itself, I'm getting more into the artwork/design side of music. Another thing i want to grow into doing more fully is lyric video design. I actually went pretty deep into the creation of the Morbid Beauty and Succubus videos for this new album. I need to upgrade my computer to handle a bit more, but its something I could see doing as a side business and still helping the music scene in another way.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
I hope everyone who reads this will check out the new CD when it drops July 10th, I put my heart and soul into all the music I create. I want to thank all the people who have supported me for years and years now, as well as any new fans that come about. If you guys want to dive into my world there is alot to be found (Bryan Eckermann, Scars of the Flesh, Winters Plague, Wings of Abaddon, Cerebral Desecration, Blessed Agony)
A big cheers to you out there reading this! And stay tuned for the next endeavors, there will always be more to come.
Flesh And Steel Video
Morbid Beauty Lyric Video