1. Greetings, maniac! Tell us a bit about Engulfed in Blackness! Who, what, when, where and why did you form this band?
a. My name is Brandon Von, I formed Engulfed in Blackness on January 7th, 2013 with my friend Lee LeTourneau, who only stayed in the band a few weeks because of family obligations. I had really become disillusioned with my previous band, Malignant Christ, who Lee also played for, at the time and just wanted a fresh start. “Engulfed in Blackness” is the name of a Malignant Christ demo and I thought it would make a much more mature name as I felt the name ‘Malignant Christ’ was very limiting and would narrow peoples’ minds about what they would think we could do, it was a semi-blasphemous name after all for a non-blasphemous band.
2. Engulfed in Blackness has two releases, I believe: a demo and a full length, ‘Ceremonial Equinox’, yes? How do these two releases compare and contrast?
a. We actually did 2 demos but the 1st one was a really rough idea of where I wanted the band to go and although I’ve since reworked those songs I don’t feel like that demo is very representative of our sound at all. So really to me the 1st real Engulfed in Blackness release is the 2nd (self-titled) demo from September 2013. The difference in the 2 songs on the demo and full length is really just that the demo songs are a lot more raw, there are some vocal pattern differences, and some solos are changed. “Ceremonial Equinox” represents the finished product from the songs that were still be finalized on the demo.
3. What was your motivation for releasing music under the name Engulfed in Blackness? Are you no longer pursuing the Malignant Christ banner? Why or why not?
a. Malignant Christ got to where it was really confining creatively mostly because of restrictions I had put on myself about how long a song could be, what it would be about, how the vocals would sound, etc… I wanted to just end it and start over. It also seemed like it was at a stand-still to me but that could just be my perception. Engulfed in Blackness has become a totally freely creative thing for me that represents a large part of myself.
4. Engulfed in Blackness is entirely written and performed by you, yes? What is your songwriting process like? How do you work when writing and recording?
a. I tend to do a lot of work at night, usually after 9pm because it’s when I’m unwinding from the day and my mind is at its most active. I usually have song titles before anything else and then just assign them to songs after the music is complete. Like, ‘this song sounds like that title’ type of deal. I did the entire album alone, however, I had originally planned for Brian Kelley from Oakmoon to play bass on it but scheduling difficulties prevented that.
5. What inspires you to write? Is there a central theme to ‘Ceremonial..’ or other releases, upcoming releases, etc.? Why or why not?
a. “Ceremonial Equinox” is an extremely cathartic album for me because there are no real lyrics on it. I felt a very spiritual release when we recorded because I went in the vocal tracks and just let everything out in waves and purged myself of negativity. In a way I guess that people can put whatever meaning they like into the songs in a totally free way because of how the vocals were done. If there were a central theme to the record it is that the album is a total cacophony of brutal noise meant as a release of bad energy from the people recording it unto those who are experiencing it. I can take inspiration from just about anything so long as it is evocative of some kind of feeling in me. I am very in tune with my environment as a person and I think that plays a lot into things when you meet me as a person. Frankly, there is no gap between Brandon the person and Brandon the head of Engulfed in Blackness and I think that shows a lot in our presentation. I’m planning on exploiting my vocal range a lot more on the next album and not use my voice as another instrument so a lot of my philosophies and beliefs will show up in future releases because of the introduction of lyrics and different vocal styles to our sound.
6. There are some videos online of Engulfed in Blackness performing live. Tell us about your live line-up.
a. Because of the distance between band members I have performed a majority of our shows alone but I truly consider us a 2 piece with Brian Kelley and myself. I don’t mind performing live but admittedly I can only do so much of a show with just one person. Currently, I also want to expand with the introduction of a 2nd guitar player into our lineup.
7. What medium best represents your music? Assault from the live stage or blasting away from the stereo deck? Why?
a. Generally when we play live I just go inside of myself and rage until the show is over. I never talk to the audience or stop the machine between songs so we really just pummel the audience for 30 minutes or so. They get a second or 2 of respite between songs but that’s it. We’re an endurance test live. However, in the studio I think we flourish more because of the freedom of it not being live and immediate and the processes of the band being more of an ongoing project.
8. Tell us about your influences. I hear some amazing riffs coming from ‘Ceremonial Equinox’, what artists are most guilty of rotting your brain with evil metal death, past and present?
a. My main guitar influences are Kelly Mclauchlin (Pessimist, Brutality, Diabolic, Possessed), Bryan Hipp (Brutality, Diabolic), and James Murphy (especially on the Disincarnate album). Most of the album is influenced by American death metal like Diabolic, Brutality, Morbid Angel, and Hate Eternal’s debut with some elements of bands like Sinister and even Mortification’s early work. For current bands my favorites are Blaspherian, Embalmed, Mortuous, Process of Suffocation, Deform, Chapel of Disease, Ectovoid, Encoffination, and Father Befouled. I get irritated when I see modern big metal magazine journalists dismissing all of us because I truly feel a lot of the death metal coming out today is at least on par with and in a lot of ways surpasses the legendary bands from 20-25 years ago. I feel like the underground now is a lot healthier than it was 10 years ago and there is a much stronger sense of community amongst bands than I have ever felt before which is really very refreshing. The major problem is that because the music industry has changed a lot and nobody gets rich anymore or has huge amounts of success unless they are coopted in the corporate structure of mass consumerism that no one is attaining universal “legendary” status on a commercial level the way bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel once did. Death Metal will never be at the commercial zenith it was in 1992 and probably won’t ever be as accepted as it once was as a musical form by the mass metal public. Has that diminished the quality of bands coming out now? Absolutely not, in a way it’s enhanced it. I would rather be playing this kind of music now than I would 20 years ago because people have learned from the mistakes of the past and the future looks great because of it.
9. There is a striking difference between the production clarity of Malignant Christ and Engulfed in Blackness? Was this a conscious decision? Why?
a. Mostly the difference comes from me investing money in proper recording equipment and really taking a lot of time with both tracking and mixing and really trying to make a proper album. I also spent countless hours researching how to actually record an album and talking to people who used similar methods as I did. Peter from Bloodsoaked was of invaluable assistance to me when it came to learning the equipment and what it can do so I owe him a lot.
10. How long was the writing and recording process for ‘Ceremonial…’? Are there any aspects you would change after the fact? Why or why not?
a. I wouldn’t change anything because I feel like this is easily the best project I’ve ever worked on and embodies everything I’ve ever wanted to accomplish in death metal. As for how long the writing process took, it was actually incredibly brief, like maybe a month to 6 weeks. What happened was that I was really inspired around August of last year and after I scrapped the 1st round of songs we had I became enthralled in all of these elements of my playing and music I like and just cranked out a lot of material really fast.
11. What is on the horizon for Engulfed in Blackness? Another release, upcoming shows, etc.?
a. Our next release will be a split with the band Deform from New Jersey. They’ve been around for a while and are terribly overlooked. In my opinion they’re one of the best bands out there today. After that we will buckle down and begin working on the 2nd album. As for shows we’ve already played a Death Metal festival in Johnson City, TN which is near where the band is based that attracted a lot of attention for having a really stellar lineup and in August we’re doing a 2 show jaunt with Pestuary from Virginia on August 1st and 2nd. The August 2nd show will also feature Process of Suffocation.
12. The last words are yours!
a. We’re only just beginning; keep an eye on Engulfed in Blackness because we’re only going to get sicker!