Exclusive Interview: Brodee McLaren on “Blood Moon” by Manalyth!
The EP “Blood Moon” from Multi Instrumentalist (Guitars, Bass, Drums, Synths and Piano) Brodee McLaren and vocalist Brandon Craven aka Manalyth is a bomb blast of Progressive Deathcore that should be a wake up call to anyone writing in the Metal sub-genre because it’s an absolute beast of an EP. We had the pleasure of catching up with mastermind Brodee McLaren to ask him a few choice questions about his work…
“It Lives” has been around in one form or another since 2017, so how long has the “Blood Moon” EP been gestating and how has the material changed since it was first written? Did you ever think it wouldn’t see the light of day?Though it was officially released with vocals in 2017, the song “It Lives” has existed instrumentally since 2015~2016. When it was written I had ideas to either have my vocalist from my previous band do some vocals over it or just release it instrumentally like I had with previous music. I knew it would eventually see the light of day, but I felt that releasing it along with the other songs either instrumentally or with rushed lyrics and vocal recordings at the time would have been a waste of music that could have been more if I had put more effort and patience into it. One day I stumbled upon Brandon’s vocal cover of the song “Blasphemian” by Infant Annihilator, not really sure what to expect from the young guy with a cross over his door in the background, but I was blown away by the quality of his vocals and the clarity and timing of his words; I immediately reached out to him about doing vocals in the band and I sure am glad he said yes! Overall though I would say the main structure of the music writing has stayed consistent over the time up to now, but the approach to things like ambiance, layering, mixing and vocals has been influenced very much in that time by bands like Within Destruction, Fallujah, and Devin Townsend to get to where it is now.
How did you get Christina Rotondo to appear on “Eyes“? The contrast of her voice against Brandon Craven’s is a beauty and the beast moment!For the guest vocals on “Eyes”, I knew that I always wanted to have some kind of cleaner singing over that section; it slows down a ton from 240bpm to 170bpm and has a nice progression that was too mellow to have screaming the whole way through it. It also has a great storytelling use too as the female voice represents the female subject of the song that is being followed by the cult, which is represented by the screaming layers in the guest spot. To get her to feature in the song though I had been following her content on YouTube and always liked her acoustic covers and I thought her range and tone would fit very well into the song, so I reached out to her and sent her the song and lyrics and synopsis of the song and EP and she liked it and wanted to be a part of the song. She was very kind and great to work with and I hope to work with her again in the future.
You reference yourselves as an internet band, so do you have any plans to flesh out the line up and play shows? What does 2020 have in store for Manalyth? As far as the near future, as fun and neat as it would be, there aren’t any plans for coming together for live shows or performances; possibly at some point in the future, but overcoming the California-Texas distance between Brandon and I is definitely a hurdle at this current time. As for the future musically, we have plans for a follow-up to the “Blood Moon” EP storyline and I have been having ideas for a collection of songs about wild occurrences in nature, though I cannot confirm if any of those will be released this year just yet.
In our review of “Blood Moon” we’ve referenced someone like Emmure guitarist Josh Travis as having a similar style to you in his writing with Glass Cloud and Danza. Who are your musician heroes and why? I have drawn a lot of influence from people like Josh Travis for sure, also from bands like Meshuggah, Opeth, and Humanity’s Last Breath, but the majority of writing influence is from drummers as I am primarily a drummer. I would say that people like Mikael Åkerfeldt, Thomas Haake, and another YouTube musician who goes by Drewsif are my main music writing inspirations for the heavy music featured on the EP. For Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth has been my favorite band for a long time and I have always admired the dissonance and unease the tone of their music and yet it can still seamlessly transition to and from a beautiful melodic section that makes perfect sense being there, as well as the story-like lyrical style each of their albums have. For Thomas Haake, I have always enjoyed hearing and learning the odd patterns and rhythms that Meshuggah creates and try to take into consideration making things a little more detailed with the patterns or ghost notes and accents when an idea would sound bland or too standard, so to speak. For Drewsif, I take a lot of inspiration from his ability to create the right amount of depth and ambiance in the heavier music that he writes, giving the sound a darker tone that I enjoy and try to work into my own sound when writing. Some other musical influences for the more dissonant bits are bands like Yüth Forever (previously Villains),Anaal Nathrakh, and Traitors.
“The Light” is such a refreshing instrumental moment mid-record, with roots firmly in the Progressive camp. How did it come about and what were it’s influences? “The Light” as a song in the story of the EP represents a flashback or reminiscing, and somewhat of a sorrow of longing and loss for the character of the Moon Spirit in the story, but was actually originally written without the solo to just be a nice song in the EP’s weird tuning for my fiancé. After finishing the original version of it, I felt like it fit in very well with the other songs I had at the time and decided to put it in the middle as a nice refreshing track that also doubles as a bit of a calm before the nastier last songs are. Initially we wanted to have clean singing over it but we ultimately changed it to a guitar solo written and performed by my step-brother Christopher Beattie (who also does the guitar solo on “It Lives”); we decided to switch to a guitar solo because the change in pace with the lyrics created too much contrast from the feel of the rest of the EP and lacked that extra bit of life it needed. It was like hearing a whole new song for the first time with its addition and we are very excited for how it and the rest of the EP turned out!