5th June saw a four year labour of love in “Through Endless Darkness” by Solemnity finally see the light of day. The record, the brain child of collaborators Amit Luther (Orchestration, Piano, Guitar) and Dan Benton (Vocals, Guitars) is the perfect harmony of Death Metal ferocity and beautiful orchestral work that really needs to heard to be believed. We had the good fortune to be able to send a few questions over to the pair to get an insight on how it all came about…
“Through Endless Darkness” is a beast of a record, as complex and as intricate as they come as a collection of songs. How did the writing process come together for formulating it?
Dan –. I suppose there was a considerable gestation period before we even got in a room together to write. Amit and myself had both played in bands together and separately, and we had always drunkenly talked for years about doing a melodic death metal project together but never got around to it. Eventually in around 2015/2016 we started sending each other the odd riff or melody, and then we decided to get together and just see what happened. We wrote everything at Amit’s house and recorded most of it on the spot with scratch tracks. Every other band I’ve been in has been a case of going to a rehearsal room and writing on the spot, this was a much more relaxed and productive way to do it and the music came quite naturally. We also had my brother, and drummer from my old band Kataleptic, Scott on hand to program drum parts, and later Dan Dean came in to add bass and flesh out the songs some more. All in all the writing process including lyrics probably took around a year off on and off sessions, with Amit creating orchestral sections in and between the more traditional ‘metal’ passages.
Part of the complexity in your sound comes from the variety of styles of music in each song, their are Death Metal, Black Metal and even moments of Thrash in the mix. Were there any disagreements about which parts should be kept and which disguarded when it came to the riffs?
Dan – Not really as far as I recall. We’re fans of a fairly broad range of metal and its sub-genres, and we’ve always had a musical ‘rapport’, so to speak. The main goal was to create something with melody that invoked feelings of melancholy, but there are elements that I suppose could be categorized as being on the more ‘brutal’ spectrum, ‘Our Demise’ in particular. As far as cutting riffs, we actually recorded a whole song that was cut from the EP in the end, but even that decision was unanimous and fairly early on in the process.
In our review we’ve mentioned that there is a fine balance between the Orchestral parts and the Metal but unlike bands who use that symphonic aspect to create a backing track, your music is far more of a harmonious blend of the two. How did you have the foresight to create that balance?
Amit – I didn’t really have the foresight of what it was going to sound like! A lot of times I would sit down after a session with the guys and start finding my way into the track with the orchestral elements. Certain parts were written on the piano, but ended up being played on the guitar. Really, each part inspired its accompaniment. But I was conscious about it sounding as authentic as possible and giving each element its own space to breathe.
If there is a plan to take these songs into the live arena, could you imagine playing these songs with an Orchestra?
Amit – Absolutely! Though for now, a string quartet and a few select brass instruments might be the realistic goal! If it was possible, I’d add that element to every show. Maybe one day we can.
Dan – We’ll definitely be looking to take this live. That’s something we’re looking into probably next year now given the current state of play.
Aside from music, what were the inspirations behind “Through Endless Darkness”?
Dan – Lyrically there are several concepts at play which inspired me. The concepts deal with depression, feelings of failure and less personal subjects such as huge cataclysmic events and the devastation in their wake. I’ve always been an advocate of leaving lyrics open to interpretation rather than spelling out the meaning of a song.
Amit – Film scores and Hans Zimmer! It’s still music, I know, but it was my inspiration aside from metal
How did you find working with Andy Spillane (the multi instrumentalist mastermind behind ARKKS) who mixed and mastered the record? How did choosing him for the task come about?
Amit – Really, really great. We’ve known each other since we were much younger and much less refined, let’s say haha. I’d been searching for someone to produce the record for a couple of years actually. I needed someone who not only loves metal, but also someone who has a deep connection with orchestral music, mainly film score music. I was watching “The World of Hans Zimmer” live, when I bumped into Andy. I knew at that moment, he was the guy. The rest of the journey was an absolute pleasure. Andy is an all-round great musician and producer. He really brings an easy and comfortable vibe. But the great thing we found together, was being able to be completely honest with one another, without feeling like the other would take it the wrong way. This made for an incredible creative working relationship.
The ambition of the project makes it a labour of love, which you’ve clearly poured your collective hearts and minds into. How have you felt about how it has been received by those who have heard it? Were there any times when you thought “we’ve played with this a little too much, we need to strip it back”? How did you feel about that final mix? Was it how you envisioned it to be?
Dan – Thank you. The feedback from those who have heard it so far has been very positive. I think there was a conscious effort not to repeat riffs or melodies too often on the EP. I think there’s definitely a sense of the songs moving forward and evolving rather than going through a standard verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus formula. The mix sounds incredible to me, far beyond my expectations. We re-recorded everything last year, with the exception of the vocals which we kept from an old recording session. Andy worked wonders with it. Totally chuffed.
Amit – I actually had initially orchestrated the EP 4 years ago when we wrote the songs. I started with basic orchestral sample libraries. I then upgraded the samples to the East-West monthly subscription. As all the functions and dynamics operate differently on each software, it was a lot of work transferring the midi over. With the subscription, I had limited microphones that were available. So I then ended up investing in Spitfire Audio sample libraries. In my opinion, they are by far the best libraries in the market. But once again, I had to go through the laborious task of re-orchestrating the EP for the third time. I won’t lie, it was painful by the end. It was actually Dan and Andy who helped me get through what ended up being a very trying time! Overall, I am more than satisfied with the outcome of the EP. Though I won’t lie and say there isn’t anything I wouldn’t go back and tweak. Haha!
What does the future hold for Solemnity? You’ve mentioned on Social Media having another project in the works, how is that coming along?
Dan – We’ve used the lockdown to start writing again. We’ve purposely held off writing until we got this EP out, so what we put out next is 4 years on from ‘Through Endless Darkness’ and you’ll hear that evolution in this music. We’ve pretty much got a whole song done, it sounds awesome already!
“Through Endless Darkness” by Solemnity is out now and available over at bandcamp