Exclusive Interview: Earthwomb talk writing and recording “Becoming Immanence”!
Following last weeks exclusive interview with Peru based Atmospheric Black Metal trio Earthwomb about their debut EP “Becoming Immanence” we’ve returned to the fertile soil of the conversation to talk to them about what went into the writing and recording aspects to get an insight into just how their brains work. If you missed it, we gave the record critical acclaim with an 8/10 score when we reviewed it last month, it’s balance between huge sounding cinematic elements, crushing guitars and nails on a chalk board vocals making for something really special from former Creaneotomy members Pedo Zamalloa (Guitars, Programming), Giancarlo Melgar (Vocals) and Eduardo Yalan (Guitars)…
How does the writing process of a new Earthwomb track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? “It all begins with a concept or maybe a thought, not necessarily related to music. The task then is trying to take that idea to the musical spectrum. That usually means playing around different chords and chord progressions that eventually end up being the foundation of the motif for the song. So the idea is to use this motif as the basis and expand from it with different melodies and rhythmic patterns that support the main concept of the song. This of course extends to later stages such as mixing”
How did you go about getting the balance right between the cinematic orchestrations and the crushing riffs and ear piercing vocals? Creating the atmosphere is very much key to your sound, but did ever find yourself taking it down a notch? “Balance is key. Finding it though is not an easy task but at the end of the day we need to serve the song and the narrative that it’s constructed upon. So yes, there have been times when we’ve found ourselves discussing which element needs to have an extra light above or which needs to be less striking. We had to take tough calls in order to deliver”
The record is a completely DIY affair, completed in house without an outside ear, producing, recording mixing and mastering yourselves and you’ve done a phenomenal job at that each of those aspects. Who was the driving force behind making sure that everything sounded as you wanted it to be? Do you ever see yourselves working with anyone outside of the band going forward in those capacities? “To be completely honest we were our toughest critics. Production wise it was relatively easy to go through because we were together while writing and recording the songs and thankfully we were done right before the pandemic hits. The hard part came later. Having to work remotely was something we had to learn to deal with and it was on this part of the process that the vision for the EP took its final form. But we got used to that way of operating and managed to create a great workflow. Even though we were pretty hermetic with all the process, we’d definitely like to work with someone else, specially on the production and recording stage where we think there is so much to improve. Having the opportunity to just focus on playing and creating without worrying about the technical side of it would be really great”
The drums on “Becoming Immanence” may be programmed but they have been done without the harshness that sometimes comes with that and sound as if they could be played by a drummer. Was that an intentional thing, to avoid any industrial tinges? Do you see yourselves looking for a drummer in the future? “Actually yes, the intention was for it to sound as natural as possible. Pedro, our guitarist and producer, worked thoroughly on the programming. He is kind of a frustrated drummer so he tried to have all sorts of nuances that a human would have, like playing around with velocities during blast beat sections where he would start the part at a certain velocity and then would lower it towards the end. There were also some sections where a sense of groove and looseness was added. The idea was somehow feeling that we were playing with a real person and not a machine. That’s also why we’d like to have a drummer onboard in the future, it for sure would add so much to our sound”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “To begin with it was all made in the box. So no real amps, no outboard gear. Just a couple of Strymon pedals for delay (El Capistan) and reverb (Blue Sky) for some guitar and vocal sections. Vocals were recorded with a couple of different mics. For high screams we used the Focusrite Cm25 MkII that comes with the Scarlett studio pack, the Røde Podmic for low growls and a Shure SM57 as room mic in some parts. They all went through a Studio Channel Presonus preamp for compression and extra character before hitting the interface (Audient id22). Post-processing wise just the regular: a bit more compression, EQ and some saturation. Giancarlo is a beast so that made it easier.
Drums are EZ Drummer, the Metal Machine expansion. It just gets the job done. Of course it needs some post processing and automation and what not, but it ended up sounding pretty good. We just used extra samples on the snare, specially on the slow parts and it was a mix of a couple of samples by Joel Wanasek and Dave Otero from their Drumforge packs.
Bass is all MIDI as well. We used Avalanche Bass from Odelhom Audio for the DI sound and then the STL Tonality Will Putney suite for the amp tone.
Guitars are quite a mixture. Main guitar was a Yamaha RGX420s with stock pickups and secondary guitars for some chugs and leads were a Jackson JS22-7 with stock pickups as well and an Epihone SG with EMG pickups. Strings were Ernie Ball’s Beefy Slinky for the Yamaha and SG and Not Even Slinky for the Jackson with an 80 bass string as the 7th. Guitar tones were all Neural DSP amp sims. Archetype Nolly for main rhythm strumming and Fortin Cali for chugs. We also used Archetype Nolly for all the leads.
Synths are mainly Logic’s Alchemy and Slate’s ANA. And all the orchestral elements were done using different Spitfire libraries such as Albion, Symphonic Motions and Labs. Piano was Logic’s as well”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer?
Creation is a collaborative experience for us so any possible endorsement that could allow us to improve our sound will always be welcomed. Nonetheless, we’ll keep working as we have been doing for the past two years, using what we have in hand, deep diving into the finicky details and giving our hearts out to our music.
“Becoming Immanence” by Earthwomb is out now and available over at bandcamp.