Today, we’re lucky enough to be joined by the mastermind behind technical death metal band Infinite Density, Brendan Brown, also of Ne Obliviscaris and Vipassi fame. This year marked the release of Infinite Density’s debut album, Recollapse of the Universe, and it’s one of the best releases we’ve heard all year. Bearing strong thematic and musical similarities with bands such as Wormed and Inanimate Existence, the album showcases a varied vocal approach, massive grooves, ear worm melodies and a few nice surprises along the way. It’s definitely going to sit pretty high on this writer’s end of year list, and we’re super excited that Brendan has made himself available to talk us through the album itself, how it came about, the Australian scene, and maybe even a word or two on his other projects. If you want to read more about the bands and albums that inspired him to pick up a bass, start learning guitar and which helped shape the musician we have today, then check out this awesome piece we ran at the start of the year as well!
Hey, Brendan! Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today. Now correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe the songwriting process for this record started 9 years ago. First off, did anything you write right at the beginning end up featuring on the release, and secondly, why did it take so long for this album to see the light of day?
Thanks for having me! Yes, for multiple reasons the album was a very long, arduous process.
The first song I wrote was “Pulses of Grandiosity”. When I first bought a guitar and plugged it in, the very first riff I made was the start of “Pulses”. I still have a video of that moment! (haha). Second came the title track, “Recollapse of the Universe”, and last was “Spring on Mars”. The album took so long because, for one, I was not a very competent guitarist and for many years I had really poor recording gear. I spent so much time working on my playing, refining my technique and saving up for higher quality musical equipment.
I recorded the entire album with a BOSS GT-10 pedal. Then I purchased a nicer guitar (a Steinberger with APC Persuader pickups), which sounded far better. So I re-recorded the album with that. Then I purchased an Axe FX Ultra effects unit and the tones were much better than the pedal board. So in all, I recorded the album around 4 times to get to the stage where I was happy with the sound and performance.
Another issue was vocals. Ben [Boyle, of Hadal Maw, A Million Dead Birds Laughing and Vipassi] is a very busy individual, spreading his time across a full-time job and multiple bands of his own. So I did not want to pressure him and we worked whenever it was convenient for both of us, which was pretty rare as we are always touring at different times.
So as you just mentioned, on this album we’ve got the mighty Ben Boyle on vocals, whilst everything instrumental came from yourself. Was it always your intention for this to be a one or two-man operation, or did you seek out bandmates? And expanding on that, how does it feel have a solo project, compared to being in a band?
Yes, I got my best friend and musical hero Ben Boyle on board. Ben and I have been extremely close for a decade and we share the same views and interest in most topics. I always felt that he was the right man for the job and I always wanted to collaborate with him. Ben and I played in the local Death Metal band Aphotic Dawn, and I knew his vocal capabilities were just as advanced as his guitar playing. Back then we were, and still are, obsessed with Wormed, and they were a huge influence of mine to begin this project. I wanted alienesque gutturals and esoteric cosmological lyrics.
It feels extremely liberating to be in a solo band. When I write for Ne Obliviscaris I have to force myself to write in a particular style which suits the direction of the band, and often the song will then be discarded or pulled apart because certain members did not like it. It’s a family of 6 people, all with different opinions and musical visions. It can get very tedious and frustrating, but the end result is always amazing. With the solo route I have nobody to tell me what they do and don’t like. I can write any style or riffs I want and it’s a very liberating experience. There are no limits or boundaries to what I can express. On the new album I have guests. There will be didgeridoo, world instruments and saxophone. Nobody can stop me haha!
Now I know the album only came out a few months ago, but did you just say new album? Already? What will it sound like and when can we expect to hear it, and please don’t say another 9 years!
Within those 9 years I’ve already composed another 2 albums! Recollapse of the Universe was just the first batch of songs I composed. I will definitely get started on the second instalment next year, once the new Ne Obliviscaris album is finished, as NeO will definitely be releasing an album in 2017. That’s going to be a lot of work. My new album definitely won’t take more than 2 years to get out, and it will sound similar, but more diverse. There will still be a majority of blistering tech death, but I am going to explore more instruments and dynamics such as Didgeridoo, bongos and other worldly sounds. If you like the first album then you will definitely like the second, as a lot of the songs were written around the same time and so they are not too dissimilar in style. I have a good recording setup now and I have learned so much from the last recording to know what to do and what not to do to have a more productive and time effective work flow.
Awesome, I can’t wait to hear it! I know you’re really passionate about astronomy and cosmology, and that looks to be reflected in both your band name and the lyrical content of the record. Let’s start off with the band name, is there any special meaning behind it that you’d like to share?
Infinite Density refers to the singularity within the centre of the Black Hole. A vacuum from which nothing can escape, not even light. It can tear apart entire stars. It is said that the Singularity has Infinite Density in mass. I find nothing more fascinating than Black Holes, where the fabric of space and time literally gets inverted. It could be a portal to another universe. Nobody really knows yet, though scientists are still making huge advancements in the field. I also feel Infinite Density is an extremely heavy name. There is a bit of a pun in there. Heavy music / Heavy Weight.
Cool. So moving onto lyrics, is it a concept album, or is each track kind of independent of one another? Regardless, are there any overall lyrical concepts present within the album that you’d like to share with us?
It is a bit of a concept album; however, the songs are out of order because what was most important to me is that the songs flowed together on the album. This threw the lyrics out of order. It’s not necessarily a linear story, but rather individual esoteric stories on the Universe and Man’s relationship with it. From the beginning of the universe, the creation of the galaxies, to the start of intelligent life and the end of the Universe.
Even the music itself reflects the lyrics, such as the start of “Infinite Rebirth”. The swirling intro pertains to the formation of the stars and spiral galaxies. “Pulses of Grandiosity” is about how stars die and go supernova. So it has lots of heavy chugs to reflect the pulsation of the star, like a beating heart. “Spring on Mars” is about flowers and fauna blossoming on the dead planet. It is believed that the Red Planet used to have flowing water, and I imagine that it may have even had prehistoric forests. So it’s a pretty happy/bouncy sounding song, to match a beautiful untapped wilderness, much like Eden.
Yeah, space is fucking awesome, and you chose the right year to release something like that – we’ve seen a lot of awesome space and sci-fi related releases in 2016. Looking at the music side of things, we’ve already mentioned Wormed and Inanimate Existence, whilst you can definitely hear a more old-school influence from bands like Sceptic as well. What do you make of these kinds of comparisons and how would you describe the music?
At the end of the day, all we are is a sponge for information. Everything we have ever heard or experienced forges our mind and influences us. So I definitely take inspiration from all those bands mentioned. Except Inanimate Existence, because I wrote all these songs before they existed. I do deeply connect with their music though. I feel they are on the same wavelength and trying to convey the same message.
Jacek Hiro (Sceptic, Dies Irae) was the exact reason I wanted to buy a guitar. He never overplays or does anything too fancy. His riffs are just full of groove and tastefulness. When I hear his music I just want to head bang and air guitar. He’s a new age Chuck Schuldiner. I don’t think there is any musician as infectious as him. So he is definitely my prime influence to begin composing.
I love how Wormed’s Planisphaerium mixed heavy riffs, guttural vocals, jazzy drumming, and cosmological themed lyrics. I cannot deny that they are a huge influence for the direction I took Infinite Density in. But I take influence from so many bands and life experiences. Even books and documentaries etc. Everything I experience plays a part on my journey. I describe the music as just me. I put everything I have into it. It’s a snapshot of my mind at that time, and the new stuff will be even more crazy as I have learned and experienced so much more since I wrote these songs.
How has the reception to the album been? Is it what you expected and have you been pleased with how the release went?
The reception has been good for an independent first release. I have made enough money to cover pressing, mixing and pay rent for a few months so I am extremely grateful for that. However, I still have a large amount of CD’s left and the sales have slowed down rapidly since the initial pre-order date. I think I should approach some labels and magazines to garner more interest. I’m still not sure what I want to do with it. I really enjoy being independent. I love packaging the album and shirts myself. It’s very rewarding and humbling; however, the reach is severely limited doing it on my own.
Yeah, it’s never easy being an independent artist that’s for sure. You mentioned packaging albums though, and that brings us nicely to my next question. We love talking about great art here on the blog and the lyric booklet included some super cool stuff. In general we know that a lot of focus goes into the music, but oftentimes extreme metal bands may not put as much care into their lyrics, whilst some people are questioning the relevance of album art in the digital age. Looking at those three elements, how important is the overall package of an album to you?
I believe presentation is just as important as the music when it comes to physical media. The pictures in my booklet reflect the song concepts and add a visual element. Each song has a picture to accompany what the lyrics are about. I put just as much effort into the artwork as the music. This is why I urge people to buy a physical copy. I still strongly believe in physical media. I love buying an awesome album with killer artwork and reading the lyrics while listening to the album and gazing through the art. It seems to be a dying art. Bands are getting cheaper and lazier with packaging. I guess this is a byproduct of a streaming generation. It saddens me deeply. I am a big CD collector. If I like an album, I will purchase it and analyse the booklet back-to-front. I like to hold something tangible.
Now as we know you’re also in a few other projects, so I wanted to ask about your songwriting process. When you sit at home to write, do you think ‘I’m going to write an Infinite Density riff/song’ or ‘a NeO riff/song’; or do you just write whatever comes into your head and then see which band it fits better? Also, how do you juggle your time and creative energy between the different bands?
When I write for Infinite Density I am free to express myself however it comes naturally. I write whatever I feel or envision with no limitations. I can have blistering fast tech death or a slow acoustic passage. That’s the beauty of that project.
When I compose for NeO I have to put myself into a certain compositional mind frame and be conscious of leaving space for violins and 2 vocals, solos, harmonies etc. While I still write from my heart, there are more boundaries and limitations present. NeO is still pretty diverse, but if I wrote an Infinite Density song and presented it to NeO, I know they will say “That won’t work, it doesn’t suit us”. I’ve taken a backseat from writing for NeO. I still contribute riffs and sections, but Benji [Baret] has taken over as the main composer, and his style is perfect for us. I think the days of me writing an entire NeO song, as I did with “Xenoflux”, are over. I am focusing on writing for myself, because nobody can tell me they dislike it and discard it. It’s very disheartening for people to say that about something you put your heart and soul into.
Composing music is a very spiritual experience for me. I don’t just write a song for the sake of it. It has to come from a deeply inspired place. Whether it be a happy place or a dark place. I only have spurts of creativity and I need to use that rare time wisely. With Vipassi I just write bass to Ben’s songs. I don’t contribute anything to the guitars or drums. Just bass, and that is already hard enough as Ben’s style is completely unique and challenging. Fretless bass is a whole new world for me to explore, and it’s definitely the most musically challenging thing I have ever been a part of. I’m honoured to be a part of it.
Do you have any plans to perform Infinite Density music live, or is this purely a bedroom project?
In a perfect world I would love to. And I have been asked this question many times, but it’s too much work for such little reward. I will have to assemble a band of the best musicians I know, just to play a couple of local shows to small crowds. I don’t know anyone willing to put that amount of dedication into it for such little in return. And being a brand new band, I doubt I would make any money to pay session members for their time. So it’s highly unlikely it will happen. I am however working on a much simpler band that I want to perform live with. I really want to play guitar live. So I started Nefelibata, which can be described as 8 string melodic groove metal (I really want to avoid the word Djent). I am still searching for a vocalist, but I have 2 albums written for that project. As it’s much simpler in style I can just churn the songs out. It’s effortless in comparison to Infinite Density, but still has my signature style and melodic approach. It’s going to translate live really well.
Wow, that sounds super cool! You really are a busy man haha. So, have you got anything else you would like to say or plug about Infinite Density before we check in on your other projects?
Thanks to everyone who has supported the project this far! When I toured overseas with NeO I saw a handful of Infinite Density shirts, and it made me smile from ear to ear. It’s such a personal journey for me. And seeing one infinite density shirt strikes me with more emotion than seeing a bunch of Ne Obliviscaris shirts. Though I love our loyal NeO fans, Infinite Density just hits very deeply for me and seeing any support at all is more than I could ever ask for, and makes me feel confident to produce more of my own music.
Awesome. Vipassi’s EP this year was absolutely killer, and congrats on your signing with Season of Mist! I know everyone in that band is juggling a lot of projects and is super busy, so any ideas on whether you will ever play live and if/when we might get some new music?
Thank you! Like Infinite Density we have been asked to play live many times. We have discussed it briefly, but I really can’t say at this point. It would be an extreme amount of work. Benji only recorded solos on the album. He would have to learn all the songs from scratch, and that is no easy task. Who knows what the future holds, but if we did, we would have to lock ourselves in the rehearsal room for quite some time.
Ok so now I’d like to take a closer look at Australia. The last 15 years or so I feel like Australia’s reputation within the metal community has soared, and we keep seeming to get more and more amazing bands coming out of there. Why do you think that is?
It’s all about outside influence. There are so many amazing bands on Earth. And more often, each year these bands are touring Australia. They bring their music to our shores. The younger generation see it, get inspired, go to a local guitar shop, buy a really decent guitar for next to nothing, and all you need is a computer these days to make incredible home-produced music. Amazing musicians are just been churned out as technology increases and YouTube grows with tutorials and how-to videos. Going back a decade or more it wasn’t that easy and accessible.
I remember recording to tape decks with a cheap microphone dangling from the ceiling for our first Ne Obliviscaris rehearsals. Now you can run an entire pro studio from a tiny laptop with professional plug-ins and capture each instrument individually. It’s much easier to produce music now, but harder to become successful. There is so much competition. You have to bring something pretty unique to the table if you want to be noticed. Solo artists like James Ivanyi and Plini spring to mind.
Yeah, you’re spot on about the role of the internet there. Clearly there are pros and cons, but given Australia’s geographical isolation, do you think it’s fair to say it’s had a mainly positive impact here?
It’s a necessary evil. I hate social media but without it I have no reach or interaction with the community. I can’t promote my music without these portals. It’s a double edged sword though. Magazines are dying. It’s always the same big names on the front covers. Without the internet we have no marketing; however, with the internet everything is made available for free on the torrent sites. Music is severely devalued. Many fans feel entitled to more music from their favourite artists, but aren’t willing to pay for it. It’s a complex issue and I don’t think there is any resolution. Loyal fans will purchase merchandise. And Torrenters will Torrent. Potatoes will Potate.
So I did some research of Australian bands, where in the country they come from, and the style of music that they play, and I got some interesting results. I found that, generally speaking, Melbourne & Tassie had a much higher proportion of extreme metal bands, like Be’lakor, Psycroptic, King Parrot and more, compared to other parts of Australia. There was also a relatively strong presence in thrash through both the old guard and newer bands like In Malice’s Wake. Having toured around Australia fairly often, and being in a few Melbournian extreme metal bands yourself, can you pinpoint something specific or unique about Melbourne that makes it so conducive to producing extreme metal?
I’ve always said that Melbourne is the entertainment capital of Australia. We have an amazing nightlife. There are multiple gigs on every single night. A booming Jazz and rock scene. Multiple venues across the city, from small clubs to stadiums. Adelaide and Canberra don’t really have any of that. So Melbourne is going to produce the most bands and entertainment because it’s a thriving scene and it’s a part of our culture. Sydney and Brisbane are not too far behind, but still have some catching up to do as far as the local scene is concerned. International acts tend to do well in those cities, but local bands have a pretty tough time trying to make ends meet.
When having a browse on Facebook, every now and then one of the more tabloid-like metal websites will post a story about a beef or some kind of controversy involving a couple of bands who don’t seem to get along too well. Which got me thinking, I can’t really remember that kind of drama embroiling too many Australian bands. It seems like everyone just gets along and tries to help each other out. Do you think that’s fair to say, and if so what is it about the scene here that seems to garner such positivity from everyone involved?
Oh there is beef. Believe me. I’m not going to mention names, but word gets around. Not everyone is going to get along. It always seems to stem from jealousy. I guess we don’t have any American Drama Clickbait sites that expose all the trash, and I am thankful for that. I cannot stand trash talk and bitching. I have way more important things to focus on than who dislikes who. NeO are all positive people and have nothing bad to say about anyone. We’re not new kids on the block. We’ve seen it all over the last 12 years and kept our opinions to ourselves and just focused on our own path. And that’s the key to longevity as a band. Being friends and respecting each other’s lives. But in general the scene is very unified and everybody knows everybody. I love walking into a gig and knowing half the room. It’s a great, welcoming community. But if someone doesn’t like your band then you just have to live with that. There are many bands I do not like, but I respect them and their hard work, and would never trash talk them because I am above that.
Wise words. Now for the moment our readers have been waiting for. How do you like your eggs?
If I’m at a cafe I’ll get poached. If I cook them myself, scrambled with Tobasco.
Delicious. Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us today Brendan, we really appreciate it and wish you the best for all your upcoming endeavours. Before you go, I just wanted you to list off a couple of Australian bands you think everyone should give a try.
Thanks for having me and for the interesting questions. Bands to keep an eye out for off the top of my head: Hadal Maw, AMDBL, Disentomb, Greytomb, Départe, Idylls, Stockades, Totally Unicorn, Jack the Stripper, Alarum, Deadspace, Whoretopsy, Caligula’s Horse, The Kill, Odiusembowel, Gods of Eden, Norse, In Trenches, Northlane.
And some old bands that are sadly not active anymore: Architects of Evolution, Orchestrating the Damned, Nexus, Omnium, Aeon Of Horus, Abremalin, Damaged, The Occularis Infernum.
Follow Infinite Density on Facebook and grab their debut album Recollapse of the Universe in physical or digital form on via Bandcamp!