Entheos – A Cinematic FutureThursday, 16th November 2017
Some bands are critiqued for any sort of progression or change, and some bands are beloved for it. Thankfully the extreme act Entheos fall under the latter category. Being in the spotlight since their first EP, Primal, the high caliber musicianship from some veteran players didn’t stop them from striving forward with the sound they wanted to pursue. With musicians from different sources, but with exceptional talent, their evolutions in sound have been given them more ground to cover and still they maintain a level of quality that many can only think of achieving.
The band’s recently released second full-length, Dark Future, continues to push Entheos further into their own metallic space. Synths ever-present but not driving the band come to mind, as they present a more cinematic feel that helps draw the listener into their often complex (yet never overbearing) approach. A stronger sense of melody also brings about some greater contrasts from their heavy roots. It’s a combination that seems futile for future development. We were able to speak with vocalist Chaney Crabb about many facets of Dark Future – from new guitarist Travis LeVrier, Crabb’s vocal effects, their new label, and changes in songwriting, as well as bring things back to Crabb’s Veil of Maya cover that first exposed her to the world.
Dead Rhetoric: Dark Future being your second release, what did you want to achieve with it?
Chaney Crabb: Not only with it being our second release, but being our first release with Travis [LeVrier] on guitar – something we wanted to achieve with the whole album was having every single member heard. It’s something that we have wanted since the beginning of the band, but it took all of the pieces being in place to happen this way. Navene [Koperweis] and Evan [Brewer] both come from solo projects. They have very distinctly made their own sound. So a big goal was just to have all of us in there, and make it obvious that the four of us are the people writing the music.
To write it, the three of them sat down and wrote out the instrumentals, and everyone had a pretty equal say in what went into the album. I think that it ended up coming out in the way we envisioned it from the beginning.
Dead Rhetoric: With all of you writing it, do you feel it was balanced, in a sense?
Crabb: Absolutely – especially with Evan coming in and writing as much as he did this time around. You get a real sense for Evan on a different level than just being a metal bass player. He has a cool, melodic style – to be able to fully incorporate that this time around, he needed to be contributing a lot of parts in that way.
Dead Rhetoric: So do you feel there are any differences in what you put in place for The Infinite Nothing?
Crabb: The most drastic change, like I was just saying, was the way we wrote it. That kind of set the tone for the entire album. In the past, it has been a lot of Navene and our guitar player writing a lot of the material. So bringing everyone into the picture, that was it.
Dead Rhetoric: With the songwriting changes, do you feel that the band has found itself with Dark Future?
Crabb: I feel like we are very much in the process of finding ourselves. I don’t want to say that we’ve found ourselves, because we are ever-changing in that way. I’m sure we’ll find something else on the next album and we’ll be like, “Wow, this is what we were looking for all along!” But for now, I definitely think that we are very much on that path. Not that we have a solid base for the band set, because we don’t operate in a way where there is one person who writes all of our music. Making the bass [present] was really a huge factor, that I don’t know if we totally realized from the beginning. With that in place, I feel like it is the birth of the path that our band wants to be on.
Dead Rhetoric: To speak directly about it, what do you feel that Travis LeVrier brings to the band?
Crabb: I think that he brings a very melodic sense. His progressive approach is a little different than everyone else. He also hears things when other people are playing, that he thinks should be there. He was there for all of the drum tracking process, and he would hear things that Navene didn’t necessarily thrown in, and would say, “Dude, I think you should focus on a cool hi-hat part here.” He has a different songwriting approach than all of us. That has changed our band in a way.
Before, there was a different approach coming from the guitar players…but Navene and Frank [Costa] had been working together for 10 years or so over time. They were already clicked into how each other wrote. Whereas Travis, being the new guy who has never written with any of us before, is hearing a lot of things that none of us have heard before. His solos are very different than what we have had on our other albums. He’s got more of a smooth style when he is writing solos. He brings a lot of things, but really, a lot of cool melodic sensibility.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing I wanted to ask you about, and I’m not sure the best way to describe them, so I’m just going to go with ‘robotic’ vocals on the album. Could you talk about the implementation of those – what you were looking for in putting those in?
Crabb: I knew going into the album that I was going to use a vocoder in some way. I bought this VoiceLive vocal unit before we started writing the album and I was experimenting with it. I found a couple of cool things that I like, because I already do megaphone shit and whatever. So when we went into writing the album, I knew that I was going to put effects my vocals – I didn’t know if I would be singing or screaming, or what it would end up sounding like, but when I actually got to recording, the first song that we used them for was the opening track on the album [“Black Static”]. Instead of running through my VoiceLive, Navene tracks me, and he has a lot of cool Euro-synth modular gear, and he ran the high vocals through his racks, and it basically produced the sound that you hear on the album. It was kind of a happy accident. After we used it on that one part, we were so fucking excited after we played it back. It was like, “Ok, we have to use this same effect on a couple more songs.”
Dead Rhetoric: In looking around on the Internet, it seems like some people really like it, and others are kind of “meh.” Did you think you would get that sort of reaction to those vocals?
Crabb: I didn’t even think about the response to what would happen with those. It was just something that I did for myself more than anything. I’m really in love with earcandy-sounding, ethereal-type vocals. It was really important for me to use that. I’ve read some stuff where people seem to dig it, and that’s really cool. I’m glad, and I’m sure that moving forward, I’m probably going to dive a lot deeper into the vocal effect world.
Dead Rhetoric: When I’m hearing the album, it seems like there’s more of a sci-fi atmosphere, at least in how it sounds with the electronic elements. Is that something you would agree with?
Crabb: I don’t know if I would describe it as sci-fi. I think of it as being really cinematic. A lot more cinematic than the stuff we’ve written before. A lot of that has to do with the fact that there are way more synths on this album. In the past, the synth on our album has been like, “Here’s a synth part after the guitar part.” This time, the way that Navene set all the parts up, he kind of has an atmospheric synth going at all times. I think that really helped set the mood – that sci-fi or whatever thing you hear, when you listen to the album.
As a whole, it almost gives it a movie feel. You feel like you have gone on a trip by the time you listen to the entire album. I really dig that – it’s something that I’ve dreamt of us doing since the beginning. We do have someone in our band who is so skilled in writing those kind of parts, so yeah, I do agree with you.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that it’s a way that the band could continue to progress towards the future? In a more cinematic, soundscape type of thing?
Crabb: Absolutely – I really want to continue pushing in the ethereal vocal realm. I think that naturally, it’s the way that most of us kind of write. Hell yeah! We are definitely going to continue in that sort of way; I love that shit.
Dead Rhetoric: I was a little surprised when I saw that you signed to Spinefarm, just because you seem a bit heavier than what they usually pull in. What drew you to them?
Crabb: The thing with Spinefarm is that we got the chance to meet them. We went to New York…two of us live in California, one in Tennessee, and one in Texas. They flew us out to New York to meet them. It felt like we had kind of known them for a long time. We all just went into a board room – the entire office, and we listened to the album together. Being there with them, and getting the chance to talk to them about the album, and about our band as a whole…we were just completely on the same fucking page. At the end of the day, that was the most important thing to us. It really came down to the personal connection that we had with them. That really means more than anything to us. We want to be dealing with people who we would deal with outside of a business situation. That was the best possible choice for us.
Dead Rhetoric: I know that Entheos stands for enthusiasm – how does this play into your sound?
Crabb: It just plays into the fact of the unit of our band. Our band is like when you got together with your friends in high school and you just got to jam the fuck out. That’s exactly what we were going for when we formed this band. Coming up with the name, three years ago, after we started, that was just totally symbolic of the bond in our band. Nothing has changed – it’s still the same. We are enthusiastic about being able to play in a band with our dear friends, and about being able to write the music that we really want to write on our own terms. All of us involved, and contributing our own unique voice.
Dead Rhetoric: Entheos have a unique spot within extreme metal – do you think that allows you to go out on tour with a wide variety of bands?
Crabb: We have done tours with The Black Dahlia Murder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and The Contortionist. Those are three radically different bands. I don’t think that a lot of bands are able to do that. They are so heavy or so…I don’t know if light is the word for it, but it’s definitely opened up the spectrum of bands that we can go on tour with. That’s a really cool thing; it’s a cool position to be in. You can have all these cool experiences and draw from different crowds. It has brought a lot of unique people to our fanbase, which is also really cool. I feel like we are in a really cool position within the spectrum of metal, and I love that it’s done that for us.
Dead Rhetoric: It also gives you that platform as you move forward. There’s not that expectation that the music will go in one specific direction as well.
Crabb: I’m sure you’re aware, and I’m well aware, of how crazy fans can be if a band doesn’t stick exactly to their sound. With us, it’s like, “Oh, they did this…that’s not really surprising. They have a super melodic song. They have a super heavy death metal song.” None of it is really surprising because of the backgrounds of members, and just what we have done so far. It opens the musical world up to us.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk a little bit about the lyrics for this album?
Crabb: I decided to name the album Dark Future, not in a sci-fi way, as I think that’s probably what comes off to a lot of people when they hear the name. They think of some Blade Runner type thing or whatever. For me, it stands for the uncertainty of life. The future is very dark. That’s the one thing that none of us can be sure of – what is in front of us. We can view life in hindsight, but what happens next is completely unknown, and that’s what it stands for.
In writing over the last year, I have gone through a lot of things. I have a lot of anxiety, I have a lot of depression. I lost a very good friend of mine in the last year. So in writing the album, it was a catharsis – a way for me to get out all of these things I’ve been going through. It’s a really personal record in that way. Just to talk about all of those things in a personal way – it’s more personal than I’ve ever been with lyrics before. It’s a really special record to me. Every time I go back and read through the lyrics, I’m kind of experiencing it over again, and it’s really cool to see it written on paper. It makes me feel all of these things. But yeah, it’s a really personal record – it’s not a concept album. It’s a biographical album.
Dead Rhetoric: That brings up a different thing – you have those two, two-part songs. Where did the decision come from to split them in two? Was it from the contrast between them?
Crabb: They were really long songs. We wrote both of them as full songs. They weren’t split in two at first. But when we went back and listened to them, we would have sessions late at night when we were demoing out the songs where we would sit in a room together and reflect back on the songs. When we heard both of the songs played in full, it felt really natural to split them. It felt as though they should be two songs. Lyrically, when the words came along for them, it just kind of fell into place where they became opposing songs. We didn’t purposely write them as split up songs.
Dead Rhetoric: Going back all the way to your Veil of Maya cover, were you surprised at the reception that it got back then?
Crabb: My boyfriend was doing a Veil of Maya remix, so he had stems to the song. I knew that I was going to do a cover at some point, and I didn’t really know that their vocalist was about to quit. So when I found out that Brandon [Butler] had quit, Navene and I looked at each other and I was like, “I have to track this song right now!” So we did it in 30-minutes and I threw it up on YouTube. I was like, “Cool – it’ll probably get a couple thousand plays or whatever.” But when I woke up the next day, it had already hit like 20 or 30 thousand plays, and I was like, “What in the fuck just happened?” All of a sudden, Revolver and all these different Internet places were sharing the video and it just kind of blew up. I was shocked – I had no idea that was going to happen. It was crazy.
Dead Rhetoric: You will be on the road soon with Whitechapel, anything else lined up for the future?
Crabb: We just confirmed a tour a few days ago, I think it’s in March or February. So we’ll be on the road. We are trying to hit the road hard for this album because we are so proud of it. We want to go out and play it. We have plans to hit Europe next year as well. A lot of things coming – we aren’t quitting anytime soon.