Lascaille’s Shroud is actually a one man project by which an entire universe of ideas and mythologies has been constructed. The band’s latest album; ‘Parallel Infinities, The Abscinded Universe’ clocks in at two full hours of experimental and progressive death metal aided with the help of various sources throughout the recording. It involves a truly monolithic storyline inspired by the popular video game series Mass Effect and is certainly worthy of the source material. It astounds me as to how one lone gentlemen can do all of this by himself, but the album (which you can download for free on the band’s official website, or donate if you’d like to support future releases) speaks for itself. I spoke to the mastermind about this album, his previous work (recorded just last year) and the currently in production third release. Additionally we spoke of some other intriguing topics and discussed his work in the Dark Souls themed extreme metal project, Soulmass.
Parallel Infinities, The Abscinded Universe is probably one of the longest progressive death metal albums that I’ve ever heard. Clocking in at two full hours, it serves as a sequel to the first record, The Inner Universe which comes in at a little over an hour. And you recorded that just last year! Where do you find the time to write and record all of this music?
Interval 01 is mostly material that at the time, was three to five years old. It spent a lot of time in limbo getting re-recorded and re-written until finally, I just released it. From the January release of Interval 01, it was about two months before I started writing, and it was the first time I had sat down to write entirely new material in a long time. Once I started recording the first song, which actually turned out to be the longest on the album, I had hundred or so ideas and riffs in about a month to draw from, so the writing progressed very smoothly. I also rarely demo any music, my writing and recording are usually one in the same, so once I finish the writing stage it is usually completely recorded at that time as well, for the most part anyway.
Tell me a little bit about the story behind Parallel Infinities… How does this build from The Inner Universe? Where did you find inspiration for these stories? What made you decide to become a writer?
Trying to compress the story into anything less than a few pages is hard, but Interval 01 as most people know is largely inspired by the game Mass Effect, but more so than that it is inspired from the novel “Revelation Space” by Alastair Reynolds, which I like to joke is where Mass Effect got its core idea from, since they are very similar. So right off it was going to involve an end-of-the-universe scenario with super sentient machinery of unknown origin, except I didn’t want to really have a normal ending. I don’t remember when I decided it, but eventually I felt that destroying and entire universe would be the way to go, and in the destruction of a universe a new one would be born in which all new forms of life could exist.
As for what made me decide to write like this, that is one answer I know is definite. Arjen Lucassen. Ayreon is my most beloved band, right there with Iron Maiden, his albums all follow this grand story arc that is just really enthralling if you get into it. I think when I heard The Human Equation in 2004 or so is when I decided I would write concepts like this, somehow and in some way.
Musically, who could you cite as influences to the band? What made you first want to become a musician?
My biggest musical influences are Iron Maiden and Ayreon, although when it comes to what my music resembles or sounds like I always have a hard time telling honestly. I have heard really flattering comparisons like Death, Opeth, and Nevermore (all three bands I thoroughly enjoy) but when I finish a song I can’t be objective about it I guess, I am too busy criticizing and analyzing it. It may not sound like it because of how I play, the guitar I play and the tuning I play in some times, but I know there is a lot of Maiden-esque stuff in there if you were to break it down and just rearrange it bit. (Laughs)
Not to sound like a broken record repeating these bands, but Dave Murray of Iron Maiden made me want to play guitar. Brave New World was the album that did it for me when it was released, one of my top two albums of all time.
There are a lot of guest influences on this record. Who did you work with and how do you think each guest helped the record’s performance?
I would love to be that guy that can do harsh vocals, clean vocals, and happens to play a ton of instruments very well. But I’m not, so Patrick and Tyler were natural choices to bring back on Interval 02 to make everything more adhered and full. Tyler and I don’t even really need to go in depth about what to do musically, I just tell him how I want something to feel and he gets it, I never have to say more. Patrick, as well as Tyler now that I think about it, are the closest things to permanent members. I come up with some lyrics and send them to Patrick and give him an idea how they fit, what’s going on in the story and he sends me some crazy ideas. He really gets into the role, he treats it very personally and doesn’t accept a bad performance, and it really shows. I also don’t write vocal melodies like him, most of the time I send him guide vocals and his final product is nothing close to it, but it is always better. I also wanted some guest spots to depict different events and occurrences throughout the album, two of my good friends Bryan Edwards and Tony Cordisco lent their vocals to the song “Agony”, which has five vocalists in total to really capture the chaotic nature of that songs plot.
Andy Walmsley from Beyond Grace, who originally helped get me some publicity around Interval 01 was also a pretty natural choice. The guy’s voice is incredibly intense and is just massive by nature, his part is depicting a rather torturous and confusing event for the protagonist and his delivery was spot on. John Yelland, whose bands Disforia and Judicator are gaining some serious momentum right now, is the closest thing to having Bruce Dickinson on my album. Not that he sounds like him, but he is such a theatrical guy, both as a musician and a person, he is just fun and laid back, but when it comes down to his vocals and his music he sends the grandiose ideas, and his sense of melody is exquisite and as you can hear his is a voice that can fit anywhere. Mercedes, another good friend of mine was kind enough to do a rushed and last minute addition to the final song to give it some thematic relevance that is a bit too long to explain, and she was nervous about doing it, whether it would fit or not. She had such a weird part of the album to sing on, it was like the only upbeat riff or section on the entire album, and the vocal pattern I sent her was strange to say the least. But despite that, she still sent me great stuff, and I know I will be working with her again in more detail soon.
How long did it actually take to write Parallel Infinities… and where did you write and record it? What programs did you use?
Recording Interval 01 took varying amounts of time to write depending on how you look at it, what is on the album was the product of finalizing older material over a period of about 14 months. Interval 02 was written and recorded at the same time, over about 10 months or so. I wrote and tracked all the music in my home, as well as mixed it here as well. Funny enough, most of the stuff used on Interval 02 is freeware, I had to sell my amp years ago unfortunately and have relied on software ever since. My DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is Reaper, which I love to death and is a workhorse until the end.
What do you think about the sound of a digital production as opposed to the sound of a classic analog production with a full band in a recording studio? Do you think that more solo musicians are able to get their work out easier with the use of software?
Personally using an all-digital or all analog setup is all about knowing how to use it. If you watch Opeth’s DVD for Heritage it is all done through a digital setup, yet that record has an incredibly warm, analog type of vibe to it. Digital is fantastic, but if you’re not careful it can be the ugliest and worst sounding thing on the face of the planet. Nothing sounds like a miking a real 5150 up and playing at 11 and getting the tubes to shine, but just because I can’t afford a Ferrari doesn’t mean I won’t settle for a nice long lasting Toyota, you know? I got to get around somehow.
I think if digital is done right, it doesn’t sound digital, or at least not too digital. Obviously I can’t avoid some things and I have to know how to control what I have, and that is what I have become good at. With the exception of the drums and the synthesizer software (Omnisphere), everything on Interval 02 is 90 percent free software, and I am still very happy with my guitar tone on that album.
Digital production and software has now made it realistic for people like me to record music, but it has also made copy-and-paste work more prevalent. I still see people talking about how they copy and paste their riffs instead of playing them, and that is outlandish to me. That is what makes the music lifeless, If there is one thing I can stand by on my albums is that every note is individually performed, I will punch in to correct a chord or a note here or there like anyone, but if I screw up an entire riff, I play it until it is right.
Aside from all the science fiction, what do you believe in as a person? Does this album represent any of your personal beliefs, or would you say it’s just a sci-fi concept that you wanted to turn into a musical album?
There is a line on the album that goes “Though I never felt the presence of a god, I had aspirations of another life. A realm beyond this trite and futile flesh and bone”. That’s pretty accurate of myself in many ways. I don’t personally identify as an atheist, because I don’t like to define myself but what I don’t believe in, that is just illogical to me. I believe in many things, though a traditional afterlife is not one of them. The idea of eternity is mostly unpleasant to me, the ideas of an afterlife I have are mostly symbolic, or speculative but somehow tangible. There is actual science behind the idea of consciousness pervading after death in some form, which is intriguing, but I don’t invest myself in it too much. What is important is what’s happening now.
As far as I can tell, there is also far less Swedish death metal after death, so that can’t be good.
What can we expect from you in the future? I have no doubt that you’re already working on something as you answer this interview.
Me and Bryan Edwards are working on the full-length for our project Soulmass, which is a more traditional death/ doom affair than LS is. Interval 03 is being written and tracked, I don’t stop writing for long and spending 6 months away writing stuff with Bryan has given me much ambition for the next Lascaille’s Shroud album. I am also doing my “Curaga” project, which is leftover material from Interval 01 and 02, that I am recording for fun, and also an excuse to write about some stuff that is not related to the story of the Interval series. Games, novels, movies, just stuff I like. It’s not a normal album, as I finish songs I will release them, to tide people over I guess. I just don’t like to see decent ideas go unfinished I guess.
Are you looking for a label, possibly looking to play a few shows on stage? Or is this more of a personal hobby project?
I’m not actively looking for a label per se, working with the Masters of Metal crew has provided excellent benefits that have cost me nothing. Though all digital releases from me are free, a lot of people donate because they can and I spend that on making the next album, and all the guys have promoted my work to plenty of sites, which is just what we do. We all promote each other a lot, and it has helped us to gain steady momentum. I had an offer at one point recently, won’t say from who but let’s just say I won’t sign anything that doesn’t end with me owning my music.
I would love to play live one day, a few shows perhaps but I will probably never be in a regular band. Several medical issues prevent me from doing anything like that, they already make it hard to play guitar for more than 2 hours casually, let alone several nights in a row at full force. I don’t get bothered by it too much, I have more interest in writing than I do performing.
What do you do when you’re not playing music and what hobbies do you have? What do you do as a day job?
By trade I am a glazier, basically I work with and install glass anything. Mostly commercial stuff, schools, hospitals, there is a military base here in Florida I’ve done work on, even got to do a few nuclear plants that were cool. As for other hobbies it’s probably easy to tell I love playing video games, I read whenever I can, and I love watching films as well but a lot of the time I will just relax when I can and listen to music.
How do you feel about modern society? Do you think we’re being suppressed by some elite secret society that want to control the world, or do you think that we’re on the verge of some awakening and there are a lot of us who are just greedy and are destroying the earth in the process? Do human beings have the ability to reach a kind of divinity? Also, what do you think of modern religion?
Interesting question. I definitely don’t proscribe to any secret societies controlling everything though. I think humanity is on several verges, but honestly I am optimistic about most of them. America is not the best at, “doing what other are doing”. By that I mean there are other countries who have found certain aspects of social or educational structures that turned out very well, but a lot of people here seem to be too damn stubborn to admit America isn’t the greatest thing in the world. Humans have probably unlimited potential, and I hesitate a bit to say the problem lies with religion, there are many issues to deal with, and I couldn’t answer this whole question in a concise format. I see more harm from religion, but still, it is a person’s right to believe what they choose to, but it is not their right to decide for others how their lives will be led. If a person’s lifestyle does not harm another person – like being gay, trans, or a different color – there is no reason to suppress it.
What do you want people to get from this album and from your band in general? And what is the meaning of Lascaille’s Shroud?
I just want it to be enjoyable, enough so that the troubles of the real world become forgettable or insignificant. I always enjoyed Science Fiction so much because how can my problems compare to the guy trying to fend off super-sentient machinery? It allows me an easy escape in which my mind can function more easily and clearly. A lot of LS is driven by real-life events, there is a reason why Interval 01 and 02 are so bleak, revolving around death and the want of it. There is always a little bit of a connection somewhere, for those that want to get immersed in it, I hope they find it and enjoy it. For those wanting a deep experience, I try to do that as well.
How do you feel about Bandcamp as opposed to Itunes or CdBaby or another service?
I love it personally, they aren’t a lot of faults considering it is free. They take a cut of some profits, but it’s actually very small and I don’t mind supporting the site in that manner at all. It looks good, sleek and smooth and easy to use and promote. I can’t stand iTunes, I don’t like apple products because I don’t think they are worth what they charge, but mostly with iTunes its functionality and UI are just unpleasant to me. CDBaby is great, it is how I pressed my first album and it is affordable even if it lacks a little in options. I used Oasis CD manufacturing for Interval 02 and the end product was stellar, very happy about it.
What are your top five favorite albums of all time?
01. Ayreon: The Theory of Everything
02. Iron Maiden: Brave New World
03. Evergrey: The Inner Circle
04. Obscure Sphinx: Void Mother
05. Nevermore: This Godless Endeavor
Are there any plans to continue working with the Dark Souls themed band, Soulmass? I noticed you recently recorded a cover of Unleashed’s “We Must Join With Him” for a Soul Mass EP, which is one of my personal favorite Unleashed tracks.
Our full-length for Soulmass is almost done, we have a few more songs to track then Bryan will be coming down to track vocals, the album is about 60 minutes of material, might be more if we write some extra material. We wanted to do a cover of some sorts for fun, me and Bryan both love Unleashed and “We Must Join With Him” was just a fun choice. I rarely do covers, but we are having a bit of fun with this. I think we are going to do a Bolt Thrower and Asphyx cover at some point as well.
Thanks for answering my questions and I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors. And don’t forget, I’m also in a Bandcamp band by the name of Torii (www.torii.bandcamp.com) Our new record is coming together, it’s just taking us a bit of time! – Eric
Thanks for asking, I will definitely check the link out!