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Aenigmatum's Kelly McLaughlin: "There was an immediacy for me, that we have an opportunity to use this time to get tight and really be meticulous with writing these songs. That influenced me a lot…"

Interview with Kelly McLaughlin from Aenigmatum
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 August 2021, 10:27 PM

To look inside one's self can be a getting to know experience, in particular when a person has been feeling detached, off the face of the Earth into an own reality. Nonetheless, at times, this inner personal knowledge may cause anxiety of what is buried deep within, secrets and Pandora boxes that shouldn't be opened. Like any form of journey, there are the bumps, and sometimes, the bruises. The US Death Metal techies, Aenigmatum, even though they weren't meant to be as it seems, are ushering their new album, “Deconsecrate, sharing strong messages under a cloud of brutal intent. Steinmetal talked with vocalist Kelly McLaughlin about how it was all done, a little Covid experience and more into the depth of the album

Hello Kelly, I am highly pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have things been on your side of the world?

Thank you for having me for this interview, I have been well

It seems to me that things are looking up for the better in the US, pandemic wise I mean. The foreboding chaos that wreaked havoc months ago, subsided quite impressively. How do you feel about what is currently going on in the US? Would you say that you are after the crisis, or at least minimized it to tolerated levels?

Things are definitely looking up as far as shows coming back and places opening up again. But it definitely is hard not to worry that it won't last long. As far as how I feel about the country in general I guess the best word would be ambivalent. There's so many great things about living here and so many shitty things as well. Mostly the negative I feel stems from how strongly divided people are right now in so many ways, and the tension that brings.

From my end, it appears that the pandemic actually provided you guys with a chance to get your hands dirty with new music, evolving mischief after mischief in order to once again provoke your listener’s mind. Is it possible that these lockdowns and the general negativity within the surroundings due to this virus, actually energized you and motivated you to push forward for the next challenging thing?

It did absolutely spur us to knuckle down and rehearse harder than ever. I remember when Pierce and I jammed for the first time during the pandemic, about a month after the initial shutdown. It was a very surreal and dystopic feeling playing our shit knowing the world around us was experiencing a global crisis. There was an immediacy for me, that we have an opportunity to use this time to get tight and really be meticulous with writing these songs. That influenced me a lot, and the solitude of quarantine produced a good chunk of the lyrics written.

I believe that I already, slightly, hinted in regards to your next musical creation, which I have been suffocating to death in the past few days, your new, and sophomore album, “Deconsecrate”. Talking a little bit on the concept, is there a narrative going on throughout the record, whether each song is a continuance of the one before it or not?

There is a loose concept and a veiled story arc at work within the lyrics and songs themselves. Though I feel it would cheapen the experience to explain at length what the themes or messages are honestly. The lyrics needed a certain intention and design to be manifested and to be cohesive, sure. But I'm perfectly fine with others interpreting them however the fuck they may, as off the mark as they might be.

What is exactly being deconsecrated within the album? How do you connect your personal beliefs with the title, what do you believe in?

Deconsecrate means to me a sense of abandon of all things holy or precious; the release and unburdening of attachments towards things that which you hold dear. When you can finally be free of these attachments and obsessions you open yourself to live wholly and sincerely, to embrace this experience headlong.

In your view, as a matter of philosophical concept, and even though it is a matter of perception of course, to which kind of world is a listener that is about to disembowel “Deconsecrate” from top to bottom is stepping into? What dangers loom from left and right?

To someone about to listen to our album I would say the world you are walking into is your own self. And to look deep within can be a truly terrifying experience, the dangers being all of your own neuroses. But behind that terror there lives a purest truth and an undying strength to those willing to pass through these halls.

Your artist, Ivory Crux, which I already had the pleasure of viewing the artwork of Voidceremony when I check out their latest album, really penetrated a person’s inner being, double meaning stated. So other than a relation to religion, can I assume that “Deconsecrate” has a relation to a person being violated? What are you trying to say exactly through this piece of art?

Haha nah, we weren't trying to penetrate anyone but again your interpretation is totally valid even though it wasn't intended that way at all. The art is pretty simply based off a dissected brain. And we gave her full reign to create her world within it, though we did want a sort of "ancient psychedelic ruins" vibe. Guess if you want the guy in the turtleneck at the art gallery's answer, it would be that it embodies the absurdity and chaos inherit in one's psyche. But guess it's too late not to sound pretentious at this point in the interview!

Even though the songs, both through their titles and inner contents, are more or less amorphic, simply out there, as pieces of a much greater chaos, is there a relation to what has been happening in the world for the past year and so?

Sure, there is definitely some looking outward going on as well in my process at least. Think all artists are to some degree subject to their environments whether they know it or not. And the circumstances made the making of this album the most difficult thing I've done creatively, which no doubt injected itself into the final product.

Whether a novice or longtime Metal listener, I believe that “Deconsecrate” is bound to work its tricks and traps over whoever heeds its call. The technical qualities are above the chart, as if telling several stories at once within each song, talk about multi-personality. Without hindering yourselves in anything specific in extreme Metal, you achieved progression with an actual heart. How do you find the band’s musical development in light of the work on “Deconsecrate”?

We've all put in the time to not only improve ourselves at our respective instruments but also in how we work together. There had always been a great collaborative chemistry from the beginning; so it's just another thing that we've continued to hone as a band over our almost 4 years together.

With that said, since Technical Death Metal albums are rather common in the last two decades at least, in your perception, what makes “Deconsecrate” a special kind of fiend within such a vast market?

Well we've always had a tough time accepting that particular moniker as a positive one. I do get that there is some technical techy technique technically going on but it's never been something we've tried to be hahha. So I guess what might strike us out as different in the big field of guitar noodlers is that we aren't interested in shredding for shredding's sake. We aim to use our proficiency as a means of conveying a feeling and to serve the bigger picture of the song.

Other than the instrumental expertise that is top notch, I really have to hand it to you guys, your attention to detail is more than just noted, there is a focus on melodies. In your opinion, how do the melodies enriched the bred souls of the songs on “Deconsecrate”? How do you find melody’s importance to songwriting?

Hmmmm, well there's just so much power in melody. It's a kind of spell that can invoke some of the strongest emotional responses. With songwriting the melody can be the main focal point or an adornment, so it's really important to find where it best fits. We definitely like to be tasty as fuck and I guess melody is pretty synonymous with that.

Working on such a record as “Deconsecrate” is probably draining one’s burning mind, would you say that this album pushed to the limit, and perhaps even beyond? What was the first thing that you wanted to do after finishing the album, perhaps a small vacation?

It was without a doubt a huge endeavor for us all. The amount of work that went behind not only the tracking, but all the coordinating and the post production is pretty incredible. So yeah I personally took a bit of time off from playing music in general to decompress and recharge my batteries.

How would you say that “Deconsecrate” helped you improve yourself as a songwriter? What did this album make you see that you perhaps missed earlier on?

This time around I actually got to write for the band I was already a part of, since the songs I contributed on the first album were super old. So having a firm grasp on what our sound has morphed into really helped me steer into areas unknown to me before. We also experimented in different writing style sessions, where we would sometimes go back and forth writing parts here and there. Just being really flexible and open to input.

With the experience that you had with the record, whether through the songwriting, and also the recording process, what were your main challenges that stood in your way? How did you tackle them?

Without getting too into detail about the mundane circumstances of the recording process, there was a lot of scattered tracking that we had to manage. Thankfully what we didn't get done with Charlie (Charlie Koryn- Ascended Dead, engineer/mixer) we had Lord Magus himself Brian Rush, our bassist there to not only track his parts, but also track leads, Eli's rhythms, and my vocals. And due to other difficulties we had to use messages and other technology to communicate with each other when we couldn't be in the same room. It was pretty rough, but was a labor of love as they say.

Since I am both a sucker for the heavy riffs and also can’t live without melodic features, both “Undaunted Hereafter”, and its following champ, “Disentrhalled”, captured my attention, two brutal storms, which within their eye there are also moments when you can actually grasp yourself, at least for several seconds. What is your take on these two?

Undaunted is one of Eli's. We credit all songwriting to the band since there's so much collaboration going on, but amongst ourselves we know who really spawned what. That track is a great flagon-swinger as I like to say when a song gives me mead-drenched vikingdom vibes. But then that D Beat riff towards the end totally flips the script and it's crushingly pissed. Disenthralled is my baby. She's moody, all over the place, and has a very blatant twin guitar Thin Lizzy nod thrown in the middle which I am not sorry for haha.

Slow and easy the live scene is coming back, and I believe that in some parts of the US, it is already back in a measure. Do you have plans to show the stuff of “Deconsecrate” live this year or would you rather wait for 2022?

We had our first show back on July 30th in Portland and it was fuckin wild! After not playing in front of anyone let alone a fuck ton of stoked and rowdy people, it was a night I'll never forget. Fingers crossed that it's a sign of things to come, because we want to get out there whenever possible and show what we can do on the stage not just in the studio!

Kelly, you made an immense step in Technical Death Metal, with “Deconsecrate” being a tremendous effort. Thank you for the interview and your time. Cheers

Cheers to you my friend, and thanks to all reading this!


 



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