Liberating Groove: A Conversation With EMINENCE

Beyond delivering an exquisite riff fest, the Brazilian band's new effort takes on the machine.

eminence
Photograph by Henrique Gualtieri

About a month ago, Brazil's EMINENCE gave way to what can arguably be considered their strongest full-length since their inception in 1995, titled Dark Echoes. The record, which comes adorned in a cybernetic cover by way of Rafael Moco, is a lesson in stimulating instrumentation, sporting well polished production that provides every element a proper shine. From an opening title track that features Soilwork's Björn Strid to the elegant piano work of closer Parasite Planet, Dark Echoes offers much in the realm of sonic diversity for a truly enthralling listen. Lead singles Burn It Again and Into The Ashes did right by the record by the record in establishing why Brazil holds a special place in metal's rich history.


More than delivering on the musical end, Dark Echoes is the byproduct of the turmoil of the band's surroundings, the likes of which include the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, sociopolitical injustice, extreme economic inequality, and deforestation to name just a few. One could simply gaze over these conflicts by scrolling through them on a phone screen, but EMINENCE speak from experience and use their growing platform as a means to highlight the community struggle plaguing their people on a daily basis. As such, Dark Echoes is riddled with themes of resistance and determination through tribulation, both of which drive the album's significance to new heights. EMINENCE have essentially crafted a call to arms of a high octane nature that looks to exist beyond the medium in which it's experienced.


We talk to the band as a collective to unearth the significance of this well-rounded affair:

‘Dark Echoes’ is circulating heavily and after listening to just a couple of tracks, one could see that this isn’t the same Eminence from 2013’s ‘The Stalker’. No, this is a reinvigorated band with a message conveyed through an intentional approach to lyricism and exquisite song composition. Mentally, where is Eminence now?


Eminence: You got it. We spent almost 8 months locked in at home working remotely to record this album. We wanted to do something totally different from our previous work. I think we're more focused now and the music has helped us not to freak out, even though all the current problems are understandable, at least for now, LOL.

eminence
Cover art by Viktor Koen

What sparked the return after your longest break yet? Much has certainly happened since ‘The Stalker’ and it couldn’t come at a better time.


Eminence: We released the album 'The Stalker' in 2013 and then we hit the road. Since then, we've toured Europe, Mexico, China, some shows in the US and played at various festivals. In 2017, we released a new single 'Minds Apart' and in 2018 released another 3 songs. We needed to release a new album and I think it came at the right time. Music saves.


That it does. As you’ve mentioned, the ‘Dark Echoes’ album title and really the album overall are a result of the socio-political turmoil in Brazil that outsiders (like myself) only have a limited perception of given the lack of coverage. What role do bands and Eminence play in expressing the community’s disagreement with the establishment?


Eminence: We always try to show the world what really happens here in Brazil. The only way we have to express ourselves is through our music and videos. The world must see Brazil with new eyes because we have an incredible culture and a wonderful population, but we are being slaughtered by the system - people are starving, forests are being devastated, and we cannot accept this. As much as we can, we will always write in our lyrics the life we really live here in Brazil.


That's really where the genuineness comes in. These are themes drawn directly from the state of affairs in your own personal lives. For the cover artwork, you enlisted Rafael Moco for a three dimensional protagonist that is open to a couple of interpretations. I certainly have my own interpretation. Visually, what were you looking for when approaching Rafael with the project?


Eminence: We wanted a cyberpunk cover as if the human race was torn apart in a dark and futuristic world. It would be an idea of ​​us being dissected by the system. Rafael did a great job on the cover.


Simple yet effective! Your own bassist Davidson Mainart also played a part on the visual end with his filmmaking, which speaks to the talents among the band’s ranks. How would you characterize the camaraderie among the members throughout the development of the record? Social distancing certainly challenges that.


Eminence: We have a real team in the band, not just as musicians but also as videographers. Davidson and Bruno Paraguay (our vocalist) filmed and directed all the music videos for the Dark Echoes album. It was the first time we did everything by ourselves and it was an incredible experience. At first, the distance was a hindrance but later we managed to do everything more coherently. We found that we are able to do more things together, not only the music, but the video clip part as well. I confess it was not easy but we managed to do it and we were very happy with the final result.


Touching again on the video component, you were able to bring the ‘Into The Ashes’ track to life with a graceful dance performance by Débora Roots. This is but one of the many ways you’ve built upon the band’s visual identity and really bridged the arts with your music. How significant was it for you all to have this comprehensive approach to the record’s release cycle?


Eminence: We were thinking about doing something totally different than what we had done on the other albums. We wanted to bring something new, not just the band playing in a video clip or some random actors. With 'Into the Ashes' being the most “different” song on the album, Bruno had the idea to invite a dancer and see what her interpretation would be when listening to the song for the first time. At first, we were a bit nervous because we didn’t know what to expect and weren’t sure if everything would work out, but during the video shoot, we saw everything come together. We filmed in a single shot with almost 1 minute of music. Dancer Debora Roots' performance was perfect.


She truly immersed herself into the slow burning track, really capturing the emotion of it all, so I'd agree that she nailed it. From Samba to bossa nova and a significant sector of metal, Brazil has such a rich music history that has left a significant impact on the artists we hear today. Aside from the obvious Sepultura, Sarcófago, and Angra, do you find yourself pulling from any major influences across your country’s expansive history? The groove is certainly there.


Eminence: I think we have the groove coming from Samba, as we have a lot of groove in Brazilian music. If you notice, Sepultura and Angra both have a different groove from other bands of the same style. I think Brazilian bands have their own identity and that's really cool for metal music. It doesn't quite sound the same as bands from outside Brazil.


Definitely, Brazilian metal incorporates a vibrant flavor into the composition and it encompasses such a unique space in metal given the impact the country's bands have had on contemporary ones. Beyond just the album’s visual components, you’ve been welcoming fans into the Eminence experience through continuous looks at your studio life, “making of” videos, and tons more. Seeing as the record was put together amidst the tribulations of the pandemic and political distress, would you say that fan engagement served as a driving force through it all? It definitely led to a great reception.


Eminence: Definitely yes, we are very grateful to our fans around the world. We had to present something new on social media to give our thanks and add even more information about our music. During the beginning of the pandemic, we were thinking about how we were going to show the whole recording process from behind the scenes and how we were going to present this new phase of Eminence. We are working hard to always keep everyone up to date but are always concerned about the quality of the videos and music we deliver to all our fans and friends!! We are truly grateful for everyone’s support.

Dark Echoes is available now via Blood Blast Distribution. Order your copy HERE.

eminence
Cover art by Rafael Moco