Please introduce your band
BlackEternal is from Henderson Nevada, Currently, there is only one member which is me. My name is 'Nightmare' and I write, compose and perform all music and instruments heard on the albums.
If I could use two words to describe BlackEternal's style, I’d say "Unique" and "Cinematic" I set out to do something very different and original in the genre of Metal and Symphonic Black metal. Something that has never been done before. My albums are all concept albums which tell a cinematic story from start to finish. There are characters, plots, story twists and everything you'd find in a movie. Not only is the story told through the music and lyrics, but I hire professional actors to come into the studio and play the roles of the characters within the story in an audio-drama style dialogue. Sometimes between music tracks and sometimes within the music tracks. My music has often been described as an audio-book infused with Symphonic Black Metal.
Tell us about your lineup
My name is 'Nightmare' I play guitar, bass, drums, synth, keyboards and also do vocals on all BlackEternal albums. BlackEternal is essentially A "one-man-band"
I grew up listening to Heavy metal in the 80s and during my teenage years in the mid-90's I picked up a guitar and it all started experimenting with music from there. As a teenager, I played in countless Death metal, Black metal and even hardcore punk bands in the neighbourhood. It was definitely for fun, but my passion for music and instruments grew from there, and I started writing and composing my own material. During my early 20's in about the year 2000, I started training Mixed Martial arts and put music on hold for many years to focus on competing in professional MMA. I retired from the sport in 2016 so, I decided to pick up my instruments again. I built a professional-grade home studio and I started writing stories that I could turn into concept albums. Hence BlackEternal was born.
How did the band meet?
There are a few things that led to me putting BlackEternal together. One was of course my love for music and heavy metal. The second was my love for Horror films, the paranormal, Ufology and the supernatural subjects. Even at a very young age, I was inexplicably drawn to these topics, so one thing that I wanted to do with BlackEternal was combine my love for music and horror and the paranormal into one. Which is why my albums aren't simply music. They contain stories of hauntings, alien abduction, demonic possession and things like that, all told by actors playing their roles within the story. Everything you'd find in a horror film or documentary along with heavy metal music as the engine.
What's the story behind your band name?
The name "BlackEternal" comes from a combination of all of the darker subjects that I’ve loved my whole life. Horror films, the occult, the paranormal, the supernatural, even ufology and astronomy. They're dark topics, dark subjects. These things have been around literally since the beginning of time, they're forever. They're eternal. Since all of my lyrical themes and cinematic sounds are about these topics, I thought the name was fitting for what I’m trying to accomplish.
Tell us about your influences!
Musically my influences are:
Slayer, Kreator, Nuclear Assault, Iron Maiden, Cannibal Corpse, Megadeth, Manowar, Dark Funeral, Marduk, Sadistic Intent, Old Mans Child, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The beetles, etc. I can go on and on and on and name hundreds of different bands, but I grew up listening to Heavy metal along with classic rock and many other great bands of different genres. While I grew up listening to many different bands and genres' I never set out to sound like or be like anyone else. BlackEternal is its own style which I call Cinematic / Symphonic Black Metal.
In life my influences are:
My son Alistair Greyson who just turned 5 years old this month. He motivates me to be the best person that I can be in every way possible. Second would be Mixed Martial Arts, I've been doing MMA for over half my life now and being a professional martial artist has also pushed me not only to have discipline but to show strength and compassion and become a better person all around.
Could you describe your approach to songwriting?
When I sit down to write, I think about my characters and setting first. I try and come up with good believable, likeable characters that just about anyone can relate to. Once I have a good idea of who the story is going to be about, I think about all of the dark, messed up, scary situations I can put them in. Then I think about real dialogue and emotions they're going to feel within the album as the story progresses. The process goes by pretty quickly as it’s easy to think of dark scenarios being into horror movies all my life. LOL! The most important thing about my music is my characters, They are the star of the story, the stars of the album. The music and lyrics come second to them.
Describe your band's first big break
If I’m being totally honest, BlackEternal hasn't really had any big breaks as of yet. Being a professional mixed martial artist, A full-time systems analyst for an IT company and a full-time father, I mostly only get the chance do music late at night once all the day's responsibilities are over. One dream of mine is to get singed by a record label who believes in what I’m doing. Having backing by a label would be a huge break as all album costs such as distribution, manufacturing CD's, buying studio gear and software as well as paying my actors for their performances all comes out of my pocket. My music is very different even from the music within my own genre. As much as it would be a dream come true to be signed by a record label, I just don't see that happening. That being said, in life one must dare to be different and go against the grain and do things not to please the mainstream, but to please yourself. Even in the underground black metal scene, there is an expectation of how things "should sound" but if one doesn't stand out from the rest, what's the point of doing anything?
Tell us about some of your most memorable gigs - both good and bad!
BlackEternal currently doesn't play any live gigs as I do everything on my own in my home studio. However, When I was in my teenage years I played in lots of local metal and punk bands. One memorable experience was singing for a Death metal band at an underground venue in California and getting into the mosh pit while growling the song and being in the middle of the pit while singing. Now that I think of it, it likely wasn't a good idea, but definitely fun and memorable!
What advice do you have to those who want to start a band?
Being in a band; whether you're playing with other musicians or doing it all on your own definitely has its ups and downs. I've had plenty of experience with both sides of it. The best piece of advice that I can give to anyone looking to make their own music is to be true to yourself. Be as brutally honest with yourself in terms of what you want to create. Make the music that YOU want to hear, make the music that you're going to love and be proud of. If it’s going to make it in the mainstream, great! but if it’s not, do it anyway because as I said before, what's the point of sounding like everyone else? Do exactly what YOU want to do despite the opinions of others or backlash you may receive. Go on your own journey, if you can make some fans along the way, fantastic! but if not, as long as you're happy with your own product, that's all that matters.
What are some of the challenges you face being in a band?
One of my biggest challenges is finding the right crowd for my music. It’s difficult because its a Niche within a Niche. Black metal is already as underground and non-mainstream as you can get. Even if you sound like everyone else in the genre, it can be difficult to break into the scene when you do things differently. As mentioned before, BlackEternal stands out because of the cinematic elements I bring to my albums. The actors, the dialogue, the audiobook/audio drama portions of the album mixed in with the music has never been done before. So, the hardest part is finding an audience for that. Its new and people aren't quite used to it just yet. I do have a small following on Facebook and Bandcamp and it’s steadily growing, but my biggest goal is to reach out and be heard by as many people as possible. The second biggest challenge is not having backing by a label. This makes distribution, Manufacturing and producing a bit difficult at times as its all out of pocket.
What does it take to be successful as a band?
This is very difficult to answer. Especially these days. Personally, I believe that aside from passion and love for music, one must think outside the box. Be original, Stand out, dare to be different and do what hasn't been done before and do it without fear of backlash. I think success can’t be measured by any one scale. Everyone has their own idea of what success is, especially when it comes to something as diverse as music. For certain musical genre's selling 100 albums at $5 each can be a HUGE success, for other genres that can be a huge failure. I think success in music can only be determined by our own goals and what you want out of your own musical career.
How important is music theory?
Music theory is very important for anyone who wants to become a student of music and learn the basics of music and composition. However, I do not believe it is required in order to play instruments, write or compose music. Some artists much like myself cannot read music, as funny as it may sound, I can’t even read guitar tabs! lol. I play solely by ear. I can emulate almost anything I hear on almost any instrument. I don't have any formal music training, haven't read books or taken any classes. For me, personally, my compositions come from within and I try my best to make them sound as best as I can in the studio.
Tell us about the releases you've put out to date
My first EP was released in 2016 entitled "6EQUJ5" this is about an extraterrestrial signal received from millions of light-years away in the cosmos. The album tells the story of a civilization trying to send an SOS message to earth as their planet is being eaten by an enormous black hole. Its a sad story and the music as a whole has a sad vibe to it.
My first full-length album released in 2019 is called "Encounters"
This is a direct sequel to my EP "6EQUJ5". This album progresses the story and follows our main heroine "Hannah" who is brilliantly played by Irish actress Amy Brown. "Hannah" believes she's being abducted by extraterrestrials and is being experimented on. The story is about her terrifying experiences as she recalls them in certain tracks of the album. These beings who are taking her, are the same beings spoken about in "6EQUJ5" who are sending messages to earth for help. They managed to leave their planet and find their way to earth. The story and plot thicken from there, and I don't want to give away the story for anyone who wants to listen to the album and experience it as it unfolds, so I'll leave it at that for now.
My second full-length album was released in 2020 and it’s called "Darkness Embrace" This album takes a break from the Extraterrestrial topics and takes place in a haunted castle. The story is about 'Sylvanis Thorne'. A bloodthirsty demonic entity who is haunting Oakenford Castle. Taking the lives and possessing those who dare to enter his grounds. The album follows two timelines. The first timeline takes place in the 16th century and is about Sylvanis Thone while he was alive and how his evil practices got him executed by the king. The second timeline takes place in modern times and follows a few characters who dared enter his castle to conduct an EVP session to try and communicate with him. This album ends in a cliff hanger. As the demonic spirit of Sylvanis Thorne appears to them.
My Third full-length album I just released two weeks ago Entitled "Darkness Embrace II: The Oakenford Chronicles" this is a direct sequel to Darkness Embrace and it picks up where Darkness Embrace left off. It follows the characters who were conducting the EVP session at the end of the last album. It takes place in a mental asylum and we get to dive deep into the minds of the characters who experienced the hauntings first hand. This album is my best work so far, The characters are very deep and my actors all did an amazing job bringing the whole story to life. The album is very rich in story and is very involved in both music and character development.
Thus far, I’ve been very lucky and all albums have been well-received and I’ve received some good reviews and articles about them in both printed and webzines.
What has been your band's biggest achievement?
So far I believe my biggest achievements have been being able to tell a full story in my albums. Being able to establish characters and cinematics and scenes much like a movie would. Having my characters played by the same actors from album to album and having an overall consistency and continuity in the story and characters. It’s not very easy to do in movies, let alone in an album where you have no visuals to tell your story, so for me its an achievement being able to present a full album that plays out like a movie, only using sounds, lyrics, music and actors.
How do you view the current state of the music industry?
Right now the music industry is suffering greatly due to the covid 19 pandemic. Doesn't matter what type of music you play, what style, what genre. Live shows are cancelled, performers and artists who count on album sales and merch sales and ticket sales have had their livelihoods stripped away from them. Not to mention the road crews that make the live shows happen. like stagehands, sound engineers, lighting technicians, etc. Its a very sad thing, its heartbreaking when these talented artists are unable to pay their bills. For everyone's sake, I truly hope things can get back to normal very soon.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I have two projects going on at the same time.
I wasn't very experienced in home-recording, studio gear or studio software when I recorded my first EP "6EQUJ5" There are TONS of issues with this EP, it sounds like I recorded it using a toaster. So I’m currently in the process of re-recording that whole EP and remastering it. It already sounds 100 times better. That will be out next month as it’s been a much smoother process this time around. Also, I’m currently writing, composing and laying down tracks for my 4th full-length album Entitled "Encounters II: Aftermath" This new album will go back to the story I started with "6EQUJ5" and "Encounters" and pick up where encounters left off. Much like a movie trilogy. I have returning cast, new cast and musically it’s going to be very aggressive. I'm excited about both these releases.
What is your focus for the year ahead?
For much of 2021, I’m going to focus on my next album "Encounters II: Aftermath" composing, writing and trying to come up with something that sounds epic to match the story. Also, another main focus will be to try and work with some PR agencies to get more exposure and hopefully gain new fans along the way.
Thank you so much for dropping by the WeJam studio! Where can we follow your progress?