Saturday, May 5, 2012

Embers Conquers the Internet

So maybe the title is a bit melodramatic, but then again so is metal. Today we look at all the significant coverage Embers has received since we made Shadows available for download. There have been some interesting developments on the web since then.

Me before the internet.
The music world has changed radically since I first picked up a guitar back in the late '80s. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that technology as pervasive as the internet, smart phones, mp3 players, and email would so dramatically change the way music is heard, bands are promoted, and musicians interact with fans. Before all that a band snail mailed demos to labels and promoters hoping to find someone interested in their music and then had to follow up on a land line, being charged through the nose by "Ma Bell" when AT&T still had a complete monopoly on the phone system.

Embers has embraced change.

As Embers has transitioned to new mediums it has caused some confusion as to how we define music and the relationship we have with it. One example is Embers allowing anyone to download the upcoming album Shadows with all of the songs for "pay what you want" while allowing the minimum payment to be zero. By allowing fans to access our music on their own terms we have rejected the idea that to be successful a band should limit fans access to their music requiring them to pay a premium. By allowing fans greater access to Embers' music it has allowed for more interest in Embers, more publicity on the internet, and ironically we have made more money from "donations" than we would have had we set a price.

Since Embers launched the pre-release of Shadows on March 29, 2011 Embers' bandcamp page has received 39,285 visits, 15,345 plays, and 1,411 downloads. Also, we have been able to generate a lot of interest in the album online as you can see at the jump.

Artwork completed in 2012
Another interesting bit of confusion that has occurred relates to the actual or official release date of Shadows. For some Shadows was released the moment it was available for download. This impression by many occurred despite the fact that Embers consistently referred to the online version of Shadows as a "pre-release". Shadows has even been referred to as "one of the best metal albums of 2011" by two web sites; and

Embers definitely appreciates the support from these sites, but regarding the issue of release dates this stands in contrast to others, including Embers, who believe the official release date is when the physical version of Shadows is available. Shadows will be available next month during Embers' European tour in it's intended double album, vinyl format. Invisible Oranges metal blog has listed Shadows as one of a number of notable metal releases this month. Since the album will be available May 25th at Embers' first show in Bologna, Italy it would appear that this would be the official release date based on a physical format.

What do you think? Is the release date of an album the moment the public can hear the music or is it when a physical format is made available for purchase? To be honest I don't even know.

One thing is for sure there have been a lot of posts about Shadows and Embers in the year since Embers allowed for Shadows to be downloaded. Not only have there be sites reviewing, mentioning, or streaming Shadows, but there have also been a lot of other as well. Embers interviews, an article on Kelly's work as a Dominatrix, and an article on Steve's life as a squatter.

All of the reviews, interviews, and articles worth checking out are available at the jump. Check it out.


What Constitutes a "Release Date"? The Blogs Are Divided.


Below are some excerpts of the aforementioned blogs offering different release dates for Shadows:


"Shadows" is Featured in Invisible Oranges Metal Releases of May 2012 in Anticipation of the Release of the Shadows Double Album


"Fans of crust can choose from two distinct flavors this month: You’re probably already familiar with Embers‘ hybrid of crust, doom, and black metal–their debut finally gets a physical release this month. And Southern Lord continues its transformation into the preeminent supplier of crusty hardcore with the latest release from Martyrdöd, which takes the melodic blueprint of Tragedy and pushes to blackened extremes: looks to be killer."


No Clean Singing and RABM Blog Refers to "Shadows" as One of the Best Metal Albums of 2011


"2011 will certainly be known as the year that the underground really shined and surpassed anything the big labels put out. Melancholy is a theme I always enjoy searching for and listening to. I discovered a lot of new bands and I’m also developing a newfound taste in crust,..."

On the article comments: "Shadows a thundering wall of sound."

"probably one of the best releases of 2011 for me (even if 2011 hasn't ended yet). Great atmosphere, and an amazing mix of doom metal, blackened crust and even progressive rock - highly recommended!"


Getting to Know Embers Around the Internet


Members of Embers make mix tapes, produce music videos, squat, torture, and answer questions about philosophy, black metal, song structure, and so on at the websites below.


Kelly Makes a "Mix Tape" 


"Sonic Cathedrals Vol. XLII curated by Kelly from EMBERS is going live today! I have so much respect for this band’s intense DIY work ethic, plus they create killer music on top of it! I was super stoked when Kelly said she was down to curate a mixtape for CVLT Nation. The songs that you will experience on this audio journey will expand your mind. CVLT Nation will be working closely with EMBERS as they ready to embark on European tour at the end of May. Turn off the light, burn some candles, blast this mixtape and fly away with your nightmares. Read what Kelly has to say about every track she chose and check out their tour poster after the jump!"


Steve Talks About his Life as a Squatter


"Steve DeCaprio is a member of the San Francisco-based metal band Embers, as well as a squatter at the Noodle house. As both squatter and musician, Steve lends a unique perspective to the issue of squats; the following article focuses on his experiences living in squats, playing and seeing music in them, and advocating for squatter’s rights."


The Music Video for the Song Shadows by Embers is Featured on No Clean Singing


"The video was created by the band’s bassist and co-vocalist Kelly Nelson, using clips from videos that are a part of the open source, Creative Commons library found on Flickr. With the footage edited to mesh with the song’s changing dynamics, the video passes before your eyes a lightening storm, solar flares, mist flowing down a hill side, a fire raging in someone’s home, a volcanic eruption, a full moon rising."


Embers Interview on Global Domination Explores the Band's Philosophy and the State of Black Metal


"Kelly: I think all of the band members have their own philosophy behind Embers but mine is the eternal drive to create profoundly moving music that is an extension of my own internal emotional processes. The mood of our music reflects what is happening in our personal lives and in the world around us."

Kelly of Embers Discusses her Life as a Professional Dominatrix

"The Bay is considered the mecca of the kinky world. It didn’t take long for me to find other women in the punk and metal scene who were working as pro-dommes. I was intrigued.I found out about a house where some of these girls worked and went to speak with the owner about getting trained. She was very welcoming. Despite my patches, dreadlocks, and tattoos, she brought me in on a shift"


"Shadows" Receives Universally Strong Reviews on Metal Websites and Blogs


Regardless of when the official release date for Shadows is, the response the album has received has been universally positive. Below is a roundup of most of the prominent reviews of Shadows.

"Embers have written unabashedly romantic black metal epics that breathe and grow and gleam black over shifting landscapes."

"Shadows improves on its predecessors by channeling Embers’ serpentine structures into more consistently thrilling songs. There’s some powerful mojo in that tom-drum and guitar duel that revs up “Foresaken” (sic), and the band capitalizes on it by staying in the red for the rest of the song. Kelly Nelson and Timm Kennedy’s vocals smear and grate in tandem on “Plague,” a harsh analogue to the Krallice-like guitar twinning that evolves into some beautiful harmonies throughout. The 10-minute “Dreams” is an easy standout for its tension between airy buildup and doomy teardown. It says a lot that Embers’ longer songs are better; they’re learning to tame that continuum."

"the overall intent is to throw out a smoky cowl of atmospheric doom from you speakers. At the forefront is a lot of soaring melodic guitar work reminiscent of Black and Death metal but also more ambient styles of Isis-oriented post-metal shoegaze, complemented by passages of striding Doom heavy basslines that lurch down from the faster tempos towards crushing slow motion riffs. The momentum is carried across some phenomenal drum patterns; ominously booming tom progressions, rabid snare battery. "

"the peak and pinnacle of the way the band build through their influences towards something that transcends them all, reaching an overlapping tidal surge of a finale before collapsing in on itself to an exhausted conclusion."

"Embers sure do know how to write a riff."

"The musical performances on Shadows are stellar. The drums can be extremely fast and brutal as well as lock into some serious groove. The vocals are handled by Kelly Nelson and Timm Kennedy. Both vocalists are distinct and bring something unique to the songs. Kellys vocals are scathing and throaty (think Ludicra) whereas Timm’s vocals are a deep, gutteral demonic belch. They alternate vocal lines, but when they double up, the sound is nothing short of terrifying."

"this album has a great sense of melody and progression, playing riffs long enough to be catchy, but not overuse them. There are parts where this band are amazing and go through some excellent songs"

"I would just like to know one thing...where in the hell did Embers come from?"

"This album will always keep you guessing and the mixture of black metal, doom, drone, and crust punk really have you anxious just what they're going to do next and that makes the album seem a lot shorter than it actually is. For being so long, nothing drags or makes you want to skip any tracks. The whole thing is fantastic."

"Fans have waited years for a full-length and little did they know they’d be receiving a magnum opus."

"The “Drone Intro” and “Eucharist” are magnificent examples of a crusty-influenced blackened doom fest. “Forsaken” and “Shadows” are heavy and fast-paced all while maintaining a momentum that’s unmatched by most. It’s not a black metal album without a drum roll, blast beat intro. Crank on “Plague” to hear how keyboards should be used in an album."

"Oakland black / death/ doom crusty metallers Embers have delivered an album full of dueling guitar melodies, crusty blackend riffage, duel-vocals and excellent doomy breakdowns on their album 'Shadows.'"

"The drone intro and the opening 10 minutes of 'Eucharist' is a very doom-oriented track that gets the album off to a dramatic and gloomy start. However any hope you may have of this being a total doom album soon gets shattered by their buzzing, distorted riffing and the black-metal raspy vocals."

"One of the driving forces pushing this bands sound is the twin lead-vocals of Kelly Nelson and Timm Kennedy. Both vocalists feed each off each other in some songs while at others times it is a solo effort by one of the guys. Whoever is taking the lead, it is always great. I am not a big fan of the traditional black-metal vocal but I like what I hear here."
That's it... well as far as I'm concerned. If anyone out there finds any cool articles mentioning Embers I didn't mention feel free to post them in the comments.


~Steven DeCaprio

P.S. I failed to mention this recent "Artist to Artist" interview featuring Kelly from Embers and Leila from Saros


  1. CVLT Nation Artist to Artist Interview

    A recent interview posted on Very interesting format.

    "Today, we have Leila of Vastum vs. Kelly of Embers – I’m not going to give anything away, but I will say it’s an awesome interview. Stay tuned for Part Two next week, Kelly of Embers vs. Leila of Vastum. "

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