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As solo Canadian Death/Doom project Flesh Temple announce a forthcoming CD version of their debut full-length 'Lamentations', Comrade Aleks talks with band creator (and doom-metal.com staffer) Eli Elliott.

Interview with Flesh Temple.
"The brutal band name and creepy artwork drew my attention to Canadian Flesh Temple's debut album 'Lamentations'. This was released digitally, but a CD edition should soon appear on Endless Winter - keep an eye out for it, folks. Flesh Temple was created by Eli Elliott, one of Black Metal duo Mausoleum's founders. Eli recorded first EP 'Fire, Promise' solo in 2019, and truth to tell this material really lacked good live drums. Now we have them on 'Lamentations', a more professional and expressive piece. This melodic Death/Doom with raw blackened vocals has its underground charm, and it's worth a hearing if you're into grim emotional material. The band's profile states "Flesh Temple was born out of a deceptively simple question: what is doom? Why are such visceral emotions often being romanticized?" So we tried to find out the answer with Eli, and that's what we have here."

Eli Elliott , creator of Flesh Temple.

Hi Eli! How are you? How do you spend your quarantine time?

I'm fine, actually its funny I feel like I'm actually thriving with this isolation stuff going on. Basically I've spent some time songwriting and working on some new genres/ guitar stuff which has been a blast. I am part of essential services over here so I'm lucky to still be working.

Originally you played black metal with Shaun Dalton in Mausoleum, what drove you to switch to the slower side of negativity?

Well honestly, Doom metal has always been my first love. My first metal albums I ever got were the demo compilation of Brave Yesterdays by Katatonia and Forest of Equilibrium by the mighty Cathedral so it's always been apart of my musical vocabulary. I was working under the Flesh Temple name YEARS ago before Mausoleum actually but I had a arm injury that left me without feeling in my fretting hand so it got shelved for a few years until I actually managed to rehab my hand and relearn to play. So when Mausoleum took a break I finally had my chance to really delve into the genre with my own project and try to do it justice.

Did this injury affect your manner of playing? One guitarist got finger injuries at a factory, and his band became a legend!

Hell yeah it affected my playing lol! Iommi was my original guitar hero so thankfully I knew it could be done! Basically it was a nerve injury that left me without feeling in and strength in my pinky and ring finger. Lost a ton of muscle between my thumb and index as well. To suddenly wake up without the ability to hold a key or even fret with those two fingers was incredibly depressing.

In the end though it really helped make my playing a lot more musical. I started out experimenting with open tunings and a slide then used a bass to try and build up my strength again. Then when some more speed and strength opened up I started writing around my limitations which really helped me understand how you can take simple ideas and make it all sound full our complex rather than relying on just brute technique.

I used to be able to rip through complex sweep or shred passages without much effort so it forced me to approach music in a vastly different way. Thankfully I recovered most of my technique but going through all that has expanded my knowledge and appreciation of music considerably.

Flesh Temple - 'Lamentations' (2020):

Alberta is rather known for its pitch black scene, and your debut full-length was recorded with the help of Rolando Rodas, who runs Cavern Of Echoes Studios in Toronto. How did you invite him for this collaboration?

Yeah, Alberta and especially Edmonton is full of tons of quality Black metal and It was actually through Mausoleum that Rolando originally got in touch with me looking to maybe work on the next Mausoleum release. However we were taking a break at the time so eventually when I felt like I had to take the next step as far as sound design I got a hold of him and away we went. He was actually working out of Edmonton and was in the process of moving his studio while we were working on Lamentations.

'Lamentations' sounds stronger and more confident in comparison with the 'Fire, Promise' EP (2019), and I guess live drums performed by Rolando make this difference. Did you think about gathering a full line-up for Flesh Temple?

Actually it hadn't even crossed my mind but Rolando put me in touch with Avery Desmarais who actually did the drum performance on Lamentations and I'm glad he did since having the drums done live made a massive difference in the songs. It also helps that Avery did a excellent job with everything I sent him! They just sound far more alive and natural with him on there. Though I will say I would welcome a bassist as well for the next release it's just that musicians in the central Alberta region are few and far between that would be interested in doing it. I'm looking into it but not surprisingly it's a slow process and I'd need to make sure we were insanely rehearsed if it moved onto the live stage.

But you can work at distance just like with Avery, don't you have candidates from abroad?

I definitely could!… but I don't have any candidates lol! I have very little in the way of contacts and this is especially true when it comes to metal around here but finding some collaborators is something that would really interest me… in ANY genre in actually!… But I will say Flesh Temple is very personal for me so we'd really need to work out what the other person expects with this project in particular. That's why Shaun and I worked so well with Mausoleum, we both came into it with the expectation that we'd each tweak and rip apart each others music but ultimately it was the songwriter's final say if anything stuck… Which they usually did ! Then we'd try and outdo the other whenever they came up with a real ripper. But we knew exactly what we wanted when we started it.

EP 'Fire, Promise' (2019).

It's said that Flesh Temple was born out of a deceptively simple question: what is Doom? But I would point to the blackened vibe of 'Lamentations', which are rooted in Rolando's manner of singing and in some up-tempo parts. So what's your answer to this question? What is Doom indeed?

Actually, it was myself that did the vocals and the reason I do it that way is that I find I convey a more raw and emotional delivery than say lower gutturals. Which in my opinion is more important than the base lyrics. I personally believe the few uptempo parts are a huge part of the emotional resonance of doom. In my experience depression isn't a straight line and to me slowing tempo down completely misses a few parts of it. Going from insane rage to emotionally bottoming out are equal parts to depression and mental illness. So what is doom? Right now for me it's an oppressive nothing that a sick mind creates to cage and ruin a life. It's the intangibility that I really find remarkable since it's killing you and most who are looking at you are seeing a physically healthy person without knowing your mind is poisoned. That is the kind of experience I'd like Flesh Temple to keep exploring. To see if I can tap into that mindset completely within the music is something that drives me.

Does music help you to get rid of negative states of mind, or is it primarily an art for you?

Actually, yes and no. When music is flowing out, you're playing is on point, you're improvising perfectly and creatively you're inspired it can feel amazing… But the flip side is that artistic ruts absolutely destroy me. When you define yourself as a musician or your project and you hate everything you're coming up with the frustration will follow you everywhere. It's important for me to recognize when I've been focusing way to much on a single style or song or WHATEVER and move onto another project or just focus on being guitar player and start learning different musical styles to help move that rut away.

Did you aim to get this raw sound or was it just how it turned out at the studio? How did this recording session go?

I would say having somewhat of a raw sound was what I was aiming for. I've never been one for a completely polished product since it can really rob some of the emotional impact from a otherwise great song. As far as the recording sessions I'd say it went fairly well as a whole. This was my first time working with professionals rather than in my home studio so it was a bit of a learning experience. I definitely would change a few things but its a snapshot in time for me now and the next release is bound to be better.

Flesh Temple - 'Ice' (2020):

What kind of sound did you aim to catch in 'Lamentations'?

HEAVY haha! One thing you'll notice is that all my own releases I ever did it just seems that I could never get the guitars to have the proper weight on em' which is a huge reason why I went through a studio this time. I did want some space on it as far as reverb and everything went to since there are some sections with the cleans that simply wouldn't have worked without that approach… and again I just really struggled with this on my own haha!

'Lamentations' was released by Russian label Endless Winter: how did you find them? Didn't you search for someone in your area who could help you with the release?

So far so good, Gennady has been patient with me on as far as working on layouts and getting everything properly formatted. Lamentations is coming out physically on CD hopefully on in fall after the plants start up again . This part is wholly new for me as well and I really want it to look stellar since the cover art is pretty killer.

As far as someone around here goes… I don't actually live in any of the major cities here in Alberta and don't exactly have a lot of contacts since I'm so used to doing everything myself. I have sent it around here and I really haven't received a ton of interest. It's not exactly easy listening either so I'm not exactly surprised .It doesn't help that it's not black metal either, haha! I will say though, that every time I've received interest in ANY music I've done its been in Europe somewhere. So, maybe it just resonates overseas better.

'Lamentations' artwork.

The album has interesting artwork, it resonates with your music and creates a darker morbid mood. Like some Evil Dead visuals. Who's its author? Is it connected with some of the album's songs?

My Fiance' Cil did the artwork for me actually. She's done a lot of bands' artwork in the past and works on a ton of different mediums. Painting, canvas, water-colour, digital art, etc: she can do it. The art I thought fit the tone of the album perfectly since it really conveys that isolation theme with madness swirling about the cabin, which connects the entire piece and its themes.

If anyone is looking for something you can reach her at: fleshandiron@icloud.com.

What's your next step? Will you return to Mausoleum or will you focus on new material for Flesh Temple?

As of right now, Shaun and I are talking about doing another collection perhaps through another name since the music has evolved since the last one. The new material fucking rips too so I'm excited to work on it. As far as Flesh Temple goes I'll always be working on it in some form. Right now I've got a few tracks written and finalized and was hoping to record an EP at some point this year.

By the way, why did you choose to name your project this way? It sounds fitting for a Death Metal band.

Well, honestly on the surface I would agree with you but my thinking and mindset at the time when I originally was working under the name was that I need to do this for my sanity. I need to build myself from within the confines of my flesh and claw my brain outta of the dredges of depression and make myself whole again. Mental illness is a life long struggle and I needed to be at peace in my temple if I wanted to survive.

Got you Eli! I hope all of us will be able to get out from the current situation with minimal losses and we'll be able to enjoy the 'Lamentations' CD edition. Thanks for the interview.

Right on, I hope that as well! I guess the only thing I'd add is thank you for the interview and if anyone is looking for some kind of collaborative musical endeavour hit me up!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Flesh Temple bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-05-18 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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