In recent years the U.K. has given birth to some of the world’s most exciting and promising bands from all corners of Rock and Metal. The Metal scene in particular has seen the rise of critically acclaimed acts such as Conjurer and Venom Prison. Now Bristol Death Metal 4-Piece Embodiment looks set to make the next big step up.
However it was the unlikely setting of Bath Spa University that spawned the beginning of Embodiment. Guitarist Finn Maxwell was surrounded by other creative individuals and after a conversation about potentially starting a band, a friend put him in touch with local drummer Les Preston. A night of drinking and talking metal followed and before they knew it, a new band was formed. “Basically the first I heard about the idea was through Tom Jobling, who I used to be in a band with and Finn went to University with.” Les explains. “He had approached me and was like ‘Hey a friend of mine wants to start a metal band and he’s going to need a drummer…would you be insterested?’. And I was like yeah, sure! So we went out to a local metal club night in Bath and started chatting and assembling the first wave of band members.”
Along with vocalist Mike Bryant and bass player Josh O’Brien, the band struck up an immediate chemistry and quickly assembled a collection of songs that the band felt were ready to be performed live. The bands first show was very typical of a new band. Downstairs in The Wunderbar, a small pub in Midsomer Norton in front of around 20 people. However it was their second show that Embodiment were offered an opportunity that most bands wait years for. An opening slot for U.S. Metalcore titans Unearth at the famous Moles in Bath. “It was definitely a shock to be honest, I remember getting the call from Les when I was at Discord (Bath’s metal night).” Finn recalls. “I didn’t know what to expect at all. It was a little bit intimidating! But we had fun and it was good to hang out with the guys afterwards and chat with them.”
More shows in Bristol and Bath followed, including a run in the previous set up of the Metal To The Masses competition. However due to a change in circumstances, Bryant and O’Brien had to depart the band. Thankfully, with Bristol being the thriving musical city that it is, it wasn’t difficult to find new members. Harry Smithson and Kieran Hogarty came in on Vocal and Bass duties, in what proved to be a seamless transition period. “Yeah, the transitional period was basically luck. Entirely luck. Like I don’t think we actually asked anyone it kind of just happened.” explains Les. Harry has similar memories of that time. “Yeah it kind of was like ‘Hey can you do vocals?’. And I was like, ‘Maybe…I don’t know!’ I watched a lot of technique videos on youtube and tried to develop a proper technique rather than just going for it.” For Kieran, he had previously worked with Finn and was already familiar with the band. “Yeah, it was just one of those perfect situations.” He explains. “I played with Finn back in school loads. I was at the bands first show. I ended up moving in with Finn and started turning up to the odd practice, as a general fan. I think it was only a couple of weeks after actually moving in, Josh left and I was sort of half in the picture anyway. I think there was like a month until the next show and they asked if I could learn a set and learn bass in a month. And I was just like yeah sure lets do it!”
2015 saw the release of the bands first album. Their self-titled release was a mixture of their original 5 songs, along with 3 additional tracks which was an early indication of the bands eventual move into their Death Metal inspired sound. “There was months apart in between the new songs. We did end up touching more on the death metal side because we had the vocalist to sort push us in that direction.” explains Finn. The reaction from audiences were very positive to the new material and Embodiment were only becoming tighter and stronger. Following 2 years of playing shows, a final appearance at Metal To The Masses saw the band come out as winners, resulting in a spot on the bill of prestigious Metal festival Bloodstock Open Air. “There’s literally a video of the result and it is just like an explosion of ‘oh my god!’ and screaming and cheering.” Harry recalls . “I think especially for me because I’ve been to Bloodstock like 9 times I just never thought about there being a chance that I would be in a band and play it.” The experience of playing a festival such as Bloodstock had a huge impact on the band, who were suddenly thrown into a professionally run festival. A far cry from the types of shows that the quartet were used to. “The way that they handled that was very, very welcoming and also very professional in that it didn’t feel like it was just a mate putting you on the pub show down the road, They treated you like a professional band. The treatment we got when we were there, the resources available, it’s a very good platform to just help push people through.” explains Kieran. Their performance at Bloodstock also brought in a whole new audience and put them in front of valuable members of the UK metal press, with Distorted Sound Magazine describing them as “jaw-dropping”.
Appearances at Mammoth Fest and UK Tech Fest followed the following year, which only further boosted the bands reputation for their fast paced, technical and of course, heavy shows. Since the release of the first album the band have gone on to support of the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Cattle Decaptiation, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Faceless, The Algorithm and Carbomb, to name a few. The bands increased popularity, along with how the metal scene operates in Bristol has allowed them to become the the city’s main representation when it comes to supporting international, established bands. “Well we’ve got to a point with shows, with bands of that sort of calibre, where we’ve nestled our way into being the main death metal support act in Bristol,” admits Kieran.
For 7 years Embodiment have been perfecting their craft. From their first EP in 2013 to their debut album in 2015 and copious amounts of monumental live shows, the 4-piece are now being tipped as one of the most exciting Death Metal bands in the U.K. and with their new album Palingenesis, it’s not difficult to see why. The bands second full length release has been nearly three years in the making, with each of the eleven songs meticulously worked on, right down to the final mix. As one of the primary songwriters in the band, and their recording and mixing engineer, Finn Maxwell has worked tirelessly to help shape a body of work that every single member of the band is proud of. “There’s not really an aspect of the album that I didn’t sort of have a hand in.” the Guitarist modestly admits. “I really didn’t want to get trapped in a feeling of just writing a collection of songs. I really wanted it to feel like a complete piece as well as individual songs. I think that got refined a lot on this new album.” Part of refining the bands sound has been embracing their influences from all across the spectrum of the Metal genre. “I’d also say that the main difference in songwriting with this one compared to the other ones I kind of went back to my roots. I decided to write things I liked instead of trying to constrict myself into writing something in a new style or sticking to the same formula.” concludes Finn.
The band touches on various different themes and perspectives across the album. The explosive opener Reverence Through Disgust takes a look at the infamy of people who commit atrocities and how, according to singer Harry Smithson, “we propel these people into being famous, being a legend by remembering the deeds so vividly”. Tyrant explores the ‘cult of personality’ and the impact it has on society, particularly in the recent rise of the far right, with the one of the main concerns being “This element of control the borders, control people, control the “benefit scroungers” etc.”. Delusion is the only song on the album which sees Finn add his contribution to lyrics. “It’s about the delusions that are achieved through everyone wearing big masquerades to hide their true selves. They don’t show the level of emotion and talk about feelings as much as they should. It’s more about the vulnerabilities we have as humans that are actually our strong points, they’re not weak points.” Finn makes clear. Sanctuary is a continuation of the ‘cult of personality’ theme from earlier in the album, but looks at another aspect of it. “It’s like no personality whatsoever.” Harry clarifies. “Where you get these religious camps or extremist organisations where they sort of break people down and take everything away from them and completely strip them to the point of where all they have now is to be a part of this group or organisation. That’s what I mean by the other side of the cult of personality.” The closing track on the album, Harvesting The Seeds Of Vengeance, is “my eco warrior song!” as Harry delightfully describes it. “A literal army attacks the planet and the planet responds by destroying everybody, which is obviously a very real prospect we actually face… We all know what’s going on right now. We’re being told by people “ignore what you’re being told about climate change”, it’s bullshit”.
There is also some fun, rather light hearted lyrical content on the album, where Harry draws inspiration from his love of Anime and Sci-Fi films. Outbreak is the vocalist’s “love letter Alien and The Terminator”, where Eternal Torment is a reference to a favourite Anime of his. “So I watched an Anime. I really like the story of the anime. I wrote a song about the anime! There wasn’t a lot more to it really!”. Satisfaction is a humorous, yet sinister take on every day grievances, especially when experiencing a terrible first impression of someone. “I quite enjoyed this one because I took that concept of your first impression of someone is “I could kill this person!”. What if you did snap immediately?” Harry wonders, with his tongue firmly in his cheek. “I’ve worked a lot of retail jobs over the years and you do get to that point with people. It’s like that scene in Mean Machine where the Monk has all these visions and he snaps and kills all the players. Then it snaps back and he’s just stood there and I thought that’s quite a fun play of a ‘what’s going on in your head moment’…but of course I wouldn’t do that!”
Embodiments future is certainly a promising one. Having achieved so much already in such a short career, it’s no wonder that the band are aiming high with the release of Palingenesis. “We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing. This album for us is a huge achievement.” Les states proudly. “It’s difficult to put into words because this is 3 years in the making and 100’s of hours from each of us for what is 30 odd minutes of music. But I wouldn’t change anything about it. I don’t think any of us would. We’re just gonna run with this.” And just running with it is what has got Embodiment to where they are now. With a combination of an incredibly hard work ethic and a collection of well crafted and blistering songs, the Bristol quartet have cleared a path for themselves to showcase their talents to the rest of the U.K. Hopefully the rest of the country have braced themselves, otherwise they may not know what will hit them when Embodiment rock up.