November 20, 2008

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Sunny future for doom metal band
Eternal Embrace adds new violinist, searches for new vocalist
By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

With its gloomy apocalyptic music, you would think that Manchester doom metal band Eternal Embrace would be sinking further into the depths of ennui with the recent departure of their lead male vocalist, Mat Mills. But to the contrary, the band has emerged with a surprisingly un-goth attitude of positive forward focus, particularly about their future prospects.

“We’ve just submitted our album Snowfall to five big record labels in New York, Finland, the U.K. and the West Coast,” said keyboardist and band co-founder and manager Eleanor Eskie. “Everyone who’s heard it loves it, so if nothing happens with these labels, we’re confident we’ll still be signed by another one within the next year.”

Combining world instruments, hard guitars, tribal drumming and avant garde-style vocals, Eternal Embrace has been on the Manchester music scene since 2005, creating gothic, classical, doom metal, new wave and Middle Eastern sounds. Influenced by artists like Beethoven, Peter Murphy, Dead Can Dance, Dimmu Borgir, My Dying Bride, Enigma, and even Pink Floyd and Rush, the group also merges traditional Irish folk, Nordic, Slavic and Gypsy music.

The band has performed with such international acts as Katatonia, Swallow the Sun, Leave’s Eyes and Insomnium, as well as local acts Shroud of Bereavement, Avariel and From the Shadows. In May 2008, the band won the Battle of the Bands contest held at Rocko’s Bar & Grille in Manchester.

Mat Mills joined the band in 2006, teaming up with Allie Casey on lead vocals, along with percussionist Bill Hamel, bassist Randy Mann, guitarist Erik Moyer, and Eskie on keyboards. The group recently added violinist Carla Rae, who is currently playing with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In an e-mail dated Nov. 6, 2008, Eskie announced Mills’ departure, as well as what was to be his final show with the group, which took place at Milly’s Tavern in Manchester on Nov. 7.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the departure of Mat Mills from Eternal Embrace,” Eskie wrote. “Mat has been a member of the band since 2006 and has added to Eternal Embrace’s signature style with his impressive range of harsh vocals ... we will miss having Mat on the performance stage with us and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

When asked about the circumstances surrounding Mills’ departure, Eskie explained that it came down to a difference in styles.

“He comes from a hardcore metal background,” she said. “While his edge and style was suitable to where we were a few years ago, his is a more aggressive style and he was looking for something along those lines. I think the friendships in the band is what kept him with us for so long, but because we are such a prolific band, we really need to keep a flow going.”

In a blog entry posted on Nov. 8, 2008, on his MySpace page, Mills talked about his last show with Embrace, commenting on his departure and his plans, as well as the future of Eternal Embrace.

“No hardship, bad ties, or anything of that nature; tonight we did what we’ve been waiting our lives for. And as of the future of Eternal Embrace, I hope the best, no matter what direction may occur, I only hope the best. Who knows what will happen, maybe they will grow huge with a new front man, maybe I’ll jump into a couple shows now and then, maybe not. Nonetheless, I have priorities I have to uphold, and until that’s settled, I’m very comfortable with the way everything is going with my other projects, music in general, and my life.”

With Mills gone, the band is now on the hunt for a new male lead vocalist, putting out a wide public call for applicants.

“We are looking for someone who can sing clean vocals, which Mat could not do,” Eskie said. “People associate bands with the vocalists, so we have to have someone with charisma — who can deliver an energetic performance and can also have a strong chemistry with our other lead vocalist.”

However, strong vocal skills are not merely enough to make it into the group.

“They need to be able to write dynamic lyrics around a lot of different subject matters,” Eskie said. “We don’t swear, we don’t promote violence, but we are very poetical and theatrical, so someone who has a background in writing — who thinks that writing is important — is crucial.”

Those who are interested in auditioning for the male vocalist position should contact Eskie at eleanor@eternalembracemetal.com.

“There is a lot of undiscovered talent,” Eskie said. “The scene in Manchester and in New Hampshire is fairly one-dimensional for us and for our music, so we are trying to cast out to a wide diversity of talent. Everyone in the band comes from different backgrounds and I think that’s why we do so well together.”


Newest member, violinist Carla Rae. Courtesy photo.