At a time of increased isolation and an unnerving uncertainty, things can be overbearing, but music has been providing a much-needed escape for many. Fittingly, Telepathy have just released their third album, Burn Embrace, where they explore themes that are now proving prescient through their riff-heavy, (mostly) instrumental post-metal.
Following on from 2017’s marvellous Tempest, on Burn Embrace Telepathy continue to incorporate sludge, post-rock and blackened doom, seamlessly blending genres with aplomb to create an explorative and emotional voyage. To find out more, we had a chat with guitarist Richard Powley.
Congratulations on your new album, Burn Embrace. What are the main themes and messages that you’re conveying on the album, and what inspired these?
Thanks so much! We really see Burn Embrace as an album about struggle, isolation and ultimately the wisdom and strength that comes from adversity. As far as what inspired them, I guess it’s our way of dealing with the facts of an ever-changing life and creating something positive from it.
Your music is very cinematic. Would you consider Burn Embrace to be a direct sequel to or even a vaguely related spin-off from 2017’s Tempest, in terms of tone or a thematic consistency?
Thanks! In terms of spin-off or sequel, not really, no. Burn Embrace is definitely it’s own album, that can be enjoyed with or without having heard Tempest. However, I guess in terms of our own lives in the band, it’s the next record after Tempest.
In terms of themes though, Burn Embrace is a lot more focused on the internal rather than the external. That album was about using metaphor or an overarching concept to relate stuff that we saw was going on in the world and our own lives, whereas Burn Embrace is a much more human album, and about us kind of saying, “here’s where we are, this is what we’re dealing with.”
Between albums, is it important to you to continually try to push yourselves and each other as musicians? Do you try to incorporate new techniques or styles of playing onto each new release?
We’re always looking for new sounds or new areas to explore. It’s not so much about learning new techniques or flashy things to play, but more about having new ideas and learning how to implement that into our music.
Through touring so much on Tempest we definitely pushed each other to be the best we could be, to perform the songs with as much energy and passion as possible, and become a tighter unit.
Writing periods always force us to look at how we can say what we want to at that time musically, and, if you’ll excuse the kind of cliché explanation, that’s still the most important thing to us – conveying emotion in the truest way possible.
You touch on multiple genres on all of your albums and there are clearly different influences within Telepathy’s sound. This seems very organic and explorative, but do you ever set out to have a bit of sludge here, a blackened riff there, or do these various aspects come out naturally during writing? What is Telepathy’s writing and recording process like?
That has never really crossed our mind, which I guess is the main reason it comes across in a very organic manner. We totally are not into shoe-horning various genres into a song for the sake of it.
I think as we were writing this album, even more so than on Tempest, we were writing in a pretty explorative manner. After an initial riff or idea starts a song, we are trying to tell the story of that piece of music in a way, letting the vibe and the way it makes us feel dictate how the song progresses.
Does each band member bring a strong love for a specific genre or are you all coming at this from the same angle?
Awesome question, it’s not something I ever thought about so specifically.
I guess each of us has a particular energy they bring to the writing, but everyone listens to so much music and has such eclectic taste that it’s difficult to pin down.
We do all share a love of sonically heavy and dense music, melancholic and dark melodies and a love of progressive or unique heavy music and bands whether that’s The Cure, Godflesh, Craft, Darkthrone, Deftones, Depeche Mode or anything else.
How important is it for you to create an overarching “journey” throughout your albums, specifically on Burn Embrace, which flows excellently from start to finish?
I’m super glad you mentioned that because that’s something really important to us. It might be outdated nowadays, but one of the most pleasurable things about making an “album” as opposed to just a collection of songs is that an album, if it’s done properly, can allow you to take a journey throughout its runtime. That’s what we have been trying to do since we started this band and I’m pleased you felt that as well!
If I’m thinking about recent records that I felt did this, I would look to either Daughters‘ You Won’t Get What You Want or Mamiffer‘s Mare Decendrii. Even though they completely unrelated in terms of the sonic palette, they both have such a strong overall aesthetic whilst being incredibly varied in terms of content.
With ‘Echo Of Souls’ on Tempest and ‘Sorrow Surrenders Its Crown’ on Burn Embrace you’ve added vocals to your music. Even though Telepathy’s instrumentals are already highly emotive, were the vocals added to give an extra punch? Used sparingly, does their impact help convey emotions more strongly?
On these two records we really used the vocals and lyrical content to sum up the albums’ central themes, but only when we felt it was absolutely necessary and would add power and emotion in the right place, and when we felt it would most benefit the music.
Things are obviously messed up and very uncertain for the music industry and beyond at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ideally what are the plans for Telepathy through the rest of 2020?
Luckily we have an amazing team with us right now at Doomstar Bookings, who are looking at all sorts of things for us at the moment. If everything is going well and the world is back on its feet we already have a lot of touring across the UK and Europe to look forward to. We’ll be aiming to bring this new album to everywhere we possibly can, and we’ll hopefully be able to bring some more lighting and production elements on the road for our own headline dates.
Times certainly are strange and right now we’d just like to raise some awareness for our brothers and sisters behind the scenes in the industry (bookers, venue owners, workers, crew, etc.) who are really struggling right now.
Are there any bands you’re heavily into at the moment that you’d like to recommend?
Well since the world’s on lockdown, it’s been a great time to discover some new stuff. At the moment I’ve been getting super into the following: Oranssi Pazuzu, GOLD, Terzij De Horde, Phantom Winter, Emilie Zoe, Hex (CH), A-Sun Amissa and Teeth Of The Sea.
Burn Embrace is out now on Svart Records. Order here.
Words: John Higham