Prog Deathers Samskaras are releasing their second EP “Lithification” on October 26th and had a conversation with guitarist/bassist/vocalist Eric Burnet of the band about the release and many other topics.
Samskaras – Lithification
2. As Warriors
4. À Deux Mains
Eric Burnet – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Alexandre Dupras – Drums
TMR: How do you guys think you’ve grown as a band since your first release?
I started Samskaras just as my old band, Derelict, was dissolving. I had music written that was intended for that band and when we put the project on ice, I had a desire to continue working on it and eventually release it. The first single we put out, “Consecrate”, was a Derelict composition that we never used. The song “Conqueror” on the Asunder EP was too. Given all this, my writing from 2014 to 2016 was part of purging Derelict out of my system and evolving Samskaras into being its own thing. On our new EP, Lithification, I feel like the band’s sound has been more fleshed out and stands on its own without being too linked to other projects that Alex and I are in or have been in. I have less focus on a tech death approach and more on texture and feeling. I’ve brought in much black metal and grindcore influences into the songs. Every track was written completely in what I consider the “Samskaras” musical era of my life.
TMR: What did you do differently this time around with “Lithification” than your previous release “Asunder”?
During the period in which we were writing Asunder, Alex and I were still getting used to working together and working things around each of our schedules. We ended up doing things in a very odd order in which I recorded all the string instruments and vocals before Alex was ready for the drums. We then worked out the drum details together and he recorded last. It turned out great but it’s always preferable to work more in tandem. This time around with Lithification, we did it the traditional way and worked through the songs together. It felt much more natural and collaborative. We were able to support each other and give each other feedback as we went. It was much more enjoyable overall.
TMR: Do you think Samskaras will ever do a full length album? Or are EP’S the way of the future?
I would absolutely love to do a full-length. Two cliché factors have been preventing us from doing that so far, those being time and money. The time part is that given the fact that I occupy four musical roles in this project (vocals, two guitars, bass), writing, rehearsing, and recording one song is equivalent to four songs worth of normal work. I love doing it, it just takes a while. The money part is simply that we’re not a touring band so the revenue is not there to support hefty studio costs. The plan so far has been to keep releasing batches of songs when we have them, grow the name, and see what happens.
TMR: Any talk of doing shows?
I don’t want to bore anyone with the details of my non-music life, but I just moved to another part of Canada. Before making that decision, I was in talks with several musicians to form a live lineup for Samskaras. Life happened and that plan is on the back burner for now. We’ll see what happens going forward.
TMR: What does your band name Samskaras mean and what influenced it?
A samskara in Hinduism and other Eastern philosophies is a sort of emotional imprint that forms on a person’s consciousness from life experiences. It’s supposed to affect how a person behaves and acts. When I read about this I thought it was a really cool way of illustrating how our minds and emotional reactions are shaped by our lives. I then imagined an artist’s songs being samskaras given artistic form, sort of an emotional snapshot in time of what someone was going through. My goal with this project was to be rawer and more emotional where my last band was more political, so I thought the name fit well.
TMR: Can you further elaborate on the meaning of your upcoming album title “Lithification” and it’s lyrical content?
Lithification is the process by which sedimentary rock forms under heat and pressure. Raw organic material gets compressed and heated over millions of years and changes into a new, harder form. On this EP, this is a metaphor for the hardening of the human heart. Pain, anxiety, pressure, all these compress and attack our heart and our spirit, changing us. We adapt to be more resilient to those influences, but also become harder people for what we go through.
This theme runs most strongly through the song Reconciliation, which is about attempting to resolve a past conflict with someone and having the discussion re-open old wounds. The idea has been something I’ve had on the shelf for about eight years. There was an old Derelict song called Lithification that we never recorded. The music was written by a member who quit and so the song was canned. I was disappointed because the lyrics were very important to me. When I wrote Reconciliation, the word lithification just fit at a certain point in the chorus and it made me realize I was writing about similar pain once again and the idea became appropriate to revive.
The songs As Warriors and Alignment are both about anger in different ways. They deal with how we change and adapt to a society that isn’t built with our basic needs or best interests in mind. I dwell a lot on the unnaturalness of that. Lastly À deux mains is in French and is a more political song about the past and present history of our homeland of Quebec. The sentiment could apply to most places though; it’s a review of how the poor and powerless have always been stepped on, and it’s a call for solidarity.
TMR: What underground bands do you guys love the most?
The only appropriate answer to this for us is Quebec bands. Spend two decades listening to Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Quo Vadis, Augury, Voivod, Despised Icon, etc, and you’ll know where we come from, musically.
TMR: What are you both listening to these days metal and non metal wise?
Here’s what’s currently saved on my phone, metal: Aethereus, Oubliette, Obscura, Augury; non-metal: Iron & Wine, Wintersleep, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Damian Marley, Radiohead, Propagandhi. This morning I just added the new Pig Destroyer and Ken Mode albums, and I’m interested in giving the new Eminem album a once-over as well.
TMR: What motivated you guys to link up and start Samskaras?
As mentioned I was seeking to continue where I left off with Derelict. I reached out to Alex because he’s a fantastic drummer. We had met before and got along. Alex was interested right away and things have worked out very well. One of the coolest things about working with Alex is that he’s a much more organic player than I am. He feels everything out where I’m more calculated. I think that as we continue to work together, we influence each other and come towards a comfortable middle.
TMR: What are you interested in outside of music?
Aside from working full-time as a social worker, I’m quite into fitness and strength training. I’m also a pretty dedicated Dungeons and Dragons player. Oh, and I recently joined a fantasy and sci-fi book club in my new town.
TMR: What are your opinions on newer bands changing extreme metal using instruments and ideas not primarily found in death metal?
Music is art. Art evolves alongside culture. This is an inevitable process. What’s great is that our culture also conserves, celebrates, and re-creates older art forms even while new ones continue to evolve. It therefore does not matter. If someone wants to just keep listening to the first three Death, Suffocation, and Obituary albums on repeat until they die, they can do that. Hell, some people listen exclusively to reproductions of classical pieces written hundreds of years ago. At the same time, artists continue to sharpen the cutting edge and make challenging new things. I think that’s great. To be honest, when I browse the “New Metal Tracks” playlist on Spotify, I like very little of what I hear but I still usually find at least one new thing. It’s cool to know that other people are making and finding things they like as well.
TMR: List your favorite releases of 2018 so far, what you’re excited for….and in your opinion THE best album of the year, so far.
I think the new Obscura album “Diluvium” is fantastic. I’m also super proud of my hometown boys Augury for their new record “Illusive Golden Age”. It’s definitely their heaviest and most complex release, while remaining a very fun listen.
I’m very excited that The Ocean has a new album due out. They’re one of my favourite bands. They really walk that line between emotion, heaviness, and complex ideas. Beyond Creation as well have a new album coming and the singles have been great so far. Not to mention Cryptopsy, Aborted, Revocation, Anaal Nathrakh…
I can’t really take a position on a best album. Different things for different moods. I dug J Cole’s K.O.D. a lot this year as well.
TMR: Any new material in the works? Or is it too soon to ask that question?
I sat down to write the other day for the first time since we finished the Lithification recording sessions in April. I’m starting to get some vibes and ideas but nothing concrete yet. I have some ideas left over from writing Lithification but I always hesitate to reach backwards. It’s fun to start from scratch. We don’t have any pressure or deadlines, we just promise to put our all into whatever we do. It’ll be ready when it’s ready, but I promise it’ll be great.