Today emerging Belgian metalcore quintet Essence deliver their new EP – ‘Smoke And Mirrors’. Wrapped in a plethora of destructive riffs and pummelling drums, ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ sees Essence making a statement of intent, and after being a band for 10 years, it sees them at their most focused.
With vocalist Michiel suffering from severe chronic illness throughout the recording of the EP, ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ documents his personal struggle during this time.
Ahead of its release, Essence spoke to Already Heard to talk us through ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ track-by-track.
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‘Submerged’ is the first track we wrote when our new guitarist Stein joined the band in November 2012. After he learnt out our set list, we started writing this, our first song together, in March 2013. We had planned to release Submerge as a single, to give our listeners something new to jam to, to introduce them to Stein and to indicate the new direction we were heading in. We had even gotten as far as recording it with Julian Rodriguez and planning a music video, when our vocalist suddenly got really sick… resulting in him struggling and taking more than a year to get back on his feet from! With this song we tried to keep the sound we had on our album ‘The Defining Elements’, but at the same time we made it more technical, heavier and a bit more trashy at some points, in comparison to our previous songs. I think it came out exactly like we wanted it too. Also the lyrics were very important in this song, because they’re very personal to our vocalist, who felt like his illness was taking over his life and he couldn’t find a way out.
‘Defiance’ is definitely one of the most “bouncy” tracks of the release. We started off with the main riff that opens the song, that’s very trashy but melodic at the same time. Then we created the rest of the song around it, with definitely the middle part standing out. There’s a big tempo change like we often used in our songs on ‘The Defining Elements’, that makes the breakdown and the melodic part afterwards stand out in the song. It’s definitely the most catchy, atmospheric part of the track. Lyric-wise the song carries on from the themes of ‘Submerged’, emphasising a positive message that you should not give up.
‘The Climb’ is the most straight forward track we have on the EP, that’s why we chose it to be our first single of ‘Smoke And Mirrors’. It’s a song that’s a bit different compared to the other tracks on the album. The riffs are more chord-based, while in the other songs we use a different style of fast riffs. The middle part with the melodic lead is what we wanted to stand out in this song, after all the fast stuff that happens in the first part of the song. We also tried to focus on the lyrics for that part.
￼The lyrics are about overcoming problems in your life or trying to find a way back up when you get knocked down.
We wrote ‘Prophecy’ at the end of the “writing-process” for this EP. The song basically started with the clean intro part, that Stein had written a few months before, but we never used it until then. Maarten wrote the bouncy melodic part afterwards and so the song progressed. The song is a very complex song structure-wise, because there are a lot of separate parts in it, but they still flow together very well. Also to us it holds the most heavy breakdowns of the EP, so it’s definitely one of the heaviest songs we ever wrote. Lyrically this song is a bit different than the other songs, because it’s more socially and religion critical.
We had some riffs for ‘Recovery’ written for a long time, but we didn’t work out the whole song, so when we had some songs finished for the EP we came back to those riffs and started working on them. We really liked the first riff of the song a lot, so we started with that and made all the other parts around that central piece. From there the song progressed really quickly, and in a few rehearsals we had it finished. The build up towards the end of the song, is a perfect ending for our EP. Also the lyrics on that part kind of describe the outcome of the hard time our vocalist went through, and sends out a positive message, like we try to do in all our songs, despite the many setbacks people can have in their lives: “Recovery of heart and mind”.
‘Smoke And Mirrors’ EP by Essence is out now.