Dayton death metal scriptures
By Mike Ritchie
Photo: Johnnie Wallace (left) and Colin Glover of Engraved Darkness; photo: Mike Ritchie
Engraved Darkness has been around close to a decade. With the dripping black eyes of vocalist/guitarist Johnnie Wallace leading the charge, their current incarnation, helmed by Wallace, includes Forces of Nature’s Jimmy Rose on guitar, drummer Andy Hall, and bassist Colin Glover. Wallace also plays bass for Forces. “Johnnie came up with the band, we came along later,” the members say.
They find inspiration from the darkness of life’s hardships, history, and things considered evil. Lyrically, they paint with black, creating darkness-equals-the light imagery for listeners. “We choose to harness this energy and project it through our music,” Wallace says, preferring a blunt, brutal approach to their message, by exposing the inner darkness in each of us. “All the things that we bring into the light are significant pieces to us that are embodied in our craft.”
Death metal is a natural progression, Wallace says: “It’s what projects from me. When I started Engraved, I wanted to be one of the heaviest, most brutal bands ever. I listen to a lot of bands like Nile, real heavy, fast, and technical. I just wanted to be a death metal heavyweight, per se.”
Though the band’s opinion was Symbolic, Wallace’s favorite Death album was The Sound of Perseverance. “I like it a lot. Chuck Schuldiner’s a mastermind on that album, from start to finish. It was the first album I heard.”
Death metal’s been the most extreme form of metal for the band to play.
Wallace met Forces of Nature through Engraved. “I’ve always played guitar,” he adds, “I just starting playing bass to help them out.” Engraved started in December 2009. “I’ve been in Forces five and a half years, Engraved seven years, going on eight.”
Wallace went through several members to find a solid lineup, asking lots of people, including Eric “The Hammering Hobbit” (I could not confirm this one line.)Barnes. It took a while, but he found solid players with shared ambition and interest. Diabolical Scriptures, he thinks, was very fitting for the album title. It was more than just a song name.” It was released worldwide in April. “We did a local release last December and a press release for April.’
They have a few high profile gigs coming up, having played University of Dayton’s Metal in Strange Places Conference after party at Oddbody’s last Saturday, calling it a “great honor.”
Engraved Darkness returns to Oddbody’s, supporting Black Dahlia Murder, on Oct. 27. They will play at Rockstar Pro Arena, Nov. 26 with Tombs and Wolvhammer. They are semi-regulars at The Courtyard and Hanks Pub and have played in Indiana, Covington, Cincinnati, Columbus, and occasionally in Michigan.
If they could tour with any band, Wallace says, “I’d resurrect Death or Dissection.” He believes they’d get a good response touring with Nile or Beyond Creation. They’d also want to tour with Wretched and Full of Hell. “Cradle of Filth was always one of my biggest influences, same with Dimmu Borgir,” he says. “I’m not sure how their fans would take it, but we’d enjoy it.”
If Wallace could talk shop with one of his idols, he’d pick one of death metal’s founding fathers. “For pointers, it’d be Chuck Schuldiner. If I can’t resurrect him, it’d be Jon from Dissection.” Ex-Dimmu Borgir bassist I.C.S. Vortex is also a big influence on Wallace. “He’s incredible. If I had to choose one that was living, I’d choose him,” he says.
Like many metal musicians, Wallace is drawn to the darkness: “I like the horror and the evil side of things.” He claims the negativity that is around us is engraved in us. “By harnessing the bad stuff you’re dealing with, whatever is eating away at you,” he says, “you channel the ugliness in the world through a productive outlet.”
Engraved Darkness incorporates parts of history into the songs, discussing spiritual philosophies, including Baphomet, and being your own god. “I view religion as mythology. Believe in yourself and be a good person,” he says. “I believe in being a good person and the best version of you, and that’s portrayed in the songs.”
They’re also a part of Death Rot Productions, a local group of metal bands that promote and support each other led by Foul Stench’s King Stench.
“Engraved Darkness has always been my main focus,” Wallace says. “If Forces traveled, it’d depend on what Engraved is doing.” The band wants to keep its name fresh, doing at least one gig a month, while in the writing process. “I would say collectively, with the new material we have, we’re at the halfway point of a new album,” he adds.
“Music’s what I wanna do, just gotta make sure I can do it with Engraved, first and foremost, and make sure I can juggle where none suffer. I put 100 percent into every entity I become a part of.”
Before a show Wallace is always a cocktail of nerves and energy. “I always get that feeling before I play,” he adds. “It’s the high of the buildup. If I didn’t get it, there would be something wrong. You get up there, harness, and unleash it. The darkness inside you is engraved, all the meaningful stuff you constructed your songs with, piece it all together, and let it all out.”
To Engraved Darkness fans everywhere, he thanks them and urges, “Never settle. Always push yourself. Always push the envelope and pursue aspirations.”
For more information on Engraved Darkness, please visit EngravedDarkness.Bandcamp.com/Releases.