On the Right Path
CoC interviews Rocky Gray of Soul Embraced
by: Aaron McKay
Not Frankenstein's monster, Soul Embraced hasn't been piecemealed together by cannibalizing other bands' members -- nor is it a "super group". One thing is does have is a talent corps of musicians that aren't afraid to go that extra mile. Traversing the walkway stamped out by Solid State Records' underlaying outfit, Living Sacrifice, Arkansas's Soul Embraced marches to their own drummer. The sneak attack power this band packs in their punch is a prime reason I decided I needed to ascertain for myself (on behalf of the CoC readership, of course) what motivated this respectably devoted threesome. I was fortunate enough to beat a path to core member, bassist and guitarist, Rocky Gray's doorstep. Here is the fruit of my journey...

CoC: First off, Rocky, thank you for granting this interview. I think it is a real opportunity to glimpse the world as Soul Embraced sees it. Please tell the CoC readers about the band's beginning -- bringing things current through the new album, _This Is My Blood_.

Rocky Gray: The beginning would have to go back to 1997 when me and my friend David Sroczynski [now in Thy Pain] decided to do a band called Soul Embraced. We wrote and recorded one song that went on a Frozen Dawn Records compilation and soon after that, we ended it. After I joined Living Sacrifice in 1998, I still needed an outlet for the extreme stuff I was writing that couldn't be used for Living Sacrifice. So I asked my friend and brother-in-law, Chad Moore, to do the vocals for a death metal project. He was into it, since his metal core band wasn't really working out. We did the _Fleshless_ EP right away, then did _For the Incomplete_ soon after that and that’s when Lance Garvin from Living Sacrifice got with the band. A year later we hooked up with Solid State Records and recorded _This Is My Blood_.

CoC: Who would you consider an influence on the band's vocal style? To me, personally, it sounds like a raspier Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory)...

RG: Well, I can't speak for Chad, but I know he likes "Corpsegrinder" [Fisher] and Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse. My vocals -- the more clean type -- are influenced by Burton from Fear Factory for sure, but hopefully I've added my own flavor to it.

CoC: Musically, where does Soul Embraced's inspiration stem from? I sure hear some nice Carcass-esque riffs periodically -- similar to, but unique at the same time.

RG: We're into a lot of stuff, but the main musical influences that come to mind are Slayer, Metallica, Carcass, Pantera and new stuff like Arch Enemy and In Flames.

CoC: One of the things that I most appreciate about the band is the hard hitting style and chunky riffs. How does the band pull off such a thick and tight sound with three members?

RG: I have no idea. If we like it, we play it and hope it works.

CoC: Tell me a little bit about your production duties, Crystal Studios and Thy Pain.

RG: Well, if we didn't record at Crystal, I probably wouldn't be producing. That ends up happening just because I know the studio and the capabilities we have there, since I've been recording there for probably ten years. At this particular studio they don't do a lot of metal, so when it comes to producing and mixing they're not real sure how to accomplish what were wanting to do, so I take care of that for us so we can get a clean and punchy mix. I've known the drummer for Thy Pain for years and years. He knows to get a hold of me when he's ready to record and I'll produce his stuff for him. Thy Pain was a lot of fun to do and it gave me a chance to get some practice in for the mixdown of _This Is My Blood_ that I was going to right after [they got done recording].

CoC: What are your thoughts about being on Solid State?

RG: We couldn't have given this music to the world without them, so we are very thankful for that.

CoC: I noticed your use of Travis Smith's talents on the artwork; it was a fantastic job, too. Why did Soul Embraced choose Mr. Smith to visualize the band's message on _This Is My Blood_?

RG: Travis is a genius and I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it and doing it right.

CoC: In your opinion, how does the _Fleshless_ EP compare to _For the Incomplete_?

RG: Well, there's just that musical maturity happening. I can tell we got better at writing and playing songs from the EP to the full length and that's the way it should be. Our next album shouldn't sound like the last one -- it should continue to evolve and grow but still maintain an overall extreme sound.

CoC: I am interested in the song "Scars Remain". It is probably one of my preferred cuts from _This Is My Blood_. Please give me your take on "Scars Remain".

RG: I dig that song 'cause it's pretty different from the other songs on the CD. It's actually laid back, but it has just enough aggression to it to not wimp out. It's one of my favorites, too.

CoC: When playing live, does Soul Embraced enlist the help of additional musicians?

RG: Yes. Arthur Green (Living Sacrifice) is our bassist and John Lecompt (Mindrage) is our second guitarist.

CoC: What was the band's biggest career altering moment thus far?

RG: Getting on Solid State Records.

CoC: I've never asked this question in interviews past, but I wanted to see what you had to say about this... To follow is the remaining top 4 CDs I am currently listing as receiving the majority of time spent in my CD player (_This Is My Blood_ is listed as number 3). Please comment on any/all of the following catalogue:

CoC: Burnt by the Sun - _Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution_.

RG: Never heard 'em.

CoC: Necrodeath - _Black as Pitch_.

RG: Never heard 'em, but sounds interesting.

CoC: Soul Embraced - _This Is My Blood_.

RG: Dude!... Sweet!...

CoC: Scholomance - _The Immortality Murder_.

RG: Never heard 'em.

CoC: Death - _Spiritual Healing_.

RG: Good record, but it can't touch _Leprosy_ or _Human_. R.I.P., Chuck.

CoC: Lastly, thank you for your valuable time and please end this interview with any parting words you may have for the Chronicles of Chaos readers...

RG: Thank you, Aaron and CoC! Thanks to all the metal fans worldwide. \m/ y'all rule \m/

(article submitted 12/4/2002)

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