Journey Into Darkness

One of the reasons why I was inspired to put Transcending the Mundane back together again was one of my best friends, Brett Clarin. Brett #1 is well known on Long Island for his death metal band Sorrow and his legendary store and record label, None Of The Above Records. The man has even starred in an independent film and done stand up comedy. His band Journey Into Darkness has released two great albums of symphonic black metal with doom and death influences and Brett has breaking news on a new Sorrow release.

What do you feel is the core sound of Journey Into Darkness?  Who do you think would be a fan of your music?

The overall feel is symphonic black death metal  I’ve tried to meld what I consider the best elements of each style. Those who like symphonic black metal or symphonic death metal will like it of course, but I would hope that fans of any extreme metal can find something they like. It’s melodic and symphonic but is just as heavy and extreme as any black and death metal. The symphonic elements are there to enhance the sound, not take it over so even those who don’t usually like symphonic metal might still like this. There are a few synth style tracks on the earlier albums that may not be for everyone, but if you like dungeon synth or dark ambient then you’ll like those tracks too.

You put out two excellent, intricate albums in as many years- did you feel a sense of inspiration?  Why was it the right time to record these Journey Into Darkness albums? 

I was inspired by age, getting older that is.  For twenty five years I started and stopped Journey Into Darkness and in 2018 I turned fifty. I realized that if I didn’t do it soon, I might never do it. So, I upgraded all my equipment, and got serious starting to write music again. I had a few songs that were written over the years, so I had a head start, but those needed to be updated a bit and I wrote a lot of new material too and by 2019 I had enough to start recording again. The pandemic did not really factor in even though I did those two albums over the worst part of the pandemic.

I know you love Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse and enjoy the instrumental tracks of Morbid Angel- what is it about this type of ,music that has drawn you in as a fan? 

Those are perfect references. Morbid Angel’s ‘Doomsday Celebration’ is such an amazing piece of music. That was my biggest inspiration for starting up Journey Into Darkness, I wanted a full album of that type of music. Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse is the pinnacle of symphonic black metal. The music is all encompassing, it just draws me in and places me somewhere else. It’s heavy, extreme, emotional and has a thick atmosphere.  Having symphonic elements adds a dimension to the music that makes the sound complete. You’re able to add melody and harmony without sacrificing heaviness or intensity. Of course, not all symphonic metal bands keep it heavy, there’s plenty of symphonic bands I don’t like.

I know you’re currently into creating soundtrack music, why has this always been an appeal for you?

Lots of soundtrack music is powerful and emotional, and some of it can be very dark  I always felt that a lot of what I write could be ported over for soundtrack use. So, in the past few years I have gotten serious about it. The feeling you get from the music watching a movie is deep, I want to be able to have that effect on others.

Now that it’s been over two decades, how do you feel when you look back at None of the Above and how much of an impact it had on Long Island?  What would be your fondest memories?

Reminiscing about the store and the label is both pleasant and sad. The store had a big effect on Long Island, at least I think it did. It was a place for local bands to promote themselves and for east Long Islanders to find music they could not find anywhere close. The label had an effect, but I don’t think nearly as much as the store.  Although, I think of course that every release was great. I have many fond memories, from hanging out with people in the store to attending record release parties. Now the sad part, aside from missing being in the store, some of the memoires are working together with Tom.  We had so many great times together, from eating Dominos pizza from next door, talking shit about people, including ourselves, to opening boxes with new releases in them. I dearly miss him.

You were also a part of Sorrow, are there any plans to release new music or reissue the old material?  

Some new stuff happening. The Apparition Human Fear demo was recently released on ten inch vinyl by Xtreem Music and our albums are now on Spotify. But the big news is that we are releasing a new album in a few months. Back in 1992, we had another full album written but it was never recorded properly. So, last year we decided to record that album. The songs are from 1992, but the recording will be all new. If that does well, I am sure the older albums will be reissued.

With both Sorrow and Journey Into Darkness I appreciated that you could understand all the lyrics despite the extreme vocals, how important is the lyrical content to the music you create?  Do you find similar themes recurring with Journey Into Darkness? 

I am happy to hear that. The lyrics are very important to me and being able to understand them in the song is something I prefer. When the lyrics have meaning it really makes the music more intense and personal. I spend a lot of time writing lyrics, I want the meaning to come across in the music to make the listening experience cathartic. There are recurring themes with Journey Into Darkness. A lot of the lyrics are existential and deal with the absurdity of the universe and life in it. There are some basic themes, like anti religion, and humanity being awful, but the main thread is more about dealing with our brief and cruel existence.

Do you think the metal scene is better now than it was in the 90’s?  All the changes that have occurred in the industry has created a totally different reality for metal fans and bands compared to 25 years ago.  And where do you see this scene heading in the future? 

I can’t say if the scene is better now, I am way more isolated, but it has changed of course. In the 90s, you had to hunt for new music and there was much less to choose from. These days, you can find 100 new bands a day, which is good and bad. The selection of music is infinite, and I do think there are plenty of great new bands. But there is also a lot of garbage to sift through. I guess the biggest difference though, is that in the 80s and 90s, there was nothing mainstream about death and black metal whereas these days, it’s all over the place. Even though the music and imagery has actually become more extreme, it’s lost its shock value. It’s become a lot of show and theatrics and conformity, and I always felt the music was more serious and personal.

What does the future hold for Journey Into Darkness?  Any plans to record again in the near future?  

I’ve been a little behind in writing new music for Journey Into Darkness.  I’ve been busy with the trailer and cinema stuff. But I do have new material, and I will release something this year.  Thanks for the interview and good luck with the resurrection. Here are some pertinent sites: