Transcendence – Interview with Miguel Perez and Kris Gonzalez AKA “Phantasm” and “Curse”

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In celebration of Transcendence’s brand new album – Towards Obscurities Beyond – Metal Rules sat down with guitarist, Phantom (Miguel Perez) and bass player, Curse (Kris Gonzalez) to talk about how the new music all came together. 

Eager to talk about their music and keen to give credit where it is due, Phantasm made sure to give a shout out to the missing bandmates by way of an introduction…

Phantasm: I just wanted to take this moment to introduce the rest of the band. (There’s) Tom Patmore (PutrefactionTomb) – Vocals, Michael Alvarez (Omen) – Guitars, and Richard Guerrero (GoatWarrior) – Drums.

Metal Rules: Thanks for that. How are you guys? Can you give us an update on how things are in the Transcendence camp at the current time?

Phantasm: Everything is going well so far here on our side of things, despite being amidst a pandemic we have been managing to find time to practice, write new material and plan for events/releases which we hope to announce in the near future.

Today we managed to get a venue for our album release show coming up Nov. 20th! It’s been a while since we’ve performed so we’re pretty pumped up for it.

MR: That’s wonderful news for everyone involved – the bands, the venues and the fans. It’s gonna be a blast! Let’s build a picture of what people can expect from Transcendence. Can you tell us a quick history of the band.

Phantasm: Transcendence started back in 2012 under the name Annihilation. At the time we were only a three-piece consisting of Frank Montero (Insineratehymn), Abraham Garcia (Insineratehymn) and I. It started as nothing more than a jam session, meeting up after school. We then started getting serious, we reached out looking for a vocalist and bassist and ended up trying out Tom and Miguel. That solidified our first line up. After a name change to Transcendence and a few shows, we released our first EP “Morbid Reality.” Following that we had some line-up shuffles and ended up with our current line up introducing Michael Alvarez, Kris Gonzalez and Richard Guerrero into the mix. We then changed our sound to resemble something darker and more melodic before releasing the EP “Hour of the Summoning.” We signed to Blood Harvest Records and started working on our full length “Towards Obscurities Beyond” and after some delay, we finally released it!

Big thanks of course to Rodrigo and Nathan of Blood Harvest for helping make this possible!

MR: And how would you describe Towards Obscurities Beyond to someone who hasn’t heard the band before? What can people expect from this release?

Phantasm: The album to me is a mix of old school Swedish style riffs/song writing blended in with a melodic atmosphere but without taking away from the aggressiveness that comes with Swedish Death Metal. Expect something that will bring you back to the golden era of dark/aggressive metal, without sounding like a straight copy.

Curse: Dark, Death Metal. As it shows, the ones who led us to this path are Scandinavian Black Death bands but we are creating our own sound as well.

MR: What has the reception to the record been like? Have you any favorite bits of feedback?

Phantasm: The reception has been really well so far! I didn’t know what to expect upon release but I’m definitely happy with the way things are going.

So far my favorite feedback has been a review we recently had from Grizzly Butts. It seems as the reviewer really gave our music an in-depth listen and named bands that we really like. Was pretty hyped up when I read it.

MR: What can you tell us about the writing and recording sessions? Were they easy/straightforward or did you run into any challenges?

Phantasm: Well some parts of the writing came pretty naturally to us, however at times we would have writer’s block and have to take a break and come back with brand new ideas. We like to keep the writing process open enough to come back to songs we thought were done and add even more onto it, or completely change certain parts. Seems to work for all our interests.

MR: Were some songs harder to capture than others? What was the most straightforward?

Phantasm: Personally I think the song I found the easiest to capture straightforward was “Drowned Screams of the Departed Souls”. Simply because it’s a song  I wrote on my acoustic at home that I was seeing as my best work at the time. Wanted to really impress with that song and everything just fell in place so well thanks to the synth and vocals, and generally how we all executed it so well together. To me that song is a glimpse of what you can expect in future releases from us.

Curse: I really enjoy playing that song, as do I with the others, but this song for me is my favorite from the album.

MR: And, do you feel the end result captures your original vision? Did anything change along the way?

Phantasm: I’m really happy with the end result. I do feel that it captured our vision damn near perfectly, especially with the responses we’ve been getting. It was all smoothly executed from beginning to end because we were doing what we like to do and partying together, so nothing felt out of place or like a hassle.

Curse: I think everything came out the way we wanted from the sounding of the album to the artwork.

MR: Let’s talk about that artwork. Death Metal has a long history of elaborate and interesting cover art. On Towards Obscurities Beyond, you continue this tradition with an appropriately hellish piece by Adam Burke – What can you tell us about this collaboration?

Phantasm: When we were looking for an artist I came across Adam’s work on Instagram and immediately thought it would be the perfect fit for us. Once everyone else agreed we emailed him and gave him our ideas for a sketch. We asked for a sort of representation of the gates of hell and with demonic figures lurking around, something that just gave off the impression of being dragged to hell and the types of things you would see.

Curse: We had this vision of the album cover and we were browsing different artist and when we came across Adam (Nightjar illustrations) we knew he would be the one that would capture that vision and so he did. He was a great person to work with.

MR: While we’re talking about people you’ve collaborated with, you’ve released the album via Blood Harvest. How did this relationship begin?

Phantasm: We were looking for a label to put out our EP “Hour of the Summoning” and sent an email to Blood Harvest. We didn’t know what to expect but were hyped when they offered to sign us for our debut when we were just looking to release the EP.

Both Rodrigo and Nathan have been helpful in all of this, even connecting us with you guys for this interview.

MR: Your enthusiasm for the band and music in general comes across. It’s clearly a passion for you both. What is your first musical memory?

Phantasm: One of my first musical memories was seeing my dad play Ritchie Valens “La Bamba” on acoustic guitar. He taught it to me at 7 years old and pretty much gave me the acoustic guitar that I still use till this day to write new material and play when I’m at home. It was then when I knew I wanted to be a guitarist growing up.

Curse: For me was my father showing me bands like Motley Crue and a very young age then a friend of mine showed me dissection at like 13 and from there I was stuck into this dark art.

MR: What is it about metal that drew you in?

Phantasm: Well the biggest thing that drew me into metal were the guitar riffs and soloing. It wasn’t until my uncle introduced me into bands like Violator and Nuclear Assault that interest started growing even more. Once I was introduced to Necrophobic and Dissection by some friends when I was young I knew I wanted to play dark music like this for a living if possible.

Curse: At a very young age the heaviness of course intrigued me but then later on the evil riffs or even emotional ones is what really caught my attention.

MR: It’s fun to reminisce on our younger selves! How would Transcendence in 2020 describe the 2013 version of the band? What advice would you give yourselves if you could talk to them?

Phantasm: I’m not too sure what I would tell myself. I feel as if our music matured at a normal rate and I would rather not mess with what I see as the natural order of things.

MR: And what about the future? What aspirations do you have as a band? What would you like your legacy to be?

Phantasm: Definitely want to tour and see different parts of the world, party in every country possible and spread the music to others who have the same infatuation with the dark arts as we do. Hope we are seen as a band that can be listened to over and over again the same way Dissection, Necrophobic, Unanimated and so many other bands are to me.

Curse: For right now to be able to tour promote the album. Hopefully this Covid shit ends soon. As for legacy, I think as a lot of bands would want, To be as big as the ones that got them into this music.

MR: And on that note, just for fun – What are your recommendations for the five MUST hear riffs from any band?

Phantasm: Unholy Prophecies – Necrophobic, The Somberlain – Dissection, Die Alone – Unanimated, The Infernal Return – Infernal666 suffocation – Infecting the Crypts

Curse: Vinterland – As I Behold The Dying Sun, In Solitude -Demons, Dissection Shadows Over A Lost Kingdom, Degial Revenats and Death SS – Chains of Death

MR: Absolutely superb! Best of luck with new album and I sincerely hope to see you out on the road as soon as it’s safe to walk outside again!