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DARKNESS ETERNAL has become one of the biggest one-man projects in the world. Skyrocketing itself from just one guy making an album, to being a worldwide phenomenon. Founding member George Valaetis (also of The Chasm), has made a name not only for himself, but for his music as well. A blend of doom, death, and acoustic, DARKNESS ETERNAL is a musical journey everyone needs to hear.

George Valaetis

Ashley: Your first album became quite a phenomenon in the Canadian Underground. Dawn Of The Suffering was entirely self-released, self-produced, and you also arranged all the artwork, were there any major setbacks, problems, or helping hands along the way?
As far as any major problems go, I can’t really say that there were any at all. The creation/writing and arranging of the songs for D.O.T.S. went quite smooth actually. The only real problem at the time was of course money due to the fact that as you stated that I funded the entire thing, from the studio time, to the CD pressing and manufacturing, to releasing it on my own, to the promotion, and a lot more. That was the main reason it took me three years to release the first DE record. I had material written for DE at the time as far back as when I started the band in 1997 and the record wasn’t recorded or released until the middle of 2000, so that was the only real “problem”, if you want to call it that, because in a way it benefited me as I was able to take that time to make the songs as dark, powerful, and strong as I could and also allowed me time to grow as a musician and a song writer as well, and in comparison to the wait time for the record, to me that growth and experience was essential. As far as help along the way, when it came to the creation of the music, there was none, all of that was me, and I played every instrument (and continue to do so to this very day) on the record. As far as the recording, Stew Kirkwood (the recording engineer for both D.O.T.S. and Satanchrist) helped in a big way as far helping me achieve a decent sound for the record; he was such a great guy to work with. As far as promotion, I had help from various distro’s and labels at the time, so that helped get the name of DE out into the underground at a time when nobody knew of the band, including in my own home country of Canada, and also I can’t forget all the underground fanzines/webzines that were in total support of DE and really exposed the name of the band, so I will always be grateful to the ones that supported the band back then, and the many that do today as well.

Ashley: DARKNESS ETERNAL appeared on BW&BK's compilation CD Knuckletracks XXIV (Sept. 2000). That’s quite a feat for an unsigned band! Did you choose the track or was this released without your knowledge?
Yes, I chose the track for the CD, and I paid for it fully as well, so you can just mark that under the promotion costs I spoke of in the previous question as well haha! At the time the band had a real good buzz going and someone who worked for BW&BK heard D.O.T.S. and really liked it, so he recommended that I get on the next issue of the BW&BK Knuckletracks compilation CD, he told me it would really get DE’s music all over the world. So I did, and to be honest as expensive as it was to get on there, I’m glad I did it because it did help get the band name out there somewhat, plus I almost scored a real good record deal with a “bigger” metal label because they heard the track on that CD, and even though the deal ended up falling through, overall I think it was the right move at the time to make for the betterment of the band, so no regrets at all there.

Ashley: After having quite a success with Dawn Of The Suffering, Satanchrist was released and it not only became a fast-seller but it later revived quite a lot of credit among the underground scene. DARKNESS ETERNAL was named best unsigned/self-released band of 2002 by Vae Solis Webzine, Satanchrist was named best self-released CD and rated #12 on the Top 50 releases of 2001-02 by Vae Solis. How did you react to all of the hype so to speak?
To be honest I was completely blown away by it at the time, I couldn’t believe the incredible reviews and press that Satanchrist was receiving! Satanchrist is the record that really catapulted DE in many ways, but the most important one was that it was really where I found my niche and really solidified my own dark, twisted, and original style, and I think to this day you can listen to that record and say it sounds like DARKNESS ETERNAL, even if you can hear the influences here and there, it was more original than the previous record D.O.T.S., and that’s something that to this day I am real proud of, because I always strove to make something unique while being as dark as possible at the same time. And lucky for me that it was recognized in a very positive way, as at the time I remember thinking how much I loved that record, but at the same time realizing that it may be too out there and dark for a lot of people and that it would totally bomb, but as it turns out the opposite happened. Satanchrist opened up a lot of doors for me outside of DE musically speaking, and I did a lot of things that I never thought I would do because of the response that record got and it was also the reason that Autopsy Kitchen Records signed me. I think the best thing of all regarding the response of that record for me is that some people have told me it is one of their favorite records of all time and some have gone as far as to say it is a classic, and to me that is the biggest compliment I can ever get, something I am real appreciative of for sure! All of that aside though, I am most proud that I made the record that I wanted to make at the time, and I can look back and be proud of that, and the same goes for D.O.T.S. as well.

Ashley: In 2003 you moved to the US, what made you decide on moving to the states and of all the many places in the US did you choose South Carolina, a cultural wasteland?
Well, the original reason I wanted to move to the US was for the betterment of the band so that I could try to take it to higher levels, and to be around more metal in general. So I originally went to the US in 2001 to see what it was like, and although it was a bit different for me personally, the metal scene at the time was killer, there was a lot more going on in US at the time than there was where I was living in Edmonton AB, Canada. But things didn’t work out like I had planned so I left and went back to Canada and didn’t make the actual move here until late 2003. By then, things went in reverse, as I left Edmonton, it was becoming better and better for metal and they started getting way more shows and the scene grew, while here, the scene was going to complete shit and shows stopped coming to SC. By then I already had the arrangements made to come here and I went through A LOT of bullshit for that, plus I got into a few stupid situations back home at the time so it was a good time to leave all that behind. Well, believe me when I say that I would much rather live somewhere other than South Carolina, but this is where my job brought me so I didn’t have a choice in that matter. Of course it’s no secret that death metal doesn’t always pay the bills (and it was not and never will be the reason why I do it) so I have to pay for the bills and the metal somehow, so there you go hehe! The move proved to be the right one for the band as I am doing better with DE currently than ever before, from a personal standpoint that’s a different story though. I guess in the end I have to take the pros with the cons, financially and metal-wise I’m in a better situation than I’ve ever been in, personally, I’m miserable as fuck, but then again I’ll always be miserable so I guess I can’t really win there anyway.

Ashley: A while after you relocated, Autopsy Kitchen Records offered you a recording contract to release Misanthropic Annihilation, your third and most unrelenting work so far. Were there any major differences recording an album with a record label behind you and when you had to finance the recording on your own? Obviously it was a major financial help, but did it make you feel different? More confident, etc...
Thanks for the great words on the new record, I really appreciate them! Honestly, no, there was no difference at all. Actually, the whole story behind getting signed to release Misanthropic Annihilation is a bit of a strange one in that I got signed by AKR three weeks before I was to hit the recording studio to lay the initial tracks down, it was just real good (and lucky for me) timing. The record had already been fully written and ready to record, and originally I was going to release and fund Misanthropic Annihilation all on my own again, the exact same way as I did the other two, which is one of the reasons why there was yet another three and half year gap between Satanchrist and Misanthropic Annihilation, because it took me that long to get everything in order financially to prepare to put the new record out. So I was getting ready to hit the studio and at the same time talking with Jonzig, who did the artwork for Misanthropic Annihilation (and Satanchrist as well) about the concept for the artwork, when out of nowhere AKR got a hold of me and offered me the deal. After some lengthy discussion we came to agreeable terms, and the rest is history. So while the signing to AKR took some load off my back financially (I still paid for the recording costs myself), the bigger issue was that they could promote the record and get it out there a lot more efficiently and widely than I ever could on my own, and they are true metal heads with true metal ambitions, so in that sense it took a load off, but as far as making me feel different or more confident, not at all. Misanthropic Annihilation would have come out the same way with or without label backing, but I am definitely glad things worked out the way they did, as it now puts DE in its best position to date since the inception of the band, and hopefully things will continue to go well.

Ashley: You went to Sound Lab Studios in Columbia, SC, where all the Nile albums were recorded. What made you decide on using this studio?
It was a combination of things. It started with me looking for a studio to record in since I was still pretty unfamiliar with SC and the surrounding states. Obviously for the new record, I wanted to get the best sound I possibly could, but I didn’t want it to be too polished either. So after narrowing it down to three studios with Sound Lab being one of them, I had remembered that Nile recorded all of their full lengths there and they got a good sound on all their records in my opinion, I especially liked the drum sound on In Their Darkened Shrines, and since I am real anal about drum sounds, that played a big factor for sure. Then my metal brother Krieshloff, the guitarist for Lecherous Nocturne had told me about the studio and how high quality it was, and after listening to various different death metal albums recorded there (including all of Nile’s), I decided that was definitely the studio to go to. So I called Bob (Moore, the engineer/owner) and after a few discussions I was totally sold, he completely put me at ease about everything, from how to get a great drum sound to a killer guitar and bass sound, and it turns out that going to Sound Lab was one of the best decisions I had ever made, as you can see by the amazing production on Misanthropic Annihilation!

Ashley: Bob Moore (Sound Lab) really knows what he is doing. The production was impeccable! This album is by far the best work you have done so far. He did a great job making this album with you. Can you describe some unforgettable events down in Columbia?
Again thanks for the killer words on the new record! I absolutely agree with you 100% on everything that you stated above. Bob is a master at his craft and when it comes to getting the sound that an individual is looking to achieve he is spot on. He got everything to sound very close, and in most cases even better than I wanted, and that had never happened to me before. I will say right now that the guitar sound on Misanthropic Annihilation is by far the best guitar tone, crunch, and sound that I have ever gotten on any recording I have ever done, and that includes recordings outside of DE! In fact, it is one of the best guitar tones I’ve heard on any record period, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my record haha! Yeah, there were quite a few unforgettable events down in Columbia for sure! The first one that comes to mind is when I went down to finish the guitar tracking and Bob had asked me if he could run an a few errands real quick before we began, so I told him no problem. So we go and run the errands, and we decide to go to a Thai restaurant there that we would usually go to catch a bite to eat before heading back to the studio to record. So, just as we get to the restaurant to eat, he notices his cell phone is missing, and he was asking me if I had seen it and I told him I didn’t, so we start scavenging the van looking for it and we can’t find it anywhere! So then we leave the restaurant, we went backwards to every place we had been too previously to see if he left the phone at any of them. Turns out no one had found it, so now he’s dumbfounded as to where it could be and then the possibility of him leaving somewhere and someone taking it came into effect. So I tell him to call his phone and see if it rings or if anyone answers. He told me he had the phone turned off. Sure enough when he calls, it rings a ton of times and no one answers. So now that it is apparent that the phone was stolen, we quickly hurry to the Verizon wireless store to cancel that phone before the culprit used it to make a bunch of long distance phone calls, and in the process he had to purchase a new phone because it was necessary that he had one. He was pissed the rest of the day after that because someone had stolen his phone, and anyone that knows Bob knows how cool and mellow he is, so it’s rare for him to get like that. I felt real bad for him at the time, but looking back and all the shit we went through that day, I guess we can laugh at it now, well, at least I can (sorry brother hehe!). There was also the time during one of my last sessions there mixing the album, where Bob and I stayed up almost over twenty-four hours STRAIGHT mixing the songs with I think only two short breaks in between, and me almost falling asleep on the road driving STRAIGHT to work from the studio on no sleep!! I remember after it was all said and done I went forty-two hours straight no sleep! All in all, the entire experience was a pleasant and unforgettable one, and I am so grateful to Bob, not only for the amazing job he did, but for being such a great listener and such a great guy to work and hang out with. Definitely the best recording experience I have ever had, and I hope that I can work with him again real soon!

Ashley: Are there any plans on getting a line-up together and doing a tour? I know I'd love to hear you live!
It’s funny because apparently a lot of people share your sentiment lately; I have gotten more requests to play live in the last three months than in the entire history of the band I think! Well, right now there aren’t any set plans on getting a line-up together mainly for two reasons. The first being that at this point of the band, the only reason for me to put a live line up together would be for a tour, so unless I get a serious offer to do a tour, I don’t really see the point of getting people together, because for recording purposes I don’t need anyone but myself. The second reason would be that it would be extremely hard for me to find three other people that are into this style of DARK death/doom metal like I am (especially in SC!), and I have always said that if I can’t find people that are willing to give it their all, 120% for the band, and for METAL in general, then there would be no point at all. If I ever did have a line up, I would make it very clear to everyone involved that DARKNESS ETERNAL is and always will be about creating and playing the darkest death metal the we can play and create, and they will have to be 100% into the sound and style of DE, because I can assure you that I will not change my sound and style for anyone, no matter what! Not many people understand that METAL is a way of life for people like me, not just something I’ve been into for years and it will one day just go away, and there is only a small percentage of “metal heads” that comprehend this. So all I can say at this point is we’ll see. I don’t want to say that it won’t ever happen, but like I said, unless there is an overwhelming demand to see DE live and I get tour support from somewhere, and then I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Ashley: You have been playing session bass for Chicago band The Chasm for quite a while now-what is it like playing for these guys? Were you a fan before you joined up with them? Do you plan on becoming a full-time member? And are you going on tour with them anytime soon? What is it like playing for a band that is so far away? How do you learn all the material in time to go on tour with them? How did you get hooked-up with these guys anyway?
It’s been absolutely amazing!! It has been the best experience of my life and there is no way I can put into words how awesome it has been to play with The Chasm, but I will say that I have nothing but good memories from my experiences with them so far and I am very grateful for that. Yes, I was definitely a huge fan even before I knew them personally; in fact I am probably the biggest
The Chasm fan that exists in the world today. Anyone that knows me knows much I love The Chasm, so there is no point going on and on about it here, but they are my favorite band of all time, so needless to say it is an enormous honor to be playing with them right now, beyond a dream come true! I mean very few people can say that they have met their favorite bands, let alone played along side with them. Aside from that, they are all great friends of mine, especially Daniel (Corchado, guitarist/vocalist), he is one of my best friends and the most metal human being you will ever meet, his passion, determination, and will are so strong and I have so much respect for him, and the rest of the guys as well. As for me becoming a full-time member, I don’t have answer to that. It’s up to them really, I mean Daniel has stated many times that he no longer wants a permanent bass player for the band since they have gone through a few guys in the past eight years, now whether his mind has changed on that I don’t know. They know that whenever they need me I am always there for them, so for now I will remain strictly session, and I am more than happy to do so. I will be playing with them one more time, for the Heathen Crusade Metalfest in Minneapolis, MN USA on January 21st, 2006, for more info on that you can visit the Heathen Crusade website at http://www.heathencrusade.com or The Chasm’s official website at http://www.enterthedeathcult.com, and if more dates are added in addition to that, going to either the DE website or The Chasm’s website is where you will find out more. The distance isn’t really a big problem as I fly there every time I go and being in SC I am only about a two hour flight away, and as for learning the material, they tell me what songs they want me to learn about one and half to two months in advance and I learn them all here at home note for note, I practice my ass off to get as tight as I can, and then a few days before the shows I go to Chicago and we rehearse about two or three times together and that’s that, we hit the road after. As for how I got hooked up with them, as I stated before Daniel is one of my closest friends, so back in 2003 they were without a bass player and he asked me if I could play some shows with them, and I of course told them I would, and the rest is history. They needed me again for the Sabbat tour in September 2005 and as I said before I will be playing with them for the Heathen Crusade Metalfest and whenever else they need me again.

Ashley: What is your favorite band of all time?
Well, I answered this in the previous question (sorry!), but the answer again is
The Chasm. They are the most original, unique, and obscure band I’ve ever heard. They incorporate every element of metal that I love, for me they are the ultimate band, the total package so to speak! They have always been so ahead of their time and to me they are already legends, even if they are still active. Their music has helped get me through the darkest times of my life, and their music will always hold a special place in my heart. I do also have to mention a few more bands that have affected me in a big way: Incantation, Immolation, Fallen Christ, Possessed, and Autopsy, who are all legends in their own right and have influenced my music, and lately I am totally hooked on the newer Deathspell Omega releases, absolutely brilliant stuff!

Ashley: Least favorite band?
Well, this is actually the one question that I won’t answer, simply because I firmly believe that negative press is just as good as positive press, so by stating which band I hate the most, I am still acknowledging them, and I’ve always believed that to make something bad go away, you must simply ignore it altogether, so that’s exactly what I am going to do. Plus there are so many terrible bands out there plaguing what’s left of the underground scene, for every good band there are a thousand more that suck, so I don’t know if I could actually sit there and come up with answer if I wanted to haha!

Ashley: What is the best live show you have ever seen?
That’s a tough question, but if I had to pick one I would say the very first time I saw
The Chasm live at CBGB’s in New York City, NY on June 10th, 2001. For those who have never seen The Chasm live, it is quite the experience, total pure and raw emotion, you can tell that they love what they do, they are to this day the best live band I have ever had the pleasure of seeing so anyone reading this that ever has the chance to see them live, don’t pass it up! The other bands on that bill were killer as well, Diabolic (R.I.P.) played, as did Evoken, Nunslaughter, Grand Belial’s Key, The Ravenous, Mayhem, and a few more. It was just a killer show all around, and definitely worth the trip and all the money I spent on it, since at the time I was still living in Edmonton, AB Canada and I flew seven hours just to see The Chasm perform. It was an experience I’ll never forget!

Ashley: What about the worst live show?
That’s actually another tough one; I don’t know that I can pick just one show there. Basically to me, any band that’s on stage and that just sits there looking bored and doesn’t move at all, even if their music is good, that ruins the whole experience for me, I fucking hate that more than anything. I also hate seeing any non-metal band playing a metal gig, and even worse a non-metal band claiming to be a metal band while they are wearing purple Sesame Street shirts and tight fucking jeans with stupid homosexual comb-overs. Fuck, just talking about it is making me sick, next question haha!

Ashley: What are your top 5 favorite albums of all time?
There is no way I can name just five albums, there are so many that I can call my favorites so I’m going to cheat on this one and name some of my all time favorite albums, each one of these has affected me in a different way, but the effect has been everlasting:
INCANTATION – Onward To Golgotha, Mortal Throne Of Nazarene, Diabolical Conquest
FALLEN CHRIST – Abduction Ritual
POSSESSED – Seven Churches, Beyond The Gates
SLAYER – Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits
NUCLEAR DEATH – Bride Of Insect, Carrion For Worm, …For Our Dead
VOIVOD – War And Pain, Rrroooaaarrrr!, Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross
DEICIDE – Deicide, Legion, Once Upon The Cross
MORBID ANGEL – Altars Of Madness, Blessed Are The Sick
DEATHSPELL OMEGA – Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice, Kenose, Crushing The Holy Trinity – Side Father
DISCIPLES OF MOCKERY – Prelude To Apocalypse
WORSHIP – Last CD Before Doomsday
EVOKEN - all
VED BUENS ENDE – Written In Waters
CONQUEROR – War Cult Supremacy
BATHORY – Bathory, The Return
BLASPHEMY – Fallen Angel Of Doom
IMMORTAL – Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, Blizzard Beasts
EMPTY – A Source Of Hollow Essence
And many more!

Ashley: Top 5 best albums to head bang to?
Damn you with all your difficult inquiries haha! Again, naming just five is almost impossible, but here are some that come to mind right now:
THE CHASM – The Spell Of Retribution
BULLDOZER – The Day Of Wrath
POSSESSED – Seven Churches
SLAYER – Hell Awaits
METAL CHURCH – Metal Church
EXORCIST – Nightmare Theatre
GRAVE – Into The Grave
VENOM – Welcome To Hell

Ashley: What is in your CD Changer right now?
Today I’ve been raping my ears with DEATHSPELL OMEGA – Kenose, EXORCIST – Nightmare Theatre, RITES OF THY DEGRINGOLADE – An Ode To Sin, CRUCIFIX – Where Angels Rot, LECHEROUS NOCTURNE – Pre-productions tracks from their upcoming new album Adoration Of The Blade, and THE CHASM – various songs, listening to those for obvious reasons.

Ashley: In 5 words or less describe the sound of DARKNESS ETERNAL.
Original DARK depressive death metal

Ashley: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans out there?
I want each every one of you to know that I truly appreciate your support for DARKNESS ETERNAL and its cause; it means a lot to me! I have created and always will create these dark twisted hymns for myself, but I release them for you guys. You are all the reason DE is where it is today, and without you that wouldn’t have happened, so eternal gratitude to you all!

Ashley: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions and thanks for giving my stereo a kick in the teeth!! \m/
Eternal gratitude to you Ashley and Nocturnal Hall for the great support of DARKNESS ETERNAL, it is much appreciated! For all the updates/news on DE, MP3’s of the new songs, and other relevant information, please visit the new website and anyone out there that doesn’t have a copy of Misanthropic Annihilation, you can get straight through me at the DE website, through my current label Autopsy Kitchen Records, or through various distro’s world wide. You can also get DE shirts in support of the new album and more merchandise straight through me via the DE website as well. Finally, DE has a website on MySpace now so people who frequent MySpace can go there and listen to various DE MP3’s as well. DARKNESS ETERNAL is back with a dark vengeance, Darkness Conquers All!!!


11/2005© Ashley Coleman • Darkness Eternal