Like many other bands over the last couple of years, Encephalon was forced into a prolonged hiatus. June 3rd marked the official conclusion to that layoff, with the release of their new record, Echoes, via Artoffact Records. Their fourth album, Echoes is the follow-up to 2017’s We Only Love You When You’re Dead. The album is more of the hard-hitting industrial metal that you’ve come to expect from the Ottawa duo, but songs such as “Someone Else’s Dream” strike a more uplifting tone than previous releases.
Encephalon was formed all the way back in 2005 by Alis Alias, Matt Gifford, and Sam Mainer. Over the next several years, they self-released a bunch of demos before record labels began to notice. Artoffact were the lucky ones to sign them and issued the band’s formal debut, The Transhuman Condition, in 2011 which received widespread critical acclaim. Never short on ambition, the group shows an ability to change up their sound with each release, drawing on classic industrial, symphonic metal, and EBM, and illustrating why they are in a league of their own when it comes to their genre.
With Echoes now having arrived, we recently connected with Encephalon frontman Matt Gifford for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of each song on the album, in which he contextualizes each moment of the band’s glorious return.
1. “The Trial”
Matt Gifford: “This album is all about immediacy so the first thing you hear is my voice issuing a warning towards the human race that perhaps we haven’t been worthy of being remembered or respected by whatever life form comes to dominate our planet next. The lyrical theme of Echoes being how your actions imprint others when you are no longer present is introduced. Your life is the trial and your echoes are your legacy.”
2. “Someone Else’s Dream”
“This is the synth-poppiest song we have done since ‘Drop Dead’ in 2011. We chose it as the lead single specifically because it is drastically different from our last album We Only Love You When You’re Dead, which was our attempt at a purely industrial album. Lyrically, it touches on what if we are living in a simulation, or are we just non-player characters in someone else’s video game.”
3. “The War”
“Told from the perspective of a commander leading a bleeding and broken human battalion to their slaughter against an unbeatable android army. We might fight and die but our will to do so will make us more alive than our enemies.”
4. “The Same Wound”
“This is one of the most violent sounding Encephalon songs, but it is actually told from the perspective of an android war machine who has become sentient and benevolent, who now rejects his kill orders.”
5. “Deader Without You”
“This one is heavily inspired by Kara’s story from the video game Detroit Become Human. She is a caretaker android tasked with protecting a human child, however, her biological father is abusive so Kara must decide to protect the child or follow her father’s orders, her love for the child causes her to disobey and she becomes sentient in the process.”
“A synth-wavey Bonnie Tyler-inspired tune about a human rejecting an android for being merely an automaton representing a conscious man. If you like the vocals on this, check out Alis’ other project Headless Nameless which had a lot of Encephalon remixes in this style.”
7. “My Heart Will Not Go On”
“It’s an instrumental inspired by Nobuo Uematsu and Celine Dion.”
8. “Slime Never Dies”
“An android permanently left alone in a world where everything has died but he is unable to. This song was made entirely with two inexpensive synths and one drum machine, all made by Behringer.”
9. “Beyond My Circuitry”
“Another favourite of ours. An android love song so it’s kind of cyber-romanti-goth.”
10. “Braindead in VR”
“It’s some cyber goth beat poetry about finding meaning to life in a world that grows ever more chaotic. Remember, no matter how dark things get you can always listen to Ministry.”
“This is one of the best songs we have made to date in every aspect I believe. I wanted this album to progress like an Iron Maiden album so this is our ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ although it doesn’t sound like them at all beyond the galloping rhythm. Lyrically, it merges all the android and simulation themes with all the meta hints I’d been dropping throughout the album, suggesting that Encephalon was all a manufactured dream that will soon be forgotten. Will you listen for my echoes when you wake?”