(Today we present an extensive article by Rob Tamplin that’s part interview with Garry Brents of Cara Neir and Gonemage, and part essay on the fantasy worlds that have taken shape through those projects and the techniques used to bring them to life, along with some meditations on the pluses and minuses of nostalgia.)
If I was reluctant to say Cara Neir is the most exciting band in the US metal underground, it’s only because that would mean putting them in a box. Hell, even the word “band” seems like a loose fit, as there is a communal element to the Texas duo absent from most acts.
On Phantasmal, Garry Brents and Chris Francis’s eighth album together, Cara Neir debut five characters submitted by fans via their Bandcamp page. Over the course of the album, the duo encounters these characters on their quest through a horrifying alternate dimension.
See, Phantasmal is a concept album – just like Tommy or Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Although it’s about as far from a pompous rock opera as it’s possible to get. The music, which broadly ranges from noise-rock to electronic powerviolence, is glazed with a frosting of rudimentary 8-bit synths, the kind you last heard when you were playing Castlevania at the arcade in your matching acid-wash denim two-piece, cramming the Dungeon Master’s Guide while blasting Master of Puppets on your Walkman. Which could have been today. It’s 2022, you could be doing some, or all, of those things while reading this.