INDIE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT : BENTHIC REALM
Updated: Mar 15
For this second installment of our “INDIE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT” series, acclaimed writer, Dave LaMay spent some time talking to Massachusetts-based purist doom dealers Benthic Realm to share some insight on their musical mission. Formed in the summer of 2016, the trio of Krista Van Guilder (guitar, vocals), Maureen Murphy (bass), and Dan Blomquist (drums/joined in 2017; replacing Brian Banfield) have thus far released two very strong EP's of dark, enveloping, and warm heaviness, all while making a unique mark on the genre.
Dave/Animated Insanity: Thank you so much to all of you for taking time to do this. We really appreciate it!
Dan: Thank you Dave & all for your interest in BR. Happy to oblige!
Dave/Animated Insanity: First off, forgoing my take above, how would you describe the band's sound to someone who's never heard you?
Dan: For people who are familiar with heavy music and its sub-genres, I'd call it dark doom. I personally feel BR is darker than traditional doom, as we don't linger long in major chord structures. Everything has a very minor and dark, powerful feel to it.
Krista: I’d also add that it treads pretty heavily into melodic territory as well. I’ve always strived towards the combination of a heavy underlay that leaves room to explore different melodic structures, while also trying not to repeat myself too often to avoid too much sameness. We try to keep it interesting.
Maureen: I’d say we fall on the more metallic side of doom, with lots of heavy melodies alongside the heavy guitars.
Dave/Animated Insanity: I know from having recently chatted with Maureen, that the band, like most everything else in these COVID-addled times, has been forced to basically shut down for the time being. That said, has there been any interaction between the three of you in regard to what direction/sound your next release will take?
Dan: As of March 10th, we have been apart for 1 year. I miss K&M, and playing music with them terribly. Right before the shut down in MA, we were really hitting our stride with writing new material. So much so that we had studio time booked for late 2020. Insert “womp, womp, womp”. Fast forward to whenever we can get in the same room together again, and it's obviously going to take a bit to get back in lock-step. I recently bought gear to start recording/tracking drums at home, so, Covid be damned; I will be able to at least play with them remotely and start the road back.
Krista: It has been unfortunate that the pandemic hit, and one year later we’re still in the midst of it. That being said, while I have missed Maureen and Dan tremendously and our regular rehearsals, the time off has re-energized me. I am very much looking forward to putting the pandemic behind us, finishing writing what I think is our best material yet, and once again hitting the recording studio.
Maureen: Covid definitely hit the “pause” button for a lot of things. While I’m grateful we’re all healthy, it’s also been tough to not see Dan and Krista for so long. I really miss the back and forth from the spontaneity of jamming in a room together. I don’t ever actively think about the direction I’m going in musically - I just play and see what comes out. That said, we had several new songs written when Covid hit and I was already surprised at how different they were. I found myself stretching in different musical directions, and I can’t wait to get back to it once we’re all vaccinated.
Dave/Animated Insanity: With each of you being involved in other projects, both past and present, I was wondering if you could share some details on them.
Dan: Past bands/projects- Well, I've been lucky enough to participate in 2cover band sets with K&M along side some other great musicians, one being a Judas Priest set of the album “Painkiller”, and the other being a collection of songs by Lita Ford. Great times! Outside of projects with K&M, I've done other cover set projects, and played in local thrash and death metal bands over the years. I also currently play in the heavy doom band Conclave, also from MA. We have a new album being released April 23rd on vinyl, CD and digital platforms through Argonauta Records.
Krista: Definitely a blast doing some fun cover band stuff with Dan and Maureen for sure on occasion! Projects from the past include the doom band Second Grave (whom Maureen was also a part of), as well as a more metal than doom band Lucubro. Going WAY back, I was the original guitarist/singer for WarHorse.
Maureen: The cover band sets were tremendous fun! I have to say, Lita Ford had one hell of a studio bassist- I had to put in a good amount of time to get some of those songs right, LOL. I’ve played in a bunch of bands over the years, from thrash, to black metal, right onto doom. Benthic Realm is my number one priority but I’m also jamming virtually with some people right now, and I fill in occasionally with other bands now and then.
Dave/Animated Insanity: Maryland has been considered the mecca of the Doom/Stoner movement(s) for seemingly forever, but in recent years, New England has come on unbelievably strong and is basically challenging that notion. How well do you think both communities interact with/support each other, and where does BR fit in the overall?
Dan: I'd say that's a very fair statement. NE has definitely had a lot more growth in the doom and stoner genres, dare I say probably equivalent to the scene over in Portland the past few years. A lot of the music is crossing genres now and is being diluted into the normal drinking supply. More people are developing a taste for it, albeit it more so on the lighter IPA Sativa end of things as opposed to the heavier Stout Indica end.
I think BR's place in that sea is more niche and doesn't fall in line with a lot of the trends that are current in these genres. We do what we do how we do it, regardless of what others are doing.
Krista: For sure what Dan said- We chart our own path, and while we love what a lot of bands are doing, we’ve always stayed true to ourselves, writing what feels genuine to us.
Maureen: I love that the Maryland and NE doom communities really seem to be reaching out and supporting one another. There are so many good bands, and I’ve met a ton of creative, open minded people in both scenes. I think both Maryland and the NE scenes are very strong because the scenes aren’t just made of musicians- There are great visual artists, photographers, writers, promoters, etc. I don’t know where BR fits musically because we’re always going to do what feels right to us. But, I do feel that we’re part of a pretty damned cool community. Not all areas are like that so I definitely value how welcoming people have been.
Dave/Animated Insanity: It may be common question, but an almost essential one- What artists have had the greatest influence on not only deciding to pick up an instrument, but your taste/direction(s) as well?
Dan: The people most responsible for me wanting to play music are my parents. Both my father and mother were accomplished violinists. As far as my influences go, for drums and those that inspire me to play the way I play, without a doubt, my two biggest influences are Dave Lombardo and Charlie Benante. Sure, I value and appreciate all of the great players through the annals of time, but those two guys light a fire in me that makes me want to play and play and play.
Krista: I really discovered heavy metal around 12 years old- From an older brother of one of my friends at the time. The music was so powerful, I felt really inspired to pick up the guitar. I remember learning Iron Maiden and Metallica riffs, making my mom sit next to me to show her how the tab worked. She got a lesson in how metal wasn’t just noise- LOL. My mom played acoustic guitar and tried to teach me when I was around 8 years old, but I really had no interest in acoustic, kid-oriented, or folk music at that age. A little later in my musical endeavors, I would have to say that Alice In Chains, and then Crowbar played a huge part in helping to shape the heavy, doomy atmosphere. Tony Iommi is an influence, but it was a little later in my guitar playing career. I played in a jazz band in high school and that helped to shape my view of what you could add to standards to make it your own. But, thinking back to being 12 years old while just learning and starting to write- It was pretty morose and dark even back then, you could probably say I was a moody kid, LOL.
Maureen: For me it was Dio-era Black Sabbath. I heard “Heaven And Hell”, and from there I was pretty much obsessed with everything Dio did. I started on keyboards, moved to guitar, and then someone gave me a bass. I realized I should have saved time and started there because I loved it. Overkill, Last Crack, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Alice in Chains, Trouble, Nevermore, etc. Basically a lot of bands with amazing singers and songs. That’s why I love playing with Krista.
Dave/Animated Insanity: Well folks, I think that should just about do it. Again, our sincerest thanks for participating. And, on that note, I'm leaving the floor open to any parting thoughts you'd like to share. Stay well and doom on!
Dan: Thanks again for your interest and support for BR!
We can't wait to get back to making beautifully dark music to share with everyone as soon as it's safe to do so!
Krista: Yeah, thanks for asking us to do the interview and as Dan said, we all are very much looking forward to picking right back up where we left off. Cheers and stay safe!
Maureen: Thanks for talking to us, as well as for all the interviews and reviews you write! Also, thank you for turning me on to even more killer movies! :)
Both Benthic Realm CDs are available here at A.IR. (2017) Benthic Realm – Benthic Realm
(2018) Benthic Realm – We Will Not Bow and you can check out more of the band at: