New Album Eternal Embers uses themes of nature to process uncertain times
Kirsten Wiltshire (she/her) // Crew Writer
Andy Poystila (he/him) // Production Manager
The crowd at the Rickshaw Theatre swelled with energy, their screams of encouragement drowned out by the wild and colourful guitars mixed with bright sonics, melting synths and rhythmic percussion. Visuals of pulsing mountainscapes and psychedelic forests moved in time with the music in the background. It was the last song of the night and the energy was surging. The guitarist jumped down into the crowd and the bassist stepped up onto the drummer’s riser, building to a crescendo that made for a performance worthy of ending the night on. Eternal Embers, a newly released album by Vancouver-based alternative psych-rock band, Meltt, was already well received.
Meltt was founded by Chris Smith (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keys) and Jamie Turner (drums, percussion), both CapU alumni, who were later joined by James Porter (guitar, keys, vocals), and Ian Winkler (guitar). They can be found in their rehearsal space in the Horseshoe Bay area, surrounded by instruments. The walls are lined with guitars interspersed by artwork and a massive Rolling Stones poster. “Eternal Embers” is their second studio album, which is an exploration of growth and the pain and joy that coincide with it.
Smith, Turner and Porter grew up on the North Shore. The mountains, forest, and ocean were all a part of their formative years and are a grounding theme in their lyrics. Winkler joined the band full-time after the release of their first album in 2019, Swim Slowly. The band followed up with the EP Another Quiet Sunday, in March of 2023, which was a teaser of “Eternal Embers.” This was Winkler’s first full album with the band.
Meltt still has the to-do list from the early days of album development, it hangs on the wall in their rehearsal space, a time-stamp of early pandemic days and the beginning of what would become Eternal Embers. They say the slowness and uncertainty of those early days in the spring and summer of 2020 created space for artistic exploration in unexpected ways.
The album is a flowing journey of the life cycle; birth, death and rebirth. They pair these philosophical themes with everyday modern life in a technology-driven world. With transformation as the throughline, the album takes the listener through the fleeting comprehension of grief and the desperate need to be refreshed, cleansed and nourished from the overwhelm of climate concerns and social media. They allude to the emotional weight of social media in their song, “Soak My Head”, “Uneasiness I won’t address/It feels to me/My life is falling in my screen”. “The Fire” was inspired by the unease of smokey summers on the coast “We were just getting walls of smoke in Vancouver…these climate worries that are no longer ignorable and [are] right there banging on our door,” says Porter.
It’s been three years since the process of writing the album began, and it’s finally been released, a surreal moment for the band. Surreal because the writing process was unlike any other the band had experienced. Isolated and stuck in place, they each spent their lockdowns diving into their music, treating exploration of sound as a full-time endeavour. The solitude of creativity differed from their usual collaboration, but it was a reflection of the collective experience, to allow yourself to follow ideas uninhibited by the judgment of others. What came of it was the discovery of expansive soundscapes filled with synths and colourful effects that are the foundation of Eternal Embers. Two days prior to the release of the album, Smith reflects on the final product that came out of that time, “What exists and why is all circumstantial from that stuff, like anything is though.” The album is a collection of fears, struggles, and ultimate re-connection to self, nature, and the present moment.
Late in the summer of 2020 the band spent close to a month at a cabin on Gun Lake, B.C., located about 120 km north of Whistler in the South Chilcotins. “We were surrounded by nature and that feeling of reconnecting is a big theme of the album and a big inspiration,” explained Turner. They each came with an extensive collection of work from the past few months spent in solitude.
The album’s collection of individual works turned up unexpected overlapping themes — including the isolation of the pandemic and growing climate concerns, paired with personal upheavals the members were going through. “Within You, Within Me” gives permission to feel with authenticity, to build a relationship with the things we can’t control. “Cross the ocean, I should go/Go where the tides pull/All of our lives to rearrange them.” When asked about the lyrical motivation behind the album, Porter offered, “A lot of the time writing the lyrics is the moment of figuring something out in yourself… it might be the first time you actually can articulate something.”
Eternal Embers is an energizing emotional exploration of introspection mixed with upbeat, colourful sounds. “If you’re processing something that is traumatic or heavier, having the right kind of musical vibe can bring you out of that feeling and give you that sense of optimism and positivity with a topic that might not be so positive,” says Turner. The band delicately combines the tender parts of the human experience with instrumentals that transport you to the oceanside, rich with visuals of crashing waves and revitalizing sensations of mist on your skin. Eternal Embers delivers uplifting power, energy and beauty. The album is a must-listen for young people trying to balance living in the present while anticipating the unknown of the future.