Interstellar Death Metal: An Interview with Mike Browning of Nocturnus AD

Interstellar Death Metal: An Interview with Mike Browning of Nocturnus AD

Mike Browning is no stranger to the death metal scene. In fact, he has been an influence in the genre. With his original band Nocturnus, their unique take on death metal incorporated sci-fi themes and imagery, along with synths and keyboards. Breaking the mold and stepping outside of the box of the cookie-cutter themes of gory lyrics and fast riffs of the time. With Nocturnus AD, he would continue that motif and continue to push what death metal can sound like.

I sat down with Mike and we talked about the concept of Nocturnus AD, the brand new album Unicursal and how far death metal has evolved. We also talk about his time with Morbid Angel, the mythos of the band's lyrics and lore, plus some bands he is digging that you should check out.

TDIM: I heard the new album Unicursal and it's really good. Was there a direction you wanted to go musically with the album?

MIKE: Thanks! We didn’t want to stray to far from what we did on Paradox, but we still added some new elements in. I think the biggest thing was that every song was written in the rehearsal room with me, the two guitar players and the keyboard player all adding parts in. It was more of a collaboration between all of us this time, rather than one person writing the music and just having everyone learn it.

TDIM: Do you have a favorite track off the new album? If you do, which one and why?

MIKE: That is a really hard question to answer, because they are all so different. Its probably between "CephaloGod", "Yesod, Dark Side of The Moon" and "Hod, The Stellar Light". I really like the overall sounds of these three the most.

TDIM: You also recently added bassist Kyle Sokol to the band. How did Kyle join the band? Did he play on Unicursal?

MIKE: He joined the band right after we recorded Unicursal. He has lived in Tampa for a while now, and played in several bands and Nocturnus is one of his favorite bands and he saw Nocturnus play in Tampa back in the 90’s. Our guitar player Demian knew him, and suggested we try him out and we did. He came to a rehearsal and had a couple songs down already, and did a great job on them. So, we knew he was the right person right away.

TDIM: In the Bandcamp bio for the new album, it says you formed Nocturnus AD:

"Which gave Browning the opportunity to finally continue the mythos that came before with the legendary album The Key."

Can you detail for maybe new fans, what is the mythos you're trying to tell with Nocturnus & Nocturnus AD?

MIKE: It started on The Key with the last four songs on the record, about an evil scientist who was ravaged by a war plague disease and survived by building a biosuit that let him survive, and he built a laboratory in a cave. When the whole Earth was vulnerable from this war plague, an alien race attacked the Earth and a alien ship crashed near his cave. Where he found the technology to build a time machine and found The Key that made it work. He then goes back in time to 0 B. C. and destroys the whole Jesus manger scene, and takes over the Earth and builds an Empire in Egypt. Then on Paradox, the story is again continued with the last four songs, where he discovers an Antechamber under the Sphinx where there is more alien technology and a portal machine that he again uses The Key to make the portal open, and he travels to the aliens planet where they bestow super powers and wisdom and start to prepare him to be their emissary for their plan to take over the Earth. On Unicursal, he is sent on a mission to further prepare him to Master The Universe.

TDIM: The lyrics and backstory for your music and lyrics are so detailed, in-depth. Very similar to Coheed and Cambria in its scope and scale. Have you thought about trying to turn your mythos into comics or other media?

MIKE: I always thought it would make an awesome movie or video game or graphic novel type comic book.

TDIM: Your original band, Nocturnus, was known as one of the first death metal bands to incorporate keyboards & synths. Where did the idea come from to add it to your sound?

MIKE: I grew up in the 70’s and most of the bands I listened to, like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Rush, had keyboards. So, I always wanted to have that type of atmosphere in my own band. A lot of metal bands had really cool intros, but then never continued to use those things in the song, so I wanted to have both.

TDIM: I did find in my research you released a solo album Mike Browning's Inner Workings – Trancemissions. What did you want to do differently with your solo material compared to Nocturnus AD?

MIKE: That was just a solo project that I did by myself, with two keyboards and recorded 4 pieces of music live. With no overdubs in one night, and no prior rehearsing the songs. I just hit the record button, and started making soundscapes until I felt like stopping. Each track was over 10 minutes long and totally random. I may do it again sometime if the mood hits me.

TDIM: You were a founding member of legendary death metal act Morbid Angel? What was it like playing with them?

MIKE: I met Trey in high school, and we started a band called Ice that played old metal covers, and some originals, that eventually turned into Morbid Angel after several member and name changes. We were really young back then, and very influenced by The Necronomicon and Dungeons and Dragons and other early metal bands like Mercyful Fate and Slayer.

TDIM: From Nocturnus & Nocturnus AD adding keyboards and Sci-Fi themes, to Blood Incantation adding ambience, and Portal adding huge avant-garde theatrics, are you surprised death metal has evolved so far from its origins?

MIKE: I really like Portal and Blood Incantation, so to me, I am glad bands like that took things even a step further and didn’t want to just sound like someone else. To me, being original is the best compliment someone can give me about the bands I have done.

TDIM: I always end my interviews with this question. What are some bands/albums that you or the band are digging that fans should check out?

MIKE: I just heard a new band the other day called Cosmic Carnage that I really liked a lot and of course, like you mentioned, Blood Incantation and Vildhjarta is really interesting too.

I want to thank Mike for giving This Day in Metal time to talk about Nocturnus AD and his career in heavy metal. The band's new album Unicursal will be released May 17th through Profound Lore Records. You can pre-order the album, and check out all the band's material at their Bandcamp HERE .

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