When you hear only one person is behind an entire musical album with many instrumental and cinematic soundscapes, you naturally want to know more. Untamed Land is the name of the project and Patrick Kern is the name of the musician behind the project. His knack for capturing the spaghetti western metal theme, is damn impressive. It is not surprising to learn how Napalm Records found their way to him after only one prior release, Between the Winds, which he released in 2018. After he was discovered, they were quick to sign him for his next release, which happened October 8th, 2021 and is titled, Life Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms.
Kern creates in Ohio and spends his spare time going on nature hikes and reading. He plays guitar in two other projects, but Untamed Land is his and his alone. Life Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms is quite the adventure, full of twists and turns both musically and lyrically. It begins with a creepy music box like sound, which is a perfect setting for your Halloween night, and dives into a metal-infused western soundscape you won’t want to escape from. Take a listen and enjoy!
Patrick was kind enough to sit down with Metal Nation and give us information on how this all came to existence.
Life Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms is based on the book Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. What made you decide to choose the line from this book as your album name?
“I remember reading it and thinking it sounded cool and jotting it down. I guess it seems to imply some kind of weirdo agnostic spirituality which I thought I would do for this album. It was a different angle to take compared to the last album.”
I like that you used a literary line, I think that is really creative.
“It makes sense to me because the name of the last album came from a John Wayne movie, so I decided to do a book this time, switch it up.”
Do you like to read often?
“Sort of. I read every night before I go to bed, I will usually only read a page and then fall asleep *laughs*. I have been trying to read more lately. I don’t really watch movies anymore it seems, so I just mostly read now.”
Do you usually read westerns? Or does that just happen to be your theme for the two albums?
“I think Blood Meridian is the only western book I have read, maybe a few others ones, but I don’t know that many western books. I should probably look into it, there are probably some really good ones.”
Louis L’Amour has a whole library of them. I read a few of his and they are really good. What are you reading now?
“I am actually about to finish A Clockwork Orange, which I had never read before. It is short but pretty good so far. I watched the movie a few years ago.”
It has a very different dialog. Did you have a difficult time adjusting to it at first?
“*laughs* I kind of wasn’t expecting it, when I first started I thought, ‘Oh no the whole book is going to be like this’, but it has a glossary in the back which is helpful at times, but you can get the jest of it, which is kind of interesting how many of the words are different but you still can follow it.”
That’s interesting. I haven’t gotten through it yet, but I didn’t know there was a glossary in the back. I will have to see if that is in my copy as well.
“Might not be in every copy.”
I read the synopsis of Blood Meridian and I felt the album wasn’t necessarily based on the album as a whole, but maybe one of the characters?
“It is more just the vibe I was getting from reading the book. To be honest, the book is really disturbing *laughs*, there is some real grizzly violence in it, which I guess this album is pretty dark but not that dark. It is more some aspects of it and sort of and being in the midst of a kind of existential ambiguity, or something like this.”
I read the lyrics of the three lyric songs and it seems like it is a continuation from the beginning to the end with the same character.
While yes it is dark, I think it is beautifully written. I was intrigued by the story as well as the music. There are so many different instruments and soundscapes, yet it flows really well.
“I will have sort of a concept for an album, but you don’t need to pay attention to it if you don’t want to. I dislike the real forward concept albums where they have people talking in between songs, I have never been into that. You can get the narrative flow with this album, but you don’t have to dissect the story or anything like that, I wouldn’t force someone to do that.”
Sure. It is a journey musically even without the lyrics, but I do feel it does add that extra layer if someone wanted to gain more from it. The last lyrical song, “The Heaven’s Coil”, in itself is another adventure outside of the initial adventure. There are so many distinctive changes. At about the 12 minute mark, I felt like it took almost a thrashy turn.
“Toward like the very end *laughs*. I had to shorten that one for the video too.”
I feel like that would be really hard.
“It works when you are trying to release video singles because it gives the drive of the song, but then you are left wanting more. You don’t really get the full picture of it so you have to listen to the whole album to finish it off.”
I feel like it would be like asking me to chop the arm off my child *laughs*. It would be really hard to make those cuts. It is not like it is repetitive and you can take off the parts that are.
“I guess I just view the videos as commercials *laughs*, pure promo.”
Do you feel there are parallels with this album and what is going on in the real world?
“You can probably make some kind of connection. The language I use is intentionally vague in some ways to make it more universal and more mythic, so hopefully it applies to any real world situation or any historical period or anything.”
But not necessarily something you were trying to do.
“No, I wasn’t reading news headlines or anything like that *laughs*, for inspiration.”
*laughs* That’s good, stay away from those.
“Yeah, that would be kind of rough.”
It is cool the album came out in October, around Halloween time, because I feel like the beginning almost has that music box sound that is a creepy vibe before it heads into the western part of it, and because of the dark tones and cinematic soundscape with it, I feel it is a good time for its’ release. Was that purposeful or just how it happened?
“Just how it happened, that is me taking forever to finish the album *laughs*. I thought it was going to come out way earlier but it works because of what you were saying.”
It almost feel like a zombie apocalyptical vibe *laughs*. I am reading The Dark Tower series right now, so it is probably just where my mind is at, and I like to listen to music sometimes while I am reading to give it that extra step in making it real.
“I like to do that too. Which book are you on in The Dark Tower? I read maybe four.”
I am on book three, The Wastelands.
*Discussed The Dark Tower series for a bit*
Do you enjoy scary movies and scary books?
“I was never huge into it. I feel like I don’t get scared because I know it is all fake. I actually studied filmmaking for a little bit in college, so for me I know what is going on, no one is actually getting chopped up or anything *laughs*.”
What about the psychological ones? They don’t creep you out?
“Those are probably the best ones. I don’t really get creeped out, but I find it interesting. Stuff like The Shining and I like The Exorcist.”
Have you seen 1408?
That one is pretty creepy. It is a Stephen King adaptation as well. Back to the album, there are a whole bunch of sounds all throughout the album, how many instruments are you playing?
“Actual instruments would be guitar, bass, acoustic guitar, that might be it for actual instruments. I think most of the other ones are from sample libraries.”
So you mix in the other elements of the other sounds and singing?
Interesting. Even with the drums?
“Yeah drums are programmed. I used to play drums in high school, but I don’t have a drumset anymore so it was easier to add them in.”
It does not sound easy, at all. Seems like it would take a lot of time to get it all just right.
“It is kind of a pain.”
*laughs* but you enjoy doing it I assume or we wouldn’t be here.
“*laughs* I guess I just feel the need to do it.”
In your other two projects do you play the guitar?
So that is your main instrument.
What made you decide to do this project with having to put everything together and it being so intense?
“This is the first thing I started and had an idea to do, it seemed worthwhile. It seems if anyone had this idea, they would do it, even though it is a pain in the ass and takes so much time.”
*laughs* Out of the five tracks, which was the most difficult to create?
“I would probably say ‘A Nameless Shape’. It is not the longest but it was the first song I wrote. I think I wrote it over the span of about a year or something *laughs*, just whenever I felt inspired to do it. That’s why it has so many different transformations to it.”
Wow. Do you usually start with a guitar riff and go from there?
“I think every song on here started with guitar, but it can start with anything. Some songs on the last album started with a keyboard idea, or orchestral or folk idea. It just depends.”
How did you end up connecting with Napalm?
“They just emailed me last year and were asking if I was planning on a new album, I said yes, so we went from there. It was pretty strange.”
*laughs* Napalm is not a small label, were you stoked or worried that it might be too much?
“A bit of both. It was very exciting because I figured if this project was going to get signed to a label it would be like on album five or something like that. So I thought, already with album two? *laughs*. If they would have emailed me earlier I probably would have written an entirely different album.”
How did they find you?
“I guess Bandcamp or YouTube? I don’t know *laughs*”
That’s crazy. Moving forward, what is that going to look like? Do you have a contract for another album?
“I believe I signed on for three albums, maybe four, but I already have ideas for the next album and maybe one after that.”
Are you planning on keeping the spaghetti western theme?
“Yeah, I don’t know what I would do without that *laughs*.”
Right, that is part of the Untamed Land sound. Are you nervous? *laughs*
“I don’t know. I haven’t been looking on the internet all that often very recently. You probably don’t want to get sucked into that world too much especially when you are on a big label.”
I will tell you, I looked, and I have not seen anything negative with Untamed Land. So, while you haven’t checked, I did, and it’s looking good *laughs*.
“Well, that is good to know *laughs*.”
Kern has done something very special with Untamed Land by creating a cinematic soundscape that leaves you wanting to continue on this journey, like following the gunslinger. He makes creative musical shifts where you don’t expect them, but is easy to follow along with. This is a great album full of darkness and mystery, and incredible musical elements. I highly suggest you check it out.