Staff member Tim Dodderidge recently spoke with Gerard Mora, vocalist and one of the three brothers in the metalcore band Darkness Divided. In this interview, the frontman discusses the group’s signing with Victory Records and release of their debut album, Written In Blood, as well as going in-depth about the quintet’s Christian faith and how it impacts their lyrics and the way they minister to fans both as musicians and as people. And though the As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage influences are obvious, the 80s power metal influence is a bit more subtle…or, well, nonexistent.
You guys are celebrating your fifth anniversary as a band this week. How does it feel to know you’ve made it this far?
It’s pretty crazy, man. I guess it’s because we started so young — I’m the oldest member in the band — and so we played our first show when I was 16, and the youngest member of the band, which was my brother Chris, was 14 at the time. To do something you were doing in high school for the next five years is pretty crazy to be able to keep it afloat and be able to keep playing music and stuff. It’s been a great five years.
With lots of bands in the metalcore and hardcore scene signing with labels like Rise and Fearless Records among others, what got you to sign with Victory out of Chicago?
Well, about a year or so ago, we really wanted to take this band to the next level. We were writing for our full-length, which ended up being Written In Blood, and at the time we were really excited about the music we were writing. We were trying to see if anyone may have some interest in backing it up, like a record label. At the same time, too, the finances weren’t all there for us, so obviously having a record label helps out in that aspect. So we kind of were just reaching out to friends at the time that were in bands or knew management or anything like that.
Somehow or another, our EP that we did on 2012 ended up in the hands of someone at Victory and they were really into it. Obviously, when you get interest from a label you have to get lawyers to read over contracts and you kind of ask around and stuff, but everything was going really great with them. We love all the bands that they’ve had on their roster and all that we’ve seen them do as far as promotions and stuff, we were really stoked when they reached out and that they were interested in our band and what we were doing. We are happy to have the relationship that we have. It’s been great, man. It was pretty surreal to get that e-mail from Victory Records that day.
Close Your Eyes is another band on that label who is also from Texas and shares the metal stylings and Christian message. Seeing their success, did you guys think you could follow a similar trajectory?
I think we’re a little different just because our music styles are pretty different. They’re more hardcore with singing and stuff. We’re more just a metal band with choruses and stuff. There’s kind of a difference in everything like that, but it’s been pretty cool because one of our first shows ever as a band was actually with them in our hometown. And seeing them do tours with A Day To Remember and Underoath, and then us as well getting signed and hitting the road and putting out records and stuff, it’s been pretty cool to have bands like that. We’ve gotten to meet those guys a couple times and they’re really nice and really supportive. Now we have these shows coming up at the end of the month — well, actually next week. So it’s been pretty cool that Victory has opened doors for us like that and how we’ve gotten to meet different people from the scenes and stuff.
So many great bands over the years have been on that label, including Taking Back Sunday, Atreyu, and A Day To Remember. Knowing the kind of family they have and the talented artists they’ve taken under their wing, what kind of legacy of theirs do you want to carry on?
I mean, I think anyone who makes music wants to leave some kind of impression with either the message they have or the music they create. I hope, regardless of whatever happens with our band, that we did something good, and that we’ve benefitted people in a way and helped people out. That’s kind of like the ultimate goal for us as a band in writing music.
Two big influences that come to mind when listening to Written In Blood are As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage. Would you say those groups are a big part of the band’s identity?
Oh yeah, for sure. We’re huge As I Lay Dying fans. When we started off we’d cover “Through Struggle” and stuff. We actually recorded our EP at Tim Lambesis’ studio. Just that band is a really big deal for us. And Killswitch Engage is phenomenal. We get that one a lot, too. They’re a super good band — them, and even August Burns Red and For Today and stuff. You kind of just have to write the music you want to hear. That’s what we always strive for.
What other bands have been a big influence? Underoath, or I, The Breather? There’s For Today. I mean, I was even talking to a friend today about your band and he brought up 80s power metal. I don’t know how that got in the conversation…
(Laughs). That’s interesting. Did he tell you, like, what band?
No, but he’s not really into metal so that might’ve just come to mind. “Oh, they’re heavy.”
For sure (laughs). I actually have two brothers in the band, Chris and Joe, so we all kind of listened to the same stuff growing up. But yeah, we’re huge Underoath fans. Definitely August Burns Red is one of our favorite bands. As I Lay Dying. For Today. But I mean, we all kind of listen to a lot of different things. Our drummer is really into hardcore. His brother was in a San Antonio hardcore band, so he’s really into Terror and a lot of other bands along those lines. And Sebastian, our other guitar player, his favorite band is Coheed And Cambria, and he really likes Between The Buried And Me and Slipknot and stuff. Kind of like our musical preferences range pretty far, but those are definitely some of the bands that when you listen to our album some of those influences are coming through.
So with that debut Written In Blood coming out last fall, it’s obviously taken you a lot of places. Where has it taken the band thus far, and where do you hope it takes you throughout the rest of the album cycle?
Well, as a band of our status, we’ve been trying to hit the road as much as possible. Since the release, we were able to tour all across America. We did the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Midwest. We haven’t done the Northwest, like Seattle and all that stuff yet, but we’ll hopefully do that soon. And we went to Canada for the first time, so we got to do Montreal and Ottawa and stuff. Basically with all of our tours, we’re just trying to really break into the market ourselves, with this being our first record. So to get as much exposure as we can from hitting the road and playing shows and meeting people. That’s kind of what Written In Blood has been for us in the last year.
The title of the record stresses the Gospel a lot, explicitly focusing on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and in a very vivid, dark, and almost visceral way. Why did you take that approach?
We’re a Christian band, and as Christians, everything in our lives is influenced by our beliefs and we take them very seriously. So I mean, everything we were writing for this record, I was really open to whatever I felt needed to be said or something that came across in my mind. I never try to force anything as far as I write lyrics for the albums. Whenever I was going through a life experience or an image popped into my head, I would save it on my phone or write it down, and then later on, if I felt inspired or anything, I would continue with that idea.
Some of the stuff on our record is a more general idea. Like, we have this song called “Eternal Thirst,” and that was written in the aspect that in life, everyone is looking to satisfy their needs and to realize what they’re doing with their lives. That’s a very across-the-board, as everyone is always trying to find what they’re supposed to do, what they’re called to do. That was something that inspired me, because at the time I was going through something similar when I was trying to realize what I wanted in my life. That’s kind of where that song came from, and it just kind of built off of that.
Some other songs on the record, like “The Will of Man,” and at the time I was in college and taking a human dignity course. The content was whether life was about trying your best or that for some people, once you believe a certain thing, your life’s set. You don’t have to worry about anything else. Things just kind of fall into place. And that song is about working and doing your best and finding fulfillment in life, and then doing something with it. Not just taking this concept, “Oh, I’m good now that I understand something.” Now that you understand about life a little more, you’re called to go help other people. The will of man is to try. So it’s just different things for all the lyrics for the songs and everything. Being a Christian, I pray about everything that we write a lot, and then I kind of let God tell me what he wants people to hear and what we should put on our CD.
That’s pretty awesome. I feel like, for me, I’m not praying enough. It’s been tough to stay on that, especially lately. But yeah…
Yeah, I mean, everybody’s kind of got their own walk and their own relationship with Christ. And that’s the great thing about it. We’re not here to judge anyone or anything like that, and we just want to help people and to maybe spread a little bit of hope to people that maybe won’t be getting that positive message from anything else. That’s kind of like the thing that inspires us to continue to be a band and to go out there, hang out, meet people, and play shows.
I remember Chris doing a video for HeartSupport about anxiety and depression. It’s a tough issue. How do the band members look to Jesus in the midst of struggles, and how has it affected the band’s message?
We’ve all gone through things. Everyone in the world has gone through things. And that’s kind of what Written In Blood is about. If you’ve seen the album cover there’s a lot of hands up that are scarred. The idea is that everyone is reaching and searching for something, but we all have something that’s holding us back. We have to suffer through to reach the end goal of finding salvation, that’s why our salvation was written in blood. And that kind of mirrors the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could have salvation, but at the same time, we have to go through things ourselves as humans on Earth that’s not perfect, and we’re not perfect. As we struggle, we’re going for that salvation. That’s something that’s very important for us, and as individuals and not just as a band.
Whenever we’re going through something, we try our best to be there for each other and reach out, literally as brothers, and as best friends and stuff. Anytime we’re on the road and people approach us about something like that, we do our best to help them out, or even just to listen to someone. Sometimes that’s all people need. Sometimes maybe at home they feel like they can’t talk to anyone or they think no one’s going to listen. Just being there for people and being there for each other, and in our own personal lives, just doing the best we can. Just like I was saying in that song, just trying and never giving up. That’s kind of where we come from as a band and as individuals, to overcome struggles and stuff.
Anything you want to say to your fans, considering the ways they’ve helped you along the way?
Yeah, we just really appreciate every single one of you guys for listening to this interview and checking it out and for checking out our album. It means the world. I’m so glad that you enjoy it and maybe something is spoken to you. Thank you for coming to shows and being a part of what Darkness Divided is about. Hopefully we’ll get to see you guys a lot more often on the road, and hopefully we’ll be touring as much as possible over the next several years. Yeah, thank you.