Garry Brents is wildly, indefatigably prolific. That’s likely the first thing you’ll notice upon visiting the Bandcamp page for Lilang Isla (“purple island”), the hub he uses to house his multitude of musical projects. Of the 75 releases in the Lilang Isla discography, a whopping 45 of them have come out since 2020, when the Dallas-based musician began working from home.
“I don’t have a whole lot that I do outside of music,” Brents admits. “I have some hobbies. I’m super into Magic: The Gathering, and obviously, watching sci-fi movies, horror movies, and stuff like that. But really, music is just something I want to dedicate a lot of my time to.”
So far this year, Brents has released music under the gonzo solo guises of Gonemage and Homeskin; as a member of the post-hardcore duo Perfumed Saturnine Angels; and with his newest (and nu-est) project, Memorrhage. It’s not just the overwhelming amount—or even the consistently high quality—of Brents’s output that’s so remarkable. The wide range of sounds he explores, from grindcore and screamo to chiptune and nu metal, is evidence of an insatiable musical mind.
“It’s really just all about the creative itch and staying motivated,” he says. “And on top of that, I just like so much music, so I want to get under the hood of many different kinds of music and make it myself.”
Brents selected eight essential releases from his vast and varied catalog, starting with a debut album that single-handedly justifies the existence of the nu metal revival.
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Like so many Millennial metalheads, Brents was introduced to heavy music through the JNCO-draped subgenre that dominated terrestrial rock radio in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Growing up in California, one band stood apart from the rest: “Korn was obviously ground zero, and my first exposure [to nu metal],” he says. “I would say they were my first favorite band, for years.”
Korn led to System of a Down, Slipknot, and Linkin Park, but those bands were moved to the back burner when Brents started getting into more extreme fare. By 2003, he had largely left nu metal behind. “I’m kind of a sponge with music genres,” he says. “I delved deeper into death metal, black metal, and then going backwards, with old-school thrash and the first wave of all those genres.”
It wasn’t until 2022, when he watched Netflix’s documentary about Woodstock ’99, that he felt the itch to revisit the genre that had hooked him as a kid. (“Every time they would show Korn on that documentary, I was like, ‘Man, I miss the feeling of being into this band,’” he says.) The doc, along with a budding online friendship with the shitposter behind the Crazy Ass Moments in Nu Metal History Twitter account, convinced Brents to dive back into the music of his youth—not just A-listers like Korn, but smaller bands like American Head Charge, Dry Kill Logic, and Nothingface as well. Within a few months, he found himself writing nu metal songs of his own, and Memorrhage was born.
With its metalcore and industrial touchstones and heady sci-fi lyrics, the self-titled Memorrhage debut isn’t a pure nu metal record. But it’s debatable whether such a thing as a “pure nu metal record” even exists. “I guess you can make an argument that the first Korn album and things that sound like that are in its most pure, original form,” Brents muses. “But take that album: There’s funk aspects, there’s hip-hop aspects, there’s even a little bit of a grunge aspect to it. And then the low tuning of the guitars—where did they draw that from? Death metal, maybe? And doom?”
Despite Brents’s extreme metal bona fides, Memorrhage doesn’t shy away from any of nu metal’s sonic hallmarks, even frequently maligned ones like DJ scratches and rap verses. If it was a part of the sound during the genre’s Y2K-era heyday, it’s in here, too. “I had to kind of embrace those cornier sides of the genre, and the genre mostly embraces that,” Brents says.
The song Brents is proudest of is “Reek,” which filters its jittery, Slipknot-style angst through his own sci-fi fandom and anti-authoritarian politics. He refers to the tune as “the Memorrhage song.”
“It’s about a service android who’s stuck in servitude on a spaceship run by humans, and the android has no awareness of their servitude,” Brents says. “They’re completely robotic. But something malfunctions in their head, to where they go haywire and question everything about their existence. So, the title of ‘Reek’ is about their first brush with realizing that these are humans onboard, and the stench, or the reek, of humanity triggers it to go crazy and take over the ship.”
“It’s not a traditionally nu metal mindset,” he confesses. “But I had to think out of the box.”
Portals to a Better, Dead World
Brents’s longest-running project is Cara Neir, his chameleonic collaboration with vocalist Chris Francis. 2013’s stark, blackened Portals to a Better, Dead World was the duo’s third full-length, and it remains one of the darkest entries in Brents’s expansive catalog. “I think we both, to be frank, were in a dark spot in our lives,” he says. “Not incredibly depressing, but not the best time in our lives. We wanted to make something kind of bleak—but uplifting, in a way. Bleakly uplifting, if that makes sense, by kind of having this sort of hardcore ethos with it, painted with black metal’s imagery and a little black metal musically. So, it was sort of about making that statement, that you can blend these genres, these styles and vibes, together.”
Part III / Part IV
Constant evolution lives at the core of Cara Neir, and by the release of their 2019 double album Part III / Part IV, Brents and Francis had reoriented the project around the emotional directness of screamo. Nods to black metal were still woven into the fabric of the songs, but make no mistake—this is skramz. “My interest during those years leading up to it, I got heavier into screamo and less into black metal,” Brents says. “And that’s what came out on that album. I wanted to dial up those more emotive parts, more passionate parts, and less of the dark parts from black metal. I guess you could say it was an evolution of the Portals album.”
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While Brents concedes that Sallow Moth’s Stasis Cocoon is the most musically “normal” album on this list, he’s quick to note that it’s also the one that took the most out of him. The music is Swedish-style death metal, more or less—punishing, groove-laden, and subtly melodic. The concept, on the other hand? It’s the culmination of a multiple-album-spanning story concerning celestial humanoid moths, androids, and sorcerers. Prepare to spend a few hours with the booklet in hand. “There’s just so much lore that I put into that project, which unfortunately kind of led me to end it,” Brents says of the now-defunct project. He also theorizes that the dense story might be the reason the music came out the way it did: “To kind of balance how much brain bandwidth I put into it conceptually, non-musically, then the music, I just had to make it a little more straightforward to carry the lore.”
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Brents wrote and recorded the jagged, chaotic Cries Methodically in one night. Homeskin is the typically methodical musician’s most improvisational project, but even given that caveat, the album came together extraordinarily quickly. (Befitting its genesis, Cries Methodically is only nine minutes long.) “It was just like a stream of consciousness,” he says. “And as I was doing it, I was like, ‘I think I want this to be really short.’ So, once I finished the first song, I was like ‘OK, this whole thing is just going to be continuing in that same format.’ It’s all short songs. All sort of grindy, sort of screamo, sort of black metal, but not really, just ebbing and flowing in this noncategorizable style. It was just like a blur.”
Life’s Wishes to Tears
“I wanted [Life’s Wishes to Tears] to be almost completely different than the Cries Methodically album, where it’s more drawn out,” Brents says. “It’s almost like I went from Polaroid to painting, where it’s quick snapshots on that previous album, and then on this one, there’s a lot of different sprawling elements going on.” With all that extra space to stretch his legs, Brents transforms Homeskin from the schizophrenic avant-grind beast of Cries Methodically into an outré black metal exploration, full of strange textures and harrowing vocals.
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Gonemage started as a musical and conceptual spin-off of Cara Neir’s 2021 album, Phase Out. That release saw the band embracing the pixel-art imagery and chiptune soundtracks of their favorite ’90s video games, and while Cara Neir was obliged to move on to a new concept for the next album, Brents wasn’t ready to set the Super Nintendo controller down for good. Gonemage picked up where Phase Out left off, and with Handheld Demise, the project made what was arguably the most richly realized fusion of chiptune and metal to date. “Growing up back then with those [gaming] systems, there’s an attachment to the sounds and the music, and the soundtracks of all those games,” Brents says. “I don’t even know how to put it into words, but for me, it takes me to another place. It transports me into non-reality. And I wanted to bring a lot of that into Gonemage, sort of merging that nostalgia with metal and punk.”
End’s Daze Without Organs
End’s Daze Without Organs was the 17th and final release under the Homeskin name. Brents had planned it that way from the project’s beginning, 15 months earlier. “A lot of people thought that it was primarily conceptual, but from my mouth, it was definitely a challenge [to myself],” he says. “It was arbitrary, you could say. I just picked a certain amount of releases to do in a certain amount of time, and to see if I could do it and see it through.” He went out with a bang, putting some of the strangest sounds and most ambitious songs in his discography on the album. The opening song, “End’s Daze,” is an avant-black epic that clocks in at 10 and a half minutes—a full minute longer than the entire Cries Methodically album. It hints at an even greater potential that Homeskin will—by design—never realize. That doesn’t seem to bother Brents. It’s more important to him to stay open to new ideas.
“I don’t know exactly what it stems from, but I think I’m just always going with the flow, with anything,” he reflects. “An analogy would be in the Magic: The Gathering game. I’m always trying different decks. Different cards, and stuff like that. I just want to be constantly moving. If I’m just not feeling something creatively anymore, I don’t want to force the issue.”
“There’s some people who don’t like all the albums I’ve done,” he concedes. “I’ve come to terms with that. Any musician or creator should always come to terms with that. But I will never put out something that I feel obligated to put out.”