Seventeen questions for B.C. of Cruciamentum.
This interview was sent to this rather excellent English Death Metal band in the early summer months of 2010 and eventually returned to my inbox with all questions answered where it languished for many moons until now! The questions aren't terribly in-depth as they were meant as a precursor to an interview proper which was then supposed to be amalgamated and turned into a self-contained piece of writing about the band. Other things took over, time was spent unwisely and the interview became older and older. It's now positively geriatric but the questions were quite general so the information is not TOO outdated. B.C.'s articulate answers speak volumes and without further ado I give you CRUCIAMENTUM!:
What’s your favourite Manowar song?
Many killers, but I've always been fond of Revelation (Death's Angel) from 'Into Glory Ride'.
Why would you choose Death Metal as a form of expression?
The music of Cruciamentum is what flows naturally through our fingers as an expression of certain elements of our characters. That’s a result of course of what music we appreciate and are influenced by. For whatever reason, although we are very much four individuals with vastly differing metaphysical beliefs, we all have some common appreciation for the darker side of existence. From my personal point of view death is what gives life meaning – I certainly don’t ‘worship death’ in the manner which hundreds of new bands claim to do (and who suddenly have developed the same beliefs as those who have blazed the trail such as Necros Christos, yet are unable to express them in any interesting or profound way).
I see the relationship between artists and their expression as complex and difficult to explain. It’s sensible to say that when one creates a work of art, it contains a certain part or element of the creator(s), but in the same way having been created by a person it stands in a particular relation to them and reflects their totality. In the same way, if you believe that there is a some common essence underlying all representational existence, then a work of art expresses something particular and yet something general. I find the idea that a piece of music can be about something very hard to come to terms with philosophically, yet intuitively it seems very natural.
Tell us about the upcoming mini-LP please.
It'll be four songs; two on each side, and it’s far from a re-write of the demo. It's still crushing, dark and morbid death metal, but more developed; having two guitarists has enabled us to expand the arrangements, add twists to our riffing style yet, I think, retain the uniqueness which CoCC presented. We haven’t decided on a title as yet. There will also be a split 7” with Vasaeleth. We aren’t in any rush – the songs have been well honed and it’s important to get good atmospheric performances of them.
So how does a Cruciamentum song get composed? Generally basic riffs and structures are brought to the band by DL. The rest of us then add riffs and melodies, edit parts and fine tune the song. Geographical distance means that this is sometimes done remotely, but it’s a much more fulfilling and natural process when it’s done in the rehearsal room. I can’t help but feel that in the modern age far too few bands write music in this way, playing together and letting the energy and ideas flow naturally, and I think it shows in the poor structuring of songs that results. Lyrics generally come after, written by either myself or DL.
How often do you practice (yourself and as a band)?
Personally I don't consider myself much of a musician; I don't have a practise regime and as long as my playing is competent enough for the band I'm satisfied. As a band logistical difficulties limit us to practising about once a month. That’s a shame as far as I’m concerned, as rehearsals and the atmosphere they generate are the most important element of playing in a band.
(B.C. also played in two other bands called Dark Forest and Deceptor)
So tell us the reasons for leaving your other bands Dark Forest and Deceptor. Are Deceptor worth hearing?? The other Dark Forest guys and I had somewhat of a disagreement about the direction; I prefer my heavy metal raw and unpolished and they like things a little shinier... The new DF material I’ve heard live is great (although they ripped off The Ritual by Satan!), but I can’t help but feel that their new vocalist, superb singer that he is, doesn’t have the character that Christian has. I’m eager to hear the new LP that’s been recorded though. With Deceptor I just didn’t have the time to play in multiple bands that were based far apart geographically; however their material now I've left is vastly superior. It’s quite unique I think – elements from Voivod, Helstar, Death, etc. colliding in a violent phosphorescent explosion of white light.
(The following question came to me due to some conversations I had read on various Heavy Metal forums about Metalheads and the music their offspring listen to. In hindsight it's a bit silly but I still find it interesting...)
Do you have kids and if yes have you started to get them into metal, if no, do you intend to? Or could you care less about that kind of attitude?
I don't have children, but if I did I wouldn't directly turn them towards any path, other than appreciating the value of knowledge and philosophy. Of course, I might attempt to turn them away from certain strands of life which I consider less desirable, but that’s no less than I’d do to my friends and no less than any ethically motivated human being should do. I don’t consider metal to be something intrinsically superior.
The days of being in a Death Metal band and having that as a career choice are well and truly gone for any up-and-coming underground death metal act it seems. Did it ever seem like a viable option to you when you saw the success that bands like Morbid Angel, Sepultura etc. etc. could enjoy? Do you think you would ever devote your entire life to music and pursue it as a career or would you be happy enough playing in a relatively unknown underground band?
The idea of playing in a professional band certainly appealed to me when I was younger, but I was under no illusions that it would ever happen whilst I continue to play metal. Strangely as I’ve got older, and found myself playing in a band who are offered gigs across the world I’ve found that it’s perhaps not something I want. The idea of a nomadic lifestyle isn’t much for me, and I’m not too fussed about the idea of travel. I’m happy at home surrounded by records, books and good food and drink. My satisfaction comes from music and as such I don't care if we have any level of appreciation at all. It’s not an opinion shared by my band mates, but I don’t care much about releasing records; I’m happy recording for my own pleasure.
What was it got you interested in Death Metal?
Altars of Madness.
Tell us about merchandise etc. that you have available at the moment.
Convocation of Crawling Chaos is being repressed on CD and vinyl by the esteemed Nuclear Winter shortly. Some people might grumble about demos being repressed, but in this day and age I can’t see much difference between a demo and an album; they’re all just recordings and I’d rather they were available if demand was there for them. A lot of similar underground ‘ethics’ are built on sandy foundations where people react emotively and conservatively rather than rationally. The MLP will be out in summer 2011 (hopefully!) also on Nuclear Winter, and I’m sure new shirts will follow.
Do you read ‘zines? which ones would you recommend?
I very much appreciate a good fanzine. There are far too many, mostly 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' It's very easy seemingly for a zine to get accepted just by saying the right things and featuring the right bands, with no depth to the questions and content. Those I hold in high regard recently would include The Sinister Flame, Deathexecution, Devilment and Cunt Paste, etc. That latter is particulary great; over the four issues the editor has really found his own style, isn’t afraid to proffer an honest opinion and challenges those he interviews. Sometimes they aren’t up to that challenge sadly.
Favourite/least favourite film, food, holiday, comic, instrument brand, gig, mini-LP, memory of when you were growing up?
My favourite film is Alien. It's far less philosophical or intellectual than many other films I like, but the atmosphere is unmatched. There are a lot of bad films made, but I'm particularly not a fan of mindless gore/horror films. My favourite food is sushi. If I had only one place to visit, it would be Antarctica. I don't read comics. Rather than a favourite brand I suppose I have favourite instruments, and right now I’d love a Fender Telecaster. The best concert I’ve ever seen is difficult to say, but Immolation, Sadistic Intent, Enslaved and Black Witchery have all decimated me.
I hate albums that are too long. What about you? Why? I
f you're referring to albums that outstay their welcome, then I agree. (This is exactly what I was referring to!) Some people have a strange misconception that you’re ‘ripping off the fans’ if you release a short record. I suppose it comes from the moronic super-size American mentality. I’d far rather hear a great MLP that I wanted to play over and over than a padded out album stretching four songs worth of riffs over 60 minutes. If you're referring to long albums in general however, then I disagree. Something like Triune Impurity Rites or Darkspace III develops over the duration of the album, and the depth of that recording justifies entirely something more extended.
Should re-issues of classic or old, long out-of-print albums feature bonus tracks? Why?
Sure, I can't see any reason why not. From a purist point of view, I'd always prefer bonus tracks to be on a separate disc/vinyl, but I'm always glad to have them too. You can go over the top with bonus material (Sacrifice reissues perhaps) but with bands I'm dedicated to, hearing live material, rehearsals or rare tracks is always great. An earth-shaking live rendition, or a formative demo version of a great track works as an effective complement piece to the formally recorded versions.
Name me a defining Metal moment in your life. Why was it earth-shattering (if it was!)? Is Metal a lifestyle choice?
The defining metal moment of my life was buying Altars of Madness; the carefully controlled chaos of that recording led me into an abyss I don’t intend to escape from, a world of ever descending circles of bands, fanzines, thanks lists, flyers, records, etc, a world of mystery and obscurity, which not even the internet has been able to dissolve.
Metal is a lifestyle choice for plenty of people, which would be fine apart from the negative impact on me. There’s nothing that annoys me more than the ‘scene’ mentality at gigs for example in London where people go because of the nature of the event and gathering, rather than to appreciate the bands. They then end up stumbling about drunk, barging into me, and talking through any atmospheric parts, which they are too stupid to appreciate the depth of. I suppose as long as they’re supporting the bands it’s a positive thing in a way, but having bootleg patches on your denim jacket and downloading mp3s is hardly that positive. Like most human beings, most metal fans are desperate for meaning in their worthless lives and cower together in herds looking for recognition. They can’t cope with the idea of the absurdity of existence, nor the idea of having friends who aren’t into metal, because they really have so little to discuss. It’s more pathetic than mainstream culture in a way, because these people consider themselves better than that, when in fact they are brainless scumbags.
Who is the most "normal" person you know who is into Metal and what does he/she do for a living?
Plenty of my friends live normal lives and work normal jobs while supporting bands they like, and I respect their choice too much to reveal anything about them. That kind of mentality is something to be admired in a microcosmic world where there are too many chiefs and very few people prepared to be Indians.
What annoys you very greatly?
I think you could see question 15 for an appropriate answer to this, but beyond that I would say incompetence, thoughtlessness, traffic, and bands who agree to answer multiple zine interviews and then give monosyllabic responses under the guise of being ‘mysterious.’ Why bother? It’s incredibly contrived and boring.
Interview: Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (Sólstafir)
9 hours ago