”…on a dark, cold night during a power cut I picked up a guitar.”
Cruciamentum’s Charnel Passages has without any doubts been one the albums I’ve listened to the most this year. Such outstanding music makes me curious. DL [vocals, guitars], the mastermind behind Cruciamentum, gave barametal.se the answers. He is also the owner of Resonance Sound Studio, and has worked with a lot of metal bands, such as Corpsessed, Grave Miasma, Grave Ritual and Pallbearer, just to mention a few.
I understand that you prefer the art of expressing yourself in the studio, rather than doing it on a stage – why is it like that?
– There is no profound answer here, I simply find it more satisfying. That not to say I don’t want to play live, but often live performance means that the conditions of the gig are placed in someone else’s hands. Sounding great or sounding terrible is in the hands of the venue’s sound engineer and if they’ve done a poor job that really changes how we as a band can interact on stage together as a unit and in front of an audience. The sound to me can really make all the difference between a great experience and quite a depressing one.
Me and others would like to claim this: Charnel Passages is a masterpiece, one the best albums of 2015. How did you experience the ongoing work of making such a top level metal album?
– I’m sure people who heard it for the first time heard it in a very different way than I did. I was in the studio throughout the entire duration of recording the album, from setting up the drums to mastering it, so I heard it come together piece by piece rather than experiencing the finished thing.
– The whole process from writing to recording was extremely stressful and exhausting mentally and physically so my perception of it is quite unique. It’s hard to gauge and I don’t like to sound arrogant, I think we all felt extremely satisfied with the results of our work and we made the album we wanted to make.
And now… long time after the release. Have you sat down and just listened to it with new fresh ears?
– I haven’t played it a great deal other than to start learning the parts for live performances. it usually takes me a couple of years before I can listen more objectively to a recording. When I have listened to it though, I’ve felt extremely proud of it, but it isn’t up to me to declare it anything but a personal success.
Listening to Cruciamentum, I have the impression/feeling of being inside an enormous sacred hall, like something close to a sect’s place in a Hammer movie. What did you aim for when it came to the mood you wanted the listeners to experience?
– Whilst the lyrical themes attempt to tackle subjects on a grand scheme it only seems right that the music conveys that sense of grandiosity, darkness and chaotic violence as well. The most important thing though is to balance these elements, we are after all a death metal band and we should never lose sight of that. I like your interpretation of it though, and that was certainly something I wanted to try to project songs like Necrophagous Communion and Rites to the Abduction of Essence.
Could you please share one moment of creation of any particular riff or song?
– It’s quite hard to remember particular details since the album was written over such a long period of time and in so many different places. I do remember on a particularly dark, cold night during a power cut I picked up a guitar and just played the entire opening section of Dissolution of Mortal Perception without stopping. It was one of those rare moments of pure inspiration when the notes just flowed out of me. I quickly noted it down and very little of that section was changed when I brought it to the band.
About you being in the studio (as a day job) helping other metal bands – how do you cope as a composer with the inspiration, not talking about theft here, that you must get from all the music you listen to?
– When I’m working I tend to view the music for the particular job more analytically in terms of sound rather than musically. If something catches my attention I’ll usually return to listen to the finished product some months later with the fresh approach of a fan rather than an engineer. Even the best bands borrow and reinterpret to a degree from their influences, look at Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple for example, after all it’s hard to be entirely original in the tight confines of death metal without running the risk of becoming some kind of Cynic or Gorguts type band that isn’t really death metal any more.
– Personally I understand that there is a limited number of combinations of notes in a twelve tone scale and some similarities are going to occur after time, what’s important is that a band puts their own spin on those notes and uses them in their own context rather than being a shameless clone.
Would you agree on this statement from Tore Stjerna in Necromorbus Studio: ”There’s so much being released that maybe shouldn’t have. So diamonds tend to drown in a sea of mud”?
– To a point I do, but on the other hand I believe that bands should be given the chance to play, record and grow. I think the problem lies more in the fact there are so many labels now and they are all in a rush to release any new band that plays a popular style before they’re ready. Not that these bands don’t deserve a chance, but they should be given the time to grow and develop into their own entity over the course of some demos, or to fade into obscurity if they’re unworthy.
– I feel that the standard for metal and music in general has lowered since the internet has made it more accessible. People seem more concerned with having releases from all the latest bands rather than really absorbing all elements of the really exceptional ones.
With members from quiet popular and equally great Grave Miasma, I think some people partly regards Cruciamentum as a ”side project”, and some partly regard Cruciamentum as not having a stable line up – D.B-H. and R.C. could leave any minute when Grave Miasma gets bigger and bigger – please comment on this!
– Cruciamentum was an active band before we shared members with Grave Miasma and would continue to be if they were to leave. Of course elements of our sound would change, but we don’t want to put the same album out twice anyway.
By the way, just curious, what is it with this use of initials, that many bands have nowadays?
– It wasn’t so common when we started the band. We wanted the band to have an element of mystery, and it just seemed to fit, whereas calling ourselves things like ”Necrogoat Perversor” didn’t. There is also a degree of wanting to distance our activities in the bands with our personal lives, of course sites like Metal Archives who have no grasp or respect for the concept of privacy or perspective will do everything they can to remove the veil. We are after all four guys who work full time jobs as a living, not Lemmy.
How about the future for you as a composer – will Charnel Passages and the praises it gets leave you blocked about creating something that is as great as this?
– Not at all, resting on our laurels spells certain creative death. Cruciamentum will change and adapt with time, we’ve no interest in repeating ourselves. Our next release will be the next logical step from Charnel Passages, it may take some time to realise it but it won’t be a repeat performance of what came before.
Don’t you ever think like that – that you could dry up on songs?
– I’ll never stop being inspired, the gaps between completing work may become longer, and perhaps the style will change, but I think you know as a creative person that that well will never dry up. I’ve even tried to give up a couple of times and after a week or two I’ve not been able to avoid picking up a guitar or keyboard.
Finally – do you ever compare ” facebook likes” with other bands?
– I’m not interested in competing with other bands, what matters is if they do something I like and respect, not who has the most fans. Facebook is a good tool to spread the word about gigs and new releases and that is all.