Forgive me the use of a poor and tired old cliché, but Cruciamentum really did explode into the Death Metal conscience about a year ago with their breathtakingly savage demo, ‘Convocation of Crawling Chaos’.
Taking Incantation’s ‘Onward to Golgotha’ as a jumping off point, and then pushing their songs down more cavernous and nasty avenues, Cruciamentum delivered an instant classic to an unsuspecting UGDM scene.
After two failed attempts they finally managed to get their arses over to Dublin for a gig with the mighty Diocletian and Witchrist back in October. It was a night of utter destruction and has already gone down in local legend and I took the opportunity to catch up with singer/guitarist & mastermind, Dan Lowndes for a few words.
First off Dan, give us an outline of the bones of Cruciamentum.
Cruciamentum was formed in 2005 to perform death metal the way that I envisioned it. It slowly began to take on a deeper meaning to myself, and became a way to materialize ideas, and concepts which would otherwise be impossible to communicate through any other forms of art that I am capable of. The band underwent a serious line-up change where everyone but myself was replaced and we recorded the “Convocation of Crawling Chaos” demo in late 2008.
The demo has been out a year or so now and is a fucking fierce statement of intent! How have you found the response to be so far? The production is so utterly powerful and heavy, yet clear, allowing the riffs to shine through. How did you approach the recording process?
Honestly, I have been surprised by the overwhelming reaction to the demo tape. I never expected the demo to pass further than a few friends. The demo material was actually composed differently to how we work now, as about half of it was already composed prior to the current line-up forming. The rest of the composition was completed in a relatively short amount of time.
As for the production, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to handle as many aspects of the band as I could, therefore we recorded the drums at The Priory Recording Studio with Greg from Esoteric, and I handled the rest of the recording, mixing and mastering at my Resonance Sound studio.
Those riffs… Those fucking riffs!!!! They are some of the catchiest bloody riffs I have ever heard on a Death Metal demo or album. They just sink their teeth in and get right under the skin. I don’t know how many times the opening riff to ‘Deathless Ascension’ has just popped into my head while working or just walking down the street. Where the hell do you summon these riffs from?
The writing process in Cruciamentum is a lengthy one. I am not the kind of person who can just pick up a guitar and write riffs, but when the conditions and mood is right, once inspiration flows, it seems to flow quickly and coherently.
This is the reason we work so slowly, because after that initial burst of inspiration, it can take months before I am inspired again to finish the work. After I feel the ideas are developed enough to present to the band, demos are sent to the other members, who put forth their contributions to the composition, and we then work on structure together in the rehearsal room. Again, this is a lengthy process as we live around 200 miles apart.
There has been talk of a 10″ for the last few months but there has been no apparent movement on that front…
As I mentioned previously, our writing process is extremely lengthy and unpredictable, and this has held up the MLP much further than we expected it to. This said, we won’t rush any aspect of this to hurry the release.
We are hoping for an early 2011 release now, but all I can promise at the moment is that it will happen when it happens. The writing process is almost complete now, and people can expect four brand new tracks, spanning around 25 minutes, three of these tracks we have performing live recently.
The new material is written as a full band collaboration this time from the song’s early stages, so expect it to be more varied than our previous effort. On top of this, we are also working on a track for a split 7”. As for the future after these releases, nothing is set in stone. If stagnation hasn’t set in by then, I imagine we will start to work on a full length.
Onstage you look possessed. The band seems to bleed every ounce of passion and energy into the set. Clearly playing live is important to you but often the magic(k) of DM gets lost in the live situation, with drunken mongos falling around, shitty sound, and the lack of intimacy that you can only experience through one-on-one contact with a recording. How do you keep the live situation so vital and so engaging?
Thank you! Each member of the band is different, but I personally prefer the creative/recording stages over playing live. That said I am more comfortable on stage now than when we performed some earlier gigs. As you mentioned many different factors make playing live much less consistent, and I prefer to guarantee high quality, which doesn’t always happen in live situations.
Concerning the actual performances though, for me it is something that I view as a kind of ritual of catharsis. My state of mind for a performance can be just as important as the sound, or audience and venue. There is no “trick” to performing how we do, I think what happens, happens naturally because we are genuine in what we put into the music.
A recent issue of Terrorizer had a front page article about the so-called rise of British brutality, focusing on the Death Metal scene there. Two glaring omissions that I could see were Cruciamentum and Grave Miasma, which is an unforgivable crime. Did you feel slighted or is it better to sit on the outside looking in?
If I’m honest, I don’t really care. Cruciamentum is such a personal entity to me that it doesn’t bother me if we receive coverage or not. Of course, whatever comes our way is appreciated, but as long as I am working on writing, playing and recording the music that satisfies me, that is all that matters. That said, I would rather we went unmentioned than be mentioned next to half of the shit that comes out of England.
Where do you see yourselves in terms of the current underground scene? Do you feel a kinship with other bands or are you lone wolves?
There are certain bands and people who we are admire and have befriended, but in terms of an actual scene, we certainly stand away from all that. We play what we play for ourselves only, not to be a part of something, or to be “cool”. Scenes are more social groups than anything to do with music, and I have no interest in that at all.
Cheers Dan, the last words are yours.
Thanks very much for the interview and support Andy! If anyone wants to check us out, you can hear the demo at www.myspace.com/cruciamentumuk, and can contact us to book us, or buy tapes/shirts from there or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Andrew Cunningham ::: 26/12/10
Photos by Simon Ward