Hails, be welcome to these. How has all been going in the ranks of Crypt Lurker since "Baneful Magic, Death Worship and Necromancy Rites Archaic” was released? How was it received? Have you had a lot of activity concerning live shows?
Hail. It seems as though Baneful Magic was generally well received which we’re all very pleased with. Since it’s release we have put out a split single in the form of a cassette tape alongside our comrades, Coltsblood and regarding live shows, we had a period of high activity followed by a step back resulting in us at the moment playing live rather infrequently. That aside, things are going well. We are currently working on new material.
To begin with this history, and being yours such a young outfit, could you please enlighten us about how was this spawn called Crypt Lurker summoned and which were the reasons to do it? Did the members know each other before or was the band the reason you gathered? And how would you describe the character of the Crypt Lurker according to its significance?
The majority of the band’s original line up knew each other in advance of the band’s formation however things have slightly shifted since then with the addition of new members. There was, however, no particular reason for things coming together; it just happened. Regarding Crypt Lurker as a character… There isn’t one. The name is a subtle reference to the practice of dwelling within barrows or other liminal spaces in order to achieve inspiration with regards to ritual significance, wrote within the context of a name that was intended to suit a form of old school death metal that the band never found itself performing.
Given the sinister and nauseating atmospheres you distill, what were the primal ideas you considered about the music and why did you choose Doom Death as the vehicle for it, and not other styles such as pure Death or Black Metal? Why had it to be slow and heavy as the most painful agony?
We didn’t actually choose death/doom per se, although there was some natural inclination towards the sub-genre. The band just kind of started playing and what we perform is what come about naturally. I’d hesitate to call the music on both our debut and our split death/doom in the proper sense of the word, however, and this is for the same reason that we never found ourselves playing pure death or black metal; the members of the band come from a variety of different backgrounds and so the music evolved from a number of differing contexts on it’s own… That said, the intention was always to perform something slow, repetitive and pummeling.
I have to admit that your first recording, together with Sinistrous Diabolus's first album, are among the very few recordings that recently managed to impress me in such fields. And this is surely due to the fact that I can feel something else listening to it than just slow riffs and growling vocals. There is a very deep, disturbing and ceremonious atmosphere on each of the four tracks included. Would you give some type of real cathartic or ritualistic effect of your music on your own selves? In which state do you like to work when creating new hymns?
The writing process for Crypt Lurker is slow and often laborious. The music we create is far from being technically or compositionally challenging however it’s often difficult to conjure the atmosphere intended and as such we find ourselves quite frequently scrapping ideas. Regarding ritualistic or cathartic intent, we often practice using only minimal candlelight and fogging the room out with thick stage fog for a number of rehearsals that fall prior to shows, not pausing between songs and instead leaving feedback to ring however this is all.
That first album (or EP, as it's been qualified) has been released on the three classical formats: tape, vinyl and CD. That's a pretty good start for the first recording of a band. How much importance do you give to the physical format when it comes to your music or even the one of other bands that you like? Is there any true importance in having a record, just like an old grimoire, in your hands when being drowned into its magic, or the only real aspect is the invocation in itself? What about the different degree of clearness each format can impress on the music?
I believe that physical formats are indeed an important aspect of engaging with music on a properly rewarding basis. Regarding individual formats and their importance or lack thereof, however, I believe that there is a time and a place for all and this includes the digital.
Despite the UK being one of the cradles of the first Doom Death scene, I don't find so many resemblances between your music and the very well-known acts that came out of your lands. I would rather find common ground with bands from Scandinavia and Switzerland, including even some slight early Black Metal influences (Samael could easily come to mind). Could you please elaborate on this and give us an inside view of how would you describe your music and which could be your primal influences?
I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin the process of attributing this band’s sound to any one particular source however I’d agree that the sound of traditionally British doom is scarce on the EP, save for perhaps the ending of it’s second song “Bearer of the Two Torches”. That said, I would like to be able to describe our music as being sinister and oppressive. Regarding a Scandinvian influence, I don’t think there is much of one and if one can be heard; it wasn’t intentional. Whilst I certainly have a profound appreciation for classic Swedish and Finnish death metal as well as early Scandinavian black metal, the infusion of these genres’ sounds were never actively pursued within the context of Crypt Lurker. Regarding Switzerland and Samael, I was incidentally listening to a lot of Blood Ritual during the writing process for the EP however I contributed little to the release in the form of actual music rather than lyrics and vocals.
In fact, after the album you released a split live tape with Coltsblood which includes a cover of Beherit's "Gate To Nanna", which may not seem the most usual election for a band like yours. Even though, I find it perfectly suiting the aura of Crypt Lurker. Aren't Beherit too frequently associated to a raw/chaotic approach to Black Metal because of their first album when they definitely had a big impact on slower and more ritualistic/hypnotic ways of playing Metal with "Drawing Down The Moon"? Why did you cover that song, that has already been covered by dozens of other bands, and not another one?
We’d actually never intended to record “The Gate of Nanna” and were only really playing the thing in practices. The intention for the split was to record only our own song however when Coltsblood had informed us that they were including a cover of Celtic Frost’s “Procreation (of the Wicked)” and we realised that our half was resultantly a little shorter than theirs we just kind of recorded it there and then.
That split cassette I mentioned above shows the rawest and rudest face of your music, it is in fact a very suffocating and bleak recording, giving the listener a very good reflection of how I assume you must sound on stage. Why did you decide to release that recording? Was it only a matter of giving your fans a special limited release, or maybe something else above that?
The recording for the split was done live, during rehearsal, and with regards to ourselves; during the first practice at which we’d ever played the song contained therein. It’s in fact the third run through of that song that we’d ever performed. There was no particular reason for deciding to release the recording, we’d just decided to go ahead and do it after some discussion with Coltsblood with whom we are quite close to.
Listening to a track like “Crossing The Abysmal Depths” one can easily see how much importance repetition has on your songs. It's undeniable that a bigger amount of progression would ruin the dragging and absorbing effect of your riffs. But, how difficult is it to find that riff, the one that works like a spell, hypnotizing the listener? Isn't that just like an alchemical research, combining the elements until you find the right formula, however simple can it be? Aren't you sometimes tempted on adding more elements?
“Crossing the Abysmal Depths” was in fact once a full song containing lyrics and a number of riffs and segments. It was actually the first song that the band had ever wrote and it’s for this reason that you see the piece in it’s current form. By the time we’d came to recording the thing, we felt as though the other songs contained on the record had something of a different atmosphere to that one and so we modified it and made use of it as interlude like section in order to make the transfer between “Bearer of the Two Torches” and the EP’s finale a little bit more smooth for the maintenance of better consistency. Regarding adding more elements; I guess this can be an example of the opposite - having too many elements and deciding to remove them. If we were tempted to add more elements to tracks however, we would. The band is set to change and progress (or regress) as it does so naturally.
Vocals are definitely another matter of study, as I've got the impression they are sometimes used as if there was a third guitar playing slow and monotonous riffs, especially on the first track, “Shadowclad, Pale”. One could see some trance-like intention on them, but at the same time they are very violent and raw, closer to extreme versions of the Black Death spectrum than the usual growls used in Doom in a very possessed manner. Could we consider them the most primal and raw aspect of Crypt Lurker's music that acts on it as a guiding line? I must say that, as good as I may find the instrumental track on the EP, I kind of miss them. Would you consider including clean choirs or other resources that could make your music a little more mystical, as other recent bands have done, or do you prefer keeping it rude as it is?
I’d suggest that regarding the vocals you are probably correct. At least on the EP where the guitar tone is almost smooth by comparison. The vocals certainly emphasise an underlying influence from black and death metal rather than doom, I believe. Regarding choral vocals, chanting and other such things; I’d not be at all surprised if something along these lines were included in later releases. As for other resources that could be considered ‘mystical’, I wouldn’t expect to hear any Necros Christos reminiscent interludes any time soon.
There's always been a strong relation between atmospheric/hypnotic types of music and mind altering substances, but music in itself can have a very big impact on the unconscious, inspiring every kind of feeling, as well as real violence, darkness and despair on the soul of the listener. Have you experienced that kind of effects when you had the occasion to play live? Any special case worth mentioning?
There’s nothing in particular that comes to my mind however the intention of the live performance is certainly to generate a hypnotic, illusory atmosphere and this is aided by minimal candlelight and heavy fog as well as a number of incenses including henbane, black nightshade and European mandrake root within their ingredients.
Heading on for lyrical subjects now, how would you describe your band when it comes to the concepts and images described through the lyrics of each of your songs? The booklet of "Baneful Magic, Death Worship and Necromancy Rites Archaic” includes only a few excerpts of them, which only lets me figure a bit the inclination for cosmic horror Lovecraftian inspired type of verses. Could you enlighten us a bit about this subject?
Lovecraft’s influence on Crypt Lurker’s lyrical themes is minimal and comes to the forefront only in the track “To the Piping of Two Amorphous Idiot Flute-Players”, the title of which being a direct reference to the god of a thousand forms, Nyarlathotep. That’s not to say, however, that Lovecraftian imagery is not utilised as a colour palette in the representation of ideas not attributed to he. It is. Fundamentally, Crypt Lurker deals with self-destruction in the seeking of gnosis.
By the way, why did you decide not to reveal all lyrical content of these four tracks? It doesn't seem to be a matter of lack of space on the booklet but more of an aesthetic subject, or maybe you didn't want to unveil all their contents? Do you find any importance in keeping some secret or mystic aspect in your music?
The lyrics were never intended to be revealed at all and the intermittent lines contained within the CD booklet should only aid the listener in their experience.
Would you describe your band more as the kind that carries a message, be it literally or metaphorically, or as the kind that paints a scene and envelopes you with its atmosphere? Can the later truly have a sense without the first?
I don’t think that the latter can be truly satisfied without at least a degree of the former included. Crypt Lurker carries a message though it is personal to myself, however this message is utilised as a method of painting a scene that is intended to generate a particular atmosphere.
On the sixth page of the booklet I can read “Magna Mater! Magna Mater!”. Who are you referring too? Who is that mother you're hailing? Does it have any relation to nature or maybe to some deity of a dualistic path of belief?
In the context of that particular song, the chanting of Magna Mater is in reference to a number of disparate ideas. It’s multi-faceted. If you’d like to understand it as being in mockery of a particular Roman Catholic celebration, you can, and you’d partially be correct. Equally, if you’d like to consider the goddess Hekate and her role as key bearer and guardian of entrance-ways, you can and you’d again be partially correct.
It has been a while since the times when England was one of the strongholds for Death Metal and Doom Death Metal. But in the last years there seems to be a small but very strong resurgence of bands who reclaim the flame and bring it again to the first line of the underground, such as Indesinence, Binah, Cruciamentum, Grave Miasma or Lvcifyre. Was there really such a big break between the nineties and nowadays when it comes to quality or even quantity in those styles, or was it simply a matter of loss of interest from the labels? Which new outfits would you strongly recommend us to listen to?
I’d say that to some degree, there has been. There was certainly a period through the late 1990s and early 2000s when a large portion of (in particular mainstream) publications and labels focused on sub-par symphonic black metal and often quite ridiculous brutal death metal with little attention paid to bands performing more classic styles however I’d be incorrect to say that this approach to heavy metal all but died and was later revived (within the context of the UK) and bands like Diamanthian are a solid example of traditional death metal being performed here in the early 00’s. Regarding contemporary outfits that I’d recommend listening to, you’ve already named the big-hitters. However, I’d like to add SHEOL (I believe there are two UK bands going under this name, here I refer to the death metal band currently working in conspiracy with Iron Bonehead Productions), Qrixkuor (death/black metal) Ghast (black/doom metal), Ninkharsag (black metal) and Exxxekutioner (old school black/thrash metal). As far as bands performing music in other styles are concerned, the aforementioned Coltsblood are worthy of anybody’s time and alike we, perform a kind of music difficult to pigeon-hole. Lastly, Black Magician who’s classic British doom metal sound is performed with total sincerity.
What's happening in the lines of the Crypt Lurker in the upcoming future? Have you already started working on new songs? Will you directly head for an album or could there be other shorter recordings before?
We are currently, and rather quite slowly, working on material for more than one upcoming release.
Thanks a lot for your time and good luck with the future of Crypt Lurker. I hope to hear its dragging again very soon. I leave you the task of closing this interview adding anything else you may have forgotten.
Thank you for your time and for the thought provoking questions.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.