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Newfound Madness: A Conversation With D.L. of Cruciamentum

The death metal mastermind details the band's latest masterclass.

cruciamentum interview, cruciamentum, death metal.

Words by Luis (@HeaviestOfArt):


It's been some time since Charnel Passages (2015) — a death metal record forward thinking in its composition and turbulent in its delivery. Cruciamentum remained silent since that staggering release until earlier this year, which saw the release of the band's sophomore album, Obsidian Refractions, via Profound Lore Records. Like its predecessor, Obsidian Refractions is the type of record you champion in your discourse. It's enrapturing, grand in its atmosphere, and sinister in its tone with its dizzying riffs paired well with its massive wall of sound. Far from straightforward, it constantly unfolds and narrates the harrowing scene of the soul whirlpool depicted on its cover. In short, it's a beast of a listen.


Dive through a Q&A with Cruciamentum guitarist/vocalist D.L. to learn more about what drove the creative development of Obsidian Refractions, the band's partnership with standout artist Dávid Glomba, and more:

 

After an eventful eight years since “Charnel Passages”, Cruciamentum returns, and you deliver a true death metal masterclass in the form of “Obsidian Refractions”. With a new lineup and an already celebrated new album, in what state of mind does it all find you in?


D.L.: We’re a little surprised if I’m honest. Of course, we are exceptionally proud of the album, but we almost expected people to hate it, so the positive reaction surprised us. We’re booking tours and slowly writing new material, so let's see what the future holds.


The praise is deserved and it's great to hear of future plans already unfolding. Pleasing your creative ambitions was first and foremost for "Obsidian" I’m sure, but other than that, were there any intentions with the sophomore album? Anything from a creative or compositional standpoint perhaps?


D.L.: Yes, we wanted to push ourselves with this album and not just repeat “Charnel Passages”. It still had to be something 100% Cruciamentum. Still, all the elements were expanded upon to make the fast parts faster, the slower parts slower, to grow on the atmospheric elements, and to make it more intricate and progressive. Though this was in our minds, it still happened very naturally. There weren’t any points where we had to re-write anything to fit our modus operandi, so it felt like a very logical step forward.



Definitely, and the album came about as a natural byproduct of the aforementioned creative ambitions and wealth of influence among you all. Death metal has certainly changed, and continues to change, over the last decade or so with Cruciamentum being among the more prominent underground bands. Where do you see the genre in its contemporary form from your standpoint?


D.L.: It's tough for me to speak on the band's relevance in a broader sense. I interpret music differently to many people, but I don't hear our influence in much at all. If people consider us an influence, that's an honor, but I don't know how important we are.

cruciamentum interview, cruciamentum, death metal.
Photograph by Necroblanca

To answer your question, though, I think death metal will soon reach its saturation point if it hasn't already. As a fan, I've heard very little in recent years that has any longevity, and often, bands sound like they're attempting to recreate the early 90s rather than making something their own. With the prominence of social media and streaming services, I'm not even sure the underground as we (the members of Cruciamentum) know it exists anymore. These days, however, I'm more interested in pursuing our own course, and I don't really have any investment in the concept of "the scene."

cruciamentum interview, charnel passages, death metal.
Cover Artwork by Daniel Desecrator

Fair points. Sometimes abundance isn't as great as it seems regardless of how high the volume of releases has been. Jumping into a significant element of death metal, let’s talk cover art. Visually, you’re transitioning from Daniel Desecrator to Dávid Glomba for the new release. What drew you to David’s work, and what were you looking for upon approaching him for the project?


D.L.: Daniel's no longer taking on commissions for album art really left us in a panic as he'd always been considered "our artist," and nobody else was ever in consideration for use other than him. However, when I saw the booklet for Teitanblood's "The Baneful Choir," I was blown away by the depth, detail, and use of color that David had used. I always wanted our artwork to have a sense of depth and scale, and judging from what I saw, David could make that happen.

cruciamentum interview, cruciamentum, death metal.
"Obsidian Refractions" Full Cover Artwork by Dávid Glomba

Having seen the full gatefold artwork for the album, I'd argue he strongly achieved that. How would you describe the collaborative process? Dávid has of course been responsible for bringing to life an abundance of records from across death and black metal, so he’s a trusted partner in that regard.


D.L.: Well, this is was what concerned me about finding a new artist. I’ve never been particularly good at visualizing what our art should look like; frequently, I can only explain what it shouldn’t be. I gave Dávid a brief explanation of the album’s title/concepts, provided him with the lyrics, and, after a brief discussion on artists we liked, just asked him to do whatever he felt inspired to do.


Where did you two find common ground in terms of visual direction? It’s an excellent piece that of course was meant for a vinyl release.

D.L.: The idea of the art being designed for a large-scale cover inspired by Yes, King Crimson, ELP, Genesis, etc. was at the forefront of my mind. As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t have a great deal of input on the cover; we discussed artists such as Jacob van Swanenburg, Hieronymus Bosch, and Stevan Aleksić – all of which had the complexity and depth, not to mention the dark nature of what I was hoping to achieve, but other than that, Dávid was left entirely to his own devices. I think he did a fantastic job of the art, though; I can see elements of the different sets of lyrics included without it being too obvious, but he captured the bleak, decaying atmosphere of the record perfectly. I’d also like to give special mention to Heresie Graphics, who did a great job with the layout work; I feel his work complimented David’s well.


Alejandro at Heresie sure knows how to put it all together. It’s too early to say and it’s best to bask in the celebration of a new album, but does the significant release of “Obsidian Refractions” signal a more active future for the band?


D.L.: We certainly intend on playing live again, but we'll not be able to play as extensively as we used to. That's fine, though, as I've always felt that live performances should be a special event and that bands shouldn't over-expose themselves. We're slowly working on new material, but as with "Obsidian Refractions", it'll happen when the time is right. We're not rushing to ride any particular wave; the next release will be out when it's ready, hopefully sooner than eight years, but I promise nothing.

 

Obsidian Refractions is available now via Profound Lore Records (Listen).

cruciamentum interview, cruciamentum, death metal.
Cover Artwork by Dávid Glomba

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