If we were talking about one of Britain's strongest Death Metal groups at the moment, then alongside Memoriam also CRUCIAMENTUM are definitely playing the main role. You have already met this name as you read our webzine and you are tuned to the way of bands we have been doing for a long time. Of course, guys are not just playing the rhythmic old school Death Metal, they enrich it with spooky, dark, morbid ingredients and draw inspiration from masters like Incantation, Dead Congregation, Immolation, or Morbid Angel. This is not a copy of the bands mentioned above, but I just want to direct what currents their muddy flows flow. They could a little be compared to colleagues Grave Miasma with whom they had roots in the past thanks to two former members. However at the moment these masters have a stable line-up to record their "Charnel Passages" debut in 2015, but also the latest "Paradise Envenomed" EP of 2017. Perversity, heaviness, massiveness and horrible atmosphere are a few attributes that certainly characterize this band . We are honored to make interview with one of the members of CRUCIAMENTUM, namely D.L. (vox, guit), so get to his thoughts.
What does the CRUCIAMENTUM name and logo mean to you. Does it have a deeper meaning for you or it is just a name fitting for the obscure Death Metal band?
D.L.: In the early days of the band our lyrical theme wasn't as developed as it is now and focused more on anti-religious themes and the medieval inquisition. Cruciamentum (meaning "torture" or "torment" in Latin) felt appropriate to the themes both in its meaning and through the choice of using an archaic language. However, now that the band has progressed in a more personal direction the name still feels appropriate to the themes and music, both in its meaning and in its cryptic wording. As for the logo - I think that a logo is one of the most important parts of a band's identity outside of the music, ours is instantly recognizable and leaves no doubt to as what we're about.
You have been active since 2007, the name of your band has been becoming great already after the first demo, today you are one of the most respected DM bands, you are idol for many ones and they try to do things like you. Do you think your style, sound and harmony are unique or you cannot fully evaluate it?
D.L.: Yes, I think our sound is unique. I won't claim to have reinvented the wheel, but the way in which we incorporate our influences, structure songs, our use of rhythm and dynamic not to mention personal playing styles and lyrics are all a part of our own atmosphere and expression.
From my point of view today is the time when most DM bands cling to some idol and their music often sounds like a tribute band, as if they lacked invention, ideas and individuality. Then we have something like a wave of copying bands. Your music, however, shows a strong atmosphere, depth and complexity, especially on the last, but also the old ones. Are atmosphere, depth and complexity the most important elements to you?
D.L.: Creativity and personal expression are of paramount importance. If we feel that we've created something unique to ourselves then we've achieved what we've set out to do, it just happens that as time has gone on the music has become more complex but there’s no saying that we won’t experiment in the other direction either at some point.
The musician who creates and expresses his own inside thoughts will certainly affect many other bands, but the inspiration can come also from other spheres. I would like to know something about these other spheres. Where can you search, in dreams, sleep deprivation, nightmares, visions?
D.L.: I think it's important not to force anything and let it happen when it needs to. A good portion of my contributions to Charnel Passages were written during a period of sleep deprivation and nightmares which were also resulting in states of anxiety in the waking hours, that coupled with some experiences of sleep paralysis and illness inspired a lot of what went into that album. Inspiration isn't limited to these kinds of experiences though - art, literature, nature, every day experiences regularly provide inspiration.
Do you have any special rituals at writing, playing music, before and during recording in a studio, live concerts? Do you think some minor rituals can deepen and make all these things more special, or it is just a question of experience?
D.L.: I find that the trend of "ritual for show" that's so prevalent in metal these days to be tedious, overly ostentatious and often contrived. Such practices are meant to be personal in my opinion. To answer your question though - if inspiration is already flowing during writing I'll maybe do something to enhance and keep the mood if it feels appropriate, but in terms of playing live we just warm up on our instruments and unleash hell upon the stage. The performance of the music and the emotional response it stirs is ritual enough.
Anyone who knows your work, cover artworks, lyrics, has certainly noticed your music radiates darkness, anxiety, gloom, ghostliness, death ... all these themes are contained in riffs, rhythms, sounds, it all makes an eerie collage especially for the uninterested person. Do you think your music could be called as negative and bad or you just filter the anger through art...
D.L.: That's a matter of perspective but to me - both statements are true. We create music to express destructive emotions which results in what could be described as negative music. If to an outside listener the experience of hearing it is cathartic or negative is entirely a matter of perspective.
From my point of view, you are a bit closer to Black Metal bands, but in the Death Metal scene many bands take darkness and madness more seriously, others take it as necessity, cliché, fun, or "necessary evil." How much do you take all topics such as death, chaos and darkness seriously?
D.L.: Completely seriously. Even if some of the lyrics have a basis in fiction or feature grotesque exaggerations there is always a serious concept and genuine emotion or experience behind them. Like everyone else, I enjoy a good time but to me the idea of "fun/good time" death/black metal is a total oxymoron.
Do you feel as part of the Death Metal scene or you are more individualistic? What role does individualism play within CRUCIAMENTUM? What is your view at Death Metal scene today, compared to the 80s / 90s?
D.L.: There are friends we've made over the years and bands we've felt a kinship with but the concept of "being a part of the scene" doesn't really sit with us. We want to achieve what we can achieve and play with bands we actually like because of musical merit rather than what parties or festivals we've attended.
It's hard for me to give a truly informed opinion on the difference in the scene these days as although I discovered death metal in the mid to late 90s, I lived in a small village and didn't start to engage with other people until much later on. I feel as though the internet and particularly social media has contributed to an over saturation and sanitization though, there's too many people involved now, too many people with political agendas, too many bands and too many labels. But on the positive side, gigs are more frequent and better attended, distribution is better and more difficult to find releases are being reissued!
"Engulfed in Desolation" cover artwork presents the classic Lovecraft scene. Are you deeper interested in the works of this writer and visionary? What do you think of his special worlds, beings, magic, mythology? Do you think any of the Necronomicons written after his death may be dangerous to a magic practitioner?
D.L.: HPL is one of my favorite fiction authors, the atmospheres of his works, the detail and the mythos he created (or reinterpreted) are very special indeed and to an extent inspire the dark, cryptic atmospheres we are trying to evoke musically. As for the Necronomicon itself I find an interesting work, as for its danger - I don't think it poses any more threat than anything else available in the wrong hands.
In which special place did you find yourself as the most weird, I mean the place where you really felt strange, shivers, or maybe fear? It could be also transferred to the situation. Did you experience something you could not explain and it was bound up with something supernatural?
D.L.: It's not something I frequently do any more, but years back I was regularly involved in urban exploration, abandoned mental asylums in particular. Some of those places had a very oppressive atmosphere about them, particularly at night which was extremely unsettling. As for experiences – there’s some unusual things I’ve experienced, but I prefer to keep them to myself – they are certainly referenced more than once in Cruciamentum’s lyrics though.
Death is a topic that touches every one of us. What does this term mean to you? Different religions or philosophies look at death or what is quite different about it. Are you interested in thanatology?
D.L.: As you stated, death is an inevitable fact of existence and much of how we face it defines our characters, philosophies and beliefs. I’m very much interested in the subject, from various religious views to my own experiences – death is the driving force behind Cruciamentum.
D.L. 30. 5. 2018 Mortuary