TTI: Back when you were starting out, what made you think that the Latin word Cruciamentum would be the fitting name for your then still unformed band? How much your perception of that word changed from those early days to this present moment?
Dan Lowndes: When we chose to go with Cruciamentum, there was no deep meaning behind that decision. The word seemed to resonate, and felt like a very suitable name under which to play morbid death metal. Perhaps if I named the band today, I would choose something different to fit the evolutionary path the themes and lyrics have taken, but it serves its purpose.
TTI: Piety Carved From Flesh has been made available for streaming recently, and if online feedback is any indication, people seem very enthusiastic about it. How well does that song represent the album as a whole?
Dan Lowndes: Charnel Passages is quite a varied album, there are tracks which are utterly relentless, others are slower and more atmospheric, there are complex and there are simplistic parts. We chose to unveil Piety Carved From Flesh first as we felt that it represented a good portion of the album in that it features alternating tempos and meters, raw aggression countered by atmosphere.
TTI: My initial reaction to that song was very similar to one that I had when Promulgation Of The Fall by Dead Congregation came out, as both times I caught myself getting very excited over death metal that essentially doesn’t stray too much off the beaten path. Which is the hardest thing I guess, to offer a fresh and personal take on an almost 30 years old genre.
Dan Lowndes: As I’ve taken a very active part in the composition of the music, I find it quite hard to subjectively analyse it. But if it sheds any light on your observation, the intention behind Cruciamentum has always been to make music which is diverse, experimental and with strong, recognizable songs, but at the same time keeping the experimentation low so that it still works within the framework of death metal. I have always hated when bands drastically change style, but on the other hand I also hate when bands settle into routine and release the same album over and over again. We’ve tried to strike the balance between the two.
TTI: The cover picture definitely requires some additional elaboration. Can you please explain the whole concept in detail?
Dan Lowndes: The cover portrays a nightmare scene, hence the abstract imagery. The theme running through the album is of explorations of the dark subconscious, through experiences of sleep paralysis, near death experience and of nightmares, charnel passages, to be traversed to understand one’s self and standing in the universe, and reactions to ones surroundings.
TTI: The thing I loved about Engulfed In Desolation was a delicate, underlying presence of keyboards. Will there be any keyboards on Charnel Passages?
Dan Lowndes: There’s probably more use of textural elements like keyboards and atmospheric guitars on this album. We tried to use more diverse sounds than previously, but these parts are composed with live performance in consideration as we have to play live without the keyboards, or be able to replicate them on guitar or bass without sacrificing the core musical elements, so these parts are never able to become dominant.
TTI: I have just given another listen to Engulfed In Desolation after quite some time and it still sounds pretty solid and tight to my ears. How do you feel about that EP today?
Dan Lowndes: Thank you for your kind words. Speaking entirely personally, I see Engulfed In Desolation as something we could have done better looking back on it. We made some bad choices in terms of where and with whom we worked, which resulted in us having to compromise later in the process due to a lack of funds. That said, it’s rare to meet any musician who is totally satisfied with the finished result of anything they’ve worked on, especially some time after its completion.
TTI: Odori Sepulcrorum by Grave Miasma was in my opinion the best death metal album of 2013. Considering that their drummer D. is also a member of Cruciamentum, as well as R. who takes care of guitars in both bands, how close or even inseparable Cruciamentum and Grave Miasma actually are?
Dan Lowndes: I think that the connection to Grave Miasma is something that people make way too much of an issue out of. The simple fact of the matter is that Cruciamentum formed at a time in England when bands such as Shub Niggurath, Abhorrence, Disembowelment or Absu were almost completely forgotten about, and the guys from Grave Miasma were the only capable musicians I was in touch with who shared common musical interests. Therefore it only made sense that I should ask them if they were interested in collaborating in Cruciamentum. Aside from shared musical interests, that is where the connection ends. After all, both bands have unrelated principle songwriters, Y. in Grave Miasma and myself in Cruciamentum.
TTI: Speaking of Y., he is the only musician I have spoken with to openly admit his fondness of psychoactive substances and to acknowledge their influence on his creativity. Is there anything you would like to confess in that regard?
Dan Lowndes: No confessions to make here. My inspiration comes from a great deal of different sources, from personal experience and reflection, from art and from nature to name a few. How I get inspired to write depends on the time, place and circumstances, and is a very personal thing. I would like to clarify though that drugs take no part in this.
TTI: I noticed in one of your previous interviews that King Crimson, Yes and Genesis found their place on your all time favorite albums list. Being a fan of ’70s prog rock myself, let me ask you a few questions. From In The Court Of The Crimson King to Starless And Bible Black, which one is your least favorite album by King Crimson and why?
Dan Lowndes: I would choose Starless And Bible Black. King Crimson to me always excelled when they were mixing melody with experimentation and dissonance, for example on Red, Lizard, and well, In The Court Of The Crimson King and In The Wake Of Poseidon from start to finish, whereas Starless And Bible Black as well as parts of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic rely too heavily on dissonance and being difficult for difficulty’s sake. They don’t have enough contrast to make them as engrossing to me as the other early albums. Perhaps one day they will finally make sense to me, I certainly don’t write them off as bad albums as they all have their moments, but to me they are the weakest of the golden period albums.
TTI: Going For The One is your favorite Yes album, which is sort of a strange choice, considering that 95% of people would pick either Close To The Edge or Relayer if being asked the same question. What about that particular album do you find so appealing and why do you prefer it to these other two?
Dan Lowndes: Simply for the track Awaken, which is one of the most amazing moments in rock music, every note of that song is perfect. I find it hard really to pick a favourite though, with the exception of Tormato, their output between 1971 and 1980, from The Yes Album through to Drama, is flawless.
TTI: Have you maybe heard of Catapilla, a rather obscure UK prog band from the early ’70s that released two very good albums back in the day?
Dan Lowndes: Yes, I actually discovered this band quite recently and I’ve been acquainting myself with their albums. Out of the two albums, I prefer Changes, but both are great.
TTI: Presuming that you are a Morbid Angel fan, how do you feel about the departure of David Vincent and their reunion with Steve Tucker? Do you think that Trey still has what it takes to write another decent Morbid Angel album?
Dan Lowndes: I consider Formulas Fatal To The Flesh their best output alongside Altars Of Madness and Covenant, so if they intend to make a death metal album as they’ve claimed, then I’m sure they will create something inspired. After all, Morbid Angel has always been more Trey than the frontman in terms of music, and I prefer Steve’s vocals to those of post-Covenant David Vincent. Hopefully they will avoid the Tupperware drums this time.
TTI: Which legendary metal bands deserve to be credited as the most influential in terms of shaping the sound of Cruciamentum?
Dan Lowndes: I’m not a fan of drawing comparisons to other bands, but bands such as Morbid Angel, early Absu, Incantation, Slayer, Disembowelment, Demigod, Immolation, Mortem and Mystifier have all played their parts in inspiring us as musicians.
TTI: UK death metal scene has never been better and stronger, with bands like Binah, Lvcifyre, Craven Idol, Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum all releasing noteworthy albums over the last couple of years. Would you like to mention any other bands of matching quality that for some reason don’t get the attention they deserve? In addition, what is your favorite UK death metal record of all time?
Dan Lowndes: I think Consecration Of The Temple demo by Qrixkuor was really good and would recommend that to anyone who isn’t familiar, I also highly recommend the recent Macabre Omen album. Diamanthian, especially live, are excellent, but I’m not sure as to their situation at the moment. As for a favourite, it’s hard to pick out one. Desolate by Necrosanct and The Funeral Obsession by Decomposed are pinnacles to me.
TTI: Can a band whose sound is completely derivative be truly exceptional and worthwhile?
Dan Lowndes: In the past, all the great bands had their own identities, for example Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, all coming from the same place, but all had their own individual traits which made them instantly recognizable from each other, not only musically, but in their themes and presentation as well. I’m not saying here that every band should strive to be as original and boundary pushing as they can, but a personal touch can’t go amiss for me.
Originally published on 1st August 2015.
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