HistoryThis band plays death metal and should not be confused with another underground act with a similar name. They were actually formed as early as 1992 under the International Choir Of Doom moniker, but it wasn't until 1998 that they were given the opportunity to record an album. The band had, in the meanwhile, issued three demos called No Consolation in the summer of 1993, II in December of 1994 and Past Moments in the of summer 1996.
Meadows Of Madness was recorded at Harrow Studio and is remarkable because its production was spread over a period of seven months. Local gigs followed Meadows Of Madness.
Bassist Rob left the band in early 2003. Rob had lost interest in the band's musical style and also felt pressured by his work. This was the first departure from the band in its eleven years of existence. Daniël Centiago joined the band in May of 2003. The new bassist was also active in Escutcheon. After several years of silence, the band returned in 2009 busy with the recording of a new CD, which would possibly be released at the end of 2009. It was being recorded at guitarist Reinout's home studio RK-studio and was advertised as not featuring any grunting or growls. A self-titled disc was issued in 2010 featuring the band’s original line-up. Rob Ahuis was back on vocals and bass. Cromm Cruac would issue its Senecio album with bonus material through Vic Records later in 2014. The release would contain five demo tracks for the bonus section. The group decided to continue with a new monicker, namely Slijk, which featured lyrics sung in Dutch. The new band issued a set of songs called Ondertussen in late 2018.
CROMM CRUAC - SENECIO - TEUTONIC EXISTENCE
Cromm Cruac is a less successful Dutch techno-death band and listening to Senecio makes clear why. Simply put, technical and complex death metal has not been the most popular sub-genre out there which perhaps makes the band all the more extreme for attempting the style again. The album begins with what sounds like a few notes reminiscent of Rush before brutal vocals reminiscent of Sylvain of Kataklysm pulverize the deception. A barrage of techno-death. rich in complexity follows, but the riff-o-rama is interesting and certainly flows better than on the debut. A Passed Moment goes as far as being Jazz-inspired even if a major melody in the song sounds folky. Yet the adventures do not stop there. Careless, for instance, begins with a whole different vibe and the band opts for a dual-vocal approach on Capital Punishment. - Ali "The Metallian"
CROMM CRUAC - MEADOWS OF MADNESS - FIREBREATH/T.E.R.
Cromm Cruac's second album sports an abstract cover which as we shall see suits the band's music. The CD begins with the mid-paced Second Sight. It immediately becomes apparent that deep growls reminiscent of Benediction and a Death-ish technicality are the order of the day with this band. Swain Island is next and is comprised of more mid-paced material. It starts with a harmony and a sharp guitar sound. Cromm Cruac certainly likes its tempo changes, complex fret runs and technical riffs, which seem to belie the deep vocalizations. The song finally betrays its ultimate intentions getting into a jazzy mid-section. That is the pattern for the album: very technical riffs and tempo switches, assertive guitar and bass, growling and a general dominance of skill over impact - although the latter clearly exists. It does speed up, but only momentarily before falling back on the techno-death standard. As is the nature of such compositions, the songs occasionally do not flow well, a victim of the complex nature of the band. Still there are occasions when the brutality wins out. It is a tug-of-war that may confuse the listener. Having said that it sets the Dutch band apart. - Ali "The Metallian"
CROMM CRUAC - Same
It barely matters that Cromm Cruac is a technical and offbeat metal band which has little to do with death metal nowadays because right about now I want to open a can of explosive brutal death on the moron who is pictured on the cover. The retarded murderer looks like your quintessential right-winger and needs to go meet his so-called god. We are here to assist and expedite - with a bullet to the head of course. And as a bonus, there will be one less right-wing/fascist/conservative/Republicrat/nazi/New Labour/nationalist voter.
Now with that said, Cromm Cruac is back after an absence of several years with what is probably its best release ever. The band has regained its original singer Rob Ahuis, but veered a sharp turn away from death metal into lands more obscure and complex.
Cromm Cruac’s music is brave and individualistic. The band’s music is alternately weird and amazing. This is the technical stuff fans of Voivod, Rush, Watchtower and late Disharmonic Orchestra would take in and enjoy. There are no solos on this “little silver disc.” Instead, there are complex patterns, astonishingly controlled drumming, disharmonic guitars and whacked riffs. Above all, the desperate grunts of Ahuis make one feel desolate and him tragic. The hair is gone, but the creativity is all here. Check out titles like The Day My Foot Fell Off, Doomy Kind Of Guy or Shit And Fan. They have that 1990 Voivod sound with a dose of added convolution. This disc is 10 Euros and can be had by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.myspace.com/crommcruacnl. - Ali “The Metallian”
InterviewsIt is a demon, it is folklore, it is a band from The Netherlands: it's Cromm Cruac. The band has released two albums of a very technical nature and is planning on recording a third. It is the right time for Ali "The Metallian" perhaps to dig deeper into the mind of guitarist Reinout Kok in order to see how complex it all can get. - 18.04.2003
METALLIAN: Reinout, Cromm Cruac has been around for over ten years. The band, however, is hardly well-known. Why don't you fill the readers in on your history?
REINOUT: For a certain group of metal fans Cromm Cruac is not a new name. We have been producing, what we like to call, a contradictory style of metal, since 1992.
Since our inception we have recorded three demo tapes consistently improving our technique and developing a style not comparable to current metal styles.
In 1998 the band decided to record a first album entitled Senecio which came out the year after with the help of Firebreath/T.E.R. Records. Although this album was received very positively by all of the magazines which heard it the band remained in the underground. After a year of song writing and playing gigs here and there, we entered the studio again this time to record our second album. The recording was spread out over a period of seven months. We recorded nine rather varied songs. Despite the variety, the second CD - called Meadows Of Madness - was very recognisable without conceding to more popular styles. The album had a great production and was recorded at Harrow Productions. Meadows Of Madness was released in 2001 and had great critiques from major Internet magazines. Right now we have lost our bassist Rob. A replacement has not been found. Regardless, we are moving on with composing material for the third album. We are hoping to record the material before the end of 2003. The current line-up is Reinout Kok on guitar, Henk Werink on drums, Herman Hofman on vocals and Michiel Kleinheerenbrink also on guitars.
METALLIAN: What does the band's name mean?
REINOUT: One of the ancient gods which Satan used to instil fear and terror was called Cromm Cruac. The name literally translates into 'bloody, bent one.'
Cromm Cruac is also part of the Irish folklore as Satan.
METALLIAN: Why would you choose a Satanic or demonic name for the band? Are you a Satan worshipper?
REINOUT: In no way am I a Satan worshipper or whatever - none of us is! I don't believe in gods, myths, religions or other fairytales. They are just stories that are being told throughout the ages of mankind to keep them busy with these issues.
I actually recently found the meaning of the name on the Internet. I knew it was something evil from the Celtic myths and partly knew the meaning - I didn't know it had something to do with Halloween though for instance. That is not the reason why we choose this name for our band. We came by this name when watching the Robin Hood series. In one of them Cromm Cruac is in it and our drummer, Henk, thought it sounded nice. He also likes reading about myths and history and looked up what it meant, but again, the myth is not the reason.
The reason why we choose this name, was because it sounded nice, obstinate, different and not so familiar or usual like most other death metal bands. Our music is also not so usual and so the name fits the music. We were looking for an original name at that time in 1992 - because our first name Intellectual Choir Of Doom, didn't fit the music and didn't sound so original. So our choosing Cromm Cruac has only to do with the music, not with the myths or fairytales.
METALLIAN: Let us move on to the albums. Will you talk in-depth about your intentions with Meadows Of Madness?
REINOUT: I can be brief. The intention with this CD was to get the music we made onto CD for ourselves. We are not the kind of band that makes commercial music to be or get famous. We are a typical musicians' band where every song is a challenge to compose, learn to play and develop. It's also a challenge to practice the songs over and over again and find out what the song needs in technique and effects. We make the music for ourselves and if someone else likes it, then it is nice. If you don't like it, it's also OK. We don't mind. Of course, we hope it will sell and that we can consequently get gigs, but we're realistic enough to see that we are not a very well-selling band which is also due to our smaller record label. We won't be a world-famous band. The CD's are getting us gigs and if we send them to venues they allow us to perform. I think we won't exit the underground scene, but that's OK. We like the scene we are in, although a small tour would be nice to experience as well.
METALLIAN: More specifically on the topic of this album, it betrays some Death and Benediction influences musically and vocally respectively. Do you care to comment?
REINOUT: Well, I have heard that before! I only know the music of Death, and not Benediction, so I can't completely answer this question. I know that Henk and Michiel, our songwriters, listen to a great variety of music which also includes the above-mentioned names. I know that Michiel listens to the bands you mentioned more often than Henk. Henk listens more to older progressive rock music. So it is possible that some of the riffs are inspired by these bands, but I can't be sure. We are also developing ourselves as musicians.
In my opinion Herman has his own way of grunting and screaming throughout the songs. I think he has a great voice which fits our style perfectly. It is possible that it sounds like Death or Benediction, but that's more of a coincidence than us ripping off a band. For myself I can say that my playing and writing solos are based on techniques I have and learned and less on dynamics. Still, I try to change that, which is to say that I always try to be original and unexpected. Why be fast, when everybody else is already doing that?
When we were recording Meadows Of Madness, another band was collecting its completed CDs from Harrow Studio. Our producer at that time, Erik de Boer, mentioned that this band said that we were the Dutch answer to Death! It's nice to get such a great compliment, but realistically I don't think we're the Dutch Death. Also reviews often make mention of Death, Cynic or other technical bands, which I think is logical because we're technical and hard to categorise. Again, we play our own style. The Dutch Internet magazine, Vampire Magazine, mentioned that we played a metal style 'that might be called Cromm Cruac.' I think that is the best description so far.
METALLIAN: How about your second album, Senecio? Can you contrast it with its predecessor?
REINOUT: Senecio was actually composed with the same intention as Meadows Of Madness. We had three demos prior to our debut CD Senecio which taught us that we are not the kind of band that will sell well or get famous. We are the kind of band, which a small number of people on the metal scene will understand and to which listen. We get very positive reactions to both CD's world-wide though. So most importantly we put the music on CD for ourselves. Nothing is more of a kick than having your own CD with your own music in your hands. Firebreath/T.E.R had the guts to release our CD's and will probably release the third. We have approached different labels, but none have had the guts or balls to release our music. Being on this small label has the advantage of close contact and knowing what to expect. A disadvantage is that the label only can release and distribute the music in the underground in a very small edition - of each CD only 1000 are pressed. Placing advertisements and stuff like that is far too expensive. We also could do that ourselves of course, but it is expensive for us too. We would rather spend the money on studio-time in order to get a good sound and have time enough to record each song while still be critical enough to record a song again. We want to get a very good product. I think because we have little promotion we will stay in the underground. That is, until a bigger label gets us out of there, but I don't think that will ever happen.
The contrast with Meadows Of Madness is that you can hear we have grown through the years. The songs have become better and have better 'heads and tails.' We also have grown as musicians and that is also something you can hear. The sound too is better because we have spent a lot of time on individual instruments' sounds. It is good to notice the progress we've made so we can conclude that we are still growing. I think that if you're standing still, the band is about to end. There's always more to learn and explore within a band and in the composition stage.
METALLIAN: To what does the title Senecio refer?
REINOUT: Senecio is the Latin word for 'old man' or 'grey-haired man.' It also is the name of a flower. Again, Henk came up with this name. He has a great garden which also has this flower in it. We actually meant to put pictures of these flowers in the CD or on the CD-cover, but that didn't turn out too nicely. The cover we used was taken from a work by artist Lisa Sportel. She created it for for her graduation from school. Tom, the brother of Henk, designed it further until it became the cover as it is now.
METALLIAN: More specifically regarding the album, are the first few notes of Senecio borrowed from Rush? They certainly sound like Rush's music.
REINOUT: I think you're referring to our song A Passed Moment which was also on our third demo Past Moments. As far as I know it isn't borrowed from Rush. It may sound like something that Rush also used on one of their songs, but I can't say for sure. I don't know Rush's music or the song to which you're referring.
METALLIAN: Let's tackle the technical nature of your music. Is it a deliberate or conscious undertaking? How does it translate into the live arena?
REINOUT: Michiel and Henk write the songs. They can come up with a song individually or make one together. They have each developed their own unique style of writing songs. They still amaze me with the things they come up with and the form of the songs. It's not easy to play and learn them. Due to our development as musicians throughout the years, many riffs are written. If you listen to the melodies in the individual instruments, you will notice that the music was written with a chord or scale as a basic point. We also change scales throughout the songs, but they always fit! I also think that we use many riffs because Michiel and Henk create the music spontaneously. Neither of them has had a music, instrument or music theory lesson. I am the only one in the band that has ever had lessons - at the school for music here in Enschede, which is my hometown. That leaves them free in their thinking. They have great ear and feeling for melody and rhythms. They both listen to a great variety of music and different styles of music. I think that also inspires them when composing songs. The variety is something you can hear in the songs due to the many riffs in any given song. We like to innovate and not imitate!
The songs work out fine on stage. The crowd can appreciate the music - most of the time - and certainly listens to it. The crowd mostly just stands and listens. Stuff like headbanging is something we don't see a lot at our concerts aside from ourselves that is. I think to do that you will have to understand and know our music well - or be really really drunk (laughs)! We mostly get good reactions following our performances as well.
METALLIAN: While on the topic, an obvious question is whether jazz is an influence on the band. There are obvious jazz interludes in the proceedings.
REINOUT: Yup, jazzy influences exist in this band. It combines well with our techniques and songs. It is not so that a lot of jazz is being listened to in the band though. Henk and Michiel just come up with riffs and put them together to form a song. It might turn out to have a jazzy feeling and jazz influences, which is OK. We like to be original and unpredictable. I know that the jazzy parts are both noticed and mentioned in reviews. It is well-received by reviewers and audiences.
METALLIAN: Speaking of something that a reviewer might notice, you have opted to drop the lyrics. Do you not have a message?
REINOUT: The lyrics on Senecio were dropped because, at the time, we did not want to publish them. We thought - and still do that the vocals are an instrument and not a vehicle with which to say something. I have asked Herman if there is anything of importance in the lyrics, but he has said no. They are just stories without meaning. There are not any second layers or meanings to them. The voice is a more instrument, and he likes to use it in that way. The lyrics of Senecio will probably be published on our webpage, but we are still contemplating that.
The lyrics were not dropped on Meadows Of Madness. That is because the companies where Herman works did the artwork. They came up with a concept which we liked.
METALLIAN: In other words, in your opinion it is not vital for a metal band to have a message.
REINOUT: That is correct. As I said, the voice is primarily an instrument. It is better to have good vocal-lines and dynamics than have something to say albeit with bad lines. The music always comes first - in my opinion.
Since our music is complicated, it is also difficult to make vocal-lines. So Herman works out those lines first following which he writes the lyrics. It's quite a process, but it works out every time. That is our way of working and our way of thinking regarding our music. Some bands prefer to make lyrics and say something with it, but not we!
METALLIAN: Let us shift our horizons. What are your current plans? It has been two years since your last output.
REINOUT: Our current plans are to start recording our third album by the end of this year. We have written almost enough songs to record a full-length, but are still refining them. Due to the departure of our bassist Rob, we are searching for a bassist, which seems to be a difficult task. Consequently all gigs have been postponed awaiting a completed line-up. I hope a new bassist will be in the band before we commence the recordings, but Henk, Michiel and I can write and learn to play the bass parts if needed. It will not be a problem for the recording session.
Elsewhere, we are working on our web site in order to make it more interesting. We are also creating an HTML-version, because not everybody's computer supports Flash. We want those people to access our web site, see who we are and what we are up to.
METALLIAN: Can you compare the next release with your previous work? What, if anything, will be different?
REINOUT: Our next release will be typical Cromm Cruac in every way; that's for sure! It will be in line with the previous releases, but slightly different. The songs are more mid-tempo and just a bit better to follow. We are still working on the songs though. Things can still take a turn.
I think our third album will be easier to listen to compared to the previous two albums. Still, due to Rob's departure we have no bassist or bass parts. That can still mean more interesting parts in the newer songs.
Furthermore, the seven-string guitar will make an appearance on the album which means a new sound-perspective. I am using a seven-string Dean Avalange Ultra 7 guitar now in addition to my six-string guitars (Gibson MIII), but only when it goes with a riff and sounds good. I have so far used it several short times in three different songs. Michiel only plays a six-string Gibson Les Paul, which is good because we are combining the six and seven string guitars.
We do not have song titles yet, although we have composed eight songs for the new album. Henk just came up with another song and is working on a newer song, so we have enough material to record. We hope to start recording later this year, but it will take lots of time before it has finished and released.
METALLIAN: At a higher level, why don't you give Metallian's readers a sense of the Dutch scene?
REINOUT: The Dutch metal scene is still there and even growing a bit. There are many new bands, but alas a few live venues which means there is not much of an opportunity to play around. Foreign bands are seen here, but the Dutch bands are not seen as much. The commercial metal bands are still there - and play a lot. As far as the underground bands go, there is not much of a chance to play. Live venues are getting less financial support from the government and can, therefore, book less bands. Therefore they much prefer to book something commercial which they know attracts a lot of people than put an underground band on the stage. Luckily there is a scene in Groningen called Grun'N Metals Combined which now organises a festival called Noordschock at which many underground bands play. There are also more organisations throughout the country that do these things for the scene - like Virus in Utrecht.
METALLIAN: And to end this chat, what else occupies your time?
REINOUT: My other interest beside music is motorcycles at this time. I want to get my licence for it real soon. I also like relaxing as I just have had an intensive school curriculum completed. I am also doing things I wanted to do like visiting the cinema, looking up and going out with friends, etc.. Music will always be my number one priority though.
METALLIAN: Speaking of which, what were you studying at school?
REINOUT: I was studying Music Therapy - which is an education that is hard to describe.
Reinout welcomes fans who wish to write the band. To order both of the band's CD's send 20 Euro's along with your name and address to Cromm Cruac, c/o Reinout Kok, Lipperkerkstraat 279-D, 7533 AB, Enschede, The Netherlands. The band's web site is at www.crommcruac.nl.