Interview: Crimson Falls
The term "metalcore" has become practically meaningless. When Killswitch Engage, Full Blown Chaos, and Converge fit into the same category, it might as well be called "short-haired people doing long-haired music." Once in a while, though, an album comes along that taps metalcore's full potential – the epic scope and adventurousness of metal and the physicality of hardcore.
That album is Crimson Falls' The True Face of Human Nature. The breakdowns don't suck, the guitar work is creative, and the lyrics actually mean something. With vivid artwork by Svencho of Aborted (who does guest vocals on one song) and cinematic interludes, the album is a powerfully cohesive listen. Guitarists Kristof and Ringo answered Metal Injection's questions and reasserted Belgium's claim to having invented French fries.
What's the heavy music scene like in Belgium?
RINGO: It [has been] growing a lot for the last 3 or 4 years. Every year new bands are formed, and there is a lot of quality involved. For a small land like Belgium, we can’t complain at all. Every weekend there are numerous gigs throughout the whole country. Sometimes it is even hard to choose which gig you want to go to. And of course there are bands like Aborted, Leng Tch'e, Oceans of Sadness, and In-Quest who are well-known far abroad.
Do you identify with the metal and/or hardcore scenes?
KRISTOF: Crimson Falls identifies with both scenes. We’ve always played on shows in both scenes, and we feel at home and appreciated in the metal and the hardcore scenes. Most of us have our roots in the hardcore scene and started out in hardcore/metalcore bands. We all started listening to metal bands years ago as well, and our musical tastes evolved to death/thrash metal. As a result of this, both styles can be heard in our music.
What is "the true face of human nature"?
KRISTOF: The True Face of Human Nature is good and bad. It has a bright side and a dark side. It’s Heaven and Hell. The title track of the new album goes deeper into this ambiguity, this contradiction between good and bad in mankind.
What's the concept behind the cover art?
KRISTOF: We chose the idea of the person, attached to a lot of computers, showing the dark side of man on their screens. On these computer screens the negative side of human nature's true face is displayed: soldiers, death row, a child rapist. The person attached to the computers can't cope with it anymore and collapses under the input he gets from the computers. The negative side of human nature’s true face is too much for him.
Svencho from Aborted did guest vocals and the album artwork. How did this come about?
RINGO: Of course we knew Sven for some time from his bands Aborted and Leng Tch'e, and we liked his grunting and screaming a lot! We came in touch with him some time ago when we asked him to build our website for his designing agency Dirge Design (now Avernus Studios). We were very happy with the job he did, so we also asked him to design the artwork for our debut MCD Ruins 2K5. To get all these artwork jobs done, we did a lot of email and chat sessions with him, which led to a very good contact between us. So we asked Sven to record some guest vocals for "Controle Alt Delete." And he sure did an awesome job!
The guitar tones on the album are massive. Did they come from any special equipment or recording techniques?
KRISTOF: Well, first of all thank you for the compliment! We always got good comments on our live sound, so we thought it would be stupid not to start from that. From that starting point, we let Kris Belaen from the CCR Studio use and display his knowledge and talent. He added some equipment from his studio (amplifiers, cabs) and used some techniques to make it all come through as brutal and "broad" as possible.
RINGO: We both used two different amplifiers, including our own Powerball in combination with our own custom-made cabs and the cabs Kris owned. And to improve it even more, Kris suggested [that we] record every guitar track twice, which we did. The results were amazing; we were very satisfied.
RINGO: It is a contradiction, though there is a big difference. You can use these technologies for a good purpose as well – communication, for example – and that’s not a bad thing at all. It becomes an anti-social addiction when you stop reflecting about the things you do and the consequences it might give. A lot of people are already trapped, and that is frightening, because these people are more vulnerable for addictions, indoctrination, etc., and might become violent, for instance. So by writing this text, I hope someone opens his eyes and realizes he’s going over the edge.
"Martyr Vs. Terrorist" seems to say that martyrs are terrorists. Do you believe there is no legitimate reason for a person to be a suicide bomber?
KRISTOF: Well, actually I’m not really saying that martyrs are terrorists in this song. On the contrary; it deals with the difference in culture, conviction, point of view, and perception that our Western culture and Muslim extremists have on "terrorism." From our Western point of view, these terrorists are nothing more than killers and murderers taking innocent lives. From their own point of view, these suicide terrorists consider themselves to be martyrs, dying for their beliefs. I think there's never a legitimate reason for a person to be a suicide bomber.
Two songs on the album are about World War I. Does someone in the band have this particular historical interest?
KRISTOF: We don’t have real World War freaks in our ranks, no. But the World Wars are of course an important period in history that can’t be forgotten. The idea behind these two songs grew after a visit I paid to the city of Ypres, Belgium. I visited a lot of remnants of the First World War and I got in touch there with the poem "In Flanders Fields." As the entire visit made quite an impression on me, I immediately got the idea to use the poem for the softer song we were working on. As the poem was very inspiring to me, I also wrote the lyrics to "We Are the Dead."
What bands have influenced Crimson Falls or earn its respect?
RINGO: For me, it’s definitely the almighty At the Gates and Morbid Angel, but there are so many bands to mention. I listen to all kinds of metal, but my preference goes out to melodic and brutal death metal. So bands like Amon Amarth, Suffocation, Carcass, Death, old Sepultura, Slayer, etc. earn my respect a lot, and my playing techniques are definitely influenced by these great bands. For the newer generation of bands, I certainly want to mention All Shall Perish, Aborted, In-Quest, Gojira, Nevermore, etc.
KRISTOF: My favorite bands are more or less the same as Ringo's. Currently I'm listening a lot to bands like All Shall Perish, Burning Skies, Despised Icon, Aborted, and Nevermore. Other all-time favorites of mine include metalcore bands like Heaven Shall Burn, Reveal, and Shai Hulud, as well as death metal bands like At the Gates, Suffocation, and Morbid Angel.
What other bands from Belgium should people check out?
KRISTOF: There are a lot of talented bands in Belgium that deserve to be recognized outside Belgium as well. Some kick-ass Belgian bands like Aborted, In-Quest and Leng Tch'e have already achieved this, I guess. Underneath this top of the scene a lot of talent is coming up. The first band that comes to mind is Spoil Engine. Awesome live band, great melodies, metalcore breakdowns, and tight as hell! They’ve got a full CD coming up in May, which they are currently producing together with Jochen from Textures.
RINGO: I think Unleash the Fury is the band to watch out for. With the ex-singer of Hard Resistance, the ex-guitar player of In-Quest, and the ex-bass player of Axamenta, you've got a fine mix of talented musicians.
KRISTOF: Actually, there’s a whole new scene of bands coming up in Belgium over the last year(s) with bands like Rafflesia, Asethry, Omerta, Days of Betrayal, Fatal Recoil, The End of All Reason, and we’re glad to be part of this.
RINGO: And there are more, like Pulverize (my nephew abuses the guitar in this band), Psalm (great guys), and local bands like Upperhand and Ordeal.
What is the one food or drink from your country everyone should try?
RINGO: French fries. I don’t understand why they call it French because it’s definitely Belgian, goddammit!
KRISTOF: Yes, French fries, definitely. And of course some Belgian chocolate and metal!
Top photo by Valerie Afschrift; all other photos by Cindy Frey.