(Here’s Comrade Aleks‘ interview with Steffen Brandes, drummer/vocalist of the German death-doom band Cryptic Brood, whose latest album, Outcome of Obnoxious Science, was released in late November by War Anthem Records.)
Deep-rooted in a bloody and filthy death metal aesthetic, Cryptic Brood of Wolfsburg steadily walk their path remaining true to rules set by their predecessors in the ’90s. It’s one of those death doom bands which keeps the underground spirit of rot filled with disgusting images.
The Graveyard Brood, Wormhead, Brain Eater, Inevitable Death, and Infectious Decay — when you see the titles of Cryptic Brood’s releases you know what will come next. And yes, these Saxons kept their brand with two new releases in 2019, as the full-length Outcome Of Obnoxious Science and the split cassette with their more straight Italian colleagues Ekpyrosis titled In The Grip Of Death won’t disappoint fans of Asphyx or more modern bands like Anatomy, Hooded Menace, and Coffins.
Steffen Brandes (drums, vocals) tells us a few cryptic things in this fresh interview.
Hi Steffen! You started in the death metal outfit Dissouled. What didn’t work for you with that band? How did you come to create Cryptic Brood alongside Dennis and Michael?
Hello Aleks, first of all thank you for this interview. I really appreciate your interest. And interest is what was the problem in the end of Dissouled. The priorities in life changed for some of the members, so in the end it didn’t work anymore. But I already had Cryptic Brood going, so I could invest all my energy and time in that project.
Was a concept of death doom with brutal lyrics set from the start? I didn’t listen to the Morbid Rite demo nor your split with Graveyard Ghoul, but the Wormhead EP points clearly on these features.
Our first releases (including the Wormhead EP) had this doomy edge. But we never forced ourselves to write slow music. It all came very naturally when rehearsing and jamming the stuff. Same for the following releases with a faster approach.
It seems that death doom bands with a brutal image, such as Asphyx, Cianide, Hooded Menace, Cryptic Brood, etc., stand closer to the death metal scene than to doom. Do you feel yourself rather a part of the death scene?
Listening to music is not like going into a store where all categories are strictly separated. And I don’t want to limit my music so it just fits into one category. From Cryptic Brood you get death metal, doom metal, grindcore… maybe someone else will hear something different in there. It’s fine for us.
CRYPTIC BROOD – “Outcome Of Obnoxious Science”
Do you play with doom bands as well as with death metal acts?
We played and play with all kind of bands. Death, Thrash, Black Metal, but also Grindcore, Doom, or Sludge bands. As a visitor at concerts, I like it when bands of different genres play together. Keeps the ears fresh.
What attracts you to the themes of death, decay, and all sorts of diseases? Can you trace the roots of your interest in these topics?
We’re big fans of horror in all its forms. Disgusting themes are entertaining and they fit into the rotten music.
But in real life “disgusting themes” happen each day — just change “zombie” to “heroin-addicted junkie” or “alcoholic” in some of the gore-focused lyrics where knives, entrails, etc., meet each other and you have a picture from reality. Yesterday here in Saint-Petersburg one of 12-year-old twins killed his mother while drunk and dug in her belly with a fork and some other instruments. A real story. So is it really ok to use such themes for entertainment?
Is every football fan violent because there are some “fans” that behave like that? Does every football fan devastate trains, buses, and cities? Does this belong to the entertainment of that type of sport? Every time something like this happens, there are people who try to blame violent computer games or music with extreme lyrics. But are all the people into one or both of these things potential murderers? I’ve never ever had any violence at any metal show I attended.
Who’s the lyrics writer in Cryptic Brood? Do you discuss texts, and how are texts important for you?
All three of us write lyrics. We do not really discuss them. Vocals are an instrument – like drums, bass, and guitar. For me personally the lyrics themselves are not important as long as they’re gory.
Did you ever use real stories in your lyrics?
Not that I know of.
Okay, back to music… Your next release was another split, with Restos Humanos (2015), and two more splits appeared in 2018 – Inevitable Death with Minenfeld and Infectious Decay with Anatomia. What role do splits play for you? Do you plan to continue this tradition further?
There are multiple things I like when it comes to split releases. Split-releases are a great way to show an attachment and friendship between two or more bands. Besides that, the bands help each other to spread the music and reach different people.
Brain Eater’s artwork is a bit atypical for such music. You know, it’s quite abstract, as other bands seem to prefer more direct stuff. How did you pick up this one? Or did Ravager Artwork prepare it specially for you?
Ravager Artwork did some stuff for other bands that I follow. I like his style. And when we were looking for an artist to do some art for our album Brain Eater we found this piece. It was finished and for sale. So we scored 😉
The Brain Eater album was released in 2017. I didn’t find information about where it was recorded. How was this session organized?
We recorded it by ourselves in our rehearsal room at s.v. Jugendhaus Ost in Wolfsburg. Took some of the mics that are available from the stage there (where I set up shows) and used them to record everything. The recordings were done in two days as we played all together live. Also the mixing was done by ourselves. For the mastering we had some help from Dave Rotten from Xtreem Music, who also released the Brain Eater album on CD.
Did you have in mind elements which you saw as necessary parts of Brain Eater’s sound? What kind of mood did you want to express through it?
A main element of the feeling when listening to that album is that you really can hear that we’re playing this album in our rehearsal room. It sounds like you’re sitting or standing next to us, flavouring your visit with a tasty beer or whatever you like. The rest of it is just rotten metal of death.
You’re from Lower Saxony. What is your local scene about? Is it easy to find gigs in your area?
If you look at the size of a town like Wolfsburg, it’s a pretty good scene. We have some loyal people who always go to the local shows and support the playing bands.
Cryptic Brood – live
Steffen, you run Lycanthropic Chants, but it seems you prefer to see Cryptic Brood on other labels. What’s your policy towards picking up bands for your label?
I do not prefer to see Cryptic Brood on other labels. But if another label can help the band in a way that’s not possible for me, then it’s good to do it. And that’s what I do for the bands I like. If I’m able help them in any way, I’ll do my best to do so. I know most of the people from the bands personally, so it’s some kind of natural reflex to support them.
Can you share your plans concerning the next Lycanthropic Chants releases?
Besides the new Cryptic Brood album on tape, I will release new EPs by other German bands like Graveyard Ghoul and Dawn of Obliteration. Also for Filthdigger from Norway and Oniricous from Spain. New albums by Exhumation from Indonesia and Sepulchral Curse from Finland will also be released on tape via Lycanthropic Chants. Interested people can keep themselves updated at https://www.lycanthropic.de.
What’s the most difficult part in running an underground label? Can you tell what underground metal circle members support each other enough effectively?
I cannot speak for other underground labels. But I try to make every release on Lycanthropic Chants something special and maybe unique. For example, for the new EP of Graveyard Ghoul there was this special edition tape housed in a craft paper coffin. Or the tape version of the new Cryptic Brood album with a special edition that was an homage to old vhs video tapes. So the most difficult part is to have new ideas for special editions (which makes them different from the big labels that just release music in standard formats) and to make these ideas become reality. People seem to like this and support these ideas by adding these releases to their collection.
War Anthem Records scheduled the release of Cryptic Brood’s second album Outcome of Obnoxious Science in late November. Do you prepare a release party?
The official release date for all formats of this album was on the 22nd of November 2019. We were on our “In The Grip Of Death” European Tour from 31st October to 23rd November 2019. On the release day we played in Berlin and this show was be some kind of release gig, yes.
How do you see the core differences between Outcome of Obnoxious Science and Brain Eater? What changed in your vision of Cryptic Brood during these two years?
There are no fatal changes in our vision for our music. If you want rotten metal of death, you get it here. I think you’re able to hear a progress in the usual formula. Just listen to it by yourself.
So are you 100% satisfied with new stuff?
There’s always progress in the songwriting and/or sound of a band (hopefully). The material on our new album Outcome Of Obnoxious Science totally reflects the current state in the evolution of the band. It’s how we want to sound today. We are 100% satisfied!