(We’ve already written enthusiastically about the first music disclosed from a forthcoming second album by the Spanish death/thrash band Cruz, and so it was a very welcome gift to receive Comrade Aleks‘ following interview of the band, via its drummer Xavi.)
Cruz was formed in Barcelona in about 2013. It took some time before these guys made a decision to perform thrashy death metal glorifying the holocaust of ecstasy and freedom in the name of Cosmic Chaos and Lovecraftian Horrors. And even though their first album Culto Abismal (2016) was recorded relatively fast, it took six years to finish the sophomore work Confines de la Cordura, which will see the light in September 2022 according to Nuclear Winter Records’ schedule.
And while we wait until the stars align let’s take a glimpse into the world of Cruz together with the band’s drummer Xavi.
Hi Cruz! How are you? What’s new in Barcelona?
Hello! Not bad at all, most of us are about to start our Summer vacations. Not much is new here in Barcelona, it is very hot and fuller than usual of fucking tourists.
Cruz is nearly ten years old now. Okay, you’ll have a tenth anniversary the next year. Anyway, nine years is a big gap — are you satisfied with the course the band began taking back then?
Actually, it was in 2012 when CRUZ was formed, so it was this year, in April, that was the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the band, although it’s true that the first line-up was only completed in 2013. We are totally satisfied with the course that the band took when we started, because the original idea was doing something punkier, still “metallic”, but punkier; however, from day one we chose the path of death metal after Imanol (the original guitarist) brought his newly-acquired HM-2 and some riffs inspired by Nihilist. Obviously there has been an evolution in the music since then, but in essence we think it’s still the same.
How naturally did this change in your vision happen when you decided to switch from “punkier” music? Was it about inner ethics? How much of that attitude is left now in Cruz?
It happened naturally because Imanol and Xavi, the original members of CRUZ, were already very familiar with death metal and metal in general. Xavi had played in a black metal band some years before that and was into metal since his teens, and Imanol was more into punk and hardcore but liked Sepultura, Sacrilege, Nihilist and Bolt Thrower, to name a few. So wanting to play death metal was a natural thing. But they wanted to keep the punk sound and spirit, because both participated in the Barcelona DIY punk scene. Nowadays, we still keep the attitude, from organizing our own shows and playing squats to having a clear stance against things like racism in metal, for example.
What was your original plan for Culto Abismal? Did you want to launch it as a thrashy death metal thing from the start or did it happen spontaneously?
Well, for Culto Abismal we recorded eight tracks, half of which were already in the demo, so the album was just a continuation of what we had been doing since the beginning of the band. It’s just that we thought the time had come to release a full-length album. We didn’t think “oh, we want the album to be this way”, we just wrote four more tracks and that’s it, but always trying to do our own thing and not trying to sound like something or somebody else.
Do you have a main composer in the band or is a song the result of common effort usually?
All the music of CRUZ without exception is the result of common effort. Usually the guitarists, Imanol and Michele, and the bassist, Simone, bring riffs and ideas for songs to the rehearsal space and then everyone participates in creating the final product. The lyrics, on the other hand, are written by Narcís, the singer, and Xavi, the drummer.
There were two songs with lyrics written in Catalan in Culto Abismal. How important is it for you to keep this national identity? Why did you choose to use Catalan just for certain songs?
It’s not that we consciously and deliberately wanted to keep this ‘national identity’ as you say; rather, it was just natural to write some lyrics in our mother tongue, bearing in mind that the rest of the lyrics were in our second mother tongue, Castilian (Spanish). The reason why only two songs had lyrics in Catalan is that until the arrival of Javi, the singer in Culto Abismal, Xavi, our drummer, had been the only lyricist, and he got used to writing all the lyrics in Spanish (although, paradoxically, he’s actually more of a Catalan speaker). Javi then proposed to write a couple of lyrics in Catalan and we all thought it was just natural.
Do you feel that using of your mother tongue benefits Cruz? How does your origin show itself regarding the band’s ethics?
We don’t think it benefits us in any particular way; maybe it gives us a distinctive touch but nothing more. We feel that what really counts is the music. However, it is true that having lyrics in Catalan and Spanish instead of English makes us feel truer to who we are, instead of feeling like we are trying to be bands from other countries that sing in English. Regarding our origins, well, only three of us (out of five) are Catalan, although all of us are deeply anti-authoritarian and support the struggle against all forms of oppression and discrimination. Having said that, we are not a political band, but as individuals we are very political towards certain things, so you will never see us playing with fucking nazi/racist/homophobic/etc bands.
Well… Sorry, but what about satanism or any monotheistic theism then? Both directions are connected with oppression and discrimination in their own way too.
We think it’s more complex than that. Fascism/nazism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc are inherently discriminatory; you can’t be racist, for instance, and not be discriminatory. However, – and this may be an unpopular opinion in metal – there are different ways of interpreting a religion, and although we are not fond of religions at all, we think that somebody can be religious and at the same time not be a bigot. Of course religions have a history of discrimination, oppression, etc, but some people establish a difference between the religion itself and the institutions, the things that happened in the past, etc. We don’t expect everyone to think the way we think, we just draw the line when someone’s beliefs are inherently and necessarily discriminatory, and it’s not necessarily the case with being religious.
How often do you receive feedback from other countries where the Spanish language is widespread? Do you get support from South America for example?
We do get support from all over the world, not massive, of course, but we do get it, and South America is not an exception. But we don’t get more support from South America than from any other countries. In the end, we think in metal what counts is the music first and foremost.
The band’s lyrics are summarized as “Parallel dimensions, Malevolent entities, Lovecraftian literature” – thanks to Metal-Archives. What kind of influence do you draw from these sources? How does it reflect in your songs?
Not all of our lyrics deal with that, some deal with more traditional horror themes such as cemeteries, rituals, etc, but it is true that the main concept of the lyrics is very Lovecraftian: the insignificance of humankind in the universe, the extremely limited human understanding and perception of the whole of existence, the realities/forces/entities/etc that exist outside our perception, and especially the scorn towards the ridiculous sense of vanity of humankind. Our sources range from all kinds of literature to personal experiences and thoughts. All this gets reflected in the incredible artwork done by César Valladares but also, we hope, in the music through some sense of underlying darkness in our riffs and songs in general.
Do you have songs whose lyrics are directly based on Lovecraftian literature? Stuart Gordon’s Dagon was shot in Spain.
True! Only the lyrics of two songs are directly based on Lovecraftian literature: ‘Culto Abismal’ and ‘Tumbas Ciclópeas’, from Culto Abismal, both based on “The Call of Cthulhu”. But other songs have lyrics inspired by Cosmic Horror or Cosmicism, for example, the title track of the new album, “Confines de la Cordura”.
That new album Confines de la Cordura is scheduled for release on the 26th of September, so do you prepare a release gig or something?
We will indeed play a release gig in our hometown of Barcelona when we have copies of the album in all formats (September for CD and Tape, hopefully November for the LP). We will try to do something special, hopefully before the end of this year. But we also plan other gigs in Spain and abroad for next year.
There are six years between the albums. How do you value your progress as the band now?
Well, there have been a few setbacks such as members leaving the band, line-up changes, creative stagnation, etc, but we believe that since the present line-up was established, there has surely been an improvement in the quality of the compositions, an increase of creative potential, a tighter personal connection among band members and, as a result, a strong motivation to push the band forward.
Do those changes in the line-up inflict seriously on your music and the way you work over the material?
The last line-up changes have definitely had a profound impact on the music, since both Michele and Simone are great guitar and bass players respectively, and have killer ideas for riffs, solos, song structures, etc. And Narcís’ vocals are savage as hell, as well as very dynamic. On the other hand, the way we write music is the same as always — we all participate in the process.
How did it happen that Michele switched from vocals to guitars? That’s a very unusual twist!
Indeed! The thing is that Michele has always been a guitar player, but he could also sing, so when Javi (the singer in Culto Abismal) left the band, we asked him to join CRUZ because we got along well and thought he could do a good job (and did so). But three years later our then second guitarist left the band, so Michele decided to switch to guitar and then we asked Narcís to join us as vocalist.
How do you see Cruz’s prospects in Spain and abroad? Do you see an opportunity to jump on a train to higher echelons of death metal?
We think, or at least we hope, our new album will make the band grow in terms of exposure and, hopefully, appreciation of our music, and will also allow us to play more shows in other countries.
How would you sum up the features of Confines de la Cordura? Especially in comparison with Culto Abismal?
Confines de la Cordura has all the attributes of Culto Abismal, namely the catchy dark riffs, relentless speed, aggression, and filth, but is also more diverse in tempo and atmosphere, has more melody (without being melodic at all) and sounds much better overall, thanks to Javi Félez at Moontower Studios and Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio.
Okay, thank you man for the interview! So what’s left… Do you plan any smaller releases for the rest of 2022? Or do you plan to take a pause now when you have the new album released?
No releases for this year or even the next. We have taken six long years to release something new since the first album, so this is already an achievement for us, haha. However, we do not plan to make a pause, we plan to present the album live here and abroad and continue to write new stuff so it doesn’t take us another six years until the next release, haha.
Thanks for your time! That’s all for today, I wish you to have a cool release show! Thanks again!
Thanks a lot for your interest and support, and for asking interesting questions. Maybe we’ll see you at a show in the future! Cheers from Barcelona!