Lawrence Wallace - Guitars
Steve Cattell - Bass
Necrodemius Hammerhorde - Vocals
Shadows In The Crypt is the monicker of the project led by Lawrence Wallace; two full-lenghts have already been released, and we reviewed both on our webzine. Let's try and grasp a little more about the reasons that drive this Philadelphia band to live and play Black Metal like they did in the nineties.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine! Two years, two albums: you are indeed very active...
Lawrence Wallace: Yes definitely.
Let's begin by talking about your monicker; why "Shadows In The Crypt"? What's looming in the shadows of this crypt?
To tell you the truth, I just came up with it one day and the rest of the band decided that it was a good fit for a black metal band name. I wanted it to be "in the" crypt rather than "from the" or "of the" crypt because it sounded like the phrase made more sense.
How did you give birth to your project? And, as of now, who are its members?
I noticed that the line-up is not really steady, which apparently didn't have any negative consequence on the creation of your albums. I always wanted to start a band and record a great album. It has been something I really wanted to do for years but I didn’t have the resources for it. But then I eventually bought a program that offered a lot of recording tools and I have been using that to record ever since. I started recording the first CD as just my own “one man band” sort of... but I knew I needed vocals so I asked an old friend to lay some tracks down. We talked for a while during the making of the CD and decided that we were going to turn it into a full band. So we did. The first full length album was actually released at the very start of the band’s actual active process. The first line up was me (Lawrence Wallace) on guitar, Christian Simms on vocals and guitar, with Stephen Corridean on bass and we sequenced the drums with a machine. After releasing that CD, we recruited Jesse Beahler of the band "Jungle Rot" who I used to jam with years before. Christian left the band due to musical differences and personal problems, So then we recruited James Dorton on vocals. James, Jesse and Stephen butted heads a little bit on certain things, so we had to look elsewhere for a new vocalist and we called up George Loveland and he agreed to join. Then we recruited Josiah Domico on guitar and Stephen Corridean ended up leaving because he had no time due to his new job so we recruited Steve Cattell on bass and the lineup has been the same since. Josiah and me on guitar, Steve Cattell on bass, George on vocals and Jesse on drums (when he’s not touring with his other bands). The music hasn’t went downhill any, mainly because I write all of the guitar riffs and the others certainly know what they are doing, so it seems to always work out well.
How did you fall in love with Metal and, most of all, what made you decide that black metal would be the right choice to convey your thoughts into music? Which bands have been meaningful and inspirational in this process?
Metal was always my favorite, probably because I love the sound of a distorted electric guitar. It has a lot of power behind it. Metal has a lot of action in the music most of the time and I really like that aspect. Black metal was a very interesting genre when I was first exposed to it because it wasn't typical for bands to just keep the raw production with no mixing or mastering. At first I thought it was funny but the idea sort of grew on me to have a less polished or “less fake” sound, as some BM fans put it. I also found that it's an easy genre to write music in. Black metal doesn’t seem to need all the hooks, break downs, bridges, odd meters, solos or whatever... it can just be a straight 4/4 song all the way through and it would be acceptable to its fans. Some bands that have definitely been meaningful in my playing and writing of this material were Emperor, Horna, Death, Testament (for the thrash stuff) wolves in the throne room, and also even some Metallica.
What I really liked about "Beyond The Grave" and "Cryptic Communications" is that the latter seems to follow the wake of the first, as its natural prosecution; there hasn't been any particular twist in the sound, you maintained that typical nineties' aura and now, with a "human" drummer, Jesse Beahler, and Necrodemius Hammerhorde as a vocalist your music actually gained a lot: the platter sounds to me like a complete, finished work. Are you satisfied with this result? Is this what you were trying to achieve?
Yes for the most part I am proud of it, although some of it I would have chosen a different mix but it is all done now so I can’t go back and change anything at this point. The songs for the first CD and second CD were actually all written around the same time period on guitar. I chose what I felt to be the most powerful songs and used them for the first CD though, so technically the entire album "Cryptic Communications" is comprised of all of the rejected songs that would have been used. But the funny thing is that after changing the lineup with the vocals and recording a real drummer rather than a machine, the second album ended up turning out better than the first.
When I reviewed "Beyond The Grave", I wrote this: "in its imperfection, it is simply Black Metal". How hard it is to sound genuine and credible in a musical scene that during the years has been spoiled and commercialized?
Actually, when I wrote the songs for "Beyond The Grave" I was sort of trying to blend in with the black and death metal scene rather than be original so if it gets knocked for that I’m definitely not offended. It’s never too hard to be genuine because you always know what you want to convey but it is harder to get noticed in a scene like that, and people will stick their noses up at your band some times when they hear the term “black metal” since they are assuming that the commercial black metal is what defines the entire genre. But for the people that are that way, our CDs are not for them anyway.
Do you have fixed roles when you write music and lyrics?
Not really any fixed role. I just want to make sure that the songs compliment each other in some way and I try to make sure that the songs flow as well as I can make them, without any weird abrupt changes. But no real fixed role for me... George on the other hand does have some lyrical themes he likes to fallow. Most of them have been anti-religion based.
There's a classic taste to the guitar solos in the album, who wrote and played them? Do you take inspiration to any particular guitar player?
I wrote and played them. Not really any inspiration as far as the solos on the album go but I do have a lot of shredder influences like Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Loomis, Vinnie Moore etc... I have a long list of guitar heroes.
Words like extreme, black metal, nineties, Scandinavia, Von, Sarcòfago are all linked to an original form of this genre, albeit with a different value depending on the decade we refer them to; what do they mean to you, now?
I'm not sure really... it might seem weird but when I wrote these songs I just kind of sat down and wrote them but I like the fact that people are comparing it to early 90’s Scandinavian black metal because I know the crowd seems to respond better to the bands on the other side of the Atlantic. US black metal seems to get criticized a little more.
What, in your opinion, are the greatest faults of today's musical scene, and, if you could erase permanently something that moves into it, what would be your choice?So many things come to mind with that question. First I'd like to say that rap music is far too big over here in the states. Also the "metal" that this country presents are just rock bands. Like Godsmack, Disturbed etc. I never turn on the radio because I already know there is nothing on that I care to hear. But if I were to eliminate one thing for good it would probably be that thing that they call "dubstep". Maybe I'm getting old or something, I don't know... but I just don’t get it.
Your debut album was self produced: what are the biggest difficulties that came up by not having a label to back you up? Why, in your opinion, many bands decide,these days, to enter (or re-enter) the scene without a label?
I'm thinking, for instance, to Cryptopsy, whose last album was self released. I released our first CD independently because I was basically in a hurry to get a physical copy of the material out there. I wasn't even concerned with a label at the time because, just by having a full length debut CD release put us ahead of the majority of the bands in our local scene. But I think sometimes bands feel like going in independently after gaining a good amount of recognition means that they band can bring in a bit more money from the CD sales considering that a lot of labels collect almost every penny. That is certainly one reason why it makes sense to re-enter the scene as an independent artist. Entering the scene that way on the other hand could just mean you don’t yet have to connections. Which was sort of our case in the beginning.
What changed, for you, when you joined the roster of the Horror Pain Gore Production label? How did they support you and what's your relationship, on a musical and personal level?
Mike was good friends with our vocalist George Loveland. He introduced us to him and he seemed very cool. HPGD posted our release on the HPGD website as well as some online magazines and blogs advertising it and I hear that it is selling very well in his store. We also posted a few ads in magazines Decibel, chips and beer magazine so far. The label has benefited us in a lot of ways over the internet.
Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to listen to the EP you released in September, "Fanatical (Ready To Die)"; how would you describe it?
I would say that it has a slightly more polished sound than cryptic communications but still raw. It is a bit more thrash oriented also, with the same shredding solo style and pretty much the same vocal style also. More classical movements happen in this EP though.
What are Shadows In The Crypt's next moves? Do you have anything planned for the near future?
Shadows in the crypt is currently laying low. We haven’t played a show in over a month and probably won’t be playing any shows for the next few months before we start getting back on the road again. We are currently preparing for a new full length to be released next year if all goes as planned. Hopefully it will be a success.
This is the end of the interview! I thank you and I leave you the chance of concluding our chat with the words you find most fitting.
Alright well, thanx a lot for the interview! I'd like to let everyone know that the first full length CD "Beyond The Grave" is almost out of print, so if anyone is interested in picking up a copy they can send us a message here @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I currently have about 30 left right now before they will all be sold out. Also for the people who are not familiar with the band I would like to leave the Bandcamp link here @ http://shadowsinthecrypt.bandcamp.com/ The second full length CD can be purchased also @ the HPGD label website. Thanx once again for the interview. We appreciate all the support of the underground!