Reinstating all hope that there is still life and creativity in the realm of death metal, the members of Montrealís CRYPTOPSY arenít out to fool anyone with their music or songwriting. The band strives to complete indulge themselves in and explore one musical characteristic, sheer brutality. Possessing the technical aspects that most of the sceneís giants can only hope to achieve, CRYPTOPSY heave a mighty load of harsh grind that is overwhelming to fans of noise and crust as well as death metal. Garnering an incredible underground following in the last few years, especially in Europe, the band are set up to unleash their third monstrous and most vital album, ęWhisper SupremacyĽ... Jon Levasseur, the guitarist of the band, is here to whisper on CRYPTOPSY, Canada and supremacy.
How did the death metal thing start out in Canada?
Well, it pretty much followed the same way as the American metal scene. It has always been big, depending on the cities, of course. Montreal and Toronto are two big cities. Death metal got known at the same time as the United States in all the big cities of Canada. We got on to the bands like SEPULTURA, and then DEICIDE came along, and bands like SUFFOCATION and stuff. In Canada we just followed the way, and it was the time when death metal was really strong, in 1992 and 1993. MORBID ANGEL would come to town with four-five thousand people shows. It used to be a very good days. Each band that would come to Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver always had great shows, as good shows as in the US. I think we had pretty much the same stages. Pretty much the same influences. Everything that was known in the United States, even in Europe, was known in Canada. Canada was not only influenced by the US, but also by Europe. Canada, for the big populated cities, has always been good for shows, and still is. For sure, a few years back the scene was not as good as it used to be, but slowly the shows are getting better and better.
It seems to me that Canada lacks the ęnameĽ death metal bands. Why is it so?
It seems to me that nowadays in Canada thereís not that many thrash bands in the metal scene, thrash in Canada is not that hot anymore. Bands like SECRET REICH were popular at some point, may be five-six years ago, but nowadays it either very extreme or really atmospheric, you know. Thereís not much for the old school metal. Even though thereís some bands from Canada like ENVIL, INFERNAL MAJESTY. But itís funny enough as ENVIL and INFERNAL MAJESTY we never see in Canada! We know they tour often in Europe but we never see them in Canada! Never. I thought ENVIL was over for a log time. But we met them, we met ENVIL when we were recording our third album in studio, they were recording with the same producer. Thatís what we learned.
Actually, in the interview to LEGION magazine, Steve Terror, the guitarist of INFERNAL MAJESTY, told us that thereís no underground metal scene in Canada and thatís why they have to tour Europe.
Thatís may be what he thinks. My point is for what they do, he is right. Thereís none. Canada is very picky and you really have to impress people so people support you. I can understand the bands like INFERNAL MAJESTY. But for really extreme music, like for what we do, thereís crowds. We just played in Montreal not so long - there was five hundred people at the show. There is a scene. But itís probably more underground than INFERNAL MAJESTY, because there was a time when there were so many thrash bands. I guess people got tired of it. Pretty much the same thing happened to death metal a few years ago. In North America anyway. Death metal was going down because each band sounded like the other band. But since then thereís bands that do more reasonable music. We toured Canada twice and it was totally worthwhile for us. And we will do it again.
So, you sound quite upbeat about the underground scene in Canada.
Yes! And I can even say that the best our shows we did in Montreal. There are four main markets in Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver, the biggest cities that have the biggest underground shows. Thereís more bands touring Canada, so people across the country can see them. For the past few years thereís some bands that have been having some good albums. The crowd never went down for these bands. We try to sound totally different than all the other bands, and I think nowadays many bands in North America are using that mentality to do more reasonable music. Death metal was repetitive. But thereís good brutal bands that are coming out and are totally different than bands like SUFFOCATION. SUFFOCATIN is a great band but what happened is that so many bands, in our region anyway, try to sound like SUFFOCATION. It means to go nowhere. For sure, when SUFFOCATION would come to town, it would be a huge show.
But they say the Americans donít support death metal as much as they did a few years ago and Europe is the best place for touring these days.
For sure Europe is a lot better to play than in Canada. But thereís only thirty million people in Canada. And when you compare with the United States thereís three hundred and fifty million people. We are not even ten percent of the US population. But the country is bigger than the United States. I am sure in Europe you got a lot better shows. Letís say Berlin must have a lot of million people there. So, itís pretty hard to compare. But if we compare like with North America itís really hard to say, as we have never played in Europe and itís funny Ďcos recently we heard that Europe for brutal death metal is not as big as used to be. People tell us that in Europe thereís mainly bands like INFLAMES, melodic stuff. As well as black metal. We were under the impression that North America had better brutal scene than in Europe. And when we toured the States we realized there is a good brutal scene. We really hope to go in Europe soon. May be in one year I will be able to answer your question with my experience. I know a lot of people have been supporting us in Europe and we have been wanting to go.
I hope time will show... Still, if you think the brutal scene is more ęhotĽ in Northern America, why did you sign a contract with Century Media then? Havenít you found any good labels in Canada?
The thing is that Canada, as far as labels go, doesnít have that many labels. We signed to Century Media but we didnít sign to the European branch, we signed with Century Media USA. The USA has the office in California and we signed with them. Obviously, they work with Century Media in Europe. And the reason they signed us is that there was a good buzz in North America and we played at Milwaukee Metalfest two years in a row and we got a very good crowd reaction both times. So, they realized it was probably worthwhile to sign CRYPTOPSY. But as far as Canadian labels, thereís no big Canadian labels, more like small independent ones. Thereís no labels you can compare to Nuclear Blast, to Relapse or even to Century Media. You can really rely to have a good record deal in Canada, but the sales for Canadian company does not mean a lot. Thatís why we had to sign with a label in the United States and we are glad because our two previous albums were on Invasion and on Wrong Again Records.
Cancellation of contract with a label is often derives from either personal of financial problems. Was it the case with Wrong Again Records?
Wrong Again Records did a good job, but itís hard to keep good business relations when your label is on the other side of the ocean. Thatís why we were very surprised to see the interest of Century Media USA to sign us. Well, we have nothing to complain about Wrong Again Records! They were very cool. Considering the financial potential that they had, I think they did a great job. We had the exclusive rights for distribution in Canada. They were honest with us, they would sent us our CDs, there was no really royalties involved, they just gave us CDs instead. And that was fine for us at that time. And we still have good relations with this label. And they are really happy for us! Invasion Records is a totally different story... Absolutely nothing to say against Wrong Again Records! And any band that wants to be on an independent label and to give itself a chance, Wrong Again Records is a good label to go to because if we were not on Wrong Again Records we would have never got a deal that we got now! They did the necessary to make the band grow. We are very thankful to them.
One album in two years - not much. Perhaps, you were drudging great deal if it took you so long to record the latest album?
In general, I am very happy with it. Each our album is very different, has its own evolution. Our first album is very fast but very straightforward, very predictable. We would use simple ideas of songsí structures and things like that. With ęNone So VileĽ we went a bit more technical, we tried to make a mix of technicality and brutality. But we didnít go too technical for the album. We want each album to be better than the one before. Better worked on. For ęWhisper SupremacyĽ I am really happy, as I know thereís a lot of people who didnít not believe we would be able to be as brutal and as unpredictable as on ęNone So VileĽ. As much as for the music and as for the title, I am very happy about it, we had a good time in studio. The albumís sound came out really good and the producer did a wonderful job. If it wasnít of him, we would not probably sound as good. He did everything in his power. Each song on the album is very different from each other, we tried to combine even more brutality and technicality and tried to be very unpredictable, which I think we have achieved. For sure, there are always some little things that we would like to have done better. We donít live in a perfect world, sadly, you know. We have to live with it, but in general itís been a great experience. I hope in the year 2000 people will get another CRYPTOPSY creation!
I think itís worthwhile to say a few words about the lyrics. Stories of serial killers written in old English - thatís something new! ęO! Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing...Ľ and something of the kind.
Well, Lord Worm left the band right after ęNone So VileĽ. May be a few months after. He wrote two songs on this new album. And Lord Worm is a very intelligent man, we are still very good friends with him. He used more fantasy, horror movie things, he would transpose himself into the mind of a mass murderer or mass rapist. And he didnít say it was good or bad, he would just explain in his lyrics what would push civil killers to do what they do, you know. It was more of a fantasy world but it does exist. That what he would try to say to people. And his style of writing was very literate, he used old English. Sometimes he would use words that even I wouldnít even understand! But it was very well written, very poetic. But still very brutal, very dark and gory. Mike DiSalvo, our new singer, wrote six new songs on the album. He is closer to Mr. and Mrs. Everyone. Heís talking about things like deep depression, anger, what can push some people to do heavy drugs, to commit suicide. Heís also more political. He denounces things in our society that suck, you know. He just says a lot of deep feelings. Thereís songs that some people can relate to. Heís perhaps more accessible to everyone, he is closer to reality.
So, you are pretty much into human psychology, arenít you?
Yes, both singers have that in common. One was really extreme and the other one is more accessible to everyone. People can relate to his lyrics a lot easier.
You told me we are not living in a perfect world. Is there anything you would like to get rid of?
No one really believes in religion in the band, we are not Satanists either. Satan and God are two opposites but are two things that exist together. If you believe in God you believe in Satan. God and Satan are good and bad. Thatís something that we find ridiculous. Thereís a lot of violence in this world. Stupid wars that happen, you know. Thatís sick! There are really poor and really rich people in the society, there are so rich people that they donít even marry if they have one million more or one million less! Meanwhile, there are people even in Canada, that canít even eat everyday and donít even have a home. So, people make money and the government encourages them. With all the natural recourses that we have on this planet thereís no reason that people should die of hunger! And society in general is getting to be very stressful, in North America anyway. The way of life has accelerated so much in the past thirty-forty years. How many people die of heart attacks at twenty five years old!? It is not supposed to happen, but our world is getting so stressful! The prices are always getting up and you never get like bigger salaries.
But still you have devoted friends in Europe and all around the world. And thatís, of course, great. Would you like to take an opportunity and say anything to your European fans across the ocean?
First of all we are to apologize to them, ha ha! We are really sorry, Ďcos we know that, at some point, for our first album we had a lot more support in Europe than in the United States. We only started to get respected for our second album in the US. But in the States not too long ago people thought that we had only one album out. But we had two. And in Europe people supported us from the beginning. Even from the demo days. So, we would love to go there earlier but when you are not on a major label you canít afford it. So we thank you all for staying true to us! Before the year 2000 we will go to tour Europe.