It is a brave and bold move for a band that gained a certain level of success, to make the radical decision to start all over again. Dutch trio Cryptosis did exactly that, putting their career as the old-school thrash metal band Distillator to the grave, to pursue a new creative direction. Laurens Houvast [vocals/lead guitar], Frank te Riet [bass/mellotron/backing vocals] and Marco Prij [drums] opened themselves up to progressive, atmospheric and black metal music and felt very inspired by these new musical sources. They even wrote 8 dystopian storylines to accompany their transformation. The recordings, that were done between October 2019 and January 2020 in Enschede [NL] by Olaf Skoreng, impressed the renowned label Century Media Records and soon after a deal to release the debut album `Bionic Swarm’ world wide [March 26th 2021] was sealed. Also HeadBangers LifeStyle is impressed by Cryptosis’s debut, so Liselotte `Lilo’ Hegt got in touch with Laurens and Frank for some insight information.
,,With the introduction of the mellotron our sound got that extra dimension I was looking for the last couple of years.’’-Frank te Riet
It was in September of 2020 that Distillator announced on social media to stop as Distillator and to move on as Cryptosis. Why starting all over again after 7 years?
Laurens: ,,We established Distillator early 2013 with the purpose of playing pure old-school thrash metal in the vein of bands like Slayer, Exodus and Sodom. In the early years following our founding, we held on to that thought and recorded `Revolutionary Cells’ and the follow up `Summoning The Malicious’. We did some excessive touring with bands like Metal Church, Vektor, Pestilence, Angelus Apatrida and played direct support shows for Anthrax, Testament, Gojira, WASP, Gorgoroth and many more. The ultimate highlight was playing the 70.000 Tons Of Metal Cruise in 2016. During this period and the years following, we developed our own musical preferences. We discovered new bands, new genres and grew as musicians playing our instruments. Whenever we were on the road to play a concert, all of us were trying to play music in the tour bus that we loved, we tried to inspire each other with great bands that some of us hadn't heard of before.’’
Frank: ,,At that moment, I guess somewhere mid 2018, we kind of realized that we wanted to play much more than just pure old-school thrash metal. We wanted to experiment and write songs that were not bound to a specific genre. A lot of that had to do with me re-discovering the band Rush. Never was a big fan because their music was so happy. I didn’t like that. But when I dug deeper into what they were doing I found out that Geddy Lee is an incredible musician who is playing bass, vocals and synths (with his feet) all at the same time. This really got me thinking on how to expand our sound. I wanted to create a sound that “fills the room”, I’ve experimented for quite some time to get this right, played a stereo setup with my bass using different distortion textures, but none did the trick. Then I found out about the Mellotron, a real eerie sounding instrument, used a lot on Beatles and other 60s records. Online I found a pedal that could emulate that sound while I used it in my stereo bass setup. With the introduction of the mellotron our sound got that extra dimension I was looking for the last couple of years. This opened a lot of doors that were closed before regarding songwriting, and our sound became sort of what it is today.’’
,,We really let go of any boundaries and automatically developed our own identity and fingerprint.’’-Frank te Riet
Laurens: ,,At this point, we also realized that “Distillator” (including the logo) has pure old-school thrash metal dripping off it at all sides. When we were writing the 3rd Distillator album, which later became the debut for Cryptosis, we just wrote what came to mind. It didn’t specifically have to be thrash or extremely fast music at all. We recorded a lot of ideas as demos. Put it in a large library and started working on the songs from there. Songs like ,,Prospect Of Immortality” and ,,Mindscape” are both good examples in which you can hear us experimenting with sound. There is still a fair bit of thrash metal on the album, but also we added influences of atmospheric-, black- and prog metal. For all the upcoming material we want to keep exploring. If you see an 80s logo with a typical thrash metal name you’d expect that kind of music. But for us, it felt that the name didn’t do justice to the music. We don’t want to disappoint our old fans with music that does not have the same vibe like our old albums, as you see with some bands. And we want to attract new fans that listen to more than just old school thrash metal as we’re open minded ourselves too. In order to make the music work it has to be a reflection of us, the guys that write and play it with passion. So we went for a bold statement and changed the name into something that can be so much more than just pure old school metal.’’
,,We want the listener to think and fantasize about the future too. We’re giving them the mindset, the imagination is theirs.’’-Laurens Houvast
Can we call Cryptosis a more sophisticated thrash metal band?
Frank: ,,Dom Lawson, a music journalist for The Guardian and Metal Hammer UK, described our sound as “Futuristic multi-metal eruption”. Personally I think it’s the best summary of our sound. Our debut album `Bionic Swarm’ has lots of thrash metal influences, this is true, however we don’t like to think only within one single genre. Cryptosis has more of a unique way towards playing metal music in general where Distillator was more or less just your typical 80s thrash metal band, without really trying to reinvent the wheel. And that’s cool, but as musician and songwriter I grew and it doesn’t really give me the same satisfaction as it used to when we started that band in 2013. So when I was writing ‘Bionic Swarm’ with Laurens, we really let go of any boundaries and automatically developed our own identity and fingerprint.’’
Cryptosis has even ventured into a concept with `Bionic Swarm’. Can you briefly comment on that concept and where did you get the inspiration?
Laurens: ,,The concepts on the album tell stories about the dark side of technology. How these technologies will be used in the future, if they are ever invented, is yet to be seen. We draw inspiration from daily life, our imagination and series like “Black Mirror”. Our debut album is a concept album containing various stories that take place in the year 2149. The concepts are sci-fi/fantasy based, but with a realistic touch. If 130 years ago, you would have told people we would all have a super computer in our pockets with us every day, they would not have believed you. Our stories take place 130 years into the future, practically anything can happen. The sky is the limit. That’s why we think it’s so interesting to write about these topics. Bionic augmentations? We are already doing that nowadays, but in 2149 this will sure be at a much higher and sophisticated level. We want the listener to think and fantasize about the future too. We’re giving them the mindset, the imagination is theirs.’’
How did you get the deal with the record label Century Media and why is this label a good fit for the band?
Frank: ,,After we finished recording this album, we gave a copy to our manager Roman Hödl. It was March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic crisis. We imagined no label in their right mind was going to sign and invest in a band at this time. Surprisingly, a few weeks later we got word that Century Media Records was interested in talking a deal. Nobody in the band was ever signed to a major label before, so we were really stoked about this. Immediately after we got the contract, we were talking about stuff that we wanted to do for a long time, but never had the financial means to do so. Our first single ,,Decypher” has a video which is the perfect example. We always wanted to do a video clip with epic 3D animations. Century Media gave us extra confidence in uncertain times by signing the band.’’
Which thrash metal (or other) albums have had a major influence on the band and why?
Laurens: ,,Simply too many to name here in this interview. We listen to a lot of other genres like 70s prog rock, jazz, opera, and electronic music. Though we play in a metal band, these other genres influence your subconsciousness somehow. Rock/metal bands that have influenced us most are Symphony X, Coroner, Opeth, Behemoth, Death, Dream Theater, Rush, Gojira, Megadeth and Dimmu Borgir to name a few. To all readers who are really interested in this topic, we have released a playlist on our Spotify page for each band member. You can check out the music that really inspires us.’’
How is the Dutch thrash metal scene doing at the moment in your opinion? Are The Netherlands well represented on the global thrash metal map? And what do you see as the role of Cryptosis in all of this?
Frank: ,,I think when we started with Distillator back in 2013, we were pretty much the only band that did this kind of high pitched 100% old school thrash metal style in The Netherlands. Over the course of the years we saw and met a lot of cool bands that started playing music in this style too. Although internationally The Netherlands is really well known for our Death Metal (Asphyx, Pestilence, Gorefest, God Dethroned etc.) and symphonic bands (Within Temptation, After Forever, Epica, The Gathering etc.) there are quite some talented bands originating in The Netherlands. Think about bands like Laster, Turia, Verwoed, Fluisteraars, Dool, Temple Fang. Fantastic bands, releasing fantastic music. Personally I think we pushed The Netherlands in the European Thrash Metal scene a bit, but hopefully there will be more thrash metal bands doing that in the near future too. As Cryptosis, we don’t really see ourselves as a thrash metal band anymore, but more like a progressive symphonic extreme metal band. With our debut album coming out on Century Media Records we have made a big statement regarding Dutch metal in the European metal scene. Hopefully this will inspire other bands to keep pushing themselves by trying to chase their dreams just like we did. Because when you keep on working, sooner or later you will achieve what you’re working for.’’
,,With our debut album coming out on Century Media Records we have made a big statement regarding Dutch metal in the European metal scene.’’-Frank Houvast
I assume you can’t wait to go on stage again. Are there any plans or will you come up with an alternative to promote the album?
Frank: ,,We have an album release live stream show coming up on April 24th. It will be broadcasted through YouTube and Facebook. We will announce this on our social pages soon. To all readers: Make sure to tune in and watch our first ever live performance with Cryptosis! Furthermore we have a European tour planned with Vektor, which was planned in May/June 2021. If it is not happening due to COVID-19, then it will be postponed to a later period. Besides that we have some summer festivals planned like Dokk'em Open Air in Friesland [NL].
What would you like to say to the old Distillator fans?
Frank: ,,A huge thanks to all the Distillator fans for supporting us these 7 years. We hope that you will like our debut album `Bionic Swarm’ and will keep supporting us as Cryptosis for the future. And to all HeadBangers LifeStyle readers: If you want high energy music, just check out our album. It’s worldwide available on all streaming services. If you prefer physical formats, please visit our website: www.cryptosis.net/shop