In the Meet The Band spotlight this week are the Dutch progressive group Cryptosis. Bionic Swarm is their debut album under that moniker. Vocalist/guitarist Laurens Houvast, bassist Frank te Riet and drummer Marco Prij introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Cryptosis.
Laurens Houvast: We started out in 2013 as a band called Distillator. The initial purpose was to solely play pure old-school thrash metal in the vein of bands like Slayer, Exodus and Sodom. Over the years of touring, we developed our own musical preferences and abilities. It was around mid 2018 that we started to write the third Distillator album (which later became the debut for Cryptosis). The idea came to our minds to maybe change the band name in the future, because we were drifting more and more away from the typical thrash metal sound. When we finished the album, we decided to change our band name to Cryptosis and signed a deal with Century Media Records.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Bionic Swarm.
Frank te Riet: Straight after the release of our 2018 split album with Space Chaser (as Distillator) we slowly started collecting ideas, jams and lyrical concepts in our database. After a lot of shows, about half a year later, we started to write actual songs. It took us 20 months to write Bionic Swarm in its entirety, from the first riffs to the final details. We did pre-production in our home studios and fine-tuned them as long as needed to create the songs. A week before we entered the studio to record the drums, we booked a rehearsal cabin in the middle of nowhere. We stayed there for 10 days, just the three of us, to fine tune the last details. We recorded the album in a lot of separate sessions between October 2019 and January 2020.
Laurens: This album was recorded with the help of our dear friend and FOH tech Olaf Skoreng. He’s got a fantastic ear for recording and producing music. He is a calm and relaxed guy who pushed our limits to get the best possible takes. We rented a studio in our hometown to work on the recordings at our own pace. We’re really about the small details, like you’ll hear in our music. Working with a friend in a relaxed environment was the best thing we could have done to get the most out of this album. I think the outcome is better than we had ever imagined.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Laurens: Receiving the final master and finishing the album. We worked such a long time on the album and to finally have it finished was an amazing feeling.
Frank: It really was a blast hearing the masters and I was so happy with the way the album turned out to be. It was exactly the sound that had been playing in my head since we started writing the album.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
We like to call ourselves a progressive metal band with influences of thrash, symphonic and black metal. Our genre is called multi-metal eruption.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Bionic Swarm is a concept album consisting of eight dystopian stories that take place in the year 2149. Each track is a personal narrative of certain progress or technological advancements seen through the eyes of its inhabitants, both human and non-human.
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. 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. So 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 come to sign with Century Media?
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 about 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.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Laurens: We are really happy with the way the album turned out and hope to roll high numbers within the metal community. We made a very omnifarious album in relation to what we did in the past. We hope metalheads from a wide range of subgenres can bang their heads to this.
How did the pandemic affect the band, and you personally?
Laurens: I think it has been a tough time for everyone. Luckily we finished the album recording before the whole pandemic started in Europe. We have been working non-stop behind the scenes during the whole pandemic, so we didn’t get bored at all. Now that we are about to release the album, we hope that the world will open up soon!
You have some shows on your calendar. How confident are you that they will happen?
Besides some club shows, we had a 3.5 week European tour with Vektor scheduled for May/June 2021. Unfortunately, this got cancelled. Also, all our festival performances were cancelled as well.
How did you get started in music?
Laurens: I started in high school by jamming with classmates and other students during lunch breaks. It happened quite a few times that we forgot the time and got to class way too late. I participated in school performance nights and started to rehearse outside of school. By the time I was 16 I joined my first band and from there the ball started rolling.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Laurens: The first metal bands that I came in contact with were Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. I think it has left its mark somewhere, since I like to write music with a dark and obscure touch.
Frank: I started with bands like Dark Funeral, Dimmu Borgir but also Metallica and Megadeth. These were the bands I learned to play on guitar when I was a teenager. But I also liked underground punk music and even electronic music. This all shaped my musical taste, but also my playing style.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Laurens: It was a concert of After Forever and Epica in 2003.
Marco Prij: I saw Status Quo when I was just 8 years old. When I was 10 I saw them again at a festival with Deep Purple and Whitesnake. But my first real “metal” concert was Iron Maiden in 2008.
Frank: My first real concert was Within Temptation, when they used to have grunting vocals, and After Forever. I think I was around 13 years old.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Laurens: We actually all made a personal Spotify playlist where people can check out our favorite tracks and inspiration for Cryptosis. Make sure to check it out!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
We are doing a live stream album release show on April 24th at 20:45 CET. It’s 100 percent free and can be watched on Facebook and YouTube. It will be a special show where we will play the entire album from front to back. Make sure to check it out!
(interview published March 27, 2021)
Watch Cryptosis – “Decypher” Video