In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in presenting you to this interview with CROM DUBH. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
What fascinates me is how you can still come up with new combinations of chords to make new songs and sounds that have not been heard before. What is it that fascinates you into coming up with new songs and albums?
-I’m glad you think so! Music making is a compulsion – I don’t feel I have a choice. New musical material is always inspired by new music, new reading, new ideas, and new places.
How is this new recording different from the previous? How do you take your sound one step further?
-With this record we wanted to get away from the reverb-saturated sound of a lot of atmospheric black metal, which would otherwise swamp a lot of what we’re doing in terms of melody and rhythm. So, going into the studio, we were clear that we wanted more of an up-front 90s grindcore-style production. The aim is to capture the spirit and impact of the rehearsal room or live performance. What you hear on the record is what we sound like in the flesh.
When you write songs about the topics you do what kind of reactions do you get? How important is it to have a message in your lyrics? What kind of topics do each song deal with? Is there a red thread to the songs?
-The EP ‘Deifr’ charted the rise and fall of civilisations, and the LP ‘Heimweh’ focused on the life cycle of the individual. The themes of ’Firebrands and Ashes’ reflect a world on the brink of self-destruction; the immediacy of these threats is reflected in song titles and the lyrics on the album. You’re right that there’s a prominent ‘red thread’ on ‘Firebrands’. The resurgence of the far right in the wake of the financial crisis is textbook. Once again, we’re seeing old bigotries being resurrected by populists, wealthy media moguls, and vulture capitalists to suit their own ends. To see some metal fans supporting and promoting the ideals of authoritarian religious conservatism is both ludicrous and depressingly predictable.
Whenever I think of you I cannot help wandering off to different bands. What bands/sounds do you identify with?
-In a nutshell, I think our sound is a blend of Primordial (Storm Before Calm), Weakling (Dead as Dreams), Darkthrone (Total Death), and GSYBE! (F#A# Infinity), with some doom influences, and a lot of traditional music from all over the place – mainly Europe and the Middle East. I think many bands find that lazy listeners end up comparing them with bands from the same country or scene, and it’s quite common to find yourself compared with bands you’ve never listened to.
How did you go about choosing art work for this new album? What was important to have in it?
-We went through several iterations of the artwork before we were happy. The cover image is based on photos showing the effects of atomic bombs on trees during early tests, but it also works as a subversion of the conventional forest cover artwork of hundreds of BM album covers. A great deal of work also went into determining the imagery across the booklet for the LP/CD.
Something that scares me a bit is this I hear from more and more bands that they aren’t that bothered with art work anymore because people today download rather than buy physical. To me the whole point is to have art work that matches the music. I don’t know how many times I’ve been disappointed by weak art work to an otherwise cool album. What’s your opinion on this subject?
-I agree – artwork has to be right. But simple and straightforward can be just as good. You can go too far the other way, and have too much meaningless esoteric imagery to bolster weak and incoherent ideas and music.
How do you come up with song titles? What do they have to have to fit the songs?
-The last album and the preceding EP both had unifying concepts, and so does ‘Firebrands’. Titles are an important means of identifying the progression of this album. On this record, ‘Boreal’ introduces the listener to the primordial forest; ‘Firebrands and Ashes’ reflects its destruction; ‘Last Dust’ voices the lament of the last man preparing for death; ‘Ram in a Thicket’ prepares for self-sacrifice; ‘Burning’ sets the world alight; ‘Astride the Grave’ plunges deep into nuclear apocalypse; and ‘Endless Night’ ushers in the darkness to follow. ‘Firebrands’ is a soundtrack to the nightmarish possibilities of the near future.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-I think that a core of listeners will always buy music in hard copy, and that musicians and artists in every genre will always strive to produce works that are a synthesis of these arts. There are those who have been worried about the death of music as a consequence of technology in every generation…but we’re still here. More concerning is the squeeze on venues and rehearsal spaces in towns and cities as these places are bought up for ‘development’; these developments seldom seem to benefit anyone living in the immediate area. This is a concern, and so is making sure that new underground bands coming through are able to find audiences who can afford to see them.
How much of a live band are you? How important is playing live?
-We tend to play live a few times a year, but we have never been much of a touring band, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. We’ve always been quite selective about shows; in recent years we’ve probably played most frequently with bands like Fen and Terra. The live experience is important, and as a band which has always had a ‘stripped-down’ sound, it’s been important for us to translate the sound of the rehearsal room to the records we produce. We will continue to play live, but not often…
What lies in the future?
-The next record, more shows, and with any luck the continued existence of humankind.