By taking the decision to name themselves after a classic Slayer composition, Polish Black Metalers Crionics have managed to confuse a few people out there, but also to generate a lot of interest for their band. With the new release of Armageddon's Evolution", the band's second studio album, I have managed to arrange an interview with the band's leading member Waran. The friendly Pole was quite generous in his responses to my questions and proved once and for all that extreme Metal musicians have many really interesting things to say.
Hi Waran - before we start this interview, let me congratulate you on the release of your band's second studio album "Armageddon's Evolution" - an album that has been keeping me company for quite a while. What's the feedback that you have received so far from your record label?
Waran: So far most of the reviews are very good, a lot better than the ones for 'Human Error'. We are surprised with the high marks that we are receiving, but at the same time it makes us very happy because we worked hard and put lot of effort into it.
Let's talk a little bit about the band's early days. Crionics were officially formed in 1997, in the well-known city of Krakow. Which are the best memories that you have from that period, and which are the most important moments that helped you in being actively involved in the music business for the last nine years?
Waran: The best memories I have are probably the ones from all the parties at shows and practices. Total freedom and joy from the music.
Very important had to be releasing our demo in 1998, which we sent to various bands and webzines, which gave us a chance to exist on the scene.
The most important would have to be recording "Beyond the Blazing Horizon", because this material got us noticed by Empire Records and we knew we could count on them when recording our first album. The second important thing is signing a deal with Candlelight Records because it allows the band to get more exposed around the world, better promotion, and better financial help when it comes to studio sessions. So at this time two labels represent us Ė Empire in Poland and Candlelight anywhere else.
What was the state of the Polish Metal scene at the time when you first and appeared? Was it very difficult for a young band to play extreme Metal in the same country that gave birth to the current Pope?
Waran: It surely wasn't as strong and healthy as it is today. Today itís a lot easier to get the right equipment, book the right studio, find a practice place and so on. Of course everything is very expensive but at least it is available. Back in the day we played with shitty equipment, of course it had to do with us being just a beginner band and none could buy anything decent. You just either couldn't get it or just couldn't afford it. We didn't encounter any problems with us playing extreme music in a catholic country. There was one thing that made us take an anti-Catholic banner from our web site. We had to take it off because a concert promoter couldnít allow it, and it would have caused some problems in a couple of cities where we were supposed to play our tour. Here it's a lot different than in other countries where they support bands, help them out with promotion, playing shows, finding a practice place and access to better equipment. I think that if something like that was also here than it would be probably easier to notice discrimination against bands that play anything heavier than Abba, ha, ha. You do have to be careful, at least the bands that have some kind of a status in the scene .You have to be careful with what you say and post on the internet, not mentioning magazines and TV. I can't be talking about us because we are a young band, but bands like Vader and Behemoth, which appear in wide areas, have to be careful. Every visit on a radio show or TV can stereotype them as Satanists, troublemakers and idiots and show metal music as a worthless wall of noise. Itís really sad that we live in such a shallow and close-minded community. I feel ashamed because when it comes to this topic we are way far behind the rest of Europe.
Which were the bands that have influenced your musical direction in the early years? I assume that two of those would be Slayer (for obvious reasons - the band's name), and also Emperor - songs from whom you have covered quite successfully in the past.
Waran: Slayer is an inspiration but only when it comes to the bands name, because at that time I think it was only me that was interested in this band. We listened to Darkthrone, Immortal, Burzum and of course Emperor, who, music-wise was our favorite. On our 1998 demo we included a cover of "I am the Black Wizards". We were interested in covering different Emperor tunes but at that time we just simply werenít good enough to play them, in fact it took us that long to record "The Loss and Curse of Reverence", ha, ha. At first we even wanted to sound like the Norwegians but it just came naturally how we evolved. We always admired their talent to put together technique, songwriting, feeling and good instrumental patents. For us it was a very good band, but now because of this fascination people often compare us to Emperor. It makes me tired when I have to explain in interviews that we use similar technique, artificial harmonics, etc. Itís just pointless, so I often just donít answer that one. We are Crionics not some Emperor clone and we will surely prove that with our third record.
From your conception back in 1997 till the release of your first studio album "Human Error (Ways to Selfdestruction)" in 2002, you have managed to release two demos. Tell us a few things about them. Are those two releases still available for anyone that will potentially become interested, and if not, do you have any plans of re-releasing them in a CD format?
Waran: Sure, they are still available as CD-R's at our website www.crionics.prv.pl, and soon you will be able to buy them at our new site that will be www.crionics.pl. "Demo '98" includes three songs: "Mystic Past", 'Pagan Strength' (recorded on our debut as "Sacrosanct Strength"), "Black Warriors" and the Emperorís cover mentioned before. The music itself is black metal at a medium pace and has a pretty bad sound. That material is available on "Beyond the Blazing Horizon" which was an official release in 2000 but after the demise of Demonic records it is now available from the band itself. The basic version contains 6 compositions, where the first and last ones are intro and outro and the rest of the record you can also find on our debut, except for song 'Fireland'.
In your bio you mention that it was the strength of the songs that you prepared for your debut album "Human Error (Ways to Selfdestruction)" that led you to a contract with Empire records. How was the experience of working with them, and why did you chose not to continue your collaboration? Is "Human Error (Ways to Selfdestruction)" an album that one would easily find in a decent Metal record store?
Waran: It really says that? I got to check that, ha, ha. It really looked like this: Empire heard our first two demos because at that time we were looking for a label and we got in contact with them back in 2000.We got an answer that they would be interested in releasing our record but only as a full album. At that time they probably were releasing maybe two to four records a year. We wrote them again in 2002 when we had already written material for our debut and they basically signed us on the spot, of course stating that the album had to be good enough. When they received the material they paid all the costs that came with the studio time and we signed a three record deal, including Human Error. I have to explain one thing. Empire Records is still our label but in Poland only. Outside the country it is Candlelight/Plastic Head with whom we signed a deal in 2003. In Poland our albums come out as an addition to "Thrash'Em'All" magazine. When it comes to other countries, album released by Plastic Head distributions should be available at most music stores. Our relationship with Empire is going great and we are in touch the whole time. I feel like we are treated with special care, so we must be a priority band for them, ha, ha. We played 3 big tours with one all over Europe, which is a big accomplishment for a band at our level, and most can only dream about. It was them that looked for a distributor in Europe and so on. We are extremely happy and hope that our cooperation will always be as strong as it is now.
OK, let's move to 2004 and the recordings of your new album "Armageddon's Evolution". How long did it take you guys to record the nine compositions which are featured in this release, and how different are they compared to the ones that you have prepared for your debut album?
Waran: Exactly? We lay all the tracks, without the drums in fifty hours in Lynx Studio in Krakow. It took seventy hours to record the drums, solos, and mix the whole thing in Hertz Studio in Bialystok. The material included 8 regular tracks, an intro and three bonuses. The Polish version and the European and American versions have different bonus tracks. The Polish one has "Total Blasphemy" and the Candlelight one has a cover of 'The Loss and Curse of Reverence'. I think that a hundred to hundred fifty hours is enough to record and mix the whole thing depending on the complexity and number of guitars included and such. When it comes to comparing the two albums the main difference is that the first album was made at a 5-year stretch while "Armageddonís..." in about five months. You can hear the difference in song arrangements, better songs with more punch. Musically we went towards black metal and the lyrics are more straightforward, spitting right in Christianityís face. Better produced are the keyboards and vocals. The guitars this time around we recorded differently and are less selective which produce the whole feeling that the record has and which is missing on our debut that in my opinion was more selective but a bit "dry" as you might call it. Peopleís opinions speak for themselves, everyone likes this one more, including us. This time around we are totally satisfied.
If you were asked to choose one song from this album in order to be released in a compilation CD, which song would that be and why?
Waran: It would really be hard because for me it has no weaker or stronger songs, itís pretty leveled out. I would have to say that "Black Manifest" because it is the longest track and it comes closest to what we will be playing in the future. I assume that our drummer and keyboardist would probably choose "Final Inversion" or "Freezing Fields of Infinity", those are their favorites.
Having not heard any of your releases prior to "Armageddon's Evolution", I was really impressed by the strength and the complexity of your compositions. It is also quite evident that you are an open-minded band, since your music is based on elements from both the Death and Black Metal music scene. Which one of these different styles of music do you find the most challenging as an artist?
Waran: Thanks for the kind words. You are not exactly right about the open-minded part because there are tons of bands out there that play a lot more originally than we as we try no to step outside of the black and death metal circle, at least till now. I donít consider being original as a priority and we often get compared to bands such as Emperor, Zyklon and so on. We just play the kind of music that we like to listen to and we do such things that we consider total metal and we donít need to cross no barriers and borders and try using samples or female vocals, ha, ha. The composition maturity and the song complexity have a lot to do with us being around for a while now doing this. It has a bit to do with our fascination with death metal also. I donít know, thatís our solution and thatís how we play. I think that both black as death metal music can evolve but for me I prefer staying with black metal because it is easier to create the feel and melody threw that one.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this is the first time in the band's history that Crionics are a trio. I would like you to present the other two members of the band's current line up, and explain to us the reasons that made you believe in them and make them part of this band.
Waran: Right, we have never been a trio before, although we were a guitar duo when we first started out, ha, ha. Right now Crionics is three people: War-A.N.-voc, guitar, Vac-V-synth, Darkside -drums. Yanuary-guit and Destroyer-bass, backing voc at our shows support us. We couldnít find anyone with the right amount of playing ability and the concert appearance so thatís why they play with us, and also Yanuary was a co-founder of the band in the beginning and was with the band for 2-3 years. Unfortunately he didnít put enough effort into the band and he had to leave Crionics. Destroyer is a young guy that at first was supposed to play guitar with us which didnít happen because of his tight schedule. During "Armageddonís..." recording session we parted ways with our long time bassist Marcotic who was besides me the only one in the band from the start. We already had some concerts booked and had to find someone quickly so we got in touch with Destroyer who played his first ever gigs with us. I can say that he saved our asses at the last moment... Right now I can't see anyone that can take his place in the band. His nick is a 100% on the money when it comes to his show appearance. By the way, I welcome everyone interested to download live video fragments from our shows at our web site. So those are the people that played the Vader tour in the fall of 2004 and the European tour in the beginning of 2005 with Decapitated. I donít think that this will change taking into consideration that we got use to each other and understand each other on stage and off stage pretty well.
Waran, you are the only surviving member from the band's original line up, so I assume that you are also the leader of the band. Are you the only person that makes all the major decisions concerning the future of the Crionics? What about the recording process of the new album? How much did Vacv (synth) and Darkside (drums) contribute to the band?
Waran: Yes, I am the only original member of the band. We can say that I represent the band and all the major decisions must go threw me first, ha, ha.
Working process... Even before the first record thatís the way that we wanted it to work: I make up the guitar parts and the keys and then with Vac-V we finalize the keys and arrange the drums. I record the guitars, we write down the drum patterns and give it to Darkside who adds some of his twists and turns to the thing. Finally, we check how it all sounds and most of the time its all good. With the new album Vac-V had a lot more to say, we played together more, talked about it more, and more parts are written by him on this one. This is probably how we will work from now on, but it will always be guitars that we will start with. You will be always able to hear it and thatís why we still play metal and not some jerk off music with keys.
The guitar work on the new album is simply amazing - you have managed to make every single composition on the album interesting without losing anything from your style and atmosphere in the process. Is there a specific "source" that you normally rely on in order to get enough inspiration for your compositions?
Waran: Thanks again for the kind words. I agree, this one isn't too boring, and you will be able to listen to the whole thing from start to finish, which was a bit impossible to do with our debut, ha, ha. We tried to pay special attention so that every song had a unique part or a moment, something characteristic, and that the songs were different from each other. When it comes to inspiration, itís obvious that a lot of it comes from the music we listen to, but lately I have been trying to avoid this obvious source and take inspiration from life itself, everything that surrounds me. Sometimes an inspiration, a songwriting mood is just there, and sometimes I struggle for weeks just to think of a riff.
Polish bands are quite "loyal" to their country's facilities when it comes to recording their albums. "Armageddon's Evolution" was recorded in two different locations, one of which is Hertz studio - a place that many Polish extreme outfits have used in the past. What is it about their work that makes Hertz the obvious choice for most of the extreme bands of your country?
Waran: I wouldn't say its a question of loyalty, but a lot of different things, like the localization of the studio, which is more comfortable, and of course the price. A lot of bands would want to record their albums outside of this country, in a good, well known studio, under the eye of a world famous professional, but the truth is that polish bands often have to pay from their own pocket and they simply can't afford it. Right now in Poland there are two good studios where you can without a doubt record and mix a metal album. One of them is mentioned Hertz, and the other one is Hendrix studio in Lublin. The second one is unfortunately a bit more expensive because it is located in a polish radio facility from what I recall. Whatís pretty interesting is that Arek "Malta" Malczewski (he is a sound engineer for Behemoth) works there when not touring with the band. In fact Behemoth recorded their lasts albums in there.
Do you have any stories to tell us from the days that you spent in the studio? How long did it take you to finish the album, and how much did you allow the producers/technicians to get involved in the whole process?
Waran: This time around the recording session went without any stress although we were not well organized we registered the tracks in our home town so we had a lot of comfort considering that we recorded for around 6 to7 hours a day, for 9 days. During the mixes in Hertz studio, the keyboardist and me could basically chill and only pay attention to the volume of the instruments and the temperature of the beer. We had a weeklong alcoholic vacation, ha, ha. Only Darkside had to stay sober for a couple days so he wouldn't pass out behind the drum set, and I had to come down for a day to record the solos...This was our second trip to Hertz, so we pretty much knew what to expect in there, so during the first part of our session I decided to record some "clean" guitar sounds, which later went through the amps at Hertz. This time around I didn't record all four guitars through Mesa Boogie but two through Randall Warhead and two directly into the console using Sans Amp preamp. The Wieslawscy brothers didn't have to suggest what equipment we should use and how, because we already had it all planned out and they have agreed with our ideas. The only difference was the synthesizers. Lynx Studio is run by a prog-rock keyboardist so he helped us out with things like if we should record this or that part in stereo, or this an octave lower, and such things. That was a very interesting experience and we got a lot out of it. We also used some of his equipment so we had to ask him for some help and some advice and thatís how it went.
Who is the person that has created the artwork for the album cover? Is this a product of his inspiration, or was he working let's say under your instructions.
Waran: The idea came upon from our friend, who was also supposed to be the one to do this, but because of some technical problems wasn't able to. His idea suggested this kind of a cover art and Jacek Wisniewski who worked with us on the 'Human Error' cover did the whole thing. Unfortunately just after the whole thing was finished and was ready to be printed, the new Deicide album came out and of course the likeness was very obvious. I guess itís just bad luck for us.
Crionics is not the first band that has chosen to express their religious beliefs through their music. How important is it to you as an artist to use such references in your releases? Many people will categorize Crionics as a Satanic band - is that something that you feel comfortable with?
Waran: It is obvious thatís how we are going to be classified, even though we are far from the form of Satanism that I understand, but thatís how it is, and I guess that this description is the closest when you take into consideration what we are trying to say through our lyrics...We are a metal band, we write our own lyrics, we feel fully responsible for them, and can also fully relate to them. By using this kind of lyrical form we don't only suggest that this is how metal should be, but that this is how we feel and thatís how we like it.
I was quite disappointed when I realized that United Kingdom was not included in your touring plans for February. Polish extreme Metal bands are quite popular in this country - ask your friend Nergal from Behemoth - he can definitely verify that. When shall we expect you to pay us a visit?
Waran: Yea I know, I heard it from him before, and from the guys in Decapitated. This was a first professionally organized tour where all bands were from Poland. It was all under a question mark but fortunately it all came together and all we can say is thanks a lot to our labels for believing in us and all the hard work they put into this. There are some plans considering shows in England and Ireland but nothing final yet. Of course we would like to play there and ever since we are with Candlelight it is almost as our territory, ha, ha.
How would you describe Crionics on stage? Do you provide people that attend your gigs any "special treatment"?
Waran: I donít think that we have anything special to offer, we just give our best and play metal shows the way metal shows should be played...With a full metal image, the way it was written in a metal bible and not on a dance floor. 100% overtime, full aggression and headbanging.
As part of the ever-evolving Metal scene, which are the bands that you think that Metalheads should really invest in? Any good releases that you bought lately?
Waran: Ever since I stopped working in a music store and have more responsibilities with the band I'm just not able to follow the whole metal scene on a regular basis. Of course I do have my favorites in Poland but I think it's pointless to mention who they are. They could get pissed off, ha, ha. Follow your own taste and donít be afraid to explore new bands, especially from the Polish metal scene.
I know that this is a typical question, but how have you envisioned the future of Crionics? How many albums are we to expect from your band in the years to come?
Waran: I have never been asked this one before...It's really hard for me to say how things are gonna look in the future and for how long we'll be able to play this music. Letís just hope that as long as possible and on the highest level, constantly evolving. Whatís definite at this very moment is that our third record is going to be very different from what we have done before. We already decided that itís going to be a pretty "weird" one, but in a metal form, whatever the 'weird' means, ha, ha.
Waran, the last words are yours. Please feel free to end this interview in the most fitting way.
Waran: Thanks a lot for the support and interesting questions. Everyone who enjoys intelligent extreme music is welcome to explore our grounds. You can listen and watch clips at our web site www.crionics.prv.pl and soon on our new site that will be www.crionics.pl. Be yourselves and believe in what you can accomplish. Cheers and see you at concerts. Stay Metal!
Interview © 2005