Interview with vocalist/bassist Vincent Crowley | by Brandon Ringo
Acheron, the brainchild of bassist/vocalist Vincent Crowley has been spreading their uniquely hateful brand of blackened death metal since 1988. It’s been 5 years since their last record, but alongside guitarist Art Taylor and Incantation drummer Kyle Severn they have survived many setbacks and put the finishing touches on Kult Des Hesses, their newest slab of violent, blasphemous brutality. I recently got the chance to speak with Crowley and he details how the band survived record company woes, a break-up and conflicting schedules to release one of their greatest albums to date.
It’s been roughly 5 years since your last record The Final Conflict came out. Could you tell me a little about what has gone on with the band since the release of that album?
After The Final Conflict: Last Days of God was released we weren’t getting any support from our former label. That caused some inner-conflict within the band that lead to the band breaking up for 10 months. After that time off, the band talked things out and got things back together. Instead of jumping into trying to find a new record label, we agreed to take things slow and just do shows for a couple years. Then the song writing began and we recorded a 2-song demo featuring the songs “Satan Holds Dominion” and “Asphyxiation (Hands of God). At that time we decided to look for a new label to sign with.
I read a quote where you said that your new record Kult Des Hesses took much longer to get out than you anticipated. At what point did you begin putting the songs for it together and what were some of the factors that caused the album’s release to be delayed?
The writing process actually went very well. The recording process is what took awhile to do. Due to everyone’s busy schedules we had to do the recordings on the weekend. So for 2 months we were out of town almost every weekend recording. That was the first time I ever did that kind of recording. Usually, Acheron always goes in as a complete band into the studio and stays there until we are done. This time we pieced things together at different times. It was just a different method to the madness that took longer than usual. But it did work and I am pleased with the results.
At what point during the process of getting the album out did you sign with Listenable Records and what was it about the label that made you choose to go with them?
I got in contact with Laurent from Listenable Records and asked if he would be interesting in Acheron. He had been a true Acheron fan for years. I sent him over the demo to listen too and he was very interested in signing the band. I could tell he was the real deal and he truly believed in our band. We needed someone to really step up and push this band because they liked the material, not just to put another yet another band. So we signed a 2-album deal with Listenable Records. We have been very happy with the work they have been doing with Acheron. They really want more people to get to know what Acheron can do musically.
One thing I found interesting about the record is the large amount of guest vocalists featured on it. How did the process of choosing to feature such a wide variety of vocalists, as well as the idea to have Ricktor Ravensbruck come in as guest lead guitarist on the album come about?
There are a lot of group vocals on the album. Kam Lee (ex- Massacre) and Jim from Soulless both did some small solo spots. Everyone else pretty much helped me layer up some of the chorus parts. As for Ricktor, we wanted to have two different guitar leads on the album to get the back-and-forth guitar assault. Our guitarist Art Taylor is an amazing lead player, so we needed someone to step up and lay down some brutal shredding with him. So I talked to my old Wolfen Society brother Ricktor and he agreed to come down and unleash some Hell with us. Everything worked out great. Art and Ricktor worked great together.
Over the years, it seems Acheron has had more than its fair share of members. As someone who has been able to work with so many talented musicians, have you noticed that this collaborative nature has affected any sort of change or evolution in your songwriting style or approach?
Well, for the most part I write most of the music in Acheron. The basic song structure on the last 2 album is actually all me. But the musicians I work with always take the songs to another layer when they help layer the songs with their ideas. That is why I don’t take all the credit for the song writing. Without their layering the songs wouldn’t be as good as they are. Acheron evolves on every album, yet keeps our trademark sound. Art Taylor and I worked very well in the studio and I really think his ideas worked perfectly with the songs. If anything, this album is one of the more memorable and catchy Acheron albums.
One of the things that I find most enjoyable about Kult Des Hesses is just how raw and violent it is. When you first began working on the album, did you have a particular idea for the style and sound you wanted it to have or did that sound manifest itself organically?
Yes, I did. My goal was to have the album’s sound be like something that came from the late ’80s or early ’90s. I wanted the songs to be very memorable also. This album is very pure and real. No modern day trickery or sounds. We wanted raw and ass kicking!
What was your experience like working with Dan Swanö on the mixing and mastering of the record and what is it about his style that led to your decision to choose him for this role?
Well after the recording process we knew to really achieve the sound and mix we wanted that we would have to hire someone who understood our needs. Dan Swanö has been a master of sound for many years and we knew he could get the job down. He was very easy to work with and he was actually very excited about working with a band from the old school. He did an amazing job and he really did exactly what we wanted. Hats off to Dan, he is indeed the man!
In addition to being known for your unique approach to death metal over the years, another consistent aspect of Acheron’s sound has been the incredibly dark and blasphemous subject matter of your lyrics. What inspires your lyrics and how much of them are based on actual personal and spiritual beliefs and how much are more just meant to be incredibly grim and dark stories?
It is really a little bit of everything. Some songs are really straight in your face views of my beliefs, some are metaphors for actual things that have happened in my life and other are just dark stories. It all depends on the album or song. But all the lyrics come straight from my black heart. [Laughs]
When writing lyrics about such dark subject matter, is there ever concern about not going too over the top, or even possibly going the opposite direction and trying to take things even farther over the edge?
I just do what feels natural. I put no limitation on any subject matter. When I write something that says “Fuck God!” I don’t do it for shock value. I do it because that is what I am feeling at that time. Even lyrics that are just dark stories are brought on by my moods and emotions. Our new song “Thy Father Suicide” was inspired when I saw a show about the subject of depression and suicide. It made me really think of the decision process ones goes through when deciding to take their own life. Music is art and the creation of it should been very genuine, even in a fictional setting.
As someone who has been involved in the death metal scene since its infancy, what are your thoughts on the way the genre has progressed over the years, as well as the state of the genre in 2014? Do you feel things are better than ever or only getting progressively worse?
I was lucky enough to be around the scene when it was in its prime. When the music was new and exciting. What is great is there are still many bands from back in the day still releasing great albums and touring. And there is also some really awesome new blood in the ranks as well. Better or Worse? I’d say it is just different. Both old and new Acheron fans have been very supportive and they keep our hellfire burning. So no matter what, the underground scene will never go away. Let’s hope it just gets stronger! Thanks for the interest in Acheron and your support. Cheers! Ave Satanas!