It might be the most fundamental truism on a universal scale but time really doesn’t wait for anyone. For death metal, that might be even more relevant than it is in any other form of music. Playing with the blistering speed and aggression needed to pound out classic death metal releases takes its toll on a body. The genre is littered with amazing players and stars who have had to pull back and change up their approach as they got older. Surgeries and retirements in what would be the prime of many’s careers abound. Granted, a large swath still continues to make incredible music but it really does remain to be seen if it’s a style of music that will lend itself to a life of Keith Richards’ style geriatric touring runs. With some of the big boys in the genre closing in on 40 years of the sweet release of death, it’s an industry that is in desperate need of fresh, exciting new bands to carry the banner of death metal into the future.
If you’ve been following our zine in the last month, then you know providing you with a look at those exciting, young bands has been part and parcel to our whole deal over here. I love Obituary, Nile, Incantation, et. al. as much as anyone else, but the young guns are who will draw a line from the sounds originated by the heavyweights of the genre to what the genre will look like over the next twenty years. There is no shortage of bands that I am endlessly excited about thrusting that blazing torch into the darkness of an uncertain future. When looking at promising death metal debuts from this year with an inspiration in old school death, Cryptic Hatred’s first LP, Nocturnal Sickness, is a worthy starting point.
Cryptic Hatred, which formed in 2019, is poised to be the next big Finnish death metal band if their 2022 debut longplayer is any indicator. The four-piece clearly draws their inspirations from the hallmark bands of the genre without simply aping their style. When I heard Nocturnal Sickness, I was dying to talk to these Finnish death purveyors about the debut and who is behind this incredibly exciting and invigorating release. Vocalist/guitarist Eemil Lajoma was gracious enough to chat with me about the band’s history, their killer debut, and what we can expect in the future of what promises to be a career you’re going to want to follow with rapt attention.
First off, Nocturnal Sickness is probably the first introduction to your group for a lot of listeners. How did the band come about and how did you guys all find a solid group of people to play such an extreme form of music with?
We were all in the same school, and one day we just decided to go jam some songs in the music room. That was in 2019, so we were 15-16 years old at the time. Because we were in the same school, we already knew each other and were good friends. So it was really easy to spend time as a band and write songs.
How did you decide on the name Cryptic Hatred and who came up with it? It’s a cool, old school sounding name that instantly brings to mind classic extreme bands like Cryptic Slaughter.
At the beginning we had few other names for the band. But we found out that they were already used. Then our guitarist Jami (Lamio), came up with the name Cryptic Hatred, and we all really liked it. Personally, I think it’s a sick name for a band, because Cryptic Hatred isn’t a certain thing. So it can mean different things, for different people.
How did you guys initially get into death metal? Who are some of your influences, both inside and outside of death metal?
Well I got into death metal by our drummer, Tatu (Saves). He showed me “Hammer Smashed Face” one day in school, and at first I didn’t really like it. It was so different to what I was listening to at the time, so it took me a while that I really started listening to it. We were all listening to bands like Slayer, SOAD, Slipknot, Metallica at first, but we all got into death metal pretty much at the same time. We had the band already going before that, so once we all started to listen to death metal, we really started to write some songs. Our biggest influences in death metal are all the big 90’s death metal bands, like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Deicide. We also have some more modern influences like Sotajumala, Galvanizer.
What is your process for writing music like? You have a hell of a great sound and I really like how on various songs you know when to slow things down or back off completely before crashing back in. It really amplifies the brutality of the music. How would you describe the Cryptic Hatred sound?
Well me and Jami write pretty much all the music, since we are the guitarists. We like having variety inside the songs, including slower parts and then full on blast beats. When we write new material, usually it’s just me and Jami sitting at the rehearsal place combining each other’s riffs and creating new parts. We always use a drum machine, to help write the parts and build the structure of the song. I think that fierce riffs, sickening harmonies and groovy drum parts shape the Cryptic Hatred sound.
What about the lyric writing process? How do you come up with those and what appeals to you about lyrical themes that could easily fit into a horror movie?I
think good lyrics have a story inside them. And that was something that I was focusing on when writing lyrics for Nocturnal Sickness. Ideas for lyrics can just randomly pop up in my head, or then I see a movie or read a story from something, and that can really inspire me. To me the most important thing in lyrics is the phrasing. I want the singing to groove along with the music, so it’s easy to listen to and follow the lyrics.
What was the writing/recording process for Nocturnal Sickness like? The mixing and production are fantastic and really don’t sound at all like a debut album. Where did you record it and how did you get such clear sound on it?
We wrote all the material for Nocturnal Sickness between September 2020 and January 2021. It was me and Jami just chilling at the rehearsal place, eating pizza and writing songs. It was awesome. After all the songs were written, we rehearsed the songs as a band, and finally started recording in May 2021. We recorded the album at our rehearsal place, just by ourselves. In June we had recorded everything, and some time after that Olli Nokkala from Studio Kolotila, started mixing the album. Olli did all the mixing, of course we told what we liked and it was (a) pretty easy process, at least for us. Virtalähde Mastering did the album master, and after that the album was finished. We are very happy with the end result!
The album has gotten some good recognition since its release, including a very positive (and well earned) review in Decibel. What has the response been like for you and what were your hopes for the record? I imagine the recognition has to feel very rewarding.
Yeah the response has been amazing, thank you all for listening and giving feedback! We were of course hoping that people would like the album, and it seems that a lot of people do. Of course there’s also stuff to improve on, and we really respect people who give us good constructive critique. It’s good to hear different opinions, and not just all high praise and love. And yes it does feel very rewarding seeing good reviews and people hyping the album, again thank you all who support us!
The album’s cover is jam packed with cool imagery, all set in a really eye-catching red. How did you decide on that theme and who did the cover?
We wanted the cover to have a red color theme, and some stuff from the lyrics to be seen. Paolo Girardi painted the album cover, and we really can’t be more happy with the result. The album cover is truly amazing, we really like it. Paolo did an excellent job capturing the feel of the album, and giving it a mystique vibe.
Finland has a very vibrant and diverse death metal scene. What has that scene meant to you and what do you feel about your home country makes it such fertile ground for all kinds of memorable death metal bands?
Yeah Finland has some amazing death metal bands, and it’s really fun to be part of the scene. All bands that we have played with are filled with great people. We all share the love for death metal, and having a good time. And I think that in Finland, metal music in general is very popular and a lot of kids listen to it. So it’s easier to find people to play with you and it’s easy to form bands. That’s why I think so many bands have come out of Finland, and still do.
Just from your demo to the first album, I hear a lot of growth from you guys as a band. To what do you attribute that growth?
Well I’m glad you hear it too! I think we have grown so much as people, musicians, and songwriters from our demo days, that it’s sometimes hard to even listen to the demo, haha. I think the growth is natural, and it’s going on all the time. We have only written music for two and half years now, so it’s interesting to see what level we are in five years. We are learning new things from each other, and we are growing as a band with each gig and each rehearsal.
With the demo coming out in 2020 and this album last month, has it been tough getting the band off the ground during COVID? How affected have you been by lockdowns and distancing measures?
Well we have been lucky in a way, that in Finland there has never been too strict restrictions. Of course at times, there was nothing happening and everything was cancelled, but that didn’t stop us from writing and rehearsing. So when we have got the chance to play live, we have pretty much always taken it.
Lastly, what’s next for the band? What are your goals for the next few years?
Our goal is to write good songs, play a lot of gigs, and hopefully get some touring happening in the next five years.
Band photo at top by Heidi Strengell provided to Metal Plague via Cryptic Hatred.