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Into The Blackened Void [2014-02-23]

Baltimore, Maryland based Savage Cross brew up a stumbling, brooding & extreme mixture of noised-up black metal, blackened noise, and HNW. Behind the project is one Evan Craig- who has been involved with-in the underground noise scene since 2008, and is behind projects such as: creative HNW project Ritual Stance,  dark ambient meets power electronics project Frailty Of Angels, and Reaching. which mixers together elements of noise, power electronics, dark ambience & field recordings. Evan kindly agreed to give M[m] a email interview regard Savage Cross, and itís dark, distinctive & brutal sound.

m[m]:Tell us a little bit about the origins of the Savage Cross project? i.e. when you decided start it?,  why you decided to start it? the origin of the name? Etc
Evan I started Savage Cross sometime in 2011. Iíve had other black metal projects (Algea, Llihje, Vilphagr) which have all had their constraints to them, but I did not want Savage Cross to have limits. There has definitely been overlap in each of the projects in terms of activity, but the projects are completely different in approach and recording techniques. I started Savage Cross during an extremely rough part of my life that Iíve put out of my head. The name came from some drawings and logos that I had made randomly one day, and it just kind of stuck.

m[m]:Savage Cross sound is a bastardized  & brutal mix of  slurred-to- noised up Black metal, blacked noise, with hints of  HNW. Tell us a little bit about how you come to this mix of genres, and are there any other genre elements youíd like to add into future releases?
Evan Iím not recording with this project to sound like anything else, or limit myself to a genre. Savage Cross, like all of the other projects Iíve had, is just another appendage that drags me along.

Evan Other genres or elements? Iím not sure. Iíve always wanted to incorporate female vocals into a release, but I donít ever see it happening and I donít think this is the correct vessel to try it out with. I was going to have a Frailty of Angels release that had female vocals, but that never happened and I never really thought about it again.

Evan Iíd like to do more bass and drum or baritone and drum releases and ditch the guitar for a while. I feel like there is a lot of potential with both of those instruments with this project, and Iíve loosely explored it before but Iíd like to dive in again sometime.

m[m]:Much of the projects work so far has been based around more lengthy tracks that last between 15 minute to over an hour. Can you tell us a little bit about how you go about composing/ arranging such lengthy works? And how much of the tracks are improvised & how much is pre-planned out?
Evan There are no set tracks or compositions, itís all stream of consciousness and improvised. I always challenge myself to make each piece sound entirely different from the next, whether it is length of the piece, recording style, instruments, etc that change in that process. I hardly ever edit anything in the recordings other than a part of a vocal track here or there.

Evan Most of the recordings are actually multiple shorter tracks within the timeframe of the piece, just separated with either a lack of drumming, or some ambience, etc. The first few releases were 10 minutes long so I could put them on one side of a c20 if I wanted to. I only ended up putting the first release out on tape, and I think I only made 10 of them if I can remember. There are a few of the pieces, though, that are completely one track the whole way through. Again, just stream of consciousness.

Evan As far as composition goes, Iíve been greatly influenced by Khanate in terms of their discography as a whole and how it progressed over time, and not a particular album or track. As each new album came out, the pieces became more and more abstract in terms of their construction. Clean Hands Go Fowl is NOTHING like the self titled, but is still Khanate. I like to compare it to machinery that run on until their parts wear out, one at a time until ultimately the machine is discarded.

Evan Iím not necessarily following the same path, nor do I really want to follow a path at all, but I just find their approach to deconstruction interesting.


m[m]:Can you tell us a little bit about what sonic elements you use to create Savage Crossís sound?
Evan The first few Savage Cross releases used manipulated recordings of self generated drumming that I then laid guitars and vocals over. Over time Iíve come to incorporate bass into the mix, which I think makes everything sound heavier in general. I try to change it up from time to time though, in terms of pedals, tunings, instruments, recording order, etc to throw myself off. I want to be equally as uncomfortable recording it as someone is listening to it.

m[m]:Many of the projects release have quite cryptic, bleak & lengthy titles- could you explain the themes & meanings behind each of the following releases? Abyss of the Flesh Ouroboros, Ensepulchred Under The Weight of The Void: Compressed to Nothing, Dilapidation, Disintegration, and Denial of Being
Evan The titles are improvised immediately after recording the tracks. If listeners read the titles before hearing the tracks, it sets the tone. If people read the track titles after listening, then they can make connections for themselves. Some of the titles are personal, some are not. But most of them represent the void, nothingness, non-existence, and infinity.

m[m]:How often do you record for the project & how much do you release of what you record?
Evan I used to record with the project almost daily at first and post the tracks to Bandcamp unannounced. Thatís just how I got through for a while. But I honestly havenít had even a third of the free time that I used to, so recording and putting out stuff in general, whether it is with this project or with Void Seance, has slowed down significantly. Iím still recording here and there, and Iíve still got a few physical things in the works, but nowhere near the speed that I once was putting out material.

m[m]:Do you have any plans to release the Bandcamp Savage Cross releases in a physical form?                                                                                                                          Evan Not in particular unless someone was interested. Like I said I really donít have the time or resources like I used to.  People can pay what they want for it through Bandcamp, though.                                                                                                           Been kind of thinking of doing a series of small zines, one per release with artwork inspired by the titles that would have a link inside of them people could get to the particular Bandcamp page and download the track. Would be cheaper to ship out, less materials, and still a physical, tangible object.


m[m]:Clearly a big part of the projects sound is bastardized & raped take on Black Metal- please list you top ten  black metal releases & explain why they mean so much to you?
Evan Top 10 black metal albums. Alright, I guess I can do that. I noticed that I subliminally have been drawn mostly to one man projects throughout my black metal listening through the years, Iím not sure if itís because theyíre so different from the cut and paste black metal formula or what it is. There is just so much freedom when you have complete control and do not have to consult with other members about writing or sound, etc.

Evan I wonít put them in any specific order, because theyíve all played their roles in influencing me, but the top 10 black metal releases that I can think of off the top of my head are:

Xasthur- Subliminal Genocide. I remember hearing this album for the first time and everything just kind of clicked. The atmosphere and dread in this album, matched with the drum programming are something Iíll never forget.

KTL- KTL. Iíve been a longtime follower of Stephen OíMalley projects, but KTL is definitely by far my favourite project that he has participated in. I wasnít completely a fan of IV or V, but the first two albums along with the KTL 3 LP are great. I donít think Iíve listened to any other releases more than those first three albums. Just great stuff.

Striborg- Embittered Darkness. Great proof that things do not have to be perfect to convey a mood or emotion. I like that Striborg isnít afraid to change it up in between releases and sound completely different from album to album.

Leviathan- Massive Conspiracy Against All Life. You can FEEL this album. Itís not just a listening experience. Actually, you can feel most Leviathan albums in some sort of 4th dimension. There is just so much real anger in each of his recordings that can be felt more than most recordings Iíve heard.

Nekrasov- Extinction. Nekrasov was a great friend of mine. You might have remember me releasing one of his last discs. This disc is great though. Another project that was not confined or concerned with being stuck within the boundaries of a genre.

Gnaw Their Tongues- An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood- I remember buying this disc on a whim at a record store shortly after it came out. I think Gnaw Their Tongues and all of Mauriceís projects are really interesting in that they are SO busy and detailed that you can listen to his pieces over and over and still find new elements that you never noticed before. Also the fact that he uses two bass tracks and a fucking orchestra to make some of the creepiest music possible is quite an accomplishment.

Bloody Panda- Summon. Another instant classic in my book. Yoshiko Oharaís vocals are downright chilling. Also an incredible live act. I donít think I could ever get sick of this album. There are so many odd elements to it that just flow together and fit perfectly.

Craft- Total Soul Rape. What a rager of an album. I feel like this is the album I would put on if the world was ending- it just fits and itís thrashy and just full of energy. So many awesome riffs in that album. One of the few black metal albums that have actually gotten stuck in my head.

Antediluvian- Under the Wing of Asael. I like this album because of how primitive it is. It just sounds barbaric, simple, and effective.

Portal- Swarth. Another great album, with interesting song structures and tempo changes, and the guitars have a sort of mush to them that I canít get over, in a good way. The playing is very technical, but then the mastering and the tones of the guitars and how quickly everything is being played gives it this sort of frantic gasping for air feel to it that shows that it is still human.

m[m]:One of the most chilling & effective elements of Savage Cross sound is the layered vocal effects that take on all manner of guttural moans, sinister chuckles, monster from the pit lay bays, etc- how do you go about creating this element of the projects sound?
Evan Pitch shifters, delays, and reverb. Sometimes multiple passes of vocals. I just wanted it to sound different and I guess you could loosely compare them to some bestial black metal albums. I really like the vocal delivery of most Antediluvian albums and I think theyíre a great band. Their sound changes quite often between recordings which again is really refreshing and irritating at the same time.

m[m]:Do you write any lyrics for the tracks, or are the vocal elements just purely sounds?                                                                                                                            Evan I do not write lyrics. Itís either stream of consciousness lyrics that are improvised, chants/screams.

m[m]:Youíve played a few times with your HNW project Ritual Stance, so have you any plans to play live with Savage Cross? And if so how would you present your self in a live format, would wear corpse paint or have backing visuals?
Evan I actually played a Savage Cross set in October 2013. It wasnít the best translation of the project, as I didnít use any sort of drums (programmed or actual), but I did have my guitar split into two signals (one guitar, one bass) along with vocals all of which I looped and sent into two different amps as well as the PA. I did not wear corpse paint or have backing visuals, just loud amps. Sound guy tried to tell me I blew the PA. I may or may not play out with the project again. If I did in the future I would be more prepared with either a drum machine or a live drummer.

m[m]:Was the live film or recorded? And if you were to play live again what would you change?                                                                                                                               Evan It was filmed, it was a small audience as part of Cheap Fest down in Richmond last year. It can be watched here:
As I said before if I was ever to play the project out again Iíd add drums in some form, and probably play a baritone instead of guitar.  

m[m]:What have you got planed next release wise for Savage Cross?
Evan There is a tape coming out on Spirit Throne Tapes within the next two months. Also Dead Accents is releasing a Savage Cross split with Crown of Bone coming sometime in the future; itís been in the works for a while. Savage Cross/Tenebrious split CDr is long past due on my end, I just need to gather the last few materials before actually putting it out. Other than that I just keep recording when I can, and when Iím asked to do a split or a release I have material to give since itís become so glacial of a process.

You can listen to and download a decent amount of Savage Cross here:

Iíve got a few Savage Cross discs here:

And I know that Altar of Waste has some discs left too:

m[m]:Discog only lists two Savage Cross releases- could you list the projects full out-put thus far?                                                                                                                  Evan I havenít really promoted the project anywhere so Iím not surprised that there are only two releases listed.
Anthems of Inner Void Acceptance c20
Blackest Chasm
Bleak, Infinite Emptiness
A Soul In the Cycle of Rot
The Moon of Infinite Zeros
Slowly March Into The Deepest Shade of Black
Battle Swine (Black Sabbath Cover)
Abyss of the Flesh Ouroboros CDr
Crown of Bone / Savage Cross CDr
Tenebrious / Savage Cross CDr
Ensepulchred Under The Weight of The Void: Compressed To Nothing CDr
Savage Cross 7Ē Lathe Cut

Evan There are a few more releases that I havenít put out yet, some are hidden on Bandcamp and some like I said in a previous question are just sitting until the right time.
Iíve got a disc + book/zine in the works with Crucial Blast, I just need to hold up my end and finish the artwork for the book. The material has been recorded for a year or two.

Thanks to Evan for his time & effort with the interview. Savage Cross band camp can be found here:

Roger Batty
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