Exclusive Interview: Cyclops Cataract talk “The Bestiary”, guests they’d like to work with and Type O Negative!
The five horsemen of the apocalypse that form Cyclops Cataract aligned the planets of Death and Black Metal to create a eclipse that shrouds the planet in the cover of darkness with “The Bestiary“, released last month via Planet K Records (Kneel, Hadal, Devistating Light). A concept record with each song depicting a different creature based on Scottish folklore and legend, from the Orcadian legends of the selkies in “Second Skin” to the villainous redcap of the Southern borders in “Crimson Wrath” they are incredible tales given new life. We spoke to guitarist and keyboard player Scott Hogg and guitarist James Dron about how it all came together…
How did you come to choose “The Beastiary“, a Medieval book of Beasts, as the concept for the album?
Scott: “It was actually Kirsten who’s the wife of our vocalist, Craig. At first I wasn’t sure, however that changed after I looked up “The Bestiary” in the dictionary. Craig suggested that we make an album that was based on Scottish mythology, adding in the name “The Bestiary” seemed perfect as each song identifies with a different creature”
We’ve described “The Beastiary” as being an Avant Garde release that reminded us of the critically acclaimed “Alphaville” by Imperial Triumphant, but who (or what!) was it that influenced such a diverse and free flowing album?
Scott: “Thank you, it means a lot when you’re mentioning Cyclops Cataract and Imperial Triumphant in the same sentence. I wouldn’t say they’re a direct influence however I really admire the way that they don’t conform. I think it would be very easy to misunderstand the music that they make. In a way, we’re the same. We could have just written 11 Death metal songs, however we like to make an album that’s like a meandering story”
There is definitely a touch of the Cinematic with Cyclops Cataract, and we’ve even gone as far mentioning Alfred Hitchcock in our review; if you had the opportunity to score a film, what kind of thing grabs you as being interesting to work on?
James: “I think some of the sporadic chaos is influenced by Scott’s admiration for Devin Townsend“
Scott: “True, I have always been drawn to the most epic and grandiose sound production. Some examples could be songs like “Dynamics” by Devin Townsend, “Let the Children go” by Ulver. It’s great that you picked up on the cinematic sound. I love dark/sad film soundtracks. The soundtrack to the film, The man who wasn’t there would be a great example, Carter Burwell has composed some amazing soundtracks. Another thing is that I have dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life, in a strange way, I think it helps me create quite dark and atmospheric music”
There is a sense of pushing not only yourselves as musicians to write and play more complex material but also in pushing the listener, dragging them along on a white knuckle ride. Were there ever moments in writing the album where you sat back and thought less might be more? Were you ever tempted to make anything simpler or is it go hard or go home?
James: “The amount of layering and extra parts was definitely looked at for each segment I’d say as a group when we were going through each track. Some of the parts did stay a bit more stripped down when we felt that it called for it, though I don’t think it is overly busy at other stages – it all works to my ears!”
Scott: “I think we have a few grindcore moments, however I’m also a fan of melody and beautiful music. So I suppose we cover quite a wide, sonic gamut. I suppose we could have made the songs a bit more conventional sounding, however that would be, in my opinion, quite dull. The ambient sections are there to compliment the songs rather than try to take over”
If you had the opportunity to bring some guests in next time around, who would you like to work with and why?
James: “As I like female metal vocals (both clean and dirty) it would be cool to incorporate stuff like that – some of the more ambient sections could benefit from a bit of ‘fragility’ that a soft female clean vocal can achieve on occasion, with that breaking grit taking over as things get heavier/fuller. Two of the best examples that would suit would be Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Lena Scissorhands (Infected Rain). Vortex (ex-Dimmu Borgir) is one of my favourites for clean male vocals; that would be incredible to incorporate as well! As far as instrumentation goes, I can’t see past Josh Middleton (Sylosis and Architects) – a guest solo (or 10!) from him would be incredible!”
Scott: “I wish Peter Steele (Type O Negative) was still with us. His huge, deep voice was something to behold. He actually had a really wide vocal range. I would have loved to hear his voice on one of our songs. Another person I would love to feature on a Cyclops Cataract song would be Agnete from Madder Mortem. Her voice is amazing and Madder Mortem is criminally underrated.”
Where next for Cyclops Cataract?
James: “More writing and recording is probably the most likely thing to come next. I’m sure we’ll all get in a room together at some point to run through the other songs as well, but there is a back catalogue of other riffs & ideas that are yet to be explored/need a new lease of life.”
Scott: “Yes, as James said, more recording. I’m already working on the next bunch of songs. It would also be great to play live. I’m down for that.”
“The Beastiary” by Cyclops Cataract is out now via Planet K Records and is available over at bandcamp