Already gaining a lead on all other contenders for the most compelling underground metal album of the year, Kaeck has on Het Zwarte Dictaat made the masterpiece of violent rhythm riffs and melodies that much of the underground wishes it could, combining black metal and war metal with doom metal and death metal to create a constantly changing mood within a fluid style. Fortunately, guitarist/composer Jan Kruitwagen had a few moments to give us his take on the band and state of the metal genre.
This album seems to go for more raw aggression and then top it off with melodic black metal, instead of heading straight in that direction like the first Kaeck. What has made you want to move in this direction?
The first Kaeck album was a bit too “happy” for my taste. Some keyboard lines and drums were just not angry enough. A line up change made this possible. Ruud from Sammath, who was meant to join Kaeck in 2014 already, took up the bass and drums for the new album. I got a chance to do keyboards again after 25 years. Oovenmeester still does the lyrics and vocals; he is a large part of what Kaeck is. We really wanted to make a dynamic sounding dark black/war metal album with a layer of old school keys. And it seems we achieved this. The first reactions — only ten or so have the album — are amazing.
How long did it take to record this album, and did you have any problems with the pandemic and ensuing panic?
I recorded the basis for all 7 tracks in four to five weeks. Then the adjusting begins. Finding parts to add the keys or add a extra part for a dark keys solo. Repeating riffs or changing the way they are played. This type of riff based pounding black war doom is all about timing and atmosphere.
The guitar sound on this one is big and burly, sort of like that first Massacre album or even the first Immortal. Is there a trick to getting such a fuzzy, furry, and scorching tone?
Well bloody hell thats a great compliment. Massacre are amazing and a huge influence here and I played that album daily back way to long ago. The guitars are recorded old school, two mics in front of the cabinet. Good mics, well placed and at a certain distance, are all you need. No trick really, the guitar is tuned so low the strings almost fall of the bloody guitar. The sound is filth.
Where do you think metal is now, and how do you balance staying true to metal traditions (like death metal, black metal, and doom metal) while finding a sound for yourself? How much do you adapt to changes in the metal style?
Hard to tell. These days the scene is more a online thing about likes and promotion pages. I speak to many bands who have a big following but sell fuck all. Speaking for my own bands Sammath and Kaeck, I’m glad we sell albums. These days plays and likes on big YouTube pages or metal ezines and matter to new bands. The biggest one for black metal, bmp, a Dutch guy, called Kaeck a grindcore band, so now we know how far his knowledge of bands goes, what a twat. So I told this worthless shit he isn’t a gatekeeper and he can go fuck himself. Still there are many damn good ezines I enjoy reading daily. The quality of writing reviews has gone through the roof, great stuff.
Lots of popular bands are so watered down its hardly black metal. Its a joke, but these bands will always be around wanting to be big and famous and living in some shitty appartment somewhere.
Who is in the band, and who writes the music? Do you practice extensively before recording? When did these songs get written?
As on the first Kaeck album, I write the music. I wrote and recorded the album at my home studio. I bought my neighbours house nine years ago and made a soundproof studio so I can record or rehearse 24/7.
- J.kruitwagen all music, guitars keys
- Oovenmeester, lyrics and vocals
- R. Nillesen, drums and bass
I write the songs in two or three sessions per track and then the fine-tuning begins. The tracks were written in the winter 2020/21.
In your view, what makes a good metal album these days? How important is style and staying current, if at all?
You can hear a real metal album a mile away. You can hear the modern rubbish a mile away as well. I’m way to old school for this scene with all the post-black, black-gaze rock thing. Wrong person to talk about that. I’m glad people are keeping this alive and finding and creating new paths, but it isn’t black metal much. Truth be told there are some sick strange bands emerging throwing together many styles. But that’s such a fine line between good and total agony, since mostly they lack direction.
Do you think metal still has room for great albums, or has all the good stuff been done and the genre finished?
I don’t see at all why it is finnished. Some widely-praised albums are boring as fuck and some unknowns are gems. Sometimes its a damn shame that bands don’t get a deal anymore or a chance to record a album for a label. Anyone can record a album these days. We spend days with a Tascam four-track… that was torture!
Will Kaeck follow a similar arc as Sammath, moving from Emperor-style arch black metal to grittily aggressive terror, then to progressive, then to a synthesis of the three?
What we do now needs more exploring. This is exactly how, and I think I can speak for the others, we wanted it to sound.
What should people do to stay on top of what Kaeck is doing and get ahold of this new album?
The lyrics are all handwritten again. The cover was set up in the marshes near to our homes.