South Africa’s Crow Black Sky has been around for nearly ten years. Pantheion was released shortly after their inception and then…silence for the next eight. Thankfully, this silence was broken last month with their second full length Sidereal Light: Volume 1 which will be the first in a series of exploratory releases. Merely judging from both albums, the band would seem tough to pin down, genre wise, as Pantheion sounded more like melodic death metal with a slight nudge towards black metal yet Sidereal Light is expansive, epic and stunning atmospheric black metal. After hearing this new album I had to reach out to Gideon Lamprecht (guitar, backing vocals and writer) to find out more about the new album, their larger than life concepts and what was next for the band. Head inside to see what he had to say.
With the hiatus, it seemed uncertain we would ever hear new music but Sidereal Light: Volume One was just released after an eight year silence. What influenced the decision of now being the time to release new material?
We had been working on a new album for a few years. Towards the end of last year, however, we decided to take a short break from that project — a decision which resulted in Sidereal Light: Volume One. Over the coming year we will be returning our attention to that previous project as well as Sidereal Light: Volume Two.
Listening to the new album, much has changed since Pantheion. Atmospheric black metal is the main focus this time around and the vocals are on another level entirely. What made you shift from a slightly more death metal approach and how did Ryan (Higgo) work his vocals into what we hear today?
While many years have indeed passed and both our taste and creative output has certainly developed, the stylistic direction for Sidereal Light was very much intentional. We wanted to explore this territory, and the vocal shift came naturally, as though it were meant to be. However, it’s not our intention to continue in this vein exclusively.
What’s the background on the new album and how did you come up with the theme(s)?
Lately, I’ve been wanting to create atmospheric black metal from the heart; it’s what I’ve been craving.
The themes came naturally, as they’re concepts that we think about and discuss at length almost daily.
Obviously, this is the first in a series of releases discussing existence, time and space. These things are all huge in scope so how did you approach writing the new material and what influenced it?
I wanted each song to sound like the concept it dealt with beforehand, and I composed the ambience first with that in mind. The idea was to make it to sound like the cosmos — magnificent and terrifying.
Kean Malcolmson, Stephen Spinas and Brad Saunders are no longer with you yet your sound on this new album is much fuller and much more dynamic than your previous album. How is it being a trio now and how has it been for Ryan adding bass to his duties?
I wrote the music for Pantheion, and the same goes for Sidereal Light: Volume One. Ryan is the quality control; his creative input is impactful, and he’s not hesitant to tell me if it’s not up to par. However, there are fewer opinions, and the three of us are on the same page about what we want to hear. The production quality has naturally improved over the years. We haven’t played live with our lineup/setup yet – it’s going to be interesting and challenging. I expect we’ll get a session rhythm guitarist.
Your lyrics have always dealt with serious topics; history, battles, life and death, and now the cosmos and existence. What brought you to write about such serious topics in lieu of literally anything else?
With Sidereal Light: Volume One and moving forward, we want to explore topics that truly matter on a larger scale — concepts that we’re passionate about. The lyrics are the result of countless conversations between myself and Ryan, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Pantheion was over an hour long while Sidereal Light: Volume One is just over a half hour. Since this is the first in a series was that the impetus for the shorter run time?
Sidereal Light: Volume One started as a blank project in August 2017, and was released five months later. The other album we’ve been working on is longer. Sidereal Light: Volume One felt like the right length; we said all that we wanted to say musically and lyrically for the time being.
How is the South African metal scene and has this geographical location influenced you as an artist?
There are a small handful of bands that stand out, both within and without the metal scene. The psychedelic rock and ambient/electronic scenes are also good here. While we are all subject to influence by the gigs we go to, and the fact that we’ve lived all our lives in Cape Town, our creative output is more influenced by what we want to hear in our own time. If you’re looking to discover some good South African music, two of my personal favourites are Wildernessking and Medicine Boy — both bands are phenomenal, live and in studio.
Speaking of influences, who or what influenced you guys early on? And, are there any current bands that have shaped the new album and new approach at all?
On Pantheion, our influences might have been easier to decipher, but I generally try to write what I want to hear, but can’t seem to find in other bands. While we still love bands like Opeth, Behemoth, Enslaved and Emperor, our influences have come from further afield over recent years. However, I’ve been enjoying Altar of Plagues, Perturbator, Hubris, Katatonia, Cult of Luna, and Devin Townsend in the car lately. We also try to keep up to date with new lesser-known releases.
What’s next for you guys? Are you close to a second volume in this series? Tours?
We’re planning on playing live locally, and finishing the other album along with Sidereal Light: Volume Two. We’ll tour Europe once we feel the demand!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for listening, we hope you enjoy it. Download it for free on our website and we’ll see you soon; it definitely won’t take eight years this time!
Many thanks to Gideon and Crow Black Sky for their time!
For more information on Crow Black Sky, and to get your own copy of Sidereal Light: Volume 1, visit their official website.