-by Fdez Ferdinand-
Krystos is a thrash metal band from Boise Idaho, formed in 2010 by founding members Billy Thornock (Vocalist and guitarist), and Dan Johnston, who at the time recorded their first album independently. The album titled ” Walk Through The Inferno ” was a promising proposal, with great influences on the European and American Thrash Metal. Krystos delivers its second album (EP) by the end of 2012, ” Blood Magick ”, now with the integration of Adam Brimhall on drums and Andrew Sperry. This latest album technically made the band reach much more ground on the internet and at a local level. Its biggest and more successful tour was in 2013, later we will know more details on how this brutal journey has been and we are going to talk about their new upcoming album.
Hello guys, first of all, I want to thank you for your collaboration with Metalheads Forever Magazine for accepting this interview and letting us know about each of you and KRYSTOS. For me is a pleasure to have this conversation with you guys!
We know that Krystos begins its musical project in 2010, How did you have the initiative to start this musical journey?
-Technically, the band was around for a year or two prior, but I was having a difficult time finding musicians that wanted to go in the same musical direction as me. With various local musicians, we had performed some small parties and shows in front of our friends. I had some songs composed (Woods of Suicide, Crimson River, Infernal Stride) when Dan joined the band. Our goal was to fully flesh out the concept album (Walk Through the Inferno) out and establish ourselves within a larger metal community.
When Billy and Dan met and decided to form the band, they recorded Krystos’ first album, ‘Walk Through The Inferno’ independently, what challenges arose in the composition and production of this album?
-Well, the biggest problem was the fact that me and Dan did not have a drummer or bass player, upon recording the album. We felt that in order to get things moving, we would need to produce a cd first before completing our lineup. We were hoping that the cd would give an accurate representation of our vision for the music, and allowing us to really show other musicians what we were trying to accomplish. I played the bass guitar, and our producer (Blaine Johnston- New Level Recording) laid down the drum tracks for that cd. As far as composition goes, writing the foundation of the songs came fairly easy. Looking back on that release, I would make drastic changes to the vocal production and composition, as well as some minor changes in the guitar production.
-Adam and Andrew have been really close friends with us since the high school days. They had their own thrash project and so it just made sense for us to join together. (I want to quickly note that Nick Lugo is our current full time bass player. Our website will be updated closer to the new release to reflect that. Andrew is still considered a part of the Krystos family.)
There is something very important that we want to know, at the time of writing the songs, who is in charge of the writing process? And what are the lyrics theme about in general?
-Usually, I will provide a foundation of song in which the others contribute with ideas and changes. Every song has a completely different writing process and each song requires a different formula to complete. As far as lyrical themes, the first cd (Walk Through the Inferno) was based around Dante’s inferno, so sin and redemption are the heavy topics on that one. Blood Magick’s topics are interesting. Telling people that I am a song writer in a heavy metal band can be uncomfortable for some. The song itself is an exaggeration of people who use religion as a form of superiority and a tool to deal judgement.
Anyone that has been able to appreciate the music of Krystos, can say that the energy and spirit that has your music is worth hours of headbanging. You work hard and are committed to bring quality music to listeners, we know that it is not an easy process, what have been your biggest obstacles?
–The biggest obstacles are undoubtedly time and money. If we could, we would be on tour right now, then come home and begin pre-production on the next CD, after another tour we would come home and produce the next big CD, then tour on that! But being an indie band, we have to do all the fine details ourselves. For instance, if you look into our new CD, or even our other CD’s, the front and back of the casing, the lyric books, the printing on the actual CD, the UPC, and every single detail of the release is designed and produced by us, the band members. We book and promote our own tours. We do our own Press releases. We are creating our own website. Between working a day job and doing all that, the fine details of being a serious band are certainly the obstacles that keeps us from just writing, recording, and touring, which is our end goal. But I must say that we have learned so much from doing this, and we all love doing what we do.
Personally I love the Blood Magick song from the self-titled album and I have to admit that the bass line is one of my favorites of many songs I’ve heard, it’s aggressive and its amplification makes the song have more attitude and power. How do you describe your sound and how is it different from other Thrash metal bands?
–I feel that we do have many differences from a band that has more traditional thrash roots. On our upcoming release, you will notice that there are many layers of vocal harmonies, classical guitar interludes, blast beats, an instrumental song that has an atmospheric vibe accompanied by vocal melodies sung by a female singer, tribal drums, and many more non-traditional characteristics not heard in thrash music. We definitely play aggressive, fast, over the top metal. But we are into branching out and creating a much more detailed image than just staying within the box. People who have heard us play our new songs live have said that we are more like “tech-death thrash” and “blackened power-thrash” so I don’t really know how to classify us haha.
We have heard that in addition to influences from Thrash metal bands such as Slayer, Testament among others, it is very particular that you also have influences from bands like Symphony X, Children Of Bodom and Cradle of Filth, in what way do these bands influence Krystos?
-When I was younger and getting into metal I was really into bands like Children of Bodom and Cradle of Filth among the main thrash bands we all know. I really like a lot of black metal, power metal, progressive metal, folk metal, and other styles of music that have no relation to heavy metal. I can speak for the band and say that we all listen for great melodies on any instrument. We look for great percussive pieces. We love music that has a substantial amount of composition and musical value. Any piece of music or art can be inspiring.
What is your point of view about the music industry at this time? Taking into consideration that you are an independent band.
-I believe that music, as an industry, is learning how to crawl out of its recession. Bands and record labels are learning how to adapt and are finding new ways to create success in the ever changing way music is consumed. A lot of people you hear from in local bands say you don’t need record labels, because you can do everything yourself. Its true, to some extent. But for example, I will more than likely book the next Krystos tour. If we were signed to a strong label, someone who books tours professionally would do it instead, allowing me to focus on writing. Because they have so much experience booking tours, they will probably produce better shows and a better tour than I can. A label would refer someone who knows how to deliver a strong press release, so we can focus on writing and performing and not having to deal with the subtle details. At this day and age, I feel there is still a lot of value to having a record label sign you, if you just want to write, record, and tour. However, it’s perfectly doable being independent and handling these things yourself. You have more control over your own business model.
How has been the support of the fans since the beginning of the band so far?
–Wonderful. We have received so much support that it’s baffling to us. We recently played with Vektor and Black Fast and our bus broke down while we were trying to get our gear to the show. Friends and supporters offered help, people came and helped us load our gear into their cars so we could make it to the gig. We had a great time despite the circumstances and are truly grateful.
Now let’s talk about what everyone is excited for… ‘’Lolth Domain’’! the new upcoming Krystos’ album. The long-time fans as well as new fans are very excited about your new album that is coming out in 2017.
What can the fans and new listeners expect from this new upcoming record?
–Our signature sound, except MUCH more refined. Writing as a band has really started to click with us and we have felt more “on the same page” with this release. In the past, it was always 1 to 2 people working on the songs, but we are all started contributing together and really are trying to lock in a musical vision. This release, in my opinion, sounds more like what wanted I to hear from our previous releases, as far as production goes. We’ve learned so much, and I’m really excited to keep moving forward with this group.
The theme of the new album has a very particular concept and is that it alludes to the goddess Lolth of the famous role-playing game ” Dungeons and Dragons ”, How did the idea of this topic arise?
–I’m a huge fan of the The Forgotten Realms books. The concept of Lolth, the UnderDark, and her followers are really intriguing to me. Their political regime is built upon deception, treachery, and secrecy. I couldn’t stop seeing it as a distorted reflection of our society.
Speaking a little bit about this theme, Lolth was a goddess of the drow (dark elves race) They were generally evil, can we see in this album a darker sound than previous albums? And for role-play lovers in general, can we finally witness some kind of “Drow” metal at its best?!
–I feel like this release has a much darker atmosphere than the previous ones. The song “Lolth Domain” in my opinion, is very fitting of the term Drow-Metal.
What are your touring plans for the next year?
–Yes and yes! We don’t have solid plans just yet, but we are hoping to at least run through the western half of the U.S. We would love to push much further, as far as we can go, of course. We are always trying to get an opportunity to reach out.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, we appreciate your time and we really want to know more about your upcoming projects! That been said, any last words for the fans and readers?
-Thank you for having this interview with me. We are grateful to have the support of Metal Heads Forever and all the friends and fans who support us. We are very excited to bring this CD to you, and can’t wait to see you when we hit the road!
Fdez Ferdinand / Metalheads Forever Magazine