We chatted with Vegard Strand, singer and guitar player for the Norwegian band KRYPTOGRAF, who will release their long-awaited debut album on June 12 via Apollon Records. After the publication of their two singles, «The veil» and «Crimson horizon», from here we are pleased to preview the third single «Sleeper». After the praise received by these singles, the Norwegian quartet is called to revolutionize spring with its commitment to the proto-metal sounds of the early 70’s with its sound inheriting from bands like Pentagram, Sabbath, Budgie or the contemporary KADAVAR, Witchcraft, Uncle Acid or Motorpsycho. His debut contains a sound that is not new, but even so, manage to combine styles such as proto-.metal, psychedelic and progressive rock with a trio of voices, in an effective and attractive way. Without topics and composing freely they do not try to be a copy of anyone, but in their sound they combine different influences, with a completely brilliant result.
Here are all the details of the album and the band in the words of Vegard and the preview of his single «Sleeper», a theme with a vintage aroma and retro riffs on a progressive structure that recalls the sound obtained by KADAVAR on his latest album. Floating melodies with bewitching vocal moments and multiple psycho-progressive ornaments with a striking rhythmic base under an atmosphere of darkness and mystery.
«For all bands in our genre Black Sabbath is the holy grail, and we are no exception»
DenpaFuzz: We’re accustomed to new groups coming out of Scandanavia practically daily, so we would like to get to know you a bit more. Who is Kryptograf? According to my information, you were together in another group before, is that correct?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): That’s right! We started playing together in a band called “Møblos” in 2015. Back then we used to have a dedicated vocalist and front man. After parting ways with our vocalist we formed Kryptograf as band where we could really focus on the world of early 70´s doom and proto metal. This is something we weren´t able to do with our old band.
DenpaFuzz: How did the idea for KRYPTOGRAF come about? Does one of you sort of play the role as the leader of the group, as far as composing or deciding the band’s path? Or is it a group effort?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): Musically Kryptograf has always been a group effort. We enjoy working together in our rehearsal room and composing the songs together. Most of the lyrics on the album are written by me and Odd Erlend. Me and him are also dealing with most of the administrative work.
DenpaFuzz: In view of the singles you have released from the album, it seems that your musical influences are clear. Basically a proto-metal sound from the 70’s in which I perceive influences from bands like Sabbath, Boulbous Creation, or Pentagram, to name just a few. Is this really where your sound comes from? On the other hand, in some of your songs I find certain parallels with contemporary bands like KADAVAR, Witchcraf, Graveyard…. Is it just a feeling of mine?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): We like many different bands and genres of music, but Kryptograf is mostly inspired by the hard, progressive and psychedelic rock of the late 60s and early 70s. For all bands in our genre Black Sabbath is the holy grail, and we are no exception. Otherwise we have listened a lot to Pentagram, Budgie and countless obscure proto metal bands from the 70s. We also get inspired by more modern bands. Some of our favorites are Witchcraft, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats and Motorpsycho.
DenpaFuzz: How did you make this first album? I mean .. How was the creative process, the recording, etc., until the album is ready to be released by Apollon Records?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): We started making the songs in the beginning of 2019. All of the songs started with a riff. Our songs are usually composed by jamming together around the riff at band rehearsals, and then we start working on vocal lines and lyrics later on. In May 2019 we went to the studio and started recording the album with our producer Iver Sandøy. We really enjoy working with Iver and we have a mutual understanding of what our music should sound like. We did the entire live tracking of the album in two days, and we spent another two days tracking vocals and overdubs. We also spent some extra time for mixing and mastering witch was also done by Iver. The artwork on the album was done by Lars Bigum Kvernberg, a friend of ours.
DenpaFuzz: What is the purpose of KRYPTOGRAF as a band? Do you have a defined goal?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): We just want to keep on making music we like and play it live as much as possible! Right now, our goal is to make our second album as great as possible. Another one of our goals is to go touring in Europe in not too long!
DenpaFuzz: In the same way that the proto-metal seems to be your first source of inspiration, the album also found many stoner riffs, heavy rock, and even progressive moments. How did you combine contemporary sounds and vibrations of the seventies?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): As I said earlier, we listen to a lot of different kinds of music and we also like to infuse some of that into our own music. We are for example big fans of the progressive and psychedelic music of the 60´s and 70´s, but also some stoner rock from modern times. We like putting a lot of our different ideas in to our proto-doom inspired context. I guess a lot of the 70´s feel also has to do with our playing style and the kind of equipment we use.
«When you see us live you don´t keep your eyes stuck on a front man, you look at Kryptograf!»
DenpaFuzz: Another detail that strikes me is that aside from the heavy and catchy riffs on which the songs are built, the vocal melodies are very important in each song. From what I have heard, it seems that not all the songs are sung by the same person, but there are variations. Tell us about this part of the band.
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): That’s right, we are actually three singers in the band! I think this is something that just happened naturally as none of us identified ourselves as a vocalist or a front man when the band started. All three of us have different qualities as singers and some voices fit different songs. I think this is kind of a cool thing with this band. When you see us live you don´t keep your eyes stuck on a front man, you look at Kryptograf!
DenpaFuzz: What would you say to someone who has never heard of you guys as to what to expect from KRYPTOGRAF. What would be the definition of the content of your album?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): Doomy and progressive 70´s inspired hard rock!
DenpaFuzz: What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): That’s a really hard question to answer! I like all of the songs on the record and they are all very different. For example I love both the psychedelic vibe of Seven, the simplicity of The Veil and the brutality of New Kolossus. It´s really impossible for me to pick a favorite!
Denpafuzz: Personally, after having listened to your album several times, when I listen to “Seven” I perceive a greater compositional work and many psychedelic and progressive moments. What can you tell me about this song?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): This song is a perfect example of the result of us just jamming together and getting crazy in our rehearsal room. The compositional work is pretty much done by itself, but we spent some time working on the vocals with all the harmonies.
«We just try to give the audience an honest and loud rock n roll show»
DenpaFuzz: Somewhere I read that the album has tried to reflect your sound live, without producing too much. What is a KRYPTOGRAF concert like?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): Kryptograf is a pretty new band, so we haven´t played more than 4 shows yet. We just try to give the audience an honest and loud rock n roll show. Some of the songs stays pretty much the same as on the record and on other songs we play extended versions with more improvising.
DenpaFuzz: I guess this whole COVID-19 situation will have somehow upset the launch plans. How is the rest of the year planned for you? Do you have live performances planned?
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): Releasing an album in a situation like this is definitely not ideal for anyone, and it has made touring impossible. However, this is a great time for people to check out new albums while staying home. We hope that we will at least be able to play some gigs around Norway later this year.
DenpaFuzz: Thank you very much for your words and I wish you the best of luck with your album. If you want to say something to all those people who have been surprised with your first singles (which I know there has been a lot and they are looking forward to the album).
KRYPTOGRAF (Vegard): Thank you so much for all the great feedback on our singles! We are looking forward to sharing the album with you all, and we hope to see you on tour when the virus settles!
Traslation: Abigail Simpson