Lurking in the outer limits of extremity, technicality and atmospherics, US technical death metal duo Acausal Intrusion hit the ground running with their excellent debut album Nulitas in 2021. Now the duo of Cave Ritual (vocals/ drums) and Nythroth (guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals) are back with their follow up Seeping Evocation.
With plenty of experience in the metal underground between them — their shared CVs are way too long to list here, but include Nothing Is Real, Psionic Madness, Cave and Flittering — Acausal Intrusion may be relatively new, but the players are very far from new to this game. I caught up with Cave Ritual and Nythroth to find out about the new album, out on 30th September on I, Voidhanger Records, and learn more about their music making methods.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. I’ve been enjoying listening to Seeping Evocation. It’s a wild listening experience.How much work went into the making of the album from original conception to the final mixes?
NYTHROTH: We always put a lot of work into Acausal Intrusion to get the songs exactly how we want them to. I start by spending a day or two in 4 hour blocks composing one of the songs on guitar. I track it and send the raw tracks to Cave Ritual and he provides the drums. After that I work to build the song from the ground up with the drums as the anchor to create a sonic landscape, with multiple rhythm guitars, different tones and harmonies, and atmospheric leads to accentuate the mood of different parts. At the very end Cave Ritual does vocals and I mix them into the full picture. For this album, we wanted to bring the recording quality up a bit so we sent it to our good friend Will at Dead Air Studios for the final mastering touch. At the very end of the album, I spend time creating the order of the album and getting each song to flow into each other through the use of delays, echo, reverb, and pitch shifting so each song flows into the next rather seamlessly like one giant track.
CAVE RITUAL: Yeah once I get the scratch track I normally spend a week or two and end up tracking one or two songs so I can really focus on what I want to lay down. Once everything else is layered in I go and lay vocals cause during that time of Nythroth doing his tracking I’m writing the lyrics in preparation to track vocals.
There’s a very organic feel to the songs. Did you record without a click track? The flow of this music stands out against a lot of metal these days that seems very clearly to be recorded to a grid.
NYTHROTH: We purposely use no click track to give the songs an organic feel where we can mutate the tempos and time signatures to whatever we desire. Even with automations in a click track to make some of these tempo changes happen to a grid, it does not quite have the same feeling as truly flowing a song together in a live feel. We seek to capture the sound of pure improvisation and even jazz; some of my favorite recordings are old jazz, fusion, and prog stuff where the band obviously did not use a click track (but were probably better and tighter musicians than us).
CAVE RITUAL: No click, can play to a click if needed, but that doesn’t have the overall feel and presentation we want to do with our work. Also in this fashion there might be some slight changes to how the riffs are played than originally written. This route allows for that more organic jamming together in a room to a degree since we cannot do that physically.
Can you give some insight into your process? How do you start to put together music like this that appears so complex from the outside?
NYTHROTH: I answered this a lot in the first question. I really try to just get myself into a trance and mindset to start getting in the frame of mind for these riffs to start “coming out of me” and I say this because I don’t consciously think about them but rather just let them play themselves. When I do use my intellectual processes it is to stretch my mind to play bizarre note choices I have never played before, or push myself to play a riff I hear in my head which is exceedingly difficult to carry out but I push my hand into new shapes I never have done before. Acausal Intrusion is a no rules type of landscape to push my playing to new frontiers.
CAVE RITUAL: I just try to be as out there and relentless as the riffs presented and doing my best to propel the song forward with plenty enough dynamics and events to keep the listener off kilter. I write my drums with inspiration on what material I’m listening to.
Was there anything you learned from the making of your first album, Nulitas, that you took into the making of your latest record?
NYTHROTH: We wanted to really refine the sound we had created in the first album into something tighter, more focused, and more solid. The main criticisms on the first album was the mix so I put a lot more effort into the mix of the whole album (still left the snare fairly pingy though.) We also got it mastered to have a 3rd set of ears put their touches on it. But as far as the songs I feel there is a more organic flow to these ones, a more intuitive way they develop form throughout and come to a finale. I also feel that we are tighter in sound and structure now, as we were creating something completely new with the first album and now have developed a template to evolve for albums to come.
CAVE RITUAL: Just wanted to expand and showcase how much further I’m trying to push my own skills.
On the topic of your last album, there seems to be some controversy with Bandcamp. Could you shed some light on the situation as you see it?
NYTHROTH: Someone reported our previous album on Bandcamp, taking offense to some of the titles and thinking it to have ties to certain satanic cults. This led to Bandcamp immediately taking the album down with no explanation. I believe in freedom of speech and anyone to say whatever they wish about any topic, but it left a lot of our fans very upset that the album had vanished with no explanation. I think that when there is a platform that can take our hard work down at any moment’s notice, we are in trouble as a culture creating art as all impactful art is offensive or challenging to some, otherwise it would not be noticed. However, until we create a platform as streamlined as Bandcamp without the restrictions, there is not much we can do. We were prepared to do a physical only release for this second album if the Bandcamp gets shut down again, and I am perfectly happy with that if we need to.
CAVE RITUAL: To add, I do know multiple fans took it upon themselves to demand explanation from Bandcamp for their censorship, but I don’t think it did anything but fall on deaf ears over there.
What’s the meaning behind the name of the band?
NYTHROTH: The Acausal is another realm beyond time and space that is realm to ancient entities that are chaotic and could be threatening to the psyche or soul. It is also a landscape for complete creativity and freedom from this dimensional realm. So an Acausal Intrusion is the Acausal realm Intruding into this one. And that’s what we seek to do with this music.
What music first made the band members want to play music and what kind of music did start out playing?
NYTHROTH: I grew up on classic rock and then rock and metal bands of the 90s. I started playing at age 8 and as my playing progressed, I got into prog, fusion, and jazz. These things laid a strong foundation for my writing and improvising. I remember my 9th grade band playing full Yes songs. Guitarists who really caught my attention and made me really want to figure out what they were doing and why was Robert Fripp, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, and Larry Lalonde. From there I bridged into metal and experimental music as a whole and transmutated my knowledge onto bass, piano, and any other instrument.
CAVE RITUAL: Grew up listening to classical, classic rock, and new wave. I was very very big into classical above all and then sort was tired of just listening to that and acoustic guitar pieces, heard some more nastier rock material, grunge and noise rock and just got interested in how a guitar could make different odd sounds than the classic chords/ scales of regular rock and that’s when I started thinking of music outside of a whole and how the parts themselves work together. Transitioned into playing drums more so when I was 20 and had been listening to metal for awhile at that point and just wanted to do double bass and blast beats. Just took to it far better and quicker than guitar. Everything sorta just works into each other so I’m inspired by all forms of music I usually can find something interesting in anything and how it can be utilized or manipulated for something else.
Who has the hardest time performing these songs on stage?
NYTHROTH: We are only 2 people creating this kind of wall of sound, so we have not technically performed them on stage. However, we both track our parts in one take each time. We want it to sound completely live and organic, and also to show that we are both perfectly capable of playing this live at any given moment. We are not splicing together takes, we practice it until it’s ready then lay each part down in a single take.
CAVE RITUAL: Yea I have a YouTube channel that I post almost everything I track drums too. and it’s the actual performances that are on the album in the final form minus mixing and mastering. I think we are both quite capable of performing live. I’ve had plenty of experience playing drums at these speeds and doing my vocals at the same time.
On the topic of live performance, will Acausal Intrusion be touring to support the album?
NYTHROTH: Maybe one day. We would need to find a bassist and another guitarist who is up for playing these songs. They are very complex and completely weird.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
NYTHROTH: Those who are familiar with our music know we have a large variety of bands and a lot of stuff coming out. For those who aren’t familiar, keep an eye out for the new NOTHING IS REAL and PSIONIC MADNESS among many others. Also, we have begun work on our 3rd album which has an even bigger shift in sound. Thank you all for the interview and the support!!!!
CAVE RITUAL: Yeah we have plenty more music coming out and at a pretty consistent and quick pace. I guess what Nythroth hasn’t mentioned is that I’ll have new albums of CAVE and FLITTERING out a bit later this year. Thank you for the interview and the support!
Interview by Tom Osman
Thanks to Cave Ritual and Nythroth for their time. Seeping Evocation is out on 30th September on I, Voidhanger Records. Pre-order a copy here and follow the band on social media to stay up to date.
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