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SACRED RITES: An interview with Sacred Son's Dane Cross

Sacred son are a one man band who caused a bit of a stir with the debut album's cover. Setting the black metal world into a state of confusion with its not so black image of the band member on holiday overlooking a scenic view. Skip forward a few years and that same band are putting on blazing shows with a full band live line-up, and a sophomore effort named ‘Arthurian Catacombs’. Set to show a new direction, and stepping forward with a statement of intent, Dane Cross sat down to set the record straight and chat lyrical about his new album.

First things first, let’s get the obvious and possibly awkward question out of the way: Did you feel any pressure to top the infamous cover of your debut album?

At first I did. When I first started to think about the artwork there was naturally a bit of pressure as it’ll inevitably be the focal point of the album - initially at least. Then I remembered some advice a friend gave me - to just pretend the reaction that greeted the first album never happened and stay true to myself. What cover would I have gone with had no one heard of Sacred Son before? That’s what I ended up doing. It’s true that the artwork for the first album probably received more attention than the music itself, but once people got past that initial ‘controversy’ and listened to the album I’d like to think the reaction was generally positive. It’s a double edged sword - it would be nice if the discussion was more centred on the music, but had I ran with a more ‘traditional’ black metal cover then I doubt as many people would have been aware of it.

Briefly describe the concepts/ideas behind ‘Arthurian Catacombs’, your sophomore album release. Does the title having a part 1 and part 2 lead the listener to believe this is a concept album?

There are various different inspirations for this album, the most prominent being Arthurian Romances, the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and David Teniers the Younger, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and last but certainly not least, grief. Separating the album into two parts was a decision I made fairly late on. The theme and tone of the album changes quite significantly about half way through, so it felt right to separate it accordingly.

…and sticking to this idea of themes and tone, it's interesting you say it changed dramatically half way through as that links to the next question. It could be said there is an ebb and flow while listening to the album and it makes one think of waves, the way the interludes and songs crash over each and overlap. Was that an intention in the mix, and did you plan it that way all along?

Yeah, definitely. I’m a big fan of albums that just flow together effortlessly to a point where it’s almost disorientating, where you get 20 minutes in and you’ve no idea if you’re listening to track 5 or still on track 1. I feel the listener feels more inclined to hear the whole record as one long listening experience rather than a collection of individual songs. One of my all-time favourite albums ‘Choirs of the Eye’ by Kayo Dot does this beautifully. One of my biggest influences musically on this was second wave black metal, ie Darkthrone, Mayhem etc. whose albums almost always consisted of a collection of songs with big gaps in between. I suppose the transition (or lack of, should I say!) between ‘Blind and Feral Whiteness’ and ‘Black and Lustreless Spheres’ is in keeping with that style of album structure.

Did you set out to make something that would maybe surprise anyone who had pre-conceived ideas about what kind of band you are? It’s a big step forward in terms of musical development, more the feel of a band putting their stamp of authority on something.

I’m sure it will surprise some people who might expect a similar listening experience to the first record, but that wasn’t really a factor in my decision to go down a different route. I wasn’t overly interested in sticking to the same flavour of atmospheric black metal. I saw this as an opportunity to try out new ideas and explore different sub genres of metal while still retaining some of what characterised the first album.

Some bands might feel a commitment to what a label wants, or fans expect from them. Do you feel any association with a scene, or do you just make music and let it stand for itself without any sen