Crypticus - Where Madness Reigns!

Interview By Dr. Abner Mality

It is a lonely and thankless task being a mad scientist or, as I prefer to call it, an unorthdox theoretician. It's a given that you will be rejected by your so-called peers. The general public, mewling ignoramuses that they are, will not only fail to understand you, but will inevitably greet your research with hostility. Of course any actual romantic relationship is impossible, but then, we have the dead to make up for that.

That's why it was so exciting when I came across the outstanding work of one Professor Patrick E. Bruss. This scientific genius has managed to create something truly monstrous with his one-man death metal project CRYPTICUS! More brutal than Frankenstein's Monster and more outrageous than the cadaverous creations of Dr. Herbert West, Crypticus is a fearsome beast whose latest album "They Called Me Mad!" is a loving tribute to all of us who dwell in the shadows. Inspired by classic horror and especially the old radio mystery programs of long ago, this album is an absolute revelation.

I knew I had to make the acquaintance of Prof. Bruss and to unlock the secrets of Crypticus. Much as I had imagined, Bruss proved to be a kindred soul and he was more than eager to divulge the mysteries of his ghastly creation...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Where did your fascination with monsters and the macabre begin? Was there one specific moment that you recall? For me, it was seeing "Jason and the Argonauts" when I was four years old.

PATRICK BRUSS: I believe it was seeing that episode of The Little Rascals where they get lost in the haunted house! Also, I remember seeing Mad Monster Party & The Ghost & Mister Chicken when I was very young.

WC: How about metal? What led you to the metal path, particularly death metal? Have you been in any bands prior to Crypticus?

PB: In high school I was in a few crappy bands with friends – mainly METALLICA & PRONG emulation. Once “alternative” became big all my Thrash Metal buddies started wearing flannel & listening to SONIC YOUTH! Luckily, I met some heshers who let me borrow their ENTOMBED & CARCASS tapes & that started me down the left hand path of Death Metal!

WC: Crypticus is such a cool name for a did you come up with it?

PB: I used to draw Horror comics whenever I was bored in class. I was the main character & much like Ash in The Evil Dead I always had to fight off all sorts of supernatural monsters. The worst & most terrifying was a huge grim reaper like entity that I named “The Crypticus”. 13 years later I started a crappy Goregrind band called ANTHROPOPHAGUS. After several demos I found out about the Italian band ANTROPOFAGUS, so I decided to change the name to CRYPTICUS since I'd never heard it used before. I thought I'd made up the name, but turns out it’s an actual Latin word meaning “mysterious, secret or occult”.

WC: According to the liner notes, "They Called Me Mad" was pieced together in an unusual fashion, almost like stitching the Frankenstein Monster together. Was this your preferred method of creating the album or was it forced upon you by necessity?

PB: Total necessity! In the course of three years I had to move three times, fractured my fretting hand, went through two computers & two guitars, borrowed friend’s equipment as well as their talents & ended up eliminating or re-writing half of the music & much of the lyrics. I hope the next one is birthed less painfully!

WC: Your love of the old "Weird Tales" style of horror is well-known. What are some of your favorite tales from this great era of the fantastic? Some of mine are "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard, "The Color Out of Space" by Lovecraft, "The Night Wire" by H.F. Arnold, and the stories of Clark Ashton Smith and Joseph Payne Brennan.

PB: I’d have to say “The Outsider”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, “The Picture in the House” & “The Dunwich Horror” to name just a few. As for Howard, I especially like “The Tower of the Elephant” & “The Garden of Fear”. Some of the Lovecraft pastiche by Ramsey Campbell & Brian Lumley is great too.

WC: So much of today's horror metal is focused on slashers, gore and Satanism....even on your own Razorback label. Do you believe that the unseen and the unsaid is more potent than graphic visuals and descriptions?

PB: In a word: yes. Unless of course we’re talking about monsters – then I want as much detail as possible! I like a lot of gory & satanic bands, but as far as my own music, I felt it would be more original & exciting to follow the inspiration of Pulp Horror, classic comic books & old radio shows.

WC: It can also be said that much of today's extreme metal is too focused on technicality instead of atmosphere. You seem to have both in Crypticus. What's your philosophy of creating good death metal?

PB: Atmosphere has always been my goal, but as I continue to improve as a guitar player I’ve caught myself “showing off” a little from time to time - I’m a huge fan of ‘70s Prog Rock like RUSH & GOBLIN, so sometimes a little bit of that sneaks into my songs as well. My main aim is to create memorable & spooky Death Metal anthems that could almost be seen as aural short stories.

WC: It would seem at this point that Crypticus is more of a project than a band. Do you think it will ever move to full band status and will Crypticus ever play live?

PB: CRYPTICUS is just me, but I have & will continue to collaborate with awesome & talented “special guests”. I’m not really interested in touring or anything, but I might do a couple of special live dates sometime hence…

WC: Is "They Called Me Mad" a kind of loose concept album about the horrors of strange science? If not, would you ever consider doing a concept album where one big story is being told?

PB: You got it Brother! I didn’t intend it as such, but as you put it, the album came together with a unified theme. Being a Prog nerd I’m considering doing the next one as a real concept album, but at this point I’m not too sure.

WC: There's very little space between tracks on "They Called Me Mad". Was this intentional? The record sounds like one big jam!

PB: Yep. I always thought it was cool how SLAYER did that on all their albums!

WC: I love the old radio show excerpts that pop up on the disc. Where did you get these from and are you a big fan of the old radio shows?

PB: My father & I listened to Horror radio shows when I was a kid, so I developed a fondness for them early on. There are a few places online where one may download great shows like Dark Fantasy, Black Castle & others.

WC: Further on that subject, the radio age seems almost forgotten today, but it really stirred the imagination. Was it a case of "you have to believe it to see it"? And has that sense of wonder been deadened by today's CGI overkill?

PB: Sure. Kids today are assaulted by amazing CGI vistas from the moment they see their first film, they never have the chance to actually develop their own imagination! When I was a kid my Mom read me The Lord of the Rings & for decades I fantasized & envisioned how all the creatures & landscapes would look. Today kids watch it all brought to life on DVD, yawn, then move on to the next movie!

WC: Razorback is a cool label, but if one of the bigger independents expressed an interest in Crypticus, would you sign with them?

PB: Sure, if the label was passionate about Death Metal. But I'd only do it if Billy & Jill gave me their blessings. They expressed interest in my music when no other label did. Nobody would have heard my music & I certainly wouldn’t be doing this interview if not for them!

WC: What are some of the movies and TV shows that have inspired Crypticus?

PB: Doctor Who (Tom Baker years!), Commander USA’s Groovy Movies, The League of Gentlemen, Thundarr the Barbarian, Scooby-Doo, The Ghost & Mister Chicken, Phantasm, House by the Cemetery, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Die Monster, Die!, the Paul Naschy werewolf pictures, the Blind Dead films, Phenomena, Re-animator, From Beyond, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness, The Evil Dead, the Godzilla films, Frankestein & the Monster From Hell, & many, many others…(A roll call of glory! I'm in awe!-->
WC: Are you involved in any other projects outside of Crypticus?

PB: I'm composing an album with Stevo from IMPETIGO & Wayne from DECREPITAPH under the name of TOMBSTONES. It's Death/Thrash in the early vein of bands like DECEASED, CORONER or SLAYER's first albums. That will be released by Razorback sometime in 2009. Otherwise I focus on mixing & mastering stuff for various underground Death Metal bands. Just last year I worked on albums for CIANIDE, ACID WITCH, CARDIAC ARREST & DECREPITAPH.

WC: The artwork is also great on "They Called Me Mad". What can you tell me about this diabolical masterpiece?

PB: That's just another of Allen Koszowski's many masterpieces! He's an amazing fantasy & Horror artist who's previously done illustrations for Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, Midnight Marquee & Gore Shriek. He's one of my all-time favorites & it's been an honor to feature his art!

WC: What was the last CD/tape/album you picked up just because you wanted to check it out?

PB: RUNEMAGICK's "Enter the Realm of Death" which I found used for cheap. It's ten years old, but I hadn't heard it 'til just recently. It really is a masterpiece! Truly dark & moving - possibly one of the best Death Metal albums I've ever heard. I'd put it right up there beside "Left Hand Path" or "Blessed Are the Sick" without hesitation!.

WC: What was the last gig you saw just because you wanted to see the band?

PB: EARLY MAN. They were great - total N.W.O.B.H.M. worship with great headbanging riffs!

WC: In the history of Crypticus, have there been any "Spinal Tap" moments you'd like to share? Lab accidents can be included!!!

PB: Not with CRYPTICUS, (since there haven't been any live shows) but I was a session guitarist for a Goth/Punk style band back in 2004 & there were plenty of surreal moments on that tour! They had a very strict on-stage dress code, so I had to wear all sorts of goofy makeup like eye liner & devil horns. I always felt like an idiot walking around before the show drinking a beer while wearing horns & corpse-paint! I'd also get so sweaty during the performance that the horns would eventually fall off & my makeup would run like a crying Tammy Faye Baker - it sucked balls! They were really nice folks, but I'm glad I wasn't a permanent part of their band - even though I got to enjoy a few groupies & they did eventually manage to achieve some fame, (the singer & bass player were featured on a couple of really popular VH-1 reality shows) it just wasn't my scene. The Underground is where I belong!

WC: Any last words or warnings to the horror fiends out there?

PB: Only to thank you for this great interview & to tell your readership to keep an ear out for the debut TOMBSTONES album "Not for the Squeamish" due soon, (whenever I can get it finished!) & to warn the populace that there might be some exclusive, internet-only CRYPTICUS tracks crawling out of my basement to assault them sometime this year...Cheers!

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