-- Crystal Methal gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Although Crystal Methal wasn't on the roster of Turbofest 2016, I did arranged a meeting with the band's guitarist Stijn Van Nevel. He was the main sound technician during the event and after headlining band TurboWarrior Of Steel had wrapped up their show, Stijn was available for a meet-up.

So we shredded our way through topics as the band's evolution since they started in October 2014, our mutual dislike for trends (we don't play Pokémon GO), their sense of humor and satire, Stijn's ambitions in life and the fun little incident that happened when Crystal Methal attempted to cover a Pennywise song!

Be sure to check out the video below the picture of Stijn and me as it features a full live performance of Crystal Methal! A great way to get introduced to the band! All pictures used with permission from Stijn Van Nevel. Photo of me with Stijn taken by Robin Landuyt!

BMS: Tell me Stijn, how did you join up with Crystal Methal?
Stijn: My journey with Crystal Methal started when I designed the band logo. They were very pleased with my work and so I offered to join Crystal Methal as a second guitarist. After a successful audition I got the part. Unfortunately Dries, our first guitarist, left the band because he thought our style was getting too fast and too technical.

Stijn: I myself did agree with the other guys' decision to go for more melody and variety. Especially after the negative feedback we received during our first shows. People said our music was boring and repetitive. I did try to contribute some technique to our work, but Dries was holding me and everyone else back. So Dries and us went our separate ways.
BMS: I've got to say that I prefer bands that can show off some real competence behind their instruments instead of just some mindless shredding (am I now talking about myself?)

Crystal Methal's lineup at the time of writing. From left to right: Stijn Van Nevel (guitar), Tom Verbeke (vocals) and Roibin Vandersteene (drums).
BMS: Anyway, what's the overall creative mentality within Crystal Methal?
Stijn: We like to have humor and satire in our work. One of our songs, March of the Piglets, is about pigs trying to take over the world. The pigs represent the politicians, multinationals and other influential people who live their lives in debauchery and abuse their power to make themselves richer at the expense of the less wealthy general population.

Stijn: Another example of our satirical nature is the track Fashion Police. It deals with all those stupid trends that constantly get shoehorned into our lives. And so you get judged based on your clothes, hobbies and interests and some people would even go so far that they would virtually "fine" you if your habits don't match theirs.
BMS: I agree. I in particular dislike how everyone has become so addicted to Pokémon GO these days. It's like everything in life suddenly revolves around catching Pokémon instead of spending time with friends, family or just doing something useful!
Stijn: Yeah, I don't play Pokémon GO either!

BMS: About a year ago you released your debut demo EP called March Of The Piglets. Share with me your memories about the production?
Stijn: A friend of mine who studies at the conservatory in Ghent offered us to record our demo in the college's studio. We recorded the demo in June and it was an impressive experience for us as we've never been inside a professional recording studio before. We spent an entire day in the studio to get our stuff well recorded. During the summer holidays I did the mixing and mastering of the demo and we eventually unleashed our work in August of that year.
BMS: I recall reviewing the demo shortly after it was released and I certainly felt potential in your band. Especially the title track had badass, catchy riffs. Was there a lot of material scrapped from the demo?
Stijn: Not much. You know, in the first six months of the band we mostly improvised our way through our concerts. Fans enjoyed it, but I said to the other guys that I wanted to firmly establish our set list and get a couple of fully written songs on record.
BMS: What does the future hold for Crystal Methal?
Stijn: We're currently looking for a new bassist, as we need someone who's motivated enough to constantly rehearse and write new material with us. Personally, I'd also like to have a second guitarist as well, it would push Crystal Methal to the next level and we could become more creatively flexible.

Stijn: As of now, we'll be doing one last show this year and that will be at the God Is Deadfest in Veldhoven, Netherlands on December 23. It's our first gig outside of Belgium and we'll be opening up the festival!

BMS: Speaking of playing abroad, are there any countries you would like to play with Crystal Methal?
Stijn: I'd love to play at the Obscene Extreme festival in Trutnov, Czech Republic. The audience out there is guaranteed to go wild no matter what band plays at any given time.
BMS: Well, you do already have some success with the band, don't you?
Stijn: We have gained a bit of a cult status, particularly in the Courtrai region although we're not yet very well known in other parts of the country. I recall a show in Antwerp were we played for like five people. But hey, I'd rather have five legit fans than twenty so-called fans.

Stijn: Still, the music industry remains brutal! Bands come from everywhere and every band wants to take center stage and cement themselves as the next generation of rock stars. But it's not like that, you have to start from the bottom and slowly work your way up towards a larger fanbase and bigger, better paid shows. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with Crystal Methal and I don't regret any second of the countless months I've already dedicated to the band.

BMS: And how did Crystal Methal evolve since its inception?
Stijn: We started the band just for fun and giggles and we didn't have any real ambitions. Now that we noticed people slowly but certainly start to dig our sound we decided to take every aspect of our band more seriously. For instance, we want to firmly establish our musical style rather than remaining a random mishmash of various metal subgenres.
BMS: What are the other things you do in life, Stijn?
Stijn: I frequently work as a sound technician in the Elpee music bar in Deinze. My first time as a sound technician was during a show in Deinze with TurboWarrior of Steel and For Sale. After the show both bands and their fans congratulated me on doing so well on my first try.

Stijn: I was also responsible for the sound quality during today's Turbofest although I had some issues with the soundboard I was provided with. I usually use my own soundboard and the one I had to use today had its settings all fucked up. Anyway, I do hope to one day become a professional sound technician.
BMS: Will it be easy to combine both your passions (that is sound technique and Crystal Methal) in the future?
Stijn: I'll promise you I'll never leave Crystal Methal. I'm having too much fun with the band to let it go!

BMS: You currently describe Crystal Methal as a band that plays (deep breath) DEATHGRINDSLAMTHRASH. How did you come up with that description?
Stijn: We've chosen that name as our subgenre as it represents our various musical tastes. Our drummer, Roibin, has a taste for morbid music like grindcore while Tom, our vocalist, prefers hardcore punk. I myself enjoy listening to old-school death metal as written by Obituary and Cannibal Corpse. So we've simply put all our musical influences together and get on stage!

Stijn: Since our sound covers such a variety of styles we tend to be musically flexible depending on the audience. If we play in front of old-school headbangers we play more 80s inspired metal but if we get in a crowd of hardcore punk fans we get much grittier. However, we do make sure that we play to our strengths. Unlike what happened when we covered a Pennywise song...
BMS: What happened?
Stijn: We discovered that Tom couldn't sing cleanly even if it meant his fucking life! It was a funny moment and Tom immediately knew how awkward the situation was and laughed at his own botched vocals!
BMS: I like a bit of self parody. I remember asking the Bruges based thrash metal band Guilty as Charged whether they named themselves after the Metallica song Ride the Lightning (the first line of the song is Guilty as Charged) and they said it absolutely wasn't the case! We all laughed at it and I kept this misassumption in the finished article just to show that I'm not immune to mistakes.
BMS: Is there anything else you want to say?
Stijn: Our dream would be to go on tour. Now we only do one show at the time and after the show everyone goes their separate ways. I believe a tour of two or three weeks will really help establish ourselves as a band and it would open up a lot more opportunities for us. That's all I've got left to say.
BMS: Then it's time for the picture! Thank you for your time Stijn and good luck with your future endeavors!

Crystal Methal Live at the Verlichte Geest.