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Following the furtive steps of the 1980s, the 90s was were Australian extreme metal bands began to take real strides towards national attention. By the end of the decade, thrash and death metal bands were finding slots at the local leg of the Big Day Out and the scene’s own exclusive fest, Metal for the Brain, had become a day-long, 40+ band event that pulled thousands from around the country. On the radio, Triple J’s Three Hours of Power – now better known as The Racket – began to get more solidly behind the movement when Costa Zouliou took it overin 1995. The show’s first couple of curated CDs, Eleven and This is Twelve, borrowing the joke from the Spinal Tap film, contained only a sprinkling of local metal bands – Suiciety, Alchemist, Dreamkillers, Discordia, In:Extremis – among the pile of grunge and “heavy alternative” acts from the time: Dinosaur Jr, Smashing Pumpkins, NiN. Even You Am I was on there.

By the third, Thirteen, however, Zouliou had turned the show into an actual metal program and nearly half the 37 tracks on it were local. One of those was Brisbane technical death metal band Crypt, who had just released their debut EP. The track chosen, ‘Disgusting Lust’, was by far the heaviest on the whole album.

“That did help expose us to a bit more people down south,” guitarist and primary song writer Nathan Pilch says.

The launch for that CD at the Wentworth Building at Sydney Uni, now Hermann’s Bar, also featured Segression, Bulldozer and Beanflipper, and seemed to kick off Crypt’s national touring regimen. Soon they were one of the scene’s most seasoned touring campaigners.

“It was a good network of people,” Pilch says of those behind the scene at the time. “Everyone would help each other do gigs. They would help us do gigs down there and we would help them out up here.”

Even now, Brisbane is a long haul from the major centres in the south, but Crypt kept getting invited and making the trip, expanding their fan base every time. They featured at Metal for the Brain on two occasions, and when the El Nino album appeared in early 2000, the track ‘Twisted and Demented’ found its way onto the next Triple J metal CD. Sometime shortly after that, however, the band quietly broke up. There were no hard feelings. It was just time to move on with life.

“We didn’t have a falling out or anything,” Pilch says, “we just started drifting apart, as a lot of people do when you grow out of your twenties.”

So they moved on. Pilch went to Melbourne and played in numerous bands of all kinds, from country to noise. Drummer Cliff Young became a sound engineer. The man he replaced, Alan Bennet, still plays in The Hymies every once in a while. So it may have remained if Young hadn’t been contacted about re-releasing their old material, which is by now almost impossible to find.

“This guy from Brisbane, Chris Anning, he’s got a label called Infernal Devastation, he contacted Cliff and asked if he wanted to do reissues of this stuff,” the guitarist explains. “Cliff tracked me down, because I was living in Melbourne, and got back in touch. I always thought it would be good to have it back out there again. It’s pretty hard to find because it’s not on iTunes or anything like that. We just started tracking down tapes, and whatever else we had.”

Pilch himself was in possession of the original master of the EP, a pretty valuable asset. Bass player David Allen had the DATs of the demo. Young and Bennet supplied other key recordings, including much of the material that become bonuses on the box set. Once it was all collected, the next step was the re-master, a task that proved to be somewhat tricky.

“We had to send the one-inch tape [of the EP] to a guy in America because we couldn’t find anyone in Australia with a one-inch machine that could do it. Then it got remixed… it was almost a year to get it all together, but we’re pretty happy with it. I think it came out great!”

The band then started talking about gigging again, playing at least once to launch the re-issues. Everyone was on board except for Dave Allen, who hasn’t played at all for sixteen years. With both drummers keen to participate, Young decided to pick up the bass to fill the hole.

“He’s playing bass now because Dave didn’t do anything after the band ended, and Cliff was always playing guitar as well as drums anyway,” Pilch says. “It would have been too hard to get Dave up and running again. It was not an option.”

He admits that getting physically ready to play Crypt live again was the biggest hurdle, “Especially Alan,” he says. “The drumming is flat out.”

One thing led to another, and the single gig expanded to three. Then Pilch began writing new Crypt songs. He’s planning to have a new album ready to record by April next year.

“The riffs just started coming out and I was still living in Melbourne at the time. I came back up to Brisbane – I’m up here for a year or two – and we just started working on them, and it’s sounding really cool.”

Crypt stood out not just because their hard work ethic kept them in people’s faces but because they were constantly trying to outdo themselves. Songs deliberately became more intricate and technical with each release, and the roadwork made them solid and powerful on stage.

“A new song always has to top the one before,” Pilch declares. “It was always trying to go further and further every time. When we’d write a new one, and that obviously involved me writing the riffs, I would always try to come up with something even more ridiculous! It has to have a good vibe or you can go too far and end up sounding like the second Nocturnus album or something!”

A new album could well lead to new shows and a whole new career for the Brissie deathsters, but it may not be as intense as it was twenty years ago. They all have other commitments now. Youth gave them the luxury of being able to spend all their time on Crypt.

“We were pretty serious about it,” says Nathan Pilch. “We would rehearse constantly. Even if we didn’t have gigs coming, we would rehearse two, three nights a week a lot of the time. We were just seriously into it. I would jus tplay guitar all the time! I still do, but back then that’s all we did. That’s the only thing we did.”

10/9: Crowbar, Brisbane QLD
17/9: The Tote, Melbourne VIC
29/10: Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Sydney NSW