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CRYPTA's Fernanda Lira talks Debut Album, Leaving NERVOSA & the Influence of SEPULTURA

Photo by Renan Facciolo

Ever want your music to scream to you from the bowels of hell? This Brazilian/Dutch death metal outfit may be the fix you've been chasing.

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The fire-breathing dragon that is Crypta was forged in hellfire and heavy metal fury of the pre-pandemic era, properly galvanized in the summer of 2020 with ex- Nervosa duo Fernanda Lira (vocals, bass) and Luana Dametto (drums), ex-Burning Witches guitarist Sonia Anubis and in-demand shredder Tainá Bergamaschi. Echoes of the Soul is the culmination of this most unholy union (available June 11th through Napalm Records).

Lira caught up with Metal Injection for a journey through the creation of Crypta, her exit and lasting memories of Nervosa, the impact of Sepultura on her and other Brazilian artists and much more!

On Debut Album Echoes of the Soul

If there's one thing we could say, at least for us as a band that was positive, if we can even say that, is that at least we had the proper time to make sure we deliver the best quality possible. Of course, fans were really excited and like, where's the music? Like every week and every post we would get comments like that. But still we felt like we didn't have a lot of pressure to do that, producing a whole album. We knew we wouldn't have any tours coming or whatever else. So we just made sure we really took the time we needed to look over all the details and go through all the details on the making of the album. And we really did. I think this album took nearly two years to be done.

We started a band around May, June 2019 and started writing music really slowly. One year later, by June last year, we started working on the preproduction of the songs. So we had like the raw structures of the songs and we drove in and with each song, what can we improve here? Like add riffs, remove and add this or that. We really were like analyzing song by song, very perfectionist I say, but just to make sure we're really proud of the album and we did our best for this debut album.

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It was good for us in a way that we didn't have any pressure regarding tours or the label or anything because we could really, really focus in a more relaxed way. I'm pretty sure that if we were not in this situation, we were in a regular band situation, we would also like to make sure we deliver a good album. It would just be way more stressful.

With Nervosa I would always like to write albums under pressure because we had such a short time in between tours that we just didn't have the time. We would write like a song a week, which creativity wise, I could definitely do with Crypta because I was just overflowing with ideas. But like I always dreamt of the day I could really relax and do it.

On Exit from Nervosa & Formation of Crypta

Crypta was definitely born as a side project. It was one hundred percent intended to be a side project. Back when we created it in May, June 2019, we were still in Nervosa and I was still pretty focused in Nervosa. Of course, I'm a very intense person. So everything I do I like to do intensively. Eventually I would have loved to be recording an album with Crypta and touring with Crypta, but only in between Nervosa's appointments and everything.

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Our relationship there in Nervosa was already a bit strained, like a little bit worn out at that point. Nothing extraordinary happened. It was just worn out, just like any relationship. It happens in friendships and marriages and it was just this regular normal thing. Luana, she's a death metal drummer and she kind of missed playing death metal. And she was like, man, I really want to play death metal. I want to have a side project. Don't you want to do something together? And I personally thought that would be healthy. It would be refreshing to have a side project.

I thought that because I was feeling like the relationship there was not the best, that maybe being a side project in a different band environment, having like a different creative outlet and everything would pretty much help me get more motivated in my own main band. That was the main idea. But in the end, when it all happened and I had to quit Nervosa, it was really comforting that Crypta was there, really, because when I left the band I was in a very bad place emotionally.

Photo by Estevam Romera

It was my dream band. It was the project I had been working on for almost a decade and made so much happen. So leaving that behind was not easy. So I was not feeling tip top when I left the band and having Crypta there was just really comforting because it's not that I would have to start something from scratch scratch. I definitely think I wouldn't have the emotional drive to start from scratch. But since the band was already going on, it was actually motivating to me because I think if it wasn't there, it would just be really hard. I think it would have taken a lot more for me to get back on my musical career and everything. Honestly, I don't think right now I would have a band yet. So that's how important Crypta was in the process.

On the Creative Process/Freedom in Nervosa

Nervosa only got going when I got in the band. It had like a couple of songs before, but there was never a show. It was not a lineup or like anything recorded. So I got in the band and I remember polishing and improving their first song. They had like three songs, Prika and the drummer back then, but it was a project. I got in there and I really took over most of the things. We all had duties in the band. For example, I was the one who first answered the email we got from Napalm with their offer. I would do many things.

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I remember all these little things and I know my importance in the band too. And it was all democratic from the beginning. Definitely, it was definitely democratic. We all had musical insights. Most of the ideas came from me and Prika. Every album is like 50 percent my ideas and 50 percent Prika's ideas like riff wise. We always made sure there was this balance in the band. We always had split our duties in the band, so that's how it was. I was the one dealing with the label for most of the time. So I always had a lot of freedom.

I said that to Prika from the beginning, Nervosa was my band too. When I started, I was like, we're all in this together, it's not my band or your band. It's everyone's band. I embraced Nervosa as my lifelong project. I actually never thought I would be leaving Nervosa, It is what it is.

But yeah, it was very democratic by the time I was there. When I came in, I was already working on the metal scene and knew lots of people because I was a metal journalist. I knew many bands and many promoters and many people everywhere. So I brought a lot of this to the band. And it's the same with Crypta now. We all have duties, but I end up having a little bit more experience, mainly dealing with contracts and the label and everything. So I just brought my experience here. But still we split our duties until we get a manager, which we need.

On Merging Metal Sounds
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The final outcome of the album was something completely natural, to be honest, because we had in mind that we wanted to do old school death metal. We even put that on our social media in the beginning, like old school death metal from Brazil. But with time we felt like the music was going somewhere else. And we were not sure where to go, but we just let it flow. We decided to just let it flow and see where it will go. And that's how we got the sound of Echoes of the Soul, because it's just like a big cauldron of our personal influences in there.

Me, for example I like it raw and aggressive and simple and straight to your face kind of metal. So I'm highly influenced when I'm writing by, you know, Florida death metal from the 90s and like some Polish death metal bands like Vader. So I like it raw. Luana also likes old school death metal but more Swedish old school death metal, which is like a different world from what I like. And then Sonia, she's got all those epic melodies and everything. And Tainá, the other guitarist, likes Chuck very much, from Death. And you can certainly hear it like here and there. So I think we just put all of this in like every song and that's the result.

I love that because I started showing the album to my friends and they were like, this album's kind of crazy because like you start off with "Starvation", which is like pure Morbid Angel/Vader kind of song. And then you have something melodic on "Shadow Within" and then like "Under the Black Wing,"  which is so Cannibal Corpse. The songs are very diverse among themselves. And I kind of like that, I like that very much.

On Recruiting Sonia Anubis
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From the beginning we knew we wanted two guitarists. We were sitting in a hotel room on tour thinking, OK, who's going to be the first guitarist? Both me and Luana instantly said Sonia, because we've been like fan girls, that's the truth, of her for a while. And I've personally been following her since she was a bass player in one of her previous extreme metal bands. And I just liked her very much, her stage presence, and technically she's amazing and she's got this old school vibe that we thought would match our initial idea of old school death metal. And so we just thought she would be a nice fit. And of course, we had bumped into each other previously in a couple of opportunities in Europe.

Our ex-bands, we got to play together once, I think in Switzerland and we got to meet her and everything, and I got to watch her. And that's when I noticed her stage presence and everything, which is really good. That's how it happened. We were basically following her for a while on social media and everything, and we thought it would be a good match.

And with Tainá it was a completely different story because although she lives in Brazil, so basically the same metal scene, we had never, ever heard of her. Like total strangers, no friends in common, no videos on the Internet. I was like, where were you? She lives ten hours away from me and Luana is like 15 hours away from me. And we were all on the south-east south side of the country. But yeah, she sent me a message and said I saw you had a death metal side project with Luana and I want to join. I don't know if you have a guitarist? And I was like damn! And I still thank her for writing to me. Otherwise I would never have found her.

On the Influence of Sepultura
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Sepultura, they're icons here. Of course, nowadays we also have like so many other bands. Krisiun, which everyone knows, but Sepultura, they're just the biggest icon we have here metal-wise, I think. But curiously, I didn't start listening to these bands because I didn't start listening to metal by listening to thrash metal and death metal, because maybe it was too harsh. I started listening to it when I was really a kid because my dad is a metal head and he's the type of guy who loves new wave of British heavy metal and power metal, just like these genres.

And so I remember when I was like six or seven he would record tapes for me, like cassette tapes with the best of what he was listening to. So on these cassette tapes, there would be like Warlock and Iron Maiden and sometimes like Suicidal Tendencies here and there. But that was too harsh to me, I remember. And Kiss, of course. So I started off with these things. And then after that, when I actually was a teenager already, I started listening to power metal and Nightwish, Helloween, Therion, and all these bands that are more melodic. And then when I was a little bit older I started getting to thrash metal and then I got to know Sepultura.

I always knew they were there, but it was just too harsh for my ears. When I started getting to metal, then I listened to Sepultura and I was mesmerized. I remember watching 91-92 video they had like in Barcelona, the classic one. And I remember I was in the mood of getting in bands already and I was playing like melodic death metal at that time. It was like sometime before Nervosa, but I was already having that mindset of really wanting to have a band and play out there and play festivals. I just had that in my mind.

And Sepultura was really important because it showed me that it is possible to be a Latin American and Brazilian band and still make it. They were so influential to the point that, OK, here we are. So it is possible to be Brazilian and be playing a huge festival and make it. They were always like my main Brazilian inspiration because of that, because of the message that if we did it, you can also do it.

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On the Future of Crypta

I want to get far ahead. I mean, I really want Crypta to be like my lifelong project. Of course, I learned things change. I don't know if I have the energy to start it over again and make another tattoo (laughs). I like long projects. I love stability. I love thinking about the many years planned. To me Crypta is my main priority right now and will definitely be, at least I hope so, for the following decade or so, but we're talking like a short time period right now. We're definitely already working on the second album, but like baby steps because we're really focused on the promotion of the album. And in the following months we will be really focused on it.

But like we're thriving with ideas, like so many. I'm so inspired and I'm so surprised. I thought I would be like, OK, the whole process is stressful, and very intense. I was like, I'll probably take a break, but now my phone is full of ideas. So we're definitely thriving, but still like baby steps going here and there, like recording this and that. But soon we'll actually take time on gathering up all the ideas and writing a whole thing. But we're definitely working already.

We're sitting at home now because we have no prospect of vaccines or whatever. So we're just sitting home, but we're planning like full force. 2022, it looks promising. So yeah, we have steady plans for the next few years, but I definitely want people to know and myself to know that Crypta is now my main priority. And I really want to bring like all the experience, both good and bad I had in Nervosa to actually make this happen for years and years.

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