Carlos F. Carballo – Bass
Bernardo E. Tesouro – Guitars
Jorge F. Taboada – Guitars
Rolando Barros – Drums
Sérgio Afonso – Vocals
Scent Of Death have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the first half of 2013. Our webzine had the pleasure of reviewing "Of Martyr's Agony And Hate", an album that marks their return on stage; let's try to get into the details by chatting directly with them.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you doing? How's 2013 treated you so far?
Jorge: Hello from Spain! Here Jorge, lead guitar of the Spanish brutal Death Metal band Scent Of Death, ready to face the interrogation. Here I am, working in the laptop and ready to listen some metal editions to hear while I answer the interview. Let's go! 2013 is a very good year for the band, after a lot of fucking situations since the edition of our previous cd ("Woven In The Book Of Hate") finally we are seeing the dark light and we begin to walk in the right way. We have a new cd with killer songs and production, our line-up is strong and we are working hard again to spread our name in the underground scene. Scent of Death is stronger than ever, and after fifteen years of existence we still are here.
Usually when I start an interview, the first thing I do is give the band a space to tell people about their history and the events and changes that, in time, transformed them into what they are now; can you tell us something about you and your band?
Well, is a long history… Scent Of Death's history begins in September 1998 in Ourense, a small city of Galicia, in the northwest of Spain. The band’s former members were me on guitar and Carlos on bass, and three months later Bernardo joined the band on guitars, and Nuno on drums. With this four piece formation, we recorded in september 2001 our first demo-MCD called "Entangled In Hate", in which I performed the vocals. But we need a soloist vocalist for live performances, so Lois joined the band in november 2002, and the band performed a lot of gigs along three more years for Spain and Portugal, till 2004 when Nuno leaves the band and we replaced him for Alfred Berengena as a session drummer for the recording of our first album called "Woven In The Book Of Hate", which see the light in June 2005. A lot of things had passed since we edited "Woven In The Book of Hate", we made a good number of concerts after the cd edition, working with live drum programming, but after some gigs, we were very bored of this situation. We find a local drummer, Jorge, and we began the rehearsals with this new member. We spend a lot of time practicing whit this new member. He never played death metal before (but he likes a lot this music, obviously), so the work was very hard in the beginning. After some months, we were ready to make a first live show with the new line up… the songs of the cd were played in a slower tempo in this gigs, but the performance was great, we thought that were building a good way a good to work faster in the future… Later, we made a short tour with Dementor and Killchain, but the speed of the songs was the same, we were completely blocked in this aspect. We didn't find a solution for all this speed problems, so we decided to take part ways; that was a completely friendly separation, you know… He is now in a Nu-metal band, and I only have the best wishes for him. We began the search for a new drummer. The first option was Alfred, who recorded the first album, but he were very busy with other bands, recordings, clinics, masterclasses… finally we didn't find a way to combine our agendas. We find a couple of months later our actual drummer, Rolando "demolition man" Barros, a legendary musician in the Portuguese scene. We spoke with him, and he accepted to play with us. Rolando is a fucking grinding blastmachine; you can hear his work in the entire album, it's completely amazing! During this time we had finished the composition of all the tracks of the new record… time to search a studio. We were in contact with a local producer, but this man was a fucking incompetent, he works with delays and an evident lack of professionalism in all the aspects. At the same time, our singer disappear, we lost completely the contact, no phone calls, no answer the mails… fuck, he only give us a couple of months later that he was very busy and another shitty explanations (we don't know the real reasons today!), after eight years of friendship and musical affinity he left the band in the worst moment, In the middle of a new recording… fucking situation, men! We began the search of a new vocalist. Rolando suggested us one of his friends, Sergio (he is the singer in another brutal band from Portugal called Bleeding Display (check this band!). He learns all the tracks of the album in a month, so he was ready to enter in the studio in a record time! He recorded the vocal lines in two days, and all was great (finally!). The incompetence of our sound engineer was growing and growing, and we decide to change the studio, or we could kill this "professional". Once again, Rolando gave us the solution. We spoke with the man who recorded the last cd of Grog (one of the bands where Rolando is playing), a fucking genius called André Tavares. This men save us from all the incompetence we suffered in the past. He works fast and with an incredible precision and patience. In two months the mixing and mastering of the songs was made… finally all comes to the end… I'm the main composer of the music of the band (my band mates are lazy in this aspect), and I am working in a music conservatory of my town.
You've been active since 1998, and released two albums; seven years have passed between the two releases. Can you explain this delay?
I think that this question is answered in the previous one… our principal problem through the years of existence of the band was the changes of line-up and the bunch of motherfuckers and stupid people we have found by the way.
If "Woven In The Book Of Hate" gave proof that you're a great band, "Of Martyr's Agony And Hate" is an album that I'd suggest anyone to buy without even thinking. Did anything change in the composition of your songs, or in your personal influences? I guess that maintaining the same line-up over time is a big advantage, it helps you give continuity to your sound even after a very long pause.
Thanks for your words about "Martyr's"! Seven years are a long period of time, during these years we have seen the evolution of the extreme metal, and of course, we had received influences from many bands (old and new). Today our biggest influences come from bands like Origin, Behemoth, Suffocation and Immolation, but we are surrounded by metal every day, so the listener can found elements of other bands in our music. The Scent's core has remained inalterable in all these years, and that´s a good thing to make our travel in the death metal in the right way, working with passion in our music and free of unwanted influences.
Analyzing step by step your releases, including the EP "Entangled In Hate", can you tell us which events and situations provided you with the strenght not to give up, but to keep going and improve with time? So many bands degenerate after a long period of stop… is it that hard to keep the passion alive and use it to compose music?
I'm completely sure that many bands many bands would not have supported a lot of situations we had suffer. We never really think in give up our musical way, because we are metal freaks and we feel the death metal in our heart. This last years were a hard test for the band, but here we stay, ready to kick some asses again.
The title of the album and the style of the artwork make me think that one of your main influences is Dolan and Vigna's Immolation. Am I right?
You are right!, we are strongly influenced by the masters of New York. Ross and Robert are fucking genius in the death metal scene, but I must said that I prefer the old works of Immolation. This band has lost a lot of power and intensity when they replaced their drummer (Alex Hernandez) for the actual (Steve Shalaty). Don't get me wrong, he is an incredible drummer, but he don't have the creativity and the style of the previous one, that's true. The band lost a very important member, they lost the twisted character in the composition and the arrangements. "Harnessing Ruin" is the first bad album of these gods of death metal, and I think that they are fixing this situation cd after cd, but I prefer editions like "Unholy Cult" or "Close To A World Below". "Kingdom Of Conspiracy" is a good album whit a horrible artwork but the twisted side in their music seems to be forgotten. Our first full-length was completely influenced by Immolation: the sound, the vocal's lines, the song structure are based in the first works of this band, but with our personal seal. With our new edition we are developing our style, the sound is more mature and organic and our influences comes from many bands, trying to gather all the sides of the Death metal.
There's an awful lot of bands in the Death Metal scene who play music mimicking the big names of the genre without really adding anything personal. What's your formula for creating music that, even if clearly inspired by the masters of your musical genre, still sounds new and original? I'm asking this because I find that one of the best things about your album is that you can hear all sorts of Death Metal cliches in it, but it never turns out to be boring, it comes with genuine anger and hatred.
I am very careful with the music I create, I can't understand some bands which make a lot of tracks in a couple of months. In my opinion, the composition is a long travel if you want to achieve the best results in musical terms. Each song must have personality, own tempo and a structure where all the elements are well placed. The arrangements are another part of the process. I can spend a month in a single track only to find the best options in this aspect. I hear the track a million times and the place of the different arrangements comes in a natural way. A new song must be composed with the thinking: "this one has to be the best fucking track I had ever made". Sometimes, you can achieve this objective, other times… well, at least you have another track. The quality in the composition comes through the hard work and spending time with your instrument. We try to make a mix with all the elements of the high-quality death metal, but with our personal seal.
Your booklet contains a peculiar question: "Where is your God now?". How would you answer to that question? Is it really necessary to ask that question today? Many people lately have become disilluded about everything religious (and personally I don't think it's bad at all), maybe due to the many mistakes of the very people who've been leading travesties and masquerades for centuries. Do you think they're paying for their own choices?
I think that the entire humanity must think in our question. Where is the salvation today? Is necessary a "god" in the actual society? You only must take a look to the evolution of the religions in the world and you can see that their history is drowned in blood. The religious yoke appears in all the aspects of the actual society, like a cancer in the roots of the men through the history. The humanity needs to create a superior "god" to justify his existence, that's a fact. Even if the initial purpose of a religion is good (to preserve a moral laws for the society), you can be sure that sooner or later the doctrine will be distorted and perverted for the benefit of an elite. Is a sad thing, but the mankind and the religion are united till the end of the times. Today seems that the catholic cult is getting weaker and weaker. If you go to a church on Sunday, you will see that the ages of the congregation are between fiftyfive-sixtyfive years. The christendom doesn’t have a young generation to continue the worship. I think that this religion is condemned to oblivion. The other side of the coin is the Islamic fundamentalism. They are fucking crazy, but their power and influence is growing every day. They represent the real problem. Today the entire world is seeing that the actual concept of religion is completely outdated, is completely unreasonable that the ancient "laws" can be applied today.
What's your opinion about the current Death Metal scene? I'm talking about new bands that you feel could take the lead in the future, or thoughts about the main groups and the many (maybe too many) unexpected reunions; who's fueling this genre, who's keeping it alive?
The death metal scene is growing day after day. A lot of bands, a lot of new projects and reunions of "old gods" (I want the new Carcass'album!), but the lack of public and the low cd sales are a reality. The underground concerts are empty of audience, and seems that the best option to achieve public is the big festival… times are changing in this aspect. I think that bands like Chaos Inception, Nebulous or Ade can grow a lot in the international scene. They are now in a very underground level, but the quality in their music is out of doubt. They can be the replacement in the style for the old bands… Of course, the old gods of the genre are still here, Immolation, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation… and I hope that their musical travel is far from finished.
What about your national scene? Are there any bands that you consider friends or mates, and what are the most influential bands in the Iberian scene?
I think the bands here in Spain are not really united. I think the most of them look only for their ass and not for the underground. Some of them act like if they were rock stars, and do not participate more than in their own concerts, and all the rest of the bands are a piece of shit. There are members of some bands that you will never see in other concerts that not are their cocksucker's friends. And then match that this ones are who the most speak about being "true" in the underground. They do not deserve this lines I'm writing now… But fortunately they are the less, and still there are bands that are constantly moving their ass for doing something, a new festival and bring foreign bands, wasting their money on it, doing cd trades with other bands. And these are the bands that really are worth to support. I think we have a good relationship with the bands we know. And those who don't know is because they don't let us know them. Do they belong to the first group perhaps? The most famous spanish bands outside Spain are perhaps Avulsed, Machetazo, Wormed, Human Mincer, Impure, Cerebral Efussion, Numen. But there is a new batch of brutal bands nowadays that are really good. To mention some of them: Legacy of Brutality, Nebulah, Carrioned, Caustic, The Murder Industry, Human Ashtray…. And only in our area, Galicia, there are a few real good bands like Unreal Overflows, Vermis Antecessor, Upcoming Of Devastation, Ephemeral, Barbarian Prophecies, Strangled with Guts, Hellgate, Brainwash… but a lot of good bands have dissapear after releasing one or two albums only like Imbrue, Dyspraxia, Baalphegor (they will come back soon and that's a good new, because they are really technical and brutal band), Uncreation, Chamber Of Shred, Eczema, Unnatural, Absorbed, Dismal….
Have you been playing on stage lately, or will you be? Will you have any gigs in Italy in the next future?
After seven years, we are again on the road… Well, we live in a small city in the most western corner of Europe, from which our ancestors said that was the end of the world, before discovering America. We are too far from everywhere, even for playing inside Spain we have to travel a lot of kilometers. For example for playing in Barcelona, it's about 1200 kilometers far away, and yes, we could take an airplane, but promoters usually don’t pay the necessary money for covering it. And for reaching France, the nearest country, there are more than 1000 kilometers… we are lucky to live near Portugal, so for us is easy to play there, but the rest of Europe is very difficult. I can assure you that it would be a dream for us to be touring in Italy! But I think it would be most likely that we met as tourists visiting your country, I have much desire to taste some beers in your country. Of course we are willing to go if the promoters and managers call us. I hope this interview help to reach that success… To name some, till date, we were touring with Dementor and Killchain for Spain and Portugal, with Vermis Antecessor and Sorgerth in the Basque Country, we were openers for Dismember in Vigo, Galicia, and we played in some great festival as "Move Your Fucking Brain" in Barcelona, "Steel Warriors Rebellion" in Portugal with bands like Enthroned and Internal Suffering, "Caos Emergente" in Portugal too with Cock And Ball Torture and more, "Butchery At Christmas Time Fest", in two editions of the "Brutal As Hell Fest", in a four days festival called "Brutality In Your Face" with twenty bands, in the "Brutologos Fest" in Valladolid, plus al the gigs we organize in pubs and so on. Also we are preparing some live shows, trying to book new dates. We started in our city Ourense to present live the new album in the past May, and we are confirmed now for a festival in August in our area with another four bands, also for the fourth edition of the Spain Death Metal Fest on March next year in southern Spain, and trying to close definitely another three or four dates more…
Are there any songs you consider "hits" when you're on stage? Do you play any cover when you play live?
I think that "Awakening Of The Liar", "Ego Te Provoco" and "Feeling The Fear" (our oldest song) are hits in our musical travel. Anyway, I think that all our tracks are special, of course, but I see in our live gigs the good reactions of the audience when they hear these tracks. We have done a lot of covers, of course. In the first times of the band we played songs like "Dethroned Emperor", "Land Of Tears", "Reign In Blood" (so typical!) and the last covers we had made through the years are "Conquer All", "World Agony", "Heartwork" (I love this track!) and many more. Today we don't play any cover, we prefer to make our entire show only with our music, so we don’t promote the music of other bands.
These days, metal bands try to go around playing gigs the most they can, to earn at least enough money to cover their expenses: even if many Metal fans still buy phisical copies of the albums, it seems like the crisis is crippling our beloved genre as well. Do you think the situation is really dark as it looks, or is the music industry taking advantage of the situation?
The situation is fucked for a underground band, that's the reality… And if you are from Spain you are fucked twice! We don't have any support for the government or something like that (I am very jealous of the Nordic countries, they are years light ahead from us in a lot of aspects in society). If you are a metalhead you are classified like a "dangerous people" and the society don't understand our music or our behavior. The cultural level in this country is ridiculous; all is controlled by the commercial aspect. If you try to be different or if you try to have a personal way of thinking, you can assume that you are into a continuous mental struggle against the system. A metal band in this country is a continual money loss. It's completely impossible for a band like us earn some money with this kind of music. Few people in the concerts and few cd's sold don't give money… The downloads are completely out of control, you can have all the music of the world in your hard drive very easily. I think that you can use the net to know new bands and hear their music, but if you like a band, buy their cd and support it! The underground scene is very fucking today, the people prefer to buy a shirt that a cd… Buy a cd… What for? If I can download it! The day where you can download t-shirts from the net, all will be over,… I don't know the situation in your country about the metal festivals, but in Spain, you see one cd shop for each five or six clothes shop. I love my collection of cd's, is a reflect of my musical evolution and each record has his own little history. You only have a bunch of shit if all your musical collection is based in a lot of folders in your pc. The music industry are trying to fix the problem using legal downloads and improving the cd's with special features like dvd's, boxes, stickers to make the edition more attractive for the buyer. But the damage is done, and the music in the original bundle isn't a option for most of the people.
When a country is politically screwed, art is usually among the first to be, at the same time, victimized and fueled by its frustration; it's often mistreated, we hear about fund cuts and any excuse is valid to move the attention towards something else. Is this an exclusive issue of Italy or are you experiencing a similar situation?
The cultural aspect is completely devastated in the actual times. I see the situation in two sides, the classical music and the metal music. I work in a conservatory, working as a repertorist with opera singers. My salary has been reduced a 20% I the last two years, and the expenditure budget of the conservatory (buy new instruments, scholarship for students) is the lowest of the last ten years. If you look to symphonic orchestras, their situation is very difficult, because no-one make donations to keep the musicians templates… In a crisis time, the last priority of the government is the cultural aspect. They seem only concerned in protecting the banks and the fucking capitalist system, the same system which is destroying the actual society. In Spain we have suffered brutal hits in education and in the health system, but the fucking church and the stupid army do not have suffered a loss of an euro in their budgets.
Is Spain recovering from the crisis or is it bad as it is here? Everyday we hear a lot of fancy stories about recovery, but there's no real change on the horizon.
We are in a fucking pit of shit! I don't see any sign of recovery in the economical aspect. The politics in Spain are a nest of corruption, they are showing everyday their incompetence to lead a country, to find a way to finish the crisis. Anyway, I believe that the government systems are useless; they only follow the orders of economical elite in the shadows (conspiranoia? Perhaps…), and this elite has decided that the life quality of the first world was too high and for this people is necessary the depletion of some countries to achieve their schemes of power. We only have a pale reflect of liberty and democracy.
What's your plans for your next future? Are you already working on your third album?
Yes, we are anxious to make new tracks and destroy all the stages we can.We must work hard for the next album, because "Of Martyrs's…" has set the bar very high, but you can be sure that we will crush this album and we will make one better in all aspects. We have two brand new tracks ("Even The Angels Falls" and "Sooner Or later"), and we are very proud of these songs: all the music is faster, darker and more intense, so we are doing the job very well. As we have done before, we will make a new recording and update a track from our first Mcd, and this time I think that the chosen song will be "Living Structures". Obviously, we don't forget the live shows. We are working hard to show or music in a stage. The idea of a European (or even Spanish) tour is very difficult in our actual situation. Rolando and Sergio are 700 kms far from us, and all in the band have family affairs and children. We only can make plans for gigs in our country or a small tour between Portugal and Spain. Anyway, we prefer to make a small number of concerts with good promotion to assure a minimal affluence of public, we prefer quality before quantity. If you see our concert timeline through the years, we are a band without a big number of live shows, but I can assure you that all the gigs were a good experience in terms of sound, promotion and metalheads affluence.
Can you make a list of five "classic" albums and five new releases that any Death Metal fan should have?
Only five? Hard question, i think that the best classic albums are there: Morbid Angel – "Blessed Are The Sick", Sabbath – "History Of A Time To Come", Death – "Individual Though Patterns", Cryptopsy – "None So Vile", Iron Maiden – "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son", King Diamond – "Them". I know that I had chosen six, but I need to put the Mr. Diamond legendary record. If you ask me of actual editions I can recommend you: Chaos Inception – "The Abrogation", Ade – "Spartacus", Charon – "Sulphur Seraph", Nebulous – "The Quantum Transcendence Of Death", Beyond Mortal Dreams – "Dreaming Dead".
This was the last question, I'll let you end the interview the way you like it: if you want to address our readers for a goodbye, a message or anything else, this is the moment.
Thanks a lot for your interest in Scent of Death and for this good interview, my friend… I hope that this interview will awake the interest of the Aristocrazia readers to hear our new album and discover our Brutal Death. Check our websites to get the last updated and news from the band and don't forget our new line of t-shirt with killer and blasphemous design! Smell the scent of death!