Portugal is a country that is showing great growth-for several years-on extreme music. Virtually all extreme music genres are covered by the Portuguese. And not only that: there are quantity, quality and variety of bands. If we speak specifically of Death Metal, there is a band that comes poking strongly: Altar Of Pain. The natives of Madeira are exponents of a distinctly Old School Death Metal, full of darkness and density. Needless to say that we who are followers of the group blog. So we contacted Zé Rodrigues, guitarist and founding member of the group who so friendly and intelligent answered our questions.
Puro Ruido: Greetings! How is everything there?
Zé Rodrigues: Hi there! First of all thank you for the interview invitation, glad to know there are people interested in our music! Everything is great thanks, working on a new album as we speak ;)
PR: Let's start with the news: it´s coming the second full length of Altar Of Pain. In fact, there is a song that is going around on the web: Sentient Hive Mind. What can you anticipate the new record? Continue along the lines of "Severe Scourge"?
ZR: Yes, the new album will be finished soon, so far there are just some solos and vocals to record, and yes it will be in the style of “Severe Scourge” even though some songs are more technical then what we´ve ever done before, and we have some really great guest solos by some guitarists from around the world that play in other metal bands such as Baalphegor, Gory Delivery, Cortexiphan, Primalfrost, Calamity Islet....
PR: Another newness is that Elder Abreu is no longer the lead singer. In his place is Brandon "Voidspawn" Leigh. Why you chose to Brandon to fill the place of singer? Why Elder no longer a member of Altar Of Pain?
ZR: Well, we were not satisfied and agreed that a new vocalist was needed. Thanks to the internet we found “Voidspawn” through his YouTube chanel http://www.youtube.com/user/TheToxicVoid , and asked if he would like to be a session member, and he agreed, but after listening to the amazing work he done on the Carcass cover that we did, we invited him to be a permanent member of the band, and we are really happy with the touch and creativity he has brought to our music, we were very lucky to find him.
PR: Undoubtedly, the roots of Altar of Pain are in the old school Death Metal. However, in severe Scourge, more precisely in the instrumental "Void Dimension" experienced with different elements, with other atmospheres. Do you think that there is a need to incorporate different things for the old and dear Death Metal still sounds fresh and powerful?
ZR: We love old school death metal just as it is doesn´t need to be changed at all, it is what it is, love it or leave it! Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Possessed, Benediction, Cancer, etc…will always be an influence for us, we play death metal for passion, not fashion, and we just wanted to try a different approach on that specific song, just to give a touch of variety to the EP, you know thinking out of the box for a while as long as it works, and we think it turned out really well.
PR: Something I like about AOP, is that you do not abuse of Blast Beats, nor claim to be the most extreme. Since I heard "The Ritual Has Begun" for the first time, I had the feeling that you are more interested in style atmospheres "Ancient Cult", the sound really heavy, and that the songs convey a lot of power, without the need to become a ball of noise. Am I wrong?
ZR: It´s true, we don´t like to over do something, we just use the amount of blast beats that we feel necessary for the song or depending on the riff, we just want to make really heavy music that death metal fans will enjoy without being too extreme or to slow, but always sounding within death metal, from a more old school style to a more brutal approach as long as it sounds cool.
PR: Zé, you continue with Torn Flesh Records? Since the group's way of working is the DIY, I wonder why you chose to Torn Flesh Records to release "Severe Scourge".
ZR: Well Torn Flesh Records is just a net label that puts you on their data base for free download, so it´s not really a label so to speak, just a way of helping us reach more people around the world, we´ve had our EP downloaded almost 3000 times through their database.
PR: What are, for you, the most noticeable differences between the first album, "Severe Scourge" and the new album?
ZR: The production quality is much better in the EP for sure, overall it just sounds better, it is still a home produced EP, but we´re proud of it, and have received some great feedback about it.
PR: I recently had the good fortune to hear the cover that made of a great Carcass song: Corporal Jigsore Quandary. That song will be part of the new work? Or just recorded it to show how the band sounds with Brandon on vocals?
ZR: Thanks man! Glad you liked it! It will not be in our new album, it was just recorded for fun, and as a tribute to one of our favorite death metal albums ever “Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious”. When we first heard it with vocals, are faces melted hahaha! We’re all really happy with the way it turned out, big thanks’ to “Voidspawn” of course!
PR: This is something that always spoke with musicians from other bands: the limits that want to impose "certain freedoms" that we have on the Internet. More precisely, to the possibility of sharing and disseminating the music for free. My question is, taking into account that you make use of many of the tools that gives us Internet (myspace, bandcamp, reverbnation, Facebook), believe that these limits would impose the big corporations are excessive?
ZR: I think those tools are really helpful these days, and some bands don´t even need labels anymore thanks’ to the internet, of course there are the downsides, because not everyone shares the same opinion on file sharing because in fact it does hurt some bands/labels at least financially speaking, but really boosts popularity in other cases… but I support it, as long as you buy merch from bands you enjoy, and what better way to find new bands these days than using the internet? So I think it´s a tool all bands should use, it´s the future for sure, many bands stream their albums online first before releasing them on the market, I think it´s a great way of reaching out to more people.
PR: Let's talk about music: there are new bands, in Portugal, with the potential to become great bands? If you know to other new bands, we will listen to them with pleasure!
ZR: Portugal has some great bands of course, many of them still very much underground, you should check out Dementia 13, Brutal Brain Damage, Canchroid, Process of Guilt, Desire, Pestifer, Decayed, Alastor, Corpus Christii, Goatfukk, Requiem Laus, Karnak Seti, Calamity Islet… all really good bands some with over 10 years of activity.
PR: What things inspire you when composing? I do not refer only to the music, but all music and lyrics.
ZR: Well depends on our mood, we all give our own touch to the songs so it depends, but mostly inspiration comes from other bands such as Death, Suffocation, Septicflesh, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Bloodbath, Krisiun, Dismember just to name a few…
PR: Ok, let's ending. What are the goals in life of Altar of Pain?
ZR: Well, we´ll be happy enough just to reach out to as many death metal fans possible and hope they enjoy our music and listen to it while they party and get drunk with other metal heads haha! :P making a living out of the band would be awesome, but it is very hard, not only because of where we come from but because there are so many great bands out there as well that deserve recognition and probably will never get it.
PR: Well, that's all. Thanks for the interview, and thanks for keeping making pure and powerful Death Metal. If you want to add something …
ZR: Thank you for sharing and enjoying our music, and doing this interview, we will not disappoint you with our new album! Continue your great work and thanks’ again!