Do you miss the good old days of Scandinavian Death Metal, when bands like GRAVE, NIHILIST, DISMEMBER, UNLEASHED, CARNAGE and so on still ruled the underground? Do you also worship this very typical production, which got famous around the world as the "Sunlight sound"? Then you should make sure to check out Italy's HORRID who musically exactly follow the path of those bands. They have a very cool MCD out entitled "Blasphemic Creatures", and their debut full length (which is already recorded) will follow later this year. We contacted drummer Matt for the following interview...
HORRID was formed in 1989 by Max (bass) and Belfagor (guitar)... Any reasons why you decided to name the band HORRID? Was the name inspired by something or did you just choose it because of its simplicity or something?
"Actually yes, the name HORRID was chosen also because it was simple enough to remember and it seemed raw enough for a Death Metal band."
The original drummer obviously didn’t stay in the band too long, so what was his name and why didn’t he work out?
"His name was Roberto and he was too much of a Hardcore and Grindcore lover which wasn't quite our cup of tea."
Then Draughar already came into the picture to replace him... When exactly was that and how did you get together with him? Has he been playing in any bands previously already?
"Draughar joined in fall '91, he was a friend, he now plays in a band called KHEPRA."
The first line-up finally was complete when you found your singer James. Tell us more about him and his previous activities.
"James was cool and English, so the songwriting was easier, the voice was good even though he hadn't had previous experiences, we thought he'd be ideal."
Did you play any cover songs at this point of time? How long did it take you until you finally started writing your own songs and where did you draw your main influences from at the time?
"At that time we played one cover which was 'Horus / Aggressor' (HELLHAMMER) and in the meantime we wrote our own tunes with influences from HELLHAMMER / GRAVE."
It took you three years from the origin of the band until you finally recorded your first demo tape "Eternal Suffering" in 1992. What have you done during that time? Have you played any gigs prior to the first demo?
"Yes, because at the beginning HORRID was a little joke. We just wanted to play, drink and play live. Then with the new line-up we decided to work more seriously and recorded our first demo. At that time HORRID became a serious band. And yes, we've played many gigs prior to our first demo, too many for me to remember."
The material on "Eternal Suffering" is supposed to have a very HELLHAMMER-ish sound / style... So, was HELLHAMMER a big influence on HORRID at the time?
"Yes HELLHAMMER was a big influence for us, along with all those Thrash bands like KREATOR, WEHRMACHT or Death bands like English DESECRATOR. So our first demo was very influenced by these bands. Then we changed more into the GRAVE style, always raw but more Swedish."
In 1993 Robert joined you as a second guitar player and your next demo, "You Are Mine" got recorded. Was he already involved in the songwriting for that demo? Did he actually play on that demo already?
"Robert has joined the band after "You Are Mine", and he was not involved in the songwriting. At the beginning all he had done was the cover for the demo. He was the guitarist in another band called DISSENSION in Taranto (south of Italy), then he moved to Milan and started to play with us."
Was Robert the main reason why you changed your style towards a more "Swedish sound"?
"No I don't think so. Robert completed the line-up and with two guitars the sound was also more complete. Our style changed into something more Swedish for personal reasons in the band, mainly because of our influences. Robert has helped the songwriting as he has a different guitar style than Belfagor, more Thrash."
Did you already have a steady fan base at the time? How did they react on your change of direction?
"To be honest our fans always accepted all changes in the band. Our MCD is very different to our first demo but many people like all our stuff which is great. The band has matured a lot over the years but we've never lost our approach when it comes to extreme music. It has always been raw and very aggressive, always Death, and I think that's the most important thing."
At the end of 1994 you released a 7" entitled "Awaiting For The Truth" on the Italian label Cryptic Soul Production, which featured the tracks, ‘Kissing The Rotting Cross’ and ‘Winds Of Procreation’. Have those songs been recorded exclusively for that 7" or were they taken from one of the demos?
"Those songs have been recorded exclusively for our 7", this recording was little different to our two demos. The sound is now really Swedish, especially when it comes to the guitar, we've sold a lot of it and now it is sold-out and very difficult to find!!!"
You weren’t too happy with the label, were you? There’s some talk that they ripped you off, so please comment on that a bit more.
"Yes, the label ripped us off! We've already recorded our 7" at the end of '94 but it took them until '96 to finally release it. And then we've never received all our royalties for it. Then Max (boss of the label) ripped off other bands like NATRON, DAMNABLE etc. Max Guadagnoli is very shit, man!!!!!!!!!"
Why did Draughar leave HORRID in January 1995? Personal or musical differences maybe?!
"Draughar left the band to join CULTUS SANGUINE. He recorded the first MCD and the first album with them and then he also left them for KEPHRA (Black Metal band). I think at the time he was bored by Death Metal, so we searched a new drummer who was more into Death Metal."
And then you got a guy named Mick who helped you out at some gigs. Was he ever a real member of HORRID or just a temporarily fill in? How did you get together with him?
"At the end he was our real drummer, he was a friend of our singer James. He was a very good drummer, very skilled, but with only one problem. He was more into marijuana and stuff like that and always forgot the songs under the influence of marijuana or cocaine. And a day after he traveled to Nepal (maybe for smoking???), he left the band."
In 1997 you finally completed the line-up on drums again. What have you done before joining HORRID?
"I've played for many months in the project of Belfagor, in a band called THE PROPHECY. We played Death Metal in the old SAMAEL and PUNGENT STENCH style, or something from BOLT THROWER (they kill). Then when Mick left HORRID, Belfagor asked me if I was interested to join HORRID. And then THE PROPHECY split-up. This my story... Now I also play in another Death Metal band called NECROFLESH (they rule!)."
Tell us more about the 9 track promo that you did a little later and whatever happened to those recordings?! Did you spread them around in any way?
"The Promo tape 1997 was the first recording with the new line-up, 9 songs very bad recorded in an Italian studio. Some ideas were very interesting, but nowadays we only play one of the songs, 'Is God Worthy Of You', which is also on our MCD "Blasphemic Creatures". But the promo was only for labels, not for zines or magazines."
In the beginning of 1998 you finally recorded the excellent "Blasphemic Creatures" mini CD for Behind The Mask Production. Tell us more about that company and how you got together with them.
"After the promo we signed with Behind The Mask Production. Matteo the boss of the label was our friend and a big fan of HORRID, so when he got to know that we wanted to record in Sweden he offered us a contract for a mini CD and follow-up. After the MCD was released Matteo basically did nothing for us anymore, so we decided to decline his "so-called" offer, and started to look around for something more credible and truthful."
Was the material on "Blasphemic Creatures" all brand new at the time or had you already composed some of the songs earlier (maybe for the 9 track promo tape)?
"Our promo only included 'Is God Worthy Of You' and the other tunes had been written after the promo, for the MCD. We almost recorded another tune called 'Away From Christ', but in the end we improved it and put it on the new CD."
Who came up with the idea to record the songs at the Swedish Sunlight Studio with Tomas Skogsberg? Did the label finance that recording session or did you have to pay that on your own?
"For the MCD we've paid all the travel costs and the mastering. The budget wasn't too big, but then we've received some royalties. About the idea to record with Tomas, it was our big dream, and now we've already achieved it twice."
Some years ago a lot of people started to get pretty bored by this typical Sunlight sound, due to the fact that everyone was using it... But nowadays it sounds pretty fresh again, so would you say the time was perfectly right for you to come up with it again?
"Yes, because we wanted the "Sunlight sound" and only Tomas could give us that even though the sound is a little bit more modern. If we had a different sound we would switch to another studio, but why do that if we are happy with this sound and we're sure that we're gonna go there again for the 3rd album."
It’s rather scary how Swedish you sound on this mini CD, so was that your biggest goal – to come up with a result that goes along the lines of classic releases by GRAVE, ENTOMBED, CARNAGE, DISMEMBER etc.?
"We love the beginning of the 90's Death Metal: GROTESQUE, CARNAGE, MACRODEX, NIRVANA 2002, ENTOMBED etc. (yeahhhh, those were the days!!!! - Ed.) This is the sound that we love and we're happy that our MCD has it and that people will get this sound when they listen to it."
How deep are you into the Swedish Death Metal underground? I mean, is it just the bigger bands that you feel inspired by or the whole scene in general? Any more obscure acts you admire from the past as well maybe?
"We all love the Swedish underground... As far as I'm concerned, three bands personally influenced me and they are OBITUARY, MESSIAH (R.I.P) and DISMEMBER. These bands certainly changed my life. Well, I love MESSIAH as for as old bands go, apart from their latest album which really sucks."
At the end of 1999 James left the band... What was the reason for that?
"James left the band mainly for family and work problems although he did regret having to do this and is still my friend and always wants to know how the band is going. I'd like to thank him for all the great work and support he did for the band in the past years."
Did you ever search for a replacement or was it clear from the start that your guitarist Robert would simply take over the vocals now as well?
"At first we looked for another vocalist, the idea was to keep Robert on guitar, but then we realized that this voice was much more appreciate for the new songs. So Robert sang and played at the same time. Unfortunately Robert had too many things to do, so in the end we decided to get a new guitarist. It was hard for Roby to stop but I must say that the band is more united than ever before now."
How’s the live situation in Italy for brutal Death Metal these days? Is there a healthy club scene? I mean, I hardly hear any promising stuff from your country... it seems that it’s all just in the RHAPSODY / HELLOWEEN vein...
"I'm afraid, the live scene in Italy is very poor and it is very hard to get bands like BOLT THROWER over here or others. It's also hard to get Italian bands to play due to a lack of good places to carry-out shows. There are good bands here but most of them don't want to take any risks. Many people talk behind backs etc. Some good Italian bands are NEFAS, NECROFLESH, Black Metal bands are HANDFUL OF HATE and a few other ambient bands like ATARAXIA."
Have you already written new material in this line-up? Does it differ in any way from the mini CD? When can we expect a new HORRID release and will it be on Behind The Mask Production again?
"Yes, actually we have just finished recording our new full-length CD called "Reborn In Sin" at Sunlight studio with Tomas Skogsberg. The CD will be released in October on Deadsun Records. The tunes mainly follow the MCD style, just more aggressive, darker and more melodic. The production has been improved to the very best and to the smallest detail. This is certainly an overall better product than the MCD and we are totally satisfied with it. We think that people who expect a crushing Swedish first-class product will get what they want. We are really looking forward to this next release, and are very satisfied with Deadsun Records."
Anything else we might have forgotten to mention? Closing comments?
"Thanks a lot for the interview! I'd like to advice all Death maniacs to listen to our new CD! They will not be disappointed. Stay true."
Here's a statement from Max Guadagnoli (ex-owner of CRYPTIC SOUL PRODUCTION) regarding the things that Matt talked about in the interview above:
Hi Frank, here is Max Guadagnoli the ex owner of CRYPTIC SOUL PRODUCTION who pressed and produced the first 7" of HORRID, "Awaiting For The Truth". I was really disappointed to read the false statements about not paying royalties. The truth was that I had to wait for more than one year to put out the 7", and they were informed about that fault step by step, month by month. At the end I pressed 999 copies and I paid with 52 copies in advance, which they received immediately and at the same time I received the stock... nothing else, nothing more. I suppose that they use that for publicity or stuff like that but personally I was tired to read the crap that they spreaded around for years without control . I have never done anything about it, cause to me it was just a bad, stupid and no-sense human behaviour. I suppose the reason was that in that period I managed many Italian and foreign bands, but didn't include HORRID as a supporting act in anyone of these tours... and this may have driven them crazy. The second important lie is concerning what they said about DAMNABLE. This good brutal band received 100 copies for free of the CD "Inperdition" (produced by me) and L. 500.000 (€ 250) to co-produce the tape version of the album... like perfect resonance to my label they re-sell the license of the album to Relapse Records, that never knew anything about the deal I signed with DAMNABLE, putting out the CD with another artwork, but I don't remember very well. They never told me about this deal and never received an official authorization from me to do it... and then I never heard anything from them... vanished! But in every case it isn't HORRID's responsibility to talk about other bands, isn't it? After so many years this is the reality, and I don't want to listen to lies, insults and shit like that around the world about me... the time is over... as I said nothing agaist you dude... but every action produces a re-action and someone has to pay for that! Thanks for the opportunity to clear things up here. - Max Guadagnoli ex-owner of CRYPTIC SOUL PRODUCTION.
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