During the just passed year, many Death Metal acts from every corner of the globe kept the Metal of Death strong with great new albums. ESCARNIUM from Brazil deserve particular attention for their new opus “Interitus”. It has been a pleasure for me to talk with their singer / guitarist Victor Elian about it and other themes…
Hi Victor! What’s up? Congratulations for "Interitus", a solid album that I had the pleasure to review here on Voices From The Dark Side. Well, I spare you the classic “biography question” because most of our readers should already be just familiar with ESCARNIUM (otherwise I suggest to check the related reviews), so firstly I want to ask you how was the feedback to your new album from the press and the fans?
"Hey David!! First of all, thank you very much! It’s a pleasure to read these words coming from you about “Interitus”, and I’d also like to thank you very much for the killer review you made in the mighty Voices From The Darkside, for sure one of the most important sites for underground, extreme music. It’s a great pleasure to answer this interview, sorry for the delay, it has being busy times lately. Here we go: our second full length album "Interitus" has had an amazing feedback, a lot of people tell that it’s one of the best Death Metal albums of the year of 2016, 100% of the reviews were great, and the Metalheads who follow us say the same. We are really satisfied with this outcome!"
Speaking in terms of songwriting and production, what are the main differences between your debut full length album "Excruciating Existence" and "Interitus"? It’s clear that you have improved your musical skills but I wonder if you had a specific idea of how the album had to sound compared to your previous stuff?
"When we recorded the debut album, we got disappointed with the final result of the production, but we had a really tight deadline. A lot of people (like us) were expecting something similar or better than the "Rex Verminorum" EP, since the natural process is to release a good album after a good EP, but it was not like that. We got the "Excruciating Existence" album, sent to Jera Cravo (the same guy who produced "Rex Verminorum") in an attempt to rescue it, and we made a new production and worked out, so the Brazilian version of "Excruciating Existence" is way better than the European one (unfortunatelly). Even after this rescue of the album we kept this bad experience with us and we decided to make a really good work for "Interitus", so we focused all of our effort, working together with Revolusom Studio and JB Van der Wal (ABORTED) on the production of this new album. I’m always obsessed to make more and more deeper, obscurer and brutal music. We want to reach the depth of the abyss, musically speaking. But there are some rules in my head for that hahahaha, it can’t be too fast as NILE (nothing against the band), or too modern, or technical. It needs to be simple, straight, darkened and brutal in a natural way. In the way that a traditional Death Metal band should be. I don’t know if it’s possible but we will keep trying. "Interitus" was just another step on this direction."
Are you satisfied with the promotion done by Redefining Darkness Records and Testimony Records until now? Misanthropic Records is still taking care of the Brazilian version, right? Would you prefer to work with an unique bigger label or do you think it’s better to have this kind of deal with multiple labels for an underground band like ESCARNIUM?
"I’m really satisfied with all the labels: in Brazil we also have Cianeto Discos taking care together with Misantropic Records and in Mexico we have Vomit Records, the label from the live Mexican legend, Antimo Buonanno (HACAVITZ , CASTLEUMBRA, ex – DISGORDE and others). More and more I’m getting sick of this commercial bullshit that Heavy Metal has become, and more and more I’m running out from the mainstream sickness and getting emerged by the underworld. I don’t miss a big label, for sure something could be easier when you are on a really big label, but at the same time I don’t want to see ESCARNIUM being treated like just another band, just another number. When you got small but serious labels you also can reach the scenario and you keep the things easier and simpler. It’s good to send a message to our labels and get answered by the owners and not by someone who doesn’t give a shit about you or your music."
Few weeks ago you ended the “Funeral Rites European Tour 2016” with your countrymates VENOMOUS BREATH. Would you like to tell us something about this experience? What were the best and worst gigs / memories?
"I think it was the best tour so far. We noticed that more people went to our shows, and I can say I don’t have a worst gig to mention! Good gigs, good public, good new and old friends we saw. And a good selling of t shirts and CDs. I was driving by myself and the worst moment would be the trip from Slovenia (Krani) to Netherlands (Amsterdam). Beautiful, but exhaustive! More than 1 thousand kilometers in just one day. But the funny thing is when you are together with good friends, this kind of trip doesn’t feel so long. In fact it wasn’t 2 bands, but 8 friends travelling and playing rotten Metal of Death! Cheers to my friends of VENOMOUS BREATH! The best moment of the tour was a day off in Tilburg, at headbanger Marco’s house."
I know that you work as tour manager for Speed Freak Booking in Brazil and Roadmaster Booking in Germany, and you’re driver for other booking agencies as well, so I’m curious to know what do you think in wider terms about the Death Metal live circuit. Is it a good moment for this kind of music to be more and more popular thanks to social media, or is there instead a lack of real support at gigs?
"Yes, this is my crazy job. Well… it’s hard to say, because I’ve being walking around: brazilian territory from north to south many times, more than 300.000 km runned, and now I just finished 4 months on the road in Europe. I’ve being in more than 15 european countries not just once, but maybe 4 or 5 times, and not just on the Death Metal scene. I think Death Metal is breathing a good moment on the last years in general, but I don’t know if I could be exact. I think that unfortunately some people are still caring too much about hailed bands and putting aside new bands, that many times are doing something better that those famous ones nowadays. Even in this good moment, I still think that there could be more support. People still tend to follow the mainstream and bands that often don’t have the same feeling for what they do now that they used to have when they started. In some areas I think could be better, like in the south and southeast of Brazil for example it needs more support. Is always a cycle: good moments, bad moments, Death Metal, Thrash Metal etc, if you know what I mean."
By the way, when did you start to collaborate with Daniel Silva from INCARCERATION? Do you know each other for a long time? And what do you think about their new album "Catharsis"?
"I first met Daniel in 2010: he was together with the VIOLATOR guys on the Salvador airport, heading for an European tour. Since then we’ve become friends, and we made some tours together, actually he was on the first 2 European tours we made. I also played bass in some INCARCERATION gigs, and Nestor Carrera played the drums on the 2013 Terror Over Europe tour. He also recorded the drums for their EP. I didn’t expect less then what they did on "Catharsis". I think "Sacrifice" was an awesome EP, a really good one, and "Catharsis" was the next step after that. A good fast straight old school Death Metal album."
Coming back to the time you gave birth to the band, why did you choose ESCARNIUM as moniker? What’s its meaning? And what’s the main reason to start a band like yours?
"In 2007 I was playing in a band called IMPETUOUS RAGE, actually they changed their name to POISONOUS now. At one point I had some differences with the guys and quit IMPETUOUS RAGE, and after that I decided to make my own project. The bassist at the time (Gabriel) came with the suggestion of the name. It’s hard to give an exact translation of ESCARNIUM in English: it came from escárnio, it’s a strong Brazilian portuguese word for mockery. We then put the “um” letters at the end to make it sound more like latin, the dead language. We wanted to do a classic Death Metal sound, with down tunning, influenced by bands from the 90s. As everything in life, I can say almost 10 years after that, that many things have changed. We are exploring our own identity, paying less attention on the influences we had, and making Death Metal in our own way. I don’t need a “reason” to play Death Metal, it’s natural and good to put our negative thoughts about mankind in music."
It’s often hard to keep the same line-up during many years, sometimes to replace someone causes a different approach in writing new songs. How did you take on the replacement of Eucini Santy by Mauricio Souza?
"Yes, it’s hard to keep the line-up together with the same goal, during years, since it’s 4 persons, each one with their own life, and thoughts, but I’m proud to mention that everyone that played in ESCARNIUM has their importance in the history of the band, and we remain friends. Of course the first moment is never easy, but we never had any big fights because of that. Normally the bands I know when they change their line-up a lot of problems come right after that. Mauricio fits very well in ESCARNIUM, he brought a lot of identity on the solos, and is also a really relaxed, easy going guy. Eucini is now playing in HERETIC EXECUTION, which is another band from Salvador, and he is also a really important person in our history."
Are there some influences that you know will be always fundamental in your way to play Death Metal? For example, how important are INCANTATION and IMMOLATION for your sound? Are there also some atypical or not purposely Metal music that you get as inspiration?
"There’s always this interesting fact that normally people link ESCARNIUM with those bands and, ok… they are not wrong: “Onwward To Golgotha”, “Diabolical Conquest”, “Infernal Storm”, and all the IMMOLATION carrier is an influence, but I can guarantee you that albums like “Osculum Obscenum” from HYPOCRISY, “Into The Grave” from GRAVE, and the EP from AMORPHIS entitled “Privilege Of Evil” are more important to me. I don’t know why, but when I listened to that stuff for the first time, I told myself, “okay… I want and NEED to downtune my guitar!!!”. I listen to many things from 70s Rock’n’Roll, also some Grunge shit like NIRVANA, ALICE IN CHAINS and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, but they don’t cause any influence in ESCARNIUM’s sound. They are just bands that I think that have something interesting to pay attention to. Sometimes the influence comes from bands outside of Death Metal, like MESHUGGAH or VDJARTA, sometimes Gore bands, or Sludge bands. Also Black Metal bands, Death / Black bands, and you can see many notes that came from that in our music. Lately I’ve being really interested in PRIMITIVE MAN, what a band! And I’m listen to Death and Black Metal all the time… DENIAL, GENOCIDE SHRINES, SULPHUR AEON, FUNEBRARUM, VERMINOUS, CASTLEUMBRA, KRYPTS, DEMONICAL , INTERMENT, KAAMOS, MORBID ANGEL, HACAVITZ and TEMPLE OF BAAL that was actually running while I answered these questions."
Looking at your actual location, Salvador, I only knew the veterans HEADHUNTER D.C. and MYSTIFIER from there, or also INCRUST and POISONOUS. Can you tell us something more about the scene in your city? Can you also examine the whole Brazilian scene in depth, including both positive and negative aspects? What are you plans for the future? Are you just working on new songs?
"Now is time to play and spread more “Interitus”: we’ll be touring in Brazil and Mexico between March and April of 2017 (HACAVITZ will join us in Mexico), and we are also planning to take this tour to Europe on September and October 2017. I really like the scene in Salvador, there are some problems for sure, but you will never find a perfect place… Actually, everywhere people will complain about something, but Bahia and Salvador in my honest opinion is living the best moment I’ve seen so far: a lot of good bands, many gigs, many people, zines and distros, and that’s really great. And more bands are debuting every year, too. The problem is that the economic crisis affects our scene, and people don’t have the money to support everything. But we are really grateful, and there’s a lot of people over there who always supported us. Yes, I can give an opinion about the Brazilian scene, since I’ve been really involved at the brazilian underground, organizing events, tours and playing all over the country. In resume I would say that the negative aspect is the infrastructure, and the economic situation contributes a lot to keep the things in a bad position, because when you have corruption every corner it reflects even on the underground. Unfortunately we have a lot of rip offs and mercenary people in our scene, but in the other hand you have a really devoted and dedicated Metal scene."
Ok Victor, thanks for the time you committed for replying to my questions, end as you wish!
"Thank you David, Voices From The Darkside has always given us space since the beginning of the band, and I’m really happy to have a chance to answer this interview! By the way, I saw that 3 guys of the Voices From The Darkside crew named ESCARNIUM as one of the top 10 albums of 2016! That was awesome! Cheers to Frank Stöver and Hacker! For those who have the interest to get in touch, you can find us on facebook and youtube or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Support who supports the underground! See you on the road! Cheers!"