While I used to be hot at one point on everything labeled as Thrash / Death Metal coming from Brazil back in the mid ‘80s, I soon became bored with most of the stuff coming from there as it sounded really uninspired and cliché as a whole with the exception of SEPULTURA at their peak circa “Schizophrenia”, “Beneath The Remains” and to a lesser extent, early SARCOFAGO and early MUTILATOR. Years have passed and nothing has grabbed my interest from there until recently when I heard the likes of ANDRALLS and FARSCAPE. While those bands are again unoriginal for sure, they both deliver their stuff with conviction and manage to have hooks included in their material – unlike most of their predecessors. A song without hooks is nothing but a bunch of parts put together, and that has never been what Metal is all about after all! I will always give credit to a band with a huge lack of originality as long as they can write a song the old way, that’s all that matters to me and FARSCAPE did it fairly properly with their debut album “Demon’s Massacre”. Here’s what guitarist, Poisonhell had to say about the history of this newer somewhat promising outfit.
So do you recall how the whole story behind FARSCAPE started back in the beginning of 1998 exactly? How did all of you guys hook up together to form that newer Brazilian Death / Thrash band out of the ashes of DISTANASIA (who featured you) and BIZARRE DEATH (which featured Whipstriker – bass, Witchcaptor – vocals / guitar and Skullkrusher – drums)?
“The whole story began in the middle of ‘96 when I started a band with my brother and my cousin called EXTREMA UNCAO, but in fact, there was no band at all. We were all bad musicians (I did not know how to tune my guitar) and having a band was just an excuse to have good fun! Later in ‘97 we met a Death Metal guy (Felipe Podrão), we recruited him to as singer, he was older then us and had much more experiences in the Metal scene (me and my cousin were 15 and my brother was just 13, while he had 21 years old), he told that EXTREMA UNCAO already existed in Brazil, so I changed the name into DISTANASIA. The band was still a disaster (in a badly sense), we tried out to make something like “Scum” from NAPALM DEATH, but we couldn’t, there was just noise and nothing else! Almost at the same time (beginning of ‘98), the other guys (Whipstriker / Witchcaptor / Skullkrusher) were playing together, I knew them from school (we were all studying at the same place), Whipstriker was and still is my neighbour, and we used to play soccer together at the same club since we were kids, even before the invasion of Metal in our brains. So, they called me to join the group in ‘98, DISTANASIA finally stopped, and I joined their band called BIZARRE DEATH (just a temporarily name because none of us liked that), just to play easy covers from 80s bands. Then, after I had explained the meaning, I suggested the name FARSCAPE and we were growing as Metal musicians and starting to make our own material. Since ‘98, we are all together without any changes in the line-up.”
Was it clear when you started this act that you would be influenced by ’80s Thrash / Death Metal instead of opting for conventional and overused Death Metal material?
“Yeah, we were very young when we started, when I joined the band I was the older guy being 15, almost 16! We know that we grew in the era of extreme brutal Death Metal and symphonic, atmospheric, orchestral Black Metal, bands like KRISIUN, NILE, CRADLE OF FILTH or DIMMU BORGIR were having a lot of fame in the “Metal world”, appearing in all magazines, and recording lots of albums, but man, we really weren´t into that, we really don’t like that, that means nothing at all to me. At that time, we were learning Metal together with albums from MOTORHEAD, BATHORY, MANOWAR, METALLICA, MISFITS, KREATOR, VENOM, EXCITER, EXODUS and all those great bands that influenced almost every headbanger in the Metal style. Every week we discovered a band in the vinyl shop and that was making us crazy, I remember when the owner of Rock Station store (Ceguinho, great friend) said to us ‘Hey guys, have you already listened to the VENOM from Italy?’, we said ‘No!’ so, he showed BULLDOZER to us! We were hungry for the ‘80s and still we are!!! So, since the beginning, we have the idea of what we wanted as a band!”
So what made you opt for that style of Metal which isn’t the most "in" stuff these days, considering that you guys are fairly young and weren’t around when all that mid ’80s Thrash wave was around?
“Just because the music is better!!! In 1998, there was just a few people playing Thrash Metal in Brazil and that was the reason of the name FARSCAPE, this to us means to scape from this standardized scene where many people do the same thing. I know that some guys criticize that the ‘80s are gone, that we aren´t original, that we are clones of KREATOR or DEATHROW, blah blah blah but I have to ask these brothers: what is original? Because most of them play in bands that are like CRADLE OF FILTH or TRISTANIA, have keyboards and when they don’t, they look like DARKTHRONE. I think everyone has the right to choose what they want to do with a band, why can´t I play like SODOM or DESTRUCTION, if their albums (I am referring to the old ones) still sell on the Metal stores? We play Heavy Metal because we really like, we have an insane feelling to bang our head and kill the posers listening to “Kill ´Em All”, “Bonded By Blood”, “Apocalyptic Raids”, “Altars Of Madness”, “War And Pain”, “Power And Pain” and billions of others, and I can feel nothing when I listen to other things. The modern production of the albums nowadays suck to me, I like SANCTUARY but I can´t stand NEVERMORE. But there are still great (new and old) bands that I really enjoy and most of them are fantastic underground stuff.”
How about Brazilian bands? Have you been more influenced somehow by precursors like DORSAL ATLANTICA, VULCANO, SEPULTURA, MUTILATOR or later acts like SEXTRASH, ANTHARES, ATTOMICA etc.?
“All bands that you’ve mentioned have great meaning to us, especially DORSAL ATLANTICA, TAURUS and MUTILATOR. They’re great influences, and the Brazilian (and the Latin America in general) Metal seems to be rawer than in the other countries, and I appreciate that! We still have a great scene in Brazil, some problems with shows, organization, Metal structure, but the bands are great. It really pleased me when Guga (ex DORSAL ATLANTICA drummer) played a song with us at a gig last year, and recently when we played along the masters from VULCANO!”
So as far as I know, your first recording was the "Doctrine Sickness" demo, what can you tell us about that first effort as I’ve never heard it? I understand that it has been released as a split CD-R with Italia’s VEXED by Deathstrike Records
“Okay, we recorded “Doctrine Sickness” in January of 2001, containing five songs (two of them were later re-recorded on our debut, “Demon´s Massacre”), that demo was well distributed in Brazil, then we knew about the great work of Daniel Evil Avenger from Deathstrike Records from Germany, we got in contact, sent our stuff, and he asked us about doing a split with the songs from “Doctrine Sickness” with the Italian band called VEXED, of course we agreed with that. 500 copies of this split were made on tape, and not on CD-R, but nowadays, it’s sold out. It was very well distributed, and lots of distros all over the world had it in stock.”
Did you shop that demo around to attract label interest? Why did it not work out earlier as your first album has only been released six years after the band was formed?
“Our demo was very well distributed all over the world, and I think it’s because Witchhammer Productions from Thailand released our debut in tape format with this demo as bonus tracks. “Doctrine Sickness” was very good to us, we received good reviews and great supports, but we are a Brazilian band, and here everything seems to be more difficult if you are into the underground stuff than in other countries, only this year we could release a debut album with the help of Dark Sun Records.”
So how did you end up recently being signed by Dark Sun Records – who also pick up APOKALYPTIC RAIDS as well, a close band to you guys?
“It was Leon from APOKALYPTIC RAIDS, a great friend that always helps and gives support to us that showed FARSCAPE to Ader from Dark Sun Records. Ader became interested by our stuff, and signed us.”
The album was recorded late 2002 and was only released not so long ago on CD – while a vinyl version is also announced, why did it take so long to be issued?
“Lots of problems, first because we had to get available time in the studio, and it was difficult because there was the only one place that had the old equipment that we needed, so to find a good schedule there was really hard, then, Leon had to be available too because he was our producer, and sometimes to find him is not very easy. During the recordings, there was lots of beers and because of that, it was always a party, the sound engineer and also the studio’s owner was crazy with us. Just in the beginning of 2004, that shit was out!!! The vinyl will be out soon, and that’s Ader’s idea from Dark Sun, he is a vinyl maniac and all guys in the band are as well.”
So "Demon’s Massacre" feature pure total oldschool Thrash without total growling deathly singing, without downtuned guitars and without blast beats, just nine pure evil thrashing tunes sounding as a mixture of KREATOR ("Endless Pain"), SACRIFICE ("Torment In Fire") and DESTRUCTION ("Sentence Of Death"), would you say that this description fits the best your material?
“(laughs) Your definition is better than mine!!!”
It seems by the way that SACRIFICE have really marked your minds real deep as the album contains a cover of ‘Sacrifice’ and the individual shots on the back cover look exactly like the SACRIFICE ones on "Torment In Fire", tell us more about this!
“Man, SACRIFICE are Canadian killers!!! I love them, especially the “Torment In Fire” album, all the songs are great, there’s no shit on that!!! The idea of the backcover for our debut came from Whipstriker, and all of us agreed with that! “Torment In Fire” is in my list of best Metal albums ever!”
How do you view the SACRIFICE career as a whole considering the interest you have into them? Do you share the same opinion that I have on them which is that they never betrayed their roots and always delivered quality top notch Thrash over the course of their four albums?
“Yeah, I agree with you on their career, many bands from the same period turned up into total shit. I did not like their fourth album very much, but it’s still Metal. They were Thrash till they end.”
Why did you choose to have the song ‘Carrasco De Metal’ sung in Portuguese? Is it in remembrance of bands like TAURUS, ANTHARES for example who used to sing in that language?
“The idea of ‘Carrasco Do Metal’ (or “Metal Executioner”) was to honor bands like those you mentioned! They’re a great influence on us. And it’s a great pleasure when we sing in our own language, people get crazy in our gigs when we play that song…”
So how’s the album getting received so far considering the situation of the record market being oversaturated right now? Do you really think your album will get some of the recognition that it deserves especially being on a tiny label such as Dark Sun?
“Man, we are receiving good reviews all over the world, I think the headbangers are not disappointed with our raw Metal, we have some problems with distribution, but we are a underground band, and it’s difficult for everybody, but we are in the right way with the right people… We are just starting, both the band and the label, but I can tell you that in a near future we will grow, we will increase our distribution and also recognition in the underground scene!”
In terms of promotion, what are you gonna do for this record, I mean is there some touring planned supporting that record or…? Do you know if you’re gonna get some license deal for the U.S. or Europe to get a better distribution?
“No, we’re playing in some cities near Rio De Janeiro, but there´s no tour organized yet, just a few gigs here and there, Ader from Dark Sun Records is working very hard to promote our debut, and next year (2005) things will be better. We don’t have a license deal for the U.S. or Europe, but you can get our debut in some distros there in Germany… people interested in deals, get in contact with the band or label!!!”
Have you started working on some newer songs yet? Are you gonna follow the same path set on "Demon’s Massacre", trying to come up with fast, thrashing yet catchy numbers?
“Yeah, we have billions of new songs, we have new songs for an EP with great bands from Germany (that will be released by Deathstrike Records), we have also plans to release a 7”… Besides all these new EP songs, we are rehearsing a lot to record a new album, most of the songs are ready. Our EP songs are more in the vein of the N.W.O.B.H.M., but the songs for our second album will follow the same path that was set on “Demon´s Massacre”… Are you ready for the slaughter?! (laughs)”
Are you playing some other cover versions besides ‘Sacrifice’? I understand you’re planning to cover some PENTAGRAM (Chile) tunes in the future right?
“Man, we play covers all the time, in our rehearsal place, we play a lot of DIAMOND HEAD, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, THIN LIZZY, and millions of stuff from N.W.O.B.H.M. bands, we are maniacs for that style and it’s very cool to play songs from those because they are different from FARSCAPE. In our gigs, we prefer to play more aggressive stuff, KREATOR, MOTORHEAD, SACRIFICE, AT WAR, SODOM, DESTRUCTION, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, SLAYER… Now we’re planning to play WHIPLASH and HALLOW’S EVE covers on stage. About PENTAGRAM, yeah, we were planning that, but that never happened, thank you for having me remember about it!!!! The spell of the pentagram!!! (laughs)”
Considering that you’re so rooted in ’80s Metal, how do you view all those reformation of legendary acts such as AGENT STEEL, DEATH ANGEL, DESTRUCTION, EXODUS etc. some having in my opinion issued some good releases (while being far from the killer original albums), some doing nothing but issuing crap albums?
“I really do not like any of these reformed bands, really poor sound, nothing that makes me bang my head. Nuclear Blast sucks! When I want to hear DESTRUCTION or EXODUS, I put “Infernal Overkill” or “Bonded By Blood”, their new albums are totally awful! But VULCANO is also back, they released a new album called “Tales From The Black Book”, and it’s real great!”
I understand that you guys have other side projects going on, you and Victor Whipstriker playing in DIABOLIC FORCE, Pedro Skullcrusher playing in APOKALYPTIC RAIDS and Leo Witchcaptor playing with EVIL CHILD (who features also Victor Poisonhell’s brother as singer, Hellpreacher), what’s the reason behind this? Don’t you think that there’s a risk to lose your path somehow by not concentrating on your main band which is FARSCAPE I believe?
“First I have to explain to you that me and Whipstriker aren’t in DIABOLIC FORCE anymore, we recorded a EP (“Old School Attack”) and a demo (“Prisoner Of Wickedness) and then we left. Also there’s no EVIL CHILD anymore, that was just a project, they did just one gig and then they stopped without recording any shit!!! But there’s a new band with me, Whipstriker, Hellpreacher and WitchCaptor called ATOMIC ROAR (total WARFARE stuff, a mix of Metal / Punk onslaught). Skullkrusher and WitchCaptor also play in a 70s Heavy Metal band style called COLD BEER. The reason for that, is the fact that few people are really involved in the 80s stuff here in Brazil, it’s very difficult to find musicians that really enjoy the shit that we love to play. And there’s no risk, all the bands are in the oldschool vein, but all of them are very different from each other, we can stand up and fight with no problems.”
Considering that only two songs from your debut demo have been used on the album, is there plans to use the other songs on the next album or maybe releasing the demo on CD or vinyl or do you just plain to throw away those tunes as you maybe find them too generic and cheesy?
“We plan to record ‘Bizarre Sex Machine’ on our next album. Our demo was added as a bonus to the “Demon´s Massacre” tape released by Witchhammer Productions in Thailand, so we do not have plans right now to release that in any other format… Maybe in the future.”
What about that EP that is supposedly planned to be recorded / released soon featuring songs that are only sung in Portuguese?
“Man, it will happen!!! We talked about this with our label, and that’s ok, we just need some time to finish the songs and arrangements. We plan to cover some bands from here and record our own songs! But we will record this stuff in 2005.”
How’s the Brazilian Metal scene these days comparing to the one from the ’80s when there was many interesting bands (and not billions like nowadays) and a real need to play something fresh back then? How do you view SEPULTURA’s career considering that they were one of the precursors, had managed to become huge before betraying their roots when they released the truly crappy "Chaos A.D." which was followed by many other bullshit albums?
“We have good bands here man, great headbangers too, I can mention some great bands, APOKALYPTIC RAIDS, FLAGELADOR, VERS DE LA MOT , EM RUINAS, BLASTHRASH, MAUSOLEUM, SODOMIZER, VULCANO, ENFORCER, VIOLATOR, FLASHOVER, DOMINUS PRAELII, NEBULIZER… SEPULTURA is not Metal anymore man, here, Andreas Kisser (SEPULTURA guitarist) goes in TV programs and play with lots of Pop Brazilian stars, I do not understand that… SEPULTURA is in the grave for a long time!”
Okay, time to end up this interview, what do you want to say to our readers?
“Man thanks for the opportunity! People, stay hungry! That´s all!”