A long time it seemed that Spain wasn’t really a country to focus on when it came to brutal Death Metal as the only band that gained international attention used to be AVULSED. But within the last couple of years this luckily changed for the better, and several releases, a.o. by MACHETAZO, VIDRES A LA SANG or SCENT OF DEATH turned out really impressive. Especially SCENT OF DEATH’s debut full length "Woven In The Book Of Hate", which was just released by Bloody Productions (also out of Spain), should easily appeal to fans of the complex US style, best known from bands such as IMMOLATION, MORBID ANGEL, INCANTATION and the likes. Needless to say that Laci got in touch with guitarist Bernardo Estévez right away and killed a lot of his time with a good number of questions ; -) So, read on to find out all details about the band’s past, present and future!
Hello Bernardo! How are you? How is the weather in Spain? At the moment the weather is very hot by us. I could say "Dirty black summer” haha!
"Hello from Spain!!! The summer is hot in Spain too, It´s like we are inside the flames in hell, hahaha… the fucking temperatures are very high, my town is like a pit in the purgatory, I prefer the winter…”
What did you do before you have started answering my questions? I hope, you are in a good mood.
"I was playing guitar before answering your interview, so you can be sure that I´m in the best disposition for this underground interrogatory, hahaha…”
Please introduce us to the history of the band! When, how, by whom was the band established? From where did the idea come to establish a Death Metal band? Did you know each other earlier? Did you play perhaps in several bands before you joined forces as SCENT OF DEATH?
"Okay, in a few words the history of Scent of Death begins in September of 1998, when Jorge (ex – SUFFER AGE, a melodic yet tecnical Death Metal band) and Carlos (ex – OSMOSIS, Death Doom with nordic influences), decide to hire a local where they improve their concept of Death Metal. On December, same year, I and Nuno (ex – OSMOSIS) joined the band. With Jorge and me on guitars, Carlos on bass and Nuno on drums, SCENT OF DEATH has born. In the beginning, composing of the first themes and many hours of training is all. In the summer of 1999, David joined the band as the vocalist. In March 2000, we perform a live concert in Anoeta, Vigo city with REGNUM IRAE. Three months later, we lost our vocalist because of musical concept differences, what means several inconveniences at future concerts, a fuckedg situation certainly… But at the end of November 2002, we recruited a new vocalist, Luis, coming from a Black Metal band called IMMACULA MORTEM. In February 2004, Nuno left SCENT OF DEATH and the band started looking for a new drummer (another fucked up situation!!!). He was replaced by Alfred Berengena, drummer of Catalonian brutal Death Metal band BAALPHEGOR, as a session drummer for the new album (a fucking lord of drum destruction, hehehe…).”
How old were you at that time? Did you already have some experiences as far as the Metal scene?
"We were younger, hehehe… I was 23 years old at this time, and all my musical experiences begin with true Metal, hehehe…”
To what did the name of the band refer?
"Well, from the beginning it was clear to us that we didn’t want the typical name with the –ion or -acity termination, there is a lot of bands with this letters, you know… One day Carlos (our bass player) appeared with this idea for Scent of Death and all in the band liked this name for ourselves. It sounds cool, it looks cool, and I think that it defines what we are, a fucking brutal Death Metal band…”
Tell us about your early rehearsals! How often did you rehearse? Are / were you an assiduous band?
"Hahaha… the old times… the first rehearsals were a crazy time, we had a horrible stuff of amps and guitars, so the sound of the band wasn´t very good, but we tried to make the best music with this poor material. Now we have good effect proccesors and guitars and the rehearsals sound great! Actually we practise twice a week (perhaps three times if we have a concert), we used to have four hours of pure Metal rehearsals, hahaha… we try to be a very assidous band, our songs aren’t easy and we need to play continuously to make the best and most brutal songs. Composing is a hard process, we spend a lot of time on the structuring and the arrangements of our songs, changes of time, tons of riffs, dual guitars, strange chords… all this is the base of our style…”
Do you take the band seriously or is it rather a hobby? Do you have daily jobs?
"We take the band seriously, we try to make all to promote our music and the name of SCENT OF DEATH, but we know that we can´t live of this music, we are in Spain, and this is impossible, there’s no money to make on non-commercial music, we spend a lot of money on the promotion of the band, recordings and traveling, but we don´t change this way of life for anything…Yes, we have our dayly jobs; I´m a universitary student (I will end my studies in September), Carlos is working in a wood factory, Jorge is a piano teacher at the conservatory of Ourense, and Luis is in the last year in his studies of ancient history, we are very busy, hehehe…”
How many demos did you record? Which songs were on them? How can you characterize them? What kind of response did you get on them by the fans and by the underground press?
"The only release before the CD was "Entangled In Hate”, a self produced Mini-CD. It contains 20 minutes of brutality and technique in six tracks called ‘Living Structures’, ‘Tortured Mind’, ‘Perpetual’ (an instrumental piece), ‘Feeling The Fear’ (the first track we ever composed!!!), ‘Entangled In Hate’ and ‘Epilogue’, another instrumental piece. We have send this work all over the world, to countries such as Australia, Japan, USA, Europe, Malaysia, South America, etc… sending it to zines, labels, webzines, distributors, and in general to all those that have requested it. The answer of the press toward "Entangled In Hate" has been excellent in the entire world, and only in Spain SCENT OF DEATH has obtained high qualifications in so prestigious fanzines as Bloody Zine, Necromance Mag. (8), Xtreem Music (7,5), Subliminal Zine (8), Bloodcifery Webzine (8,2) and Era Del Metal (8,8). We are very happy of the answer by the underground scene, but we must work hard in promotion, nobody gives anything for nothing…”
Your first official release was the "Entangeled In Hate" MCD. Please tell us detailed about this material! Were you satisfied with it?
"Well, the process of the release of the MCD took us about five months, making the cover, the whole design of the MCD and then to take it to printing. We had some serious problems with the printing, because it took more than the necessary time in being published. At the end it saw the light of day at the beginning of March in 2002, originally it should have been out in December of 2001. The MCD begins with a small intro of baroque choirs that take us to ‘Living Structures’, a song with which I am particularly satisfied with like it is composed, and especially with the guitar solo that appears in the central part. Lyrically it is a little influenced by Lovecraft, counting the reactions of somebody caught in a nightmare city, built irrationally, impossible to understand behind a human perspective. The following one, ‘Tortured Mind’ is in a similar vein, quick and brutal, with a good number of "blast-beats" and changes of rhythms. The theme of this song deals with the internal fight of somebody who gives up the religious dogmatism and finds the force to live in himself. Next, we have a small guitar instrumental interlude, composed by a friend of the band, who, in fact, doesn’t belong to the Death Metal scene, since he comes from classical music; but after requesting his collaboration it consented without any problems. A quite melancholic and melodic piece. ‘Feeling The Fear’ is the following song, which completely deals with “fuck religion”, and I believe that this song features some of the best vocal lines. ‘Entangled In Hate’ is the most intricate, technical and brutal song of the whole MCD. In this direction we wanted to continue on our new compositions. That’s the beginning of ”Woven In The Book Of Hate”, intense and dark. Our idea is that each song must be better than the previous one. It is 100% antichristian, an entire declaration of principles. Finally, the MCD comes to an end with a short violin outro and acoustic guitar which contrasts the previously heard.”
Why were two instrumental tracks on the EP?
"The reason we included these instrumentals? We wanted some variety in this MCD, and we thought that a melodic piece based on the guitar and a "romantic” violin composition were a good contrast with the brutality on the record. On "Woven…” we didn´t use this kind of stuff, for this CD we prefer only musical destruction.”
I consider the stuff brutal and complex, but I would say, you haven’t any precise plans about, what kind of music you want to play. Is that correct?
"We only make the music that we like, Death Metal is one of the musical forms more intrincated and we only try to make intelligent Death Metal, hehehe…”
Since the release of the EP three years have passed… What happened with you? Did you have some personal changes as far as the line up?
"As I said before, these three years were very problematic with the line-up changes, but now we are stronger than ever, our objetives and our musical direction are clever, before seven years of existence every person in the band knows the moods very well and the personality of each member, we respect the decisions and opinions of all and we try to make the things in the most democratic way…”
How and when did you get in touch with Bloody Productions? Didn’t you get any offers from other labels?
"Well, we got in touch with Dani (the "boss” of Bloody Productions) when we found out about the financial problems of Necromance Records. This label was stopped, they couldn´t release our band for a long time, and we couldn´t wait a year or more to record our music. We spoke with Dani, and the conditions of the deal were very good…We got offers from other labels, but the contracts were shit!!!”
They released your debut album "Woven In The Book Of Hate” this year. At first, congratulations, because it is a very good record, I consider the songs cool…
"Thanks for your words, there’s tons of work and effort in this album, but we are proud of it, don´t doubt it, hehehe..”
How were the songs composed? By whom were the songs and the lyrics written? What are the lyrics all about?
"The composer of this band is Jorge, the other guitarist. He’s responsible for the rhythms and the structure of the songs, but the final arrangements is a work in the rehearsal room, were all in the band voice their opinion. In the final step the consideration of each member is important, we try to make music which we all like. The lyrics of the songs are very important to us , it´s a reflection of our antireligious ideology and moods. I think that our lyrics are intelligent and clever in their conception. Carlos and Jorge are the writers of our blasphemies, hehehe…”
Where, in which studio and with whom was the album recorded? How much time did you spend in the studio? Were you in a good mood during the recordings?
"Well, "Woven In The Book Of Hate” was recorded in two studios. The drums were recorded in the Tribal Art Music studios in Girona and the rest was recorded in the Gonsound Studios (www.gonsound.com) in Vigo. The sound technician was "Gonso” Pedrido, one of the best producers of extreme music in Galicia and a great guy, too. We are very interested in this technician for our work, because we knew a good number of recordings of Metal which were produced by him (UNNATURAL, EMBRACE ME OCEAN, SOK, DISMAL…), and all this stuff really sounds cool… He is a very cualificated professional and we learn a lot of things in his studio. The album was recorded in March 2005, during the weekends, and the mood of ourselves during the recordings was great, we are anxious to record our music, to make our first full-length CD. The process of recording was very intense, but the final product is very good, we are proud of our CD and our perseverance…”
Would you speak about the whole album, about the songs, sound, cover etc.? Please tell us everything about the record what come into your mind…
"Well, the album contains seven songs + intro + hidden track (a version of a classical song of MORBID ANGEL) of brutal Death Metal with a clear and brutal sound. The first song (‘Extreme Body Modification’) is a fast and complex track, tons of riffs, changes of tempos, a very direct song. ‘Dancing Upon The Thin Line Of Insanity’ is the most technical track in the CD, the intensity of the composition in unbeliable…The next track (‘Entangled In Hate’) is an old song from the MCD, but with a best execution and arrangements. ‘A Thorn In The Forehead Of God’ is very influenced by IMMOLATION. A dark and fast song, with a killer slow riff in the middle…’Woven In The Book Of Hate’ is a slow song with groove, the lead guitars are fantastic. ‘Self Infliced Wounds’ is fast, very fast, a neck-destroying track, jejeje… Finally ‘Circles Of Eternal Return’ is the perfect end for this record, a incredible song with concentrated brutality and hate. The cover is a Satanic vision of hell, there is no salvation, there is no peace for the christian, there is no peace for god… an apocalyptic vision of the destiny of mankind… The whole album is a professional work, we don´t have anything to envy to another band…”
Were the songs ready, when you entered the studio or did you still jam there? Why did you re-record only ‘Entangeled In Hate’ from the EP? Were the other tracks brandnew ones?
"All the music was composed before we entered the studio, all was ready to record, we can´t spend time to compose or arrange the songs in the middle of the recording sessions, it causes more days in the studio and, of course a lot of money, and we aren’t rich to make the things in this way, we aren’t METALLICA, hehehe… As I said before, we re-did ‘Entangled In Hate’ because this is the most intricate, technical and brutal song of the MCD. This is the vein of the “Woven…” compositions and we wanted to record this track with better sound, arrangements and interpretation. Perhaps on the next recording we decide to re-record another track from the mini, but we aren’t completely sure of this decision. The rest of the tracks of the CD are brand new ones, all these songs were composed before the release of the MCD.”
Are there similarities and differences between the EP and the record?
"I think that "Woven…” is SCENT OF DEATH on a superior level. All the aspects of the music are more professional. The sound is fat and obscure, our musicals skills are better than on the MCD. The brutality and intensity is growing and now we have incredible drum patterns. The arrangements are more complex and the voice is brutal and clear…The MCD is good, but the record is a fucking storm of Death Metal!!!!”
I have to tell you, you have developed very much compared to the EP, you became better musicians…
"Thanks for your words, my friend, but you can await great things from us on the new record, we have two new songs (‘The Father´s Sins’ and ‘A Simple Twist Of Fate’) and these tracks are better than any song we have composed before…”
Why don’t you have a permanent drummer? Why did you work with a session one? Is Alfred Berengena a good friend of yours? It is hard to find a suitable drummer?
"Ourense is a little town, and we know that we never found a adequate drummer for the band, all the drummers in our area are in the rock or heavy stile, they don´t know a fuck about Death Metal. We began to work with drum programming (with very god results), but we know that we need real drums for the record. I met Alfred at a concert of BAALPHEGOR (his band) in Vigo. He told me that he could play the drums parts on our record, and we accept this offer without any doubt, hehehe… he is one of the best drummers in Spain, fast brutal an technical, and a very good friend of the band too… Now we work in the rehearsal room with programmed drums, but for future records and gigs we have the colaboration of Alfred.”
Which are your favourite tracks from the album?
"Well, I think that my favourites are the tittle track ‘Woven…’ and ‘Circles Of Eternal Return’. Two tracks with different visions of extreme music, ‘Woven’ is a slow and very dense track, full of groove and feeling: the lead guitar has melodic and morbid lines… On the other side, ‘Circles…’ is a high-speed song, brutal and intense, with great rhythms and tempo changes. We try to touch all the aspects of Death Metal in our songs, we want diversity in our music.”
What does the title of the album mean?
"The title refers to the bible (the "book of hate”), one of the most insane and contradictory scriptures of the human history, a fucking handful of lies for the weaks…The history of the world and the acts of the Christians are influenced by this book, and this book of "love” only brings pain and damnation to mankind. The history of Christianity is full of war and hate, they had made genocides and destroyed cultures for his "divinity” of love… fuck them!!!”
Is Bloody Productions a known label in Spain or in Europe? How do they support the band? Do you get enough promotion from them? Are you satisfied with their work?
"Well, Bloody Productions is a young label in Spain, but with a great vision of the future and tons of underground contacts for a band like us. We are making a great promotion together, Dani (the owner of the label) is a well-know person in the Spanish underground, he is the editor of the Bloody Zine, one of the best fanzines in Spain (he is working on this zine since 1998). We are very satisfied with their work, the value of his help is inappreciable.”
Do they have any other bands too? How many releases do they have? Do they concentrate only on Death Metal bands?
"Bloody Productions has another two releases of pure underground bands out: FLAGELLUM DEI ("Tormentor… Of The False Creator”) and LUX DIVINA ("New Days For The Ancient Wisdom”). Both bands are great Black Metal bands from Portugal and Spain, so we are the first Death Metal band of this label. If you want to know more about this label, check this webpage (www.bloodyprod.cjb.net) were you can find all the necessary information about future releases, concerts, news, and a great shop online with tons of underground stuff at good prices, jejeje…”
As far as your music, I can compre it to IMMOLATION and MORBID ANGEL. I think, you love both bands, is that correct? Which bands have had an important effect on you?
"Yeah, you have named two of the fucking masters of Death Metal… all in the band love both bands, and they are a big influence for us, we admire their music and their attitude. Other influences for us? Bands like HATE ETERNAL, UNNATURAL, ORIGIN, DISINCARNATE, SUFFOCATION, BEHEMOTH, DEATH, GORGUTS, DECAPITATED, GORGASM…”
You prefer the technical, complex Death Metal, you have difficult riffs and the drumparts are excellent too. Do you agree with me?
"Completely, we try to make complex music, we spend a lot of time to make a song (two or three months), and we are very exigents in the musical and performance aspects. We don´t want mediocrity in our songs, so we are always searching for the best rhthyms and structures, and this means months and months of work. That´s hard, but we like this way of thinking.”
How would you define the essence of Death Metal? What does Death Metal mean to you? Do you also like melodic Death Metal bands, like AT THE GATES, IN FLAMES, DARK TRANQUILLITY or ARCH ENEMY?
"The esence of the Death Metal? A good question, of course. I think that the things which define this musical genre are the brutality, obscurity, raw and killer sound, musical complexity, brutal vocals and lyrics, insane guitars and drums and a complete anticommercial sense. It’s a music for a minory, but I really prefer this situation, if Death Metal becomes mainstream… that´s not Death Metal…Death Metal is a very important thing in the life for all in SCENT OFDEATH, we can´t live without this shit, hehehe… It’s a way for our musical expression, to discharge all our rage and frustration, to reveal our darker side, to destroy the ears of the believers, hehehe… I don´t like melodic Death Metal so much, IN FLAMES sound like HELLOWEEN with a brutal voice, DARK TRANQUILLITY and ARCH ENEMY sound great, but I prefer their first recordings ("Skydancer” and "The Gallery” are fucking masterpieces!!). AT THE GATES was one of the best bands of the underground scene, and "Slaugther Of The Soul” is a record for the history of Metal, a reference for extreme music.”
What’s your opinion on last year’s SUFFOCATION re-union and that in this year also OBITUARY has returned? Do you wait for the new OBITUARY release? Did you like "Souls To Deny” from SUFFOCATION last year?
"Yeah! SUFFOCATION´s last album is a fucking masterpiece. It sounds fresh and powerful, the songs are amazing, a fucking wall of sound and technic. The new members have given fresh air to the formation, I think. This album sounds like if they were never stopped in the last years. I await the new album of OBITUARY, but I think that Death Metal has changed a lot since they left the scene, and the simple structures and mid-tempos of OBITUARY can be obsoletes this time… I don’t know, I’ll hear this album when I can but I don´t have big expectations…”
As far as the Death Metal releases of last year and this one, which albums did you like? I’d say, that the Death Metal movement has become stronger, do you agree with me?
"In the last months I have bought a lot of albums, but I can recommend you bands like CAPHARNAUM ("Fractured”), ORIGIN ("Echoes Of Decimation”), CONTINUO RENACER ("Continuo Renacer”), GODLESS TRUTH ("Arrogance Of Supreme Power”) and BEHEMOTH ("Demigod”). They are always in my CD player, hehehe… I agree, the Death Metal scene is growing and growing, after a "Black Metal period” Death Metal comes back stronger than ever, the musical qualities of the bands are higher… but I think that the public don´t give Metal the necessary support, and here is the principal problem…”
Could you tell us about the Spanish underground scene? I mean about the bands, fanzines and labels…
"We have a growing scene in Spain… Bands like XERION (Black), BAALPHEGOR (brutal Death), CAUSTIC (brutal Death), AVULSED (Death Metal), MACHETAZO (Grind), UNREAL OVERFLOWS (technical Death), LA MATANZA (brutal Death), ERED (Black-Death)… are only a few examples of great Metal bands from Spain. I recommend all these bands, you won´t be disappointed, my friend!!! We have a good number of zines (BLOODY ZINE, ERA DEL METAL ZINE, MANDRAGORA ZINE, EL ULTIMO ABISMO, BLEAK ZINE, VAMPIRIA ZINE, ORFISMO ZINE, FRIENDHOF WEBZINE…) and labels (VOLIAC RECORDS, BLOODY PRODUCTIONS, NIGRA MORS, HECATOMBE RECORDS, NECROMANCE RECORDS, INDAR PRODUCTIONS…), but we have to work a lot to put the Spanish scene in the place that it deserves. I think that the Spanish scene is very infravalorated, and we have very good stuff to offer…”
Is there unity between the Spanish undergound bands? Do you help each other? With which bands are you in a friendly connection?
"We are always trying to support other bands, the situation of the Metal scene is very fucked up sometimes, and all the help is good. There isn´t much unity in the Spanish scene, a lot of bands are cloistered in their own interest… we have a good connection with XERION, UNREAL OVERFLOWS, EPHEMERAL, BARBARIAN PROPHECIES, FORENSICK, THIRD WORLD MORNING, NUMEN, CAUSTIC, BAALPHEGOR, ALENDALÚA, AVULSED…”
Please tell us about your gigs! How many concerts did you give? How do we have to imagine a SCENT OF DEATH gig?
"We are anxious to begin to play live concerts, be sure… Till now we have played at the Brutal As Hell Fest (February 2003) in the club Anoeta at Vigo city with IMPERIOUS MALEVOLENCE from Brasil, HUMAN MINCER and CHAMBER OF SHRED. On April 25th SCENT OF DEATH played for the first time out of Spain, in Portugal, at the Steel Warriors Rebellion Fest VI, in the city of Barroselas, opening for bands as ENTHRONED (Belgium), DAMNABLE (Poland), INTERNAL SUFFERING (Columbia), SANATORIUM (Slovakia) and so on till a total of 25 bands. In August the band took part in the Revoltallo 2003 where we once again played with AVULSED and ETERNAL MOURNING among others. The next was the Butchery At Christmas Time IV on December 20th of 2003 in the city of Guarda, Portugal, with bands like AVULSED, GROG, GOLDENPYRE, AGONIZED, THERIOMORPHIC, NECROSEY R.D.B. Now we have confirmed our participation in another festival in Vigo with MACHETAZO, UNREAL OVERFLOWS and CAUSTIC. We have offers for concerts since the release of our CD, and we will try to play our music as often as we can. Our concerts are intense, a fucking musical destruction!!!!!”
Did you never think about a European tour? With which bands would you go on tour?
"We are always thinking of a European tour, but this is very difficult for a band like us. My dreams become reality if we can go on tour with bands like DECAPITATED, GODLESS TRUTH, PREJUDICE, MITHRAS… but for now, it’s only a dream, hehehe…”
What do you think about fanzines? What kind of role do they play in the underground? How can they support the career of a band? Which fanzines do you like reading? Which are your favourite fanzines?
"The zines are the essence of the underground, that´s a perfect way of promotion and to open doors to the real extreme music. The fanzines keep the scene alive. My favouritres zines? Bloody Zine (Spain), Mandragora (Spain), Brutallica Zine, SOD Mag (USA), Orfismo (Spain), Bleak Zine (Spain), Skullcrusher Mag (Germany)…”
Do you also often read webzines? Do you know good ones? In your opinion are there similarities and differences between webzines and fanzines?
"Yeah, I read webzines very often, it´s a good way to know the lastest news of the underground. I am always checking the FRIENDHOF WEBZINE, PICHLINE, XTREEMMUSIC, NOT QUIET MUSIC, MONDONGO CANIBALE… But I prefer the classical zines, internet can be so impersonal….”
What does underground mean for you respectively to be underground? What do you think about trends and mainstream things?
"I compare the underground with a big brotherhood. It´s a way of life, a form of altruistic expression in the musical and the personal acpects. The trends and the mainstream bands are a fucking cancer in the underground, be sure!!!”
What are your future plans? What kind of expectations do you have as far as the album goes? In which countries will the record be distributed?
"We are now in the process of promoting our record, and trying to make a Spanish Tour, but this is very difficult to organize, but we are on it. I hope that the new album gives us a name in the scene to play our music everywere, that’s that we really want. We and the label are working to have distribution worldwide, and step by step, we are reaching this.”
I don’t know whether you like football, but I have to ask: do you prefer Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona?
"I prefer Barcelona, the players of Real Madrid are fucking posers!!!”
Bernardo, thanks for your answers and patience, I wish you and the band all the best and good luck. Please close the interview!
"I hope I did not bore anyone with my answers. Thank you very much for this interesting interview. I hope this interview will introduce SCENT OF DEATH a little bit more to the worldwide maniacs. And to you, Metalhead, if you want a copy of our stuff or if have some other questions, you can write to this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Check out our website at www.scentofdeath.com and write some blasphemies in our hatebook… SUPPORT THE TRUE UNDERGROUND!!!!!"
Interview: László Dávid