The underground already recognized and appreciated the first two EPs of THE TROOPS OF DOOM, a four-piece from Brazil. And if the band’s name is not hint enough, it’s the former SEPULTURA guitarist Jairo “Tormentor“ Guedz, who is one of the creative heads behind the band. To put it straight, they created a really awesome monster with their debut album “Antichrist Reborn“, which came out on Alma Mater Records a couple of weeks ago. A beast between rough old school Thrash and Death Metal which should become a real feast for everybody who is loving those genres. So let’s have a talk and timetravel with Jairo.
Gratulations for a really great debut album, which sounds like it catches the young and rebellious and wild spirit, Thrash Metal should have…
“Thank you very much! It looks like you got exactly the spirit of our work!“
By the way, do you consider yourself more connected to Thrash Metal, as basic for your work, or would you say it is more Death Metal that your songs are built on?
“Well, I like both categories of Metal and really feel comfortable walking among those two influences of mine. With THE TROOPS OF DOOM I can say that we like to create songs with the right and harmonic balance of Death and Thrash Metal… It is natural, inherent to our chain of influences.“
The reactions on both EPs “The Rise Of Heresy“ and “The Abscence Of Light“ as far as I’m concerned were overwhelming worldwide. Did you have expected something like that or were you simply surprised?
“We didn´t expect that kind of reaction! When I decided to put this band together, the first thing I asked was to be honest according to our music influences from the eighties. I wanted to retake, resume the path I was creating with my bandmates when I had to leave SEPULTURA in 1987 / 88. The basic idea of this project was and is to make the same music I was making back then, because it is the kind of music I and also my actual bandmates love to do. So, that is natural, and we did not think too much about the response when we started… But now I am very proud of what we did.“
Jairo, you were playing in SEPULTURA back in their early years in the eighties. How do you look back on the days with them, what was the spirit of the age those days which made you write music and get the whole thing started?
“When we started, back then in the early eighties, we were kids discovering a new world of heavy music and underground art. We tried to make what our idols were doing at the same time we discovered that we were creating something unprecedented – a different and raw Metal. Maybe we developed this raw and aggressive kind of music for not having much structure and tools, as our idols and friends from Europe and USA had! Add to this all the traditional and religious education that were stuffed down our throats! This was the spirit! Go against all that shit and play as hard and loud as we could!“
This type of Punk attitude SEPULTURA had in those days, the need to seperate from the society and provoke came together with the lack of access to equipment. That finally fueled the determination to make a lot out of nothing, like creating own bullet-belts by using spraypainted AA-batteries glued together, like Max Cavalera likes to report with a laugh, when he is asked about those days. A propos Max and the old mates… Do you still have contact to the Cavalera-brothers and Andreas and SEPULTURA? Did you already get any reactions from them about THE TROOPS OF DOOM? I could imagine that especially Max and Iggor are pretty into it…
“Yes! We are still friends and they are also good friends from Marcelo Vasco, our guitar-player and singer and bass-player Alex Kafer – we acctually know each other for more than 30 years now. Max and Iggor, Andreas and Paulo, they just like THE TROOPS OF DOOM a lot! The first thing I did when we put the band together was talk to them all and ask ’em their blesses! Hope we can do something together one of these days!“
Which would be extremely cool, because especially the SEPULTURA with the Cavalera brothers are not forgotten until today. Hand on the heart, how big was the impact SEPULTURA had on the Metal scene in Brazil?
“They were and still are the biggest example of a band for the Brazillian Rock-Metal-scene! My heart is filled with pride to be part of this story!“
You named the band after one of the early popular songs, ‘Troops Of Doom’, which you were directly involved in the songwriting back in the days… What does this song mean to you until today?
“This song is still an icon, an anthem for the fans of SEPULTURA and it means a lot for me – this was the main reason I chose this name for my band and I also chose to use other easter-eggs from those times and albums!“
The name implicates that you obviously want to pick up the line again, carry on what was started back in the days already?
“Yes, as I told before! We have no intention of “discovering fire again” or bringing something very modern to our music. My goal is to pick up where I left off, doing things my way with my bandmates!“
Are you feeling okay when I like to consider your new album “Antichrist Reborn“ a sort of missing link between “Schizophrenia“ and “Beneath The Remains“? Don’t understand me wrong, it absolutely stands for itself, it doesn’t neccesarily need the comparison to SEPULTURA. On the other side, it catches this Thrash spirit, it catches also some of the moments and riffs, one would consider on SLAYER’s “Hell Awaits“ or “Reign In Blood“. And in the drum-sound it lets one think about the first two DEATH albums sometimes. Is that catching the influences the band has or simply the spirit in the band?
“Of course, we’re totally okay with this statement and we kind agree, also regarding the other influences you mentioned besides SEPULTURA. You definitely got the point and I would add two or three more important pillars for us, that are CELTIC FROST, KREATOR and POSSESSED. THE TROOPS OF DOOM is a band rescuing the golden Death Metal ages and when we see people understading that, it’s always something positive for us, not the opposite. We even feel flatered. At same time, as you said, “Antichrist Reborn“ stands itself beyond all those inspirations. The album contains our energy, our sweat and the old blood that runs through our veins. If you’re modern Metal fan or you’re looking for something new or original, you’re in the wrong place.“
Would you agree that compared to the EPs the album now appears to have a better sound which lets the music and simple riffs appear more clearly? And it seems that you have been working more with changes in the tempo – the songs have partly slowed down a bit, but sounding much more coordinated and heavy…
“Yes! Absolutely! We produced the first two EPs “The Rise Of Heresy“ and “The Abscence Of Light“ ourselves! That was sounding okay, but not good enough. So we decided to call a very good producer for this job – Peter Tägtgren! Our main doubt was: How not to sound too modern and at the same time mix a competitive album for our market? And we found in Peter all the answers to these questions.“
In the beginning of ‘Pray Into The Abyss’ the vocals are starting with this spoken word-lines before the song builds up massively, almost grooving dangerously. What is the song about, you have in general a really anti-christian attitude. Or does it fit better to call your lyrics and the general appeareance anti-religious?
“We do have this anti-religion stance and against any kind of mass manipulation. This attitude becomes increasingly important these days, with this idiotic polarization in politics and also the idolatry of political agents as if they were rockstars! ‘Pray Into The Abyss’ – this song speaks metaphorically about the fear that lives inside each one of us and that makes us crawl without strength to seek change in our lives or in our society. Sometimes it becomes a monster, fueled by demons and sins, spiritual laws, created by the church to control our quest for intellectual and spiritual freedom.“
So one can understand the lyrics, the anger and hate which is put into words and music partly as metaphores to tell your thoughts and frustrations about what’s going on in Brasil and the rest of the world?
“Absolutely! We took advantage of Death Metal and Thrash Metal aesthetics to bring to light our vision of an unfair world, not just in Brazil, but everywhere!“
Cover versions are a part of your appeareance since the beginning, this time it’s CELTIC FROST’s ‘The Ursurper’ – which is unfortunately not included in the promo-pack. How do you pick your cover versions, what does a song need to have to get picked and how neccesary is it for you as musicians that you could improve on it…
“The cover versions or the re-recorded versions of my own songs from the past are just another way to show our thanks and our pride in these bands, a tribute to those who had influenced us so much since the beginning of our Heavy Metal lives! We like to sit down and talk about what song we would like to record. I don’t know if we will always do this. But it’s a way of telling Metal fans that we belong in that specific environment!“
I have another history question. Jairo, you left SEPULTURA while they were in the rehearsing and songwriting process for “Schizophrenia“ – until today I would consider the album as massively underrated. What are your rememberances back into these days and due to the fact, that THE TROOPS OF DOOM are rather keen on playing cover versions, could you imagine to come up with ‘Escape To The Void’ or some other number of that album somedays?
“Not really! We do not intend to record any song from SEPULTURA that I am not the author or co-author. When I left the band I gave up my rights to our songs on this album, because there wasn’t even half of the work completed – we were doing the “Morbid Visions” Tour at this time, and we created some riffs in the middle of it all. I saw no reason to do so.“
Your guitarist Marcelo Vasco works as graphic artist and has been doing things for HATEBREED, KREATOR, SLAYER, SOULFLY and others. What exactly has he been doing for them, how was the contact to the bands if he had direct contact to persons like Mille, who is always very into the artwork deciding himself what he wants for KREATOR or not… And of course, did you introduce them to THE TROOPS OF DOOM ? And what reactions did you get?
“Yeah, he’s a graphic artist for many Metal bands like the ones you mentioned and much more. Indeed, he’s a close friend of Mille and he even won an amazing LTD guitar from him once in Romania. That beautiful ESP Signature Mille Petrozza LTD model. He is using this guitar for THE TROOPS OF DOOM shows and our music videos, by the way. Of course as we all are huge fans of KREATOR. Marcelo indeed was sending our music to Mille and he liked it a lot. He’s a very cool guy and is always supporting us when is possible. I’m so grateful for that. Marcelo is also in touch with Kerry King, Max Cavalera, DARK FUNERAL, DIMMU BORGIR and the BORKNAGAR guys and other great bands he already worked with. Sure, he’s introducing us to those people always possible and the reactions are very cool and positive. It’s exciting!“
Where should the way lead you to? Personally and as a band?
“Well, I really hope we can work as soon as possible as a professional band, getting tours and living on the road, spreading our music and meeting new and old friends. We don´t need too much to be happy! The freedom of playing songs around this planet and getting some profit from it is fine for me. We all have our jobs here, Marcelo works as an artist, doing art covers and merchandising art for a lot of other artists aorund the world, Alex and Alexandre are music professors in the School of Rock from Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, and I work with art also, creating t-shirts and posters and have my own clothing brand. But the band has definitely priority to work on. We hope to meet people everywhere on the road as soon as possible!“
Thanks a lot for your time to answer all these questions. I hope you guys make it to Europe soon, as well as I wish that everyone out there gives “Antichrist Reborn“ a spin. Cheers.
“Cheers and thank you too for your support!“