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Interview

Apokalyptic Raids – “About Thomas Fischer, yes, he knows us and he hates us…”

Chris Forbes from MetalCore Fanzine (est. 1986) stepped up as a contributor and suggested to (re-)publish his interviews. And here you go….(Ricardo)

Apokalyptic Raids is a crushing old school death metal band in the vein of Hellhammer and old Celtic Frost and here is an interview I did with guitar player/vocalist Necromaniac. (Chris Forbes)

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
In Rio, Brazil. Been here all my life and it sucks hahaha

Were you into music at a young age and how hard was it to find music down in Brazil?
My older brother was into Purple, Sabbath, Alice Cooper, The Who, Nazareth, so I started from his albums. When I was old enough to buy myself some stuff, Kiss played in Maracanã stadium in 1983 and then their albums were rereleased. Also Maiden, Accept, etc. The major labels’ stuff was regularly released in Brazil. By late 1985 I started on heavier stuff on independent labels, and that was hard. Only at expensive import shops or travelling people. But radio shows got one copy and spreaded the stuff. And then tape traders… It was the natural way to go.

You mentioned stores. I have never been to Brazil. How many stores down there sold underground stuff from labels like Metal Blade, Combat, Relapse, Roadracer, etc?
In Rio, back then, like half a dozen. Rio today has about 7 million people. São Paulo which today has about 26 million people used to have almost 50 stores… There is a mall called Galeria do Rock where they stood. Today some 10 or 20 still resist. Brazil and South America are too concentrated in the capital cities. Countryside cities have some hundred thousand people, and almost nothing. One has to go to the main cities to find stuff.

Now what were some of the first bands that really blew your mind?
Of all of my brother’s records, one stood out: Black Sabbath Vol.4. Then there was Kiss and Maiden, 2 of the few international shows to come to Brazil. And then there was Venom, and Venom changed everything forever…Every band was to repeat Venom’s formula but adding some new exciting feature: Bathory, Sodom, Hellhammer, Onslaught, Deathstrike, Kreator, Destruction, Slayer, Possessed…Of course Heavy Metal was renewed by Manowar, Mercyful Fate, etc…

Now when did the idea of learning or playing an instrument start? Why the guitar? Did you even consider bass or drums?
Of all things, Sabbath’s guitar tone clearly stood out. The deep, motor truck-like sludge sound was clearly different from Maiden or Priest. I couldn’t understand why doesn’t everybody turned to that evil sound. Sabbath made all other bands sound like the Beatles… And then Hellhammer understood that so well. I liked the drums, but drums are too loud and spacey for home, so I bought a bass because I thought it would be easier. So I went on to pursue an evil distorted sound in the bass. Later on, in 1997, without a decent guitar player who understood all that, I ventured into the world of 6 strings. But I never studied much the guitar, chords, scales and stuff. I wanted to play heavy riffs. And that’s what I’m dedicated to. I learned some “Iommi tricks” throughout the decades. The unison bend, the thrills, the closed tone knob, the contrasts. One needs to improve technique to achieve some effects. I took quite some years to expand a little my vocabulary. I mean, I never wanted to play the guitar in general. I wanted to play Sabbath and Hellhammer and Scandinavian crust and proto Death Metal. In my first band, I did only vocals though.

So how would you rate yourself as a singer and do you think you have gotten better over the years?
I think I’m average… No, I didn’t get better hahahaha. Apporaching 50, it is more and more difficult to give my throat the appropriate rest and hydration hehehehe.

So at what point did you want to form or consider joining a bad? Were there many underground metal bands around when you were say 18 or 19?
I wanted to play and sing as early as 13 or 14 years old. There was an older generation of Heavy Metal guys’ bands, few of which recorded anything, because they targeted major labels’, but my younger generation started to form more extreme bands, then called “Power Metal”. There was no Death, no Thrash, no Black. Everything noisier than Heavy was Power.

If you were younger and into that, you would be called “radical” by those older guys raised on Deep Purple. It was a generation clash. Those younger bands had a more DIY approach and did not care about majors, also because underground labels started to appear.
The most known case is Sepultura/Cogumelo records. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. After the escalation of events Kiss – Rock in Rio 1985 – Venom mania, there was a huge scene with thousands of kids in an underground show. So by 1986-1987 when I was 14-15 y.o. there was a lot of bands. That’s why you see dates as 1985-1988 in some Apokalyptic Raids’ songs… I’m a latest late bloomer hahaha.

My first band was called Slaughter and then Devastation (we change names as soon as we found out another and with the same name hahaha). Slaughter featured the Santoro brothers that would later form Explicit Hate.

So did these 2 older bands you spoke of record anything worth mentioning or they didn’t last long?
Didn’t last long. Keep in mind we were teenagers without any resources: no money, no good instruments, no studios, not a lot of venues… Especially in Rio. Belo Horizonte (7 hours North) had bands which insisted a bit more and then Cogumelo label. São Paulo (6 hours West) has always been richer and a lot more people. Rio has always had good bands but fewer resources. Dorsal Atlantica were older and made an influential career but were limited by Portuguse language. Other good bands appeared later but almost no records.

So how did the start or beginning of Apocalyptic Raids start? Why did you start off as Apocalyptic Raids and then replace the “c” with an “l”?
I was playing in a band in the 90s, it went nowhere. It was like 90s Death Metal, Autopsy, Massacre etc. Well, we tried. It sucked hahahaha. At some point I talked to the drummer about playing these old songs I had, and there it was, like magic. It was 1997. The drummer played in Black Metal bands in the 90s as well. From 1997-1999 we have established the songs on the demo and first 2 albums. When the first drummer left the band, things got bitter and he wanted to end everything we did, including the name. So I went on and changed the name, without changing it really…

So did you get to play many live shows during this time?
We spent 1997 and 1998 working on the songs. Then in March 1999 we did the demo and later that year we did 2 shows, one in July and the other in November, I think. Then we spent 2000 recording Only Death is Real and did only one show in December. It was only after 2001 when Skullkrusher joined the band that we were available to do more shows, and that’s what we did.

So how did songs for your debut release come about, which was called “Only Death is Real”? Where did you record it and who put it out? How was the response to it?
Once we started to compose in 1997, as long as we found the “old formula”, it went on frantically… We wrote the songs for Only Death is Real and 60% of the following album before 1999 ended.

In 2000, we hit the studios. We have laid out the basic tracks at a “fashionable metal” studio where everyone seemed to record back then. But as soon as we started to mix it, we couldn’t understand why the sound got more and more muddy. When that guy has finished mixing and was oh-so proud of the shit he did with our sound, we looked at each other and we said, “Ok, we are not releasing this piece of shit, alright…”

Then we took the tapes to the Thunderhall studios, where our good friend MacCraft did his Demonthor album a couple of years before. The guy was completely obsessed in getting a good sound and, after many many weeks of tweaking we arrived at a mix we thought, back then, we could stand for. And that was what was released by the end of the year 2000.

Such a painful process could not result in anything good. I still think Only Death is Real sounds kinda bad. We tried our best at saving the mix, and later on I have even remastered it, but, as much I love those songs there, it is our performance in the album that just sucks. Less than on the demo, but it still sucks. If it was today, I would abandon it or release it as another demo before we do a better debut.

So, in my opinion, we went from “ludicrous” on the demo to “lame” on first album, to “listenable” on the second one but that’s how it went. We didn’t have any resources to begin with. We had to do a lot of bad shit before we finally could be proud of what we play. Other band members do not necessarily think like me. They believe Only Death is Real (and the demo) helped set some cornerstones at the scene at that time. Maybe I have too high a standard, but I don’t want to negotiate on the quality of music, I would like to do albums that last, or not at all…

Anyway, Demise records released it on CD, and a year later Dies Irae on LP. The response was good. Back then CDs sold more. So we were soon getting more CDs and LPs from the labels to sell at our shows. We got to do more shows and we have reached more people, as we started to do trades with bands and labels from all over. We started doing merch, t-shirts and so on.

So in that sense, with the album out and with the new drummer Skullkrusher, in 2001 we gained the momentum we needed to play live more often, finish a couple of songs, and then get into the studio and record the second album ASAP, which we did in 2001/2002.

Got ya. Now briefly tell me about this split release which also came out in 2001. Who was the other band on that and who released that?
Iron Bonehead released that. Split ep with Gravewurm from US. I got some of their demos and got in touch. I rereleased it on my label Hell Music in 2011.

So now we head to 2003 and another full length came out called “The Return of Satanic Rites”. I assume it is safe to say your more happy with this than your debut. Where did you record this at and how did the coming of it come together and who put this out and what was the feedback like for it back in 2003?
Of course the second album pleases me more. It has an uncontrolled edge, it is chaotic at times, but our performance starts to take shape. Songs were almost finished so all we had to do was to go and record them. Unfortunately, the studios where we started Only Death is Real had proved to be more suited for trendy stuff, so we were to start from scratch. It was when Diabolic Force were about to record their demo at Astral studios and they invited me to give some help. It was my first production ever. And it is still a solid piece of Metal, I think. That recording became their debut EP, and it worked as a studio test for me. After we finished their mix, I had no doubt about recording The Return of the Satanic Rites at Astral Music Record. Tracking and mixing were not as smooth as it become later, we had still few resources and little experience, but the flow was way smoother than on the first album, so we started to understand better what we were doing…

Our relation with Demise was already non-existing, so Dark Sun released it on CD and LP. Dark Sun and Dies Irae are both of the same owner.

Response was good. Maybe some people liked Only Death is Real best back then, but I think we gained momentum on The Return. It is a more well finished album… I think it has a decent sound and performance. And then more shows through Southeastern and Central regions of Brazil.

The album was released on tape in Poland by Thomasz of Time Before Time/ Throneum. I think trades abroad and interviews got more intense then… Some good fanzines started to notice us. Remember, there was no MySpace, no Facebook, it was basically an e-mail scene and a few sites. Still lots of snail mail at that time. In that album, I started to take the label role too. Despite having a label on it, I alone did the cover photos and design, and sent to CD pressing plant. Dark Sun did the LP pressing and helped with the distribution.

Speaking of snail mail and fanzines, do you cherish those times much like I do?
Every time has its pros and cons… The time it took and the difficulty back then did a lot of filtering. Only the most obstinate ones remained. But it was also a limitation. A lot of good bands had their albums postponed for years because they had to rely on letters. Today the problem is the reverse. Everything is so easy that you have tons of shitty bands and a spoiled generation that had everything too easy. I don’t blame them. I just keep filtering what I think should stand the test of time…The good old day’s mood is inside my head really. Is it pain in the ass to try and find people with the same views? Yes it is, like always.

What are you thoughts on full-length release # 3 that came out in 2005 called “The Third-Storm-World War III? Who put that out?
At that point, label #1 failed and label #2 was too slow. So I decided to do it myself and use the labels as distribution only. Third Storm was out on Dark Sun/Dies Irae but I did almost everything. That one is the first album that satisfies me. I wish the previous 2 ones had that performance and mix. It debuts Vinícius Hellpreacher on the bass, in the band since then. It has the direct approach but also some risks: start with a slower song, one in Portuguese, one epic one, one 1-riff “ad lib” song.

Now it took 5 years till a new release came out. Why was that?
After Third Storm was out, we still didn’t do any tours. Just some one-off shows in Southeastern Brazil. Also, even during its recording we started to be affected by varied illnesses from varied family members. So that slowed us down and caused some member replacements throughout the years, to make a long story short. We kept composing during all those slow periods. In 2007 we had to invite Marcio Cativeiro for the drums, first as a live member then as a fixed member, as Skullkrusher’s mom was very ill.

In 2008, Victor from Farscape (Whipstriker hadn’t started yet) had a full Farscape Brazilian Tour scheduled, but half the band couldn’t travel, because of the reasons mentioned above. (We shared same drummer.) So I proposed that we invite Hugo Golon (later on Cemitério and 10+bands) for the drums, then Farscape would play as a trio, with Victor on vocals. And I would also travel with them, and we would do an Apokalyptic Raids set too, with Victor on the bass, and Hugo on the drums. That would be 4 people, 2 bands instead of one. We had only two weeks to rehearse, Hugo left his job in São Paulo and moved to my place in Rio, where we rehearsed twice a day and off we went. The 2008 tour did happen and it was a blast. We learned many things about touring, about ourselves and each other. Hugo has played often as a live member of Apokalyptic Raids since then. We did some more tours with him in this decade.

I returned home after the 2008 tour, and resumed the Hellpreacher + Cativeiro lineup. We had a lot to work on the following album. Hugo and Victor played with Toxic Holocaust in their Brazilian tour in 2007 I think. Victor started Whipstriker circa 2009, with Farscape members. Eventually in recent years, Hugo joined Whipstriker for good.

Now, in 2019, we have finally started to record some new songs featuring Hugo on the drums… He totally earned it. But Skullkrusher is still totally in the band. Who’ll play next gig or tour depends on their schedule.

(c)Ziehmke.com (708) 809-2045

Now how did you come upon choosing your name do you know if Tom G. Warrior knows of you guys?
The idea for the name and concept matured during 1997-1998. It was obvious in a way and unexplored in another way. The proto Death Metal bands from, say, Florida 1984-1985 were all heavily influenced by Hellhammer but they went more technical with time. Also, I didn’t know of Warhammer until late 1999 I think. So, after the idea for the name was stablished, it became clear what I wanted to do with it

About Thomas Fischer, yes, he knows us and he hates us…I got bitter throughout the 90s with him talking bad about Hellhammer and an “elevator music” version of Messiah by the shitty Apollyon Sun. Then he released his first book where he goes on about Hellhammer and writes that they tried to re record some Hellhammer in the Into The Pandemonium sessions but it wasn’t good. Then I said in some interview about reformed Celtic Frost that we were to teach them how to play right and Tom didn’t like it…

Fact is:
1) I don’t like anything after Tragic Serenades. I am a fan, I have an opinion. Not above nor below anyone’s.
2) I supported Hellhammer throughout decades, when they were saying it was shit, long before it became trendy and cult.
3) I am ok with myself about it. I got over that. I don’t cult personalities. Tom (and his new Triumph of Death) are people, I don’t know them in person, I have nothing against these people, I wish them the best, if I like the music I’ll listen to it, if I don’t, then I won’t, and I’ll play the music I like and that suffices.

Now what followed were 6 split releases. Were these mostly 7″‘s or were they split CD’s or some other type of release? Were these put out by smaller labels and was it mostly new material or older material re-released?
The first one was a re-edition of an 7″EP from 2001, back then on Iron Bonehead. Now reedited in 2001 in Hell Music. It features demo tracks and Gravewurm on the other side. The other 5 x 7″EP feature outtake material from subsequent album sessions. All of them were out on Hell Music, occasionally joint releases with the other band’s label. In chronological order of recording:

  • With Farscape, we have 2 outtakes from The Return Sessions
  • With Whipstriker, 1 alternate version and 1 track from Third Storm
  • With Warhammer, we have one outtake from Third Storm sesssion and one from Vol.4 sessions.
  • With Atomic Roar, 2 outtakes from Vol. 4 sessions
  • With Agathocles, one track from Vol.4 sessions and one Discharge track recorded after that.

That is all stuff we had accumulated over the years and it was put out to fill that gap when we did not release a full album. Finally, in 2019, Goat Vomits from Bolivia have collected all our tracks from EPs together in one CD, Even Death is not Real Pt.1. The CD features all the EPs art and 2 other tracks, a Motorhead cover not available elsewhere, and a Headhunter DC cover from the tribute CD. These 2 tracks may appear later on vinyl too, so both sides get all the stuff.

All that is available from us and on our bandcamp. We are yet accumulating more tracks for new EPs and a compilation CD with all them… We believe in short albums and EPs in between.

So at what point in the band’s career do you think you found the “Apocalyptic Raids” sound?
Composition wise, since the demo… Performance wise, I’m proud of what we did from second album on. I believe after that the change was in small increments (or decrements hahaha)

Do you think it is much harder for a band like you being from where you are to promote yourselves or get noticed more than say if you were from the US or Germany or England?
Of course it is. We toured Europe and I can say, Europe is sooo easy. Good roads, good machines, good equipment, good pays, contracts honored, good people. Brazil and South America is a lot harder. People are poor. That means every show is a door deal, no matter what was agreed. No shows on weekdays. Touring is not profitable. Selling records was profitable, now it is gone together with people’s jobs. We are on the top 1% of the population, we got our homes. Let alone a good guitar, a good amp, a van, a label…

The net result is that we can afford maybe 10% of our time to the band. I’d like to move to Europe at some point, but right now I have family stuff to take care.

Tell me about this live album that came out in 2018. Who put it out and where was it recorded? How has the response to it and did you feel the time was right for a live album?
In our touring schedule, we finally hit Chile in 2015 with our friends from Communion. We did 3 shows there. The third one in Temuco was recorded and it ended up sounding very good in 8 tracks. We wanted to do a live album for a long time but we missed a good recording. I didn’t want to release any garbage sound. So after some time in finishing cover art and audio I did release it myself on LP on Hell Music. There will be a part 2 with a complimentary set and the CD version with the 2 parts in one.

Now also in 2018 came your latest release called, “The Pentagram”. Tell me about this release. How did the coming of the songs come together? Who put it out and what are your thoughts on it these days even if it is pretty new. How did it sell and are you happy with the promotion you got for it?
About The Pentagram, having had that “hiatus” since 2010, we released the EPs 2012-2015, we did European tours 2014- 2016, Chile 2015, Brazil 2017, and all the way we kept composing. So when we started to gather together the material, we found out had 25+ songs and counting… So the actual works went really fast.

By the end of 2017 / start of 2018 we had a good 10 songs + 4 outtakes rehearsed and recorded. The album was released in 2018/2019 in Brazil by Hell Music (CD) and in the US by Hells Headbangers (all formats) and it shows images from our travels and a more direct approach. We felt that this album should be a “straight line statement”, simpler songs and so on. We are very pleased with the results we have obtained in the studio. Sales are slow for everyone worldwide, but having said that, I can’t complain. Hell’s Headbangers does a terrific press job. Our album was featured in a lot of good places. (As well as the previous re-releases they did before). We did a big release show in Rio, “Satan’s Revenge 2018”. And we have still saved stuff that we are now recording for what will be our 6th album, maybe out in 2020/2021.

So what are your thoughts on the current underground music scene these days?
I’ve been hearing some stuff from the latest decades and a few bands call my attention, like Midnight, Hellish Crossfire, and of course Brazilian bands like Whipstriker and Flagelador… Of course there are a lot more like Warhammer, Sabbat… Too many to mention. The majority of bands today follow some “old school” trend and are like everybody else. But a few ones are really worth the search. Get together with your friends and read good zines and you will find them…

Now some people might say all you are is a Hellhammer/Celtic Frost ripoff. Care to comment on that.
We are! hahahaha Well, maybe not all we are. But surely I want to play what Hellhammer played. Period. Is that an “influence”? Rip off? Call it whatever you want. I will play what I like hahahahaha.

That’s the way it should be. Now please plug any websites or social media sites you have.
On www.apokalypticraids.com You can find links to all social media, bandcamp etc etc.

Horns up for this long interview. Any last words to wrap this up?
Thanks a lot! Great interview! Since the days of Metal Core zine, still have it here!!! Go to shows, buy merch, support the music you love!!!