Interview with Francisco Vera (drums)
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: February 2, 2010
South America has long been known for its underground Thrash and Death Metal scenes, but recently a powerful strain of True Heavy Metal has begun to arise in the southlands, and the truest among them is the Chilean band Battlerage. Defiantly old-school, contemptuous of trends and popularity, Battlerage hold high the flame of real metal. Drummer, songwriter, and band mainstay Francisco Vera was good enough to take the time to answer some questions for me.
Sargon: So, here we are finally with the release of the new album Blood, Fire, Steel. It seems like the band has been really busy in the five years since Steel Supremacy, tell us what's been going on.
Francisco: Well, after Steel Supremacy, we were supposed to record our new album the year after (2005), but due to our former "label" problems, instead we released the Battlefield Belongs To Me EP. In 2006 we began the writing of our new album, and by the end of the year we recorded it. But again, our "label" had problems and in the end, we decided to leave that guy and re-recorded Blood, Fire, Steel on our own.
Meanwhile, Jowita from Metal On Metal Records offered us a contract to release our two demos as an album, both remixed and remastered to get a more professional sound. Thus, The Slaughter Returns was born, and then she offered us to release our now finished new album, Blood, Fire, Steel.
I personally think that five years is too long for a band to record their second album, but in this case we were not responsible. Although we put out an EP and our demos, I would have liked to release Blood, Fire, Steel when it was first planned, in 2005. I hope in the future the breaks between our albums will be shorter.
Sargon: Battlerage came together originally back in 2002, and I understand it wasn't easy assembling the band, how did you all get together?
Francisco: It wasn't easy, you're right, but definitively wasn't so hard. You see, I had known the guys with whom I formed the band, so it really wasn't so complicated. Maybe it was for the reahearsing and then for playing live, because every one of us had other bands at the time (except for Fox-Lin), but in the end we chose BATTLERAGE, and put out 2 demos in less than a year, and an album the following year.
Sargon: You've done both a live album (Living Slaughter) and a compilation (The Slaughter Returns) before releasing your second studio recording, explain how that came about.
Francisco: And an EP, Battlefield Belongs To Me, don't forget about it! As I told you before, Jowita offered us to release our demos in a professional format, and we accepted. I think the final product is really great, with the notes and the lyrics, I have so much fun recalling everything from those days.
Living Slaughter is a live tape that Fernando from Morbillus Records put out in 2008. It contains a live performance recorded in 2004, absolutely raw, but very powerful indeed! I knew this guy from an interview for his fanzine Vomit The Blessings, and then he offered me to put out an underground release for BATTLERAGE. I showed him the recording, he liked it, and the rest is history.
Sargon: You are obviously big fans of Omen, tell us some other bands that have shaped Battlerage's sound.
Francisco: Our main influences have been Manowar, Omen and Running Wild. Our sound, however, draw from some other sources, always real metal, no gothic, techno, folk bullshit.
I think that, besides the aforementioned bands, the 80s US metal (Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Savage Grace, Medieval Steel, Agent Steel, Metal Church, Liege Lord, etc.) and the NWOBHM (Angel Witch, Venom, Satan, Cloven Hoof, Tresspass, Desolation Angels, etc.) have shaped our sound. Also, I'm a big fan of 80s – early 90s death metal (Death, Massacre, Autopsy, Asphyx, etc.), traditional doom metal (Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Black Sabbath, etc.), and, of course, nowadays bands that sound in that way (THE right way!).
Sargon: What would you say you are happiest about on the new album?
Francisco: The overall production. I think it's clean enough to sound pro, but hard and strong enough to not sound overproduced and light. Also, the cover is awesome.
Sargon: Tell us a little about your mascot: The Axeman.
Francisco: The Axeman represents the old warrior spirit of traditional metal struggling against the trends of today. Armed with his Heavy Metal Axe, he has returned to take his place, worship the Wargods of Old, and make place for the Slaughter God of Metal return! Everyone who thought that True Heavy Metal was dead has been punished with The Axeman's resurrection.
Sargon: I confess I don't know much about the Chilean metal scene. I see a lot of bands listed from there, but I don't know anything about them. Can you recommend any other good bands from your homeland?
Francisco: Sure, I can recommend three bands that are my favourites from my country:
- Attacker Bloody Axe, old school, rapid, violent, dark Thrash Metal from Valdivia, in the south part of my country. They have two demos (Attack Of The Axe Dominator, and Triumph Of The Demon Axe), a live split tape with Battalion, another band from Valdivia (A Night Of Goat Ritual And The Slaughteraxe), a 7"EP out in Iron Bonehead productions (Triumph Of The Demon Axe), and a new promo tape from their forthcoming album (The Flight Of The Raven). Check them out at www.myspace.com/kuraviluprods
- Eternal Thirst, 80s US influenced Heavy Power Metal from Santiago. Think of bands like Helstar, Omen or Riot here. They have a rehearsal (Rehearsal 2007) and an EP (Metal Domain) out. Very energetic songs here www.myspace.com/eternalthirstchile
- Procession, true Doom Metal, from Valparaíso – Santiago. We (as I play drums here too) have a demo (Burn) and an EP on Iron Kodex Records (The Cult Of Disease), and we are beginning to compose our forthcoming album. www.myspace.com/processionburn
On the other hand, and as I told to everyone who has asked me before, BATTLERAGE is no part of the "scene", of any scene. We stand alone, we don't have friends that invite us to play to be friendly. People want us to play because we are a good band, because we are a strong live act, and because they like BATTLERAGE.
Sargon: I understand there was a second album recorded that was since lost, what happened there?
Francisco: Yes, but it was the same as Blood, Fire, Steel, only a different recording. Our former "label" is the owner of those recordings, I don't now much about it, as I'm not interested in him.
Sargon: What kind of touring will you do for Blood, Fire, Steel?
Francisco: We won't have a tour for Blood, Fire Steel. We will play as much as we can to promote the album, but, as we have other responsibilities, a tour is far beyond our scope for now.
Sargon: You changed labels to Metal On Metal back sometime in 2007, hopefully putting an end to label problems. How did that come about?
Francisco: Well, I got to know Jowita while surfing on the Internet searching for reviews or references to BATTLERAGE. I ended up on her website, as our name was on the list of her favorite bands, so I wrote her to say thanks and to ask about the price for a cover painting. We kept in contact and did some trade. When she started with Metal On Metal Records, she asked me if we would like to sign with her label, to release our demos as a CD. I accepted almost inmediately, as I knew Jowita is a real metalhead, and here we are now. I'm absolutely happy with Metal On Metal. Their work is fantastic and very professional.
Sargon: Anything else you would like to say?
Francisco: Just thank you for your interest and support. To everyone out there, search and buy our releases, they are pure and old school True Heavy Metal, the way it was meant to be played. METAL REGARDS.
|Other information about Battlerage on this site|
|Review: Steel Supremacy|
|Review: The Slaughter Returns|
|Review: Blood, Fire, Steel|
|Review: True Metal Victory|
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