Interview with S.S. (guitars)
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 23, 2012
Death Metal patrol Sanguis Imprem comes from the land of lifted trucks, "bros" and their "bro-ho's", as one of the founding members of the band, S.S. himself, puts it. The band has one demo, one split release (together with Nocturnal Blood), one EP ("The Stagnation of Centuries", 2008) and one full-length studio album ("In Glory We March Towards Our Doom", 2011) on their recording roster thus far and it looks like a pretty vast army of bestial legions have already found Sanguis Imperem and gathered around them to show their undivided gratitude towards them for the evil, old school Death metal that they do.
The Metal Crypt decided to find out more about Sanguis Imperem, and their forthcoming plans for the world conquering. S.S. stepped out from the Sanguis Imperem troops and spoke some words of wisdom regarding the true essence of Death Metal, how they see and feel it and whether their unholy legions are meant to stay a bit longer with us than just the lifespan of a shooting star..
Luxi: How's it going in California? Sunny and warm as usual, or what - unlike here in Finland where we get rain almost daily... (uh, sucks living in Finland when it rains - and when it's cold).
S.S.: Hails! S.S. of Sanguis Imperem here. Just another So Cal "winter". 80 degrees in the day and 40 at night. It's the hellacious nearly unbearable summers reaching even beyond 120 that suck out here in these desert wastelands.
Luxi: Would you kindly enlighten the readers of The Metal Crypt as to how you guys first got together and formed this unholy entity named as Sanguis Imperem?
S.S.: Well the evolution started way back in middle school around 1990 with myself, J.V. and the drummer for our early/mid-nineties project which came to be known later as Stormbringer, which later spawned a band a bit closer to the Sanguis sound called "Sanguinary Perversion". About 2002-2003 both those incarnations collapsed under the weight of drug addiction, general woftage, shitty incomes, etc. For the next few years everyone concentrated on their individual monetary situations until the latter part of 2006 came Sanguis Imperem. Myself and R.S., who had moved into an apartment together and decided enough was enough! And we, as well as a scene absent of much in the way of true Death Metal brutality, needed us to pick up our instruments and create once more! Only this time much more focused and relentless!
Luxi: Ever since Sanguis Imperem started to churn out an ancient and dark sounding Death Metal in 2006, the band seems to be appreciated highly among the old school Death Metal crowd at least. So, was the chosen musical road very clear for all of you guys right from the very start, sort of pointing you a road sign, which said: "Old school way - the only way"?
S.S.: Yeah, I mean I never really think of it in terms of "old school" to be honest. I know that's what most say about it, but actually we just think of it as Death Metal. Plain and simple. I believe when people use that term they mean "good Death Metal" or "true Death Metal", so I take it as a compliment, but it's just a bit funny to me. We are definitely influenced by those "old school" bands that we grew up listening to, no doubt. But our style is actually much different than those bands if you really pay attention. We don't do many of the cliché riffing or vocal attacks one would find on a late 80's to early/mid-90's Death Metal album. Our formula is a bit different. I think that people mainly hear something that is violent, oppressive, punishing and devoid of poppy riffing and gay sounding clean vocal choruses and think, "Shit! This reminds me of when Death Metal wasn't so trendy and didn't suck a giant dick!" But to answer the other part of the question, yes, SI definitely had a sort of "agenda" from the gate.
Luxi: As for your music style, Sanguis Imperem seem to follow loyally the same heavy footsteps that such evil hordes of Death Metal as Sadistic Intent, Necros Christos, Incantation and the likes? Does it bother you at all to get compared to certain bands - and then again, do you ever feel somehow honored if Sanguis Imperem gets compared to some better known and established band names?
S.S.: Fuck! We're honoured by all those comparisons you mentioned. Do we share characteristics? Absolutely! Am I a fan? Yeah, from way back. I think that there is an atmosphere of darkness and foreboding that all those bands and ourselves have created and share. We also get a lot of comparisons between us Deicide and Bolt Thrower as well and musically, though we are huge fans of both these bands, I don't see it really. Yeah, we share certain characteristics obviously but our styles, approaches and attack are quite different (not to mention our lyrical content and our imagery). But I do see how one can get that similar "feeling" from us and them. Like I stated, I am not at all upset with such comparisons, in fact I, we, are all honoured to be placed on high with such legends! Funny thing is that I could spout off a list of major influences for SI that no one in many cases and few in others have seemed to put together with us, but I won't - ha-ha!!
Luxi: If you described Sanguis Imperem's stuff by a few, well selected words to some of these people who haven't discovered the band yet, how would you describe the band's music to them?
S.S.: Dismal, dark, violent, hateful, oppressive - in a phrase, DEATH METAL TYRANNY!
Luxi: The band's debut album, "In Glory We March Towards Our Doom", was released both on Hell's Headbangers in the States and on Invictus Productions in Europe at the end of last year. How has the response been toward it so far? Obviously you guys must be happy how well it has been received thus far, am I right?
S.S.: Absolutely! The Lion's share of the reviews has been phenomenal! And well to be frank, the useless chattel who are mainly responsible for writing the more middle of the road or more negative reviews, always give the highest marks to bands like 'Archenima' and the like. So, actually an average or even shitty review by those types of poser is like a badge of honour for SI!
Luxi: How was the recording process? Are you happy with how your debut album turned out, or did you still leave some room for improvements?
S.S.: I think there might always be room for some alteration or improvement on any production (at least I'm sure that's how we'll feel about ours) but overall I, we, are all in agreement that we did the best with what we had and are all very proud and excited about the end result. We recorded, mixed and mastered the entire album in very quick succession (5 days straight) which in retrospect should have been spanned out a bit more and funds allowing, we will add a day or two more on the next recording. Your ears are utter trash after spending that many consecutive days blasting them at high volumes so it's hard to make exacting judgments on levels, eq and what not.
Luxi: Are there some specific situations or moments in your life when you may feel most creative or inspired; I mean, those specific, golden moments when you feel an urgent need to start composing new material for Sanguis Imperem?
S.S.: Sometimes the riffs, lyrics or ideas come flooding out. Sometimes all you need is a little solitude and a good old friend like Jim or Jack and a barrage of aural evil is unleashed. Other times it comes in steps or increments or not at all. But it seems we work well with a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. Laziness can be the great enemy of song writing.
Luxi: As far as your lyrical approach goes, it can sincerely be said that you do pay quite a lot of attention to them, trying to make them to match with your music as perfect as possible - and avoiding them to look like cheesy or anything like that. In other words, it can also be stated in the very same breath that you take your lyrics definitely as seriously as your music so that the whole package could work for you guys, right?
S.S.: Yeah that's always been of integral importance to all of us all the way back to the earliest of our musical endeavors. I can't stand when you hear a killer song only to be deflated once you read or decipher its terribly juvenile usage of language or pathetically homosexual content. For me it ruins the whole deal. Even mundane, boring or uninspired subject matter can really bring down a song that for all other intents and purposes might be spectacular! Our lyrics are an honest representation of our likes, our dislikes, our fears, desires, what have you.
Luxi: Are there some topics about this whole universe that Sanguis Imperem would not touch even by a long stick as far as writing lyrics for the band is concerned, topics that you absolutely avoid like a plague?
S.S.: We'll write about anything we find interesting or relevant. Anything else we won't touch.
Luxi: Sanguis Imperem is a pretty unusual yet very unique band name - and it's Latin. I do suck at Latin, however I trusted Google Translator, which was telling me Sanguis Imperem means something about 'controlling blood', or 'blood control' or whatever. Would you kindly enlighten us on a possible deeper meaning behind the band name, Sanguis Imperem?
S.S.: We actually conversed with a professor of Latin language in Berkley, CA to ensure we got it right, or as right as you can be with a language as dead and decrepit as Latin. "Blood Command" or "Sanguis Imperem" relates to blood in the familial sense and the influence or command it holds over us, i.e., originally SI was only two members, R.S. and myself and we are actual brothers. Basically it is to say, it is the blood that commands us (to create elite Death Metal).
Luxi: What about your short aliases or stage names S.S., R.S., J.V. and J.G.? Why did you decide to go with them instead of your real names? I suppose this is all about creating even more sort of mystical aura around this unholy and evil seed known as Sanguis Imperem - or am I completely mistaken in here?
S.S.: Google. There are just certain people or organizations that just don't need to have that much access to my/our personal life/lives. And maybe it does lend a small amount of mysticism to the band.
Luxi: Are there some cool concert venues in your area that are interested in booking a band like Sanguis Imperem, trusting the sort of magnetic charisma that your band has, that also draws enough crowd to almost each of your shows you do?
S.S.: Where we live? HA! NO! We live in the I.E. (Inland Empire) where there are really no bands and even fewer fans of the genre. It's the land of lifted trucks, "bros" and their "bro-ho's". Basically, wiggers who ride motor-cross or claim to. Mindless cattle with tattoos on only their necks and hands, always something generic too, like a nautical star (we all know how few people have that tattooed) or some name or faggot shit like "true to form" or "original" in cursive, or a product logo such as Rockstar energy drink. Scum basically. Walking bilboards for corporate America.
Luxi: Sanguis Imperem have already done tours like "Lightning Death Descends" and "Blood of the Damned" in the past and just recently, on January 14th precisely, you did this "Gathering of the Bestial Legion V" festival over there in LA, together with Autopsy, Incantation, Acheron, Ares Kingdom and many others. I suppose the whole event turned out to be a really killer blast for you, didn't it?
S.S.: Also, "West Coast Torment" in Oct. 2009 with the legendary Aussie woftas and great friends and allies Cemetary Urn and a short 3 date mini tour (San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego), the first two dates with Proclamation and a very small portion of the "Crawling Chaos" tour with the masters of Death Metal horror Portal. Yeah, it turned out great! Quite a few maniacs showed up to support the Tyrants of Iron SI that night! Even though we played on the small stage upstairs totally segregated from the more seasoned bands playing in a vastly larger venue down stairs still people must have been paying attention to the schedule because when we were setting up the place was fukkin' desolate but by the end of the first song the whole upstairs venue was fukkin' packed! L.A. fans have always been our greatest support live. Though we do not hail from there, still we consider ourselves more of an L.A. band.
Luxi: Are you close friends with some other bands from where you live, like with the guys of Sadistic Intent, or even Autopsy perhaps?
S.S.: There are no bands where we live. Known the Sadistic Intent guys for a long time yeah, great dudes! Used to have epic gatherings at Dark Realm Records in the 90's!
Luxi: Do you find playing around in different places just as sort of a 'necessary evil' thing to do, helping to promote the band, or do you rather take it as a fun experience without actually thinking too much about any promotional values of any gigs that you do with Sanguis Imperem?
S.S.: We record with live performances in mind, meaning, we only record it how we would play it live. All the vokill trade-offs are done so that they are the same live as on the record. To truly experience Sanguis Imperem you must see it in the flesh. Yeah it's also a great promotional tool, especially in this day and age of so many "studio bands". Growing up going to concerts was the ultimate for us fans and on occasion a great let down which really did influence our feelings on those bands who so obviously relied almost entirely upon the studio and gadgets to mask their inability to play. Live performances also create a tightness over time and a comradery between the band members that cannot be achieved any other way. It's a powerful feeling to influence and even control the chaos of the mob. You want to talk about "necessary evils"? Magazine interviews!
Luxi: Talking about the promotional side of things of Sanguis Imperem a bit more, what does it mean to you personally that the band gets all its promotion it needs in order to make it possible for you guys to be able to take always one step further whenever you have a new release out? Do you have any street teams - made of your close friends, who want to advertise Sanguis Imperem via their own Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. sites, and doing it just by their own good will and big hearts?
S.S.: Absolutely. We need more promotion to be quite honest. We want to travel more and far abroad definitely. We aren't trying to become rich or famous and quit our jobs (though who wouldn't like to just do what they love and make a living?). We know there is virtually no way to make that happen and still retain your integrity, musical and otherwise. Still, to be able to play shows, travel abroad and not be forced completely into the poorhouse would be truly grand in itself and that is an attainable goal for SI or so it seems though the economy might have other plans. Basically everything has been financed and promoted by myself, R.S., J.G. and J.V. up until this latest offering. Chris Hate War and our brothers in other bands home and afar and of course the mad rabid fans and magazines, fanzines, etc. here and around the world have also been of integral importance to the rise to Glory of the Tyrant! Every Caesar needed his Legions! What the fuck is a street team anyway!? Nothing that organized so far man, ha-ha!
Luxi: What kind of touring plans do you have for the coming months? Any plans to come to the European soil some day, to spread your Death Metallic tyranny over here in the old continent?
S.S.: To return to the motherland or fatherland if you like would be truly epic and is and has always been an ultimate goal! With the support of the Infamaous Darragh and his Heathen Resistance Invictus Productions being stationed in Dublin, IRE and the sheer vastness of scope of the hellion Chase and his army of Hell's Headbangers support, I believe the time is coming soon to invade the European lands! The true cradle of civilization! As for this moment, nothing beyond the Martyrdoom show/fest in NYC has been scheduled. By the way we are fucking excited to play with that line-up of behemoths and honoured to have been chosen to appear alongside them.
Luxi: What do you overall think of the worldwide Death Metal scene nowadays and the Californian Death Metal scene in particular?
S.S.: I think that it has taken some great strides in the past decade and shown signs of a possible "lasting" recovery from the debacle of shit bands that had flooded the scene starting in the mid 90's. There are only a handful of great bands now and personally that's how I like it! Keeps it more honest. In fact, there are some bands out there now that have really taken things to greater and more terrifying heights of cruelty and inexcusableness. As far as the Death Metal scene here in California, there are a few bands of note and a few who just don't seem to get the proper respect or recognition for their excellence that I believe they deserve, but other than those bands and overall, I'm not all that enthusiastic. The true Death Metal scene seems to have really spread out around the world. But combined it seems that it is becoming a thing of some awe.
Luxi: People always tend to compare different times to each other - like nothing can beat the 90's Death Metal scene because of all the so-called 'classic' Death Metal records were released during that decade, or there's no return to the 80's when all the best Thrash Metal albums were recorded. In my humble opinion, this is true – for the most part of it anyway – but then again one should not be so narrow-minded to realize that there's a plenty of great Metal still getting released as well. I myself have made some killer findings from the last decade of Metal and am not going to whine for the rest of my life "today's Metal is dead - long live the past". We should keep in mind opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one, but at the end of day they all stink anyway. Such a thing like an absolute right or wrong opinion simply does not exist at all. Eh, your thoughts about all this?
S.S.: Ha-ha-ha... agreed! I believe that basically everyone is right on some level when it comes to this. Though I do also believe there are some immutable truths, it comes down to an individual's taste. Now if you were to tell me that "Wolverine Blues" is the greatest shit ever! Then yeah I'm gonna write you off as a fuckin' poser obviously. A lot of it has to do with nostalgia and if your first introduction to Death Metal was Dismember "Like an Everflowing Stream" then you're gonna hold that on high for all time. Same as if your first intro was to Death, of course I mean "Scream Bloody Gore" or "Leprosy" even "Spiritual Healing" because let's face it, the 90's stuff pretty much blew. I think we gravitated eventually towards the European bands a bit more than the American bands (not to take anything at all away from the great masters of American Death Metal of which there were many!). And believe me they did influence us! I just think Sweden played a bigger part overall in the evolution of SI's sound in the end. To sum up, the past greatness will never be outdone, but at the same time there is folly in too much reverence for the past. We should look forward to and strive for greater heights even if technically those heights may never be or seem as towering as those that stood before. Still, we strive none the less because we are human and it is of course our nature, or at least one would hope.
Luxi: If you were forced to nail down your 'Top 5' Death Metal albums from the 90's and your 'Top 5' Death Metal albums from this ongoing millennium, what albums would find their way on your personal lists, and why?
S.S.: Man I'd have a hard enough time picking a top 5 for 1991!!!!!!
Luxi: Have you possibly given any thought about when you might enter the studio again, to record like a new EP, limited 7" or split thing with some other band?
S.S.: This has definitely been discussed and there is a plan to do a 7" in the vaguely near future. Can't say for sure if and when any splits may be coming.
Luxi: What are you hoping to achieve with Sanguis Imperem within the next 2-3 years or so? Have you set any personal goals for yourself where you'd like to see this band being at?
S.S.: I hate publicly announcing any "solid" plans other than the obvious, but rest assured, Sanguis Imperem has NO intent on fading softly into the mists. If anything we plan to have toured several continents and released several offerings including our second full-length somewhere within that time frame. So BEWARE you FUKKS!!!!!!
Luxi: Thank you so much for your time to get this interview done. Last but not least I sincerely want to wish all the best with your future endeavors with your band - and let's hope more and more people will get to hear about Sanguis Imperem within the following months. If there's still you'd like to add to conclude this interview, then feel free to do so now...
S.S.: Cheers mate! And thanks for your support!! Yeah, actually I'd like to add this, BUY our fukking album you fukking CUNTS!!! Or don't expect us to tour you shitty part of the world!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!! FUCK OFF!!!!!!
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