Interview with vocalist/bassist Víctor Sánchez and guitarists Fran J. Rodríguez and Daniel Żołyniak
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 2, 2019
Crimson Slaughter, a four-piece neck-wrecking thrash metal patrol from Madrid, Spain, plays in-yer-fuckin'-face, no-holds-barred thrash and they do it with style. Mix Demolition Hammer with Slayer's Reign in Blood, add a couple of venomous spoonfuls of Vio-lence's madly moshing riffage and voila, you get the picture. This Spanish band simply smokes, big time.
Their second album, Surveillance States, is what caught the attention of yours truly. It's packed with extreme aggression, punishing riffs, a hostile vocal approach and, first and foremost, superb musicianship that puts this bunch on top of the list of promising thrash metal bands today.
To get better insight into the world of Crimson Slaughter, the best way is to interview them, and that's what The Metal Crypt did...
Luxi: How was your New Year's Eve? Did you party hard and avoid the next day hangover? ;o)
Dani: Of course! We were partying 'til the next day. Hangovers can only be healed with more booze, and we had to celebrate the new year the best way possible!
Víctor: This year the party was quiet. Just relaxing with friends and tons of booze. And yes, the hangover was fucking awful. As soon as I sat on the toilet, I opened the shower screen because I didn't know where it was going to come out first.
Fran: I was just chilling out with my family and spent the next day lying in bed with fever for most of the day, so yeah.
Luxi: Crimson Slaughter is a relatively new name to many even if you have been around since 2015 and have already recorded two full-length studio albums. How did the band get started?
Fran: Crimson Slaughter was born from the ashes of other metal bands and projects from Madrid. The band's first official line-up was conceived when Daniel and Joe joined our ranks. But even before that, Víctor and I (who knew each other previously) were longing for creating a "real" thrash/extreme band, because the previous band we were both playing in didn't cut the mustard. We parted ways with them and shortly after we recorded Cycle of Decay on our own. The rest is history.
Dani: Things started with some difficulty. I was the last member to join the band, though I already knew the guys. Even so, I saw with my own eyes the infinite amounts of patience they had recording the first album. Whole nights spent recording guitars, drums, bass, vocals, and we're not taking into account the studio costs, merchandise, CD production, or Mika Jussila's mastering...
Luxi: What bands are the biggest influences and/or inspirations for Crimson Slaughter?
Dani: One of our biggest influences is, and has always been, Slayer, with other bands such as Death, Sodom, Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Municipal Waste, etc. We always want to reach further, always try to learn from bands with other styles and from ourselves.
Víctor: Well, we are not trying to improve any other band's formula, identity or technique. In addition, Crimson Slaughter aims to be an evolving band which doesn't have a comfort zone or a formula. Crimson Slaughter was conceived as a self-conscious entity and all its members are dedicated to the objective of placing its name where it deserves to be by pushing our personal capacities beyond self-improvement in order to increase the music's overall quality (I did this large introduction to point out our sound on this album). Despite that, we have some serious influences, a few bands we are truly fans of, and we have used them to create a mix in order to find our own identity.
Personally, I'm a Slayer fanatic and a Chuck Schuldiner acolyte, and I think that these two influences are the most recognizable ones in our latest sound. However, there's a lot of Crossover, Death, Grind and even Black to be found in our sound, because there are lots of bands we look up to. For example, as a bassist and one of the main composers of the band, I always look for a sound in which drum and bass form a precise rhythm, a spine of brutal sound where guitars can fit together (even doing different structures) as limbs of a functional human body. If every part of this "body" works on its own instead of together, you'll end up having a living corpse instead of an accurate living body. In these terms, I look up to Carcass.
And we have a lot of non-recognizable influences (just like the aforementioned) in our sound. I think this is a good example of how you can include attributes or virtues of other bands you admire to form your own identity, without sounding like these bands in the process. So, as main influences for the band, I'll say Slayer, Death, Carcass, Morbid Angel, and many, many others but that doesn't mean that we sound like them. In fact, Surveillance States mainly sounds like Demolition Hammer, this band is not one of our main influences. So, it is hard to define a concrete influence to explain our sound because there's a lot of them! And I assume that we have borrowed a little bit of each and every one to create Crimson Slaughter.
Fran: I'll add to the Slayer/Death fanbase with some old Sepultura and Sadus on the thrash side, and a couple of teaspoons of Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Carcass and Gorguts for that extra deathmetal-y, grindish flavour.
Luxi: How did you end up choosing the name Crimson Slaughter?
Dani: Crimson Slaughter is what our lyrics speak of; the non-stop massacre that is happening right now in the world we created and the few who profit from it. We wanted something straight-to-the-face but conceptual, something which could give meaning to that we're talking about, or at least resemble it.
Víctor: Well, I don't really know. This band was born from the ashes of another project that dissolved a long time ago. We did not want to use the original name so Fran, former member Joe and I considered a lot of names until finally deciding on Crimson Slaughter. I'm afraid there's no story or hidden meaning behind that name, it is just an unused name after nearly 40 fucking years of extreme metal (is not easy to name a band nowadays XD).
Luxi: You recorded and released your debut album independently. How do you feel about the record today? Are you satisfied with it?
Víctor: I'll answer this question and the next one at same time. Obviously, not really. Personally, I never enjoy success because I'm very harsh with myself and my own work and that record was produced, recorded and mixed entirely by me, an amateur audio engineering technician (not too talented, by the way) without money and without any kind of support. It was a record in which we were on our own and we did our best. Don't misunderstand me, the new record is just the same, the only difference is that this time, we had money to spend in a great studio where professionals could fix my work with very good results.
Musically, I love all the old songs. They sound so different them because they were composed in different moments over nearly a decade. For the new album we wanted a completely different approach, we wanted a conceptual album, an indivisible part of a greater amount that forms a more professional and personal work (and I think we fucking nailed it xD) But in the technical department, I wish we had the money and the knowledge to do it better.
Luxi: Are there some things on your debut album that you could have possibly done some other way if you had been wiser, richer or whatever else?
Fran: If only we had the resources for the debut we had on the Surveillance States recording and production. Don't get me wrong, Cycle of Decay still has a high value for us, and Jussila's work can't be understated nor overlooked. We were recording our first album with a much more amateurish approach and the difference between albums is huge, not just from a musical and conceptual point of view, but from a sound quality perspective. Nevertheless, we're satisfied with the steps we took, and we grew as a band and individually. Surveillance States is a result of this learning process.
Luxi: Surveillance States, released only digitally in 2018, was the one that caught my attention—and fuckin' big time! I mean, it's clearly WAYYY better than everything you did on your debut album. The songs are MUCH better; loaded with fuckin' amazing musicianship and the production is MUCH better suited to what your aggressive and neck-snapping thrash metal needs. What happened between these two albums? Were you determined to make your version of Slayer's Reign in Blood? ;o)
Dani: Hahahahahah...!!! It was hard work for everyone. We wanted to learn from our experiences with the first album. We wanted a more conceptual album, one where we took care of every little detail, every drums detail, every riff, every solo, the eq, etc.
We also wanted to give it a personality, adding the best lyrics, aggressive and right-in-yo'-face music with no concessions, restless, and without "Show(ing) No Mercy (he he)". It's true that we have high expectations with this one, but we are still working to release our own Reign in Blood...
Víctor: In first place, it is a great honor to hear someone comparing Surveillance States with Reign in Blood in those terms, it really makes me happy xD. The truth is that this new album is the one I always wanted to create. It is a common mistake to evaluate a band for their achievements as albums reach day on this or that date. But that's the way it is, and the only way people can perceive the evolution.
However, as I was saying before, some songs on Surveillance States were entirely composed before Cycle of Decay was even published, and the fact is that, at that point, we didn't want to throw them into the trash and decided to make the debut album an overture for our next true work, a conceptual, ideological and with "amazing musicianship" album called Surveillance States. So, again, I'm afraid that there's no amazing story between albums, just the passing of years and lack of money to publish works in due time. Simply, we have a waiting list of songs (between you and me, even full albums) ready to be performed, recorded and published.
By the way, you said, "released in 2018 digitally only." Just saying that we are still humble musicians with more outlays that incomes and we still don't have any kind of support from labels or whatever, so we were forced to publish this (allow me) awesome album in order to find someone who really believes enough in our work to grant us support, so we can reach the next level.
Unfortunately, that hasn't happened (yet), and we are still looking for someone to publish both of our albums and finance the tons of merch designs we have ready to see daylight but don't have the money to produce. We never intended Surveillance States to be a digital album, we just don't have enough money to launch it properly and, because of that, we are in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign through our Bandcamp in order to get enough money to make physical copies, t-shirts, caps and much more.
Luxi: Lyrically, you bring up many different, worrying matters going on in this often cruel and rotten world of ours. Do you feel like you work as messengers to people so they can open their eyes and realize how fucked-up the world is?
Víctor: This one is more personal and, as the lyricist, I will allow myself the luxury of
personalizing it even more. Since I can remember, I have always been an unhappy child because of an inherent empathy for those who suffer unnecessarily, and this feeling have been growing as decades pass, as I became more aware of the sad reality we live in, to the point of visiting a psychologist because I couldn't handle the inherent guilt of living in a developed First World at expense of atrocities committed in Third one. Why do I suffer knowing that every time I buy a cell phone, I am financing atrocities in coltan mines? Why do I have to finance colonialism, white supremacy and starvation in Africa every time I go to the supermarket?
Well, the fact is I use music as personal therapy to express my absolute disgust for the sick society that rules this insane world, and through the years, this band has become something that means something for someone. And maybe I found a way to make my personal contribution to the movement by spreading the word in music form.
This movement I refer to is called The Venus Project and Jacque Fresco (R.I.P.), in addition to Roxanne Meadows, is the genius and generous mind behind this philanthropic (and only) solution for mankind. You can search for information about this to increase your awareness of what really matters and in a better way than the one I barely express in my lyrics (xD). I assure you that it's worth the effort. And no, I'm not afraid of defining myself and the ideological line of the band in which I express my ideas in political way, because music is a powerful way of activism, and this message is a universal one, which no one can coherently be opposed to as it speaks about human rights, environmental preservation and a way of sustainable coexistence through the intelligent managing of Earth's resources. The rest of Crimson Slaughter, as coherent and intelligent people, agree with this message and with the ideological line that defines the band's theme and iconography.
Luxi: My next is about Mr. Trump(-et of Doom); do you see him as the third antichrist? Is he a potential candidate to start World War III?
Dani) Mr. Trump is not the antichrist. His ideology is retrograde, fascist and specist, and he is highly dangerous for the human race, so... no, I don't see the antichrist in him... The antichrist does not deserve comparing him with this dirty rat... NOT EVEN RATS DESERVE IT... poor animals!
He is one of the many candidates, as someone with money and power, to start the Third World War, but it can only happen with the support of his colleagues and accomplices, the governors and dictators of other countries. I think we are already submerged in a third world war, silent and devastating.
Fran: Trump seems more like a puppet or an icon for a specific ideology; the American people and their votes mean nothing to him (even he said, "I could shoot somebody and wouldn't lose any voters"). If WWIII starts, America will be spearheading it (or at least trying to do so, as it has done with almost every war waged over the last century), but Trump is not the real issue, we must seek upward and fear the puppeteer, not the puppet.
Víctor: I think Mr. Trump (-et of Doom) is no more dangerous than his predecessors, as long as FED and corporatocracy continue designating the actors that will perform the script they write. What really matters is that people need to be informed and aware of how the world really works, and what crimes and atrocities are being financed with their vote, even with the common actions of their everyday routine.
What really matters is that people must be capable of breaking the chains that imprison them in a theoretical frame, built of fake axioms that limit human development in order to continue feeding the voracious establishment which is destroying mankind. Once people can break fake identities such as nation, religion or rotten values that divide, we will fight together as one for our own survival.
I think WWIII will be nothing but the economic collapse of a sick system and the struggling of mankind in order to survive it. There'll be fascist governments (which are happening right now...), there'll be violent riots (which are happening right now...), there'll be blood on the streets (which is happening right now...) and there'll be chaos.
Because of that, I decided to make music for activism, because people have to be aware of what is happening and what will happen, and we all have to be ready to evolve and build a fair society when the time comes. I'm really afraid of what the world may become if we're not good enough to face that critical moment properly.
Luxi: Do you see Crimson Slaughter a political thrash metal band due to your socially aware lyrics?
Dani: Personally, I wouldn't like to categorize ourselves as a political thrash metal band. It's true that our lyrics go deeper into politics, but from a human point of view, we make extreme music, we have songs on the first and second albums that have nothing to do with politics... maybe the third album will talk about another aspect of society which is not politics... So, we could not classify ourselves as a political Thrash Metal band—who knows?
Víctor: Sure thing xD.
Fran: Although we consider ourselves as an extreme metal act, there has been a lot of political messaging and activism on this album, and we tend to gravitate to certain musical aesthetics (anti-system ideology, human rights defense, anti-war theming, etc.) and techniques (tremolo picking, muted power chords, fast tempos, skank beats, etc.) that ultimately point towards thrash. That doesn't mean we don't reach outward to other extreme styles (blast beats, intervallic dissonance, growled vocals, etc.) In the end, "politically orientated thrash" seems a fitting label for our style, but we prefer to be considered something more meaningful.
Luxi: You are releasing this album through your crowdfunding campaign and you have a variety of different goodies available. Why did you choose to release this album using the crowdfunding campaign instead of trying to get it released on some favorable record label?
Dani: We spent a fuckton of money producing both albums; studio costs, equipment, rehearsal rooms, car fuel, band promotion (CDs, stickers, shirts, posters, etc.). The high prices and the miserable salaries that we have forced us to get out a crowdfunding campaign. Besides that, we did not have the opportunity to reimburse the expenses of the first album. It's true that we are looking for a record label that can finance it, but we have our own objectives and conditions, and this is an arduous job. As you say, we need time and patience.
Víctor: Obviously, we would prefer to release this record under a great label, but no one seems to be interested in our work at this time. We just do our best with what we have (which is very little, by the way xD). It is something that no one talks about, but there are very difficult struggles when bands fight against their own capacities in order to be up to the expectations placed on them. Money is a determining factor, also time and patience. It can be a very rough fight in which people lose friends, time, money and illusions.
Luxi: In my eyes Spain has one of the strongest thrash metal scenes in Europe right now. You have tons of killer thrash metal bands coming from your country. I don't want to start name-dropping, but do you see any reason for this phenomenon?
Dani: Possibly, but if you listen to some bands, you realize not all have the same ideological themes about capitalism, corporatocracy, etc. There are thrash bands that focus more on stories about books, movies, etc. This is not a bad thing, as we do in some songs (Predator rulez).
I'm not saying that those bands don't deserve any sort of recognition. In fact, personally I really like the instrumental part of those bands, the speed and heaviness that they transmit musically. Many of the bands end up shifting to a style that has nothing to do with thrash, only to create more fans and more buyers ("selling out", such a classic). There are also "image" bands, whose only reason to exist is to say, "hey, we have a band and we are VERY COOL, FOLLOW US!"
Fran: Something very funny happens when you look at Spain. I may get crucified or burned at the stake for saying this, but people here in general love complaining about almost everything, and when there's the chance for making a change, nothing happens, no one really cared in the first place. So (I'm being ironic here, bear with me just a second), what's the best way of complaining? There's an overall feeling of rage and injustice which fertilizes the soil for many thrash metal bands to sprout from it, and there's also the trend: you know, pizza, nuclear zombies and overall a "hardcore attitude" to which many bands adhere.
Luxi: Has the band been recognized both in your own home country as well as abroad?
Víctor: The fact is, Crimson Slaughter is relatively well-known in other countries much more than in our homeland. And the explanation of this curious phenomenon is very subversive and I may get in trouble for even for mentioning it, but I'll say that metal in Spain is full of mafias, patronage networks and corruption, and we want to be honest musicians, so we're not on anyone's payroll nor benefit from mafia practices that monopolize the extreme metal scene.
Fran: That would be cool (to be known in Spain), but nowadays seems unrealistic, we seem to have more impact abroad, people do care more about our music and the lyrics. Being underground here has its upsides too. We actually enjoy some degree of anonymity regarding the lyrics mainly because of the different language (English) as other artists have faced serious legal and political issues just for singing in Spanish about corruption cases. Better not to read some of our lyrics, though.
Luxi: Madrid, where you come from, is undoubtedly a great city for metal bands to play live. I am curious to know some of the most popular and famous venues there for underground metal bands? Is it easy to get gigs in those places?
Dani: It's easy to do gigs in Madrid: we all know each other, and we are all friends. If we want to do a gig we get together and pay the rent of the venue half-way so we don't fall further into bankruptcy. BUT, the concert halls always want to take their part, they don't want to lose their money.
The vast majority of available places are disco-pubs, so, you pay between 150–300 € for a small venue that rents the space and allows you to take people, BUT when midnight strikes you have to get the fuck out and leave the space free to the posh folks for them to dance to their shitty music.
You have to put a price at the entrance that won't ruin yourself but even it is only €5, many people are not willing to pay because it seems expensive to support bands they don't know (here lies the main reason for the constant fall of the scene). The best-known underground concert halls are Republik, Barracudas, Silicona, Rock & Pop, Hysteria, Alive, Excalibur, just to name a few and, unfortunately, not all of them have the necessary equipment for supporting a metal gig, which leads to constant sound failures. And if we add the amount of concerts occurring simultaneously in different points of the city, the end result is that there's like 5–10 non-musicians at each concert. This also has to do with the promotion mafias, too.
Víctor: Madrid is horrible, a fucking awful place to play gigs. There is more on offer than demand and no one come to shows. You spend months preparing a date because there is a list of preference and when the day finally comes, fucking Cannibal Corpse (or similar) plays in the other point of the city. No one spends money on bands. No one buys merch from bands. Music halls constantly close up to open new dance clubs. You have to PAY FOR PLAY (for renting the place) usually an amount of money that cannot be recovered because no one comes to a concert. It is usual for shows to have more musicians than public. And because of that, there are some mafias that constantly struggle to monopolize the little public that remains, and, if you are not on the payroll, then you can go fuck yourself.
Luxi: That's very sad to hear. How does 2019 look for Crimson Slaughter playing live? I guess I am not wrong to say that you are aiming to play live as much as possible because that's the easiest way to get the word out about your band, right?
Fran: The band unfortunately is still searching for a new drummer, so live shows are not happening, at least from a short-term point of view. At the moment, all of our plans revolve around getting the crowdfunding campaign to reach its goal.
Luxi: So, have you found a new skinbasher for the band? At one point you were searching for a new drummer to join the Crimson Slaughter ranks...
Fran: No official skinbasher yet. Nevertheless, we are expecting to meet a couple of guys that could be interested, we still have to listen to them, but there's a tiny ray of hope. More news to be announced.
Luxi: What about new material? Are you writing new material all the time, or will you take a break from songwriting activities until a physical copy of Surveillance States is out?
Víctor; We are writing songs all the time and have nearly two fucking albums ready to kill but it seems that is still not enough for some big label to sign us.
Fran: We like to write down whatever passes through our minds, so we're constantly writing. After that there's a screening process and we stick with the riffs we prefer the most.
Luxi: What are some of your hopes for this ongoing year?
Víctor: Well, I just want us to be signed by a big label and finally get what many people think that Crimson Slaughter deserves and only that, a worthy payoff for all this work would be fine.
Fran: The album is out, and the message is spreading. Now we need patience to reap what we sow (I hope that in a good way).
Luxi: Well, that's all I had in my mind for this conversation. Thank you for your time and answering my questions. All the best to all of you in the band. Finally, you are entitled to a free word (or two)... ;o)
Víctor; I want to say that it is a pleasure to find someone who really believes in our music and wants to grant us a space to express ourselves. I've really enjoyed answering these questions and it is a privilege that, unfortunately, not every unknown band can obtain. Thanks for your time, it has been a pleasure!
Fran: Thanks dude! it's a pleasure, hope we see each other in Finland!
Dani: Yeah man, it's a pleasure and it was a trve pleasure to meet you in Finland and also to party and have some deep conversations with you! Thanks for everything!! I hope you can come to Spain someday... or we can see you in Finland!
Best Regards! Kiitos paljon!! :D Nähdään...!!! ;)
|Other information about Crimson Slaughter on this site|
|Review: Surveillance States|
Copyright © 1999-2019, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.