Interview with guitarist Salva Esteban
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: April 10, 2020
Holycide is a 5-piece Thrash Metal band formed in Madrid, Spain in 2004. The band plays old school Thrash Metal, that kind that was invented in the eighties. Annihhilate... Then Ask!, their debut album, was released in 2017 and shows off the band's striking Thrash that reeks of Dark Angel, Infernäl Mäjesty, Atrophy, Coroner, Viking, etc.
Three years have passed and now it's time for the Spanish thrashers' follow-up record, titled as Fist to Face. Based on the album title, one can tell right off the bat it's not full of love songs or soul-touching ballads. On the contrary, and metaphorically speaking, there's a "fist-to-face" element within the band's aggressive, old school Thrash Metal that undoubtedly appeals to many fans of the genre.
The Metal Crypt approached the band a second time to ask about the making of the new album, the lyrics behind songs such as "Trapped by the Crappy Trap" and "Empty Cyber Life", the situation for Metal venues in Madrid, and so on. This time, Salva Esteban (guitar) kindly answered our questions...
Luxi: How's life in Madrid, Spain, these days? Pleasantly nice and wonderful or just totally fucked up and shitty, ha?
Salva: Hey there!! Thank you for having me here. Well, right now in Madrid everyone is losing their heads over the new flu of this year, damn Coronavirus. Huge paranoia with that but nothing new, you know. We had SARS, we had Ebola, we had swine flu, we had bird flu, so once in a while mass media goes nuts with the flu of the year...
A society that is scared is easier to control, and mass media are the vector which drives that fear. If it's not flu, it will be terrorism, or the economy, or the new thing that comes around. There will be always something to scare us as a society, so it's a nice time to perform Thrash Metal and stand against that!!
FIST STRAIGHT TO THE FACE
Luxi: It's been three years since you released your debut album, Annihilate... Then Ask! You released your follow-up album, Fist to Face, on Xtreem Music on February 14, 2020. What are your initial thoughts about this album compared to your debut? Are you really happy with it?
Salva: Yeah, we're very happy with it. We believe it's a step forward for us as a band. It has deeper and complex riffing and songwriting, yet more aggression and power. We have gone deeper in our sound in both terms, so we feel confident with the result.
Luxi: Which areas would you say you made progress with this new album?
Salva: Dave's singing has improved on this album. A guy who is almost twice my age and keeps pushing to be better never ceases to amaze me. You will hear not only raspy voices, as on the first album, but a wider range of styles from high to really low growls. The rest of us didn't stay behind, either. We have gone deeper into our musicianship to reach a higher bar as a band.
Luxi: To me, Fist to Face isn't a 100% full-blooded Thrash Metal album but it also contains a pretty wide range of other nuances from other styles as well. Take for example the song "Napalm Sweet Napalm", which one could say has Motörhead's ghost lurking behind it, especially the last solo part...
Salva: It's funny you say that. My favorite solo on this album is in this song, but it's the first one! Miguel Bárez did the first solo of the song and I performed the second. Miguel's solo was a nice example of perfectly controlled chaos. When I heard it, it absolutely blew my mind, because it was so intense and dissonant yet perfectly harmonic; not a single note where it shouldn't be. A really good example of a modern approach for electric guitar...
The point was that I couldn't improve that approach, so I took a different path. I chose to perform a really classic, '70s style solo. I think they complement each other very well, because when I hear a band that has two lead players that perform almost the same solo, it bums me out. I find it boring, so I try to have a different personality from Miguel's when it comes to soloing, and I think that one is one of the biggest of Holycide's assets; high-octane guitar solos made by two performers with very defined and different personalities.
Luxi: I bet the album's title, Fist to Face, is also some sort of statement from the band as far as today's greed and short-sighted so-called leaders in many governments are concerned. I mean, examples are out there and they make you so angry and pissed off that you feel like punching those leaders right in their faces if this opportunity was there, right?
Salva: Well, it's a metaphor. Some are more subtle and this one certainly it's not! It really reflects the feeling we have for these kinds of politicians. The profession of politician should be the noblest of them all, as you take the responsibility of representing all of your equals. Instead of that, it is used in a greedy manner to divide people with the aim of reaching and keeping power. It's obviously more complex than that, but the frustration that it brings is very simple, you just want to punch them in the face!
TRAPPED BY CURRENT TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGIES
Luxi: Lyrically, you are clearly against all kinds of current trendy and fashionable phenomena, including the Hip hop/Rap scene, populism, today's societies with its rich and poor classes of people, etc., so would you say Holycide is a socially aware Thrash Metal band that wants to make people open their eyes to serious reality issues?
Salva: Art reflects and shapes society. If we see that society nowadays is a pestilent piece of bullshit, we reflect it! Without the intention to be fucking U2, it's necessary to show these problems and bring a debate to overcome them. Art gives us the chance to speak more openly about the things that societies tend to hide, which are the perfect subjects for Metal. Metal is a liberation.
Luxi: "Trapped by the Crappy Trap" is a clear statement against Hip hop/Rap culture, the lyrics in the song stating loud and clear that the whole Hip hop/Rap culture is like an empty shelf; there's nothing deeper than some fancy clothes, the glorification of drug use, getting laid and shit like that. Is Madrid infested by this, eh, 'lifeless and pathetic' form of culture?
Salva: Well, Madrid and Spain are particularly infected by this new movement, Trap. Trap is very different from traditional Hip hop and Rap. Trap digs in Latin (Reggaeton mostly), Urban and Rap, and I see Trap as a huge lost opportunity. Trap capitalizes on the angst of the younger generations, as Rock, Metal and Rap did in their time. The difference between these and Trap lies in its depth. You can use Rock, Rap and Metal to understand the flaws of our reality because these styles will reflect it, but you'll be able also to use it to overcome this reality and build something better. In conversations with Dave, the lyric writer for this song, and the rest of the band, we observed that Trap stays only in the surface, and songs are usually very childish even misogynistic sometimes, so their listeners get trapped in their crappy trap (pun definitely intended).
Luxi: Then again, "Empty Cyber Life", that you also shot a video for, is also a clear statement against mostly young kids whose lives are centered around their cell phones, social media platforms and everything else that this modern technology has provided for us. Do you think it's sad that people's comings and goings are concentrated on these things so much nowadays that they almost don't realize that there's life out there with its all beauty and ugliness?
Salva: As I stated before with trap, social media is also kind of a lost opportunity for similar reasons. When I was studying journalism (now I work as a teacher), I discovered how mass media overflows our minds with tons and tons of information. When you are watching the news on TV, for example, you don't have time to process because when you try to think about one story, there are another two banging on your door probably in the same minute. Social media also overwhelms your mind with info, but this info is more personal and involves a lot of personal feelings, a very important thing for human beings. Acceptance. Likes in Instagram and Facebook are tiny bits of acceptation and is easy to be flooded by them: the paradox comes when you don't have time to process it, but still get more and more of them, so you need more but do not process them in depth. The link with your environment becomes more and more superficial, and you become less connected. It's almost ironic.
Luxi: There are, naturally, a good number of in-yer-face Thrash rippers on this record. Would you prefer all-out aggression over melody in a Thrash Metal song if you were forced to choose?
Salva: Thrash is a genre which favors aggression over melody, so we understand that aggression comes first. If I had I gun to my head forcing me to decide to either write the new "Angel of Death" or the new "Nothing Else Matters", I would choose the first one [*laughs*]!
Nevertheless, we think that the greatest Thrash comes with a huge dose of melody, but our band is driven by the guitars and the bass, not by Rotten's voice. Listen to the interludes of "Empty Cyber Life" or "Innocent Hate" and you'll see what I mean.
IN SPANISH THRASH WE TRUST
Luxi: Spain has become one of the best countries in Europe at producing quality new Thrash Metal bands over the past several years. Why is that the case, in your opinion?
Salva: In Spain we have nothing like a "scene" where all the bands and fans get involved and take care of each other. Maybe in the '80s, but not today. It comes down to the raw talent of the bands. We have huge names like Angelus Apatrida, who opened the door for Crisix and all the other bands, so Thrash became a branch that gained power in Spain. It's the bands alone who work for this and we are very honoured to share it with them.
Luxi: Undoubtedly, you intend to do as many gigs with Holycide this year as possible, in terms of everyone's personal life schedules, of course. What have you planned already?
Salva: I wish I could reveal more, but we are waiting for things to settle in their proper place and decide what to do. Let's see how the record works in Europe, in the US, and in Japan, where we released it through Carnal Beast, an interesting label from that country.
Luxi: Since 2015, the band has shared stages with a number of known names such as Exumer, Onslaught, D.R.I., Helstar, Flotsam & Jetsam and so on. What have these past gig experiences taught to you about being an active live unit?
Salva: These gigs have given us confidence. We can sit at the table with the big kids, look them in the eye and not be diminished by their size. We always give 100% on the stage and this 100% is a good match for these iconic and huge bands. Then, you jump off the stage and you are given the opportunity to talk with your heroes and you just feel amazing. We are fans too, after all.
Luxi: What are some of the nicest venues in Madrid that you'd recommend to Thrash Metal fans when they come to town?
Salva: As I pointed out before, there is nothing like a scene in Spain. There are no dedicated places for Thrash Metal, not even Metal. That's the bad news. It's very common that concerts are scheduled early in the night and right after that, they hold a Reggaeton or Latin party. Very, very common, which sometimes feels depressing. The good news is that we still push to perform art the way we want, and not without struggle, we carry on. The future of Metal relies on the will of the individuals, not on the existence of any scene.
Luxi: How would you sum up the band's existence so far? Has it been a big surprise that people found the band and have been so supportive of Holycide?
Salva: Overall, we have to be humble. I feel thankful for being able to express myself and achieve a huge part of my teenage dreams. If I was told when I was 15 years old that I would be in a band which would record albums, release videoclips and go on tour all over the country, I would have signed that with my own blood. The best part of it is to travel and meet so many different people and fans, and humbly I accept it and enjoy it very much.
Luxi: What do you expect from 2020 regarding Holycide's thrashing path 'til the end of the year?
Salva: I expect some really nice evenings on the road with Holycide. Now we have to think about supporting this album as much as we can. Soon, very soon I hope, we'll see you on the road!
Luxi: I, for one, want to thank you, Salva, for the interview and wish you all the be(a)st with the band in the future. Now you are entitled, if you will, to the last commentary... :o)
Salva: This one is a call for all the small bands out there. Do not lose hope if there is not a so-called scene anymore. If you have something to say, music will get through. Maybe Holycide is an extreme example (the idea begun in 2004, but we didn't start as a band until 2013-2014), but keep going. Perseverance is the key.
Thank you, Luxi, for helping us to keep the flame alive. Thrash on!! \,,/
|Other information about Holycide on this site|
|Review: Fist to Face|
|Interview with bassist Dani Fernández and vocalist Dave Rotten on March 6, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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