Brazil is well known for being a cradle for pioneer bands in the First Wave of Black Metal scene such as Sepultura, Sarcófago, Holocausto, Vulcano, Mystifier, and many others. Hailing from the extreme South of Brazil, Evilcult is a band formed in 2016 that follows the path of their fellow countrymen.
The power trio formed by Lucas “From Hell” (vocals/guitar), Mateus “Blasphemer” Scussel (drums), and Renato “Speedwolf” (bass) is preparing to release its second full length in the upcoming months.
I had a three-hour conversation with Lucas on 31st of August 2022, who spoke about the band’s career, as well as thoughts on the Metal scene and future expectations. The interview (in Portuguese) was originally streamed by GoatCast and is available online on YouTube.
Hey Lucas, foremost, thanks for agreeing with this interview. I’d like to start talking about the times before Evilcult. You had another band with Mateus “Blasphemer” Scussel, named Metzger. Initially Evilcult started as your solo project. Why did you start a solo project playing more or less the same style as your previous band? It was always the idea to keep on playing Black/Speed metal? How did everything develop for Evilcult to become your main band?
Metzger was a band that started in 2012. It was a band created without much further plans. We were all acquaintances and had similar taste. I chose the name of the band [which translates from German “butcher”] as a reference to Destruction. Destruction is my favorite band, but in their classic era, the 80s.
I started to compose some riffs, but I didn’t know exactly what kind of music I wanted to play. I followed the classic bands that I liked, such as Destruction, Sodom, Slayer; as well as some new bands such as Nocturnal, Cruel Force and Deathhammer, that were in their peak back in the days. Not only that, but I wanted to merge the Old-School and also the new Black/Thrash wave when I started composing Metzger’s first songs. Having a band in the countryside of a peripheral state in Brazil was hard because there was nothing going on. We had no audience, and I was the one who had few connections in the scene, although I also didn’t leave my city that much.
My contacts were mostly active due to social media, where I always followed the other bands from a distance. We played only in small festivals in our area – which is far from the Brazilian center where this scene is more consolidated – to an audience of people that didn’t know much about the kind of music we were playing. Of course, they knew the classic bands that influenced us, but they weren’t much aware of our proposal. So we played only small festivals, with bands from different genres, many cover bands. It was somehow hard to develop as a band. Even before recording our first demo we had some line-up changes: our singer left the band, and we had to reformulate before releasing our first EP – a release we didn’t even announce much because we hated the final result.
We didn’t know how to do things properly, had no clue on how to reach the right people, it was a time in which our reach was very limited to a local perspective. We used to promote these copies in CD-Rs, photocopied inserts and handed it manually, in self-produced batches of 20. After this EP, we recorded a demo, again with a different line-up. Between 2012 and 2014 the line-up changed twice. At that time, Scussel was still not part of this band, he joined only after. He started catching up with us after that. We were from a different generation, so we only knew some guys who were older than us. And it is possible to say that the number of headbangers in our city was very limited, so everyone who seemed to be interested we would make contact, and that’s how I met Scussel.
Evilcult was originally your solo project, when did you decide to invite Scussel to play with you?
I was in Metzger for 3 years, full of new ideas and songs, but things were not moving forward. I wanted more, I wanted to play outside our state, but the other members weren’t much embracing the idea. Nothing personal, but every so often our rehearsals were canceled for no reason, the execution of the songs was at some point a bit under my expectations. They were also not caring much about the visual aesthetic of the band on stage – which is for me something essential. I was already painting my eyes black, wearing leather jackets and battle vests, while some of them showed up to play wearing sports pants or Bermudas. Then I looked like a clown dressed in the 80s style while they were dressed as a regular pop band ((laughs)).
I found an interview with King Diamond from the 80s recently, in which he says one of the reasons for the end of Mercyful Fate back then was the lack of commitment with their stage clothing, that some members wanted to play wearing shorts.
I saw that as well, and found it fascinating.
Yeah, because it needs to be a unit: visual, thematic, sound…
Definitely, and then everything started to wear out. There was no more disposition to rehearse and to play, a lack of commitment… I wrote songs, I booked concerts, I did all the promotion, I did our artwork. And then the others would eventually go to rehearse when they felt up for it. It was up to me to motivate everyone and make things work. I was disappointed, so I decided to make it my way. In 2015, tired of this situation, I created Evilcult as a way to be able to fully dedicate myself. In Metzger, there were also some discussions about the way we wanted to sound. Metzger’s drummer never liked Black Metal, so we would argue about how our tracks were supposed to sound. He was against the make-up usage and also disliked the Satanic approach of my lyrics. He wanted it to be about War and Death, something more Thrash/Death Metal-oriented. Even in the way we would describe ourselves, I always said we were a Black/Thrash band, while he said we were a Death/Thrash band ((laughs)).
Discussions that were definitely pointless, so I always had to adapt things in a way that would be good for both of us. I asked him to compose but he didn’t, so I always needed to control my creative process in order not to be a struggle for him. And that’s why I decided to start Evilcult as a solo project, so I could focus on my style the way I wanted it to sound. I mean, that’s not exactly how Evilcult is right now, I’m a flexible person, but I just wanted to play with people who shared more or less the same common goal, without having to argue about styles. It started like that. It started as a solo project, I had some riffs that I could have put to use in Metzger, but never happened due the lack of commitment of the other members to play the songs, some of which we never actually rehearsed.
In the beginning, Evilcult was just a project within my mind. I always say that Evilcult started in 2016, but it was already in my mind since the year before, in which I started to sketch something for the project. It was a transition that started simultaneously with my activity in the previous band. I planned everything I wanted Evilcult to be.
In 2015 Scussel was already playing with me in Metzger. There were some problems with our previous bass player, so he joined as a permanent member. We played maybe only three concerts with this line-up, and after I was already done with keeping up with this band… it was always stressful to make things work, so I spoke to Scussel, and he stated that he wanted to join Evilcult as well, since he also shared my perspective.
And why did he join to play drums, rather than bass? Was it his idea, or yours?
He had drums at home – his father is a drummer – and was already starting to build a small studio in his attic. He always had musical instruments at home. Furthermore, he started with the bass because he thought it was easier for him to learn. He was not a bass player, he learned what was necessary to join Metzger, and with Evilcult was no different when he started playing drums. We started together, he knew some tricks that he learned from his father.
We started rehearsing in his attic, playing cover versions of Bathory and Velho, as well as some basic riffs I had back then, mostly MetalPunk, with only a few chords, and he caught up well. That was in 2016, so we decided to focus mainly on Evilcult and left Metzger aside, although in theory the band still existed. Scussel was also very close to me on a personal level, so I started introducing him to some bands I wanted to sound alike, shaping some of his personal taste. He knew a lot about Metal, but not as much in detail about some specific sub-genres as I did, so when I presented him bands like Cruel Force and Nocturnal he started to feel the vibe of those bands by himself.
You mentioned Cruel Force. In your first EP “Evil Forces Command” (2018) there’s even a cover version of Victim of Hellfire…
Exactly. I wanted to pay a tribute to a band I like a lot. The first time I listened to it I went crazy and thought I wanted to have a band that sounded like that, since they didn’t sound like they were only imitating Celtic Frost or Slayer… they had a different approach in their riffs, sounding more Heavy Metal, as well as the vocals that sounded different. I thought that was an interesting mix because it wouldn’t sound like a copy of the 80s bands. Plenty of people say that they can hear a lot from Cruel Force in Evilcult’s music, although I also never wanted to sound like a copy. They’re a reference because of the approach that they have towards the classics, bringing some new elements. It was important to me to look at what the new bands were doing at the time.
Talking about this sort of sound, I’d like to ask about this Old-School approach. You are from a generation after mine, and I am from a generation or two after the Extreme Metal pioneers. Your music then follows the formula of three or four generations before yours, evoking a lot of nostalgia. One of the things that I think a lot about in Metal nowadays is the way in which we can reach a younger audience, to form new generations interested in this kind of music. You see the big festivals in Brazil, such as Rock in Rio, there’s no public renovation, there are no line-up renovation. And I am also one to blame for that, but people from my generation are very closed-minded when it comes to accepting any modernity in Metal music. Although I like several contemporary bands that have this 80s approach, plenty of people from my generation think it is pointless to listen to someone sounding like Sodom and Bathory if they can listen directly to those bands that not only made it before but also better. So, I want to know your perspective of dealing with all these issues: not only generational, but also what kind of music you would like to play and which audience you would like to reach.
Personally, I don’t like to label ourselves as an Old-School band. Some people label us “Old-School Thrash Metal” or “First Wave Black Metal”, but we’re just playing what Metal music is. This formula is for me timeless. We don’t think we play retro or even the 80s style… of course we love this music and have it as a reference, but also don’t want to emulate their way of sounding, framing ourselves within boundaries. I like to think we mix many influences. I love Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, but wouldn’t like to play only that style of music. Many others did, and some still do nowadays, like Apokalyptic Raids, which still plays in the old style.
I am not convinced that, as a new band, I wanted Evilcult to be one more in that list. I think it is important to know, listen and worship the classics, but also be open to what’s happening now. There are many bands that sound like copies, but there are also many other bands bringing varied influences to that kind of music. Some might not even sound very original, but definitely not framed within a certain template. They might sound a bit like Slayer, Venom, but also with a new twist. That’s what we aim for. Since I work from home, I’m every day on the hunt for new music, and every time I listen to something I find interesting, I start looking for more bands that follow the same style. Bands that, despite bringing numerous influences, never stopped sounding classic.
The music of Evilcult is always in the process of development. From the EP to the full length there’s a difference: the first EP is rawer, totally focused on the Black/Thrash, there’s nothing different from what the cover art already shows you. Since the EP’s release, I always wanted to insert new elements in our sound, without running away from what we call True Metal. But you’ll notice something different going on when you first hear the EP and then the album. There are some Heavy Metal riffs, we also sound more melodic.
In the upcoming album that we just recorded, there are many more different influences as well. I guess we can still catch the attention of more narrow-minded fans that are only fond of the “old formula” bringing some elements of Accept, Running Wild and many obscure American Metal bands that sound great but don’t have much spotlight. We listen a lot to the old bands, as well as new bands that are also inspired by them. On the new recordings there are tracks that sound like Heavy Metal, but with Black Metal vocals and lyrics, melodic solos… there are plenty of ways to innovate and explore new approaches without losing the Metal essence. I am a bit closed regarding my perception of what’s “real Metal”, but I also don’t think it should be always the same, that Black/Thrash can’t have anything from Heavy Metal or the Old-School Power Metal as played by Blind Guardian and Helloween. I think there are countless ways to incorporate influences without sounding very modern. Likewise, I don’t like breakdowns, with very low tuning and very clean production…
I’m against it! ((laughs))
If by any chance you find me doing things like that, please make an intervention because something went wrong ((laughs)). Nothing against, I even have friends who like it… ((laughs)) But according to my musical perception, I never expect to play anything that sounds modern in Evilcult, but I think there are plenty of ways to incorporate different Metal sub-genres elements without abandoning its roots. I think it’s possible to contemplate the taste of different generations as long as they like the classics. I think it’s impossible that someone stays only focusing on the classics, since it is important to have new references to make something that sounds different. Otherwise, as you said, people will have no reason to listen to anything despite Sodom or Hellhammer.
There was a boom of Black/Thrash in the 90s, there was a new one in the early 2000s, so there’s no reason for us to play exactly like they did. Let’s listen to more things without losing our essence and falling into modern traps. We get inspiration from the bands that sound “vintage”, but aim to the future.
You mentioned that you were listening a lot to contemporary bands such as Nocturnal and Deathhammer by the time of the release of your first EP “Evil Forces Command”, something we can notice not only from the way it sounds, but also due to a homage to Cruel Force in the end. Tell me more about the context of the era in which you released this EP, being from where you are. In Rio de Janeiro there was already a consolidated scene playing this kind of music: you already mentioned Apokalyptic Raids, but I could also mention Diabolic Force, The UnhaliGäst, Velho, and many others. On the other hand, this scene somehow seems a bit limited to Rio. You come from the South, where Death Metal was more prominent, not only because of bands such as Krisiun, Nephasth and Rebaelliun, but also some smaller ones like Bestial, Predator, among others. How was it for you to start playing something that was more associated with a different area, and in which way you found your niche there with the release of your first EP?
That’s an excellent question because occasionally, it’s hard to explain how I get in contact with this sort of music. I am from Bento Gonçalves, a city where there wasn’t a scene. Of course, there were some Metalheads, but I didn’t get my musical influences from them. I started on my own, filtering the sort of music that I liked and wanted to play, but that was a personal journey, when I was searching for references and exchanging information with people from different areas. If I were to follow my local scene, I’d be more limited, probably playing Death Metal or 90s style Black Metal. There weren’t many people up to date with the kind of music I wanted to play. For me, that was one of the main reasons to create Evilcult because I didn’t know any band playing that kind of music here in Rio Grande do Sul. The festivals I attended back then were mostly Black Metal, Death Metal, and maybe a bit of Thrash Metal bands playing… but Black/Thrash was something nonexistent here.
There was Nuctemeron in the late 80s, I’m uncertain if you know, from Agnaldo that plays in Serpent Rise and Arcanum XIII. They released some short demos, it was even re-released here in Europe recently. They were from Santa Maria and only released a couple of demos. Black/Grind, something that sounded like Impaled Nazarene and Beherit, but even before those bands.
I need to check them out, I never heard about them. When I started going to festivals, there were no active bands in that style, so I knew I needed to create a band to represent that. Of course, I knew the bands from Rio, we even played a Velho cover on our early rehearsals with Evilcult. I liked Power From Hell, Whipstriker, but they seemed very distant. So, I wanted to have a band like that here in Rio Grande do Sul. And also because I’m younger, since all of these bands are from guys from a previous generation, and there weren’t many people my age playing that kind of music. That motivated me to create Evilcult. All my knowledge in that area came from different scenes because within my local scene, although people would like that kind of music, nobody played it.
Before releasing your full length, you released two singles that were later included on the album, “Eternal Cult of Darkness” and “Necro Magic”. They were recorded before the recording of the album, right?
Alright, so how important were those singles for promoting the first album, “At the Darkest Night?”. I have a list here: it was released in CD by Awakening Records in China; in Cassette by Sign of Evil in Poland, Black Legion in Peru, and Tapes of Terror in the Czech Republic; as well as vinyl by Diabolic Might here in Germany. You had many international contacts to release the album, how come these contacts were established? Was it because of the first EP, or did the singles help?
From the beginning in 2016 to the release of the first EP, everything happened quickly. We wanted to have something to introduce the band, and there’s nothing else you can do to introduce your band rather than releasing music. The entire process took around 6 months from first rehearsals to the recordings. We recorded the drums and guitars live, and then I added some bass tracks and sang, but only because there was no one else to sing. In the end, we liked the result so much that we released it as an EP, rather than a demo – our original plan. It was rapid, but also very personal, since we were promoting it ourselves to the people we knew. We had to build a chain of contacts before being able to release this EP on CD, and that took some time. That’s the reason the EP was only released in 2018: we were playing live for 1 year before we had the chance to release it. In the meanwhile, we were composing new songs.
The EP came out in late 2018, and the single of “Eternal Cult of Darkness” came right after it in early 2019. People were still starting to get to know us from the EP and there was already a new single out.
And there’s already a change in the way you are sounding.
Sure. And there’s a curiosity: “Eternal Cult of Darkness” is a song originally written for Metzger. It was a Black Metal song, with some blast beats, which was intended to be released before, and it never happened. Those were references I had but never put to practice, so after this single we reached plenty of people. Subsequently, the Chinese label Awakening Records contacted us, it was totally unexpected. The owner of the label wrote us on Facebook and said he was interested, asking if we had something done to release as an album. It’s not like we weren’t prepared for that, but we never expected it to happen so quickly.
To release the first EP it was a harder, longer process, especially because I didn’t know many people back then. This delay is attributed to the fact that we weren’t well-known. Out of a sudden there was a label interested in releasing something new that they found out on the internet.
Their original plan was exactly to aim in this peripheral market outside of Europe and North America, as they were already releasing bands from South America. They were just starting as a label, without focusing specifically in any sub-genre, but with a more classic/Old-School approach. Although they embrace many sub-genres, they are focused on a specific way of “vintage” sounding. I checked their releases and bands from their roster, I even bought some CDs they released to check the quality and it all looked and sounded very professional, so we decided to sign with them. Back then I didn’t have an album, but I told them I had… only after we started working on it ((laughs)). It was done very professionally, with a signed contract, so we ran to catch up with everything: songs, photos, lyrics. We had no demo or anything, they believed in our potential because of what they heard from us in the single and the EP.
And what about all the other formats, was it because of the CD?
Yes, first it was the CD, which was released in China. But even before the CD release, this German guy from Diabolic Might already contacted us. That was after the release of our second single, “Necro Magic”.
Since we signed with Awakening before, we recorded “Necro Magic” to give a proper response, showing a glimpse of what was coming next and how the album was going to sound. The recording of “Eternal Cult of Darkness” was something we did just to keep ourselves active, without spending a lot of resources, in a very simple way. It wasn’t the version we wanted to use in the new album, since we wanted a better production for it. For the recordings of “Necro Magic”, we only went to the studio when everything was mostly set up, and recorded it before we recorded the album itself. It was released on Halloween of 2019, we recorded using better equipment, and the feedback from the label was very good. We released it on YouTube, and that’s when Diabolic Might contacted us. He presented his work, which I think I had an idea about before.
They released Bewitcher, Hellripper, and other bands that play in the same style as you…
Yeah, I knew the bands but wasn’t aware of the label. I listened to many of their releases before without knowing about them. It never crossed my mind that even before releasing a full length someone would contact me from Germany to release it in vinyl. It totally blew my mind, especially because we weren’t well-known in Brazil yet, except for our region and some scattered areas, since our first EP was released in a collaboration with several different labels within the country. But still, it wasn’t a band well-known in Brazil. It took a lot of weight from our shoulders away, since even before releasing the album we already had two contracts: one for CD and one for vinyl, so I knew I wouldn’t need to run promoting the album like crazy, because that was already going to happen naturally on the labels’ behalf. It was a worldwide distribution based on their chain of contacts. Awakening Records pressed 1.000 copies on CD, and we know that if it was only an unknown band from Brazil self-releasing it, these copies would be stuck here forever.
As a comparison, 500 copies of the first EP were pressed before, and it took a while to be sold. That happened mostly after the release of the album, so then people started buying the EP as well. The band only started really happening after the release of this album. We uploaded it to streaming services and became more well-known. Since we were not expecting it to happen that fast, we didn’t know how to properly promote an album, so we had no planning for it. It was all very organic, but then it started to reach people out. When the CDs from China arrived in Brazil, we sold a lot because people heard it online before, so we started doing merchandising that also sold quite well.
I was intending to ask that later, but since you mentioned merch I can ask it right now. You’re also a graphic designer, and the entire visual concept of Evilcult was made by you. Not only your band, you also worked with some other bands in Brazil and more recently even with Arch Enemy. Tell me more about how it happened, and how you think you conceal your profession with your Metalhead side, how it translates the sound you play in a visual form, if you think there’s a connection.
That all happened totally by chance. I joined the Graphic Design course in the University more or less at the same time as I started Metzger, in 2012, so I never knew that in the future I could work with anything related to Metal design. I never knew it was even possible for someone to only work with something like that.
In the beginning I wasn’t that good. I always knew how to draw, I have done that since I was a kid, but didn’t work as a designer before. It was a long process… a cover here, a logo there, but not in a professional way. Everything I did for my band before was very coarse, either handmade or using limited software such as PhotoScape. I did some posters here and there, but it was mainly to save some money, since we didn’t have resources to invest in our own visual identity. Since I knew a little bit about design, I started doing things for my own band.
When Evilcult was formed I was already better at it, I was already working in an agency, and then I started to use it to promote my band as well. In the end that worked well. We had a visual identity since the very beginning because of that. Our first posters caught attention because of this Old-School/retro aesthetics. We were very young, between 18 and 20 years old, but looking like the classic bands from the 80s in our posters and pictures, so it caught attention, because it wasn’t very common back in the days. Some people liked our visual identity even before liking our music. Every concert we were going to play I always made a very nice poster to promote and catch audience’s attention.
It’s true, it really does. When I was a kid I only decided to listen to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of The Beast” because I was hypnotized by the cover art. “Invaders” was still playing when I went to find a cassette to record it. It totally changed my life ((laughs)).
Totally, and I think this is critical, and often people don’t care much about it. How are you going to check an album if you don’t find the cover nice when you don’t know it? I didn’t grow up in the vinyl era, but back in the days it was hard to listen to the music of a CD in advance. I used to go to a store and buy a CD judging the cover. Sodom, for example, I wanted to listen to it because of the artwork. Occasionally, I’d read about a band in a Metal magazine, but wouldn’t be able to listen to their sound. Many times I stored the pages of some magazines to look for the CDs after, the visual aspect always caught my attention in times in which I still had no access to the internet. I tried concealing the visual identity, the music we play, and also the way we dress ourselves, creating a unity.
Although we had scarce resources, we managed to do something well aligned.
And how did it reach Arch Enemy?
That was a long step forward. If Evilcult wasn’t well-known, I was personally even less. When Evilcult gained some popularity, my work did also. I did the EP cover, the album cover, every band flyer, we started playing more… I did a lot of T-shirt design as well, and the shirts sold quite well and that reached a lot of people. Because of that I started working in collaboration with a T-shirt company called Utida Kingdom, one of the biggest brands – if not the biggest – of Metal merch in Brazil. Utida became aware of my work because of Evilcult, since I made the T-shirts from our first EP with them, and then he became interested in my style and asked me to do other designs for him. It all escalated from that.
This shirt company used to license a lot of Brazilian bands merch, but wasn’t that much connected to an international scene. In the last 2 years, especially during the pandemics, things evolved very quickly. Our album was also released amidst quarantine. My work as a designer became more well-known, I started to work with different bands – including a few international ones, and I was posting everything on social media. The algorithm made its part with all the reposts, and one day I had this message request on my Instagram inbox from Michael Amott. It totally blew my mind, I wasn’t even believing at the time. I did some work for Brazilian bands such as Crypta and Nervosa before, but to work with such a well-known band was a bit unbelievable.
He wrote that message himself, it wasn’t anyone from the management team or representatives. It was his personal profile saying that he liked my style and wanted to work with me in the future. Finally, it was nice seeing that despite being famous, the way in which things are done for bigger bands can be like any regular headbanger would do. After a while, he contacted me asking for a T-shirt design for an Arch Enemy tour in the USA, in this vintage style that I work with. It had to be done quickly, due to the logistic issues of having the art done, printing the shirts and packing for the tour. I did it within two weeks, and since he liked the result so much, I ended up doing 3 different artworks for them. Not only the design of the tour shirt, but also a remodeled version of their artwork of the album “Doomsday Machine”. After a while, I saw a picture of the shirts on their Instagram, and it was very rewarding on a personal level. I could barely believe that all of that was once gaining form in my personal laptop ((laughs)). That granted me plenty of different opportunities after. I really understood that you can reach countless people through the Internet nowadays. I also did a T-shirt artwork for Nocturnal, which is a band that influenced me a lot when I started playing, it was also something that I felt very honored.
Changing totally the subject now, you mentioned that you grew up already in the times of CD. Even before the CD version of “At the Darkest Night” was released, you already had a contract to release it in vinyl, and as I said it was also released in cassette in several different labels. Reviving that generational subject: my generation totally grew up on tapes, the one before me still had everything in vinyl, and this nostalgia somehow goes well if the style of music you play. What is the role that nostalgia plays for you, and the way your music reaches its audience right now?
I was born in 1993, so I am from a CD generation, but even more than that, I am from the MP3 generation. When I became more interested in Metal, CDs were something unreachable for me, since they were expensive and it was hard for me to have any money at the age of 12. I used to download a lot of albums, especially because where I lived it was impossible to find anything from the bands I listened to back in the days. I could find the Iron Maiden CDs, but I had to dig way further in order to find anything more extreme. Many bands I knew by name, but it was difficult to find anything from them. So when I had access to software such as Kazaa, Ares and others, I started downloading what I wanted to listen to. Of course I would also save some money and buy some Sepultura CDs, but that was the exception and not the rule. I don’t have emotional memory with vinyl, because when I was younger it was impossible to find it, only collectors had it. I didn’t have access to any vinyl records back then. I didn’t have a physical collection when I was a teenager. With MP3 the focus was solely on the music, and even then I had to dig further to find the underground stuff I wanted to listen to.
I used to dig a lot using mIRC, DC++ and AudioGalaxy before Soulseek came up.
Exactly, a lot of my musical knowledge I owe to the MP3 hunt, otherwise I’d be only listening to the same few mainstream Metal bands. The first time I bought a Metal vinyl I was already older, back in the times of Metzger, in 2012. I went on a trip organized by the university to Porto Alegre [the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul] and there I found Destruction and Nuclear Assault’s records. I have never seen that before. I bought it and paid very cheap for it, around 10 Dollars for both, because no one cared about vinyl at that time. Both were in very good condition. By that time I was already working, so then I started building a collection. But that was still mostly when I used to go to the capital, because in my city it was quite hard to find anything. I never expected to one day have a vinyl from my own band, and after I started collecting I became really fond of seeing the big artwork, the insert with the lyrics, it’s a totally different experience. Even though it’s quite hard for someone to find the time to stop and listen to a record, especially compared with the facility of streaming platforms such as Spotify, I really think that having the physical copy is important, because it’s also part of the musical art in general. It doesn’t end only in the musical aspect.
The cassette revival is even more recent than the vinyl revival, as I remember it is something that happened only in the last 5 years, and then the price of everything increased because people started searching more for physical releases as well. On the other hand, thanks to this demand it is now possible to acquire some material I never thought before it was possible.
Anyway, to hold your own vinyl in your hands is something priceless for me, maybe an European tour would have the same importance, but that’s the peak for a musician from here. And it is incredible to see how this analogical revival somehow changed the importance people gave to tapes. It was something of lesser value, more attributed to demos, and nowadays the editions are very good, and with the limited editions it became a collectable item as well. Having it released in the three formats was very important to us.
After the release of the first album, Renato “Speedwolf” from Jackdevil started playing with you, and now I guess he’s officially a member of the band since last year. We spoke briefly about the Brazilian metal scene before, but I guess that even Brazilians don’t comprehend how big this country actually is. The distance between Bento Gonçalves to São Luís [Renato’s hometown] is basically the same distance between Portugal and Russia, it’s a continental distance. I want to know how this contact was established, and who had the crazy idea to hire a member that lives 4,000 km’s away to play together, and how does it work for you? And also, who played bass live before he joined?
In Brazil, most of the bands are formed with a complete line-up. Of course there are many one-man bands, but that’s a different dynamic, since most of them don’t even play live. We were inspired by bands like Whipstriker, which is only one guy, who’s got a complete line-up when playing live; Deathhammer from Norway had a line-up similar to ours, only two guys, with a third one invited to play live.
Since we didn’t have a third person to fit into our line-up, that’s how it was. First it was only me, then Scussel joined because he was also fond of the sort of music I wanted to play, but there wasn’t a third person. I didn’t want to compromise by adding someone just to fill the line-up. We followed the example of the bands I mentioned and made it that way. I recorded the bass tracks on the first EP and album. Even though we had a friend playing live with us, he wasn’t much into the sort of music we play, and wasn’t dressed like we were on stage… he was from a Doom/Death Metal band, a totally different vibe from ours.
Who’s this guy?
He’s called Lucas Carbonera, from Bento Gonçalves. He played in a band named Segregatorium, and now is with a new band named Ad Hominous. It was a friend we knew before, who also catched up with us and liked Metal, but a different kind from ours.
For me it wouldn’t make sense to have a third member who wasn’t totally aligned with our original concept, so we kept it like that. It was actually a positive thing, because a lot of people were curious about our dynamic and approached us to understand that. Until last year it was like that. Renato already knew our band since the first EP. He already liked the kind of music we made, and although I knew Jackdevil as a big Brazilian band, they were very far away from us. I never thought one day I would play with one of them. We weren’t friends back then. I was a fan of his band, knew who he was, but we never had contact.
One day, he sent me a message and asked me for a design for his band, an album that so far was never released. So, I made a design for them, I won’t even speak much about it because the album never came out, and then the band was put on hiatus. So, our first contact was that, then we developed a friendship because of that, and he told me he would like to play with Evilcult. At first, he would be a studio member, since he wanted to record with us, as we already had a lot of new stuff composed during the quarantine times for a new album. He’s from a more Heavy/Speed background, but also likes a Black/Thrash a lot, so he knew a lot about our influences, shared the same common goal, and now we aim for bigger things for the future of the band. After releasing our album on vinyl, cassette, and having contacts all around the world, we want something more. It was a perfect match despite the distance. The only problem we have is the fact that Brazil is massive, and we’re separated by a continental distance. The same way there are cyber relationships, there’s a cyber band as well ((laughs)). Anyway, he liked the same influences, also shared our visual stage aesthetics, and we were not playing live for a very long time because of the pandemics. We were then finally invited to play a gig in Porto Alegre, after not playing a single concert after the release of our full length. In this meanwhile, we announced him as a permanent member and started to rehearse some new tracks that we were composing. He came to the South to play in the classic Bar Opinião in Porto Alegre. For the standards of our city, playing there is the same as playing on Wacken. I never expected to play there, with a full line-up, after the peak of the pandemics, without playing such a big gig before, it was crazy. It brought us to a whole new level, and we developed a lot as a band since the release of the album. We already had fans, people wearing our merch… after this concert a switch turned, everything started to work very well for us. Renato traveled South for other concerts as well, recording the new album with us in the studio. At first, he came with his resources, but the idea now is going on tours, like a mini-tour we did in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais [in South-East Brazil]. Now we’re going for a tour in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both produced by the collective Off the Rails, the same that booked our mini-tour before.
But that’s it, we need to live for the band right now, really need to go and make it work.
And how was playing in Minas and São Paulo? What are the most remarkable moments, either good or bad?
It was our first experience playing far away from our state. I didn’t have the experience of playing two gigs consecutively, so it was a learning process for me. To play in São Paulo was total chaos, especially because I didn’t have the notion of how big that city is and how distant it can be from spot A to B there. A route I thought would take 30 minutes actually took us two hours. On the very same night we were about to travel, our flight was canceled. We were having a photoshoot session at night and I got a message on my phone at 3AM informing me about it. Luckily, I wasn’t able to sleep that night, so I managed to book a new flight, but it also got canceled after. In the end they found another flight to a different airport, but it worked well despite all the stress. When we arrived in São Paulo, we managed to sleep only 1 hour before playing. The traffic there was also crazy. After playing, we had to hurry to be able to go to the bus station to travel to Minas. It was nice, but definitely not the best conditions in terms of time management, we couldn’t even talk to the audience after the concert. When we got to the bus station, they would rather not allow our boarding because we were carrying our instruments. It took us around half an hour to convince them to allow us to catch the bus. The entire logistical part of the tour was very rushed, but then we traveled overnight, managed to rest properly, and in Minas things were way more chilled.
For the next tour, we already planned to arrive earlier so as not to struggle with that. Those are the lessons the road teaches us: you live, you learn. Anyway, the concert in Minas was the best of our career. The one in São Paulo was great, the one in Porto Alegre as well, but playing in Minas was something special. We gave all our energy and the audience retributed with even more energy. The scene of Minas Gerais is well-known worldwide, Belo Horizonte is one of the Metal capitals in the world, so there’s something different going on there.
Since you’re talking about Belo Horizonte, you recorded a new video-clip there for a song of the upcoming album. How was it? And what about the new album, when is it going to be released?
We recorded it there because it needed to be there ((laughs)). Since now we live distant from one another, we gathered to play these two concerts and took advantage of our day off to film a new clip. We managed to get a very nice venue for it, and our contacts from Minas Gerais organized everything for us to do it. It was directed by a video-maker in Minas named Bruno Paraguay, who’s also the singer of the band Eminence. When we got there we only needed to shoot it, because it was all already set up. It helped us a lot. We had two different locations, one with the band playing, and another one which is like a narrative story in which my girlfriend participated, it was a teamwork. It wouldn’t be possible without the help of our contacts there, so that’s why it had to be there. And judging from the resources we had, we are very pleased with what we managed to do. I still haven’t seen the final result, but the preliminary raw material I saw already hyped me a lot.
Since we put a lot of energy in the new album and also in this clip, I think this can reach the band to the next level. We intend to release the video-clip before the new album, as it can help us promote the future release. The new album is already in the mixing process, but we don’t know exactly when it will be released. Since it took us more time than what we expected with all the processes, I’m not sure if it’s going to be released later this year, since we also depend on the availability of the record label. Because of that, I think that it might be released only in 2023. The CD is going to be released by Awakening Records, and the vinyl by Diabolic Might, like our first album. I’ll then check with the tape labels to see if they’re interested as well, so we can release it the same way we did with “At the Darkest Night”. Talking about it, we want to re-release our debut here in Brazil, since it was only available internationally before.
Anyways, right now we’ve got to wait. And I know I’m very picky with the final result: it needs to sound exactly the way I planned it, a perfect merge of all my influences, either old and new. I want it to sound differently from the first album, even though I know the fans tend to expect something similar. I don’t want that. Of course we kept our roots, but as a musician I need to make something a bit different, like the old bands used to do.
For example, Destruction, that is my favorite band: Infernal Overkill is entirely different from Eternal Devastation. That’s what I like about the bands from the 80s, they were learning by doing, there wasn’t a formula to follow back then. It was way more experimental, so from one release to another the sound changed drastically. Today I feel that all the bands keep on recycling the same sound, you don’t even notice when one album ends and the other begins, especially when they keep the same producer. For my band, it doesn’t work. I want every album to sound like its own. You can check that it’s already like that from the EP to the singles. The singles are also not the same version we recorded in our full length. For the new album it will be the same, we didn’t use the same references. Of course, it will still sound like Evilcult because that’s the way we play it, but it will have another production style. Since we didn’t have a bass player before, people will notice a lot of improvement on the bass lines. I am not a bass player, I recorded it following the root notes of the guitar riffs. Currently, there’s an evolution in that sense. With a new member, there’s always something new going on, with new sound layers and new references. Presently, there are some excerpts with keyboards, acoustic guitars, things you wouldn’t find in our first album. I guess that’s also the main reason why it’s taking a long time to finish the post-production part, since we were avoiding our comfort zone of just repeating what we’ve done before. I am not saying I want it to be the most original thing ever. I also don’t want it to sound like any particular band, but it needs to sound like what I had in mind. I hope the audience notices that. That’s the legacy I want to build with Evilcult: a band that doesn’t release the same album over and over again.
It’s the year of elections in Brazil. It’s a bit impossible not to talk about politics there right now. I don’t want you to tell me your opinion on that, especially because I know that most of the Metal bands have a very particular way of tackling the topic. I’m uncertain if you’re familiar with the Portuguese band Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, they’re pioneers of Extreme Metal there and sound more or less like you do. Their leader, Belathauzer, is someone who’s always stating that in his interviews in a very appealing way. He says that talking about Satan in a country as religious as Portugal is a revolutionary act by itself, and he also says that the tradition of what he considers to be Black Metal – the First Wave, specifically – follows that. Since you play following the First Wave tradition, I see some similarities in your thematic. That contrasts to the legacy of the Second Wave, which also embraced plenty of bands with political views that are opposed to that. Your lyrics talk about evil, blasphemy and Satan, and I want you to tell me if you think there’s a political connotation on that, and how do you see it, especially coming from a country in which the slogan of the current president is “God above all”.
I really appreciate the way in which you pointed that out because that’s accurately how I think. I see Satanism in Metal, as well as in Evilcult, as a political subject. We do not follow any Satanic religion, but use it as a tool of opposition to Christian values. Since Brazil is a very religious country, nowadays even more than before, our generation was always confronted with that. In my view, which is the way Evilcult expresses it, playing Metal is already a political statement. Exploring the Satanic thematic is a way to position yourself against the stream. It is an opposition to the Christian patriarchal society in which religion is basically inherited by osmosis. People are born Christian, study in Christian schools. I studied on a Catholic school, so it’s also part of my background, but I never wanted it to be part of my life. For me, Metal performed a primordial role in distancing me from that. I am not a connoisseur of the Satanic tradition, but I like the aesthetic sense of it. As you mentioned before, the cover art of “The Number of the Beast”, for example, that’s already something confrontation in that sense. You don’t need to follow a Satanic religion to be able to oppose yourself to the Christian tradition. In the 80s, numerous people were accused to be Satanists, but the guys had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was all esthetical. Just imagine being a teenager in the 80s and hanging a poster on your wall with Venom’s artwork, it was enough to provoke controversy. Nowadays, it is not, but that was certainly different back then…
Yes, all the Satanic Panic also developed a big role in that. In the 80s some Metal bands were accused of promoting or even to be responsible for human sacrifices and things like that…
And that attracted a lot of attention from the Media. We can remember the example of Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider testifying in court. They just wanted to provoke the traditional Christian family, and we feel the same. Especially when we notice that our society didn’t develop at all regarding this aspect. Actually, with the current political state, things are receding even more. We don’t need to mention politics in our lyrics, but I believe this is already implicit. Our Satanic design is a way to confront these values, the way we dress as well, and for me, there’s no way to associate Metal with conservatism.
Metal was always the opposite of conservatism since Black Sabbath. Since the late 60s they were already provoking, talking about Satan and distancing themselves from that. And today some might think it is okay for people to be conservative and Metalheads… it’s not okay, this is not part of Metal, that’s a different world.
That reflects a Christian view of the world, which is the opposite of the original Metal spirit.
Conservatives were always against Metal, they always wanted to silence our voice… that’s why Sepultura and Sarcófago were so shocking in Belo Horizonte. It’s a very conservative society, with churches everywhere, and their way to rebel against that was making Black Metal in the mid-80s, even without following a Satanic religion or anything like that. They just wanted to confront those values.
Since bands like Venom, Bathory and Sarcófago are among our main references, we follow the same steps. I think that for playing Black Metal you don’t need to follow a Satanic religion, but being an anti-Christian is what’s all about. I think that some people confuse hatred towards Christianism with hate speech. The conservative values are closer to the Christian moral than to the Metal spirit. In that sense, politics were always a part of Metal. Politics in general affect the Metal scene directly, no matter how you try to distance yourself from that.
I always say that I’m revolutionary in politics and conservative in Death Metal ((laughs)).
Wearing micro-shorts is okay, but bermudas are definitely forbidden, otherwise it’s Nu Metal ((laughs)). In our promotion picture, Renato is wearing a cropped shirt. There’s nothing less conservative than Chronos, Quorthon or Euronymous wearing cropped-shirts ((laughs)).
Talking about your promotional pictures, I can see you have a Destruction’s “Infernal Overkill” tattoo, Scussel has Motörhead’s Snaggletooth… tell me a bit about your favorite Metal albums without thinking much about it. How did they shape your personal Metal perception?
As you can see, Destruction’s “Infernal Overkill” is my favorite album, the one that synthesizes Metal essence to me. When I first listened to it, even without knowing how to play, I wanted to make those riffs. It sounds very evil. I liked Thrash Metal before, but if you pay attention to that, it’s not necessarily Thrash Metal, it’s this mix of Black Metal, Speed Metal… for me Destruction and Sodom are bands that I consider to be from the First Wave of Black Metal. A lot of people find it weird if you associate Destruction to Black Metal, but for me that’s what they are. Sodom’s “In The Sign of Evil” is a Black Metal album. The German scene, as well as the Brazilian scene led by Sarcófago and Sepultura are Black Metal scenes to me. They were the real avant-garde.
Okay, next… I could also say Slayer’s “Show no Mercy”…
Also from the Black Metal’s First Wave.
Exactly! They merged Judas Priest and Venom, plus a lot of different elements and made something totally original.
Third one, to finish with three old albums, I need to say Exodus’ “Bonded by Blood”. For me that’s the first real Thrash Metal album. All killers, no fillers. Some people say the cover art is bad, but to me it’s perfect. It looks like it sounds. The tones, the way in which Paul Baloff was not able to properly sing. It’s all a unit. It sounded very different from “Show no Mercy”, or Metallica’s “Kill ‘em All”. It consolidated Thrash Metal. For not knowing how to sing, Baloff created a new singing style, and nowadays a lot of bands follow that influence, it’s a historical landmark. It’s purely based on feeling.
I would like to mention two albums that are more recent, because I also like a lot of albums of my generation that I listened to by the time it was released, so it also influenced me a lot.
Fourth would be Nocturnal’s “Arrival of the Carnivore”. I listened to it right after it came out, when I was getting to know more about new bands. I saw their picture, or someone recommended it to me, I can’t remember right now. I listened to it and it blew my mind, because it sounded like Destruction but it was just freshly made. Back in the days they were still young, in their 20s… they were new guys playing in the old style, so it was a big influence on me and my style of playing. It was important to find influence in bands from my generation, rather than just looking for the classics. It influences me until nowadays, and their visual style was also like the 80s: battle jackets, leather, bullet belts, pictures taken on a graveyard. That also captivated me a lot.
I can’t say I prefer a new album over the classics from bands such as Running Wild, but since it was from a band of my generation it caused me a big impact. So the next one is also from a German band, one of Evilcult’s main influences, Cruel Force’s “The Rise of Satanic Might”. It came a bit after Nocturnal, and had more or less the same riff structures, the growling vocals that are more Death Metal oriented, it was a different vibe that had a big influence on my way of singing. I also didn’t know how to sing, I can’t do Thrash Metal vocals, so I decided to follow more or less the style of bands like Venom or Cruel Force.
These two albums are not that new, one is almost 20 years old, the other is 13… they influenced me a lot, especially in the beginning of Evilcult, so they deserve a place on the list.
And about new bands, what are you listening to right now?
I’m always looking for something new. One that I like a lot is Vulture from Germany. I liked that when they came out, they didn’t follow the tendencies of what was being made at the time, but brought some Speed Metal influence. It also reminds me a lot of Exodus. It’s the kind of music that wasn’t more in evidence. It came after the Thrash revival, so it’s something cyclical. They even played in Wacken this year.
Not sure if you know, but their tour manager is also Brazilian, Daniel Duracell.
Yes! We never met, but I always heard about him. I knew he was somehow involved with Violator.
Yes, Capaça [Violator’s guitar player] is now playing with him in his band, Incarceration.
I hope to meet him someday there in Germany. Another contemporary band I like a lot is Devil Master from the USA. I think they’re even more recent than Evilcult. I like how they mix a lot of different styles, such as Black Metal and Japanese Punk Rock. Despite sounding Old-School, it is very original. It has this First Wave vibe like Venom, but with a better production. They have this vampiric aesthetic, which is not exactly corpse-paint, and also wear some cloaks and adorn their stage with spider webs. It’s another example of a band who cares a lot about their visual identity, and combining it with their sound, I think they created something great. That’s why they became quite popular not only in the USA, but worldwide.
Those are two bands that are new and very active, merging influences of the old and the new, and making something different that doesn’t sound like what came before.
Devil Master’s newest album is different from their first one, it has some Post-Punk influences, something you won’t expect from a Metal band that often, and I think it’s great.
I like a lot of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal bands such as Enforcer, Skull Fist and Cauldron… I mean, I can’t say I like every band of the NWOTHM, some are very generic and cliché, and even though they are inspired by the classics, there are many bands that suck, I must say.
Even in the original NWOBHM, the biggest part of the bands sucked as well.
Definitely! But anyways, I also was very inspired by bands like Enforcer and Cauldron. They’re way bigger, almost like the Iron Maiden of our generation, but of course still within a niche. For me it’s a reference, they’re not much older than I am and are very popular, touring worldwide and releasing album after album, playing real Metal. So, we want to follow the steps of bands that are making something original, that are trying to reach the main labels, that are touring and releasing albums regularly. I think it’s easy to make music only at home, but we wish to play and make tours outside of Brazil as well. So I follow the steps of the recent bands that are managing to do that. I would love to play in European festivals, even on smaller stages.
Just to finish, I would like to ask you about the Bento Gonçalves scene. The city is famous in Brazil because of the wine, and before Evilcult the only bands I knew from there I haven’t heard about in years, such as Abate Macabro, Lethal Sense and Rotten Penetration. I don’t even know what they are up to right now, but they seemed to never leave the local scene. Since you mentioned that your music formation was very much on your own, how are the things right now over there?
These bands are not active anymore. It’s hard to say there’s no Metal scene in Bento Gonçalves. All the guys from the bands you mentioned are from a generation before mine, so I wasn’t much in contact with them when I started to listen to it. And after their generation, there wasn’t a new one in the scene, except for some friends in school that listened to mainstream bands, but that was it. When growing up, I never had friends who shared my passion for Extreme Metal here. My contacts were mostly done over the Internet, and I am still in contact with numerous people I met online; otherwise I would just know the bands from my region without knowing about the current tendencies.
Bands that played here before were more connected to the Brutal Death and Black Metal scene, or Grindcore, not exactly to the music of the path I followed. I met these guys after, I’m friends with many of them, but my formation as Metalhead was basically me alone in my generation. Only when I started Metzger did I met some new people who started listening to Metal at that time, like Scussel or the person who used to play bass live with us before. Currently, there are some other new bands, but for around 10 years I felt like a lone wolf there, wearing Old-School clothing, feeling like a clown wandering the streets ((laughs)). It took me a while for me to be inserted in any scene because since I was very young, I could also not travel to the state capital that often. My friendship with the local scene developed after I already had a band and a determined taste in music. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I see that many people today show some contempt for it, but for those that grew outside the main cities like me, it was the only way I could insert myself there with the resources I had.
Well, then that’s it. I think I asked everything. The space is yours now to tell anything you want, if you feel there’s something that wasn’t covered here. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you very much for the space you have given me to talk about the story of my band, and also my personal story. There are many things I told here that was the first time I said in an interview, it was very fascinating to be able to tell in detail and run away from the cliché. It was a pleasure. Please follow us on social media, and if possible, go see us live someday. Cheers!