Interview with Rui Alexandre of Terror Empire

A few weeks ago saw the release of a thrash driven album which brought a fresh breath and vibrant intensity to the genre. The impressive concussive treat came from Portuguese metalers Terror Empire, a band which feels on the verge of breaking beyond its homeland where already they have built a powerful fan base. Their debut album Face The Terror is an aggressive and riveting release which marks the band as one who has all the armoury to become one of the future powerhouses of trash metal. Grabbing the opportunity to learn more we had the pleasure and treat to talk with guitarist Rui Alexandre about the band and album.

Hi and welcome to The RR

Thanks, my friend. It’s an honour to be featured at your website!

Could you start by introducing the band line-up and telling us how Terror Empire all began? I believe half of the band were already playing together in another group which disbanded?

Yeah, you’re right. Me, Ricardo and Puga used to play in Against, while Sérgio and Gonçalo played in zag.a.lot. After a couple of gigs together, and when the two bands died, we started to talk about creating a supergroup of unknown musicians! Hahaha…

What was the initial focus and intention of Terror Empire?

We all love thrash, among other types of metal. We wanted to create something thrashy, yet brutal at the same time. We’re not interested in melodic stuff, as of now; we just want to create extreme music while delivering a message to the world. This world is fucked, we’re destroying the planet, and nobody seems to care or to be brave enough to confront those who brought us to this point.

The band name feels like it is a reflection of the world and its mind at the time, and since to be honest. Is that the case?

Bingo! Like I said before, we feel like there’s a hidden hand behind some of the most brutal events in the western world, like the WTC, London and Madrid attacks. There was a need for an excuse to attack the Eastern countries (who were being co-operant at the time, mind you). It makes us sick that a country would inflict a false flag attack for economic purposes. Yet, it had been done before (*cof* Pearl Harbour *cof*), so it might have been done again. It would make perfect sense… it’s just not fair.

You are tagged as a thrash metal band though your sound has much more to it, how would you describe it to newcomers to the band?

We play classic thrash with a modern flavour to it. The vocals are way more aggressive (think Max Cavalera-style), and then there’s groove, breakdowns and odd-time signature tempos here and there. Still, we’re a thrash band… to the bone. The riffs and the drums are fast and extreme… Give us a try!

You have just released your excellent debut album Face The Terror. What were your expectations or hopes on the eve of its release?

Thanks for the compliment! Well, remember when you were in school, and you’d leave the classroom after an important test, without knowing if it would turn out OK or not? It’s the same feeling, kinda. We knew we had the chops and the production necessary; we just didn’t know if people would like it or even pay attention to it. Metal has always been a tricky style to play or to be liked – the audience is really picky (I’m picky myself, so I know how to make or break a band that is shown to me… haha). With this in mind, we focused on creating an album that WE would be proud of, in the first place. I believe this kind of artistic honesty really paid off. People are really enjoying it, and the reviews have been stellar.

The album contains six impressive tracks which certainly leave a strong mark. Are they tracks written over the previous three years or very new for the album?

Some of the riffs are more than ten years old! Dirty Bomb, for example, is a really old song that I wrote ten years ago. It used to be very slow, in the vein of “Death Church”, from Machine Head. Weird, I know. The Brave, on the other hand, was written a year before we recorded FTT. It was a mix of the two situations.

How has your music evolved over your existence to date?

Personally, I would rather write a good song, overall, than a crappy one with lots of sterile technique all around. I’ve always focused my effort in trying to write the best song possible. Still, to be honest, I don’t see myself writing a song without a complicated riff in it. I blame the young Dave Mustaine for this! Haha. In terms of the band, per se, we’ve become faster and more ferocious in the last year… as we became tighter, as a band, we created room for improvement in terms of technique. So, to answer your question, we have definitely evolved as a band – in terms of technique, musicianship and as five human beings trying to play as a sole machine. It’s been great!

One of the best adjectives for the album is ferocious. How hard or easy is it to keep that fire raging whilst expanding the songs with your inventiveness and infectious yet abrasive grooves?

Wow, thanks! Well, this might be our first album, but we’ve been listening to metal for years and years… Not trying to bring the “true” card to the table; just saying that we “know” a riff or a section is going to work or not. This might be the key to what you refer to in your question. We focused on being really fast and really aggressive; the rest came as extra dynamics to add variety to the sound, as a whole. Is it easy? When you love what you’re doing, everything is easy, even the struggle to get it right!

As you look at it from the other side what is your proudest part of the album, the moment you feel a tingle inside? Haha

Definitely, man. Personally, I get goosebumps when I listen to my solo after the radio voice in “Dirty Bomb”, and when I listen to “Last Fire”. That song is like a nuclear attack, it’s a friggin’ sucker punch… I love it!

You have self released the album, a decision I get the feeling which was yours and not just because there was no other options?

Releasing the album on our own allowed us to do it our way, from the production, to the artwork, to the promotion, etc. Taking into consideration that we didn’t know how the album would turn out, at least we did it our way, pleasing us in the first place. I know it might sound like I think I know it all, but it’s not the case – if you put yourself on our position, you’d probably do the same. Besides, we were nobodies (still are) – it’d be impossible to get a label to help us release “Face The Terror”! We sent some e-mails, baiting the labels with our work, and nobody cared. Now, I have all those people in my little black book… ha!

Am I right in thinking the album is available as a free download from your website? If so why and do you think that is the best introduction to fans for new and ‘unknown’ bands?

Let’s face it, only true fans buy CD’s (and some only buy the digital version). We needed fans in the first place, so we had no choice. We really needed to get our work out there and spread our project to the world. We still sell a physical version, though. Check our website for more info… *cha-ching*!

Tell us about the great artwork for the album.

An old colleague of mine did it. Her name is Márcia Gaudêncio, and she’s a kickass graphic designer, crafter and overall artist. We told her the concept, and she pulled it with flying colors. The concept is basically someone facing a situation of terror, in which the pupils dilate in sheer fright. I had this idea when I read somewhere that Michael Angelo’s “David” doesn’t have tiny balls – he’s scared shitless because he’s facing Goliath from below. My balls would decrease in size, too… hahaha. Ok, so the part of the human reaction is explained; if you take a look at the eye color, you can notice that it’s a green eye. It’s the bloody eye from the Illuminati symbol – it’s the “rulers of our world” who are scared to death when the uprising comes. And it will come, alright…

Reading your individual bios on your website http://www.terrorempire.net/ I think it is safe to say there is a definite Sepultura love from you all, Chaos AD being the first brought album of most of you. What other influences have inspired not only the band but individually?

I’m a huge fan of PanterA, Megadeth, Metallica, Death, among many others (and so is the rest of the band). Our drummer loves Between the Buried and Me, Trivium and The Black Dahlia Murder. The vocalist gets off on Napalm Death. I could go on… bottom line is: we fucking love metal. If it’s good, we’ll like it!

Metal in Portugal right now seems more powerful than ever and gaining good recognition far beyond its borders is that how it feels from the inside?

Good for us that people like you notice it! Yeah, as bands grow out of borders, the rest of us feel like there isn’t anything impossible. Our good brothers Switchtense just toured with the mighty Sepultura, for example! Still, most of the rewards only come after lots and lots of hard work. Nothing comes easy in this life.

What is next for and from Terror Empire?

We’re currently on our “Face The Tour”, which focuses mainly in playing in Portugal, for now. We should do this for the next months, then we’ll start writing new material… and the cycle starts yet again. We just hope to get bigger and bigger; until we become a band everybody knows and enjoys listening to. We wanna play everywhere and, who knows? discover the world.

Many thanks for taking time to talk with us, would you like to leave any last words?

Justin Bieber RULES! Haters gonna hate! Hahaha, just kidding. Thanks for the support. If you, the reader, still haven’t listened to our sound, check our website www.terrorempire.net  and get your fix! You can download the album for free, or order the physical edition. Tell your friends about us. Like us on www.facebook.com/terrorempire! Be good to your mom, etc! Cheers, enjoy life.

Read The Face The Terror review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/terror-empire-face-the-terror/

The RingMaster Review 05/09/2012

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Dead Cowboy’s Sluts: The Hand Of Death

All those of a sensitive disposition do not read on as the debut album from French thrash/death metalers Dead Cowboy’s Sluts is most likely not going to lay well with you. A brutal and insatiable barrage of venomous intensity, The Hand Of Death is a colossus in energy and intent with imaginative creativity and barbaric sounds to back it up. The release unleashes its vehemence from the first heavy breath of its intro to the last sonic expulsion from the final track and in between those two points, the album simply and greedily consumes the senses.

The Hand Of Death does have a familiar and often recognisable presence though it is impossible to bring to mind anyone sounding like them. There are flavours which spear tracks and moments borne from classic bands of the nineties and since, but all are devoured and twisted into the invention of the band. This makes for an immediately testing companion but who you know you will get on with like old heart bonded friends.

Formed in 2010, the Paris quintet entered the studio last August to record the album and it was not long before they linked up with French label M&O MUSIC for its release. Its letting out of the cage comes September 10th and it is hard to imagine anything less than acclaim to e placed in its devastating sonic claws.

The album first lays its devious fingers upon the ear with the opening B.T.K., a cinematic nightmare which could intensify any Hostel, Martyrs, or sadistic Asian horror movie.  With an atmosphere as equally intrusive and distressing as the cries of the contained woman within, the track is a brewing violence and poison which expels itself through the onslaught of the following Asylum Breakout. The song is a bruising abrasion which brands the senses upon touch and leaves one groaning in pleasure. Predatory riffs from Mathieu Leclerc and Pierre Plathey flail the ear whilst the rhythms of Guillaume Thiebault makes intimidation look like child play, Combined they drive the song further and deeper note by punishing note whilst the caustic scowls and yells of vocalist Benjamin Leclerc snarl and chew on the senses throughout. The bass of Morgan Djinadou also plays its devilish part, his predatory basslines cursing and glaring within a fleeting groove and the unrelenting dominate battering.

The equally outstanding I Will Hunt You Down takes up the towering mantel next, its energy again a distrustful abuse from a bestial heart. At times the track prowls with a death/doom hunger whilst other moments sees it erupt into a corruption of thrash riffage to buckle the knees of giants. As it progresses the song with twisting ingenuity and flaming, attaches itself with a waspish persistence and sound to mesmerise and agitate even more impressively. Dead Cowboy’s Sluts might come up with things which feel like old friends at times but no one else delivers this heightened malevolent wickedness as craftily or skilfully.

As tracks like the violently beautiful Lusk, arguably the best song on the album and the storming Criminal unfurl their tempests the deeper one is willingly sucked into the contagion of the album, the diversity in ideas, sounds, and vocals beneath the sprawling aural savagery, explosive and rapturous in an ungentle way.

From Purify By Fire there is a gradual shift in attack though no less intense. This song alone has a more classic air to its raging: a Pantera/Testament gait locked in cahoots with the thrash and melodic death driven sounds to make for an evolving and unpredictable pleasure.

Whilst This Hate burns and barracks the ear like a woman scorned and Skull Crusher blows every synapse it can find, the likes of the mesmeric instrumental Gates Of Perdition and the two parted The Hand Of Death, offer a more deliberate and expansive presence to overwhelm with, though not without plenty of full blooded confrontations along the way too, especially from the blistering second part of the title track.

Closing on the excellent Southern/sludge soaked Backdraft, the album is a stunning and unmissable highlight in a year of a great many highs. It reveals that Dead Cowboy’s Sluts treat metal as an inspiring and imaginatively designed weapon and use it to evoke the most intense and fulfilling pleasure, thankfully.

www.deadcowboyssluts.com

RingMaster 05/09/2012

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Punk for The Gospel Benefit Compilation

Punk for The Gospel Benefit is a 2 volume compilation consisting of 42 bands who donated songs to help raise money and awareness to support the work of foreign Missionaries and families which includes Dave Emmerson of The Old-timers and Aaron “Liberty” Wells of True Liberty, from within the Christian punk community. It is also one triumphant barrage of high quality punk music brought together by Thumper Punk Records and Caustic Fallout. Eclectic and highly charged, the album hits all the right spots whilst doing good things at the same time, a winning combination.

The first important thing to note, other than the cause of course, is that the release is for everyone who loves punk in any form. Many, like we initially wondered, might think it will be ‘an in your face’ faith shout from beginning to end but though the tracks all come from Christian bands and are predominantly in praise of ‘the higher good’, the release is a stirring charge of energy, great sounds, and good will, which has more than something for everybody, believers or not.

The 42 songs which are split evenly over the two volumes include 19 which are either new or previously unreleased and include the first song released by The Deal in 8 years. The impressive thing about the compilation is that truthfully there is not a moment where quality takes a dive just to make up the numbers, every song in their live, raw, or polished studio form grabbing the fullest and most satisfied attention. Obviously personal tastes dictates some tracks light bigger fires than others and it is individual to each, but even those just sparking appreciation do it with pleasing passion and energy to leave one fully contented. The tracks mentioned further on are our favorites only, with those not mentioned left to surprise and delight when you make your own investigation which you really should.

Volume 1 starts off with the old school punk of South African band The Old-timers and their song This City, a direct and challenging track which sets the tone and cocks the trigger for the release ahead, the hungry and rampant breath lighting the touch paper to quality punk energy and sounds across the board.

The excellent Offspring like Homeland Insecurity from Californian melodic hardcore band Dogwood has the pulse rate firing and soon has its back covered by the great Flatfoot 56 and their excellent Smoke Blower, an explosion of intensity and punk rock complete with anthemic choruses and glorious pipes blazing away in the background.

The album continues in strong and varied style but finds its fullest height at the end with a quartet of songs to ignite every passion. The first of the quartet Hold On from The Altar Billies fuses great strains of rockabilly into its presence whilst The Meteors lined Swing Low, Sweetheart by Alaskan band The Scurvies is simply irresistible psychobilly.

As the album plays one quibble did arise and that was lack of female fronted bands but Mason Summers do remedy that a little with their dual vocal attack from Lydia Danger and Mikey Scars in their sinister and hypnotic song Pedestal.

The best song of the whole compilation ends the first volume, a track as essential as it is infectious. I Wanna Be A Kennedy from The Shiny Darks is stunning, the Texans exploring the ear with incendiary melodic strikes and intrusive beats all borne from a flaming energy and intent.

The second volume it has to be said starts off as the first ended, with songs to leave one breathless, deeply satisfied, and energised through some of the best punk rock around today. Marked For Life from Virginian punks True Liberty fires up all the senses with intense energy and Bad Religion and NOFX like dynamic sounds. The song sets up the album perfectly, again the track listing making sure fires are raging from the off.

The following hardcore veined Retaliate from False Idle and the melodic punk gem Blind Eye from The Way ensure the great start is continued and built upon whilst the rock driven Nancy Don’t Fall Asleep from The Deal is a welcome return from the band.

Again this album is a consistent treat from start to finish and arguably stronger than its sister volume, especially with the inclusion of two songs as magnificent as the top one of the other volume. Haunted House from Grave Robber is brilliant, a Sex Pistols/Misfits/Calabrese feast of terror to dine on forever, horror punk at its very best and equalled in excellence by the Metanoia song Evidente. The track from the Chileans is high octane skilled punk rock brought with craft and unbridled energy, a real find amongst so many on the whole release.

As said there is nothing but great sounds and bands on the album and surely a must check out for all punk lovers. Available either as individual purchases or as a bargain package, Punk for The Gospel Benefit is a release well worthy in cause and sound of your time and attention.

To find out more about the album go to http://thumperpunkrecords.storenvy.com

RingMaster 05/09/2012

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