Listen live to Radio Arrow Classic Rock

Terror Empire

A few years ago, this Portuguese thrash band blew us to smithereens with their debut album The Empire Strikes Black’. Now, they're doing it even better with 'Obscurity'. It contains even more aggression and excellent guitar work. Founder and guitarist Alexandre Rui talked to us live from Coimbra with word and image (Skype is amazing). Unfortunately, our friend had a very bad weekend and was literally dying of a huge hangover.

By: Koen W. | Archive under speed / thrash metal

Hey Alexandre, how are you?
I have the just the worst hangover ever. I just came from a weekend of playing (Friday) and just selling merch in the rest. Sometimes that is with bands that I know so I could drive with them together in the car. This weekend I only sold beer money. So it wasn’t that bad at all.

This is the first time we speak personally. So this is about the new Terror Empire album ‘Obscurity Rising’.He was the making?
When we wrote the previous album, it was the first album with our new drummer João Dourado. So the songs were already written for another drummer. When it was time to write this album, we knew the drummer much better and we knew how he plays. We had more time and looked for a very corrosive kind of thrash. The groove and melodies were kept at a minimum. We used them only for the solo’s. But the riff had to be sour. And the drummer allowed us to pull it off.

It sound some different as processor ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Was this a natural way of progress or was the band grown more mature after two years of playing?
With this album, the previous guitar player had left the band. He had professional issues like finishing his degree so he had to concentrate on that. And I had the feeling that he didn’t feel the music that he made that strongly. And he didn’t had the time to put his best efforts on it. So he made the decision to take a step back from the band and that was really professional of him. So I ended up looking for a new guitar player. It did had could ended up a lot more difficult. But Nuno Oliveira played already with us in 2011. It was time to bring another guitar player and the choice for him was obvious. His input on the album were only the solo’s but he plays them fantastic. There is a lot more of aggression in it.

What did you had in mind as an end result when the recording started.
I personally love Megadeth, Exodus and Pestilence. But also Death and Morbid Angel. So when I take a guitar and start a riff it really have to feel right to become a song. So when it doesn’t fell right, I throwed the riff away. We tried to have to focus on the aggression and started to write hooks to grab your attention. So the first song after the intro ‘You Never Saw Us Coming’ has a riff played so much so you really have it on your mind. The riffs had to take your attention. We even had some songs who are almost ten years old. The is ‘Deadwish’ and ‘Lust’. You maybe will notice that they are older. There are traces of an old Terror Empire. They are longer. We were trying to put all the extra’s out of this album. My personal favorite song ‘Times Of War’ takes only three minutes. We were sick of doing five minutes songs. That is too much.

Thirty Seven minutes is the ideal length for a thrash album. Were there a lot of songs who didn’t make it on the album.
We had some songs that didn’t make it on the album and some songs written by the previous guitar player, but since he left we decided that we would not use them. It was not like Metallica that was using Dave Mustaine’s songs.

What are the steps that the band is following for writing a song?
The base for me is the riff. When you listen to a song like ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, the riff is so clear. The song has to have a riff. It has to me memorable. And then we see how the song is going from there. There is an intro, a chorus, a solo and the ending. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.

Did you achieve already some reviews?
Not yet. Only from friends. The press kits were send only two weeks ago. Most magazines end their deadlines already on 15th of September.

But the release was later than normal.
Yes I know. We have our own label so there was no pressure from the outside. An album takes so much to write and takes so much effort. So if you have to wait two or three months more for something that would exist for ever, what is that? It is not like we are Metallica or something. We didn’t had that pressure. No pressure so we delayed it. It was a great decision. One of the main reasons was that the main solo on the final end was written by Gust Drax from Suicidal Angels. And he was out on tour so it took a bit longer to have the solo written.

Drummer João Dourado did the recording, producing, mixing and mastering in his own Golden Jack studios in Coimbra. He did an excellent job and added a fat and exteme modern sound. Does he do this also for other bands.
He does production and mastering an recording duties for other bands. That is his main job.

band image

It’s like the metal scene in Portugal is increasing last years and all over Europe. What’s your explanation about it?
The internet knowns no bounderies. People sometimes say it was better in the good old days. But in those good old days, you had boundaries and they were mainly physical. Like from Portugal to the Netherlands, you had to cross three of four countries. Now with the streaming of albums, we reached lands like Asia.That is the globalisation, reaching a much bigger audience.

Did Terror Empire planned a real release party for the new album?
This Saturday we start with a gig were we will play most of the new songs. So we hope that people show up. I am only nervous about things I cannot control. We contacted the bands, the PA, the house and the promotion. So we did our best and if it’s not going to well, we tried. So we are a bit nervous. All those things we had to check out.

So what is the nearby future for the band? Touring in Portugal or are there plans to go further in Europe?
For now, it’s to consolidate our presence in Portugal. We went to promote our own gigs in the country in the early days. Now we are invited by them. So we are paid better. Going to other countries is not in it because it is our hobby. We are professional in the writing, the recording and releasing. But playing in other countries is a serious issue. We are five persons with normal day jobs.

You changed from Nordavind records to Mosher Records. You are the owner of it. Wasn’t it difficult to be critical for you own work.
I am my worst critic. So It was not a smooth step. I had to be self-aware. Am I doing this right, am I going easy or harder with it?

You started it with Mosher Clothing four years ago. In a few years’ time, it’s like everywhere in Europe you see someone with a shirt or baseball cap or patch. Did you feel that also in the production and selling of your goods.
In Portugal it is very consolidated. There is the first hype that is great. Then you have to survive the post hype. But now it is stable. In Spain there is been a constant growth. I get a lot of orders from Spain. In the rest of the world, it is more shattered but it is happening. I just sold a bunch of t shirts to the Czech Republic. I am my own target. I want to sell my shirts to metal heads and I am one myself. It has to be authentic. The artwork and the brand. I try to be so authentic as I can be. People have to love the brand. But sometimes people say they rather buy a band t shirt to support them above a Mosher shirt. But when people say me that, I always answer that they help bands by buying Mosher shirts because we have a YouTube channel, a festival, a label. With Mosher clothing they help with the visibility because we share with other bands.

Beside Mosher Clothing, you also started with Mosher Records. With Trepid Elucidation (technical death metal), Destroyers Of All (progressive death metal) and Terror Empire (thrash metal) you have three bands with a different music style. What are the conditions for a band to be signed by Mosher?
First and most important I need to have time. It depends on my ability. I don’t want to deliver lousy work. I always am passionate with them. Then the music had to be good. Mosher Records is more an alternative for self-released albums. When you see a band with a self-released album, they had to buy cd’s and make copies of the album to sell then. I buy them for a fair price and I do a proper distribution on the album and the digital copy. I do the booklets, the distribution. So it is a win-win situation.

And then there is Mosher Fest. It is a great challenge for a festival to have a break even these days. So how are you doing?
Yes, I do the break even. I don’t have supports like money. The tickets are the main source of income. So when I don’t have sold any tickets, that would be the end. So when I am breaking even with the tickets, I am already happy.

How is the metal community in Coimbra doing?
Coimbra was known to be a Rockabilly city twenty years ago. But then we have bigger metal bands, like Terror Empire, Tales Of The Unspoken and Destroyers Of All. We don’t want to compete but it pushes all the bands out of their limits. It is like exports to the music. We don’t have many venues to play so we end up playing in other cities. All the bigger bands play in Porto and Lisboa. Coimbra is like to an outsider in the North of Portugal. They take Porto and Lisboa as a inspiration. But we are in the middle of them so that is ok because both cities are not so far away.

So five years ago, Portugal and Spain suffered from economic depression. But now you here everywhere such positive news about Portugal and his new government with Antonio Costa. Is that something that really can be felt on the street?
I believe this is not like a conspiracy theory. But the media want to control the peoples state of mind if they are happy or not. Now people say that everything is ok. Five years ago it was not like the with all the economic measures from the EU.

Share this interview with your friends

More information

<< previous next >>