J.H: Hello Dennis and all the readers of Lords of Metal, we are very grateful for this interview and we hope that the bangers of those corners of the world enjoy to know us, our music and our art. Let the ritual of possession begin then!
Since I couldn’t find a whole lot of information on Soulrot on the internet, could you please introduce your band to our readers?
You released the demo ‘Horrors from Beyond’ in 2014 and an EP called ‘Revelations’ in 2016. What can you tell about those releases? Both were released on cassette. Why did you release these on cassette? And where can interested people buy these releases (if they are still available)?
J.L. Olmos: In the early 90s I was very dedicated to listening and collecting all those death metal bands from Scandinavian and other north European lands; Nihilist, Entombed, Dismember, Demilich, Traumatic, Necrony, Carcass, Gorefest, etc. At that time I was trading a lot with bands and labels from outside, I even remember buying a demo to Tobias Larsson from Traumatic and also having done an interview for a zine project that never came to be. In 1993 I formed what’s the first life of Soulrot with a couple of friends with whom we rehearsed a few months. Given his lack of motivation, I decided to leave the band in an induced lethargy to be able to dedicate myself to other musical projects, among them a grindcore band called Cranial. I didn’t decide to look for new members for the reason that in the 90s it was quite difficult to find musicians and even more to get to record some material because of the high costs involved.
After a long time participating in diverse bands and styles linked to metal, I decide to reform Soulrot in 2013 with my friend J.H. Wilschrey on bass and vocals, and after a few weeks, FRL was integrated into the drums and voices and we started working as a band. Our first work was the demo ‘Horrors From Beyond’, which we independently released on CD and limited edition hand-numbered cassette. Given the noise that caused this demo in the underground by the musical structures and the piercing sound that we achieved, the label Unholy Prophecies (Germany) decided to reissue our demo tape, and before long, so does Morbid Bastard Records (Indonesia) also on tape. Our demo drew much attention for the memorable music, the themes both Lovecraftian and cosmic horrors referenced, but also by the cavernous and dirty sound, that evoked much the primitive times of the death metal; Nihilist, old-Grave, Demilich, etc. That type of sound was very much liked by Chilean bangers as well as the Europeans bangers.
J.H. Wilschrey: In 2015 we recorded the EP ‘Revelations’ as a kind of sound experiment for compositions, already with more maturity in the music, we decided to move away from the minimalist riffs and try our luck with a more worked out and clearer sound. This recording marked a change in the line-up of Soulrot; the exit of FRL and the entry of D.E. Fredes in charge of percussion. This last one, in the time in which we are finishing the production of ‘Revelations’, participated in several live shows that we include in this EP like bonus. His strength, creativity and energy were noticed from the first moment. Currently, the tapes ‘Horrors From Beyond’ and ‘Revelations’ are completely sold out, but this year the label Dark Recollections (Mexico) reissued ‘Revelations’ on CD and we have some copies along with our latest single ‘From My Grave’ which we independently release in CDR digipack format.
Your debut album ‘Nameless Hideous Manifestations’ was released though Memento Mori Records from Spain on April 24. I really enjoy the material and the sound on this new release. What can you tell us about the writing and recording process of your debut album?
J.H. Wilschrey: Thank you very much for your kind words Dennis, we are really happy to know that you enjoyed the sound we have prepared for so long. Since the end of 2015 we have been working on our first full length ‘Nameless Hideous Manifestations’ gathering all the learning and experiences, both sonorous and life, of our previous works. This material is the culminating point of about one year of work materialized in sound, art and music that surely all the old school death metal maniacs will appreciate and enjoy. It was a long process of pre-production and sound tests. The album features nine songs (plus one intro) of which two songs were rescued from ‘Horrors From Beyond’ and one of ‘Revelations’. For about nine months, we prepared, composed and rehearsed all the songs on the record in order to assimilate them and make them natural in our performance. It helped us a lot to record a demo of the album for use as a study material and as a sound experiment. During those months of study, the work of D.E Fredes was essential since the passages in strings of Soulrot are rather simple and minimalist, giving much creative space to the percussions.
D.E. Fredes: At the end of 2015, after my admission to the band, we began to rehearse the songs that already existed, it was a quick process in which I adapted the percussions to my technique, and I added my style along with the study of the interpretation we needed in Soulrot. In a short time we already had some songs ready and we began to practice the new ones, testing options of rhythms and definitive structures on the march. There were some anecdotes, as in the composition of ‘Majestic Rot’ percussion, by mistake we didn’t have double pedal for the hype in the rehearsal for the song, in the end we made it slow and dragged, and to our surprise we liked a lot how finally the song get composed. Already at the time of recording we made changes that were not considered at the beginning, but greatly improved some redoubles and details. Since then we have enjoyed the process a lot and we are doing all the work behind the instruments.
J.H. Wilschrey: The recording process was quite comfortable for everyone, from the drums, to the strings and voices, and since I played the role of musician-producer, we tried to handle all the variables to achieve the sound we wanted. Therefore, we used three different studies to record each of the parts. While it doesn't seem efficient at first, we prefer the freedom to do what we wanted instead to have the convenience of recording everything in the same studio and get common and conventional results. The sound we aspire to could only be achieved if we put our hands in the mud ourselves to say it in some way.
Now, describing you a little the sound (and without wanting to fall into technical nerds), as I told you before we had been preparing for a long time together with my friend J. Reyes (Acero Letal) who was co-producer and engineer mixing in this work. For several months, we collected all the albums we liked about Swedish death metal; Left Hand Path, Clandestine, Like an Everflowing Stream, Into the Grave, among other, along with more current bands; Mammoth Grinder, Under the Church, Death Breath, Pyre, Bastard Priest, we investigate the technical elements; Amp heads, effects pedals, instruments, ways to use the Boss HM-2, and we did something like a reverse engineering both of things we liked and things we didn't like. It was a long and exhausting process, but it was worth it since we achieved a crude but clear sound, piercing but very cohesive and professional. I also highlight the incredible mastering work done by J. Control of Enormous Door (Austin, TX, USA) who managed to make this piece of metal become huge and crushing, constantly chewing the souls of the listeners... the victims speak for themselves haha.
I like the cover of ‘Nameless Hideous Manifestations’. It kind of looks like a Dan Seagrave cover but it isn’t. And it fits the music well. Can you tell us a little bit about the cover art work?
J.H. Wilschrey: From the first moment we look for an artist who had a classical and traditional trace for the DM that we do, we wanted a scene that could transcend through the years and that identified totally our music. In this role we take the Master Juanjo Castellano, who is a Spanish artist who has worked with many bands of the genre (Avulsed, Revel in Flesh, Sorcery, among many others). The creation process was quite comfortable for us, since we only deliver the thematic and lyric concepts of band to Juanjo in addition to the musical influences we have. We didn't want to propose any scene or force any idea that we had, so we gave space to their creativity. We were able to notice from the first moment his great motivation with the challenge, since many of our influences crossed with his of his adolescence and listening to our music, he immediately imagined the scene that to shape. The art has much of the Seagrave stroke, it's true since it's one of the main references of Juanjo, but when looking at the work in more detail, you can notice many own winks along with that darkness Lovecraftian reflected in the mysterious creature and the incognito character which tries to control it.
D.E. Fredes: Starting with the fact that the cover surprised us a lot to see it finished, the idea was that the drawing represented the mystery of something terrifying that manifests itself, in this case a portal that attracts a character, but at times it causes fear for not knowing what will happen or where it will go, the creature that has this mixture between eye and portal represents very well the music, the atmosphere of terror and the sublime moment of entering into the unknown, into a supernatural manifestation.
Have you played outside Chile with Soulrot and are there any plans to play in Europe one day?
D.E. Fredes: Since I joined the band we played in Santiago and Valparaiso in Chile, the idea of playing in Europe exites and everything depends on the success of NHM, sales and contacts. Clearly we have the desire and we will do everything on our part so that the LP and the presentations show our energy and dedication. We want to leave the country to show our best presentation and to have an experience that any headbanger wishes.
J.H. Wilschrey: In Chile, we try to stay very active in terms of live show which has given us much experience and we have managed to establish a ‘classic sound of Soulrot’ (we sound exactly the same independent of the technical elements that we have at hand). We are very sure that the people of European or North American lands would enjoy so much of our music as would enjoy our show, we only need some producer that is motivated to take us there haha.
How is the metal scene in Chile? Are there any good bands that you can recommend (besides Soulrot of course)?
D.E. Fredes: The metal scene in Chile is very varied, there are many bands of different styles that make very good music. In the metal world I have taken several surprises such as Innana (death metal from Santiago), Ripper (death / thrash metal from Talagante), Acrostic (thrash metal from Valparaiso), Goatoimpurity (black / death Metal from Valparaiso), Unaussprechlichen Kulten (death metal from Santiago). All of them good in execution and composition, besides having each band its seal that characterizes them. The good thing is that there are always new bands to listen to and revel in good performances full of energy.
J.L. Olmos: In Chile we have a great scene in what respects metal with good bands of heavy, death and thrash. To name a few I would say Coffin Curse (death metal, Santiago) that runs a very good death metal, Demonic Rage (death metal, Puerto Montt) that can make you remember Incantation of the 90s, Buried (death metal, La Serena), Putrid Yell (death metal, Viña del Mar) friend band which has marked influences of Nihilist, Myst (doom / death Metal, Temuco), Putrid Evocation (death metal, Santiago), Uttertomb (death metal, Santiago), Violent Scum (death metal, Santiago) and Death Vomit (death metal, Curico) among many others. These are some of the new generations of death metal that is sounding strongly in Chile, as well as labels like Apocalyptic Productions dedicated to death, black, doom metal or Old Rites Productions in the central zone of Chile, further to the south we can name Rawforce Productions and Mushantufe Productions, labels that move inside the Undergound in Chile.
Is there still something you would like to add to this short interview?
D.E. Fredes: Soulrot by now has become a culmination of a great friendship, professionalism, dedication and much more. But to reach this, each one has had his own experiences in music and in life for many years, feelings that move us to translate into music the best and the worst from the darkest in our mind. Musically this is one of our best moments and we are enjoying it a lot, it’s very gratifying that people like your music, after all the effort to create material with good quality and well executed, everything from our passion for music. Thank you very much for the space to show who we are to the headbangers. Thanks to you Dennis for the space that you have given us in Lords Of Metal and to be able to make known to the followers what is Soulrot, DEATH METAL!