Annihilation are a relatively new death metal band hailing from Portugal. Their debut album Against The Storm, released on Copro / Casket Productions is a nine song assault built for those who like their death metal fast, technical, and pummeling. Read on and be enlightened by Annihilation’s Fábio Silva (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Daniel Pacheco (lead guitar).
For those not familiar with Annihilation, please give some background information on the band.
Daniel: Annihilation was formed in 2004 in a small town called Almeirim, 80 km from Lisbon with only one goal in mind, to be able to create our own vision of Death Metal. After two years creating and maturing that idea, it was time for the first recording to take place. In the beginning of 2006 a demo was recorded and although it has never been edited, it was used as a promo for getting gigs and festivals in our own country and so gain access to a new variety of shows to reach the maximum people possible. The next step became logical, record and release the debut album and all of that became possible in 2011. The Band suffered many line up changes to find the right balance. From the original line-up, Fábio Silva is the only remaining member and he has always been the brain behind the band. After all the line up changes throughout the years the band is now consisted by: Fábio Silva – rhythm guitar and vocals (founder of Annihilation), Daniel Pacheco – lead guitar, Diogo Silva – bass and backing vocals, and Paulo dos Santos – drums.
It seems like the early/mid 90’s death metal is a huge influence for Annihilation. What are some bands that have influenced you to play this style of music?
Fabio: In fact it is. Bands like Morbid Angel, Gorguts, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal and Monstrosity, just to name a few, were a major influence on the writing of Against The Storm. We try to listen to as much music as possible from all styles and genres, so we pretty much have influences from everything we listen to.
Daniel: Actually now the band has more influence on the technical side of death metal, including elements from bands like The Faceless, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Obscura and Hour of Penance. It was the logical step.
Annihilation comes from Portugal. How hard is it for a band to “make it”, coming out of Portugal? Where do you rehearse? In America there are many rehearsal warehouses specifically for bands to rehearse. Are there places like this in Portugal? Enlighten the readers on the struggles of being an underground band from Portugal.
Daniel: It’s a true challenge, to be honest. Portugal has much to learn from America and especially Europe. Since we’re talking about a small country and this is not the “traditional” style of music back here, the Metal scene in Portugal is pretty small and reserve. It’s very difficult for any band to infiltrate and get gigs without knowing the right people or having the right friends, it’s sad but true. It’s not a surprise that more than half of our Facebook likes or MySpace friends are not from Portugal. Same thing happens with the press. Most of them report always the same couple of bands and in a country that probably has 20 metal albums release per year they only review from those couple of bands. Gigs are not easy too, sound conditions are getting worse derived from a “who cares attitude” to a completely lack of respect and professionalism.
To be simple, there’s just more people looking for profit than business opportunities for both parties. We would love to play more gigs in our own country and have our music more well-known but this entire situation makes our business target more overseas. On the studio issue, back here we don’t have warehouses used for that. But we know what you’re talking! We remember Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse among other bands rehearsing in spaces like that! But in this time and age, it’s pretty easy to have access to a well-equipped studio with a good acoustic configuration. We have more studios than “make belief spaces”. In our case, we have our own studio with our own setup and equipment.
Check out the song “Hear Them”
Back in 2000 my previous band, Usurper were fortunate enough to play 2 shows in the great country of Portugal. One show was in Lisbon and the other was in Porto at this incredible venue called Hard Club. This was honestly one of the coolest places we ever played; is this venue still around? Has Annihilation ever played Hard Club? Do you have any good memories of any shows you have seen at this venue? [Hard Club was a stone building from the 1500’s… I think? It was next to a giant river and a very narrow cobblestone street.]
Fabio: At that time i was not living in Portugal I was living at the UK so i didn’t go to that gig and never had the chance to go to any other shows at Hard Club. We never had the chance to play there.
Daniel: Some of us played on that venue with different bands and was definitely one of the best venues in north Portugal (300 km more or less from the capital, Lisboa). “Was” because Hard Club actually closed in 2006 and was re-open on a different space back in 2010.
Fabio: Still it’s a mythic place and a main venue for well-known metal bands. I will see Cannibal Corpse in June at the new Hard Club.
Would Annihilation ever want to tour the USA/North America? If so, who would you want to tour with? Any cities, States or venues in the USA that you really hope to play some day? What do you envision America to be like? Any American television or culture you enjoy?
Daniel: Touring the USA is one of the biggest objectives we have. Touring with Nile, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel just to name a few would be a dream come true. Maryland Death Fest or any other big Death Metal Fest would be just perfect! We think that the American Metal scene is pretty straight forward and pretty focused on the music itself. No time for BS. And that’s an aspect that we really like! Like in most places, America TV is huge and Portugal is no exception hahaha! We pretty much big fans of your TV series! Things like Family guy, American Dad, House, Fringe (which it’s great for lyrics!), Numb3rs, the list is big, believe us!
I want to discuss some of the musical elements on Against The Storm. The opening track “Tortured With Hate” has some very interesting twists and turns. I especially like the guitar work towards the end of the song. There are a lot of dynamics and a cool wah part near the end of the song that really sets a nice, dark mood. Many of your songs seem to build towards the end, where cool harmonies and melodies become more prominent. Is this intentional with your style, or do things just happen to come out this way?
Daniel: Pretty much all of the skeleton of the songs were composed by Fabio.
Fabio: When I’m writing riffs I always try to clear my mind and don’t think about anything. I guess it’s a very organic process to me. When I’ve written “Tortured with Hate” 6 years ago i wanted it to be one of our sickest songs and that’s why it’s the opening track on the album. I don’t like to repeat the same riffs over and over again. So normally I always try to end the music with the sickest riff from the tune but twisting it a little bit. Also we like to use a lot of harmonies on our songs and to include them more on the last riff, sort like a “crescendo” I guess I have to blame the great Morbid Angel for their sick harmonies.
Daniel: When I joined the band I had like to study all the songs in sheet paper and be ready for studio in 3 weeks, which was pretty standard to me since this is how I have usually worked in music. So I was pretty limited to what had been done and arranged. I tried to the max to create the most dissonant atmosphere using like tritone harmonies and octaves. Actually the solos on the album are not the real version! This is one of those sad stories… On the day scheduled to record the solos I had to take this vaccine and for the first time had a bad reaction to a vaccine. My arm was swollen like hell and doing a simple legato was like walking on a floor full of nails. So what came across my mind was the chaotic solo, typical of Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse and I think it worked very well! It helped more creating that dissonant atmospheric and all of those “ugly” patterns and melodies we were looking for. If you check some live videos on our YouTube page you will notice that.
The track “At War” has a very effective militant part in the middle, which obviously accents the theme of being “At War”. What came first, the lyrics/concept or the music? In other words did you have a concept of a war song with a militant drum pattern, or did you write the music and then it inspired you to write fitting lyrics?
Daniel: For the album we left the lyrics for the last part, so when the lyrics were completed it made sense that for this song the name should be “At War” and as you’ve said we’ve chosen this tittle because of that militant part in the middle of the song. But the lyrics refer to an internal war within ourselves and with our own decisions and not army war or any sort of fighting.
Another song that intrigued me was the song “Illusions of a Mirage”, what is this song about? The guitar solos in this one kick ass as well!
Fabio: Basically the lyrics for this song are about the way we perceive reality as it is. What I mean is, this is the way that we, as humans, to use our eyes to interpret reality and the way that same reality deceives our understanding of what is going on the world. We, as Humans, only use the 5 senses to perceive reality and we focus more on the sight than any of the other senses. Also I like to believe that we are led to think that this is the only reality that exists. We are deceived by the media everyday on TV and led to buy things that we don’t even need because of the appealing from advertisement. But I will develop more about this on our next album.
The promo copy of Against the Storm did not come with lyrics. How important are lyrics and what are some topics you sing about?
Daniel: The lyrics are always an important aspect of the band and we want to pass a message through them. In Against The Storm most of the lyrics were based on the more personal aspect that anything else and the main topics were the negative aspect and misanthrope of the Human Being. For the new tracks we’re actually aiming more for dualism, space and conscience awareness, since that’s how our music is progressing for.
Why is there no title track? Was it more important for a title to represent the work of the album as a whole?
Daniel: We think it’s a bit cliché to always include in an album a title track. We didn’t have a rule to have a title track or not, things just progressed this way. To us it was more important that the title focus on the whole work and on the struggle that we, as a band, had to endure to be able to record and release this album than to focus on one track. Actually on the last riff of the track “Kathairein” it ends with “Fighting against the Storm” shouted 4 times. At some point we thought of naming that song as “Against the Storm” but for the reasons I’ve mentioned before we decided to name it “Kathairein” which is the Greek word for Catharsis.
Check out the album ‘Against The Storm’
The production on Against The Storm sounds very good too; good mix, good tones. Where did you record and how long did it take?
Daniel: It was all possible thanks to Hugo Camarinha from Brugo Sound Studios in Lisboa, which is one of the best producers in Portugal, no doubt. The place was already chosen as it is one of the major studio for recording this type of music. The entire process including the post-production and mastering took a month and half.
Some of the vocals are doubled on the recording. When you perform live do you add two vocal parts, or is this just a technique used to accent the recorded songs… sort of the way Glen Benton would do this?
Fábio: The vocals are only doubled on some parts of the songs, when we perform live Diogo Silva, our bass player, also sings with me so basically they were always doubled and i think that by doing this we bring more dynamics for the vocal parts.
Do you guys support downloading albums? How do you feel about vinyl LP’s and cassette tapes? Are these forms of media only for the “old dogs” in the scene, or is it essential for the young metal heads to appreciate these old formats?
Daniel: Well I think that every young kid who really digs music in general is gonna have the curiosity to learn how music was listen before CD and all of the formats that were available in that time. For me vinyl is always gonna be superior to CD… that sound, that bass… That’s something that the CD just doesn’t have! But I live in the 21st Century so I don’t walk down the street with a vinyl player and speakers in my pockets! So I think its important to know some history about music itself. And now the hard question, the piracy taboo, the true catch 33 question for every underground band. In my point of view piracy is always going to happen. The thing is, people who fight against it say they are doing to protect the bands and their copyright work and that’s just not true!
Let’s face it. The way bands like us make profit is at gigs selling merch and albums directly to the consumer. And that’s the thing that people who fight against it don’t understand. People download albums and music not to harm the band or the musician but most of the cases is because they just don’t feel it’s correct the price that major stores sell or even the taxes that comes with that! The only I ask and wish is that the people who downloaded our album support us in anyway they can with comments, buying the album, buying merch and most of all coming to the gigs. If everyone that does download an album of an artist and then come to a gig of them this was a different story…
Any final words?
Daniel: Thanks for the interview!