Interview with vocalist and guitarist Martín Revoredo
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 6, 2023
Spectral Souls, formed in 2019, is a 4-piece band from Lima, Peru, who play old-school death metal, not too far removed from the sounds of Possessed, Death, Slayer and the like. The band independently released their debut album, Towards Extinction, both digitally and physically back in May 2022 but then inked a deal with long-running Dutch label Hammerheart Records for the reissue of the album (CD/LP) in early 2023.
We here at the infamous The Metal Crypt headquarters became aware of them when doing an extensive article about the Peruvian underground metal scene a while back, after they really caught our attention.
Of course, the best way to learn more about bands is to arrange interviews with detailed questions and all that jazz. We contacted the band's driving force, guitarist and songwriter Martín Revoredo to get the story behind the band and fortunately, Martín was willing to answer our questions...
Hey there, Martín... how's it going?
Martín: Luxi, everything is great around here! Thanks to you for having us for an interview.
Spectral Souls was formed around 2019 and I "discovered" the band when I was contacting many Peruvian musicians for an article about the Peruvian underground metal scene. Could you tell us how Spectral Souls came about? Was it easy to find like-minded musicians that shared the same vision you had as far as the band's music is concerned?
Martín: In 2018 David, Miguel and I were playing in a Peruvian death metal band and after that band was put on ice, we wanted to continue doing music and eventually decided to form a new band with Miguel on vocals, David on drums and me on guitar. I had 6-7 songs that I had been writing for a long time and initially these songs were going to be used in the other band, but we took them for our new project.
We started searching for a bass player and another guitarist. I knew Adrian from the Peruvian scene as he played bass for his own project, so I called him and asked if he wanted to join us in a death metal band. He immediately said, "yes, I do!" In the case the other guitarist, my friend Felix Silva, who helped in another band which both of us were in previously, joined as well. This lineup played our first gig, but after we had some differences and decided to replace Felix with Walter Costa (who also played on the Towards Extinction album) and for the vocalist's role we really didn't have any other options at that time. I was writing more songs and as I used to sing on the demos, Adrian proposed that I should sing in the band too. I was against the idea because I'm not a singer, but at the end he managed to convince me to become the vocalist of the band. After the album was released and some gigs got played, Water Costa left the band and we called Manuel Rodriguez, who is a very respected musician here in Peru. This is how we got our current lineup together.
TRUSTING OLD-SCHOOL DEATH METAL
After listening to your debut album, Towards Extinction, originally released just digitally in April 2022, it's easy to notice that you guys love old-school death/thrash metal and bands like Possessed, Death, Vital Remains, Slayer, etc. Apparently old-school death metal without any compromises was what you wanted to capture through your music, right?
Martín: It is important to know the album was released not only digitally at first, there was also a physical album available, the first digipak edition from us prior to the Hammerheart edition. And as far as the old-school death metal is concerned, you are right, we love that music, and all our clear influences are out there for sure. I always wanted to sound old school and respect the old-school death metal sound. Bear in mind that I don't really have anything against the modern metal sound but I don't want to sound like that!
If trying to find some reference points to the core sound of Spectral Souls, which 2-3 albums would you say both inspired and motivated you to form Spectral Souls?
Martín: Of course, the first three albums from Monstrosity, the Testimony... album from Pestilence and the whole discography from Death should answer your question pretty well I guess.
Does the band name Spectral Souls have a deeper meaning?
Martín: When we were talking about the name, it actually was Miguel who came up with the idea. We love horror movies, skulls, ghost stories, etc., so we were throwing that idea around a bit and then Miguel said we are kind of like "spectral souls." We loved it, so that was basically how we got the name.
INKING A DEAL WITH HAMMERHEART RECORDS
You inked a deal with the well-known Dutch label Hammerheart Records for the CD/vinyl release of Towards Extinction. Did this deal happen painlessly, and were there other labels out there that were interested in working with your band?
Martín: In 2022, I was in Maryland, USA because of the Maryland Death Fest, so I had some material with me to show to promoters there. One day at home before going to the festival, I was talking to my friend Jose Okamura, who is the bass player in Mortem, and we were talking about promoters I should contact. He said, "why don't you contact Dutch label Hammerheart Records?" For me it was an "OK" idea but I didn't take his suggestion seriously at that time. I let more time pass before contacting them. Eventually I sent a Facebook message to the label together with the link to our album, but after doing so I completely forgot the whole thing. If I remember correctly, after a week or so I got mail from them asking me whether I would be interested in working with them, which was a surprise because I had already forgotten the whole original message. At the same time, I was very happy to get their positive feedback. That's how the cooperation began between the label and our band.
As this album has been out for some months now and you have got some distance from it, how pleased would you say you are overall with the band's debut?
Martín: The re-released version from the label has kept us close to the album. It feels like a new beginning for us because our main goal was to get a foot in the door to the European metal market, so the re-release through Hammerheart Records helped our situation a lot.
As for our debut album, we didn't expect a huge reaction to it, but received some truly great reviews. We are, of course, very happy and grateful for all those positive reactions. Also, we have been doing some videos to promote the album, so in that sense it still feels close to us.
TOUGH TIMES DURING THE RECORDING PROCESS
You recorded the album between August and November 2021 at Giovanni Lama Studios in Lima, Peru. Would you enlighten us on the recording process itself? I mean, obviously, you recorded the album in several sessions in the months between August and November...
Martín: The process was hard because we were in the COVID situation and for a few months we couldn't go out, so we had a relatively short time to do everything and it took more time to get everything done than we expected. On the bright side, we had more time to listen to our material within the recording progress and change many things that we didn't fully agree on. But, unfortunately, the process was stopped, and we needed to start over and over again. For example, the drums had to be recorded in two separate sessions because our drummer David [Suchero] had his old parents at home and he feared to infect them, so we had to record with masks on and that was actually very difficult for him. So yeah, it was a really hard process to get it recorded but we finally managed to get it all done.
Did you produce the album yourselves or did you hire someone to do the job?
Martín: Yes, we produced the album ourselves because we wanted to do things the way we wanted. At the end of the process, it was Adrian who took the controls for both mixing and mastering the album. I think he did a great job, as I always say, he was a true magician in this show! Obviously, Giovanni helped us a lot with all his experience, too.
FUTURE GOALS, CHANCES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Are you aiming to play shows outside of Peru, maybe a few festival slots in Europe and in the States, for example?
Martín: The main goal is to play in Europe and the USA all we can. The metal scene in Peru is small, so since the beginning our intention was to conquer new markets and put the name of Peruvian metal on the map. We are focusing on that and, of course, playing in every possible country that we just can.
On March 25, you are set to share the stage with the US underground legends Nunslaughter in Lima. Do you know those guys and how much are you looking forward to playing that gig with them?
Martín: Sadly, this gig was canceled. The promoters had a problem, so they had to cancel the event, unfortunately. However, we have some good dates booked and one of them is a surprise, so we cannot talk a lot about that for now. Also, on March 11th we will play with some other Peruvian bands in a great festival, which is called Total Thrash Attack Fest.
What is it like in Lima to get a gig for a metal band? Do you have enough venues there that tolerate extreme music or are most of the club owners sissies and pussies that only book bands that have "softer" elements within their music?
Martín: Peru has a lot of metal bands, but only a few venues for metal bands. Unfortunately, we have a small metal scene in our country, although many famous international metal bands visit the country quite often. Lima is a very modern city, but most of the bigger venues are working with traditional tropical music.
Yes, as you said, the club owners prefer lighter music, soft rock and that type of stuff. Peru really isn't a metal country, or at least the majority of the people over here like tropical music. Many metal gigs are for underground metal bands, but when big and internationally known bands come, many bigger venues open their doors more for the public, generally speaking.
What's been your best gig experience thus far?
Martín: Recently we played in Cuzco City and I think that has been the best gig experience for us thus far. It was an amazing gig for us. The production, the audience, etc. everything was great. However, as far as my personal career is concerned, I must say that I have some great memories from when we opened for Pestilence in 2017.
Are you currently booking as many gigs for the band as possible?
Martín: Yes, we have already booked some dates in Peru, but, unfortunately, the internal political situation is making it hard to do all of them. We are expecting this political problem will get a solution ASAP and be able to close all the deals and, of course, we will be also expecting that our debut album gets a good reception through Hammerheart Records and will open some doors for us in our country, too.
When looking to the future, I suppose your focus will be on writing stuff for your follow-up album, unless I am completely mistaken. How much have you written already or are you still at the early stages when you only have a handful of riffs?
Martín: The second album is already written. We are just about to start putting everything in place. I already sent some parts of the songs to the other guys to work on, so I believe in around six months we will be ready to enter the studio. This process is pretty simple: We just play a series of riffs, record them, etc. and then put them in order and build a full song out of them. I think it's very important to record all the ideas because the mind can be really fragile, and if you don't do so, then they may be gone.
If there was one band you'd like to tour with (either domestic or international), what band would be it? Possessed, eh?
Martín: There are a lot of bands I like so much, but I would probably say Monstrosity, Pestilence, Suffocation, Carcass and, of course, Possessed.
What would you like to achieve in your life with the band?
Martín: Becoming well recognized in the metal scene as a Peruvian death metal band and getting a chance to play at a big festival with some of the bands I have grown up with. That would be nice.
How much do you believe in your band? Do you have so much faith in it that you firmly believe you will still be making music with Spectral Souls after 5 or 10 years?
Martín: Trust me I believe 100% in the potential of my band. I mean, all the guys in Spectral Souls are amazing and everyone is truly bringing all of their past experience and talent into the band because they know there is an opportunity to do something big. Also, our families and friends stand behind us 100%.
OK, I guess that's all I had in mind for this conversation, so many thanks for your time, Martín, for answering the questions. I want to wish you all the best with your future endeavors with the band. Any fitting closing words perhaps?
Martín: I just thank you for the opportunity and supporting us and making our music and the band known beyond our frontiers. I hope to see you at a Spectral Souls gig someday.
|Other information about Spectral Souls on this site
|Review: Towards Extinction
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