Interview with vocalist and guitarist Karl Rosales
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 10, 2018
Quite likely some of you have visited San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines and fell in love with the absolutely beautiful and breathtaking landscapes. Being a tourist in some far distant country is nice and relaxing, isn't it?
From the same place comes a truly badass Death/Thrash Metal trio called Mass Hypnosia. Formed back in 2009, Mass Hypnosia have been making a name for themselves with two full-length studio albums (Attempt to Assassinate, released in 2010 and Toxiferous Cyanide, released in 2016) plus a couple of split albums and are becoming an underground force. The band has also shared stages with international acts like Possessed and Angelcorpse, giving them much-needed experience.
The Metal Crypt contacted Karl Rosales (guitar/vocals) to talk about this Philippine Death/Thrash gem, that country's underground Metal scene and what they have in store in the near future.
Luxi: Let's start by asking, how you are doing, Karl?
Karl: Everything is fine over here Luxi. Just having coffee and spending time writing songs. I'm currently reviewing new songs and mastering songs for a friend's band. This week has been a bit stressful for me.
Luxi: Mass Hypnosia was formed back in 2009. Would you tell us how you first found like-minded musicians to play Thrash/Death Metal?
Karl: Those were very special times for us because I had the most free time. Emman and I saw each other again that year after long years of hibernation. We were both caught in the pit of working or earning money. Thrash Metal music was very rampant during those days. There were lots of kids and great artists performing the same genre.
Luxi: What were some of the bands that were influences for Mass Hypnosia in the beginning?
Karl: Mass Hypnosia had lots of influences in those days. We were big fans of Kreator as well as Swedish and US Death and Thrash Metal bands. It's crazy stuff, my friend, as we have lots of influences. We even had a crisis in terms of what to write since we were jump-starting the band. But the mission of the band is to go extreme and create a new sound based on local acts from those days; to Violate, Penetrate and Lacerate.
Luxi: The debut album, Attempt to Assassinate, pretty much set the musical direction for Mass Hypnosia; furiously and wildly performed Thrash/Death Metal that pays homage to the band's earliest influences from Kreator to Possessed and so on. Are you still happy with the debut?
Karl: The Attempt to Assassinate album really set the direction for Mass Hypnosia and its release will always remind us that we are still in this godforsaken game. There was a time when the band decided not to play and focus on family and other stuff but we really can't help ourselves and decided to continue. There is this saying that goes "your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end". We are happy because it's our first album, which we highly celebrate. We never thought we would have an album given that it's very hard to create and produce one. However, I'm not fully satisfied with its tone in the end. Maybe if we were given a bit more time, it will satisfy us more. But during those times, the excitement of having an album caught up with us, which was a lifelong dream. But we did learn our lessons and that's what's important. All the mistakes were corrected in the second album, Toxiferous Cyanide.
Luxi: To me it seems Attempt to Assassinate was well received among metalheads around the world. The only problem is the distribution; it's really hard to find. Are you trying to find a distributor for Europe and the USA?
Karl: Yes, the maniacs abroad are fond of listening to our debut album. It's a must-have for maniacs who want their Thrash brutal and better sounding.
Our dear friend Alvin Esperanza released the album on December 4, 2010 under One-A Records, limited and probably just enough for locals and a few copies for sharing around Southeast Asia. We really had no idea that a number of maniacs overseas would be excited about that release. In fact, inquiries on AtA grew after the release of our second album. However, the label decides the future. But we just hope that it will be seen in Europe and USA catalogs someday.
Luxi: How did you end up signing a deal with German Ragnarök Records?
Karl: I guess we ended up with Ragnarök Records because we first released the album on cassette with limited copies on Varmtstal Records (Malaysia). They are also great friends of ours. Two tracks were uploaded on Bandcamp as part of the promotion. It got noticed by Stephan, who is the best in his job, from Ragnarök Records. We didn't send the Attempt to Assassinate album to him, which sucks because he has been hunting down that album for quite some time now. I think he found a copy over the net but it's a bit pricey. Our royalties are also sold out and we have nothing to share for now. But I am still hoping I can find a copy for his collection.
Luxi: Your follow-up album, Toxiferous Cyanide, came out on Ragnarök Records in December 2016, and you pushed the pedal to the metal even more. Do you believe Toxiferous Cyanide will please you for many years to come?
Karl: I like that phrase "pedal to the metal" haha!! Yes, we pretty much pedaled it up to prove ourselves on that record and we are amazed at how thrash maniacs hailed the songs. That record was six years in the making and we spilled a lot of blood just finding the proper tone, my friend. We have already written the songs for the third album even before TC was released. Mixing and mastering were the main issues in that whole music production. We can't find the perfect balance for it because each song has its own personality. We really didn't have any interest in releasing it until our friend in Malaysia (Varmstal Records) got interested and pushed us to release the album on cassette. There were lots of sacrifices but they were all worth it.
Yes, Luxi, that record still gives us chills every time we listen to it. It has the perfect tone the band is trying to achieve.
Luxi: When you write songs for Mass Hypnosia, what things do you pay attention to get the sound you want that best represents the band?
Karl: Usually getting inspired is number one. There are times when the tunes just come to you. Sometimes lyrics don't match or are missing a lot, so it has to sit for a while until you get the proper words or note for it. We really don't have any ritual. Maybe one thing is just watching the news or drinking alcohol with Emman or just relaxing a bit and find the perfect timing to draft the song.
Luxi: Do you normally take the judge's role as to which songs can be used for Mass Hypnosia?
Karl: While it is true that I write 70% of the riffage and lyrics, everything is polished during rehearsals, where each individual provides input. If we feel a part does not work, then we immediately ditch that in favor of what we can stand behind 100%. At the end of the day, we write songs we enjoy hearing ourselves.
Luxi: Most of the songs on Toxiferous Cyanide were released on splits and demos (7 out of 8 songs). Did you want to re-record this old stuff with a better studio quality and save the band's new songs for your next album/EP release perhaps?
Karl: Only three songs from the album were released by Bloodbath Records (Thrash Daisakkai- Japan), which have different vocal production and mix. We rearranged those songs and dubbed all the vocals again. Sometimes it helps you to review your songs, to make a demo of the whole album and listen to it until your ears bleed. During its production, we also thought of re-recording the full-length album, but we thought that that was enough. For the third album, we already have 14 songs, but Emman and I will pick nine and make an EP first followed by a full-length.
Luxi: Is it easy to find professional recording studios in the area where you live?
Karl: Lucky enough, we have friends and comrades that run a studio who understand what we are doing. Professional recording studios are easy to find here but most of them are costly. Aside from them, I also have some knowledge of the whole recording process, which makes it easier to complete the album. It also saves us time and money, plus we have the luxury to focus on the sound that we like.
It's not that easy for us to make this follow-up album. We all have day jobs, so we see each other once a week. Once a good riff or idea pops out in my mind, I make sure to record it on my phone or simply write it down. The whole album concept is all blood, sweat, and tears. We have been to different recording studios to find the right place for us. There were lots of re-arrangement of the song structures. You will never really know if it is the final output. The whole process is a total mindfuck. We really put all our effort and sacrifices here in this second album, and we are proud and confident that we outdid the first one.
Luxi: Do Metal bands use their own home studios for demo/album recordings?
Karl: There are lots of recording studios here in the Philippines but only a few that produce a sound that fits an old school Metal vibe. Some studios offer a sound that is either over-produced (which kills the DIY ethic completely) or too raw.
For MH we use both elements and demand for a lot of headroom for our recording. We know our music style very well and what it should sound like. We push ourselves to the limit. We usually make drafts of our recording and study what is missing until we all agree on the sound or the whole production of the song. Hell, we don't care if time is wasted as long as we are fully satisfied with the final outcome. We usually don't hire someone, we tried but recently I tend to do all the mixing so its fucking DIY, fewer people to haggle and less money spent.
Luxi: Mass Hypnosia have played a bunch of gigs and according to one pics I saw on the Internet, one was in support mighty San Francisco Death Metal warriors Possessed. How was that experience for you guys?
Karl: We have done a lot of shows since 2009 and there are lots of gigs here in the Philippines. Just in Manila, oh it was crazy bro! It was pulled off by In Coffin and Sick Chainsaw Productions. We were invited, and we flew in and played. It was a bit scary and tense, but all went fine and great. We have a lot of respect for the mighty Possessed.
Luxi: Are you aiming to play some gigs outside of the Philippines in the future? How are those plans progressing? Do you book your gigs yourselves or do you have someone who has taken on this task?
Karl: We really shared our music abroad and it was really an underground thing to do. Visiting a place or country is necessary for Mass Hypnosia, but sharing our sound in person is hard as it entails lots of preparation. We do sometimes book ourselves as we know a lot more about our airline's promo packages. Sometimes they book us to play in their country or play locally, but we always assist. Playing outside from our comfort zone is always an opportunity as it helps us learn more and meet new friends and share camaraderie.
Luxi: Are there bands in your home country that you enjoy playing with due to a similar musical style?
Karl: Absolutely! Bands like End of Man, Exitus and Amaranhig. There are lots of bands to mention but those are off the top of my mind. They have cool attitude and musicality, you should interview them also my friend.
Luxi: I noticed that one of the cover songs you have played is Demolition Hammer's ".44 Caliber Brain Surgery", which fits your set list perfectly. What other cover songs have you done?
Karl: Mass Hypnosia has a lot of influences and we cover songs as a tribute to what those guys did for the genre. We'd like to help bands like us form their own respective characteristics to their sound. Aside from Demolition Hammer's ".44 Caliber Brain Surgery" we also did a cover of Death's "Denial of Life", a few live covers of Kreator's "Extreme Aggression" and "Betrayer", and Braindead's "Eternal War".
Luxi: Can you recommend some other Philippine bands to readers of The Metal Crypt; bands we should keep our ears out for in the future?
Karl: There's a Death Metal band here called Amaranhig. Their name means undead or living dead in Western Visayan dialect. All their songs are written in our native language. They play mid-paced old school horror-infused Death Metal. You should check them out, they just released their debut album in March 2017.
Luxi: How was 2017 for Mass Hypnosia overall? Do you believe you have a great year ahead of you?
Karl: 2017 was good to us. We have a new drummer now. He is cool and plays pretty tight. We also had a gig in KL, opened for Angelcorpse last August here in Manila. But, the highlight of it all was the release of our second album (Toxiferous Cyanide) which received a lot of positive feedback, reviews and gig invites. It was very flattering and emotional for us because we really sweat our asses off with this album. I think we finished and released it at the right time.
Luxi: If you had to choose the three most influential Thrash Metal albums for yourself that made you grab a guitar back in the day, what would they be?
Karl: There are lots!!! I grabbed a guitar to play Beatles songs but for Metal it's Metallica's Master of Puppets album. It has lots of epic riffs. Kreator's Pleasure to Kill, which, in my opinion, is way ahead of its time. This album transcends Thrash, the riffs are so ugly and brutal they elevate this album to a Death Metal feel. The third one is none other than Slayer's Reign in Blood album.
Luxi: Thank you Karl for taking your time with these questions and keep up the great work with Mass Hypnosia. You are entitled to the famous last words.
Karl: Massive hails to you, Luxi, for your unbridled support for Mass Hypnosia - we are truly humbled. We would also like to send our gratitude to MH maniacs in South East Asia and in Europe; we hope to be able to play on Euro soil in the near future. We would also like to announce that we have signed with the mighty I Hate Records from Sweden for a vinyl edition of Toxiferous Cyanide; there will be the usual black wax and a limited colored version. Hopefully this will be released within the first quarter of 2018. Further details will be made available shortly. Kill or be killed!
Karl, on behalf of Mass Hypnosia.
|Other information about Mass Hypnosia on this site|
|Review: Toxiferous Cyanide|
Copyright © 1999-2018, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.