A brutal conversation with Sagrado
Interview by Meathook Mike
As all of you know the metal scene is a worldwide one so we thought we would reach out to Asia and speak with some veterans of the extreme metal scene in the Philippines. Recently hungover from celebrating 14 years together as a band (yes 14 years) Horror Metal Sounds spoke with SAGRADO (meaning Sacred) from Manila and asked a few questions regarding their time together and future plans.
The scene in the Philippines is a very healthy one for heavy metal with PULP being a regular festival there. The festival just announced its comeback after the COVID epidemic forced it to lay dormant for a couple of years. The scene for the underground extreme bands is in a very healthy place (I can testify to that having played there a few years ago myself), so without further delay; on with the interview.
HMS: I see from your videos on you tube you enjoy performing, the crowds are enjoying the performances too, was performing a natural thing for each of you or have you developed as the band played more shows?
SAGRADO: Audren - We've been in the game since 2009, and our task is to record the live performances that we have at every gig. We're looking to enhance it every time, especially since we play live once or twice a month. Additionally, we review videos on YouTube of other artists, especially from Western countries, to see how they perform their full sets live."
HMS: I think the drummers in brutal bands are extremely good, do you practise regularly away from the band?
SAGRADO: Jerome - I've been with the brutal scene for 8 years now and I can say that yeah a lot of my fellow drummers here are extremely sick. As of now, mostly I do practice during Sunday's at Jay's crib, wherein me and Jay doin' some jam with the new tracks for the upcoming album.
HMS: Which drummer(s) influenced you?
SAGRADO: Jerome - I began listening to Slipknot way back when I was in grade school, so Joey Jordison played a significant role in my drumming career up until now. However, when it comes to brutal drummers, Doug Anderson from Unfathomable Ruination is one of the underrated drummers out there, known for his unique playing style that incorporates elements of jazz. Of course, he also incorporates blast beats, similar to Lille Gruber from Defeated Sanity."
HMS: As a drummer do you play a big part in the arrangements of the songs, like let's stop here, blast there, half time etc?
SAGRADO: Jerome - During rehearsals all of us are open to any suggestions on how the drum fills will fit with the riffs but of course big part of it or 90% of that are my own idea that came up from my own style and influence
HMS: One for the guitarists and bass player; who are your influences and why?
SAGRADO: Jin - Of course, I didn't start with metal music, but I got into it when I started liking System of a Down and used to listen to Cradle of Filth before and my dad was my influence in playing the guitar.
Jay - I actually didn't dive right into death metal when I first started. In my generation, while I was learning to play the guitar, I began listening to bands like Saosin and From Autumn to Ashes. Later on, I explored blues to get a better sense of it, and that's where I started jamming with friends using a Sabbath backing track while enjoying some beer. Eventually, I came across Cannibal Corpse, and it felt like I needed something heavier. That's when I began to delve deeper into the genre and discovered great bands like Rotting Christ, Monstrosity, Gorguts, Martyr, Entombed, Dismember, and many others.
Audren - I started with Metallica's Cliff Burton then Mudvayne back in highschool. Ryan Martinie is a big part and this includes his Soften the Glare project. Nick Schendzielos from Cephalic Carnage and Job for a Cowboy was the next to catch my interest. Periphery 's Adam "Nolly" Getgood was the one who completed the circle for me.
Gelo (Session Bass and Guitar) - The first metal band I've ever heard was Mudvayne. OOHHH!! that Ryan Matinie clanky metallic warwick bbrr brr deng tone. Then I started searching for heavier bands and found Cannibal Corpse. I saw Alex Webster doing a Youtube tutorial on how to do 3 finger technique and started playing like him since that day. Speaking of firsts; the first Local BDM band that I've ever seen love was Sagrado way back in 2012. I play guitar as well and I can say that Jin is my guitar influence playing guitar BDM style. Even my old bdm band had a riff inspired by Ominous Secretion Through Execution.
HMS: About the songs, which comes first? The title, lyrics or music? And how do you develop them together. Do you write separately or jam through ideas in rehearsals?
SAGRADO: Stephen -Basically, the guitar riffs come first, followed by the drums and bass guitar once I've received the instrumentals. I then write lyrics to match the riffs and the beat of the drums, riff after riff.
HMS: About the songs you write, do you think this song has got to be heavier than anything we have done before?
SAGRADO: Jay - We can't say for sure; I suppose it's something for you all to discover soon!
HMS: Talking about songs tell us how your deal with the Spanish label Pathological Explicit Recording came about?
SAGRADO: Stephen - It was very remarkable and easy to work with; that's the reason we released two albums with the label. Shoutouts to Fernando of Pathological Explicit Records, and thank you for believing in our talent.
HMS: 2021 was your last release, any plans for a follow up to Abysmal Slaughter Of The Dead?
SAGRADO: Jay - Certainly, that last "Abysmal Slaughter of the Dead" album was quite a challenge since it was recorded during isolation. This time, we have the opportunity to meet face to face and frequently jam together in person. As a result, I anticipate that the fourth album we're currently working on and recording at Goreslam Productions with Frank overseeing it will have a more robust outcome.
Jerome - The good thing about this new album we are going to make is that we have the right arsenal for recording the stuff because we will be literally working in a recording studio. Plus, the drums will be naturally produced."
HMS: Stephen, I hear that you are a very accomplished guttural growler and what many would say pig squealer. I get the whole thing with the style of music and being a musician myself but say for instance Sagrado wrote a riff that needed say a clean or melodic vocal is that in your vocal arsenal?
SAGRADO: Stephen - Well that's a great question! I trained myself to listen to various types of music, especially old-school rock music. My mom and I used to jam together on the karaoke often. She would always buy minus one tapes, and then we'd sing along. Sometimes, I also rap when I have some free time, so I was able to create four songs last year. It seems like I can sing melodic and clean songs well if that happens.
"We usually hangout with other bands, especially those in different genres within the local scene."
HMS: Do you have a warm up routine for your vocals?
SAGRADO: Stephen - Certainly, right now, I'm a bit health-conscious, perhaps because I'm already 37 years old. Every other day, I visit the gym to strengthen my lung capacity through exercises like push-ups and core workouts. Another part of my warm-up routine is avoiding excessive drinking before we perform our set. Next, I find a quiet place to practice my vocalization and gestures, imagining that I'm already on stage. Additionally, I drink hot tea before recording my vocals, and it has proven to be effective for me. It helps to relax my voice.
HMS: Who writes the lyrics and is there a theme you stick too or do you write about several subjects?
SAGRADO: Stephen - Sometimes, Jay, who writes the lyrics, and I explore themes such as post-apocalyptic zombie infestations, past war crimes, extraterrestrial invasions, plotting a perfect murder, or even hatred within the context of politics in our local music scene.
HMS: About the scene at the moment which bands are leading the way?
SAGRADO: Stephen - the Brutal Death Metal scene here in the Philippines, there are pioneering bands like Human Mastication, Down From The Wound, and Pus Vomit; they are the ones leading the way.
HMS: Do you get in with other bands in the local scene? A healthy respect but some rivalry in order to push each other to benefit the scene make it stronger so to speak?
SAGRADO: Jin -We usually hangout with other bands, especially those in different genres within the local scene. Our aim is to engage with various genres in the local scene to promote our style of slamming brutal death metal. The rivalry is within ourselves; we strive to surpass our own limits. We are in competition with ourselves, not with others.
HMS: If you guys could play anywhere in the world where would your first choice be and why?
SAGRADO: Stephen -If there is a chance, our bucket list includes travelling across Southeast Asia. We have received some offers in the past, but unfortunately, we couldn't afford the airfare because all of us are family men and have financial responsibilities and personal savings commitments. We still hope that there might be a chance for someone else to cover all the expenses.
HMS: As Horror Metal Sounds is a music and Horror Zine do you have a love of horror movies?
SAGRADO: Stephen - I do love horror movies, and they serve as my inspiration for songwriting and sometimes I imagine myself that I'm the killer or the victim and that gives me an idea for writing some lyrics and save it to my notepad.
HMS: What type of horror movie do you enjoy? I mean you have the gore and zombie or monster types or the human psyche of human horror like Saw or Hostel?
SAGRADO: Generally speaking, we enjoy watching movies like Human Centipede, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jason X, Child's Play, Scream, The Grudge, The Conjuring, The Nun, Night of the Living Dead, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm also a fan of any kind of zombie movies, especially The Walking Dead. Additionally, we're interested in conspiracy theories, sci-fi, and war movies too.
HMS: I suppose romantic comedy is a no go then?
SAGRADO: Audren - I often watch those kinds of comedy here because sometimes it gives me positive energy.
Stephen - Life is like a romantic comedy sometime and you will never know what's your destiny!
HMS: Ok to each of you; a guilty musical pleasure? For example do any of you like an artist that people would not think you would enjoy or even a fan of musical films or plays?
SAGRADO: Gelo - Some of us listen to Kpop but me personally I listen to 80s/90s songs and R and b.
Jin - Yeah, I myself listen to Air Supply.
Stephen - I listen to many stuff if might be boring to others like romantic songs and new wave.
HMS: Any thing you'd like to say to music fans out there?
SAGRADO: Stephen - We would like to thank my family, my wife (Mex), and son (Izzy), our supporters from the scene, some merch and clothing companies we have worked with, including our labels from the present to the past, and those event organizers who believe in our talent. Please expect our new album will be out by next year!
Jerome -Just keep on supporting brutal death metal scene, make friends and stay sick!
Jin - Thank you to all the supporters since day one.
HMS: Thank you for your time and we wish you all great success. You can check out SAGRADO on their social media channels below.
Meathook Mike, HMS