Blood Harvest Records has had a fantastic roster of releases this year, many of which we’ve been lucky enough to premiere in recent months. One of the elements I like the most about the label is their emphasis on South American metal, as their reissues and other releases bring material my way that I might have missed otherwise. They’ve saved one of their best efforts for the tail end of the year though, as November 25th will see the release of ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ on vinyl, the second full length from Paraguayan black/death/thrash band Master of Cruelty (CD is being handled by Deathrash Armageddon). It has been four years since Master of Cruelty’s last full length, though they’ve had some splits and an EP in between. Today we’re premiering the record in its entirety, and it’s one of the better examples of the level of talent that can be found in South American metal.
‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ begins with Mortem Prima Lex, a soft intro that uses haunting melodies and whispered vocals in a way that feels like it’s leading you to the gates of Hell and the unknown. It’s a great way to start things off, and with how often intro tracks feel like throwaway material to me it was exciting to find one that builds the atmosphere of the record and proves to be thoroughly engaging. From that point on Master of Cruelty launches into their attack and doesn’t look back, and their particular blend of black, death, and thrash incorporates a lot of familiar elements without feeling generic. The songwriting is at an entirely different level than most of the other bands of this ilk, as the instrumentals might go from a fast paced old-school attack over to some slower, brooding moments that let the atmosphere build. What’s continued to draw me back to the album are the melodies that creep into each song, as that raw, old-school base is layered with eerie melodies that make Master of Cruelty more dynamic than some of their peers. Vocalist A.G.V delivers a raspier scream that hangs over the recording with an ominous, ghastly presence, and that’s another element that puts this record over the top.
‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ is out on vinyl from Blood Harvest Records November 25th, with CD available from Deathrash Armageddon. Fans of everything from raw South American black/thrash to slower, epic black metal a la Varathron won’t want to miss out on Master of Cruelty’s sophomore full length, as they’re one of the most promising groups I’ve heard from the region in recent memory. Check out the music alongside an interview with vocalist/lead guitarist A.G.V, and based on his long list of recommendations below it sounds like I should do some more exploring into the Paraguayan metal scene.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. In the time that passed between ‘Spit on the Holy Grail’ and ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’, you brought in new bassist Vomitor. How did he become a member of the band and what made him the right choice?
Master of Cruelty (A.G.V): Best Regards from the land of Paraguay!!!!Where darkness dwells in putridity, listening to Mausoleum (Bra) in this moment and drinking some cold tereré!!!Well….”Vomitor” plays with me in a band called Diagonal de Sangre and Nidaros Desecration….so…I knew him years ago. Of course he recorded the second album, and played live rituals several times. Now…he is dealing with some personal issues and I don’t know for sure if he will continue in MOC. “E. Aldebaran” (Nidaros Desecration/ex Evil Force) is now playing bass…he was with us in “Necroblasphemy IX”, the traditional underground concert where we presented ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’…and now he will play in Ciudad del Este with us on 10/12 and with Mystifier on 17/12…everything is going great up to this moment. We wish to continue like this…
TO: This time around you recorded in 340 Studios, whereas the debut was recorded at Las Palmeras Studios. What was the recording process like at this new studio, and were there any elements you approached differently this time around?
Master of Cruelty: Well…it was a very easy way to record indeed. All the instruments together…we did that in a few hours. And then I recorded the vocals…and backing vocals…and then the first track Mortem Prima Lex…a weird sick and dark introduction to the depths of the underworld…that has keyboards….acoustic guitars, phantasmagoric backing vocals…and other elements. The intention was to prepare the listener for the violence that is coming. You first have to open the gates….walk through the hall…and then enter the chamber. That was the idea more or less. “340 estudios” is a good place to record…and Tony Jara gives you what you ask. We highly respect “Las Palmeras” records, the most important studio for underground metal in my country!!!We are thinking up new material…and will definitely go to “Las Palmeras” once more. The process took several sessions and months to work on the right sound. But we used heavy gear such to get a powerful raw sound. Not easy listening shit…but you can appreciate the madness. At least we tried to do that hehehe
TO: You entered the studio last year, but how long did it take to write the material for the album? How do you guys tend to write your material, is it more of a joint effort or does each member spend a lot of time writing individually?
Master of Cruelty: Well…the main creative center point of Master of Cruelty is “The Vandalic” and myself. This is not forced. It is just something that happened. I usually come with the general idea of the track and lyrics…we work together and then show the track to the other members that are equally important in all the whole concept of MOC. Having the formation we have now in MOC is fucking excellent. I have a deep obsession in writing the most horrible abominations,…at least to me and I am honoured to work with them. Nights and dawns sometimes I come up with an idea…and I cannot rest until it comes out!!Its really disturbing …an obsession to bleed.
TO: I really like the way the album starts off, as opener Mortem Prima Lex starts things off with a chilling melody that sounds like you’re heading into the underworld. Tell us more about the creation of this track.
Master of Cruelty: As I said in question two…Mortem Prima Lex prepares the ear…the listener…to fucking lashing chaos and obscurity. So it is a felt wounded melody. I imagine desperation and endless paranoia. But at the same time…it is a sure path…you know where you must go…it leads you. This album is important to us…like a profound manifest of what MOC is and represents. A personal thing of course. It is really great to know some crazy maniacs around the world can feel the nails in their throat…and understand what we try to do with this album. So to speak.
TO: You’ve still got plenty of raw blackened death/thrash on this album, but I noticed there’s more of an emphasis on melody and atmosphere than before. Was this a natural progression from your earlier material? What groups have you taken influence from as you have grown as song writers?
Master of Cruelty: It was just the right way for Master of Cruelty. We try to have an identity and our own vision. We are working hard for that, and give priority to this madness. All the band members are black metal devotes as well…but of course all of us …are just demonic metalheads that truly feel this in our inner self. So extreme means extreme and there must be a spectral goal in everything. Mortuary Drape, Bathory, Sarcofago, Nihilist, Unleashed, Master`s Hammer, Sabaoth, Varathron, Violent Attack and Darkthrone…along with Morbid Angel, Profanatica, Pentagram, and Parabellum. Hahaha the influence can be felt I think but we don’t wish to copy anybody…Just be ourselves…no matter how ugly we are.
TO: The cover art for ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ was done by Mark Riddick and looks absolutely fantastic. When you started working with him, what ideas did you have in mind and how do you feel he was able to bring your vision to life?
Master of Cruelty: This painting done by Mark Riddick is absolutely astonishing for me. I gave him the concept and he painted just what we wanted. A very mysterious shade of doom is upon this cover. There is the presence of U.D.O.S and MANTOS. The four skulls…the bridge…the dimension in the background…the cemetery…the tree…bones. Sick stuff. We started working months before we recorded. We hate to waste time and Mark as the professional and the artist he is delivered perfectly.
TO: Is there an overall theme to the songs on ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’, or do they each discuss different topics?
Master of Cruelty: They discuss different topics but it works as a whole. Even the track order has a purpose. I hope every headbanger reads the lyric and gets into another plane…and oblivion. Faster and slower.
TO: The CD is already out from Deathrash Armageddon with the vinyl coming from Blood Harvest on November 25th. You’ve worked with both labels before, as they put out ‘Spit on the Holy Grail’. How has it been working with both labels?
Master of Cruelty: Rodrigo from Blood Harvest and Yukiteru from Deathrash Armageddon have our eternal respect for their dedicated work and support to MOC. We are grateful to them for all these years of darkness. Everything is correct with both labels…serious real underground labels. Also we hail Jovany from Triumvirate of Evil/Warfuck Recs (Colombia) that will do the tape version of the album!!!!!Also in November I think!!!
TO: You’re once again releasing material on CD, vinyl, and tape. Do you have a preferred format when it comes to metal?
Master of Cruelty: Well…the most important thing is the noise…the sound itself…The composition. But we are deeply honoured that our evil stuff can come out in three formats. That is the way it should be.
TO: I’m a fan of a lot of the bestial, raw metal South America has to offer, but I have to admit that I’m not overly familiar with what Paraguay has to offer. What is the metal scene like in your country and what are some other bands our readers should check out?
Master of Cruelty: Paraguay has a lot to offer in fucking METAL since the 80s…headbangers should investigate and they will find some crazy and insane bands. Metal Urbano, Rawhide, Sabaoth, Violent Attack, Powerdrive, Diabolical, Disincarnated, Khyron, Ekron Cult, Rotten Grave, Infernal Command, Caligula, Glorification, Black Hordes Scorn, Atomic Curse, Ablaze, Caceria, Funeral, Intestinal Rape, Gladiador, To Arkham, Sepulchral Throne, Ceremonium.etc!!!! These bands have material recorded!!!I missed some names and that is why bangers should investigate and search bands!!!!Also an amazing raw violent punk/hc scene with 200 muertos, Rabia Kallejera, DL 50…Tolerancia Cero, Pestilencia etc…and dirty punk metal is Suburban Bastards!!!I am involved with Yetna Apmaskema, Diagonal de Sangre, Nidaros Desecration and Srbosjek. This is not a game for us…it’s a way of existence.
All the band members are black metal devotes as well…but of course all of us …are just demonic metalheads that truly feel this in our inner self
TO: You’ll be playing with Mystifier in December, are there any other live performances coming up? Is there any possibility of getting over to Europe or elsewhere in the next year or two?
Master of Cruelty: Well…the ritual with MYSTIFIER is a real honour. That is a legendary band and we respect them forever. So…to share stage is beyond words…we’ve followed their black metal since so long ago. We want to do concerts outside our country of course. Till now the proposals were not very good for our pockets so to speak. Because we are hardworking people, we don’t have money to spend hehe in tickets to go there, we have to pay our house bills hahah. I don’t worry about such stuff…the priority is to record and not to play live. But it would be amazing to have a serious offer and visit other lands to deliver our hellish Paraguayan metal of death.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ or Master of Cruelty?
Master of Cruelty: Just that we value the fucking support many maniacs have shown us from many parts of this world in decadence…HAILS TO fanzines, labels, demonic bands we share a common goal with and sick demons of the underground. Our respects!!!Master of Cruelty is not resting. I have 5 tracks…ideas…and all the lyrics. Maybe we will have an EP…or a third album…We shall know further on. All I know is the title. For now…you have our second album ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ to torturate your ears and presence brutality. FACTA NON VERBA!!!A.M.S.G.