Heart of Steel: Interviews

Sadistic intent - Interview with guitarist Rick Cortez

Interview by Arto Lehtinen

The L.A death metallers Sadistic Intent have been more than loyal to their old ancient death metal roots through several years of the existence by gaining the cult status following in the underground catacombs among the real death metal fans with the awesome killer, but rare outputs Resurrection and the mighty Ancient Black Earth. The long and highly expected first full length album The Second Coming… has faced more than unexpected setbacks, but still the awaited cult release will let us wait. The guitarist of Sadistic Intent, Rick Cortez made clear and tells a little bit about what's up and coming up in Sadistic Intent and unveils the secrets of the obscure Dark Realm Records record store. The Second Coming….


Hail and Kill, what's up there in LA and what's going on in the Sadistic Intent camp?

The Realm continues to spread darkness and Sadistic Intent has slowly but surely been getting it's current recording done. The curse continues and so do we…


In my opinion it is quite reasonable to start taking a glance at the latest events having happened in Sadistic Intent as Vincent Cervera has pulled out of the band to carry out other things. I can't help but inquire - what were the basic reasons leading to his departure?

To make a long story short, Vince decided he wanted a new career so he's going back to college and is no longer affiliated with Sadistic Intent or Dark Realm Records, that's basically it.


Does or has Cervera's departure effected your recording and publishing plans of the "a little bit too much" delayed album The Second Coming… as it was being worked on quite a long time. Now the main force of the band decides to leave. I assume it may cause some problems anyway?

No, it will not affect our recording or publishing plans at all. I do not want to discredit Vince for anything, but I need to clear up this misconception of the "main force" behind Sadistic Intent being gone now. I think that for some one to be considered the main force of a band, primarily that person would have to be a songwriter for the group. The fact is that Vince was not a songwriter for Sadistic Intent. He came out with one riff that we used for one of our songs and that was pretty much it. Bay and I are the founding members of Sadistic Intent and essentially have been the songwriters for the band. Secondarily, throughout the years Bay and I have for the most part represented and been the voice for Sadistic Intent by doing 99% of the interviews. I really appreciate the years Vince put into the band and do not want to appear negative towards him; however, by all means I do not want anyone to have the wrong impression that Sadistic Intent have lost the main force of the band. Currently I am recording all of the rhythm guitar tracks for "The Second Coming Of Darkness", and I'm glad to say that this has culminated into our tightest onslaught yet! Concerning any assumed problems, there is certainly the new reality of finding a missing piece to the puzzle (especially for the live situation) but it shall be done.


Who has been recruited to replace Vincent Cervera by the way?

We don't have a specific guitarist yet but I spoke with Jim Durkin (Ex-Dark Angel/Dreams Of Damnation) and a session with him is possible! I must state this though, his band is Dreams Of Damnation and if we do get together in Sadistic Intent he will be a session member. There are several guitar players out there who would like to join us but we'll see what happens…




Speaking of the delayed and long waited first full length album The Second Coming… I for one have been anxiously waiting for the unleashing date of the output, but frankly I have started loosing my hope of seeing the album in my hands because it has delayed a little bit indeed. Could you now make entire clear on the current situation of the album…

It's a long story, so I'll try to keep it brief. We originally started recording "The Second Coming Of Darkness" in the studio where we had already done a few recordings in the past. To begin with, this studio was not a very economical place to record at, so even without the waste of time we encountered, the recording budget was being spent rather quickly. We trusted the "producer" and let him do things his way and that was the biggest mistake we have ever done. This "producer" had a great sounding plan but when all was said and done he didn't even come close to accomplishing it. After wasting a lot of our time and money he then came out with some ridiculous contracts saying he wanted royalties and that's when we said, fuck that!! He then decided to hold on to our reels and got a lawyer! Necropolis Records also got a lawyer and all this red tape ended up taking several months more. When we finally got the master reels back after all that mess, we noticed our guitars had been tampered with! We had no choice but to find another studio and start re-recording due to all of that bullshit! We never got to record the intro stuff so we still need to complete that, as well as some vocals and bass parts that we chose to re-record. We are now working with Bernie Versailles of the bands Agent Steel and Engine. He's been occupied with both his bands among other things and quite frankly we don't have much of a choice but to wait for him. Sometimes we'll go weeks or even months without working in the studio but I have to mention this though, the financial reality of paying for studio time took its toll so either way we've had to put on the breaks so to speak. These set backs give us a chance to generate more money to pay for the studio costs so oddly enough these delays kind of happen to be convenient in that sense. That's the way it's been plus there are more factors adding to the extension of time, but personally all I can say is fuck it. I want this next recording to be something that will live up to my own expectations and gradually that's been happening! The music must take me to the obscure planes of infinite death and darkness. When the end is near, it shall embrace my soul…


The guitar wizard of Agent Steel Bernie has anyway been responsible for taking care of the whole production of the album?

Before I continue, I would like to say it's a pleasure to work with Bernie! He has his input but we spoke about this and I am basically doing the "producing". Nevertheless, Bernie is without a doubt a part of getting the recording done through his recording/engineering skills. Like I mentioned earlier, it is being completed slowly but surely…


But as far as I know whenever the album will see the light of day, or should I say the dark of night, it will be a real monumental death metal opus from the beginning to the sadistic end delivering a great amount of immortal tunes. Could you unveil something about tracks to be featured on the album and in general other detailed things about The Second Coming..?

Let's just say that this is another level of execution for Sadistic Intent. Rather than try to describe it, I will let it do that for it self when the time comes…


I can't help inquire what Necropolis has said or thought about this incredible delay?

I've spoke with Necropolis on and off and have to say that our terms have been on a mutual level that we can respect. I recently had contact with them and considering all the obstacles, things are still positive on their end. They're aware of what we're going through… They recently acquired better distribution in Europe so perhaps our luck will change…



To be honest with you, in my opinion Sadistic Intent have never been that active band when it comes to unleashing a new output every year or then every second year like bigger names usually do. That is, apart from some mini releases and then a few tribute tracks have been put out since the brilliant "Ancient Black Earth" came out in 97. Do you view above all the quality is more important for Sadistic Intent than amount of albums released one after another?

I would have to say yes because ultimately it's all about the magic of the arts for me. The way the music industry works is that bands typically are supposed to put out records before certain deadlines and then systematically tour to support the releases but that has not been our case. Sure that helps sales but sometimes it sounds like bands are rushed to come out with new material. If a band wants to do that, that's fine, more power to them. We have always been a band lurking in the depths of the underground and we just haven't subscribed to those typical music industry "rules". I completely believe that the notion of quality over quantity is apparent within "The Second Coming Of Darkness"…


As for "Ancient Black Earth", finding that cult release from any distributors or other underground labels turned out to be more than a "mission impossible" task for me and obviously other death metal freaks to track the album down and of course it was worthless to go to regular stores to search for it. How did you get the mighty mini CD distributed, from your own store or how? As far as I know only 1000 copies were printed..

Well, there was 500 hand numbered copies and the rest of the 1,000 or so copies we promotional. Originally we were not going to release "Ancient Black Earth" because it was only meant to be a promotional tape. However, we felt we owed it to our loyal supporters. We knew it would be a while by the time we recorded the album, but they kept on getting in contact with us wanting new material. On top of that, I remember there was a rumor that Sadistic Intent had broken up so that also gave us incentive to release "Ancient Black Earth". We have re-recorded the "Ancient Black Earth" tracks for our full length and I'm exceedingly pleased with the results!




Sadistic Intent had the honored privilege to have a pleasant guest to do the old Possessed tune "The Exorcist" - namely the legendary Possessed vocalist Jeff Becerra teamed up with you by doing all the deadly vocals for the track…. I read he wasn't that much sure if he was able to do that growling because of his lungs, but presumably the result turned out to be real mind-blowing?

Hell yeah, it was a total honor for us to collaborate with the true Death Metal legend Jeff Becerra! This is the voice behind "Seven Churches" and "Beyond The Gates"!! If someone would have told me back then that one day we would do a recording with Jeff Becerra I would not have believed it! But the truth is we did it and yes it was mind-blowing! We had a great time with Jeff and he kicked ass man!! Regarding his lungs, those things are still fuckin' Possessed!!!


Originally the track in question was supposed to come out on the Possessed tribute album which has of course delayed a little bit for several reasons, but you instead decided to put it out on you own and obtained a license deal with the German Iron Pegasus, right?

Yes, Iron Pegasus Records just released a limited edition 7" of 1,000 copies entitled "The Exorcist/Morbid Faith". "The Exorcist" is obviously the Possessed track featuring Jeff Becerra and "Morbid Faith" is an old song we brought back from our early days (1988). About a decade later we re-recorded this song twice at different studios, primarily because we were somewhat testing our studio options for "The Second Coming Of Darkness". This 7" features an exclusive version of "Morbid Faith" only available on this release. The label is also releasing it as an extremely rare picture disc of 100 copies! Once again, a special release for the diehards…


But what happened to that Possessed tribute album by the way, will it ever be unleashed?

Originally it was supposed to be released by Immortal Records in Poland about two years ago, but they've basically disappeared! I spoke with Jeff Becerra and he stands behind Dark Realm Records to officially release the Possessed tribute, so we're currently piecing it together! So far some of the bands confirmed are Sadistic Intent featuring Jeff Becerra, Absu, Angelcorpse, Cannibal Corpse, Damnation, God Dethroned, Pentacle, Sinister and several more honorable bands we're waiting on! We expect to have this release out by the fall of 2002 so for all of you interested, be on the look out!


You were involved with couple of other tribute outputs by doing a version of the old classic track "Return to the Eve" for the Celtic Frost tribute and "Necrophiliac" for the Slayer tribute. First off about the Slayer cover, I have always been quite skeptical and quite prejudiced toward these Slayer covers as 99.99% of all the recorded covers have been nothing but utter crap. Did you have any sort of pressure when recording the Slayer track as well as the Celtic Frost tune thinking if you are able to capture the same feeling to those tracks like the original ones have?

I didn't have any of that pressure recording those songs. I believe when a band does a cover song it does not have to be identical to the original version. I don't see the point of listening to a cover that sounds exactly like the original. I would rather listen to the original song in that case. I think it's only natural in a subjective sense that you have an opinion about cover songs. We actually had a few people tell us that they like our Slayer copy better than the original which is quite an incredible complement for me! To be honest with you, I did have some pressure doing the Possessed song because Jeff Becerra was in the studio with us! However in the end, Jeff told me that it turned out killer so that's all matters to me!


In general I for one have got a little bit fed up with all these tribute albums because there is a few hundred available in stores, for example the Black Sabbath or Maiden tributes, but when getting a hold of some lousy tribute album to your hands do you throw it away like a frisbee or..?!?

I have to admit, there have been a few worthy tributes but unfortunately some labels have been flooding the scene with them. Once again, this goes back to the typical quantity over quality issue. However, in our case with the Possessed one, I believe it's very worthy and has some honorable bands.




Speaking of gigs, as you recently stormed with menace in NJ sharing the stage with Destroyer 666, NunSlaughter and several other obscure nihilistic brutal death/black metal bands, what kind of reception did you receive? Or, judging by that gig and others that you have done, do you think there is still a huge demand for the true brutal death metal ?!?

There is certainly a demand but I wouldn't say a "huge" demand, because compared to so called "Nu-Metal" (ed. note: best called MALLCORE) for example, our scene is tiny. Regardless, we enjoy what we do with Sadistic Intent and whether people like or dislike our music is not our priority! Fortunately we do have a following which appreciates Sadistic Intent because it's always a pleasure to appear in front of an audience into your music. There were people at those shows who enjoyed it but compared to other places, we've definitely played in front of bigger crowds elsewhere. But even if there's 100 people at a gig to see us perform, we'll give it our all that we would do in front of 1,000 people! It's interesting, about a week later we did a show in Los Angeles and the turn out for Sadistic Intent was beyond our expectations!! Before that we had not appeared in L.A. for over a year but I guess you can say there's still a demand for true Death Metal!!!


I read the biggest crowd that you have played in front of was when opening up for Dark Angel in 89?

Yeah, that certainly was a big crowd! Back then Dark Angel was second to Slayer as far as being L.A.'s most popular extreme Metal band. The show sold out that night and the capacity was 2,500 people! That was a loud and insane crowd!!! That night I recall we opened with "Morbid Faith" and till the end of the set I just remember headbanging and hearing the crowd roar!!! We've played in front of some pretty big crowds at other shows and festival appearances but that night with Dark Angel was above average! It was one of those nights when the crowd was packed and just totally into it!! It was a great experience for us…


But I guess the most insane, loudest crowd must have been in Mexico, in fact you could tell a little bit more about your Mexican tour?

You're right, some of the Mexican Metal heads are insane! I remember some of the bands who toured with us were nervous in one of the cities because they said if the fans didn't like the bands they would actually force them off stage! I remember we played in front of 1,000 of those fans and yes it was fuckin' crazy and loud! Fortunately they enjoyed Sadistic Intent!!


Before starting writing questions down I went through some sites and came across a lot of cool pics taken from your shows and You have indeed paid attention to the visual side of the band to bring occultism and even blackish feeling to your show and it is real obvious the Sadistic Intent guys will never seen having these typical smelling t-shirts and normal black pants, right?

When I think of Death Metal, I envision the original Death Metal I first got into and it definitely had a dark mysterious atmosphere. We have done our best to keep it alive as well as build upon the unholy spirit which runs through our veins.


In the early 90's, death metal became one big hype, big international record labels picked up all kinds of bands claiming them to be a death metal band even though they had nothing to do with the whole death metal ideology. In the middle of the 90's death metal kinda vanished and went back to the catacombs of the underground until several even more brutal bands have arisen and have taken the brutality to another level of the extremity. What do you honestly think of the evolution of the death metal genre?

It's not that different from the early 90's for me. To be blunt about it, naturally some bands I enjoy and some bands I don't. As far as the evolution of Death Metal taking the brutality to another level, perhaps that's how the first generation of extreme Metal bands looked at us in the second generation but I look at it as a form of motivation. Death Metal continues and I'm glad that it lives on. We still enjoy what we do with Sadistic Intent and will continue to do things our way. Hopefully the future of Death Metal will keep the essence of its roots and not get ruined by a bunch of trendy fools like it did in the past.


But Sadistic Intent never got into that sort of bandwagon and mass hype raging at that time. Instead you went your own path!

Yes, it was really strange to see Death Metal transform into what it became in the early 90's. That mutation actually started happening before we lost our original drummer for nearly a year sometime in '92. Since we didn't have the whole line-up because of that, it was a dismal period for me so I didn't really keep up with my underground correspondence. We had various friends in the underground writing us and letting us know that the Death Metal scene was dying but I found it hard to believe. When Sadistic Intent returned in 1993, we recorded the "Resurrection". I still remember a lot of the underground Death Metal heads from the 80's had got fed up with the new spurious "Death" Metal scene and turned to Black Metal. We did not want to change our style so we continued doing what we were doing. We felt that there was hope for the Death Metal scene but the reality was that the vast majority of Death Metal had lost its spirit. The Black Metal scene actually had more of the original Death Metal elements and that is what Sadistic Intent related to and continued to be a part of. Although we already knew several in the Black Metal scene from their 80's Death Metal days, there were a couple new Black Metal rookies who did not want to feature us in their fanzines because we were stylistically known as Death Metal. One guy actually told us that he liked our music but he could not put us in his fanzine because it was an "all Black Metal" 'zine. Those types of pathetic opinions worked against Black Metal by making it trendy and inspired us more than ever to keep the fire of true Death Metal burning! Looking back at that era, I honestly do not recall anyone else standing up for Death Metal inside the black circle. Sure there was other Death Metal bands but either they were "big" bands not active in the trenches of the Black Metal underground, or they were doing interviews with the new "Death" Metal underground. Next thing you know there was several of the "only Black Metal allowed" fanzines telling us, only Black Metal and true Death Metal hordes like Sadistic Intent allowed. For a period of time it was really interesting being one of the only Death Metal groups within the Black Metal scene. Gradually over the next few years the Black Metal scene changed and more Death Metal bands started to appear. Due to different ideologies between the Black Metal scene itself, it got divided into sub-genres and eventually also suffered the same general fate Death Metal once did. Today I see even more in the Death/Black Metal scene uniting and that's the way it should be. No matter what happens, when Sadistic Intent comes to an end I know I'll be able to say that we always did what we wanted to do even if it wasn't the "in" thing.




Besides playing in Sadistic Intent you also a record store called Dark Realm Records, the store looks very …hmm.. let's say now, very metal covering a wide range of the extreme metal bands, you have got a lot of bands visiting there, I would like to drop by there some time….

"I have to say this though, if those bands were not known as "Metal" I wouldn't give a fuck because they would simply be irrelevant to me. They would be in the same mainstream category like most of the other irrelevant music on commercial radio."


Yes, we actually opened the store in 1994 and the goal was to be an extreme Metal shop. We wanted the atmosphere to be dark and I think we succeeded in doing that. Over the years we've had a lot of bands come by to do in-store appearances such as: Exodus, Dark Funeral, Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir, Cannibal Corpse, Mayhem, Cradle Of Filth, Marduk, Enslaved, Entombed, At The Gates, Hate Eternal, Samael, Dissection, God Dethroned, Grave and I believe there's more I'll probably recall later. There's also been members of bands who just stopped by to visit such as Dark Angel/Dreams Of Damnation, Possessed, Impaled Nazarene, Abominator, Napalm Death/Lock up, Immolation, Ancient, Demoniac, Incantation, Angelcorpse, The Chasm, Krisiun and I think that's about it at this time. I spoke with Shmier of Destruction and he said they would be willing to in-store when they return so I look forward to that. For years we've been doing what we can to keep the true Metal essence alive. Fads come and go but today the popular stuff is so called "Nu-metal" and when those fans come in here they are surprised not to see their favorite bands! The reality is that maybe we should be carrying some of that shit because paying the rent and all the bills is not easy. Even if we have to resort to that, we will always have the same goals. The fact is we need the money to survive so if these trendy fools want to buy that crap from us, why not? We could use that to the advantage of keeping Dark Realm and the extreme Metal scene alive. But for now we have not resorted to that because we have gone balls out to keep this place total Metal! I'll be straight out, I hate the fact that bands like Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Limp Biskit and so forth are considered "Metal"!! I have to say this though, if those bands were not known as "Metal" I wouldn't give a fuck because they would simply be irrelevant to me. They would be in the same mainstream category like most of the other irrelevant music on commercial radio. Apparently the major music industry is continuing with their corporate trendy agenda so I believe anyone who calls that "Metal" is either ignorant to the history of Metal, or is a fuckin' poseur!!!


Your record store operates as a record company unleashing albums by Draconis, Pentacle, Witchmaster and the first Dark Angel album "We have Arrived" and a distributor as well, but I have the impression you used to have another label called Gothic Rec which would have released the Absu album there, what is the connection between Dark Realm and Gothic?

When we first opened the shop we were partners with Enrique Chavez of Gothic Records but we ended up separating. Recently he came back so that's the connection to Gothic Records. In reference to the label, we're proud to have just released the CD's of Pentacle and Witchmaster, which by the way are both excellent conjurations of extreme and obscure Metal!!!


Before putting the period to this long in-depth interview I am obliged to find out your playlist, so unveil it here :

My playlist really depends on my state of mind so it varies from time to time. At any rate, I always listen to the ancient ones of Death/Black Metal but lately I've mostly been listening to several of the releases that I grew up with. I guess I'm stuck with the older stuff but I still enjoy it! Here's some of them:
AC/DC "Powerage"/"For Those About To Rock"
Judas Priest "Unleashed In The East"/"British Steel"
Black Sabbath "Heaven And Hell"/"Mob Rules"
Ozzy "Blizzard Of Oz"/"Diary Of A Madman"
Iron Maiden "Killers"/"Piece Of Mind"
Mercyful Fate "Don't Break The Oath"
Slayer "Hell Awaits"/"Reign In Blood"
Possessed "Seven Churches"/"Beyond The Gates"
Bathory "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark"
Destruction "Infernal Overkill"
Exodus "Bonded By Blood"
Kreator "Pleasure To Kill"

Ok I for one thank you for this long interview and your valuable time, so your last words…

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to voice my beliefs and all the best with Metal Rules. Last but not least, our extended gratitude to all of you who support Sadistic Intent. Stay dark and away from trends…

Check out the official Sadistic Intent Site at www.sadistic.com
and check out Dark Realm Records.