Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview with Zhema
Interviewed by Arto Lehtinen

The Brazilian extreme metal genre has become one of the most important influential metal scenes having influenced several current death/black metal bands. Several bands definitely owe more than enough as for the brutality and extremity to the first wave and generation of the Brazilian bestial thrash/death/black bands. Several old bands like Sarcofago, Dorsal Atlantica, Sepultura, Mutilator and Vulcano definitely paved the path and created their own original style which can't be fully adopted and copied by any other genre or band. Most of bands of the old Brazilian thrash/death/black metal scene have vanished without leaving any trace to track down. Some have ventured to play a more eccentric style. But the most pleasant surprise was to discover the reunion and comeback of one of the oldest Brazilian thrash/death bands -  namely Vulcano. The band unleashed the ground shaking LIVE! And Bloody Vengeance in the mid of the 80's which have become one sort of milestone of the Brazilian extreme metal scene and in general extreme underground releases. Until now the reunited Vulcano entered the studio to work on the comeback album Tales From The BlackBook which definitely presents the true old school death metal mayhem. It was a great opportunity of having the band's leader and founder Zhema to talk about the history of the band as well as the just released comeback album… VULCANO IS BACK !!!!



Hello there Zhema, how is it going on there right now in the Vulcano camp ?!?

That's all right here !! Listening to much metal and very busy with releasing of new album




Vulcano being one of the oldest extreme metal combos of the Brazilian scene have basically got activated after the long silent period. And on the 23th of August Vulcano hit the stage in Rio De Janeiro by playing at the "Old Attack Festival" along with Chakal, Apocalyptic Raids and a whole bunch of more band. And if you figured out right it was some kind of reunion of gig of Vulcano with the old vocalist Angel and the original drummer ?!

The first Vulcano's gig after 3 years which happened at the "Old Metal Attack Fest". Now Vulcano is back definitely ! That line-up that featured in that Festival is our new line-up. It is formed by me, Angel and Arthur who came from the second line-up of Vulcano. Basically Vulcano had 2 line-ups, the first that recorded "LIVE!" and "Bloody Vengeance" albums and the later one that recorded "Anthropophagy", "Who are the True" and "Rat race" albums. Me and Angel have been in the Vulcano since the beginning and we have recorded all of the albums together.


Well how was that gig anyway ?

It was great ! It was our first show after long long time! We gave the best of Vulcano. We performed all songs from the "LIVE" and "Blood Vengeance" albums. From the middle to end we played songs from our new album called "Tales from the Black Book". The audience was extremely hot and wild. I was really impressed with that gig !



Apparently you have done a handful of a few very carefully selected gigs since the mid of the 90's till now, as far as I know, during 96-98-01 and finally 03.. Do you always get on the stage every second year ?!

During that times Vulcano didn't have any new stuff to show. We only played old songs, but nowadays we have a new album with great songs, so we are able to do great gigs with much more frequency.



When did you basically decide to resurrect Vulcano back to the daylight after being on a hiatus for a decade ?! And was it hard to get the original vocalist Angel convinced to return to Vulcano ? And could you politely introduce the other guys involved in the reuinted Vulcano line-up ?

During long time, we answered about Vulcano reunion, and every time that I watched bands playing brutal songs and I felt that metal was running in my veins! Then I thought: It is time to do it again !!!!!!! Actually, Vulcano always has in its lineup Zhema and Angel. If you notice, both of us always are present in all Vulcano's albums. Just in the three bonus track on the CD version of LIVE album, Angel isn't in present. Those three songs was a personnel creation of Soto Junior and in that time Angel was very busy and didn't record them. Then, when I was going to search Angel and told him about this new album "Tales from the Black Book" he stayed very excited and started to work with me. When I started to write this new album, I was thinking of jointing together with Angel, Soto Junior and Arthur. But, after death of Soto Junior in December of 2001 I needed to change my plans. I invited for guitar André, a guy that played with me in several projects in the last years and for the other guitar Passamani.



But what led to the split up of Vulcano in the early 90's by the way ?!

Vulcano stopped in 1989, a year before RatRace's release. The metal scene here in Brazil was imbued with posers and wimps. There were many falses metalheads, bad labels, false press. All of them was walking to the metal fancy, grunge, "faith no more" (erghh!!). by the other way, Vulcano didn't have support of any label or media press. So I thought: It'll be better to stop with Vulcano.




The re-activated Vulcano have been working on the new album, "could it be said" follow up to the 90's release "Ratrace", titled "Tales From The Black Book" and in my opinion that title definitely refers to the anti Christian topics as well as occultism and Satanism, or how would you like to describe the new material for example compared to the older stuff and especially Bloody Vengeance and above all where was the title of the album picked up from ?!

This new album shows a Vulcano renewed, because we are doing better then we did in 85. Nowadays we´re playing better than ever and there are great studios here in Brazil, so we did a new album in the same style of the "Bloody Vengeance", however better than it. We are in direction that we never must have left: Brutal and Raw Death Metal ! About the themes, all of them comes of an old book called ?Metal Negro?. That book was written by Carli Cooper and revised by me around 1978. It contains a trilogy and some texts more, and It had never been published . The main lyrics of all Vulcano?s albums comes from this book. So, that's the reason of title that new album. The theme of them came from Alchemist and Ocultism, they express part of my knowledge about occult science.



How many tracks shall the album include, could you shed a little bit light on the track list ?! When are where was it done and completed ?! Have you re-recorded some older songs for this new release ?!

"Tales from..." contains 13 tracks of the purest death metal old school style. My favorite songs are: "The gates of iron", "The bells of death" and "Devote to the devil", but I have a special preference for "Bestial insane". We re-recorded "Guerreiros de Satã" e "Total destruição" these two songs appear on LIVE album of 85 and they are singing in Brazilian Portuguese.



Will there be some kind of separate special digi pack version available as well !?

At the beginning, we plan to release this album in the Digipak version, however we found a lot of problems and we thought better produce it in the common format.



And which label will be putting it out ?! Cogumelo !?

No. It was released through a small label called RENEGADOS RECORDS. Actually, Vulcano never belonged to cast of Cogumelo Recs. We only have an agreement for licensing "LIVE" and "Blood vengeance".




I guess it would be about time to return to the early and wild days of Vulcano in the 80's when Brazilian metal got an entire new direction when new and wild and even bestial bands started crawling to the daylight. Vulcano was started by you with another line-up and another name Astaroth, until it was switched to Vulcano and unleashed the 7 inch ep, could you tell a little bit more about the historical background of Vulcano…

Before Vulcano was founded, I played guitar in a band called ASTAROTH. In those times we played together a local bands in Osasco city like "Centro da Terra" and "Aborrai". At that time, Brazil was plagued by a brutal political regime and by social inequalities backed by that system institutions, the church and the army, in special. As at that time we were far from the world scene we started playing a very different kind of Rock, the Brazilian Heavy Metal. Vulcano was founded in 1981 by me and a friend of mine called Carli Cooper In that time we played a raw heavy metal and we had many problems to find a good vocalist. We recorded a single 7' in 1983. The songs recorded on that single were written in 1974, thus they sounds much different. Just in 1984 we found Angel, our current vocalist, so our songs could be written in a more brutal way, because his voice allowed to do that.


As far as the first Ep named "Om Pushne Namah" is concerned, in my opinion the material of the Ep has more obvious common influences picked up from the NWOBHM bands than the brutal and bestial stuff in which Vulcano became widely wellknown in the ug scene all around the world at that time, but assumable Vulcano was an entire other band on the first Ep output ?! And what do you think about the first ep in general ?

As I said, those songs were written in 1974, thus they sounds much different. I do not know exactly what came in my mind when I decide to record those songs in that single. At the time I had already written songs as ?The Signals and Devil on my Roof? that are present in LIVE!, however I didn't have the right singer to perform than. After we found Angel our songs could be written in a more brutal way, because his voice allowed to do that. Currently I see ?Om Pushne Namah? as a of collector item, nothing else. We released just 500 copies of that single.



After the mandatory line up change the renewed line up consisted of the new vocalist named Angel, Soto Jr on guitars, pushing and taking the band to the new direction as to the visual look and the approach because of you started wearing a lot of leather and pikes and rivet belts and a lot of other stuff and inverted crosses were the most important point, I guess every other Brazilian band at the time was heavily influenced to use the image of the same kind like, Dorsal Atlantica, Sarcofago and of course Sepultura, did you get an idea to have that brutal and even satanic image from European bands like Sodom, Destruction, Venom or how ?!?

You are right, watching bands like Venom, Celtic Frost and Sodom we became inspired to dress alike.



And the music got more aggressive and primitive approach, having the real brutal savage black/death metal vibes…Did you get tired of playing the more standard heavy metal and wanted to have more aggressive style to the sounds and to continue the question I can't help asking if Venom was one of major influences on Vulcano back then ?!

Yeah, our major influences comes from Venom and Motorhead. We always wanted to produce raw and brutal songs, but it was not possible because we didn't have a good vocalist. So when Angel joined to Vulcano we got it !!!!!!




The first release was the live disc simply called Live ! featuring  9 previously unreleased tracks recorded roughly and in the most primitive way, representing Vulcano's aggressive and brutal live sounds. How did you come up an idea to put out this live album firstly before any studio album ?!

The main reason was because Vulcano didn't get to do any gig in São Paulo City because of Its very extreme sounds. São Paulo was the main Brazilian metal scene. The big shows happened there. Vulcano came from Santos, a town near 50 miles from São Paulo. So in 1985, after several attempts to play in São Paulo City I decided that If São Paulo City doesn't want to watch a Show of Vulcano, at least it will hear It. So I decided to record a live album and push it in São Paulo Capital I already had many contacts in Americana City (a town next 2 hours from SP by car) and with help of a guy called Wilton (Nowadays owner of Heavy Metal Rock Records) we produced the show that later would become the album LIVE!



That Live album was recorded at the metal fest Americana, right ? Did you make any additions and mixing to the album afterwards or just let all the aggression come out to be captured for the album without any overdubs and stuff like ?!

Yes, we tried to preserve all great moments of that gig. The other reason that we did not mix that album was because it was recorded in 8 tracks, so we didn't have much possibilities to improve it. Only the song "Legiões Satânicas" we recorded the drums using overdubs, because when we were performing it alive, the snare drums fell on the ground, so we didn't want to lost that song, thus we made overdubs at studio.



Hmm I am not mistaken now I should have a bootleg video tape of that same gig somewhere, or.. I can't remember right, but was that gig shot anyway ?

Not! That gig was not recorded on tape. I think you have a gig shown Vulcano in Belo Horizonte. That gig happened in August of 86. Opening that gig was MUTILATOR releasing "Immortal Force". If you pay attention you can see Max and Igor from Sepultura working on stage.



As stated above unreleased tracks, but those tracks on the Live! Album were never re-worked and re-released for upcoming studio releases, why ?!

I don't know exactly! I tried to put some songs in next albums like "Fallen Angel" in Anthropophagy, "Witch's Sabbath" in Who Are... and now in the "Tales from..." I am puting "Guerreiros de Satã" and "Total Destruição".



In 1985 the first studio album called Bloody Vengeance saw the light of day or actually the dark of night, proving Vulcano's wild and aggressive and primitive approach… Blood Vengeance truly represent the vicious merciless black/death metal with the raw sound approaches, did the album turn out to be such brutal in the recording process or …. ?

Bloody Vengeance was recorded in 24 hours. We didn't have enough money to do that, so we needed to give the better of us for record it. The final mix was poor and the sound in general wasn't good. We recorded that album playing together the same time, maybe that was the reason of the brutal result of that album



Well what made you change the style from the satanic image to the more mainstream image after Bloody Vengeance because  Anthropophagy  dealt with basic social issues instead. Was one of reasons for the change because of line up got changed totally as you and Angel were the only remaining members from the Bloody Vengeance line-up ?

Just before the lineup change, we had a lot of problems with the police, because our drummer appeared at shows using human bones (femur). They placed our photos in local newspapers and were persecuted by the neighborhood for some time. With the lineup change, I found convenient to make some changes in the themes we used. Just that! After that lineup is broken, Soto Junior formed a band called "Rallus" together with Laudir Piloni (drummer) and Flávio formed "Psychic Possessor" and signed with Cogumelo Records



Well you continued as a four piece on the second studio album Anthropology and as far as I know you left Cogumelo, what happened ?

Well, in this point I need to explain something. Vulcano never belonged to Cogumelo cast. Our first album Live was an independent prodution and it licensed in to "Lunário Perpétuo Discos" only some years later I licensed it to Cogumelo Records. Our second album was produce in the same way and licensed to Rock Brigade Records. The same way, just years later, I licensed it for Cogumelo. Anthropophagy was produced by me and Rock Brigade Records. We just would sign with Cogumelo the next album "Who are..."



On WHO ARE THE TRUE, released in 89, you obviously tried to get more a world wide recognition because I remember having seen more advertising in underground magazines, I guess you were damn pleased with the result how the album turned out and tried to reach more international visibility in the wake of Sepultura's success, right ?!

Soon after we release Anthropophagy, we signed with Cogumelo Records. For the first time, I wouldn't need to put my money to record an album. During the tour of the "Anthro..." I stayed very bored with the metal scene here in Brazil. Brazilian Metal Scene was becoming false and fancy. In 88 I went out of the scene and then did a final album. This album called "Who are the True".



In 1988/89 you had signed a distribution deal with the British small label called Metal Works who was supposed to distribute both Who Are The True and Bloody Vengeance albums for the European market, but did this co-operation with Metal Works go as planned in the first place or did some things go up in smoke ?

I did an agreement with an English company called METALWORKS (Rip Off) to release in Europe the "Bloody Vengeance" and Anthropophagy". I sent them the necessary material and they never paid me by these licenses! Currently I don't have the master tapes of those albums. I know Metal Works released Bloody Vengeance with a different front cover because I have a copy of it that I bought from American guy.



WHO ARE THE TRUE has been described as a damn good thrash/speed metal album, and you were pretty excited about the result of Who Are The True at that time. Apparently you reached the wanted sound and quality on this fourth album ?!

"Who are True" was an ironic answer the Brazilian metal scene of that time. That album is totally ironic and each song in it has a defined purpose. It isn't an album that represents Vulcano. It was written to ridicule Brazilian metal scene at the end of years 80. Each song of that album is directed to a personality of that time in an ironic way. I don't consider the "Who Are ... " like representative album of the career of Vulcano



RATRACE is kinda the most unknown release in Vulcano's catalogue as there haven't been that much fuss about the album, and I gotta admit not having heard the album ever before. Could you tell a little bit about it ?

It was written at the request of METALCORE, an English Company. They gave me enough money to write, record and send that material to England. RATRACE was never released in South America. See that even the logotype of the band is different! As I said, this album was produced under request of MetalCore Records. Then, here in Brazil, we just wrote the album in an agreement with Jonh Austin (an English producer); we sent everything to England and never we knew anything about this album: I only have one copy of it because a friend of mine bought in France and sent it to me. Vulcano never received a single cent of copyright for that album.



Are you kinda surprised Bloody Vengeance has been placed and categorized to the same cult status place alongside with other cult releases by Brazilian bands like Sarcofago's INRI and in the other hand do you kinda feel kinda disappoitmented cos these other Vulcano albums have almost been forgotten though they are excellent in their own way anyway ?!

I know Bloody Vengeance is an important album in Vulcano's career, besides the LIVE! album. I also know that the others album didn't get the same status. Vulcano always worked alone, it didn't have any label ou record company supporting it, so always lack enough money to good productions and when arose an opportunity to record a new album, without support and without money, we did everything in a hurry letting the quality aside .



Cogumelo have the official and legal rights to both Bloody Vengeance and Live ! albums and re-issued both the albums a couple of years ago. As for Live, it has three extra songs added to the CD version. What were songs, where were these songs recorded and who were involved in the recording process ?! And was it Cogumelo to come up an idea to have some extra stuff ?!

Cogumelo don't have the copyrights of those albums. The copyrights are mine. When we decided to release Live album in CD version, Cogumelo give me an ideia to put 3 bonus track. Those bonus songs were written by Soto Junior and performed by him, me, Arthur and Luiz Carlos on vocals. I have some old stuffs like our first demo-tape and some gigs performed before the Live album, but not interesting.



Bloody Vengeance, unfortunately I haven't managed to get a hold of the reissued version, but did you add any extra stuff to it ?!

No! I didn't want any extra stuff because "Bloody Vengeance" is singular. Any additional stuff would entail the album lose its essence.



Soto Jr's  is the guy was on the first Vulcano releases, but left the band before Antropopoghy and returned back to the band for the last RatRace album. Why did you leave the band in the first place and then decided to return and finally I can't help asking a very personal question dealing the late Soto Jr who passed away how did he Jr pass away ?

Soto Jr was a very cool guy, he always was smiling and we never knew exactly what was passing in his mind! I don't know exactly the reason that Soto Jr left Vulcano at the first time. Two weeks before Vulcano played together with VENOM and EXCITER, Junior came to my home and told me that he wouldn't play in that gig. I played guitar on that gig. He stayed some time without appearing in the scene. When he appeared again he was playing in a heavy metal band called RALLUS. Vulcano and Rallus played together some times. In 1990 I called Soto Junior to play in RAT RACE and since then we started to play together again!!!!! He died of the heart attack at the age of 39 years old.



At some point of Vulcano's long running career vocalist Angel left the band because I found out there was another vocalist named Luiz Carlos ?!

Not exactly, as I said Angel never left Vulcano, it occurred that in 1998 Angel was living in another city far from Santos and was working very hard there (he makes tatoo and body piercing). So Cogumelo invited Vulcano to put 3 bonus song in LIVE on Cd format. Soto Junior composed those songs, but Angel didn't want to record them. So We invited Luiz Carlos to do that! Luiz Carlos performed two killers shows next to Vulcano.




As having seen the Brazilian scene from the beginning  you must have a real good perspective about the current metal genre and new bands in Brazil. In my opinion you have a bunch of great death metal bands like Krisiun, power metal like Angra, hard core like R.D.P and a lot of big names usually want to visit there by doing tours. How do you view the Brazilian metal scene after all these years and I guess you may have some bands which should deserve to get more attention, but still working on it ?!?

Nowadays, here in Brazil there are a lot of bands, I would tell you, thousands of underground bands. Here in my town (Santos) there are 11 rehearsal studios, they offer almost 3.000 hours each month to the bands for rehearsals and all of them are completely full. So, try to imagine the rest of Brazil !!!!!!! I'm wanting to say you that considering this fact, here in Brazil there are a lot of good bands. But this good work usually is not translated into the financial success: There are a few record companies that don't want to split earnings releasing many bands, so they prefer to stay with just one band under the contract. I think that there is only one way to a new Brazilian Band to translate this good work into the success: Making tours to Europe and USA.



What exactly makes Brazilian bands sound and have more aggressive and wild style which is hailled all around the world? Everyone is able to name at least some brutal Brazilian bands whereas these heavy / power metal bands are unknown apart from Angra ?!

In my personal opinion, the Brazilian scene is split into three great styles: Extreme/Death/Black Metal, Hard Core and Heavy/Power Metal. I'm into the first class. The bands that belong to the Heavy/Power Metal class have much more support and attention of the media press, because they attract much more audience, like Angra and Shaman for example. On the other hand when a band has got a good support it improves day by day. About the singular style of Brazilian bands, I think that just the bands that belong for group Extreme/Death/Black Metal get sounds the different way!



Together with Dorsal Atlantica, Vulcano were one of the originators of the Brazilian extreme metal scene in the very early 80's, in the wake of you and Dorsal Atlantica, the whole scene got bigger as several bands popped up from cellars, but the beginning of the Brazilian extreme metal genre wasn't easy after all !?

Even today to do extreme metal here in Brazil isn't easy! Here in Brazil we don't have band tours. Here there aren't show's promoters. The very few promoters prefer to bring European bands than to invest in national bands. What keep the bands touring in Brazil, are the bands efforts to join themselves in order to promote the shows.


When Exciter, Venom, Destruction visited Brazil, the thrash/death boom was damn hot there and local gigs was extremely crowded and wild.. Can you tell a little bit about those gigs with Exciter and then local gigs, if I have understand right, the local Brazilian metal crowd was wild ?!

When Venom and Exciter came here, Vulcano played in that gig. There were around 10.000 people in the audience. It was the first Metal Fest here in brazil after KISS's show in 83. Between 1960 and 1985 just Alice Cooper (1974), Van Halen (1981) and Kiss (1983) were in Brazil . Then triy to imagine the euphoria to see Venom and Ecxiter !!!!!!!!!!! When Vulcano appeared on stage the public stayed totally crazy! Nowadays, when Brazil receive bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, or something like that, the stadiums stayed crowed, but when Brazil received bands like Sodom, Destruction, Marduk, or any Swedish/Norwegian/Germany band it wasn't the same. Even so, the foreigner gigs attract many people, but I can't say the same for the Brazilian bands. When the local bands play the public is much smaller!



Do you feel somehow flattered that the old school Brazilian extreme metal bands like Sarcofago, Vulcano are mentioned as the most important influential ones in the current death/black metal scene among the die hard extreme metallers all around the world ?!

Yeah ! I'm very proud with my legacy for the Metal Music. I have conscience of that! Maybe this is the reason by which I'm back with Vulcano. I think I did part of this all that there is today in the extreme music.



Well what do you think of Sweden's Nifelheim's cover of the Vulcano song "Witches Sabbath" that was released on a compilation EP series called Headbangers against disco ?!

Sorry, unfortunately I haven't heard it ! I'm looking for this compilation here in Brazil. But in spite of not listening it, I stay honor with homages coming from Nifelheim !!!!! Thanx !!!!!!!



To be honest do you long for the old wild days of the 80's or do you prefer the current metal scene to the older one ?!

To be honest, I prefer the current scene. Nowadays it's more easy to survive playing extreme metal. Currently we have good instruments, great studios, much more magazines, webzines and fanzines and the most important: internet!



All right I would have tons of more questions to ask about Vulcano and the Brazilian old metal scene, but I guess it would be reasonable to end the interview, but now you can spell the last words to conclude the interview !!! Gracias !!!

Well, Vulcano is back! Our new album has been distributed in precarious ways, however if you know some interested distributor to distribute Vulcano's new album in your area, let me know about it. Thanx for great interview and I must tell you that Vulcano don't have great support, but soon it will be possible, we hope to tour in Europe... see you there !!!!!! We don't yet have an official web site, but you can see some photos in the address www.vulcano.hpg.com.br




1983 Om Pushme Namah 7" 

1985 Live LP/CD 1986 Bloody Vengeance LP/CD 

1987 Antropophagy LP 

1988 Who Are The True LP 

1990 Ratrace LP/CD 2004 Tales From The Black Book CD

Band: www.vulcano.hpg.com.br