I´m glad to interview these veterans of the Chilean scene, since I follow them since shortly after launching their cult demo "Vengeance from Darkness" in 1989. Oddly, like other contemporary bands from their country they have had to wait several years for finally have their debut album released. But the past has served to make DEATH YELL stronger than ever! That´s why we talked to guitarist and founding member Andres "Pollo" Lozano. Descent into Hell ...
At last! Could be the thoughts of many people to see the announcement of your debut album, so first of all, how do you feel before the release of that long awaited event?
Well it feels very good to have this release finally out! It is a mixed sensation really, in one side we feel satisfied about the album itself and especially about what Death Yell fans are feeding back to us! All good so far! In the other hand it feels a bit weird, 20 years looks like a long time really… we were like frozen in time.
Can you give details of the recording? Did you go through some stress during the process? Are 100% satisfied with the result?
Sure; it was completely recorded in Santiago, at Torture Chamber studios. We worked with our good friend Pablo “Wawa” Gudino, whom we recorded with before for the “Back from the depths” split so no stress at all.
We just went into the studio and vomited all our stuff. We used acoustic drums and tube amplifiers at maximum volume; we avoided the usage of digital processing.
We are very happy and satisfied with the result. Of course it could have been always better, but the album reflects what Death Yell is, all what you hear in “Descent into hell” was made without any intention of been like that or sounding like this… we wrote the songs as we just felt and liked!
Actually, we entered the studio with 70% of the songs written, the rest was completed during the process.
Please tell us about the cover artwork, which is quite slayer-esque, for some obvious reasons, what was your idea for the front cover? Did you have the title of the album before seeing the artwork?
We had the album concept in mind when we started looking at some options for the front cover. The art from Marcelo Vasco matched quite well what we wanted… it reflects very well what you will hear in the album…. Rawness, brutality…hellish!
Is there an overall theme to the songs on “Descent Into Hell? Do the lyrics or do they each discuss different topics? Is there a concrete message beyond the album title?
Our lyrics talk about several different things, but always about our own thoughts and feelings of what we are living, seeing and hearing… particularly common themes about church & religion, there are no fantasy dreams nor epic stories. It is all about our own lives, nightmares and internal demons!
In Descent into Hell you will hear about the real hell we are living in today…
I think that the music on the album reflects that the band remain loyal to your roots and early influences, mainly from Slayer and Morbid Angel, do the likes of the band member changed since the early days? Do you think that Death yell music may be open to other kind of other styles?
We have always listened to different musical styles… since the beginning.
We do not feel tied to any particular style, and that is maybe what characterize our particular style, no one of our songs looks like another… we can go from absolute chaotic blasting sound to a rhythmic swinging melody.
You are right saying that music reflects our roots, even though we have heard many different things that may have influenced us, Death yell is still there, as it used to be 30 years ago.
What kind of reactions do you expect from the fans, especially from your local fans in Chile?
It was a weird thing that bands that has been reference of the Chilean scene, lie Pentagram, Atomic Aggressor and you took so long to release the full length, what do you think about it? And what do you think about Pentagram and your brother band Atomic Aggressor albums?
How could we have been so lazy hahaha… We are proud fans of bands like Pentagram and Atomic Aggressor, they are also very good friends and we expect being touring together with them soon.
Their recent albums “The Malefice” and “Sights of Suffering” are killer ones! They raised the stick very high before us!
When your recorded the 7” with Atomic Aggressor, “Back from the depths” sounded like a strong statement…did you have any special feeling while recording the song after a long time since the recording of Vengeance from darkness?
I guess our songs have a bit of self-biographic too… the fact that we wrote “Back from the Depths” when we joined back after 20 years was not a simple coincidence. As mentioned before, all our demons are becoming real through our music and lyrics.
Weren´t you tempted of rerecording any of the old songs? I think that “Obsessed by the vision” might sound killer with the new song, but on the other hand, sometimes re-recorded songs loss the vibe and the magic of the original recording of its time. Anyway I, m sure that such a classic like "Obsessed" might turn the fans crazy when you play it live
We have thought about it; actually, those songs were recorded as demo versions only, never on LP format. And yes you are absolutely right, our fans really enjoy when we play live our old demo songs… it is really awesome not only for them but also for us, feeling like when we were in our 20’s.
We thought it was better recording brand new songs in our first LP, we’ll see in the future… no need to rush as we will be enjoying Descent into Hell for a while!
You keep sharing stage with coeval bands like Atomic Aggressor, Torturer and Sadism. Some shows under the slogan Old School Reunion, in the early 90s I remember seeing the old flyers of the famous Sala lautaro gigs, though I asked Suivang Kong, from Darkness and he told me that most of the times the sound was awful and the bands didn´t get any money and sometimes there was pure chaos, but they had lot of fun playing anyway,
That is absolutely correct, we were pure passion… no sound checks, no quality equipment, poor organization… but we had so much fun!. We try to keep the essence of the 90s alive today… I mean, we may have better sound & equipment now, but our concerts are still quite chaotic and we have lots of fun!
Like almost all the bands that started in those times I guess you had lots of trouble and difficulties, but the fact that Chile was under military dictatorship surely made things even worse…
Those were very tough times! It was hard to reunite, to go out and hang out with friends, particularly if you were longhaired! Not following classical social standards. The church also had (and still has) lots of power and influence in the Country, which did not help when you were into extreme metal music!
The Chilean scene was very active and many demos began to be published in a short period of time, but a few achieved to release a debut LP, maybe Chile needed a strong record label like Cogumelo was in Brazil, What was your impressions about the Chilean scene back then? Did you see a strong scene or were you pissed off?
Maybe yes, maybe not… who knows if having a local label in Chile could have helped the bands. There were at that time some labels supporting bands (like Toxic records) and other rip offs too… actually we were offered to record a full length but that was just after we split up. Both labels Skin Drill and Turbo records disappeared short after releasing our material!
Vengeance from Darkness, Bloody Ceremonial by Atomic Aggressor and Demo I from Darkness are excellent demos and I really love theme, but there were other demos like Perditions of Souls, (Sadism) or The King Of Hell Reclaims His Throne (Totten Korps), what do you think about those demo tapes?
Those are excellent demos too! Most of those works were made with lots of effort, scarce resources and extreme passion. It is amazing the amount of different ideas, riffs and sounds recorded at that time.
Did you use to do a lot of tape trading? Were you in touch with zines and bands from abroad?
Sure we did many tape trading, I do remember having exchanged demos with bands like Blasphemy, Alastis, Acheron, Rotting Christ… and many others! It was great to write letters and receive answers from the band members themselves. Lots of zines wrote us at that time too, some of whom we received a copy from afterwards… and others we never heard back!
And what did you think about the South American scene? There were emerging bands like Massacre (Colombia) Mortem (Peru) or Inner Sanctvm (Uruguay) trying to make a place among stablished bands of the huge Brazilian scene?
There are no bad or good scenes, ones with more resources and better coverage than others, also related to the market size... but in the end all South American scene was great and eventually some bands received the recognition they deserved.
Yet, in 1991 you released the Split 7" with Beherit through Turbo music, how were the contacts to make that record possible?
We just received a letter from Turbo Music to use one of our songs… and next thing we knew was about the split with Beherit, only when we received some copies back from the label afterwards.
Actually they put one of our songs in a CD compilation too (Triumph of Death) including Acheron, Carcass, Samael, Mortuary and Beherit
What thoughts did you have back then about Beherit, and what do you think about them nowadays and the cult status they´ve reached? Did you follow the black metal scene of the early 90s?
At that time we did not realize how important that fact was going to be for Death Yell… We like most their first period. Last year (when playing in Berlin) we catched up with Jari Pirinen, it was very emotional to meet him up after all this years!
A year later of the split with Beherit the EP “Morbid Rites” came out, that features 3 songs from Vengeance From Darkness. It was released via Skin Drill/Seraphic Decay Records. What can you tell about that release?
It was very similar to the agreement with Turbo; they wrote us asking for permission to put some songs in the 7” format; we never questioned it too much as we just thought it was a good opportunity to reach more fans worldwide.
Not sure how many copies they made.
Being one of the most acclaimed bands in Chile and South America, anyone could think that Death Yell would continue his career with strength and that would soon record the debut LP...the band received offer for a full-length however…that didn´t happened, why?
Thanks for saying we were an acclaimed band… maybe that is part of the answer as we never realized that.
We were youngsters in our 20’s; our main interests then were to play metal, drink and having sex!... we never thought about moving Death Yell to the next level, when we received the offer it was late for us, as we were doing all sort of different things...but not thinking about writing new songs for a full length album.
When the band was inactive, did you follow the scene and were you in contact with other musicians?
Sure, actually Galleta, Pollo and Pulga played in other projects with different musicians (De Guard, Raptor, Criador, etc.) but always keeping it at amateur level. We also kept close contact with our friends from sister bands like Atomic Aggressor, Torturer or Sadism.
That was thanks to a group of fans who organized everything; one of them was in contact with NWN! and was asked to obtain our permission. We did not do anything really… only sending the idea for cover to Chris Moyen and finding some pictures to put in the insert.
Yosuke from NWN! should get all the credit for making this release into reality!
So, the band did reunite before the release of the compilation? How did the reunion process exactly happen?
Not really, the band only though about reunite when we recorded the split with Atomic Aggressor afterwards in 2012/3.
I guess we avoided the idea about reunion for a while… but in a moment we just did it, we eventually went to the studio and recorded “Back from the Depths” to find out about how much of Death Yell was still there… and you can see the result now and assess by yourself.
How do you find the scene nowadays? Looking back, what has changed in the scene for bad and for good? What do you miss from the old days?
Certainly there are much more professionalism nowadays, better equipment, better productions, better promotors, very good bands!. In the early days, passion was it all.
What we miss from that time – without internet, facebook, etc - was the fact that to hear and know about the band you had to go to the concerts, or contact them directly to obtain material, now you can download mp3 and that’s it!
In your opinion, why are still bands coming out of the Chilean scene so extreme and with such quality? Bands like Oraculum, Invocation Spells, Unnausprechlichen Kulten, Invocations, Disembowel, Perversor, Soulrot… Which new bands/albums do you like/recommend?
There are very good bands in Chile now, I can add Slaughtbath, Diabolical Messiah and Communion to your list, just to mention a few more (yeah great bands too! - Chris).
What did you think of the announcements of Massacre (Massacre X - with Kam Lee and the classic line up) and Possessed working on a new album?
Always good to hear about good musicians releasing new stuff, particularly from the ones that helped to create the death metal scene we have today (these questions were sent some time ago, long before Kam Lee confirmed in the Akatahrta interview that that reunion unfortunately will NOT happen - Chris).
What is the strangest and the most shocking place you have been?
What is the strangest and the most shocking place you have been?
Not strange or shocking, but one of the most mystical places I have visited… Stonehenge. Then the “valley of the death” at San Pedro de Atacama (north of Chile).
Tell us about the next steps of the band?
No much planning so far… we are starting to play “descent into Hell! live in Chile… ideally we would like to play in America and Europe.., so promoters please contact us! We are willing to play as much as we can!
Ok that´s it, thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add to end this interview?
Thank you Chris for the interview! it took a while to answer it but we really appreciated having these words with you… greetings to you and all your readers, we hope to be playing close to you soon so we have the chance to meet up! Stay brutal!