This week’s Meet The Band features the Colombian death metal group Sol de Sangre. They just released their self-titled debut album. Vocalist Kike Valderrama introduce us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Sol de Sangre.
Kike Valderrama: Around 2014 I listened to a couple of tracks that Rolando (guitar player) had written and had sitting in his computer. Rolando is constantly writing, producing and recording music but his main focus is traditional Colombian music. I feel he is more of an acoustic musician. So, when I got his tracks through a mutual friend I liked them a lot and saved them in my own laptop. Fast forward several months and I revisited those tracks and decided to record some vocals. I sent them to Rolando and he told me he had a whole album written. I got all the tracks and started working on vocals. After a couple of months we had the whole record’s pre-production done with help of Gustavo our bass player. Gonzalo joined the project shortly after having the whole record done and ready to mix.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for your self-titled debut.
All the music is Rolando’s creation. He came up with every riff and beat in this record. He then sent me the tracks and I did the vocals. After listening to the music with vocals we made a few changes here and there. Gustavo (bass player) helped me out mixing the pre-production and giving some input about the vocals. I do travel a lot because of my day job, so I ended up recording the vocals for this album in three different continents while Rolando recorded all guitars and bass in Bogota. The drums were recorded in Medellin by Masacre’s drummer Mauricio Londoño. After having everything recorded we got in touch with Tomas Skogsberg who mixed the record and Joel Grind who mastered it.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
I would say the music is definitely old school death metal. It has some thrash moments at times, but I feel a death metal vibe all around. My vocals are not as low as most death metal records, but it still feels like a death metal record to me. We love the old school Swedish death metal as well as the old school American death metal and that’s what we went for.
What led you to do the lyrics in Spanish?
Even though my first language is Spanish I had never recorded an album in Spanish. So, I wanted to give it a try. It was kind of a tribute to all the local bands we listened to in the ’90s. It started as an experiment and it worked out. Most vocals came up easily so we decided to do it that way. The other guys were really into the idea of doing it all in Spanish. One fun fact is that even though the whole record is in Spanish, each track has a phrase in English. I threw a reference of albums I love in each song. So, if you check the lyrics out you’ll see a few phrases/words in English like “Left Hand Path,” “Altar of Madness,” “Slowly We Rot,” “Leprosy” and some others all over the album. If you like death metal you will easily get it.
How did you come to sign with Black Market Metal?
I guess luck. I contacted Chris from BMM and showed him the record through a private link. I heard from Chris almost immediately. After a few emails we made a deal and that was it. He was pretty straight forward. No bullshit at all. That was cool.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
I personally hope that people give it a chance and listen to the whole record. So, initially to get as many people as possible to listen to the record. I really hope this record helps SDS to build an audience. We also want to play live. So, we’ll see how we work it out.
Do you have plans to play any live shows?
Due to our job schedules and geographical locations it is kind of hard to play live right now. We are trying to make it happen and finding the right gigs for everyone involved. We are working towards it and trying to make everything to fit some time this year after the record is out.
How did you get started in music?
I guess listening to my uncle’s Queen and Kiss records. Then I started listening to local bands and then got interested in having my own band. It has been about 20 years since then. I’ve never had any sort of academic training except for a semester of vocal technique. Other than that, it has all been trial and error. I’ve been fortunate to play with amazing musicians and I have learned a lot from them throughout the years.
What drew you to metal?
I come from a small town in Colombia and when I was a kid it seemed to me that listening to heavy metal was the only way to stay sane in a crazy country. You would see kids everywhere with Sepultura, Metallica and Iron Maiden t-shirts. The local shows were massive. They were terrible shows with little to no proper gear, but they were always packed. It was something special to listen to heavy metal in that town at that time. It was a good time to be a metalhead.
Looking at it from a more serious perspective it seems to me that rock and heavy metal in South America were in the ’80s, ’90s and maybe early 2000s a synonym of rebellion against the establishment which could actually be very authoritarian and brutal. Also, metal had that reputation of being satanic. Colombia was (still is) a profoundly Catholic country and the satanic lyrics and imagery of some bands clicked with the rebellion against the rules of society.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Oh man, I still remember listening to those early Metallica, Megadeth, Sepultura records all day long as a teenager. I didn’t have any money to afford vinyl, CD or tape so we would just re-record those albums on old tapes and listened to fifth generation tapes. Sol de Sangre is definitely influenced and inspired by the classic death metal bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Suffocation, Entombed, Grave, Dismember, old Sepultura and many more from that time.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
It was a local cover band called Sacrament. They played at my school when I was in fifth grade. I remember they played Slayer, Metallica and DRI covers. I remember it as a really cool show. In the ’90s no international bands would go to Colombia and when they did they would only go to Bogota. It was not until 1996 that I had a chance to go to my first international concert. It was a Cathedral concert. I was already a big fan. It was a great show.
When did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career? Was your family supportive?
Music is not my main career. I wish it were, but I make a living in another field. However, I have been playing in bands for almost 20 years. My mom was always supportive. She wanted to see me playing music with friends instead of being out there doing some other stuff. She still loves the fact that I still play in bands after all these years.
What is the metal scene like in Colombia?
I’ve been away from Colombia for a little over 12 years now, but I feel that it is pretty similar to the metal scenes in other countries and/or the local scenes in different U.S cities. You know, there are some great bands, there are some not so great bands and lots of generic bands that try to emulate whatever it is hot in the U.S or Europe. There are some fans who think Colombian bands are some of the best in the world and deserve all the possible success, and some other fans who think every single Colombian band is terrible. It has its waves. Sometimes people go and support the local talent and some other times bands play for nobody.
Who are your all time top five Colombian metal bands?
That’s a good question. I’ll go for the legendary bands. They may not be my favorite ones but they are definitely the most representative and they mean a lot for tons of metal heads in the country. In no specific order I would say Kraken, Masacre, Internal Suffering and Witchtrap. I can’t think of a fifth one.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I still buy lots of CD’s but I listen to my music mostly on Spotify and Bandcamp. So, I guess that’s cool because you can check what you have been really heavily listening to. I was gonna say Powertrip, Gatecreeper, Necrot and Pallbearer which I feel I listen to all the time. However, the records that currently show up with more plays are King Goat – Conduit, Turbonegro – Rocknroll Machine, Sentient Horror – Ungodly Forms, The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave and Medium from Argentina. I love all those bands.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this interview and learn a little bit about us. The record is out now via Black Market Metal. Check it out, give it a try, headbang and long life to death metal. Also, We are not done for the year. We just finished recording a couple of sick covers that we adapted to Spanish, and we are currently talking to a couple of engineers to decide who is going to mix them. We also have a few ideas/demos already for a second album. Lots of things going on. Salud everyone!
(interview published March 31, 2018)
Listen To Sol de Sangre – “Perros Con Sarna”