Not so long ago, I reviewed Vorgok’s debut album Assorted Evils and regarded it as a modern day masterpiece in thrash metal. It reignited the flame of thrash metal for me, which is something that I didn’t think would happen again as I had found my new love, death metal. Assorted Evils combined the thrash heyday of the late 80s and mixed that up with the present scene, creating a monster oozing in personality and freedom that most thrash bands would dream of, and what’s even more surprising is that it is only the debut album from these Brazilian masters.
Recently, I caught up with Vorgok’s vocalist/guitarist/songwriter and all round nice guy, Edu Lopez and I urge you all to get in touch with him, like Vorgok’s page and buy their CD from the band themselves.
Can you tell us Moshville Times readers how you got the band together and give a history of the band?
In 2013, I joined a classic local thrash metal band called Necromancer right about the time they were releasing their Forbidden Art full-length. After the rehearsals for that repertoire we started working on new material, but soon I noticed that the band was gonna walk a path I was not pleased with… say, more modern metal oriented. At the same time, I was in this just-for-fun band with bassist João Wilson. You know, going to the studio to play some covers, have some beer and laughs.
I asked him if he would be interested in putting together a new band and this is how it started. Then we started writing songs and, that taken care of, went to the studio for the recording sessions. Guitarist Bruno Tavares, who is a current member of the band, was invited to join the band before the recording sessions, but, since he was not available at the time, I ended up recording all the guitars. For live situations, we have been working with different session drummers and intend to keep it like that, though, due to budget restrictions, we chose to use drum programming.
Assorted Evils has been out for a while now and in my eyes is a modern day thrash metal masterpiece. How has the reaction been so far from the press and the fans?
That’s very kind of you, man, and we’re truly satisfied with the album, but very, very few albums deserve such praise. The reaction from the press and from metalheads (I am not comfortable with the word “fan” as it is short for “fanatic”… I prefer thinking of “supporters”) have been surprisingly huge. We have had great reviews in the USA, Brazil, Australia, France, the UK, of course, webradios playing some of our songs in Europe.
You know, for a number of reasons, it’s tough to sell CDs nowadays, even though some people still get in touch to purchase a physical copy. There will always be the die hard metalheads out there to raise the flag up high and these are the people we care about the most. You may not sell thousands of CDs, but you get to know many people who bought it by name! This is a great reward.
There has always been a huge South American scene, but only a minority make over here in Europe. How difficult is it for a band like Vorgok to get the word spread around and promote yourselves?
It’s damn difficult. Even though the world is connected online, it’s still too expensive to have a proper marketing action. That is an issue not only for South American bands, but for bands all over. If you’re a true metalhead, you don’t get satisfied just with the bands that actually can manage to get to you through marketing. What you do is search on your own. That gets you in touch with awesome underground bands from pretty much everywhere, but you know the chances to purchase physical material are low, let alone seeing them live.
But most people, I believe, won’t even have this attitude and will stick to the bands they already know through marketing. I think it’s just how things work. So it takes a lot of effort to break through this wall and, for that, you gotta devote lots of time connecting to underground press everywhere you can, which is really complicated for an independent band whose members have to take care of all their regular, day to day obligations such as work. For the next year we’re thinking about getting some European press agency to promote us. Let’s see what happens. I believe the key words are patience and perseverance.
Your lyrical themes are quite different to a lot of the thrash metal bands. You concentrate a lot on modern day atrocities, such as on “Mass Funeral at Sea” where Syrian refugees capsize in the Mediterranean ocean trying to get the taste of freedom. Could you give another example of where you get your lyrical inspiration from?
The lyrical themes we approached are such as intolerance, manipulation, oppression, extermination of the species, the rights of the third world people to proper food security, to education, to refuge and so on. A lot of research was done on various United Nations organizations’ reports for that. This choice of themes derives from the name “Vorgok” itself: it was thought to mean “the collection of all past, present and future evils”. It’s a made up word. I’m not really interested in writing about over-visited and not so relevant themes such as metal, mosh, stagediving, beer, Satan, etc.
As I stated many times in my review of Assorted Evils, there were a lot of death metal influences in your music when it came to a lot of the solos on the album. Was it intentional to have a couple of more death metal than thrash metal songs on the album?
Yes, you guessed it right. I’m a big old school Florida death metal fan. I still remember when Death’s Leprosy was released. Back in the day, death metal was not hyper speed like it is today, as blast beats were only beginning to be employed. I guess it was more focused on heaviness than speed. Even though Chuck turned out to be a very proficient songwriter and guitarist, their first three albums are the ones I love the most. The song “Mass Funeral at Sea”, which you mentioned before, was thought to be sort of a tribute song for him. I think we made it. A good friend of mine once told me that if Chuck was still alive I would get my ass sued!
As Assorted Evils has now been out for 6 months, have you had any ideas for the next release from Vorgok? Is the rest of the band contributing more to the next release?
Oh, yeah. The creative process is a neverending stream. Even though you may not be focused on writing new stuff, ideas will come anyway. We do not intend to release new material this year, but what I can say is that the new material we are working on is even more brutal than Assorted Evils. It seems like we are taking one step further towards extreme death metal, though the band remains a thrash band. I find it to be an interesting approach: taking thrash to the limits of its brutality but not becoming a death metal band. At the present time we are not focused on writing new stuff. It just happens, like I said. So, so far, we are working once again on songs that I’ve written, but I really expect the other guys to come up with their own tunes when the writing sessions begin for real.
How often is the band able to get together and rehearse and what are the facilities in Brazil like for studios and recording?
Facilities are pretty decent for both rehearsing and recording, with good gear and rooms, but not so cheap like one might expect. So, once again, you gotta take good care of your money for not going broke. Because of that, you have to have a reason to go to the rehearsal room. I find it senseless to go there “just for fun”. Professional, well established bands don’t act like that. They get together to play because they are up to something, should it be a tour, recording sessions or whatever.
On the other side, the good live show offers are very few as the underground venues are mostly shit holes. Compared to Europe, in South America we’re like in the Stone Age as far as underground concerts go. Of course, there are good people making good underground concerts and festivals happen, but it does not seem enough. All that put together, what happens is that we rehearse much less than we’d like, but that’s some sorta business decision. I’d rather stay home and write new stuff and lyrics than rehearse for nothing.
The sound of the album I felt was perfect and very clear, allowing each instrument to be heard but to remain brutal at all times. Credit must go to Celo Oliveria at Kolera Home Studio for getting this sound. How easy was it to get in touch with him and get this sound on Assorted Evils?
It’s funny because, as I said before, my axe mate Bruno Tavares did not take part of the recording sessions, but he was the guy who came up with Celo’s name. Working with Celo was great in many aspects. Though kinda young, he has large experience and is a true master at work. He got what we wanted tone wise pretty quickly and delivered it. We got very satisfied also with his mixing and mastering and have already decided to work with him again for our sophomore release.
The cover art displays a message of religious extremism with one of the two Bhuddas of Bamiyan that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Was it an easy decision to have this as a cover or did you have a few ideas at the time?
I had some other ideas, but they were not working well. So I suggested our graphic artist, Raphael Efez, that we could use that image as a reference for the song “Kill Them Dead”, which is the very first song I wrote for the album. It’s about religious intolerance and bigotry and was inspired by Norberto Bobbio’s famous “The Reasons for Tolerance” essay.
How has the album gone down in the live environment? Do you have a personal favourite that you like to play live?
Those songs work great live as they come out like a pack of fierce beasts! I’d say, because of their intensity, that “Hunger” and “Man Wolf to Man” are my favourite tracks to play live.
So what can our readers and metal fans worldwide expect next from Vorgok?
Everyone can expect us to be hard working dudes trying to get our music wherever we can. Who knows, maybe we manage to get to Europe for a few gigs?
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
I could mention albums by dozens, but the following are, to me, essential:
- Slayer – Hell Awaits
- Sepultura – Beneath the Remains
- Death – Scream Bloody Gore
- Kreator – Pleasure to Kill
- Sacrifice – Forward to Termination
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
First of all, thanks a lot for the invitation. I’m truly honoured and invite your readers to check out our album on YouTube, where you can find a video menu that allows listening to the whole album while following the lyrics in real time. Pretty cool stuff. There you will also find a webvideo for the song “Hunger“. It’s a low budget video, but efficient to show the brutality of the band’s music.
The album is also available on every single streaming platform out there and, for the die hard dudes, you can get a physical copy two-panel digipak right from us, just send a private message to our facebook page. Given the currency exchange rates, if you are from the UK, the USA or from the Euro zone it’s dirty cheap! Thanks to all of you in advance. Hope to see you somewhere really soon.
Assorted Evils is out now.