This is an extract from a conversation with Shaxul, one of the better-known Frenchmen by all Latin American extreme metal followers. Not exactly an interview with direct questions and answers, more of an exchange of ideas.
|Shaxul, performing with Manzer at Búhos Bar.|
Manzer toured Central America for the very first time in 2018. Since I read the news in social media I was, somehow, surprised about it. Even with the increased number of international bands turning their heads to look at these forsaken countries, this was a big event.
MANZER is known for touring in some regions in the world that few bands dare to visit. Up till 2018, we mainly played in Asia and Europe. We never set foot on the American continent. As we got invited by my Brother Nympherus from SEOL / CLAMOR IN TENEBRIS, I have decided to organize a whole Central American tour, as I have many other contacts thanks to my label. It was in October - November 2018. We played in Guatemala, Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico, and played 7 gigs. I won't lie, I'm not sure if we can come back because we give priority to the countries we haven't visited yet, and there are still many on our list, you know! Though it would be awesome to play in Honduras, Nicaragua, or Belize, where we didn't have the time to go last time. So why not... As for the fans, they are simply awesome. They often go crazy and they show a lot of support, like buying many kinds of stuff at the merch table. Believe it or not, this is not always like this in Europe. People always complain... Fans in Central American show much more enthusiasm, something that has been lost but I dare to say it is the essence of being a metalhead involved in the underground. And well, we never took so many selfies before haha! We signed tons of records as well. Great honor for us.
I think that individuality is an inherent part of the black metal ideology in every one of us, working separately with the goal of creating or supporting local music can create a strong collective. Shaxul has worked with musicians from South America and Asia where the underground movement is strong. According to his experience, countries like Chile, Singapore, India share some common traits that have been helpful to reach a high level of musical development and have a strong legion regarding extreme metal. Based on his opinion, I can see the potential to reach and maintain those levels in Central America.
You are right when it comes to individuality and thus creating a strong collective. Individualism is often misunderstood. I like to read about individualist anarchism so what you've pointed out is interesting. Anyway, when it comes to common traits, I believe that the social background makes it more difficult to keep a band going in such countries so you really have Metal Extremista I 9 to struggle for it. And you can feel the rage when listening to such music. Just an example, think of the whole early Brazilian scene with bands such as VULCANO, SARCÓFAGO, SEPULTURA, MYSTIFIER... This is unique! You can feel it too in Asia, it may be a bit different musically but there is the same rage with SABBAT, ABHORER, IMPIETY, SURRENDER OF DIVINITY... Such levels have already been reached in Central America. If we include Mexico under this name, as most geographers do nowadays, there has been tons of incredible bands like SHUB NIGGURATH, CENOTAPH, ANARCHUS, XIBALBA, MORTUARY... In Guatemala there was SANCTUM REGNUM, and SEOL of course, Costa Rica had IMAGEN PUTREFACTA, MORBID FUNERAL, PAGANUS DOCTRINA, also WITCHCRAFT in El Salvador, BLASFEMIA and HORGKOMOSTROPUS in Honduras... Most remained very underground but it is up to everyone to support them. The audience on these continents is worth mentioning, it is a big part of the underground, they show a lot of support as I've said earlier. In Europe, people think they saw and heard everything, you know, mainly because of huge soulless festivals with tons of mainstream and trendy crap. That's also why we love to play in these areas with MANZER, we can witness something that has been lost and forgotten on the continent where we live.
|Manzer at National Museum of Anthropology in San Salvador.|
Shaxul is involved in many other projects besides Manzer. Annthennath, Ayyur, Contamination, Shaxul are also in the black metal spectrum. Besides the personal discipline and time involved, this requires some real motivation.
The bands you mention all have a "leader" that writes the whole music. Except for SHAXUL of course, which is my personal project, I write and play everything. I write almost everything for MANZER but I like to ask some music to the other guys, as we are a band. Though I'm the "leader" of this one so to speak haha! As I offer session drums and vocals, it leads me to play different stuff, it's very fulfilling and interesting. I also play the drums for THE LAST OATH, a Post-Punk / DeathRock band led by Xzvrey, MANZER's bassist. I've learned many techniques with this band. That keeps me going! Music is all my life, basically.
The full interview was published in English and Spanish in Metal Extremista Vol. I, August 2020.
A few copies are still available with the Man himself, through Armée De La Mort Webshop.