Interview: Grave Desecrator

I love extreme music. That's what moves me. I see it as pure art. The art of the underworld.

Brazilian metal maniacs Grave Desecrator have been bringing the noise for twenty five years now and have just brought out their fourth album Immundissime Spiritus and it is a full on blast of black and death metal darkness delivered in a nonstop blur. Gavin Brown caught up with Grave Desecrator vocalist/guitarist Butcherazor to hear all about the new album, the band’s new line-up, covering GG Allin and all manner of metal from Brazil and around the globe in a very informative and fun interview.

E&D: Your new album Immundissime Spiritus is out now. How excited have you been to unleash it on the world?

Butcherazor: Hi Gavin! I am very satisfied with the new album. This is the best part of the process, deliver to extreme music fans, our newest creation. We have great songs on this, I think. So, I’m excited about the impressions of the fans, of course. Some people have said this is our best album. This is very rewarding.

E&D: Was the creation and recording of the album a smooth process?

Butcherazor: No way! It’s never an easy task when you’re trying to compose something within such a solidified style. It’s very easy to fall into a trap and sound like another band in that style. And all that is not to mention the conflicts of ideas between members and financial issues. This time we did everything independently, without the support of a label.

E&D: What have been the biggest influences on the sound of this album?

Butcherazor: Everything around me. The pillars are the same as always. For me, Grave Desecrator is the continuation of what was done in Brazil in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s not a rescue of the past, it’s like a river of black mud flowing in its own way. This time I tried to explore new elements. Mainly forgotten things from Brazilian gothic literature, but never losing the essence of South American metal.

E&D: What does the title of Immundissime Spiritus mean?

Butcherazor: “Exorcizo te, immundissime spiritus, omnis incursio adversarii, omne phantasma, omnis legio…” This comes from texts for exorcism rituals in cases of demonic possession. “Immundissime Spiritus” (Filthy Spirit) represents “Evil”. I think it’s a good title for what this album evokes.

E&D: Can you tell us about the video you have done for the track ‘Fogo Fátuo’?

Butcherazor: This is what a band does when they have no money and no label support. haha Do it yourself! So again I wanted to bring a lot of stuff from Brazil. I love the style of Brazilian cemeteries. And then you can see a lot of scenes from very old Brazilian movies, real scenes of rituals in cemeteries, and some scenes from foreign movies that I like. A miscellany of beautiful things. The scene I recited in Portuguese is a tribute to Coffin Joe (Brazilian filmmaker), the opening speech for the movie “The Strange World of Coffin Joe”. But the speech is mine.


E&D: You cover ‘Fuck the Dead’ by GG Allin on the album. What was it about that song that made you want to do your own version of it?

Butcherazor: This was an old idea I had. Playing something in a different style but where the ideas fit together. I’m a big fan of GG Allin but most of the songs sound a little “cheerful” for our style. But when I heard ‘Fuck The Dead’ a not very well known song, that intro reminded me of Hellhammer. “Fuck the dead… Grave Desecrator… hmmm Fuck! This is perfect” I said. haha! So I brought that feeling into my playing style. Merle Allin was very kind to authorize me to do this cover. Thank you, man!

E&D: Aside from GG Allin, who are your favorite ever musical hell raisers?

Butcherazor: This is a very difficult question. I could answer here the clichés of any metal fan. Tony Iommi, Glenn Tipton, etc. I love these guys! But I prefer to remember some fantastic musicians who influenced me a lot and some of them are rarely mentioned. Zéder “Butcher” (the greatest riff maker of the extreme music in the world, guitarist from Sarcófago), Angel and Zhema from Vulcano (the most original vocalist and the genius of South American black metal), Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics), Paul Chain (former of Death SS), Antonius Rex (Jacula), Selim Lemouchi (The Devil’s Blood), Diamanda Galás, Basil Poledouris , Vangelis, Heitor Billa-Lobos. The list is very, very long.

E&D: What other songs would you like to give the Grave Desecrator treatment to in the future?

Butcherazor: I have no idea. During the pandemic we almost recorded a song by Exorcist and another by Ratos de Porão. I always play different stuff at home but my main focus is writing new stuff for Grave Desecrator.

E&D: How has the music you have released from Immundissime Spiritus been recorded so far?

Butcherazor: As I said earlier, we didn’t have any support to record this album. We did everything ourselves. Only the drums were entirely recorded in a studio. All guitars, bass and vocals were recorded in our homes. We just re-amp the guitars and I redid some vocals in the studio. Even so, the little money we had ran out much sooner than expected.

E&D: It’s been seven years since your last album, how has the band and your music changed in that time?

Butcherazor: Musically, my ideas never stopped. I still use ideas that go back to the beginning of the band. Technically, learning invigorates some ideas and nurtures new things. And in that period there were also some changes in the line-up and naturally it brought me other possibilities.

E&D: What has led to such a long gap between the albums?

Butcherazor: First of all it is important to remember that keeping an active band in Brazil is extremely difficult. Being a professional musician in Brazil is almost a utopia. A metal musician? haha! Everything is very expensive. Guitars, strings, rehearsals, transport… everything is very difficult. We live in another reality, my friend. We live in a chaotic city called Rio de Janeiro. Listen, I grew up seeing dismembered corpses on my way to school. While I answer this interview, I heard two or three times some machine gun bursts. So, sometimes we need to think about our lives, work, private problems, reality… Either you have money or you give your life to do it. Despite difficulties, no money and some delays, Grave Desecrator has remained alive since 1998 because we love this shit.

E&D: How is the new lineup of Grave Desecrator working out and do you feel reenergised as a band?

Butcherazor: Immundissime Spiritus was recorded by myself (vocals, guitars and bass), Black Sin and Damnation (guitars and bass) and MKult (Drums). But Black Sin is no longer in the band and now we have A.C. Sacrilege (guitar) and N. Wicked (bass) for upcoming shows.

E&D: How did the band start in the first place?

Butcherazor: It all started in a filthy bar in 1998 in an obscure place in Rio de Janeiro. Valak The Necrogoat, F. Mordor and I decided to create something that would bring back the sound of the old black metal bands. At that time a lot of Brazilian bands were trying to sound like European bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth and all that shit. Obviously we were influenced by bands from all over the world but the way Brazil does extreme metal has always fascinated me. And that’s the path I always want to follow. Since the beginning that’s what I tried to do.

E&D: Who are your all time favourite Brazilian metal bands?

Butcherazor: Vulcano, Sarcófago, Sepultura and Mystifier.

E&D: What are the most metal albums of all time for you?

Butcherazor: Mercyful Fate (Melissa), Judas Priest (Screaming For Vengeance), Black Sabbath (Sabotage), Slayer (Show No Mercy), Venom (Black Metal), Bathory (Bathory), Sarcófago (I.N.R.I.), Vulcano (Bloody Vengeance), Sepultura (Morbid Visions), Mystifier (Göetia), Mortuary Drape (All The Witches Dance), W.A.S.P (W.A.S.P), Ozzy Osbourne (Diary Of A Madman), etc etc etc. These are just a few albums that I think are perfect!

E&D: What are you live plans once the new album is released?

Butcherazor: We have some shows booked. In 2023 I want to travel around Brazil and all of Latin America. Maybe in Europe in 2024. I would like to take Grave Desecrator all over the globe but things are very complex.

E&D: What have been some of the best live shows that Grave Desecrator have ever played and what made them so memorable?

Butcherazor: Undoubtedly the best memory was in Curicó, Chile. It was the best thing. South American audiences are very intense. I also have great memories of a gig in a small pub in Oslo, Norway. Fenriz was there as a DJ playing Brazilian metal, the crowd destroying everything like a punk concert, broken bottles, someone got hurt and painted me with blood! haha It was a very special night.

E&D: Grave Desecrator first released their first demo over twenty years ago. What do you credit to the longevity of the band and your music?

Butcherazor: I love extreme music. That’s what moves me. I see it as pure art. The art of the underworld. Art without the chains of fashion. And to me it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here doing this for 20 years. It’s something natural for me.

E&D: What have been some of the highlights in your time with Grave Desecrator so far?

Butcherazor: Time passes, many things happen, problems, discussions… but what remains is the work. The full albums of our career are the highlights. That’s what the audience will hear. This is our art. Thank you Gavin for this excellent interview.

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