Looking to further dispel the notion that Portuguese metal doesn't begin and end with Moonspell, post-doomsters Process of Guilt have been churning out cerebral, conceptually-based metal since their 2002 inception. One could draw a straight line to the more brutish and bludgeoning moments of Isis, Cult of Luna, and Ghost Brigade, yet Process of Guilt is heavier than all three, with just the right amount of quiet-loud dynamics to push the sonic envelope. On their recent 5-song Faemin EP, the quartet provide a sound that is monolithic enough to shift the earth's plates, and as singer/guitarist Hugo Santos would go onto tell Blistering, there's plenty more where that came from...
Blistering.com: Moonspell is often the first thing everyone thinks of when it comes to Portuguese metal, but you’re slowly making a name for yourself. Can you describe the scene in your country?
Hugo Santos: Your first sentence sums up almost every external opinion about the Portuguese metal scene, but that's a wrong assumption. Moonspell do not represent in any way what happens in the Portuguese underground, they're a rather successful group and throughout the years made a name for themselves, a well-deserved one I guess, but they are a very different “product” when compared to any other bands around here. As far as music goes, fortunately, there is so much more than Moonspell.
Other important facts for this description would be the profound and severe crisis inflicted upon us by years and years of bad decisions by the powers that be, who only have the wish to enrich the 1%, that they soon want to join. That said, I think the Portuguese scene is in a similar place to other countries around Europe, but within a geographical context a little bit harder to overcome, since you have to spend a lot more to tour and to reach the main European countries. Besides that, I should also underline the fact that there aren't many underground labels and that there isn't a proper circuit that reaches the entirety of Portugal. Still, even with all these constraints, there are a lot of upcoming bands within a variety of styles. Of course, this also means that the underground bands, like us, have to take their efforts further, musically and financially, in order to spread their music while adopting a very DIY attitude, similarly to what's happening in other places in the globe. As far as names go, I can mention The Firstborn, Corpus Christi, Bizarra Locomotiva, Eak or Utopium as examples of bands that are slowly, but steadily, producing good and relevant music made in Portugal.
Blistering.com: What’s the live scene like? Have people taken to your live presentation?
Santos: The live scene is basically concentrated within the two main Portuguese cities, Lisbon and Oporto, where almost 40% of our population resides. But that doesn't mean a good number of available venues or even a good number of attendees at underground gigs. It's actually the opposite, you still have your mainstream festivals with Metallica and Moonspell and thousands of sheep in attendance and, in contrast, almost no places to play with no one remotely interested in anything besides the flavor of the week. Given this, after playing a few release shows in Portugal in the last couple of months, the reactions we've had were very positive, almost enough to prove me wrong. We did have nice audiences and an awesome feedback regarding our performance, leaving us looking forward to go to other Portuguese cities, where we haven't played yet.
Blistering.com: The release of the remix album The Circle closed a chapter for the band, so is it safe to say you’re starting a new one with «Fæmin»?
Santos: That's a fair assumption of what «Fæmin» means for us. «The Circle» was indeed the last chapter on the «Erosion» cycle. With «Fæmin» we found an urge to develop and evolve that we never experienced before. For this release, we concentrated in what we really wanted to create and listen, both as musicians and as music fans leaving behind some of our old preconceptions. From this perspective, «Fæmin» represents, indeed, a new cycle for us.
Blistering.com: Your sound falls somewhere between the doom and post-metal tags, but to me, there’s so much more. How much does the fact that you’re willing to be experimental play a part in this?
Santos: Definitely, it plays an important role since we don't share a rigid interpretation of what our music should be. Of course we have a strong doom foundation, but nowadays we aren't that concerned with the tagging of our music. We aren't afraid of exploring different rhythms or structures, even if they appeal to other genres not immediately related to us. Instead, we prefer to let the riffs flow, while trying to build up new structures and patterns, while just playing what feels right to ourselves. In the end, we just try to make relevant and exciting music that represents us in the most sincere and honest way.
Blistering.com: Do you think because you did re-interpretations of your early songs with «The Circle», you were able to get a fresh outlook for your third album?
Santos: The reinterpretations on «The Circle» were indeed a fresh outlook to our sound, and one that left an impression on us, but I don't know if we can assume that it played a significant role in «Fæmin». That release provided us with a wide range of possibilities regarding our music, but when we started to write what would become «Fæmin» we were really looking for a more personal approach to the songwriting. With our last album the change was far deeper for us than what «The Circle» could predict. We wanted to write something distinct, that could represent us in the best way possible and, at the time, that meant to leave behind anything that resembled our previous efforts.
Process of Guilt Interview Page One << you are here