Expiation through... Perpetual horror of Death | Interview with Gabriel Varela / EXPIATION

Expiation Through Death
In the last few year's, Chilean always give us a lot of quality in terms more obscure, morbid and rotting macabre stuff especially when it's comes to DEATH METAL music. Band's like EATEN ALIVE, PUTRID YELL and SOULROT... received a lot of attention from the DEATH METAL-Underground fans over the worlds. I think the amount of band that paying a homage to old school Death Metal can't be counted. And to be mentioned here another bands that fulfilled my rotting musical tastes, EXPIATION. I've chances to talk with Gabriel Varela, the founder of the bands and sharing some horror stories how the bands started embalmed the Chilean Death Metal-Underground few years ago.  

MIKA ROTTEN - Saludos mi amigo! And I welcome you into the ugly side of DEATH METAL! How life goes rotten this recent day my friend?
GABRIEL VARELA - Hi to all the death fiends reading this. It’s really cold here in Concepcion, it’s almost winter here and is so fucking easy to catch a cold and get sick as hell.  

MIKA ROTTEN - Some of us maybe know that you also involved with BETRAYAL, and I’m pretty sure that you learn a lot of experiences from your past. Any reason why you left the band?
GABRIEL VARELA - Well, Betrayal pretty much ended in august 2010 and a week or so later i started making Expiation with the same guys and 2 other friends. Betrayal was the first proper Metal band that I have formed (I was 14 years old at the time) and we lasted like 4 years together playing “old school” Thrash Metal, we recorded a demo and played some really cool shows, but by 2010 we became really tired of the Thrash scene at the time, too much copycats and so few interesting bands… we wanted more extreme stuff, to play faster or slower or weirder riffs, and also we had this problem with all our vocalists because we wanted a more “harsh” or “growling” type of voice… Death Metal was just the right thing to do, so we split Betrayal and formed Expiation and that’s it. Nowadays im the only one of the Betrayal guys left in the band. 

MIKA ROTTEN - What do you think when it's comes into the terms of old school Death Metal-revival this recent years?
GABRIEL VARELA - I think it’s was a logical continuation of the “traditional metal” revival. As I stated in the answer before, i was part of the “teen retro-thrash/speed” scene of the 2005-2010, and im still a rabid Thrash Metal maniac… but people around my age started to get bored with all this “mosh and beer” attitude and the oversaturation of unoriginal Thrash bands, so to go from Old School Thrash to Old School Death Metal is was just the next step for a lot of us, since most of us grew listening to Sepultura and Death. What I think the “retro-Death” have done better than “retro-Thrash” is adding new things to the old formula, more bands are taking the pillars of the genre (Death, Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Nihilist, etc) and doing great things with that particular sound. Of course now we are getting floored with Swedish Death Metal clones and atmospheric/ritualistic “serious” Death/Black Metal bands with hoods and candles and shit… but also theres tons of talented and hungry bands that are trying to do something fresh yet recognizable, so I’m more than happy with the underground Death Metal scene nowadays. At least here in Chile there’s a strong Death Metal tradition, so this Death Metal revival is pretty popular among the Chilean underground metal crowd now.

“...Of course now we are getting floored with Swedish Death Metal clones and atmospheric/ritualistic “serious” Death/Black Metal bands with hoods and candles and shit...”

MIKA ROTTEN - I’m totally surprised when I know that EXPIATION was hailing from Chile, Yeah! A lot of putrid-rotting old Death Metal rise up from there this recent era. Band like EATEN ALIVE, PUTRID YELL or SOULROT already been put their own tombstones into the Death Metal globe. Can you brief us the creation of the band’s more deepest? 
GABRIEL VARELA - Well, as I said before, we really wanted to do something more complex and extreme, so we started to writing stuff more akin to the Death Metal we grew up listening. We started the band before we knew there was an old school oriented Death Metal scene even!!! As I said before, Chile is BIG in the Death Metal thing, this country have spawned such killer bands in the past (Pentagram, Atomic Aggressor, Totten Korps, Death Yell, Darkness, etc) so nowadays it’s more common to see Death Metal bands here than, let’s say, Black or Doom metal bands, even if Black Metal it’s still pretty popular here and elsewhere.  Also I always had the usual interest for the unknown, the morbid side of life, and obviously, with death, so it was natural to do music about it.   

MIKA ROTTEN - In general, I can spotted some flavor from American DM styles through your music. It’s surely good to dig something fresh this day from the Death Metal music, and it’s also might turn bored when the quantity are more than the quality of the music. Let’s talk about the band main influence right here and how do you describe your own music.
GABRIEL VARELA - Well, its true, we had a lot of American/”Morrisound” influences in our sound because is what we listened when we got into Death Metal as kids, so we get a lot of those wicked riffs and time changes because that’s what we always wanted: savage yet challenging metal music. At the beginning we were too much into the “Svenks DodsMetall”/Boss HM-2 sound, people come to us at gigs telling me that we were great because we sounded like Nihilist, and that wasn’t our goal at all, so we started to embrace a lot of our earlier thrasher influences (especially Slayer, Voivod, Sepultura and some of the Bay Area bands) and all the Death Metal of our teenage years: Death, Autopsy, Darkthrone (“Soulside Journey” is a huuuge influence for us), Morbid Angel, Morgoth, Pestilence, Deicide, Atheist, even Cannibal Corpse … just to get a more “varied” sound. We also like tons of other musical genres, so theres always an external influence in everything we do.  Im also heavily influenced by James Hetfield and Johnny Ramone in terms of guitar playing (total right hand devastation!!!) so that’s count me thinks. Ill describe our sound as “unpredictable Death Metal”, because we had a the tendency of change the tempos a lot. 

MIKA ROTTEN - I guess you pretty excited to releasing your first stuff back then, how your first stuff material embalmed the ground during that time? And how the underground maniac response for that release? 
GABRIEL VARELA - Our early stuff were just rehearsal recordings, very raw sounding, but was good enough to get some interest in the band. It didn’t really spread that much, but people liked it and helped us to get in contact with others bangers and bands, and from time to time people ask me for this material, so I think that went fine for a rehearsal. 

MIKA ROTTEN - Another demo by EXPIATION been unleash back in 2013, and I can feel your song writing decompose/technique are pretty solid this time. I guess the bands have enjoyed all the recording process for that demo. Can you tell our reader beyond the making of “Expiation Through Death” demo? 
GABRIEL VARELA - That’s our proper “first demo”. It was recorded in our rehearsal place in one week, with almost no experience and even less resources and I think that’s really palpable when hearing the demo. It was fun to do it ourselves but the results were very lackluster in my opinion. It should be done in a proper studio, but we were at least 5 years younger than today, no one had a job, and we wanted to have a demo-tape so bad that we decided to do it by our own. “Expiation Through Death” sounds bad, but the songs are killer and its always great to learn from your mistakes, so im glad that we did it that way.

MIKA ROTTEN - Track like “Phantasmagoric Journey” from the “Expiation Through Death” demo simply proved that EXPIATION are among the AUTOPSY-digger. I think that "Expiation Through Death" demo totally impressive and outstanding in terms of song decompose and sound that you ruptured. If you have a chance going back when you entered the studio to record this demo would you change something in this record?
GABRIEL VARELA - Thanks for your words mate. Even if the demo sounds bad, I still love it, but if I can go back in time I will definitively record it on a professional studio, or at least I had insisted in lowing the voices and up the drums in the mix, because Fofy’s voice its so prevalent in the mix that drowns a bit almost every single instrument.

MIKA ROTTEN - Machalia Records just unleash and prevails the new EP from the band’s in 2016. I’ve a chance to listen some advance track from the EP before and it’s just emerged all the heavy-rotting atmosphere from the EP. Loved the riff-work and the monster vocal. Did you satisfied on the final result of “Cantares de lo Desconocido”?
GABRIEL VARELA - Yeah, this was the big one for us. It was recorded at the end of 2015 in a friend’s home studio, and we had more patience this time, so it took some serious months to just get the perfect mix. The result was so good, we never through we can sound like this!!! Sadly after the recording our other guitarist (Cristian Coloma) and the madman at the vocals (my cousin Fofy, also ex-Betrayal) parted ways with us. I love the work Machalia did with the tapes, its sound HUGE in comparison to how it sound on the internet or in digital files, so of course we are proud as fuck with it. 

MIKA ROTTEN - Please describe “Cantares de lo Desconocido” in three fvcking words?!

MIKA ROTTEN - Seem the band much obsessed in terms of death and horror themes, any reference source that you take? And how this surreal things re-connected to your daily-life?
GABRIEL VARELA - I think most of us, human beigns, are attracted to death because that’s make us aware of the fragility of our existences, it’s like a defense mechanism. But death its such a devastanting force, that a lot of people refuses to think about it. I think a lot about death and the morbid side of thing, so I try to put on the lyrics some of my thoughts about the matter. Im always searching for art that deals with death and horror, so my influences goes from music to pictures, draws, writings, film, etc. Im not really a big horror reader, so my only literary references are Poe and Lovecraft, and maybe Horacio Quiroga (“cuentos de amor, locura y muerte” was one of my favorites book as a child) and some short stories that I have read here and there. I also should name John Carpenter and the work of Junji Ito as another big source of tremendous inspiration, specially Ito’s manga “Uzumaki”. Im also very interested in history, which studies destroy any hope you have for humanity.  And reality, of course, sometimes reality is more shocking (and gorier) than any fiction.      

MIKA ROTTEN - We’re heading into final death, some more question I’ll throw before heading to my room and have a good sleep. Ha! What are the band's future plans, can we look another cool release this year’s and did you already start compose something?
GABRIEL VARELA - We’re going to re-record some of the songs of “Expiation Through Death” (we have to decide in which format release it yet) and finishing (de)composing the material for our debut LP, that we hope to start recording in December of this year. 

“...And reality, of course, sometimes reality is more shocking (and gorier) than any fiction...”

MIKA ROTTEN - What should Death Metal maniac and DISCARNAGE reader can expect from EXPIATION ? since there are so many good DEATH METAL bands out there. 
GABRIEL VARELA - We aim to sound like no one. Of course we are still far from that, but that is our goal, we want to make raw and primitive Death Metal but always trying to expand the horizon of the so-called “old school Death Metal”, but not in a poser way, we want it avant-garde but without loosing the heaviness and the rawness, and we take that shit very seriously. 

MIKA ROTTEN - Any live gig that EXPIATION will take a part in the upcoming day/month?
GABRIEL VARELA - We’re going to open for Inquisition in September and we’re gonna play some shows with other Chilean bands here in Concepcion and other cities, theres so much great bands here in Chile nowadays, that in every single show we play we share stage with cool bands.

MIKA ROTTEN - I’ll leave you in here, and thank you very much Gabriel to share some of your free times with us. Last words from your side? and big hug from me. DEATH METAL FOREVER!
GABRIEL VARELA - Thanks a lot for this interview, bro. Im also doing the third issue of my fanzine called “Memento Mori” (Spanish written) which mostly cover Chilean Death (and some foreign)/ Thrash Metal, so Death Metal bands just write!!! Check also some of the other Death bands in the Bio Bio area. SOMOS LA MUERTE DE TU DIOS.

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