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Despite the voodoo connections with their name, Brazil's Pombajira are more interested in presenting an "uncompromised mix of Heavy, Rock, Doomed Inferno". Comrade Aleks finds out more from guitarist/vocalist Hellson Röcha.

Interview with Pombajira.
"Here we have some dark voodoo Doom Metal magic for the dead from Rio de Janeiro. Though Pombajira was started less than three years ago, its priests have a proper background: band leader Hellson Röcha (vocals, guitars) played in Death/Black band Grave Desecrator since the late '90s, while T.Splatter (drums) has credits for a total of 18 bands! I don't know about guitarist/bassist Blizzard's experience, but be sure – he does his work damn well. The band perform a bonecrushing mix of different sorts of Doom, and they sound really powerful - though not to be confused with what UK-based Pombagira have been doing for some time. Take a listen to their killer self-titled debut while reading the interview, and reflect on things corporeal and spiritual as well."

Pombajira: Thiago Splatter - drums; not Elson El Necrogoat, but Hellson Röcha - vocals and guitars; Blizzard - bass and guitars.

Hi Hellson! Pombajira is a new name on the Doom scene, but you have a rich background of playing in a bunch of heavy local bands. What drove you to start Pombajira?

Hi! Thanks for the inti! Well, after almost 20 years playing in a Black/Death Metal band (Grave Desecrator), I got a little bit bored in playing extreme Metal music. I ever had an interest to explore a slower, rocker but heavier style with some different views and lyrical content. I quit GD in late 2017 and then I put some guys together in order to form Pombajira. The things are going fine, even that I consider Pombajira more a project without any compromise, than properly a band. But well, maybe itīll change with the passing of time.

Hellson, what formed your doom tastes?

Our main inspirations come naturally from bands like Black Sabbath and Hellhammer, if you want a parameter. Bands that we all know and love since our childhood! I consider we have a lot of Rock n Roll inspiration in our music as well. Check out the song "Queen of the Night" for example, which is a straightforward song. But of course we listen to a lot of doomed or heavy/doomed bands like Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Danzig, Witchfynder General, Death SS, Cloven Hoof…even noise guitar rock stuffs like Sonic Youth or first wave of Black Metal like Bathory, Venom, Vulcano....also Uriah Heep (with David Byron), Led Zeppelin, Mutantes, Raul Seixas, Deep Purple, Rainbow…

We have no problem to be categorized as Doom Metal, but for sure we donīt point to this only direction at all.

Pombajira is a trio, may I ask you to introduce its members?

Sure, Iīm Hellson Röcha and plays the guitar and vocals. Blizzard is the main guitarist and recorded all bass lines for the debut album. He is an old friend of mine, but we could never imagine playing together. Heīs also guitarist in a Post-Punk band called Arte no Escuro. The drummer is Thiago Splatter. He plays in a lot of bands here, a very active and excited musician I must say! I feel that his main bands are Velho (great Black Metal in Portuguese), Cold Night (Pure 90īs style Black Metal also in Portuguese, despite the English name) Poemīs Death (traditional Death Metal) and Power from Hell (Well-known band in the Black/Thrash underground). It seems that Pombajira is the most unlikely band that he has been playing in so far.

So Blizzard and Thiago have different backgrounds: how did you manage to recruit them? Do you occasionally get to more extreme stuff at the studio, due to your and their experience with heavier bands?

The first guy I got in touch was the previous drummer. But I wonīt spend time talking about him. Blizzard has a small label (the same which release our CD) and a Metal/Rock stand in Rioīs downtown. I often go there to meet him and other friends to drink etc. We had a chat there about what I was having in mind, and then he surprised me interested to join the project. Right after all the problems with the first drummer, we talked to Thiago and then the things started to happen easier than ever…No, we donīt get any extreme stuff in the rehearsals. We just practice our songs, drink, smoke etc.

Pombajira - 'Gira' (2019):

As some of our readers know, Pombajira is a goddess of the Afro-Caribbean pantheon. What's your connection with voodoo? Do you have personal experience of this religion? Or did you just want an authentic name for the band?

Actually, Pombajira (or Pomba Gira, as itīs more well-known and spelled) is an Afro-Brazilian powerful female entity present in cults like Umbanda, Quimbanda and Candomblé in Brazil. She has quite different purposes on each of these religions and a very complex system of characteristics, living in a very close non-terrestrial track from us. Itīs very usual for brazilians to have some contact with those religions and its entities, since itīs often present in our cultural aspects and collective unconscious, even that we have a lot of fraudulent persons working on it as well as a worthless racism and prejudice. My family had a connection to Candomblé back then, so yeah, I had some contact with it, witnessed spiritual embodiments, offerings and so on. Some of these cults were "christianized" by the catholic colonizers in the slavery times, when the slaves had to disguise their ancient entities and African cults using the dominant religious systems/saints, for not having their cults destroyed or prohibited. It's just a brief introduction, and I must say that I have no deep knowledge on these cults. Itīs not our aim to be a religious band, or trying to practicing any kind of proselytism. I chose this band name 'cos it's a quite rebel and controversial personification, also close to my reality as a Brazilian person. And the lyrics can deal with that in a more intimate manner, even that we have no frontiers to explore lyrically or aesthetically. For me, it would be senseless to have, for example, a Nordic band name or thematic instead, as many Latin bands do down here haha. Ah man, Iīm not sure but as far as I know, Voodoo has African origins but officially is cultured in Haiti, not Brazil.

Can you tell more about the things you witnessed? Do you feel this thing really works?

I witnessed random visions and strange things when I was younger, but sometimes it seemed more like a dream, but too fucking authentic and provocative! "Vital Lucifer" is a song I wrote about it. This lyric stands for me as a flick that expanded my mind back then in my childhood. I grew up and still donīt know if that day was real or just product of a concrete fantasy! Anyway I think it deserves such an importance for me at least. Well, thereīll ever have a conflict of science and spiritual forces, and I donīt want to encourage the denial of both parts. In my opinion, both of them have an importance in our existence and I prefer the communion that we are just an insignificant grain in the sand of Cosmos living in a chaotic synchrony, deprived of any expected freedom. Then we must live and comprehend that there's no godhood above or below that have the necessity to be deciphered for us. However, to close your mind and stand for a material dictatorship of science, proofs and skepticism maybe will capture you to a void of conformism and unproductive passivity. I donīt like when my feelings and intuitions are misunderstood by a scientific side that is arrogant.

By the way, do you know British psycho voodoo Doom band Pombagira? I'm not sure if it's still active, but they have a handful of strong albums.

Man, I didnīt know them till our songs were already recorded. Our band name was supposed to be "Pombajira Coven", but I preferred it the way it is later on. They use "G" instead of our "J". I liked their music. Very cool! I think theyīre much more Doom and Sludge than us.

As your lyrics aren't connected with voodoo, what kind of topics do you raise in your songs?

"Vital Lucifer" was already explained, so the other lyrics in this debut album are connected with different things like praises, choices, destiny, hypocrisy, sarcasm, supernatural visions or interpretations of cultural aspects in which I found some interest to explore. I donīt promise a wider understanding in any philosophy or attempting to enlighten anybody with my visions and perspectives, even that my lyrics are supposed to be interpreted in an individual level, since theyīre not so clear!

Pombajira - 'Vital Lucifer' (2019):

How long did you spend composing the album? Was it an easy going process?

I already had some ideas in mind back then, since my songs are rather basic. It made things go quickly. Blizzard came up with his songs which are a little bit more complex, but easy to transport to the melodies and lyrics. Btw, we spent 1 year with a previous drummer before Thiago Splatter joining, a complete waste of time and money. So, we kicked him off and then, when Thiago came up, things went really better and the result was fine. Actually the debut album was supposed to be released in 2018, not 2019...But shit happens all the time when you keep irresponsible persons to the work.

I remember Paul Roland told of being almost in a state of trance when he recorded vocals for the 'White Zombie' album: he spoke in tongues, if I remember his words correctly. Does your music have such power over you?

Music is supposed to be played in trance all the time. Doesnīt matter the style, or if it deals with spiritual concepts or not. Maybe, not exactly a possessing kind of trance, but as you plunge yourself in body and soul to something, since you have some talent, of course. I did it when recording the vocals, and I will even improve for the next time.

Self-titled 'Pombajira''s sound is very, very powerful and thick. In what conditions did you record these songs? What would you say about this session?

Thanks for the compliments! We wanted to test a totally analogue experience, but we donīt have a studio for it in Rio to work this way (or I donīt know any at least) and I donīt even know if we could afford it otherwise, 'cos itīs very expensive nowadays. So we had to work digitally in the most organic possible way with our own destitute pockets. The studio that we recorded has an analogue soundboard before passing through digital systems, so I think itīs good and also, the guys which recorded the album were really competent and did the best to understand what we had in mind; a lot of distortion, outraged noisy bass lines, uncompromised sonorities and Soul!! I think we havenīt reached what we wanted so far, but it was only the first step and the guys worked the best possible for us. The entire process took about a few months to be finished, maybe 3 months (I really donīt remember… : ) ), since we had to fit in our agendas (jobs, family etc..)

The album was released by Helldprod Records in a very limited run, just 200 copies. What about your ambitions? Didn't you do a reissue?

I donīt like this idea, but itīs what the label had to offer. For a first step, itīs ok for us! But we have the CD released in Brazil and in a limited tape version in 50 copies as well, professionally done (almost sold out – check our bandcamp). Of course weīll have reissues and a vinyl edition if some cool label get interested.

Did you push the album's release abroad? I bet this music could draw more attention with wider promotion.

Well, we are a newcomer band, with not much support. Weīre not looking forward to being desperately successful but of course that would be good having a better promotion of our band. Letīs see what happens.

Rio de Janeiro is a huge city, does this fact grant you an opportunity to play live often? How often do you play gigs there or outside the city?

We never played alive. I donīt have too much interest for now. Actually, I love to perform on stage and interact with the crowd, but I donīt like the "before and after" the gigs. Maybe Iīve turned to a lazy and old bitch haha! But as I said, Iīve treated Pombajira more like a project than a band, but letīs see what future tells. Maybe a few gigs will happen soon, in case thereīs someone interested to invest us good conditions for it. Rio is a huge city, but not that good for playing Metal and Rock. By the way, we have been currently governed by a bunch of disturbing christian protestants, making an outbreaking of a lot of stupid retrograde ideas and obscure conservative speeches against minorities to transgressive art (including Rock and Metal). Of course there will ever have a resistance here working in order to keep the flame burning, organizing gigs etc despite the self-contradictory persons with their Black/Death Metal satanist visual identity but supporting this same agenda of "standard bearers of values"! Fuck them all!!!

Really? Are they able to inflict that on media or are they into government? A few gigs were canceled here in Russia due to "orthodox activists", but it seems they only wanted hype, as I don't remember any problems for awhile.

I heard about these things in Russia. Fuck! Well, we have seen the Protestants taking advantages on this shit current govern in Brazil and getting as powerful as ever here!! We have noticed that followers of non-christians (Afro-religions most) creeds have been attacked in a regular basis as well. Stuffs like Creationisms, denial of science, denial of the earth is round (or "flat earthers" dumb followers), distorted notions of womenīs rights, homophobic actions, racism and many many other absurds inspired by the crippled minded who are leading this country, have taken us by assault! It makes me wonder if things will keep going on this way, if so, an obscure era is about to come here…I mean serious!

What is your plan for a new album? How soon do you aim to return to the studio?

We already have 4 new songs totally done, just need to put the lyrics on it. I think weīll have a longer 6 song album for this year. Donīt ask me about release dates, but weīve already done a few rehearsals and they sound great! We act like using pruning shears to exclude things that we donīt like and burnish what is good! A full uncompromised mix of Heavy, Rock, Doomed Inferno is the deal…If some label is interested, just get in touch!

Got you, man! No questions concerning that topic : ) So I just wish you good luck with finishing the album. Thanks for the interview!

Thank you very much for the support! Really appreciated!

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Visit the Pombajira bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-02-23 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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