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Formed by veteran members of other bands in 2016, Peruvian outfit El Abismo just released their debut album, pulling in a lot of different influences, as vocalist Daniel explains to Comrade Aleks.

Interview with El Abismo.
"I've studied the Peruvian Doom metal scene, and I can assure you that there are a few more names out there besides ayahuasca visionaries Reino Ermitaño. There was Kranium, pioneers of the Peruvian Doom scene and still active to some degree, there was Inmemorial, born in 1993 and released about two dozen songs through their whole career, the less lucky Aneurisma, with just one demo in their discography, and the quite interesting En Las Espesas Nieblas, whose album 'De Memorias y Destinos' (2005) is still a good piece of Death/Doom. Members of these bands united in 2016, in order to play some authentic doom, under the El Abismo moniker. The result of their work is the full-length album 'El Arbol Negro', released by Thrashirts on February 1st, 2020. It's fair to say that the album combines all of their influences, and it was recorded with help from Gustavo Villegas on cello.

This interview with vocalist Daniel Roncagliolo was started in early March, but though it was delayed due to technical difficulties, we decided to leave the first questions and answers unchanged."

El Abismo: Cesar Echegaray (drums), Carlos Hidalgo (guitars,bass and chorus), Daniel Roncagliolo (vocals).

Hi Daniel! How are you? How effectively does Peruvian media spread the coronavirus panic?

First I'd like to thank you Alexey, for this opportunity and the interview. I'm doing well. The band is rehearsing hard for the debut. And with the coronavirus there are 9 infected so far. They are upper class kids that came from a Europe tour in Italy and Czech republic. Detected them on Saturday people are been cautious, they don't like panic, just taking a lot of this issue.

Does this situation affect the band's work?

Not as much, we have three new musicians that are working with us - new guitar player, one who plays cello and the new bassist. We are playing live in two months.

What's the current line-up? I see that El Abismo's line-up consists of people with rich musical background…

Yes. I have played in Kranium, Hand Of Doom, Carlos Hidalgo was a member of En Las Espesas Nieblas and César Echegaray is a member of Inmemorial. Now Junior Casalino (guitar), Raúl Jara (bass) and Abner Robles (cello) are added.

I've checked El Abismo's Facebook profile… Do I understand it right that El Abismo took part in the In Nomine Doom Chile festival? Who organized this festival? What are your impressions from this show?

We were not present at the festival, but a friend of ours, Carlos Rivera, producer of In Nomine Doom Peru, brought records of El Abismo to Chile to share with the people there.

Oh, really… The band will take part in Evil Attack V in May, presenting the whole album 'El Arbol Negro', in the good Doom company of Lament Christ, Psicoraggia and Desponding Chants. How often do El Abismo play live?

It will be the first time El Abismo plays live. We are waiting for the moment with great expectation and respect for our music. Lament Christ, Psicorragaia and Desponding Chants are great bands and very good friends.

El Abismo - 'Lilith' (Lyric, 2019):

The album was released by Thrashirts Records and I've seen that as Thrashirts Management they presented a lyric video for one of the album's songs – 'Lilith'. Does it mean that the label cares a lot about El Abismo's promotion?

We only have words of gratitude to Thrashirts who bet and decided to release the album. We are very satisfied with 'Lilith's lyric video, produced by Thrashirts.

Why did you choose this song for the video? Does it represent the band's strongest sides?

If you have had the opportunity to listen to the album, you will have noticed that the songs are very varied among themselves. 'Lilith' represents an aspect of El Abismo. A certain balance between melody and brutality.

The band is tagged as blend of Doom and Heavy Metal, but you sing with both clean and growling vocals. What influenced your choice of this combination?

When I came to the band the songs were made. Carlos Hidalgo, the founder, showed me the songs. We tried to see what kind of voices would really fit with the music. I brought lot of ideas. Classic rock, NWOBHM, doom from the 90s, some experimental music and extreme metal as well.

What does "Doom metal" mean for you?

Actually "doom metal" is a definition of music criticism. If it refers to what music means to us, I would tell you that it is our life. It is what gives us strength and motivates us to continue living in this world of shit.

There's also cello on the album, its parts performed by guest musician Gustavo Villegas. Why did you decide to include it in your instruments?

We decided to include a cello because it adds a different color to what a keyboard could bring to our music. I think the ideas were well shaped.

Didn't you want to add some local folk instruments like you did with Kranium?

We do not close ourselves to that possibility. If any new song merits it and we see that it is natural to incorporate a folk instrument we will do it. We do not have any problem.

The songs have some heavy and up-tempo parts as well as melancholic acoustic passages or piercing metal solos: how do you see the general influences which are the foundation of El Abismo's sound?

Our influences range from the classic rock of the 60s and 70s, through everything that NWOBHM contributed from the early 80s and the metal of the 90s. They are influences that in our case work like an amalgam and we try to make it work in the most natural way.

Daniel, what are your songs about?

The lyrics are there for anyone who wants to read them. But beyond the metaphors or the stories that are told in these, there is a central axis that is the subject of death and the way in which the human being confronts it.

What influences you as a lyric author?

The lyrics were composed by Carlos Hidalgo, as was the music. The lyrics are inspired by cursed French poetry, Lovecraft and César Moro, a great Peruvian poet.

El Abismo - 'Catacumbas' (2019):

How do you see strongest sides of 'El Arbol Negro'?

From my point a view the stronger side of El Abismo is the different types of music done in one CD and of course the friendship in the band.

Did you try to keep this material integral despite the songs' diversity?

Yes. The great theme that makes up the entire album is death, the mystery behind this act that closes life and, hopefully, opens another.

I remember how hard the story was of Kranium's recording their one and only full-length album. How was it with El Abismo? Did this recording session remind you of those unlucky sessions from the '90s?

I know that Carlos Hidalgo had son issues. But when I came the recording there was a great vibe and every this flowed naturally. Recording song by song all the arrangements, and experimentation in the mixing process. I really didn't have any problems. The album was recorded at El Dragón Verde Studios, between June 2016 and December 2018. It was a long process, but it was worth it.

Do you see a chance to promote El Abismo and 'El Arbol Negro' outside Peru?

We want to take El Abismo's music to every corner where possible, respecting our identity and our proposal. We have more then 1000 visits in spotify. We hope this can be done.

What are your plans for El Abismo in 2020?

The Covid-19 cut short any plans to play live. We will probably work on a video to spread the album. We will also start the songwriting process for the second album.

Thanks for the interview Daniel! How would you resume El Abismo's central idea?

It is simply music made with the utmost honesty.

El Abismo - 'El Arbol Negro' (2019):

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Visit the El Abismo bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-05-19 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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