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A new Chilean trio, formed during the pandemic by veterans of various Doom bands and inspired by Warning, Mortajas produced their debut album this year, to a most un-doomy timescale. Comrade Aleks needed to find out more, with the help of bassist Daniel.

Interview with Mortajas.
"A lot of bands were naturally blocked by the quarantine, but that couldn't stop such Doom enthusiasts as Daniel Pérez Saa, Rodrigo Figueroa and Marcos Contreras. Previously they performed different sorts of Doom in bands such as King Heavy, Marchafunebre and Mourners Lament, names which should be known to explorers of proper underground Metal. So, they gathered just a year ago with the intention of resurrecting Warning's spirit, and it ended up with a self-titled album released by Gates of Horror Records in January 2021. It's Traditional Doom Metal time with Daniel Pérez Saa!"

Mortajas: Rodrigo Figueroa (drums), Marcos Contreras (guitars/vocals), Daniel Pérez Saa (bass).

Hi Daniel! How are you? The first question is a common one nowadays: how hard is the Covid quarantine in your area?

Hello Aleksey, nice to talk about DOOM METAL with you! Where I live it has not been so complex, I have been in quarantine for a little more than a month, the rest of the pandemic has been other types of restrictive measures, such as not being able to join with people, or request some permits to go out to buy ... but the last time everything is more complex, luckily I am already vaccinated, if it is useful! Hahaha, so on that quiet side, enjoying the confinement a lot, with constant BBQ's, a lot of Beer and tons of METAL!

Well, previously you were part of three bands, and two of those performed Traditional Doom. What made you want to join Mortajas? How did it happen?

The Mortajas thing is more a whim than anything else, that is, with Marcos Contreras (guitar/voice) we were listening to music and WARNING sounded, and I commented that I wanted to put together something like this ... since with King Heavy the music, if it can be called fast, but I wanted to put together something slower, more dragging, in another tuning, but keeping the traditional sound, not Doom/Death, so we started to share ideas, and finally what would be just one song, which later were two, ended up being an album, without any encouragement or original plan to do something like that, but everything worked wonderfully, so the result is very satisfactory for us, both in how quickly it came out, and in the quality of the songs.

Mortajas plays Trad Doom with Spanish lyrics, and as the artwork of your debut album was created by Marcos Coifman of the now-disbanded Reino Ermitaño… do you feel like you're taking their place as the only band of this kind in your region? Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't remember any other active Trad Doom bands with Spanish lyrics in your region. Well, besides Kranium. But Kranium is a thing in itself!

The art of the album was made by my wife Andrea Pizarro, she is an art teacher and has been very involved in the whole process of Mortajas, so I think she translated the lyrics and the sound very well into an artistic piece that leaves us very proud , and personally very pleased, since he had never dared to make the art of a record, and ended up creating a series of beautiful paintings, which reflect everything that music wants to say, without having to resort to gloomy colors, but rather evoking sensations and expressions in the line itself. Someday we will have a Coiffmann in our art, I already had the experience of working with him on the Codex Gigas album, he is a great friend, a brother indeed ... Surely we will do something together in the future ... regrettable that there is no longer "REINO ERMITAÑO" ... With regard to bands that play in Spanish on this side of the world, we are undoubtedly afraid of KRANIUM, BITTERDUSK, MAZO, OCULTUM, RITO VERDUGO, among others, if there are several exponents of DOOM in our language, however it is not common, for which for us has been a tremendous challenge to be able to compose in our language ... and above all for me, since it is my first foray into doing that, and it has really been very pleasant for me, since it is not only writing, but power combine what has been written, with the music, and that everything in the end sounds just right, and that everything that has been exposed in the riffs and lyrics is expressed ... in fact, to this day I feel a tremendous intrigue over which it is better… composing the music and forcing the lyrics to the sound, or writing and putting those lyrics to music…

'Mortajas'cover art.

Sorry, my mistake… I was sure it was Coifman's work, so I didn't even check who was the author! Do you already have some merch besides CDs? I guess something authentic with traditional motifs could work, though it'd better to ask Kranium first if traditional-styled merch is popular!

It is not a problem, rather it is a tremendous compliment, since Coifman is a tremendous artist ... with respect to the merch, for now we have a limited amount of shirts, with an exclusive design, some stickers that will go on the Chilean edition of the vinyl, but nothing more for now ... we have been talking to Raphael (Rafchild Records) about making some metallic PINS, but nothing confirmed for now ... neither patch, but it may be likely that soon ... everything associated with MERCH always comes hand in hand with playing live...

On more "traditional" themes, as Kranium has been doing, in a fantastic way, I think not, our music and our lyrics are not based on Latin American facts, not for now, they are more transversal themes and inherent to the human being, and they have not been influenced by events on this side of the world…. But we do not close that option.

How did you manage to record 'Mortajas' during the quarantine? Did you work on-line through the whole period?

It was a job commanded by Marcos Contreras, he equipped himself with enough equipment to record at home ... so we got together to work on the album, record demos, and later record the album, everything was done at home (guitars, bass and vocals ), the work was different with Rodrigo Figueroa's drums, since he, being from our region, lives in Santiago, which is not far away (1 hour 30 minutes) but with the quarantines it was impossible to rehearse together, so he had to do a solo job, and in a very good way, since it is very difficult to move forward like this, and he managed to overcome those barriers, we only supported him with a couple of opportunities, but the credit goes to him!, finally when they released one of these quarantine blockades he managed to travel to our region and we registered the batteries in a local studio called OVEJA NEGRA in QUILPUE, very close to my house… after that we had an EPIC celebration!!!!

Mortajas - 'Un Final' (2021):

Nearly a year ago, you presented a cover of Black Sabbath's 'Under the Sun' recorded by you and members of King Heavy, Quicksand Dream and Apostle of Solitude - all at a distance. What was the reaction to this video? Do you plan to celebrate another year of the quarantine with another video of this kind?

The experience was incredible ... we have all been without playing for a long time, experiencing the confinement and a very strong musical drought ... and well the original idea was to make a KING HEAVY song, but the times and technology played against us ... so I thought about doing something similar to what Skolnick (TESTAMENT), Benante (ANTHRAX) and Ra Diaz (SUICIDAL TENDENCES) did, when they did the covers of RUSH, a band that I love, so I thought… let's do something like that…. But not RUSH for obvious reasons! Hahaha, so we debate on some names and voila! If we start, we must start with the beginning! BLACK SABBATH, the song was proposed by Corey, and we all immediately said YES !!!! And voila, it was a fairly quick job, with everyone's support for the editing, the mixing was in charge of Matias (King Heavy), the video editing by a great friend Jhonny Verdugo, and of course the inspiration hand in hand of glorious Beer!

I think it worked very well, excellent comments, and above all we had an incredible time… then we did a cover of Judas Priest…. Now we have not talked about that topic ... maybe it's time to prepare another version ... why not?

International collaboration - 'Under The Sun' (Black Sabbath cover, 2020):

What's your personal vision behind Mortajas? How do you see the differences between this band and others of your Doom projects?

The truth is that I don't think much about it ... but I think that the lyrics are first, the other is the conviction, and third is that we are not afraid to give an account to anyone, and that is definitely reflected in the music ... the working method is very similar to what we do with KING HEAVY, but Marcos has been very meticulous, constantly doing demos, creating drums, etc etc… in MARCHAFUNEBRE Fernando so far has everything ready, so one only supports the process, as with INFERNAL THORNS ... but I think it is too early to compare it, since we have been working as a band for a little more than 16 months ... and it works ... what has been fundamental is that we do not leave anything for later, everything works almost immediately, for the better or worse ... but it does not stop advancing ... The interesting thing is that we share a band with Rodrigo in Marchafunebre and Rodrigo shares a band with Marcos in MOURNERS LAMENT, and in both bands compared to MORTAJAS the music production, arrangements, methods, etc etc, are very different.

Marcos Contreras sings in Spanish, and I believe we can suppose what kind of lyrics you may use in a Doom metal band… However, what does Marcos sing about?

As I told you, the lyrics were written by me, and we worked on them together with Marcos, and the themes have been based on Existentialism, some religious themes, but not from the point of view of Christianity, or Satanism, but rather from the falsehood of these organizations… fear us. Also lyrics associated with the loss of loved ones… SANGRE DE MI SANGRE, which is the slowest and most melancholic song on the album, which talks about that, the loss of a son or someone that special… difficult song…

There is an interesting literary work, with a mixture of metaphors and more explicit texts, the idea is that by reading them you can feel what is being said, and that also puts the music on stage, and I think that has worked wonderfully ... nothing has It was a coincidence, but in the same way we left a lot to spontaneity.

I could say that it is an art to be able to write Metal in Spanish, it is easier to do it in English, but if I remember the great heavy metal bands in Spanish like BARON ROJO (Spain), HERMETICA (Argentina), ANGELES DEL INFIERNO (Spain) PANZER (Chile) I think it is wonderful to write and sing in our language!

How much of a Chilean background do you see in Mortajas? How much of its culture or history do you feel in the band?

The truth is that not much ... maybe more like how we see death, or religion from here, but nothing very explicit, at least that in the lyrics ... in the music maybe some rhythmic passages, but without a doubt which to a lesser extent in relation to KING HEAVY, where there are quite a few rhythms from this side of the world ... MORTAJAS is a band with a rather international sound, sung in Spanish ... with traditional instruments, we have not wanted to add other instruments either. We want to be able to take the sound of the band to any corner of the world, so we have focused on being able to play what is recorded ... what has been a tremendous challenge is the work of the voices. And maybe that evokes some Latin American bands.

Daniel, you're not just the bass-player in Mortajas but also a father, and member of three more bands, how do you manage to share your energy and time between all these directions?

Hahahaha, maybe that question is more for my wife and my daughters! It really is a challenge, since I currently have 4 bands, 3 doom metal and another Death Metal, but I have an arrangement and support from all the members of all the bands, they have been very understanding in relation to the tours and rehearsals, or the recording processes ... apart from that I am only more dedicated to KING HEAVY and MORTAJAS, since I have an active participation in the creation and promotion of the band. music, and in the case of INFERNAL THORNS and MARCHAFUNEBRE I only play low and clear support in all that I can ... but I must have the greatest coordination with my home, where they have been extremely understanding, they have supported me in every adventure I have decided to take, especially when vacations are sacrificed to go on tour! A situation that I have done a couple of opportunities ... so without the support of my bandmates and a super family that supports me unconditionally, I would not know how to get ahead with all these projects !!!

A kind of tricky question… But who knows… Did you ever discuss a chance between you and other members to build a kind of super Doom band which features other guys from other local bands? You know - to have a really focused band, but which could be a quintessence of "Chilean doom" or whatever.

Hahaha, don't give me ideas to create bands !!!! I have not thought about it ... but without a doubt I would like to be able to play with emblematic musicians from this side of the world ... if I think about it quickly it would be an honor to play with MANOLO from INQUISICIÓN, LEO from BITTERDUSK, With LUIS from POEMA ARCANUS, although with Luis I already play when we went on tour with PROCESSION to Europe in 2009, a great guy and sensational drummer ... but I think I'm surrounded by extraordinary musicians ... all with a great background, with a lot of talent and technical and creative prowess ... maybe some style can be put together from a distance with these legends !!! But I think that for now with 4 bands is enough …… or not?

I think I did something similar with pandemic covers, recording with musicians from other latitudes of the world in the case of the cover of BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST with Goran (Quicksand Dream), Corey (Apostle of Solitude) and also when we recorded the DOOM cover OVER THE WORLD with Alfredo (Concatenatus, Sol Sistere, and many more!) Corey (Apostle of Solitude) and Cristobal (Trimegisto, Inanna) that experience was incredible! ... you have given me a good idea !!!

Mortajas - 'El Amortajado' (2021):

You and Rodrigo also play in another trad doom band, Marchafunebre. There has been no news from this side for two years or so, what's the band's current status?

Indeed, Rodrigo arrived at MARCHARFUNEBRE at the beginning of 2020, we had plans to record that year the long-awaited LP, which has suffered several problems to be recorded ... so Rodrigo was the one to close that chapter, record and finally launch the expected LP, but with the Pandemic everything has been delayed ... but now we are in the final phase of being able to start recording, hopefully soon, the long-awaited album, which is a marvel the truth, very epic, very good songs, it really is It is a luxury to play there, since Fernando is an extraordinary creator, and in that album he will see all his capacity reflected, what I can comment is that we recorded a Rehearsal during September 2019 called "The Middle of the Night" with 3 songs, 2 new and one from the Demo.

So we hope this year to be able to record and release this album and finally be able to start producing more music!

On the other hand you perform bass in Death Metal band Infernal Thorns, whose second album was released by Australis Records in September 2020. How were you involved in this unholy company when you could join Mourners Lament or another Doom-oriented band?

The INFERNAL THORNS thing was very casual, since its founder is a very great friend from many years ago, we studied together for a year at the University, and since then we have known each other, 20 years ago !, so he asked me to play in his band ... somewhat strange situation since he is a bass player ... and he started playing guitar, so at first it was somewhat uncomfortable to play feeling that Andres was aware of what I was doing on bass ... but it is not like that, it has given me a tremendous freedom in my instrument, and gives it a lot of importance in the composition, in the mixes, etc, so it is a marvel! Besides, the friendship that unites the 4 of us is the maximum!!! We had an incredible time playing rehearsing, drinking beers! It is a very good band internally and externally, since this last album, the first one I have recorded, has been fantastic, it was a comfortable process, with excellent results!

Well, I'm not sure if it's time to ask anything about King Heavy, but I should. Well, any news?

From King Heavy slow everything ... it is already difficult to work remotely, add to that the pandemic ... so for now we have several songs created, but not yet finished, we have seen a new label like it ... but without being able to mention much since we do not fear us material to release yet ... what I can anticipate is that we will try to release a single or just a song to stay current ... material there is, but this global situation has physically distanced ... but the spirit remains intact!

Thanks for the interview Daniel! I hope it'll help Mortajas to reach out further and get some feedback from abroad. Well, yes… it's our last question for today: how often do you receive any feedback concerning your work in bands?

Very grateful for your time and dedication. I follow what you write very closely and of course I am waiting for the new number of "DOOM METAL LEXICANUM". I have always been grateful for the support of the people who take the time to enjoy the music, art and they also take a few minutes to express to you what they feel about what you did... it is really magical... motivating!

Some comments are received, however I believe that the Old Continent has a debt to pay more attention to the bands on this side of the world, it is difficult to enter the European market, and international in general ... although it has not been our case ... we were tremendously lucky, for which I am very grateful to Edith and Mikko (CARDINALS FOLLY) who showed MORTAJAS to Raphael (RAFCHILD RECORDS) Who needs everyone's support to get the band moving !!! The same happened with PAUL (Gates of Horror Records from Peru), who is a fundamental piece in which the band has been released… without the support of people like them and the Bangers, we would not be living this fantastic dream! So THANK YOU and CHEERS!

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Visit the Mortajas bandpage.

Interviewed on 2021-05-10 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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