Terrorizer: The Interview

TERRORIZER.  Pete Sandoval, back among the living. And a ripping new album. Three things worthy of respect and gratitude.

One of the founding fathers of grindcore, TERRORIZER are responsible for one of the single greatest metal albums ever recorded, World Downfall. Their latest album, Hordes of Zombies, is no slouch – delivering the tightest possible execution of the classic grindcore sound. New guitarist Katina Culture – taking over for the late, great Jesse Pintado after his death in 2006 – weaves in subtle hints of melody, bringing a new depth to the songwriting without sacrificing intensity.

I recently caught up with vocalist Anthony “Wolf” Rezhawk to discuss the new album, and all things TERRORIZER...

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It’s been 6 years since the last TERRORIZER album. A lot has changed, with Katina picking up guitar duty in the wake of Jesse’s death, as well as the return of David Vincent on bass. When did you begin writing the new album?

Kat and I wrote Hordes of Zombies in one weekend at the end of 2008. In January of 2009 we tracked all the drums, and by the spring of 2009 we had finished a demo that we sent to Leif at Clandestine Music, as he had committed himself to finding us a label. Unfortunately, this took longer than expected, but I guess things happen when they’re supposed to.

That’s amazing you were able to write an entire album in a weekend! From your timeline it sounds like the drums would have been recorded before Pete injured his back. I know lots of folks were heartbroken when he couldn’t play on the last Morbid Angel record; can we all rest assured that Pete is on the mend, ready and able to blast away for some shows with Terrorizer?

Pete did record this album before his back surgery. As of now he claims a 90% recovery. We actually got together in December of 2011 to rehearse and to shoot video of the band for the ‘Hordes of Zombies’ video (to be released in a few days). After those rehearsals it became apparent that he is ready to do some shows.

Are there any plans to tour? A lot of people would kill to see Terrorizer live…

Not sure about a tour at this time, but I can tell you that we’ll do at least 6 US shows this year. And then we’ll see what happens next year.

With song titles like “Malevolent Ghosts” and “Hordes of Zombies”, as well as the awesome zombie cover art, there seems to be more of a horror influence on the new album. TERRORIZER has done zombie songs before (like Dead Shall Rise), but the horror feels more upfront this time around. Was that a deliberate choice or more of a natural evolution?

I would say it is both “deliberate” and a “natural evolution”. If you study the previous titles, you can see the relation to one another. In the first album, World Downfall, the world is on a path towards imminent self-destruction. In Darker Days Ahead, we were already dwelling in the choices that were made in the past, and were foreseeing more powerful negative changes. In our newest release, Hordes of Zombies, we find ourselves already in a place where irreversible change is almost too late. It is a world where our current ‘civilization’ is depleting the earth from its natural resources, which in turn is putting us on a one-way highway towards either complete annihilation, or major physical change. The fact that the water, the air, and the food keep getting polluted and contaminated on a regular basis should be enough to wake us up from the state of zombiehood. Hordes of Zombies is not your typical Hollywood horror story for the sake of entertainment only, but a real horror story unfolding in front of our eyes.

You and Katina both play in RESISTANT CULTURE as well as TERRORIZER. How differently do you approach the writing process for TERRORIZER?

Our approach to TERRORIZER is a bit more metal, and RESISTANT CULTURE is a bit more punk (d-beat/blast-beat). Also, the fact that Resistant Culture has established an avant-garde openness to experiment with ethereal/tribal elements gives each band its own unique style.

Katina brings a different edge to the riffing on Hordes of Zombies, such as the shredding leads on “Ignorance and Apathy”. If anything, her playing sounds even more raging and intense than anything we’ve heard on previous Terrorizer records. Was it a natural choice to bring her onboard after Jesse passed away?

Thank you for the awesome comments; we appreciate it. Kat and Jesse got to play together quite a bit post-Napalm Death, since Jesse played and recorded one album with RESISTANT CULTURE, titled Welcome to Reality. Jesse really liked playing with Kat (and RESISTANT CULTURE); he regarded her as a shredding-guitar metal-warrior. Once he even told me that we should add her as a second guitarist for TERRORIZER. Considering all these facts, I would say it was a natural choice for the band. I know that Jesse would be happy, and I’m sure he is giving us the approval claw from the spirit world.

Historically, TERRORIZER is considered a grindcore band. Listening to the new album, I pick up a classic death metal vibe as well. Would you say grindcore is more of an approach than a particular sound? Do these distinctions between death and grind even matter? 

In my personal experience, the inception of grindcore was made possible by the fusion between metal and punk. I remember talking with Jesse Pintado about this. He said, “It’s like putting metal and punk into a grinder, and what comes out is grindcore.” Personally, that is an explanation I stand by to this day. So in the end, I’d have to say grindcore is more of an approach than an actual sound. But of course it’s been a while since its inception, so certain elements became typical of the genre.

You’ve been playing with TERRORIZER for a number of years now, and RESISTANT CULTURE is still active after more than 20 years. How do you keep that fire burning, and what does it take to continually push your music that extra step forward?

Extreme music has been a way of life for me since my early teens. It’s like a ceremonial fire living within, and as time passes, the fire burns even hotter. Like anything else, the more you experience, the more you have to offer. With time your ideas become more cohesive and focused, which in turn helps deliver the messages in a more effective manner. In my case, I feel that I’m now producing my best work yet, mostly because I’ve mastered my vocal and musical abilities. I’ve always been true to my heart and mind, and have never jumped on any bandwagon, as it would be difficult for me to write music for entertainment only, especially since there is so much to shed light upon. Extreme music is definitely the perfect tool to shape ideas and concepts that can possibly help us achieve a maximum level of positive energy.

Anything else you’d like to add?

On behalf of TERRORIZER, thank you for this interview, as it gives us an opportunity to express ourselves to your readers. To everyone taking the time to read this interview, we’d like to wish you the best in these dark and uncertain times.

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‘Hordes of Zombies’ was released on February 28 by Season of Mist, and is available for purchase now.