Sudamérica Brutal IX: Grimorium Verum – Ecuadorian Black Metal Unleashed!!
ALIVE BUT NOT ENTIRELY WELL, ZT’s three-man film crew have just survived a week in Quito, Ecuador after crossing paths with some of the city’s most insane bands and denizens.
The cemetery city was quite a different experience to the sunshine and charm of Medellín – Quito was like a decaying mountain metropolis: a fog-shrouded city of antiquity, a place of biting winds, morbid visions and weathered faces. It’s not hard to understand why Ecuadorians are prone to the sounds of doom and gloom – folk songs of Pasillo, Yaraví and El Danzante are melancholy ballads rooted in cold climate, sadness and death – songs that are said to inspire a great deal of rural suicides.
Taken by the songs of folk artists like Gonzalo Benitez, Christopher Ojeda Dávila, “El Pollo” Ortiz and Don Carlos Narvaez, a group of Quito ‘metaleros’ would be the first to fuse this depressive sound with the postmodern noise of the West. GRIMORIUM VERUM formed in 1993, taking influence from the sounds of NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) and the First Wave Of Black Metal (Hellhammer, Venom and Bathory). Universally accepted as the country’s first black metal band, GRIMORIUM VERUM were entirely different from their thrash and heavy metal forebears: BLAZE, ABRAXAS, CRY, DEMOLICIÓN, ESCALIBUR, DAMAGED SKULL and others who established themselves in the cities of Quito, Ambato and port of Guyaquil during the ’80s and early ’90s. GRIMORIUM VERUM released their first demos in 1993 and 1995 – twisted, alcohol-inspired affairs that combined a national tendency for self-destruction with folklore and primitive, occult-inspired noise. In 1999, they featured on a three-way split titled “Ecuador Subterraneo”, a showcase for local black metal featuring two other native groups: LEGIÓN and MORTUUM (not to be confused with Peruvian band MORTEM). It wasn’t until 2008 that the band would complete their self-titled debut, a more focused attack of Quitu-Cara evil, followed by 2010’s “Acnorajacal”, a two-track album focused on their instrumental elements.
During our stay, we met with vocalist ‘Equidnos’ (Alvaro Arellano-Fuel) and drummer ‘Lucifeid’ (Diego Rodriguez) to conduct the first interviews with GRIMORIUM VERUM in history. The two characters could not have been more different. Lucifeid is a quiet, deeply spiritual type – a person who has all but renounced his former debaucheries to pursue the esoteric mysteries of the occult. Like many in his circle, he was wary of publicity, but was willing to indulge us and treat to an indigenous cleansing ritual at longitude/latitude zero, the magnetic centre of the earth.
Equidnos is more of an extrovert – a headbanger with an evil sense of humour, a postmodern pirate with a taste for silver spandex, hard liquor and British heavy metal. Known best for his naked performances and punishment of fans with a cat of nine tails, Equidnos is a fountain of charisma…he’s also one sick puppy. Chugging from a cigarette containing base (a cheap form of crack cocaine, popular with Ecuadorian metalheads), he revealed that he’d sodomised three priests for money and was in a tenuous relationship with a 97-year-old man. Insisting that he wasn’t gay – just an all-out gerontophile – he elaborated on his obsession, laughing and describing it as ‘the closest you can get to necrophilia’. All of that aside, he was our first willing interviewee – a rare commodity in Quito, and we were happy to encourage his ‘passions’. He told us about the meaning of Ecuadorian metal, the problems facing his country and most spectacular of all, played us a traditional Ecuadorian Yaraví…
The crew extend their most hearty thanks to Equidnos, Lucifeid and all of GRIMORIUM VERUM for showing us the highs and lows of Quito. We’d also like to thank the lovely Vanessa Realpe, who served as our translator for the duration of our stay.