Hibria – Bang Your HeadWednesday, 5th August 2015
Anyone who loves traditional power metal with killer chops, bass parts, harmonies, and high pitch vocals remember the surprise launch of Brazil’s Hibria through their debut album Defying the Rules in 2004. The band took the best of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Helloween, and Riot and made it their own – and their second album Skull Collectors took the intricacy and musical interplay that much further to reinforce their strong capabilities.
Their following has moved beyond South American borders, as they successfully headline the Far East and plan on making more inroads in North America following the release of their fifth album. Always aiming to add something new to their formula, many an eyebrow may be raised over the inclusion of horns on select songs like “Pain” and “Ashamed”, but it works – as the quintet still can dazzle through regular electric instrumentation, be metal, and rock.
During an amazing thunder and lightning storm in his native Porto Alegre, Brazil, I engaged in a great conversation with drummer Eduardo Baldo about his roots, his love for heavy metal, and concerns for the dangers and corruptions that lurk in his homeland. Worried about his English skills being his second language, there really wasn’t much to edit in this talk… and for those desiring to see the band live, expect a lengthy tour this fall with Canada’s Unleash the Archers to get your metal fix.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about your early memories of music: first bands you heard, who pushed you on the path to metal and what some of your early influences were to pick up an instrument and start performing in bands?
Eduardo Baldo: I started to listen to music when I was really, really young. The first memories are from when I was 3 years old perhaps and I started listening to Iron Maiden. Because my older brother was listening to them, and I liked the covers with Eddie. The record No Prayer for the Dying had just been released and this is the first record I remember listening to. When I was 4 or 5 I asked my dad for The Number of the Beast cassette tape, and so I started listening to heavy metal and rock. I moved to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and so forth- but I only started to play the drums when I turned 17. It took a long time for me to learn an instrument.
Dead Rhetoric: You joined the band in 2005 after Hibria’s debut album Defying the Rules – did you know any of the band members previously and how did you join the band?
Eduardo: I never attended a Hibria concert before because I started working with them in 2001 as a roadie, and a drum tech. I’ve known the guys for a real long time, when they had problems with the previous drummer, I was already playing in other bands. They went to a concert in which I was playing with a Whitesnake cover band in 2005 I believe, I didn’t know at that time that they were checking on me to see if I was ready for the gig. We’ve been friends for a long time before I joined as a member. We had a professional relationship which helped a lot because I already knew how these guys work.
Dead Rhetoric: The new album is self-titled, and you are working with a couple of newer labels for North America and Europe. How did the songwriting and recording sessions go- and how did the introduction of horns come to be on a few of the tracks?
Eduardo: Well, we write our music always thinking on how it would sound live. We always think about the audience, how will they react, can they participate on the chorus, singing live, banging their heads with their fists in the air. We always think about these elements when we are writing our music. And also we listen to different kinds and styles of music which brings these new elements for us- like horns and stuff. We have been listening to a lot of jazz music lately- especially Abel (Camargo) our guitar player. He’s studying jazz with a famous guitar player here in our city. So he’s really into jazz, but the horns he’s been talking about adding them in since Blind Ride, but we didn’t have the opportunity. We recorded Silent Revenge with the current band formation, and now it is the first time we’ve recorded a new album with the same lineup. We had time to think about these different elements in our songs.
We always go to the studio and the first thing we record is the drums. 90% of the time the songs are not completely done, and we work on lots of arrangements in the studio. It was about three months, maybe since we started recording the drums in February, in April everything was recorded so Benhur had time to mix and send to the mastering with Maor Appelbaum. Pretty quick, I think.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the stripped down cover art – which seems atypical for a power metal oriented act like Hibria?
Eduardo: It was on purpose. We don’t like to be labelled as a particular type of heavy metal, people used to label us as a power metal band but it kind of restricts the sound. We have our elements, guitar shredding, two handed bass lines, double bass, but as you can notice we have different elements and we like to groove a little bit. What brought us to this concept is the music comes first. It’s kind of a statement- this is Hibria now. This is the definite lineup for this band- no one gets in and no one gets out. It’s simple, it’s plain, and it’s very touching I believe. You are going to get the album and see the art- listen to the music and not pay attention to the outside details.
Dead Rhetoric: Three bands easily come to mind when we talk about the Brazilian metal scene. Discuss the importance of Viper, Angra, and Sepultura when it comes to Hibria? What do you think you’ve been able to learn and apply the most through their years of work, discography, and the way they handle themselves?
Eduardo: I wasn’t really… I am talking for myself, I don’t know how the other guys would answer this question. For me I wasn’t really into the Brazilian scene when I was young, I always listened to English, American, and German bands because I didn’t have friends that I could talk (to) about these bands- I just met Sepultura when they were huge and I only listened to Angra when I was much older, 20 years old. So I wasn’t really influenced by these bands, and Viper I was really young when they were an active band. They didn’t make a part of my influences. As you have already said they are very important bands for the Brazilian scene to the world. They weren’t part of my influences outside of Igor Cavalera, I respect his drumming a lot. When I first listened to “Territory”, I was really impressed by the things he did in 1993. He’s an amazing drummer, Sepultura is an amazing band. I wish to meet these guys in person, I don’t think it’s going to happen but it would be really nice.
Dead Rhetoric: Skull Collectors in 2008 seemed to up the speed and technical level of the band, containing killer tracks like “Tiger Punch”, “Sea of Revenge”, and the title cut. Outside of changing drummers in the interim, what other factors do you believe contribute to the higher level of critical and fan acceptance of this release?
Eduardo: I think the main reason is because it’s kind of a sequel for Defying the Rules. That was a really well-accepted album, they really love it. Skull Collectors sounds like a sequel. I joined the band and the songs were already written, I had little things that I could add. I didn’t work with the guys on the songwriting, I just did my drums on the songs that were already arranged. The only song that I remember that I worked on more than the others was “Tiger Punch”, which Marco Panichi the bass player that played before Benhur, he wanted a drum fill that would combine with the two hand bass part on the intro. That one was really the song that I remember that I participated in more than the others. I don’t know why people like that record so much – I believe it’s because of the technical parts, it’s much closer to Defying the Rules than our newest albums. It’s a tricky question.
Dead Rhetoric: What circumstances led to the departure of bassist Marco Panichi in 2010- and how did you discover his replacement Benhur Lima? I would imagine it’s not an easy task to replace such a fluid, technical sharp bassist as Marco…
Eduardo: No, it wasn’t. It was really sad when Marco left, he was like Steve Harris for us, a very important figure to the band. Not just for his bass technique but on the business side of the band, he was a really important figure. It was his decision, the last concert that he played with us was when we opened for Metallica in our city Porto Alegre. Days later he came to us and he said that he was a bit tired. He was the only one except Diego that didn’t work with music. We are all now teachers – and he was into a normal business. It was hard for him to move with his life having a regular job. Luckily we found Benhur – he was a student and we contacted his music teacher. The teacher told us about this student, a really nice guy, and he gave us the contact. We tested three bass players and Benhur was the last one. We knew that he was the right guy from the first note he played on the bass. He’s an awesome bass player, very groovy, very emotional in his lines and he sings like hell. He’s an easygoing guy, very cool. We were really lucky to have him so close.
Dead Rhetoric: Your third release Blind Ride has met with a little bit of criticism from some of your long-time fans- I think due to a combination of a more modernized production as well as some riffs and vocal lines that appeared to be a little more commercial oriented. How do you view this album and material now having a few years of separation from its creation and output?
Eduardo: I really like Blind Ride, maybe because I have participated more on the songwriting perhaps. Every record we do reflects what we are listening to as we compose the album. So we were listening to a lot of Testament and Soilwork, so we were trying to bring these elements to our songwriting. We took the normal and expected Hibria elements and try to bring something new to the songs. I really like the album, I remember that Diego was the main reason for this orientation. He brought to us the idea of making something new, different, and sounds a little bit more modern. It’s a very good record in my opinion, at least once a week I listen to the entire album.
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