Now You Know: CalamitySaturday, 16th January 2016
Formation: 2014 (known as Silent Screams 2010-2011 and Hush 2011-2013)
Location: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Personnel: Berny Santos (vocals, guitar); Gonzalo Ortiz (guitar); Fernando Rivera (bass); Eduardo Acevedo (drums)
Latest Release: Imminent Disaster, 2015 (Self-Released)
Built for speed and ready to tear limbs apart, thrash is a genre that will never die. Containing the right fusion of angst, energy, melody, and power – there’s a reason why the youth keeps the old guard in high regard as well as fervently bringing a newer breed to the forefront. No longer just an 80’s Bay Area or Teutonic driven movement, musicians from all parts of the world are getting together and feeling bonded by blood through extreme aggressions.
Puerto Rico’s Calamity is another quartet ready to prove that the thrash movement shows no signs of dying anytime soon. Galloping tight rhythms that transcend the expected influence tree and put the skill set on a higher level makes the band’s debut full-length Imminent Disaster very impressive – beyond the sacrifice to take things to the streets in a late December/early January winter tour through the United States with fellow Puerto Rico’s Zafakon. Self-financing makes roots and hopefully pays dividends down the line – as this band has the quality songs to hang with their signed contemporaries.
In the midst of the East Coast portion of the tour, guitarist/vocalist Berny Santos and drummer Eduardo Acevado were kind enough to answer these questions so we can get to know a bit more about the group. Their passion runs deep, and it’s understandable why their scene is gaining such widespread attention – unified for the common goal of heavy metal madness.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the early days of Calamity – especially how the band formed, were any of your friends before the band and did you know straight away the type of thrash metal you were going to play or did it develop out of practice/rehearsals? Did any elements of Silent Screams or Hush come into focus with Calamity?
Eduardo Acevedo: We were friends way before Calamity. Gonzalo, Fernando and Berny knew each other since forever…. literally since kindergarten, and I got to meet them in middle school. I remember knowing that Berny played guitar and I played drums so at some point we had this conversation about doing a rock band together. Once we were all at Berny’s place playing “Rock Band”. Gabriel (former singer of the band) was singing. We listened to him and decided that we could make a band where Berny would be the lead guitarist, Gabriel would sing and I would play drums, Fernando was starting his bass lessons at school and Gonzalo decided to learn guitar just to be part of the band.
Berny Santos: At the beginning we never really knew what we wanted to do, we just got to Eduardo’s garage and played. When we got good enough we started learning Metallica songs because that was probably the only band that we all liked at the time. After our debut as Silent Screams on a Halloween night at Gonzalo’s place we started writing original songs. At the time we were doing some Black album kind of stuff with clean vocals and heavy riffs. It wasn’t until mid-2013 when we changed our lineup that we really chose a way to sound. In that year a lot of modern thrash metal bands came to our attention, we were looking at bands such as Havok, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust, and Warbringer. We started being influenced by those bands and thanks to those influences Calamity was born.
Dead Rhetoric: Let ‘Em Burn is your first 6 song EP release from the summer of 2014. What particular memories do you have surrounding that recording and songwriting experience – how would you assess this release at this point (pluses, minuses, fan reception)?
Santos: Well Let ‘em Burn was the opportunity to release all the old songs and all that stuff we had in our set since Silent Screams and Hush. For me it was like a way to reset the band, a new beginning. We were too young and there was a lot of stuff about recording and composing that we didn’t know at the time, but we feel proud even now of what we accomplished. It was a good hook for the local scene in Puerto Rico to start showing interest in us.
Dead Rhetoric: Imminent Disaster is your latest full-length album. Why did “Killing Just for Fun” and “Endless Demise” make the cut from your previous release, and how do you feel the other seven songs stack up in comparison? What improvements did you make that apply to the overall outcome of this outstanding thrash product?
Acevedo: Yeah, “Endless Demise” and “Killing Just for Fun” are songs that we still want to play live, we still have fun while playing them. They were the first songs that people actually recognized as Calamity songs. Also, those are songs that we never stopped updating before going into the studio to record Imminent Disaster. Like, every time we made a new song we would go back and review the old songs to see how we could improve them so they’ll be at the same level as the new ones in terms of drum rhythms, guitar harmonies and lyrics most of the time.
Dead Rhetoric: The band is on its first US tour with fellow Puerto Rico’s Zafakon. What are your impressions of playing in the US so far – and how would you compare things to your domestic metal scene, which seems to be gaining a decent buzz and amount of attention?
Santos: We are having lots of fun so far. You get to know tons of people and bands, and we are glad that we can promote the new record here in the states. Also, it is great to notice the differences between the US metal scene and Puerto Rico metal scene. In my opinion Puerto Rico’s metal community is doing something remarkable since the last year, we have the common goal to promote our talent and export high quality music to the rest of the world and I haven’t seen that sense of community at that level anywhere else.
Acevedo: I think that Puerto Rico’s bands are as prepared as the bands here. We have a lot of good bands that should come here and play.
Dead Rhetoric: Being a self-financed band currently, what do you consider the biggest challenges you face in building Calamity on an international scale?
Acevedo: Always wondering if we have enough money to make it to the next step. Especially when you aren’t making profit out of it. As the band keeps growing it demands more money to invest in it.
Santos: Yes, money is certainly an issue. Also, for a band to grow and move on it is important to meet the right people, the people that can make things to happen. That is for me one of the biggest challenges of being a self-financed band you know; to stop being a self-financed band.
Dead Rhetoric: Who would you say are 5 bands or 5 albums that everyone in Calamity could agree upon as being benchmarks for your outlook on the heavy metal genre?
Santos, Acevedo: We can agree that:
-Lamb of God
Have the right attitude and direction we are looking for. Some of ‘em in terms of music others in terms of marketing and some of them in terms of live performance.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the world that we live in today, and what areas need to be looked at or improved upon for future generations to treasure and appreciate?
Santos: Well in my opinion this world is filled with insecurities. People live with fears every day. Fear from their jobs, fear for their families, fear from college degrees, fear of ISIS, you know. And that’s definitely something that holds us down as a society. I think artists should take care of that, we are here to make people feel confident and capable, at least Calamity is here to take out the best of every person who listens to our music or watches a live show. To make them live without fear.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of activities and promotional things can we expect from Calamity over the next 12 months? More touring, videos, special releases?
Santos: We are already working in some cool stuff, 2016 comes with music videos, new singles, tours and special shows! Stay tuned.