(In today’s new interview Comrade Aleks engages in a very lively discussion with vocalist/guitarist Tom Kuzmic from the Portuguese death metal band Amputate, whose latest album was released last year by Massacre Records.)
The band’s name should tell you everything and you don’t need the crystal ball to learn what Amputate is about.
The core lineup of this Florida-styled death metal crew from Portugal located to Switzerland some time ago, but they keep on playing the same bloodthirsty razor-sharp stuff even in relatively comfortable Zurich. Their second album Dawn of Annihilation interested Massacre Records and these eight tracks of gore and the macabre have been available on CD and vinyl since October 2022.
Tom Kuzmic, the band’s front-man, consults us about sonic surgery and its contraindications. And how much of good old gore is left in Amputate? Let’s find it out.
Hi Amputate! Who’s online today? How are you? What’s going on in Amputate’s lair?
Dobryy den Alexey this is Tomislav from Amputate, so I’m the guy online today. We’re currently composing the songs for the next album and right now it’s about the vocal lines. That’s what we’re up to at the moment in our little cave.
It seems like 2022 year wasn’t a simple year for anyone on different levels. How did you pass through it and manage to record a new album?
You’re right about that. Well, since this whole virus situation kinda everything went down the drain. Things got complicated, even the simple stuff. But in our case it wasn’t that bad because at least we could release our album. We had a few but quite cool shows and we were also really lucky in a way that we could do the recordings at the Ashburn studios, a friend of the band and my compadre in my other death metal band Disparaged, so it was no problem at all with restrictions or such stuff. And as a highlight in 2022 we can of course mention the signing with Massacre Records. We’re extremely proud of it and feel very honored to now be part of this awesome label… and the name fits, right? Haha
There were six years between Amputate’s first album Tortura Macabra and the new one Dawn of Annihilation, and I see that you and Roger Merki (bass) joined the band in 2020. Was this change in the line-up a reason for this delay?
The main reason to be honest was actually the situation of Nuno, and I mean it in an artistic and also private way. He had some issues in the past, got married in the meantime, he’s now also a proud father, and he moved to Germany. There were also some struggles with the band. I mean I’m the new guy here but I’ve heard that the band almost split, but luckily it didn’t, and Roger Skozit and me could join the band. So we’re back on track and ready to deliver great death metal.
How did the work of the band’s inner machinery change after your arrival in the band?
The work was great. Some stuff did of course change, like for instance the vocal singing technique. The former vocalist did inverse singing and I’m more of an old school death fan, so I do the guttural version. Roger is a very skilled bassplayer so all in all we can say that the new material is also more technical for guitar and bass. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider us a tech death band, but we use some elements, or let’s say some technical riffing, in our little death metal potpourri so to speak.
Also the band was founded in Portugal and then you moved to Switzerland. Such a move is a big thing in itself, but Nuno managed to keep the band alive as well. Was it a vital thing for him back then?
This was definitely a vital thing for Nuno and former singer Felipe, because those were the guys who did travel to Switzerland, which was a bit of a shock for them for sure in the beginning. They both came from the south of Portugal. Imagine you live in a surfing area from the south of Europe almost right at the beach and come to icy Switzerland haha. But yeah they adapted to Switzerland and kept the band alive through all these years. I’m sure they needed the band for themselves.
Would you say that there’s a sort of Portuguese influences or spirit in his stuff after all?
I’d say so, because Nuno was or still is the mastermind behind it all, or let’s put it that way. He definitely is the driving force and he is a Portuguese guy in every way of his being so I’m sure his background, also under the influence of other legendary Portuguese death bands or all the different projects they were involved with like Fungus, had an impact on the music. But still I’d say, and this may sound strange, but to me Amputate feels more like a Florida death band haha. This area in my humble opinion had the way bigger impact on Amputate. We were mainly influenced by bands like Death, Deicide, Obituary, and so on.
Why did you choose death-metal to express yourself? Were you possessed with its technical or ethical features?
I personally didn’t choose death, it picked me haha… No, seriously, back in the days when I first heard the first death metal tapes in the mid eighties it simply blew my mind. Ok I’m the old fart in the band with my 50 years but I also consider myself lucky to have experienced the birth of death metal in its greatest years. This is musically, definitely, the love of my lifetime and will always remain.
I mean, I’ve played this kind of metal since 1987 and it still gives me so much and I’m so excited with the new material we’re working on right now. I truly believe this will never change haha, so you’re right, I am possessed by it. But it’s just in a musical way. Of course I also love the dark look of it, it simply fits the brutal energy of the music. The artwork certainly also had an influence on my interest in it as a kid, but it’s still more about the heaviness of the music.
I always wonder about the bands’ motivation behind their violent lyrics, but honestly I rarely meet such bands on my way. We’re used to metal being about escapism, protest in general, or the release of well-bottled inner negativity. What’s your approach to the brutal lyrics? How were you involved in the world of gore, entrails, and mayhem?
Oh shit, I probably can’t answer that buddy. The gore stuff was Felipe’s thing and I know with this band name it fits perfectly haha. But on the new album Nuno wrote the lyrics way before Roger and I joined the band and he wanted to challenge himself.
And in my opinion Nuno did really great, because it is not easy to write an entire concept album. I love those lyrics with all of their dark, futuristic, A.I. themes, which by the way are quite fitting to these days, don’t you think so? The current topic is A.I. and its dangerous side.
Why did you choose “Plague Upon Plagues” as the official visualizer? Do you feel this song represents the strongest sides of the band, both music- and lyrics-wise?
We picked this song because firstly it’s not very long, so the artist didn’t have to work on more than a minute piece of art haha, and it represents the band quite well with its fast and aggressive sound with still a quite catchy refrain. And the lyrics are cool as well, so I think that was a simple choice. Of course everyone in the band has a different favorite song but I would’ve agreed to any song haha because I simply love the entire album. To me, absolutely no filler on it. They all kick ass big time.
Your music is savage, extreme, and driving, and it must be an energy-consuming task to play it live. How often do you play live and do you keep yourself in a good shape to perform your music at full capacity?
We try to practice as much as possible, because to be a great live band is very important to us. We don’t want to be the band that only exists on a computer where in the studio nowadays you can fix every little shit. I know so many, let’s call them CD-bands, that can’t even play their own shit. Ask the recording studios, they will all answer the same thing. The sad part is that in these difficult covid times it was really hard to get some shows, so in 2022 we really didn’t play that much live, but still we had a bunch of great shows, like with Malevolent Creation for instance, that simply kicked ass haha.
Fanboy again, sorry. And the only guy in the band in good shape is our muscle beachboy Nuno haha. But of course we try as well to be in good shape or fit so we can give it all, it just doesn’t look so good like him baba, Just kiddin’. It’s all about the fucking energy in death metal. When we go on stage we simply want to kill. If it wouldn’t be that way, why play death metal in the first place?
What was your most crazy live experience with Amputate?
Sounds boring but for me it was my fucking guitar string breaking 10 seconds before an important show. I checked everything before but the moment I picked my guitar up to go on stage one string was fucked. Of course I had a back-up guitar with me but I insisted on playing with this one, and with Nuno‘s help we could fix it in no time. Even a third guy from another band helped haha, so that was also a nice experience in a way. Well, metal brothers you know. I didn’t have tons of shows with Amputate yet so this was the craziest so far haha… but with my former bands I could’ve told you about broken stages or liveporn haha
Dawn of Annihilation was recorded with the help of Ralph Beier, who mixed and mastered these songs. I see that previously he also produced your EP Chainsaw Surgery (2015) and the LP Tortura Macabra (2016). Did he take part in the production this time? Did you already know what and how you wanted to achieve?
Yes he did. We recorded everything in his studio and he also mixed and mastered it again. We know him well and so it was an easy decision. But this time we knew we wanted more organic sounds. So we recorded the guitars with real amps without any software or reamping… just the pure raw shit… we wanted the vibes of the old way… where you scream or play the shit straight in your face… lots of first takes on it… ok, you can sometimes hear little mistakes but I don’t give a shit..I prefer Reign in Blood with all its mistakes ten times over nowadays overproduced garbage… I honestly believe you can hear a different energy, but yeah sorry, it’s probably just because I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s haha… old farts always say it used to be better haha.
How much of Tortura Macabra was left in the new material from your point of view? What new did you find in Amputate’s vessels during this recording?
Honestly not so much… lyrics are really different now and musically also lots of different riffing. I think on Tortura Nuno had a crush on Cannibal Corpse haha.. Don’t get me wrong, great album… and of course I also adore Cannibal Corpse. But the new stuff is quite different… you know, a bit more technical… more influences from other bands
What were the most difficult parts of this album for you personally?
Some solos weren’t that easy and with some vocal lines I also had to struggle. But with practice this all isn’t a problem anymore. Live, I can handle it all now. You know, maybe it was bit more difficult because some lines were already done and back then it was meant just for a singer. But I’m now the new singer and guitar player so when I do both and the lines don’t easily fit the riffing it’s harder to learn, so that was my personal challenge with this album, which I have to say I’m very proud of.
What are your plans now for 2023?
To play a tour and tons of live shows but also to record our next album… yes I know it‘s crazy fast but we’ve already got an entire album written… We just have to finish lyrics and some solos on the demo and probably in the summer we‘ll enter studios again to bring the next killer out… so not six years of waiting again for the fans… 2023 will be an awesome Amputate year for sure…