This week, the Meet The Band spotlight shines on the Singapore death metal trio Adarrak. Their debut album is Ex Oriente Lux. Vocalist Gustavo “Kike” Valderrama, guitarist Emmanuel George Bi and bassist Zigor Munoz introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Adarrak.
Zigor: George and I spent some time playing in another band together. The band went nowhere and we always said we should do something. Thankfully we had very similar music tastes, so we decided to kickstart Adarrak. We started writing music and I asked Kike if he would sing on the album. When he said yes we invited him to be a part of it all. We are a pretty diverse group in terms of listening but share quite a few subgenres that we all love: extreme metal, melodic death metal and certainly a deep love for the Florida scene, back in the day at least.
George: Back before Adarrak’s inception, my music focus was purely on Dispiteous. However, back then I wanted to explore a more melodic and progressive approach to metal. Luckily enough, through online band searching, I met Zigor through a band formed via an online forum. Kike actually joined us too nearing the band’s hiatus.
As what Zigor has said, our similar and yet different tastes in death metal got us together to where we are today.
Describe the songwriting process for Ex Oriente Lux.
Zigor: George and I did most of the initial writing with George of course contributing the vast majority of the initial riffs. We then went into my very rudimentary home studio and started hacking away at it. We would try and find time in our schedules (we all have day jobs) to work through the creative process. We always saw things musically in a very similar way from Day one – we were pretty much in tune.
We started off working on initial riffs and once we were happy with the music as a starting point we would start laying things on top as opposed to discarding bars/bits/melodies/riffs. Not one song was written in the same way. Often one of us would come up with a riff in the studio or outside of the studio and we’d work on it until it took shape and form. George would not only be the main writer but also the conduit of others’ ideas. Together we would hack away at riffs. I may propose some progressions, changes, re-writes or melodies, etc., that sort of input. George would then doctor things up and things would morph into the almost final version.
Once we had a solid direction for a tune, the rest of the band (i.e. drummer, etc.) would get involved which would give another layer of richness and complexity to the music. Here we would once more do additional layering on top of the existing stuff, and then Gus and Zigor would work on the existing lyrics to ensure they worked with the vocal melodies Gus was coming up with. For lyrics – Zigor wrote the vast majority of them – Gus would then step in and add/remove/improve if doing so would help the tune and overall album. He’s a total pro so that exercise was a breeze from the adding value to the lyrics point of view.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Zigor: The very early, initial pre-prod stages in our home studio before we even went into a studio to record and also I guess having the other guests over in the studio and enjoying that part of the journey with them.
George: Zigor said it well, with all the brainstorming of riffs and drum sequences really stood out to me.
How did Marty Friedman’s guest appearance come about?
George: I remember speaking to Zigor and saying that we wanted to try getting a solo from one of our inspirations through the years in the album, and Marty was at the top of our list. Marty has been a huge inspiration in my guitar journey and having him in our album would have been a high point in our bucket list. We gave our shot and sent it out to him, which he came back to our extreme delight! It was super easy working with him because Marty is Marty, you don’t micromanage him and just let him do what he does best. Like what he did with “Tornado Of Souls,” he got the whole solo down to a T and we were all super happy with the final product. Only regret is that we never got to meet Marty physically due to the ongoing Covid situation…
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Kike: Musically Zigor and George really explored all types of metal subgenres. I think the record has a strong foundation in melodic death metal but it also explores some prog territory and some classic heavy metal stuff. Vocally, this record gave me the opportunity to take some risks and try some clean vocals I have not done in any of my other projects. I also played a little bit with some lower tones in my growl. I think the record as whole is pretty consistent and it has a little bit of everything for extreme metal fans.
Zigor: Musical storytelling, really. There’s all the elements Kike mentions above, yeah, but to me they come together to tell a story. There’s the heavy old school riffs, the melodic stuff and then all the hypoblasts. It just really adds up in an interesting way. Melodic death metal 100 percentm, but with some other elements in there.
George: On a personal note, I’ve always wanted to adopt a melodic death metal style from the very beginning of my musical journey. Earlier on with my other band Dispiteous, they opened up my perspective of death metal minus the melodies, which was good and bad; good for diversifying my style, bad for not being able to emphasize the emotion and melody in songs. Adarrak would be the end product of getting all that good stuff out.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Lyrics deal with pretty straightforward yet horrible human stuff. A lot of the inspiration is based on personal stories. Either mine or other folks I’ve met or haven’t met (think the news, etc.). Some stories just need to be told. That’s it.
What inspired the album title?
Ex Oriente Lux is Latin for “out of the East light” which originally refers to how the Eastern religions/spiritualism are just more “spiritual” than the “materialistic” West. That’s the original meaning. For me it was more a combination of the great stuff that comes out of Asia on a number of fronts: music, writing, thinking.
How did you come to sign with Sathanas Records?
Kike: we sent the album to Alekesey from Satanas records. He responded almost immediately. He was very honest and told us he liked the album and he was interested in releasing it, but his plate was full at the moment. As excited as we were about putting the album out there, we were not in a rush so we decided to wait a few months. During that time we created some content such as music videos, lyrics videos, photos, etc. Eventually, within the label and a PR company we planned the release of the album.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Kike: Personally, I hope that people give it a chance and listen to the whole record. So, the main goal is to get as many people as possible to listen to the album. I really hope this record helps Adarrak to build an audience. We also want to play live. So, we’ll see how we work it out.
Zigor: get it out there and have folks listen to it. Gig it when Covid allows. Keep writing, rinse, repeat.
George: This album is what I think of as a blend of old and new styles, in hopes of bringing listeners from all generations onboard our music. And yes, if given a choice we definitely want to play live post Covid!
How did you get started in music?
Zigor: My father used to play a ton of classical and World music at home just about 24/7 so from a very young age I became interested. He would later tell us that he would even play classical music to us in the crib! Think music was an addiction from day one for me and it got worse and worse, so classical to rock to hard rock to heavy metal to thrash to death metal to black metal and so on. I was in bands when I was like 12 and it went up from there in different metal subgenres.
George: I was introduced to classical guitar by my mom around 14, with her hopes of motivating me to pick up a hobby and to “worship the Lord.”
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Zigor: Lots of bands. I think any great quality band that wrote the right combo of brutality and melody just got ingrained in my mind and I can hear all that in whatever I play or co-write.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Zigor: Hard to remember. Likely a band called Krueger back in the very early 90s
George: Mine was Iron Maiden when I was 15 when they performed in the Singapore Indoor Stadium. What an experience it was as a teen.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Zigor: Currently digging Infera Bruo’s Rites of the Nameless, pretty sick album; latest The Crown record and finally after 20 years playing LTE3 non-stop to name a few!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Album’s out now, go give it a spin and keep supporting metal!
(interview published May 29, 2021)
Watch Adarrak – “Bereft” Video