Spanish Doom Is Growing
CoC interviews Manuel Ponce de Leon of Soriben
by: Pedro Azevedo
Spain has never really been known for exporting a lot of quality metal bands, and they certainly have never been known for their doom metal, even if names such as Golgotha and Poetry may come to mind. But there is one young doom metal band that has been very steadily growing during the past few years: Soriben. Their promo CD _Ancestros de Insania_ [reviewed in this issue] shows just how much this young band has grown and how much of a promise for the future of Spanish doom metal they are becoming. If the band is able to keep up the work rate without losing direction, if they are able to keep growing like they have been so far, they may very well have quite an interesting future ahead of them -- this led to the following e-mail interview with bassist Manuel Ponce de Leon.

CoC: Please tell our readers about Soriben's musical objectives.

Manuel Ponce de Leon: Since we started up the band, we have always had two things in mind concerning our music: we wanted it to be dark and we wanted it to be metal. While we were growing as a band, our sound went through several different stages, from death metal to more doom-like stuff. Now we are on the same track, but trying to merge all our influences in a more rational and experimental manner, because that's the only way to create something unique and original. But don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about samples and techno stuff! We've always been a metal band and we always will be, that's for sure!

CoC: What are your main musical influences, which bands would you name as being most important in the process that lead to the music now played by Soriben?

MPdL: Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Morbid Angel were the bands that pushed us into forming Soriben. We've always admired Mercyful Fate's and King Diamond's ability to create those dark atmospheres, as well as the diabolical strength and intensity of Trey Azagthoth's band. We wanted to transmit the same feelings with our music that their albums transmitted to us, not by copying them, but by doing it in a personal way. Other bands that we all like, since we are into metal, are Death, Deicide, Candlemass, Hypocrisy, Iron Maiden, as well as several classical composers -- we also like the darkness of some Bach pieces, for example, and that's something we always like to work with. We've learned things from all of those bands and many others, and we've used them in our own way.

CoC: You were all still quite young when you formed Soriben a few years ago; how do you think that has affected the band's progress?

MPdL: Yeah, that's true. Soriben began as one of those non-serious teen bands, when we were only fifteen or sixteen years old. Since then, we have had very few line-up changes. Musically, we all have grown up [playing] in the same band and we are quite comfortable playing together -- that's the positive aspect. On the other hand, it was very difficult in those days -- hell, it still is! -- to push with the band onwards, considering our age and the few means we had -- crappy equipment and lack of both money and experience. But thanks to the support of many people, things are a bit easier now. Through these years we spent together, we realized that the only thing that matters in a band is perseverance. We are not in a hurry to become a "big" band, we just want to write songs and do the best we can.

CoC: How satisfied are you with your promo CD _Ancestros de Insania_?

MPdL: Very satisfied. The songs featured in the promo CD have many hours of work behind them, and this time the production is very good. The studio work was also very hard, note that it was just the second time for us in a recording studio and we had to repeat some things hundreds of times! So we are very proud of the promo CD. Anyway, only the people's response can make this work really worthwhile. We are anxious to release it, so people can give us a chance!

CoC: Now that you have a promo CD ready, what are your plans? Any label deals being studied yet?

MPdL: Yes. _Ancestros de Insania_ is a self-financed promo CD; it was recorded to be released as an MCD through any label that might be interested. Now we are studying a deal from Canadian label Frowz Productions. They want to release it as an MCD, just as we wanted to, and they also offered good conditions. If everything works out as expected, we will sign with them for the release of _Ancestros de Insania_, although they had some problems in getting the contract sheet to us -- but we all know the horror stories of the postal services. Anyway, nothing's confirmed yet. We also had some deals from other small labels, and from other not-so-small labels like Shiver Records (they wanted to release it as a split demo through a division label), but the deal that we feel fits our intentions the best is Frowz's one. It is a new label that is betting very strong on many new bands and that's perfect for us.

CoC: What's the metal scene like in Spain nowadays for a young band like yourselves?

MPdL: The underground scene in Spain is getting a lot better. I have to admit that it wasn't that way a few years ago, but I guess better times are coming; we have many new and killer bands and labels constantly developing. There's also a growing interest in the scene; I know it because now we have a bunch of new zines and mags, something that seemed impossible not long ago. Our scene was never well-known outside our frontiers, but this is going to change very soon -- if it's not changing now! --, as we have very good bands here. I always say that this is the country where the guitar was born!

CoC: What are your main goals as a band now? What would you like to see happening in the band in the near future?

MPdL: Nowadays, our main goal is to keep on working and improving our songwriting, in order to have enough stuff ready for a possible album in a year or so. Paco Villena [founder member] left the band, so we also have to work a lot with our new guitarist Jorge James. As far as the second part of the question is concerned... well, I suppose that I would like our MCD to have good acceptance by both press and public; this way, the name Soriben would be a bit more well-known around there. That doesn't depend on us exclusively, it also depends on some other factors like promotion and even luck, so we will have to wait and see what the future has in store for us. One thing that you can be sure of is that we are going to keep on working as a band to continue developing our style.

CoC: What about long term plans? What do you intend to achieve with Soriben?

MPdL: It's very difficult to say what can happen with Soriben in a long term period. We don't have long term plans, we just mark small goals depending on what our needs are in each moment. Regarding what we intend to achieve, right now we just want to improve as a band and make our music, record it and release it if that's possible. No doubt about it, if things go well for us in the future, we will follow more ambitious goals, that's for sure!!

CoC: Would you like to add any closing comments to this interview?

MPdL: Of course I would! First of all, I would like to thank CoC and especially you, Pedro, for the interview and the support you gave us so far. Sincere thanks from all the band. Thanks also to everyone reading this interview! Remember that you can check out our website and download MPEG3 files from our promo CD to get an idea of what our music is about until our MCD is released -- give us a chance!! Thanks again for everything and keep on supporting the underground! Metal rules!

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(article submitted 19/5/1999)

5/19/1999 P Azevedo 5 Soriben - Ancestros de Insania
2/4/1997 P Azevedo 4 Soriben - Senor de Luz
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