TERRORIZER “Back From The Brink” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

When the extreme metal underground was starting to crank up the hell back in the late 80’s, nobody caused more jaws to drop than Pete Sandoval. The incredible speed and precision he showed drumming on classics like Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness” and Terrorizer’s “World Downfall” was something that had never been experienced before. That gave Pete the reputation of being the father of the blastbeat.

The pioneering days of extreme metal are well in the past, but in 2018, Pete Sandoval is back beating the hell out of the drumkit on the latest Terrorizer album “Caustic Attack”. It has not been an easy path. Pete’s drumming technique took such a toll on his back that he was almost forced to drop drumming entirely. For a while, it didn’t look like he would ever do another blast beat.

One listen to “Caustic Attack” will prove that he has made it all the way back. This is the most brutal grind Sandoval has unleashed since “World Downfall”. I managed to talk to Pete recently and discovered he talks about as fast as he drums! He revealed exactly what he had to do through to return to fighting trim and also took time to speak about his religious beliefs, which have changed greatly since he bowed before Altars of Madness.

Prepare yourself for the barrage!

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  Pete, would you say you are at your physical peak? Are you just as good now as you ever were or even better?

PETE SANDOVAL:  Right now I’m just as good as I ever was when I was in Morbid Angel and in top shape. In fact, I’m feeling much better than I was back then.  I’ve changed some things in my lifestyle that I’ve never did before.. You have to be careful with your diet when you do this kind of stuff. I’m doing a lot more exercises than I could do in the past because of my back problems.  It took a while to do my back surgery and then it took a while to recover from it. This is why it took so long to do another Terrorizer album…it took six years!

I didn’t even think that I would come back and play again. I had the surgery in November 2009 and I was really struggling. I was barely able to do the “Hordes of Zombies” album. We couldn’t do anything together because I was pretty much done, you know. My back was really bad and I just had to relax and not do anything. In 2014 I got together with Lee Harrison of Monstrosity and just jokingly we started to jam on some Terrorizer tunes from “World Downfall”. We weren’t planning on bringing Terrorizer back, we were just jamming. But the result of that is the album we have now, “Caustic Attack”.

Lee is a really talented musician. Not just a great guitar player, but also a great drummer and music writer. Not only that, but his personality is one of the best. He’s one of the humblest and nicest guys ever. So bit by bit, we got closer to the actual “Caustic Attack” album. I kept doing a lot of exercises and worked on my core strength. Back in the Morbid Angel days, I just really used my back for all the drumming and blast beats. I’d be looking down all the time because I was using only my back. That really ruined my back, doing it that way for many years. I could have been using other muscles that would have helped me, like leg muscles, stomach muscles. The core is really important for drumming in an extreme way. That’s one thing I do now that is different. 

WC: I did wonder if there was any adjustment to the actual playing style. It sounds like you’re using a lot more of your body than before.

PS: Absolutely! Now I have more power for my legs. Back then, I didn’t use any of my legs. You really need to use them especially for the double bass and the blast beating. I’m also using more of my stomach. And it’s working, you know what I mean? 

WC: You can hit even harder than before.

PS: Oh yeah!  I never thought I’d be hitting as hard as I am now. My concentration is also more intense because I’ve got to hit the snare as hard as possible for the blast beating. When you listen to the toms on this album, you can tell how they are coming out better than before. Also the way we placed the microphones for this album was just perfect. We worked in a great studio that really helped bring out all the instruments. You can hear more of the cymbals, more of the kick drums. And the toms have a more natural feel as opposed to mechanical. We used to have some triggers with Morbid Angel, but we don’t need the triggers now. Everything sounds more natural. We worked hard on getting that sound with the producer Jason Suecof at Audiohammer Studios. Everybody there helped get the amazing sound on the new Terrorizer album.

WC: The modern studio you recorded in for the new album must be light years different from what you used for “World Downfall”.

PS:  Yeah, but you know, there are a lot of fans that don’t even want to give this new album a chance. They just say “if it’s not “World Downfall”, we don’t care about it”. In 1989, there were no triggers or anything like that, everything was natural.  The studio back then, Morrisound Studio, helped a lot. They were a really famous studio at that time. A lot of the Morbid Angel albums were recorded there and Scott Burns the producer did a great job with “World Downfall”. But there were a lot of fluctuations on that album. People didn’t realize that, but I did.  I remember I had a fever back then and was pretty much sick, but the studio time was already booked for the next day. So we had to do all 16 songs in just one day. It was just like a jam session for me. That was the way the album was done and how it came out was magical.

That album was really fast but you can tell the skank beats were a little faster than the blast beats. On the first song, for instance, you can tell it slows down when I went to blast beats.  That was 1989 and people didn’t really care about that. 

WC: This is a problem that a lot of bands that have been around a long time have. It’s so hard to get people to accept new things. Being stuck in the past hurts the metal scene. People have got to learn to accept the new things that are coming out.

PS: Right! Actually people will find a lot of things the same from the first album to the new album. The new one is more modern, of course,…technology has improved a lot. But there’s a lot of grindcore style riffs on the album. It’s why we’ve got so many songs.  There’s death metal mixed with grindcore on this album. I’ve also incorporated death metal style drumming on this album. But there’s a lot of grindcore in “Poison Gas Tsunami”. The beginning of “Infiltration” has a lot of that old grindcore feeling to it.

WC: I do have to say that “Caustic Attack” to me has the closest feeling to “World Downfall” of all the Terrorizer albums since 2000.

PS: Yeah! We have a lot of variations in the songs. For instance, “Crisis”. “Crisis” has the feeling of “Rapture” from Morbid Angel. The drumming has more of a “bum baba bumba da-da-da” drumming riff as opposed to the “1-2-3-4 dadadadada” of pure grindcore. (He cuts loose with a whole bunch of drum noises).  One thing that helped me with this recording is that I used a metronome.  I never used a metronome on any of the previous albums. It really helped me to keep the songs right on time.

WC: When you did “World Downfall”, the cover had pictures of all the things you thought were wrong with the world at that time. Now things seem infinitely worse. Could you have imagined in those days that we would be in the place we are now?

PS:  We never thought of that back then. I never thought it would become what it has become today. It’s going to become worse, too. Some things that have been predicted like the big earthquake in California are going to happen. Believe it or not, we are just at the beginning of the bad stuff. I know God and I know the Bible speaks about the prophecies of these times. The Bible has all the information about what’s going to happen next. Somebody is going to come and rule the world and become one boss over everything. The Bible describes him as the Antichrist, who is going to come in peace. He’s going to end what’s going on in the Middle East with Iraq and Afghanistan , Israel and Palestine. He’s gonna take over and there will be peace for a couple of years, but then there is going to be the opposite.

My belief is that the Bible has been forgotten. Now I’m not going to preach to anybody, I’m not going to preach to you. But times are going to get worse, that I know.

WC: Do you see any hope to escape this future?

PS: The only way to get out of this is what the Bible tells, but again, I don’t want to preach. I don’t want to go into religion so much. But the only way out is to repent and come closer to God. What’s happening in the United States is the opposite. People are abandoning God. They are bringing in other teachings in schools. You can’t even pray in school. They are taking God out of the picture. They need to bring him back to stop the bad things that are happening. But people don’t have time for it. They’re so busy with the world, they have no time for God. The kids are the ones who are going to have to deal with all the tribulation but they won’t know how to deal with it! But let’s talk about music!

WC: What kind of touring plans do you have for “Caustic Attack”? Are you going to test yourself live?

PS: Of course! Yes. Right now we’ve got just one big festival coming up on November 3 that I can’t remember the name of right now, but next February we are planning on a European tour. We’re going to be playing a lot of new songs. We’ll be playing at least half of the album. We will be playing a couple from “Hordes of Zombies” and one from “Darker Days Ahead”. And then the rest from the first album. So we’ll have old songs, of course, but a lot from the new album. I will be ready, my friend!

WC: Any last messages for the fans out there?

PS: The new album is out next month and I just encourage them to check it out and give it a chance because this album is fresh and it’s got a lot of surprises. Give it a chance! It’s got extremity from beginning to end, you can tell! It’s like a freight train with no brakes, no slow songs and a lot of changes! A lot of catchy changes mixed together with blast beats. The song “Trench of Corruption” is different, it’s got double bass with blast beats. Every song has its own feeling.