Terror Universal may be one of the most fearsome looking bands in Metal today, but things were very chilled as I sat down for a chat with drummer Massacre, also known as Dave Chavarri. Terror Universal will soon release their first full-length album, Make them Bleed, so what can fans expect?
“Well, the Reign of Terror EP was basically an intro to the band,” Massacre reflects on their previous release, “and it was an EP that was put out relatively quickly to meet the deadline of being on the Soundwave festival in 2015. Since then the band’s gelled a lot more and grown a lot more. The new album is really strong. We have a couple of tracks from the EP on the new record as well as a bunch of new tracks. We’re playing two new tracks from the new record on this upcoming tour with Ill Nino, and a bunch of the favourites from the EP. It’s definitely a growth spurt in between them both. Our singer Plague definitely is an amazing asset to the band. His growls and his singing are pretty on point on the new record, and you guys will see that on the tour we’ve got coming up, for sure.”
Chavarri has played with a number of bands over the years, including Ill Nino and Soulfly, but Terror Universal definitely stands out.
“Soulfly was more of a tribal band, a Brazilian style of Metal which had a sort of swing on the drumming. Ill Nino is more of a Latin, Latino band, it’s a very ethnic band. A lot of world drumming, a lot of Metal drumming, a lot of double-bass infusion with pretty exciting Congo Afro-Cuban patterns,” Chavarri explains, sparing no precision is describing his sound. “But Terror Universal is more brutal, and creepy, and dirty, and horror. As a player you have to adapt yourself to different projects. Some of the music from the new Terror Universal record Make them Bleed is very, very easy to get into the pit to, people can knock each other out,” he chuckles. “Ill Nino is more of a groove thing, and it’s more of a headbanging thing. They’re all different animals from each other. When I played with Soulfly, it was more tribal, more loose.” He takes a moment before continuing, “more folkloric I guess, if that’s the word you’d use. I’m pretty pumped with the new tour coming up next week in Australia. I think everyone’s getting a good dose of a mixture of Metal. You’re getting Latin Metal from Ill Nino, you’re getting horror Metal from Terror Universal, so it’ll be a good night to loosen up and get fucked up.”
Chavarri goes on to describe the inspiration for forming a band so different from his previous groups. “At that point in my career, I just wanted to do a band that was going to be fun in the sense of becoming whatever you wanted to become, and I think that wearing a mask definitely makes you be a different persona. It puts you in a completely different personality to what you regularly have. You become that persona. Plague becomes Plague, Thrax becomes Thrax, Massacre becomes Massacre and Diabolus becomes Diabolus. That’s going on stage and being who you want to be, because you’re hiding behind the mask, so to speak. So you can let all your creepy fucking ideas be out in people’s faces, from the mask, to the art that’s on the shirts, the art that’s on stage and everything else.”
Terror Universal covered Rob Zombie’s Superbeast on Reign of Terror, and Chavarri describes his respect for Zombie’s work. “One of my guilty pleasures is I’m a huge White Zombie and Rob Zombie fan. I always had huge respect for Rob Zombie. I always felt that he’s a great writer, great performer. Hellbilly Deluxe is one of those albums I really love, that’s one of the songs that really stuck out to me all the time. In choosing a cover, I didn’t want to do the typical Slayer cover, I didn’t want to do a Metallica cover that everyone and his grandmother chooses to cover. I wanted to cover something cool, something that made sense with the band. His horror antics on all his records always stuck with me and I decided that I had the opportunity, for example it wouldn’t be right for me to do a Rob Zombie cover with Ill Nino. It doesn’t fit. I would see Ill Nino doing a Santana cover before we did a Rob Zombie cover.
Of course, there are other opportunities that have opened up for Terror Universal, having signed to Minus Head Records. “I’m extremely pleased and happy to part of Minus Head Records’ roster.” You can hear it in Chavarri’s voice, and his excitement is infectious. “Their CEO, Brad Hardie, has an amazing view, and he really knows what it takes to break a band. He shares the same ideologies that I share on the business end of the spectrum, as well as what needs to happen to break a band in this ever-changing marketplace. Since day one, we started speaking about signing to Minus Head. We were always in 100% agreement on everything that had to happen to break Terror Universal within the Metal community. He was very impressed with how much work we had done with our record label, with our tour support, then the amount of work we were going to be doing now with a real label behind the band.”
There’s no rest for the wicked, as Chavarri is also producer for Terror Universal. He explains, “I think producers all around have certain views on what they want the final product to be. You have to have an idea of what you want the end product to be. You have to hear it in your head before it’s actually done. That’s a producer’s advantage. And the producers I’ve worked with in the past, Eddie Wall for example, who’s done Fuel, Cradle of Filth, Ill Nino, he’s actually the mixer on the Terror Universal record. And others I’ve worked with in the past like Bob Marlette who did Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, he produced the Confession record will Ill Nino. And I learnt a lot from these guys from doing records with them, and spending months upon months working together. One of the things is to have a view, an observation of what you want the final product to be, and I had that advantage with Terror Universal. I knew what I wanted it to sound like, I knew how heavy I wanted it to be. I definitely wanted it to be heavier than anything I’d done in the past. I’m extremely happy and pleased with everything happening within the band right now. I have a great frontman in the band, we’re signed to a great label, and the record came out exactly how I wanted it to come out. You guys are going to be a getting a teaser soon, in the next week or two, with three new tracks, so you can hear what’s going on.
On top of all that, the band are shortly releasing a new music video for the track Dig you a Hole. “The video is pretty sick, pretty gruesome,” Chavarri assures me. “It’s bloody as fucking hell, I’ll tell you that. You’ll see the video next week, it’s pretty crazy. It’s down and dirty, it’s very gory. I’m pumped for the video to come out next week. You guys are in for a treat, for sure.”
Next week also brings Terror Universal back to Australia, where they played their first live shows at Soundwave in 2015. “Soundwave was just a great festival,” Chavarri recalls. “There were festivities between a lot of bands, and Metal fans were just there to have a great fucking time. The whole tour stands out for me and Terror Universal, as well as past tours me and Ill Nino have done. It was a great time, and it’s sad that it’s no longer with us, but I’m glad Terror Universal at least got the opportunity to be part of the last wave of it.
“I just want to say thank you to all the Australian fans for always having my back,” Chavarri continues, “whether it be will Ill Nino or Terror Universal. The warm welcome that Terror Universal received in Australia was mind-blowing. I have a deep connection with Australia because my wife is Australian and my daughter was born in Australia. I come to Australia quite often to go on holidays to see my in-laws, my brother-in-law. I love Australia. It’s a beautiful country. I can’t wait to get back there with Terror Universal and push the Make them Bleed album down everybody’s throats.”