Insânia: Recife-based groove metal with a strong message

Author Flavia Andrade - 10.12.2021

In 2017, the Recife region gave birth to Insânia, a groove metal band that came to break musical paradigms, with strong lyrics that are like a punch to the gut of society. Their expressive lyrics, agressively delivered in Portuguese, bring a very powerful criticism of current Brazilian society and political landscape. In 2019, their self-titled first release brought them critical acclaim followed by a tour of Northeastern Brazil.

Diogo Felipe (vocals), Raffa Farias (guitars), André Cabral (bass) and Vitor Lima (drums) released their second full-length album “Histeria” in March, 2021. Their sound is now refined, which by no means make it any less agressive, their gut-punching mode still at full throttle. However, it shows better production and musical maturity that usually take a lot longer to achieve. Produced, mixed and mastered by Raffa Farias with his bandmates, this is indeed a masterpiece of new Brazilian metal. Following that, in September 2021, the band released the EP “Live Lockdown”, paired with YouTube videos, showing great sound quality and energy to their live performance.

Chaoszine had the opportunity to speak to the band about their newly released music video “Guerra Por Paz“, their influences, creative process, and more.

Hello. Thank you for speaking to Chaoszine. How have you guys been during the pandemic?

Farias: First, thank you for reaching out to us. When the pandemic hit, we were about to record an EP, but we turned it into an album, “Histeria”. Our first bass player had left the band, for personal reasons, and we felt a bit lost… but this drive to write more lyrics that Diogo had because he had a lot more to say made us all write more music. So, all in all, the pandemic was a positive creative period for us; for instance, the song MMXX wouldn’t have existed without this whole pandemic situation… this song is what made me realize: this is indeed an album, not just an EP. So, even though the pandemic was a terrible thing, it was good as far as creativity goes.

Felipe: We turned an EP into an album because of the pandemic, indeed. At first we were feeling really down, working home office, many people losing their jobs around us… so, this whole crisis… at first this indolence came over us, but we managed to channel it into new music eventually. We worked on the new material online, and decided, yeah, this is an album. This pandemic, all this death, the whole thing is really awful, because it is not over yet, but as a band, we made this project into an album. And since it was released, we have been interviewed by different media outlets, there is a New York based radio station that released our music there, I mean, the reception has been really positive. Another positive was getting to know many underground bands not just here in Brazil, but all over Latin America. The pandemic kind of brought people together in that sense. And we took part of many online festivals in this period.

Farias: The world is already very tech oriented, everything is done digitally. And when everything migrated online anyways, because of the lockdowns and all, there were new doors that opened for us. So, we could show our work. We had to learn how to do this without playing live concerts. It’s a different vibe.

You guys started Insânia in 2017, in Recife. How was the beginning of the band?

Lima: We founded the band with Leeds and Rafael Bloise, it was this idea of putting together a band so we could expose our ideas, to express what we think about the society we live in, to talk about what bothers us through a heavy sound. So, we put Insânia together. We talked to Diogo, and he became part of the band, a great addition. The band name comes from insanity, because we wanted to talk about society: the same with our logo, which speaks of this insanity that is apparent in all people: only seeing what they want, the way they want to see it, and not what really needs to be seen and understood.

Felipe: Just so you guys know: Vitor is a psychologist. Also, before he put this band together, he used to play in a hard rock band, with the former band members Leeds and Rafael Bloise. I myself played in another hard rock band. We knew each other from the scene, and every time we got together, we talked about enjoying a heavier sound, and we always talked about social and political matters. Besides Vitor being a psychologist, the former bass player Bloise is a historian, I also have a degree in History, so, we were always drawn to these subjects. They thought of this band with a heavier sound, but without harsh vocals, just Portuguese language, no matter how shouted, but something clear to the listener, so they get what we are saying in our songs. They showed me a couple songs they pre-recorded, and I had a few lyrics already written, so it all fit together during the first rehearsal.

Your lyrics are in Portuguese, and all your songs bring some level of social or political criticism. Was that the idea from the beginning?

Felipe: My other hard rock band also had all the lyrics in Portuguese.

Lima: We have a new song soon to be released in English, just so we reach a new audience. But our idea was to always sing in Portuguese. We are from Brazil and most of our audience is from here, so they need to understand our lyrics, with all the criticism it brings about our society.

Felipe: It was a great coincidence that they formed the band ̶ I wasn’t part of it yet ̶ then they called it Insânia, which already brings the idea of criticism, that this society is insane, and it went really well with some lyrics I already had. And most lyrics are critical, like a punch to the stomach of society. We say what we believe in without fear of anyone, ignorantly believing that we can influence someone…

I would like to ask you about the EP you released last September, “Live Lockdown”. It has an amazing sound quality, and great energy throughout. How did you guys have that idea? How was it made?

Felipe: You have no idea how crazy it was shooting that thing! It was done in Vitor’s home.

Lima: It was a lot of running around. We vacated a room in my home, set up all the instruments, the drums, everything, the set was basically our backdrop, with our logo, and we all filmed each other. Raffa was the producer, the sound recording mastermind.

Farias: We have a project to record a live performance in the studio. But we wanted to do this during the pandemic, and we couldn’t have a lot of people in the same room, the studios weren’t booking at the time. So, all the music was recorded separately, and then mixed by me. We got our new bass player, who took part in this also, because we felt the need to show our live sound to the audience, as there could be no live shows… the energy and the audio visual material was done like that.

Felipe: So, we brought all our gear, lights, cameras and just shot it! It was literally homemade. It was a lot of work, but the result made it all worthwhile.

So, let’s talk about your sound… there is a lot of really heavy groove metal there. Who are your main influences?

Farias: Yeah, that’s right. Vitor and I really like groove metal, Pantera, Lamb of God, Slipknot. Vitor, as our founding member, keeps us coming back to this style, it’s our thing. It kind of mixes Nu Metal, Metal Core, other styles…

Felipe: What catches people’s attention is that we make this kind of sound, but with no harsh vocals. There is shouting and aggression in the vocals, but you can understand everything we are saying in our lyrics. We like the harsh vocals, but we just don’t do them.

And how is your writing process?

Felipe: Most of the lyrics are written by me, but there are two songs on the first album “Insânia” that have lyrics by Vitor.

Lima: Rafael Bloise wrote one of those two, in fact. But Diogo sends us most lyrics, and we trade the files, or there are just musical ideas, and we build on that, develop those ideas and just create.

Farias: The only song we wrote as a trio was “Fênix”. All the other songs were written separately, online, because of the lockdown. But we really liked collaborating on a song like that, and, for the future, we wish to write more songs like that, collectively, in the same room. It gives a new life to the idea, to conclude it all together.

Felipe: You are talking about doing things in person, but all our ideas are shared, everyone contributes to all the songs, in the end: both musically and the album art, everything. And Raffa knows these more technical aspects, he is a great producer, very good at mixing our sound, besides being a great musician. Vitor is an original band member, and is a great drummer, a tattoo artist, and a psychologist. I was really lucky to have found these guys!

And what has been the audience’s reception to your sound?

Felipe: We released our first album really quickly after becoming a band, and we had a release concert and a mini tour of the Northeast in Brazil. So, we had the feedback that we sounded better live than on the first album, which could have been better produced… But now, after the second album, “Histeria”, which was very well produced, we have had great reviews and been invited to online festivals and all that.

Lima: Our first album is heavy but there is a greater exploration of sound on “Histeria”. Raffa is a true musical contributor. He writes great riffs: he even won a riff competition a while back!

You released a new music video on December 8thGuerra Por Paz” (War for Peace). What can you tell us about it?

Felipe: It’s an interesting story. We get lots of messages on Instagram, and someone tagged me on a contest from a professional video maker that usually works with rap artists. So, I put my name there, and a couple weeks later, well, we got it! We recorded it a few weeks ago, at a Culture Centre here in Olinda.

Lima: We wanted to make a lyric video for this song. But once we won the contest, we made a real live action video! It is a really strong song, with great lyrics, so we just went for it.

Felipe: We really like the breakdown of the song. And the world’s response to the pandemic, I mean, we could have used this to make things better, but we only put up walls and mankind just made everything worse.

Farias: The song was written before the pandemic. But it got a whole new meaning when the pandemic hit, and it will probably be one of those songs that lends its meaning to what happens in the world around us.

How is the rock and metal scene in Recife and also in the state of Pernambuco?

Lima: The scene here is very active. Out here there are great bands, and there is heavy metal, groove metal, hardcore and black metal. All over the state, as well as in the state capital.

Felipe: Recife had sometimes 4 different rock concert options on the same night, before the pandemic. Now we gotta wait to see how it returns. But there is a new variant of the virus out there, so the future is a little uncertain… but we hope that people will bring bands from other parts of the country. Culture here is very rich; before the pandemic there were lots of events, cover bands, original bands, different genres. And out here there is a very important festival called Abril Pro Rock. But, of course, there are always those who start bands and get frustrated soon, and get really competitive with other bands, but give up because they didn’t make it big right away. But that is not our case.

Lima: Diogo and Raffa put together a local festival, Recife Metal Fest.

Farias: It’s not my life’s goal, but we wanted it to be a festival with different genres on the same stage. We have to be more open minded; everyone has the right to express themselves as they want to. We gotta stop the bickering within the scene.

What about governmental incentives for arts and culture, especially now, after the pandemic?

Farias: For music in general, it will happen, but for rock and metal, it might be harder…

Felipe: If it weren’t for Aldir Blanc Law, at least on a federal level, we would all be screwed. This current federal government is very adamant in not investing in culture. There are many places out here that have closed down, like clubs. But imagine other people who work with folk culture, like maracatu or carnival? With the pandemic, they lost their income. And there is no help for them. Now imagine us, rock and metal musicians, we are considered by the mainstream as a bunch of no-good pot-smoking skating sons of bitches from the other side of the tracks. Rock is the most marginalized type of music nowadays.

This prejudice against rock and metal really puzzles me…

Farias: This reminds me of something I heard on a podcast: rock has become an underground phenomenon because, some years ago, bands that were really popular, like ReStarT, with their romantic tunes, their colourful looks, their emo hairdos… the band was really criticized by those who considered themselves real rockers, and after a while, all these bands went away. But they forget that those were like a gateway for kids into the world of rock. After that phase, any new rock acts, people step all over them, criticize them, make nothing of them. So why will people play these lighter rock bands on the radio, if this initiation into rock is always criticized?

Felipe: This also speaks of prejudice. No one is obliged to like these bands, but we gotta see that young people can be inspired by artists that make lighter sounding music, that are cheerful and make them feel like they belong. So the prejudice comes from within the rock and metal community themselves.

Farias: To me, the greatest prejudice within the rock community is that people in the realm of hardcore don’t really mix with the death core people, because they are “too different”…

Felipe: Social hypocrisy, that’s what it is.

What Brazilian metal bands do you recommend to our readers?

Lima: Saga HC, Plugins, ODIOSA out here from Pernambuco.

Felipe: Deadfish, I’ve been their fan since forever. Also Nação Zumbi, Vassali, Saga HC, Hanagorik.

Farias: I really like Total Necrose, out here from Recife, who sing in Spanish. ODIOSA released an album recently, Vassali’s new stuff is really good. Amperes, Diogo’s other band. Also: Surra, Project46, Self Creation.

Thank you again for talking to Chaoszine. Anything else you would like to add?

Felipe: I hope you guys hear our music, try to understand our lyrics, check us out on social media.

Farias: Check out the new video! And we will also release a new song in English, so, hope you guys enjoy it.

Lima: I hope people give a little more thought about the metal scene out here in Brazil, there are current bands that are really good, and we make good music besides what the mainstream media promotes. This is a culturally rich country.

Felipe: And thank you so much for reaching out to us for this interview!

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