Kamala: Brazilian death thrash metal with an oriental twist

Author Flavia Andrade - 6.9.2021

Kamala, named after the Hindu goddess of wisdom and power, was formed in 2003. The power trio from Campinas, São Paulo State, combines death and thrash metal influences with oriental melodies and themes. The band’s current line-up is Raphael Olmos (vocals, guitar), Isabela Moraes (drums) and Zé Cantelli (bass). They have over the years released albums loaded with powerful tracks such as “Mantra” and “Eyes Of Creation”. The trio is really successful in France, where their first live album was recorded.

Chaoszine had the chance of catching up with the founding member, Raphael Olmos, who told us about their musical influences, albums, and how the pandemic has affected them.

Hello and thank you for talking to Chaoszine. How are you guys doing in these difficult times of pandemic?

Olmos: First, we would like to thank you for this opportunity. A lot has happened during this pandemic for our band. We decided to part ways with our bass player and dear friend, Allan Malavasi. So, we had to re-record the vocals for our next album, which was already finished but had his vocals on it. We auditioned some bass players, all virtually (for safety reasons, due to the pandemic), and Zé Cantelli took over the spot. We have taken part in many online festivals, which was great to keep the band active, and we also released a few videos while away from the stage. And, to top all that, we wrote and recorded two singles which are in the final stages of mixing and mastering and will be released on two separate dates. We’ve also been working on our sixth album to be released in 2022.

You started Kamala back in 2003. How did music get into your lives?

Olmos: Music has always been present in our lives, but, as the band grew, so did the responsibilities, focus and goals. Because of that, changes in our line-up naturally occurred; many people want to make a living out of music, but in order to accomplish that, sacrifices and choices have to be made. So, we do everything with professionalism and with realistic goals, always seeking to be a better band both for ourselves and those who are into our sound. Everyone deserves the best possible version of Kamala. When we have a healthy sounding band, it also reflects on those who feel connected to our art.

You have a very original authorial sound, which combines the weight of death and thrash metal with oriental influences. How did those elements get blended into your music?

Olmos: We believe that all combinations have to be natural; first, our oriental side is manifested in our band name: Kamala is the name of a Hindu goddess. The artwork is also eastern, and our lyrics have a positive message showing that even in bad situations there is always something to be learned. Also, with time, it is only natural that every band creates its own personality with maturity. We really like those eastern tones mixed and mingled with the heaviness and the groove of a metal sound.

You have toured Europe a few times now having performed in countries such as Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and many more. How was that for a Brazilian underground band?

Olmos: We have done six European tours so far, all independently. There is no ideal moment, no right time, we have to make it happen ourselves. Every tour we did was very important for us and for our growth both as a band and as human beings. Our seventh tour was unfortunately postponed twice because of the pandemic, and we really hope that in 2022 there is a return of live music events, both in and out of Brazil.

The band has released five studio albums so far. What changed between those first albums and your current sound?

Olmos: The maturity in our music with each new album, tour after tour… though I feel that since our fourth album, “Mantra”, Kamala has found its sound and with it everything started flowing better.

What inspires you as artists besides musical influences?

Olmos: Life inspires us, certainly! Every experience, every moment lived through, every reflection we have that relates to what happens around us influence our art.

Your latest release was a live album recorded in France and released in 2019. The quality is amazing! Tell us a bit more about how that album came into being.

Olmos: Album was not part of our plans, it all happened as a surprise! We believe that is the reason why it sounds so true, both to us and to the audience. It was recorded in the last concert of our sixth tour in France, a very intense tour, 16 concerts in 18 days… The owner of the venue asked us if he could stream the concert on their Facebook page, and afterwards he said it was recorded in a multitrack format and asked us if we wanted the files. Maybe, if we knew the concert was to be recorded and to become our first live album, we would have been a bit stiff in our playing. So, when we got the files and listened to them on our way back to Paris, we knew we had some strong material. So, we sent it to our producer Ricardo Biancarelli right away. The concert was in late October 2019, and all that needed to be done was mixing and mastering. It was released only in digital format in December of the same year because the timing felt right. It ended up elected as the best live album by a Brazilian band by many music journalists. We’re very proud of it!

What has been the audience’s reception to your music over the years, both in Brazil and abroad?

Olmos: With every move we make, releasing albums, videos, our “live from the quarantine” streams, more people feel connected to our work. But nothing can replace live concerts: there is a trade of energy between us and the audience. That’s where we want to be! We can’t wait for concerts to start again when it’s safe for everyone.

How is the rock and metal club scene now in your area, and how do you think the pandemic has affected it?

Olmos: There were very few clubs around here before, and, unfortunately, the pandemic has made most of them close down.

Brazil has many metal bands, which ones do you listen to? Any suggestions to our readers?

Olmos: I could name a few bands, but unfortunately, I would leave some out… so, I’d rather refer your readers to specialized playlists on streaming platforms and online festivals, that way they can find out about some of them. As for suggestions, just support the bands you like, share their stuff with your friends on social media, and when concerts are possible again, go see them, support the bands that went so long without playing live. They will need your backing more than ever. And, if you can, buy their merch, it’s really fundamental.

Thank you again for taking the time for this interview.

Olmos: We thank you for the invite, the space to showcase our work, and the attention of all your readers.

Check Kamala out on social media: