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Hatriot's Cody Souza: "…when you turn the album art upside down it becomes a new image. Definitely something we had fun with"

Interview with Cody Souza from Hatriot
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 September 2022, 4:01 PM

It has been a pain to be isolation, closed up from the world, keeping it closer to family without the ability to head out there and do even the basics. The American Thrash Metal band, Hatriot, like many others, remained at their homes, while the pandemic was loose. Nevertheless, they didn't back down and unleashed all of their anguish into a new album, “The Vale Of Shadows”, released by Massacre Records. Steinmetal had a good talk with the band's vocalist, Cody Souza, the son of, about the album's experience, goals and more.

Hello Cody, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview with Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing ace?

Good! Been living the Dream! Creating music and traveling with my friends! Having a blast!

We have been experiencing a lot as a culture in the past 2.5 years, starting with the pandemic, which became a part of our ordinary lives, along with the war in the East that just won’t cease. From your point of view, as a person that has a lot to say within the confines of Hatriot, and its material, what is your input on what has been happening?

It’s crazy the pandemic really changed life for a lot of us. For good and bad I suppose. I felt the band and myself really found who we were during the pandemic - we took Hatriot from a high end hobby to where it needed to be as a main career focus and pretty much a small business. I think the time in isolation and away from concerts really made us realize what we love doing.

Up to the pandemic we were setting our life’s up to try and conquer and succeed in the music scene; getting bills lowered, setting up a good family system at home, setting down careers and finding jobs that will allow touring. We really tried to take what we had learned from our Fathers (Steve Zetro Souza of Exodus) trials and tribulations through his musical career and instil a level of pedigree in what we do.

With the nearly the entire worldwide Metal scene, and culture in general, getting back on the saddle, after being shut down for so long, how does it feel for you? Does it feel like a sort of a revival, to have the ability to get back out there, act normally outside and of course be yourself on stages and such?

It feels great, at first we tried to go to a show every day we possible could because we miss if that much. But being pent up in my home studio we wrote a monster of an album. Now that the world is getting back into its rhythm and our album “The Vale Of Shadows” released - we are ready to get out there and show the world what we are about!!

Continuing your aggressive mannerism, the image of Hatriot and its music, you unleashed your next release, fourth in number, “The Vale Of Shadows”, exploring more than meets the eyes and ears. It is said that there is a darker exploration at hand, where you dug up aspects of life, or rather influential happenings and individuals that shaped the image that the album stands for. What can you tell about that?

Yea, as far as the music for “The Vale Of Shadows” evolving a little bit, I feel the themes we stuck to are very Hatriot. Themes like: Violence, Coming Of Age, Serial Killers, Horrors, Monsters, the evil side of society. We always take aspects of life, mix it with how we are feeling, what we like, some amazing art, then press it all together.

When I first thought about the title, “The Vale Of Shadows”, it had me going on what us, as people, rather like to keep under wraps, hidden from most people to find. If that is the case for you, is that simply going against Pop culture but from a different angle? If that is not the case, please elaborate what is

I’m a pretty open book, what you see on stage or in videos and on twitch is pretty much who we are. The album title and the cover art do go side by side as “The Vale Of Shadows” a term loosely coined from stranger things’ “Upside Down” - hence when you turn the album art upside down it becomes a new image. Definitely something we had fun with.

Continuing my digging on the subject, how did these last couple years influence you to the point where you had to write about it for “The Vale Of Shadows”? Would you say that you were utterly disappointed of how things went along or perhaps even pissed off that you couldn’t do anything about it?

Yeah as I mentioned we definitely had a lot of pent-up aggression especially our last release from Days Unto Darkness had kind of gotten overshadowed by the pandemic we aimed to write this one and release it right out of the pandemic which we feel we did a good job on.

There is a mention of “The Black Plague” as one of the subjects that the album points out to, is there an analogy to the current pandemic state? If not, what did it intend to express instead?

Definitely I don’t think it was near as extreme as that was, it’s something that Kevin our rhythm guitar player always loved images of and really ran with again showing the darker sides of society. A little symbolism.

Looking at the artwork, and it is a sight for sore eyes, it has that old school hint and there is a room for exploration in nearly every detail, starting from this castle shaped image and the horrific surroundings that are part of it. What can you tell of the vision of this artwork?

We sought out with the vision of the album cover being more than just art. A little interactive if you will, turn the album upside down and the image of a skull appears. We feel Paolo G really knocked this one out of the park.

Breaking the borders of the fusion of Thrash and Death Metal, and also crossing the threshold of being the second generation of Exodus, “The Vale Of Shadows” continues to find paths of extremity and aggression, as a substantial addition to the general effort. What can you tell in regards to the kind of evolution that happens within the album?

Yeah, we really set out to make an album of music that we enjoy ourselves. Being fans first we incorporated many different elements of metal into this release and have made an album some are calling hard to define an exact genre. Though the themes, lyrical content, and the Goblin Shrieks reigns through this album still very much make it Hatriot.

Other than breaking down borders, as mentioned, what influenced you, or led you to continue to explore within Metal in extreme? Was it something that you listened to or is it part of the plan, to continue to rise as an extreme band and set sail towards the target?

We really just set out to make music that we enjoy. I know that when Hatriot started out it was fronted by father and definitely going in the realm of what he did in the 80s is just pure aggressive thrash metal, but definitely wanted to curb our own cravings as well in so being hard-core, melodic death metal, Death-core, among others. I don’t believe there’s any pinnacle or any absolute goal it’s just what we feel like writing and if we feel it fits along as another Hatriot song.

It is said in the dossier that you changed your writing style, probably meaning the songwriting way, or methods, that led you to completing the songs, or coming up with ideas. What can you exact in regards to what changed? Would you say that your perception towards writing a tune was altered or rather upgraded as you see it?

I definitely feel our ability to write and create material has been upgraded. Again another thankful Pandemic attribute, we all adopted working digitally in our own homes and sending tracks to each other via dropbox. Everyone can put their own spin on things has their own opinions and get some molded from Demo rather than trial and error song writing. No more everyone meeting up in a room blowing a whole afternoon and hoping you walk away with something, more of the attitude doing it for fun at your own home at your own leisure and sending it to your band for editing and input.

If there is one thing that is a major task is to come up with the right blending between the lyrical aspects and the music. Hatriot’s style has always been heavy, and portrays shreds of darkness, even if this album takes on the others in the blackened level. In your view, how were you able to find that focal point between the lyrics and music to make that fit?

Most of the music is written and started by Kosta V, at that point usually several band members or single band members will write lyrics to said music. Lyrics get brought back up to the whole band and are kind of group evaluated by phrasing, cadence, and lyrical content among other things. At the end of the day there really are no rules and just is the core band happy with Calling what we created a Hatriot title.

With the album being completed probably at the time of the waves of the pandemic, how were you able to champion through the restrictions and everything entangled with that wretched event? Were you able to properly rehearse the songs prior to actually recording them?

Again adopting a lot more of that smarter not harder mentality, during thick isolation we had all make sure to keep our band like a family bubble, not really seeing people outside of who we work with. We had a physical studio during that time and then also even condensed to practicing digitally in my home studio. We found a way to get it done.

Going straightforward in one of my favorite fusions is “The Hate Inside”, an explosive track that leaves no hint of the brutal nature of its title and theme. It is hard not get enticed by the main riff along with the shrieking vocals that are exemplary. How do you find this particular track?

What I like about the Hate inside is there’s usually one track on the album that Kosta V right entirely himself lyric and music and that was this track. We really felt it was modern had a lot of blends to different sounds almost “Slipknot” like aggression and feel. Kosta absolutely not that one out of the park

A slower thumper, but heavier as hell, is the riff based monstrosity of “Clemency Denied”. I have to admit that I was a little puzzled about what it was all about, and truth be told, I haven’t read the lyrics. What can you share about it? How does it feel like to write and release a mid tempo tune other than speeding away?

The mid-tempo songs are definitely the department of my brother Nick Souza and Kosta. Clemency denied was written by my brother. He wrote it from the point of view of someone who is found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit, they then request clemency and the court system denies reviewing the case. Dark but real shit.

With “The Vale Of Shadows” being out, where is it possible to find Hatriot performing? Is there a chance that you will be traveling to Europe near the end of the year, or even closer while there are still festivals?

The release of the albums came up kind of late to be on the festivals this year. I have I have some things I’m working on now I can’t really talk about but would love to of course. When the world was normal and we had released days into darkness in 2019 we had found ourselves on a few festival flyers. I feel this album has been received even better than that and hoping in due time we are available everywhere.

Cody, many thanks for this interview and for your time to complete it. Furthermore, you created quite a bomb with the new album, I bid you all the best and thanks again

Thank you very much for your kind words, and the opportunity to get my voice and Hatriot's noise out there.


 



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