Today, we talked to Helio Junior, vocalist/drummer of Brazilian heavy metal band Sentencer – and a very nice guy. Enjoy reading!
Hi, how are you doing?
Helio Junior: Hi guys, I am doing fine, but I am kind of hungry and tired as I just got home from work! [laughs]
Did this damn pandemic destroy a lot of your plans with Sentencer?
Well, last year we kind of went on a hold as we had no drummer. So we actually had no plans. Now we have plans but we are making them while we have to think about the COVID restrictions and all this craziness we are facing here in Brazil.
I think there are a lot of readers who don’t know Sentencer yet. Tell us a bit about the history of your band, please.
Caio Garibaldi (guitars), Sidney D.Gsus (bass) and Helio Junior (Vocals) were three happy friends who played in other bands (not worth mentioning) until the beginning of 2020. They kind of decided to leave and form their own band: Sentencer! We had a couple of songs written by Caio and myself, but without a drummer there wasn’t much we could do. So we started to search for a drummer… AND WE SEARCHED A LOT! Musical instruments are really expensive here in Brazil (especially drums and cymbals, I am still paying off mine [laughs]), so to find a drummer is hard… To find a metal drummer is really hard… To find a metal drummer with less than 2 or 3 bands is GODDAMN FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE! You see, we are not professional musicians, so everyone has a «normal job» and to match the agenda is sometimes a pain in the ass. So I decided to play drums, bought a used kit and started practicing – watching YouTube videos and getting some tips from a friend. Meanwhile, we released our first single «The Devil Doesn’t Sleep» in August, with drums played by a friend of ours called Nikolas Marcantonatos (also the drummer from Anama, Garibaldi’s other band). It was entirely produced by Garibaldi and I do not even remember the studios where we recorded it, as some were open and others didn’t open due to COVID. I remember the vocals I recorded at his house. In Octorber or November, I was singing and playing a couple of our songs, so I asked Garibaldi to play together for some hours and he liked it… Then we did the same together with D.Gsus. It is important to say that we were still looking for a drummer and it never was «You are going to be the drummer, we’ll hold the spot for you», it was like «It is going to be you, if you can play or some random guy – whatever happens first!». But in the end, the guys liked it and I was accepted in my own band! [laughs] We have some videos of rehearsals we had as a «power trio» on our Instagram profile. But we were also looking for another guitar player, so after just two rehearsals as a trio we found Will Metalhead. So, we’ve been working on our songs since December and we started to record our first EP. Last week, we released the single «Fear And Dead Men» based on a cool story of Darth Vader comics, with the cover art made by Garibaldi (and he just sent me a draft of his drawing for the EP). Guess that’s it, the story of Sentencer so far…
How would you define the style of your band?
We just say we play heavy metal because I like its general meaning. Today, I see some people saying «heavy metal means traditional metal», but from my point of view – and as I was taught in the ways of heavy metal 20 years ago – heavy metal is composed by its subgenres: traditional metal, speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, power metal, black metal…. We got a lot of influences from all these genres in certain ways, but to be more specific we are riding from traditional, to speed and thrash. It’s hard to say! [laughs] By the time the EP is out you guys decide it.
Which bands would you classify as your major influences?
Regarding Sentencer I would say Judas Priest, Accept, Iron Maiden, early Kreator, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath… But for myself I’d mention the ones above plus some bands with singer/drummers I listened to a lot last year: Exciter (of course!), Kiss (Peter Criss rules!), Autopsy, MX, Triumph, early Kreator, Genesis, The Band, Ringo Starr...
How popular is traditional metal in Brazil these days? Is there a vivid underground scene?
Yeah! We have great bands in the veins of traditional/speed/power: Metaltex, Breakout, Biter, Sweet Danger, Rider, Facing Fear, Living Metal. Just to name a few ones. We are the newbies in the scene!
Are there any Brazilian bands who you would like to recommend?
Every band I mentioned above plus some other ones of different styles: Cranial Crusher (their drummer, Fruto, is my drums mentor!), Chaoslace, Anama, Keeptor (my ex-band).
What’s your favourite festival? Where would you like to play with Sentencer in the future?
My fave one is Keep It True, for sure! The dream, of course, is to be a part of Wacken‘s billing, but I also would love to be part of 70.000 Tons Of Metal – sea, pools, cold beer and a lot of crazy people!
On our blog, we focus mainly on epic metal. Do you like this genre? If so: What are your favourite bands and records?
Yep, I like it! From the new guys I would say Eternal Champion – The Armor Of Ire (need to listen their new album) and Visigoth – The Revenant King – but If you ask me to pick only one album, it would be Manilla Road‘s classic: Crystal Logic! Who never shouted «Loooooost in Necroooooooopoliiiiiiiiiiiis!» holding a beer?
2020 was a disaster, no doubt about it. But there were some great releases: What’s your favourite album released last year?
We had really great albums last year, Glacier – The Passing Of Time is – by far – my fave one. But I also liked Deathstorm – For Dread Shall Reign and Traveler – Termination Shock.
Last question: Paul Di’Anno or Bruce Dickinson?
I love them both, but Bruce Dickinson is a singer who wanted to play drums (he is responsible for the intro of «The Prisoner», If I am not wrong), so I pick the «Air Raid Siren Voice»!
Helio Junior, many thanks for your time and this interesting interview. Stay safe!