The Letum Ascensus Chronicles
The almighty Letum Ascensus has just unleashed Wasteland Chronicles, their first recording in 10 years, via Gore House Productions. This long running death metal entity has been blasting their malevolent reveries within Los Angeles and beyond over 25 unholy years and counting. They’ve opened for the likes of Morbid Angel and Immortal, and will be supporting the legendary Possessed at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on January 10th. Highwire Daze recently interviewed lead vocalist Boris Bonillo to catch up with the diabolic happenings of Letum Ascensus. Read on..
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Letum Ascensus, and how long the band has been together.
Boris: Hello Ken..! First of all thank you for all you do for the scene, specially for giving this opportunity to a small band like us and giving us a window to express our voice and art to many out there and the unconditional support to the metal community. I am Boris Bonillo, lead singer for Letum Ascensus, Although the band has been around for over 25 years, I have only been with LA for the last 18 years or so.
What are your thoughts on the current Los Angeles/OC metal scene?
Boris: Well, I will be blind to not notice that it has changed so much… many that were around when I started with LA are not longer together. There was a time when the scene was like in limbo and it seemed that it was extremely hard and almost impossible to even have fun doing it, with so many venues sucking the life out bands – and many big acts coming to town with a whole tour package, which made it so difficult to get at least local exposure, slowly took so many great local acts basically “out of business.” Now there’s still a very few promoters that kept pushing somehow the local bands, and today we can witness many options to go and enjoy a good local gig with some new upcoming local bands which makes it very promising for the local scene… my respects to all the bands, the venues and the promoters that keep doing their best to keep the Los Angeles Metal scene alive and well.
Is there any overall story behind the EP title Wasteland Chronicles?
Boris: In regards to Wasteland Chronicles, I believe it all started with the usual process, some riffs became songs, and the great thing about it was that as the tunes started to become songs. They became a perfect match to my mental state at the time, which made it extremely easy to come up with lyrics and vocal patterns, that now seems to be a perfect fit to each song. Obviously, there is religious, cultural and political influences on each song, and the best part is that it never felt like imagination nor outside pressure forced the lyrics, allowing me to feel them and get into it every time I have the pleasure to perform them. Every song is supposed to be a continuous conversation about many historical events from many years ago and most recent times – and our take and understanding of how they all came about and brought all of us to so much conflict and tension throughout the whole world. Every line I tried my best to depict how much more aggressive and brutal our reality is nowadays. Humanity’s parasitic way to “evolve” has brought so much land to total destruction, so many creatures to extinction and so many values to be abused and forgotten. Today we could just talk about things that were or was.
Select two songs from Wasteland Chronicles and what inspired the lyrics.
Boris: ..two songs, man, that’s the thing, one song can’t be without the other lol, but I guess I could pick “Bewildered Creation” and “Molesting Mary” because of how aggressive musically and lyrically they are, they are very catchy as well. “Bewildered Creation” expresses how astonishing it is to see humanity drive themselves into a cliff, and “Molesting Mary” the intention is to describe how the Virgin Mary got to conceive a child without a sexual act in a very gruesome and diabolical manner hahahaha… was fun writing that.
Who did the cover art for Wasteland Chronicle and how much input did you have on it?
Boris: The artwork was created by Rafael Mattey. Rafael is a great artist from back home, in Venezuela. Rafael is a well known and respected photographer and graphic artist that has been involved in so many projects nationwide as well as worldwide, there was not doubt in my mind he was going to be able to bring to life our vision for the album. I wanted to match the songs as well as the album title, those are actually his hands and on the background photographs from ruins from places in the world as result of political or religious conflicts… I believe he did an amazing job. I was deeply involved. I had the idea and the concept, but Rafael definitely had the talent not just to put the images together but also to pay justice to my vision and bring it to life – and for that I will be forever grateful. Gracias Rafael Mattey, te quedo brutal.!
How did you wind up signing to Gore House Productions?
Boris: Well, I got to know Carlos many years ago. I know him for always being a awesome supporter of the whole scene, very hardworking and very respectful of what we do as musicians. It was not hard at all to make a decision to move forward, and sign with Gorehouse Productions – even though it took about a year to finally sign hahahaha – but it was totally worth the time. We know Carlos will take pride and push the band as far as possible. Looking forward to keep working with him for many years to come.
How frustration was it to nearly a decade to release all new material?
Boris: There’s no words to explain how frustrating this was. It definitely put the band to the test, not because the music wasn’t there. But the most important and definitive factor was the issues with the band lineup, that could totally increase the lack of confidence and bring the moral down in the band. We wanted to be ready to push the album but the constant rehearsal and teaching of the songs to new members, took away the focus on the album, but had the band to work as hard as possible to keep the band together… Wanna give a special thanks to Sam Fuentes for taking time of his already busy time to make himself available to teach the songs so many fucking times… man… thank you.
Will we have to wait another 10 years for the next Letum Ascensus release?
Boris: Fuck no! Hahahahaa… Letum Ascensus has never stopped writing music, the only thing we needed was a trustworthy channel to put out stuff out and that is Gorehouse Productions and a solid lineup. I will expect at least 3 new albums in the next 5 years.
You’ve opened for some pretty legendary bands such as Immortal and Morbid Angel. What has it been like to support such iconic bands?
Boris: Oh man… to open up for such iconic bands has been definitely some of the most important highlights of our career, definitely fuel for the soul and reassurance that this is something that we really love. It is always great to see these great bands still going, but to also get to perform with them on the same stage? That brings it to a different level of inspiration and commitment to this lifestyle.
If Letum Ascensus could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Boris: Wow… I can’t talk for each band member personal choice, but for me, will have to be on the same stage with Chuck and DEATH, only because, I absolutely love Chuck’s music and lyrics, his vocals, man, what a voice, so much respect for him and his legacy… From today..? Well, there’s many out there, but if I have to pick one (talking for me) that will be Behemoth, and the reason why is because what they stand for, seems like they really love what they do and they have lots of freedom and fun doing it – not forgetting that they have been doing it for years and able to take their music to so many directions, so many layers of creativity and passion embedded on each album and still getting a great response… very impressive, totally on their path to becoming legends, much love and respect for what they do.
What do you think has kept you so passionate about Letum Ascensus and death metal after all this time?
Boris: Man that’s what I call dedication, passion, love, madness! Hahahahaha… love our style, I believe in it…. Letum Ascensus have been there in my darkest moments, the least I can do is to honor this band and keep pushing for it. Death Metal has been a place that allows me to be me and to be creative. Death Metal has been a source of so much happiness and great memories, met so many people, some still alive, some gone now, but always a common place to so many great people, so happy to be part of the family, Horns to ya’ll..!
Will there be any live show Letum Ascensus shows in the New Year and if so, what could one expect from your live performance?
Boris: You know it! If anything defines Letum Ascensus is that we will always be active! We will always be at a gig near you! Hahahahaha… we will be pushing Wasteland Chronicles as much as possible, specially now that you can find it anywhere online..! We practice the fuck out of our set getting ready for each show, we are always improving our equipment in order to achieve the best sound and bring you the best to each and every show, small or big, we work really hard to showcase our music to everyone that gives us a chance to share 30 to 45 minutes with us… come and hang out with us next time, you will not be disappointed..! Keep it sick, Keep it Brutal, Keep it Death Metal..!
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photo by Jack Lue)
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