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Sounding like Nineties: “Mole” promises the Return

By: Miriela Fernandez Lozano


Alex Jorge "Mole" has been a tireless musician. In the Cuban rock and extreme metal scene he is known above all for his longest-running work: the band MEPHISTO, the first to integrate symphonic Black metal sounds on the island and active from 1996 until today in the province of Holguín. However, in parallel, Mole has maintained other projects. Recently the JEFFREY DAHMER’s videos, inclined to brutal Death, have been disseminated and are a proof of the wide musical arc within metal in which this guitarist, bassist and composer can undertake.

In 2019, Mole paid a debt to the Cuban metal memory and to his own experience in the scene. Around that time, he concluded the DESTROZER’s remake, the band in which he debuted as a metalhead in Holguín and throughout Cuba in the early nineties. Although his first lineup was as MORBO, oriented to Thrash, but the Death metal impact made him change towards that sound. In the midst of the existing extreme metal rejection at that time, even within the rock environment itself, DESTROZER performed in the City of Parks (Holguin); in the Caibarién festival (Villa Clara), and also in the Marianao Amphitheater (Havana). “Blaspheme Orgies”, the five track new recording has been disseminated digitally already and is about to come out in physical format. The birth of the hardest metal sounds in the country are recovered. But, Mole doesn't stop there. At the same time, he has been working on the re-recording of DYING FOREST, a doom-style project he also created at the time.

I spoke with Mole about this return to the nineties, considered by many the most experimental and glorious metal era in Cuba. The questions focus on knowing more about the history of this Holguin musician and are going back to that period precisely.


How did you start studying guitar? Was it by getting involved with the rock listening and environment? “…My brother was the one with musical inclinations. He studied music for a while, played in a salsa band when he was at a country school. I was a cartoonist. Everyone thought I was going to be a painter, but no. And I had no intention of playing any instrument until I met rock. It was no longer enough for me to listen to the music or assume the rock aesthetic. Listening to my favorite bands, I came up with things and I imagined myself on stage just like them, and I said to myself, "I have to get to that." One day I went up to my brother and said, "I want you to teach me how to play guitar," and that's where it started. Over time I realized that I had a talent for composition. I have never reached the level I should as an instrumentalist because I never had a training as such, I learned everything by asking and playing the strings and I still don't know many things, but in composition is where I have really developed…”


What moves you about extreme metal at a time when for many that music was "noise". It had more radical components compared to the rock and heavy metal that was heard in Holguín? “… I always wanted more, it seems that my destiny was to get to the extreme metal. I consumed as much radical music as I could. I abhorred the glam that came later. I wanted more speed, more violence. There came a time when it already seemed little to me. Now from time to time I listen to some heavy, of which I keep a few albums, and I get nostalgic. I still follow some of my former heroes, like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST.

Thrash was not immediately accepted. People rejected Metallica, they pointed me out for that, but when they finally liked it, became almost a cult band, a religion around Metallica that still lasts today, here and in the whole world. But, that warm reception brought a negative element, they did not explore the genre thoroughly, so METALLICA, ANTHRAX and MEGADETH did not pass…”

What were the first Death metal records you heard?  “… DEATH, OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL, TERRORIZER, NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS. Look, this is already gaining weight. I mention those names and you know that the horsemen of the apocalypse arrived. Our reaction was one of amazement and dazzle…”


You tell me that the first impact of Death metal on you was through some cassettes that arrived from Havana. How did you get new albums in Holguín? “… We pursued that music. It was the time of compilations and there were just extremes compilations that contained real rarities, with bizarre names such as DEFECATION, MAMMOTH, HITLER (grindcore), CANCER, and a thousand other follies. Death metal and Grind came to me at the same time, you know, the products from Earache Records in the UK. It was already the apotheosis, the end of the world. There we do become stinkers, scandalous ones. Listening to that in our homes was a battle, not even the rockers themselves understood that. Magazines from abroad arrived in Holguín and people disarmed them and sold the posters and photos, a real business. They gave me everything extreme, nobody wanted that, so I was saved…”


However, you werea member in Cuerpo y Alma, a band founded in 1991, but with no intention of entering the universe of extreme metal. “… I did not last anything in that project, I immediately realized that it was not what I wanted, and without counting that it was not my authorship. They looked for me because I played "something." There was also Fofi (Rodolfo Ricardo) who was not the guitarist he is now. What I needed came later…”


How did you form MORBO? “… We started with a group of friends who got together to listen to music. Before that I tried it with another group of friends in the 80s who still met to listen to music, but they had no talent for that, although the desire, even one of them came to assemble a battery, but it did not help him, he did not have the gift.

In the second circle of friends, so to speak, there were people with musical ears. With this I reveal to you that I have never had a steady circle of friends; because of my lone wolf personality, I have missed out thousands of stages with a lot of people…”


When do you decide to initiate DESTROZER? “… DESTROZER was the follow-up of MORBO, with renewed lineup and style, that's why I set the foundation date in 1990, which was MORBO‘s year of forming of, which lasted only a few rehearsal months. MORBO never debuted live. It was a time of struggle to maintain a lineup and to polish the style. DESTROZER came to perfection with Francesco Martinez and Gustavo Adolfo’s entry…”


How did you get your guitar in those difficult times? “… First, I had a cheap Russian Ural guitar. Then a Musima Deluxe; then a Fender copy Lead Star; then a Stinger, which I still have, and now a B.C. Rich, a gift from a Holguin friend based in the U.S.A. I also have a Yamaha bass, C.F.C project (Containers for Cuba) courtesy. How did I get it? With effort, savings and friendship…”


Considering the importance of technology to play extreme metal, how did you manage at that time? “… With invented amplifiers. The first demo recording of was made at the House of Culture with a German 1060 console and a tape recorder, a recording that I transferred to cassette and years later to digital…”


Where did you manage to rehearse with DESTROZER? “… First, in Marcel Soca's house, then in a rehearsal room that was made in what is now the Benny Moré Hall. Several bands joined our teams and agreed on rehearsal schedules for each one. The place also became a party site and fornicatory…”


In the nineties not all metal bands members were devoted to that music. In DESTROZER, for example, there were members in ABSTRACTO. How did you level musical tastes and, at the same time, sound extreme? “… You had to use what you had. I have spent my life playing with musicians from different musical backgrounds, I have never had a band where everyone is a lover of the genre that is being made. What happens is that they realize that the band sounds good, has value and good results and then they go with the flow. I did most of it, but from time to time, the others would come away with valid ideas that were inserted, or simply everyone made their arrangements…”

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What were your intentions with DESTROZER? What visions, desires and feelings did that band was under? “… Play satanic Death metal, influenced by bands like DEICIDE, IMMOLATION, LUCIFERION, etc. It was the first time that Holguin saw the double bass drumming, the use of the blast-beast and a guttural voice. The other musicians thought we were crazy…”


What do you remember about the debut at Caibarién Festival in 1994? “… That was the national debut. Well, there was a lot of expectation, some made fun of us because we were a band from the East, and they thought we were going to sound like garbage. Death metal in the East? They said. When we performed everyone’s jaws fell off. If we played more songs they’d have carried us on their shoulders. The voice was spread throughout the country, which was worth so that years later we were invited to the capital.

I felt like I was at a real show, with bands doing real metal. I was fed up with the children's games in Holguín, those rock and roll concerts. In Caibarién, I saw real metal environment and real metal bands. Touring outside our province opened our eyes before the stalemate in which we were condemned in Holguín…”


Was it in 1996 when you performed at the Mariano Amphitheater in the Capital City? “… In Havana, there was a huge rock movement back then, which does not exist today. The audience was apotheosic there. The metalheads were also fighting for having a voice in the city. It was a beautiful time…”


At that stage, a little before MEPHISTO emergence, you also created DYING FOREST. What were the differences between this project and DESTROZER? “… DYING FOREST is DESTROZER antithesis. The lyrics are romantic, gothic, and full of love, although with a pessimistic and existentialist twist. I did it inspired by a girl I met in a resort and whom I have never seen again. Instead of writing a poem what I did was music. Of course, I wasn't going to compose ballads, so I chose the metal style closest to my aspirations: Doom metal. I was discovering CATHEDRAL and MY DYING BRIDE at the time. The recording was awful, with a tape recorder from a friend. I discovered I could mix what was recorded from one cassette to another alongside what was captured from the microphone. So I did five takes.

DESTROZER was a band ahead of its time. It wasn't just Death, it was Death-grind. It was pretty good…”


Why do you think DESTROZER was not accepted in Holguín in those early nineties?

“…It was accepted in the West, where there was more musical development, where more people knew about extreme music, but in the East, we were always outsized, people accepted S.O.S. more. DESTROZER died being a misunderstood band…”


However, gradually there were changes in Holguín towards listening to the extreme in that decade. “…SEPULTURA broke the ice and people began to get used to the guttural voices. Everything went little by little. Still, people jumped straight to new metal and unclassifiable styles like SLIPKNOT. I'm talking about Holguin. In Santiago the musical perceptions were more extreme. It was the second source for music. Many of the “Santiagueros” traveled the country looking for Lps. We still do not give up. They started looking at Holguin. Then, it came up the first metal festival in our city (Metal HG/1997) and people came from other provinces to know ours, to know the metal scene in Holguín. More rockers began to emerge here. This got good…”

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