With songs about police brutality and racism, and an album title seeming to reference the current killer pandemic, the unstoppable SoCal-based band Sangre are back with the most timely and vital record of their 20-year career – Mas Fuerte Que La Muerte (“stronger than death”) . Hard-working Henry “El Sangrón” Sanchez (also co-vocalist for infamous Mexican-American death grinders Brujeria) is the front man for the DIY metal collective, known for its unique, mosh-friendly combo of melodic death, thrash, groove, and Latin rhythms.
Your dark lyrics strike a chord right now. In the brutal “Death March,” you scream, “American Dream! Only exists while you sleep! Something’s got to give! This, is no, way to, live!” Are you by nature a pessimist?
I would consider myself an optimist overall, but I guess you could say a lot of these lyrics come off pessimistic. It’s pretty much where we are in this time in our lives. There’s a lot of negativity around us in this world and we have a front row seat via the media, social media and even the reality right in front of our faces. Still, I am always trying to find the silver lining and see the best in people.
You’ve added some new sounds on this album and it’s hard to pick a favorite track, although “Pharmakon” with its interesting arrangement and guitar riffs comes close. It’s like you explicitly set out to create the band’s masterwork.
It was a toss-up between “Pharmakon” and “American Nightmare” for the album opener. Both songs hit hard, but ultimately we went with “Pharmakon” because we felt it showed more diversity – heavy as hell but also melodic – and definitely more of our staple sound. Also, we most definitely went into the songwriting process, pre-production, recording, mixing and mastering with the mindset to make the best Sangre album yet.
Besides fronting Sangre, you are co-vocalist for Brujeria. When you got that gig did it feel like you won the lottery?
When I landed the Brujeria gig in November 2014, it was just to fill in for a few shows in South America. A cool opportunity, yes, but not as awesome as when they offered me the full-time gig. I was very excited and knew it was a huge opportunity to make a name for myself with a band that has a legacy and cult following. I officially joined Brujeria in 2015, and we put out the long-awaited album Pocho Aztlan in 2016 via Nuclear Blast. After that album was released, we toured a LOT! Five continents and hundreds of countries for the next two to three years straight with little time off. It is pretty amazing to be in the Czech Republic or Sweden and have fans singing along to every song, and in Spanish!
Is it true professional wrestling influenced your music career?
Some of my first tastes of heavy metal came from watching wrestling. One of the greatest tag teams of all time, The Road Warriors, used Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” as their ring entrance music. Before I ever knew the actual song, I would blast it on my TV and sing along to it. Many other wrestlers used guitar-driven metal music for their entrances, and it really made an impact on me. The promos the wrestlers would cut also helped me with my speaking and acting chops. The ability to become a different character outside of my “normal” self. Or, in a way, be myself, but with the volume turned way up!
Sangre just released what may be a career-best album, and has played numerous big festivals and toured the world. In Brujeria, you’ve performed in front of tens of thousands of people. Some would say you can’t top that. What keeps you motivated to push your music forward and seek new creative and professional heights?
At the end of the day, when and if I decide to stop performing, I want to be able to look into the mirror and know that I went as hard as I could, and gave it my all to accomplish the goals I set out for myself and my bands. I’ve been in love with music and performing since I was a kid and it makes me happy even in the darkest of times. As far as we know we only have one life, so why not do what you love to do and give it all you can until you can’t anymore?
Pick up a copy of Mas Fuerte Que La Muerte here