Hear the roar of Phantom Goddess! A talk with the vocalist Madz Peteros (a.k.a. Madz Morrigan) of Philippine brutal death metal bands Soul Engraved and Suwail.

Hello Madz! Glad to have an interview with you! At first, could you tell when and how did you get into the extreme metal music, and how did you come across the death metal/brutal death metal then become a vocalist?    

Hi Ming! Thanks for this interview. I'm very much excited and happy to be part of this.

So I started when I was 5 years old when my father (who's also a musician and a metalhead) introduced me to metal music like Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, etc. Growing up, I started to explore with the other sub-genres of metal such as black, doom, gothic, brutal and death. I got very amazed on how vocalists in particular would be able to growl and do gutturals so I did some research, educated myself on how it is being done since before there were no internet readily available or any other ways to learn it.  So everything would be through cassette tapes, reading zines, etc. And then I realize I really want to become a vocalist and be a part of a metal band which came true when I became 15 years old, that's when I started with my first band.

How did you find your way to growl? Have you been inspired by any specific bands/ artists/ vocalists?    

When I was a kid I practice everyday after school, vocalize first and do the growling exercises (I still do this up until now). Good thing my parents are always supportive of me and my passion. They didn't even think I'm going crazy for growling here and there. Hahahaha! Some of my greatest influences as a vocalist are Dana Duffey (Mythic), Rachel Heyzer (Sinister - old line up, Pathology, etc.), Ola Lindgren (Grave), Lars Göran Petrov (Entombed), Marta Meger-Jakubska (Enter Chaos) and Brett Hoffman (Malevolent Creation) to name a few. And also - Carcass, Crytopsy, Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Deeds of Flesh, Cannibal Corpse, Decapitated and Devourment to name some of my band influences.

How did you join in Suwail and Soul Engraved? Since Soul Engraved used to be a deathcore band while now sounds more brutal-death like (even some riffs have a sense of old school death metal), is it because of the line-up change?   

Before Suwail, I had 4 other previous metal bands. We founded Suwail back in 2015, its original name was "Odd Fellow's Home" and then changed it to Suwail last 2017. We play old school death metal. With Soul Engraved, I became their official vocalist last January 2020. With regards to the sound, it's more of a brutal, death-grind now and you're correct with the old school death metal sense also because of the line-up change.

The new song of Soul Engraved is just killer! Sophisticated and brutal! I am very impressed by your new music video haha! How does the song be created? Which part did you write?   

Oh thank you very much for appreciating it! I wrote the lyrics and it was created and based on a true story wherein a woman was raped, literally skinned and brutally murdered in one of the popular towns here in the Philippines.

A kind of stupid but funny question: Have you got a certain persona/identity/image when you are performing? (It could be fantasy, such as witch, warrior, beast etc. haha)   

Hahaha! I actually do, the metal scene here in the Philippines know me as "Madz Morrigan". Morrigan in Irish mythology is the "Great Queen" or "Phantom Goddess". It is mainly associated with war and fate especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle.

Being an experienced female musician in the scene, what is the biggest difficulty for you so far? How do you deal with it?  

Well some people really judge and think that we have no future, we're just all about tattoos, piercings and metal music and we can't earn money with that. What they don't know is that we are passionate about our music and our other personal goals in life. It's easy to judge for them but we are more than what they see and think. We also have our day jobs to support our "needs" and "wants" and we do what makes us happy and fulfilled so I just don't really mind the negativity they bring. I focus on improving myself and just do my own stuff. Hahaha!

Generally speaking, since the underground extreme metal is masculine, female musicians normally find themselves in these two positions: standing out from the ocean which is helpful to get more attention (for example, utilize the feminine traits on appearance but still skillful enough), or fitting in the masculine convention of this subculture (for example, pretend to be a boy). Regard to your own positioning, which one, or neither are you? Why?    

I am more in the neutral side because I also can't deny the fact that since I am a female vocalist in a metal band, I will really draw attention (of course that's given because of the appearance and personality) thus, expectations are also higher. Good thing I didn't have a hard time communicating with others on the scene since we all treat each other with respect regardless the gender. So I am always practicing and improving my skills not just for the sake of what others might say and think, but because this is my dream and passion. I love what I'm doing.

What do you think are the future possibilities outside those two normal choices mentioned above? How will they like? (The reason why I ask this question is that, I am truly tired of having to adopt some certain strategies in order to get rid of those underestimations of women in extreme metal. But to some extent, these strategies are limitations. I hope all women can express themselves freely without any restrictions. Feel free to share any of your thoughts about this!)  

I believe we should be just genuine and always strive to be better and improve, skill wise and attitude towards what we do. As a metal musician, it's given that some may really underestimate us because of our gender (there are still some who thinks that way, unfortunately) but I do believe there will come a time that everyone would be able to understand and accept that women can still be successful and nail it in the extreme metal scene because I know we actually do. We are very talented in our own ways and we are here to stay, they can't do anything about it. Hahaha!

In the year of 2020, do you think extreme metal is still a sexist genre?Does extreme metal subculture need feminism or not? Why?  

Numerically, men are dominant within extreme metal, both as audience members and as performers. But I believe that extreme metal is less sexist now since I am seeing more female musicians in the scene and it's more accepted and recognized compared before. Talent wise, women also improved based on my observation and there's nothing wrong if we embrace and support women in the metal scene. They just need to look beyond the gender.

Thanks for being interviewed :D ! Finally, do you have any words for readers and the girls who want to live a metal life?    

Ming, I'm also a fan of yours. I would like to thank you again for giving me this opportunity. I am glad you made me part of this, it's such an honor. We are here to support you always. I'm proud of you and Congratulations! 😊

To all the women who want to become musicians or live the metal life, please do whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn't negatively affect your personal plans as an individual. Achieve your goals and always improve your skills, practice and continue to learn and explore. Don't ever stop or think that you can't do it because you can, just always believe. The only person that can stop you is just yourself. Being a metalhead is not just only through looks and the merch you wear, it's in the mindset. So embrace your individuality, always be unique,  genuine and be a bad-ass female metalhead! 😈

Finally, Madz would like to thank for the hard work of her bandmates:

Soul Engraved:
Jus De Villa - guitarist
Ian Chua - drummer
Rannie Bendaña - guitarist
Janjan Klaros - bassist
Manix Chanco - guitarist

Soul Engraved Facebook

Jay Delos Santos - guitarist
Chad Espina - guitarist
LJ Bautista - bassist

Suwail Facebook

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