Usually, when singer/guitarist Alex Estrada begins the writing process on a new Silver Snakes’ album, he will retreat to the California desert or mountains to distance himself from the day-to-day hustle of the Los Angeles landscape he calls home.
This time, he welcomed the chaos.
“I didn’t want this record to be influenced by seclusion,” Estrada said. “I wanted to experience the outside world for what it is at this time, not just in my own head or what my idea of it was. It was very different for me.”
“Saboteur” (Evil Ink Records) finds Estrada and bandmates, bassist Mike Trujillo, guitarist Jeremiah Bignell and drummer Garrett Harney delving further into a darker side of the human condition for their third full-length album (their first for Evil Ink) due out Feb 5th.
“I felt like the last record was very out in the open, it was like being in middle America…almost a Western feel,” Estrada explained. “’Saboteur’ reminds me of a dirty city with broken infrastructure and people on the streets. I feel like this is more of a social record.”
Formed in 2011, after Estrada’s hardcore/crust band Cathedrals went defunct, Silver Snakes started an evolution that has blended his many influences, from Latin singer Lola Beltrán to bands like Godflesh and Ministry. So, not surprisingly, “Saboteur,” finds the songwriter experimenting with samples, synths and beats for the first time. “It’s something I have always had an interest in, and it felt like a new challenge. It’s not like picking up a guitar and teaching yourself a few chords.”
Inspired by two alternative masterpieces: Nine Inch Nail’s “The Downward Spiral” and Sleep’s cult classic “Dopesmoker,” the storyline interwoven with the music of “Saboteur” takes the listener through a pyrrhic victory of someone who, because of their own passions and goals, sabotages and manipulates for their own benefit and soon has to come face to face with the consequences of their actions.
“The idea of sabotage is something that can be applied to everyone’s lives,” Estrada said, revealing the muse behind the album’s title.
“It is a human urge to want to succeed over everyone else, or to see someone not succeed just for the pleasure you get out of that…that’s what this record is about.”
While “Saboteur” is not full-on concept album, there is a common thread which ties songs like the Deftones-meets-Om track “Glass” with the hypnotically heavy riffs of “Dresden.”
The mechanical, heartless feel of “Saboteur” enhances the narrative that Estrada and the band explore thematically on this release, but also runs the risk of alienating fans of the band's earlier riff-laden albums.
It is a risk Estrada is willing to take to see Silver Snakes continue to push boundaries the way his musical heroes did more than 20 years ago.
“Bands like Nine Inch Nails do whatever the fuck they want because their first few records were similar and built on each other. The fact that from the get-go we have done something different from album to album is kind of a self sabotage on ourselves,” Estrada said, highlighting a crossroads the band once again finds themselves in on the verge of a new album and tour next year with Coheed and Cambria and Glassjaw.
“We have always written what we want to write,” Estrada said. “regardless of the fact that this new album might be a bit more accessible, it is still the darkest music we have ever written.”