2021 has been a good year for Andrew Virrueta. His band, Interloper, released one of the best metal albums of the year via Nuclear Records, and he will be gearing up to hit the road in 2022 as the touring guitarist for The Faceless. As if that wasn’t enough, his tech-death project under the name, Vampire Squid, is still writing music after 2020’s Reinventing the Eel charmed fans with it’s Cephalopod-themed sonic brutality. (You might call them the American equivalent of Slugdge.)
But Interloper is the band of the moment and the group that will come to define Virrueta over the next decade. Starting out as a joint shredder with the virtuoso guitarist, Miles Dmitri Baker, Virrueta assumed backing vocal duties in Interloper until original frontman, Mike Semesky, left in 2020. With few options available, he stepped in as the temporary singer only to discover he had a distinctive melodic voice on top of the powerful death metal roar he harnessed in Vampire Squid.
To listen to Interloper with Virrueta behind the mic is like hearing King’s X playing progressive death metal. It puts them in the same bracket as Cynic and The Contortionist but also gives the group a new ability to enhance their song-writing craft as much as their virtuoso foundations. As we said in our review of the group’s debut album, Search Party, back in June: ‘It speaks volumes that Interloper, like Autarkh, have already discovered their signature sound on their debut LP. Other artists will sit up and listen and wonder how they do it.’
With such an effortless mix between the spiritual and the guttural, we wanted to find out more about the albums that shaped Andrew Virrueta as we know him today. Here are the three records that changed his life.
3. Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect (2009)
At the time this album came out, I was just going into high school and was an absolute sponge of any music that I could find and that would inspire me. I had heard BTBAM’s Alaska a few years before and enjoyed it, but it didn’t stick with me like TGM did. This album was the first I had heard that presents those super long “prog” arrangements, and, somehow, they felt so fluid and easy for me to listen to. This album was also my first time hearing a band combine genres with absolute grace and seamlessness. Never really a dull moment on this album. The riff writing from it has definitely embedded itself into my writing very deeply.
2. Dimmu Borgir – Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2001)
I have an older brother that was super into metal as well, and he would frequently show me bands that he would find on the internet. Dimmu Borgir was one of them. I was shown this album in 2004-5 when I was in 5th grade. This was my first time hearing the possibilities of how epic, evil, and extreme metal could be. I remember getting a weird feeling in my stomach when I first heard ‘Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny’, and I’ll never forget it. I think it was fear. That feeling was addictive and made me want to search for more music like that. This album was my bridge into diving into more extreme styles of metal.
1. Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)
My dad was a marine stationed in Japan in the early 90s. During his free time, he and his buddies would shoot pool and share CDs that they had brought from home. One of his buddies gave him a copy of Master of Puppets. My dad ended up taking it home and thus, this album has been playing in my house and spun around in my old CD player for as long as I can remember. I remember coming home from school and every day I would sit in front of my CD player with the album booklet in hand, reading along to the lyrics as the album played. I could not get enough of his voice and the sound of the guitars. This album is the reason I decided I wanted to play the guitar and sing, plain and simple. And I will be forever grateful to Metallica for that! I think Master of Puppets still holds up today with the best of them. Absolute masterpiece to me and a seminal record to my love for music in general.
*** Interloper released Search Party on 11 June 2021 via Nuclear Blast. You can read the original SBR review here.