Slaughter to Prevail are regarded as one of the most dangerous deathcore bands in the world. A music video they dropped last year featured the Russian maniacs loudly embracing their country's stereotypes — firing bazookas, cruising in tanks, playing a deadly game of Russian roulette, and frontman Alex Terrible wrestling an actual fucking bear.
To metalheads, the frequently masked band's over-the-top antics are just good ol' fashioned deathcore extremism pushed to its limits, but in the eyes of the Russian government, Slaughter to Prevail are a gang of threatening Satanists, and their homeland shows were frequently shut down by the police for what they claimed is propagandizing violence and hailing the devil
Obviously their government's suspicions are unfounded, but truth be told, Slaughter to Prevail's mosh pits have been known to send bodies out in a stretcher. "[During a] Moscow show, we played the first song and I said, 'I want to see people go to the fucking ambulance," Terrible recalls. "After that song, I could see the medic guys [carrying] a fucking body."
The vocalist is speaking with Revolver from a hotel in Indonesia, where he and his bandmates are posted up waiting to receive their U.S. Visas. They moved to Orlando, Florida, three months back and are planning to reside here in deathcore's most prominent country in order to help their career — and also escape the potential jail time they could face for speaking out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The same day as our conversation, Slaughter to Prevail dropped a crushing single called "1984," marking their first new music since 2021's Kostolom album and a stark lyrical shift from fantastical violence to pointed political calls for Russia to "please stop the bloodshed" in Ukraine. The conflict has completely reoriented Terrible's priorities and acutely informed the band's upcoming creative shift.
From dodging Orwellian government shakedowns and refusing to tone down his art to meet Russia's puritanical standards, to fighting a 600 pound bear, revealing how he got that scar on his face and proclaiming that he's "tired of deathcore" — read on to learn about Slaughter to Prevail's insane path so far and Terrible's ambitious vision for their future.
THE U.S. IS A GREAT PLACE TO BE FOR METAL MUSICIANS, BUT WAS PART OF YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING RUSSIA ALSO BECAUSE OF THE WAR OVER THERE?
Yeah. Actually, I was thinking about to move to the U.S three years ago, or something like that, because it is always a great opportunity for bands like us, because the heavy-metal scene in Russia is not that big [compared to] the U.S. Everyone was talking to me, they said, "Why you didn't move yet?" ... But I [still] like my country because my family is still there, my friends. I grew up in Russia. I know everything about my country. It's much easier to me. But then, the war gets started and I lose everything, like business connections. I can't do anything because of sanctions. I made the really quick decision to move to America, and move my business to America, as well.
WHAT'S YOUR BUSINESS?
I'm selling my merch, my masks and all this stuff. It's kind of a business, because it's going so well. I'm selling a lot of shit, and it's good money for me. It's good money for my band, as well. PayPal quit Russia. Visa and MasterCard closed. You just cannot send money through Russia to other countries. It's difficult right now. I [had] a few options like European countries, probably Mexico, and the United States. But I think the best option was the United States.
I'M NOT SURE EXACTLY WHERE YOU WERE IN RUSSIA, BUT WERE YOU ALSO IN PHYSICAL DANGER BECAUSE OF THE WAR, OR WAS IT MOSTLY JUST THE SANCTIONS THAT DROVE YOU TO LEAVE?
It's kind of risky to ... If you say you are against the war, if you do something like you're protesting, and all this shit, you can probably go to jail, or you can probably get a ticket for 30,000 rubles [approximately $500USD] or 50,000 rubles [$800 USD]. Not too much, but it's still fucking crazy. You're against the war, and the government just says to you, "You have the problem. Shut the fuck up. Shut your mouth."
Especially if you play music and you are against the war, they're probably going to try to close your shows, shut down the fucking ... Whatever you do with the art. Yeah. We got a little problem before because our government thinks that we are Satanists.
OH MY GOD. WHAT HAPPENED? DID THEY SHOW UP AND TALK TO YOU?
They just cancel our shows because of violence, propaganda of violence, Satanism and all this shit. It's kind of dangerous for me and for the rest of the band, because you can go to the jail for nothing in Russia, because they just fucking fake papers about you. The government in Russia is pretty strong right now, and they just want to control everything. If they don't like you, they can put you in the jail very easily.
HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN PUT IN JAIL THERE?
Nah. Thank god. But I have a lot of friends, they went to the jail for nothing. We have a pretty common phrase in Russia. "You can probably go to the jail, so prepare." Something like that.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE WHEN A SHOW GETS CANCELED BY THE GOVERNMENT? DO THEY JUST SHUT IT DOWN BEFORE IT HAPPENS, OR DO THEY COME IN STORMING?
Police just show up, and they say, "No, you cannot play." They just turn it off, the music and everything. Or, before that, they call people who organize [the show], and they say, "They cannot play. If you don't want to have a problem, they cannot play."
YOU GUYS HAVE A NEW SONG CALLED "1984" THAT'S PRETTY POLITICAL. TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE WRITING ABOUT IN THAT SONG.
I've never been a political guy, or something. I know when you get older, you are realizing that you have to watch what is going on in your country. You live in it. You have to be political. This song about this situation. I'm a very emotional guy, because I fucking play music. I think all artists [are] very emotional.
This situation [with Ukraine] really touched me, because it's not like war [somewhere else], it's war in my house. My people go to another country — to Ukraine — and kill each other. It was really surprising for me and I was in shock, because, before that situation, everyone talked about that. Like, "What do you think? Russia will invade Ukraine," and all this shit, and I didn't believe in that. It was like a joke for me. Like, "What the fuck is going on? What are you talking about?" And [then it] happened.
JUST BLEW YOUR MIND.
It was blowing my mind. For me, it [got] so fucking crazy because, literally, that book, 1984, the situation in that book, saying a lie is true, violence is love and all this shit, and I can see that clearly in Russian government [with] what they saying. The really stupid, strong propaganda and the really stupid action by our government to put people in jail who are against the war. It's not a prison, but it's a jail. They give you a ticket. "Stop doing that. You're wrong." It's fucking blowing my mind.
In this song, I just sing, "Stop the fucking violence," and, "Why you do this?" Because I think it's wrong. I know I don't know a lot of things. I know I don't fucking ... I'm not a political guy. I didn't know much about this conflict in Donbas, and all this shit. But, for me, an uneducated person, for me, what is going on right now I don't like, because people are dying. People suffer, civilian ones. Mariupol, just fucking destroyed. The whole fucking city destroyed.
I can put myself to another person's spot. For example, I can imagine I live in Mariupol, and then this shit happens. I lose my family, maybe, members of my home, and all this shit. I [would] fucking hate the Russian government. I [would] fucking hate Russia, man. I [would] just ... I don't know what to say. It's really emotional for me. I think that every person in Russia is against the war — you cannot support the war [unless] you are a fucking stupid person.
DO YOU THINK BEING ACTIVATED POLITICALLY LIKE THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL GOING FORWARD?
Yeah, I think so. Because I think you cannot just stay silent. Because you live in this country, your family lives in this country. Your children will live in this country. Right now it's happening for me, but tomorrow it will happen to my children, to my parents and all this shit. I don't want this. I think the smallest thing you can do is just fucking say something. I think I have a tool for saying something through my band, through my music.
THE SONG "1984" AND ITS MUSIC VIDEO WERE RECORDED OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA, RIGHT?
No. We would put this video [out] if we stayed in Russia or the U.S. For me, I don't fucking care. When this shit started, the war started, I always fucking made the story in my Instagram like, "Fuck the government. Fuck the war. Fuck all of this shit," because I'm not this person who's scared of this shit. But my parents said to me, "Be careful, please. Please just stay silent." My friends do that. I don't like it. I will fucking say whatever.
HOW MUCH TROUBLE COULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN IN IF THE GOVERNMENT FOUND OUT THAT YOU MADE THAT SONG IN RUSSIA?
I don't know. Probably if someone got interested about us and they [were] against us, we [could] have troubles, but we'll never know. I don't know. But it's always risky. If I go to Russia and stay there, and just will continue what I'm saying and showing my position, I'm probably in trouble ... Maybe I get a ticket, then a second ticket and then go to jail.
I'VE SEEN PEOPLE ONLINE SAY, "THIS GUY IS IN A DEATHCORE BAND THAT MAKES VIOLENT MUSIC WITH VIOLENT IMAGERY, BUT HE'S SAYING HE'S ANTI-WAR." WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE THAT OPINION ABOUT YOU? THAT YOU'RE A HYPOCRITE, ESSENTIALLY.
They're just stupid, man. They're just stupid, because I'm a very emotional person, as I said. I like fights, I like weapons, rifles and all this shit, but I'm [an] adequate person. It doesn't mean that I like wars. It doesn't mean, fucking, when people start suffering ... It doesn't mean I fucking like killing people, or whatever. It's just stupid.
A lot of people are just stupid, and that's OK. I'm just ignoring that. Because, deathcore, it's not about singing about the butterflies and love, it's about ... It's aggression music. But when you get [in a] situation like that, I think you have to say something, and I say it with my songs.
A BIG MOMENT IN DEATHCORE WAS THE "BABA YAGA" VIDEO YOU PUT OUT LAST YEAR, WHICH FEATURED YOU GUYS FIGHTING A BEAR AND SHOOTING OFF BAZOOKAS AND SHIT. TELL ME ABOUT THAT VIDEO AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO FILM THOSE SCENES.
They're pretty Russian themes, like tanks, bazookas, a bear. We just put all the Russian things in one video. [The tale of] Baba Yaga is a very ugly woman who's trying to scare little children and eat them. It's a very common fairy tale in Russia. We [were] just trying to make it very serious and very aggressive. It doesn't mean we are driving tanks in Russia and fucking wrestling a bear every day. It's just art.
OF COURSE, IT'S JUST FUN TO WATCH.
First of all, it's fun. Second thing ... I love, as I said, weapons, and fucking fights, and whatever, but there is always a line. You have to realize that. If you're a grown-ass man, you have to realize that. There is always a line.
I know a lot of people saying, "Why are you singing about tanks and bazookas, and then you're against the war?" Man. Just, for me, it sounds stupid. For me, it sounds very ridiculous, because I'm a human being and I always try to stay human. Whatever is going to happen, I'm always trying to calm down things a lot. Try to analyze a lot. I don't like when people suffer. I don't like animal suffering. That's why I was vegan for six years ... I don't know. I think that the world should be more kind.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO FIGHT AN ACTUAL BEAR IN THAT VIDEO?
Of course it was a trained bear. But if you fight a bear, it doesn't matter if he's trained or not, because you just realize that's a fucking real bear. His nature is a wild nature, and you never know what's on his mind. In a few seconds, maybe he will just fucking eat you, or something. You probably cannot stop him because we have no guns, or ... We had just a stick. Trainer, the coach, said, "No, don't do that." Bam. Bam. That's it. Like, "What? Really? Dude, you cannot stop the fucking bear with a stick."
THAT'S CRAZY. SO YOU JUST HAD A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME WITH THE BEAR AND RAN UP TRYING TO WRESTLE IT?
We found the guy who got the trained bear. The bear weighed like 200 or 300 kilograms [440 or 660 pounds]. He said, "Everything is OK. [We've done] a lot of shooting with this bear with people," and all this stuff.
YOU SAID YOU'RE INTO WEAPONS. WHAT SORT OF WEAPONS DO YOU OWN?
In Russia I have many AKs, like the shotgun AK, the pretty regular AK-47, and the sniper one, and VSS. We call it Vintorez. It's a pretty common rifle in Russia, too. In the United States, I already bought the AK and the AR, and a sniper rifle, as well, like .50 BMG. I'm a pretty big fan of shooting. I love to spend time in the shooting rage. I just really like how the weapons look like because, all my childhood, I played [the video game] Counterstrike. [Laughs]
YOU DO PROFESSIONAL FIGHTING TOO, RIGHT?
It's not professional, it's just my hobby. I really like it. When I was six years old, my parents took me to the wrestling section, like, free wrestling, and then I quit. When I was 17 or 18 years old, I went to the gym and started to lift, and got muscle because I was [such a ] skinny guy. I didn't like it. Especially if you live in Russia, a pretty popular thing in Russia are gopniks. Gopniks are the bad people who want to rob you, or fight you, or whatever. If you're a really skinny guy, you have trouble. You can't always have a gun, you know?
MMA IS A GOOD HOBBY TO KEEP YOU IN SHAPE, AS WELL, I'M SURE.
Yeah. For sure. Especially if you are a deathcore vocalist, because, on the stage, it's really hard to scream, and headbang and moving at the same time. You spend a lot of energy, and you breathe ... It's pretty similar to MMA.
IS FIGHTING HOW YOU GOT THAT SCAR ON YOUR FACE? IS THAT FROM MMA?
It's just scarification. I did it on purpose. I just cut my face.
IS THAT A COMMON THING IN RUSSIA? TO HAVE SCARIFICATION?
No, I just like tattoos and body modification.
DID YOU DO IT YOURSELF OR DO YOU GO TO A PLACE?
No, to a place. Just, a girl had a scalpel and she cut.
DID IT HURT?
Yeah. [Laughs] I really hate pain. I'm very sensitive about pain. But yeah, I just like the tattoos and all this shit.
SO DOES SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL HAVE NEW MUSIC ON THE WAY?
Yeah. We're writing a new album right now, and I think it's going to probably [be finished in] September or October. I believe in the wintertime we'll put the new album out.
WHAT'S THE NEW STUFF SOUNDING LIKE SO FAR?
We're going to take the best parts of Kostolom and try to do the same or better. It probably won't be deathcore, because I'm tired of deathcore. I will be honest with you, I'm tired of really heavy stuff, like slamming, and deathcore, and all this shit. I like heavy music. I like death metal. I like deathcore, but I want to create something new. I want to create something huge.
For example, Rammstein. They have pretty fucking heavy guitar riffs. It's, fucking, so heavy, but the singer is actually singing. He does clean vocals. But, at the same time, it's a pretty huge band because people can understand [the lyrics]. People can catch this vibe. Slaughter to Prevail has to create something like that.
For example, Slipknot. In the Nineties they mixed the death metal and heavy fucking metal with the nu-metal, and all this shit. I want to do the same. I want to put the Slaughter to Prevail and Alex Terrible names in music history, because I don't want to be a regular deathcore or death metal band. I want to do something crazy.