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Ravager's Marcel Lehr: "…it is to say that we are not a “messenger-band”, which made it hard for us to work on new material, since we could not meet"

Interview with Marcel Lehr from Ravager
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 27 June 2021, 9:07 PM

One of the things that have been witness throughout this wretched year and a half of Covid is the fact that there have been a lot of bands that have already predicted that coming of a virus right before it hit. Well, let's face it, there has been a lot of talk and predictions about a virus taking its toll on the world, but the closeness factor made the albums generated immensely relevant and somewhat scary in their timing. The German Thrashers, Ravager, is one of those bands, right in the nick of time, Thrashing into existence with "The Third Attack". Steinmetal spoke with Marcel Lehr of the band in regards to the Covid, the fundamentals of the album and more…

Hello Marcel, it is a great pleasure to have you for this conversation for Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things going on your end? Taking time to watch the Euro 2020 matches?

Hi Lior, thanks for the invitation! No, I don’t watch Euro 2020 these days. Maybe games of the German national team if I have time.

To say that this year was busy for Ravager would be an understatement, as it sure didn’t involve your activity on the road or doing shows. How have you been coping with not being able to play your material in public for so long?

It was nice to have more time for my family, actually. On the other hand, I really miss playing live and going to shows of course!

Even though there are places worldwide that are more or less out of the woods when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic, do you believe that the cause for all this mania around us is perhaps a work of a hoax or perhaps a sort of conspiracy that came as a disturbing solution for different issues that are common throughout the world?

I do not know where it actually originates from and if it is a conspiracy or not. If people feel like debating about that all the time they are free to do so. But fact is this disease now exists and we have to cope with it somehow.

With Ravager being a highly critical band of both the human condition and the social order, looking at this period of time, do you believe that mankind learned something about his abilities to care, reaching out for instance? Or rather the opposite, like a dog eat dog phenomenon?

I do believe that recent events have at least shown us the boundaries – that “business as usual” is actually not sustainable and can not lead to a bright future. If mankind has learned from this now is to be seen. I hope so but still I am skeptical…

Certainly you had time on your hands in order to usher in your third album, duly noted correctly as “The Third Attack”. I sense that when it comes to the respective narrative of the album, this passing year truly had a number on you in regards to influence wouldn’t you say?

Of course the album – as it is – is an outcome of all the influences we as a band were exposed to during the past two years. But we actually actively decided against incorporating too much of it (at one point we thought of references to the virus in the artwork for example) as we did not want to tailor the whole record to one certain situation. I started writing the lyrics to “A Plague is Born” back in 2019 and it just happened that they became sad truth. “Back to the Real World” originally tells about having to go back to work after a weekend of having fun but now also fits the situation during lockdown and the lack of concerts et cetera. And this only works if you keep the narrative ambiguous…

Throughout “The Third Attack”, as on your previous records, you share quite a lot of your rather interesting perspective of people and the world in general. I wonder, what do you fear? Do you believe that you were successful in channeling your supposed fear to your listeners, making them realize that things are peachy?

I try to cope with certain things by writing about them. It does not necessarily have to be personal fears. For most of the lyrics everyone can have their own perspective on them, there is no true or false. This, of course, does not include the more direct lyrical approach on songs like “Planet Hate”.

For every songwriter, or lyricist, there are personal sets of values that each follows. Since you guys have been on the attack form, without giving too much back in terms of solutions, it would be interesting to know what do you believe in? Was this belief strengthened due to “The Third Attack”?

I believe it is important to stick together, especially during times like these. Music can be a key to this. One should not easily give up, and fight for the things that are important to oneself.

Since you had more time to write the material for this album, in your view, how did that time factor, which is immensely important, come into reality on “The Third Attack”?

To be honest we did not necessarily have more time to write songs during Corona. A great part of them were already semi-finished by the start of 2020. Then came the pandemic and we could not effectively rehearse them. To make matters worse Philip left the band for a short time and we had already booked the studio. This of course put a lot of pressure on us. But in the end things luckily worked out and led to a great outcome.

I believe that this question here would be rather obvious, yet you have been consistent in terms of your style of Thrash Metal, which celebrates the German kind along with features of Crossover that are closer to be American than European. What makes “The Third Attack” a different kind of beast among your releases?

“The Third Attack” is a more direct and faster approach but also more sophisticated than its predecessors. We just go our way without clinging to things. We play Thrash Metal the way we like to play it. That’s all.

Were there lessons of the past, whether songwriting wise or production, that were taken into account while this record was slowly turning into a reality?

During production of our second record “Thrashletics” we already worked with Jörg Uken (recording/mixing/mastering) and Timon Kokott (Artwork). We wanted to maintain this collaboration. Also with our Label “Iron Shield Records”. There was no reason whatsoever to change things in this regard.

How would you say that you were developed as a songwriter while working on “The Third Attack”? How loose did you get while working on this record?

Of course as a songwriter you grow with time. Every new song lyric and every new record means a learning process. It is a gradual development and since many details and phrasing are worked out together in the rehearsal room it actually is hard to notice for myself what and how exacly this has influenced my song writing approach.

Since it has been a Covid-19 year, did it affect in any way the recording process, needless to say also the songwriting? How were you able to work through it?

Apart from what I wrote before, it is to say that we are not a “messenger-band”, which made it hard for us to work on new material, since we could not meet. That was and is Corona’s biggest challenge to us. But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel at last.

When it comes to production, that record is a swift killer, well mixed and master, igniting your material with a fistful of Metal, a kind of a layer of music that is destructive. Other than the master, Mr. Jörg Uken, who mixed the release? How do you appreciate the overall result?

Jörg did a fantastic job once again! He helped us out a lot and is always up for some good advice. We came to know him and his work during the “Thrashletics” recordings, which made things even easier working with him this time. The outcome you can hear. I can really recommend him.

When I listened to “Planet Hate”, I could understand your animosity and dismay at how people are treating each other. It is a highly aggressive track with a measure of nasty riffery. What do you make of it?

For me “Planet Hate” is one of our best songs ever written. It incorporates all the good stuff: melody, high-speed-riffing, groovy bits, gang shouts, solos. The lyrics tell of the refugee issue, which adds an eerie touch to it.

One of the interesting tunes, actually a pitch close to Traditional Metal in orientation, is my suspect of being your Covid-19 song, “A Plague Is Born”. The diverse music, considering most of the tunes, also apply to the subjects that arise. What can you tell of this song’s creation? Do you actually believe that someone is listening to your plees?

I started writing those lyrics already in January of 2019. It just happened to fit in with the 2020/2021 events. I did not want to write about only that one certain virus, though, that is why the lyrics are kept somewhat generic on purpose. The moody guitar work and the slower speed help to create a more menacing sound. Of course I hope we learned from this situation. We’ll see how things turn out…

I was rather surprised by the finishing touch of “Destroyer”, which on its own is a pleasure dome for riff lovers along with 80s British Metal enthusiasts. What is the general idea of the song? How did it work out for you being a rather long, and uncanny, track in contrast to most of your material?

“Destroyer” was the last song we wrote for this record but that is not the only reason it is the closing track. With its length and classic heavy metal influences it just fits best at the end. We all enjoy 80s Heavy Metal so you can see the song as an homage to it to a certain extent. But in the end we just play what we feel like playing. While writing we did not predict the song becoming that long but in the end the outcome is quite a good one I believe.

I bet that you are just dying to get up on stage and perform, what are your expectations from the rest of 2021, is there a chance to get back out there?

Before we hit the stage again we really have to rehearse. We could not do that properly since September, 2020. I guess we will be doing that again soon and find back to old shape quickly. Of course it would be great to perform live again in 2021 already but that is probably a subject of 2022. The important issue here is that it is safe to do and attend for everyone.

Marcel, many thanks for this interview and your time. You nailed it with the new record, I enjoyed it a lot, a true neck breaker. All the best.

Thanks again for your invitation, Lior! It is great to hear that you enjoy our new record. Of course it would be cool if everyone into Thrash Metal gave it a spin. All the best to you, too!


 



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