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Revel In Flesh's Ralf Hauber: "…it’s simply about the delivery of good songs with a recognition level and strong emotions! ...instead of jumping on this “Hooded, wannabe Black Metal, occult, bullshit, wannabe something better than you” train!"

Interview with Ralf Hauber from Revel In Flesh
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 11 January 2020, 9:48 PM

It is no matter if time flies, the means and motivation to go back, to indulge upon the classics as one's guide, that is a pool of bliss. It has been widely known that influence isn't being a copycat, but rather to learn and go forward on the basis of older, and sometimes, stronger examples. Coming out with the brutal festivity of “The Hour Of The Avenger”, Revel In Flesh went in reverse in their music, only to come up winners. Steinmetal talked to vocalist, Ralf Hauber, about development of the themes, philosophy, nowadays market, and more…

Hello Ralf, Happy Holidays, it is great having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. I trust that you are enjoying the holiday festivities? How have you been?

Thanks a lot for having REVEL IN FLESH in METAL TEMPLE! Well, due to my job I had to work during X-Mas and the following days; so it was closer to everyday bullshit than to holidays; but anyway I am not that much into this holiday festivities, X - Mas and new year's stuff! BUT we celebrated LEMMY of MOTÖRHEAD and had a nice hell - raising tribute party over here on his death’s date on 28th of December, so we raised the whisky chalice in the name of rock! That’s the way I like it :-)

Now that is a kind of party that I would have loved to be part of, maybe one day…

Following the amazing gesture made for the Revel In Flesh fans, by unifying all the splits tracks from the band’s discography, into a single “Relics of the Deathkult” compilation, came the big bang in the image of “The Hour Of The Avenger”, throwing one of the final stones at 2019 before its demise. You probably listened to the entire album a fair share of time, how do you feel about it in general?

On one hand, the whole production process starting from songwriting until holding the final product in your hands was a really long and as well exhausting one! More than a year of work. When you’re deeply involved into the many aspects of the release its most likely hard to develop a sort of safe distance from it. I am really a self-critical person and there are always points of which I think you should have pushed the limits a little bit more, but overall the album feels still really good!

It was also a magical moment to play the vinyl version of it for the very first time. Beside all the personal impressions and feelings, we simply have to say that the feedback from medias, press and supporters was “far beyond” all expectations - we are still speechless in a way!

Did you guys have a chance to play some of the new tracks live prior to the album’s release? If so, how were the reactions towards the new deathly tunes?

Yes, we’ve did this as a sort of “try out” before marching into battle, so to speak! We basically already started to play the title track “The Hour Of The Avenger” in autumn 2018. Some of the concert footage, which you can see in the video for the title track was filmed at Way Of Darkness festival on German soil in October 2018. It’s good to evolve a sort of a “live feeling” to the new songs, and we tried this on 3 to 4 tracks of the new album. Furthermore, we really felt the urge to come up with some new tunes to show off the development with the new drummer in the back.

With the Cyclone Empire label out of the picture, I guess that you had various offers from labels to join in for the release of “The Hour Of The Avenger”. At the end you chose War Anthem Records, which is rather underground and in a small scale. What did you find in this label that you were positive that it could serve as your new home? Of course other than the financials…

Oh! The label search was a nerve killing issue. We’ve did a 3 track promo; in the end we’ve had like 9 offers to choose from, after each was negotiated. To make things easy we’ve said to ourselves why not stick to where you felt already well treated!?!

War Anthem Records already did a good job on the “Relics Of The Deathkult” CD compilation (2018) and in early 2019 they did the reissue of the first two RIF albums as well, so it was a more or less logical step to keep that business relationship going. The contract offer was more than fair and in the end it was as well a good situation of trust; which is in many ways better than big names, hype or whatever! Yes, it’s not a huge label name, but they have quality bands; the label has with Cudgel its own mail-order and both label and mail-order are bound with Parry San Festival, which is one of the main events for extreme Metal in Germany! It’s a good back up, that is rooted within the scene in a decent way!

The artwork made for this record lashes out with its old school candour, along with a surmounting brutality manner. What can you tell of the vision that was behind this artwork? What kind of message, in your opinion, does it rely?

First of all, like all our full length album arts the one from “The Hour Of The Avenger” was created again by our long - time artist and friend Juanjo Castellano from Madrid. He became a sort “artwork wizard” for us - our Seagrave or Necrolord! Juanjo knows how to get a visual vision for our music!

We’ve had this sort of “Deathkult master” figure on all our arts since the 2nd album in different ways. This time my idea was to give this figure a centre role! In a sort of attack mood, spreading chaos and death straight from an underworld landscape upon mankind! I had some basic ideas and we’ve passed over the lyrics and demo recordings of the title track as a sort of inspiration. In my point of view, it’s of high importance to give the artist a sort of artistic freedom as well, especially if you want to reach a union in both parties involved in the project!

Who is this avenger character that you are focused about? I am positive that it wasn’t chosen mainly because it is a sweet kind of title for a Death Metal record.

The “avenger” is in some way as well a symbol of a band marching onwards! We’ve gone through depths, worse business decisions, label issues, line-up issues, internal troubles etc. - there was a time when some people from the nearest surroundings expected you to lay down your weapons! What shall I say, we’ve gathered again, attacked in an unexpected pattern with new ideas, settings, new songs etc.! It’s a quest to keep a band alive and most of all “interesting to others” on a long - distance.

 “The Hour Of The Avenger” appears to be circling a variety of themes, largely targeting the aspects of which Death Metal has always been surrounded by. However, how do you relate to the lyrical content of this album? Any real life events or perhaps personal experiences that come to life through the lyrics?

Well, since I am the vocalist and responsible for the lyrics and concept it’s of course important for myself to deliver something with value and quality; at least from my point of perspective! YES, it’s about DEATH METAL and as always lyrics, music and arts have to form an (unholy) trinity to reach its magic. It’s not about preaching or cheesy bullshit; lyrics need to fit the atmosphere of the track!

Hmm, real life events? Well, “Pervitin Speed Kill” is basically based on the use of “pervitin” pills in WW2 by German armed forces to push the limits of the physical efforts of the soldiers of each weapon category. The effect of those pills could be compared to “Crystal meth” in a way and it lead to a high addiction level on the long run. In the beginning it helped to push the limits, no sleep, march on longer distances without rest, high level of concentration on long - flights or even in submarine warfare. On the long run, it lead to a lot of worn down human wrecks! Just check the lyrics!

“Sky Burial” is about a Tibetan burial ceremony in which the dead body is given back to the elements of nature. In short, the dead are handled out as a sort of feast to the vultures. It’s overall more about the spiritual process! I really liked the aspect about “returning to earth". “The Nihilistic Nothingness” is about a sort of vision of what could happen at the end of your days; so personal views and visions are there for sure. To me it’s important that the vocals transfer emotions and the lyrics need to reflect those emotions!

Revel In Flesh has been recapturing the early 90s Death Metal, surging the Swedish Death Metal scene, with a few reminders of the Dutch, English and German classic sceneries of back in the day. First I have to ask, as a band that is nearly a decade out there, and other than being a fan of those great years of Death Metal, what motivates you when creating this stream of old, especially with a larger number of extreme bands taking contemporary measures to make their music unique?

It’s about doing your OWN thing! I know that our early releases had a sort of “tribute” character, but nowadays - actually since “Death Kult Legions” (2014) - you could say that the band is finding its own category and formula of death. It’s not about reinventing the wheel; it’s simply about the delivery of good songs with a recognition level and strong emotions! Furthermore, we stick to our way of presentation, arts etc. instead of jumping on this “Hooded, wannabe BM, occult, bullshit, wannabe something better than you” train!

In your view point, and even though Revel In Flesh is a stick to one’s guns kind of band, what makes “The Hour Of The Avenger” as the next level in musical development for Revel In Flesh?

There is one major point: The addition of our new drummer Hen Henriksson (being a part of RIF since early 2018)! He was more deeply involved into the songwriting process and brought a much higher level of dedication/motivation to push the limits. The whole drum arrangements are better worked out and are production wise a lot better embedded than on the previous releases. The line-up change was a fortune in terms of tightness and quality level for the performance of the band!

What makes “The Hour Of The Avenger” a stronger offering than your previous, and rather celebrated, “Emissary of All Plagues”? What is the new album’s edge over its predecessor?

I am the wrong person to answer this, since I think that each RIF album reflects a certain period of evolution in the band's history. It was always about the challenge to get the best out of the moment! For me, the development from the 4th album to the present was most of all a logical step. It was about to bring the idea of MORE melodies, MORE atmosphere and MORE intensity onwards to a new level. We already had those elements on the previous 4th album, but now the formula of death is more flowing, more vital. However, and most of all, it’s still bound to the roots, which are deeply in the classical Death Metal genre of the 90ies.

Were there any suggestions, or perhaps dilemmas, regarding taking a different musical path, within the boundaries of Death Metal, in order to experiment a bit?

Actually not! Expect for the drummer change, we still have the core line-up since 2012 and to reach a sort of own trademark it takes a while to progress and it’s about reflecting the personalities of the members as well. We simply keep it flowing instead of changing things rapidly just in order to fit to a certain trend within the scenery!

What was the advantage in the fact that the instruments and vocals were recorded in different places? Wasn’t it rather expensive to handle? Would you suggest it for every band out there?

Well, it’s a blessing to us that our guitarist Maggesson owns a home studio, so we could basically record there in order to save time and money; BUT after all those years it was a vital step to include people with fresh minds and other recording experiences into the process. Handling the drum production in a studio which is more suitable was absolutely vital. Furthermore, we’ve recorded with an engineer, being the drummer himself, which offers a wider range of experiences.

Regarding the vocals, it was good for me to work with a person who has more distance from the whole band and genre aspects; it has been simply about going fresh. Expensive? Well, quality has its price in the end and we are used to work with a tough budget, so it's simply about getting the best with the methods you have in your hands. Each band has to find its own way of how to handle things; but sometimes getting new people in the boat helps you to get another perspective.

A cause to become an addict, concerning “The Hour Of The Avenger”, it is early 90s driven sound. It is hard to deny the pleasure for the ears when blasting number after number with these great sound setting. Dan Swano made it happen for you guys, what is your appreciation of Swano’s work? Was he able to capture the essence of Revel In Flesh?

It’s not a secret that we worked with Dan Swanö / UNISOUND studios on all our recordings in one way or another thus far; so he actually knows our advantages and the issues we still have to fix in the quality of our files. It’s like a team growing together on a longer distance. The new album is actually a modern production done with old school references, but overall, we live in 2020 and it’s not our intention to do a retro/vintage recording. We do the best out of modern methods to get a decent sounding product. To me it’s still a breathing sound with a human touch to it and the new material is very close to what we deliver on stage too. The rest is a matter of taste in the end!

What can you tell about the songwriting process of “The Hour Of The Avenger”? Any difference of approach towards the band’s vision of how a song should be written on this record? Is there a specific songwriter in the band or it is a shared effort?

Every working band needs a driving force in each aspect, but I strongly believe that a product gets better if you have a shared effort in which each member of the band has its part; it helps you to form a union! “The Hour Of The Avenger” is more of a common work than ever before, especially with a drummer being more properly involved in the songwriting. Of course you have 5 individuals and sometimes you have to do compromises; but that’s how it works when you are bound to a schedule, budget or simply your own limits!

I believe that you reached greatness with the final outcome of “Skull Sacrifice”. Not only that it is mighty gruesome, it is also atmospheric in a way, and quite melodic. What is your take on this particular song? Does it represent a musical path to be continued on the next Revel In Flesh albums?

Funny that your chosen one is “The Skull Sacrifice” since this one and “The Sky Burial” are actually older song ideas, even dating back to the songwriting period for the 4th album. But I think both songs work strong in a cohesion with the rest of the album, which is overall more about atmosphere, melody and heaviness. I think music has to flow in a natural way of progression; you cannot enforce things! It needs a certain kind of good “gut feeling” to it! REVEL IN FLESH will always have the agenda of being a DEATH METAL band, so be sure we will have a clear field of killings, but the methods are flexible and of course deadly :-)

Let’s go a bit general for a moment please. To which bands have you been listening to lately? Any recommendation for what you see as the next in line band that would conquer the world?

I am a bit fed up by the massive release flooding caused by labels to suck the market dry under all aspects. It’s TOO MUCH, especially since I think that good music deserves to be consumed with time and dedication, for example playing the vinyl, checking arts & lyrics - freaking out on it! Nowadays, I sometimes feel that it’s more about catching up with everything and you have as well a sort of new generation of listeners taking more care about Spotify or YouTube bullshit instead of checking the band at home on your stereo!

Here are 5 newer releases from 2019 that moved me on a longer - run:

WOLFBRIGADE - The Enemy Reality
CEREBRAL ROT - Odious Descent Into Decay
THRONEHAMMER - Usurper Of The Oaken Throne
KADAVAR - For The Dead Travel Fast
POSSESSED - Revelations Of Oblivion

With 2019 coming to a rapid close, what are your expectations out of Revel In Flesh in 2020? What are the challenges that the band faces as part of a vast market?

I don’t expect; I work for it! That has been my attitude since the first day of the band. You have to learn how to fix your things before expecting anything from others! Of course it’s about bringing the new album live on the road and most of all cracking the German boundaries since it’s the mission to play more abroad! Reaching new supporters and most of all playing the risk to reach a new level instead of sitting at home and farting around! The market is fucked up - BUT we have our values and we will keep struggling in our OUR way!

I assume that supporting “The Hour Of The Avenger” is a must, what are your plans towards that direction in 2020?

Delivering honest DEATH METAL and a dedicated performance wherever we will play! I am glad and thankful about all the positive feedback on the new album - worldwide! We want to give something back to those who supported us - so keep an eye on us: The hour of the avenger has just begun! For shows, merchandise check our Facebook page, Instagram or the normal flesh tomb at www.revelinflesh.com .

Ralf, I wish to thank you for the interview and of course, a great new year with plenty of success and positive thoughts. Thank you as well for an amazing album. Cheers.

Thank you for this probably longest interview during this promotional campaign! Truly a challenge for my English, Ha! Needless to say how many cups of coffee I consumed while answering, Ha! Cool questions and good to see that there are still writers with dedication to what they do! Hope to meet in person! HAIL THE DEATHKULT!


 



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