Chants of Misery

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In 2012 I was quite impressed with Germany’s Revel in Flesh debut album, Deathevokation.  Really taking the Swedish bludgeoning guitar tone and brutalizing throughout the entire album.  There was and continues to be a decent amount of melody on all their releases and the song structures and catchy tunes stick in the listener’s head long after the music is turned off.  Since then Revel in Flesh has released 3 other ferocious death metal albums and the new one Relics of the Deathkult is actually a compilation of prior 7″ and split eps.  As always the care and concern with presentation has always remained top shelf with Revel in Flesh. Their album covers and layout designs are some of the best in the entire scene.  I developed a friendship with the singer years ago and Ralf is a die-hard death metal fan who just so happens to have a monstrous voice.  He has a variety of tones going from the brutal deep lows (my favorite) and higher pitched monster screams.  He not only loves classic death metal but has a very good understanding of classic metal, in general-which I surely appreciate.  Once you read this interview, please pick up all their releases and like their FB page and spread the word.  Also, buy some merch from them and any US promoters please get Revel in Flesh to the States to play some damn shows.  They are one of the best death metal acts around. 

Ralf, explain to the readers your new release Relics Of The Deathkult. What does this compilation contain, why War Anthem Records as the label and speak about the amazing artwork. Also, is all the material newly mastered?

Hey Frank, thanks a lot for having Revel In Flesh in Teeth Of The Divine again! Well, Relics Of The Deathkult will be out on March 16th 2018 on War Anthem Records (Germany) on CD and digital formats.  The compilation gathers all the rare Revel In Flesh relics that have been released on vinyl (split 7” EPs, vinyl bonus tracks, etc.) between 2012 and 2017. It’s the very first time that you can get all those tracks together on one CD. The material was written during the gaps between the regular albums, especially all the split 7” EPs. Our goal was to keep all the songs in their original “first appearance” sound and production, meaning exactly the way it was pressed on vinyl back then. You’ll hear differences between each song due to different sessions, mastering levels etc.; but it kept the real spirit!

Dan Swanö (Unisound Studios) was involved in the original production on mixing and/or mastering duties, but for the compilation we’ve decided not to remaster or rework anything! Each song stands on its own: sound-, lyrical- and feeling-wise! Overall you will get over 50 minutes of rare stuff, including covers from Death/Mantas, Master and Headhunter DC.

Relics Of The Deathkult is like a fifth album, but well hidden, that shows off the complete evolution of the band in the period of 2012 – 2017. For the artwork we’ve once again worked with our long-time friend and highly appreciated underground artist Juanjo Castellano from Spain. The artwork gathers some significant creatures and trademarks from our previous Revel In Flesh artwork, but everything is held in a new setting with different postures of the main figures. The 3 central creatures are the Rotten Priest, the Bonecrusher and the Deathkult Master, who were already introduced earlier on the covers for the splits with Revolting, Feral, Wombbath and even had a role on the artworks of Death Kult Legions and Emissary Of All Plagues, too. They are the unholy trinity of the Deathkult – the Keepers Of The Relics!

Revel In Flesh have been around for several years now. Explain what is important in being in a band, writing music, developing your own lyrical and vocal style and what Revel In Flesh adds to the scene?

Yeah, we started out in late 2011. One thing never changed: the passion and bloody dedication to DEATH METAL! We are a band with a 100% clearly defined agenda and although you hear a progression and evolution from album to album, you still hear and feel from all aspects that this is the work of some “die hard” death metal heads!!!  Of course, it’s always a quest in getting better, getting more in depth on workouts, vocal lines, lyrics and visual aspects, etc., but most of all you need a feeling and a clear will to what you do! This music needs to come straight from the inside, especially when performing live. You need to be in union as a band that delivers this “deathkultish” madness performed in the name of the flesh. Ha!

Playing in a band is also about comradeship, about moving the wheel together through thick and thin! It’s a struggle but with each album and cycle of shows, we really recognized that our reputation is growing and we are moving onwards! You really have to give sacrifices on personal and self-organization level to keep such a band going. Within the scene, I think we have our way of doing things, our visions and ideas, but we are not here to judge. WE DO IT OUR WAY! If you like it, you’re welcome. If not, WE WILL DO IT OUR WAY ANYWAY!

The scene and fans are ever changing. I know it’s been difficult for Revel In Flesh to break into the U.S. market. I believe you need a good management company, which could translate into touring options in America and other areas. Are you guys considering something like this?

Well, so far we haven’t really worked with a management company or with a professional organized booking agent. All we archived on the concert and touring side was done on a DIY level but as you know, it’s a “shit business”. It’s all about contacts, knowing the right people, etc.. As a fan I always thought metal is about spirit, freedom, etc. but in some ways this scene is like the mafia! But speaking the truth, we are proud of what we’ve created on our own thus far. I’m convinced that we could reach a lot more with the right push. I think the most important thing of all is being true and honest to yourself and to the people that support your band! Sometimes life is about luck and about being in the right place at the right time, but you can not enforce such circumstances!

How serious are you all in wanting Revel In Flesh to achieve the next level of success?

We would really love to play a couple of U.S. shows and a festival over there with a real target audience for death metal. As I told you earlier, we have the will to do it but we are still waiting for the right chance and moment. We put a lot of time, energy and background work into this band! It’s a lot more than rehearsing, playing shows and drinking beer (something we are really good at!)! Seriously, doing all the management shit on your own is ripping and needs daily work, so we are definitely not “weekend only” metalheads!

Quick fun question: you’re moving to a secluded island and you’ve over packed. You can only take 5 albums. Which would they be and why?

Wow, I’m a “landlubber” so to say…islands, sea, swimming, fish and acting like a castaway is nothing I’m longing for. Having at least good comradeship and enough beer & Havana Club would make this more pleasant. As far as music, I would be up for some classic stuff that’s made a long-lasting impression like:

Thin LizzyJailbreak – Classic rock that rocks your socks off

KissGreatest Hits / Best of – No good party without Kiss in the player

Morbid Angel Altars Of Madness – One of the ultimate death metal albums. Blasting this album towards any ocean would scare every pirate to death!!!

Black SabbathMaster Of Reality – Time cannot kill this album!!!

EntombedLeft Hand Path –When lost on a lonely island, you certainly need an album with the guitar sound of a damned Boss HM-2 pedal. Why not do it with the ultimate Swedish classical death metal album?

Explain how your shows with the legendary Fleshcrawl went and how were the show turnouts?

Actually, the February shows have been our third weekend tour with Fleshcrawl within the last 6 months. Fleshcrawl comes more or less from the same area as we do so we’ve known each other for years, so it’s more like a “freak-folk” ride out! Fleshcrawl are a big musical inspiration to us, but we also connect as real friends and there have been a lot of nice memories not allowed to reach the public, Ha! Ha!  The turnouts have been good, usually between 100 and 200 people, depending on city, venue and promotion.

Also, when touring, what are some of the most important things to remember?

Those road-trips are usually like a big flash overkill experience. You have a lot of experiences within a short period of time and you usually tend to remember the chaotic and fucked up moments most. Playing the show itself is one part of the deal, but being as one in a band, killing time, driving long distances, doing harm to your body and soul is the other issue. You really have to love this shit and you have to be a crazy too!

How is your work with allowing you all to take time off? If you were able to tour for a month or two out of the year, would you all commit to that?

It’s a big issue! We are and never have been a fuckin’ student band. Everybody has a normal working life as well and yes, reality can sometimes suck you dry! When planing shows, we usually do a long distance schedule so we have everything working smoothly with our job and private life. If we get a tour offer that is worth it and we can let all hell break loose, we would surely try and do it, but you have to keep in mind we are living in Germany. You have your daily cost of living, rent and all the bullshit. You are bound to a certain working cycle and way of life and none of us can afford an “outcast” lifestyle! We are not dreamers, so to say!

As you get older, how are your vocals holding up playing shows and recording? Do you take care of your voice? Any vocal exercises?

Well, the voice is certainly changing. It’s a bit more fucked up! I had a bad cold on the last mini-tour which is a pain for the vocalist, but I never had any major issues to deal with in the past. Of course, no doctor would recommend you doing death metal vocals, ha! Personally, I tried a lot of variations on Death Kult Legions. I’m a bit bored by the guttural death grunting style only. I like to mix in some scream-o stuff to have it more vivid…a pure orgy of suffering! The track “Fortress Of Gloom” turned out like this. As far as exercises, I see myself as a metal fan and not just a musician. I’m also not into technics, but I do it in a way that works for me. Actually, I try to do some warm ups and stay in shape while keeping the lyrics in mind. Furthermore, we have beer, whiskey and yelling along to Motorhead too! Ha!

Give a brief explanation of each of your full length albums and which is your favorite?

Personally, I do not drown in the past. When an album is done, it’s done and I think about the next issue, goal or step I wanna go for…life goes on! But here are my current feelings on our back catalogue.  Deathevokation (2012): It was just me and Maggesson. Most of the songs, expect “Iron coffin”, date back to my old band Immortal Rites. Recording that album was a relief as far as finally unleashing all those ideas. I spent hours and hours playing guitar, reworking the lyrics, doing the vocal patterns, etc.. It was the very first time I recorded guitars and vocals in a studio. Maggesson really helped me and I think my “timing abilities” brought about his final hair loss! The album felt good then and still feels right today. Of course, with today’s knowledge there are a lot of things to be improved upon like the drums, etc., but songs like “Shadowbreeder”, “Iron Coffin”, “Wings of Death” or “Black Paled Elegy” are still requested by fans. The album came out at the right time when this new movement of German death metal started. Our third show was at the Party San Festival, which was beyond all expectations for us.

Manifested Darkness (2013): Maggesson got more involved in the songwriting. There were more depths, more melodies, more dynamics within the songs, etc.. It was also the first time that Dan Swanö did the mix for us. It turned out utterly brutal; pushed to the limit! A lot of small details in the guitar workouts got lost due to the over distortion level. The artwork by Juanjo Castellano was amazing. I still personally feel a bit distressed with that album since there were a lot of troubles when it came to the promotion of it. There were nearly no ads; it really went down the drain. Vocally, I think the album is overloaded and lacks dynamics; it’s heavily weighted in the growl style. I would do it differently today. Anyway, the most outstanding tracks have been “Rotting In The Void” and the title track; both are still heavily requested!

Death Kult Legions (2014): Probably the most “to the bone” death metal album from us. The lyrics are pure glorification of everything that refers to the classical death metal genre. The band became much more a unit on this album. It was a lot better in the drum workout this time. The album had more variety, but still had the vital brutality. Swanö did a good job in the mix; keeping the brutality, but with more clarity.  It was the first time that Herrmannsgard (guitar) got involved in the songwriting, too. He came up with the “Cryptcrawlwer”, which is probably one of my all time favorite Revel songs! Our fans loved the album a lot. There have been some real Revel “hits”, if you can call it that, like “In The Name Of The Flesh”, “Graveyard Procession”, the title track, etc.. Doing the Manilla Road cover was also the first time we’ve broke with the death metal genre, ha! Coordinating the cover art with Castalleno was hellish; I guess we ruined his nerves, ha! The label Cyclone Empire did a good job on that album, too.

Emissary Of All Plagues (2016): Our most mature, dynamic, dramatic and most of all melodic album so far! Again, you really felt the band had grown together more. Swanö did a kick ass job in the mix; the lead guitars are haunting, but also had clarity in terms of melodies while the rhythm still have the brutal Swedish infected drive. The album actually came out in December 2015 and got an overwhelming press response, especially in Germany. I really felt this album opened some doors for us. We never played so many shows like in the year after Emissary came out! Most of the songs are still part of our setlist. The cover was already a finished one from a gallery of Castellano. I’d seen it and fell in love with it straight away. The puzzle fit really well with that album. The vinyl version actually sold out with the band and label on the release date.

I’ve noticed a lesser focus in the fast blasting and more ambient, atmospheric and groove, with your last album. Moving musically forward, how do you see Revel In Flesh expanding in sound, style, vocally and lyrically?

We wanna keep it dynamic! We’ve never wanted to be the most brutal and most blasting band – most of all because we wanna headbang! A good metal track makes you wanna bang your head and not try to remember a math lesson. Our albums always had epic, atmospheric and deeper catchy moments, too. We try to keep the level of variety, grow inside of it, but we will never forget the roots and genre we belong to, meaning death metal, so don’t expect any bullshit elements or experiments. To me, lyrics need to fit the style, atmosphere and spirit of the band. A good song needs to express feelings and if you really get into a topic, you manage to transfer feelings. I still see a lot of “headroom” for us to improve.

Before we go, Ralf, what would you like the readers to know about Revel In Flesh that they may not know?

Of course, I have some crucial news! We’ve had some “drummer drama” in 2017 and since the start of 2018 we have a new member in the Deathkult family. His name is Henriksson and he comes from my home-base nearby Stuttgart, Germany. He used to play drums in local bands but made a kick-ass first impression on the recent tour with Fleshcrawl. Personally, and in terms of chemistry, he fits in like fist in the face! Most importantly he will be a lethal new addition when it comes to songwriting. We are in the early stages of working on a possible new album but the fire is flaring again! Wait and hear!

Finally, a call to all U.S.-based old school death metal heads: kick the ass of your bookers, festival promoters, etc. to keep an eye on Revel In Flesh! We wanna come over the Atlantic to deliver some bone-crushing madness to you! Bring the Death Kult Legion to the US!!!

Last but not least, thanks Frank for the nice interview and the killer support!!!

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