If you visit this site relatively often, you may remember that I posted a review of Graven Image’s “Return Fire” EP a couple of months ago… Well, it only seem right that I should grill the band’s vocalist/lead guitarist Royy with a few questions…
Lou: What is the new Graven Image album called?
Royy: The new GI release is a mini-cd(four songs) entitled “Return Fire”. Theme wise World War II was the biggest influence, not only in lyrics and artwork, but also while composing the music together.
Lou: How does it compare to your previous work?
Royy: Style-wise we’ve developed much more without losing track of our origin. For example; the first song (“Return Fire”) is exploding with ideas and creativity, and sometimes almost unheard and really short timed little details, while the second song (“Body To Ruin”) is very minimalistic and sober and more pulsating through it’s own rhythm. However these contrasts you still hear and feel it’s the same band.
The songs are working for themselves instead of us working for the songs.
Lou: World War II is a pretty popular subject in metal, what do you think it is that draws us to the subject?
Royy: I think it’s because our generation are the last to have grown up hearing the stories first hand from our grandparents while having been able to see in their faces what it did to them. That way it’s much more physically present instead of just documented history.
Lou: Is the plan to create some kind of soundtrack for those stories? If so, I think you’ve done a good job!
Royy: In a way they are, but initially not that “planned”. The songs for this one were written and arranged collectively, and it is the result of something all of us relate to closely, so they came out this way spontanious and very naturally.
Lou: Are there any lyrics on the new CD that you’re especially proud of?
Royy: I’m the least objective to ask i suppose… I usually don’t write a single word until the music is completely finished and well rehearsed, so that the words become the vessel of what the music transmits. If all the guys in GI approve the way they’ve came out as, than that is accomplishment enough for me.
Lou: Where does the spoken part at the beginning of “Forsaken” come from? It kinda sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.
Royy: C’mon Lou, you’ve gotta know your movie classics! [hehe] Does the name Pinhead ring a bell? (Lou: Dammit, I should’ve known that!!!)
Lou: While the tracks on “Return Fire” are undeniably fresh, there’s a real ‘old school’ vibe running throughout them. Is the old school Death Metal vibe a result of being more comfortable as a ‘live band’ or is it something you particularly wanted to focus on doing?
Royy: Clever notice! Well, we’ve always done this band from the perspective of just being a bunch of long-time friends making the music we like to hear ourselves. With the youngest member heading towards mid 30’s and the oldest in his early 40’s, and all of us having a load of past [international]underground experiences/bands/releases under our belts, the “old-school factor” i suppose is quite obvious. The “live” experience is something closest to our nature and sound indeed, that’s why we’ve mixed everything from the visitor’s stage view [for example; meaning drumfills going from right to left, hi-hat right and ride left, etcetera].
Lou: Is there any reason why you’ve gone for a mini-CD rather than a full-length album?
Royy: Well in the first seven years from 2003 until 2010 all the members in Graven Image were very much active recording albums and being “away” with our “other bands” [Kampfar, Autumnal Reaper, Am Tuat, and some other projects/bands], and since GI was basically our non-pressure escape from all of that, the band at times [unintentionally] got shoved underneath different priorities. So booking a studio for some weeks or so meant a great deal of planning and logistics, while as playing live one-off shows was an easy thing for us [hence the first releases being live offerings]. Early 2011 we’ve undertook a swift and enjoyable studio session for the “Embodiment Of Retribution” recording and found ourselves determined and set on giving the band the full attention it should deserve matching our love and longtime pleassure we’ve got all these years of playing in this band. While writing rejuvenated on new material we’ve just decided to focus on recording new stuff and perfecting our style best fitting to build upon, laying the bricks to what we see as the stepping stone to something we all love to explore further with full attention. The result of this forward thinking process is the “Return Fire” CD.
Lou: Who created the cover art for the CD? It looks fantastic and compliments the music wonderfully.
Royy: Ricardo Fernandes from Blackart in Portugal did the sleeve artwork. He also did the artwork for the last Autumnal Reaper album so we knew him already, and he managed to come up with something completely different which fits perfectly.
Lou: Do you have any plans for a full-length in the near future?
Royy: Yes we do. As a matter of fact, we are writing songs as we speak, and the process is going very well and the songs are coming together nicely, so if all goes well this time it won’t take us “years” [hehe].
Lou: Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I’ve noticed that you’ve had quite a few gigs recently. You’ve described Graven Image as a ‘live band’, so I’m guessing this is where you feel the most at home. How would you describe a Graven Image gig?
Royy: For some time we were disabled due to a serious back-injury/operation on our drummer Tom, but he’s recovered well and we’re slowly picking up again having done some shows in Belgium & Holland already and planning hence forth. Describing a GI gig… I suppose energetic with true deep rooted passion for the old-school style very much visible onstage is a just clarification.
Lou: What has the reaction towards the new tracks been like when you’ve played them live?
Royy: Very well actually; they’ve seem to have been adopted really fast, which is nice since we really enjoy playing them as well.
Lou: What is your favourite venue to play in?
Royy: We’re not that picky or spoiled so for us it doesn’t matter if the capacity is 100 or 1000; if we can get to enjoy ourselves and be who we are while most folks enjoying what it is we do best: than basically any venue will do as long as the crowd has as much fun as we have.
Lou: Do you have any plans to play in the UK?
Royy: Plans yes, but so far nothing materialized due to having limited contacts in the UK, so if you or your friends/or your readers have any suggestions; we’re game!
Lou: What’s the ‘scene’ like in Holland? Do you get a lot of people coming along to gigs?
Royy: The scene here is very much alive and active. Overall underground shows are attended quite well, but often spreaded over a numerous ammount of shows planned in the same weekends. If there’s a festival going on somewhere than it’s better not to plan it the same day, but if it happens to be so there’s still numerous people showing up having a good time.
Lou: I’ve noticed that the amount of people going to small gigs lately (around here at least) has decreased quite significantly lately. Do you have any ideas as to what we could do to get those numbers to pick up again? It just seems a shame to me – gigs are where most of my favourite memories come from!
Royy: All I can say from the perspective of being “underground”; if you’re in it for the money or the numbers: you’re in it for all the wrong reasons. Things in underground subgenres are always and forever in motion, and while at the moment things seem possible everywhere; it might as well be slim pickings only a few years from now, so it’s just something we all have to sail with on the tide of events.
Lou: You describe yourselves as Death Metal Bastards… What is the definitive definition of a “Death Metal Bastard”?
Royy: It’s an inwards phrase to ourselves actually; current members Tom, Arno, Dave, Waltr, myself, and ex-members Ask & Harro are all “Death Metal Bastards”. Reason to be so is simply because we’re just a bunch of bastards [no other way to put it], haha! So it was never meant as a “definition” other than to define ourselves.
Lou: Where do you stand on the whole illegal downloads debate?
Royy: People should do whatever they feel like… I’m tired of this conversation –it leads to nothing and doesn’t change anything about the fact they steal it anyway. If people actually prefer low quality mp3’s over high quality wave/audio CD files than it sez something about how shitty their hearing and quality standards have became.
Lou: Where can people buy “Return Fire” from?
Royy: Very simple actually, just by sending us a message at any of our pages;
The cd only costs 5 Euro, and perhaps a little for postage and packaging, depending how far across we need to ship it.
Lou: What’s next for Graven Image?
Royy: We’ve confirmed to perform at a cool festival in October and have some other things brewing as well (yet to be confirmed), so check in at our pages to stay up to date.
We’re in writing modus for a next release which will be a full album, and rehearsing on weekly basis, so work is most definitely in progress!
Lou: Do you have any messages for the readers of Loucifer Speaks/last words?
Royy: Hail to England from all of us Bastards, and hope to see you all soon!
A pint to Kenny, Tycho, Olav, Ricardo & Sanne for being awesome –we love you all!
Thank you once again Lou, for your time and everlasting support!!!
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Cryptopsy have unleashed the artwork for their forthcoming album and you can view it in all of its glory below:
The artwork was created by Mircea Gabriel Eftemie – eftemie.com.
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