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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Graven Image flew into my radar mainly due to the impressive selection of other bands that the members are also involved in. These guys can boast links with both Kampfar and Autumnal Reaper – two bands that can make me go all giddy with excitement at the mere mention of their names. However, Graven Image is a very different animal to Kampfar and Autumnal Reaper. The focus here is more on old school Death Metal which was a bit of a shock to my system when I first heard them a few years ago. I was expecting something else – probably something along the lines of those other bands. I may have been expecting something else, but I was certainly not disappointed. It was a good shock to the system. A playful (yet possibly deadly) volt of electricity through my body. After all, who doesn’t love a good chunk of old school Death Metal?
My introduction to Graven Image came in the form of their “Death Metal Bastards” CD and, while that CD was a head pummeling blast of quality Death Metal, it somehow pales in comparison to the band’s latest effort. You see, “Return Fire” still offers up a fairly hefty dosage of Death Metal, but this time it feels more controlled. It has been executed flawlessly.
The band have said that one of the main influences for this mini-CD is World War II and, when listening to this CD, that influence is abundantly clear. These tracks make you feel like you can take on anything and ready you for your own personal war. However, at no point is the idea force fed to you. There are no speeches from Winston Churchill or sounds of the battlefield – the only thing we have here (apart from a short spoken section in “Forsaken”) has been created by Graven Image. This is their interpretation of war. And war is, quite clearly, Hell.
These guys have got it all: brutality, a fuck tonne of energy, high quality musicianship and – most importantly – the ability to pen an awesome song. The only issue I have with “Return Fire” is that it is a mini-CD. I need a full length.
Holland’s Death Metal bastards Graven Image (featuring musicians from Autumnal Reaper and Kampfar) have revealed the artwork for their forthcoming mini-CD “Return Fire”.
The artwork (cover shown above) was created by Blackart Portugal (cover) and Royy (vocals/lead guitars).
The band have also released a video for “Return Fire”, along with the following comment on their Facebook page:
“This video & song is in honour to those who fought and bled in battle for Arnhem & Nijmegen during World War II”
The video can be seen below:
There will be a special/limited edition of the mini-CD including full-color A3 poster, GI guitar pick/plectrum, and GI lighter available for 7 Euro (the regular version will cost 5 Euro). You can pre-order the CD by contacting the band directly (see links below).
“In all our musical differences, we’ve always remained each other’s friends and allies”
“Rise of the Raging Death” has been one of those albums that just keeps getting played on my iPod – there’s something about it that just has me returning to it time and time again… So, as a result, I’ve developed a fully fledged obsession with Autumnal Reaper over the past year or so. As usual, when I get obsessed with a band, it feels only natural that I should bug them with some questions… so here we go…
Lou: Hey Royy, thanks for agreeing to this interview! How’s things with you today?
Royy: Hi Lou, no problem; it’s always nice to hear from you again! All is fine here, thanks for asking.
Lou: In this interview I want to talk about both Autumnal Reaper and Graven Image, and I thought I’d start with a few Autumnal Reaper questions – purely because it’s nice to be alphabetical! Haha! So, for the benefit of any Loucifer Speaks readers who have not heard Autumnal Reaper yet, how would you describe your sound?
Royy: Well in reviews we’re mostly described as “blackened death-metal”. We don’t feel restricted to any genre, but we can live with this description.
Lou: Who is in the band?
Royy: We have Joost Westdijk(also in Heidevolk) on drums, Waltr Verschoor(also in Graven Image, previously session for Kampfar) & Vince Wassink(also in Mortal Form) on guitars, myself on bass/vocals, and session member Mike Browning(After Death/Nocturnus, ex-Morbid Angel) playing keys on the album. The “basic” line-up of Joost, Waltr, Vince and myself is together for almost 8 years now, which makes this the most stable & longest serving line-up in the band’s history.
Lou: How do you achieve your sound? What equipment do you use?
Royy: Well the sound on the last album differs a lot from that compared to the old albums. Dick Kemper’s production plays a fair role in that, as well as ourselves pre-attuning our sound a lot. Before deciding to do this album we’ve talked a lot about “sound”, and we’ve pretty much had it set before entering the studio. All of us use “the well known brands” in metal if it comes to equip, but some of us enjoy joining in altering the instruments themselves, giving a very personal touch to the concept of individual sound, and that’s basically the deal while making the “Rise” album.
Lou: Autumnal Reaper has been around for a fair while and released a number of CDs before “Rise of the Raging Death”. Do you have any plans to re-release those albums at all?
Royy: The old albums are actually only available by mailing us at our myspace page. So far we have no physical plans yet to re-issue them again, but once current pressings are sold out we might think of something.
Lou: How does “Rise of the Raging Death” compare to the older releases?
Royy: “Rise” is more coherent and balanced. The songs are more complete, the music and lyrics more mature. In the past members contributed individually written songs, and this time we’ve only wrote while all together in the same room. It took us a little longer that way especially since our drummer Joost is on tour a lot with his other band Heidevolk, plus that all of us are very busy with our full-time jobs, but this way of writing together is much more fulfilling and enjoyable to everyone of us.
Lou: What has the feedback been like for “Rise of the Raging Death” from both fans and critics?
Royy: Mostly regarded as a huge step forward compared to our previous work, and during shows some new songs have evolved as favorites quite fast, so most songs of the current album are favoured alongside known classics in the set actually.
Lou: Unfortunately, since I only have a promo copy of the album, I don’t have any of the lyrics for it. Are there any lyrical themes running through the album? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Royy: Darkness, damnation, insanity and death are basically the key themes, but also incomprehensive subjects such as timelessness, parallel dimensions and other strange hard to explain issues. Lyrical inspiration for this album mainly came out of the atmosphere of the music itsself, so the lyrics are perfectly in synch with the music I think.
Lou: In hindsight, is there anything that you would like to change about the album?
Royy: No, nothing at all. We’re all fully content with the album as it is(including artwork/production). Besides that we’ve really enjoyed making this album and that’s most important above all. Everyone involved have done a marvelous job and took their time doing so, from pre-production to physical end result, and all was in full control of what we’ve wanted and customly given shape right from our hearts, so there haven’t been any previous AR release this close to our desires… in any way.
Lou: What are your future plans for Autumnal Reaper?
Royy: Well, while growing “older” (Waltr’s over 40 these days) our jobs and social security have increased in importance of course, and most of us work in completely different sectors and shifts. In all fairness, we’ve recently took a moment to evaluate what to do after plus 17 years with AR and almost 8 years in this line-up in combination with our busy jobs, and we’ve came to the conclusion none of us want to quit AR as long as every member will stay to the bitter end, so this means even though we’re very busy with our jobs and stuff we’ll continue AR with these guys –if one of us leaves we will quit; we’ll finish it with this line-up. So we might do another album and see from there on were things will take us and on.. and on.. Above all; we are four friends either doing it together or not at all.
Lou: Judging by the tracks on the Graven Image MySpace, it’s a very different sound to Autumnal Reaper. Do you find it rewarding to play these different styles?
Royy: First of all; Graven Image has nothing to do with Autumnal Reaper –sound wise- besides the fact 2 members play in AR (Waltr & myself) plus an ex-AR member(Dave); that is all we have in common with AR. The GI music comes forth from primal anger, physical power, the perspective to break things down to primarily and initial settings. Emotionally all members in GI benefit from playing in this band and channeling their basic angers, so yeah; it is very rewarding playing in this –all old friends- band together.
Lou: How would you describe Graven Image’s music?
Royy: As one of the few bands where the drums are the key element. It is raw, brutally honest strength, mixed with an enormous amount of anger from within all members. That combined with a huge love for classic death metal plus being the best of friends from old; leaving five kindred “Bastards” coming together being one massive wall of sound.
Lou: What sort of subjects are covered in Graven Image’s lyrics?
Royy: War(in particulair World War II), individual development, fighting, combat, honour, reprisal.
Lou: Are there any Graven Image albums or EPs available?
Royy: Thus far we have the “Death Metal Bastards” (part 1) release from 2005 and recently we’ve released “Death Metal Bastards II” (2010). In between we have a four year hiatus of releases were we’ve done a lot of shows with GI itself as well as with our “other bands”. At this moment we are preparing for studio recordings early 2011, and all members have agreed to make GI much more of a priority band, so a studio mini-CD is scheduled to be followed not too long after by the debut full-length album. We have songs/material enough to do both, so 2011 will be a fertile year for the band.
Lou: Who is in Graven Image now?
Royy: We have the irreplaceable factor Tom Teunissen on drums, Dave van Beers on guitars, and the 3 founding members Arno Rensink(bass), Waltr Verschoor (guitars), and myself on vocals. Ask Ty Arctander (from Kampfar) occasionally fills in on drums during live shows, playing a few songs with us whenever he has the time for it. Initially Waltr was the singer/guitarist, and myself the drummer, but when Ask joined 4 years ago the format changed. Friendship is the binding factor in Graven Image, so the six of us have an equal say in what’s happening in the band.
Lou: According to the GI MySpace, you’re currently working on an album due for release in 2011. Are you able to tell us anything about that?
Royy: Yes, we will hit the studio early January to make a “test-recording” and if all turns out to our expectations we’ll re-book the studio soon for a Mini-CD. If that turns out well we’ll even book the studio for a full-length later on. So whatever way it turns out as; we have tons of songs we want to record, so Graven Image will make 2011 a year to remember!
Lou: Do you find it difficult to split your time between Graven Image and Autumnal Reaper?
Royy: Not really; from all my bandmates ever, I’ve played with Waltr longest (almost 10 years in a row in different bands & projects, including AR, GI, & more), and we connect really well / see each other often / communicate well(and are best friends on personal level), that combined to the factor that we’ve all known known each other(AR & GI members) from before we’ve all played in these bands; we are all good friends and all members in AR & GI have some past with each other(tours/shows with other bands we were in), so everyone understands and supports each other!! Friendship wise both bands always fully supported each other and never had any problems with each other at all. In all our musical differences, we’ve always remained each other’s friends and allies.
Lou: Do you have any plans to tour the UK with either Graven Image or Autumnal Reaper…. or both?
Royy: So far no plans, but bring it on!! (both bands would love to, but separately please!)
Lou: Does the atmosphere at Autumnal Reaper gigs differ greatly from that at Graven Image gigs?
Royy: That depends highly on the package actually, but usually the atmosphere is equally great. We’ve done some shows together, but I don’t think we’ll do that anymore; it’s heavy on Waltr and me and we’re not the youngest anymore unfortunately..
Lou: What is your most memorable on stage moment so far?
Royy: Pfff… difficult question.. Summing up many years I think the greatest moments were during songs where people in the crowd were singing the words with us –in this case the credits go to the crowd.
Lou: Which bands have influenced you the most?
Royy: Difficult question… for all of us this answer will be different, but from a songwriter’s point of view while growing up I personally have to pick Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden & The Who as the biggest influences I suppose.
Lou: What was the first album you ever bought? Do you still listen to it?
Royy: Black Sabbath’s first album was my first (on vinyl), yes I still listen to this one frequently and still find new things that inspire me every time I do, even though this is the album I know longest…. I suppose that is the true strength of music isn’t it?
Lou: What is the most recent album you’ve bought? Do you still buy CDs or are you a downloads kinda guy?
Royy: I have an enormous collection of original vinyl & cd’s and hardly download anything… Last things I’m really into are the latest albums from my friends Malevolent Creation, the latest Charred Walls Of The Damned album, and the new Iron Maiden album.
Lou: Thank you again for answering my questions. The final words are yours – Please feel free to say ANYTHING here:
Royy: Thanks for the interview/interest Lou; keep going strong with Loucifer Speaks(full support)!! As for my bands; Autumnal Reaper will return & Graven Image will strike hard!!
Check us out on: myspace.com/AutumnalReaperBand and myspace.com/GravenImageBand.