As I sit here typing this, I’m listening to ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ at a remarkably high volume. That it’s such a comprehensively enjoyable death metal album is beyond dispute. What’s even more impressive is that Rebaelliun have managed to release such an album after so long away from the scene. I was honoured to be able to grill guitarist Fabiano Penna about the return of the mighty Rebaelliun.
It’s been 15 years since your last album. What prompted your return to the realms of active death metal?
Since Rebaelliun quit in 2002 we have always felt that we had more to show in terms of contributing artistically to this genre called Death Metal. Actually we had a couple of other opportunities to return, first one in 2003 as far as I can remember and last one in 2013. Both times we talked, we even rehearsed but things didn’t go too far. This time was different, some friends in Brazil showed us a plan to make a small tour over here to present our music live for people who were too young when we quit. We thought it would be a good idea and that would be fun. But we realized that it would take a lot of time to realize such a thing, so if we should spend time in Rebaelliun again, that should be worth enough. Which means writing a new album, touring again and once more making plans to have the band alive and kicking. People on social media through all these years sending messages and keeping our name alive were one of the strongest facts that convinced us that we should come back. And here we are.
How would you compare ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ with your earlier work?
I think that on the first two albums we had a great and strong will to play Death Metal, but especially on the first album, we were still learning how to translate this will to music, so there are tons of great ideas but also a lack of craft to make these ideas clear to the listener. But we had style, that’s for sure. On the second album we had improved a lot as musicians, the album is even faster and more extreme than the first one, and much more well-played. On ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ we can say we master what we play. There are no mistakes, there’s nothing beyond our limits as musicians. The composition is way more mature, well-structured and ‘economic’, in the sense of using only what’s needed on the music to say, musically speaking, what we have in mind. Here in Brazil we say ‘less is more’, and that’s for me the idea behind the new album. We learned how to present extreme and intense music with less work, and better results. Besides, the album is much heavier than our previous ones.
Even though The Hell’s Decrees has only just been released, do you have any plans/ideas for a follow-up release in the future?
Well, I’m already thinking about it. When I listen to ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ nowadays, mentally I can point elements that I wanna preserve in our music in the future, and also elements that we won’t use any longer. I believe that the new album is a big step in our career, because we had the guts to try out things never imagined for a band like Rebaelliun, since we were most known for extreme speed in our music. Tracks like Fire and Brimstone and Rebellion, are all based in mid-tempo drums, catchy and heavy riffs, a more rock oriented soloing too. We know that we are taking a risk getting these elements to our music, but I believe they work well in the context of this album and they can work even better on an upcoming release.
I understand the recording process for ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ was quite quick. Tell us about it, and what will you do differently for your next release?
6 or 7 months that we started from zero to masters delivered to the label. I never quit playing guitar, since I work producing bands and writing music for movies, but I can’t remember when the last time I played fast picking and stuff like that. So the first goal was to practice every day to reach a level where we would be able to play extreme music again. And then writing the songs. We all live in different cities, and since Brazil is a big country, it means taking a plane to rehearse. We did 8 rehearsals before recording ‘The Hell’s Decrees’; we needed at least 30 I would say. But we focused on the goal, which was recording the album and producing better music than we did in the past. I wrote all the music, Lohy wrote all the lyrics. I recorded demos at home with drum machine, he wrote lyrics and recorded vocal lines at his house too, we showed to the other guys, changed a bit and rehearsed it. A couple of tracks were not even worked on rehearsal, we did the demos and straight to the studio to record the album. Pretty insane. Next album I hope to have time to make a good pre-production, recording more demos, rehearsing more, having more participation of the other guys too. Hope we can do that.
Are you looking forward to touring with your new album?
Yes. We play our first show this Saturday in Brazil, a big festival for a lot of people. We have several other dates in Brazil for next months. In August we play a couple of summer festivals in Europe (Brutal Assault and Party San). We have a mini tour in Mexico in September and probably a tour in Europe in November. We’re really glad that after so long there’re still people interested to see us live, that’s the truth.
What is it about death metal that still gets you excited?
Hard to explain…For me it’s been pure adrenaline since the very beginning, when I was 14, 15. I’m 40 now, and even when I practice our songs at home, with drum machine, I get excited with the music. This feeling it’s hard to explain, but it does exist.
Where do you stand on the digital/physical debate? Preferences?
I still like all the romance that is around vinyl. That’s how I started to listen to music, to Metal. There’s a ritual to play it, to read the lyrics, etc. The CDs never convinced me, but it was necessary for the industry I guess. People think that the quality in CD is much better than mp3, and it’s not, it’s almost the same. Nowadays the form to listen to music more used by people is through YouTube, who would say that 20 years ago? So I have no preferences, if people are listening to music, it’s great. 200 years ago the only way to listen to music was live, nowadays we have several options. So I really don’t understand these debates and even fights about the different formats. Everyone should choose his/her best form to consume music and that’s it.
You’ve worked with a lot of other bands in the years between albums. Are there any you’d like to give honorary mentions to?
The Ordher was an interesting project. I played with some killer drummers there and kinda learned how to do everything by myself, since I was the one writing the music and producing the albums. But it had no soul, that’s why I quit it. I would mention Andralls, a Brazilian Thrash Metal band I played with during a few months. It was really fun to tour with these guys, playing Thrash compared to extreme Death Metal is much more relaxing too, which means more fun on stage. It was one of the nicest experiences in my career.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I work with music, producing Metal bands and writing music for short movies, cartoons, etc. When I have too much work, there’s no time to listen to music and that’s my moment right now. Working on music hours a day, practising between 3 or 4 hours a day preparing myself for the shows, and sometimes listening to random stuff but normally enjoying the silence when I’m not working…
What are Rebaelliun’s plans for the rest of 2016?
Playing live the most we can and promote ‘The Hell’s Decrees’ to the bone. A lot has happened in the last weeks concerning negotiating shows and promoting the new album, so we’re on the right track.