INTERVIEW WITH FABIANO PENNA OF REBAELLIUN
The Brazilian death metal horde Rebaelliun’s brutal and raw, yet the technical grip, death metal is such mauling and crushing that every death metal fan should fall on their knees. Even though the band was on hiatus for about 13 years, there is no piece of evidence of getting rusty or slowing down. The most recent album HELLS DECREES is without any doubts one hell of brutal output indeed. Metal-Rules.Com talked to the band’s guitarist Fabiano Penna about the new album and the past the present and the future.
Interviews and pictures by Arto Lehtinen
Good day down there in Brazil, how’s it going at the moment?
Hey there! Things are fine over here, last week we played here in São Paulo to support the release of our new album here and it was killer.
THE HELL’S DECREES being the third album of Rebaelliun, the previous album came out back in 2001, well I can’t help asking what you see the main different between those albums as the time has flown a little bit?
I think that the spirit is the same. Extreme Death Metal, fast and furious. The main difference is that now the song writing is more mature, we’re able to sound intense and extreme with less efforts, let’s say. The playing is also in another level, it’s almost 15 years later and we all developed better as musicians during this time. Band is tighter and cleaner. And the album is heavier than our first albums as well, due to a lower tuning and the song writing itself again.
When you started working on The Hell’s Decrees, how long after the long hiatus did you have to find the right balance in the writing and the composing to have all the songs finished for the album?
Well, we had a very tight schedule. We announced the band one day and a few days later Hammerheart Records offered us a deal where we should have to deliver a new album in 7 months. We started from zero, from nothing. So there was no time or chance to find any balance, I wrote the first song (Dawn of Mayhem) a couple of weeks after we announced the album and I just kept writing music until we had the 8 tracks for the album. Of course I did some pre production in my home studio and tried out a few different things here and there, but the fact is that we did not have time to think too much. I just realized the quality of the stuff after it was recorded, mixed and mastered. And I really enjoy it, to be honest.
I work producing bands in Brazil on the last 10 years, more or less. I know the shortcuts to get a good performance in studio. I mean, when writing the music – this time I wrote the whole album – I avoided anything too complicated for my playing at this moment, I tried to use material that would be comfortable to play in studio and live. The same for drums. I wrote the drum lines in the demos and showed to Sandro. The stuff that was too hard for him to play and that would demand time to be played well, we just cut off and changed for good lines for his own playing. I believe that this concept of ‘playing well’ has more to do with playing comfortable than playing a lot of notes. That’s my concept.
I assume you sat behind the producer desk, did you mainly take the main control over mixing and recording of the album and observer every detail went as planned?
Yes, it was a very stressing process, I assume. And mainly because the schedule was too tight, so we did not have the luxury to make any mistakes. I had less than 10 days to mix the whole album, the mastering was already booked in another studio and I could not change the dates. So I had to pay attention on the first track I mixed to get the right sound on the first couple of days, otherwise it would become a hell for me to deliver the album in time. During recordings I believe that things went well most of the time, the experience in studio and producing help a lot.
Is it the easy flowing and easy process to work with the guys after these years to get the songs completed?
This time the process was completely different than in the past: I wrote all the music and Lohy wrote all the lyrics and the vocal lines. And it worked very well. We changed a few parts during the few rehearsals we could make before recording – we rehearsed only 8 times before starting the recordings – and also we changed a few vocal lines in the studio during recordings. But as I said before, it was a very ‘straight’ process, we wrote the stuff, recorded it and it was ready, we did not think too much about it…
As for the title of your new album, “The Hell’s Decrees”, does it describe the content of the album, the brutality of the songs and other things?
Yes, it does. The title reminds one of the songs from our first album, Burn the Promised Land – the track Hells Decree. The whole conception talks about a decadent and chaotic world, something like how the world should be and look after the annihilation we talked about in our previous album from 2001.
REBIRTH OF REBAELLIUN
As for the rebirth of Rebaelliun, well how did this come about after all?
During these 15 years, there was several moments that the subject came to us. Sometimes when we met, sometimes a friend who talked about, etc. Last year a very close friend of us in Brazil, who had produced some shows of Rebaelliun back in 2001, offered us a small tour in Brazil, like a reunion, in the main cities, for the new Death Metal fans that could not watch the band live at that time. We
thought it was an interesting idea, but to prepare a decent show it would take months of rehearsing, etc. And we all live in different cities nowadays, it would cost a lot of money to prepare this show. So we started thinking about maybe recording a new album and then playing the shows, and then we assumed that we could give a chance to the whole project again as a band itself, not only a reunion. And here we are…
When you started putting Rebaelliun back together after 13 years, was each member willing to start the band again or did you have to talk about the band’s future and solve some personal issues?
Again we did not talk too much. I believe that most of the personal issues are in the past, we all are different people nowadays, with different experiences and so. Of course we still have problems, everybody does, but I believe that we’re more able to deal with that today. It’s not perfect, but we’ve been able to travel, to play live, to promote the band, to work on the music we love. That’s what matters in the end.
Did you firstly do a try out rehearsal to figure out how the playing works out or did you find the chemistry immediately?
The very first rehearsal was great. I mean, the last time we were all together in the same place had been in 2001, and then we were in a rehearsal room again, in 2015. It was like a jump in time, you know? And we started the rehearsal just like we did in the past, playing Morbid Angel’s Day of Suffering to warm up, and it sounded great. Then we started working on the new stuff. Great memories of that day…
When did you actually start thinking seriously about going back to the studio and recording the next Rebaelliun album?
We announced the band one day, the day after Hammerheart Records got in touch and offered us a deal. At that moment we already had a lot of offers to play live in Brazil, it looked like everybody wanted to organize our ‘first’ show after so long. Then we realized that we would have to work hard from that day on, and that’s true, it’s been 16 months and I still didn’t stop one single day… And I love that.
The first two albums came out on Hammerheart as well as The Hell’s Decrees, how come did you decide to stay on Hammerheart – did you have some commitments to fill up the deal or did other labels try to get you signed?
We didn’t even try other labels, they offered us a good deal, we had a good experience with them in the past and we just thought it was the best thing to do.
How much do you give the credit to the staff at Hammerheart for working for the third Rebaelliun album regarding all the promotion, so on and what they have done for you so far just to get the band’s name back on the map of the extreme metal scene?
I think they’re doing great. The album got great reviews in the main publications in Europe, we’ve got tons of interviews, there was a good support for the shows we did in Europe last August. It’s doing good so far.
The solos have been the important factor in the Rebaelliun songs slightly reminding me of Trey Azagthoth’s relentless solos, obviously you are a bit influenced by Azagthoth’s guitar works and inspirited in your own solos?
Yes! Morbid Angel has been our main influence, with Slayer of course. Both bands always had great guitar solos and so we just used this same conception with Rebaelliun. I believe that today I’m more focused on song writing than on shredding to be honest, and that’s related to music listening and music producing. But we will always have guitar solos in our music, it’s almost a trademark we created for ourselves and there’s a lot of people waiting for this when listening to our music.
In general how do you usually start creating new songs for Rebaelliun?
Since I work producing bands and also writing music for short movies and animations, I start things right on the computer with some conception in mind. At least I have the tempo of the song in mind, then I start to try some riffs in this tempo using a metronome and the ideas start to happen. But I’m a lot dependent on the computer, I record the riff and I have to write the drums right after that to check how it sounds. In the old times I was used to record riffs in a cassette and show them to Sandro a few days later, and then in a rehearsal I would check how it would sound the whole idea – guitars + drums. Nowadays I do this in my home studio and already know if it will work or not. I believe most of the song writers in Metal work like this nowadays.
Could you unveil a little bit about the lyrics what they deal with?
The whole idea is to be a continuation of Annihilation, lyrically speaking. After the world as we know it was annihilated, what do we found? A very chaotic atmosphere, no laws, no rules, some radical cults and religions arising and this dangerous environment. That’s the ‘scene’ we had in our minds while creating the new album.
Has it always been an easy step for you to set yourself into a songwriting mood? Or do you first have to find yourself in some specific state of mind and feeling before your songwriting get its sharpest edge?
That’s a good question. As I said before, on the last years I started to write music for movies. Nothing big, but some Brazilian shorts, lots of animations (for kids mainly) and music for advertisements as well. When you work with music for demand, as it is called, you have tight schedules and very specific requests from directors. And so you discipline yourself to write the music they need in the time they have. This is a fucking excellent exercise for people who write music, because you depend less and less from what’s called inspiration. And you find out that most of the music genius we know today, they wrote a lot of music every day (for demand too) and that it rarely depended on inspiration, because they had schedules too. I mean, you learn how to write music more quickly and from time to time you end writing something ‘more special’ than the rest of the material.
When Rebaelliun went on the long hiatus, you formed another band called The Ordher, could you consider having two bands at the same time? Or is The Ordher permanently dead and buried for the time being?
Yes, I formed The Ordher in 2005 and until 2010 we worked quite a lot, it was a very interesting project. The good thing about The Ordher is that it was a trio and I had to trust 100% on my guitar playing and also on my music writing, because it depended only on me. Nowadays I’m completely focused on Rebaelliun, sometimes Brazilian bands offer me to be a session member for shows and I could not get any proposal till now, but if it happens in a good time, why not?
Did you have any so called leftover material or ideas from the era of The Ordher used or modified for Rebaelliun’s songs?
Not at all. We quit The Ordher in 2010 and as far as I can remember, I had no idea about what to do concerning a new album at that time. But I have listened mainly to the first album on last weeks, there’s a lot of good ideas there that maybe can have some impact on new Rebaelliun songs, maybe…
SHARING THE STAGE WITH OTHER BANDS
That’s a though question. There’s this idea to have Krisiun and Rebaelliun together on stage sometime, we met the guys last week in our show in São Paulo and we again talked about that. That would be killer… And of course, if someday we could share the stage with Morbid Angel or Slayer, that would be a dream come true…
Taking a quick glance at your gig calendar, I paid attention that you have some one-off gigs booked, did single shows in Brazil and of course a short visit to Europe. Well it seems like there’s no extensive tour in sight yet, so what’s the latest news from that front? Is there a headlining or co-headlining tour of Rebaelliun planned?
Yes, we have played every month since April, when we played our first show. In Brazil it is really hard to have a long tour, playing every day, it’s almost impossible. The distances are too big and you’re only able to play during the weekends. But that has worked for us, we played already in some of the main cities, some of these shows being in important festivals, it’s being good. The mini tour in Europe was fucking great, specially both festivals we did, Party San and Brutal Assault. We’re planning a long tour in Europe for next spring, but it’s not fixed yet.
We played in some very famous festivals over here like Abril Pro Rock or Matanza Fest and also in underground clubs. For us it does not matter how big it is, we really love to be on stage and we get the same energy for both situations. We have shared the stage with several Brazilian bands such as Funeratus, Queiron, Ancestral Malediction and many others.
THE NEXT ALBUM ON THE WORK ?
Do you view Rebaelliun will be pushing and stretching musical boundaries again when it’s time to record the next album or do you view Rebaelliun will follow the path of the brutal death metal?
I have thought a lot about that lately. Specially because I already started writing new material. I’m always inclined to keep writing the same kind of riffs I’m used to, this kind of riff that it’s the sound of Rebaelliun. But I know how important it is right now for us to include different elements in our music to make it more diverse and interesting, for ourselves and for the audience. Right now I would say that I’m looking for more darker tunes for the next albums, I have listened more Black Metal than Death Metal on last months and it should have an impact on the song writing for the coming album…
Do you have working titles for some of the other songs that you may use for this forthcoming album and can you reveal any for the readers?
Not yet. Lohy will take care again of the lyrics and we just have talked about the way we should follow, but there’s nothing decided yet.
What other plans do you have for Rebaelliun?
Now that we don’t have close shows to play I will finally work on some other issues as launch our official web site, then a virtual store with all our merch items. We’re talking to an agency in Brazil to take care of our shows in South America in 2017 as well, I’m talking to an agency in Europe about a long tour next year, we’re writing new music and working on the Brazilian release of The Hell’s Decrees, which must happen before December.
I for one thank you for your time to do the interview and as usual, the last words are yours…
Many thanks for this great interview! For those who still don’t know, Rebaelliun is back since last year, we have a new album out called The Hell’s Decrees released this year thru Hammerheart Records and we’ve played live since then. You can look for more stuff on all social medias and hopefully we meet soon somewhere in the road. At war!!