Singer Claudio Ravinale – Infernalizer
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band.
From Italy comes a new band called Infernalizer, led by singer Claudio Ravinale (Disarmonia Mundi, etc.). The band plays heavy metal influenced by goth rock and their debut album is THE UGLY TRUTH. As I hadn’t heard about the band before, I thought it was time to contact the brain behind it all Claudio Ravinale, in order to shed some light on the band and what he’s been up to prior to forming Infernalizer. We had a great chat about his other act Disarmonia Mundi, and how the pandemic has affected both the band and the country of Italy.
Hi Claudio, how are you doing today? Are you ready to kick off the interview?
C: I’m fine, thanks for asking. Trying my best to keep productive and somewhat positive…let’s say, less negative than usual in these crazy times.
You’re maybe more known as a part of the band Disarmonia Mundi, which released its most recent album back in 2015. What’s the status of Disarmonia Mundi today?
C: Oh well, a new album will eventually come out. I recorded vocals for it a bunch of years ago, then a lot of things happened (including the pandemic) so the release was delayed. Sooner or later it will come out, and people are gonna love it, because it’s damn good. We receive so many messages on a daily basis asking about the new album and some fans are honestly starting to freak out. I understand their concern but really, when the new album comes out you’re going to be satisfied, there’s no need to panic, it’s good.
The Swedish singer Björn “Speed” Strid is also active in Disarmonia Mundi. Has he got a big part in the band?
C: Disarmonia Mundi is Ettore Rigotti. He writes all the music, plays all the instruments, takes care of the production, mixing, mastering and so on; he IS the band. I write lyrics and record my parts and Bjorn does guest vocals on some tracks, but DM has always been Ettore’s own vision first and foremost. Given that Björn’s a well known character in the metal world (and one of the best extreme metal vocalists out there) his involvement in the band surely helped us to increase our fanbase a lot and gave us a certain credibility, this is pretty obvious, but at the same time I’ll never stress enough the fact that if you like DM the first person you need to thank is Ettore and no one else.
You have also been involved in 5 Star Grave and The Stranded, are those bands active today?
C: Honestly the only band that kept me busy in the last 6 years is the industrial-metal band The Silverblack. We’ve recorded 5 albums so far (we had to push back the release of the last one we recorded due to the pandemic as well: really solid album, it’s entitled JUDGMENT and also features the involvement of Burton C.Bell on the title track, so I advise to check it out when it comes out) and can’t wait to get back on the road with them and play some gigs again. 5 Star Grave is currently on hiatus and I don’t really think The Stranded will ever release another album.
You’re currently the leader for Infernalizer. Where does the band name come from and who came up with it?
C: I’ve already been using “Infernalizer” as nickname for the last two The Silverblack albums, so basically Infernalizer is my solo project. It represents the more theatrical side of my creativity. I chose it because it sounds like the name of an ’80s horror-movie villain. It has a sort of tongue in cheek feel to it and I immediately envision something spat out of a movie like Hellraiser or Evil Dead if I think about it. I mean, can you go more 80s horror-metal than “Infernalizer”? Nah…
Besides vocals do you play any instruments?
C: Bass, but they say anyone can play bass so I guess it doesn’t count right? haha 😉 I mainly play it to relax myself or write down some riffs from time to time just for the fun of it, but it’s not something that I would do on stage, screaming is way more fun.
THE UGLY TRUTH
When did the band start to work on material to THE UGLY TRUTH?
C: The record was conceived in a very short amount of time actually, in the break between the first and second COVID waves. Producer NeroArgento and I wrote and recorded the whole album in a bunch of weeks during the summer of 2020 and shot the first video a couple of weeks before Italy went into full lockdown again. The way it went down shows the main spirit behind the band: to record extremely direct and instinctive music, there’s no room to overthink or overproduce stuff. It’s as raw as it gets and I absolutely love to do things this way, it keeps everything fresh and on edge. Rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be an instinctive kind of music after all.
The info sheet mentions that you’re influenced by the music of ’80’s metal acts like Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, and Danzig, as well as goth metal acts like Type O Negative and Sisters Of Mercy. Are those bands you have been inspired by?
C: Absolutely, I’m mainly a child of the ’80s and with Infernalizer I wanted to pay homage to the music I grew up with. Anyone who presumes that I listen to death metal just because my most known band is a death metal one is damn wrong. I am basically an heavy metal fan and I’ve been listening to metal since I was a very small kid, so with this project I really wanted to dive into the past and rediscover what made me love this kind of music in the first place. Obviously this is not a nostalgia act, we captured the vibe of what I consider the golden age of heavy metal (let’s face it, music sucks big time today if compared to what came out in the ’80s) but with an updated approach and completed the picture with a big dose of 90s goth rock, a kind of music I’ve always loved as well.
Have you written all of the material on you own or have you had any help or input from someone?
C: Me and NeroArgento split duties as we already do when we record stuff for The Silverblack. He takes care of the music and I write the lyrics and vocal melodies. For Infernalizer I gave him more hints than usual about where I wanted the project to go, but as soon as we decided the main direction of the album it all went down really quick. We had a lot of fun recording this album: we’ve been discussing the possibility of starting the Infernalizer project for a long time but always lacked the time to do it, then we found ourselves with a lot more time on our hands than usual and simply nailed it as fast as we could.
The album is about 36 minutes long, which is pretty short. Was it your intention of making a short, hard hitting album for the fans?
C: Absolutely, I can’t stand long albums, I can’t even stand long shows, 30 minutes is usually more than enough for me before I start to lose interest in whatever I’m doing. Honestly, the majority of long albums are packed with fillers and I absolutely wanted to avoid that. Each song is there for a reason and represents something I wanted to say. Besides, the records I’ve been listening to while growing up were all short, so I wanted to go back exactly to that mood. Sometimes short is better, haha.
Why did you choose to open and close the album with instrumental tracks?
C: Because I love movie soundtracks, especially horror ones, and I wanted to give a proper opening and closing theme to this album. I listen to a lot of retro-wave as well and wanted to incorporate that vibe in the album too. Again, the whole record is a sort of homage to the ’80s, so those two songs fit perfectly in the mix and help expand the soundscape of the album even further. I’m not ruling out the possibility of releasing an entirely instrumental album sooner or later, just like Glenn Danzig did with BLACK ARIA.
The first single/video is “Leaving So Soon”, which currently has about 150,000 hits, congrats! Wat can you tell us about the video shoot? Where was it shot, what’s the storyline? Was it hard to shoot a video during a pandemic?
C: We barely made it before going back to full lockdown again. I obviously wanted to present the project in the best way possible, but as you can imagine time was short and the budget was quite limited as well, so I went for an Evil Dead-like face makeup and shoot a video of the band performing. It captures the essence of the band quite well and it was the best way we had to introduce the project to the audience. It’s pretty simple after all, but you rather have a big budget to do something really amazing or you better stick to the basics, just like we did.
Leaving So Soon? (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Are the guys performing in the video with you also your band on the road?
C: Maybe. At this point the only pivotal members of Infernalizer are me and NeroArgento. All the other musicians involved might change along the way according to their availability or our needs. I’m more than OK being the only one pulling the strings at the end of the day, it avoids so much drama.
The info sheet doesn’t say who performs on the album. Who are the musicians?
C: NeroArgento played all the instruments on the album, like he usually does on The Silverblack albums as well.
The info sheet also says that for this project you wanted to focus more on yourself and the instincts that define you as a person…what do you mean by that?
C: Lyrics-wise the album deals about the raw and untamed side of our personality, the one we usually lose along the way as we grow old and become more and more civilized. Some may call it our dark side, I simply consider it our true instinctive nature, the one which defines who we really are and that we usually hide behind the mask of sanity we are forced to wear on a daily basis.
Why did you name the album THE UGLY TRUTH?
C: It was the first song we wrote. As soon as we finished it I was like “Cool, we already have the title track” and kind of built the whole album around that song. It wasn’t planned at all, but it’s a really cool song and defines the main mood of the album properly, both musically and lyrically; so it became the title track right from the start. “The Ugly Truth” simply stands for the bastard that lives inside us all, the one that we usually never acknowledge, but still pulls the strings of what we do. I don’t have a great consideration of mankind, that’s pretty clear at this point, haha.
Who did the cover art work?
C: Now that’s a funny one. I did this photoshoot for the re-release of the Disarmonia Mundi album MIND TRICKS something like 15 years ago, but when Ettore saw it thought that was too violent and decided to use another artwork instead. I basically kept it on my hard drive since then. When the time came to look for a proper artwork for the Infernalizer project it immediately came back to my mind, first of all because I’ve always loved that artwork and then because the monster in the pictures looks like the perfect combination of Freddy Krueger and Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT and that was exactly the kind of mood I was looking for. The digipak version of the album really looks damn cool.
How would you like to describe what kind of music THE UGLY TRUTH includes?
C: It’s heavy metal. There’s a lot of goth rock influences as well, mainly because when I don’t scream my voice immediately goes into the goth range, but it simply sounds like heavy metal to me. With a modern approach, gritty vocals and a shitload of horror atmosphere, but it’s basically metal. Let’s keep it simple and straight, heavy metal.
To which metal fan does the album turn to, the heavy metal fans, the goth metal fans or the straight up rock fans?
C: Honestly, I guess this is a record for everyone. I don’t believe in divisions at all, a good song is a good song, if you’re into metal you shouldn’t be narrow-minded and listen to whatever sounds good. What’s the point of listening to bands that sound exactly the same? It gets so boring after a while. If you’re a metal fan you should give this record a spin.
Which bands do you think Infernalizer lies close to music-wise?
C: Put Lordi, Wednesday 13, and The 69 Eyes in a blender and you’ll probably get something that sounds close enough to Infernalizer.
Do you think fans of Disarmonia Mundi will enjoy Infernalizer?
C: I don’t really have a clue. If they listen to melodic death metal only probably not; there’s no melo-death in this album at all. On the other hand if they’re also into heavy metal or goth rock they probably will.
In This World Or The Next (VISUALIZER)
Have you read any reviews yet of the album? I read a few and they had only great things to say about THE UGLY TRUTH, congrats 🙂
C: I usually read as few reviews and comments as possible about the things I do. Not because I’m a complete asshole, but simply because that’s not my role. My role is to create music the best way possible while I’m in the studio, but as soon as it’s finished and gets released it ain’t my business anymore. People might or might not like the things I do, but that’s not something that concerns me that much; I already did my best and there’s nothing more that I could do about it. At the end of the day I must be the one satisfied about the album and if I am, all the rest is secondary. Besides, as soon as a new album gets released I’m already thinking about the next one, so I don’t have that much time to care about what people think.
Do you care about what critics and media have to say about your work?
C: Honestly no. In order to be a functional creative person you have to trust your own vision only, the second you start to care about what other people think of your work or what they might or might not like about the things you do you completely lose the point of being a creative person and might as well retire. That said, I do care about what people that support the band and spend their hard-earned money buying the album, merch or show tickets have to say about the quality of the project, ’cause I don’t really like to rip people off and always try to give them the best experience possible.
How have the fans responded on THE UGLY TRUTH?
C: I’ve received a bunch of positive messages about the album, most of them were like “Wow, what took you so long? You should have started this band a long time ago!”. So I guess, so far so good. Some were really surprised, especially the ones that didn’t know The Silverblack, and were like “I didn’t even know you could sing like that”. Well, now you know.
The Ugly Truth (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)
“It’s more about acknowledging the beast that lives inside us all and have a good time with it, because honestly being the bad guy sometimes is quite a funny and entertaining experience”. That’s a statement you put in the info sheet, could you explain a little more in-depth what you mean?
C: Artistically speaking being the villain is the most fun thing ever. I mean, how come every time the Joker’s in a Batman movie, people like him more than Batman? It’s because it’s more funny! Being the villain is more entertaining and entertainment is what this project is all about. Since I was a kid I’ve always rooted for the bad guys, never cared about the heroes at all, so when the time came to define this project and the Infernalizer character I wanted to create a sort of anti-hero alter ego that could allow me to have as much fun as I wanted to. Again, we’re talking about an artistic environment, I’m not telling you to go out, be an asshole and treat people like shit, but artistically speaking being the monster is so damn cool.
Studio and production
In which studio did you record the album and who mixed and mastered it?
C: At NeroArgento’s own AExeron Studios. NeroArgento is a top notch producer, very creative, easy going and really able to bring the best of out of every band he works with. Our creative partnership started years ago with The Stranded project and I really feel great working with him because we don’t even have to talk that much about what we’re looking for, after all these years working together we kinda finish each other’s sentence.
How long did it take all together to record THE UGLY TRUTH?
C: A bunch of weeks, but when the chemistry is right and ideas flow without problems is really easy to write and record an album fast. The most important thing is to focus on what you want to achieve and then go with the flow, and have a good time along the way, because spending a lot of time in the studio can turn into a really boring and frustrating experience if the chemistry is wrong. By the way I see it recording an album should be a fun experience first and foremost.
Who produced the album?
C: NeroArgento did the whole thing. We had the first single “Leaving So Soon?” mastered by Grammy award-winning producer Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound in Nashville to try something different, but NeroArgento did all the rest. Fun thing is, he sort of had to convince me to finally start the project because at the very beginning I was like “Shouldn’t we do another The Silverblack album instead?” and he was like “No, damn it, it’s too early for that, let’s kickstart Infernalizer instead”. So yeah, basically it’s all his fault, haha.
Why did you sign with Rockshots Records?
C: I had a bunch of options available, but honestly having some experience in the music business I decided to sign with someone that I personally know and can trust. They had already released the latest NeroArgento’s album, CIRCLES, before talking about the possibility of releasing the Infernalizer album and I witnessed first hand the good job they did with that, so they didn’t have to convince me that much, we simply had a meeting and the deal was done.
Are you happy with the work the label have put into Infernalizer and THE UGLY TRUTH so far?
C: Yes indeed I am, they are trying to promote the band the best way possible and I see tangible results in their efforts, that’s more than enough for me. We all know how the industry works nowadays and seeing people that still try to do the best they can for their artists is really admirable. Most of the labels out there just want to take your money and rip you off, they don’t really care about promoting the band or helping you create a fanbase at all and I’m really done with people like that.
Do you see any difficulties or obstacles that RR is a smaller label?
C: No absolutely not, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog, right? They do what they can to promote their artists in the best way possible and I respect that, I’ve worked with bigger labels in the past and been treated like the last wheel of the wagon; that’s something I absolutely wanted to avoid for this project.
I know you have experience of working with various label prior to RR, what’s your opinion of working with labels in general?
C: Not a good one. So many people blame file-sharing for the collapse of the music industry and that’s partially true, but what people usually forget to mention is that industry people killed the music business way before the ‘net did. I mean, stuff like the “pay to play” thing or having to pay the label to release your album is just SO fucked up. If you’re in a band you should be the one that gets paid to play, not the opposite. At the same time the label should give me money if it’s interested in my band, not the other way around. Unfortunately bands still fall for this shit, especially newcomers, and waste all their money in these scams hoping to achieve some sort of notoriety, a thing that’s obviously not going to happen.
Any plans on releasing the album on vinyl in the near future and are you a fan of the vinyl-format?
C: Of course I am and yeah, I’d love to print a vinyl version of the album. What we’re trying to do at the moment is to build a fanbase, after all this is a brand new project and it takes a while before people actually even acknowledge your existence these days. If things go as planned a vinyl version of the album will eventually see the light of day. I have a huge collection of vinyl at home and there’s nothing like they way they sound. I mean, kids just listen to crap on their mobile phones nowadays, that’s not listening to music, it’s like eating junk food for your ears 24/7 . Vinyl looks and sounds better, so do yourselves a favor and start listening to music the proper way.
Is RR releasing/distributing the album worldwide?
C: Yes, of course they are.
The album is available in a special deluxe limited edition which includes a mask, what can you tell us about that feature?
C: That’s a very cool one indeed. I’ve been working with this amazing mask maker, make-up fx artist and friend of mine called Francesco Sanseverino for a while now and we came up with the idea of doing a limited edition handmade fully customizable skull mask to sell with the album. The mask looks so damn good, top-notch quality and it’s fully customizable so you can add all the variations that you may think of, choose the colors you like most and so on. It’s not cheap, but I’d rather sell something really cool that looks amazing rather than something cheaper that looks like crap.
How many copies of that version have been printed?
C: It’s not about copies, for each mask is completely handmade from scratch, it’s about a time limit. Right now it’s available, who knows for how long. Let’s say if you’re really interested in one of those masks you should grab one before the album cycle is over.
Past present and future
Is it a choice you made to be a bit mysterious and not have much info about you and the band on the web?
C: Yeah, I’m not a social person and I would never put too much of my private life on the ‘net, honestly. First of all because I’m quite a boring person, I don’t hang out that much and basically do the same things over and over again. Besides, I truly don’t understand why people feel the urge to post a pic of everything they do 24/7. Do they really think someone is interested in what they had for breakfast or stuff like that? This is so dumb if you think about it. I release records, I’m not a damn YouTuber or a fuckin’ “influencer”, whatever that dumb shit means. So yeah, I simply put on the ‘net what I want people to know about me, all the rest is not their damn business.
Is Infernalizer a band or a project?
C: Long story short, I am Infernalizer. So let’s consider it a project that turns into a band when the time comes to play a gig or a band set-up is required. I’ve been in a few “real” bands in the past, where everybody was entitled to speak their mind about all the band-related stuff and so on and damn, the constant drama and chaos was unbearable! So much time wasted. I wanted to do things the easy way with Infernalizer, without wasting any more time.
Are you planning to continue releasing albums under the Infernalizer brand?
C: Yes absolutely, we had so much fun doing the first album that we’re already thinking about a second one. I’d like to release a record a year for the next bunch of years and see how this project develops. There’s a lot of different directions I’d love to explore, so yeah, I’m basically just getting started.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you, has it been hard to do PR for the new album and for the band?
C: Yeah, we wanted to shoot more videos and obviously after you release an album you want to bring the songs live, but that’s not been possible. Let’s see what happens after the world opens up a little. Honestly, I fear that there’s not much we’ll be able to do before 2022, so I’ll probably release another studio album before finally hitting the road.
What’s the current COVID-19 status in Italy today? I know the country was struck really hard during the first wave of the pandemic?
C: Italy is a dead country, COVID or not, so the situation simply got worse. The government is a joke, there’s no money, the economy is going down the drain, taxes are insanely high, and the state tries its best on a daily basis to fuck you in the worst way possible. So yeah, both the first and the second wave hit this country quite hard, but that’s the last of Italy’s problems to be honest; politicians are Italy’s first problem at the moment and the guillotine could be a possible solution.
Any plans on shooting videos to any of the songs on the album?
C: We just shot a video for the song “Leave A Scar”, one of the most catchy songs on the album. We had to limit the settings due to pandemic restrictions, but I’m pretty sure people are gonna like it nonetheless.
Leave A Scar (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Would you like to take Infernalizer out on the road and perform live?
C: Of course. I mean, I’m not the ultimate fan of playing live, not the shows themselves, I love to perform and always have a blast on stage, but all the time you waste on the road not playing can turn into quite a pain in the ass sometimes. All the waiting, traveling, getting bored, not being able to shower or to have a decent meal and so on. Anyway yeah, I absolutely want to take the project on the road, so expect selected shows or small tours along the way.
Is Europe or the rest of the world main priority when it comes to release albums with Infernalizer?
C: Yeah for sure, you know, I don’t really believe in the concept of nation, or home-country or whatever, we’re all on the same planet so as far as I’m concerned we’re all earthlings, all the rest is bullshit. So obviously I always envision things on a worldwide scale when I plan something.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Infernalizer yet?
C: What the fuck are you waiting for? Stop listening to the rubbish you’re listening to and go check my album out right now!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy THE UGLY TRUTH?
C: Sure, first of all this is an entertaining album and we all need entertainment really bad these days, so why wouldn’t you invest your hard-earned money into something that entertains you and makes you feel good? Second, nobody buys records anymore, so be a real rebel and go against trends, buy this album and show people how badass you are. And, last but not least, you’re going to become a fan sooner or later, like it or not it’s just supposed to happen, so you might as well start right now and avoid yourselves the embarrassment of having to buy the old records later.
Well, that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com this time around. Thanks for taking the time making the interview, stay safe and healthy! Do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
C: Wisdom? From me? Really?! Haha, oh well, sleep 8 hours a day, drink plenty of water and do a lot of cardio. That’s all the wisdom I possess, haha. Besides that, thanks so much for the interview, it’s been a pleasure. Talk with you next time and never forget that life is a short trip, so be sure to enjoy it! Cheers!