After a colossal 15 year wait, veteran death metal band Rebaelliun have returned with an equally colossal new album – The Hell’s Decrees. Guitarist Fabiano Penna brought me up to speed with what the band have been doing with their new active status, and where they go from here…
Introduce us to Rebaelliun!
Rebaelliun was formed in 1998 in Brazil. In the end of that year we went to Europe – Brussels first – with a two tracks demo-tape to look for gigs and a record label, since the Death Metal scene in Brazil gave us no perspective about the future. We played several shows in a few countries and signed to Hammerheart Records from Holland. During the next 3 years, we released 2 EP’s and 2 albums, we played 3 more European tours, sharing the stage with legends such as Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth and Vader. In 2002 band quit due to personal issues and last year, in 2015, we finally decided to reunite to record a new album.
What are your influences?
Everything you listen to or even you watch, you experience, has some impact in the way you write and play music. But to keep it short, our strongest references in Metal are Slayer and Morbid Angel.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend.
About new releases, the latest albums of Slayer and Behemoth are great. About old music, I would say Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains, Judas Priest’s Painkiller and Morbid Angel’s Domination.
After so long away, what made you get back together and reanimate the beast that is Rebaelliun?
The will to play together, to create music together. The pleasure to be on the road playing Death Metal, meeting friends. And of course that people saying to us through the years that the band should have never ended, that we had potential to write more relevant music in this already saturated Death Metal scene. It’s less than one year that we decided to come back, but these months have been great for us so far.
Tell us about your latest release.
First thing to say about The Hell’s Decrees is that it was a challenge to do it. From the day we announced that we had reunite again to the day we delivered the masters to the label it was something between 6 and 7 months, in this period we wrote the whole album out of nothing and we did only 8 rehearsals at all before recording it. I personally was really afraid that the album would disappoint myself in the end, because everything happened too fast that we had no time to think too much about the music, the themes, about everything. On the other hand, this short time and pressure created a very spontaneous album, not too much is planned in The Hell’s Decrees, there’s a lot of things created in the studio during recordings. Almost all the leads we wrote during recordings, several vocal lines were created in studio and so on. I believe that it’s our best album, although some people say that it’s not so extreme as the previous one, Annihilation, this new album is fucking heavy and dense, and it’s fast as fuck.
How do you think The Hell’s Decrees fits in with the Death Metal scene in 2016?
That’s a hard question. I personally don’t like too much the way Death Metal turned to be on the last years, that’s why I still listen to pretty much the same bands until today. And it’s not a matter of being nostalgic or even old school, which I’m not at all, it’s just that this modern approach to playing extreme music nowadays for me it’s too technical, productions are becoming too plastic and I could stay here writing about this forever…Maybe The Hell’s Decrees has a bit of an old vibe that is kinda forgotten nowadays, like catchy refrains and things like these that it’s hard to find in the new releases. Bands that I grew up listening to as Morbid Angel, Deicide, Obituary, always had memorable refrains, more dynamics, and I think our new album has these items in a more extreme way, but they are there.
How did you choose the cover artwork?
We chose the artist and he had complete freedom to create. Marcelo Vasco (Slayer, Soulfly, Machine Head) was the responsible for the artwork, we’re friends from a long time, he supports Rebaelliun since 1999 as far as I remember, so I trusted 100% on his taste to create the cover art work. It’s bizarre, it represents the bizarre and post annihilation world we talk about in the lyrics on this album. Bizarre, ugly, hopeless, that’s our front cover and that’s the world in the end.
How did the songwriting go for the new album? Was it different than how you wrote in the past?
It was different. At that time we created isolated riffs, then we recorded them on a cassette tape and brought them to the studio to play with the rest of the band. Sometimes we went to the studio with a whole song in mind. I wrote half of the tracks and Ronaldo the other half on the first albums. This time I started to write the first songs just because I never quit playing guitar and I also work producing bands, so I have my home studio and recording for me it’s a daily routine. Ronaldo was only playing classical guitar – Brazilian music in fact – and he needed more time to get his hands ready for Rebaelliun. In the end I wrote the whole album while Lohy wrote all the lyrics. Ronaldo created his leads, but this time he could not contribute with composition, unfortunately. It was different and of course stressful but it worked in the end.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
I have no favourite song to be honest. But I could say that the track Rebellion is a song that makes me proud. It was one of last songs I wrote (just a couple of weeks before recordings started), I chose a very different direction of the usual Rebaelliun sound and in the end it became a cool song. I was a bit afraid if this song would not become too soft but the other guys liked it from the very beginning, when I showed them the first riff, so I kept working on it and it became a killer song for me. The lyrics and the vocal lines are great as well, I believe we will have some people singing with us in the shows…
What’s you experience like with the music industry these days compared to when you were first active?
It changed completely. For me it’s not strange at all because I never stopped. I played in other bands, produced tons of bands in Brazil and for several years I worked as sound engineer for major Rock bands in Brazil, so I was always close to the show business. I think that nowadays artists have to face the life on the road more seriously, because it’s pretty much the only way to make some money. Life is harder for label owners, publications have to reinvent themselves every year to keep alive and so on. Good thing is that through the Internet you reach thousands of people instantly, so promotion became easier and cheaper. On the other hand a good part of this new generations seems to prefer to watch YouTube videos than real concerts, what’s bad for the whole market. But things are constantly changing on the last years, so maybe in a couple of years we will have a completely different scenario, who knows?
What will the Rebaelliun live show be like?
An extreme aggression from beginning to end.
What does the future hold for the band. I hope you’re not going to make us wait another 15 years for a new album again…
Lots of work, that’s for sure. Next week we play our first show after 15 years and already start the tour of the new album. We have already several shows booked in Brazil, in August we go to Europe for a couple of summer festivals (Brutal Assault and Party San), then we come back to Brazil for more shows. In September we hit Mexico for the first time and maybe the end of the year Europe again. Playing live a lot, promote this new album a lot and as soon as possible we start to write a new album too. And then back to the road.