RAVENSIRE from Portugal are an epic heavy metal band, enthralled in historical lyrical content and musically solid making sounds that are very heavy. There are a few bands out there in the world involved in this style, but few have the natural ability that you hear from Ravensire. Having been a fan of the band since their ‘Iron Will’ EP, it was a real pleasure to review their latest full length opus ‘The Cycle Never Ends’ which is a strong musical effort. I got the opportunity to speak with guitarist Nuno Mordred, here’s what he had to say.
AN: ‘The Cycle Never Ends’ is a triumphant metal experience, it is a great start to the year and I guess all who have borne witness to this album agree. Do you feel accomplished with this album?
We’re very pleased with the way the album sounds. It fits perfectly with what we had in mind and all the songs are exactly what we wanted them to be! But having said this, I don’t think any of us sits back, looks at the album and feels “this is it!”. Just like when “We March Forward” came out, we were pleased with it, but already looking ahead to what was coming next. Right now the album experience (composing, recording and releasing) is already in the past and we’re focused on promoting the band and integrating our new guitar player Mário, so we can go back on stage in the next couple of months. Also, some ideas for new songs are already floating, so it probably won’t be too long before we start working on the successor of “The Cycle Never Ends”.
AN: Have you changed your writing and recording approach at all, say since your last release and this?
Actually, we haven’t changed the writing and recording approach since our very first release, (mini-CD “Iron Will” in 2012). It all starts with a song idea on guitar that’s presented to the band and then we work out the other instruments, vocals and further details. Now that we have Mário on board, we’ll see if some adjustments have to be made with his input. The same goes for the recording process: Paulo Vieira has been handling the knobs since day one and there’s nothing we’d dare complain about.
AN: Was there any part of your sound you felt you needed to work harder to improve from that of ‘We March Forward’? If anything of course!
We have been trying to get better at our instruments/vocals, as we progress as a band. Ravensire was a starting point for all of us. ‘F’, for example, had never played drums before starting to learn with the specific goal of joining Ravensire! Rick also had never sung before Ravensire… Myself and Zé (who, has since left the band due to personal reasons) had never played solos before… So, you see, everything has been a new world to explore and we all need to work individually to perfect our musicianship. And that also helps not falling into some tired routines or stagnate musically.
AN: The ‘White Pillars Trilogy’ – what moved you to write about this?
Rick is an archaeologist and has been working on an excavation in a coastal site near Sintra. They started digging what, at first, looked like the remains of a XVI century lighthouse. As they dug deeper, they found that the occupation of that site spanned centuries and started as a Roman temple almost 2000 years ago. One day he was talking to me and saying how that excavation could be used for some interesting lyrics and, after a while, the idea of doing a trilogy came up. By then, I already had the music more or less ready for “Temple at the End of the World”, so when we made the decision, I immediately started working on other guitar ideas, always trying to have some kind of melodic identity to link them together. In retrospect, I think the whole concept came out very well.
AN: Who came up with the artwork for the release?
The artwork for this album was, yet again, a Pedro Rebelo creation. He has drawn all our releases as he captures our essence perfectly. When I talked to him about the cover, I sent him the lyrics of the “White Pillars” trilogy for him to get some inspiration. Apparently, what impressed him the most was Sigurd, the Norse king hahaha. He’s very influenced by great artists like John Buscema and Frank Frazzeta which is just about right for us: raw image for a raw band.
AN: With reference to Ravensire’s lyrics, for the uninitiated, what is your main source of inspiration?
We get inspiration from several sources, be it real, mythological or downright fantasy. About our literary influences, I’d say the usual authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard have their place on our imagination. But also other less-known authors like Algernon Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith… Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some great horror stories, although people will mostly stick to his Sherlock Holmes novels. Then there’s also the influence of more contemporary writers like Bernard Cornwell, Terry Pratchett, George R. R. Martin… There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there, that’s for sure. We also like to mix a bit of real history with imaginary tales. In “Crosshaven”, for example, we mixed some well-known facts (Sir Francis Drake escaping the Invincible Armada) with some… literary freedoms (him invoking the Norse kings to sink down the Armada boats).
AN: If you had to live in a different time in history, where and when would that be?
The future… I’d really like to live in a time and age where outer space exploration is running rampant! And preferably have my own spaceship, where I’d blast Terminus “The Reaper’s Spiral” and Slough Feg “Traveller” all the way through the galaxy.
AN: Are there any less obvious musical influences you wish to share with us? Who are your main sources of inspiration, and if not totally in the Ravensire mold, who do you listen too recreationally?
All of us will probably listen to Metal 99% of the time… The 1% that’s left, on my part, is reserved to some classic rock bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and the likes… I also like to listen, from time to time, to classical musical arranged for guitar. I have a special spot for the many Bach adaptations around (who doesn’t?), but also for Francisco Tárrega… His work on pieces like Asturias or Recuerdos de Alhambra (just to name a couple) is amazing.
AN: What is the best quote you remember about Ravensire or a release of yours?
This was actually written on a review of our latest album: “Family, turkey, stuffing, and enough mashed potatoes”. Of course, if you read the rest of the review the analogy will eventually make sense but, for me, the notion that Ravensire is comparable to stuffed turkey will never leave my head! Too bad Rick’s a vegetarian…
AN: Do you have any touring plans that you are able to share at this time?
It’s very difficult for us to do a proper tour. We all have professional and family obligations that make it hard to leave for a month on a tour. So, we’ll basically conduct our efforts to try and secure some festival slots that’ll help us spread the word. So far we’re already confirmed for No Compromise Festival to be held in La Louvière, in Belgium, next October. I’m sure some more dates will be added in the meantime, but so far nothing definite.
AN: Of the shows you have previously played, which one stands out the most?
It has to be Up The Hammers 2014… Playing in front of hundreds of Greek fanatics was a thrilling experience! We have a special connection, personally speaking, with the Greek scene and have travelled there as fans quite a few times. The atmosphere is amazing and everyone is really into the bands. A highly recommended festival, if anyone wants to experience what an intense underground festival is like!
AN: Was there a particular band who took Ravensire under their wing and really went over and beyond with support and friendship?
We have lots of friends around the scene, but the one who really went above and beyond the call of duty was not a band, but a person: Francisco from A Forja Records. When we started rehearsing and playing our first few songs, he was so enthusiastic about it that he decided right then to release our music whenever we felt it was appropriate. So, a few months later we ended up recording our first 4 original songs (and a cover) for the mini-CD “Iron Will” and he released it straight away. Of course, guys like Terminus and Midnight Priest also deserve a warm word of praise for all their invaluable help and camaraderie!
AN: Is there a band or artist on your wish-list who you guys would love to play live with?
If you ask that question to each one of us, you’ll probably get four different answers. But since I’m the one replying to this interview, I’ll go with Slough Feg! For me, Slough Feg is the best band to have emerged after the 80s and one of the best ever! Sounding like no one, never compromising, with a career spanning more than 25 years and several albums. You just can’t beat that! And besides, if we played with them, maybe we could get Mike Scalzi to do the middle part of “Gates of Ilion” with us and replicate what he kindly agreed to do on the album “We March Forward”.
AN: Are there others bands from Portugal we in the UK should be looking to check out?
The Heavy Metal scene in Portugal, right now, is actually quite active and with lots of interesting bands. Bands like Midnight Priest, Wanderer, The Unholy, Inquisitor, Cruz de Ferro, Deadlyforce, Dawnrider, Extreme Unction, Leather Synn, Dragon’s Kiss and Corman for example, or, if you’re looking for harsher sounds: Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, Martelo Negro, Dementia 13, Festering… I’m sure I’m forgetting someone as there are quite a few bands to choose from!
AN: In your day to day life, what activities do you enjoy outside of music?
When I’m not playing guitar or handling Ravensire stuff (which already takes a big chunk of my free time), I enjoy taking part in various sexual activities with the opposite sex!
AN: Would you like to say something to your fans as a closing statement?
Go to our page on http://www.facebook.com/Ravensire, check out our new album “The Cycle Never Ends” and, if you like what you hear, buy a copy and request your local promoter to invite us for a gig!
I am sure things will be very good for Ravensire, especially with Cruz Del Sur’s support, I wish you well for the future and I look forward to catching you live at some point. Thank you for your time.
(Interview Paul Maddison)