Immersed Within the Rapturous Core – An Interview with Alesh AD of RAVENOIR

            A storming mass of extremity towers overhead as RAVENOIR commits their second heretical act, and a brief calm within its eye offers an opportunity for deeper reflection before the grandiose and impure torrent resumes. My review was tempted In the Womb of Sin to experience its forbidden wonders, and the call was further answered through communication with lead maestro Alesh AD, who illuminates some of its shadowy details while they persist in haunting our domain. Many aspects of this masterwork and its related subjects are examined, along with various inner workings that provide a glimpse at the dark forms awaiting manifestation.

Greetings and congrats on a swift and distinguished return! Your music continues to thrive with compelling soundscapes forged through the unholy trinity of dark, raw, and heavy elements. What inspired the vision for In the Womb of Sin and how does it relate to The Darkest Flame of Eternal Blasphemy?

First, let me extend my warm greetings to you and all readers of The Misanthreport on behalf of RAVENOIR. And thank you for the compliment, my friend, I really appreciate it. Just like you mentioned – the link between the two albums is the very bleakness and rawness interwoven through the soundscapes that enhances the somber mood of the whole album. These elements will always be an integral part of RAVENOIR’s work. A great force driving me as a musician is my inner musical vision and my emotions that I try to bring out and turn into music, just as a painter pouring his imagination onto the canvas, with a palette dominated by the darkest shades.

This release sees new guitarist Aleš Hampl taking over for Jakub Önslaughter Maděryč. What impact did this lineup change have on its production?

That’s right. Önslaughter quit shortly before we started recording our second album. His departure was mainly due to his workload with his home band, DEBUSTROL, which remains his priority. I do understand his reasons and I accepted his decision. We parted ways on amicable terms and if an opportunity presents itself, we will always be happy to see each other and work together. Our friendship has certainly not ended with Önslaughter’s departure. His successor is Aleš Hampl, a talented guitarist who I knew from before. I was sure he would be a great asset to the band and I was not wrong. He’s a really friendly guy, accommodating and hardworking, and in no way a newcomer to the music scene, having been in several bands before. Most recently he was a member of MINORITY SOUND, serving as a guitarist and vocalist. Since I’m RAVENOIR’s primary songwriter, Aleš and I agreed right from the start that I would record the guitar parts and he would embellish each song with a guitar solo. This approach to studio work along with the division of roles is not unusual in other bands. So, all in all, I believe that the line-up change will have absolutely no impact on the final production.

The album features striking and provocative cover artwork. What was involved with its design and how did your collaboration with Jenglot Hitam come about?

The motif for the front cover was my idea. Let’s say that the artwork captures my vision of the paradise in which the main character is an ethereal being of sorts, a goddess of sexual desire, arousal, carnal pleasures, lust, and lewdness. The Christian theology teaches that these sexual urges bring a person into this world guilty of original sin and hereditary depravity. Personally, instead of practicing abstinence, I like to indulge in all sensual pleasures that life has to offer and therefore I consider the concept of “original sin” a completely absurd proposition. Anyway, I’ve had an opportunity to view some of the artworks by an Indonesian artist whose artistic name is Jenglot Hitam. I outlined my vision to him in a few sentences and he accurately captured them artistically. Peter Bet’ko, the head of our record label Gothoom Productions, visually aligned the cover art with the album’s booklet, including the back cover, which was created by well-known Mexican artist Néstor Avalos. The collaboration with both Jenglot and Néstor went smoothly through an exchange of several emails. I would very much like to work with Néstor Avalos in the future. I absolutely admire his art.

Is there a particular aspect of the imagery, themes, or orchestrations from In the Womb of Sin that would be considered your personal favorite?

From my perspective of a songwriter, I see the album as a whole and I’m not able to elevate one song over another in my mind, so I don‘t have any favourites. I’m satisfied in all respects both with the debut The Darkest Flame of Eternal Blasphemy as well as our new release In the Womb of Sin. For me, each song on the album carries a message. This album is dedicated to my dearest wife Miriam, who I respect immensely and I would like to thank her for her tolerance and everything she does for me. You know, life with me is not really easy.

Dark mysticism and blasphemy are central to RAVENOIR, but there were also underlying explorations of death on the debut while In the Womb of Sin focuses more on indulgence, along with the multiple storm references noted throughout. Are there other topics of interest that may take priority on future releases?

I agree with you. RAVENOIR’s lyrics do focus on the topics you mentioned. Life, death, blasphemy, dark mysticism, nature, and history are some of the lyrical themes that will likely appear in our music in the future as well.

The primary celebration of indulgence here stands opposed to many religious attempts at repressing natural human instincts. What are your observations or thoughts on the consequences of this repression compared to a pursuit of healthy outlets for desires?

I don’t see any reason to suppress anything that is completely natural to us humans. That’s why I fundamentally disagree with any religion or beliefs that strictly command or forbid people to do things. After all, we live only once so it’s important to live your life to the fullest. Every individual should live their life exactly as they feel fit and try to leave a lasting, preferably positive, mark on the world and society. Why should I suppress my natural human needs? I don’t see any point in it at all. After all, such prohibitions usually have profoundly negative consequences.

Many intriguing lyrical scenes are depicted within this work, and one in particular appears on “The Cold of Casemates,” which in my review I speculated may involve Špilberk Castle. Could you offer any insights on what the track is really about and the inspiration behind it, along with its relation to the other prominent themes?

Yes, that’s correct. The lyrics to this song were written by Igor, our bassist. I guess the lyrics are self-explanatory and Igor insisted on putting one German word in the lyrics –  Brunn, which refers to his hometown of Brno, and my adopted home as well. The majestic Špilberk castle, whose casemates were converted into a prison in the 18th century, perches on a hilltop right in the centre of Brno and can be seen from almost everywhere. And just like pretty much any other castle, its history is full of (in)famous stories and now we’re proud that Špilberk made it into a killer song like this.

It was unfortunate to hear about ROOT coming to an end, and I send my best wishes to BigBoss on his journey ahead. Do you feel some elements of ROOT’s spirit are now continuing through RAVENOIR?

With respect to his age and the health issues ROOT’s frontman BigBoss had experienced, we felt that the inevitable end of ROOT’s career drew near. All of us kinda knew what his decision would be, but none of us knew when exactly the moment would come. It was sad for all of us in ROOT, for our fans, and of course for BigBoss himself. He lived and breathed music and everything about it and I can imagine how badly he will miss, with all his big black heart, the touring, recording and above the band itself. Unfortunately, no one can reverse the ravages of age and failing health. Over the past few years, his body had been letting him know more and more often that it might be time to retire from the music business. ROOT will finish its 11th and final studio album called The Legend Nizostratio and thus we will bid our fans farewell. Nothing lasts forever and life must be taken for what it is. BigBoss and ROOT have left an indelible mark on the world’s metal scene and I’ve had the honor and privilege to stand by his side for several years and share the stage with him as part of the unforgettable legend ROOT. Personally, I think there is a certain similarity between the two bands, with the dark hallmark of ROOT music seeping into the work of RAVENOIR.

Live shows are getting back underway as the pandemic becomes a past thought. What are you most looking forward to when the time comes to bring RAVENOIR onstage?

Over the next few months RAVENOIR will be working on its live set, with the first gigs likely to be scheduled for 2023. I am very much looking forward to it. What I really miss right now is touring and standing on stage in front of our fans. I firmly believe that nothing will get in the way of our touring plans and that next year RAVENOIR will hit the stage. I feel like RAVENOIR is opening a new chapter in my life.

You also recently introduced a new drummer into the lineup. Do you have ideas or expectations on what his particular style will bring to your next opus?

Yes, during the recording sessions for In the Womb of Sin, our new member Anton Samokhvalov took over drumming duties from Patrik Sas. I got a tip-off from Igor Botko, the drummer of HYPNOS, and I gotta say Anton is a really nice guy and undoubtedly a great drummer. He comes from Moscow, but he has been living in Bratislava, Slovakia for several years. That’s not too far from Brno so it‘s not a problem to get together on a regular basis. His drumming technique is somewhat different from Patrik’s, but I believe that this fact will have no effect on the quality of live performances of the already recorded material.

Band members come and go – that’s just the way it is. I make no secret of the fact that I am very damanding in terms of the functioning of the band, but at the same time I am equally hard on myself. I don’t want to waste our precious time on half-hearted efforts. That wouldn’t make any sense to me. I’m a perfectionist and I always try to do things to the fullest. If only to feel good about a job well done.

Many thanks for your time and insights once again! Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share in closing?

Thank you so much for reaching out to us, for your support and your time. Have a great time everyone and keep an eye out for future RAVENOIR updates.

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