Gravehill formed in 2001, only to break up and reform again in 2007, and finally dropped their debut full length album, Rites of the Pentagram in 2009 upon mankind. Being reissued in 2010 with the Metal of Death EP as bonus materials, Rites of the Pentagram pays homage to old school death/thrash metal. We talk to Mike Abominator, vocalist of Gravehill.
MIKE: HAILS TO YOU FOR THIS UNHOLY TALK! THE RE-RELEASE HAS BEEN GOOD SO FAR! IT WAS “RITES…” WITH THE “METAL OF DEATH” EP AND A DVD AS WELL FOR THE PRICE OF ONE CD, SO IT HAD MORE DEATH METAL BANG FOR THE BUCK HAHAHA. MORE FANS SEEM TO DIG IT NOW WITH INTENSE PROMOTION AND WE HOPE TO KEEP SPREADING OUR PLAGUE INTO 2011! THE “CRITICS” HAVE SPOKEN AND MOST HAVE LIKED IT! OUR FRIENDS IN THE METAL WORLD HAVE ALSO HELPED TO GET THE WORD OUT THERE. AND THE FANS HAVE LOVED IT, AND IN THE END, THAT’S ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS!
Rites of the Pentagram was released only a year ago, in 2009. What was the reason behind re-releasing it only one year later with the EP included in it?
MIKE: OUR ORIGINAL LABEL ENUCLEATION RECORDS HAD SHUT DOWN AND WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE ALBUM GOT OUT THERE TO AS MANY MANIACS AS POSSIBLE. WE HAD BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH AND WORKED SO HARD ON IT, WE FELT THAT IT REALLY NEEDED A 2ND LIFE SO TO SPEAK WITH MORE PROMOTION AND PUSH. WE DIDN’T WANT THAT ALBUM TO DIE WITH JUST THE ORIGINAL PRESS. SO IT WAS DECIDED THAT WE WOULD PUT IT OUT WITH “MOD” AND A DVD AS WELL. HAILS TO GREG AT ENUCLEATION AND FOR WHAT HE DID FOR US! IT WAS A SHAME THAT HE HAD TO SHUT THE LABEL DOWN, BUT AS YOU KNOW, IN AMERICA, WE ARE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH OUR ECONOMY AND THAT COUPLED WITH THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CHANGING AND THE DIGITAL FILE/DOWNLOAD AGE THAT IS HERE, A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST DON’T BUY AS MUCH AS THEY DID.
What was it that caused the band to split up back in 2001, and why reform again under the banner of Gravehill instead of forming under another band name in 2007?
MIKE: THERE WERE SEVERAL ISSUES ACTUALLY. THE ORIGINAL GRAVEHILL DUNGEON CAUGHT FIRE AND ALMOST BURNT DOWN. THORGRIMM HAD A CHANCE TO RE-JOIN MORGION AT THAT POINT AND MIKE APOCALYPSE AND B. DEMON DECIDED TO MOVE ON TO OTHER PROJECTS. THE CONCEPT OF GRAVEHILL WAS KILLER, SO THROGRIMM HAD BEEN TALKING WITH ME ABOUT DOING A 1980S TYPE DEATH METAL BAND WITH THE ATTITUDE AND INFLUENCES OF THE ORIGINAL LINE UP. I WAS AN OLD FRIEND OF GRAVEHILL AND SHARED THE VISION OF THE BAND. I HAD SUGGESTED THAT WE USE THE NAME GRAVEHILL. SINCE I WAS TAKING OVER BASS/VOCALS FOR APOCALYPSE I ASKED HIM IF IT WAS ALRIGHT THAT WE CONTINUE GRAVEHILL AND HE GAVE ME HIS INFERNAL BLESSING. WE ALSO HONESTLY COULDN’T THINK UP ANOTHER GOOD NAME FOR THE BAND ANYWAYS, AND WE FIGURED THAT SINCE WE WERE DOING EXACTLY WHAT GRAVEHILL HAD BEEN DOING BACK IN 2001, WHY NOT CONTINUE IT IN 2007? FIRST KK REAPER AND BODYBAG SHARED OUR VISION. THEN WE HAD ZYKLON AND CORPSE MOLESTER AND NOW HELLFIEND. IT IS THE SAME DARK PASSION FOR THE ANCINET/OLDEN WAY OF DEATH FUCKING METAL! GRAVEHILL IS ETERNAL! THE TORCH OF DEATH HAS TO BE PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rites of the Pentagram/Metal of Death was released under Ibex Moon Records. How did this deal with Ibex Moon come about, and how has it been working with them so far?
MIKE: OUR FRIEND NEIL OF FATALIST TOLD JOHN MCNTEE THAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR A LABEL SO JOHN CONTACTED US. WE REALZIED THAT WE WERE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE, SO WE WANTED TO WORK TOGETHER. IT HAS BEEN GOOD WORKING WITH JOHN AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO “RITES…” GETTING SPREAD OUT TO EVEN MORE MASSES IN 2011.
Rites of the Pentagram gives listeners a good dose of old school death metal. What was the writing process like for the album? Where does the band draw the inspiration from?
MIKE: HAILS FOR THE WORDS OF DEATH! THAT IS WHAT WE WANT TO DO, IS TAKE THE FIENDS BACK TO 1985, THE BIRTH OF DEATH METAL, AND MAKE THEM FEEL THAT INFERNAL TIME. WE HAD BEEN BASHING OUT SOME OF THOSE SONGS SINCE 2007 AND SOME OF THOSE RIFFS WERE EVEN OLD RIFFS OF OURS THAT WE HAD SITTING AROUND SINCE OUR EARLY DAYS OF PLAYING HEAVY METAL AND FIRST PLAYING INSTRUMENTS! WE JUST GAVE IT THE OLD GRAVEHILL INFLUENCE AND WE WERE OFF! WE ARE INFLUENCED BY THE OLD GUARD AS IN OLD DEATH/MASSACRE, THE OLD POSSESSED STUFF, AUTOPSY, NIHILIST, THE CLASSIC TEUTONIC THRASH BANDS, HELLHAMMER/FROST, OLD SLAYER, MASTER, VENOM, MERCYFUL FATE AND ALOT OF THE CANADIAN AND ENGLISH METAL BANDS. OUR ATTITUDE IS CRAFTED FROM MAINSTREAM CULTURE AND OUR HATRED OF IT! DEATH TO TRENDS! MAN MADE RELIGION ALWAYS GIVES US INSPIRATION OF HATE! EVERYDAY LIFE AND THE HARDSHIPS THAT WE GO THROUGH INSPIRE US TO WANT TO KILL. HELL DOWN BELOW AND HELL ON EARTH AND WAR ARE ALSO ALWAYS GREAT TOPICS! DARK AND IMPURE BOOKS AND MOVIES ALSO INFLUENCE GRAVEHILL AND OUR QUEST TO RID THE EARTH OF THE WEAK.
Unlike other bands that play old school death metal, Rites of the Pentagram has a pretty polished production quality, instead of the usual dirty and raw sounds that most other old school death metal bands go for. Was this the intended effect by the band?
MIKE: THAT IS AN INSULT! HAHAHAHA. NAH, SERIOUSLY, THE PRODUCTION CAME OUT GOOD IN OUR OPINION, BUT WE AREN’T HAPPY WITH IT NOW. WE ACTAULLY RAN OUT OF MONEY AND OPTIONS AND HAD TO GET THE ALBUM OUT, SO WE WERE FORCED TO HAVE OUR ENGINEER DO THE MIX/MASTERING, WHICH WAS A BAD IDEA, BUT IT HAD TO GET DONE. NOT HIS FAULT, JUST THE WAY IT ENDED UP. WE WANT EVERYTHING TO BE UP FRONT AND UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT IT GOT A LITTLE TOO CLEAN IN MY OPINION. I WANT TO TRY AND FIND THAT PERFECT BALANCE WITH THE NEXT ALBUM. I WANT A DIRTY AND RAW SOUND, THAT IS ALSO CRISP AND “IN YOUR FACE” SO TO SPEAK. I WANT HEAVINESS AND POWER, YET DARK AND DUNGEON SOUNDING. WE WOULD LIKE TO RECORD WITH ANALOG AND DO IT THE OLDEN WAY, BUT HERE IN L.A., THAT IS A VERY EXPENSIVE OPTION! SO WE WILL TRY AND CAPTURE A MORE ORGANIC AND OLD SCHOOL SOUND WITH THE NEXT ALBUM. YET RETAIN THAT RIPPING SOUND THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE AND CRISP/CLEAR.
The album art of the album is also fucking awesome and captures the essence of the band’s music. How did the collaboration with Mark Riddick come about, and how did the concept behind the album art come about?
MIKE: I HAD DECIDED TO SEND HIM A MESSAGE AS I WAS A BIG FAN OF HIS DISGUSTING YET BEAUTIFUL WORK! HAHAHA. MARK IS A DOWN TO EARTH GUY AND WROTE ME BACK AND WE STARTED TALKING AFTER THAT. HE IS A KILLER GUY AND A CRAZY ASS METAL FREAK, SO WE GOT ALONG JUST FINE! WE GAVE HIM THE CONCEPTS AND HE CAME THROUGH WITH FLYING BLOODY COLORS WITH THE END RESULT! WE JUST TALKED ABOUT AN IMPURE COLLABORATION AND IT ALL CAME TOGETHER WITH THE EVIL CONCEPTS THAT WE HAD IN OUR HEADS.
|Founding member, Thorgrimm|
You mentioned in end of 2009 that a split album with Gravewurm is on the cards. Being a fan of both Gravehill and Gravewurm, is it possible to let us and other fans of the bands know how this is coming along? Is it still going to be released?
MIKE: WE HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THIS SUPPOSED RELEASE. IHAVE SPOKEN WITH PATRICK AT IRON BONEHEAD, WHO IS A COOL GUY AND A MANIAC METAL HEAD. BUT HE JUST KEEPS TELLING ME THAT IT IS DELAYED. NOT SURE WHY. MAYBE HE DIDN’T LIKE THE SONGS O FTHE BANDS? HAHAHAHA. NOT SURE! GRAVEWURM HAS GIVEN UP AND IS LOOKING FOR ANOTHER LABEL TO PUT IT OUT. WE ARE JUST TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN OR NOT. IT IS DISAPOINTING AS IRON BONEHEAD IS A GRAET LABEL AND WOULD HELP FOR US TO GET EXPOSURE IN EUROPE!
Matt is also currently in the band, how does he manage to juggle the time between Exhumed and Gravehill? How has his presence in the band helped in terms of songwriting and band dynamics?
MIKE: MATT DOES GET BUSY WITH EXHUMED AT TIMES. HE WAS VERY BUSY WITH WRITING AND RECORDING THE ALBUM WHICH IS DONE NOW AND WILL BE RELEASED NEXT YEAR. BUT HE HAS BEEN WORKING WITH US HE LAST FEW WEEKS AND WILL CONTINUE WITH US UNTIL EXHUMED GETS BUSY WITH TOURS AND FESTIVALS. ONCE HE DOES EXHUMED, WE WILL TAKE A BREAK PLAYING LIVE AND CONCENTRATE ON WRITING. IF A KILLER LIVE OPPORTUNITY COMES OUR WAY IF MATT IS BUSY, WE CAN TRY AND GET A STAND IN OR “HIRED GUN”, BUT SO FAR THAT HAS NOT BEEN NEEDED. MATT HAS SO FAR CONTRIBUTED ONE NEW SONG TO THE NEXT GRAVEHILL ALBUM, AND MAYBE A 2ND ONE. PLUS SOME GREAT INSIGHT ON A COUPLE OF OTHER SONGS THAT WE HAD WRITTEN. WE HAVE HAD 6-8 SONGS WRITTEN FOR A WHILE NOW. BUT WE HAD MADE A FEW CHANGES TO SOME HERE AND THERE AND DROPPED 1 OR 2, OR CHANGED THEM ALMOST COMPLETLY, WITH AND WITHOUT MATT. WE LOVE JAMMING WITH MATT AS HE IS AN OLD FRIEND OF MINE AND THORGRIMM’S. AND HE IS A GREAT GUY AND EASY TO GET ALONG WITH. HE ENJOYS JUST THRASHING AND HEADBANGING AND PLAYING HIS GUITAR, SO SO FAR SO GOOD! BECAUSE HE HAS SO MUCH EXPIRIANCE IN METAL, HE IS ALSO GREAT TO HAVE AROUND IN BAND SITUATIONS AND DYNAMICS! WE ARE HAPY TO HAVE HIM ON THIS DEATH TRAIN!
Mike, you handled the bass duties on the Metal of Death/Advocation of Murder and Suicide EP. What was it that made the band decide to have Corpsemolestor to join the band as bassist after that?
MIKE: I GREW TIRED OF DOING BOTH THE 4 STRING MOTHERFUCKER AND ALSO TERRORIZING THE CROWD WITH MY SHITTY OUTLOOK ON LIFE AND MY INSULTS OF DEATH. PLUS, I ENDED UP WITH 50 POUNDS OF ARMOR(STEEL AND LEATHER) AND IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAY BASS, SCREAM/GROWL AND FUCK WITH THE CROWD. I WANTED TO HAVE THE FREEDOM OF GIVING A 666% PERCENT PERFORMANCE FOR THE MANIACS IN ATTENDANCE, AND ALSO TO CHASE AWAY THE POSERS THAT WOULD COME CRAWLING THROUGH THE BACK DOOR. SO WE FOUND OUR CRAZY FRIEND, THE CORPSEMOLESTER, TO FILL THE BASS DUTIES. HE HAS DONE GRAET SO FAR AND HE IS THE ONLY SICK FUCK AROUND THAT CAN TAKE BEING IN A SICK AND CRAZY BAND LIKE GRAVEHILL. FROM 2000-2010, ALL OF THE MEMBERS OF GRAVEHILL HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER IN SOME SORT OF CONNECTION BY ONE OR ALL OF THE MEMBERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. I DON’T LIKE PLAYING THE BASS ANYMORE ANYWAYS. NOW I HAVE MORE TIME TO DO IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE PRACTACING REAR NAKED CHOKE MANUVERS, PUNCHING BRICKS AND ATTACKING RANDOM PEOPLE IN MY LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD!
Unlike most other death metal bands, the band has chosen to go the more theatrical path complete with spikes, blood and leather armours. What was it that inspired the band to do so, and has it helped in getting more people to notice the band?
MIKE: WHEN I LOOKED AT THE IMAGES OF HELLHAMMER, POSSESSED, OLD DEATH, OLD DISMEMBER, DESTRUCTION, SODOM AND OTHERS, IT WAS SO OVER THE TOP! IT WAS PURE EVIL AND SHOCKED THE SHIT OUT OF ME! I WANTED TO GIVE PEOPLE THAT FEELING AND COMBINE THE BLOOD, LEATHER AND SPIKES AS PART OF OUR IMAGE. IT GOES BACK TO THE 80S AS OUR FOREFATHERS DID IT AND IT IS A HUGE PART OF OUR LIVE SHOW, PICTURES AND WHO WE ARE. IT IS ALSO OUR BATTLE GEAR. WE FEEL AS IF WE ARE GOING TO WAR WITH THE FAKE MUSIC EVERY TME THAT WE PLAY. AS WE PREPARE FOR BATTLE, WE GET READY TO KILL. IT IS A RITUAL FOR US TO GET IN THE DARK STATE OF MIND AS WE PUT THE ARMOR ON AND GET EADY FOR THE LIVE SLAUGHTER. WE ALSO KNEW THAT WE WOULD STAND OUT AND GET SOME MORE ATTENTION TO OUR DARK CAUSE! IT HELPED TO SPREAD THE WORD OF OUR MADNESS EVEN QUICKER. WE ARE NOW IN THE NIGHTMARES OF THE WEAK. BECAUSE EVEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE US, OR OUR MUSIC, OR YOU GET ALL HURT BECAUSE I INSULTED YOU OR PUNCHED YOU DURING A LIVE PERFORMANCE, YOU WILL NEVER FORGET US! YOU STARE IN AWE OF THE METAL OF DEATH! AND IF YOU DO LIKE US AND GET OUR ANCIENT DEATH METAL, THEN YOU WILL REMEMBER US EVEN MORE BECAUSE THIS IS FOR YOU! WE WANT TO GIVE 666% OF OUR DARK HEARTS IN WHAT WE DO AS TO CARRY ON THE TRADITION OF THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US AND DID IT THE RIGHT WAY! AND THE TRUE MANIACS THAT RAGE WITH US, WE WANT NOTHING BUT BLOOD, SWEAT AND HEADBANGING! YOU ALL RULE! GRAVEHILL SALUTES YOU! ALL OF THE EVIL HORDE WORLDWIDE!!!!!!!! THE METAL HORDE! THE GRAVEHILL ILLUMINATI!!!!!!!!!!
Now that the band is signed to Ibex Moon Records, can fans see more tours in the coming year?
MIKE: WELL, WE SHALL SEE HOW THAT COMES ABOUT. WE HAVE SOME THINGS THAT ARE IN THE TALKING STAGES RIGHT NOW THAT I CAN’T MENTION. WE SHALL SEE IF IT COMES TOGETHER AND IF IT HAPPENS. AS OF NOW, WE ARE PLAYING 2 MAJOR FESTIVALS IN THE U.S.(ONE MDF I WILL SPEAK OF NEXT, AND THE OTHER IS CENTRAL ILLINOIS METALFEST). SOME OF THE OTHER THINGS ARE FESTIVALS IN BOTH THE U.S. , CANADA AND EUROPE. PLUS WE HAVE 2-3 BIG LOCALS SHOWS PLANNED. ONE OF THEM ANNOUNCED IS A LIVE RITUAL WITH DETRUCTION AND DESTROYER 666 AT A BIG THEATER HERE NEXT TO OUR HOME OF HELLHEIM! THE HORDE ALWAYS HAS A INFERNAL TIME WHEN WE SLAY THAT STAGE. OF COURSE WE WANT TO TOUR ALL OVER THE PLACE. OUR GOAL IS TO GET TO CANADA AND MEXICO, SOUTH AMERICA, EUROPE, JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF 2012.
The band is set to be performing at the Maryland Deathfest in 2011. How does that feel, and what can fans of the band look forward to at your set at the festival?
MIKE: WE ARE HONORED TO BE A PART OF THIS LEGENDARY FESTIVAL AND THIS YEAR’S LINE UP DOES NOT DISAPOINT. 3 BANDS THAT I GREW UP WITH ARE PLAYING VOIVOD, CORONER AND NUCLEAR ASSAULT! PLUS WE GET TO SHARE THE STAGE WITH IMPALED NAZARENE, HAIL OF BULLETS, D666, AURA NOIR, DOOM, INQUISITION, DEAD CONGREGATION, DROPDEAD PLUS TONS OF OTHERS, PLUS OUR GOOD FRIENDS IN EXHUMED, CIANIDE, NOKTURNEL, HOODED MENACE, AND WITCHAVEN. IT IS GOING TO BE A MASSIVE METAL MELTDOWN OF EPIC PROPORTIONS! WE HAVE BUILT A SOLID REPUTATION AS A LIVE BAND NOW AND ALWAYS GIVE 666% PERCENT! THE MORE PEOPLE THERE ARE, THE MORE HEADBANGERS, THE MORE SCREAMING AND JOINING US IN THE MADNESS, THE BETTER WE PLAY THE DEATH NOISE! SO COME JOIN US MARYLAND! WE ARE ALL ONE BIG INFERNAL FAMILY THAT WEEKEND! RAGE WITH US YOU SICK MANIACS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BECAUSE WE WILL BE THERE READY TO KILL FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have come to the end of the interview, thank you for taking the time off to answer our questions!
MIKE: INFERNAL FUKING DEATH HAILS TO THE HEAVY METAL TRIBUNE AND ALL OF THE OTHER MANIACS IN SINGAPORE! THE LAND OF ABHORER, IMPIETY, ABATTORY, XASTHUR, PROFANCER, EURONYMOUS, WORMROT, INFIDEL, PROFANATION, BATTLESTORM, DREAD, BLOODANGEL, LIBATION, BUNUH, INSANITY AND MANY MORE OF THE SINGAPORE HORDE( I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW I WAS FAMILIAR WITH THE MIGHTY SINGAPORE BANDS EY?!?! HAHA!)
THE NEXT ALBUM TO BE OUT IN 2011 WILL BE CALLED “WHEN ALL ROADS LEAD TO HELL”! LOOK OUT FOR IT SINGAPORE!
IT WAS KILLER TALKING WITH YOU MANIACS AT HMT! KEEP UP THE MADNESS AND KEEP SPREADING OUR PLAGUE OF WORLD DOMINATION! WE HOPE TO MAKE IT TO SINGAPORE SOMEDAY TO PLAY FOR THE LEGIONS OVER THERE AND ALSO PART OF OUR METAL HORDE AND FAMILY OF MANIACS! SINGAPORE, GRAVEHILL SALUTES THEE! IN YOUR NATIVE TOUNGE, I PAY ULTIMATE REPSECTS TO YOU: BANYAK BERKAITAN DENGAN ANDA WARRIORS METAL! HARAPAN KAMI UNTUK MEMILIKI KEHORMATAN BERMAIN SHOW LIVE KAMI UNTUK ANDA DI MASA DEPAN DEKAT. Aku RAISE tanduk SAYA DI Salut kepada ANDA! I HOPE I SAID IT PROPERLLY, BUT YOU GET THE MESSAGE! CHEERS! THANK YOU FOR TALKING WITH ME ABOUT THIS BAND OF MINE!
Album Review: Gravehill – Rites of the Pentagram