Local bestial horde Balberith has come a long way since their formation in the early 2000s, with band mastermind Khaal juggling duties between his band’s musical output, and the management of Ravage Records, one of Singapore’s last remaining pure metal merch stores. We speak to Khaal to learn more.
Greetings Khaal, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you give us a brief introduction of the band for the benefit for fans who might not be familiar with Balberith and its bestial style of black metal?
Hails, it’s an honour brother, Balberith was formed back in the early 2000s, initially as Shadow Throne. But I change it as the concept of the band changed over time, and I was the drummer back then.
The band will be releasing a new EP entitled False Flag Messiah this year through Ravage Records. When can we expect the new EP to be released?
Yes, we have already recorded the new EP. Ravage Records, which I am managing will release the EP by mid-2018, and we are already at the final stage of mixing.
The band has come a long way since 2003. With you as the only original member left in the band, could you tell us how the current line-up came about?
Indeed, I am the only member from the original line up that’s left. Previous members came and left, due to work or family commitments, and some also lost interest in metal itself. The current line up so far is the best that I have had since the band’s formation. Hazathoth (lead guitars), I have knew him personally since the early 90s, and we used to have a band back then called Revile but nothing came out of it. As for Hazlam (drums), he was a customer back then, and he used to play drums for a band call Inferno, which was heavily influenced by thrash metal. Lastly, Joverkill (bass) was also a customer back then, and he has musical background, which was why I invited him to join the band.
Aside from being a musician, you have also been running Ravage Records since 1998. How do you manage to juggle your time between music and running a store? What was your motivation of running the record store since 1996?
Yes, most of the metalheads know I have owned Ravage Records since 1998. I was a young metalhead back then when I started the label, and all of these started when I was in my school days. My schoolmate got interested in what I was listening to and word spread fast about me, and they wanted me to sell them CDs, t-shirts, etc. That was how it got started and the rest is history. All of these are my passion since I have been listening to extreme music for more than 25 years. Also, the shop is very important for me and the metal community here as its represents Singapore.
Ravage Record in recent years have started to organise metal festivals such as the annual Morbid Metal Fest, which will return this year. This year’s festival however is different from previous year, as it will feature 3 days of full-on metal shows. Could you tell us more about this year’s Morbid Metal Fest?
Yes, for me, I like to move up and do something different for the masses. This year will be the fourth edition of Morbid Metal Festival, and the last 3 editions were one day events. So this year I decided to do it 3 days of pure extreme metal as Ravage Records will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary. This is also a way for me to give back to customers who have been supporting since 1998. Without them, the label/shop wouldn’t exist till today. This year’s line-up will showcase more than 20 bands locally and internationally. For now we have bands like Archgoat, Humiliation (Malaysia), Shambles (Thailand), and many other big names in the extreme metal world. It is a show not to be missed which will be happening on 2-4 November 2018. Not forgetting the S.B.M.S Festival happen on 29 September 2018, featuring Blasphemy, Horna, Balberith, and more bands that have yet to be announced.
Personally, you have been in the Singapore metal scene since the early 90s. How different was the scene back then and now in terms of local bands and the metal crowd and their support?
Today metalheads have the chance to watch international bands here very often, which is nothing compared to the 90s where one can just dream of it. Back then, local gigs were events that everyone looked forward to, usually packed with metalheads who were eager to attend shows. Today we can see lots of difference as concert-goers can pick and choose .
Balberith has also performed regionally in countries like India and Malaysia. Could you share with us some of your most memorable overseas shows till date, and how it has impacted you as a musician?
For me, the show in Bangalore was one of the most memorable ones. The Trendslaughter bosses and crew really went extra miles for us, with world class treatment at one of the shows which I can’t forget. The crowd was crazy too.
Balberith will be performing for the upcoming Metal United World Wide on 5 May alongside other notable local metal bands. How did the opportunity come about for the band to be onboard this global event?
I was told by Vent Box Production that they wanted to host the MUWW, and for us we are always ready for local shows here as we support local shows, no doubt about it.
Lastly what can Balberith fans expect from this Saturday’s show?
We will be selling our promo CD that consist of 2 songs from the new EP, and also extra tracks from our live shows. Balberith will destroy the stage with DEATHSQUADS LEGIONS 0241!
Catch Balberith, and many other quality Singaporean bands this May 5 at the inaugural, Singapore edition of the Metal United World Wide. More details at this location.