AN NCS INTERVIEW: REVULSION
(Not long ago we published Aleksha McLoughlin‘s review of the excellent self-titled debut album by the Finnish death metal band Revulsion, which was released on February 5th by Transcending Obscurity Records, and Aleksha has now followed that up with a live recorded interview of Revulsion members Atte Karppinen (drummer) and Tuomas Alatalo (bassist), a transcription of which you’ll find below.)
What was it like signing up to Transcending Obscurity Records? They have some great bands on their label, like Gaera and De Profundis.
It was exciting, of course; our first signing and immediately to an international label. We obviously had heard about them through Sepulchral Curse and Sadistik Forest, we know the guys from that band. So we already had friends who had signed up with them. It was quite a clear choice in that sense because we already had an idea of what they could do and what kind of connections to the industry they had, how we could get our music out there.
We were surprised how quickly Transcending Obscurity Records responded to our questions about the signing. Yeah, it didn’t take long for him to reply. He was like, “Let’s get this album out there, let’s get you guys some visibility”. Because it’s obvious today, in this kind of competitive environment, with a lot of bands, labels and everything like that, it’s hard to get your voice out there and get your band seen and stand out.
From what I could see on the Bandcamp page, they really went all all-out on different versions, marketing the absolute hell out of the record. So I thought that was a good touch.
The coffin seat was really clean, nice touch. Yeah, I’ve been sending them. They’ve been really putting emphasis on the physical releases, as well. Digital platforms are really important, but this label upholds traditional media by putting as much effort into the physical copies as much as possible.
The coffin is something that’s really cool. I’ve never seen a CD release in a coffin case. I’ve seen it with tapes before, mostly with re-releases of black metal collections. If I had to relate Transcending Obscurity to any other major label right now it’s quite similar to Season of Mist and Candlelight with how they do things.
I think that’s one of the unique things about Transcending Obscurity. it’s not a huge label like Nuclear Blast for instance, but they still put a lot of effort into that and really want to deliver to the people who want to support this kind of music. Candlelight and Season of Mist have been around for a long time; they have some amazing bands as well.
I doubt I’m the first person to ask you this; What was the reason for that large gap between releases? It’s been 10 years since your Defiled EP before you made the full-length. What was the reason behind that?
Yeah, you’re not the first. That seems to be a common theme with our band.
That’s sort of because our bio says that we started in 2005. I joined in 2007; the first few years were just us playing for fun, and then we did a demo.
When we did the demo in 2010, and the EP in 2011, we were much more traditional in our approach — mid-tempo brutal death metal — then when Alexi Hunta, our current vocalist, joined in 2012, I think that’s when we started taking a different direction.
That actually took a while. It felt like we were trying to find something a little bit different in a sense than just your mid-tempo riffing and all that. I don’t think we’ve really analysed it, in a sense, in any way. We forged a different kind of goal with what we wanted to say through the music so that’s been kind of a slow process. Trying to find and craft songs in a way that means we can still retain that riff basis for our music, but not just be about riffs, but also focusing on compositions and atmosphere rather than saying: ‘Well, this is a cool riff, and this is a cool riff, let’s put them together.’
It’s weird to say because our music, which many reviews have pointed out, is straightforward death metal, but we don’t approach it quite in that way where it’s like: ‘there’s riff one done, here’s riff two’. It’s hard to explain. The recording process took a while; I believe that the drums were recorded in 2019. Completing the record took around two years. I think that’s ultimately the reason why there’s such a long gap between releases.
As far as “Echoes of Life” and “Walls” are concerned, two songs that were released back in 2016 as a single that also appear on the full-length, were they re-recorded or included as is?
They were completely re-recorded; nothing was re-used from the singles. They were the first songs written over that five-to-six-year period. In order to make everything more unified, we thought that we might as well re-record them. As far as the drums went on those songs, there were only very minor differences in the versions.
It’s always good to have different versions of the same song. Because then you can hear the evolution of a band as the production improves, the compositions get tighter, and add smaller changes that make them unique to listen to back-to-back.
Yeah, the 2016 singles were rougher around the edges and produced on a much faster schedule. I think I recorded those drum tracks in one or two days, whereas on the full-length it was a day per track. Some songs took more effort than that, much more time spent on the instrumental recordings, and the vocals as well. It was more polished and rehearsed than the singles.
You’ve outlined how the band has changed focus since 2011. What would you say that your current inspirations are now, in 2021?
There aren’t many bands that all five of us listen to, but one that was shared by us all was Cannibal Corpse. Otherwise, we have a varied set of influences, and I believe that because it’s so varied we wanted to veer away from that Cannibal Corpse style — brutal and strictly riff-based death metal — and that led us down our current path of trying to find our own sound. Even though it’s straightforward death metal, we’re still trying to carve out our own niche in the genre.
What kind of bands in your area, or in your country, do you think have been underrepresented?
It’s hard to say which are underrepresented because a lot of the really interesting bands that have come out have pretty much gotten as much attention as they can get in this genre. Desolated Shrine is one that doesn’t quite have the attention that you would expect. That’s one band, and I think we all believe Gorephilia is really good. But they’ve made a name for themselves already, as well as Lie in Ruins. There’s a lot of really quality death metal in Finland right now. I mean, the death metal scene is probably the best it’s been in a long time.
Over the last couple of years, a lot of really high-quality records have come out with great song-writing and distinct voices in death metal. It’s been nice to see those bands getting the kind of attention that they deserve. Achieving international recognition isn’t quite as difficult as it once seemed.
As far as the future of Revulsion, would you say that there’s something in the works for 2022/23, or will you ride out this release for a while?
We’re going to try and be more active from now on for our own sake. We’ve already got some new material that’s pretty much ready. It depends on the kind of release we’re going to do, but something is coming pretty soon, especially with the Covid-19 situation, because we can’t play live. It looks like we won’t be able to for at least the next six months, maybe even the rest of the year.
“The Silence” was an older song that we wrote, a mid-tempo straightforward death metal song. Nowadays, we’re veering more towards how the last song on the record sounded, “Viimeinen Rituaali”, the slower songs. Not just in making slower music, but in creating a new kind of atmosphere and depth, that’s more dissonant and refined, with maybe less emphasis on riffs as such. The core of our music will always be riff-based music, but it’s an ongoing process. I think we’re starting to find the direction that we want to take in the future.
This year was supposed to be our biggest for live gigs. We had more plans than ever which all got cancelled. We were supposed to play Helsinki Death Fest alongside some old school grind bands from Finland that we’re all fans of. We were really looking forward to playing that show.
There were so many great bands set to come over here for the first time in 2020, that all got cancelled and washed away due to the Coronavirus.
Same with the entire entertainment industry especially. In Finland, there’s a lot of talk about live music and venues struggling a lot, and that sucks. We have many friends who work in that industry, and they’re going out of business. It’s a really shitty situation. We shouldn’t complain just because we’re missing out on a few shows when there are people really struggling, but it sucks for us.
I can imagine. In the UK, quite a lot of our big venues are on the verge of closing right now, The Blackheart in London, they have a crowdfunding campaign, just trying to keep the lights on. It’s a shame because they’re such a great venue.
Yeah, it’s been fun talking to you. Thanks a lot for this.
It’s okay, sir. My pleasure, it’s been an honour. I think you guys are one of the best death metal bands out right now. And I just want more people to know that.
Thank you so much.