Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Friday, September 17, 2021

Interview: Ravager

On June 18th, 2021, German thrash metallers, Ravager, will release their third full length “The Third Attack” via Iron Shield Records. Marcel Lehr, Ravager’s guitarist, speaks the story of the band’s musical journey.

Hi Marcel! Welcome to Abaddon Magazine! We are here today to speak about your new album in the first place.
Hi Ivona! Thank you for your invitation! Let’s get started!

The third album, “The Third Attack”, will be released on June 18th. Any plans for promotion since, unfortunately, it is still impossible to play live, in front of real people, real fans?
To be honest, these are hard times to promote an album. There is nothing special planned so far. We just released a music video for the title track of our new album. We will also make a lyric video for the song “Planet Hate”. Later this year we will try to film another video. We all hope to soon return to the stage to promote that album the way it deserves.

The album contains ten songs. From the song titles you can tell what that is all about. You are loyal to the topics you covered over the years but still, what was the leading idea when you were working on this album?
The leading idea was that we shouldn’t stray from our roots lyrically and musically, but still create something new. We wanted to make a fast thrash metal album without compromises. There is just so much shit going on in the world so I never run out of topics to write about. On the other hand we don’t want to just point fingers and show how bad the world is.That’s why again a few songs on the album are not to be taken too seriously. I think we achieved a good mix there.

How did the whole process look since some things have changed in the past year due Corona?
We already had some of the songs at least partially finished (“The Third Attack”, “Priest Of Torment”). Other songs really just came together shortly before we hit the studio (“Planet Hate”, “Destroyer”). Most of the time I have a lot of ideas and riffs in my head. I am very old school and don’t use any computers for songwriting. So when we meet in our rehearsal room I show the guys my ideas and we finish the songs together. During Corona this was not possible all the time. So we had to rethink. Dario and I met together to finish the songs and André made the click tracks for pre-production. Some songs evolved into something completely different from their original versions during this process.

What was the main challenge while you were working on your new album?
The main challenge was that Phipsi decided to leave the band. That really threw us back a bit. We already had 6 or 7 songs finished, but that also means that there were 2 or 3 songs left for a full-length album. We already booked the studio and the date just came closer and closer. Because we all have full time jobs there was not so much time left to figure everything out that quickly. It was not easy at all, but eventually we managed to settle things and record the album in its entirety and the result is pretty cool I think.

“Intruders” is the album opener, why instrumental as an album opener?
It was Dario’s idea. First I was not really happy with that because I had written lyrics for this song. But in the studio, when we had the instrumentals done, we discussed that and we thought it would be cool to open the album with a short and fast track without lyrics. That is also rather unusual, but we think it works here.

On previous albums as well as on the last one, there are a lot of lyrics focused on political and social criticism. How do you see the world today, where do we go from here?
I hope that mankind is learning from the current situation but I am not sure if this really will happen. It is not easy for nearly everyone right now. The question is: are we willing to learn from this situation? I can’t predict the future, I just hope that there will be a better world. Sadly I can’t really believe in that either.

In “Planet Hate” you say the future is unknown.  Are you an optimist when it comes to the future?
I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist – but a realist I would say. The song is about the impacts of war. There is so much going on and so many people closing their eyes or showing indifference over what is happening. They don’t care if a country is bombed into nothingness or if hundreds of thousands die trying to escape. They don’t care that we produce weapons that trigger this misery. This all has to come to an end. People should not fight people for any reasons. People have to live together and they should be kind to each other.

What is our reality regarding “Back to the Real World”?
The lyrics for the song were written after some really cool live shows we had before the Corona pandemic. When you are on tour with your friends, when you meet so many nice people, when you hit the stage and have so much fun and you can see all the others have fun as well… This is like something unreal that never should come to an end and you don‘t want to come back to the “real” world.

The next song  “Priest of Torment” is about religion. Can you tell me what is your personal opinion about religion today and its interference to politics?
It’s been the same for centuries. There were and there are so many wars because of religion. So many crimes were committed under a cover coat of religion. But the church closes it’s eyes and nothing really happens. The church is still very powerful and will always be I suspect.

I will not torture you to talk about each song from the album, but have to mention “Beyond Reality” whose riffs go in Slayer direction. So tell me something more about your music influences?
Yeah, “Beyond Reality” and “King Of Kings” have this Slayer feeling. My personal music influences are Slayer, Metallica, Kreator, Exodus and Death, just to name a few. But these 5 bands are my biggest influences I would say. I‘ve been listening to death and thrash metal for about 20 years now. There were and there still are so many great bands and musicians out there.

In “My Own Worst Enemy” you say my own worst enemy is me. Why?
Because “Me” and “Enemy” is a cool rhyme, haha! Seriously, the song is about a fictional reality. I think everyone has to start working on themselves in order to change things for the better, not only in the current situation. You can’t really change others but you can try to change yourself. But this is a particularly big challenge, I know. That’s why we are all our own worst enemies.

So far I can not say which songs are my favorites, I love “Intruders”, “Beyond Reality” and  “Destroyer”, but globally this is a great album. Is there anything you still think you could do differently or you are 100 percent satisfied with the final product?
For me it is also hard to tell what my favorite song is on this album. Right now my favorites are “Planet Hate” and “Destroyer”. As a musician I am never 100 percent satisfied with the final product. But I would never release an album If I did not fully support it. I love the album and I dare to say it is our best so far. The circumstances were really not easy and I am very proud that we managed to stand together as a band.

Tell me something more about the art cover signed by Timon Kokott Art-Work. I think you already worked with him?
Yeah, Timon is a smart guy. There was no question that we will work with him together once again. It is always funny but on a professional way. I can really recommend him. This time we asked him for an acrylic painting instead of a digital artwork (as opposed to the “Thrashletics” artwork) and it turned out really awesome. The cover shows a fictional planet and our band mascot “Keule” who somehow crash landed there and now has to fight aliens and UFOs and stuff… But of course he will never give in and can not be destroyed.

The album will also be released on vinyl via Thrashletic Records in July 2021. While you were growing up, what were you buying: vinyl, audio cassettes, CDs?
Back in the early 90’s when I was a little boy I started recording songs from the radio on my cassette. When I started listening to metal in the late 90’s I was buying CDs, I never was the vinyl guy.

Do you think vinyl is coming back as it proved to be the best if we are talking about the sound quality?
Many (metal) bands release their albums on vinyl right now. The sound quality is really good and it has that collection feeling.

What do you think about digital music platforms?
There are two hearts beating in my chest. For us as a band we we hardly rewarded for our art. But at the same time we get more attention. Personally I also use digital music platforms.

You formed the band back in 2014 with Dario Rosenberg. When you started, what expectations did you have?
We did not have any expectations. I was about to sell all my guitar stuff but my wife said that I’d better not do this. So I got in contact with Dario for just making some noise in his child’s room, haha.

Soon, bass guitar player, André Sawade and vocalist Philip Herbst joined the band. Do you work as individuals and put all the pieces in the studio or do you work as a team the whole time?
The usual process is that I come up with some riffs and sometimes raw song concepts and show them to the other guys at our rehearsals. The songs are then completed in what is more or less a group effort. So it is not that uncommon for the songs to end up completely different from their initial versions.

If I am not wrong, André decided to replace bass with drums?
You are right. Because we couldn’t find anyone for the drums André decided to learn drums. He always wanted to do this so it was the right time to do. We thought it would be easier to find someone playing bass than drums.

So, the last one who came to the band was Justus Mahler?
Yes, Justus joined us in March 2015. From that moment on Ravager was complete.

Also, you and André were in Excavator first. What happened with that band?
Back in 2004/2005 André and I had a band called “Nuclear Destruction”. We recorded a self-made demo CD. But it was a whole a different style, more death metal. The band split apart for some reasons. After that André and I found some other musicians and we formed “Excavator” but André left the band somewhat later. We never recorded a demo. After that I kept the band alive with completely other members. But tragically our guitarist Viktor died in an accident and we all decided to split up with “Excavator” as well.

Your demo EP “Alarm Clock Terror” was released in 2016. In March if I am right 2016.  And in December you inked the record deal with Iron Shield Records. Did you expect the record deal that soon?
No, we did not expected a record deal that soon. We sent our material to some labels. Some answered, some didn’t. We got in contact with Thomas. He is a cool guy that lives for metal. Now we will release our third album via Iron Shield Records in June 2021. We are very thankful for that. It was the best decision to sign with Iron Shield Records.

Your debut album “Eradicate … Annihilate … Exterminate …” (2017) got very positive feedback. What did it bring to you?
With “EAE” we were able to get in touch with the underground thrash metal scene a little bit. We also filmed a music video for the song “Dr. Mad” with Maurice Swinkels which was a really great honor and experience. There are some classics on it, especially “Alarm Clock Terror”.

The next one, “Thrashletics”  (2019) also got great reviews, did “The Third Attack” already get any feedback from magazines or fans?
With “Thrashletics” we could do the next step. There was a guest vocal appearance by Leif Jensen on it. To me it was like a fanboy’s dream come true, hehe. We got great reviews for the record and of course we hope we will get the same feedback for our new album “The Third Attack”. There are not that many reviews yet but I think they are coming in in the next couple of weeks.

You are from Walsrode,  Lower Saxony. No matter how much I want to avoid this question, I am too curious, so… How is the situation there due to Coronavirus?
We are still in a lockdown. But it is seems to continuously be getting better now.

How Corona madness changed the way the band works?
Because of the lockdown we only met for making the video for “The Third Attack”. We are usually not a band that make decisions via phone or video call. So these have been kind of tough times for us.

Back in June 2020, Dario answered some questions for my former magazine and he said, I will quote: “I guess there will be a sh**load of CD/LP releases in the coming years.” So, what do you think, now when you see how many albums we already have in 2021, was he right?
Hate to admit, but as usual Dario seems to be right about things.

Did you have any proper rehearsal during the Corona period?
Unfortunately not. Our last rehearsal was in September 2020 I think. Then we entered the studio and after that there was the lockdown. We’ve had no rehearsals for more than half a year, it’s quite unbelievable.

Ravager is your hobby as Dario said in already mentioned interview. What do you do in your “real” life?
I am working in the administration in the town hall. Phipsi runs a taxi business and Dario, André and Justus are working in the industries.

When do you think the bands will get back on stage again?
Hopefully as soon as possible. But before returning to stage we better have a rehearsal, hehe.

I almost forgot to mention the video for the title song “The Third Attack”. Simple but effective. How did you film it if we again consider the current situation?
The video was filmed and directed by André. We filmed it in the attic of our rehearsal room one by one successively. We only had some green lights and a fog machine. That’s all. We made it completely by our own and yeah, like you’ve said, it’s quite simple but effective.

If I should extract my favorite Ravager video by now, it would be “Thrasletics (Out of Hell)”. It is so funny, so tell me what is your working ethic: fun, professionalism, funny professionalism…
We want to work on topics that are important to us but we don’t want to take everything including ourselves too serious. It’s basically a good mix of both. We are five funny guys that make music the way we want to.

Ok, Marcel, thank you so much for your time. I should warn you this will be an epic interview, but now there is no way back. Take care, all the best!
Thank you again for the interview, Ivona! I’ve had a lot of fun and I hope you too! Stay safe and keep the metal alive, thrash on!