domingo, 28 de febrero de 2021


1. We can say that Raventhorn was born from the ashes of Loud'n'Proud, a band that had a more thrash / speed orientation, when did you decide to switch between the two bands? Why did you choose the name Raventhorn and what did you do? reference?

In the days of Loud’n’Proud we were mostly inspired by different thrash metal bands – from the more popular ones like the Big 4 of thrash metal to the newcomers like Havok and Warbringer. By the time we started composing our “From the Ashes...” EP, I started exploring black metal and got into many obscure and mostly melodic black metal bands, and the love to the genre passed on to Stephen as well. That’s why “From the Ashes...” sounds like a mixture of two, but the black metal influences were very strong. Around that time I discovered Carach Angren, a band that changed our view of music and worked as an impulse for this transition from Loud’n’Proud to Raventhorn. When we started composing and recording “Nightmare in Eden” we realised that the sound of the band has completely changed, and the name “Loud’n’Proud” didn’t fit neither the concept of the band nor its aesthetics. It was hard to choose a new name for the band, but after some time I came up with the word Raventhorn, which perfectly represented what we are. Ravens have been an unspoken symbol of the band even in times of Loud’n’Proud, one of the first versions of the name actually had something to do with ravens. “Raventhorn” has a meaning in our stories as well, it is a part of our fictional universe, but it will be explained on our next albums.

2. Although the trajectory of Loud'n'Proud was not very extensive, if he did edit an album and an EP, what has Raventhorn brought you with respect to Loud'n'Proud?

I feel like Loud’n’Proud was a good foundation for Raventhorn. Back then we didn’t have much experience with songwriting or recording our material, which obviously led to some mistakes in the process, but it was then when we learned how to avoid those mistakes. We gained the necessary experience and released our debut album as Raventhorn on a higher level than Loud’n’Proud’s album and EP. Moreover, the stylistical change between “The Stand” and “From the Ashes...” also paved the way for further experimentation. I would say, if you listen to “From the Ashes...” and “Nightmare in Eden” consequently, you will hear how our influences changed with time.

3. In 2018 they released the first Raventhorn album entitled “Nightmare in Eden”, a first album in which Stephen Morley and Nick Malko had to take care of the entire composition and recording process, what do you remember about the recording of this first album ? Was it a liberation for you and a way of expressing yourself more freely with respect to the past? 

Composing and especially recording “Nightmare in Eden” was definitely not an easy task, as we had to change our workflow completely. Before that we used to compose most of the songs on our rehearsals, but when I moved to Germany, and Stephen moved to England, we had to work from home. It was our first concept album, and we’ve spent countless nights on Skype trying to create an interesting and a unique story. Recording is another aspect that was quite challenging. We already had some experience with writing lyrics, but with recording everything on our own we jumped in at the deep end. We had to learn everything with help of the Internet, which was a lot of work, but it paid off in the end, and it was also a lot of fun discovering all the different things you can do with recording. On the compositional side, as you said, it provided us with some sort of liberty. Under the name Loud’n’Proud we were known as a thrash metal band, but after the change no one had any expectations, so we could do whatever we wanted to do. It allowed us to bring all the crazy ideas we had to life. 

4. You recently released your second album "Shadows of Lonehill", a work from my point of view much more complete and ambitious, how do you think the sound of the band has evolved between these two albums? Is Raventhorn closer to its compositional maturity?

Thank you, I am glad that you think that way! Well, I think that on “Shadows of Lonehill” we went even further with experimental genre combinations. “Shadows of Lonehill” sounds both heavier and softer than “Nightmare in Eden”, on some songs we went to the extremes of both sides. There’s been a slight vocal change as well, on this record we used more of my growls and screams, and Stephen’s vocals got even cleaner than before, which provides you with some sort of a contrast. We also used spoken word much more than before, so that it feels like there is a narrator for our story. Speaking of the instrumentation, our orchestral arrangements got more extensive and more thought-through, you could say, and the song structures are in general more unpredictable, bizarre, and theatrical. As for the compositional maturity, I guess time will tell, but I think that with “Shadows of Lonehill” we were definitely more aware of what we were doing.

5. The sound of “Shadows of Lonehill” is very complete and complex, with different elements, such as symphonic black, melodic and of course, progressive elements of bands like Carach Angren or Opeth, among others, how would you define the sound of the album for those who have not heard it yet? And what about the aforementioned bands and others have been able to influence the sound of the album?

I would say that “Shadows of Lonehill” is an album that will take you through the full emotional spectrum from happiness to melancholy and even anger. Musically you will hear influences of a vast variety of genres, sometimes it will be symphonic death metal, sometimes – jazz and neoclassical music. Music reflects the story told in the album’s lyrics, and its mood will change depending on the events in the story. As you mentioned, there are certain bands that influenced the sound of the record, Carach Angren and Opeth probably being some of the most important ones. Other than that, we took a lot of inspiration from bands like Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse, as well as non-metal musicians and composers like Nick Cave, Gustav Mahler, Daniel Licht, Hans Zimmer, Steven Wilson, etc. 

6. Another aspect that they take great care of is the lyrics without going any further. "Shadows of Lonehill" contains a conceptual story, what does this story refer to? And why did they decide to treat it?

The story takes place in the Victorian era and tells you about an antihero Seth, who is an assassin in a fictional town of Lonehill. The nobility hires him to get rid of the unwanted people, that’s why he is sometimes called the “royal assassin”. The story begins when the lord-regent visits Seth to send him on a new mission, which later on leads Seth to reveal a secret that he wasn’t supposed to know about. The listener can expect a surrealistic narration about murders, cults, rituals, personal tragedy, and full of unexpected plot twists.  

We came to the decision to start writing concept albums after the release of “From the Ashes...”, it was the time when we discovered Carach Angren, and it was also our first encounter with concept albums in general. We always liked telling stories with our lyrics rather than just discussing a particular subject, and the idea of making a full album where every song is connected by one story seemed extremely intriguing to us. Since then we’ve created a whole fictional universe where everything is connected in a way, and even though this connection is not yet clear between “Nightmare in Eden” and “Shadows of Lonehill”, it will make sense on the future releases.

7. “Shadows of Lonehill” is an album that blows the imagination, so to speak it is a very visual album, as if it were the B.S.O. of a movie, have you ever considered doing the B.S.O. From a movie? How can your music also relate to Poe and the Victorian era?

First of all, thank you! I think that this album feels so visual because of our approach to writing music and, in particular, lyrics. Cinematography is a huge source of inspiration for us, and we tend to try and visualize our stories when writing lyrics as if it was a film. In my opinion, it helps to make the setting of the story more realistic and make it easier for the listener to connect with our characters’ emotions. As for the soundtracks, it is a very spot-on remark from you, as have always wanted to write one for a film. I have recently launched my solo project (Nikita Malko Music), which is exactly that: I release cinematic music that doesn’t fit into Raventhorn’s concept, and it can be anything from ambient to epic orchestral music. I am currently looking for a movie to work on, so if any of the readers need a soundtrack – look no further haha

8. Manca Marin has put her voice on three songs on the album, when did you decide to carry out this collaboration and what do you think she has contributed to the final result of the album?

We’ve been thinking about adding some female vocals for quite a long time when composing the album. Manca Marin is a good friend of ours, and she is also a brilliant vocalist and a musician. She agreed to help us out, and, to be honest, I can’t imagine anyone better for “Shadows of Lonehill”. I think that Manca helped us bring out our vision of the album to the full extent and added this unique colour to those three songs. 

9. Mayhem Project Design has taken care of the album artwork, what do you intend to convey with this cover and how does it relate to the musical content of the album? 

Just like with “Nightmare in Eden” we wanted our cover art to have some elements that would make more sense with the story, it’s always interesting to find those small details and references as a listener. I had a vision of what the cover art could look like, and I described it to Alex from Mayhem Project Design, and the result exceeded all our expectations. It turned our even better than we thought it would, Alex captured the atmosphere of the album perfectly and made it look truly cinematic. 

10. The Russian extreme metal scene currently has a good handful of bands that cover almost all the styles available with two important nuclei in Saint Petersburg and another in Moscow, are you aware from within this scene? And more specifically, what can you tell us about the Moscow scene?

Back when we lived in Moscow those were still our Loud’n’Proud days, so we mostly had experience with Moscow thrash/speed and groove metal scene. To be honest, I discovered most of the Russian extreme metal bands already in Germany, and I was very impressed by what I was missing out on. We’ve got some very interesting bands in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but weirdly enough, most of my favourite ones are actually based around the same people. For example, in Moscow we have Roman Arsafes (who is also our sound engineer) and Demether Grail, and both of them have at least 5 bands each, sometimes they are even in the same ones. Out of the projects that they are involved in I would highly recommend checking out Kartikeya, Grailight and Lunae Ortus. Then there are also people like Vladimir Lehtinen and Sysoev brothers, who are, if I am not mistaken, currently located in St. Petersburg and create some incredible music, too. My favourite project of theirs is Second to Sun, other than that I would recommend Ultar and Grima.

I also have to mention Exile D.C., who are our dear friends since the times of Loud’n’Proud. We have performed with them a lot of times, and they are still putting out great music and excellent shows. I believe they are now working on some new material to follow up their latest album “Phobos”, so definitely check them out.

11. How have you been affected in sales by Covid-19? How have you kept in contact with your fans?

Well, I wouldn’t say that Covid had a negative effect on our sales since we are mostly a digital band: we couldn’t perform even before Covid, because we are a two-man band located in different countries, and at this moment we only have our “Shadows of Lonehill” T-shirts in the merch stock. We are currently working on some new merch, and I hope we will be able to put it out there soon. However, the support from our fans is incredible, we sold more digital copies of “Shadows of Lonehill” in the first weeks after its release than “Nightmare in Eden” in all its existence. We are very greatful for our fans’ support, as it allows us to continue recording music and improving its quality on every new release. 

As for the communication between our fans and us, we are always trying to be as close to our Raven Cult as possible. With help of social media we are reaching out to people, chatting with them in the comments and DMs, and since recently we also have our Discord channel and a WhatsApp group where we can all talk freely about anything on our minds. For the past few months I’ve also tried streaming on both YouTube and Twitch, which I find brilliant as a way to connect with people, because of how close it is to real-life commuication. Quite often there are composing live streams, sometimes I discuss our albums with fans, and sometimes we listen to different music together. In the last year I’ve met so many wonderful people because of social media, I truly believe that Raven Cult is one of the kindest and most open-minded metal communities out there. 

12. How were your beginnings in music: first albums you bought, first concerts you attended? What did you do in your lives that made you want to be musicians?

I started collecting CDs back in school, it actually began when Stephen and I found a small CD shop in Moscow where they sold reissues of different metal and rock albums by Russian labels, so those CDs were much cheaper than the same records issued by the original labels. We went there almost every week, and soon we became friends with the shopkeeper, he would always recommend us some interesting records when we came by. It was actually him who introduced me to Septicflesh, one day he showed me “Codex Omega”, and this is how it all began. On our first visits we were, of course, still thrash metal fans, and we mostly came for stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, and so on, so I think our first albums might have been by those bands. As for the concerts, I still remember the first three I went to, and all of them were before I got into metal. The first one was by Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, then I went to see Red Hot Chili Peppers, and then Serj Tankian with an orchestra. The first metal concerts I’ve been to were probably Megadeth, System of a Down, and Metallica. To be honest, I don’t remember how I got the idea of wanting to play guitar, it was in the beginning of school, and for 6 years I learned to play classical guitar with a teacher. However, I lost my interest with time and quit guitar for about a year. Stephen then got his first electric guitar, and I felt like I should get back on track. Both of us then started playing electric guitars, we learned everything on our own with help of the Internet. As I remember, after some time we went to see a local gig, it was a concert by Southern Crown, a band where a friend of mine played guitar. The band doesn’t exist anymore, unfortunately, but back then they were relatively big in Moscow. And I just remember seeing them perform and thinking: “it could be us standing on that stage”. A few weeks later I told Stephen about my idea, and we decided to start looking for the other bandmembers, and this is how it all began. 

13. Despite having been well received by the press, “Shadows of Lonehill” is only available in digital format and self-released, haven't you received any interesting offer to edit it in physical format from any record label?

Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten any record deal from a label yet, but we are thinking about producing “Shadows of Lonehill” in a physical format at some point, it will probably be a CD. We are used to doing things on our own, so the abscence of a label doesn’t bother us too much, but that would, of course, help us if we had one, since it is sometimes hard to finance the band from our own pocket. That is one of the reasons why we haven’t produced any CDs yet: we always strive for better quality of both music and merch, and we would really like to make something better than a jewelcase CD with a 4-page booklet, but it can be quite expensive to produce. 

14. Which album defines for you the essence of black metal? What last albums have you bought?

As controversial as it may sound, I think that Behemoth’s “The Satanist” defines the essence of black metal for me. I know it’s not entirely black metal in its sound, rather blackened death metal, but the black metal genre has become so vast over the years that I think that we should take all of its branches in consideration, as well as band’s aesthetics and ideas. In these regards “The Satanist” is in the forefront for me, its dark and raw energy as well as rebellious spirit is what black metal is in its essence. 

The last 3 albums that I’ve bought were all released last year, and they are quite different stylistically: “Frankensteina Strataemontanus” by Carach Angren, “Through Shaded Woods” by Lunatic Soul, and “Kvitravn” by Wardruna. These are some outstanding records, and I strongly recommend them to everyone who is looking for a refreshing approach to songwriting.

15. What future plans do you have for the band in terms of upcoming releases, reissues, etc.? Do you have a fear of being able to offer a concert?

At this moment we are working on a new cover, as well as a reissue of one song from the Loud’n’Proud era, and both songs will sound like modern-day Raventhorn, so I am really excited about this project. And, as always, we are already thinking about a new album. We have a lot of music recorded, but we still have to create a story for the album, which might be a challenging task, since the next album has to tie both of the previous albums together. I am currently working alone, as Stephen is battling depression, but as soon as he is back, we will start working on the new record. 

We would love to play concerts when the pandemic is over, but it will take a lot of planning to do, because both of us are in different countries, so we have to choose a country (or countries in case of a tour) to perform in, find additional musicians in those countries and plan our time in such a way that we can have at least a couple of rehearsals before the show. But we love playing live, so I am sure that it will happen at some point.

17. Thank you very much for the time dedicated to Black Metal Spirit, if you want to add something for Raventhorn fans this is the place. I hope the questions have been to your liking.

Thank you for inviting us to the interview and thank you to everyone who took their time to read it! Our new album “Shadows of Lonehill” is out on all the streaming platforms, so if you haven’t listened to it yet, definitely check it out, I think you might like it! And feel free to let us know what you think of it!


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