Ravenous Death Talks Crafting Death Metal Hellscapes On “Visions from the Netherworld” (Interview)
Ravenous Death’s strong potential has been evident since their 2017 debut short-length Ominous Deathcult, but I don’t feel that it was truly realized until now. That debut was a solid slab of straightforward, catchy death metal that didn’t vary much from a standard old and evil death metal template. It was equal parts Floridian and Swedish murderous riffage and all fire and energy without a ton other than their love of murder to separate them from the pack; the most present takeaway was that it was good—but they already had a rare spark showing that they could be great.
Chapters of an Evil Transition, the band’s first record, did show a steady increase in ability but it is this year’s Visions from the Netherworld that finally has me completely and totally sold. On top of a strong increase in songwriting ability over the years as Ravenous Death has grown tighter as a unit, these four Mexican maniacs have expanded their formula to include a much wider variety of influences. The ability to solidly tie down their sound is gone; a song might include a section of creeping dissonance, furious pummeling, eerie tremolo melodies, and all other manner of chaos within the same five or six minute track.
The result of that variety of techniques and influences is that each song is now its own little stand-alone story, which is both a great success and a potential source of weakness given that the album is around an hour long. Ripping through the entire sonic gamut while telling a story means that, with the band’s high level of ability to write long and memorable tracks, each song stands alone as something well worth hitting- but they don’t narratively sit together, and the flow is one of killer track after another until it’s done rather than that of a single larger piece. Personally, I think that the band writes good enough songs to make it work, but given the length of the album there’s room to lose interest or to start handling Visions from the Netherworld as a compilation of great singles rather than as an album.
Quality is what really matters at the end of the day, and it’s no mistake that Spanish death metal diehards have continued their relationship with Ravenous Death for this album and that Floga Records decided to sink in the money and release a lavishy double-LP of the material, but between the length, a sometimes-dodgy mix, and the uncompromising nature of the music itself, Visions from the Netherworld is not for the faint of heart.
For the dedicated death metal fan that sees past any surface-level quibbles, it is a welcome addition to Mexico’s historically-killer scene; any fans of Kaamos, Dead Congregation, or Vomitory are encouraged to give this a spin. And even if you’re not, give it a shot if you like death metal—you might be pleasantly surprised.
While you check them out, read an interview below with Esteban Salcedo (drums, guitars, lyrics) below.
Chapters of an Evil Transition clocked in at a fairly-standard 40 minutes long, but the new one is over an hour long. What made the band decide on the extra length?
Well man, it was a long time composing the songs with all the Covid shit happening meanwhile. We started to write the songs in 2019 but the release date was postponed from 2021 to 2022.
So, some other ideas came to our minds and we decided to write more stuff... So at the final we wanted to put all the songs that we wrote thinking about the concept for the new album... And that's the only reason why the album is that long.
Was there any consideration towards it fitting on a vinyl edition, or saving material towards a future release instead? Is album length even important if the songs are killer?
Well man, for sure we want this record to go out on vinyl too, but the length was no reason for us to achieve that. Actually, there's a vinyl version out now, it was released by Floga Records from Greece. He (Giorgios) offered us a deal that we couldn't refuse, and now you can get the vinyl version in 2LP red or black. About the length of the album, it was just a pandemic decision... The release date was delayed about a year and we started writing more stuff. Stuff that we just can't let out of the album, so, that's the reason the album has eleven songs.
From the first EP, Ominous Deathcult, the band has added increasing atmospheric elements, dissonant guitar melodies, and song complexity; in fact, almost every song on Visions From the Netherworld is longer than the longest on the EP. Will that trend continue? What has drawn the band over time to these more difficult, less accessible sounds?
Well, I think we always tried to improve our writing processes. We wanted to add more interesting stuff to our songs. Fast parts, slow parts, dissonant guitars, arrangements, tempo changes, and you know, more dynamics overall.
We are always thinking [about] writing better stuff everytime we compose a new album, so people can find more interesting songs. Catchy, complex, unexpected transitions, etc... And well, I think we will try to get better and more interesting stuff next time but without letting our essence apart.
Are there any other bands you look to for inspiration in adding in these more complicated and dynamic sections?
Of course, man. We always try to improve our riffing, drumming and composition in general, so, we always listen to new Death Metal stuff, old and new, and we incorporate to our songs the best of each one. A killer riff is nothing without some cool transition, tempo variation and a good drumming. I could mention a couple of new and old bands that inspired us to do some cool stuff, maybe Incantation, Immolation, Morbid Angel, Death, Vomitory, Hyperdontia, Engulfed, Dead Congregation, etc...
Everyone in the band plays in a bunch of bands, often together. Is it ever tough to make time for Ravenous Death, or to keep the music straight on what songs go to which band?
We think it is not hard at all for us to decide what songs are for Ravenous Death or another band. We got very clear what to do with every project. We have a lot of projects because we want to put our different ideas and styles of Death or Black Metal in separate bands, cause we know it will be a mistake not to give an identity for each band.
How do you decide which band to prioritize at any given time?
Well, it is not a hard decision, actually. Our main bands are Demonic Manifestation and Ravenous Death. The other bands are side projects we have to do something different when other ideas come back to our minds. When we release a new RD or DM album, we have some break or extra time to do something different after that. That's the way we work, we just want to put out all our ideas and inspiration.
What brought you back to Mörtuus for your album art for the second time? Will you continue using him?
Memento Mori offers to us the art for the album and Raúl gives us the opportunity to choose between several artists who work with him to create the album cover. Mortuus was among those choices and we didn't hesitate to let him do the art for the new album. I think he did a great job, he really captured the concept of the album as we had it in mind. We don't know if he will continue doing the art covers for the next albums, but it wouldn't bother us at all.
Is aesthetic and presentation important to you and to Ravenous Death? What is the significance of cool art in modern death metal, if there is any?
Well man, previously aesthetic was not predominant for us, but with the new album maybe we're gonna do some changes about it, so, we are thinking about our outfit in live shows to give more visuals to the public. About cool art, personally I think it is very important, but not for the simple fact of being cool. It's all about the concept. If you have a great concept for the album, great artwork comes with it.
Visions From the Netherworld released January 24th via Memento Mori, with Floga Records handling the vinyl release.