Annihilating the Competition?
CoC chats with Fabiano Pena of Rebaelliun
by: Paul Schwarz
The ripples Krisiun made when Europe and North America were exposed to them around five years ago have recently brought a veritable tsunami of Brazillian extreme metal crashing down on the extreme metal scene. Many bands who before would have been lucky if their -demos- were heard in the northern hemisphere, have now gained label deals and recently released albums. Two or three years ago, Krisiun were pretty much the only Nineties-originated extreme Brazillian death metal band with a name in Europe. I say "pretty much" because Rebaeilliun are one of the few other bands with a similar -- though admittedly lesser -- status at that time. Emerging as a band in 1998 -- though its respective members had all been playing death metal since around 1991 -- Rebaelliun quickly gained a reasonable following after selling virtually everything they owned to come to Europe and play nineteen surprisingly successful live shows in three countries. Recognised as a quality death metal band via their _Promo-Tape '98_ [re-released by the band's label, Hammerheart, in the form of the _At War_ EP] and 1999 debut _Burn the Promised Land_ [CoC #45], Rebaelliun certainly wore the influence of Krisiun on their sleeves, but yet individuated themselves via a more directly Slayer and Morbid Angel influenced musical approach. This year's avalanche of Brazillian extreme metal has revealed the majority of Rebaelliun's counterparts to be as concerned with individuation as they are. Much of what has been released recently is characterised almost solely by the "Nineties Brazillian sound" -- which you could just as easily call the "Krisiun sound" -- and the impression so far of Brazil's metal scene is not that of a vibrant and varied musical landscape, but rather a planned housing development, with only the odd architectural variation. Nonetheless, it is early days for the bands who have just hit the scene, and it would be unfair to write any of them off individually -- or write off the scene itself as a whole -- on the basis of what little has happened so far. However, two Brazilian extreme metal albums that should be closely scrutinised and considered in terms of what they suggest for the future of the scene (and, of course, the bands who made them) are Krisiun's _Ageless Venemous_ and Rebaelliun's _Annihilation_ [CoC #54]. Neither of these albums -- both released this last summer -- are mere continuations of what has gone before them; neither Krisiun nor Rebaelliun have merely made an album that you can spin, enjoy, and put down again without pause for thought. _Ageless Venomous_ is at the least a record any Krisiun fan is likely to find odd: its production sharply separates its instruments, destroying the cohesive, whirlwind-of-fury feel that characterised 2000's _Conquerors of Armageddon_ [CoC #47]. Musically, I find it not only by-the-numbers Krisiun, but also extremely boring Krisiun; _AV_ displays Moyses Kolesne's technical ability for speedy fret-scaling yet completely disregards the need to construct interesting progressions. _AV_ is Krisiun's equivalent to Suffocation's _Breeding the Spawn_ or Malevolent Creation's _Stillborn_. _Annihilation_ is different. Sonically, it is, unsurprisingly, reminiscent of _Conquerors of Armageddon_ -- _Annihilation_ was recorded and produced with Andy Classen at Stage One studios -- and is utterly flattening in its brutal impact. In terms of overall musical merit, _Annihilation_ is a very in-between album. Its riffs, solos, drum-blasts and vocal evacuations are not badly executed, but its structure severely lets it down. I don't find it the kind of album that has you coming back for more time and time again. Yet at present it still seems to leave Rebaelliun ahead of much of their competition -- and most significantly, ahead of Krisiun's most recent work. Where Brazil's extreme metal scene is headed is very difficult to tell, but with their following in Europe, Rebaelliun seem sure to be an important part of it for a while to come. I questioned Rebaelliun guitarist and founder Fabiano Pena about _Annihilation_, Rebaelliun's career, and the Brazillian scene in general. I hope you enjoy the results.

CoC: Rebaelliun have been an internationally known part of the Brazilian scene since near the time of their inception. It has now been nearly two years since you first toured Europe. Your first album was deservedly well received. What did that rapid rise to acknowledgement contribute to _Annihilation_? Do you think the warm reception you received gave you more confidence?

Fabiano Pena: Although Rebaelliun is one of the youngest bands in the Brazilian scene, we all have been playing death metal since 1991/1992, so we believe that the response we have got with Rebaelliun is also a response for almost ten years playing death metal. I doubt a band could get such a quick response in the worldwide metal scene without any background. I mean, if we had started playing death metal in 1998, when we formed Rebaelliun, we would not be here for sure. _Burn the Promised Land_ is a good death metal album with a strong feeling, and it fortunately got a huge response within the extreme metal community -- especially in Europe -- although we all in Rebaelliun knew right after recording _Burn..._ that we were able to do much better than this album. Anyway, the response for _Burn..._ was great, we toured Europe twice to promote this album, and this response gave us more strength when writing the new album. So I consider _Annihilation_ a mix of two feelings: a strong will to go further than _Burn the Promised Land_ and a motivation born from the response of that album.

CoC: When we last talked [CoC #48], you said that one of the differences between Rebaelliun and others in the Brazilian scene was that you were treading more in the early the steps of Morbid Angel and Slayer, and that you would be taking those influences further. Is that what happened with _Annihilation_? Would you say _Annihilation_ is primarily influenced by the style of early Morbid Angel and Slayer?

FP: I wouldn't say that _Annihilation_ sounds like early Morbid Angel or Slayer, 'cause it doesn't and that was not our intention at all. The main thing about the music in _Annihilation_ is that we tried to reach our own sound with this album. As I said before, we have been playing death metal since 1991/1992 and this is surely the main goal for any band which wants to have a serious career: to find their own sound. I think most of the Brazilian bands sound too modern, some of them have speed as the only element in their music, and bands such as Morbid Angel and Slayer -- the first extreme bands in history -- showed that there are a lot of different elements that can be incorporated into the music to make it even more extreme and intense, without sounding boring. If you have a strong melody or write good lyrics, that will differentiate you from the other bands in the end, not the speed itself. I would say we drew a bit the feeling and the way to structure the songs from these bands, not the music itself.

CoC: Who do you think are the most promising band in the Brazilian extreme metal scene at present and why? (Yes, you are permitted to say "Rebaelliun", but I'd like you to justify whatever choice you make.)

FP: I think that Krisiun and Rebaelliun are the biggest extreme metal bands in South America and both bands are in the right way. Krisiun is already established in the scene, they have toured a lot all over the world and have huge support, and Rebaelliun is growing quite quickly as well, we have the feeling that if we keep working like this things will happen for us sooner or later. There are several other good bands in Brazil, some of these bands already got record deals with foreign labels and released good albums, but it's maybe still too early to say that these bands will get really bigger, 'cause it's a long and hard way to get tours and true support from the fans.

CoC: Personally, I am worried that the Brazillian extreme metal scene is declining. My worry is based mostly on my opinion of the latest Krisiun album (which I think is creatively extremely boring and a massive disappointment after _CoA_) and Abhorrence's debut album (which I think lacks defining qualities). _Annihilation_ I am more positive about. Firstly because sonically speaking _Annihilation_ is absolutely crushing, but also because structurally it is more interesting than the aforementioned two records, and differs considerably from your first album. Firstly, what do you think of what I have said above? Secondly, do you think the Brazilian extreme metal scene is in danger of declining (or at least becoming boring) if it doesn't seek to progress in some significant way?

FP: In my opinion the main problem about the Brazilian extreme metal scene nowadays is that most of the bands are trying to sound just like Krisiun. This is not good for the bands, for Krisiun, for the fans and for the scene itself. I mean, this is really bad in every sense. However, this situation will not last too long; most of the bands will realise in a couple of years that labels and fans are not interested in copies: they want something original. We know how hard is to create something original when playing death metal, but as I already said before: in _Annihilation_ we reached this "old" goal. The album sounds very original and this will make Rebaelliun more known in the worldwide scene, 'cause we are not just a copy of any other band, we have personality in the band. About the latest Krisiun, I think it's not their best album, but I personally like it, maybe 'cause I'm a fan of Krisiun since 1991... Abhorrence is a good band, but they have to develop their own style to go further, although the musicians are very good.

CoC: Why did you choose to record _Annihilation_ at Andy Classen's Stage One studio? Did hearing Krisiun's _Conquerors..._ album influence your decision at all?

FP: Recording with Andy at Stage One was an idea from Hammerheart; after recording the _Bringer of War_ MCD in Brazil we decided with the label to produce the next album in Europe or the US; we knew that _Annihilation_ would be an important step in our career and we should get a good sound with this album. Hammerheart had already sent some other artists to record over there and they were probably satisfied with the results, and so offered us this studio to produce _Annihilation_. The only album we knew that had been recorded with Andy was _Conquerors..._ and we all think it sounds very good, so we accepted and went to record there. Fortunately, we got a good sound as well and it was nice to work with Andy: we learnt a lot during the recording. The sound of _Annihilation_ is also very different than most of the recordings we have heard on the last years; the album sounds powerful, heavy and clear, exactly what we wanted for this stuff.

CoC: When you first went to Europe -- selling everything you had to get there -- were you positive about the outcome? Did you ever think Rebaelliun would be as popular/known as the band is now? Do you expect Rebaelliun's popularity and notoriety to grow? Does popularity really matter to you, or are you more concerned about people being seriously into the band, and you being able to make music and present it to people?

FP: After the first time in Europe we were really positive about the way things turned out for us; before going to Belgium, Rebaelliun was not known even in Brazil, and after those three months over there we had played nineteen concerts in three countries and we had got signed to Hammerheart. So we came back to Brazil really happy about the results from that trip. We knew that that had been the first step in the whole way, and that from that moment on we had to work much more to achieve new results. We had several plans in mind right after that trip, and fortunately most of them have become reality on these last years. About popularity, I think that it's important in every sense for a band. We are aware about the music we play and we don't expect to get a lot of money or be really famous in the music business -- like Aerosmith, for example -- but we know that it's possible to build a good structure playing death metal and live from the music. We play death metal and we love music, so it's pretty natural that we wanna live from the music, and this will depend on the popularity Rebaelliun will achieve in the metal scene. We think our music can reach other fans beside the extreme metal fans; we are not making noise, we play music and we wanna be recognized for that.

CoC: When Marcello Marzari left Rebaelliun [in late 2000 -- Paul] did you seriously contemplate just giving up?

FP: Not at all, we knew that that was a hard moment for Rebaelliun and we had to be really patient in finding the right replacement for him. I and Sandro [Moreira, Rebaelliun drummer] rehearsed without the others for a couple of weeks and in the end it was very important for us to see that we were two guys and we were able to play the same music in the rehearsals. I mean, everyone can be replaced in a band; Marcello was important one day for us but we knew that Rebaelliun would survive without him -- and _Annihilation_ is the proof that we were right...

CoC: How do you feel about the strength of Rebaelliun as a band within itself and a musical force in the extreme metal scene now, with Lohy Fabiano in the band?

FP: I feel that people are taking Rebaelliun more seriously now; we are not a "promising band" anymore. Rebaelliun has done a lot since the beginning and _Annihilation_ is in my opinion a great death metal album, which differs a lot from most of the nowadays death metal bands. Of course we are still developing our own style; this is just our second album, and though we have already reached a good level we know that we still have a long way and we will be able to record better albums in a near future. We are getting more and more involved with the music we play and Lohy is getting as involved as the rest of Rebaelliun -- I'm sure he's the right frontman for the band and I just hope things keep like this in coming years.

CoC: What lyrical themes are followed in the songs on _Annihilation_? Is there a common thread running between all of them? Are the kinds of topics radically different from those covered on _Burn..._? How much difference has it made that Lohy Fabiano has taken over as singer/bassist?

FP: The lyrical conception of _Annihilation_ is very clear: the extermination of the human race over this planet. All the lyrics are linked in this album, they can have a different approach, but they talk about the same theme. The lyrics are not different from the lyrics on _Burn..._; I could say that the way to write them was developed since then and this makes the lyrics on _Annihilation_ maybe a bit different from the ones on _Burn..._, but it's for the development of the structure at all. This time we tried to use more "strong words" in the lyrics, then we worked with different sounds of Lohy's voice -- high screams mixed with low screams for example -- to give to these words the right meaning in the lyrics and in the music itself. This is hard to explain, but if you read the lyrics while listenning to _Annihilation_, you will realize that they fit very well with the music and the way Lohy sang the lyrics in each song really means what we wanted to say with the texts.

CoC: This is your chance to add anything you may want to, especially any crucial fact or factor I missed out. The floor is yours...

FP: I would like to say that we are going to Europe in April for a big tour. It's not 100% fixed yet, but this tour to promote _Annihilation_ will happen sooner or later, and we just hope to meet all our friends once again. Be sure that you will see a strong show in every sense.

(article submitted 19/10/2001)


CHATS
8/12/2000 P Schwarz Rebaelliun: Pyromaniacal Slayers Assault Paradise
ALBUMS
8/12/2001 A McKay 4 Rebaelliun - Annihilation
1/15/2000 A Bromley 9 Rebaelliun - Burn the Promised Land
GIGS
8/12/2000 P Schwarz Vader / Vital Remains / Fleshcrawl / Rebaelliun Invadering From Across the Seas
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