Having remained quiet on the scene for the last few years, local death metallers Rex Shachath suddenly reappeared a matter of days ago with a new EP, Revocation of the Blood Elect, new single and video to boot. Why the sudden flurry of activity? Melanie Brehaut sat down with guitarist Andrew Pennington to get to the bottom of the situation, and to find out the band’s plans and goals.
►So, you’re back! A bit unexpected. What bought this on?
Well, when we first formed we planned to do a couple of EP’s pretty quickly off the back of each other. And we did; we recorded this one a couple of years ago but it’s just taken awhile to get the business side sorted out: get the label to schedule it in – obviously they’ve got other bands. But finally it’s coming out! So we’ve been in limbo a bit and now we’re ready to go.
►All of a sudden – bang! Ready!
Yep, ready to go again.
►So have you kind of been beavering away in the background?
Not really! (laughs). We have been writing, but we haven’t had the guys together in maybe about eight months, so it has been a little while. We were waiting to get the release date and once that was sorted we could get back together and start rehearsing again. The other problem is we don’t have a permanent drummer, so that’s a spanner in the works for us. But we’ve got a couple of guys that are interested in playing so they’re going to fill in while we record again, and go on tour with us. So now it’s about getting everyone together.
►What can we expect from the new release?
In comparison to Sepulchral (Torment, their first EP), something much bigger sounding, much heavier. That would be down, mostly I would say, to the production. The actual songs are I think a lot more crafted, a lot smarter. When we did Sepulchral Torment we’d only been together for about four months, so we kind of wrote everything and went straight into studio. We did kind of have an idea of what we wanted to do with that one, but now, since we’ve been together a wee bit longer, we’ve had more time to write and work together as a band – the chemistry and so on. What you’ll find with Revocation… is it’s just something a bit more solid, a bit more together.
►You have fingers in quite a lot of pies! (Andrew is also guitarist for Overoth, as well working for PR company Future PR). How do you juggle everything?
Ahh…(laughs). You have to be very focused on time management. You have to use the time you’ve got to the best of your abilities. Deadlines are always a good thing! But it is difficult with work and the two bands, and a general life…
►Trying to have one of them, too!
Yep! But, it works. Working for yourself is a good thing. Because you’ve got the flexibility, so if something pops up…and I can work when I’m on the road – it’s good that way. Some people can’t really work that way because they’ve got a 9 to 5 job. So I’m quite lucky that way.
►Do you think the local scene can take another death metal band? There’s a couple of you now!
Do you know what, we haven’t really focused here – locally; I think we’ve done two shows? One in Belfast and one in Dublin, and that was a couple of years ago. But we haven’t really played over here as such – we did a lot more stuff with Sepulchral in the UK, and we did a few things in Germany. Just because I think, here in the North, there’s not really as big a group of fans who listen to this kind of music – you get it more in Dublin. So we thought, we’ve done this with other bands, we should try and go somewhere else and see what happens. And we were pretty quick to pick up a bigger following across the water. So I don’t really know if there’s space; I think there’s always space for good bands and there’s always space for good songs. Maybe things will change once we get this one (EP) out and we do a few more shows and see what happens.
►That was what I was going to ask you: have you plans for touring once the EP comes out?
Yeah, we’re actually in talks at the moment. There is a tour on the cards for next year, but nothing’s confirmed or finalised yet. Then – as I said with the drummer issue – we’ve got dates pencilled in, we just have to say ‘yes’ to them – so it’s just getting everyone together and everyone being available. Once we’ve got the lineup sorted then we can book a few more things.
►Where do you hope to take the band? Are there any grand plans or is this more of a side project – or somewhere in between?
There’s no real big plans or ambitions: we’re not looking at world domination or anything! (laughs). I wouldn’t say it’s just a side project either. We’re really doing it for the fun of it, for ourselves, and whatever happens, happens. We do everything the right way, the way it’s supposed to be done, but we’re not aiming for the sky. We’re just going with the flow, really.
►Is there any concept or theme with the lyrics on Revocation?
Yes there is…Dave our vocalist wrote all the lyrics. Basically it’s touching on the state of society today, and the natural world. That’s kind of the recurring theme on the EP. Things such as big businesses and the people that are in power – Prime Ministers, Presidents – and how a lot of people are left at the bottom. Especially with big businesses like oil companies: they will trample upon anything and anybody and it’s all just for money. We talk about those kind of things, but also the mental side, the psychological side, of how people are living and the effects that these things have on them. So it’s quite broad, but that’s the themes running through it.
►Excellent! Finally: why should people buy the EP?
Um, why? (laughs). Well, it’s good! If you like death metal then you should check it out. We’ll have a video out next week (see below): check it out, listen to it. If you like it, you like it; if you don’t, you don’t. I wouldn’t say we’re not fussed, but as I said, we do this for ourselves. If people like it, if people enjoy it, then happy days.
Revocation of the Blood Elect is available for preorder from the band’s Facebook page. It will be released on November 20th.