We caught up Germany’s Rebel Souls for a long-overdue chat about the band’s debut full-length The Forces Of Darkness; an album it transpires, that was written 15 long years ago…

“Rebel Souls is a death metal project originally hailing from Thuringia, Germany, founded in 2000 by then 17-year old Thomas Plewnia (Guitars) and Stefan Hielscher (Bass, Vocals). Named after the second album of Polish underground veterans Damnation, we aimed to produce fast and raw death metal in the vein of Vader, Vomitory or Krisiun. Between 2000 and 2003, we home-recorded a couple of demos and played a handful of local gigs. However, our academic and professional careers, and later Stefan’s change of residence to Spain, soon forced us to put all band activities on hold and we went into an indefinite hiatus,” comes a to-the-point answer from the German death metallers when asked of their beginnings. “In late 2013, we spontaneously decided to revisit and re-record a song of the early demos and have it professionally mixed and mastered in order to evaluate its full potential with an appropriate sound. The result convinced us to revisit more songs and professionally self-produce a full-length record.” The aforementioned record would manifest into The Forces Of Darkness, which features Vader’s current drummer James Stewart – and for those who enjoy the odd drum video on YouTube, you can see him in action on this play-through:

“With The Forces Of Darkness we aim to deliver relentless, straightforward death metal with hints of thrash and black, paying homage to the genre highlights of the late 1990s and early 2000s, full of razor-sharp tremolo picking, bludgeoning riffs, sinister melodies, brutal growls and merciless blast beats. You have to bear in mind that the music of The Forces Of Darkness was written over 15 years ago, and back then we were influenced by Vader, Vomitory, Krisiun, Morbid Angel or early Death. Although old-school death metal is living a revival these days, most of the ‘new old-school’ bands tend to produce the Swedish style with that Boss HM2 sound. We actually don’t think that there are too many bands out there (right now) that sound like us. As we see it, our death metal contemporaries are either very modern, like all those deathcore/djent bands, or extremely old-school with their tape releases. We’re somewhere in the middle.” Is there a lyrical concept? “There is no concept behind the album. However, we like to see it as an anthology of horror short stories, dealing with what our society would define as evil, dark forces: demonic beings, spirits, beasts etc. However, in most of our songs they are the protagonists of the stories, unleashing chaos and destruction upon what we really see as the true force of darkness and the plague of this planet: humanity. In this sense, the title of the record has a double meaning. Aesthetically speaking, if we spoke in literary terms, we wouldn’t see ourselves neither as high literature, nor do we have the comic book aesthetics that other bands (for example Cannibal Corpse) display in their artworks. The term ‘graphic novel’ is probably a good description of our aesthetics. Notably, our artwork was designed by Canada-based concept artist/illustrator Vlad Marica, who usually works in the gaming industry, and who has created an artwork for a music album for the first time in his career.”

What led the band choose the track ‘Descent’ for issue 079’s covermount CD – which you can listen to in full incidentally at this location? “‘Descent’ is Rebel Souls in a nutshell. It has everything that characterises our music: Tonnes of blastbeats, haunting melodies, groove and growls. Lyrically it tells the story of pagan spirits that descend from Valhalla to seek revenge for the violent Christianisation of their lands. It’s one more of the horror short stories that make up the anthology The Forces Of Darkness. Furthermore, it is the perfect opener of the record, a perfect kick in the teeth. It’s fierce, fast and relentless, no prisoners taken, a pure blastbeat massacre.”

So what’s their modus operandi as far as recording goes? “We used to be very DIY in the past, but we have learned to rely on the services of professionals when it comes to mixing and mastering our music. Whatever we can record at home, we record at home. That is, the string instruments. We record the dry signal at home and have it re-amped in the studio. Vocals and drums definitely have to be recorded in a professional sound environment in order to achieve the best sounding result. For this record, we have worked with the Wave Nation Recording & Mixing Studio in Ronda, Spain and we’re very happy with the end result.” And live? “In March 2017, we had the chance to present The Forces Of Darkness live in Málaga, opening up for German deathcore giants Heaven Shall Burn. As Thomas won’t be available for many live gigs in the foreseeable future, Stefan is putting together a live band, who are learning the songs at the moment. Once we feel this live band is tight enough, we will actively seek opportunities to deliver our material live and defend it before an audience. We will hopefully have the chance to do a small tour through Europe later this year or in early 2018. Our ultimate goal is to reach the broadest audience possible and play as many gigs as we can. We still have more material from the past, which we would like to revisit for our next album. The aim is to grow and become better every time, be it regarding the songwriting, or regarding the sound of the record. The production of The Forces Of Darkness was an enormous learning process for us and the insights gained shall be applied for all future activities.

Band name: Rebel Souls
Formed: 2000
Origin: Altenburg, Thuringia (Germany)
Current release: The Forces Of Darkness | Art Gates Records

Rebel Souls is:

Thomas Plewnia: guitars
Stefan Hielscher: bass and vocals

Connect with Rebel Souls:

Thanks for dropping in!

If you’re here maybe you should think of adding Zero Tolerance Magazine to your arsenal of regular reading? We offer a 3-issue trial subscription to whet your appetite. http://store.ztmag.com