Summon: How did the band get started?
Reaver: The idea of Gravespawn started around 2003 when I was playing keyboards and vocals for a symphonic black metal band with Advorsus called Lythos. I have always been influenced by early symphonic/epic/atmospheric bands like Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse, Dimmu Borgir’s Stormblast, old Hecate Enthroned, Gehenna, Satyricon’s Shadowthrone, and so on. But at the time I felt like breaking from that to start an excessively raw and dirty band, so Gravespawn was born and I recorded my first demo while finishing my last year of military service in Korea. However, after Lythos broke up, I decided to return to my roots and take Gravespawn into the symphonic, atmospheric realm when I gathered the former members of Lythos to record “Forged in the Malice of Stygian Fire” before I moved to Phoenix and, eventually, Los Angeles.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Reaver: I define Gravespawn as Grim Ancient Black Metal. It is our goal to create an atmosphere that takes the listener on a journey through the darkness, violence, and chaos of both the ancient past and mythology. Our music is a mix of old school black metal, early symphonic/atmospheric black metal, pagan black metal, and battle ambient black metal.
Summon: How has the fan response been?
Reaver: Better than ever!
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Reaver: Every time I’m asked this question I wish I had a better response. I had become increasingly frustrated by the fact that every time I came up with an awesome name that had any meaning, it was always taken. So I figured, the hell with it, I’m just going to go with whatever stupid name I think up. Gravespawn, it so happens, wasn’t taken by anyone. Go figure.
Summon: Introduce the band members and what they do in the band.
Reaver: My name is Reaver. I am the vocalist, lead guitarist, and keyboardist as well as the main songwriter and lyricist. As the founder of the band I’ve obviously been around the longest, since ’03. Advorsus plays bass. He played on the “Forged…” album and recently returned to Gravespawn again last year. Verigo plays rhythm guitar, as well as some of the clean guitar parts. He has been a member since ’09.
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Reaver: I pretty much write the original foundation of the song, as well as the lyrics, then send it to Verigo, Advorsus, and whatever drummer I’m working with at the time for them to write their own parts.
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Reaver: I write about my interests in ancient/medieval history as well as mythology and folklore.
Summon: What is your view in Satanism and Occultism?
Reaver: On a personal level I can’t really comment. I haven’t been actively involved in Satanism since my early 20s. I love some good old fashioned Satanic Black Metal of course. As far as occultism goes, occult is a pretty broad term. I suppose if you consider an active pursuit of the past an occult practice, then sure, I’m into occultism. I would consider myself an atheist more or less though. Whatever’s going on in the supernatural realm, if such a thing even exists, isn’t my problem or concern until I get there.
Summon: How many albums/CD’s have you released?
Reaver: We have 7 releases total. Thus Reigns the Imperial Order of Tartaros was the first. I recorded it While serving my last year in the military. Forged in the Malice of Stygian Fire, which you could consider both a demo or our first full length album, was recorded in my hometown of Kansas City. This was a major shift from the previous release with the addition of keyboards into the mix. Praetorian Maleficus was recorded in Los Angeles in 2009. It was originally supposed to follow in the same direction as Forged… but I sold my keyboards to pay for the studio time. This is how the “mid-era”, as I put it, Gravespawn sound shifted to a more brutal “Marduk” style as opposed to the more early Emperor sound I wanted to go for. Next, we released Woe to the Conquered in 2015. Unfortunately this album was a frequent series of setbacks and conflict within the ranks. Overall its a good album but I feel that it never really reached its full potential and some of the songs feel like just a series of riffs with no solid structure. The following release was simply just a promo split, called Abysmal Storm, between Gravespawn and the other band of now former band mates. This year saw what could definitely be considered our most popular and most widely promoted release so far, Infirmos Vocat Deus Fidei which is a 4-way split between Gravespawn, Wormreich, Diabolus Amator, and Verigo’s band Vesterian. This split features re-recorded, and much better in my opinion, versions of songs from Woe to the Conquered as well as a live track of a classic song from the Thus Reigns… demo. This split saw Gravespawn returning to our old symphonic/atmospheric roots as well. Most recently, we released a new EP called Inexorable Grimness.
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Reaver: The new material is the culmination of everything I’ve been wanting to write for the past few years but wasn’t able to because of conflicting creative differences and thoughts on which direction the band should go. After a major lineup change, the creative direction of the band finally returned back into the hands of its original creator. All of the songs on this release are written about ancient history, warfare, or mythology. Oath of the Annihilator, for example, is written about Hannibal and the second Punic War. Thy Gates Ablaze is written about the barbarity of what typically happens when an invading army takes a walled city or settlement. Between the Devouring Monstrosities is written about Odysseus’ encounter with Scylla and Charybdis.
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Reaver: Advorsus and I work together on another project called Ben Morgh which is a cross between pagan/folk metal, Bal Sagoth, and Summoning with lyrical themes revolving around Robert E Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and Hyborian Age. I am also working on another project that I can’t really talk about right now because we are still in the initial stages of practicing and writing.
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Reaver: As far as black metal goes, my biggest influences were the bands and albums around the 1994 – 2000 era. I also really enjoy pagan black metal bands with folk influence and medieval atmosphere bands. Other than black metal, I listen to a lot of power metal, old 90s death metal, folk metal, and classic metal of course.
Summon: Which current bands?
Reaver: Currently my favorite new black metal album is Conjuror’s Fight or Yield.
Summon: What is the band like when you play live?
Reaver: I would say its pretty reminiscent of Immortal’s Call of the Wintermoon video. At least that was my main influence for my performance. I know Advorsus always wanted to be Cliff Burton on stage.
Summon: Have you guys ever played in another country?
Reaver: Not yet but that is the ultimate goal. I doubt I would have any difficulties booking or getting on a show over in Europe or elsewhere, but as always its a financial issue more than anything else.
Summon: How big of a crowd shows up at shows usually?
Reaver: Things are getting a little better I think. More people are making the effort to come out which is good. For a while we’d be lucky to play in front of 50 people but our last couple of shows definitely had more than 100 people there.
Summon: How is the crowd response when you play?
Reaver: Same answer as your previous fan response question, better than ever.
Summon: What do you think of the US Black Metal/Death Metal scene?
Reaver: It has its fair share of good bands, okay bands, and bad bands like anywhere else. For the most part, the US black metal bands I like are either not around anymore or aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.
Summon: What do you think of the Overseas scenes?
Reaver: Same as my thoughts on the US scene. From my experience of being in Europe however, it seems a little easier to make friends with the metal scene over there though.
Summon: What are some of new favorite black metal/death metal bands?
Reaver: Hard to say since most of the bands I listen to have been around for at least 5 – 10 years. I’m in my mid 30s now so I’m in the initial stages of developing that cranky old musician attitude.
Summon: When do you guys plan on writing any new material?
Reaver: I’m always writing new material. I feel more influenced to create music now more than ever before.
Summon: What does the future hold for the band??
Reaver: My focus at the moment, as far as Gravespawn goes, is getting ready for shows as well as re-recording Forged in the Malice of Stygian Fire. I also plan on writing the initial drafts of a new full length album in the near future.
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