Oscar Rilo

Dark Embrace

There have been countless of labels for bands' music, and it has been spreading so fast due to the larger number of releases coming out on a daily basis. For the Italian Dark Embrace, it was a simple choice, just to name an album with a title that is straightforward enough, "Dark Heavy Metal".Steinmetal had a good talk with the band's Oscar Rilo about the band's latest achievement and more…
May 22, 2023
Dark Embrace's Oscar Rilo: "If someone wants to know who we are or how we sound
Hello Oscar, it is great to have you for this conversation over the latest happenings in the Dark Embrace camp, and there have been things going alright. How have you been doing?

Hi Lior. It's great to be interviewed by you. Everything's ok here, really busy with a good amount of work related to Dark Embrace. We've been performing at Ragnarök Festival and in some days we will start our mini tour with Battle Beast.

I remember that just recently you unleashed a memory from the past in the image of your sophomore album, "The Call of the Wolves", but in what you referred to as a re-howled version. I presume that this was something to give the fans after a rather long time without new material? It was also your first output through your new label, Massacre Records, if I am not mistaken.

Yes! That's it! It took too much time to release the new album. So we needed to offer something, like an appetizer to the fans and this way to present the band through Massacre Recs. Then we thought about doing a "re-howled" version of The Call Of The Wolves. In the original album, I played bass and guitars by myself, so it had sense now to record a version with the current line-up. Also for this release we had the help of Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) who did an excellent job with the mixing.

About the signing with Massacre Records, it was surely a smart move, and no doubt that it will take you forward. How do you view this signing and how does it align with the band's plans going into the future? What are your expectations and what are you looking for exactly in this relationship?

We had some record labels interested on the album but we decided to choose Massacre Recs. Massacre is a very respected label with a good background of bands and releases. I remember they released awesome bands in the 90s that I really loved, such as King Diamond, Theatre of Tragedy, Atrocity of Crematory to name a few. For us, it meant to enter into the metal music industry; a legendary record label with a good catalogue and well-known for everyone.
I think our expectations are realistic, we won't ask Massacre Recs what we can't really ask, even if it's a very famous record label, they're still small if you compare with the big ones of today. Anyway, this is good, Massacre is taking care of us really well, so let's see what happens in the future…

After providing several promos for the upcoming event, you released your third album, "Dark Heavy Metal". And I tell you my friend, this is a strong statement indeed, as if you shouted out what is about to be raging throughout the listening. So I ask, why go that simple with a title such as "Dark Heavy Metal"? What does it mean to you personally?

Thank you very much for your words regarding "Dark Heavy Metal". For us, this was the perfect title for the album. We were really tired of getting all kind of labels about our music since it was hard to catalogue. This album is a manifesto of what we're creating and what we're playing. Just to make clear what kind of music we practice. For us, this is our very own art.

While listening, at least from several of the songs, there is a measure of darkness to the lyrical word, yet, it has a lot of empowering moments that you can easily find in old school Heavy Metal albums from the 80s, al'a Manowar of sorts, keeping it true, as a kind of a thing. What is your opinion about that? Is "Dark Heavy Metal" all for the strengthening of the heart and spirit of the Metalhead or more than that?

You're totally right with it. Classic Heavy Metal influences are obvious, but probably we're too extreme for Heavy Metal fans but too soft for extreme metal fans. Anyway, we don't care, we play what we really want, our own music style, without following any trend. Our music comes directly from our heart, so I think this is the same feeling Manowar had in the 80s when they were creating their albums and this kind of expression is reflected on the own music. This is what happens with our music, we create what we feel, and we're 100% Metalheads.

It is hard to ignore the wolf element, which has been part of the band. In your view, how is it being emphasized on "Dark Heavy Metal"?

I think the wolves will always be there in the soul of Dark Embrace. In our homeland Galicia, there are a good population of wolves and we're fascinated about this animal. I guess we wanted to represent something related to Galicia in our music, and we found it on the wolf. So "Dark Heavy Metal" continues in some way with this representation.

Talking about the release of it all, the escapism effect of the record, is there a relation between "Dark Heavy Metal" and our reality?

Well, when you write music, you're always influenced by the current reality of the moment. The lyrics talk about subjects such as the searching of religion, the question of karma, and about being on the road for long time. Also about missing your home when you're far from it. So, everything's part of our own reality but at the same time the music helps to escape from this reality for a while. That's what music is about.

The artwork of "Dark Heavy Metal", made by the known Gustavo Sazes, shows a bowl of distorted images, and of course with the wolf there as your moniker. What can you tell about this artwork, and the vision behind it? How did it come to be?

The album cover was made by Gustavo Sazes, he uses to work with a good amount of bands. We mixed the full concept of Dark Embrace and Dark Heavy Metal to represents it on an artwork... and as you can see, he did it really well. He also created the previous cover art of "The Call of the Wolves", which was easier for him I guess, as it's a more "maleable" concept. So we're really happy with the artwork of Dark Heavy Metal because I think it matches this album perfectly.

You have been labeled with a variety of Metal subgenres, nonetheless, and there is a point to that, "Dark Heavy Metal" may as well be the sticky labeling but it has more than just being a label. While listening, I felt several vibes going on, a lot of traditional and melodic attributes, drenched in a patch of darkness and extremity. As if you found the closer to perfect formula between past and present. What is your take on that? Is "Dark Heavy Metal" the next step for Dark Embrace?

Every band has an album to define its music style. Of course this is a logical step on the music, but this is the album which define us. If someone wants to know who we are or how we sound, this is the record you have to listen to. It's more than a step in our music, this album is our body and soul. No step forward or back, we stay to show that this is 100% Dark Embrace and this is what we play. So now we've got our base, and now it's time to build from here.

I couldn't help myself from asking, as it is quite obvious of me to do so actually, I noticed that Snowy Shaw recorded drums as a session member for "Dark Heavy Metal". If that is true, how did it come to mind to reach him? What can you tell of his contribution to the record?

Snowy had already recorded the drums for our previous album "The Call Of The Wolves". Those days in the band it was only me doing vocals, keyboards, bass and guitars and him with drums. Then I had talked with him to make the next album too. Despite the fact that Julio (drummer) was already in the band, we wanted to be correct and keep what we agreed with Snowy. Julio understood this and for him, being a music lover as he is, I know it is an honour to be able to play the drums composed by a genius of the stature of the great Snowy Shaw.

Delving into the songwriting of the record, there is diversity here for sure. There is not a particular formula of how a song is to be delivered, even if there is that Traditional Metal sense to it. Also, there are surprises here and there that make the experience different and interesting.  What can you tell about the songwriting for the record? Was it a different process from earlier on?

I started to compose the music and write some lyrics, just after the release of "The Call Of The Wolves", our previous album.  After some festivals and tours, we sat down on the studio and started to play the new songs together. We realized that they sounded really amazing and we went for it. I guess it was similar to the past, someone coming with a song and if it sounded ok, then it would finish in the album. Nothing special, just the music that comes directly from our heads.

In your view, following the path of the music, and the songwriting of the record, what do you think that makes "Dark Heavy Metal" to be a kind of a listening experience that will shatter the standards of Metal music in a way? I mean, shake the ground sort of thing

I think that "Dark Heavy Metal" is an amazing album because of being something different to the regular Metal styles. You can't labeled easily, so it's self-labeled as dark heavy metal, you can hear some Heavy, Death, Black, Doom, Thrash, Gothic, etc… influences on it… And then the vocals, I sing it how I feel it. That's why I use different kind of vocals into the music and that's really special for the songs.

Within "Dark Heavy Metal" you celebrated two decades of one of your old demos, "Bitter End". Surly, the track is a darker fiend, and through the new version right here, it sounds strong and quite assorted. What can you tell about getting back to this track? Were there thoughts of recording additional tracks from that same demo?

Bitter End was one of the first Dark Embrace tracks ever and we have a very special affection for it. So for this album, already with our fully developed personality we wanted to bring it back to the concerts. So we also had the idea to record it again to give it a good facelift and show it to our new fans and also have a bit of the "old" Dark Embrace in "Dark Heavy Metal". When we thought about it, it was all of us together, nobody suggested other old song, everyone in the band suggested the idea to record Bitter End again.

As far as the new songs go, I really enjoyed the empowering fist of steel, titled "Metal Is Religion", it is a crushing Heavy Metal tune, true to form and also with an inspirational spirit that can carry the listener to sights and sounds of the past. What can you tell about the impact of the song as you see it?

"Metal Is Religion" talks about the fact that the search for our faith is in ourselves, in our passion for music. We're always spending time thinking about religion and what to believe, but after all… Our religion is Metal Music, because it's what really gives sense to our lives. It's a mid-paced song with very epic tunes and I think it represents perfectly the idea behind the song.

I never expected that in such a record I would listen to the soft, and enticing, balladry tune as "This Is the Rain". Was this a particular moment that you just had to record and include in the record? What can you tell about this song and its creation?

I took the decision to include at least one slow song on the albums time ago. "This Is The Rain" talks about missing our homeland Galicia, when you're on tour and you miss your land so much, even the rain itself that you so often hate when you're in Galicia. I really like this song, the main melody came to my mind while I was working on tour with other bands as tour manager and it stayed there for weeks till I wrote the song. So it'ws a very catchy melody.

When it comes to supporting the new album live, what does your schedule tell you? Do you also have plans for the Summer?

We've just played at Ragnarök Festival in Germany and in some days we will start a mini tour with Battle Beast. For the Summer we've got some festivals such as the mighty Resurrection Fest, Barcia Metal Fest in the south of Spaind and Portuguese Milagre Metaleiro which has an impressive line-up this year. Also after these festivals we will have some dates with the legendary German band Rage. As you can see, we love playing live. We would love playing 365 days a year. We love Metal music and hanging out at festivals and being on tour meeting metalheads like us everywhere.

Oscar, I wish to thank you for your time for this talk, and also I feel quite privileged to be introduced to "Dark Heavy Metal", a well-made release. All the best

Thank you very much Lior, I'm glad you like our album and I hope to meet you soon in the future. Metalheads till we die!

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