So we took a moment to speak with Reaver of Gravespawn about the past, the present and the future of Los Angeles’ black metal veterans.
MP: Please introduce yourself and what you do in the band:
Reaver: I am Reaver; founder, songwriter, lyricist, guitar player, keyboardist, and vocalist for Gravespawn.
MP: How did Gravespawn begin?
Reaver: I conceived the idea while I was in the Army stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I came up with the name and wrote some of the first riffs there. I was playing keyboards in Lythos at the time. I was transferred to Korea not long after where I recorded the first demo.
MP: What inspired Gravespawn?
Reaver: At the time I wanted to do something different from Lythos. The first demo was just raw, simple black metal as opposed to the symphonic, melodic direction I was going in in my other band. When Lythos sounds split up I decided to take Gravespawn seriously and find a balance between raw / aggressive black metal and melodic/ atmospheric black metal. I came back home after my time in the army was done and we recorded the Forged… demo.
MP: You’re originally from Kansas City correct? How’s the change to Los Angeles in comparison?
Reaver: I’m still not used to it honestly. I moved here back in 2006 because there was a strong and thriving black metal scene which isn’t really the case anymore. I definitely miss living in a smaller and more quiet setting with breathable air but I can’t complain too much. I’ve built a decent living out here.
MP: How was the metal scene in Kansas City?
Reaver: From the time that we were kids to the time that I left for the army, Advorsus and I were really the only die-hard metalheads around that we knew of. By the time I left for LA it wasn’t really much better. There were at least a few more of us though. I come back with Gravespawn 10 years later to play a show and the Riot Room is completely packed. I’m thinking to myself the whole time, where the hell did all of you come from?
MP: How did Gravespawn become a full lineup?
Reaver: Not sure how to answer that. We still don’t really have a full lineup and use session members when needed.
MP: What made you change your alias from Rellik Sephiroth to Reaver?
Reaver: I started using Reaver for my Ben Morgh project. I don’t need multiple aliases and just ended up liking Reaver better. I thought it fit better with our current direction.
MP: What influences your music and lyrics?
Reaver: Lyrically my older material was pretty straight forward so I won’t speak for it. I’ve always had an interest in ancient history and mythology since I was a kid. Gravespawn’s lyrics, in simple terms, focus on dark history and mythology. Of course I put several of my own opinions and beliefs within the fine print but I feel people can draw their own conclusions rather than me telling them what it’s supposed to mean. Besides history, I also draw heavy influence from the works of Robert E Howard, my favorite American author. Musically, my influences can be varied. Mid to late 90s Black Metal is obviously my main influence though.
MP: When was Gravespawn’s first show and how was it?
Reaver: Our first show, as well as it being my first ever live performance, was opening for Horna back in 2009. I have mixed feelings about it honestly. It was a cool experience for sure but it definitely looked like our first time on stage after watching it.
MP: What made you guys want to redo Forged In The Malice Of Stygian Fire?
Reaver: Advorsus and I have been wanting to do a proper recording of that album/demo for years. It wasn’t until recently that we were finally presented with the opportunity to do it.
MP: What has changed from old Gravespawn to now?
Reaver: That’s a lot to cover in a single interview. I’ve certainly changed and grown over time like any individual does. I think the core of what Gravespawn is musically hasn’t changed much. We’ve just added more to it.
MP: What is your favorite song you have written to date?
Reaver: Oath of the Annihilator.
MP: You have done other projects, any plans to bring back Lythos?
Reaver: That’s up to Advorsus since he’s the main songwriter and owner of the project. We’ve discussed it a few times but it always ends up on the back burner.
MP: How are things with Draconian Oracle?
Reaver: We just got back to rehearsing after a long period of doing nothing which feels pretty good. We’re definitely moving it forward.
MP: Any plans for a new album?
Reaver: Absolutely! We’re hard at work writing new songs as we speak. That’s all I will say for now.
MP: Gravespawn uses keyboards so how did that become part of the sound?
Reaver: I introduced keys to Gravespawn when we recorded the original Forged… demo back in 2005. I always feel like they should have remained part of the sound. I had originally written keys for Praetorian Maleficus but I ended up selling my keyboards to pay for the recording. I regret it to be honest and still don’t particularly care for any of the “mid-era” recordings.
MP: How did Gravespawn sign with Vae Victus Productions?
Reaver: Vae Victus is actually my own personal label for releasing and co-releasing my work. I signed myself to my own label!
MP: Any plans of touring soon?
Reaver: Yes. We are also working hard on that at this very moment as well.
MP: What bands inspire you most?
Reaver: I don’t really care to answer that question on a per band basis. I’d rather mention specific albums that inspire me. There’s a lot of them so I’ll only mention a few. Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse”, Dark Funeral’s “Secrets of the Black Arts”, Naglfar’s “Vittra”, Satyricon’s “Shadowthrone”, Basil Poledouris’ Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, pretty much every Elffor album, and many more.
MP: Has social media been bad or good for the black metal underground?
Reaver: I have mixed opinions about it. One one hand it makes promoting and making connections easier, but its also a safe haven for cowards who feel like they can say whatever they want and not get punched in the face for it.
MP: Any newer bands that have caught your attention?
Reaver: I hate dropping names to be honest. I always feel like it’s a “how kvlt can you be” pissing contest. I’m always checking out new (or old but new to me) albums though.
MP: What do you think of today’s metal scene?
Reaver: Some bands are good. A whole lot aren’t. Same as it’s always been.
MP: Any advice for upcoming metal bands?
Reaver: Don’t suck.
MP: Any last words?
Reaver: Go to our Bandcamp and buy some stuff. Or just listen to it for free on YouTube which of course I’m just as guilty of.