Interview with Ego Absence
By William Ribas
Hello everyone. Victor Augusto here again with an introduction to William’s interview. First, I wish to say thanks to the master William Ribas for everything he has done to spread Heavy Metal around the world. It doesn’t matter which magazine/website/blog he was a part of or collaborated with, he has always done it with passion and love for the music. He is an example, in Brazil, of how to truly support his local scene and also an example of an incredible reviewer/interviewer. He is also a good person, without ego or competition inside this area.
William has decided to take a break away from the scene and I don’t know if he will return to work within it again someday, but even if he never returns, I wish to say thanks. Thank you for your endless support for music. The Heavy Metal scene owns a lot to you. Take care brother!
Now, you can enjoy his interview with the Brazilian Heavy/Progressive/Power Metal band Ego Absence who talk about their debut album “Serpent ́s Tongue”. Thanks Raphael Dantas, Guto Gabrelon and André Fernandes for your time.
William Ribas: The beginning of you career as Ego Absence was around 2015, with the single release ‘I Am Free’, but the debut album, “Serpent ́s Tongue” only came out in 2020. What happened during this long delay until the release of the first album?
Raphael Dantas: Well, we were only two dreamers (Guto and I) and we’ve spent a lot of time searching for some musicians to join the band and start recording the album, but it wasn’t easy, so we decided to record the album as a two-man band.
Guto did the guitars and bass recording, and I did the drums, orchestration, synths, vocals, mixing… And it worked, and after the mix sessions we finally found our drummer and bass player.
Guto Gabrelon: Yes, after some attempts to complete the team for the album, I came up with the idea of just recording and launching “Serpent’s Tongue”. I believe it was the best to be done, because now we have the album released and the full team with Augusto Bordini and André Fernandes.
André Fernandes: I wish I could have recorded the bass lines for the album, because the songs are fantastic, thanks to these two amazing songwriters, but at least, I have the honour of playing them with the whole band, which is even cooler!
William Ribas: Entering into the album’s concept, the lyrics make it clear that the character lived in paradise and hell, also sadness and redemption. A literal and real epic, which many people livein their daily lives. Firstly, how is it for the vocalist to record all the emotions that the lyrics ask for?
Raphael Dantas: It’s not so easy to turn my voice into a kind of sub machine of emotions, but I did my best, hahaha, but I think that the personal content helps me to express myself better. Some songs talk about my life, and the people feel identified about it, because many people walk the same way. We are dreamers, we feel happiness, sometimes we cry, but we always overcome the obstacles.
William Ribas: Following the previous question. The album is an opened journal; let us say even a self-help Heavy Metal work. Did you, Raphael, imagine that you would release a work-out of the clichés of Power Metal when you were composing? Did you also imagine that your life experience would be a support for those who go through the same problems you faced?
Raphael Dantas: Although I love Power Metal music from the traditional to modern bands, I never saw myself composing songs and lyrics about epic wars, dragons and witches. It’s totally out of my reality, if I tried, it would probably sound like shit LOL…
I think we need to put our truth in the front line to sound authentic, of course, I’m not saying the bands with medieval concepts are wrong. They probably read a pile of books so their lyrics sound convincing, but I really like the idea to be a kind of self-help Power Metal. We are making music to raise everyone up, helping him or her to make a self-reflection and change their everyday lives.
William Ribas: Many people say that Power Metal has become nauseous, with repetitive formulas. Listening to “Serpent ́s Tongue”, what we have is rich musicality, of a band that does not repeat itself, that knows how to use broken lines, fast and even brutal at some points. How challenging was it move away from that dated sound, but not change so much to the point of getting lost in the album?
Raphael Dantas: I think it’s a high level of ignorance, probably those guys listen to AC/DC their whole life and they never say that kind of bullshit, the problem is the lack of immersion into musicality. They never stop a while to listen to a full album, and don’t know the sub genres of power metal. Kamelot doesn’t sound like At Vance that doesn’t sound like Evergrey that doesn’t sound like Helloween. Power Metal is full of elements and those kinds of people need to become “far less shallow now” LOL.
Guto Gabrelon: We like to mix elements that also come from other styles. In some guitar riffs you can hear the influence of Metalcore that we fit into Power Metal, for example in several riffs of ‘Let It Burn’. In other songs, there is also an influence of Prog & Death Metal. Because of this we decided to call it “Modern Power Metal”.
André Fernandes: The first time that I listened to the whole album, I got many references from other styles of music, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, just the opposite. If you are really good, as Raphael and Guto are, you can renew, and modernize astutely, forming a different style, even though the roots are still in Power Metal.
William Ribas: Normally, the analysis of an album is left to the reviewers, but today I would like to reverse that role. How would you describe each track on the disc?
‘The Fools Trap Symphony’.
Raphael Dantas: I really like the way it starts, the impact of staccatos and hits, give me the sensation of being in front of a real classical orchestra!
‘Serpent ́s Tongue’.
Raphael Dantas: It’s a special song for us because it works like a thermometer to know if the crowd are ready to rumble! This song was the opening song at our first show, and the people showed their energy!
‘Dead Inside You’.
Raphael Dantas: It is the fastest Ego Absence song, with 200 bpm! We were afraid in case we couldn’t find a drummer able to play this song, but Augusto Bordini was successful to this challenge. I really love this song because although being extremely fast, it is also emotive and tells real factual history.
‘Let It Burn’.
Raphael Dantas: Obviously, it is one more of our hits. This song makes us stronger day by day because it reminds us the purpose of our lives, fight for the art, fight for the music.
Guto Gabrelon: It basically says: Don´t waste time and get on with your master projects!
‘Against The Tide’.
Raphael Dantas: Every day there’s a man working hard for a dream, to wake up and feel his goals closer and closer. The muscles hurt, the sun burns the skin, but nothing will stop him, the pain and the losses won’t be enough to give up on a dream.
Guto Gabrelon: It’s a song of extremes. Very calm in some parts and very heavy in other parts.
‘I Am Free’.
Raphael Dantas: We’ll always have close, those people who will never know how to live outside of their point of view, and you always will hear “Give up! You Never Get it! Don’t waste your time”. They never dare to live far from their comfort zone…The comfort zone is boredom’s limbo.
Raphael Dantas: Sometimes it feels like you are screaming into a locked chamber, where nobody listens to you, but your voice echoes through the structure…Nobody hears you, nobody helps you, but you know where you need to go. You can’t stop dreaming. Although bleeding, don’t stop climbing the mountain.
Raphael Dantas: Sometimes, love and tragedy are holding hands. You need to be careful and never put yourself in second place, your self-love must always be first, if not, tragedy will start to act…depression, Sleepless nights, toxic relationships…Just like Nina Simone Said, “leave the table when love is no longer served”.
Raphael Dantas: Loneliness brings you surprises sometimes, from nowhere comes a hello and after some hours of conversation, and when you’re not expecting it, you can’t pass through the day without this contact, keeping you away from the cold, but only the time will tell what the name of this feeling is!
Raphael Dantas: No matter the country, religions are always controlling people. Everywhere! For good, for evil, power, money and something else, and this song was made to alert people to always pay attention if you are really in a good place, because the main character of this song has passed through the gates of hell to find out the truth behind the curtain.
Guto Gabrelon: This song was our first music to become an official video because it transmits impact, speed and movement.
Raphael Dantas: It is an amazing song with a lot of colours and environments. Guto proves he’s not an ordinary guitarist, because his heart and musicality are bigger than his ego.
Guto Gabrelon: The lyrics are about a character’s long journey, searching for the real meaning of life and how people should act with each other.
Raphael Dantas: This song I made at the end of this first journey, finally getting time to rest and recover the stamina for new challenges.
Guto Gabrelon: The track’s name represents the end of the previous song’s journey.
William Ribas: In March of 2020, you made your debut on stage, playing as opening band for Vision Divine in São Paulo (Brazil). How was the feeling of performing songs for the first time in front of an audience that, probably, had never heard your music before?
Raphael Dantas: It was crazy! We had never played together before, and one month before the concert, the producer of the event called me to invite us to be the opening act. Of course, we accepted and started to schedule the rehearsals. On the first day, I was sure that the guys were sharp, but I really needed to have good training, because I was a little out of shape by the years far from the stage. The crowd was amazing! ‘Serpent’s Tongue’ was the first song after the intro, and it was enough for the audience to start making the ground shake!
Guto Gabrelon: We were glad, despite being the first concert, to see that the crowd already knew the songs. It was an incredibly positive response!
André Fernandes: it was a thrilling, and exciting experience! I wasn’t able to stop in one single place on the stage because the crowd was exchanging so much energy with us and the four of us were in an unforgettable harmony! What a fantastic day!
William Ribas: The band found an interesting way to promote itself, which was releasing an acoustic version of ‘Against the Tide’ while you couldn’t play during Covid-19. This song has the message of staying strong and to wait for better days that will come. Is there a possibility of you create other material in this style and making it available on digital platforms?
Raphael Dantas: Of course, yes! We really loved this experience and there is a possibility of doing versions for other songs.
Guto Gabrelon: The acoustic version of ‘I Am Free’ will also be released now on our YouTube channel. We don’t have anything defined, but Rapha and I liked these versions, so anything is possible.
‘Against The Tide’ (Unplugged)
William Ribas: I know that you would usually be doing the cycle of releasing an album, publicizing, doing shows and then leaving for pre-production of a new album, but we are closed and without shows. Are there any plans for a second album? If you already have one, could you say that you will make a continuation of the first album?
Raphael Dantas: Well, we didn’t stop working during this “pandemonium”, because Guto and I are always working on remote lessons, maybe more than ever, and we are the main composers, so we have some songs to evolve, but it will take time. But yes, we are working on a new album, but I’m not sure if will it be a kind of “Serpent’s Tongue Part II”, only time will tell.
Guto Gabrelon: I love to compose and that is part of me. So, even in times when this is not in the foreground, some ideas are always in motion. Ego Absence doesn’t work with ready-made formulas, which keeps us free to always innovate.
William Ribas “Serpent ́s Tongue” the album was released in Brazil and Japan and it received good reviews from the specialized Heavy Metal magazines/websites. Can we expect the album to come out in the rest of the world?
Raphael Dantas: I’m really not sure about it. We’ve tried hard to make a deal with some metal labels, but it’s not so easy, that’s why we made “Serpent’s Tongue” independent, but we’ll try until we have a deal with a good label.
William Ribas: Thanks for the interview, please leave a message to our readers.
Raphael Dantas: Thanks brother, for the invitation. It’s always an honour to talk with you and spread our ideas all over the world.
Guto Gabrelon: The album “Serpent’s Tongue” is available on all digital platforms, including our YouTube channel. Follow us on social media. See you there!
André Fernandes: Thanks for the interview, and Let it Burn!!! (I hope we can also say ‘I Am Free’, when all of this pandemic situation is over hahaha)
Raphael Dantas – Vocals
Guto Gabrelon – Guitars
André Fernandes – Bass
Augusto Bordini – Drums
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