A Huge “Thank You” to Kostas Filippou from all Metal Invader Team for this interview.
Thanks Kostas how’s it going in Athens?
It’s ok! You’ve been here at your tour with Warrel Dane I remember?
Well yes, it was 2015 and it must have been around 12 cities in Greece that we toured
Cool, so let’s go, tell me some things about Hevilan, how did it start?
Hevilan was created in 2006. We had a very prolific scene here in Brasil with new heavy metal bands coming along in the scene. It was the time when Angra had put out their third album “Aurora Consurgens” with the new members of the band (Edu Falaschi and Aquiles Priester). There was generally a very rich underground scene at the time. Personally I used to work at a guitar magazine here in Sao Paolo “Cover Guitar” while the bass player (Biek Yohaitus) used to work at the same time at “Cover bass” (which was the other magazine of the same company) and playing for “Sinrise” (a prog band with a lot of influences from Symphony x) where Alex Pasquale (our current singer) was singing. So we got in touch with Biek wanting to create a new heavy “traditional” band with its foot on modern metal as well, with new guitar tunings and style. So I play the guitars, Biek is our bass player writing also songs, our singer Alex and our drummer Rafael Dyszy (in our first album it was Aquiles Priester).
How would you describe your sound Johnny to someone never listened to you?
Well Hevilan has a lot of influences from classical bands such as Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, DIO, also some prog bands like Rush or modern bands such as Symphony X, Dream Theater, Nevermore (their sound between “Dead Heart” and “Enemies of reality”) and also some power bands such as Angra.
(Hevilan, Symphony of Good and Evil, 2021)
Do you think Angra is still one of the most emblematic bands of Brasil?
Definitely, their first two albums were very important and “Holy Land” is still considered one of the most important and influential albums of all time in Brasil but I think also in the history of Heavy Metal.
Back to Hevilan, which are the main influences of your frontman? His voice sounds so familiar…
Well, I would say three or four basic influences such as Russell Allen (Symphony X), Jørn Lande (Ark,Masterplan), DIO, and also David Coverdale.
And how did you decide to put “Symphony of Good and Evil” out during these “covid times”?
What happened is that we finished the production of the album in late months of 2019 (mixed by Lasse Lammert) and we were looking for the label that would distribute it without knowing of course what would happen with the spread of Covid after some months. So although we found “Brutal Records” and our cover artist Gustavo Sazes, our label decided, since there wasn’t enough time to promote the album properly, to postpone the release for March 2021.
“Symphony of Good and Evil” is your second album…
Yes, our first album (“The end of time”) came out in Europe in 2015 through “Massacre Records” and the second one is coming out through “Brutal Records” (American label).
What are the main differences in your opinion between your first and second album?
First of all in our first album we were really young in all this music industry and regarding the music we wanted to put out a strong album while at the second one we were more mature with wider influences to each of us during all this time. The main difference musically might be the fact that the first album had more “power” influences while our sound is lot more progressive in the second one.
Did you tour after your first album?
Yeah we did around 70 shows in Brazil through three Brazilian States with some of them done with Edu Falaschi who has a project called “Metal classics” in which he plays songs from all his favorite classic metal bands. We didn’t tour in Europe however cause during this time I was also occupied with Warrel Dane.
Back to the new album, who are the writers of the songs?
Mainly it’s Biek who wrote around 70% of the album and me. “Dark Paradise”, “Great Battle” (you’ll find a bit of Queensryche and Dream Theater influences), “Always in my dreams” (one of the two ballads of the album) were written by me, while Rebellion of the Saints”, “Here I Am”, “Devil Within”, “Waiting for the right time” (second ballad) were written by Biek. Finally “Symphony of Good and Evil” which is a 20 min song divided in four parts more progressive and symphonic is written by Biek as well. Each is writing both the music & lyrics for his songs.
Have to say “Devil Within” hit me first in the album with its really heavy style…
Yeah it’s a very direct song written by Biek without “beating around the bush” with progressive stuff. As I told you we have a lot of influences from traditional bands and it’s very likely that our next album will be more oriented into doing such “direct songs”, with less progressive sound. Besides we’ve noticed that European critics are praising our “traditional” style.
Do you think there is a trend towards the traditional sound?
Well definitely, I had the same conversation with a friend the other day and we were saying that there’s a big comeback to the sound with the “New wave of traditional heavy metal” the last years. We’re eager to sound more “direct” to the new album in which we’ll probably tour as well.
So you’ll put out first the new album and next tour?
Yeah the idea is to get vaccinated first, finish the pre-production in 2021 and get in the studio around March 2022, having it ready to be released by the beginning of second semester of 2022. Being realistic we hope to tour by early 2023.
So let’s open the “Warrel Dane” chapter…You had a collaboration first of all for Hevilan as well recording “Shades of war” with him, which is one of the most viewed videos of yours in Youtube.
That came easily when Biek at April 2014 proposed to ask him to take part in one of our songs for the European release of “The End of Time”. So I asked him and he did it totally for free in one day in Sao Paolo!
And how did you come close with Warrel Dane at first?
First, it was after the release of “The end of time” when Thiago Oliveira playing for “Seventh Seal” heard a copy of our album and then a local producer wanted to bring Warrel to Brasil and play for some dates with Brazilian members. That’s when Thiago asked me if I wanted to participate in the tour in 2014 and I gladly accepted since I was a big Nevermore fan. We did six concerts at that time and it went really well. There was a good chemistry musically and friendly speaking since we had a really good time. So he came back to Brazil and we did another solo tour in March 2015 when in around mid 2015, he decided to keep the band and produce with us a solo cover-album of 70s, 80s and 90s pop and rock bands making some metal versions, an idea given by Century Media. We started the pre-production of around six songs but at the same time we started bringing out some original songs and the idea was to switch to an original album.
By the way, what’s your opinion about “Praises to the War Machine”?
It’s an amazing album but it was very different from Nevermore’s sound and maybe because of that it didn’t have the recognition from Nevermore fans. He wanted to do different things from Nevermore and Sanctuary in his solo stuff putting in some goth and rock n’ roll influences.
Now 2 and half years after the release of “Shadow Work”, what’s your view on it? Were you satisfied from what finally came out?
The final product of “SW” was supposed to have around 12 tracks and 70 minutes with a bonus track for Europe&Japan. Unfortunately I had written five songs for the album and none of them got to be recorded and released because they were supposed to be recorded last. He wrote also the lyrics and choruses for my songs but his health was deteriorated already in 2017 when his diabetes was gone out of control.
Back to “Shadow Work”, that’s a really great artwork there, isn’t it?
Well sure, it’s done by one of the best artists in Heavy Metal, Travis Smith who made most of Nevermore covers as well; it’s a great work as well! I’d like to work with him in the future because he has a really different concept in giving details and images of art that really reflect on the songs.
Who did the production of “Shadow work” Johnny?
It was pre-produced by Roy Z who is really great in pre-production because he’s very good at getting a song and cutting out parts that aren’t needed (he did it in “Mother”) while also adding riffs sometimes, making the songs appear more “strong”. The production itself was done by Wagner Meirinho a very good metal producer from Sao Paolo who has worked with a lot of bands and it was mixed by Lasse Lammert.
How easy was to put out “Shadow Work” after Warrel’s passing?
That was one of the hardest periods of my life. Psychologically I was devastated after he passed away right in front of me. I had to suffer from arthritis as well since I went to a lot of stress around that time. Me and my wife had to deal with a lot of stuff as well in order to make it send his body to his family. Around February 2018 we went back to resume the production. Warrel had finished 4 or 5 songs in the studio and we were able to use 3 of them (such as “Madame Satan”, “Disconnection System” and “Hanging garden”) in the final album. The other songs we had to get them from the pre-production from the demos.
Have you thought of writing about your story with Warrel?
Yes we thought about it with Marcus and Fabio to write down about our four years with Warrel but we haven’t decided yet after what happened with the cover EP. It’s definitely in our plans however.
Your favorite Nevermore album?
Definitely “Dead Heart…” it’s a masterpiece; it would be in my top 5 of 2000s.
To close it, which three albums in heavy metal would you describe as some of the most underrated in the history of our music Johnny?
Great question! The first one would be an album recorded by a friend of mine Rowan Robertson who played and toured with DIO for his “Lock up the wolves” album. I think it’s a really magnificent and underrated album at the same time. Second one, my favorite from Ozzy: “The ultimate sin” with Jake E. Lee in the guitars who I believe is a great guitarist and had influenced also Zakk Wylde at the time. Third one, I would say “Black Sabbath’s “Headless Cross” with Brian May participate as well. I am a big fan of Tony Martin’s works and I think it didn’t get the recognition it should.
Last question! Your view in the current situation in Brazil and the world? Any last message?
Well I think that life in Brazil won’t come back earlier than in a year when things might get back to normal.
Last message would be to everyone to check our latest material “Symphony of Good and Evil”. It’s in all main web stores and digital platforms. We hope as well to put out soon our material with Warrel for the cover EP.
Thank for this nice chat Johnny!
Thank you as well Kostas, for the opportunity to talk about our new work which I think metal fans should check out!