Ra's Dawn

Genre: Progressive metal

Origin: Germany

Current line-up:
John Schmitz - Guitar
Marek Schoppa - Guitar
Martin Balthes - Bass
Marco Freimuth - Drums
Olaf Reimann - Vocals
Philipp Nörtersheuser - Keys

Current label:
g.o.d. records / Twilight

Unveiling the Grotesque - 2004 
Scales of Judgement - 2006 
At the Gates of Dawn - 2009 

Official Site:

1. Hello! How are you? How do you feel about your new album "At the Gates of Dawn"? Do you think that it will get you a step forward? 

    Hey Nick! It’s been a while since we talked the last time about our debut “Scales of Judgment”, right? But first of all I’d want you to know that it’s an honor for us to stay in contact with you guys in Greece. We really appreciate it. 
    Well, concerning our new record we’re totally glad with the outcome of the production. “At the Gates of Dawn” sounds a bit heavier and more up to date, than our debut but still carries all the RA’S DAWN trade marks. And I personally think that all of us did a fantastic job on the instruments. I’m really proud of the musicianship and the over all picture. 
2. If you compare this album to your previous one entitled “Scales of Judgement”, can you tell us which the new elements on your new album are?
    I think the most distinct point is that nearly all of the songs were written just for this very record. On “Scales of Judgment” we re-recorded few songs which had already been on our second demo, “Unveiling the Grotesque”. So the new stuff sounds more mature and fresh. Of course we’ve grown in arranging, composing and playing what you can surely recognise if comparing both records. The one and only older piece is “The Dawn of Ra”. This 23 minutes baby can be found on the very first RA’S DAWN demo, entitled “Solar Force”. The guys wrote and recorded this one before I joined the band, so doing this “cutie” for “At the Gates of Dawn” was still kinda new, well, for me anyway. But we also took this track and rearranged it in some parts, added some cool sounds and tightened it here and there. Therefore it is definitively up to date and fits perfectly to the RA’S DAWN sound anno 2009. 
3. As I see from the lyrics and the titles of some songs that you have included in your new album and by the band’s name, Egyptian mythology and civilization are a big inspiration to you. How did you get interested in this civilization?
    As I mentioned, I'm not a founding member and was not involved in choosing a name, but at that time the guys’ intention was to come up with a new name which you could associate a certain topic with. Furthermore having such a banner opened the way to the use of a variety of exotic musical scales and riffs. What’s cool about these is that they sound so heavy when played on guitar within this genre. So this Egyptian concept seemed to fit quite nice, we sticked to it and out of this approach we all got in touch with this culture. I know, it’s a bit profane, but that’s the story. Unfortunately none of us has ever been to Egypt by now, but we’re still planning a little band-trip there and take some more authentic pics, haha!
4. Since we talk about the ancient Egyptians, do you believe that aliens had something to do with them?
    You are a Stargate-Fan, aren’t you? :) Well, let me answer from a little different perspective. In my opinion humankind is a not that much evolved species as it sometimes wishes to be. Especially concerning the evolution of the brain and thought patterns, humans are widely affective to shortcut-thinking just to avoid feelings of unease. What I mean by that is the fact that we tend to fear and want to get rid of what we cannot understand. If we face some kind of situation or in this case those massive monuments like the pyramid of Gizah whose creation can hardly be reduced to a rational basis, we need a point to rest our thoughts upon. Uncertainty is a horrible state of mind, right? It seems so far off reach, that the people of old Egypt could have created such a “miracle” without any help of future technology or additional/extraterrestrial help, so assuming the possibility of a higher force seems to be the only way to rest our thoughts. 
    To make it short, I don’t think it was an alien intervention. We take them as a symbol, a metaphor for our own cognitive insufficiency, just to have a temporary answer to our question. I am sure, that in a few millions (what might sound a bit ridiculous at first…) of years people will not have a doubt about such phenomena. We will either have evolved to a species that will be able to bypass shortcut-thinking much more effectively than we do now or have killed themselves in cases of broader stupidity. It’s 1:1 chance :) 
5. “The Dawn of Ra”, I believe is your most ambitious composition so far. How long did it take you to compose it and which were the biggest problems that you had to overcome in order to complete it?
    About the process of writing I can’t tell you which where the main obstacles. What I know from listening to the guys’ stories is that after having finished composing it, they sat down with some big smelly cigars and as a sign of having overcome this mammoth everyone puffed away one of them. Concerning the studio work, it also took a lot of time to get this one done. There are so many guitars and solos in this track, so many key shifts and tricky stuff like that. It just was a time consuming bit of work to record it. For me it was a lot of fun anyway. It’s a track where I was able to experiment a lot with different solo sounds and I was very surprised with the outcome. 
6. From the reviews that I have checked out so far for your new album, I see that most agree that your sound is more U.S. metal oriented. How do you feel about it?
    It’s really fine. We can identify more with such a statement as if they would consider us the typically German metal sounding band. Actually, many German power metal bands sound a bit cheesy in our ears. It’s not our taste at all. So, the “US niche” is OK for us although it’s always just opinions from different points of view.
7. By the way do you have plans to create a concept album with RA’S DAWN? If yes, what would you like it to be?
    Oh, I don’t think there will be a traditional concept album in the near future. We enjoy putting songs together which are based on different feelings and approaches. I think we would restrict our sound too much by composing within a single concept. But well, you never know. It would be more realistic for us to provide a lyrical concept than both lyrical and musical. Let’s see what future brings.
8. Lately, many bands have the chance to release their albums from labels and most of the works that are released are mediocre in comparison to the past ages that the releases were lesser but of better quality. Why do you think this happens?
    The main reason is probably, that it has become affordable for young bands to get a high-end production, what is really great on the one hand. Nowadays the deal is simple: You put some money together, look for an engineer who produces your music and than you hope for a label to release it. With a professionally produced record, chances are not bad to get it distributed, although it’s no guarantee of course. But on the other hand you get flooded by tons of releases with a good sounding production. However the quantity doesn’t imply high-quality song writing, of course. Additionally, nowadays many labels are more interested in releasing bands that sound like the 1248th  version of In Flames or Killswitch. So obviously the quality starts to suck! Back then, producing a powerful record was an expensive thing and your musical skills had to be outstanding, the musicians and bands had to be professional and authentic, they represented just themselves. There weren’t so many rip-offs and hypes. That’s why all metal heads stick to their beloved classics and not just strictly to hyped bands. Nowadays it’s sometimes a hard and expensive work to find a true gem out there. But it is still worth it at any time! There is constantly brilliant music being released. You just have to take a closer more distinct look. 
9. Did you ever get any pressure by a label to change your sound in order to sign you? What do you think of labels that do such a thing?
    Oh no, fortunately this was never the case. There has never been a label inflicting certain musical expectations upon us. With the SCALES record the story was quite simple. Metal Heaven wanted to release it just after we’ve finished producing, so they wanted us, our sound and nothing else. Just as it should be, without any restrictions. But with "At the Gates of Dawn" we’ve had to face a different sort of “label-pressure”. The pressure was that none of them wanted to sign us, what was very frustrating and also confusing. Obviously we had been able to raise the quality in every case, but no label wanted to cooperate. Their argument was either the diversity of our sound (…ridiculous…) or the bad financial situations at the moment. So we’ve chosen to work with a distribution agency and to get our own label going. This was the only chance get our record out and keep everything under control. As you see, we’ll never be under any label-pressure despite our own expectations, haha. On the other hand we will never be able to see any of the money again that we spent for the production.
    But I think it makes no sense if a label signs a band just because they are young, look good whatsoever, just to dictate what kind of sound they should produce. Music is still a kind of art and can not be restricted and planned in that way. If labels do so in order to raise their own profit the spirit gets lost, the listener gets bored, because the quality of the music drops. 
10. Thanks for your time answering my questions! Your new album is very good and I hope that many people will get the chance to listen to it. The last words belong to you… 
    Thanks Nick! We hope will be able to sell some more copies and spread our music just a little more, especially outside Germany and play a few more gigs. Let’s see what future brings. By the way, if you, dear reader, are interested in pre-listening our new album then simply visit us at www.ras-dawn.com. In the media section you’ll find a widget to stream the entire record. Just drop by and let us know what you think. Keep supportin’ metal!
    Thanks for your patience and I wish you all the best with your webzine, Nick! 
    Take care!
Nick  “Verkaim”  Parastatidis