Towards the end of last year I got the chance to listen to “Rising”, the debut demo from Vultures Vengeance, an Italian band dealing in surprisingly heavy, obscure and dark metal. A really nice surprise, and something different from all the retro acts occupied by trying to replicate the sound and feeling of the NWOBHM as perfect as possible. More or less the whole band got together to answer my questions, for what is one of the first (if not the first) attempt at an in depth interview with the Italians.
Coming out of nowhere, we need some background information on Vultures Vengeance. Let’s start with you introducing the band members. At least I know that you are a quartet. Is the lineup you have now the same as you had when you formed the band?
TT: -Hello Metal Squadron! That’s right, Vultures Vengeance is a quartet founded in 2009 by me, Tony T. Steele, singer and guitarist. The present line up also consists of bass player Matt Savage, guitarist Nail and drummer K. Khel. We started up in 2009 and the first line up was me, K. Khel and Nail. The line up has changed three times, as searching for the perfect one has been very hard. That’s why the band has been rehearsing for many years without releasing anything or playing live shows. We spent a lot of time searching for a singer too and after three years I decided to become the vocalist myself.
What is your experience from bands prior to Vultures Vengeance? From the little research I have been able to do, there seems to be a link to the band Necromancer? Are there other acts worth mentioning?
TT: – Nail is the singer, guitarist and mastermind of Necromancer. Matt and I have played some gigs with them as well, but not released anything.
[N]: – Yes, there’s a link between the two bands as Necromancer was my very first act. It started in 2009 as a raw death/thrash band and the band is still active today despite the continuous line-up changes. It’s clearly totally different stuff compared to Vultures Vengeance, but personally I really love to explore and play different styles of metal and, in general, different kinds of music.
How has the background from more extreme styles of metal influenced the sound of Vultures Vengeance?
TT: – I actually like many thrash and death metal bands, but Vultures Vengeances’ influences are totally different. Of course we have an extreme metal background, but we don’t have much in common with this new wave of extreme metal. It seems to me that many guys nowadays want to be cooler than the others, and wish to stand out as “true” or “bad, but many of these are not moved by real rage and discontent like the bands from the eighties and early nineties were.
[N]: – If by”extreme”, you mean classic acts from the death, thrash and black metal scene, of course all of us were raised by those bands and I still listen to them very regularly. Anyway I don’t see any direct “extreme” influences in Vultures Vengeance, as the purpose of the band since the very beginning was to play pure heavy metal
TT: – We want to play heavy metal with no influences from today’s trends, but with a real passion and dedication.
What is the purpose of “Rising”, the demo you just released? To test the waters, to spread the band name around, to get a record deal, or to get gigs?
TT: – It’s our first step. We wanted to spread the band name around, and we will probably play live after the next release. I think that it’s always better to perform a song that people know compared to an unreleased track, and especially for a new band like ourselves.
What do you want to communicate with the band name? I find it a little unusual, which should only be a good thing. Apart from the Dutch thrash metal band, Vulture who released some decent stuff during the early nineties, vultures are surprisingly seldom mentioned in heavy metal. After all they’re scavengers, something that should make them a popular creature for heavy metal bands.
TT: – A vulture is probably one of the ugliest creatures around, and it’ a corpse eater too. I think that it’s a perfect metaphor to describe people that are not interested in following the masses and for this reason are hated, for their own nature. The modern times, the empty age full of dust, reminds me of a desert full of corpses all around, just like vulture habitat. The vulture eats the dead ones and lives by feeding itself with the foolishness of others.
At the moment, you have very little presence on the internet. No homepage, no Facebook page as far as I can see, and just one track up on MySpace and YouTube, MySpace is a site I personally hadn’t visited for a few years. Is the low profile and the use of MySpace instead of for instance Facebook something you do on purpose?
TT: – Facebook is for sure a great medium for advertising and promotion, but I find it sad that people’s emotions and relationships are reduced to a “like” and a blue backdrop. A computer works with a binary code and this is how Facebook and other platforms work, but we are humans and our minds tend to interpretate things that surround us. A human being could never work with a binary system, it’s underhand and so far from reality. Obviously, like all the tools that technology and progress are giving us during the years, what is important is the way people use it. Vultures Vengeance will probably be on Facebook a day or soon, as for I’m the only one in Vultures Vengeance that thinks this way. Until then, I am sure that people who like this music will find us and will find the time and the wish to write an email as you did.
[N]: – At first I did not agree with this choice, but now I have to admit that it was a good decision. Without a Facebook profile, in this first phase, we have been able to create interest in Vultures Vengeance just for our music, and not for a virtual advertising, something which is not usual nowadays. A lot of metal bands has a real strong presence in many social networks, but in many cases, their music is not especially good. I hope this doesn’t mean that this band will never have a Facebook page. It was just a sort of experiment.
The demo is titled “Rising”. Why have you chosen this as the title?
TT: – “Rising” can be related to the last track of the tape, composed by Matt. He will explain you the reason for the choice of title.
MS: – As this tape is our first work, the title ”Rising” describes the present status of our life as a band. This release is just the first step on a long road, and i believe that” Rising” is the right title to give a good hint about our intentions
How has the response been so far? How many of the 150 copies have you managed to sell during what I believe is only a couple of weeks since the release?
TT: – The tape was recorded during the summer, but released on The 25th of November. During the first three days we already sold most of the copies, so I think it’s going good. You have to remember that our presence on the internet is minimal.
MS: – “Rising” sold out in less than a month, and we’ve sent copies all over the world. I’d say it’s definitely a great result!
Are you open to releasing this demo in other formats as well, or do you want it to be a tape only release?
MS: – We’re considering the possibility of releasing “Rising” in other formats as the tape had great response. Maybe a 7 inch?
Has there been an interest from labels already? Are you looking actively for a label, or would you be prepared to continue releasing your music on your own?
TT: – Yeah. There are labels that have shown an interest in us, but we’re still thinking about which way we should take. Anyway, I think that the next release will be on a label.
The material sounds different and so much heavier than what is delivered by all this retro spandex-metal bands popping up at the moment. I believe you must have other, more obscure and heavier influences than NWOBHM-bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden and Tokyo Blade. What would you name as your main sources of inspiration?
TT: – I really love NWOBHM and I love Iron Maiden, Saxon and Tokyo Blade too, but as you’ve already said, our influences are different. Personally I take great inspiration from seventies stuff that inspired the first heavy metal bands, acts like Dust, Jerusalem, Iron Claw, Wishbone Ash, UFO, Epitaph, Birth Control, Sorcery and Legend, but also eighties metal with obscure and epic elements like Witchkiller, Overlorde, Thunder Rider, Breaker, Dark Lord, Valhalla and Black Knight. There are too many to mention all. I always try to do something original and to take inspiration from the heart of the music and not only from the style. In particular, I like seventies rock stuff for the originality, but I will never compose something that is a clone of that sound. I will always try to do personal music. Not modern, but personal!
KK: -Our influences are surely not limited just to NWOBHM, however as it was my very first love in metal, I have a sort of innate inclination taking inspiration from it. Each one of us, in his own way, has listened to extreme metal and brought with us some of it. The main influence in my drumming leads back to the late sixties and seventies progressive and hard rock though, which is also a significant part of what I mostly listen to.
MS: – Some of our main influences can be easily understood by reading the thanks list on the tape (“All the fathers of heavy metal from Birmingham”).
Are the songs on the demo the ones you had ready when you decided to record, or did you have more songs to choose from? If so, why did you choose these three?
TT: – We have many more songs. The tracks we’ve chosen for the demo represent two different sides of Vultures Vengeance. I like the fact that the listener can find many elements and different atmospheres in the songs. Each song should have an own identity.
KK: – Each song incarnate a different side of Vultures Vengeances’s spirit. It’s like a vulture’s mantle: The feathers might look all black at first sight, but if you take a closer look, with the right light, you find out all the different variations in colour.
Let’s talk a little about the tracks on the album. There is a short intro connected to “Towards The Gates Of Unknown”, which is not only the opener of the tape but also the one you have presented to the listeners at your Myspace-page. In my opinion this is the best track on the tape, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you agree with me. There are some really cool riffs going on in this track along with a pretty dark atmosphere. My guess is that this was the first song you wrote?
TT: – Not the first that I remember. Yeah, it’s probably my favourite track of the tape too. “Towards The Gates Of Unknown” could be a great tune to play live as soon as possible.
KK: – I love “Towards The Gates Of Unknown”, and I enjoy playing it a lot! But actually, I really like all of our songs. I deeply believe that in order to make something good and something people like, you have to enjoy it yourself when you perform it.
“Rise Of The Morning Star” starts of very fast and aggressive, but soon turns more melodic. A diverse song, with quite a few tempo changes. I like this one too, even though I am not that fond of the backing vocals during the chorus. Comment?
TT: – Yeah, “Rise Of The Morning Star” is a different song. As I’ve already said before, each song has an own personality and this one represent a singular and unique side of Vultures Vengeance. I like the way the differences between the songs create a sort of watershed for the listeners.
KK: – I think the choirs are amazing. I sing too. Haha!
The last track, “From The Ashes Will Come” seems to be more of an outtro. Mainly an acoustic instrumental with some spoken words towards the end. A quite spooky track that ends with the words: Through ages of dust we will rise again…Why have you included this one on the demo instead of another normal track?
TT: – At the beginning, when the idea of the demo was born, the plan was to include only the first two songs. The last track was composed by Matt at the last moment of the recording. I liked it immediately and I thought it was perfect to close the tape with, and that this track would transform the tape into a small concept. But Matt can talk more about it than me.
MS: – Since we first started working on “Rising”, I’ve been thinking about an instrumental track to close the demo. The whole track was composed and played with an acoustic bass. I started writing the two mains arpeggios, then I added the solo to the first part and the harmonization to the second one. The lyrics are about a personal moment I’ve been passing through just before the release of “Rising”. It’s about fate and resurrection .
How many additional songs do you have ready at the moment? Are your next step dependent on the reaction on the demo songs, or have you already planned whether to do a full length album or an EP?
TT: – We have approximately material for two albums and one EP ready. We’re always trying to choose the the best material. Many old songs will be probably replaced by new ones, but most of all, it depends on the direction that the band will take before the release.
I find the sound on the demo very good. Have you used a professional studio, or is it a home recording? It sounds very natural, raw and powerful. Is this the type of sound you want for future recordings as well?
TT: – All the material on the tape was recorded in our rehearsal room by Matt, who is also a sound engineer that recently started setting up a recording studio named Heavy Duty Studio. We took all Matt’s recording equipment and put it there. Matt will tell you more about it.
MS: – The ‘Heavy Duty Studio’ is a recording studio I am starting up in my hometown and I thought that the best way to launch it was by recording “Rising” as the first work. Unfortunately, the location of Heavy Duty was not quite ready yet, so we took the equipment and recorded the demo in a garage we use as our rehearsal room. Even though we, since the very beginning, have been facing many issues, like consumated drumheads or bad acoustics, we kept on working on it and in the end we got what we wanted. We have used eight microphones for the drums, five for each guitar and two for the bass. The final result sounds really powerful, at least to us. For the third track, “From The Ashes Will Come”, I placed a microphone in front of the bass sounding board and I’ve mixed it with the anechoic sound of the piezoelectric microphone inside the bass, to obtain a deeper sound.
KK: – As Matt has already said, except for his own equipment, the rehearsal room we’ve been recording in wasn’t great as it didn’t offer the ideal sound, the sound we wanted. Playing the drums has been frustrating, but Matt’s magic hands and his fine ears sorted all the apparently impossible issues we had. The result is what all of you can listen to now. Besides this, we’ve started recording after only seven rehearsals with me.
Have you performed live already? When you are ready to peform live, will you perform only your own material, or will the public get to hear a few covers as well, especially at this early stage in your career?
MS: – We’d rather wait until we have released something more before to start playing live.
TT: – We will probably perform covers. I already have many ideas for possible cover versions, but four us to be able to a re-interpetation in the best way possible, and no only a cold execution of the track, the songs must be perfect for our sound. We want to salute rock’n’roll and Lemmy Kilmister, the immortal!