After the really promising demo “Rising”, Italy’s Vultures Vengeance secured a deal With Gates Of Hell Records and released the mini album “Where The Time Dwelt In” last October. It took some time to finish this interview, but in the end, all band members contributed to what can be viewed as a follow up to the chat we had back when the band first sprang onto the scene.
Your demo tape sold out in a short time. Was it extra satisfying that you managed to sell it mostly due to word of mouth with zero or little internet exposure? What was the feedback that pleased you the most?
Tony: – The result of the tape was really satisfying. We were able to have this outstanding result mostly due to word of mouth in the European underground, as you said. I think the lack of our presence on the internet reactivated people’s curiosity. The magic around the old bands is also rooted in the fact that when people found a new band, they felt a sort of sense of belonging to that band, a deep bond between the people and the music. People identified with the music and sometimes they could see their own story in those notes; I find it magnificent and very personal, and I believe it is a bond that has to be built in your house, on the record player up in the attic, not in front of a computer screen.
During the summer of 2016, the demo tracks were also released as a 7 inch on Unsilent Tombs Records. Tony has the full story on how this collaboration came together…
Tony: – Unsilent Tombs Records is a German label that was born with the release of our 7 inch. We met the founder, Florian, a long time ago. He is a huge fan and collector of NWOBHM and of traditional heavy metal. One night, after a concert, I made him listen to our tape in a friend’s car. He liked it immediately and shortly after he decided to collaborate with us to release the 7 inch. Anyway, the feedback so far seems great.
The demo was supposed to be recorded in Heavy Duty Studio in Rome, but as far as I recall from our last interview, the studio wasn’t ready, and you ended up doing it in a garage instead. Was Heavy Duty finally used for the new EP? If so, I guess Matt was once again responsible for the production, mixing and mastering?
Tony: – We recorded this EP far away from the city, in Matt’s isolated house. Many guitar parts were recorded at night in the open with a natural reverberation. And yes, Matt is again responsible for the mix of the master. We wanted a personal sound and the inspirations are certainly Cirith Ungol and “Black Death” by Brocas Helm, but probably the best way to describe what we wanted to obtain, is to think about a Heathens Rage’s demo but with a cleaner recording, or perhaps the third album of the American Pandemonium, colder and more epic. Matt will surely tell you more about the recording.
Matt: – Unfortunately, the Heavy Duty studio wasn’t ready in time for the EP either, therefore we had to record the drums in the same Place we recorded “Rising”, and the guitars, bass guitar and the vocals were recorded in my house, which is very isolated from the city. We attached the amplifiers in the garden and we used microphones to record the natural reverberation of the guitars in the valley. Luckily, during these past months, our musical and sound technical knowledge broadened, giving us the opportunity to dare more in the search for sounds. “End of The Void” is a clear example, it is entirely made with guitars. The recording process lasted more than three months, and the complete session included two more tracks which we will probably release in the future. As Tony said, the idea was to get inspiration from masterpieces such as “Frost And Fire” by Cirith Ungol, “Invasion” by Manilla Road, “Black Death” by Brocas Helm and Heathen’s Rage, but obviously always wanting to create a new and personal sound which would better express our intentions. Each song received a different mix which better reflected the personality we wanted to give to the track and, personally, I feel pretty satisfied with the result.
It’s refreshing to see that none of the tracks on the demo are rerecorded for this EP. Not because they are bad, but because it makes this EP much more interesting for us that bought the demo. Was it clear from the start that it would be only new tracks on the EP?
Tony: – At first, when we decided to record the EP, we thought we would redo the songs from the demo. Then, with the passing of time, we found time to arrange completely new songs and therefore we decided to momentarily leave the demo songs behind. I say momentarily, because I think we will re-record some songs for the albums, but only once. We still have a lot of material, so we thought to just bring one back and leave space for eight new songs for a total of nine songs. I think it is possible that we will re-record them and re-arrange them album by album. But I can’t say for sure which songs we will choose and where we will redo them, these things are often unpredictable. Many of the solos that you hear on the EP, were arranged in studio, and even the intro was completely thought out in the studio. It is the recording of many guitars that makes it seems like it is almost a song played with synth, but it surely isn’t the case.
Matt: – The tracks present on the EP, exactly as the demo, were put together for a highly specific reason. Probably in the future we will find ourselves still working on old songs, but everything that Vultures Vengeance publishes, will always have its own identity, and that’s the reason why, in this case, we didn’t feel the need to put tracks from “Rising” on this EP.
The cover art on the demo was very minimalistic, only containing the logo as well as the title «Rising». I guess it must feel different to have the EP out with a cool cover-art as well. Did you have an influence on the cover art yourself?
Tony: – Absolutely! And only the intro of the EP was inspired by the cover. It is strange how perfect it fits, even though the songs were written beforehand. All credit to Lena who created it! The cover represents the end of an era, the death of fake myths and therefore the beginning of something, just a need to be someone else or something else. Everything is still. Nobody wants to be who they really are.
K.Khel: – The concept for the cover was Tony’s idea, obviously there are our, but mainly his, musical suggestions.
Your song titles are so damn cool, do you spend a lot of time working those out? How early in the creative process are they ready, before or after you write the lyrics?
Tony: – The creative process of the lyrics comes out quite naturally. What you read, can be read in many different ways, giving the listener a better chance of identification, but they all lead to one and only meaning. The meaning is always enclosed or simply suggested by the title of the songs, therefore for these songs we thought about the titles first, and subsequently the concepts were developed in the lyrics.
According to Tony, there is a strong bond between the lyrics and the music, with the latter inspirering the former..
Tony: – The purpose of the lyrics is to reflect the atmospheres of the music and I find it important that they all have different atmospheres.
Matt: – The lyrics represent the way we see and feel the world around us. Our biggest luck as a band is possibly the fact that we are foor people extremely akin, which is why each one of us to finds himself in the lyrics written by someone else. The lyrics are extremely personal and current, even if they were written with an epic note.
The eighties were full of excellent releases on the EP format, both private ones and on labels. What do you think are the best things about the EP-format, and please name some of your fave metal EP-releases.
Tony: – I think there are many EP or demo that are better than albums. The important thing is always the quality and never the quantity; the duration of the song or album doesn’t affect the artistic expression. Thinking about cult EPs from the eighties, I could name “Opening Ritual” by Cloven Hoof, the first EP by Dark Lord, a much underrated Italian band, “Full Moon’s Eyes” by Ostrogoth, “The time Lord” by Pagan Altar, “The Devil Takes The High Road” by Traitor’s Gate, “Day of the Saxons” by Witchkiller, “In The Days Of Heavy Metal” by Breaker, “Breakout” by Taipan, “Warlords” by Hollow Ground, and if you could consider it an EP, the first demo by Sweet Savage, one of my all-time favourite NWOBHM’s band. I could go on forever!
K.Khel: – In the first place “Deliver Us” by Warlord for sure! But also the already mentioned “Day of the Saxons” and “The Time Lord”. Also the first two EPs (demos) by Lucifer’s Heritage are worth mentioning.
Nail: – The EP format is not only an excellent bridge”between a demo tape and a future album, more often than not it ends up to be more condensed than a full-length album. Some other examples yet to be mentioned are Mercyful Fate, “Lightning Strikes” by Tokyo Blade, Medieval Steel, Glacier, “Into the Future” by Satan, and the list could go on forever!
Matt: – It is hard for me to add something to what others already said. Certainly Warlord, Pagan Altar, Mercyful Fate, Glacier, Breaker and Witchkiller.
When we did the first interview, you mentioned that you had many new songs ready, for two full albums as well as an EP. Why did you choose to do an EP and not a full album this time?
Tony: -We decided to make an EP simply because I think that the songs we chose were better on an EP. Our first album will contain different songs. I believe that it will be the perfect mix of the style on the demo and the EP, you will find the dark epicness of the EP and the catchy impact of the demo.
Matt: – The majority of the tracks present on the EP were written years ago, and we always imagined them as an EP, therefore we decided to work in this format. There is a central idea, a theme that ties these songs which made it absolutely essential putting all five of them together. It was a well thought choice.
The recording once again sounds real old school, authentic and natural. The band had a couple of Reference albums with the type of sound they were looking for…
Tony: – I’ve already cited “Black Death” by Brocas Helm, but when it comes to our inspirations, they are countless and we always try to have a very personal sound that fits better with the style of each song.
K.Khel:– My ideas on how I wanted to play the drums were really clear, and once again, Matt managed to deliver exactly what I had in mind, enhancing my arrangements.
Matt: – The reference albums in this case were masterpieces as “Black Death” by Brocas Helm, “Frost And Fire” by Cirith Ungol, “Invasion” by Manilla Road and Heathen’s Rage, but they were only references, the idea was always to bring a personal sound appropriate to the EP. Every song received a different mixing according to the identity that we wanted the song to have.
Let’s turn the attention to the individual tracks on the EP. Just like on the demo you have chosen to include an intro. What do you think you achieve with an intro?
Tony: – Like I said before, the writing of the intro came out naturally, and it was more or less created while it was being recorded. There are many guitars, and I believe that in reality you could consider it as a separate song, it has vibrations that resemble the apocalyptic landscape of the cover, but at the same time it was inspired also by the Italian horror movies by Lucio Fulci or the music by Goblin. I believe the intro should always be something more that charges the energy before you hear the songs.
Was it clear already from the start that «A Curse From Obsidian Realm» would be the opening track after the intro? It works really well as an opening track, and I love the vocal performance here, it sounds so inspired, almost desperate, and the song is so damn intense.
Tony: – Thank you so much for those kind words. Yes, it has been clear since the beginning that it would be the first song of the EP. The obsidian is a mineral that drives away the evil spirit, and it talks about an imaginary realm where the hypocrisies and the lies die, and where the cowards are severely punished, a blind’s nightmare.
Nail: – As for me, it is my favourite track on the EP. As you rightly noted, it is the intensity the main characteristic of this piece, to which I believe a certain immediacy and a good dose of evil are added.
«And The Wind Still Screams His Name» is also a powerful track, but with a melodic and really nice end section. Who is «he» in the song title?
Tony: – This song talks about the interior conflict, the fight against your fears. “He” is the representation of our conscience. The song expresses the concept of having nothing tangible; our actions are what matters and they pass on what we are and will be, not what we have in this life. Nothing can chain us if we don’t want to. It is a homage to anyone who gave their life for freedom in history, and who didn’t run in front of death.
In the press release, it is mentioned that the songs are now more structured and complicated than in the past. I guess, «On A Prisoner’s Tale», is a good example, as the song is more than eight minutes long, with a lot of things going on?
Tony: – When we arrange a s,ong we don’t usually put limits simply because there shouldn’t be any. And that’s the reason behind our long songs: we let the expressive flow take its course, and we don’t cage it in any structure. We also like seventies progressive rock and that influenced our composition method. The song reiterates the concept of acceptance of death as the liberation from an artificial slavery. The slavery I talk about is represented by what we want to seem like, and not what we really are. It reflects everything around us, we take the form of what we are afraid of. We are afraid of loneliness and that’s why we take forms that aren’t really us in order not to be alone, defragmenting our true identity, but the relief we feel from all of this is just an illusion, since we’re enslaved to an image.
Nail: – It is really essential, I believe, to try and maintain a constant level of intensity throughout the tracks. “On A Prisoner’s Tale” surely is an articulate and complex piece, it is a perfect mix of “metallic gallops”, if you lend me the term, and slow and evocative parts; but I don’t think there is a real decrease in the tension or in the power of the song, and I believe that this is the real silver bullet of the track.
Why did you choose to put an instrumental on the EP? I guess many would have preferred a song with vocals instead of «Where Time Stands Still», although it’s a cool instrumental song. Also the song title is quite similar to the title of the EP, why is that?
Tony: – We decided to use an instrumental because we thought words were unnecessary to the development of the song. The title is similar because it expresses the same concept, but the EP title engulfs all songs, while the instrumental is an entity by itself. Matt brought the idea, and we developed it all together.
Nail: – Personally I always loved instrumentals, and that’s why I supported the idea right away. Although an instrumental has less immediate impact on the listener, I believe it can immerse the listener in particular atmospheres better piece with vocals. And this conclusive track could have the function of enclosing the perturbation that hovers both in the EP and the cover.
Matt: – I brought a structure and some riffs to the recording room and we started to work on it together, and we were instantly satisfied with the result. The aim of the instrumental track is to accompany the listening to the end of the EP, and I believe it does so perfectly. All the songs present on a Vultures Vengeance Product, were put together for a specific purpose. Without the instrumental track, the EP would simply have had one less track, one without a voice.
You still don’t have a page on Facebook or a homepage on the Internet. Nowadays I guess it’s probably just as good exposure not to have one as to have one?
Tony: – Probably one day we will have a bigger internet presence. I like to think that Facebook is useless for those who want to listen to us. It will probably become necessary one day, if we like to get the attention of the masses. We will let everything take its natural course.
Nail: – At the end of the day, I believe not having Facebook has played in our favour.
Matt: -Maybe in the future we will have an internet page where we could keep up with our followers and to update them with our next release, live performance and so on, but I don’t think we will ever have a Facebook page.
The EP is released on Gates of Hell Records, but I think there were other labels interested in Vultures Vengeance as well. What made you choose Gates Of Hell? My guess is that you perhaps knew Enrico from before, as the underground heavy metal scene in Italy really isnt that huge?
Tony: – Yes, we met Enrico beforehand, but we decided to cooperate with his label because we always appreciated his work. We had other offers, but in the end the decision was unanimous.
K.Khel: – I would like to add that Enrico did a very good job and we thank him for his profuse dedication! He demonstrated great trust in us, giving us the freedom to decide everything.
Matt: – We decided to work with Enrico and Brigida from the Gates Of Hell because we already knew the enormous love and passion that drive them, and it proved to be the best choice. They did a fantastic job and on an artistic level they left us completely free to express ourselves.
Since we spoke to the band last time, the guys have made their live debut, and according to the singer and guitarist, there is more to come…
Tony: – We already played three times in Italy, one time in Athens and we will play in Germany at Metal Assault in February. We have other dates abroad, but they are still in the making, they will be confirmed in the next months. Certainly we are active and ready to play live for more than a year now! Thank you so much for the interview Leif! Cheers to Metal Squadron! HEAVY METAL.