Hideous Divinity are currently gearing up to release their fourth album Simulacrum via Century media records. Amidst a busy schedule of interviews and other items, guitarist and founding member Enrico took the time recently to have a discussion with us about both the new album and his thoughts on what skill musicians should have.
Hideous Divinity are currently gearing up to release Simulacrum. How do you feel the response has been to the singles you’ve released?
I think the response has been pretty good. We should never forget the fact that the first single was a very peculiar video clip so in one way that got more attention and a kind of response than the music. The lyric video however, was more about the music and kind of a safe zone for the metal fans. The second song is more immediate and kind of a ‘technical death metal’ style even though I wouldn’t really call our music that. I’ve nothing against labels, everyone is entitled to call their music what they want. But to me, technical death metal belong more to bands like Beyond Creation who are insane musicians. Whilst I’m not really a fan of their music, I’ll never be able to play guitar like them so hat’s off to them for that as they are amazing musicians.
With the signing to Century Media as well, we are now exposed to an audience which doesn’t know us which we bore into consideration. Given that, I think the response has been very good and I like that people have been seeing an evolution in our music. Let’s face it, I’m going to be 40 in December and I can’t play and record the same songs forever and ever. This genre needs some fresh air and what I think is happening is that people are looking for something beyond hyper-technical music. That, I think, explains why the new wave of Icelandic black metal has been doing so well as their music is bringing them to places. It’s not enough to do the extreme blasts all the time, you need to do something different. And that’s what I’ve tried to do when writing the music. I owe it to myself to try and do something different every record and every time it’s been a mirror as to what’s happening at the time. If even one person out of ten who watches the videos gets that, then I’m super, super happy.
There’s been a lot more promotion and reach and also a lot of pressure! We knew that from the beginning though. With it being our 4th album, it’s like the “in or out” record and even more so on a major label. I would be a filthy liar if I said it didn’t influence our music writing or record! Of course it did. We all felt the pressure that something important was coming our way and we’re super stoked for it come.
What really amazes me about Century Media is the cohesion between professionalism and the passion for extreme metal. I’ll give you an example of that. When we were about to film the video for our first single which we knew was going to be extremely graphic and violent, not in cheesy way mind, we weren’t sure if we were going too far. So, we sent the screenshots to the Century Media people to see if anything needed be stopped and they turned around and said: “This is going to be amazing. We’re really looking forward to your video.” That was great to have that kind of support and they are super passionate about the music. A few weeks before us, they signed the band Vitriol from the US which I think is the best thing that happened to death metal in 10 years. That to me, really means they care.
They are really awesome and now working with them we have deadlines which we’re aware of. For a long time, we wanted to be professionals and for them to consider us professional artists now is incredible. We’ve done everything in our power to make this new album our best and those guys really like it which is great.
Was the recording process behind this album any different to the previous?
Well, from many aspects it was quite similar. We have our comfort zone which is working with Stefano Morabito at 16th Cellar Studios where we’ve been recording at since 2007 when it was only me and two sessions musicians. He’s kind of like the 6th member of the band and he’s been evolving along with us over the years. He knows our music really well and we love working with him. He’s always wanted to get the best out of us and treats the album like it’s his as well. The sense of commitment from him was incredible.
When we enter the studio, we usually leave very little room for improvisation and interpretation as it doesn’t really work with our music. If we were a drone band, then we might be able to leave that open a bit more but for death metal that doesn’t really work. However, we did try a few different things. We looked at what worked last time and what didn’t and tried to build upon a lot of that. So in some ways, yes the process was similar but also a bit different.
Lyrically the band has used concepts based on movies in the past. Was that the case for the new album?
Of course yes. The movie reference is David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The album is probably one of the most complex in terms of concept as we’re mixing that which is probably the most non-linear of all of his films and a good dose of autobiographical content. I see our music as a sort of cyclical distortion of reality which came before. That’s what I think our music has become. The roots are still there but there’s always new things present in there.
What equipment do you typically use in terms of guitars and amps?
Live wise, we go fully digital. The studio is the only place where we use traditional amps. You’re a guitar player as well so you know of the digital delights of these days and the infamous Kemper toaster amp. When you’ve only got 15 minute stage changes, having that makes it much easier as it’s a consistent sound every night and something that will not give the sound-guys a headache. When you’re in the studio, you’ve got a lot more time to work and can thus spend the time getting the right tone.
In terms of that tone, we use a mix of amps including a Dual Rectifier and the Engl Fireball. It doesn’t matter what you do, but if you do death metal then sooner or later you’ll bring on the Fireball as it’s just one of the best amps for death metal. We also used a bit of outboard gear to try and stop some of the ‘digital compression’ and give a bit more of a organic and vintage sound.
Around the start of the band, you moved back to Italy from Norway. Was that done to make it easier to rehearse together or other reasons?
No, it was done as I split with my girlfriend at the time and started dating something from Italy so moved back! There was no lineup at the time and oh, ok, here comes a bit of a unseen truth. I originally advertised the band as Norwegian death metal but I can tell you it was only me, an Italian guy with short hair dressing casual who could not find anyone in Oslo to play death metal with me! They would look at me and go “Nah. You’re ok”. When it comes to Norwegian people and metal, they were so arrogant. So, I recorded this demo to find someone to play with in Norway and failed.
So, when I finally relocated back to Italy I found some musicians who were willing to play with me and we put the lineup together. Officially, we were a band in 2008/2009 and before that it was me, and Italian guy pretending to be a Norwegian guy!
What would you say is one skill all budding metal musicians should have or learn to have?
I think, and I am the least qualified to say this, that people should listen to your music and what you want to imitate. Pay attention to the hooks and try to understand why that song is so cool for you. What is that bit that gives you goosebumps and understand why it does. I think those people who took the guitar and made some amazing stuff with it that’s not technical. There are some composers out there who are so influential on my playing.
I mean, think about the Polish metal band Mgla. You can’t say that what they play is technical, but the layers they are able to build and the arrangement is fantastic. I think their album, Exercises in Futility, was their breakthrough which made people take notice and really got them noticed. It’s the sort of album you can listen to every time and still get the same feelings as the first time you listened.
Also, be sure that you are in a band that has a plan. Drummers can often be the ones that can make or break a band as not having one can result in the band dying. They are kind of like the King Arthurs and hold the strings of our destiny. Not having a plan can mean that drummers will leave and then the band might die.
What are the band’s plans for the next 6 to 12 months?
We’ve got quite a lot of touring coming up over the next few months. We’ve got a tour lined up for the start of next year which is going to be really good. And then, as you know, we’ve got the European summer festivals which is always cool. It’s actually very difficult to do a tour right after that as we experienced with Cattle Decapitation in 2017 as all the people will have spent their money attending the festivals. We learnt that the hard way in Germany as there’s just so many festivals there.
So yeah, we’ve got that thing and we’re hoping to get another for later in the year which will be good. I mean, the first one is confirmed but I’m old fashioned and only see it as fully confirmed once the dates have been announced and tickets are on sale.
We love touring though and I think we’ve played the UK more times than we’ve played in Rome! We’ve played Glasgow quite a few times and Rebellion in Manchester which was really fun. We’ve even played in Nottingham for Robin and the Sheriff! One thing I would like though, please fit some showers to your venues!
Does having Stefano (Franceschini) now in Aborted make touring a bit more difficult?
Sometimes, as they are a really hard touring band. When it comes to us, there are some conflicts in schedule sometimes and in those cases we sometimes use backing tracks or another bass player if it’s a longer tour. We typically know Aborted’s plans in advance which allows us to plan tours a bit around them or we get around it by touring with Aborted! Stefano sometimes complains, but he was in the nightliner whilst I was driving the caravan every night! That was a really awesome tour in the States. To tour with bands of that calibre was unbelievable and a fantastic experience. Almost every venue was packed and again, it was unbelievable.