Musicscan: First of all let me congratulate you, because „Hesperia“ is one hell of an album! After 20 years of band history: Do you yet have enough distance to know what this album could mean to you?
Stormlord: Thank you, I don’t know how things work in other bands, but for me and the other guys it’s quite impossible to look at our new music and make sentences like external persons about it. Every album has been a step for the band, but we focused it’s form only after years. We are quite maniac in songwriting process, and that’s why we don’t release albums so often like most part of the bands do. All have to be “perfect”, or at least the top we can do. So when you work for a really long time on your songs, and then on the arrangements and production, you can’t have that distance. Or, at least, not at all. “Hesperia” is a new step, that probably express the most epic and solemn soul of Stormlord, we'll see where it takes us.
Musicscan: You are often labelled as being somewhat a pagan metal band. Do you still care about labels in music?
Stormlord: I think that, after so many years on the scene, we were able to create our own sound. We’re not interested in being labelled, we just try to do our best and to walk on our path; if you want to give us a label, just call our music: “Extreme Epic Metal”.
We were here before most of the bands that are part of this pagan metal scene and, of course, we see a lot of similarity with our sound, but I think that our music do not follow only one direction and do not belong to one scene only.
If you take a deep listen to our past discography, you’ll see that Stormlord is not a band that repeats itself over and over again; we need some new challenges in order to let the inspiration flow. That’s why, album after album, we try to improve our music introducing new elements but remaining loyal to our roots.
This time we felt some “positive pressure” because the reactions to our previous album “Mare Nostrum” were the best ever in our career and we had a lot of people writing us about how strongly they were waiting for the new stuff.
I hear a lot of bands claiming that they play for themselves only but I think this is a bullshit! The music is an expression of musicians’ inner feelings, no doubt about it, but if you don’t want people to listen to your stuff you should not release it on a CD’s. Speaking for myself, I find people feedback very stimulating and I think that this strong relationship with our listeners, that we highly encourage on though our Facebook page, help us in the process of seeing our music from another point of view, giving us the chance to improve our style.
Musicscan: 'Motherland' comes along with heavy oriental influences. Where do this come from? After all these years of music: Where do these influences come from? What is your music inspired by?
Stormlord: the oriental influences aren’t a new thing in our music, they are part of our sound since 1999’s debut album “Supreme Art Of War” and you can find some examples in songs like “The Burning Hope” from “At The Gates Of Utopia” album or “Legacy of The Snake” from “Mare Nostrum” album, that even begin with a sitar.
During our career we tried to write some music that could show to the listener the reality we’re living in. That’s why we don’t speak about Vikings or northern sagas, but we prefer to deal with sounds an themes that belong to the Mediterranean culture. Of course, the oriental music is deeply in our traditions because Italy has always been a country with a lot of influences from Arabia, the Maghreb zone and even from India due to commercial routes that have been crossing our country in the past centuries.
In the meanwhile, we don’t want to sound too folkish because we love to see some headbanging at our shows: that’s why we develop a modern approach with some huge guitars, strong drums and majestic keyboards.
Musicscan: Tell me about the lyrics to the album. Is there a main lyrical theme?
Stormlord: “Hesperia” is the first concept album of our career. Let me tell you that working on a concept album was a dream that I had for such a long time but, due to the amount of work that I had to bear, it has quickly turned into a nightmare (just kidding!).
I knew that it would be an hard work since the beginning, that’s why I’ve been waiting for years in order to gain experience as a lyric writer, role that I’m covering since our debut album “Supreme Art Of War”, while the whole band (especially the guitar player Gianpaolo Caprino, the one who writes most of the music) was improving the musical skill.
When we felt the time was right I had two ideas strong in my mind: 1) I wanted this work to be inspired by our latin/Mediterranean culture, like it was for the previous albums 2) I didn’t want to write a traditional story that would simply follow step by step the poem. Instead, I tried to handle the topic of this concept album from a different point of view, taking inspirations from the events described in the “Aeneid” to develop some personal themes.
I found the right topic in the “Aeneid”, the epic poem written by the ancient Roman poet Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) between 29 and 19 BC. Nowadays, Virgil is still hailed as one of the most important character in the history of our culture and his works, especially the “Aeneid”, represent the climax of our classical tradition together with “Iliad” and Odissey”, written by greek poet Homer; I’ve spent years studying Virgil’s poetry while I was in the high school, so it was intriguing to get back on the “Aeneid” in a different perspective and to discover a lot of different sides that, back in the days, I was too young to appreciate.
“Hesperia” is a greek/latin word that means “land of the sunset” or “Western land”, the name whereby ancient greeks called Italy, and recalls the journey made by Aeneas and his companions from the ruins of Troy to the shores of Latium, to reach the land where, one day, Rome will rise.
The lyrics, written in english, italian and latin, analyze the character of Aeneas and his relationship with the will divine and the Fate from both his human and divine perspective, and both in a traditional and modern way; the whole story can be intended as a sort of flashback that happens to Aeneas while thinking about some different episodes of his life including love, will for revenge, scorn, despair, the cult for the ancestors and the hope in the generations to come.
I was thrilled by the figure of Aeneas because he’s such modern hero: he’s not a superhero like Achilles and he’s not a man that has an answer for every question. The gods gave him a heavy burden and he bears it with blood, sweat and tears.
This is what we are: human. We doubt, we fear, we have to make choices and not always we have the strength to choose what is right, but sometimes we can be more heroic than any fictional character.
I think that the message behind “Hesperia” is in contrast with the topics covered by most of the extreme metal bands; I mean, heavy metal is a music of reaction/aggression and, often, it deals with destructive and nihilistic thoughts (and, most of the time, we love it!). But now the whole world is living in such a difficult period and, frankly, I believe that these are not the most appropriate times for such a “I don’t give a fuck, just let me live my life” attitude. If we all want to move forward we must work hard to change what we don’t like rather than being just pissed off about the situation that we have right now. I believe that, nowadays, the man who has the courage to pursue his own ideal, while accepting and passing through difficulties, discouragement and doubt, is the prototype of the hero that we are all called to be.
Our desire to create a bridge between past and present is the reason why the lyrics of the opening song, “Aeneas”, are nothing more than the original words taken from the proem of the "Aeneid"; these lyrics are sung in latin following the original metrical accent (dactylic hexameter), an experiment never tried before in metal music, for which we have collaborated with some professional Latin teachers.
Musicscan: You are combining elements from far away styles, such as black metal, traditonal heavy metal, even modern metal. How would you describe your music to a deaf person?
Stormlord: Mediterranean Extreme Epic Metal that can fill you heart and blow your head off!
Musicscan: Once the singer of Manowar stated that Richard Wagner would play heavy metal would he live these days. Would you agree? Or would he prefer the sound of Stormlord?
Stormlord: Well, I think you can’t compare Wagner to Stormlord or any other metal band. But I understand the point, because some kind of metal have similar “pathos” and incipit of Wagner music. So maybe Eric Adams is right, who knows…
Musicscan: What does the near or far future hold for Stormlord?
Stormlord: We’ll start to play live as soon as the album will be released. Far future is too far to be seen.
Musicscan: One final question: Would you like to comment on the political situation with Silvio Berlusconi and co?
Stormlord: I’m sorry but we prefer not to comment any political issue as Stormlord because these are not the topics that we want to deal with as a band.
Every one in the band has personal opinions about political topics and, if anyone is interested in our personal point of view, we can be easily reached through our facebook pages or, better, after our live shows for a talk and a beer.