– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with STORMLORD?
(Cristiano Borchi) We are preparing the live activity that will begin in late September and we hope to reach many more people than in the past. «Hesperia» required a long process of preparation and recording, and we can’t wait our fans listen to it and to back on stage!
– Have been 5 years since your previous «Mare Nostrum» until this new «Hesperia» so, how are you feeling with its release? What are your expectations on your new opus?
(Cristiano Borchi) I feel really exited as every time a new Stormlord release is near to be published, and I am really curious about what fans will think about it. We did a lot of experiments in this album, using typical Mediterranean instruments like Darbouka, Doholla, Udu Drums, Saz, Benas and Mandola combining them with Stormlord sound, increasing the quality of the songs. It’s probably our most Epic and Mediterranean album ever, that design a music profile so close to the sound of the band and so different from what is the epic genre in vogue nowadays. What do I expect? Rather than waiting for something, I hope the fans will love it. Our work and passion is dedicated to them.
– «Mare Nostrum» was a really complete and superb record so, did this make you feel more pressure when it came to create a new album or is it rather bonus motivation and selfconfidence?
(Francesco Bucci) Thanks for your kind words. To be honest, after the release of “Mare Nostrum” we were pretty excited about writing something that could chase that album because, in our minds, “Mare Nostrum” shown the true meaning of the whole “Extreme Epic Metal” style that we were developing since the beginning of our career. If you know our past discography, you’ll know that Stormlord is not one of that band that repeat 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 “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 (www.facebook.com/stormlordband) help us in the process of seeing our music from another point of view, giving us the chance to improve our style. On the other hand, we don’t want to disappoint our audience. To make a long story short, in the end we did as usual: we started to work on some brand new ideas, than we took the elements that we liked most from our past albums and we tried to develop them through a new approach.
– Five years between two releases is a pretty long time so, how do you think has STORMLORD evolved throughout this period? Will we have to wait that much until your next effort?
(Cristiano Borchi) I think the main development has been the take of consciousness of what we are, a stronger awareness of identity. In each record, we developed our sound and atmosphere with elements linked by a common thread, a thread that now becomes clear more than ever. «Hesperia» is the natural son of «Mare Nostrum», which expresses the most epic and solemn soul of the band. About the time that will pass before the next album, I could not tell you. We always want to take our time to write an album, even if it mean to have less issues, because we want to be 100% sure the album represent the maximum possible for the band at that time.
– I’ve read the songs on this album are your most elaborated ever, as throughout these 5 years you were able to take your time perfecting them with no rush so, is «Hesperia» the album you have always wanted to unleash?
(Francesco Bucci) We always take our time because Stormlord is just a matter of pure passion and devotion, that’s why we only release a new album when we’re 100% ready, even if this process takes a lot of time (and the older we get, the longer it takes because of our busy lives). We’re not living with music and this is ok to us: we have got no pression from labels or managers or other people from the musicbiz, beside our loyal listeners of course, and we have total freedom when it comes to work on new music or to experiment some different path. That’s why every album that we release it’s a mirror of what Stormlord is in that period of time. “Hesperia” is the album that we wanted to do, but even for “Mare Nostrum” and for all the others album was the same.
– The sound is also better than ever. Would you mind to elaborate a bit how did the whole production process go?
(Francesco Bucci) As usual, we have been working with the italian producer Giuseppe Orlando, the owner of The Outer Sounds Studios, while for the mastering we have chosen again Mr. Mika Jussila of Finnvox Studios (Helsinki, Finland). This partnership with Giuseppe Orlando date back to 2000 and it begins with the EP “The Curse Of Medusa”, so you’ll understand how comfortable we are in collaborating with a man that we consider as an added band member. By the way, this time we were more confident with all the technological recording stuff and, thanks to our new guitar player Andrea, who is also a skilled sound engineer, we made a complete pre-production in our personal studio before entering in Giuseppe’s studios; this situation allowed us to take care of every detail of the arrangements and we had, more than ever, the full control of the recording. We also had the chance to involve some brilliant guest musicians like Simone D’Andrea on ethnic instruments named darbouka, doholla, udu drums and saz, Mirko Palanchini on mandola, Daniele Melis on benas (an ancient instruments from Sardinia) together with our longtime friends Elisabetta Marchetti of Riti Occulti and G/Ab Svenym Volgar dei Xacrestani of Deviate Damaen. Talking about the way “Hesperia” sounds, we had a very strong idea in our minds: we wanted this album to sound more “natural” compared to the other productions. If you listen to some extreme metal CDs you’ll find that most of them sound in a similar way, with huge compressed guitars, highly triggered drums and a kind of “soulless perfection”. Our aim was to keep the excellent standard of the modern metal production (because we love the good sound quality) without letting our playing lose its “soul”. We tried to play every part at our best in order not to fix too much with the computer, in that way we were able to create that “real” and organic sound than you can hear especially in the guitars and the drums.
– This brand new «Hesperia» is your first concept album based on Virgilio’s «Eneide». Is the songwriting process different when you are making a concept album? And why did you pick this concept?
(Francesco Bucci) To work 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 (hahahah, just kidding!). I can remember me and our former keyboard player talking about that during our European tour back in 1999! 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 want 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. As I told you, 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 shades 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. Frankly, I believe that these are not the most appropriate times for such a point of view. 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 world 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.
– How strong is the link between the album’s idea and the cover artwork?
(Francesco Bucci) The cover and the booklet artwork were created by Hungarian illustrator Gyula Havancsák (known for his work with Destruction, Stratovarius, Grave Digger, Tyr, Annihilator and many more), the same artist that made the “Mare Nostrum” cover. The painting shows the fleet of Aeneas approaching to the shores of Latium; on one hand this is an image of glory because the quest for “Hesperia” is over and the fate of Roma, symbolized by the eagle, is going to be written. On the other hand, the future is yet unknown and full of dark clouds, like the storming horizon that you can see above the sea, and the destiny of the Empire to come lies in the hands of the people lead by Aeneas and in their willpower. Like the latin people said: “homo faber fortunae suae”.
– All this about «Hesperia» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
(Francesco Bucci): “Extreme Epic Metal”
– This has been your first record with Trollzorn Records after working with Locomotive. How is everything going with them thus far?
(Cristiano Borchi) We are really happy to work with TrollZorn. They are highly motivated and up to now they have given us great support and collaboration. We worked well together until now, and I am sure this strong synergy will continue in the next future.
– For this album you’ve also got two new members: guitar player Andrea Angelini and keyboard player Riccardo Studer. How have they fitted in? And what have they brought new to STORMLORD?
(Cristiano Borchi) we knew Andrea and Riccardo from long time, and when we was looking for new elements was quite natural for us to contact them. From a songwriting point of view, their contribution was marginal in this record, but it is a normal thing for us: the sound of Stormlord takes time to be taken in the hands, it’s always the same when a lineup change happens. Stormlord work like a big family, where everyone take care of the things he can do better than others, and it’s not of necessity the composition of a riff or an idea for a song. For their part, they did a lot of work in pre production, choice of sounds of the orchestrations, ideas in the songs… things that have enriched the final result directly and indirectly.
– And finally; what are your near-future plans?
(Cristiano Borchi) We are preparing the live activity and we’ll start to play live as soon as the album will be released.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
(Cristiano Borchi) Hola amigos de España! We hope you’ll enjoy “Hesperia” and to come to play in Spain soon!