Italian death metal squad Hour Of Penance’s latest album, THE VILE CONCEPTION, is a piece of utter death metal from beginning to end. The four-piece has already started working on the follow-up. The band’s leader Guilio Moschini goes back in time recalling how Hour Of Penance started out, why the band had to go through some line-up changes and finally sheds some light on working on the fourth album. THE VILE CONCEPTION is definitely a must-have for every die-hard death metal freak.
Good day to Italy! The fundamental question to kick the interview off: What’s up in the Hour Of Penance camp at the moment ?!
The band right now is practicing the new songs which will be featured on the 4th album. I must say, this was the most productive songwriting session ever. We have almost 14 songs recorded on the computer and I’m still writing songs until June when we will listen to the whole thing and choose the best 10 songs that will appear in the new album. We’re really pumped to enter the studios this summer. I’m sure you guys will be not disappointed.
Hour Of Penance has been around since 1999. Even though you have gained attention in the catacombs of the death metal underground, I assume the bigger audience is still unaware of Hour Of Penance. Therefore, could you tell us a little bit more about how this four-piece death metal tornado started out in the first place?
It’s been 10 years now since Hour of Penance moved its first steps. Actually, Mauro–the drummer–is the only one left from the first line-up. The band started pretty much as every death metal band started, playing covers of those bands which we consider the “fathers” of this kind of music: Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and so on. Once we learned the right way of playing death metal, Hour of Penance recorded a demo in 2000 which helped the band to sign a two-album deal with Xtreemmusic Records which released Hour of Penance’s first album, DISTURBANCE, in 2003, then PAGEANTRY FOR MARTYRS in 2005. Both albums got a lot of great reviews and the band managed to play loads of festivals outside Italy and did a tour in 2006 with Krisiun in Europe. Thanks to the intense live activity and the positive feedback that the two albums received, Hour of Penance finally started to have a good fan base all over the world. In 2007, the band recorded a three-track promo in order to find a new label and give a shot to the fans as to what will be the new “identity” of the band. In a short time after the release of promo 2007 (which was available only on Myspace), the band signed a deal for two albums with Unique Leader Records, who released our third album, THE VILE CONCEPTION, in 2008, with great success. The last two years, say from the release of TVC, were probably the best the band had, as we played in some big festivals such as the Brutal Assault fest, the SWR, twice at the Neurotic DF, twice at the Deathfeast Open Air and toured with Origin and Impaled all over Europe for almost one month. Sales were HUGE and our fan base grew more and more. Easy to say that we’re really satisfied right now in the way things are going, especially thanks to the fact that we’re still young and we still have a lot to say as a whole band.
According to your myspace, you have started working on the new album. I assume the upcoming output will be as brutal and heavy as the previous albums, but could you shed how these new songs will turn out and how will you be able to top the material previously released?
Well, as you probably noticed, we’ve tried to change things here and there on every album we recorded so far, so the upcoming one will be a step forward from THE VILE CONCEPTION in terms of songwriting, as many new elements were added to our music. So the new album will be not THE VILE CONCEPTION Part 2 but an improved version of it. Music is still fast, but even more complex, spontaneus and brutal. We will have also two or three slow songs, something unusual since we always played light-speed stuff. We can’t really wait to enter the studio and let you guys judge on the new material once everything will be done!
How do you usually start working on new songs in general?
I’m the main songwriter in the band so usually I work alone on the new songs. I record everything on my computer, trying to give the new song a shape and a structure with the drum machine. Then once I’m satisfied with the way the song sounds, I send it to Mauro and jam it with him in our reharsal place. Once we have a bunch of new songs ready, we send the files to the other guys in the band and they start to learn their parts. That’s basically how things works in here.
Will the newer material be straighforward death metal as on the previous albums? Do you usually try to sound as brutal as possible or are you willing to add some new influences and tunes to the newer material to have some variety??
The new material will defenitely sound different from what you’ve heard on our previous albums, as we added a lot of new elements to the songs. Every song will have its own personality although there will be still coherence between them. Anyway, we play 100% Death metal, so there will be no experimentations and stuff like that.
I can’t help asking about the song titles or even album title made up yet?
Still early to say. We have only one title for a song we usually played live a couple of times in the last months which is called “The Righteous Malevolence." That’s all at the moment. We’re actually working on the vocal patterns of the songs and lyrics, as well.
As for the lyrics, where do you usually obtain subjects for lyrics and what kind of issues do they mainly deal with?
Like our music, lyrics are always changed between the albums. This time, Francesco will be the man behind the lyrics, so I don’t know yet what will be the concept of the new album. We always deal with religion, politics and generally what oppress the man in this world.
In general you must be pleased with the result of THE VILE CONCEPTION and are you able to point out some parts which should have been done differently?
We’re totally satisfied how things turned out with THE VILE CONCEPTION. We worked a lot on that album, so that’s why we achieved such results. Probably the only thing that I’m not 100% satisfied with is the overall volume of the drumkit, which is something that a lot of reviewers marked as the only weak point of the album. Besides that, it’s definitely our best album so far and the good thing is that I can still listen to it without getting bored.
How long did it take from your to finish the album after all?
Less than a year to write it and almost a whole month to be recorded.
Where do you usually record albums? Do you usually carry out the whole recording process in Italy with local producers?
So far we always worked with our friend Stefano Morabito. We recorded three albums and promo 2007 in his “16th Cellar Studio” and we’ve never been disappointed the way he worked with us. He’s definitely the best producer here in Italy for this kind of music, so that’s why we will work again with him for our fourth album. Honestly, I think that he can easily compete with the other foreign producers.
What did the new members bring to the band and the song writing process for THE VILE CONCEPTION?
Well, thanks to Francesco joining the band, we worked in a different way on the vocal patterns. That’s basically one of the new features of our renewed style. That’s all since, as I told you, I work alone on the new songs and hardly changed what I do in the first place.
BEING ON UNIQUE LEADER
You have a deal with Unique Leader. Are you pleased with them, in general?
Yes, we’re totally happy so far with what Unique Leader is doing for us. THE VILE CONCEPTION was really well distributed over the world, so that’s definitely a good thing and most of all, the label has helped us in finding tours and get the right support for it.
How many labels showed interest toward Hour Of Penance after leaving Xtreem Music?
A lot but we ended up signing with Unique Leader Records because they always released high quality death metal and brutal death metal so far and we grew up with those albums Unique Leader released.
What made you sign a deal with Unique Leader Records, who were unknown to me even though they have a bunch of killer bands like Vile, Gorgasm, The Ordher etc.?
They just shot us the best offer between all the offers we’ve got and also because it’s definitely the best label for this kind of music.
Did you sign a deal for one album for the time being or do you have a multi-album deal with Unique Leader?
We signed a two-album deal with them, so with this upcoming fourth album, the contract will expire. Who knows what will happen next.
Were you kind of surprised Alex Webster mentioned the HOP album as one of the best death metal outputs that came out last year?
That was defenitely the best thing that happened in our career. You know, Cannibal Corpse did a lot for us as influences of our music. We’re all fans of them, so when we read that, we got wet. I hope we can share the stage with them sometime in the future and thank Alex Webster personally for that.
I assume Cannibal Corpse have been one of several bands which have influenced you when you started out back in 1999?
Exactly. We’re all quite young (in 1999, we were just teenagers), so Cannibal
Corpse’s BLOODTHIRST along with some other great albums like Nile’s BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE and Hate Eternal’s CONQUERING THE THRONE were the first extreme metal albums we’d ever heard so that influenced a lot of the way we played our instruments.
Besides Cannibal Corpse, are you willing to name some other possible influences given the recognizable sounds of Hour Of Penance’s music?
A lot of people often describe us as a mix of Hate Eternal, Nile and Morbid Angel.
That’s true, although from THE VILE CONCEPTION we have found our own musical identity, so I don’t like anymore to be compared to any other bands.
Hour Of Penance have undergone some line-up changes since the last album as the previous vocalist Alex "Necrotorture" Manco and Enrico Schettino pulled out. What went wrong with these guys?
We parted ways with Alex because at that time he lived like five hours from Rome and it was hard to work with him. A band is like a car and when something is not working properly and it’s not 100% productive, it’s time to change that broken piece and go forward. With Enrico, things went differently. He had to choose between music and work and he went for the second.
How were the current members–Francesco Paoli and Silvano "Nightorn" Leone–found and recruited into the band?
Silvano is a long-time friend of ours and he played with Mauro in another death metal band from our area, so when we needed a new bass player our choic definitely was him, as he is probably one of the most skilled bass players here. Francesco was found on Myspace.
Apparently they have played in other bands before teaming up with Hour Of Penance?
Exactly. Silvano played in a lot of bands, not only death metal, while Francesco was in a band called Tirannyc thic.. well, I can’t remember the full name but it was a good band !
Do you stick to brutal death metal or listen to other types of metal?
Honestly, I listen to a lot of music, as long as it’s good. I’m a big Danzig fan, for example, but aside from that, it’s hard to find something that is not Death metal in my player.
Gracias for the interview! I wish Hour Of Penance all the best and hope to see you somewhere… The final words are all yours!
Thanks a lot to you, Arto, for the interview! To all the readers, be ready to check out our upcoming and yet untitled fourth album coming later this year on Unique Leader Records!