Interview by Jack Merry
Italian thrash metal band REVERBER returned earlier this year with their third full-length album entitled Sect of Faceless, and I was able to chat with the band about the new album, the ongoing global pandemic, and everything in-between. Check out my review of the album HERE!
Hey guys, thank you for your time! Please state your name and position in the band.
Hi Jack! We are Marco Mitraja (rhythm guitar and voice) Alessio Stazi (drums), Alessio Alessandretti (lead guitar) and Emanuele Evangelista (bass)!
REVERBER formed in Italy in 2007, how did you all meet? What is the meaning behind the band name, and what would you say was the driving force behind the early days of the band?
In 2007 Mitraja met Alessio Stazi who was already playing drums in other bands and already had a lot of experience. He asked him if we wanted to meet in a rehearsal room to play some covers and he fortunately accepted! Immediately, Luca Filipponi and Vittorio Pacifici joined the band, after Giovanni Caiazza left.
For the name, this is the story: when we started playing together, 3 out of 4 components had a Marshall Combo and we always used a high and certainly excessive dose of reverberation on the distortions. About the time we had to decide the name, Mitraja looked at his Marshall and said “REVERBER”. But there is also a deeper version of the story, which owes the flames of hell to reverberate with each of our riffs. But for this story you have to ask our ex bass player, founder and brother Vittorio Pacifici.
We started with some covers of Metallica, but immediately we understood the importance of original music and how fundamental it is as a means of venting and communicating. But it is true that also the symbiosis and friendship between the members of the band made it possible to transform a common passion into a project, which we still carry out today with tenacity and not a few sacrifices. Alcohol and crazy nights are also part of REVERBER history of course!
At what age did you first start getting into music and realise you wanted to join a band? Growing up, who were your biggest influences in song-writing?
This happened when we were about 15, we realized that our attachment to metal was too strong and we also had to have our say through our music. Obviously the biggest influences originally came from the Big Four, but over time we expanded our musical background and took a lot of inspiration from Teutonic thrash and death metal. In principle, we are very attached to the ideas of Manowar and their way of living metal.
You are about to release your third album, Sect of Faceless. What is the concept behind the album?
We can say that the concept is divided into two blocks, the “aesthetic” one and the purely conceptual one. The aesthetic one is based on a dream made by Mitraja. In the dream, he was at a party in a dream villa, but immediately afterward he was catapulted into an underground where rich men enjoyed sexually having their faces cut by some beautiful pussies. It just happens to be the script of the Sect of Faceless video clip, which teaches that you should never trust the easy money and that if you are not a “monster” you will get burned or rather cut. But it is a message contained in a wider context, that is, the conceptual one of the album. We have always shown a certain animosity towards the current economic system that has transformed today’s society into a ferocious Darwinian jungle, where the powerful with a click buy people’s lives and all the battles fought in the past for a fairer society is ending up in oblivion along with the results they had brought. We are in the hands of the same people who maneuvered Pinochet and Videla in the 70s and who created a new world based on terror in the 1980s, thanks to the return of neoliberalism, the economic mainstream that is also exhausting our ecosystem. The main message of the album is contained in the title that has a double meaning: the faceless sect that commands the world exists only in the mind of those who are anesthetized and no longer want to denounce or fight the current system. We are blinded by the lights of consumerism, of the image, we wallow in the lack of content. But there is no sect, it is all black on white and we should begin to be aware of it before it is too late.
There is a seven-year gap between your debut album Serial Metal Killer in 2009 and your second, the critically acclaimed Immortals from 2016, could you tell us what happened during this time?
It’s certainly a long time, we know. Unfortunately, a metal music career here in Italy is not really the easiest thing in the world. At that time many of us had problems, others moved for work and we had to continually stop work. For a while the band broke up, only to get back together in 2013 with the return of Stazi and the entry into the band of Alessio Alessandretti. With the arrival of Valerio Strada in 2015, we finally found the right line-up to complete and record “Immortals.”
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Our music is a mixture of blind fury and melancholy and this is demonstrated by the sounds and atmospheres we create. Our music must always be able to convey emotions, tell stories that people can identify with, and create unique sounds that can shake the blood in the listener’s veins.
1. Gods of Illusion
2. Sect of Faceless
3. My Name is Destruction (Albion the Conqueror)
4. Channel 666
6. Wood of Suicides
7. Black Plague
10. Angel Witch (Angel Witch cover)
The Sect of Faceless cover is incredible, who does your artwork? Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with, be it an artist/photographer, musician or producer?
The covers and the entire layout were designed in collaboration with the French artist Remy Cooper of Headsplit Design. We were immediately struck by his works and he managed to put exactly what we had in mind on paper, obviously leaving him room for his ideas. We always hope to collaborate with those who can somehow make us grow both professionally and artistically, no one in particular.
What is the procedure for REVERBER of producing a new album/EP? Do you have a set way of doing things?
Mitraja is the songwriter and he writes the drafts and ideas of the songs, which are brought to the rehearsal room. When the song has a well-defined structure, the scores are written up by each member and are updated gradually for each change. We always manage to have fun doing songwriting, especially because it’s the symbiosis of the members that creates the songs of REVERBER.
You guys have toured Italy extensively, what has been your favourite gig to date and why? Who would you like to go on tour with next?
Each REVERBER concert is a separate story, a whirlwind of emotions. We like to remember with pleasure the Wings of Bea Metal Fest and the concert where we played with the Exumer. Memorable days!
Do you have a favourite track from Sect of Faceless? And why is this song your favourite?
Actually no, we love each of our songs because of the diversity.
Could you name me one album that had the biggest impact on you during your formative years, and why?
I think we can talk about bands, but not albums. Each of us comes from different backgrounds and has different musical tastes, so the album list would become endless!
What is the music scene like in Italy? Are there many thrash metal bands rising or is it a melting pot of different musical styles?
The scene in Italy is lacking and is going to decline more and more. Today’s metalheads do not understand the importance of supporting bands and we are not only talking about buying the CD, but also about sharing on social media which is perhaps even more decisive today than buying a CD or a shirt. But we always and only commit ourselves to the Big ones. A long time ago you paid to enter the fan clubs, we created a free one on Facebook, but apparently few are willing to support us, even with a few free clicks. But the problems are innumerable and do not depend only on this. We could talk to you about the scourge of cover bands, there are even those who buy the merch of cover bands or of many clubs that are absolutely inadequate for a true metal concert. I know it could be so even abroad, but so far 90% of the feedback we have received from other countries, and this if on one hand flatters us, on the other we are a bit sorry. There aren’t many thrash bands here in Italy, mostly genres mixed together. But the problem, in most cases, is the lack of professionalism and the lack of aptitude for metal. It is not a hobby, nor a passion, it is a vocation.
Thrash metal is experiencing a renaissance of sorts all over the world, how important is the genre to you?
What we can say is that thrash metal is the genre that allows us to express ourselves in a better way and that falls within the strings of the band, of our symbiosis. We are happy it is experiencing a period of rebirth, we think it is one of the few metal sub-genres that still manages to fill arenas and stadiums and that allows metal to continue its path in the history of music.
What is it like touring? Do you all get on all of the time? Or do you have times you need space from each other?
We have always organized the tour down to the smallest detail and each of us knows what to do and knows how to stay in his place when needed. We have always lived it well so far, also because we know how important what we are doing is and how unprofessional it is to fight while on tour.
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
Youtube is the platform where you listen to the most music ever and in 2020 it would be pathetic and stupid not to use it to make yourself known in every corner of the globe. No longer having the advertising (and monetary) support as it happened with the labels until the 90s, we bands must strive to build a presence on the web and on social networks. Thanks to a good use of the various platforms, we were able to reach metalheads all over the world and when Sect of Faceless came out the feedback was extremely positive abroad, so much so that orders continue to arrive on our Bandcamp store, for digital e physical items. Without streaming platforms, it probably wouldn’t have happened.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
We have many tastes in common, ranging from classic heavy metal to more extreme metal. Our drummer Stazi for example also has experiences in black and death metal bands. The bands that we prefer today are those that make metal with the heart and with passion, without crazy contamination that many times are useless.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a band? Were you given any advice from other bands before starting out?
Our advice is to always give your best and above all to respect your music, in the sense of investing seriously in your project and always turning to professionals. Study a little music marketing, because today no one will do it for you and you have to learn to survive in what has become a jungle of musicians. Last but not least, when you stand on stage, you don’t go up to do your homework, but give your best and give your audience the show they deserve. No band has ever given us any kind of relevant advice, the only one who seriously helped us was our friend and sound engineer Stefano Morabito of 16th Cellar Studios, who cares a lot about the career of the bands he collaborates with.
What do you guys like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
Mitraja is a lover of history and horror literature, which he shares with Alessandretti. Evangelista is interested in music production and electronics, while Stazi is passionate about Harley Davidson and cars made in the USA.
With the global pandemic of Covid-19, how is Italy coping with the virus? And how are REVERBER coping? How are you spending your time during this difficult period, and do you any advice for those struggling with the lockdown?
Here in Italy, the pandemic has created a great many problems, both economic and psychological, for thousands of people. We Reverber had to postpone tours and dates (w/Tankard), but we took the opportunity to write new songs and start work to re-record the first two albums, which certainly deserve a better production. The advice we give is this: give vent to your anguish and frustration through music and never give up.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks for the space you give us Jack, good luck! To our readers we say: never give up and play louder than hell, just like REVERBER!
Marco Mitraja – Rhythm guitar, vocals
Alessio Alessandretti – Lead guitar
Alessio Stazi – Drums
Emanuele Evangelista – Bass guitar