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Hour Of Penance's Paolo Pieri: "Money has always corrupted our history and nowadays we see clearly how few people are growing richer while even the middle class is becoming poor. We saw it happening in Italy in the last 25 years…"

Interview with Giulio Moschini & Paolo Pieri from Hour Of Penance
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 28 September 2019, 5:18 PM

It is not about a matter of professionalism, but rather a matter of credibility and the pursuit after the hooks that would inspire greatness and the motivation to become better. The Italian Death Metal doctorates of Hour Of Penance, step by step, album after album, becoming highly skilled, with a sense of purpose, type of musicians. They never looked sideways, only striving for an impact. With their eighth album, "Misotheism" just around the corner, signed to a new label, Steinmetal had a chance to talk with two of the band's veterans, Giulio Moschini & Paolo Pieri about their meaning of hatred on the album, aspects of musical development, the band in the market and more…

Hello Giulio, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Giulio: Hi there, thanks a lot for having us! I’m doing fine, thanks for asking. Unfortunately, summer is over and we’re back in the city for work and the usual stuff. But we’re very excited for the release of our new album next month, I think we did a great job this time and we’re about to unveil other news in October, so we have a lot to look forward. It’s definitely some exciting time for us.

It came down upon me like a crushing blow, “Misotheism” unleashed its installments of blackened prophecies and flamboyant musical arsenal, and it showed no mercy. Although it was evident, yet it is highly connected to this record, explain your hatred towards god? What is the essence of that loathing that makes your skin crawl?

Paolo: On this album we chose to talk about a different god, and the one that is most revered, the glorification of wealth. Every age had a god, but ultimately religions and the Christian one in particular always strived for wealth, gold and power. Money has always corrupted our history and nowadays we see clearly how few people are growing richer while even the middle class is becoming poor. We saw it happening in Italy in the last 25 years and this is why the lyrics of this album have a darker and more angered mood than in the past. So the “hate of god” is the hate of the corruption that wealth is spreading on mankind.

When it comes to “Misotheism”, not as merely the album’s title, but as a concept, where are we heading with this? Are we bound to be destroyed, exterminated off the face of the planet, due to mainly religion and topics connected to it? Aren’t there other forces at work here that might lead to our demise?

Paolo: Yes, there are, and that’s why the angle of our critic on "Misotheism" is wider than just merely religion. We have organized crime, corrupted clergy, American imperialism, capitalism, just to name the bigger threats to our wellbeing, and if we don’t acknowledge them as the real threat, we have no chance of a better future for us normal citizens. We probably won’t be exterminated, but we’re slowly going back to the middle age where aristocracy owned everything and you were just a miser trying to survive with what little you have to go on.

The album’s artwork is smashing, quite shocking as it should be in this particular case to truly convey the message in a proper manner. Who made the artwork? What can you tell of the vision that was behind this cover? Did you send a track off the record to the artist in order to assist in achieving the end result you desired? 

Paolo: The cover was drawn by Gyula Havancsak, the same artist who portrayed all of our artworks since "Paradogma". We just told him what our ideas were in terms of concept, with a huge tower representing the fortress where the men in power hide and manipulate our lives. He did a great job putting our ideas and lyrical concept into a visionary and dark artwork, I think it fits perfectly with the music of "Misotheism".

“Misotheism” is your debut album with the Polish label, Agonia Records, after being a part of the Prosthetic Records banner. Was it the right time for you to switch label or did you seek out more European effort, and therefore signed with Agonia?

Paolo: Yes, after three albums with Prosthetic Records, I think it was time to switch label for many reasons. We definitely wanted more European support and being with a US label has always been a problem in terms of promotion here. I also think that our approach to extreme Metal is very European in terms of songwriting and sound, and we were missing a lot of potential fans here. Agonia Records is a label focused on quality, and they are always attentive to press very cool limited editions and packaging that we always wanted to give to our fans. Not to mention that being one of the main focuses of a label gives you the edge in terms of promotion, rather than being just another band in a huge catalogue of a bigger label.

What I have always admired about you guys is the ability to neatly cross between the blackened arts of old school Death Metal and into the technical driven, skill bashing, contemporary flow of the subgenre. Your motivation to be adamant is inspirational. What is showcased on “Misotheism” that you consider as a groundbreaking achievement musically? What makes this album to be a level up in comparison to previous works?

Giulio: From my point of view, each album we’ve recorded so far has shown our potential. I view our discography as a stair and every album is a step, the more we’re getting old the better, like good wine pretty much haha.  A musician grows, learns and improves and that’s what happened with this album if we compare it to the previous one: we’re better musicians, we’ve become better songwriters and given the fact that the lineup has been stable for the past 4/5 years, we’ve become a pretty well-oiled machine. But the most important thing above all is that this is still absolutely compelling for us to do, we still like to write music and play it in front of our fans, we’ve never lost that through all these years.

With “Misotheism” being highly technical, yet also displaying melodic features, looks like a score for you. However, in your view, is there anywhere to continue forward when it comes to your musical development? For instance, what haven’t you tried or considering to try, that you have never done before?

Giulio: Good question: there’s always some room for improvements, we tend to notice that only when the album is released, when our mind is clear and we can analyze our work. Cool thing when you work with music is that it gives you infinite possibilities as much as you know how to put in the right order the pieces of the puzzle, you know? As a Death Metal band we know when we can’t cross a certain border, those “rules” that you can’t mess up with – I would never, ever, try to “bastardize” our sound with Metalcore breakdowns for example, that doesn’t belong to us. Like I said in the question before, improving as a musician is the key to write better material anyway, technology today helps a lot too, so who knows what will happen with the next album.

Most of the material's arrangements and song structures are practically insane, how would you describe the songwriting for this juggernaut? Would you say that it is a team effort or rather one or two songwriters tend to the material while the others would join later on?

Giulio:I start by recording riffs here in my home studio, I usually work on one song by writing also the drum parts and then when I have the structure of the song ready I’ll send it to Paolo. What happens next is Paolo recording the metrics with random vocals on it, without any meaning, and we work again on the structure of the song. Once we’re happy with that, he starts writing lyrics for the song based on the metrics. Once we’re in the studio we keep working with Davide on the songs by focusing on each drum part. He usually comes up with some cool ideas, the same happens when I record the guitars with Marco, our bass player, who’s also the sound engineer behind the last 3 albums. In the end I would say that is definitely a team effort.

In overall, what are your methods or approaches towards writing songs, especially with such a strong input towards technical abilities?

Giulio: It all starts with my need of listening and play new music, that’s what drives me the most. Usually a song is born from a single idea, a single riff which could be the opening riff or the refrain of the song. I don’t follow a precise methodology; it all comes in a spontaneous way to be honest. All I do is to put an extra care on the riffs, if there’s a riff that even remotely reminds me of something I’ve heard somewhere, I put it in the trash and I start from scratch.

The production of the album, mixing and mastering, at the famous Hertz Studios, were positively worth the effort and I am sure that the price of it as well. What is your take on the sound of the album? Was it how you envisioned it to be?

Paolo: They really did an incredible job with "Misotheism", this is really the first time that I am totally happy with how an album sounds. If you listen an old album after some time, you notice things that you could have done differently or better, but every time I listen to "Misotheism" I am really glad we made the choice of doing mixing and mastering at Hertz. It sounds modern but it has a warm vibe that makes it sound organic and old school at the same time, giving the songs the edge they needed to set the right mood.

Which of the album’s track to you consider as the peak point of the album? Also, which track is the one that make you shiver while listening to it? Please elaborate

Giulio: That’s a topic that almost got us in a fight while we were deciding what song to pick as first song to make available online, each of us had is favorite song. Personally the one I like the most is "Fallen from Ivory Towers". I like how is both melodic and brutal at the same time, as of today is probably the song I’m the proudest of.

Though you aren’t one of the band’s founders, as there are no band founds left, with you being the veteran member, will there be a 20th year anniversary celebration for Hour Of Penance? Perhaps a special sets of shows with a long utmost best of your entire career, more than your regular album support shows or tours?

Giulio: That’s something we tried to do also for "The Vile Conception" anniversary last year, we tried to have our friend Francesco Paoli back for a couple of shows and play the "Vile Conception" in its entirety but it was impossible due to his commitment with Fleshgod Apocalypse – I think we will focus on promoting the new album for the rest of the year, we always include in our setlist some old songs anyway. To be honest with you it gets boring playing the same songs over and over so we’re definitely happier playing the new stuff instead.

What are your plans for the support of “Misotheism” going forward in 2019? Any shows or festivals closed for 2020?

Paolo: We will be touring Europe with Destroyer 666, starting Nov. 3rd in Krakow until Nov.10th, and one month later we’ll be touring UK from Dec.10th, closing the tour in Netherlands at Eindhoven Metal Meeting on Dec. 14th. We also have some plans in the work for 2020 but still working on it, we cannot wait to play some new stuff live!

What are the upcoming challenges for Hour Of Penance, passing the release of “Misotheism”? Where do you see yourselves going in the vast Metal market in the coming years?

Giulio: We’ll keep doing what we do best, our music, without any compromise and without betraying us and our fans. Talking specifically about the “Metal Market”, to be honest I don’t know, nowadays Black Metal has become the new trend, it’s funny to see how an underground movement has become such a healthy (especially for the labels) genre. I think somehow it has overshadowed Death Metal in the last couple of years. But like I said, we don’t care, we’ll keep doing our stuff. Nobody would have expected to see us alive after so many years, I feel that we definitely reached a milestone releasing our 8th album this year.

Giulio and Paolo, I bid you thanks for taking the time for this interview. “Misotheism” is an eye, and mouth, opener and I am sure that you are going to rattle some cages. All the best

Thanks a lot for your kind words man , we really appreciate it !



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Edited 02 April 2020
 

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