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Interview - Cristiano Borchi & Francesco Bucci (Stormlord)

Interview with Cristiano Borchi & Francesco Bucci from Stormlord
by Tuoksu Holopainen at 23 October 2013, 11:51 AM

Italian Symphonic Black Metallers STORMLORD is a little over two decades old now, but they are still talking about taking their time to produce the best music they can and reach their highest point as musicians. Here, vocalist Cristiano Borchi and bassist Francesco Bucci talk to Tuoksu Holopainen about their latest album “Hesperia”, and the epic theme behind it mirroring ancient Roman poet Virgil’s classic Aeneid.

It's been almost 5 years since STORMLORD has released anything. How does it feel now that you're back and about to release your brand new album Hesperia?

Cristiano Borchi: We feel really excited about it. The composition of Hesperia required a long process of songwriting and arrangements, but now it’s finally ready. It’s an album really rich in elements and details, and I think it expresses the most epic and solemn soul of our sound.

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 pressure from labels or managers or other people from the music business, besides our loyal listeners of course, and we have total freedom when it comes to working on new music or to experiment with some different paths. That’s why every album that we release is 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 all the other albums, it was the same.

You've already stated that you wanted to take STORMLORD’s music to a higher level with this album. What do you consider special or different about it?

Cristiano Borchi: The main difference is the accurate way it has been composed. As Francesco told you before, we always take our time to do things at best we can. And this “best” is higher and higher, album by album, because we want always to go over our limits and release something better than before. I think with Hesperia we got to the higher point of our musical development, it has been a step for us.

STORMLORD had slight changes in lineup since Mare Nostrum. How did that affect the songwriting of the new material?

Francesco Bucci: Right now we are working this way: Gianpaolo (guitars) writes most of the riffs, both on guitar and keyboards, than he works with me for the early arrangements to find some inspiration to go on, to develop the music and to build the structure of the song. Then we record a very rough demo on the computer. When we have this rough structure we share it with all the other guys and we start to work on the full song all together in the rehearsal room; every one of us gives his opinion and we try to arrange not only our parts, but we even exchange suggestions each other. As the final step, Gianpaolo and Andrea (Angelini – guitar player) works on the final guitar arrangements, Gianpaolo and Riccardo (Studer – Keyboards) work on the orchestral arrangements and I and Cristiano work on the vocals. In the end, I write the lyrics.

Hesperia is considered your first concept album. What inspired this theme?

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 hard work since the beginning, that’s why I’ve been waiting for years in order to gain experience as a lyric writer, the role that I have been covering since our debut album Supreme Art of War, while the whole band (especially guitar player Gianpaolo Caprino, the one who writes most of the music) was improving their musical skills. 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 in a 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 characters in the history of our culture and his works, especially the “Aeneid”, representing 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 “Aeneid” with 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, recalling 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 divine will and 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 he is thinking about some different episodes of his life including love, will for revenge, scorn, despair, the cult of his 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, fear, we have to make choices and we do not always have the strength to choose what is right, but sometimes we can be more heroic than any fictional character.

I think 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 and 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.

I guess we can expect a music video soon, right?

Cristiano Borchi: We are working on this possibility.

How is the tour going so far?

Cristiano Borchi: We’ll start to play in support of new album in late September. We got a deal with new booking agencies in Italy and Europe, and this will bring STORMLORD more shows and festivals than we’ve had in the past.

There have been a few comparisons to fellow Italian extreme Metal bands such as FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE. What do think about that?

Cristiano Borchi: I like FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE. They have an high profile way to work and the results are great. I think the main comparison could be we both are symphonic and extreme, but we have different roots. They are much more into death metal and classical music, we are more into screamy epic tunes and atmospheres.

STORMLORD has been around for over two decades now. How do you regard what you have achieved ever since?

Cristiano Borchi: I’m really proud of what STORMLORD did all these 22 years. We fronted all kinds of situations, from the best to worst ones, solved difficult problems and got great results. For me, as founder, STORMLORD is a big part of my life. We are like a family ensemble to make our best possible. That’s because we are still here and rocking.

You have classified yourselves as "Extreme Epic Metal". I think there's more to STORMLORD’S music than just this. Why have you chosen this label in particular?

Francesco Bucci: Since the first album, every time we’re asked about how to label our music, we answer that STORMLORD plays “Extreme Epic Metal” because these three words explain what Stormlord really is: a Metal band with extreme vocals, a pounding drummer, a strong fascination for epic and Mediterranean sounds and the will to walk its own path.

Do you have anything to say to our readers?

Cristiano Borchi: I hope that fans will enjoy the album (and you as well!) and the people who still don’t know us will give a chance to Hesperia. It’s a personal album that will not disappoint you. I hope that the listeners will find the time to listen to it.

Francesco Bucci: Right now everyone can download tons of different albums at the same time but our days remain only 24 hours long, so most of the younger people just listen to the first seconds of a song and then skip to some other tune. I think that this is a bulimic approach to the music; people need to take their time, to feel the sound grow and to understand the vibe of the music without being in hurry.



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