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Stranger Vision's Riccardo Toni: "Most of modern metal, in fact, bases its impact strength on the effectiveness of rhythm and riffs. We wanted to go on a different way…"

Interview with Riccardo Toni & Ivan Adami from Stranger Vision
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 March 2021, 1:55 PM

In music, referring to a piece as larger than live, for a lot of folks it means that it has the power to conquer the bigger stages, a higher form of the catchy note that would take people by storm. However, being larger than life can also refer to beyond the stage, a creation of a musical entity that is so powerful that has nothing to do with mainstream, heck, it is not even close to that. Whether through quality, melody and a stronger sense towards musical arrangements, stands the new act Stranger Vision from Italy. Inspired to take their form of Power Metal forward, they are set to release "Poetica". Steinmetal had a talk with guitarist Riccardo Toni and vocalist Ivan Adami about the ideas of the new record, a musical vision and what made them go forward.

Hello guys, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have things been on your end?

Riccardo: fortunately, all is well, which in this pandemic period means already a lot. But as a band, not to be able to promote our album and our music live is a big limitation. So from that point of view: we feel a bit limited, but it's for everyone's safety. So we'll wait for the opportunity to promote Poetica on stage.

A new name in the Metal scene, and from what I have listened to in the past several days, I believe that eventually it could be one hell of a name to follow.  Your band, Stranger Vision, was founded on the basis of a vision, which was described on the dossier as extremely personal. Any chance that you can provide as most possible info that you can about that vision? You had me intrigued

Riccardo: Yes, sure, our “vision” is to be a novelty in the metal music scene. A novelty in the music, that is a meeting between the melody of the guitars, the power of the rythmic, the studied vocality. A sort of power metal, but not as fast as the common power metal and more powerful. And a novelty in the depth of the lyrics that takes inspiration from poems, literature and philosophy. This novelty in our mind is a “stranger vision” different from the current music scene.

Have you been active in the Italian scene previously? If so, with which bands? Where did you garner your experience as a musician?

Ivan: All of us started to play a long time ago. We had several experiences in metal and rock bands, most in the tribute and cover bands. I was 16 years when I started to sing with my first power metal band called Angels Fall. Personally I practiced for almost 10 years also in theater with different Musical and drama shows. 2 years ago our paths crossed: our musical taste and our influences came from the same root and it was really easy to write songs together.

With Stranger Vision you made a big step when it comes to melodic Metal, spreading around between the softness of AOR, hard to the bone speedy Power Metal, 80s driven melodies and riffs and a few sparkles of Melodic Death Metal. Talking about Melodic Death Metal, you made an amazing cover for In Flames’ “Moonshield”. Honestly, I was stunned to hear it without growls and it sounded amazing. Was there any intention, or perhaps a simple wonder, to also bring in a growler as part of the band, to make the fusion that is pretty likeable?

Ivan: We love the Melodic Death and specially bands as In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Samael, etc Our vision at the moment don't include the use of the growls and on Moonshield we wanted to create a melodic voice line to differentiate from the original song that for us is already an incredible masterpiece that doesn't need of a remake. Maybe in the future for some particular songs we can involve a special guest growler.

Along with the “Moonshield” cover, you also made covers for David Bowie and Tears For Fears, no doubt two more of your heroes of the past. How did these classics, which aren’t Metal like In Flames, contributed to what is Stranger Vision?

Riccardo: with these songs, the arrangement work has been more difficult, because we had to bring something that was not metal, in our genre. So we included in the original arrangements what is proper to us: a large vocal range and more vocal lines that combine with each other, melodic presence of guitars, more powerful riffs and guitar solos. It was a good test for us and a good way of presenting ourselves to the public.

We chose three songs starting from Gurdjieff's philosophy, which is based on the idea that music and cosmos are interconnected. For this reason, to present our music, we have chosen three singles about the World (Madworld), the Moon (Moonshield) and the Cosmos (Space Oddity).

You guys are set to release your debut album, signing with the German Pride & Joy Music, titled “Poetica”. From where I am standing it is quite a broadened name, does it reflect something more on a philosophical level rather than on your musical diversity?

Riccardo: "Poetica" recalls our vision of music and the meaning we want to give to it. Not only melodic and powerful, but also deep. Music is a complete art form. And it’s very important to us to give every song a content, and that this content should not just be a simple lyric, but should be the deep meaning of the opera, which also carries the music.

What can you say is the leading theme that takes the album forward? It appears that there is a true focus on an actual concept or am I wrong?

Ivan: Somehow it could be considered a concept album because for the lyrics we used deep and suggestive themes and words, in reality the whole creative process developed in a very natural way, song by song, without planning at the table. Let's say it wasn't meant to be a concept album, but it kind of became.

I guess that you had the Covid-19 pandemic as a troublesome turmoil that caused a bit of delays for the entire process of the album, whether songwriting and recording. Talking about the songwriting, how did the pandemic affect the process? Is there an influence on the songs?

Ivan: Our first plan was to enter the studio in March 2020 to record Poetica. Unfortunately, we got stuck with the lockdown, but even though we were locked in our house, we wanted to come out with our own music and style. So in the first lockdown we have refined all songs included in poetica and also we decided to record and produce 3 covers to present Stranger Vision' sound. At the moment we are working on the songs for the second album seen we can't promote Poetica with the live shows and I believe that this terrible situation is influencing the songwriting for this new album.

Continuing about the songwriting, it clearly sounds that you wanted it highly melodic and ultimately catchy, so memorable that no one will ever cross it off their lips. What is so compelling to you in coming up with catchy tunes rather than for example constructive arrangements and complexities, which also have been bread and butter of contemporary Metal?

Riccardo: Most of modern metal, in fact, bases its impact strength on the effectiveness of rhythm and riffs. We wanted to go on a different way, looking for a style that focuses instead on the melody of music and voice, but this without ever neglecting the power of rhythm and sound.

Another strong element in your music, which I admire a lot, is your sense towards melodies, although the crushing rhythm guitar riffs also killed me on some level. How do you find the nature and importance melodies in your songwriting? What makes it as the crown jewel of your creation?

Riccardo: In our songwriting everything comes from the melody of the guitar or of the vocals. That's why it's so important and has such a central position in the structure of our songs. After the melody we build the rhythm section trying to support the melody with the power of the riffs. It is this I think that allows us to make the melody as the crown jewel of our creation.

The album’s sound is surreal, Simone Mularoni treated your creation with velvet glove, the overall result is simply perfect, cutting edge modern sound that is so clean and neat, accurate and well mixed. Was it your intention for it to sound so bombastic?

Ivan: We arrived at the recording sessions with clear ideas both on the individual songs and on the whole album as a whole. We knew the excellent Job of Simone Mularoni with important worldwide bands. Relying on the experience of Simone Bertozzi and Simone Mularoni has further emphasized and strengthened our ideas especially in giving a concrete form to the sound we had in mind.

I have to be honest with you Ivan, usually I love to talk about particular songs on the album, but it is hard because nearly every song here is amazing. But, I will make the effort with “Before The Law”, where you also did a duet with ex-Savatage’s Zak Stevens. What do you make of your unison of voices? As from my end, you sound nearly the same, with you with a slight accent. I guess it was quite startling to make such an effort with a possible idol?

Ivan: first of all, thanks for the nice words for our songs and also for comparing me to Zak. In poetica we made attention to compose all songs as a single, exactly like it was in the albums of 20-30 years ago. Zak is one of our legends. We grew up listening to his deep and strong voice. We thought to contact him because in "Before the Law" there is an important relation between the GateKeeper and the farmer and we wanted to like his voice to make this dialogue epic where the characters are defined however it could be inverted too.

Your prime single, which I could gather from the special version made for it, “Soul Redemption”, sounded to me as one hell of a passionate piece of music, and rather varied, not just pumping up speed. It is heavy, with soaring vocals that made it a level up. What do you make of this track? How do you find its impact on the album and on Stranger Vision’s style?

Riccardo: We chose Soul Redemption as the first single because we think it represents well the sound of Poetica. It is a mid-tempo with high melodic parts of guitars and vocals. And the riff is very powerful. So as the first single, it represents our vision of music very well. The music was born in one of those moments where you take refuge in your guitar. I composed the opening riff, which led me to structure the song, and then Ivan wrote the vocal lines and the lyrics, inspired by one of my poems.

Is Stranger Vision bound to take the stage one day, once all of this is over and let’s hope it will be soon, or rather remain a kind of a studio project to come back to every now and then?

Riccardo: Of course, Stranger Vision was born as a band to bring music on the stage. So far we haven't been allowed to, but as soon as we get the chance we will.

Have you thought about the next steps for Stranger Vision, perhaps new material already in the works?

Ivan: We are working hard on the second album. It will be a concept Album. We already have the complete structure of the tracklist and the preproduction of a lot of songs. We will start the recording session at the beginning of 2022. In this album there will be greater compositional maturity and the addition of a new sound we are working on.

Guys, I wish to thank you deeply for your time and effort for this interview. No doubt you brought in a band that should be followed, because I gather that things are going to be insane. Cheers. Lior.

Ivan: Thanks to you Lior for all your questions, we like to unveil the ideas behind our composition of Poetica. We hope to come on stage in your country very soon.



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Edited 11 August 2022

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