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Vision Divine's Carlo Andrea Magnani: "This is an era in which most of our heroes are either gone, already, or very old. What will happen, once they’ll be all gone? I don’t see anyone, from the newer generations, who could take their place."

Interview with Carlo Andrea Magnani from Vision Divine
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 21 March 2020, 3:40 PM

Before all the stuff that has been happening with the outbreak worldwide, to discover that everything could have been done for with Vision Divine, was a little alarming and surprising. Thankfully, all is well with the band and they appear to keep pushing forward, and quite impressively as always. Generating a new Power Metal feature that is bound to knock to some heads of, “When All the Heroes Are Dead” it out there in the open, telling the story of the current generation that forgot the heroes. Steinmetal had a pleasure to talk to Carlo Andrea Magnani, founder of the band, about the new album, appreciation of those that made it happen, new frontman, music and more…

Hello Carlo, it is a tremendous honor having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hello and many thanks for your nice words. I’m ok, but you surely know what’s going on all around the world, so it’s not a good moment at all, unfortunately

As if it was yesterday when I reviewed your previous, and smashing, album “Destination Set To Nowhere”, which was also listed in my top 10 for 2012, and time surely flies. However, with such a meteoric success of that previous album, why things went into a halt with Vision Divine?

The reasons are many and sometimes they’re not even so simple to be explained, for those who aren’t part of the band. Anyway, I think the main reason, above everything else, was that some members were way too busy with their other projects and this was constantly postponing things for us. I won’t hide the fact that I considered the idea of putting an end to all this, since my enthusiasm for music was basically gone and almost for good.

“When All the Heroes Are Dead”, your new album, has been out there for nearly 3-4 months, how have been the reactions, both by fans and press? Is it considered a contender for “Destination Set To Nowhere”?

As you surely know, don’t ever ask a musician his opinion about his latest album, ahah! Trying to be serious, this album received some of the most enthusiastic reviews, from both magazines and fans and even in mere numbers, it’s way superior to our predecessor: people from all around the world shown all their love to us, in a way which was totally unexpected to me. When we released our first single, "Angel of Revenge", I couldn’t expect such a huge and positive reaction from everybody. It’s like if people wanted to tell us “welcome back, we missed you” and it really moved me deeply.

Signing locally with Scarlet Records was probably like going back home after a long journey. With you earlier signed to Edel / earMUSIC, was that done for due to the past 7 years? How does it feel coming back to Scarlet?

We know the guys at Scarlet since something like 20 years. There has always been respect and mutual esteem, I believe. Together we did some of the best works we ever released and their support hasn’t ever been anything but total, for my band.

As it happens for every band, anyway, in 20 years of career it happens that you sometimes feel like it’s try to explore something new, maybe bigger like in the case of Edel, and it’s not a matter of money, believe me, it’s mostly a matter of accepting a challenge, checking if something “bigger” can make you feel a bigger pressure too and, in case to see how you’re going to react to all that.

We never “abandoned” Scarlet and even Filippo understood the reasons why it all happened. Every time we were announcing something new, we talked by phone or email and we checked if it was a good idea to go back to working together.

It happened at last with this album and it couldn’t have been differently: we needed to feel back home, we needed to feel we were not working for “a label”, if you know what I mean, but for a group of people who shared a quite long time together with us and our music. Filippo put all his trust in us, even before having listened to anything new, and this was the best demonstration of faith we could ask for. I had other options, but this time I knew I wouldn’t have chosen anybody else but Scarlet.

While the years of waiting for “When All the Heroes Are Dead”, Vision Divine went through changes in its lineup. The first that came on board was the American powerful skinman, Mike Terrana. Really, this guy is surely one of the busiest drummers nowadays in Metal music, how does he find the time for Vision Divine, both studio and live? How do you find his position in the band, he is the real thing right?

Mike is Mike, there is no need to say anything else. He’s surely a busy man and also he’s not an easiest guy to handle, sometimes, but he definitely took all his experience and skills and put it all in this band. He gave us the chance of making that very last step we were missing, in terms of “power” as a whole band.

A little while ago, sometimes last year, you brought in a joker card for the vocals position, entering the fat big shoes of Fabio Lione, named Ivan Giannini. I had the pleasure of listening to his amazing vocal performance in Derdian. First, I guess it was too much for Lione since the Rhapsody reunion, and therefore he broke contact? As for Giannini, would you say that took the vocals task as if he has been in the band for years, naturally?

Fabio decided to leave the band suddenly and we only found it out one early morning, through a statement he wrote on Facebook. While I completely understand his reasons and I even agree with his choice, I must admit I was quite surprised of the way it’s all been done, but that’s life and in the end it doesn’t matter. There is no reason to sit and cry forever, on the contrary these are the moments in which you must stand up and react.

Ivan came in this exact moment, because of all the people we auditioned he had the most interesting voice, for sure, but also because I saw something in him which it was starting to fade away from me: the excitement, the passion for doing what we do. Ivan surely took this as a big chance for him to make not a big step, but a big triple step, but let me tell you something: he worked really hard, maybe harder than us all, he worked on his voice, on his way of presenting himself, on his way of thinking a melody and recording it in an album where there are other 5 people, who need their own personal space. In short: he improved a lot, in one year I saw him improving as if he’d been playing with us for 10 years. I didn’t invent him, nor I touched with some magic powder…he had it all, inside. I’m just happy to see how seriously he took this and now I’m really happy to see that people are considering him another great vocalist, because he deserves it all.

Talking philosophy, “When All the Heroes Are Dead” is an intriguing title, not cryptic, yet it can be interpreted in many ways. Who are these heroes you are talking about? Are these mainly historical icons or there is more to it?

Of course there is more, much more. I never speak too directly, as you probably may know, if you ever took some time to check my lyrics or concepts. In this case, of course, the main focus is not on the historical heroes. Not at all.

The heroes I’m talking about, could be anybody: a great politician, helping us to get out of these dark days we’re all facing, or a guitar hero which made me choose to play this instrument, when I was a kid. Or maybe that big band I used to love, which is still touring these days, but maybe they seem older now and most of all they don’t seem like enjoying it anymore as before. This is an era in which most of our heroes are either gone, already, or very old. What will happen, once they’ll be all gone? I don’t see anyone, from the newer generations, who could take their place.

Do you believe that the world nowadays doesn’t appreciate its heroes, unless you don’t really believe that the concept of heroes actually exists in present time?

I honestly think that not only the new generations, they don’t know who these “heroes are”: they just don’t give a fuck about who they are and what they did. We live in the digital era. Here now it’s fast and ready to be delivered right in your hands. Do we really have the time to stop and enjoy something? Do we really have a chance to understand something the way it’s been supposed to? We’ve our cellular full with every single song released from the dawn of times to nowadays, but do we really listen to music, anymore? Do we ever stop trying to listen to the words these singers are singing? I don’t think so.

While coming up with the main theme for the new album, what were your influences? Is there a personal signature from your everyday life within the veil of the lyrical concept?

Yes, this idea came to my mind one day in which I was sitting in a park, smoking a cigarette. Since I had some time, I checked some news on my cellular, and I read something about Judas Priest and their next forthcoming shows. I realized that some of the younger people where I live listen to metal, but they barely know who Judas Priest are and surely they don’t know what they did.

An album like "Painkiller" means everything to me, but for these young guys, it’s even hard to remember what it is all about. While thinking about it, I noticed that in the middle of this square there was a monument. There’s a man standing on a pedestal, a name under it and some brief description of what he did in his life… well, I noticed that nobody and I mean no-body in the square was even taking a look at that monument, which was looking dark and blackened by the everyday cars traffic. That’s how I got the idea for this concept.

Thanks to various musical elements, such as the atmospheric keyboards, song arrangements and Giannini’s powerful vocals, “When All the Heroes Are Dead” feels somewhat more dramatic in comparison to your previous album. What is your viewpoint on that? What were your trying to accomplish when it comes to sort of theatrical sense of this album?

I agree with you, honestly. It is more dramatic, it’s also more melodic and surely more straight as a whole thing. That’s what we wanted to achieve and as I already told you, we’re all really satisfied with how things went.

After listening to the album several times, it is pretty much Vision Divine of the early album, meaning progressed, yet there are bursts that tread in the fields of old, the band’s early days. Would you say that you yearn to go back in time for the classic styled European Power Metal vision?

Absolutely. That was our goal. We’ve talked a lot about this with Scarlet and we all agreed that this band, album after album, was slowly turning into something more and more progressive. We like it, don’t take me wrong, but we felt like we were definitely abandoning the “good old times” and we still have so many fans, who’re still so much in love with our earlier albums.

We decided, at least for once, to bring our music a big back and to recall some of that magic which we had in those early days. Of course, we couldn’t ever repeat a whole album with those sounds and those atmospheres: those things belong to a time which is long gone, but still it’s been giving us some chills to hear that at least a portion of that era was back into this latest album.

In connection with the previous question, when observing “When All the Heroes Are Dead” in overall, how do you perceive Vision Divine’s musical development with this release?

This album is simply a sum of everything we’ve done during our career. We still have that modern and punchy sound which is nowadays needed in order to show “you’re cool”, but at the same time, we made it to bring back most of the peculiarities which have been part of Vision Divine.

How would you describe the songwriting process on “When All the Heroes Are Dead”? Has anything changed in your approach towards the creation of a song with this album, any change of course in order to push yourself to the limit?

This is by far the album in which everybody in the band had the chance to bring something out of their own hat. From Alessio to Pule, then Ivan Tower and Mike. This album is the result of a real band working together and I’m proud of it.

Going over the tracklist, it was hard for me frankly to choose on which tracks to discuss with you, yet I made it happen after all. “Now That All The Heroes Are Dead” is quite a smasher, in the spirit of your Progressive / Power Metal legacy, channeling such a strong vibe and its melodies are enchanting. It also shares a powerful message. What is your appreciation of this track?

It’s not a surprise that you chose this song, because it’s the song preferred by the majority of the guys in the band.

When I first listened to “The King of the Sky”, it was as if I was kicked back to the first time I listened to the song “Thunder” by your amazing band, Labyrinth. First of all, thank you for that nostalgia flash. Where did that song come from? In a way, it is somewhat feels disconnected, though it is awesome. How do you relate to that?

You somehow mentioned it. If there is something in which I’ve always been good at writing, that was surely writing these speed metal songs. Songs like “Thunder”, “La Vita Fugge”, “The Whisper” and many others, they’ve always been some of our fans’ favorite songs and in our latest released I felt like this was slowly fading. While we were adding more and more progressive touch to our music, the space left for these speed songs was naturally reduced. This time, I wanted to bring it back and I wanted to kick really hard, like I hadn’t done for quite a long time.

“The Nihil Propaganda”, the final nail in the coffin, seemed so perfectly placed, and the hymn of the opening track looming with its majestic grandeur, nearly having me in tears, also thanks to Giannini. Right before the end there is a passionate spoken word in Italian, what is it all about?

This is definitely my favorite song, and I’m not talking about this album, but my entire discography. The Italian words you can hear in the end are a poetry from probably our most famous Italian Poet, Giacomo Leopardi. The poetry is “L’infinito” (the infinite) and I invite you to search for its English version, to understand how beautiful it is.

I will surly have a look for it, as it in Italian it sounds profound.

When you listen to the album, how does it make you feel? Do you find motivation in the music to push onwards, no matter what is going on in the Metal market around you?

I’m absolutely proud of what we’ve done. There has been a moment in which we could have easily decided to quit, but thanks God it didn’t happen and we couldn’t come back with anything better. I don’t care about the Metal market, the business nor anything else: as long as I’m going to have fun making music this way, there will be no reason to quit

Have you already set your schedule between Labyrinth and Vision Divine when it comes to supporting both bands’ albums, or recording a new one with Labyrinth? Is it that demanding?

Yes, sometimes it’s a bit demanding, but honestly I never had any problem doing it. I’m always ready to give my 200% for each band and anyway, we never crossed our activities so much to make it become a problem.

What are the plans of Vision Divine going live in 2020? Any extensive support for this album?

We just came back from our Latin America Tour and we were starting to talk about touring in Europe and Japan, but of course this spreading virus made everything uncertain for the close future. We’ll keep on planning shows and hopefully it will all end soon and we’ll make it to go back to our ordinary lives, which of course are also made of music

Carlo, many thanks for taking the time for this interview. You have a golden goose right there, I believe that you have an equal to your previous album. All the best!

Thank you so much for your nice words, again! I’m always flattered when I meet someone showing me such appreciation, thank you from the deep of my heart. All the best!


 



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