Stare into the Darkness, and the Darkness will be staring back
~ Interview mit Gitarrist Dario Beretta ~
Einen Overkill an unvergesslichen Erinnerungen hinterließ mein Kurztrip nach Kreta im Oktober 2018, als ich das kleine, aber feine ´Echoes From The Labyrinth´-Festival besuchte. Neben DOOMOCRACY und SORCERER traten da auch CRIMSON DAWN auf, eine mir bis dato unbekannte Band aus Italien, genauer gesagt aus der Lombardei. Wobei, angesichts der Gesichtsbehaarung des einen oder anderen Musikers, sind es eher Langobarden. Und Antonio Pecere, der Sänger, schlicht und einfach Barde. Denn CRIMSON DAWN spielen theatralischen, epischen, einzigartigen Doom-Metal mit sehr expressivem Gesang.
Nach zwei Alben und einer sehr empfehlenswerten EP veröffentlichen sie nun ´Inverno´ (Review siehe hier) und Gitarrist Dario Beretta beantwortete mir dazu im Messenger-Chat bereitwillig einige Fragen, ein Gespräch, das nun hier im englischen O-Ton folgt:
Dario, to me CRIMSON DAWNs music sounds quite unique, no other band really compares. Why is that so?
First of all, thanks. That, to me is the biggest compliment I could receive and that was always my goal to create something unique. I think the main reason is that I have never been single-minded on a particular kind of music. I mean I listen to hard rock or metal music 99% of the time, but in that world I really like so many different things from PALLBEARER to HELLOWEEN, BLACK SABBATH to PRIMORDIAL, DEATH to MAGNUM… and I like my music to be varied and interesting. I think metal has a way to express a wide range of emotions, so I don’t want to limit it by strict adherence to a single sub-genre. Also in the band we all have different tastes and influences as well. So that surely helps.
Your music has a storyteller quality to it, what is your approach in writing?
I have defined some of our songs like the ´House On The Lake´ as „musical storytelling“, so I definitely agree with you.
One of the things I always loved about BLIND GUARDIAN – which is one of my all-time favorite bands – is their bard-like approach to music. Granted, CRIMSON DAWN has definitely darker sources of inspiration in general (chief among them, HP Lovecraft’s body of work), but I love that approach and I feel it really fits my personality as a songwriter. Also the use of stage costumes with CRIMSON DAWN is meant to play into that aspect. We want to take listeners on a journey to a different reality.
First thing about ´Inverno´ that rang my bell was the Lovecraft connection. Having also been inspired by him with my band back in the day, I would like to know what especially made you choose ´From Beyond´ and my good old friend Nyarlathotep in ´The Nameless One´?
We’ve always had a Lovecraft theme in our music, as was made evident by the title of our debut album among other things. This time we’ve pushed it even further. As for the specific choices we made, when I wrote the main riff for ´From Beyond´, the title kind of came to me in a very natural way. And as the title was also the title of an HPL tale, I asked Marco if he was ok writing the lyrics about that short story and he was. Marco himself came up with the idea of using Nyarlathotep as ´The Nameless One´. We wrote the lyrics of that song together. I came up with the first part where there is the concept of the dark congregation of cultists making a human sacrifice. He wrote the second part and identified Nyarlathotep as the evil god that the congregation is evoking, which made perfect sense to me. Marco and me wrote many lyrics together and we’re both passionate about HPL and that makes it a primary point of reference for us.
There are other songs based on literature on ´Inverno´: obviously Thulsa Doom/Robert Howard, anything else?
For Thulsa Doom, we actually went for the movie version with the snake references and the riddle of steel thing rather than with the skull-faced magician version of books and comics. The rest is either made up on our own, like ´The House On The Lake´ or based on ancient myths like that of Agarthi.
Tell me more about Agarthi …
Well, the first song we wrote about it was on our EP ´At The Cemetery Gates´ and it was just called ´Agarthi´. Hence why this one is ´Return To Agarthi´. The link came from the fact that they have a similarly structured opening riff and this made me want to write the lyrics of the new one to be a direct sequel.
Agarthi is a mythical city which is located underground. It’s basically part of the whole myth about the Earth’s core being like a sun, around which a secret society of sages lives. Hollow Earth myths basically. I just remembered the English word for it.
Agarthi pops up every now and then in Theosophical and Esoteric writings and/or theories. t’s just a fascinating subject.
´The House On The Lake´ is like a small concept, a bit like FATES WARNINGs ´Ivory Gate Of Dreams´, what was the idea behind that?
Well, we have created this character called „The Scourge of the Dead“, he’s been with us since our very first album and has appeared in our music videos. He’s the one wearing the venetian mask which can be found in all our artworks (more prominently on ´Inverno´of course). We’ve written several songs with him as the protagonist and ´The House On The Lake´ is a part of his saga. He’s an undead hunter, officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church in a dark-fantasy tinged late middle-age setting. In ´The House On The Lake´ he’s sent to investigate a house that the local folk said to be haunted by the devil. There he actually discovers that the House is a gateway to a hellish dimension, populated by nightmares. The ending of the song is an open one, so we don’t actually hear if or how he got out of the situation he’s in – we might revisit the tale in the future. We probably will.
Very good, I like that.
What about ´Inverno´? It is sung in Italian, which gives it a very different feeling and sounds absolutely great. Antonio sounds different, his voice is deeper I have the impression. Is it the first time you have a song with italian words? Why?
On our second album ´Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter´ we did a song called ´The Skeleton Key´ which had a small folk passage sung in Italian. It was a nice thing to do for us and we got a lot of messages from fans from outside Italy saying they loved that, asking us to do a full song in Italian. We took the bait, so to speak and decided to do an entire song in our mother language.
The final result is impressive, we love it. I hadn’t written a song in Italian for about… 26 years or something. So I was a bit scared, but it turned out pretty good.
As for the vocals, there’s actually a guest there. The deeper voice you can hear on the bridge and chorus is provided by Emanuele Rastelli from CROWN OF AUTUMN, who co-founded CRIMSON DAWN with me back in the day and wrote and recorded the first demo with me.
The words of ´Inverno´ feel more poetic than your other lyrics…
Yes, it’s less of a story and more a series of images that we’re trying to evoke. I guess that’s something I feel comfortable doing in Italian because it’s my own language. As good as I can be with English, I don’t think I could pull something like that off. Not in such a natural, organic way at least.
I recently went to see the turkish band PENTAGRAM, who did an entire album in their mothertongue. I found myself in an otherwise 100% turkish audience singing every word along, it was surreal. Could you consider recording a whole album in italian?
It would be very challenging, because English is much easier when it comes to metal.
At the moment I don’t see it happening, but honestly, you never know.
You’d probably become very popular in Italy …
Aahah, no, I don’t think so… There’s only one or two bands who were ever able to gain substantial support here with metal sung in Italian. Italian metalheads are usually much more into foreign bands.
Ok, tell me what you think about italian music in general. Italian metal does have a distinctive kind of, let’s say, pathos. Is that something cultural?
Italian music in general is very melodic. We’ve had a fantastic prog scene in the ’70s, which unfortunately had more success outside our country. The average Italian listener was never really interested in anything else outside the realm of pop music. But there is great stuff coming from here. As for the pathos you mention, I’m not sure but after all, we are the country of Opera, so we have a taste ingrained in our country for the theatrical side of music, that’s for sure. Personally, I think Italian doom metal in particular has a very „sacral“ way of sounding, which probably comes from being the country in which the catholic church resides. Like it or not, you’re exposed to that sacral/spiritual side since you are born.
I see. This resonates particularly in Antonios performance, which by the way I think is outstanding. I was wondering how he gets so passionate, as he doesn’t write the lyrics.
He’s as atheist as they come, actually! But as I said we’re all exposed to our culture anyway, so who knows. He surely is passionate about singing, which always drives his performances.
Thank you very much Dario!
Abschließend noch meine persönliche CRIMSON DAWN Wunsch-Setlist, as epic as it gets!
The Haunted Monastery/ Scourge Of The Dead
Tower Of Sin
At The Cemetary Gates
Gaze Of The Scarecrow
To Live Is To Grieve
The House At The Lake
The Nameless One
Condemned To Live