Noveria Talks Stages Of Grief And New Album "Forsaken"
We've been anxiously waiting two years for this - Italian prog / power metal outfit Noveria is now gearing up to drop a sophomore album, following the stellar "Risen" release from back in 2014 (reviewed here).
With recording now wrapped up, "Forsaken" is due out on October 28th via Scarlet Records. Another month of waiting was more than we could bear, so we checked in with guitarist Francesco Mattei to find out as much as possible about this impending metallic opus!
xFiruath: Its been two years since the excellent “Risen” album – what's been happening with the band since then?
Francesco: Ciao Ty! It’s a pleasure being here talking with ya, to start with, I wanna thank all of you guys at Metalunderground.com for the kind words and for picking up our debut as best Metal Newcomer 2014! That means a lot for us considering that is our first work. Of course within those two years there’s been a bunch of great and successful live shows we did mostly in Italy, then in 2015 just when I was about to start writing the new material our keyboardist Emanuele decided to quit the band to focus more on his own projects, and few weeks later a close family member passed away due to an aggressive cancer at 32 years old. So really not the best circumstances…
xFiruath: I was going to ask about the keyboardist situation - what happened there with the member swap?
Francesco: Actually the break up with Emanuele fortunately was in complete friendship and we still work together in other situations as musicians. Ema is a great guy, excellent player and a friend, so the reasons why he quit the band were a matter of his personal life and I didn’t want to interfer with that. He also helped us find a new keyboardist. I think I’ve been lucky to have this type of positive people in the band.
Francesco: A few months before the whole thing happened I had met Julien in a Prog Fest in Belgium while we were backstage having fun. He told me he plays in Ethernity and Epysode which I’m a fan of, so I was checking out his show and I was impressed, so to me it was “OK, it has to be him.” We became pretty quickly good friends and I helped the guys with a couple of shows with Ethernity in Switzerland where their guitarist unfortunately couldn’t participate. Then I asked Julien if he wanted to join and he said yes! We’re all glad to have Julien in the line up, he’s an incredible player and he contributed a lot in the compositions of our new record, I think you’ll hear the stylistic difference!
xFiruath: What was the most challenging part of recording this album, and where did that process take place?
Francesco: The recording process was really smooth, the major struggle at least for me was quad tracking all the rhythm guitars to have a wall of massiveness in the sound, and it’s a process I did also for "Risen!" To track 4 guitars with all that riffing madness you’ve got to be really precise with the picking. Now I’ve improved a bit on this :) and I was really happy with the result. The recordings took place in everyone’s personal studios between Italy and Belgium except for the drums that were recorded in Domination Studio by Simone Mularoni. It was a great experience and a lot of fun being there watching Omar recording the drum parts, surely there was some magic in it!
xFiruath: In terms of sound, what would you say is the biggest change on this album from “Risen,” and what has remained more or less the same?
Francesco: This is a very good question, actually the production tools and ways of thinking about the mix change naturally through the years and somehow you keep searching for the same thing, just better and with different flavors! The thing I can say that changed majorly in this record is the way we arranged the parts between the songs, and Julien has a great overall vision of what is needed to be done for any particular situation. He really chose the right sound to make the most out of every section of a song. I don't want to say that there’s a huge difference between "Risen: because we still love that record, but now we have an album at hand that’s got more colors, different emotions and dynamic parts (we even have a ballad on this one)! This record is just “more!"
xFiruath: Needless to say we loved the first album – like you mentioned before it had our staff voting you best metal newcomer of the year in 2014 – did you feel any pressure to outdo yourselves and take it to the next level here, and how did this song writing process go in general?
Francesco: Being picked up as best newcomer of the year of course didn’t help to work in a “relaxed” environment! Ahahah! Joking of course, but that really spurred us on! Of course we want to make the best music we can, so we pushed ourselves to the limit in every note that we put together! Being my own worst critic, I think it’s key to be honest with the work you do, but sometimes it kills you if you’re too hard on yourself. You need to be critical in a sane way because today, standards are really high and there’s plenty of great bands all around!
Francesco: I’ve felt blessed to work in with Julien, because everytime I throw him a riff, he gives it back with a super atmosphere on top in 10 minutes, and the same goes for the solos! We love to try to outplay each other, it’s like a friendly and fun competition. So we ended up co-writing basically the whole record except for a couple of tracks that Julien wrote on his own.
xFiruath: Is there any one particular idea you are trying to get across with the album, and what do the lyrics as a whole tend to deal with?
Francesco: “Forsaken” is a concept album based on the five stages of death by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, which is the emotional struggle that a person with a terminal illness, such as cancer, goes through. It’s a tough argument because these emotions touch both the person who gets sick and also the people who are close to them. There’s a lot to go through and somehow when you’re close to a person that passes away, it leaves a scar that will never go away.
Francesco: In the lyrics, there’s a flow that connects every song to the stage of emotion that goes together with the music, so for example when a song is about the Anger stage usually it’s a fast song with violent riffing, while the more you get close to the end of the record on the Depression stage, the music slows down to make room for visceral emotions and dark arrangements.
Francesco: Speaking precisely about Acceptance, I want to explain that the lyrics are the words that the young woman lying in her hospital bed tells her mother just before passing away. At the beginning of the song you can hear the parent’s car passing in the rain, heading to the hospital after the call from the doctors, to see their daughter for the last time… still that scene in my mind gives me the creeps. It’s a really dark story and takes “Forsaken” to a personal level, with the hope that this can make the people struggling with those types of illnesses feel less alone.
xFiruath: Who handled the cover artwork and how does it connect to the music?
Francesco: The cover artwork has been taken care of by Gustavo Sazes, he’s an incredible graphic designer and he’s been around for a while working for people like Amaranthe, Arch Enemy, James LaBrie and Kiko Loureiro, to name few. We sent him a mail where we explained our idea for the concept and he answered five minutes later basically saying “Hey guys I love the concept, let’s make a tribute to all those people who passed away from cancer.”
Francesco: The cover represents a young woman, not entirely unlike the person we lost, fighting against her body and herself at the same time. I think the spikes that come out of the body are a pretty strong image of how cancer could be represented, she’s scared and has lost almost all of her hair. The open wound on her back is the wound that never heals, because when you lose someone you’ll never forget. In the background you can see the x-rays representing the different stages of the illness and you can definitely see the 5 stages of death written in the tables. So, it’s a visual representation of what we wanted to express with the music.
xFiruath: Were there any tracks that didn't make it onto the album, and do you have anything like cover songs that will appear as bonuses in different versions?
Francesco: I really had a lot of material written down for this record, and there’s been a lot of stuff that didn’t make it to the record, but it wasn’t really about entire songs… it was more about discarding some sections and some riffs here and there that didn’t fit the way they should. Usually if something we create catches our attention, we definitely use it and evolve it until it becomes something that we all feel great about. For now we haven't planned to do any covers… if we find some cool classic song that we all like then we might do it. Generally speaking we prefer to focus on improving our songwriting skills through writing new material of our own. But you never know!
xFiru ath: Can we expect any music / lyric videos to arrive for this release, and if so can you give any hints as to what will be going on in them?
Francesco: Sure, next week we’re going to release our first track on Scarlet Record's Soundcloud page and then for sure there’s gonna be an official video in October, plus a lyric video later on this year. About the track that we picked for the single, the only thing I can say is that it’s a bit different from what you might expect… If you’re looking for Downfall 2 or Risen 2 that’s not the case (ahaha)! there’s plenty of that kind of material on the record, so we’re gonna take the risk to share something a little different.
xFiruath: Both of these albums are via Scarlet Records – are you anticipating staying there for the foreseeable future, or does this album conclude your deal with them?
Francesco: I think that we worked out a good deal with the guys at Scarlet Records, and so far it’s been a great experience being in their roster, so for sure there’s gonna be at least another record with them, after that we'll sit down with the guys and see how we want proceed!
xFiruath: Will you guys be touring at all in support of the album?
Francesco: That’s for sure, we’re planning a few shows in 2016 straight after the album release around Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands. For 2017 we’re looking for playing in some cool heavy metal festivals or also a good opportunity to tour supporting some bigger names! One of my personal dream (probably not only mine ahahah) it’s to play at Prog Power USA/Europe or Wacken Open Air… Sooner or later, we’ll make it happen! For now basically every show we've played has been great but one of my favorites was with Astra in Rome in 2014!
xFiruath: Other than your own album, what's coming out soon you can't wait to hear?
Francesco: Good question, surely U;m looking forward for the new Epysode album (I’m a fan!), then for sure anything by Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, Symphony X, Lamb of God are always must-haves for my CD collection. There’s also lots of other great bands that I like a lot, like Myrath, DGM, Evergrey, Ethernity and Helslave but most of them have just recently released full-length albums, so I'm still enjoying listening to those!
xFiruath: Anything else you'd like to say?
Francesco: Absolutely, first of all thank you Ty and all the Metalunderground.com staff for having us here on your pages! Then I want to thank all the people out there that keep supporting us, and I most definitely want to invite everyone to follow the release of “Forsaken” step by step because I think it’s an album that needs to be seen both musicwise and lyricwise to have a complete listening experience!
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