Italian death metal bruisers HOUR OF PENANCE have been battering listeners with their blend of technically charged death metal for years now. Over the course of the band’s 18 year career and experiencing various lineup changes, the intent has remained the same; creating a vicious and destructive listening experience. Three years have passed since the band’s last record, 2014’s Regicide, and now 2017 sees the band arrive with a recharged lineup with album number seven; Cast The First Stone. We caught up with guitarist Giulio Moschini and guitarist/vocalist Paolo Pieri to talk about the album, it’s themes, messages and overall sound, alongside how the modern climate of extreme music is evolving and how HOUR OF PENANCE have progressed.
You are about to release your seventh studio record, Cast The First Stone, on January 27th. What can fans expect from the upcoming record?
Giulio: All I can say is , fans will not be disappointed. We’re still very passionate about listening and playing Death Metal and we know the rules for making a good Death Metal album, so we would never betray ourselves or put out a record that we wouldn’t like. As for the songs, some will definitely get stuck in your head, like the title track Cast The First Stone, some sounds more ‘melodic’ than our past material, some more old-school oriented. What we wanted to do with this album is to have each song its own identity and we didn’t want to put out a record which would sound too technical and riff packed, like most of the ‘modern’ bands sounds nowadays.
The upcoming record comes three years after Regicide, how has HOUR OF PENANCE developed in this time?
Giulio: Well the new album was technically written right after Regicide came out, most of the material was already written and we had demos of the new songs already since 2015. What happened meanwhile is that we wanted to take some more time and some time off from live activity so we could work more on the new material. Moreover we had a change in the line-up and the new drummer Davide needed some more time to adapt his playing on the new songs.
Can you describe the writing and recording process for Cast The First Stone?
Giulio: We really worked a lot during the recording sessions to improve and fix what have to be changed from the previous album, especially production-wise, thanks to the fact that our bass player Marco was behind the mix, we could experiment a little more and try thousand of different combination until we’ve found the best equation between a natural sound and a very powerful one. As for writing it, like I said, the album was pretty much ready to be recorded in 2015, we haven’t changed the way we work on our music, I record everything on my computer and then once the song have a structure that I like I send the demos to the other guys in the band.
In terms of the album title, Cast The First Stone, that certainly implies Biblical references. Can you explain the meaning behind this album title?
Paolo: Cast The First Stone revolves around the idea that the injustices suffered during the Crusades and Colonialism cannot justify indefinitely a chain of hate that propagandise the destruction of the West. It does not matter who has thrown the first stone, but who first evolved this ideology to seek peace and coexistence instead of war to the bitter end.
Giulio: The album title refers more to a question: Who threw the first stone, who started a war between two different cultures deeply influenced by religion?
When looking at the overall themes and lyrical messages contained on the album, what sort of themes and areas does this record address?
Paolo: Most of the songs talk about the conflict between reason and religion, where one is seen as something that brings man to freedom, while the other one leads to slavery, dogmas and violence. I try to use the lyrics as a way to complement the mood of the music in a way that wants to create a deeper connection with the listener, to make him question his own ideas about the world, without giving a clear line between good and evil.
HOUR OF PENANCE have always looked to the areas of religion and social issues, do you feel by addressing these themes you can connect more to your fans?
Paolo: I don’t want to tell our fans what I think about something to get approval or disapproval about my opinions concerning those themes. I write stories without any moral or ideologies, I describe situations, real or imagined, so that our listeners are free to draw their own conclusions.
With the record set to be released at the end of January, what are you hoping to achieve with Cast The First Stone?
Paolo: I just hope that people will like our work, I don’t want to become more famous or anything, we just try to do our best to write music that we like to share it with other people, nothing more.
Your band has really grown in stature over the last couple of years, this very much comes at a time where death metal and metal in general has had a resurgence. Do you feel that the extreme metal scene today is in a good place?
Giulio: Compared to a decade ago, the answer is yes, there are definitely more good bands around and more interest in this kind of music although maybe there’s a little too much. I can’t follow all the releases that are put out every month and it is really hard as a band to stand out from the sea of bands. People generally lost interest in albums after 2-3 weeks from their release and the idea of listening to an album from start to finish is lost since people are more inclined to listening music on Spotify (or worse).
Following the release of the record, what touring plans are in store for HOUR OF PENANCE throughout 2017?
Giulio: We’ve already started playing the new songs live and we’re trying to book shows in areas where we never played before here in Europe, like Greece, Romania, Macedonia. We’ll have some special shows that we’re going to headline like the Bristol Deathfest in April and that’s going to be a UK exclusive for 2017, a lot more in the agenda!
And to close, we’ll offer you the floor, do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?
Giulio: Thanks a lot for having us! Cast The First Stone will be out in few weeks, make sure to grab a copy from the Prosthetic store and keep supporting death metal!
Cast The First Stone is set for release on January 27th via Prosthetic Records. Pre-orders are available here.
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