(Comrade Aleks brings us a very engaging interview with all three members of the Italian death-doom band In Grief, whose excellent debut album will soon be released by Iron Bonehead Productions.)
Sweet heaven! You’ve already read here about the forthcoming release of an album by the Italian death-doom band In Grief on Iron Bonehead Productions, and it’s something! I’m very skeptical towards the “Peaceville Three” definition. Even Peaceville’s chief Hammy speaks against using this term, but what else should I say? In Grief took the best from early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, mixed these influences together, added a handful of their own ideas, and that’s it – impressive old school death-doom metal performed at full capacity.
The trio consists of Michele (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Kristian (guitars, drums, keyboards), and Paolo (bass). All of them played in a handful of different bands performing everything from death and grind to black metal and back. So An Eternity of Misery, which will be out on the 2nd of September, is their debut in a wide sense. We had a nice chat with the guys and I welcome you to spend some time together In Grief.
Ciao In Grief! How is it in Tuscany? Or Lombardy?… Where are you really based? Do you already have your portion of the dog days?
KRISTIAN: Hello to you and the reader, we can start by saying Michele and I are from Tuscany, and Paolo lives in Lombardy, near Como. Here all is good, too hot for us but we manage the situation by drinking cold beers, doing long walks far away from the masses who prefer to spend (or waste) a lot of time at the beach. And of course, we rehearse as much as possible! We also have an album to promote… so here we are!
In Grief consists of three men with different but equally extreme backgrounds. How did you manage to drop the speed and slow into death-doom metal?
MICHELE: We’re close friends and we know each other for a long time. We have played in different bands: I have a project called Congenital Deformity with Kristian, and Paolo still plays with Necro and collaborates with his brother’s band Solitary Sanity. If you like bands such as Nile, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, check them out!
Anyway, since we are fans of all metal subgenres, we like different kinds of music, from death to heavy metal and of course we like slower music. We love the macabre atmospheres of Autopsy and the gothic sounds of bands such as Anathema, My Dying Bride, Katatonia. This, among other reasons, is why we started IN GRIEF.
Why do you think there were no big death-doom bands in Italy? You have Paul Chain, Abysmal Grief, and many great “new” bands like Bretus, Doomraiser, and more, but the death-doom segment never was represented widely.
IN GRIEF: That’s an interesting question! if we talk about dark music, we have a great tradition with cult bands such as DEATH SS, PAUL CHAIN, BLACK HOLE, THE BLACK and ZESS, and during the years other good bands came out from the underground, in particular ABYSMAL GRIEF, CULTUS SANGUINE or MESSA, but at the same time we haven’t had a big death doom band, probably because what we call the ‘Italian sound’, rooted to the traditions and history of our territory, can be hardly influenced by other sounds, such as death metal. That’s probably why we don’t have big death-doom bands here… of course this is just our opinion!
You tend to perform this doom in a pretty old-school manner, pretty obscure and sentimental in some way. What were your reference points when you started to compose the first tracks?
PAOLO: As Michele said before, IN GRIEF consists of a trio of guys who live for the sounds of bands like Katatonia, Eternal Darkness, Tiamat and the Peaceville Three, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Paradise Lost. The gothic essence of their early works mixed with death sound influenced us and our lives since we started to play our instruments. These bands and other things gave us the push to start playing obscure dark music.
How do you see the nature of this “gothic essence”? It’s always a problem for me to find pure “gothic” doom bands besides Stillborn with their debut album, as others references are blurred most of the time. You know like… My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Theatre of Tragedy were equally referred as “gothic” in certain periods, but every time they differed one from another.
PAOLO: My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost started, with Anathema playing death doom metal, and later they became more ‘gothic’ if we think how they changed and evolved their sounds and methods of composition. There’s a great difference from an opus like The Angel and the Dark River or Icon to their debut albums.
Everyone has his personal view of what can be gothic, dark or death… THE VISION BLEAK or TYPE O NEGATIVE for example can be considered a pure gothic band.
Talking about our debut, that’s the reason we think AN ETERNITY OF MISERY has different shades of gothic atmospheres.
Iron Bonehead Productions has scheduled the release of An Eternity of Misery in both CD and vinyl editions in September. What do you feel about the current limited circulation of music in hard-copy formats? Do you rearrange yourself already to this reality?
PAOLO: We have always supported all kinds of physical formats (CD, tape or vinyl). For what concerns digital formats, they can be very useful because everything is more accessible to people, and why not — if someone likes music, they can always buy it in physical format as well! So, for us it is very important to have the support of a label like IRON BONEHEAD. Without Patrick, probably our debut would have never seen the light, and we are very grateful for all his efforts!
And what about gigs? Is it important now when each country has hundreds of bands and it’s easy to organize a gig with a bunch of friends? Though I don’t know what the current situation is with public events in Italy
IN GRIEF: We have received some offers to play some gigs but had to turn them down. It’s only our choice, the live dimension isn’t for IN GRIEF, and for the future we’ll see.
About public events in Italy, we can say that the lockdown helped. We see lots of people at every concert we attend. That’s weird how such a situation helped to increase the will for music in every metalhead and we’re full of concerts and festivals around our areas. That’s absolutely great, because for us the hardest choice is which concert we’re going to see!
How did you work on An Eternity of Misery? You have experience recording with other bands — did that help you to find the right sound faster?
KRISTIAN: After years spent in rehearsals and recording sessions in other projects we can say that we always have something new to learn in the studio. When we recorded ECHOES OF DOOM, things went faster because all of us have a database full of riffs that we had arranged before the pandemic situation. After the release of that EP, we started to work on the new songs, putting more attention on every single note, line, and arrangement. And Bjorn from Grave Upheaval helped us with the final mix and the mastering. That’s because we took 2 years to write and record the new material. All without any kind of pressure, that’s why we are very satisfied with the final product.
Is your new album a result of collective effort or do you have a man who brings most of ideas?
KRISTIAN: There isn’t a leader or only one mind above the others in the band, but I can tell you, for every release, we have decided that at least one song must be written by each one of us. The other songs are riffs played in the rehearsal room and pasted with other parts, so that we can mix the influences of each of us and make the work more varied. If we want to talk about lyrics, the writers are Paolo and Michele.
Did you fulfill all of your plans in this recording?
MICHELE: Yes, I think we have taken a step forward compared to the release of ECHOES OF DOOM. With this album we wanted to expand some ideas we had during the previous recording sessions and I think we reached our goals. Personally I think that we made some steps forward in terms of songwriting and recording, but for sure we cannot rest on our laurels, this must be the starting point. We try to improve every day, we talk daily about new ideas and stuff, so I hope to bring new cool things in the future as well!
There’s a song with the title written in Cyrillic in the album, what’s the story behind it?
PAOLO: “Ярна” (IARNA) is a Moldavian word written in Cyrillic that means winter. My wife is from Ukraine and the region where we live (Chernivtsi) is an oblast in Western Ukraine, consisting of the northern parts of the regions of Bukovina and Bessarabia. It has an international border with Romania and Moldova, and that’s the reason she frequently speaks in Moldavian. When I started to write the lyrics I wanted to pay tribute to this beautiful country and its long cold winters. This season has always fascinated me and I painted Ярна as a spirit, which is flying in the night above desolated fields, singing through cold winds, funeral songs to the mortals.
How do you see In Grief’s prospects for the rest of 2022?
MICHELE: We’re starting the promotion for An Eternity of Misery and at the same time we’re starting the writing process for the next releases. We’re also talking with another band for a possible split release. The near future is full of things to do, but first the promotion of our debut full length through IRON BONEHEAD.
Then I hope to hear more news from you soon. Don’t lose yourselves In Grief totally gentlemen! Any last words to our readers?
IN GRIEF: We’ll do the best we can! Thanks for your time and for this interesting interview. We hope to get a chance from your readers. Feel free to get in touch with us!