The first album recorded by the Italian band, Hour Of Penance, had an absolutely phenomenal response almost worldwide. I think that on the European brutal death metal scene, this is one of the most promising brutal acts nowadays. Maybe time will tell all, and they'll be known as one of the most important death metal band in Europe in recent years. Who knows... we will see what the future brings... I'm really waiting for the next Hour Of Penance album, and I think that it will seriously show the world what these young masters can do with the art of death metal! If you know the great album "Disturbance", you know what I mean. Enrico, the guitarist of Hour Of Penance, answered my questions.
Italy has never been a country with huge death metal scene and there is usually power metal crap and melodic music. Even though you have bands like Nefas, Natron, Bastard Saints or Karnak, Italy has never been famous in the metal world because of brutal music. Is Hour Of Penance going to change this?
"Well, we hope so, hehehe! Seriously, the Italian metal scene is like you've described, I have nothing to add: unfortunately, it's all a matter of taste. Sad but true. People in here likes much more shit like power or prog or gothic, instead of death metal. Consequently, Italian kids have no interest in playing this music. To change people's mind is perhaps the most difficult thing on earth. No need to say that we don't give a fuck, we play death metal for the same reason we had years ago when we started together, which is love and respect for the most extreme music on earth. Trends pass, death metal stays!"
I heard that your outlook into music has changed thanks to Cannibal Corpse's "Bloodthirst" album. Is it true? Is this album truly important and so special for your band?
"I know that it may sound a bit weird... but that's the truth, for in those days when we started with our own songs Cannibal Corpse released that album and I thought 'What the fuck is that?!?'. I mean, that album has just everything I wanted to put on a record: aggression, technical accuracy, an unbelievable production... in this period it really meant something for me, it was some kinda "message"... don't get me wrong, I also love their classic ones like "Tomb..." or "Butchered...", but that album was like an illumination."
Did you play in any other bands before you formed Hour Of Penance? Where did you get experience and skills which are now developed in Hour Of Penance's music?
"I played in a few bands before but nothing to do with death metal, Mike played in some oldschool black metal band... definitively, we started Hour Of Penance with a bunch of ideas (not even so original I would say...), the fact is that since our Promo2000 we've really grown up and improved individually and collectively. So I can say that we got experience and skills during our journey with Hour Of Penance, and we're still into it, I mean, searching constantly to improve our personal style and our performance on stage. Without any doubt we took huge benefit from the incredible season that death metal lived mostly between 1998 and 2001: some authentic monsters like Nile, Hate Eternal, Dying Fetus, Cryptopsy (to mention a few) through their killing releases showed to the world the future of this genre. And there's still some self-important asshole claiming that death metal died in 1996... "
In the past Francesco left the band and shortly later came back to the camp. (almost) the same situation took place recently, but this time he left and and did not come back. Why did he leave and who is the new member?
"Francesco left for the 2nd (and last time) for the same reason that he left the 1st time: he was interested in doing something else, he never liked death metal at all I guess... but when he came back he said to us the whole opposite and we believed in his enthusiasm, after all he's a friend and a good live performer, we needed a guitar player... after he quitted we had the luck to find in a short time Giulio, which is a nice guy & guitar player and perhaps the most important thing, a totally devoted death metal fan! Therefore, we understood each other very well since the beginning."
Will you agree with me if I say that Hour Of Penance is like the European answer to music of such great acts like Nile, Morbid Angel, Immolation or Hate Eternal? How do you react to comparisons like this one?
"My reaction is just to say 'Thank you, far too good!' for you've mentioned four authentic death metal gods that made the history of this genre. Personally, Nile and Hate Eternal are bands that to me represent the future: when I listen to them, I realize their mastery. Nile is perhaps the only band able to make 'crescendos' in brutal death!! No wonder that they're becoming very popular also amongst people which is not crazy for death metal. Last Hate Eternal' s album had many bad critics, maybe the people didn't like the production... bullshit, that album kicks ass... Erik Rutan is God!!! Moreover, I would remark the importance of the European death metal bands, from Scandinavia (Deep Red, Spawn Of Possession, Immersed In Blood), Germany (Fearer, Despondency, Defeated Sanity, Sinners Bleed) and last but not least Poland (not only Vader and Decapitated but also Dissenter and Yattering)."
"Disturbance" was released almost one year ago. It seems that this is enough time to sum all the reactions to this album up. Did you have only positive responses?
"After about 10 months or some I can say that yes, we had positive responses worldwide, our label made a great work promoting our music which reached also countries like Indonesia, Peru and the rest of South America: and that's the best of all, I mean, to reach so distant places with your music is the thing that more makes us happy. We had positive critics also in our country, even if most of 'zines round here are not interested in death metal and their reviews are like 'Well, here we have the same old stuff... ya know, in the vein of Cannibal Corpse... the vocals are boring as usual... blah blah... but the drummer is good'."
I'm not sure and correct me if I'm wrong in following matter. Some of the Hour Of Penance song titles like "Dawn Of Cerberus", "Der Zorn Gottes" or "Mystification As Law" sound a little bit ancient? Are you interested in an ancient history and are these topics used in lyrics?
"Not so much really, "Dawn of Cerberus" is about an apocalyptic armaggeddon scenario but nothing to do with ancient religions or myths. I write all the lyrics so I can say that what really I'm focused on is the real world. I'm fucking scarred by human nature rather than god, devil, demons... "Mystification as Law" is about our world, ruled by mystification and manipulation of truth: what's more dreadful and current at the same time? Instead, "Der Zorn Gottes" was taken by an old movie with the crazy actor Klaus Kinski... Werner Herzog's movies rule!!"
You recorded really brutal, powerful and interesting material. What can we expect from you in the near future releases? Are you working on the stuff for the next Hour Of Penance album?
"One thing for sure: you'll never hear nu-metal shit and hip-hop vocals on any Hour Of Penance release!! We're on new stuff, the fact is that it takes a relatively long time before we can say 'We have a new track', because we spent weeks working mostly on arrangements' parts, changing here and there until we get satisfied with the result... to make you understand, I wrote one or two songs of our album like 3 years ago, and when I listen to those 'primitive' versions I can't count all the changes we made since then. All that I can say is that we're working to make it all more aggressive, complex and catchy at the same time: every album must be a step towards improvement."
Is death metal the only kind of music that you completely realize yourself in? Are there any situations for example when you create music when you write a song which is not suitable for Hour Of Penance but is interesting enough that you finally you have hard time throwing it away? What do you do then?
"Not into metal. I guess that it's the only genre I'm able to play hehehe!! Hour Of Penance is the 1st musical thing in my life, and I've no interest (at the very moment) and time for doing something else. The question is a bit different for Mauro (the drummer), by doing an example, well he's in 3 bands right now including Hour Of Penance... on the other hand, I use to listen to a lot of music, from Cuban music to movies' soundtracks, sometimes I wish to have time and skills to play them all, but I should need a lifetime for each one to make it decently."
I have to admit that you have really fresh and massive sound on debut album, and this is a little bit similar to 'American sound', I guess. You must be satisfied with the result of the recording session. Did you plan to attain this kind of sound? Are you planning to go back to this recordings place next time?
"Well, absolutely, also because we recorded entirely in our own studio recording, which was created by me and our ex-guitar and sound engineer Stefano Morabito. Stefano is the real mind behind "Disturbance" 's sound. We spent endless days and nights working on drums parts, guitars' compression and so on... especially the final mixing session became nearly a nightmare (guess also because that was our first full-length and we were not prepared for such vast amount of work) but at the end we reached the right sound. Dave Rotten also helped us into it giving advices after we sent him some rough mixes of the album, when he received the final one and said to us 'This is fucking great' well, we realized the job was done right.
"Disturbance" was released via Spanish Xtreem Music and I'm wondering if it was only one label interested in releasing your music? Will the future Hour Of Penance albums be released through Dave Rotten's label?
"At the moment that we signed we thought that, due to Dave's experience into the underground music, Xtreem Music was the right choice. Until now I can say that we were right. I think Dave made an excellent work promoting our album worldwide. Dave knew us since our first promo stuff back in 2000, he liked our music when Repulse Records was still alive. When he started with Xtreem Music immediately asked about a deal. Our next album will be out with Xtreem Music again, hope you'll have it before the end of the year... and say 'This is a million times better than "Disturbance"!!' for this is our goal, to get closer to this perfection that hides inside our sick heads.
Long time ago you announced split 7" Hour Of Penance with Cadaveric Crematorium via Warlord Records. Is this release available yet, what was the reason of this delay? If I know well, the songs for this split were recorded a long time ago...
"Well, that's a long and sad story... you should ask to the shitty Warlord Records for I have no more answers to give to anyone. Briefly, we had this kinda verbal deal back in 2001 with this so-called label, the original deal was to split this 7" with The Chasm. No wonder that they pissed us off (that happened of course after we recorded our side and paid all the studio recording expenses by ourselves), then the label said to us that Encabulos will replace The Chasm. After like 4 months without a single new I wrote directly to the Australian guys of Encabulos asking them: 'Do you know why this delay for our split 7"EP?' And them: 'But of what 7"EP are you talking about? We don't know anything about!'. 'Great' I thought. That was 2 years ago and we started this war with this useless shitty label. At the end, we should split this 7" with Cadaveric Crematorium but there's still no response by anyone. And when I wrote to the label to have some info, they answered me just to insult me and make ridiculous threats!!! Definitively, this split 7" was a big mistake. So-called labels like Warlord Records are the shame of Italian metal scene. Beware of this people, my friend."
As we are talking about past Hour Of Penance materials, could you introduce and describe in order all stuff which you recorded under the name Hour Of Penance before the debut album?
"Our 1st absolute release was the Promo2000 mini cd that we recorded in 3 days in October 2000 at the Outer Sound Studios here in Rome. This made ourselves known in Italy and also a bit outside of our country. In September 2001 we entered that studio again to record our split 7"EP side, which is still waiting to be released as I said before. "
You informed that in Spring Hour Of Penance will go on tour through Germany. Is this tour confirmed? What with other tours in Europe, are you planning some crusades?
"Yes, we will play in Wermelskirchen on April 24th together with Houwitser, Harmony Dies and some more German brutal acts... indeed, we're happy to play in front of deutsche metalheads for also in Germany the album had lots of reviews, now it's our turn to give 'em confirmation on stage. We'll be also in Belgium for a date on April 21st... to make a larger tour (maybe with one of that bands that we adore) across Europe would be nearly a dream, let's see what future deserves..."
It was everything what I wanted to ask, thanks for your time. Would you like to add anything else for the end of this interview?
"Thank you Tomasz and to the rest of Masterful Maga'zine for the space given to Hour Of Penance, thanks to all crazy Polish supporters, hope to see you real soon on tour, and remember: if you're looking for relentless extreme death metal assault, then you won't be disappointed with Hour Of Penance!! Buy/steal/download our album, cheeeerz!!!!
Czy damy radę wpasować się w panujące dzisiaj trendy tego nie wiem. Mam nadzieję, że tak i płyta zdoła troszkę namieszać i odbije się to echem w środowisku. Mam też nadzieję, że będziemy w stanie pokazać, że scena ma się dobrze i zachęcić innych do tego że warto coś robić mimo tego, że się mieszka daleko od siebie.
Jest old school, bo nie zagraliśmy ani jednego oryginalnego dźwięku, kawałki są krótkie, jest w nich mnóstwo thrashu i punka, szczypta death metalu – to dla wielu będzie właśnie przepisem na grindcore, zmieniają się tylko proporcje. Nie boli nas ta łata, nie chce nam się też szukać innej.
Może dzięki uwielbieniu Dissection jest na Heading Below więcej melodii? Może za sprawą Testimony of Ancients znalazły się klawiszowe podkłady? Być może dlatego, że kochamy Autopsy jest więcej tłustych zwolnień? Jakoś tak to wszystko naturalnie przyszło.