MPM: Please introduce yourself and what you do for the band
P: Thanks for your time, I’m Paolo and I am the singer and guitar player of the band.
G: Hi , Giulio here – guitar player
MPM: First by saying, I’m a huge fan of your work and been a supporter to Hour Of Penance since 2010’s Paradogma and love every single album the band has done. Misotheism has been out for quite sometime and is the first record through Agonia Records, how’s the reception been for fans and what ideas did it take to write a album with such powerful lyric meanings and songs in comparison to Cast The First Stone?
P: Judging by the reactions on webzines and social media it looks like Misotheism was really appreciated by both the fanbase and critics both, and we’re very happy to see that this work has been received so well. I don’t think that we had some specific ideas to start with, it came out with time, working many hours on perfecting everything the best we could to put out an album that we considered worth releasing. What I think was different than before is the fact that having a new label that finally was doing so much good work and giving the band the attention needed has really motivated us with a positive energy that helped us achieve this result.
MPM: The Italian scene has grown so much in the last 15-20 years with bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse, Lacuna Coil, Rhapsody Of Fire, Hideous Divinity, Antropofagus, and Septycal Gorge. What makes Hour Of Penance so special to play a style of Death Metal but also using elements of brutal and technical signatures so differently?
G: Hour of Penance has been around for almost 20 years , I think that what kept us alive so far was the fact that we’ve always tried to push ourselves and tried to improve our music – during all these years I guess we’ve perfected our songwriting and reached a point where people can tell “This is Hour of Penance” – and I think that’s a great achievement because nowadays is very hard for bands to sound “original”.
MPM: Listening to Misotheism there’s a lot of themes behind the album ranging from anti religion, social issues, morality and songs discussing the Vatican. What’s the inspiration behind writing the record and how would you say in terms of dynamics, progression and atmosphere this album is prior to older releases?
P: The main inspiration has been politics and social issues that we face here in Italy since many years. Without delving too much into details of the history of this country in the last 70 years, I can tell you that every political decision was influenced by outside countries trying to avoid a government led by the communist party happening in Italy. They made use of the Vatican influence, the media, extreme right wing factions, freemasons, criminal organizations, and every time someone was too close to the truth they killed them, like they did with the PM Falcone and Borsellino. I am not talking about conspiracy theories, it is all written down in trials and by historians, yet here it looks like nothing ever happened. I think talking about those things, even if by metaphors, gave the lyrics a sense of urgency that makes them stronger.
MPM: Are there tracks off on Misotheism that stands out to you from a emotional standpoint? If so, what are they?
P: Personally I think the tracks “Fallen from ivory towers” and “The second Babel” are the ones I am more attached to. They deal with the themes of social injustice and exploitation of the poor that are very important for me.
MPM: Hour Of Penance’s been around since 1999 and you joined in 2004 and have been with the band since 2005’s Pageantry for Martyrs. Could you go over little detail what made you decide to play death metal music?
G: I picked the guitar exclusively to play death metal, my parents tried a million times in the past to sign me up to classical guitar courses but I always declined ..I just didn’t care .. as soon as I started listening to death metal ( at that time I was into the old Sepultura records – chaos Ad / Beneath The Remains ) i’ve decided to buy an electric guitar and start learning it . Tablatures books here in Italy back in the days were hard to find , I used to order them from the U.S actually – that’s how I started. Playing and listening to death metal always felt great to me , It’s not easy to play it , it’s definitely challenging and that’s one of the reason why I started.
MPM: If you guys had to pick your own dream festival of any bands within the extreme metal world, whom would you guys bring out on the road to tour?
G: Cannibal Corpse of course , we’ve actually had the pleasure to tour with them 3 times , personally going on tour with them was one of my lifetime achievements .
MPM: As someone who’s a death metal fan for over a decade now, what’s your overall opinion and perspective on the current and upcoming underground bands such as Bloodtruth, Logic Of Denial, Demiurgon, Deceptionist, Murder Made God, Beneath, and Putridity?
P: I think that the scene in Italy grew a lot in the last years, many good bands made their appearance on the international scene and we’re getting recognized as a country that can put his mark on extreme music. I remember when I was starting out there was a lot of prejudice about Italy even if we already had good bands, but labels were just not interested whatever we did. I think much has changed since then.
MPM: On the band’s downtime, what type of hobby or activity like to do when the band is not touring or doing anything to kill time?
P: I love video games, of all kind. I started playing on a Nintendo NES in 1993 and since then I always loved them, I started being a nerd and assembling computers and so on. I am also a coffee lover and I repair and fix old coffee machines, both lever or automatic.
MPM: Looking past earlier Hour Of Penance albums, which release by the band is considered to be your favorite in terms of songwriting, progression and heaviness?
P: My favorite so far is “Misotheism”, I think it has it all. Good balance between aggression and catchiness, dark atmosphere and a very good sound overall. I am satisfied with every track and it’s not something that happens every time.
MPM: Do you prefer playing venues or festivals?
P: Personally I love festivals, you always get great organization, a nice stage where you can deliver your music in the best possible situation and with the best sound. The huge crowds were quite scary in the beginning but after many years playing around getting used to it, I find them very enjoyable and fun.
MPM: If there’s one thing you’re grateful for being in a band, what would that answer be and what can you tell us in store for the future and plans for Hour Of Penance in 2020?
G: At the moment we’re trying to move the shows that we had planned for the rest of the year because of the lockdown , apparently no shows until December 31th – it’s a shitty situation for everybody ! Meanwhile we’re lying down some new riffs but it’s too early to say anything , Misotheism came out just a few months ago and we’d like to keep promoting it .
As for what I’m grateful for being in a band.. many things .. the most obvious would be that I’ve travelled the world and saw many places I wouldn’t probably see if It wasn’t for the tours we did.. so far it has been definitely a fun ride and we hope to keep doing what we like.
MPM: And before my final question to wrap up this interview, I like to personally thank you for your time in discussing this conversation as the music industry and everything else going on in this world is having a hard time and know everyone reading this, we’ll be together and do this stronger than ever before. But my final question for you is what can fans and other people expect as the next decade is upon us for the extreme music community and like to add any thoughts on this?
G: Thanks a lot for taking your time and interview us man , we really appreciate it and to be honest it makes us very proud to know that you picked up “sedition through scorn” as nickname!
It’s hard to tell what’s it going to be for the next decade , I’ve been following death metal and extreme music in general since I was a kid , it changed a lot during these 25 years , just look how technology changed things.. while it took musicianship to higher level and has helped bringing new things to the table on the other side it ruined a lot of things from my point of view ( I won’t start the discussion on how it became a problem for sales because you’ve heard it a million times at this point I guess ☺ ) so who knows? At this very moment what I’m hoping for the near future is that everything can be back to normal to be honest!
Interview by Jake Butler