Saturday, March 31, 2018


Some months ago, I deeply reviewed "Via Mala", the very innovative second album of a black metal band from Italy called Umbra Noctis. Here there is a nice interview to them through the words of Filippo Magri, their singer and one of their original founders. Expect an interview full of strange answers for a black metal act also related to themes like Italian Patriottism, magnificent landscapes and...pornstars!|

Hi Filippo! How are you? Let’s start this interview with some questions about the genesis of Umbra Noctis: when and why did you found the band? What do you remember about the day in which you gave life to this black metal creature? How many bands of this kind were in and around Mantua, back then? And how was your first rehearsal?

Hi Flavio! Our idea for Umbra Noctis was born at the end of 2004 in a pub by three of us that were drinking some beers and projecting to found a black metal band. But those guys didn’t want to play in a standard black metal band.
They were glorious years for black metal here in Italy and we, blown away by Spite Extreme Wing’s masterpiece “Non Dvcor Dvco”, were dreaming to be part of that scene.
At that time there weren’t many bands in Mantua, Brescia and neighboring areas but we remember two great underground projects called Inferi e Inverno, both split up.
Our first rehearsal was cool with our first song “Risveglio” that was almost ready to be played. (left, Umbra Noctis during their early days. -ed)

Do you want to tell us the story of Umbra Noctis by describing every release of yours, so to range from your first demo “Luce oltre il Confine” to the still fresh “Via Mala”? Among them, what is your release considered the best one by you?

We aren’t prolific. The first release wasn’t a demo, but a concept album based on the journey of a man tired of his monotonous life and in search of his aim, in search of the transcendence. I said “album” but actually it was a mcd for 25 minutes of music.
After “Luce oltre il Confine”, we released an EP, “Il Richiamo del Vento” with two new songs that sounded very raw but really good by my point of view. Then, there was a split CD with Gort (a good black metal band from Naples) [if you remember well, some months ago Gort came here in my city, Rome, to play in a live gig and, obviously, I published a week later a live report about that night! -ed], and our first full length “Il Primo Volo”.
“Il Primo Volo” contains several good songs, but “Via Mala”, the new album, is really better. And it’s an album of transition, the next album will be a masterpiece!

Why did you become, in 2016, a quintet through the addition of the guitar player Filippo Oneda? I must say that it was a wise idea because he added a more deep sound to your music.

It’s because our music needs two guitars, otherwise it results a shit, especially on stage. During the early years we tried with several guitar players, often with negative results.
Filippo Oneda have brought many positive vibrations to our music. A nice guy and a good musican, he’s a longtime friend of Tiziano Valente, the main guitarist of the band...
… but recently we became a quartet again. We lost the bassist.

Regarding “Via Mala”, how was born this album? And how and where were its recording sessions?

It was a long delivery… we love all those songs. Now I am talking as the lyrics writer: in fact, each song represents a special moment in my life, a genuine representation of my thought. The recording sessions were bad but the final result is (almost) good. It could be better, but it always could be!

In your opinion, “Via Mala” could be considered as a half concept-album? I am asking this because some songs are focused on the Winter season.

No, it couldn’t. But we are enchanted by Winter since we came from North Italy where the cold starts on November and ends on March and we are used to drive in the fog and see the lands covered by hoarfrost; Summer can be good for losers, Winter is better for us! Jokes aside, “Via Mala” isn’t properly a concept album, but the landscapes of its stories are obviously our fields, our mountains.
The ironic thing of this album is that, despite some Winter themes, it was recorded in full Summer. So, what are the reasons about these crepuscular and melancholic lyrics in a so sunny season?

Do you prefer a false and refined reply or the pure truth? Ok, the second one… The recording sessions were in late spring but the songs were born earlier in winter time.

Do you want to tell us about the lyrics in a more specific way? For example, what are the main themes of songs like “Maree” and “Nami”? I realized that you love to face, in your lyrics, also reality issues related to Italy and Europe, so to completely avoid the ultra-abused black metal themes like Satanism, occultism et similia.

For these reasons, ultimately we don’t define our music as “black metal”, while in fact our music is black metal. As already introduced, we prefer to talk about thoughts, instinct, will… sometimes about our roots and tradition; to preserve, to not forget is the priority. There is no politics in our music, but, at the same time, fuck off to the politically correct! We want to express ourselves, and extreme music is the best vehicle to do it.
You chose two songs that are a little off topic: “Maree” describes a sunrise at the seashore and the feelings related to it while “Nami” talks about the Japanese Tsunami of 2011 and, in fact, it was written immediately after.

An Italian patriotism vibe emerge sometimes from your lyrics. So, are you proud to be Italian? Is this a reason by which you sing in your mother tongue? Don’t you think that the use of Italian language could preclude you to have a greater numbers of fans than the ones that you have now?

Sure, we are proud to be Italian, as well as we are proud to be Lombard. We love our territories, our lowlands, the surrounding mountains and the related stories and traditions, so we sing about all this. Singing in Italian was the right choice, and absolutely we don’t want to change our trend. I would like to insert some parts in dialect, maybe in some of the new songs.
The number of fans doesn’t depend by the language of the lyrics, you know… many of us, “blacksters”, are grown up by listening to songs with Norwegian or Ukrainian language! In order to get new fans, now, we should talk about Odin, misanthropy, Satanism and many other most “popular” things. But we are Umbra Noctis.

Why didn’t you include also the lyrics in the scarce CD edition of “Via Mail”? In fact, you make them available only into your website? It’s a shame because I consider them really fundamental to completely understand your music.

It’s because we opted for a minimal packaging. “Strange” but minimal. Just go see the lyrics on the website.

Do you want to explain the cover artwork of the album? And why did you choose a title like “Via Mala”?

It’s a photography of a mountain pass, on high Camonica valley. It was a picture taken by Tiziano, our guitarist. Many of us are mountain and hiking lovers...
The VIA MALA is the road that connects the aforementioned valley with a neighboring one, the Scalve valley; running across that road, close to a frozen canyon surrounded by mountains, represents, especially for me, the metaphor of life. At the end of the road, the sun shines, and the valley shows all its magnificence.

Is yours the label, called Novecento Produzioni, that released “Via Mala”? If yes, do you want to introduce it to us? Why did you release so few releases from 2009 (if I am not mistaken, this is the date in which the label released its first albums, right?)?

Yes, Novecento Produzioni is ours.
When ten years ago we were young and full of enthusiasm on music, we decided to found a small black metal label but recently we (almost) stopped its activity. Too much money spent, too much wasted time. During these years we launched a great band, Infamous, and supported many other good Italian projects (Fiave, Permixtio, Ethere, Lorn, Near).
We keep alive this label’s mark only for our band, since we didn’t find a label for our albums.

How was your last live gig dated 3rd February 2018? I know that it was a strange enough night not only because you shared the stage even with a post-rock band but also your bassplayer left you before that gig. About him, why did he left Umbra Noctis?

It has been a great live show but it would be better with Davide Bottoli, band founder and bass player from the early days till last February… but things don’t always go as we wish.
He left the band probably for different musical interests grown up in him during these last years.
However we played with our friends Baffodoro (probably the best post-rock band in Italy) and with Avoid the Light, a great surprise.. nice guys and their post-black is really of a high quality! Lately we like share the stage with bands of different genres of metal, or rock in a more generic way.
They’re much more open minded, maybe we are too old for black metal. “Too old for black metal, too young to die”.

At the moment, your style is very particular. In fact, you combine an old-school black metal with frequent rock influences, and, additionally, the vocal department includes notable parts in clean and melodic vocals. So, what made you to play in this way? At this point, can you imagine your sound in your next album?

My clean vocals on “Via Mala” came out as a shit! I hope they will be better on the next album. Jokes aside… Yes! We would like to proceed on this way. We don’t want to renounce to black metal sound and harsh vocals, but at the same time we want to evolve following the way express on “Via Mala”… I think that we have to melt down better our influences and ideas, in order to express a more mature, defined, sound. Yes, we are working to express a much more personal sound.

Why do you dub your music as “extreme unconventional metal”? Don’t you think that the term “extreme” is a little bit generic, instead of a more specific “black metal”?

As already said, it’s because we are too old for black metal. Ok, I agree with you. The definition of “unconventional extreme metal” is a shit, but the standard black metal listener wants standard black metal music, with Satanic, or Antichristian, or Nazi lyrics. We don’t play standard black metal, our lyrics are light years away… so we play “unconventional extreme metal”, but we just play our music. That’s it. Feel free to listen to our music or not.
An unusual question: what are the differences between writing songs in according to a more traditionalist style (as in your early days) and in according to your new approach? I don’t know, is easier a more classic black metal songwriting or does it requires more time?

Really, I don’t know. Our “evolution” (or “involution”) is absolutely natural. Thirteen years ago we were slow on songwriting phase, we became more slow in these last years.

If I am not mistaken, also when you played in a more traditional way, you rejected to use the face-painting. Why?

We would be ridiculous. I agree with black metal purists, face painting is for true blacksters. We play gay black metal.

In your opinion, what are the today’s best 5 black metal bands from Italy? Beyond you, naturally haha!

Frankly speaking, we aren’t following the scene… So, we aren’t updated about it. Five names?
Deadly Carnage, Imago Mortis, Infamous, Permixtio, Janvs (do you know if Permixtio and Janvs are still active?)

Is there a question that you would like to ask to yourself and still not posed by me?

I don’t know, maybe… what’s my favourite pornstar? Keisha Grey, I love the space between her incisor teeth… and her boobs.

What are you future plans?

To play with friends and record a new masterpiece!!!

Ok man, the interview is over! Now you can end it as you want and thank you very much to replying to all these many many questions!

Flavio, thanks so much to you and your readers for this interview, for your review and all the support to Umbra Noctis!! Guys, go listen to our album “Via Mala” on Youtube and through all the digital platforms. Good listening and all the best. Visit our website and follow our FB page for all news!


No comments:

Post a Comment