When I think of the more extreme metal scene from Italy, actually only one band comes to mind, namely NECRODEATH. NECRODEATH had been split up for years, but re-united two years ago and afterwards released a very strong comeback album, "Mater Of All Evil". Since you don’t get to read that much about ’em and since I had never interviewed them in here before, I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about them which covers the whole story of the band. Original NECRODEATH member Claudio kindly accepted my interview-request
How did you get into Metal music and what have you all been up to before you got together in NECRODEATH?
"Well, as you probably know we formed the band back in 1985. We were very young and NECRODEATH was our first real band. I lived together with the old vocalist in a small town near Genova, in the north of Italy and we contacted Peso, the drummer, who lived in another small town close to us. Now we are back again and we all live in the area of Genova, with the exception of our new vocalist Flegias."
Did you play any cover tunes in your early days?
"In the old days, we played some AC/DC, VENOM and IRON MAIDEN covers, but our lifes totally changed with the release of the first METALLICA and SLAYER albums, but we loved bands like KREATOR and BATHORY too."
In the year 1985, you recorded your debut demo "The Shining Pentagram". Can you tell us something about your memories when you recorded that tape?
"Well, the "The Shining Pentagram" demo was our first demo as NECRODEATH. We recorded it in Genova in a really small studio during several nights, because we had to go to school during the day. I really can’t remember how many copies we sold, but the demo made us very popular in the underground scene worldwide. Scarlet, our record-company, wanted to re-release it on CD, but the master-tape is so old that it is really impossible to re-master those recordings again."
To support that demo, did you play any gigs?
"We played just a handful of gigs in the first era of our history, it can’t be more than 5 or 6 gigs within our first 4 years of existence. We played with BULLDOZER and SCHIZO from Italy and MESSIAH from Switzerland."
I never heard that demo, but when I compare the songtitles of the tracks and the songs on your debut, I guess you didn’t re-record any songs from the demo. Why?
"I think you haven’t checked carefully. We put the track ‘Mater Tenebrarum’ on our first album "Into The Macabre" and we also put ‘Iconoclast’ on our last album "Mater Of All Evil" (aaaargh, it seems like I’m really getting too old for this … – S.W.)."
Do you think your new material (so, the material you recorded for "Into The Macabre") was much better than the songs on your demo?
"Well, probably the songs on "Into The Macabre" were not that far from what we did on the demo, it was more extreme and a bit faster, but the style was more or less the same. Anyway, I remember that we were very proud of "Into The Macabre" in those days."
When did you start the songwriting for your debut?
"After the recording of our demo, we met a local producer and he was interested in producing a full album with us, so we agreed and recorded "Into The Macabre". We had some new songs ready which we wanted to put out, so instead of a second demo, we recorded our debut album."
Which label originally put out "Into The Macabre"?
"It was a very small label, "Into The Macabre" was the first and the last album they released, the original LP is just impossible to find! In those years, there were nearly no labels at all in Italy, and definitely no labels who were interested to put out this kind of music. We were very satisfied with our album in those years, even if I know nowadays that the sound on the album is bad, but it was a sort of a miracle in 1987 to get something like that released in Italy."
When I look at the titles of the songs on the demo and "Into The Macabre", it seems like you were very much into the dark and obscure side of things.
"Yeah, our original vocalist was very interested in these kind of things. He was deeply involved in it, he also wrote all the lyrics, that’s why the titles and the lyrics are really dark."
Who produced and engineered "Into The Macabre"?
"The producer was a really nice guy but he knew nothing at all about metal. We have good studios in Italy, but even now it is really difficult to find a good producer."
What actually happened after the release of "Into The Macabre"?
"Well, as I told you, we just played a few gigs here in Italy and that was mainly it."
In those days, did you ever have problems with the police, because I can imagine that in a very catholic country like Italy, people didn’t really appreciate what you were doing?
"Well, unfortunately we were not famous enough to have any problems! We were very underground at that time, believe me!"
When did you start with the songwriting for "Fragments of insanity"? Did you approach the songwriting / recording in a different way than you did on "Into The Macabre"?
"Yeah, you could say that we approached that album in a different way, especially because in that period, our old vocalist started playing guitar as well and the new songs were composed for a two-guitar line up. So, the structure of the songs became much more complex."
I listened to "Fragments Of Insanity" quite a lot throughout the years and still like it very much. I must admit though that the album is maybe not that easy to get into. What’s your opinion on that album nowadays?
"I have exactly the same opinion as you. "Into The Macabre" was very direct and very raw, "Fragments Of Insanity" is a lot more elaborated, a lot of riffs which come one after the other. I really like "Fragments Of Insanity" too, but I have to agree that it’s not an easy album to listen to."
Do you think that "Fragments Of Insanity" will also be re-released sooner or later as it’s been unavailable for years now. I only have a vinyl copy and I haven’t seen the album in a store, a mail-order or whatever for years now.
"Yeah, I think Scarlet has paid for the rights of that album as well and will re-release it sooner or later on CD. The vinyl version really is impossible to find after all those years, I’m happy for you that you have a copy, I do have a copy too!"
My favorite tracks on "Fragments Of Insanity" are ‘Choose Your Death’ and ‘Thanatoid’. Which ones do you prefer and why?
"I like these two songs as well, but my favorite one is ‘Eucharistical Sacrifice’, we’re going to re-record that track on our next album by the way."
What actually happened after the release of "Fragments Of Insanity"? I can’t remember that you did any touring for it, did you?
"No, you’re right, we didn’t do any touring after the release of that album. I must say though that I really appreciate that you know so much about NECRODEATH! Anyway, immediately after the release of the album we split up due to lack of enthusiasm and support from our label. We had no really big problems with each other, but we were a little bit stressed and there were too many difficulties to go on with the band in those years."
Did you already start to prepare for a third album at that time? Are there any songs / parts / riffs which later on ended up on "Mater Of All Evil"?
"No, all the riffs and songs on "Mater Of All Evil" were new, with the exception of ‘Iconoclast’ which appeared previously on our debut demo."
What have all of you been doing over the years? I know that Peso released quite some albums with Sadist but what about all the others and especially you?
"I was completely out of the scene during all those years! I just did my job and didn’t play any music anymore for more than 8 years. I didn’t go to any metal gigs or listened to any metal bands either during those years (with the exception of SLAYER gigs and albums). I heard SADIST later on when I met Peso again, I really like their first album, I think a lot of riffs on that album sound like NECRODEATH."
When did you get the idea to resurrect NECRODEATH and where did you find the 2 new members?
"I had the idea, I met Peso after 8 years and I proposed the idea to him to get back with NECRODEATH. We had no contacts with the other original NECRODEATH members anymore, they are out of the metal scene completely, so we choose John and Flegias because they were our friends first of all."
Was it easy to bring the chemistry back in the band? Was it also easy to write the material for "Mater Of All Evil" as you had a break of 10 years?
"Yeah, it was very easy, the atmosphere in the band has never been as good as it is now. This really is the perfect NECRODEATH line up! The songs for the new album came out in a very natural way, without having to think about them. I was kind of surprised too."
I think the "Mater Of All Evil" album is probably your best sounding and most mature album. Do you think so too?
"Yeah, I totally love the album, I think it’s really great. Thanks for the compliment by the way!"
As one of the probably first Italian Death / Thrash metal bands, do you think that over the years NECRODEATH got the credit the band deserved? On your website, you state that bands like CRADLE OF FILTH, CANNIBAL CORPSE, IMMORTAL, BRUTAL TRUTH and AT THE GATES stated NECRODEATH as one of their personal favorite legendary acts in their interviews. Do you think NECRODEATH is a sort of ‘cult’ band?
"Well, we haven’t made these statements. Other guys, magazines and bands stated this and I’m really happy about that. I don’t care about the past, it’s behind us. I just hope we could have something going now, without any real problems. We play for fun, nothing else."
In all those years, did you ever hear a band cover a NECRODEATH song?
"No, I never heard any band cover our songs, so maybe we are not that famous after all! I must say that the Italian scene is also not that good in the extreme field. We just have a lot of Power Metal bands, but that’s mainly it actually."
In a live situation, do you concentrate for the most part on the songs of your latest album or do you also play much old stuff?
"We play some songs from "Into The Macabre" too, but nothing from "Fragments Of Insanity".
I guess the reason why you don’t play any songs from the "Fragments …" album is because not too many people are familiar with that album?
"Yeah, you’re right. In a live situation, I don’t like to play songs which a lot of people maybe don’t know. You know, when you play a live gig, the sound you get is normally not that good and if you also even don’t know the song, it’s not that easy to understand and follow what is going on!"
Why didn’t you do a European tour for "Mater Of All Evil"?
"We all have jobs now, I’m 35 and I can’t get the time off to be on the road for a long time and do a big tour. We will do some short tours in the future, but I don’t want to be involved in any unprofessional stuff. It is not serious for us and not for our fans either, so we’ll just have to wait and see."
What are your current future plans? Are you preparing for a new NECRODEATH album for the moment?
"We will enter the studio in Sweden in about three weeks. Our new album will be titled "Black As Pitch" (you’re the first one to find out!), it will be in the same direction as the last album. In fact, I think it will even be better, some songs really kill! The album should be out in September, just wait and see!"
Any final comment to close the interview?
"Well, keep on supporting us and sign our guestbook on our website, www.necrodeath.com."