Perhaps unheard of outside some of the more cluttered European scenes, Heimdall are making some waves with their strong power/heavy metal tracks. "The Almighty" is album number three from these 6 Italian stalwarts. I, myself am not a big power fan, but I really have to give these guys credit for coming out with such a credible and infectious record. Band founder and guitarist Fabio Callurio was good enough to have a glance at my questions and jot down a few answers.
First off, thanks for answering these questions for myself and the power metal fans around the world. Congratulations on "The Almighty," it is one of the most satisfying power albums of last year. You guys ought to be proud.
Thank you very much. I'm very, very happy that you like our last album. "The Almighty" is very important for us because it represents our return after three years of absence from our previous CD "The Temple of Theil" because of some problems such as the change of the vocalist and the change of the label. It's like a new start and we are happy about how the songs have come out.
Heimdall started in 1994 with you and your brother who wanted to make a heavy metal band. Did you guys have power metal in mind from the very start, or did you want to be a death metal band or what?
Heimdall started as a heavy metal band from the beginning, we just wanted to play the music that we love. However my brother and I had already experience in an 'epic-black' metal band with whom we recorded a CD.
One thing that struck me first about Heimdall and "The Almighty" is that you seem to be striving to be making a name for yourselves based on your unique attributes, instead of being another Rhapsody clone for example. I think it is all too easy to become another 'nameless band' in the power metal scene.
Many people have told me that Heimdall have their own personality and I'm happy that you think that, too. For us it's a great compliment and with our music we don't want to be similar to this or that band, but just to express our way to play music. When I compose a track, I try to follow only my ideas and my feelings and not to copy the other bands. Of course we like many bands that obviously influences our way to write music.
Do you truly feel that "The Almighty" is your strongest album? I haven't listened to your other two records; could you tell me how "The Almighty" differs from those?
"The Almighty" is our third album after "Lord of the Sky" and "The Temple of Theil." I think that they are different to each other because each of them catches the sensations and the emotions of the time when it was composed and recorded. "Lord of the Sky" can be considered as the result of our first 4 years of life... in this album you can hear the best things that we composed from the birth of the band. Some of its tracks were written between 1994 and 1995. The CD is a storm of metal; rich of emotions, anger, power... that album has all the spontaneity that has always characterised our sound. It's a true storm of energy! In "The Temple of Theil" you can hear more attention towards the arrangements in comparison to our first album and a more symphonic aspect due to a major presence of orchestral parts. In spite of this, it preserves energy and spontaneity. "The Almighty" is more direct than "The Temple of Theil," and the guitar sound is more present. Someone told me that it can be considered a natural continuation of the previous albums, someone else said that it's something a bit different... however the people that have listened to the new album have defined it as a personal and involving piece of work. For me "The Almighty" is a fist in your face, a mix of energy, melody and anger pervaded by a sense of melancholy, probably due to the particular and difficult period – characterised by many changes - both for the band and for me when it was composed! This album is also rich of force, pride and braveness... it's Heavy Metal!
Does the Italian music scene provide a good fan base? There seem to be quite a number of metal bands coming out from Italy.
In Italy metal is followed by a solid number of people, but our scene cannot be compared with the German or Scandinavian ones where there is more attention and more possibilities for the heavy metal bands. In Italy these last years the scene has increased and many new bands, new labels, many web sites have started. I think that the situation will be better in the next years, even if there are still many things to do if we want reach the levels of the German metal scene, I'm not speaking about the passion of the metal fans but above all of the organizations that are around the metal bands.
Anything particular you wanted to achieve lyrically with "The Almighty?" Is there a theme to what you write, something that binds each song from "The Almighty" together in such a way that you can tell a song from your new album from one of your previous albums?
Regarding the lyrics, like "Lord of the Sky" and "The Temple of Theil;" "The Almighty" is a concept but it's very different from them. While "Lord of the Sky" was a concept about the Nordic myth and the god Heimdall, from his birth to the twilight of the gods and his death, and "The Temple of Theil" was a mythological and fantastic story – created by us - based on the deeds of two warriors, Sidgar and Iselin, in the new album each song has an own story even if the lyrics are linked by some common subjects. They are all about the search, the journey, often towards something difficult or impossible to reach and seen through different experiences such as dream, death, art, love, war, glory and/or immortality. The protagonists of the lyrics roam in search of something - often unexplainable or unreachable. It could be a divinity, the wish for being immortal, a woman, the absolute knowledge, the eternal glory, the mystery that lies beyond our existence... with the word "The Almighty" I summarize these elements that they miss and that they manage to reach often with all their strengths. In the opener 'The Calling,' the epic melodies follow a lyric that talks about the journey towards the glory and freedom in battle. It is inspired by those men who, during the history, have been able to lead their armies to fight in the name of what they believe in, even in the darkest times. In 'Wanderer' the protagonist finds himself to roam in a dark and unknown world where words have lost their meaning and where the gods also have died in search of something or someone that appears always distant. In 'Return to the Fatherland' a warrior goes back to his land after many journeys and many battles, but he discovers that it has been destroyed... in spite of this, he can still feel the power and the ancient grandeur of these places that will never die. In the lyrics for 'Eternal Race' the human existence is compared to a frenetic and melancholic race towards someone or something probably unreachable, a race where we often feel alone. What we do, what we create arises from a lack and from the wish to fill this gap. Art can be the only way to feel nearer in what we search for. The main character of 'Symit' creates to live again a very single and deep moment, even if he realizes that the words cannot give back what he previously lived. Sometimes the impossibility to reach what we want transforms this frenetic race in immobility or wait for something. In 'Godhall,' an old pilgrim remembers his life; spent travelling and roaming in search of a noble and magic land. But only now that his power is fading away and his dreams and his hopes left him, he feels this land nearer... In 'Beyond,' the main character is a semi-god. He has the power to make his creations live but, at the same time, he is a man and so destined to die. He would like to reach the world of the gods but he cannot so he feels immobile, imprisoned in this condition of suspension, condemned to roam in the "land of no one." This time also there are some links with legends or mythologies. 'Last Journey' is inspired by the story of the god Baldr, one of the most tragic figures of the Nordic Myth, who sees in his dreams his sad destiny of death. 'The Search' is inspired by the myth of the Grail. It talks about a knight who is destined to search for it. His life has only one aim: find the holy object and find his mystery. When he discovers it, he dies.
The album cover for "The Almighty" is pretty wicked. That dude with the chunky sword and almost cybernetic eye looks like he means business. What is the relationship of the cover with the lyrics and/or music of Heimdall?
The cover was realised by an artist from Milan. We gave him the title of the album and the lyrics and he made it! I think that it's the perfect way to express the concept behind the lyrics. I don't know what the artist wanted to express though it but one of my personal interpretation is this: the warrior that presents both past – the sword - and future - the cybernetic eye - elements can be seen as the symbol of man of all eras, also of those that will come. The divine image that you can see behind can be seen as a metaphor of the things we lack, the things that give life to our search. The places as the paths – often dark and solitary – that we have to cross in our life to reach what we need.
The production is fantastic for this record; a big part of the overall feel of "The Almighty" must be attributed to the production. You guys must be rapt with how it turned out.
Thank you! I agree with you that the production of "The Almighty" is very good. The recording sessions lasted about 40 days between January and March. As regards the choice of the studio, while the first two records were recorded in Rome for "The Almighty," we decided to work near the place where we live, in the Zappingsound Studio in Salerno. This allowed us to work in a calm state of mind and so the atmosphere during the recording sessions were more relaxing than before and I think that you can hear this in the new songs.
Speaking of production, it always amazes me that most power metal bands; whether they are big acts or small acts seem to have above average production for their records. In comparison to the average black metal band, power metal albums are usually miles ahead in production values. Why do you think this is?
I think that in black metal there is the will from many bands to remain in an underground situation or to have a very essential, direct and 'rude' sound to create a violent and silk atmosphere similar to the first albums of bands like Venom, Bathory or Mayhem. In heavy and power metal the situation is different. The arrangements are often complex; it's very important that everything sounds in an even way to appreciate all the passages and all the atmosphere of a band. So the production is very important for the bands here.
Quite some time has passed since the initial release date of "The Almighty" (September 9) and we are now in April. What has Heimdall been up to as a band since then?
In this period we have supported our new album doing many interviews both with magazines and radios. In August 2002 – before the publication of the album - we started our live activity taking part to some festivals with bands like Destruction and Vicious Rumors and after the publication of the CD in autumn we were on an Italian tour. We played some gigs as headliner and others with important bands like Shaman. Perhaps European tour will be a possibility but nothing completely sure... we'll see. However in these last two months we are concentrating on the composition of the new songs; we would like to publish the new record for the beginning of the new year.
With that being said and the 7 months that have elapsed since the record came out, has there been much work on a new forthcoming album for Heimdall? Heimdall album #4; will it be a great departure from "The Almighty?"
We are writing the songs for the fourth album. It will be published at the beginning of the next year with Scarlet Records. So far we have five tracks and I have to say that they are real killer! They are more heavy and aggressive, but at the same time very epic! We are very satisfied about these and I'm sure that our next album will be the best in our discography. You'll see!
Scarlet Records is well known as a label that produces some high quality power metal acts. Is it awkward being on a label where you have so much musical competition? Do the other bands provide you guys with support? Do you have much contact with them? Live gigs, touring etc, etc...
Yes, Scarlet is a very good label full of good bands. We are in good relations with many bands of the label and we don't feel in competition with them. We are following a way of our own without thinking about the other bands, we want only try to improve writing our music to be always better.
Thanks for answering these questions for me and the Metalbite readers! The floor is yours if you wanna say anything...
First of all thank you for the interview! Of course I would like to thank all the Metalbite readers that have always supported our music... (go on doing it) and listened to "The Almighty," an album which we believe in because it has 9 very good, powerful and involving metal songs.
Follow us also through our web-site: www.heimdall.it. Glory and Honor to you ALL!
Entered: 4/30/2003 4:16:17 PM