In 1986 Fates Warning released Awaken the Guardian. This incredible album set a new foundation as well as a new boundary for the very new, exploding, and exciting progressive approach to metal. It was imaginative and provides to this day a great piece of musical escapism. The next year, near Milan, a few teenage friends would spend their time, as did countless other bands, covering songs by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Queensrÿche and generally honing their musical skills. At one point they had enough of covers.
Flamekeeper is the natural result of the journey from Italy to Sweden for Marco S., the main person behind occult black/death metal band Demonomancy and also The Devil’s Mark Studio. Carrying Mediterranean influences like Necromantia with him, he arrived at the epic metal masterpiece, Hammerheart by Bathory. The debut effort of Flamekeeper is an approach to that Hammerheart sound that is rooted more in black metal in spirit, yet with plenty of clean heavy metal sounding sections.
The old Italian spirit of heavy metal mastery has been proved undaunted by the years, changing trends, and the often non-existent financial support for the strange and epic. Vultures Vengeance, hailing from Rome, have in their ten years of existence completely eschewed all convention to bring us their unique take on epic heavy metal.
The Secret of Steel: A Guide to Epic Heavy Metal Pt. 3 – The Mediterranean (Ft. Interviews with Dark Quarterer and Omen / Marauder)
Part 3 of a 4 piece series on Epic Heavy Metal. This segment examines the Italian and Greek scene. This installment also features an interview with Nikos Migus A. of Omen/Marauder as well as an interview with members of Dark Quarterer.
Hailing from the heart of Italy, Night Gaunt are a doom metal band that proudly carries on their country’s tradition of occult, dark, epic, and, quite frankly weird doom metal. They released their sophomore album titled The Room last year and it was a standout as one of the best records in the genre last year. We caught up with guitarist, vocalist, and founding member Giuseppe Colio to talk about the band’s recent success and the evolution of their music.
I think nearly everyone reading this will be able to relate to the experience of stumbling onto a new band and being completely wowed by the fact that modern bands can sound fresh while also writing songs of such incredibly high quality.
Domine has received a fair amount of attention for their 1997 debut Champion Eternal and their subsequent albums, many of which also cover the subject of Elric of Melnibone. Elric is the subject of Michael Moorcock’s epic fantasy saga which began in the 1960s and became an exceptionally popular subject for 80s metal, likely due to the character’s pale skin, self reflectiveness, and, nihilism- qualities to which many metal fans could relate. Moorcock’s own love of rock music, which went as far as to actively work with bands like Deep Purple and Hawkwind, probably made his works even more accessible to those desiring to make metal music. While Domine was far from the first metal band to utilize his works as a source of inspiration, it was one of the first not from the UK or the US, and thus something of a novelty, to an extent at least.
The occult themes, heavy use of the purple, and tendency to get weird have always been prevalent in the heavy metal history of a specific country: Italy, the birthplace of “violet doom metal”. In the same era of Italian traditional doom metal, some other local bands, like Bulldozer or Necrodeath, were pushing the limits of the sound towards extremity, making a dent in the first wave black metal history. However, none of these bands had that “Italian weird occult” touch in their sound until a group of young people who were obsessed by necromancy set out to play music.
To the surprise of absolutely no one who has spoken to me, I far prefer the United States brand of power metal. I crave strong riffs and aggression when it comes to power metal. It’s not to say that I don’t like the more melodic and keyboard driven style of the Europeans, but even when I am in the mood for EUPM I tend default to more riff oriented German bands like Blind Guardian, Scanner, and Helloween. It’s rare for me to wander beyond that. However, there are a select few European power metal albums that don’t neatly conform to the style. It’s this small selection of albums that I find myself listening to regularly and Domine’s Champion Eternal is at the very top of this list.