First of all; congratulations with your tenth anniversary! How do you look back on a decade of Doomsword?
First of all let me thank you for the interview and for the review. My Dutch is a bit rusty but I sense some great words were said about MNWLO on lordsofmetal.nl, we appreciate that. As for your question: I look back at this last decade with satisfaction and pride. DoomSword literally had to claw their way every time to the next release, to the next step in our career, and we feel like we went through a thousand battles, our souls covered by the scars of a hundred wounds but we're still there, standing tall, stronger than ever.
DoomSword started off in a hostile environment, playing something that was deemed to become extinct and instead of dying a silent death, we've been playing a primary role in bringing classic and epic heavy metal back to glory, at least in the underground scene, that of the die-hard metal supporters. I think DoomSword didn't take any false steps in their career and fans are quite equally split on considering all of our four albums as the best ever, that must mean that the quality of our music has been consistently good. Our last album sounds very different from our first one, but they share the same epic spirit and metal soul, and this is an achievement in any band's history.
And the tenth anniversary is not the only reason for celebration, because you have indeed also released the fourth full-length album 'My Name Will Live On'. How are the reactions on the album so far?
They are absolutely fantastic. So far MNWLO has been reviewed everywhere as a good album, no review has openly slated the album, which did happen with all our other albums. I say, if you don't like metal with balls why do you bother reviewing itâ€¦? But anyway, we did get some fantastic marks especially on the top sites and magazines. To be honest I don't care much about reviews in general: once I get approval from those I consider "key" people, in the sense that I respect their competence and their taste in metal, then I know DoomSword have done a good job. I'm certainly not going to get upset if a 15 year old wanna-be journalist slates the album when Heavy Oder Was?! gives DoomSword eleven out of twelve points. Funny how, as usual, the harshest criticism always comes from Italy. "Nemo profeta in Patria" - an ancient Latin motto, which can be translated as "No one is a prophet among their own folksâ€¦" summarizes our situation perfectly. The bottom line is though that MNWLO has been praised quite unanimously as a great album, and a come back that was worth waiting four years for another release.
The album is a bit "surprising" after the first listen and sounds a bit different as you mentioned. With 'My Name Will Live On' you walk different paths and the first thing that strikes on this record is that in general it has become heavier than the previous work. What was the reason for this change?
Mainly because of the stuff I listen to. US eighties heavy metal has always been my favorite metal genre and that's where I got the inspiration from when I created DoomSword in the first place.
On the other hand, I always had an open admiration for Quorthon's work with Bathory, which played a bigger role during the song-writing phase of 'Let Battle Commence'. Now I'm not saying that I'm over Bathory, because I will never be, but I find myself listening to more and more seventies and eighties heavy metal, and it consequently comes out in my compositions. Also, I have Gjallarhorn to give vent to my Viking passion. With the new album we wanted to get closer to our roots again, but this time we had a tough challenge ahead, because you can't go back, you can only go forward in life, so we had to find a new way to put some no-compromise heavy metal back into DoomSword. On the other hand, let us not forget that the line-up is radically different, not only because there are two new elements out of five, but because the three existing members of DoomSword musically grew quite a lot in the last four years, and were eager to show how we didn't waste our time, but used it instead to create some great music once again.
Despise the additions and the different direction that the music has taken, the album is recognizable as Doomsword. The opening tracks 'Death Of Ferdia' and 'Gergovia' are in my opinion typical Doomsword songs, but from 'Days Of High Adventure' and especially 'Steel Of My Axe' another, heavier face of the band is revealed. Especially the riffing in 'Steel Of My Axe' reminds me a bit of Iced Earth's 'Something Wickedâ€¦' album. Am I correct when I say that Doomsword has headed more to the heavy metal and getting more away from the doom?
You are correct, but in no way was this intentional! Everything was absolutely spontaneous and the result is what you hear. We did want to increase the heavy metal element in our music, but there was no summit in which DoomSword sat at a table and with our five horns raised to the sky deliberated that our sound should be heavier on the next albumâ€¦ I mean, I wish it were like that, it'd have been really epic, but it wasn't hahaha! The reality is that nowadays DoomSword is a lot more of a "band" than it ever was. I am really lucky to be surrounded by fantastic musicians, and with great talent usually comes great personality and character. And believe me, no one in DoomSword is up for a low-rank role, everyone wants and deserves their say, and everyone puts their stamp on the music. That's why DoomSword sound so much like DoomSword and very much different from what they used to do at the same time. There is an enormous quantity of talent in DoomSword nowadays, and songs like 'ThunderCult' or 'Once Glorious' are the living proof of what five heads with different backgrounds and skills can produce, and we are very proud of the result. In particular, Wrathlord (drums - Nima) and The Forger's (guitars - Nima) skills have immensely improved. Sacred Heart's (guitars - Nima) solos are astounding and Geilt's work on the bass is a real novelty for DoomSword, adding a whole new depth to our sound. Their arrangements are fantastic and unique; take the case of the 7-string guitar in some of our songs, simply amazing! I don't think we will get away from our doom roots either though, we like to deliver a boulder of apocalyptic metal on the heads of our fans from time to time, and, amazingly enough, playing doom songs during a live show is so much more powerful than the fast songs.
But anyway, no matter what we call the music, the fact remains that the band has surely grown on every aspect. The epic touch is still very present and the vocals again summon a strong feeling of melancholy. The doomy touch of a band like Candlemass is recognizable and also the epic touch of Bathory's 'Hammerheart'. But one thing I've always heard back in the Doomsword albums is the sound of Manowar's 'Into Glory Ride'! Although there are some comparisons with other bands, Doomsword has created a sound of its own and is quite unique. But what can you tell us about your influences?
The spectrum of our influences is a broad one. I personally listen to a lot of underground heavy metal, and the whole eighties US scene is a major influence on me. Also, the main bands of the genre, namely Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Manowar, Warlord and Omen are probably the biggest source of inspiration. I also listen to classical music, but I wouldn't claim I get inspiration from that, I don't like that kind of cheesy statements at all! I listen to soundtracks, and we paid homage to B. Pouledouris on 'Days of High Adventure'. I personally listen to medieval music, not so much lately, but I learnt a lot from it and I can safely consider it as part of my musical background. I found myself playing a lot of seventies stuff lately, you know the names, the usual suspects Rainbow, Rush, Deep Purple etcetera.
The rest of the members of DoomSword have all sorts of different backgrounds and tastes in music: The Forger is the most classic-metal oriented, and likes Celtic music a lot; Sacred Heart is very much into guitar heroes such as Paul Gilbert and into bands like Jag Panzer. Geilt has an incredibly vast background and listens to anything from stoner doom to death-thrash and plays in Midryasi which is a sort of progressive psychedelic doom band; Wrathlord is the man of extreme metal, he's very much into the classic death-metal bands of the nineties; anything from Entombed to Carcass, but he's very much open-minded so it wouldn't be rare to catch him listening to Solitude Aeturnus as well.
Let's talk about the lyrical concept! Looking back on the Doomsword discography I can say that you have developed from somewhat fantasy-inspired lyrics to the both Nordic and Celtic mythology. In how far can you agree and where do you get your inspiration for the lyrics?
You are mostly correct, though we didn't leave our fantasy past behind! 'Days of High Adventure' is the living proof of it. We are mainly focusing on history and legends nowadays and we have been exploring these themes for the last ten years, moving our attention to the several civilizations that shaped European cultures; from the Romans to the Celts and the Vikings. There isn't a real process behind getting inspiration for our lyrics. We do however want to focus on real history more than anything else: the reason for that is that we feel like that real facts have a bigger sense of "epic" in them. When you talk of real historical characters you're talking about real heroes, those who made history and changed history. It has become quite difficult lately to talk about history without sounding obvious and banal though: many bands have talked about absolutely everything and, whether you like or not, the way a band has put a specific historical episode into music, you don't feel like talking about it anymore. DoomSword don't want to be original at any cost, but we'd rather be original in our themes, seeing as we are so conservative in our music.
One of the aspects that attract me personally to Doomsword is the feeling that the music gives me. As I mentioned in my review the new album gives me the visions of an army saying farewell to their loved ones before marching to the battlefield, spilling blood with waving swords and axes and return home wounded, by victorious. What I wonder is what goes through your head when you are writing the songs and how you try to express that in the music.
I get fascinated by my readings and if I get so engrossed into them to be able to get a visual picture of what I'm reading in my mind, then most likely a song and some lyrics will come out of it. I'm sure that everyone read books or articles and started picturing the scene and probably thought that what they were reading would be great stuff for a movie or a painting or a song. The difference is that I don't stop there, I grab a piece of paper and start writing something, or grab the guitar (most of the times, the acoustic guitar) and try and represent those images in music. That's why in most reviews about DoomSword you can read that you feel like you're in the middle of a battle, because that's what I am thinking of when writing the music. Sometimes, if I don't get a perfect picture, I try and create one by drawing it. I'm not a fantastic painter by any means, but good enough for myself to be able to get where I want, and it helps me a lot. My book of lyrics drafts is full of drawings, unfinished sketches and random lines, probably good stuff for a shrink hahaha!
Something different now: Italy is becoming one of the greater suppliers of "epic heavy metal". Alongside Doomsword bands like Holy Martyr, Assedium, the mighty Wotan and recently also Icy Steel have come up with excellent albums. I wonder what makes you guys so talented in making this kind of music!
Well, obviously my answer is "I don't know", but I can take an intelligent guess I suppose. I would say it comes from the fact that our educational system is very much ineffective when it comes to providing specific education, and that's because, in the dream of every Italian minister for education, nuclear engineers of our country should be extremely knowledgeable of poetry, literature and history. In other words, we are forced into a very classic education, so for example, my school was a scientific one, yet I had to study Latin language and literature for five years solid, when possibly we should have been studying physics, art, philosophy etcetera. We come out at the other end with a genuine passion for history. I think things are pretty similar in Greece, that's why they are big into epic heavy metal too, but this is just my idea.
Are you sure you don't use any spices in the food or that there is something in the water that makes Italians play epic heavy metal? Haha!
Oh yeah, there's that too, but it's not a spice. It's called Epicadine tablets, two a day before your meals, â‚¬ 4.50 without prescription. Causes drowsiness and homicide mania though, so you've got to be very careful.
Again something totally different: This is a question I ask all Italian musicians, so I'm afraid you can't escape it: I've been told that there is a lot of commotion about the infamous Death SS in Italy and that some even call Steve Sylvester "Innominabli"? What is your opinion about this superstitious matter and about Death SS in general?
Look, utmost respect to the unmentionable band, but they are unmentionable. It's all true! Now stop pronouncing those words for your sake, please.
How do you look at the recent developments in the metal scene in general and where do you think Doomsword takes its place?
It is hard for me to talk about developments in the metal scene. I mean, metal is my life, but I am not quite sure about my knowledge of the metal scene of today. DoomSword are probably considered one of the many bands from Italy playing epic heavy metal and it is not my place to say whether this is true or not, we certainly feel the "wave", but we even feel like we have our own unique way of interpreting this kind of music. I know that DoomSword's place in metal history is that of delivering unique works of epic heavy metal and much as we look at the current scene with great pride, especially because of the number of Italian bands involved in it, we are aware that we sailed alone in the past in the hostile waters of classic metal, we will do it again, if needs be. I hope DoomSword will be inspiration for bands and that the movement will just get stronger and stronger.
For the coming few months you have a gig planned with Wotan and you're headlining the Swordbrothers Festival in December. But apart from that there are no live-dates announced. Is there anything planned? I mean, I'm sure there are a lot of people that would love to see the band on stage!
Nothing is planned yet apart from those dates. That doesn't mean we won't be doing anything else than that, but simply nothing has been confirmed yet. Keep in mind that it is our intention to not play too many shows, so that we can make the few ones we will play very special gigs. You literally have to catch us while you can. If you are one of those people that would love seeing DoomSword on stage then you will have to try your best to make it to the shows we announced because there won't be many more than that, and most likely they won't be in the same places/countries.
You are also playing on the tenth edition of the Keep It True festival in April next year! And for that show you also have a guest appearance of the singer of the first album Nightcomer. What can we expect of that show?
You can expect a memorable show. I mean, everything about the Keep It True X is going to be memorable, and I have to say that we are really excited at the idea of proposing some of the songs from our first album sung by Nightcomer. He is a genuine person and has always been a friend. I am very happy that our relationship never deteriorated and most of all, he's very proud of his experience in DoomSword, which I hope will help him in his career. Needless to say, we will be playing some tunes from our first album and there could be some more surprises on that side, but we don't want to give anything else away. Back to your question, I think that you can expect to hear the atmosphere of the first album reproduced on stage for the very first time in our history; I hope the fans will appreciate that.
The band hasn't done that much shows yet and most of them were on smaller and more underground festivals, mainly in Germany! I know now that you intend to keep it this way, but can we expect some appearances on bigger festivals if you get the offer?
On one hand we always wanted it to be this way and we tried to do so. Much as we loved our experience on tour with Falconer in 2004, we even realized that DoomSword is a band that fits best on underground festivals like the Keep It True or Swordbrothers. That's when all the audience of our favorite type of metal is united and there cannot be a better place for us to play than those occasions. In the early days we didn't even want to play any shows, we wanted to keep a very thick shroud of mystery upon us and feed the cult around the band, but the requests for live shows have been growing so much that we felt like it was our responsibility to answer the call of our fans and satisfy their hunger for a live performance. So far I don't think we ever let anyone down, as the quality of our shows has always been increasing, and we always put one hundred percent in our gigs.
Well, that's all clear! Then I guess we could wrap it up for now! Thank you for your time and I wish you good luck with the future plans. Of course if there is anything left unmentioned, you can feel free to shareâ€¦
Thank you very much for your interview, it was very interesting and I hope everyone enjoys reading it. Prepare for some more DoomSword battles and catch DoomSword while you can when we play live, as we won't be playing many shows. Steel at side, horns up high, you are the Riders of Doom!