Hello Stefano. I know the Balrog from Tolkien, and there seems to be a Balrog in the game ‘Streetfighter’, but until now I have never heard of the heavy metal Balrog from Italy. So please tell us a bit about the band first and why you did choose the name Balrog as a band name.
We started playing together as a band ten years ago. The passion for classic heavy metal and Tolkien’s writings were something in common for all of us. The idea of choosing Balrog as the name of the band came out so naturally that is hard to explain. I don’t even remember who was the first to propose this. I think it just reflected our idea of power, aggression and epic, three things that have always been guiding us in the making of our music.
With ‘Miserable Frame’ you have your second full length album out a couple years after the first one ‘A Dark Passage’. Why did it took you a couple of years to get this new album ready? What happened?
Well, I think a couple of years are an average time to complete an album after its predecessor. And besides that, we’re not musicians for a living and we have limited time for composing, practising and rehearsing. This is unfortunate, maybe, but it let us not to feel any pressure, hence we keep on working on our songs until we are completely satisfied. We also like to try different solutions and sounds in the studio actually, so don’t you ever expect a fast light release from us!
And what is in your opinion the big difference between ‘A Dark Passage’ and ‘Miserable Frame’?
I don’t see one big difference because ‘Miserable Frame’ is what I call a necessary evolution. ‘A Dark Passage’ was a good start, but after it we managed to improve our skills from any point of view such as instrumental technique, ability in composition and cohesion among all members, particularly with our singer Stefano. Learning from past mistakes, we also did a better job in the studio, so what you listen now is a more proficient and effective version of the Balrog. Musically speaking, we haven’t left our main influences behind, we have just extended our spectrum, as we love to create songs that are many sided and constantly changing.
Yes, in the music of ‘Miserable Frame’ I hear a lot of different things, but most of all it is dark heavy metal that I hear. Why is that? What is it inside you that makes your music filled with a dark edge?
I cannot tell you why, but this is simply the music we love. I first approached heavy metal listening to Metallica’s first albums, then my list of favorites was soon filled with groups like Mercyful Fate, Candlemass, Death, Nevermore, Opeth and so on. I listen to many other and different bands, of course, but the dark edge you are talking about has always been something that brought me the strongest emotions. So, as a composer, it’s clear that all of this was somehow conveyed in my music.
A song like the instrumental one ‘Dealing With The Tempest’ make me go back to the times of Celtic warriors, while listening to ‘Delirium Insomniae’ and 'The Curse' a more epical feeling fills my room. Are these songs showing how wide the spectrum of Balrog’s music is?
We have many different ideas which we try to put in our songs. Sometimes people identify precise references and sometimes find what we have never thought of. What would you say if I tell you that ‘Wings Of Debauchery’ has a bluesy vein to me? This idea of Celtic warriors is something interesting by the way. ‘Dealing With The Tempest’ and the instrumental ‘Tears’ on our previous album were written by chance. So I cannot say that I had a particular style in my mind. As a huge fan of Led Zeppelin, Blind Guardian and also medieval music though, I probably adopted an old fashioned way of playing this song that made you think of Celtic warriors.
What can you tell us about the lyrics from ‘Miserable Frame’? Are they all somehow connected to the general theme of warfare?
We have written a couple of lyrics about war events, but what really connects all the songs, in our minds, is a general idea of oppression, interior conflict and the struggle to come out of this. The title track is a good example of this theme, as it’s inspired from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and tells the events from the point of view of the creature who leads a life of sorrow; he has feelings and desires to love and be loved like any other people, but he’s constantly rejected because of his terrible appearance. His story has no happy ending, since he decides to kill himself in the end, burning over what he calls a miserable frame.
I am also curious about the flag which is waving in the background of the lyrics from ‘Company Of Death’. Where is if from? What is the story behind this one?
This is the flag of Insubria, a historical region that used to cover different areas of northern Italy and it was populated by the Insubres, Celtic people who moved there during VII century B.C. After the roman domination and the first medieval ages, the Duchy of Milan was located in the same area. The flag dates back to that time and represents the big snake which was the emblem of Visconti and the imperial eagle. ‘Company Of Death’ speaks about the Battle of Legnano, which was fought in 1176 and it’s anterior to the Duchy of Milan, but it was an important event for this country because it was a victory of the Italian medieval communes who claimed their independence from the Holy Roman Empire.