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"Strongly influenced by original Doom metal of the '80s, Italian Prog masters Goblin and Italian horror and "giallo" movies...this band deserves your attention if you're searching for high-quality and sincere Doom music."

Interview with Arcana 13.
"This old school Doom metal band from Ravenna, in Italy, has existed since 2013 and 'Danza Macabra' (released in March by Aural Music) is their debut record. These musicians aren’t newbies, as they've gained experience in a bunch of different bands since the '90s. Strongly influenced by original Doom metal of the '80s, Italian Prog masters Goblin and Italian horror and "giallo" movies, they've dedicated the entire album to dark cinematography. Besides that, they have really striking music, which I urge you to listen to while you read this deep, detailed and pretty interesting interview with Arcana 13 drummer Luigi Taroni. This band deserves your attention if you're searching for high-quality and sincere Doom music."

Arcana 13: Simone Bertozzi (Guitars and vocals), Luigi Taroni (Drums), Filippo Petrini (Bass) and Andrea Burdisso (Guitars and vocals).

Ciao Luigi! I would like to start with a question on the origin of the band's title: there was also a Japanese Arcana XIII, so what about that? Where did you find this name?

Ciao Aleks, indeed we’ve found out about that Japanese thing after the name was chosen, we didn’t know about that, as the very original meaning of this name comes from the tarot… As we started to think about a name for our project, finding a proper name project wasn’t easy, we wanted to keep it simple, short, recognizable and preferably an Italian name. So after throwing some ideas on the table, we came up with ARCANA 13, the thirteenth tarot, Death itself: you have to know that it’s meaning is not necessarily negative nor creepy, as it also represent the end of a cycle and the beginning of a brand new one. Add that the band was born in 2013 and the work was done!

Will you introduce other band's members? How long have you known each other?

Of course, here we go: Andrea Burdisso guitar and main vocals, Simone Bertozzi guitar and singer as well, then we have Filippo Petrini at bass guitar and Luigi Taroni on the drums. We’re all in the music scene since the 90’s, and we are long time friends too. We had several musical projects, some of them together and some other with different musicians, and at some point we decided to have some fun and started a Black Sabbath tribute band, just for the pleasure of jamming together without any pressure, only fun, and it went on like that for some time. But we all love to compose original riffs and music, plus the chemistry between us is and has always been incredible, so we just couldn’t help starting to compose our own stuff, and it sounded so damn good… this is how ARCANA 13 project saw the light in the dark, and this is exactly what we wanted to do.

In the hot seat: Luigi.

Luigi, you're from Ravenna and I don't remember if I've ever done interviews with bands from your region. How is it there? How does your cultural background influence you?

The Italian metal scene is quite diverse and scattered throughout our long-spread country. We live in the northern part and there's a good vibe for stoner doom in here. There are many well recognized bands like our label mates “Messa”, then there is “Caronte” from Parma that brought some low-tuned buzz at our release party in March, then there’s also the extreme doom beasts “Grime” from Trieste, and many others very good bands indeed… but we're also huge fans of the progressive rock and we cannot forget the masterminds Goblin that we also tributed in our "Danza Macabra" with the cover version of their quintessential theme from the movie "Suspiria". I truly think that Italy is more and more recognized as a relevant country for metal and rock, ARCANA 13 is pure Italian craft with our Italian horror resurrection and we're doing our best to honor our country.

Arcana 13 – 'Dread Ritual':

Under what conditions did you record 'Danza Macabra'?

We recorded the album at Studio 73 in our hometown Ravenna.

The boss that managed to put together our doom vibes and the wall of analogue synthesizers was our good buddy Riccardo Pasini, master of analogue sounds and vintage attitude with a modern feeling. He also produces some boutique pedals and made a special fuzz for this record that we recorded with and also using live!

The songs were created in a unique composition process, playing and jamming along with the visuals on screen, in our rehearsal place, and it took more or less 2 years, not being in a hurry, then we just recorded in about 2 weeks.

We are fan of the vintage sound from the seventies so we decided to use old amps and instruments, which are the same we will use in the live shows. We need to say that the record is featured with several original '70 and '80 organs and synths arranged and recorded for us by our friend Steve (Stefano Scanu) of the band Hierophant.

What was the most difficult thing during this recording session?

Well, to be honest the recording session went really smooth without major issues/difficulties. Not being in a hurry we just wanted to enter the recording studio well prepared and having a very clear idea of the sound we wanted to have and how we wanted to play the songs. That’s why we worked hard on pre-production in our rehearsal place to get the right sounds just off our instruments and to be able to play each part with the right mood, so that the recording would reflect our way of playing without too many digital artifacts/intrusions.

Did you already have some tracks composed when you entered the studio? What kind of result did you want to gain there?

Of course yes, as I told you we entered the studio with all the tracks, the arrangements and ideas for the sounds ready to go. As you probably know time is money when you are in a recording studio, and we had to pay everything ourselves so we didn’t want to waste any time there, we wanted just to be focused on our performances and to get the right sound. We wanted to keep the sound as close as possible as to a "live" performance, not sounding overproduced. Each of us spent a lot of time searching for the right instruments/amps to get the sound we love, we just wanted the recording to be faithful to this research. Riccardo Pasini did the rest, he did an amazing job as the production is modern and clear without sounding overproduced at all.

Filippo, bassist.

There is a song 'Oblivion Mushroom' on the album, and it is a pretty cool one! What's your experience of dealing with mushroom or herbal substances?

Ahah, we strongly believe that experiences like that can be fundamental in the composition phase, and for many (all?) of the riffs/parts that build Danza Macabra tracks we have to say “thank you” to herbal stuff. Then you need some lucidity to work on songs and arrangements, but being stoned is often almost necessary in the very first phases of the creative process.

Well, does the influence of mushrooms differ from the influence from herbs?

Well let’s say that herbs allow you to jam with the bandmates and enhance the creative process in the very first stage of creating riffs and melodies, while mushrooms have a completely different effect, not all of us had this experience and we don’t have clear memories of that except for remembering we were in Amsterdam and we lost each other for quite a long time :)

And there's also the 'Suspiria' track with obvious influences of a Goblin-styled prog rock soundtrack. Is it based on the movie of the same name? What do you find most fascinating in that film?

Italian Horror equals Dario Argento equals Suspiria. That’s it, the rest is history, nothing more to add. When we started our journey into Italian Horror the very first melody we jammed on was the immortal theme of this unparalleled movie. In front of this colourful psychedelic masterpiece we couldn’t just cover the quintessential Goblin’s piece of art, we needed to tribute and transform it into our sound. To top it off we laid down the wall of synths with the invaluable help of Arcana 13’s fifth hidden member, our bro Steve. When he’s not busy with his fierce deathpunk gang Hierophant he becomes the wizard of our eerie and purely analogue synths and keyboards!

Is it difficult to play this kind of music, when there are so many bands around who follow the same direction of Doom-laden rock with occult-based lyrics?

You’re right, there are quite a few bands lately that follow this direction. More in general, underground music scene is oversaturated nowadays and the chances of being noticed are close to zero. The quality of the band isn’t always the point, no matter how good or bad you are. You can try the easy and common way, using social media, or spend a lot of money on traditional marketing channels to get noticed, but, given that you are really good at what you’re doing, you need to have something that really makes you stand out. Then slowly build up audience playing a whole lotta live gigs and get more and more people to know your music.

With “Danza Macabra” we tried to create something new: eight legendary movies were meticulously chosen for their specific atmospheres and, around each flick, eight songs took shape. ARCANA 13 adopted a unique composition process where music and movie edits were conceived together along with the visuals post-production, with the intention of creating an exclusive horror-themed live show to be brought to fruition in the coming weeks. That’s the way we try to stand out.

Simone, guitars and vocals.

Yes, so all of your songs are inspired by horror movies: can you tell us which films inspired specific songs?

Of course, it all began with jamming on the Suspiria theme, and from there on it became almost natural for all of us to compose songs hand in hand with our most beloved Italian Horror Classics, watching them together, with the exception of just one song, that needed a really psychedelic and lysergic atmosphere… So here you go with the full list:
“La Maschera del Demonio” aka “Black Sunday” by Mario Bava for the song “Dread Ritual”;
“L'Arcano Incantatore” aka “The Mysterious Enchanter” by Pupi Avati for “Arcane Xlll”;
“I Quattro dell'Apocalisse” aka “Four of the Apocalypse” a western/horror movie by Lucio Fulci, for “Land of Revenge”;
“Holy Mountain” which is the only non-italian movie, by Alexandre Jodorowsky for the song “Oblivion Mushroom”;
obviously “Suspiria” from maestro Dario Argento for the homonymous song, inspired by the main theme written by the mighty italian prog band Goblin;
then we have “The Beyond” aka “...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà ” by Lucio Fulci for the song “Blackmaster”;
“City of the Living Dead” aka “Paura nella città dei morti viventi” for the song “The holy cult of suicide”;
and the last one, “Inferno” by Dario Argento for the song “Hell behind you”.

There are some speech samples in your Arcana 13 songs, are they taken from original movies?

Yes, we took the speech samples from the original movies, in Italian language of course.

Do you plan to continue this concept on future releases by Arcana 13?

That's a good question, we've been discussing this within the band also, I still can't be very precise on this at the moment, what we know for sure is that the link with Italian horror tradition and all its main influences will stay untouched, but the next ARCANA 13 project won't be just a clone of "Danza Macabra" with different movies, this is for sure, we'll come up with something different, because we all love to move forward, but still being faithful to our roots and inspirations.

How do you interpret the definition of "occult", which is widely used for describing the message or the content of this scene?

Well, honestly we aren’t the kind of person who love to put a label for every musical genre or subgenre. If we were in the seventies I bet people just name us as an hard rock band! But yes, we are occult, we are doom and we are horror inspired too. In ARCANA 13 the visual aspect is as important as the music, our shows features all the movies used in the album. We love to consider ARCANA 13 a unique experience comparable to a Lucio Fulci Horror Movie with a Black Sabbath soundtrack.

Arcana 13 – 'Hell Behind You':

What about gigs? How do you manage the question of touring in Italy and abroad?

We can't wait to get on the road and take the "Danza Macabra" show out there, we're working very hard to make it happen right now in the most spectacular way, it's gonna be a different experience from the regular heavy metal concert, the visual projections will have as much importance as the music, that's the way the album was conceived and supposed to be. I'm eagerly waiting to have the feedback of this and the reaction of the audience, we will take live the Italian horror legacy, most people out there don't know or recall what Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento were capable of in terms of imagery and sheer violence… I'm looking forward to seeing some disgust and disturbed feelings on the front row haha! We’re planning our live activity with our booking agency for the upcoming fall, probably for an European tour, so follow us or our label Aural Music on social networks to know about next ARCANA 13 shows being planned as we speak.

Andrea, guitars and vocals.

Arcana 13 is on Aural Music Records: how do you collaborate with the label, considering promotion and other questions?

Working with Aural Music, and in particular with Emiliano (owner of the label) is so far a great and rewarding experience. When the recording was finished and we started spreading our project in order to find a suitable label we were lucky enough to receive more than one proposal, and so we had the chance (this is really not so usual) to choose between more than one label. We have to say that professionalism and dedication of Emiliano made the difference. From the very beginning he’s been #1 fan of ARCANA 13, he suddenly believed in the whole project, and came up with some great ideas as well. We strongly believe that we made the right decision.

Luigi, have you already discussed Arcana 13's prospects for the next record?

“Danza Macabra” has been released just few weeks ago but of course we are already working on new riffs and ideas. We all love to have a few together and talk abut the next record/project for ARCANA 13. I personally do love this creative phase, because we can throw on the table our ideas without any boundary/limit and this is the moment when craziest and funny things come up. This happened also when we started creating the “Danza Macabra” project, watching the movies, choosing them and trying to find the most suitable for the music we love to play and compose, it’s been exciting indeed and we’re looking forward to dive into a new trip. So the answer to your question is YES.

Luigi, thank you for your time, now we have a really good interview, I like it. How would you like to finish the interview?

I have to say thank you, Aleks, for the interview, for your support and interest in ARCANA 13 project! Remember, the pulse of heavy metal lies in the underground. Italy had the golden age of horror during the 60s and 70s and we want to celebrate that and make aware of where it all started, mixing those ominous creations with the magic world of Heavy Occult Rock… So if you have ever wondered how Pentagram could sound over a Lucio Fulci movie, give ARCANA 13 a try. Hail Horror!

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Visit the Arcana 13 bandpage.

Interviewed on 2016-06-07 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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