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Comparatively new Doom band Legionem shares members with much older Dark act Focus Indulgens. Comrade Aleks discusses both with vocalist/bassist Magister Notte VIII.

Interview with Legionem.
"Legionem are from the Tuscan Val Di Chiana, in Italy - cradle of the Etruscan civilization. The band released first album 'Ipse Venena Bibas' in 2017, and though it was distributed by Black Widow Records, you could easily have missed this new name. However, its members are no Doom rookies. Of the trio - La Rosa di Satana (drums), Monk From The Terror Cathedral (guitars) and Magister Notte VIII (vocals, bass, keyboards) - Monk and Magister have also played in another Italian retro doom band, Focus Indulgens, since 2006. That band has a mysterious history - let's discuss that, and more, with Carlo Castellani… My apologies! With honored Magister Notte VIII!"


Legionem: back - Monk From The Terror Cathedral (Federico Rocchi, Guitars), La Rosa Di Satana (Giacomo Burgassi, Drums), front - Magister Notte VIII (Carlo Castellani, Bass and Vocals).


Hello Carlo! You started in Focus Indulgens twelve years ago, but it's said that the first incarnation of this band actually consisted of your fathers, who recorded first demo 'The Pestilence Of 1348' in the early '90s. How did you really inherit the band?

Hi Aleks and thank you for this interview! The first incarnation of the band consisted of my father (Carlo) and Edoardo's father. This first incarnation of the band was a blend of Italian Dark Sound and 80's Obscure Heavy Metal; can I say Mercyful Fate or Cirith Ungol. We didn't get copies of that first demo on audio cassette. We heard the early Focus Indulgens sounds thanks to a VHS shot. So, we were fascinated by that sound, we were great fans of heavy metal and doom metal, we already played together in an obscure epic metal band and...the decision to reform the band came naturally.

How do you translate the description "Italian Dark Sound"? What are its components for you?

I think that Italian rock music has always been influenced by other typically Italian factors; the heritage of medieval and renaissance music, the sacred music, the old courts and people music. All these elements have always been presents in Italian rock music. The renaissance and medieval sounds, for example, inside the Prog Rock movement and in the 60's beat-rock bands, as the traditional folk music influence. And, when I talk about Italian dark sound, I mean those bands that since the 70's mixed their rock and experimental music with some dark sounds. Church music, sacred music, dark atmosphere played by church organs. Antonius Rex, Paul Chain Violet Theater, Jacula, Mario "The Black" Di Donato.


Focus Indulgens: Edoardo Natalini (Drums, Vocals), Federico Rocchi (Guitars), Carlo Castellani (Bass, Vocals).


So you started it together with Edoardo (drums, vocals), who previously played with you in Spartacus. What was your vision of the band? What kind of ideas did you want to fulfill through it?

Exactly. At the time (as now) we were great fans of all types of darkness in music, interested especially in '70s subgenres of hard rock. We listened to a lot of Italian Progressive Rock, bands as Rovescio della Medaglia, Biglietto Per L'Inferno, Goblin, Balletto di Bronzo, Osanna and many others. A lot of obscure proto metal bands from UK and USA, and for sure a lot of Doom Metal, NWOBHM, and all the classics of HM and Hard Rock. We did the first rehearsals, after those of Spartacus, in my garage. When we finished playing the Spartacus playlist I took Federico's guitar and, with Edoardo, I was playing some stuff inspired by the sound of our fathers mixed with all the influences mentioned above. Our idea was to create an obscure sound with a clear Italian influence.

What didn't work with Spartacus? Why did you stop the band?

We felt the need to play something more obscure than epic, not by chance the last Spartacus demo, "Obscure and Savage", already sounded very close to the music that now we are doing with Legionem, rather than Focus Indulgens.

Focus Indulgens - 'The Idol At The Top Of The Mountain' (2010):


After recording three demos - 'Under The Vaults' (2006), 'III' (2008) and 'The Fourth Cross' (2009) - you came to Focus Indulgens' debut, 'The Past'. I see there's one song from the band's first demo 'The Pestilence Of 1348' (1993) and the whole album sounds very old school. How did you compose these songs? What were your major influences?

Maybe I've already answered you in the previous question, however, specifically we were totally inside bands like The Black or Paul Chain. Twelve years ago Doom Metal, especially in the Italian Tradition, was for a few people. Now we can see a lot of doom bands, mixed with stoner stuff and others, I think now is just a mode. But at that times we felt like an underground brotherhood. Only the same persons of those years remained on the scene; those who took it as a mode disappeared.

And what about that song from 'The Pestilence Of 1348'? How did you record it? Is it original or re-written version?

Both the verse and refrain are original, the lyrics are re-written and the structure modified, but anyway it's very close to the original.


Focus Indulgens.


Did your fathers support your continuation of their work? And, by the way, why did they disband Focus Indulgens back in the early '90s?

It's hard to answer. Can I say, yes, they support us, but as musicians and not as the continuity of their work. They dissolved the band after a serious car accident; one of the original members lost his life. I think they still see in the Focus Indulgens project a negative aura, about which they don't speak.

Do you feel any other differences between the albums 'The Past' and 'Hic Sunt Leones'?

I believe that Hic Sunt Leones is a natural continuation of The Past. An evolution. There's a curiosity about the writing of Hic Sunt Leones. At that time me and Edoardo lived in Florence, at university. Every day after school we met in my apartment, we bought a case of beer and begun to dream up ideas. We had an old pc with a bad microphone. Most of the album was composed by me and Edoardo singing the ideas with voice (we had no instruments there) and recording those in that pc. Was a crazy time. At the end of the week we'd come back to our town, meet Federico and play those ideas with instruments. This is how Hic Sunt Leones is born.

Focus Indulgens - 'Il Re E La Quercia' (2011):


What's the concept behind the songs of Hic Sunt Leones? Can you say that these lyrics mean more for you?

The concept besides Hic Sunt Leones is the removal from one's own land. In those years we lived, for school, far from our home. We come from Valdichiana Senese, a countryside region in the south of Tuscany. Many of our peers complain continuously about living here, in these small towns deep in the green, but for us it's the only place to live. Hic Sunt Leones (translate: here are the lions) wants to say this: you can look for happiness and identity wherever you want, but if you don't have roots, if you reject your roots, you will never find an identity.

It's known that in 2016 you founded new band Legionem, but without Edoardo. Instead, there's Giacomo Burgassi on vocals - who also played with him in Razgate. Why didn't you invite Edoardo to continue in Legionem? By the way, was Focus Indulgens officially disbanded?

No, there is a mistake in this information. In 2016 we founded Legionem with Giacomo Burgassi at the drums. So, me (Carlo) at bass and vocals, Federico at guitars, and Giacomo at drums and backing vocals. Federico and I have the same role as in Focus Indulgens. Giacomo also plays guitar and sings in Razgate, the band where Edoardo too plays as drummer. We have all been friends for a long time. We share the same rehearsal room, the same recording room. And, Focus Indulgens was never disbanded. The majority of people don't know that there's a third Focus Indulgens album. And it's free on YouTube, anyone can listen to it. The album is called Vespri and is more rock oriented. Anyway, we love that album and I wish you will take a listen. A lot of people ask us about why we didn't press that LP or why we put it for free in web. At the time it was our decision, and continues to be. Two years ago we recorded also a new demo with some new stuff. Four new songs with our old style, maybe more heavy. We take a long time with Focus Indulgens. But, the latest news is that from some months Giacomo Burgassi, the Legionem drummer, is now also the Focus Indulgens bassist. Ahaha, yes, we love to confuse the line-ups. Ah, and there's some ideas for a new LP. We are alive.


Legionem.


Oh… Wow! I didn't know that! It seems the albums is pretty old-school-styled, a topical thing! Did you try to find a label for this recording?

Sincerely no, never tried to find a label for Vespri. It will be remains a niche work, and we like that!

Legionem - 'Rituals In The Catacomb' (2017):


So you recorded EP 'Off The Edge Of Doom' (2016) as Legionem, and some of its songs got on to full-length 'Ipse Venena Bibas'. Actually it has a lot of common with Focus Indulgens: how do you see main features of Legionem comparing with your previous band?

When we founded Legionem we had clear ideas. We wanted to play pure doom metal, surely in the Italian Tradition. I think that our scene needed a pure doom metal band, not mixed with stoner, with psych, and all the modern stuff. So I think that Legionem are more "pure" than Focus Indulgens. Less influences I mean.

Can you tell how you worked on the songs which got on to 'Ipse Venena Bibas'? What kind of sound did you want for the album?

We wrote the songs in studio, playing together starting from a riff or a vocal line, from a melody or a drum rhythm. Was very exciting, the writing of Ipse Venena Bibas, there was a sort of lighting darkness in the studio when we played those songs. We were totally transported. Truly this is a constant for Legionem, when we start to play is like a nightfall.


Legionem. Photo: Sabi Barbaglini


You self-released the album, but it's distributed by Black Widow Records: does this collaboration help you with promotion?

Yes, Black Widow Records curated the distribution and promotion of Ipse Venena Bibas.

I've seen some photos which prove Legionem do perform songs live. How often and where do you usually play? With what kind of bands?

We love to play live. Maybe it's the best way for us to express the darkness of our music. Unfortunately it's been a while since we've played. But we have some dates for the future. We are very grateful to John Goldfinch, singer of one our favorite bands Impero Delle Ombre, who called us for first time and with whom we divided up the stage on two beautiful occasions. He's the first who believed in us. We usually play with doom metal/heavy metal bands, but it has happened we've shared the stage with stoner and heavy psych bands too.

'Ipse Venena Bibas' saw the light of day in 2017, and now 2018 closes to its end. What's about new songs? Can you say anything about a future release?

We have already completed the recording and the mixing of the next LP. We are very proud of it. Is more powerful, more compact, and it sounds very well. It will be titled Sator Omnia Noctem, that means Lord Of All The Nights. Now we are in touch with some labels, we are evaluating the best offer. Surely Sator Omnia Noctem will see the light in 2019. And we have already started the writing of the next one, we are very operational with Legionem.

Legionem - 'A Pentacle' (2017):



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Interviewed on 2018-12-02 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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