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A near-legendary doom-metal band from Italy, mainly because of their fantastic CD demo 'Oblita Divinitas'. Ras Algethi played some of the most sui...
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After more than 20 years in the business, Italian Doomsters Bretus have just released their fifth album, 'Magharia'. Comrade Aleks seized the opportunity to renew his acquaintance with the band, through this interview with vocalist Zagarus.

Interview with Bretus.
"This band passed its 20th anniversary just a year ago, and that makes Bretus one of the oldest and most stable Doom outfits in Italy. Technically, that's not quite such a glorious story, given that their first album 'In Onirica' only saw the light of day in 2012 - yet since then the guys have proved their status as one of the underground leaders with each subsequent album. Conceptual Lovecraft-influenced release 'The Shadow over Innsmouth' "shone" with its sick deranged atmosphere, the next '...from the Twilight Zone' was filled with catchy well-delivered Doom tracks with lyrics based on forgotten horror movies and thrillers, while the following 'Aion Tetra' marked Bretus' growing professionalism and maturity. Bretus now take another step on their rocky way to the Doom Temple with this new offering - their fifth full-length album 'Magharia' is available on CD, tape and vinyl. Well, they have a few more aces up their sleeve, and vocalist Zagarus is ready to reveal some of them."

Bretus: Janos (bass), Zagarus (vocals), Striges (drums), Ghenes (guitars).

Hi Zagarus! How are you doing? Your new album 'Magharia' has just been released, so how are you spending this period without any chance to promote it with live performances?

Hi Aleksey, everything is ok in the Bretus headquarters. The pandemic forbids us to play live shows so we are continuing to do our online promotion, this is the only way forward at the moment. Meanwhile we recorded a Black Sabbath cover, 'Children of the Grave' which was released on The Swamp Sabbath compilation (The Swamp Records).

Bretus had its 20th anniversary in 2020, accept my congratulations! I guess that's a good date and the right moment to think over about your achievements. How do you value your life with Bretus?

Thank you man! Have been 20 years full of satisfaction, we come from a small town in the southern Italy and when we embarked on this path we did not have big expectations but we had and still have a lot of passion for this kind of music. During these years we have managed to build a solid fan base, we are proud of this.

And still Doom Metal occupies its outsider niche amongst other metal genres. How has people's attitude towards it changed since those times you started to play it?

This is a kind of music that will never follow the fashions of the moment. It will always have its place in a niche populated by maniacs. Doom needs to stay in the depths of the Rock/Metal scene. I know this is a concept that I have repeated often but this is what I am convinced of. Doom it's not a mainstream music and it never will be.

'Magharia' was released by three different labels in three different formats on 7th of May and a fourth format (tape) was produced few days ago. Did all these label show their interest towards Bretus at the same time? Or did you do a regular promo sending campaign?

We already knew the owners of these labels so we decided to release the album for 3 different labels from 3 different parts of the world. We had already done something like this with our first album In Onirica, the promotional choice of turned out to be a winning one.

The Swamp Records, Overdrive recs and Burning Coffin recs are managed with great passion and competence. We are happy to have made this choice.

Bretus - 'Cursed Island' (Official, 2021):

Do you have any other merch in your stock? How often do you update your own Metal wardrobe?

We have some leftover old records and a few t-shirts. About my wardrobe during these years I have collected many t-shirts (famous and underground bands). I have a closet full of t-shirts, I think I should start calming down.

It's said 'Magharia' is "a concept album based on some of the frightening Italian ghost tales. Between legend and myth..." How did you work through this idea? What are these stories based upon? Books? Movies?

Italy is full of ghost stories, each village has its haunted castle or its ghost. These legends have been handed down for years. This kind of tales have always fascinated us, for example the story behind 'The Bridge of Damnation' tells an event that took place many years ago in our hometown. The ghost of the Siano's bridge (Catanzaro). It is certainly the most known story in our area. The State TV years ago also did a television program about this tale.

The ghost is an ancestor of mine.

Do you believe in ghosts yourselves?

I am convinced that something exists but I don't know what...In my opinion it is an understatement to think that everything can be consumed only in earthly life.

And your ancestor? Will you share his tale with us?

It's a very old story, year 1939. He was killed and thrown off the bridge. People thought he had decided to commit suicide. One day a girl passing by that bridge fainted and when she woke up she began to speak with the voice of a man. He told what had happened. On the web you can find many sources regarding this story.

What are your favorite ghost movies? I've finally watched 'The Conjuring' (2013), it has few thrilling moments, but it's now that flawless in the end.

Definitely Operazione Paura (Mario Bava 1966) is a masterpiece, the story in the film is the same as we covered on 'Moonchild's Scream'. There are many great movies on these kind of tales, especially the more vintage films. A movie that impressed me in the recent times is Crimson Peak (2015), it's not scary but it's well done, there is a fantastic gothic vibe on it.

Bretus - 'Magharia' (Album, 2021):

I'd skipped that one, it seems the movie is worth watching. Your previous full-length 'Aion Tetra' was a new level for the band, and 'Magharia' is close to surpass it with tight performance, intensive dramaturgy and probably more effective composition. How do you see differences between these albums from inside?

Surely "Magharia" has an attitude in your face than "Aion Tetra", there is a more rock approach on our last full length. The sound you can hear on Magharia is the same as you can find at one of our live shows.

The track 'Sinful Nun' reminds me a bit of the King Diamond/Mercyful Fate legacy, and for me it's easy to imagine falsetto vocals there. Which bands lured you to Metal's dark realms? What was your first introduction to this genre?

Mercyful Fate are one of our favorite bands ever, unluckily falsetto vocals is not my best quality ahah! If we talk about "Extreme Metal" the first bands I loved were Sepultura, Obituary, Metallica, Slayer, Darkthrone. If we talk about gloomy atmospheres in hard rock/metal bands I can't fail to mention Black Sabbath and The Doors.

And what about the so-called "Italian Dark Sound"? It seems that you stand aside from this movement where some Italian bands are clearly associated with this cultural phenomenon.

"Italian Dark Sound" is a trademark recognized throughout the world, in my opinion it is present in almost all the Italian bands that play this musical genre. We do not distance ourselves from it but I think it is less visible in our music than other bands of our own nationality, for example it is very present in bands like L'impero delle Ombre or Abysmal Grief, two great bands. Surely "Italian Dark Sound" it is a part of our background like 70's music and Blues.

Okay, 'The Bridge of Damnation' tells your ancestor's story, 'Moonchild's Scream' is based on the movie 'Operazione Paura'. May you shed some light on other songs' texts?

To be precise 'Moondchild's Scream' is based on the story of Azzurrina, the ghost of the castle of Montebello (Rimini), Operazione Paura is based on this story too. 'Cursed Island' speaks about the Poveglia Island, this is defined as one of the most haunted islands in the world. 'Nuraghe' is based on a sardinian ghost story, a woman killed for a crime she did not commit. 'Celebration of Gloom' is a morbid story between a woman and a blasphemous priest.

'Headless Ghost' tells the legend of an ancient warrior who tormented the inhabitants of Riva del Garda for years until he found his head which had been detached from him in a battle. 'Sinful Nun' is also based on a ghost story in our city, Catanzaro. A woman decides to become a nun after the death of her beloved, he was killed by the brothers of the woman. Someone says she is doomed to relive those moments for eternity.

'Magharia' artwork.

The title song surprised me with this eccentric psycho-prog jam, so I'm wondering how did you work on this tune? Did you record at a studio from one take?

This track was born from an idea of Ghenes, each of us wrote an instrumental part on this song. It was recorded on multiple takes and later assembled, this is the only track which has a studio session approach within the record. We experimented with a few different things, for example the flanger effect on the drums recorded with a single panoramic microphone.

By the way, I heard a flute in the opening track 'Celebration of Gloom', why didn't you use this instrument more extensively during this recording? It sounds right with your stuff.

Zagarus: When we recorded the album we had the feeling that the flute was perfect on that part. We could have used it on other songs as well. Maybe it will be a solution in the next works. We have always used different instruments on our albums.

Zagarus, I think it's our fourth interview, and the very fact makes me Bretus' biggest fan at least in Russia, ha-ha…Well, I believe we've covered most 'Magharia'-related topics, so let me thank you for the interview. And…well, why not… What's your top of Doom Metal Albums 2021? Five months have passed but there's already a bunch of cool albums.

Thank you for the interesting questions and for the support you have given us over all these years! Well, I listened to a few Doom albums released in 2021 and for a few years I prefer to listen to more underground bands than well-known names, anyway Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare it's an album that I have enjoyed. I also really like the record of a German underground band, Paralyzed, they don't play traditional Doom, they have a lot of bluesy and 70's influences in their music. Cosmic Reaper S/T it's a good album too. Instead I know it's not Doom metal but I am very curious to hear the new project called STONER with former Kyuss members.

That's all...

Thanks again for all Aleksey! DOOM ON!

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Visit the Bretus bandpage.

Interviewed on 2021-06-29 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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