Album of the Month

The debut full-length from Greek band Automaton is weighty, sludgy, coffin-lid-slamming Doom perfection.
(Read more)

Random band

(read more)

Comrade Aleks has been following Italian band The Ossuary for a while, and the release of their latest album 'Oltretomba' was a good moment to catch up with drummer Max over the past few years' progress...

Interview with The Ossuary.
"The Ossuary release an album and I do another interview with Max Marzocca, the band’s drummer and ideologist: it’s just a natural state of affairs! I remember when I discovered this band from Bari... three of them played Death Metal in Natron for decades, while vocalist Stefano Fiore came from some local Power Prog band. What would you expect from such company? Whatever that may be, the facts remain the same: The Ossuary offer high- quality Heavy-Metalized (or should that be galvanized?) Doom with a good portion of retro influences. You know - like some Doom Metal from the ‘70s, but really heavy, damn energetic, even powerful, sinister in some sense, and loud…of course. Their first album ‘Post Mortem Blues’ (2017) was a blast! The sophomore release ‘Southern Funeral’ (2019) left its mark too, and now there is ‘Oltretomba’. A good one indeed, you need no words from “journalists” to appreciate good music, but there’s something more behind the songs which may help to understand it better. "

The Ossuary: Max Marzocca (drums), Stefano Fiore (vocals), Dario De Falco (bass), Domenico Mele (guitars).

Hi Max! How is it in Bari? How strict is the quarantine in your area?

Current situation is quite good, 85% of population is vaccinated and just a few areas away from our region are yellow zones with some restrictions, this means that we are facing some limitations at gigs but we hope to play all shows planned in December 2021 starting since this week.

We need to go out and promote Oltretomba. I know most of all gigs have being canceled in the rest of Europe because there the situation is getting much worse than Italy.

Anyway, you managed to go on tour with Marduk as their technician. How was it? How many people visited the shows and etc.?

Yes, I did! I was back in business after almost one year and a half and it did quite well! People seem hungry for live show but actually I never saw in my life a Marduk gig with less than 150 people, at least since I worked for them! Quite weird to see Dutch gigs with people seated but when we started the Dutch leg they were about to get into lockdown again, so it’s good we made those gigs! This new Covid variation seemed like it was chasing at us cancelling gigs after we toured those countries. Crazy stuff, but we were lucky to do the whole tour!

In January 2019 you got in before all this mess started, and The Ossuary’s second album ’Southern Funeral’ saw the light of day. How was it received by people? Was it noticed immediately or did people need time for it?

Southern Funeral was well received by people but in general it looks like our records are ‘growers’, the more you listen to them the more you like them! People are slowly discovering our music and we need to work hard on promotion with interviews, gigs, selling merch and sending promos out to as many webzines and magazines as possible, we expanded our following during these times of lockdowns and restrictions and we made possible for everyone to order merchandising and records directly from the band, and to create a solid bond between our fans and us.

So there was a gap between the album’s release and feedback in general?

In general yes, I can say that it’s happening also with this new album! The main reason is that our label’s promotional work is not enough and we need to push the release every time if we want to reach more people

The Ossuary - 'Serpent Magic' (Official, 2021):

You didn’t lose time, and Supreme Chaos Records released your third album ’Oltretomba’ on November 12 2021. The Ossuary was always about death, and there’s been a lot of it since 2019. Did the quarantine change your point of view regarding lyrics?

I think we are expanding our view, concept, lyrics and sound with time. Inspiration comes from the same old topics we love: the Italian retro movies, the past history, the dark side of the local culture and folklore, the paganism, the hate for the Christian church but all in all there is more reflection about life and death these days. Although it may look different, Oltretomba is only slightly influenced by what happened in the world over the last two years. I wrote “Ratking” lyrics about pestilence before the Covid outbreak, but you know it’s some topic I already wrote about in the previous two albums. 90% of the album was written before this shit happened, so it looks like we mostly anticipated these times.

What fed your hate towards the church when you were young?

That wasn’t properly ‘hate’, I would just call it more like ‘agnostic refuse’ or conscious reaction against stupid and useless rules or supposed truths they were trying to teach you in school and in general during your formative years. We were raised Catholic as kids and church used to be very influential back then in Italy. I was very young when it happened but as soon as it was possible I got rid of all that bullshit.

By the way, straight to my favorite part, what are the lyrics for ’Oltretomba’ about?

It’s definitely not a concept album, every topic is different but of course behind that there’s a key to all the lyrics and it’s basically the classic question: what’s our purpose on this earth, what are we really here for, is there anything after death? I think there’s enough to talk about for 10 albums…

It’s not a secret that Italian cinema has enormous influence on Italian Rock and Metal music: how do you see the very roots of this phenomenon?

Well, it’s an important part of our culture, mostly for people of my generation as Italian cinema was flourishing back then! As far as I am concerned, I can tell you some of all those retro movies were released when I was a kid so growing up with those movies got me totally into that kind of imagery and the soundtracks have been an influence on me later when I start to write music with my bands. I think there’s a thin line connecting movies and the music, I guess they were equally important in my formative years.

Just out of curiosity, Oltretomba was also the name of an italian popular horror porn comic series which was around between the 70’s and the 80’s, that’s what actually the name is coming from….

Comics… Oh, shit, I see… Do you have songs based on those stories?

Not really, I lost interest in reading comics with growing up,….well, I can say it didn’t happen so far but who knows in future?

Did you cross the line where you could label The Ossuary as an Italian Dark Sound band?

We are Italians, there’s no doubt about it, eheheh! We look at the British and American rock tradition when it comes to the music because that is the music we grew up with. But there’s something more when I said “Italian Dark Sound” because there is an element that made us sound different in some ways. It takes a while but I can explain my theory here to you….

Italy has a long history made of dark events related to epidemics, plagues, wars, invasions, battles between kingdoms but it’s important to say that from a certain point onwards the Catholic church had a heavy influence overall on Italian culture. We have the Vatican here for a reason, we count a lot of macabre religious rituals, during the easter processions there are people who still scourge themselves, devotees adore relics and mummies of saints, there are several ossuaries and churches dedicated exclusively to the cult of the christian death with crypts full of mummies of blessed, prelates and monks. It may seem morbid but there is more, death and the promise of eternal life are the foundations of religion and this helps to understand the enormous power that the church had on people over the centuries. This is so traditionally rooted in the people here to become part of the culture and the DNA, I see oldies talk always about death and embrace faith because christianity installed into people the fear of the judgement when they die. So religion had a fundamental part in everybody’s culture but at the same time this boosted the deep interest of people in ancestral pagan and occult rituals. A lot of the middleage cults of witchery seem to originate in here as well.

So, in the end I believe all this touches us unconsciously, the historical and cultural aspect fascinated us to such an extent that lead us to take it out in music, so that gives Italian bands that special occult flavour over all, look at Death SS, or Goblin, or Balletto di Bronzo, Spettri, Black Hole and all those good old school Italian heavy rock bands… and The Ossuary makes absolutely no difference, this cultural gap helps us to have our own specific identity.

How did you write these songs in the current conditions? Was it the same process as before, or did you work in other way?

Same way as always, I come up with most of all basic ideas and riffs, vocal lines and harmonies and then I write the lyrics, then I passed everything into the hands of the other guys and then we work together on structures and arrangements until we come up with something that is good. We work on layers, so to say. I am not a good guitarist or keyboard player at all but I know exactly what I want the songs to sound like and I have the ability to explain it to rest of the band. It’s not about being a leader, it’s about being just one person to have at least clear ideas on which direction to go, and the other guys keen to follow…

There are rare gigs happening here and there, despite all the circumstances: have you played live since spring 2019?

We played gigs all over 2019 and at the very beginning of 2020, then like everyone else we abruptly stopped due to the Covid. We played Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and we still were full promoting Southern Funeral when all this shit happened, we had to cancel a bunch of Italian gigs and our plan to tour Europe again in summer 2020 of course was also screwed. It’s hard to say what future will brings now, as I said we’re just happy to play these gigs now and then we’ll see…

The Ossuary - 'Oltretomba' (Full, 2021):

Is it OK for you to play in small venues? Do you see a chance to enter a bigger scene with The Ossuary? I think the number of BIG doom bands are limited, with very few spaces occupied by bands like Candlemass, Saint Vitus and… and I don’t know. I doubt they have any commercial success anyway.

We are an underground band, we are just happy if we can get our music to as many people as possible out there every time we put out a record or go on tour. To enter a bigger scene is another thing in my opinion, is about how much your music is accessible to the masses and how strong are your management and label.

It’s a kind of obvious question, something that seems even unprofessional to ask, but I didn’t ask you that before and you know - from the very first song ‘Ratking’ the band sounds very, very inspired and motivated. So what drove you to record Oltretomba? What inspired you to keep moving further?

Well, to me it’s just like going with the flow, as long as we feel the urge to put new music out the band continues to make better records and to go on tour, very plain and simple. We don’t have to pretend to be different from what we are, we’re not here to jump on someone else’s wagon, we’re not here for this retro-rock revival everyone is championing today. We are a true heavy rock band! It’s all about passion, if you are not driven and passionate with what you do people will notice and it will take nothing for you to go downhill.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the The Ossuary bandpage.

Interviewed on 2022-01-20 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com