Hello Algol, how is your day going so far? To put you on the spot, what are you currently listening to at the moment?
Hi there! My day in almost over now, and in any case, different day, same shit. Work, some booze with friends, and now here we are! Right now I’m digging the last Celtic Frost; so heavy...
“Wounds Just Death Can Heal” has some monstrous guitar riffs, and some amazing layers. You’ve really masterminded a killer and unique sound, man. What gives you some of the inspiration to create what you do?
Thanks a lot man. Well, I don’t know if we can call it really unique, but that’s my sound! Maybe it’s not just about inspiration; it’s an urgent need to create music, and if we try to search the cause, we have to face one of the most difficult questions ever about art: why does somebody feel this strong desire, this natural will to create something – be it a painting, a song or whatever? The answer lies deep in the so-called “spirit” of man. I don’t believe in a unique, universal answer – as I don’t believe that a universal truth about anything could ever be defined – but I can try to give mine. Probably this need comes from my discomfort towards life itself. Music is helping me to give some way of a sense to this existence, apparently so void and futile. On one side it keeps my mind busy, and on the other one helps me to exorcise my worst fears and thoughts. Closing the circle, here, we’ve got what “inspires” me when creating music: life!
Evolving from the beast you created in Cold Void Journey, to now with Worship Or Die, how do you feel of your new accomplishments within black metal and music in general? You must be pretty proud, huh?
Cold Void Journey was released in 2005, but I can grant it’s old like the band itself. All the songs on it were composed many years before, mostly from 1996 to 1999. That’s why you can actually feel that big leap between the two records. I’m really satisfied about Worship Or Die; this album represents perfectly the sound I was searching for since a long time. I think it sounds both modern and ancient; you have that dissonant, black metal feeling along with that “rock” sense of music that belongs to older bands, and it actually works for me. Anyway, it’s not over! Hiems will always be an evolving band. I don’t wanna record the same album over and over again...if I will not have anything new to say, I will stop!
I really dig the artwork on Worship Or Die. Care to give some promotion about it?
To be honest, I had the master of the album ready in my hands without having a precise idea of a possible artwork. At the beginning I wanted something “riot oriented.” One of the first ideas was a picture of me throwing a Molotov into a bank door...well, that's quite hard to obtain! Then, as all the better ideas came, one night while I was was lying in my bed I suddenly got it. The perfect contrast, the perfect integration to the album’s title: a soldier throwing a Molotov. One of the greatest symbols of obedience with one of the greatest symbols of revolt. I hope that someone will understand the real meaning of the title Worship Or Die, but until now, no deal. Just let me say, it’s not referring to the band. Talking of the realization, I’ve got the help of a great artist, Morke (guitarist of the band Vidharr). I think that she did perfect work; what you see on the cover is really close to the image I had in mind for the album.
“WOF” is another beast of a song that I love. You really speed up the pace on this one, and have some really dark and commanding moments. What are some of your favorite songs on Worship Or Die?
As years pass by I believe less and less in speed. Violence is quick and short, otherwise it will have no big effect - that’s one of the reason because Worship Or Die is mostly a mid-tempo album. Honestly, I’m becoming bored of all those band that needs to play at 260 bpm! I mean, it seems just a fucking speed contest! You really can’t play hard at that time, no aggression at all; it's all just triggers and masturbation. I’ve seen a review of Worship Or Die saying that it was a horrible album just because it was slow! Okay, it’s a matter of tastes, but often just teenagers rate music based upon its speed. I don’t know if I have a favorite song, I think that every track on Worship Or Die has its own personality and role on the album and that’s exactly what I wanted; I easily get bored listening to 10 songs that sounds all the same! Variety is a big issue for me when talking about music.
Coming from Italy, what are some of your favorite places to catch a concert, grab a bite to eat, etc.? I’ve got a friend from Italy who’s given me some excellent recipes: Risotto Alla Milanese / Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.
Two great recipes for sure! Italian cuisine is largely known to be one of the best around the world, so as you could imagine we’ve plenty of great places to eat here. The ones I prefer are surely what we call agriturismo, something like traditional family-run restaurants that cooks mostly using self-produced ingredients. Talking of drinks, I largely prefer wine and beer. Italian wine is really wonderful. We have a wide choice of the best brands, but I’ve got to cheat on my country regarding beers: Belgian ones are on the top of my list! Talking of gigs, I often prefer small clubs and underground events. I hate crowded places! I organize myself several extreme concerts in Milano.
Being a one-man band, you have complete control over what you do, and it sure looks like you know what you are doing. Still, have you ever thought about having other band members both in the studio and out on the tour road?
I did, but I’ve got the best results when I decided to work alone--in the studio, of course. The complete control you mentioned is really essential for Hiems. I have a clear and defined vision of my music, and I don’t wanna share it with anyone. A little exception is given by the few collaborations featured on the album. Sometimes I like to be surprised, and giving a little space to musicians I respect can add something important to the results. Things obviously change coming to live shows! I did 4 gigs with Hiems with different lineups, but actually I decided to stop the live activity. If there will be the right interest and conditions for the band, I will surely consider the possibility to bringing Hiems on stage again. The main point is that I want to give people a great performance, beginning with the sound. Too often you’re asked to play in shitty places without the minimum hope to make anyone understand a single riff. No deal. I don’t see the point in this.
What do you think of the current black metal scene? Watered-down and commercialized, or a great gateway for today’s youth to discover the influences who brought black metal to life?
Honestly, I don’t have faith in youth. They will just discover how miserable is life, and how quick they will get old and die. Most of them will never understand a single thing; they will probably find a work, shave their heads, contaminate the world with other children and remember black metal as a “youth madness.” Produce, consume, die. For me, the whole black metal scene could implode tomorrow and my life would continue in the same way. There are just bands that I love and respect, but I hate the concept of scene. In any case, there’s no big hope for the YouTube generation. They will hardly take the time to understand what they’re listening to, since this world is too fast.
Here’s a fun and tricky question. If you were to organize a dream tour, who would be on it? Feel free to name a full-scale festival if you wish.
Not in particular order: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Danzig, Celtic Frost, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Cash, Satyricon, AC/DC. Worth a ride, eh?
Worship Or Die is a great CD. People are really seeming to like it – we sure did: http://allaboutthemusic24.blogspot.com/2009/09/hiems-worship-or-die.html. Looking forward, how does the future look for Hiems?
Thanks again man! I’m working hard on the new material in these days, by now my priority is the next studio album. Rock on and refuse everyday’s shit.
Copyright (c) Alex Gilbert