The wait is over…ten years into their career, Italian heavy epic metallers VULTURES VENGEANCE deliver their long awaited debut album «The Knightlore». And it will surely confirm the high expectacions risen by their previous two Eps «Where the Time Dwelt In» and «Lyrids: Warning From the Reign of the Untold». Call it epic. Call it true heavy metal. Call it strong & spiritual. Call it even kind of romantic & atmospheric. Call it VULTURES VENGEANCE! A band destined to rule heavy metal in the years to come if the Gods don’t play dirty with them. An honor to interview T. Steele, a boss in its full sense of the word, he knows what he wants and how to get there. Enjoy it!
Hello guys, ten years after the formation of the band your very much anticipated debut album is here. Why a so long wait?
T.STEELE: Hi Alberto! The causes of the long wait were many. The first was definitely the line-up. I have always been very demanding with everyone who were part of VV and all the people that played in this band are people with a strong personality, this is why many times there was clashes between us. Another reason is the search for a singer. At the beginning my idea was to made a band with 5 elements, but in the end I have never found a person who has the right characteristics to be the VV frontman, after many years of research I thought of becoming the singer. For me it’s important that,who plays with VVs, have a strong passion for what we do and fully share the message behind our music.
The band was formed by you, Tony T. Steele in 2009, has it all happened according to the established plan or there was not plan at all?
T.STEELE: At the beginning, the idea was to create a band with an English taste inspired by Witchfynde, Witchfinder General, Dark Heart, Incubus. During the first rearshals,the songs we played were very different from everything you’ve heard so far from VV, they were much simpler and rough. In the years, the style became harder and this evolution occurred naturally , we always looked for the maximum of personality and recognizability. Many people compare us to american classic Heavy Metal bands.
I love all those bands, but I honestly think that VV are not totally attributable to any particular band. I think this depends on one thing in particular: Our music is fed by feelings of this era and not of the 80s. I think heavy metal should be a scream that destroys any stupid social structure. The sad thing is that nowdays,sometimes,there are social structures, more than passion, in the heavy metal scene too.
There have been new recuitments in the band in recent times, we can talk now of a consolidated line-up?
T.STEELE: I think the front of the stage is stronger than ever. Tony, Matt and I love to play live. Matt Serafini, the drummer who played on this record, is a very good drummer, incredibly solid and technical, but his first genre is not heavy metal, so far we have had so many beautiful moments together on stage, but I don’t know how much this collaboration can continue. He works as a professional session musician and I, as I said before, I am very demanding, I don’t believe that Matt can continue with all the commitments of this band in his life for a long time yet.
As I said, this debut was very much anticipated because your two Eps rised very high expectactions among the fans and critics
T.STEELE: What to say? It’s a very introspective album, behind every choice there is a precise motivation. Many songs are not for a first earing, this album it’s designed so that the listener always discovers new nuances over time. Many tracks had already been composed before the ep. I chose these songs for the album because from a compositional point of view these songs are superior to the previous ones. For this reason, I think that an attentive listener will not be disappointed and the expectations will be satisfied.
I think so, it has fulfilled all my expectations. And I believe those guys that got hooked with your eps will not be dissapointed now with your first full-length The Knightlore
T.STEELE: I think those who will be disappointed will re-evaluate it in the future!
How long have you worked in the composition of The Knightlore and how was the process?
T.STEELE: I recorded all the songs at home with audio programs before the real recordings in the studio. This took a long time, because having a song in mind is very different to hear it recorded. I was never 100% satisfied. Many times I let it pass several days before listening to a song to understood what could be improved. For this reason I often re-recorded many parts. For me the satisfactory result corresponds to having an arrangement that in each single part is something different from the usual, something that does not directly remember anything that has been done so far.
Sometimes in this genre it seems impossible to get out of some canonical structures, like the typical 3 chords on which whole bands have based a career, in The Knightlore you can recognize «canonical» structures of heavy metal, but during the writing of the record, I had the shrewdness to change the essence of the typical three chords of heavy metal, simply by making parts more interesting by adding phrasing, harmonies or arpeggios. Many parts, without this type of arrangement, would not have the same impact. In addition to this many parts reminds an image or an idea, for example in »A Great Spark from the Dark» the initial and final phrase in tapping remembers exactly a «shimmer» as in the title of the song and the whole album is full of these references.
I don’t want to dwell, but immediately after having composed everything, I sent the pre-productions to the others and during the recording phase there have been other arrangements. Unfortunately, today the average listener is very lazy and gets excited when listen to something that remains in the canons.
Thanks for the lesson, Tony. Your obscure and epic heavy metal reminds me of great bands from the US as Tyrant, Cirith Ungol or Brocas Helm. Do you feel identified with those roots?
T.STEELE: I deeply love all the bands you’ve named and I have all their records in my vinyl collection. And I think that surely in the history of VV they had a strong influence! Obviously, as I said before, we always try to shuffle the cards and looking for our identity but without them, all this would not have been possible, so undoubtedly they are the true fathers! And those are certainly our roots!
M.SAVAGE: Absolutely! All the bands you mentioned are part of the spark that gave origin to Vultures Vengeance, we definitely feel bonded to this roots.
You rule guys, I rise my fist and yell VV! What do you think is the most important ingredient in your music why VV has trapped the audience along these years?
T.STEELE: The reaction. The reaction to a world where everything is based on the ego, where few have something to say but everyone wants to talk. I think that whoever dwells on our music understands that we never put our personal satisfaction before the message in our music. Many bands today use elements from the 80s. But many don’t understand that the good thing about the 80s was the fact that the bands had a strong motivation behind whatever they did. Today the idea of the 80s is a cliché. I think that the thing that should remain unchanged from that era, are the sounds in the records, the compositional approach and the motivation, for motivation I mean belive in something and fight for that!
Heavy Metal means to be who you want to be every day at all hours, not have a double life and be a Metal Head when is more convenient. I think that many people start to buy Vinyls , patches , t shirts to be accepted in a culture and to be cool… I love all this things and I have many vinyls too, but I belive that Vinyls,patches and t-shirts are only things, spirit of true metal is not the number of vinyls that you have at home, but is fight to be free, to have time to do what you love and to be what you want to be.
AMEN. The cover design is simply perfect and invites to open the box, play the cd and rise the sword
T.STEELE: Lene Richier has done a really good job, she is also the author of the painting of Where the time Dwelt in, we love her style and I think it is more than suitable for our music. Even the cover has meanings directly related to the lyrics and the music of the album.
M.SAVAGE: Lena is such an amazing artist. She’s been able to perfectly portray Vultures Vengeance’s music and atmospheres with her paintings since 2016, with the amazing work she did for “Where The Time Dwelt In”. The artwork for “The Knightlore» is another example of the ability of her art to vividly render Vultures Vengeance’s ideas.
I would like to underline also the good work on the production, it gives the album that lay of darkness that is almost indisputable
M.SAVAGE: Thank you! The “Knightlore” has been so far the most ambitious project in terms of production. It was recorded by me at “Nation’s Eye Studio”, and it took over a month working around the clock only for recording the guitars. The mixing was undertaken by Tony L.A e Tony T. Steele, they can tell you more about it.
T.STEELE: We worked hard on production to get the most possible dynamics. Every song has its spirit and its sound, we have tried to make everything compact but at the same time you can feel a different atmosphere in each song, this depends on the amount of gain on the guitars or by the type of mix and volumes. A small example is the vocie in Pathfinder’s Call, on the final part you can hear that the voice is slightly moving away, this is because should remember a calling in the distance.
It pays off every minute of your effort, no doubt. What are the lyrics about?
M.SAVAGE: It is very difficult to talk about our lyrics, they should be taken one by one and discussed in depth to allow a full understanding of the meanings behind it. “The Knightlore” can be defined as a concept album about identity, development (growth) and change, as describing ways in which we perceive our life and all that surrounds us. Trying to make a very long story short, we could say that “The Great Spark From The Dark” is about the conflicts between two different generations. “Fates Weaver” is about the ineluctability of fate. “Pathfinder’s Call” is an ode to creativity and passions as only saviour from the abyss we hold inside. “The Knightlore” is the call for help men make to the gods. “The Lord Of The Key” is about drug addiction, while “Dead Man And Blind Fate” tells about regret and choices made difficult by our mortality. “Eyes Of The Stranger” is about getting lost and being condemned to make the same mistakes over and over again. Finally, “Chained By The Night” tells the last battle of two warriors and is about the end of brotherhood.
Steele’s vocals and sharp dark guitars give your sound and underground and primitive edge that I think many fans were waiting and will really appreciate
T.STEELE: Yes, I think our approach is really loved by fans of old sounds. We love those sounds because there were dynamics that nowdays have disappeared.
The album is a fist from the beginning to the end, not filler!
T.STEELE: I’m glad you think this, the intent is just that, although the songs are very articulated, many melodies come back in an irregular way and make them come to mind unconsciously, besides in the longer songs the riffs are designed to keep the listener glued.
M.SAVAGE: Thank you for your kind words. Tony Steele is a great composer, and as we’re all perfectionists, each one of us tries to make arrangements upon his compositions. Also, we tend to dedicate the same amount of attention and time to all our songs, and none of these is meant to have more or less relevance than another. I guess that’s the reason why there are no “filler tracks” in the album.
Eye of a Stranger is the more relaxed song, with the accent in the epic sound and even some hard heavy approach, how did you get it?
T.STEELE: Eye of Stranger is actually the most personal song of the whole album probably, I actually made it in a very difficult period. What can I tell you is that this song is based on the thought of no longer recognizing oneself, looking in the mirror and not recognizing oneself, being trapped in a life that doesn’t belongs to you because you are forced. In my opinion, many people today live their lives without having time to devote to themselves and to do what they love and many of they think it’s a normal thing, but it’s not like that. Matt Savage wrote the text and extrapolated many other nuances from the topic.
Another example of the hard work and dedication behind your album. Any favorite song in the album?
M.SAVAGE: No actually. We are very attached to all our songs, and I think that after have dedicated the adequate listen to the album, it would become difficult for anyone to chose a favourite track. Each song is bonded to the other by an inner meaning, and I think that part of their individual beauty is due to this connections. The atmosphere pervading “The Knightlore” is consistent throughout the 8 tracks, and only by listening to the whole album is possible to truly comprehend it.
After listening to your debut I’m sure many fans will be waiting for touring dates. And in Spain we are lucky because on May 17th you will be opening in Madrid for Spanish heavy metallers Frenzy. Do you know the guys? First time in Spain?
T.STEELE: Yes,We will play in Madrid! It’s the second time we play in Spain, the first was at Heavy Metal Espectros, we love the Spanish audience. I personally had the pleasure of exchanging four chats with Angel from Frenzy, a great promoter and all the members of Frenzy are great musicians. We look forward to back in Spain!
M.SAVAGE: Actually, our show in Madrid has been moved to May 18th, but we’ll definitely have a chance to meet Frenzy anyway! I personally did not know them, but I’ve given them a listen in the past weeks and I was very pleased. As a teenager i was a big fan of comics, Marvel particularly, and I was impressed by the way they represented that world with their music.
Our first show in Spain was in Murcia for the Heavy Metal Espectros, and it was a great experience. The Spanish crowd is amazing as well as all the guys behind the organisation. We had the best time, and we’re really looking forward to being back!
So guys out there be aware of the change in dates from 17th to 18th, VV moves their show to the Pounding Metal Fest. Any other tour dates programmed?
T.STEELE: Yes,there are other gigs scheduled during the year and we will announce them as soon as possible.
M.SAVAGE: We’ve got two more shows confirmed in May, London with Lunar Shadow and Dark Forest on the 11th, and then Muskelrock on the 30th.
Great shows indeed! Time to look at the future. After the early departure of big names as Mark Shelton, traditional heavy metal is in need of bands to carry the torch, replacement is guaranteed?
M.SAVAGE: I wouldn’t talk about it as a “replacement”. The story of Mark Shelton and Manilla Road is unique and cannot be repeated, but is also from a time and a context that does not belong to our generation. Sadly, there will never be another Mark Sheldon as there will never be another Ronnie James Dio, and this make any attempt of replacement worthless.
I think that our time and our story have to be told, but with an attentive balance between paying an homage to the past and, as you rightly said, looking at the future. As sons of our time, there’s no prospect nor desire for us to walk a path that has already been overtaken. However, if the fate will allow us, we will try to make our story just as unique.
T.STEELE: I love Manilla Road and I grew up with their music. Iit would be too much for me to say that we or any other band will take the place of such great artists. Surely this age needs musicians who want to communicate something and not just musicians who want to become big.
Thank you guys for your attention, you big album and the great master class about music and attitude and keep the flame alive! If you wish to add something…
T.STEELE: thanks to you! It was a pleasure to answer your questions! HEAVY METAL!
M.SAVAGE: Thank you indeed! See you at Pounding Metal! “Keep the flame,We can’t let this world remain the same”