Like many others, here is a creature of the pandemic, may be some of the few things that we can save from these shocking times we are living, at least in music it has supposed the chance for many musicians to try new projects or adventures. And believe me, SOMMO INQUISITORE is one of the most interesting acts created last year, heavy metal with all the Italian underground taste, we just hope we will get more of it in the following years. We talk with the mastermind behind it, do not miss the cool details about all the creative process!
Hi man, Sommo Inquisitore is an Italian band forged in 2020, but apart of that we don’t know much about your curriculum, so please brief us your story
Hi Alberto, first of all thank you so much for your time and for this interview opportunity, we really appreciate it! Sommo Inquisitore was born during the pandemic. I guess you can see it as my solo “band”. It’s something I’ve had in mind for quite a while and since there was not much to do around during the Covid-19 outbreak, I seized the opportunity and took advantage of the free time to focus on writing these songs. It’s was a spur-of-the-moment decision, something I did for fun.
So, you are debuting with the album “Anno Mille”. When did you start working in the first songs?
In April 2020, it was a very spontaneous process. I’ve always wanted to do an album about this topic. The songs were written in one go, I didn’t overthink them. The whole album was written in less than 2 months. I recorded a demo version of it at my place, by myself, and later I involved 2 more members: Andrea, a dear friend of mine on guitar, bass and keyboards, and Piero, the drummer I always play with in my other bands, to help me record the final version. Piero has a small studio at his place and he was able to record the drums there. And Andrea besides being a very talented musician is also a sound engineer, so he owns a proper studio where we recorded and mixed the final version of the songs. Everything was done in a bit of a “secrecy” not because we were trying to build any mystery, but simply because the circumstances forced us to keep a low profile, as we could not go out, play live etc.
Did you have the ideas clear from the beginning of it was a question of try and error and search for your sound?
No, no trial and error, no major changes, the songs on the CD are almost exactly as I first conceived them. The overall idea, the sound, concept and direction were clear to me since the very beginning.
I must confess that I love the cover art, for those who have been listening to heavy metal with an underground touch it is really a great lure
Thank you, that’s great to hear! Just like for the music, also for the cover I had a very clear idea of how I wanted it since the beginnig, but the main task was to turn my idea into a photo. At first I figured the girl in the photo should look as the typical witch in the popular imagination and I had chosen a girl with a more “aggressive” look, shapely with long black hair, she had all the features that suggested the idea of the “classic” evil witch. But on a second thought I felt that with such a girl the photo would look as a cliche. While picking a girl like the one who ended up on the cover – blonde, scared and innocent-looking – would have made the Inquisitor appear even more wicked, implying the idea that the Church is persecuting the innocent. And so in the end I asked my wife to be the witch in the photo for the cover! To add a finishing touch to her outfit I made this iron mask based on the model of a real medieval mask, called brank, that was first used as a punishment/torture device for slanderers. It had a slab of metal on the inside that, once placed in the convict’s mouth, restrained the tongue. For this reason it was later adopted by the Inquisition, for witches. Because they thought that the brank prevented them to speak, therefore to cast their spells. I forged the mask myself, making a few changes to make it look even more scary (and of course comfortable to wear!). Almost everything you see in the photo is DIY. I have to say that my wife was very patient and had a lot of fun also!
Hahaha, that’s an amazing story, pure fun, congratulations And from the first song Anno Mille any doubt you might have is completely swept away. This is heavy metal with a dark atmosphere and a classic appeal
I completely agree, I consider Anno Mille as a very traditional/classic Heavy Metal album with a very dark atmosphere. Whenever I write a song the first thing I envision is the atmosphere I want to achieve. Then if I can find the music that suggests that specific atmosphere I have in mind, I know I’m on the right path.
If a name of a band comes to my mind listening to the album it is King Diamond, how do you feel about it?
I feel that’s an awesome thing to hear! King Diamond is one of the musicians that inspired me the most. Of course my voice is in no way similar to his, as I have a completely different vocal approach. But the atmosphere I was aiming for definitely is! King Diamond is probably the artist I love the most and even if my music doesn’t really sound like his, the vibe is pretty close. Even the logo was slightly inspired by the style of his logo. Other bands I constantly listen to are Hell and Death SS: heavy metal with an atmosphere, a very specific mood and vibe. I believe Metal is mainly atmosphere. If I heard the music without being able to understand the lyrics I should still be able to perceive its dark atmosphere and be touched and engulfed by it.
I totally agree with you. I think there is also the ingredient of the Italian underground scene with a long tradition of bands, did you get some inspiration there?
Yes, as said, definitely Death SS which is the Italian band that has marked my childhood and my musical path more than any other . When I first started singing the very first song I did with my first band was a cover version of Horrible Eyes.
What are the lyrics about and how are they connected with the cover?
In some way you could think of this album as a concept about the Middle Ages in general, focusing on the Church in particular. But, mind you, this is in no way a catholic album, not at all! On the contrary it points out all the horrible deeds done by the Church. The album is a bit like a journey through the centuries, starting from the first track Anno Mille (Italian for 1000 AD). This song describes the terror people felt at the idea that the world was going to end and how the Church increased and exploited this fear. And then, song after song, throughout the centuries, the lyrics range from the Inquisition, the witchhunt and torture, to the plague and the crusades. In the photo used for the album cover you can see me as the Inquisitor in a dungeon and the witch in chains at my feet, soon to be burned at the stake. There are at least 2 songs that are directly connected to the album cover: La Danza delle Streghe and Angéle de la Barthe. The lyrics are sung from several different points of view, the inquistor’s point of view, the witches’ point of view, the crusader’s point of view and so on.
By the way, you sing in Italian with some Latin sentences in the middle too, and it sounds all right! When did you decide to use your mother language instead of the classic English?
I never even considered writing an album in English, for many reasons. First of all because unfortunately I can’t really speak English. And second because I think the Italian language is full of nuances and it’s perfect to express certain specifics concepts. Also, since it’s my language, singing in Italian feels more natural to me and allows me to connect with the lyrics. This way I feel involved and I can sing wih complete conviction and passion. Something I’d never be able to do if I sung in a language I don’t understand well enough. Using Latin was a gut decision, it’s a charming language and it’s perfect if you’re talking about the Church and the Inquisition – just like Spanish, by the way! So I instinctively used it in some places.
Yes, it sounds all pretty much natural. Singing in Italian means you will be focused more in the national market than in Europe or we will have the chance to see you playing anywhere?
To be honest I haven’t thought of it… I did this album for the pleasure of it, when I started working on it I didn’t even know if this was ever going to be released… so things such as national or international market never actually occurred to me. But now that you bring it up I guess the Italian vocals might be off-putting for some listeners outside Italy. The thing is I really wanted to do an album written and sung as I envisioned it and I wouldn’t have been able to do it in English. But of course there’s no need to say that I’d be super-happy to play anywhere outside Italy if there is any interest, I’d really love that.
Sommo Inquisitore’s voice is the perfect match for the great guitar display of Andrea Mattei. Do you work together on the songs or is it more a question of personal skills and you put afterwards all the pieces together?
Well, the first thing that I have to say is that Andrea and I have been friends since school days, so we’re usually on the same page. At first I roughly recorded all songs myself as best as I could, but I don’t consider myself a musician. So I submitted the rough version of the album to Andrea and he loved it at first listen. He immediately got involved and put his own talent into it. I explained him what I had in mind for each song, he got it right away and wrote all the arrangements that added a lot to the final result. Once again we didn’t proceed by trial and error, the songs were finalized very spontaneusly and quickly. On a couple of them you can hear a violin. That was played by my friend Eleonora who’s a professional violinist. Using violin on Angéle de la Barthe (allegedly the first woman to be accused, trialed and executed as a witch) was Andrea’s idea. I think it fits very well with the mood of the album.
Sommo Inquisitore is the name of the band but also the singer’s avatar, that means you are the leader or founder?
Yes that’s correct, you could say that Sommo Inquisitore is “my” band, in some way it could be seen as my solo band.
It may be a detail but for me it’s important, 8 songs is the perfect number in my opinion for a heavy metal album, mere chance?
Absolutely not, nothing was left to chance on this album. I completely agree that 8 is the perfect number. For the songs of a metal album, and not only. 8 is a recurring number in the mystical Kabbalah and I could talk for hours about the meaning of this number. Anyway… I wanted the songs to be 8. As for the next album which will also feature 8 tracks. Always 8 tracks.
Amazing. With this first big shot your second album will be much anticipated. Are you thinking about it already?
Well I hope you’re right! And yes, of course. I’ve only just recently finished writing the new songs for the next album and I’m now beginning to arrange them together with Andrea. The album will focus once again on the middle ages, though less songs will concern the Church and more will focus on different historical events.
Great, we look forward to listening to it sooner than later. Metal is living its best moment in years? How do you see the future of music?
Well at the moment there are so many great bands around it’s just amazing. The overall quality of the traditional metal releases is really high. I’m not the right person to make any predictions, but I really hope that this positive surge of creative energy will continue.
And finally, what are your plans for the future?
For sure a second album, already planned and currently in the works. As for the rest it will depend on the response that Anno Mille will get. But a second album will be definitely out in any case, this is something I do for passion and I’d be happy to do it even if it sold just one single copy.
Great! Thanks for your attention, if you wish to add something…
Thanks to you for your interest! I would love to invite people to listen to more underground metal. Because there are some really amazing bands in the underground. The underground is what keeps metal alive. When bands become too “big” or get signed to major labels they often start to compromise and sadly their creativity is affected. So long live the underground!