About Me

Interview with Hideous Divinity

“Adveniens” was extraordinary but Hideous Divinity have, once again, upped their own game with “Simulacrum”, released via Century Media. The band is getting bigger and bigger and, finally, getting the worldwide attention they deserve. The band is currently on a North American tour alongside Vader, Abysmal Dawn and Vitriol. In April and May, they’ll be touring in Europe in support of Terrorizer…  Portugal is in their plans as well as they’ll will be present at this year’s edition of SWR in Barroselas, the most extreme Portuguese festival, and they’re looking forward to it. Metal Imperium caught up with the busy band to find out more about the new album, the tours and other interesting topics. 

M.I. - In the press release, Century Media wrote that Death metal’s former and current extremes are busted by Hideous Divinity’s formidable “Simulacrum”. This is quite a bold statement! Do you agree?

[Laughts] in the future, I always hope to deserve Century Media’s amazing support. What I can tell you is that the meaning of “extreme” in death metal music has multiple meanings and layers: it may look like limited music from the outside, but actually there are so many ways to reach different states of mind. I believe our music is extreme but with a meaning, like a kaleidoscope of recurrent scary images that are all connected. Like in an Ari Aster movie, you don’t get “jump scared” but slowly fall into a spider net of horror and desperation. There’s no happy ending in death metal. 

M.I. - Guitarist Enrico Schettino stated that Mgła’s ‘Exercises in Futility V’, Aosoth’s guitar wall of sound, Hate Eternal’s ‘tear open’ riffs are some examples of the ghosts that haunt Hideous Divinity’s music. What does this mean exactly?  What are your main musical influences?

I have this modern horror-flavored image of music visiting my dreams like a haunting spirit. I’m a voracious listener, obsessed in my search for something new and original, something that restores my faith in creativity. What you’ve mentioned above, are only some of the finest examples of the influences I’ve had through these more recent years. The music that inspired “Obeisance Rising” is very different from what inspired “Simulacrum”. I guess it’s all part of a journey. At the present time, I’m listening to Adversarial as well as Wolves in the Throne Room: you can’t easily say our music reminds of any of them, but I can guarantee you they’re there.

M.I. - “Adveniens” marked a clear turn towards a darker, heavily black metal-influenced death metal perspective. “Simulacrum” took this musical concept and brought it to a new level. Why did you feel the need to make this change?

Wouldn’t call that a change, it’s more like a progression to me. The continuation of a path started perhaps with “Cobra Verde”, which I believe was the first album with what we could call “personality”. On the other hand, I really feel it’s a “need”: need for something new and fresh. For evolution. 

M.I. - The album was released on the 8th November. How were the reactions to the new album?

Reactions have been good in general, perhaps the die hard fans of the band felt this new record deal influenced our music... a lot of people obviously didn’t know us so our fan base grew exponentially, and that’s great. If people saw in this album a step forward in the same direction of “Adveniens”, that’s a reason enough for me to be happy. 

M.I. - “Simulacrum” was written in its entirety by Schettino… isn’t it too much responsibility to one person alone? Is it the way you prefer to work or is it done like so out of necessity?

I carry on the composition process but each and every song goes thru a massive re-arrangement/re-writing process in which everybody is more or less involved. It’s true, I like to present the other guys something with a beginning and an end, completed with guitar layers and drum parts: it’s just because you can’t discuss over something that has no shape. As for the responsibility, every serious commitment in life carries a certain degree of responsibility. Mine is to offer quality music first to my band mates and then to our audience. If I were not up for this responsibility, I should probably drop the guitar and use my time for something else. 

M.I. - All your albums have been inspired by movies and “Simulacrum” is inspired in David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” layered in concepts from French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Why this film and philosopher in particular?

I got fascinated by an article analyzing the connections between Lynch, Hitchcock and Deleuze. The main idea of an uncanny tale of distorted cycles of life where the actor becomes spectator really resonated in me. It gave me the feeling that it can also be referred to our music itself: same core, but you can “tell the differences thanks to its repetitions”. In other words, our music is coming back over and over, always in a more distorted and obscure outfit.

M.I. - What’s the main message of this album?

I didn’t think about a clear message, actually. What could it be?... perhaps, like in Lynch’s Lost Highway, the central idea would be the incapacity, the impossibility to control one’s life. We simply become actors in a theater of horrors, and Hideous Divinity is playing the soundtrack of this anguish cycle.

M.I. - The beast on the cover of “Adveniens” is the same featured in the cover of “Simulacrum”… why keep this link between the two albums?

There’s a link with the previous cover art shown by the new one, that’s for sure, but the two subjects are not the same. I loved Vladimir Chebakov’s idea of keeping the flame in the right hand of the main figure. Talking about “carrying the torch” in a literal way... the Angelus Novus in Adveniens, however, is a character that carries knowledge and a sad, almost resigned sense of wisdom. The “spectator” featured in the cover of “Simulacrum”, on the other end, is a crude image of distorted cycles of reality. He pulls his mask as he drops his role of actor to become a mere witness. 

M.I. - “Anamorphia Atto III” is my fave track of the album and it also is the longest and most well-written. What’s your favourite? Why?

I’m pretty fond of that track too. Must say, a lot of listeners share your same preference. Perhaps because they see a sort of micro cosmos in it. I wrote it a very long time ago, and its aura permeated all the songs that followed. I believe “The Embalmer” is still my favourite track: I guess it’s because of the search for epic moments and, of course, the videoclip featuring Olivier de Sagazan in it. 

M.I. - Your last 3 albums all include cover songs. How did this idea come up? How is the selection of the cover done?

I’m obsessed by cover songs. I see them as a powerful way to show personality in adaptation together with sincere admiration for a certain band. A sort of declaration of love. Every cover song recorded by HD is both a style experiment and an act of love. Think about “Media Blitz” by The Germs reinterpreted by Brutal Truth, or the entire “Future of The Past” album by Vader. When I thought about Machine Head and Mayhem, I knew I was entering a dangerous territory, but I also knew exactly what to do. I believe everyone can see HD’s personal interpretation of these two classics, whether is good for some and bad for some others. 

M.I. - The band has been recording with Stefano Morabito at 16th Cellar Studios since 2007. He’s kind of like the 6thmember of the band and he’s been evolving along with you over the years. Have you ever considered the idea of him actually joining the band? How important is it having someone like Stefano? How important is it to have a cohesive band? Are Hideous Divinity cohesive?

[Laughts] actually we asked him to join in more than one occasion (as guitar player) in the past years. Stefano truly is the 6th member, each album is a challenge for him as it is for us. When it’s time for a new record, he always talks about H.D. saying “this is our most important album. We must exceed ourselves.”. “We”. That’s how a true member of the band talks. He knows us as we know him, and obviously his obsessions and manias. There are many fights and discussions, just because everyone considers this band as a top priority. This is, to me, the perfect definition of cohesion. 

M.I. - The new album was released by a new label, Century Media, so did this add extra pressure?

I’d be a liar if I’d say no. Of course we felt additional pressure. Because of the new label, because of this being our fourth album, and because we set the bar pretty high with our previous “Adveniens” album. The challenge was to convert this extra pressure into additional motivation and accuracy. We knew, in other words, that nothing could have been left to chance in Simulacrum. 

M.I. - Now that you are signed to a bigger label, do you believe things will work better / faster for Hideous Divinity?

Better and faster are relative terms. Anyway, I believe “better” is a correct adverb when you become part of a label like Century Media. Everything is handled by them with professionalism and dedication... and the same is of course expected by the artist, which is great (and fair). As for the “faster” part, must say that we’ve never rush into things, as a band. We rather choose a more careful approach every time we face a decision involving our time, commitments or investments. We’ll never stop working hard because the road is still significantly long-or perhaps, I should say, I feel like “the real game has just started”. 

M.I. - Did you get offers from any other record labels? Why did you end up signing to Century Media?

We did, and it wouldn’t be fair to name them now. Let’s just say that CM’s offer was by far the best for HD’s career and plans. We knew it would require a lot of commitment and sacrifices in multiple ways, but we took it without hesitation. This is our life, after all, and life won’t wait.

M.I. - Your drummer’s performance on "Simulacrum" has been ranked among the best this year by Sick Drummer Magazine. How do you feel when you get this kind of recognition?

The drummer is the relentless pulse of an extreme death metal band. If the drummer fails, then no matter how good is the music, the entire ensemble will fail. It’s great that Giulio is getting recognition by his fellow drum colleagues, especially if his creativity is valued as much -if not more than- his speed and intensity.

M.I. - With the attention the band will be getting for being more widely promoted, what are your plans / expectations for the near future?

Hideous Divinity will embark on a busy 2020 tour itinerary to expose “Simulacrum” to fans the world over. 

M.I. - How complicated is it getting a tour planned when some of the band members are involved in other active bands as well?

I’m writing to you from the US, where our North American tour together with Vader, Abysmal Dawn and Vitriol is halfway through. An European tour in April and May directly supporting another death metal legend called Terrorizer has just being announced. So yes, 2020 is so far a very busy year! We’re extremely happy and grateful. At the same time, Stefano will be busy with Aborted therefore some overlapping will probably happen. We are already working on a temporary fill-in solution. 

M.I. - Are there any plans to come to Portugal?

This year will finally be SWR Barroselas for us, and I can’t wait. Not to mention that we’re gonna play the same day of Mgla, so I got myself a double treat for May 1st 2020. Life is good. 

M.I. - Schettino has said that “It cannot be just music. It’s a reflection of who we are and where we’re going.” So, is it your intention to keep on making music up until you are an old fellow?

As long as I will have decent ideas in my head and working tendons, it will all be about extreme music. I’ll stop before becoming a parody of myself, and think of something else. 

M.I. - How old were you when you feel the need / desire to create a band? Has the band lived up to your expectations so far?

It took me a few seconds of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” to realize that was the way I wanted to pursue. Didn’t know how, didn’t know with whom, but it didn’t mattered at that time. I was 15. 25 years later I’m still here, crossing the American continent supporting one of the bands I’ve grown up with. So I guess that yeah, HD lived up to my expectations so far.

M.I. - Your albums are reflections of your personal experiences and of your life at that particular time?

It’s a very broad topic, but even the most arguable artistic attempt is a mirror reflecting your past and present experiences, your dreams and frustrations. I’ve said in the past that H.D. is a mirror of all musical influences surrounding me in a determined lapse of time. I guess it applies also to the rest of what we called “real life”. 

M.I. - Any films that have impressed you (either positively or negatively) recently? If so, which ones?

I’ve recently become a fan of Ari Aster. “Hereditary” is great, and perhaps “Midsommar” is even better. I totally freaked out. His stories are about sacrificial lambs going to the slaughter in a hopeless procession. True horror, for me, is not the “jump-scare” Hollywood philosophy: it’s about the impending sense of anguish, the hopeless destiny of “dolls in a dollhouse while they’re manipulated by outside forces”. 

M.I. - I read an interview in which you said that, at some point, you were an Italian guy pretending to be a Norwegian guy. Do you think the metal community is still close-minded and only accept people who actually look like metalheads? So, is Norway more close-minded than Italy in what this is concerned? Has this changed ever since then?

I use to tell this as a joke, but perhaps back in the day it was rather true in Norway. I don’t fully blame them. Norway gave birth to some of the most important extreme metal acts of the past 30 years, and this might have generated some sort of congenital arrogance. Their black metal scene is considered part of national patrimony, which is totally fair. I see some incredibly talented new bands from Norway, not many of them are my cup of tea though. Anyway, I’m happy that other countries have established themselves as new extreme metal cradles. I think about Iceland, Greece, the evergreen Poland... and yes, Italy is there too.

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Sónia Fonseca