Cerca nel blog

Interview with Dalla Nebbia (November 2015)

With a foundation in black metal, Dalla Nebbia is a far-cry from the corpse paint and spiked gauntlets of the Scandinavian orthodoxy. Rather, the American project chooses a more diverse path to put forth their musical message. Their influences are far-reaching: from American bands like Agalloch or Nachtmystium to the keyboard heavy progressive sounds forged by Limbonic Art or Arcturus, with a dash of prog rock and doom metal. Their songs are not your typical verse-chorus fare, but follow a much more non-linear path, even taking on a narrative feel both in music and lyrics. Dalla Nebbia is band not afraid to skew genres and eschew tradition in favor of creating a sound that is all their own. Dalla Nebbia digitally self-released an EP called "Thy Pale Form..." as a duo in July 2012. Some of those tracks may still be floating around youtube, but shortly after its release bassist Tiphareth and drummer Alkurion joined and the band's full lineup was established. The first full length "The Cusp of the Void" was released through Razed Soul Productions in October 2013. On September 18, 2015 Dalla Nebbia released their most ambitious record yet, "Felix Culpa". With their sophomore effort, they take you through the dark and foggy morass of the human psyche. Felix Culpa is a journey through decay and regret, death and suicide, and thorny despair at the hands of an angry god. Featuring stunning violin performances throughout by Sareeta (Borknagar, Solefald, Ásmegin, God of Atheists), as well as some additional guest guitar work by Aort (Code, Indesinence), the album is heavy, atmospheric, and piercing to your very soul.

Hi there, how are you doing, Yixja? I know that you had a lot of problems with the umpteenth storm, everything okay now? 

Thanks for asking, Franz. My home is fine, but it’s been a very difficult time for the Carolinas. It’s going to take a long time to rebuild after all the flood damage.

You live in South Carolina, is the same for all the other members? There is a lot of mystery around your band in general, as well as for your nicknames... could you tell me more about that (background of each musician) and especially, why you chose an Italian moniker? 

I actually live in North Carolina now, but Zduhać, Tiphareth, and I all lived in South Carolina at one point, which is where I know them from. Zduhać (vocalist) has since moved to Minnesota and Tiphareth (bassist) back to his home Brazil. Our drummer Alkurion has always lived in Seattle, and I met him online. As far as the band name, I don’t speak very much Italian but I’ve always loved the aesthetic of the language. The name was chosen partly for the phonetic sound of the words, as well as the fact that we felt the phrase described the sound of the music.

You have just released the second album, happy for that? How do you feel now, considering that it was already ready for almost 1 year? In the meantime have you started to write new tracks? 

It feels great to have finally released the album. A lot of the songs were actually written back before our first album came out in 2013, and yes the album has been finished for almost a year. We’ve stayed busy with other projects though. Alkurion and I also work together in a funeral/death doom band called Mesmur and released our debut last winter. We haven’t begun any new material for Dalla Nebbia yet, but a Mesmur followup is underway. We haven’t yet decided where to take Dalla Nebbia next, but we’ll start writing again when it feels right.

I have reviewed both albums of Dalla Nebbia. The first one was very close to the sound of Windir while the new one seems much more influenced by Agalloch, and by some bands of the avantgarde/experimental scene like Oranssi Pazuzu and Code, even keeping an angry approach, do you agree? 

To be honest, I think the first album had more direct Agalloch influence than this one, with its earthier, more organic tone. They are still a major influence in spirit though, and Windir is also still a major part of our sound. With 'Felix Culpa', I think my biggest musical influence is probably King Crimson, who of course is not even a metal band. Especially in their later material, the use of unrelenting and maddening dissonance in the Fripp/Belew twin guitar harmonies has been really inspirational to me, and the lush Mellotron backdrop of early Crimson and their prog contemporaries is a huge influence on our atmosphere. Like you said though, the album still has an angry and aggressive tone to it. In black metal, Oranssi Pazuzu and Code are big inspirations for us, as well as Solefald, Arcturus, Panopticon, Lunar Aurora, Negura Bunget, etc. We have plenty of respect for the traditional, but our favorite bands are those that push and do interesting things with the black metal template.

How was the recording of the new album, could you give me much more details? What about the lyrics, and how a Dalla Nebbia song is born? Is there an "8 hands" working approach, or does each of you work individually? 

Generally the writing starts with me, and I put together a rough framework of a new song in demo form, with a programmed scratch drum track. I then hand the demo over to Zduhać, and he injects his vocal and lyrical ideas. The structure of the song often has to be tweaked to accomodate his ideas, but so far it’s been a very smooth process and we’ve had great chemistry. After vocals are recorded and the structure is finalized, Alkurion and Tiphareth input their personality into it by replacing the scratch drum and bass parts with their own ideas. Aside from the violin which was recorded in a studio in Oslo, we recorded 'Felix Culpa' entirely ourselves and I handled the mixing and mastering.

Zduhać writes all the lyrics, and they cover a variety of related topics on this album. General themes are based on the inevitability of death, the small and insignificant scale of human life in the universe and natural world, and the futility of religion as a solution to mankind’s problems. "Abandoned Unto Sky" is based on the idea of seeing death and decay in everything. "Lament of Aokigahara" is written from the perspective of the trees in Japan’s “suicide forest” as they observe human suffering and despair. The title track explores religion’s obligation to justify the existence of death and evil in the world, and the flawed idea of a perfect and omniscient god orchestrating the events of people’s lives, allowing suffering and tragedy as part of a bigger plan. The phrase “felix culpa” translates from Latin to “fortunate fault” and is a reference to this idea of tragedy that has a hidden divine purpose. The song "Paradise in Flames" then builds further on the idea, exploring the blinding and manipulative aspects of organized religion and cults.

Could you explain the cover artwork, and what it represents? Is there any intimate meaning in that angel? 

The mourning angel is a Christian symbol of death, and relates to the idea of “felix culpa” in that it portrays death as something beautiful and peaceful. To an extent, it may be a necessary and positive thing for people to look at death and loss this way, but I’ve seen people take it to seemingly unhealthy levels, burying their pain deep down under faith and tradition, and never really healing.

How was the collaboration with Sareeta (she is fantastic) and with Aort born? What should we expect in the future from your sound? Do you already have new ideas to improve it? 

I’m a huge fan of Sareeta’s past work, especially her violin playing on Solefald’s 'Red for Fire/Black for Death' albums and Borknagar’s beautiful 'Origin' album. I had a short list of violinists I had planned to contact about possible collaboration with Dalla Nebbia, and she was at the very top of the list. It was kind of a dream come true when she agreed, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. On some of the songs she played parts that I had arranged, and on others she did her own thing and took them to amazing places I couldn’t have imagined. Aort is another musician that I have enormous respect for, and I’ve been in touch with him for a couple years now. I messaged him a while back with a couple of almost finished songs asking if had interest in trying to add an idea or two. His contributions were short, but added a great deal to those sections of "Not Within the Stone" and the title track. And it was of course a great honor to work with him, huge fans of Code that we are.

As far as the future, like I mentioned before I’m not really sure at the moment where we’re going next. I was really happy with the addition of violin to our sound, but I don’t know yet if we’ll go further in that direction or completely reinvent ourselves on the next album. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Do you have the chance to play live? How would you manage the absence of Sareeta in case? 

Well I don’t foresee any opportunity for live performance in the near future, as spread out as we are. If we ever did, I’d love to involve a session violinist (assuming Sareeta is not available) rather than adapting the parts for keyboard, but that’s a problem for another day.

How were the feedbacks on the first Lp and did you get any feedback (aside from The Pit of the Damned) on the new one? 

We’re still not very widely known of course, but feedback for both albums has been very positive so far. In addition to the extreme metal zines, we’ve actually gotten some positive attention from one or two prog publications this time around, which is different and interesting.

What about the local scene, is there any interesting band to suggest me? 

There’s not much of a black metal scene in Wilmington NC where I live, but there are some good bands in other parts of NC. Mysteriarch from Charlotte is on our label, and plays symphonic black metal in the vein of old Limbonic Art. Then there’s Heron from Raleigh, who reminds me of WIITR or Vattnet Viskar. There’s more of a scene in Minnesota, where Zduhać lives. Lots of great bands are based up there, like Panopticon, Obsequiae, False, etc. There’s also always a lot of great black metal coming out of Washington, where our drummer is. My personal favorite right now from out there is Alda, whose latest album really blew me away.

Finally, I am used to asking for the "Desert Island List": three books, three records and three movies you can’t live without. What about yours?

Books- Maybe one of my Lovecraft collections, and a couple books I’ve had interest in but never read before, like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut.

Music- This is always tough, but 'Arntor' by Windir, 'Through Silver in Blood' by Neurosis, and 'The Tatterdemalion Express' by Mar de Grises are the first that come to mind right now.

Movies- Lots to choose from here too, but Alien, Suspiria, and The Good The Bad and the Ugly are films I could watch over and over.

By the way, Zduhać is a huge fan of fantasy novels and he requested that I add The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss to the desert island book list. In his words, it “makes all other fiction look weak by comparison”. I guess I need to add that to my own reading list.

Thanks a lot guys, I guess to know very soon that you are writing new material as Dalla Nebbia is an interesting creature of the US underground.

(Francesco Scarci for The Pit of the Damned)