Sea of Tranquility's Scott Jessup recently interviewed Fabio Calluori, co-founder of the power metal group Heimdall. Their new album Aeneid has been receiving a great deal of positive praise and Fabio goes into detail about this excellent release and other band related topics.
SoT: Hi Fabio and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for Sea Of Tranquillity's readers.
Aeneid is so impressive what do you like the most about it?
Fabio: Thank you very much!! I am really happy you like the album! Aeneid is the fifth album of Heimdall and was released today on February 26th for Scarlet Records, after 9 years since our previous release, Hard as Iron. It's a work in which we worked really hard and we truly believe because I think there are great songs, certainly among the finest ever written by the band. In it you can find power-speed, epic melodies, heavy riffs, majestic choirs and acoustic and orchestral passages, everything in Heimdall style!! I like very much its variety, the fact that each song has its own features and differences and the atmosphere that is epic but in the same time dynamic and powerful. Today many concept albums, after the first songs, tend to be a little bit boring…we wanted to create a majestic atmosphere for an important theme like the Aeneid but at the same time a heavy metal album sounding exciting and powerful from the beginning to the end. Besides I want to underline that the production was followed entirely by myself in my Sonic Temple Studio (www.sonictemple.it) while the mastering was realized by Achim Koehler (Priml Fear, Sinner etc), doing a really great job!
SoT: What motivated you to choose the concept behind this new album?
Fabio: The idea of writing a concept about the 'Aeneid' started several years ago. It's a poem that I've always loved since I started to read books about mythology. With 'The Almighty' and 'Hard as Iron' I left the idea of the concept as an unique story. In them there are some common themes but the pieces are not related to each other like in the first two CDs. After 'Hard as Iron', I felt it was time to face again the idea of the concept as an unique story, I felt the need to write something important and impressive, something very ambitious that could distinguish Heimdall in the metal scene and hence the idea to narrate the story of one of the greatest epic poem. Greek and Roman themes have been previously treated by various bands but no one - at least from what I know - spoke of the origins of our Latin-Roman culture through an entire concept album. It 's something that characterizes us. Besides, in the Aeneid I found many of the themes that you can find in my previous lyrics like the research, travelling, loss, separation, the aspiration to something unreachable and unattainable as well as battle themes. So I didn't simply take inspiration from the text of Virgil but I put a lot of myself in the lyrics and in the choice of the moments to celebrate in them. I was always fascinated by those figures who live in a sort of limbo just as Aeneas who has blood human and divine at the same time, being the son of the mortal Anchises is the goddess Venus. The characters in my lyrics are often in a state of "suspension" and tend continually to something ... it's like the story of artists... always looking for something to fill, by creation, the emptiness that they have inside…
SoT: Will Heimdall be touring to support the new album?
Fabio: We already had some concerts after the 'reunion' and it was really exciting after all these years of absence with the band. Actually we have some gigs in Italy to promote Aeneid and we are searching for some good opportunity for some bigger tour. Live activity has always been very important for us and we cannot wait to start again. Now we have the presentation of the CD in Salerno, our city, in April and we are arranging some other shows as headliner in our country. We are also in contact in order to participate in some festivals this summer. It will be also important to see the first results of the album…so far the reaction of the zines have been great so we are very trusty that heavy metal fans will love Aeneid!
SoT: Why was there such a long period between Aeneid and your last release?
Fabio: Because unfortunately from 2007 we started to have some internal problems, some in the band left for personal reasons and so we decided to take a break. In this period I dedicated to other things. For example I started again with my previous band, From Depths, with my brother Nicolas, recording an Ep, and above all I dedicated to my recording studio activity. In 2010, surely the most important experience of my life ... I became a father of a beautiful baby! Besides in 2010 I put on a band of Hard Rock, called Beautiful Monster, with my brother and Gandolfo (the current singer of Heimdall). We loved to play together and from this experience we took the decision to start again with Heimdall. I called back Carmelo, who was immediately very enthusiastic, while Sergio (key) and Gianni (bass) for personal reasons decided not to participate. So we contacted an old friend Umberto Parisi, a very talented guitarist and an excellent keyboard player, and Enzo D'Auria on bass, replaced later by Daniel Pastore. In 2011, we started to play regularly and so we started again working on the CD...and here we are!
SoT: Was the band still active in between releases?
Fabio: For some years no. As I told you we decided to take a long break after line up and various personal problems but the love for this kind of music has always been really strong and this takes us to start again with a partly renewed line up in 2011.
SoT: I haven't experienced Heimdall's previous albums not yet anyway, are they similar to Aeneid?
Fabio: Honestly I consider our albums quite different from each other although of course there are some points in common and, in my opinion, a precise identity and style. You know… All the tracks and all the lyrics are closely influenced by who we are, by our life experiences, our culture so it's normal for me to have some differences between the albums…each one represents a precise period of our lives. 'Lord of the Sky', the debut CD, contained songs composed between 94 and 97, it was the beginning but I think we already had our style which was consolidated in the following cds with a metal full of heavy riff, speed-power passages and epic melodies. It's a concept about the god Heimdall. In the second 'The Temple of theil' we decided to create a story of our own. The pieces are slightly more complex and there are more orchestral passages also for the add in the line-up of a key player. 'The Almighty' represents the beginning of a new cycle for the band also for the presence of a new singer. It's an always epic work but slightly more melodic and melancholic. It reflects a period of transition and profound changes for the band and also personally. In 'Hard as Iron' we felt the need to play a more aggressive metal with a darker mood and with less speed passages and even the lyrics are more aggressive and gothic. In Aeneid, I think there is a very good balance between metal and orchestral parts resulting an album with great melodies and epic atmospheres but in the same time very energetic and powerful. Besides for the first time we used acoustic instruments like violins, banjo, whistle which help to make it more lively and exciting. Now we also have a new singer, Gandolfo, with a great voice and with a very different tone from the previous ones.
SoT: Can you tell us about Heimdall's origins?
Fabio: Of course…Heimdall was born in 1994 when my brother Nicolas and I decided to form a heavy metal band, powerful and epic. So after some changes of line-up, the bass player Giovanni Canu, the guitarist Carmelo Claps and the singer Claudio Gallo joined us. We recorded a demo in 1997 and after a week we had the first record-deal with Elevate Records!! So in 1998 "Lord of the Sky", a concept-album based on the story of the Nordic god Heimdall, was released, receiving immediately a great success. In 99 we published the follow-up "The Temple of Theil", but after some months from its publication Claudio Gallo left the band. So we started to search for a new singer and, in 2001, Giacomo Mercaldo joined us. With him, we published 'The Almight' in 2002 and 'Hard as Iron' in 2004, both with Scarlet Records. In these years we played live with many bands like Vicious Rumors, Shaman, Labyrinth etc. In 2007, as I told you, we took a break and in the summer of 2011, we decided that the time was right to start again!
SoT: Do you think the kind of metal that you play has evolved greatly since the band started?
Fabio: Mmm honestly I don't see new things around but not only in heavy power metal scene but in general. I think that today it's not easy to introduce something new in the music…everything seems already to have been explored in the past. Yes of course there was some evolution but not so much respect when we started. However I think that the important is to try to have an own style and above all to write music by heart and passion…it's the only way to communicate something important to other people!
SoT: Do you think Heimdall will still be performing the same sort of music for many years to come?
Fabio: Yes…we took a long break so be sure that our fans will not wait other 9 years for a new album!! Now that we started again we want to go on for many years to come and I have to say that there is a really great atmosphere and enthusiasm in the band. For the moment the priority is to support Aeneid with interviews and live gigs but I have to say that we have ready 3/4 new killer songs and many ideas for other ones!
SoT: What other groups are Heimdall's members fans of?
Fabio: We love the classic bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Savatage, Virgin Steele…we started in 94 so we are not so young…ahaha!! But I have to underline that in the bands there are different influences and each of us has his own favourite bands. For example Umberto likes very much Megadeth, Metallica, Annihilator, Symphony X and folk music, Carmelo also loves Malmsteen, Deep Purple and some jazz artists. Gandolfo likes very much Queen and Kamelot. Daniel, that is the youngest one, loves WASP, Helloween, Manowar and in general epic metal. Personally I listen to classic metal, a lot of hard rock, gothic and also some modern rock bands.
SoT: Who are your favourite musicans?
Fabio: Personally I love the way of playing of musicians like Tipton, C. Oliva, Tony Iommi and Randy Rhoads. I love their songs, their riffs and their solos. Carmelo likes very much Malmsteen, Murray, Blackmore and some other guitar heroes. Umberto loves the style of Friedman and Jeff Waters, while for Gandolfo, Roy Khan and Coverdale are among the favorite singers. My brother Nicolas likes very much drummers like Dave Lombardo and Benante, while Daniel likes very much bassists like Rudy Sarzo, Joey De Maio, Johnny Rod, Jens Becker, Jaco Pastorius and Geezer Butler.
SoT: Facebook seems to be gaining popularity with bands, probably as it is such an easy format to communicate and promote your music with, how do you find it?
Fabio: I think that it is ok and I love the immediate factor of the social networks. You can easily reach many people and the contact with fans and zines is really direct. When we started in 94, there were letters and some e-mail!! So you can image the difference…even if I have to say that receiving letters from different countries by fans was really exciting! Now everything is faster but it's ok and then, as you said, social networks today are also great for promote the band and our music. Everyone can listen to your music and then decide if buy or not your cd and that's fine!
SoT: Thanks again and all the best to you and the band!
Fabio: Thank you for this interview and for your great review of Aeneid!! I would also thank all the people that in these years went on following and supporting us! Glory and Honour to you!
(Click here to read our review of Aeneid)