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We have tried to translate in music, if possible, the emotions, the pain, the fear that represents the human hate.

Interview with Void of Silence.

Void of Silence is an Italian project that has been around for a few years now, combining Death/Doom with dark electronics. Their first two albums received good critiques, but the latest one is sure to make the mouths of fans of dark doom water. Riccardo Conforti and Ivan Zara have joined forces with Alan Nemtheanga, the charismatic frontman of Irish Celtic Metal spearhead Primordial and that was just what the band needed to push the level even higher. Enough reason to accompany a review of the album, Human Antithesis, with a question crossfire. Below is the result of my correspondence with Alan Nemtheanga and Riccardo Conforti.

Interview with Alan Nemthenga

Alan Nemtheanga

O: First of all, thank you very much for the interview.

A: No problem.

To begin with, how did you get involved with Void of Silence? Can you tell me a bit about how you met them and how the idea of you doing the vocals sprang up?

Simple really. The last year or two I had been really thinking hard about some other projects and working with other musicians outside of Primordial and then I received a group mail from Void of Silence and code 666 saying they were looking for a new singer. I had the first 2 cds and thought they were good. So I decided I would be interested in doing the vocals, at first they didn't quite believe me but through swopping CD-rís through the mail we worked it out.

How long were you in the studio for Human Antithesis and how did the session go?

They already had the music recorded and I came over and did about 3 days in the studio for the vocals. I had nothing prepared other than 70% of the lyrics and a couple of† ideas so I was really living on my wits and it was a great challenge to come up with something in that short space of time. Thankfully it all worked out very well in the end.

Your vocal performance on this album is at times even more intense than it is on the Primordial albums.† How did you go about writing your vocal lines and lyrics for this album, the music itself being finished for the most part at that time?

I knew the tracks before I left for Italy but basically we went through the songs part by part in the studio and experimented and went with I thought fitted in the best. There was time and money constraints so the pressure was on but sometimes its good to work under pressure. Grace under pressure!

How does the difference in musical style between Void of Silence and Primordial affect this? Are you influenced much by the atmosphere of the music when you sing?

Totally, with Void there was this very dark almost desperate atmosphere to the music, grey and bleak and for me it was very important and very inspirational that I was in a strange situation away from everything that I knew and was familiar and essentially thrown in at the deep end.† But in the end I just let the music and the atmosphere and my time alone there take me where I wanted to go. Of course its different to Primordial but Iím no stranger to being in the studio so I knew what was expected of me.

Alan in the studio

A song like ďGrey HorizonĒ truly expresses a grave despair; did you feel the need to express such feelings musically as well, next to themes you work out in Primordial?

Of course, I am a musician and recently feel like I am only just reaching anything close to the amount of musical ideas I have inside me. Itís important after so many years to work with other musicians and challenge yourself.† Void has some similar atmospheres to Primordial perhaps, especially on an album like A Journeyís End but in many ways they are also completely different. I really wasn't thinking how does this compare to Primordial when I was doing the vocals. Its just another part of me.

Iíve picked up over the years that you are into Candlemass and obviously you have contact with Mourning Beloveth. Besides that, what doom metal are you fond of? Which bands?

Ahhh, im an old doom fan really from the 80's. Candlemass are of course for the gods of doom metal but bands like Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Solitude Aeturnus, Nemesis, Sorcerer, Count Raven, Trouble, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and then of course bands like Mourning Beloveth, Reverend Bizarre, Solstice, Iron Man, Neurosis, Unearthly Trance, Winter, High on Fire, Sleep, Penance, Revelation, Morgion, Shape of Despair, Mercy, Warcry, old Cathedral, Unholy, etc etc etc... Really I'm an old fashioned metal head more into the old 80's style of the doom/heavy metal bands like Candlemass, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Manowar etc. but I like lots of things. For example Neurosis have been a massive influence lately.

How are things with the Irish scene at the moment? I understand that it can be hard for an Irish band to keep its head above water. How do you feel about this?

Things are ok, the scene is more united I guess then at any other time but there really isnít that many fans and its hard to sell any more then a few hundred CDís, thereís no touring circuit, no airplay or anything like that. Itís hard for all of us of course. Personally, itís all Iím used to as Iíve been part of the scene here for about 15 years or more, since Ď88 or so.

Iíve read on the Sentinel Records website that they are releasing five 7Ē picture discs in the future. Iíve already reviewed the first release, but you are scheduled to be next in line with the Primordial / Mael Mordha split. Can you tell me a bit about that? Mael Mordha is listed as a doom-metal band in our bandlist, so perhaps I will have an excuse to review Primordial for the site as well?

I wouldn't call Mael Mordha doom metal really but I suppose in ways it is. Yeah itís Brian and Adrian from Sentinelís plan to release an Irish 7" collection. They are old friends of ours so we are going to weigh in with a live track for them that they can do what they want to with. Don't know when it will be released.

Iíve also read that you are busy with several kinds of side-projects at the moment (Funeral Pyre,† Nemtheangaís Art). Could you give me an introduction on these things?

Well Nemtheanga's Art is really for bands who want or need backdrops painted or side fills for their cabinets, Iíve done them for loads of bands from Death Angel to Mourning Beloveth to Cirith Gorgor and Melechesh etc. Take a look on www.primordialweb.tk and look for Nemtheangaís Art. I have some other plans alright, a band with KK from Destroyer 666, sorta epic metal. Funeral pyre? My plan was really grim black metal mixed with something like Discharge, Tragedy style krust. Really obnoxious and dirty,
we'll see if I find the right people to play with.

'Human Antithesis' cover

Are there any plans for you to do more work for Void of Silence? Or another doom project? Iíd love to hear more of your vocals in a doom-metal context.

Well whatever Void of Silence do in the future as far as I know I will be involved. As and from now I am in the band and im happy with that so hopefully we are going to make more and more albums with them. As for anything else? I don't know, Iím always interested in working with other people and musicians.

Thanks for the interview, any famous last words?

They say my songs are much too slow, but they don't know the things I know..

Interview with Riccardo Conforti

O: Hello Riccardo, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

R: Oh no, thanks to you man!

Iíve read in your biography that you and Ivan knew each other from another band before you started Void of Silence. Can you tell me a bit about that time and how you got the idea of starting Void of Silence?

Ivan and I played in another band, he played guitar with a gothic doom metal band during the nineties, and I had a dark/ambient project called Syrion with which I completed two albums in the years 1998 and 1999. Besides I was the drummer in a doom band. Void of silence was born for our necessity to unite the love for the doom sound and my passion for the industrial.

Riccardo Conforti

You yourself are fond of dark ambient music (as am I) and you have said that in Void of Silence you two try to combine dark ambient with doom metal. How satisfied are you with the way this is turning out in Void of Silence. Is it better now than it was in the beginning?

I believe that in every our album the two things are really present and perfectly mixed with each other. Sincerely I adore the atmospheres that we created: these are powerful and atmospheric, very dramatic. A soundtrack for the human desperation lived during the second world war.

Are you influenced by the different manner in which atmosphere is created in dark ambient music when you create doom metal?

I donít know. We compose in spontaneous way, none of the sounds influence the others.††
We do it thinking of cinema way and the ambient bases are useful to emphasize a particular mood.

What musical concepts are behind Human Antithesis and what are your main inspirations for the samples and electronic sounds you incorporate into your music?

The samples are a very important characteristic of our music.†Every single component belongs to a picture: one thing that, in its whole, succeeds in representing the perfect situation we want to describe. The Second World War was experienced by our grandparents and by millions of other people. Their memories live in books, documents, films, photos. We study texts, we analyze documents and we try everything to be able to imagine the horror indeed, even if we never lived the true horror. We have tried to translate in music, if possible, the emotions, the pain, the fear that represents the human hate. A tragedy such the one happened in Europa during that period is something indescribable; we all, at least I believe, canít even imagine what our grandparent lived. We don't have a political position, only the desire to recreate those terrible atmospheres. This is the main influence for the existence of my band.

Iíve heard from Alan Nemtheanga that you and Ivan had the music finished when he arrived to do the vocals. How did the process of writing and recording the music go? Who does what in Void of Silence?

Ivan and me have composed all music and contemporarily we sent in Ireland some demos versions in such way that Alan could get ready for a hard job.†We work in tuning, doing a "surgical" work on every single detail, because everything has to play as we want. We donít follow a pre-arranged process, an idea can be born from a riff or from a sample.†For the next album we are in contact with Duncan Patterson that he said to be prepared to play with us, we will see.

Riccardo in the studio

Are you pleased with the way the album turned out? Was it easy to leave the responsibility for the lyrics with Alan, instead of writing them yourself, or did you swap ideas beforehand?

Alan has written marvellous lyrics, he is a great artist, an absolute professional and nobody could do it better than him. I believe that a singer, to be able to do his work in the best of the ways, must "feel" the text, not only to sing it passively.† We are deeply satisfied with our Irish friend.

What are your favourite artists Ė in any genre?

Oh, thereíre many good projects that I like! Raison díEtre and Pink Floyd are my favourites, but thereíre other cool bands, like Monolithe or Klaus Schulze, Canaan and Esoteric. I donít know, thereíre too many projects...

Have you ever played live? Do you have any plans for doing so in the future? Why or why not?

Void of Silence will remain a studio project, because it would be very difficult to perform a live show with all our samplers that we use. We need of al lot of sessions musicians, and sincerely we don't† want to use any DAT-tapes in our live show. So we think that for this time, we won't do any concerts.

What are the plans for the future? I hope Human Antithesis will be a big success, but what after that?

Weíll start to work on new stuff in the first time of 2005. Also we want to define the situation with Duncan, because it is a new idea exactly of these days.

Thanks a lot for your time. Anything else you want to add?

No, only express gratitude for you and your staff for your support to the doom metal genre. I hope that my English isnít too bad, Alan knows my hate for translations.


Visit the Void of Silence bandpage.

Interviewed on 2004-07-14 by Oscar.
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