Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Dawn of a Dark Age

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

As both a loyal proponent of atavistic black metal and a man with familial roots in southern Italy, I have searched for years for great Italian extreme music.  It has often seemed like a fool’s errand.  In recent years, right on the heels of the surge of varied French extremity, lots of metal has erupted from the land of Romulus and Mussolini, but often there was nothing recognizably Italian in it.  Lyrics spat in English, chords shredded out in styles Scandinavian, British and American.  Not that it was bad, but I could derive as much (or more) pleasure from those bands’ influences, and it all seemed a bit superfluous.

All of which makes the sharp individuality expressed by Dawn of a Dark Age so much more satisfying.  The Agnone duo, comprised of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eurynomos and vocalist Buran, promise and achieve raw black metal, but that description only serves as a sonic foundation for the agitated and melodic events contained within the songs.  Eurynomos’s musical training allows him to inject the savage swirl with piano, alto and baritone saxophone, and clarinet.

Wait!  Don’t go yet!  Just try it.  The heart and bones and crispy viscera of Dawn’s music are undeniably black.  The other instruments add color in interesting places and twist things just enough to make the view more intriguing.

To add to the allure, Dawn of a Dark Age have promised that this debut recording, The Six Elements, Vol. 1: Earth, will be followed every six months by another six-song recording through 2017, each one thematically exploring humanity’s experience with an elemental force.  The ambition is astounding.  We hope all goes well, and we look forward to the next installment.

For now, here’s a stream of Earth and a look into the mind of the man behind all this vision.

Dawn of a Dark Age just started a few months ago and you already have a complete recording to release. Were you writing music before the band’s official beginning, or did the songs really come out that fast?

Working in solitude makes everything easy and streamlined. I can create, compose and record music for 10 – 12 hours in a day, and then to add the voice of Buran is just the finishing touch. About the music, some songs required long time working, but others just came out easily. “Eurynomos Army” was created in four days but “Dawn Of A Dark Age” took several months of work. Anyway all the songs were written and recorded starting from the last February, when we [were] born as Dawn Of A Dark Age.

How did the musical ideas come together?

When I start to compose a new song I don’t follow a standard schedule. Sometimes I create a melody with my woodwinds, many others a guitar riff or a sequence of chords on the piano can start off the song. Then it is important to have clear in mind the right drumming. So I add the drums and gradually the song comes to life and I start thinking about the arrangement, which has an important role in our sound, especially for the integration of wind instruments. They allow me to experiment [with] different colors and nuances that I want to give to the song.

What part of Italy are you from? Are there other metal musicians in your area who you have worked or corresponded with?

I live in Abruzzo, a region in central Italy full of mountains, sea, hills and streams and with a long history. And this colorful land makes me feel music closer to the natural elements. In the winter you can spend hours in the woods and in twenty minutes you can reach the seaside, and this changing landscape is reflected in our music. But on the other hand there aren’t many musicians in this area to relate with and to share a long term project like this.

What got you interested in writing music for the ancient concept of elements?

As said before, the place where I was born is essential for this project. Being able to play different instruments allows me to relate to each element with a particular nuance of sound. The nature tells us stories only if we are able to hear her! This may sound [like] a project focused on the melody and on the sweetness, but it’s just an illusion. Our music is sometimes melodic, but in a matrix [that] is violent and aggressive, because the nature is threatened day after day by the cruelty of the men that try to take possession of its elements to destroy. His ego, his thirst for power will lead to the inevitable clash between nature and the human race, and that will be the day of Dawn Of A Dark Age.

Which came first, the musical style or the elemental concept?

When I compose a new song I always try to find the right balance between both of them to let them grow together. You can’t think the two things separately; they are tied together and need to be in symbiosis in this long and exciting project.

What music/artists first sparked your interest in black metal? What inspired your inclusion of woodwind and piano instruments into such a violent form of music?

When black metal began to have followed in the early 90s I was studying clarinet at the Conservatory and use to play Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky. One day a friend of mine came with a tape recording of Mayhem. Until that time the most extreme things that I had heard were Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Carcass. But that sound was new, dirty, raw and at the same time  charming and above all cold and very aggressive. Since that time I discovered the Scandinavian scene and bands like Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Marduk. I decided to put the ‘classic’ instruments like clarinet, saxophone and piano, which are part of my personal training, just searching for the right colors during the arrangement of the songs, trying to give each one its own footprint that is as similar as possible to the sound I have in mind. If there’s a song that can give you an idea probably this is Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring,” which could be understood as a mother (Earth) sweet and dear who suddenly becomes violent and out of control. This is the meaning I would give to “The Six Elements”, where the peaceful nature can suddenly unleash a fucking hell with an earthquake, a tsunami, or a snowfall in summer.

Do you have a favorite piece of music on this first volume, Earth?

It’s hard to pick up one song, just because, as I said before, I tried to give each one its own particular character and its own particular sound. And also their placement in the setlist is made so that they can follow a path that begins a cycle, grows, reproduces and closes the circle. It is not a coincidence that the tribal bongos open and close this first element (Earth) projecting toward the second one.

Is it a challenge to write the lyrics you want in English, or are you pretty comfortable with the language?

Even for the lyrics I am always searching for the best metric and rhythmic solution that blends with the music and with the idea that I have in my mind. In the next albums I could use the language of my country or a dialect, following the ancient black metal tradition.

You’ve promised five more related recordings over the next 3 years. Are you overwhelmed by that ambition, or is this just the way that the musical ideas are coming out of you?

It might seem like a race against time, but it’s not. Simply everything in the project is related to the number 6 and so I decided to publish them after six months of each other. I’m not worried about the time schedule, I have the full path already clear in my mind, and, as I said, working in solitude allows me to be prolific and to focus all my energies in this project.

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