Raising Fear have just released their excellent new album 'Avalon', a complex concept piece, and the band's Yorick opens up about the set.
The new album is very impressive, how do you feel about it?
We're very happy about it, we're actually not very happy about how some journalists seem to talk about it in a very superficial way. I mean there are some people who don't like Rob and I can agree he's got a voice either you love or hate it, yet I don't understand why some people make a point on some of Rob's pronunciation's defect and kills our album because of that, rather than evaluating the production, songwriting, or the lyrics. I guess that if that guy paid so much attention to the lyrics maybe he realised that the concept was complex, not just a retelling of the Myth of King Arthur and his Knights.
Besides, I don't see how people talking about priest, blood and swords can have even listened to the album or read the promotional material, so how can they make a review? However I feel good about the album and I think it's powerful and maybe a little bit out of the mainstream, you have to listen to it several times before you start to understand it.
You mix power metal with operatic thrash, and a nod at Iron Maiden's more progressive direction; would you say that's accurate? How would you describe your music? It's certainly fairly unique.
What you say really makes me happy, because we got to the point we centered our goal to be unique and original, even if we have some clear influences inside our music. You perfectly described our music, we love bands like Accept, Grave Digger, Savatage and Annihilator, King Diamond, Iron Maiden and Ayreon, so I think you are absolutely right.
The concept of Avalon is quite complex. How did you come about it and work it into your songs?
We wanted to have Mythos like a path to follow to build a new story and a 'Fil Rouge' which could link all our albums. So we came up with the story of the 'Order', and of Wolfram. First came the Order, a sort of monastic congregation of many different religions, scholars, mystics and philosophies; then came Wolfram and his story, which we are going to tell on our website, as a completion of the story told in the album. I wish one day this story might maybe be a novel.
Is there a parallel with your views on technology in every day life now?
I work with technology every day, and I use it for anything, above all communication. I actually love it, even if I started becoming a little scared about what genetic engineering or artificial intelligence may become. Nevertheless I am sure human kind will always be able to cope with them.
The 13 minute title track is equally musically complex. How did that come about?
There's always been a metal tradition of long suites. I'm thinking of Iron Maiden's 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner', 'Seventh Son' and 'Alexander The Great', Helloween's 'Halloween' and 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys', or the long narrative and intense suites of prog bands like Marillion and Symphony X.
Long tracks give us the chance of telling different sides of the same story linking different moods and tempos in just one musical unit. We decided we wanted such a long song to tell about the ritual Wolfram has to undergo, in order to be worth accepting the gift of the powers of Avalon.
Will the concept be continued on your next album?
Definitely yes. We don't know yet in which specific terms but that's the plan.
Did you ever listen to the concept on Eloy's Planets and Time To Turn albums?
I have to admit I never heard about them, I have to check them out for sure.
Will you go the route of fellow Italians Rhapsody and use narration of someone of Christopher Lee's standing?
I don't think Raising Fear have the power and the fame to have such important guests on their albums. I wish I will be able one day to record an album worth of having great reviews and a great public. I think Rhapsody did great things and everybody in Italy should think about them as good and lucky musicians who finally brought our music out of the national borderlines.
How did the deal with label Dragonheart / SPV come about?
Out of the blue. A very well accepted lucky strike. We are so proud of it, and we are trying to deserve the trust of such a label.
Who are your main influences?
Personally I listen to all kinds of music, with a particular preference for heavy metal (all of the well played and well produced heavy metal). I think that music is always a matter of tastes so I don't usually give too subjective evaluations. I like professionalism and as far as I can find some in an album I think it's worth listening and it's a good source of my teachings. My favourite bands are Savatage and Circle II Circle however.
Will you be touring the UK soon?
Hopefully, I would love to do it. We'll be in Holland soon, but we haven't any contact in the UK yet. Never say never, though.
Any message for your fans?
It's become custom for me to thank them all. We owe them all we have, and all we are. Thanks a lot to all of them and to all of you guys that support us.
Interview © October 2006 Joe Geesin