Stigma - 13/05/2010

Italy’s horror inspired extreme metal act STIGMA strikes again with its sophomore release ‘Concerto For The Undead’. Fusing staccato, spastic, guitar riffs with uncompromising breakdowns and lyrical themes deriving from the cult comic series Tales From The Crypt, ‘Concerto For The Undead’  places the Italian quartet in a league of its own. Founded in 2000 by frontman Stefano “Vlad” Ghersi and guitarist Morgan Ferrua, STIGMA began its conquest of the Italian metal scene immediately, releasing two critically acclaimed EPs. After signing with USA-based record label Pivotal Rockordings, STIGMA recorded its debut effort ‘When Midnight Strikes!’ in December 2007. Following the release of ‘When Midnight Strikes!’ STIGMA took its horror show on the road for seventy dates, conquering captivated audiences at festivals and clubs across Europe.

 
STIGMA’s mission to supersede its breakthrough debut album and unleash another tasty lesson in horror yields ‘Concerto For The Undead’, the band’s sophomore effort to be released worldwide through Pivotal Rockordings in April 2010. Recorded at Fear Studio and produced by Bring Me The Horizon guitarist Jona Weinhofen and mixed and mastered by Scott Akins (Behemoth, Cradle Of Filth, Sylosis) in December 2009, ‘Concerto For The Undead’ presents listeners with a ferocious barrage of uncompromising, vertiginous riffing from beyond the grave complemented by infectious gang shout choruses, relentless blast driven drumming, and relentless, thundering bass lines.
 

The cover artwork, a stunning comic-esque tribute to all things Tales From The Crypt, was created by Andrea Berton of Corefolio Design and features comic illustrations that accompany STIGMA’s lyrical fright-fest. With additional guest appearances by Jamie Hope (ex-The Red Shore) and Jon Hunt (Dead To Fall), this is one is not to be missed.

 

 

After reviewing the new album we were also given the opportunity to ask frontman Stefano "Vlad" Ghersi (Vocals), all about STIGMA’s latest effort. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

Could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the band and the origin of the name of the band for our readers and what’s been happening since your previous release?

 

Vlad: Yes! STIGMA is an Italian deathcore band born nearly ten years ago. At the early stages of our story we were playing old school hardcore music, mostly influenced by Raised Fist and bands like Morning Again and others, then, after a first line up change, we started mixing our roots with death metal influences. We released two Eps in 2003 and 2005, then signed for US label Pivotal Rockordings and released our first album, entitled “When Midnight Strikes!” in 2008. We toured all Europe in support of it and after parting ways with our former guitar player we wrote and recorded our new album, “Concerto For The Undead”, which came out April 30th in Europe, May 4th in the USA and the 7th in Australia through Stomp Entertainment. Our name has different meaning for us, connected to the archaic meaning of the letter stigma and others related to the type of music we were playing in our early days.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘Concerto For The Undead’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

 

Vlad: The songwriting process for “Concerto For The Undead” was very different compared to the one of our debut album, mostly because we focused on what we think could be better on our first full length and worked hard to improve both as musicians and songwriters. We wanted this record to be catchier, but more technical as well, we wanted songs to be more oriented to live shows and I wanted to work on a concept making the subject to influence directly the music and not the opposite as it was in the past. The whole phase lasted one year, even if we got tours in between, then we went into the studio and recorded everything in a month.

 

Which approach did you choose to make this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?           

 

Vlad: The music we love and want to write is mixing hardcore with death metal, so that was the only landmark we had, we didn’t think about paying tribute to our old releases or didn’t go too far from them to make sure old fans will still supportive, we just wrote what we wanted to write, this is what we are at this moment and we’re all very proud of this new album!

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Concerto For The Undead’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

 

Vlad: Yeah, as I told you we all found some weak points in our debut album and definitely wanted to avoid the same errors on this one. Don’t get me wrong, we’re very grateful to “When Midnight Strikes!” for what he gave us the chance to do, and I still think that was a solid debut album, but it was still a bit too chaotic and written without thinking exactly what we wanted to write, so this is the main difference between that release and “Concerto For The Undead”!

 

The main themes in your lyrics are clear, but can you give us a little background information on the songs and the lyrics?

 

Vlad: Yes, this record is a concept based on the US comic “Tales From The Crypt”, we personally chose our favorite stories out of the original comics and then I started writing lyrics trying to tell the whole thing or, in some cases, just focusing on some aspects of the characters. The stories are all very different characters-wise, but I can feel a sort of common sense of revenge going around the whole record. For the ones who will buy the record they’ll get the chance to actually see an extract of every song in the artwork, so it’ll be easier to recognize the original story! We’ll also post the full lyrics and reference to the stories I got those from soon on our website, available for free download!

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

 

Vlad: To be honest I didn’t want to hide any type of connection between lyrics and real life, I just want people to have a good and hopefully scary time listening to our music! It’s of course a better horror trip if you actually know the stories behind the songs, or just get into them reading the lyric, but I don’t want to influence anyone with my lyrics, it’s just plain fun!!

 

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song? Is there a typical way in which your songs come into being?

 

Vlad: I can say we want them to be various, catchy and heavy, these are the common elements in our horror receipt ahah!

 

How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Stigma?

 

Vlad: We usually start from guitar riffs, trying to fuse them into a solid structure, then everyone adds their parts and I have a final word on everything because of the vocal lines. We work as a team and on “Concerto For The Undead” we finally found our way to write songs without forgetting any detail. We’ll start writing new stuff in the next few weeks, right after our first festivals and shows to launch this record.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

 

Vlad: It depends! On “When Midnight Strikes!” we first had nearly all the music written before the concept idea came out, this time we wanted to have the theme and mood first, so we could make music to match better with the lyrics! We always try to keep trained with the songwriting, so we’re actually always writing new stuff, then when we have enough things to work on we officially start the songwriting process!

 

How has the band's sound progressed from your first EP to ‘Concerto For The Undead’ in your opinion?

 

Vlad: I think it changed a lot, but keeping the same hardcore background, letting it to be influenced by other forms of extreme music. The first EPs were way more chaotic, maybe even closer to grind than melodic death, “When Midnight Strikes!” was the first step into our actual direction, it’s still hybrid but you can feel we wanted to have a more regular approach to our music, then “Concerto For The Undead” is definitely a good mix of everything we’ve done and some more! I love the way it is, we’re all very proud of it!

 

The Production of ‘Concerto For The Undead’ was done by Jona Weinhofen, what made him the perfect man for this album?

 

Vlad: Jona is a good friend, he plays in one of the most popular alternative bands these days, comes from one of my favorite bands ever, so that shows exactly why we chose to work with him, he has a great experience, he’s a music lover and is extremely passionate in what he does! We’re very proud of having him working on the record and we can’t wait to work again with him in the future!

 

In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

 

Vlad: He helped us out during the song writing process, following every step from first riffs to the pre-production phase, everything you hear in the record is written by us of course, but he helped us out reaching our main objective: writing real songs, with a clear structure and good riffs!

 

How did the recording process proceed this time, did you work differently than you did on your previous works and how much time did you spend in the studio?

 

Vlad: Yeah this time it was very quick! We recorded everything in 3 weeks, then one week of mixing and a few days for mastering the whole record, we basically did everything in five weeks!! We were very worried about this point before hitting the studio, cause for many reasons “When Midnight Strikes!” took us nearly one year to be recorded, this time we knew we had to stay in a tight schedule because of Jona and Scott being very busy, and I’m happy to say we managed to do everything at the best and in a very short time!

 

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective and what about the CD are you most proud of?

 

Vlad: “Concerto For The Undead” is hands down our best release so far and we all love it, it represents the band and the sound we wanted to create so we’re really happy with it! I have a couple of small vocals parts I’d sing in a different way now, but it’s pretty normal to always find small defects!

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

 

Vlad: I’m a normal guy with the dream of living with my music. I’ve always be a big horror fan so I wanted to fuse all my passions into one and decided to write lyrics about characters and stories taken from old movies and comics. I don’t want to create any type of link between lyrics and real life, I’m not hiding anything, I just want to make people having fun while listening to a horror freak shouting like there’s no tomorrow ahah!

 

What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?

 

Vlad: We managed to do a lot in our first ten years of existence, we toured Europe, played with nearly all of our favorite bands, played big festivals like Wacken Open Air, then of course had bad shows with nearly none in the crowd, but this is necessary if you want to grow in the right way, we can honestly say we’ve seen a lot and we’re devoted to our music!

 

How would you sum up Stigma to someone that has never listened the band?

 

Vlad: Let’s say we play fast melodic death mixed with hardcore parts and in our songs we talk about monsters, werewolves, vampires, zombies and everything in between ahah!

 

The metalcore scene exploded in the last couple of years, hundreds of bands seem to have popped up. So, in your opinion, what makes the band stand out compared to other bands and is there anything missing in the scene?

 

Vlad: We’re honest and really doing what we love to do! I know many other bands mix our same influences, even if we’re doing this since the day when this wasn’t The Trend, but we’re good guys and I truly believe our music is worth your money, so give us a chance!!

 

Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

 

Metal : freedom

Underground : treasure

Internet : revolution

Religion : old

Politics : sucks

The Netherlands : great scene

Italy : pizza, mafia, mandolino ahah!

 

What can we expect from Stigma in the near future, any touring plans?

 

Vlad: Yeah sure, we’re playing festivals through out the summer, then we’ll tour Europe in the fall! Keep an eye on www.stigmahc.com for our plans!

 

Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song do you find is the

most challenging one to play live?

 

Vlad: I love playing “3000 Years And Still Keeping It Real” cause it’s heavy as fuck!! I think the most challenging is “Prove You Are A Man!”, is tech and has lots of time changes, but so far worked really well at the end of our sets!


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

 

Vlad: We’re working hard to hopefully get the chance to tour way more than we did in support of “When Midnight Strikes!”. We’ll hopefully tour Australia as well in this touring cycle, so we’re stoked to visit new continents  and meet new people! We’ll keep on evolving but we’ll still play fast and heavy horror anthems, don’t worry about it! Ahah!

 

Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement or anything else you'd like to add or like to share with us?

 

Vlad: Thanks  for giving me the chance to tell you more about us, we love your country and have great memories of our shows there, hopefully we’ll come over soon to play some new tunes! Take care!
 

Vlad

 

 

Current members:

Stefano "Vlad" Ghersi - Vocals

Andrea Bailo - Guitar

Flavio Magnaldi - Bass

Stefano Ghigliano - Drums

 

Albums:

(2007) When Midnight Strikes!

(2010) Concerto For The Undead