The Black

Even if armed with a reflective shield, curved sword and other aids of divine origin, would you have had the courage of Perseus to face Medusa? One of three winged women with large staring eyes, gaping mouth, lolling tongue, flared nostrils and serpentine locks of hair. Your first look would be your last! Perching my hand on Mario Di Donato’s stone shoulder I wonder why he had been captivated so…

Some six stiff years in the Underworld, The Black emerged with another mammoth double album. Why was it so long in the making?

The members of the band have had a bad time due to personal problems. So, none of us, had the mood to compose. Fortunately, over time, we have left behind these difficulties and we have found the will to enter the studio to record our last album “Gorgoni.”

Please explain your fascination with the Gorgon that led to this dedication of musical and brush strokes…

The Gorgons have fascinated me ever since elementary school. Especially Medusa! They are creatures who represent the evil in man and at the same time his punishment. If you look at Medusa, for example, you can remain petrified! In my music, as in my painting, I often speak of the struggle between good and evil. For these reasons, I have represented Medusa in my music and in my painting.

If she represents the female genitalia and the devouring urges of female sexuality, do you share Freud’s view that the terror of Medusa is the terror of castration?

I can say that I share the point of views of Freud. Medusa is the fear of the male before the discovery of female sexuality. The decapitation of the Gorgon can be seen as an attempt to suppress this sexuality. Woman, over the centuries, has often been the object of this attempt.

The soundtrack is suitably dark and diverse. From the very beginning, it conjures creepy visions and the terror takes different forms as the story unfolds. How do you think it feels compared to previous albums?

“Gorgoni” is the album that has the best production of my entire discography. We were able to take advantage of cutting-edge recording techniques thanks to a higher budget. This has allowed me to develop my typical sound.

Three years on, it is rumoured that the band has another two albums in the making! Centred on human phobias, “Metus Ostilis” seems to slot in well the seven deadly sins of “Peccatis Nostris” and the fear of the “Gorgoni” so why is the human psyche endlessly alluring?

I am interested in the fears of man, his phobias and his weaknesses. I watch with great interest at everything that revolves around these topics. I try to convey the emotions I get from these observations in my music and in my painting.

Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” sounds like a deep well of recounted fables through a 14th Century Italian filter. Of the hundred tales told by ten characters, which is your favourite and why?

I like all stories of “Decamerone.” It’s not easy to choose a favourite though. I can tell you that I’m working on new material, which is inspired by 10 stories from it. But I can’t tell you what these stories are, for the time being, it is still Top Secret!

Did you pen the music with a tale in mind or vice versa? And have used quoted Boccaccio’s language in the lyrics or retold them in your Latin metre?

This is my sequence: history, texts and music. I use Latin for texts. The language of “Decamerone” is the language of so-called “volgare” and it represent the Italian language of the 1500s.

Was it difficult to condense the essence of the whole into an album? And at what point did you decide enough ground had been covered to make it complete?

The subject is very vast. It was not easy to compose the lyrics and music. As I told you before, however, this is a topic that fascinates me and affects me a lot. For this reason, I also had great fun doing it! Before entering the studio to record the album there were some things that did not satisfy me and I had to see them together with the other members of the band. Now I think this one of the best albums of The Black!

The Black does not appear to be a prolific live band although did play the Metal Magic festival in Denmark this summer! Please describe your performance, the songs included and atmosphere throughout. Was The Black represented as it should have been in your eyes?

You’re right. The Black plays few concerts. We try to play only in the best places and to select those dates that really offer anything interesting. For this reason, The Black has played at the Malta Doom Metal Festival in 2012 and at Metal Magic in 2013. In both cases, we were very good. Regarding Metal Magic, Denmark is a great place and the people were very warm and welcoming! I was treated like a King and I hope to come back soon to play in those parts. In this particular concert we played songs from “Gorgoni,” “Reliquarium” and “Peccatis Nostris.” Our performance was much appreciated by the public and supported us from the beginning to the end of the concert. I can honestly say that things have gone beyond expectations!

You have also been billed to play with Misantropus at Halloween! Who booked the concert and will you be adapting your set to suit the festivities?

The date of Halloween has been organized by Misantropus. It’s an Italian group that plays a great Doom Metal. They are our fans by many years. They have all my records and our t-shirts. We have become good friends. Long ago I was their guest in Sermoneta (Latina) and they made me visit the artistic treasures of their city. Everything is ready for the concert to celebrate Halloween, a magic night with a religious significance very strong. Our obscure music is very suitable for situations like these.

When not writing and playing music, how much of your days are spent painting? Is oil on canvas your preferred medium?

Music and painting are two complementary aspects of my personality. The two are not mutually exclusive but co-exist. My favorite technique is oil on canvas but I also use many other techniques such as acrylic and tempera… I really like using mixed techniques for painting. This I was also taught at the art school.

I love your style, colours and particularly the darker themes explored. “Dies Irae,” “Infernal Moat” and “Hell” were all crafted in 1980. What are your memories from the times when you were composing them?

All my paintings are a figment of my imagination. I have certainly been impressed by other works of art but I don’t let them inspire me consciously. So when I paint I’m not surrounded by books, paintings or other artefacts. Work only fancy. My inspiration has remained unchanged over the years. Certainly in the ’80s I have made some very important works, but my art has always been very much alive also in later years.

Tell me about your self-portrait! Is your heart in the past or are you a knight of the present?

Metalheads are the warriors of the present! Despite society usually thinking that Metalheads are like criminals, we are culturally and humanly valid people that very often fight for the good ideals.

Looking back over your career, what is your proudest accomplishment to date?

My preferred painting is “Inferno” (1974) because I had opportunity to expose my opera at the famous exhibition F.P.Michetti. I don’t have a preferred album. But if I have to tell you a preference it might be “Infernus, Paradisus et Purgatorium” (1990).

As a man of culture, please describe some of your favourite pieces…

My preferred song is “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. This song has broken the wall between Rock and Heavy Metal.

My favorite book is “Pinocchio” – the story created for children by Colllodi, an Italian writer! Pinocchio represents the contrast between good and evil. He is a cunning character, a liar but at the same time with a heart of gold and a large humanity. Then he never gives up. It is very strong and in this looks like me. I have a large collection of books and puppets of Pinocchio and I have organised also an exhibition in my city Pescosansonesco…

My favourite work of art is the “Gioconda” for its beautiful shapes and geometries. But I also love a painting less known called “Madonna col Bambino” by Filippo Lippi. This painting was made with oil on canvas. It’s fantastic because the image seems alive!

If you were to design your own coat of arms, what would be depicted, with what motto and why?

The badge should be a wolf’s head in the centre with four lions at the corners. The lion is the symbol of my city, Pescosansonesco. The motto should be “Nunc Et Semper” (Now and ever shall be…)

I have intruded long enough and must let you return to your studio! Thank you Mario. Looking forward to gazing into The Black again soon…

Thanks for the interview! A salute to the readers of your magazine! Metal will never die…


Masters of the Pit #2 (September 2013)

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