Interview – Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

Join us in this awesome interview with Genus Ordinis Dei guitarist and producer Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli where he discusses about the band’s new opus Glare of Deliverance, the series of videos from the album, and what’s next for those talented Italian metallers.

Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

The Headbanging Moose: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the music by Genus Ordinis Dei. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who are the guys from Genus Ordinis Dei, and what are your goals with the band?

Tommy: Hi, I’m Tommy and I’m the guitarist and producer of Genus Ordinis Dei. We’re 4 metalheads: Me, Nick (Guitars and Vocals), Steven (Bass) and Richard (Drums). The band was formed in 2008 in Crema, our hometown. We were just a bunch of long-time friends who shared the passion for metal music and we decided to start to play together. We were 20 years old and none of us ever played in a real band before Genus Ordinis Dei (and I personally still never played in other bands). Richard came later in 2012 after changing two other drummers. Our goal is simple: become the most important Italian metal band ever.

THM: Now let’s begin talking about your 2020 album Glare of Deliverance. It’s known that the album tells the story of a young woman named Eleanor, who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition, bringing the concept art of American author Tom Roberts to life. Can you explain in more detail this concept behind the album? How did you guys come up with such distinct theme?

Tommy: The idea of the story was born years ago too, actually, I still remember us writing down on a notebook the plot of the chapters while hanging out in a pub in our hometown. Then, almost two years ago, we thought it was good enough and we decided it was time to try to make it real. Glare Of Deliverance tells the story of Eleanor in 10 episodes with 10 videos and 10 songs, describing all the steps that bring Eleanor in the grasp of the Holy Inquisition. More in detail, the Hunters of the Holy Inquisition chase after her interrupting a mysterious ritual. The ritual involves a powerful item, a black stone that she calls “The Heart Of Stone”. The stone goes lost during the chase and she is captured and brought to the citadel where the Inquisitor awaits. She’s examined, tortured and finally judged guilty of witchcraft by the Bishop who gives her the possibility to abjure and be forgiven. But the night before the abjuration, a mysterious entity, The Fallen, appears in her dreams and foresees her fate. The story will continue in the next episode 🙂

THM: Also, each one of the ten songs from the album are combined in sequence like a short film or television series to tell that story. How difficult was it to put together those ten songs in the correct order without having any major breaks or interruptions to the flow of the storyline?

Tommy: It’s been tough! We had to deal with the construction of the video series of this story, a totally new thing for us (and also for the fans) that led us to face a lot of difficulties and uncertainty moments, especially in the middle of this pandemic. We enjoyed it and we’re so proud of the final result, both visually and musically speaking. It took a lot of time, considering that we had to create a crowdfunding campaign that fortunately went well. We wanted to create something that mixes a concept album with a tv series, and I think we did pretty well.

THM: Can you tell us how hard was it to produce the album yourself instead of hiring an external person or company to do it? What are some things you wish you could have done in a different way?

Tommy: After all I have to say that it’s been easier than ever. Having the complete control of any single detail at any step of the production is much better than telling someone else what to do and hoping to share the same vision. Obviously you need the right amount of experience and skill to do it yourself and achieve a professional result. We can’t be happier than this!

THM: How has been the whole experience of shooting a special video for each one of the songs from Glare of Deliverance? How are you guys managing all production, costume designing, extras and so on? And which member of the band has the strongest film-making vein, taking the lead in this bold endeavor?

Tommy: Nick is definitely the video guy of the band. Even if we shot a lot of videos during these years, this was a totally new experience for us. We spent months planning the production of audio and video before shooting the first episode. Creating the storyboards, hiring pro artists to draw the concept and create the costumes and the masks, finding the main actress, finding the locations, hiring the videomaker and planning all the logistics and budget took almost a year, considering that we funded everything with a crowdfunding campaign. We were almost beginners about this and finishing this crazy puzzle on our own makes us extremely proud.

Album Review – Genus Ordinis Dei / Glare of Deliverance (2020)

THM: I want to personally ask about the closing song, the 16-minute aria Fire. How special is that song for you and the rest of the band, I mean, did you feel something different while writing and recording this specific song compared to the others, and can we expect to see you guys playing it live one day?

Tommy: If we’ll have enough time on the setlist we’re gonna play the whole album live. In particular Fire is a special song because the first 9 minutes contain all the main riffs and melodies of the previous 9 songs (revisited, rearranged), a sort of moment of reflection of the journey that took to the final act. It also explodes in a choral epic hook that we personally love. We had a great time recording the choir (in another studio, a bigger one :)), another new experience for us. We feel we’ve grown so much after making this album.

THM: As you guys are based in Italy, one of the countries that have suffered the most with COVID-19, how has this never-ending pandemic been impacting your work with Genus Ordinis Dei and your life in general? How are the other bands from your local scene surviving these years with no live concerts?

Tommy: We always wanted to stay positive and keep developing this idea despite all this crazy situation. Also, we knew that people still need music and entertainment, even if the whole damn world is turning upside down. We decided from the beginning that we’d have never stopped working and that Glare Of Deliverance would be released, a way or another. Every band is trying to do their best to keep creating new content but I understand that it’s a tough challenge.

THM: Can you tell us a little about your biggest idols in music, arts and life in general? And how has their music influenced you and the band in the writing process of Glare of Deliverance?

Tommy: Then there’s a lot of bands that inspired me through this journey but I can’t forget how it started: Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Manowar and Iron Maiden are my all-time favourite guys and they’ll ever be. In this exact moment, the most impressive band to me is Gojira, from the songs to the image to the performances: top band right now. They’re so inspiring. In general I love concept albums and artists that try to focus on creating epic and evocative atmospheres.

Genus Ordinis Dei

THM: Do you think the Italian underground scene is stronger than ever, or do you see it decaying somehow? And what are some bands from your region other than Genus Ordinis Dei that you would recommend to our readers?

Tommy: Italy is not famous for metal bands in general. I’m not into the underground scene so much but for what I’ve seen in the last years, it’s not so interesting. Excluding big bands like Lacuna Coil and Fleshgod Apocalypse, what I would recommend right now are DGM and Nightland. Check them out.

THM: What does the future hold for Genus Ordinis Dei? Can we expect to see more of your epic and atmospheric music in a not-so-distant future?

Tommy: Now we’re focused on the last video episode releases, Dream on March 22nd and the other 3 in the following months. There’s still so much to do before saying “ok, Glare Of Deliverance is done, let’s pass to next one” but I confess that I’m already collecting new melodies and riffs, and we started writing the next storyboard 🙂 But still, we have tons of new stuff regarding Glare Of Deliverance and a couple of great news to spread. We’re preparing for the next live shows, creating a new show from scratch.

THM: Thank you very much for the interview! Any final considerations or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Tommy: If you want something new, something that no one ever did before, follow the first Metal Music Series: Glare Of Deliverance.

Thank you guys for the interview.

Stay safe and stay metal!

Hail!

Links
Genus Ordinis Dei Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

Metal Chick of the Month – Shiori Vitus

shiori01

Breathe life into the essence…

As Japan seems to be an unlimited source of kick-ass metal girls, first with Dr. Mikannibal at the end of 2015 and then with Lena Abé starting off the year of 2016 here at The Headbanging Moose, let’s travel back to the Land of the Rising Sun to pay one more humble tribute to another incredible Nipponese woman that has been not only promoting Heavy Metal in her homeland but, even more important than that, creating stirring and innovative music that transcend all geographical boundaries and reaching the hearts of different types of people all over the world. If you love melancholic and sorrowful sounds, and if you nurture a true passion for Dark Metal, you’ll simply feel amazed by the charisma and talent of Shiori Vitus, lead singer and lyricist of Japanese Gothic Metal band Eleanor.

Born in Osaka, Japan on November 17 (of an undisclosed year), Shiori seems to be a very persistent woman who doesn’t give up and keeps fighting for what she believes is right, which is the main reason why she’s the frontwoman for Eleanor today. Although there aren’t many details about her background in music and her career prior to Eleanor, she mentioned in one of her interviews that she decided to pursue a career in singing even being a “terrible singer” at first, one who couldn’t reach the right tones or provide the necessary power and balance to her voice. However, as I said she didn’t relinquish her dream as she felt from the bottom of her heart that was the right path to follow, and with a lot of experience gained due to intensive training and live performances she was able to overcome all barriers, frustrations and failures, becoming the stunning singer we know today.

It was in 2005 when Shiori, together with Japanese guitarist Ippei Shimada (or “Ippei J. Malmsteen”), founded Eleanor, also spelled “eleanor” in lower case or if you prefer エレノア in Japanese, impacting significantly the music scene in Osaka. Featuring melodic and atmospheric passages, thoughtful lyrics and ennui vocals, the band’s Gothic Metal has evolved in the past few years to a more experimental sounding, especially with their 2013 album, entitled Breathe Life into the Essence, offering something deeply distinct to their fans. Needless to say how important Shiori has been to the band, helping them keep their essence while at the same time always adding new elements to their music. So far, she has released with Eleanor a self-titled demo in 2006, a demo called The Second Dawn in 2007, their first full-length album A Circle of Lament in 2008, a demo entitled Fragments / Rise Above (Revive) in 2009, and more recently the aforementioned full-length album Breathe Life into the Essence in 2013, and the special single In Gloom… in 2014. In regards to this single, it’s a new version of one of their songs from their debut album A Circle Of Lament, re-recorded after changing the lyrics into Japanese and rearranging the song so as to fit their more recent musical tastes. And get ready, because Eleanor are about to release a brand new album now in 2016, which is always an exciting milestone due to their constant musical evolution.

You can relish her idiosyncratic vocals (always singing in Japanese, to make things even more interesting) on many distinct studio songs by Eleanor, such as Mourning and In Gloom…, and several others at their SoundCloud page. In case you fancy live music you can take a listen at her awesome performance in the songs Blue Moon, Sorrow and Eleanor’s cover version for the song Summer by Nuclear Valdez (you can compare it to the 1989 original song by clicking HERE). Or maybe a live version for the excellent Fatal Movement would suit you better? Anyway, I personally consider Shiori’s live performance a crucial component of Eleanor’s music, mainly due to her theatrical moves and gestures, enhancing the ambience already generated by their musicality. Apart from her life with Eleanor, she lent her voice to the song Caged… from the 2006 album Construction of Despair, by Japanese Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band Smash the Brain, which by the way was a project led by her bandmate Ippei Shimada.

Perhaps one of the biggest achievements of Shiori and Eleanor to date was their performance at the 11th edition of the famous Belgian festival Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze, Belgium on October 20, 2013, playing along with names such as Tarja, Lacuna Coil, Liv Kristine, Cadaveria and many others, as you can see HERE. You can see more about Shiori and the other members of Eleanor’s journey to Europe HERE and HERE, as well as check their excellent performance in the festival with the songs Blue Moon and Mourning.

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Regarding the uniqueness of the culture and styles found in Osaka, when asked about how different the music scene in the city is from Tokyo and the rest of Japan, Shiori commented about the fact that it’s a lot easier to go against the flow in Osaka than in Tokyo, which opens the doors for endless creativity and originality as opposed to the more “strict” market in the capital city. She even mentioned the names of a few important bands hailing from Osaka, like the unstoppable Heavy Metal band Loudness and Grindcore/Hardcore band S.O.B., as examples of how fruitful the city can be for heavy music or any other type of music. Tokyo obviously has also a lot to offer to fans of Heavy Metal, but I totally agree with Shiori with the fact that huge metropolitan areas are not the best places for bands who put creativity above money, or in other words, if you don’t want to be just another name in the music scene, run away from the big city.

I bet you also want to know about Shiori’s biggest influences in music, her favorite artists and albums, as well as her hobbies, correct? Let’s start talking about her main influences, or I should say artists that helped Shiori shape up her vocal style, and of course the list wouldn’t make any sense without Anneke van Giersbergen and the early days of Dutch Progressive Rock/Metal band The Gathering. Our Asian diva mentioned she was completely stunned by the expressiveness and quality of their music, pointing out Anneke is indeed unique if compared to most Gothic Metal divas, as she’s not a soprano nor has a symphonic style, which was something Shiori connected to instantly. In addition, Shiori was also influenced by renowned artists such as Janis Joplin and Ronnie James Dio, as well as non-metal/rock Japanese singers like Miyuki Nakajima and Junko Ohashi. However, she made clear she has never tried to copy anyone, but to be able to sing on average level and find her own style, advancing more and more as a musician both in terms of her technique and her emotions.

Her list of favorite bands and albums is simply amazing, showing how much she is a lover of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll above all things. You’ll find bands like AC/DC, The Gathering and Electric Wizard as part of her playlist (which shouldn’t be a surprise at all to you at this point of this essay), with some of her favorite albums of all time being Let There Be Rock (AC/DC), Nighttime Birds (The Gathering), The Cold White Light (Sentenced), Eclipse (Amorphis) and The Best Of The Wildhearts (The Wildhearts). As a true Gothic metaller/rocker, Shiori is also a big fan of literature, with names such as Haruki Murakami and Kōbō Abe being part of her list of top writers. In addition, among her hobbies we can find usual activities like cooking, but at the same time some slightly more unconventional pastimes such as watching figure skating.

Furthermore, when asked to recommend a few bands and albums that perfectly represent what we call “Melancholic Gothic Metal”, Shiori put together another powerful list of darkly ethereal names, including The Gathering’s Mandylion (1995), Sentenced’s The Cold White Light (2002), Eternal Tears Of Sorrow’s Chaotic Beauty (2000), Entwine’s Diversity (2004) and my favorite one of her list (which was already mentioned in this essay), Amorphis’ Eclipse (2006). When you listen to an incredible song such as Leaves Scar and its beautiful lyrics (“Out from the frozen lake / She finally grew into her full might / She grew from a tiny thing / On this lake as I drove there to meet her”), not only it becomes extremely easy to understand why this is one of Shiori’s top albums and also part of her recommendations, but it’s also a very good example of how much our Japanese princess values passion and depth in heavy music.

Shiori Vitus’ Official Instagram
Shiori Vitus’ Official Twitter
Eleanor’s Official Facebook page
Eleanor’s Official Twitter

“We believe that the darkness we hold inside, and depressive thoughts become the drive and essence of a work of art, and by creating music of that kind, we glimpse ourselves and are able to confront the grief in the world surrounding us. Therefore for us to be fascinated by melancholic sounds is a completely natural reaction.” – Shiori Vitus