In isolation, no one can hear you scream. Whether that isolation is in the vacuum of space, or in your own head, there are places where you can go where no help can reach you. The COVID-19 pandemic created a series of situations around the planet where people were either forced to venture out into an uncertain world to seek their own subsistence, or provide for the subsistence of others, with a deadly and invisible enemy lurking around every corner, choking the air with dread. Still, others were trapped indoors, alone and increasingly withdrawn, as if huddled in a satellite set adrift in orbit, with no tethers to its place origin and no destination in which to plot a course. This is the mood and the reality that Italian progressive death metal band Hideous Divinity attempts to illuminate on their most recent EP, LV-426.
The album examines the terror of the pandemic and humanity’s battle with an unthinking, unfeeling killer, and the isolation that resulted, examined through the lens of James Cameron’s Aliens. Specifically, the three-song release follows a hypothetical cat-and-mouse gambit between that film’s youngest and most vulnerable character, the 6 year old colonist and sole survivor of LV-426 , Rebeca “Newt” Jorden, and a menace not unlike the Xenomorph, but imbued with a divinity that makes its campaign of carnage all the more mind-warping. Is the destruction of Newt’s home part of some larger cosmic scheme? A penance paid for humanity’s hubris? What of the terror that we in the real world have experience? Is there a lesson there to be learned? And if so, are we wisened enough to accept its conclusions?
LV-426 opens with the tremendous, orchestral clash and gothic overture which splits like an atom to unleash an irradiated pantheon of whip-tailed riffs and collapsing, de-terraforming grooves that tower like lattices of gloom and unravel into blossoms of death. “Chestburst” follows with Carcass overdrive riffs and the unquenchable carnivorous, flesh-tunneling howel of vocalist Enrico “H.” Di Lorenzo’s death vocals. If you can survive long enough to make it to the escape pod, you will be granted a reprieve in the form of the dark star-chasing cover of Coheed and Cambria’s “Delirium Trigger.” You are safe, for now. But for how long?
To guide us on the trek of the great abyss above, I reached out to vocalist Enrico to get his insights on this new EP and find out how he and the rest of the band have been surviving the pandemic. It’s a pretty insightful conversation that will be sure to delight horror fans, metal maniacs, and the sentient bi-products of extra-terrestrial weapons tech experiments alike.
You can stream the entirety of LV-426 below and keep scrolling to read our exclusive interview with Enrico.
Interview conducted via email on April 9, 2021 via email. The transcript has been edited for the sake of clarity.
Was LV-426 in the works before the pandemic hit? What was the timeframe for its writing and recording?
Not at all, the whole thing was written, pre-produced and recorded between October 2020 and February 2021. It just came out *snap*, just like that… which is quite an event giving how slow I am when I work on new material. I remember training with Aliens‘ music score by James Horner in my earphones thinking, “My goodness, the ouverture has the coolest harmonic crescendo ever, it would be perfect for some rearrangement.” Then the idea of a concept came out. Days later, the first draft of Acheron Stream of Woe was ready.
Were there any challenges that you encountered in bringing this EP to life?
Not really. We’re not new to the “smart working” music process- you know, sending each other demo versions of music with and without vocals and stuff. Plus, here in Rome, we had relatively some freedom of movement during the second wave of the pandemic. Other than that, the whole process went on super smoothly. I guess a large part of the pressure was taken away by the fact we agreed with Century Media to release an EP. The whole production process was way more laid-back, compared to our last album.
You tend to write albums around the themes of particular films, this time James Cameron’s Aliens. What themes are you pulling from that film for this album?
The concept is a sub-narrative of Aliens. We chose to concentrate on the story of Rebeca “Newt” Jorden, the 6-year old girl rescued on the alien-infested planetoid LV-426 by Ellen Ripley. We live the story from her point of view, a mixture of childhood’s happy life and memories cut off by the alien attack. There’s a clear duality in LV-426’s concept: the “monster” with all his power and might, and the little girl hiding. A dramatic version of the Beauty and the Beast. The hiding and the attacking. Newt’s story is a fragmented narration of past and present: the massacre of Hadley’s Hope colony, the loss of her entire family, the nightmare of the chestbursters, the hiding, the solitude: childhood’s end and the acknowledgment of the existence of monsters. Our parents lied to us. Monsters do exist, and we are left alone to face them.
How does the film Aliens overlap with the onset of the pandemic in your mind?
That’s a very good question. Newt’s story made me think a lot about isolation and solitude… about facing our own monsters, because -ta-dah!, they are real. Without even knowing it, I realized this was all relatable to what we’ve been experiencing in our lives over the past 14 months.
How does the River Acheron work as a metaphor for the tragedy of the pandemic this past year?
Like I’ve said before, a stream of consciousness, literally. The loss of hope leads to complete acknowledgment and, why not, to a stronger self. If we can make it out of this big mess healthy, both physically and mentally, we’ll perhaps be better human beings.
What is the title a reference to?
It is the name of the planetoid where the story narrated in Aliens takes place. The sense of isolation and despair is brought to an actual planet, a desolate rock that has very little differences compared to a starship drifting in the void. If “no one can hear you scream” in space, why should LV-426 be any better?
The album art seems to reference the work of HR Giger as well as the Lovecraftian horrors of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie The Void. Does this reflect on how your influences were melding on this album, and if so, how?
We should ask Collin about this. We gave him references that were more focused on the representation of the scene rather than the style itself. I believe Collin liked when we asked him “Think about a renaissance painting of Holy Mary and child. The child would be Newt, and Mary would be a face-hugged angel”. He’s a bit like us, he’s really into challenges. The result was, when he sent us the first draft we simply said, “That’s it, we have it.”
Is the album meant to have a narrative structure, or are you aiming to present a set of moods and ideas instead?
I’m more for the narrative structure. Not the easiest thing when the music is extreme metal, but that’s my approach. There are recurring patterns throughout the entire EP, and I’m glad when people notice. There are very.
How does the inclusion of Coheed and Cambria’s “Delirium Trigger” add to the concept and story behind the album?
Believe it or not, it was the only Alien-themed song made by a prominent metal band that I’ve found. I’ve never been into CaC so when I first listened to the song I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to be challenging”. But I was intrigued. How to readapt a prog rock song into our style? Then I thought about turning those chords into dissonant guitar drones… almost like if we were trying to cover a tune from Ulcerate. And then of course there’s the cherry on cake, the “piano & blast beats duet” featuring the extraordinaire Tommy Bonnevialle as a special guest.
How is Rome looking right now in terms of the pandemic? Does it seem like things are turning a corner?
Not really. We are way behind with vaccines like the rest of Italy and Europe. The purpose is to reach herd immunity before the end of July but it’s nonsense IMHO. Let’s wait and see, not much else we can do.
Like most horror fans, I’m guessing you did some binge-watching of films in 2020. What were some of the films you watched on repeat this past year and did you discover any new gems?
2020 was for me the year I discovered, with guilty delay, Ari Aster. I first watched Midsommar and I was blown away. Then Hereditary obviously, that I missed when it came out for some reason… I wonder what was wrong with me. He’s a goddamn genius. I’d say Ari Aster and Jordan Peele are the best horror filmmakers of this generation.
What’s next on the horizon for Hideous Divinity?
I wish I could say live gigs, but like everybody else we’re here, staring at the windows and dreaming for that day. Hopefully, we won’t wait until 2022.
Photo courtesy of Hideous Divinity.