Interview: Mortuary Drape on the Melodic, Deliberate Approach

Italian metal legends Mortuary Drape are back with the next carefully curated chapter in their blackened legacy. 

The band released their sixth album, Black Mirror, on November 3 via Peaceville Records. Originally forming back in 1987, they helped pioneer the sound that is modern black metal today alongside bands like Venom and Mercyful Fate. But they never rushed things—This is only their sixth album, and according to the band, that is very deliberate. 

We talked with the band about how what others see as a pause was really just focus, and their take on what makes metal memorable.

What was the writing and recording process like for Black Mirror, and what inspired you to write a record after this long break?

I can start by telling you that what many call a long break was actually a real and intense live activity for us; we did several tours, important concerts, and many festivals around the world. I wrote most of the lyrics only when I had the most inspiration, including during long tour journeys, in my studio, and even in the driveway of a cemetery near my house.

Most of these songs were completed during the COVID period; everything was blocked, and it was not possible to meet. We worked remotely, and I can assure you that our songs are very difficult to manage without seeing each other among musicians. We always have many ideas and the need to try all possible solutions forces us to be present in the studio. The drums were recorded before everything else; this gave us the opportunity to fit together all the other instruments as best as possible, finding different solutions that we partly threw away to make room for other more congenial riffs.

No less difficult was the work of the vocal parts which was designed to give a different touch compared to before, once everything was recorded we mixed trying to recreate our sound environment, everything was difficult because never in previous albums was the work so articulated.

What are some of the big lyrical and thematic concepts on the record?

The lyrics as well as the songs are not connected to each other, each is a chapter in itself, there is an infernal nursery rhyme that connects all the titles of the songs but this remains the one and only connection. Through the texts, we talk about witches, magical rites, events that actually happened, and spells in a parallel world that link us to our previous lives.

Through the nightmares that each of us faces, we enter a world called “parallel” where deja vu images and actions resurface in our mind that we seem to have already experienced. This is part of what our brain remembers and that every now and then resurfaces. the real mystery is discovering whether they really belong to past lives or are premonitions about what may happen next.

In essence, Black Mirror is the means through which we try to discover who we were in previous lives, a link between us and past lives.

How do you think this has evolved from your previous material, and how did the time off change the chemistry of writing and recording music?

There are several different aspects compared to before; today everything runs faster, and it is easier if you want to make music. Personally, my systems are linked to the past, and it is perhaps for this reason that we experience the songs firsthand before recording them. We think it’s fundamental in Mortuary Drape’s music to feel something that is conveyed by the songs rather than making an album every two years to punch the clock like entering the factory; we only make albums if we have something to say.

What are your plans for touring in support of the album?

We have already played on October 27 at Prague Death Mass IV in the Czech Republic and November 18 at Firenze Metal. We will play on December 30 in Milan at Slaughter together with Opera IX and two other bands. We are organizing a European and South American tour; in May 2024 we will be at the Maryland DeathFest, and we are also working with several promoters in the United States for two tours that we will do between the end of 2024 and the first months of 2025, as you can see our promotion lasts several years.

Do you already have plans in the works for the next record after this one?

We have some material put aside but now we have to focus on this new album and the promotion, talking about the new album now is too early and maybe there will never be a next album, the years go by and we can’t know if we will wake up tomorrow.

How do you feel black metal has changed since you first helped pioneer the genre, and is there any modern black metal that really stands out in a positive way?

Very honestly, I’m not the right person to make judgments on this; I haven’t listened to black metal for too many years, and I don’t even feel like labeling my band as black metal. However, I believe that the thinking of many bands of this genre is very focused on making fast and powerful songs to the detriment of sound quality which today is much more important than certain double bass drum outbursts that are forgotten as soon as the song is over, all comparable to the great guitar heroes who make a myriad of notes and then at the end of the song you can’t even memorize a small part. A great metal musician whose name I don’t want to say said, “Extreme songs only work when at the end of the music you can whistle at least one riff in the shower.” I think it’s a very wise phrase; music that doesn’t stay in your head is useless to nothing.

Follow the band here.

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