Scene Point Blank: I’m really glad you finished Moral. It is an amazing album. I really love this album and think it’s your best yet. Is there a story behind the title?
Luca Indrio: Mortality has always been the central focus of a lot of our lyrics. The correlation between your life and the way you’re going to die. People seem to forget that. The beauty of that is that there is some justice in a place that is based on injustice. There is some comfort in that. Just like the comfort that people find in heavy music, they can find comfort in all this. There is a positivity to the lyrics too. Like you need to find some detachment from this life or else you’re going to suffer way more than you’re supposed to. Everything dies. So don’t get mad. You don’t even need to get to the end of your life to experience death. Like something you’ve built for 20 years can be gone one day, same with relationships or friends. Or maybe you lose your job, or the use of your legs. Anything can happen and people forget that in dealing with these changes. And it’s really important that you accept that and accept that you are a mortal being and that you cannot rely on your certainties in life because nothing is certain. You have to be conscious of who you are in this life and take stock of it, and you cannot keep getting mad. It is pointless. And this album should help people with that.
There are some people who are getting really hit by this pandemic and really depressed, and experiencing really bad uncertainty, not knowing what is going to happen, or if they’re going to lose everything that you love. You can’t dwell, just waiting to get your life back. That’s a mistake. Everything that you have and everything you love can be taken away from you. You have to concentrate on what you have now. Like, I can’t go around the world playing live shows all the time like I used to. Okay, so what can I do now? Well I have more time to write more music. I have time to figure out a new job that might be fun. There are things that can be done now. Whoever is dwelling and holding their breath waiting for his or her life to come back is going to be bummed. This pandemic is not going to end anytime soon, especially not the way it’s being handled.
Scene Point Blank: I really love the image on the cover of Moral which was done for you by Marald Van Haasteren. That image of people stripping off their own skin is amazing. Could you unpack that imagery in relation to what you were saying before about removing some of your attachments?
Luca Indrio: Yeah, you got it. Its like, “show what’s under your skin.” People spend lots of money on cosmetics and things, but you’re a mortal being made of bones and organs and they’re all deteriorating with time. Instead, show who you are. Accept reality for what it really is and live the way you really are. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness. [Laughs]
Scene Point Blank: How did writing Mortal differ from your previous albums? It sounds slightly faster to me and you guys definitely sound tighter as well. Is there anything you retooled for this one? I like the looser style of your other albums, but you just sound so much tauter on this one.
Luca Indrio: Well leading up to Mortal we played around 300 shows together. So we did get better as a band between the last two albums and more confident about what we could do. I was also able to look at Blood Offering and think, “what do I want to keep, what could we do better, what do I want more of on this next album?” I wanted specifically more guitars and solos on this record. I also wanted to demonstrated our strength better as we’ve gotten really strong from playing so many shows. I wanted to think about what is the strength of Chad on the drums, what is Sonny really strong at, and I tried to gather the song writing in the direction of our best strengths. We also had more pressure, because with Blood Offerings we had the demos, but there wasn’t the expectations. But this time people were like, “Ah Blood Offerings was so sick! Are they going to be able to do something sick again?” To me it was the right amount of pressure mixed with the right amount of confidence we had developed over the last few years that made it possible for us to make something great again.
It’s really important that you accept that you are a mortal being and that you cannot rely on your certainties in life because nothing is certain.
Scene Point Blank: Do you feel like you're still influenced primarily by Swedish death metal at this point? Do you feel like that is a big part of your sound?
Luca Indrio: Well for me I always liked American death metal more than European. With a few exceptions, like Bolt Thrower, Nihilist, or early Grave. But a lot of the European death metal bands, they kind of lost their good sound after a few albums. Like Nihilist was before Entombed and Entombed only had one good album. Or bands like Grave. Grave had an amazing first two albums and then they kind of got lost later. The consistency of American bands like Immolation, and Death throughout their career, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel for 90% of it, they were able to maintain a great sound and make great records throughout their entire career, and I think that European bands often get lost a little bit. But to me my main influences have come from a lot of bands. But Swedish death metal I would say is not our main influence.
Scene Point Blank: Huh, ok. But your sound often gets pegged as that. As being Swedish death metal influenced, so that’s why I wanted to ask.
Luca Indrio: Yeah, Swedish death metal goes for an overload of sound. We go for a more classic approach. Slightly Cleaner. More of a Marshall guitar sort of sound. A more natural drum sound. The way we sound is also more of a hardcore sound. Along with the songwriting and everything together is very Sabbath, you could compare us to a down-tuned Black Sabbath, rather than a super-trigger sound. You know that real modern death metal sound, digital death metal? We go for a warmer, old school, but not old school sound. [Laughs] More modern of course, because it’s not the 70s. But we still use a lot of extremely old equipment.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, I think that’s what myself and other writers maybe latch onto with your sound is that warmth that you described. That aspect definitely reminds me of Entombed. Entombed to me have a very hot sound. Same thing with a lot of those early Grave recordings.
Luca Indrio: Well you know I love Nihilist. I love Grave. And those Dismember albums. I like a lot of different stuff. I’m very familiar with it and it is definitely part of the input. But there is also a lot of American death metal and thrash metal, not necessarily from the US, but like from Germany or Brazil. There are a lot of different influences in the band for sure.
Scene Point Blank: Who are the international thrash bands that inspire you?
Luca Indrio: Oh definitely Sodom. Definitely early Sepultura. 100% Kreator. The German thrash I always liked it a lot. Especially Sodom, because they always had that more evil kind of sound. I love the Bay area thrash as well, but they’re not as evil as Sodom or Kreator or even early Sepultura.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah those guys all sounded really dirty, really vicious. I know what you mean. Like Testament still sound pretty ferocious but there is a little more of an emphasis of precision with them, and they tend to sound a little cleaner as a result.
Luca Indrio: Yeah, guys like Testament, Exodus, and Metallica had more of an eye towards heavy metal, while I feel like Sodom or Kreator had more of an eye towards Venom or death metal or shit that is more Satanic. You know what I mean, a little more darker.
Scene Point Blank: Talking with you about your music and the writing process it’s pretty clear that you take it very seriously and there is a ton of thoughtful, considered work that goes into it, which is apparent to anyone whose actually listening to it. It still blows my mind that some people describe what you are doing as “dumb." I thinking very specifically of a Stereogum review that is even very positive of your album, but states that your whole goal is to make “idiot death metal.” Where do you think people get off drawing these kinds of a conclusion?
Luca Indrio: I know where it comes from. We go to the roots of death metal which are more based in punk and thrash metal and while death metal has evolved in many directions, some of them are closer to prog-metal. So there is a lot of brutal technical death metal and technical progressive death metal, which for certain people is what they think of when you say death metal. But death metal for me it means Morbid Angel, it means Immolation, but to other people its is bands, who I don’t even know their names, but its super intricate and they play a million notes a second and that kind of shit. And someone who would write that we make death metal for idiots might come from that kind of perspective. A more progressive style of death metal. But we refer way more to the roots of the genre, where it was closer to punk. So I think that’s what that means. I don’t think he was probably trying to call us a bunch of idiots. But you know, whenever someone tries to call some other group a bunch of idiots, we all know who the real idiot is. [Laughs]