Hiss from the Moat epitomises the dominant style of Italian death metal currently – brutal, technical and relentless. Following in the footsteps of compatriots such as Hour of Penance, this three-piece act even boasts James Payne behind the drums, and Paolo on session vocals on their debut album, Misanthropy. We catch up with the band to learn more about the concept behind Misanthropy (which has now been picked up by Nuclear Blast), and the philosophy behind their music.
[Ed’s note: interview conducted in May 2014]
Greetings Hiss from the Moat! Thank you for giving us this opportunity to interview you. The band was formed in 2006, which includes James Payne who was also previously with Hour of Penance. How did the idea of Hiss from the Moat come about?
Hi Heavy Metal Tribune, thank you for having us. Hiss From the Moat was born from the idea of James and other guys back in 2006, in that period James wasn’t playing with Hour of Penance, it was like his first serious project founded with members of other known local bands. They then managed to do some tours and play in festival around Europe before their long stop from 2009 to 2012.
The band last year released its debut full length album, Misanthropy. How has the album been received so far?
The album was written with the idea of doing what we like in these days, which is completely different from what the band used to play back in 2006, without paying attention to what is trendy today, so inspired from old Dimmu Borgir, Marduk, Behemoth albums, and we were aware of the fact that it was going to be hard to sign with labels. No matter what, both Nuclear Blast and Lacerated Enemy liked the sound of the band and decided to sign us. The band is growing a lot on the web and people seem to respond very well to the album, soon we’ll start touring and we’ll see how many people actually are following the band and will show up at the concerts.
Misanthropy was only released almost 7 years after the band’s formation. Was there any particular reason behind this long wait to hear the band’s material?
We were all busy in other projects and since some members of the band were focusing more on other kinds of music from what Hiss from the Moat was becoming we decided to stop the band for a while but in 2010 Jack Poli (guitar player) and me, decided to start writing some stuff that we really dig, since the music the bands we were playing with at that time wasn’t reflecting 100% what we liked. It was more a need to create something, to be part of a project that was 100% ours, our baby.
Misanthropy seems to be a concept album, with the album being split up into six different chapters. Would it be possible to tell us more about the story that runs on Misanthropy?
Misanthropy is a concept album based on the story of the conquest of the modern Christian mentality with a horde of pilgrims commanded from Shewhohates who is the queen of Misanthropy. The album is divided by chapters from her awakening to the destruction of Jerusalem and the domain of the misanthropy kingdom. It is just a story to go against the modern usage of the church, which is a place to clean your soul from impurities, instead of following the image of Christ and do sacrifices to be a pure man.
Songs such as Conquering Christianity and Moralism as Anesthetic send rather strong messages across to the band’s followers. What is the band’s take when it comes to issues of religion and spiritualism?
As said in the previous question, the intention of this album is to go against the modern mentality of people who tend to justify mistakes and clean their souls instead of making sacrifices, taking responsibility of their mistakes and failures in life and challenge them. The two masked characters in the booklet indicate the Devil and Christ as both negative images, one attempts people to do evil actions and the other one justifies and purifies you after doing them. The outro of the album in fact says, “my rejection of lies brought me to hate the human race and being hated, this is Misanthropy”, which can be intended as my personal misanthropy.
Apart from Christianity, the band also brings in some elements of Greek mythology, such as the track Caduceus. Where does the band draw inspiration when writing the lyrics for Misanthropy, and how does the band reconcile elements from so many different religions and mythology?
All the religions have the same concepts, a good side and a bad one. The Caduceus is the stick that stands in between good and bad but in this case we used it as the stick that stands between evil and evil as the lyrics say “Evil’s against Evil now, there’s no light that makes the way” as light is intended as the light of God. The lyrics have been all written by James, he loves writing all these kind of stuff.
Musically, the band takes a brutal approach that is reminiscent of compatriots such as Hour of Penance, to Polish bands such as Vader and Behemoth. What are some of the other influences that have gone into the melting pot that is Hiss from the Moat?
We are big fans of Dark Funeral, Marduk, the old Dimmu Borgir stuff, Immortal, but yeah, as you said, also of Behemoth, Vader and many others.
The album also featured Paolo Pieri from Hour of Penance. How did this decision to feature him as a guest vocalist from the album come about?
We didn’t have a singer in the band at that time and James had known Giulio from Hour of Penance for a long time, so he asked him if Paolo wanted to be the sessionist of the album and he accepted.
Despite so, the band is still currently a three-piece band. Are there any plans to recruit a permanent vocalist for the band?
Jack and Carlo will do most of the vocals but we will also have a 4th element for the shows who will sing and play guitar.
The band filmed a video for Caduceus. Why pick this track in particular for a music video, and what was the filming process like?
It was the most complete track in our opinion and the one that stayed in our heads the most after we wrote it and recorded it, so we wanted to put online something that could stay in people’s mind very easily. The video describes the concept of the album with the 2 intertwined stories of the girl who is escaping from evilness and the girl who is searching goodness, which indicates the constant inner fight in life of doing the good or bad choices, but in the end, in both cases, she ends up realizing there is no good, in fact when she escapes from evil she ends up in its house and when she finds the good she realize that the good is bad too.
Italy is on the rise when it comes to brutal and technical death metal, and apart from Hour of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse, there are also bands such as yourself, Logic of Denial and Antropofagus gaining the attention of the underground. What is the state of the Italian extreme metal scene now?
The Italian extreme Metal scene describes the Italian people situation. A lot of discomfort that people need to manifest.
With the album now out, what does the near future hold for Hiss from the Moat? Any chance to hear new material from the band any time soon, and what can fans expect from the band?
We are currently working on the live shows, we want to cure every single part of it as we did for writing and recording the album. So the nearest future holds live shows for sure, but we already have a new album written that we will start to finalised in the next months.
We have come to the end of the interview. Thank you once again for taking the time to answer our question.
Thank you again for having us, keep supporting the scene and spreading sickness.