Italian doomsters Arcana 13 have just released their debut album ‘Danza Macabra’ through Aural Music, and it’s a glorious celebration of groovy, heavy riffs and a love of classic Italian horror flicks.

I caught up with drummer Luigi Taroni to get the full, gory story.

AN: First of all guys, congratulations on ‘Danza Macabra’, it really is superb. What have the responses to it been like so far?

Thank you Stu! We’re really having feedback and responses that are going beyond all our expectations. We knew that songs were good, that the concept really expresses what we wanted to do, but you know, it’s other people’s opinion that really matters, and we have to say that until now (as we write it’s the official release date of “Danza Macabra”), reviews and impressions on ARCANA 13 project have been amazing, from USA to Japan, and pre-orders too have been a success. We’re really proud of this project and looking forward to play our show live, that is gonna be insane!

AN: Could you tell me a little bit about how the band got together?

We’re all in the music scene since the 90’s, and we are long-time friends too. We had several musical projects, some of them together and some other with different musicians, and at some point we decided to have some fun and started a Black Sabbath tribute band, just for the pleasure of jamming together without any pressure, only fun, and it went on like that for some time. But we all love to compose original riffs and music, plus the chemistry between us is and has always been incredible, so we just couldn’t help starting to compose our own stuff, and it sounded so damn good… this is how ARCANA 13 project saw the light in the dark, and this is exactly what we wanted to do.

AN: The tracks on ‘Danza Macabra’ are all based on classics of Italian horror, could you expand on the prime influence behind each track?

When we started our journey into Italian horror, the very first melody we jammed on was the immortal theme of Suspiria, a still unparalleled movie. In front of this colourful, psychedelic masterpiece we couldn’t just cover the quintessential Goblin’s piece of art, we needed to tribute and transform it into our sound. From there on it became almost natural for all of us to compose songs hand in hand with our most beloved Italian Horror Classics, watching them together, with the exception of just one song, that needed a really psychedelic and lysergic atmosphere… So here you go with the full list :

“La Maschera del Demonio” aka “Black Sunday” by Mario Bava for the song “Dread Ritual”; “L’Arcano Incantatore” aka “The Mysterious Enchanter” by Pupi Avati for “Arcane Xlll”; “I Quattro dell’Apocalisse” aka “Four of the Apocalypse” a western/horror movie by Lucio Fulci, for “Land of Revenge”; “Holy Mountain” which is the only non-italian movie, by Alexandro Jodorowsky for the song “Oblivion Mushroom”; obviously “Suspiria” from maestro Dario Argento for the homonymous song, inspired by the main theme written by the mighty italian prog band Goblin; then we have “The Beyond” aka “…E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà ” by Lucio Fulci for the song “Blackmaster”;  “City of the Living Dead”  aka  “Paura nella città dei morti viventi” for the song “The holy cult of suicide”, and the last one, “Inferno” by Dario Argento for the song “Hell behind you”.

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AN: With regards to the theme from ‘Suspiria’, it certainly sounds like you had a lot of fun with the track. Have you had any feedback from any of the original members of Goblin?

No feedback by Goblin at the moment, I guess in this days they’re pretty busy touring all over Italy (and world) with amazing shows, it’s a very good moment for classic Italian horror revival; last year we saw Goblin in theater, playing live the “Deep Red” score while the movie was projected, in occasion of the 40th anniversary of that incredible movie. That was an inspiring and unforgettable experience for sure, amazing. 

AN: As well as the classic doom sound and 70’s influence to your music, I also detect a slight “grunge” style, would that be a fair assessment?

To be honest no, it’s the very first time that someone tells us about this influence. But you’re probably right, as we come from homogeneous but not identical musical backgrounds, so I agree that listening to some passages, maybe paying attention to single instruments parts, you can find evidences of different genres.

AN: The album features artwork by the legendary Enzo Sciotti, how did the band get involved with Enzo?

We still can’t believe that it happened for real, since we were kids we were absolutely stoked by his posters and drawings, so when we started thinking about the artwork we tried, without many expectations, to get in touch with him, and guess what happened?! He suddenly answered and showed a genuine and strong excitement about this project, and immediately accepted to be part of it. We already had an idea of what the cover should portray, but we gave really few inputs to Enzo, he is the master, and we wanted him to be completely free to release his uncommon imagination. As soon as he sent us the first drawings our jaws were dropped to the floor… the final result you can admire yourself.

AN: The “music box” version of the album is a great idea, who came up with it?

Props to Aural for making it possible! It’s been a super-cool idea indeed of Emiliano Lanzoni, owner of Aural Music.
Let me tell you, as soon as we unwrapped it our jaws were dropped to the floor, it is the coolest thing ever and we couldn´t be happier about it. It is a one of a kind ultra limited box with a built-in music box and a blood-splattered ballerina connected to it, containing the Digipak CD, exclusive t-shirt, A3 poster signed by maestro Enzo Sciotti (only for the first 50 purchased, which are almost sold out!) and certificate of authenticity. You can order it from Aural Webstore at  http://www.auralwebstore.com  run!

AN: When it comes to movies, do you guys prefer the more esoteric and occult nature of Italian horror, or do you prefer the more hard-hitting style of Giallo cinema?

Very good question, let’s say that, depending on our ages, each of us is more oriented towards the gothic, mesmerizing and witchcraft-oriented classics of 60s and early 70s, and others are more on hard-hitting slashers hardcore giallos of 70s and 80s.

AN: What do you consider to be the last truly great Dario Argento movie?

Uhm this might be a very “thorny” question… I can just speak for myself (Luigi) as I don’t think all of us agree on this. If I have to say the last truly great movie, I say “Inferno”. But even movies of early 80s are very good, while I think that late movies, from 90s on, are not nearly comparable to the early Argento’s production.

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AN: Who was a better film-maker Mario Bava or Lucio Fulci?

Ahah this one is even more “thorny”! But I got a very diplomatic, but correct answer for this one: you can’t really compare these two masters, indeed. Each of them has been great, if not the best, in his way of intending horror movies, and horror scenes, how to represent them, in a more or less explicit way, in the use of colours, lights, camera movements, etc… In few words: both of them can scare you to death, in their own way.

AN: Have you seen any recent movies that have impressed you?

If you mean horror movies, the answer is quite easy: no.
By the way last night I saw “Crimson Peak” by amazing director Guillermo del Toro, and I have to say that, even if it’s not how I intend an horror movie, this was really really creepy, del Toro is a master in the use of colours and photography.

AN: If Arcana 13 could completely re-score a classic Italian horror movie, what film would you choose?

Wow, the art of scoring movies is something that fascinates us so much. Personally I’d love to score the super classic “Black Sabbath” by Mario Bava, mainly because, being split in three episodes, that would allow us to compose music and themes with different atmospheres and dynamics, and we could also… oh my, I have to stop dreaming of this, I’m going too far

AN: Lastly, any touring plans for 2016?

We can’t wait to get on the road and take the “Danza Macabra” show out there, we’re working very hard to make it happen right now in the most spectacular way, it’s gonna be a different experience from the regular heavy metal concert, the visual projections will have as much importance as the music, that’s the way the album was conceived and supposed to be. I’m eagerly waiting to have the feedback of this and the reaction of the audience, we will take live the Italian horror legacy, most people out there don’t know or recall what Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento were capable of in terms of imagery and sheer violence… I’m looking forward to see some disgusts and disturbed feelings on the front row haha! We’re about to plan our live activity with our booking agency, so follow us or our label Aural Music on social networks to know about next ARCANA 13 shows being planned as we speak, doom on!

(Interview by Stuart Carroll)