Italy is not the first name that springs to mind when one think of Black Metal, however its Black Metal scene is strong and Imago Mortis have been around for two decades to prove it. Pest Webzine interviewed Abibial regarding the band, “Carnicon” and all topics related.
The band was originally called Nema but then changed to Imago Mortis. Why the name change?
Hail Sonia and Pest webzine. When in 1994 we found our congregation, the first name adopted was "Nema" ("Amen" backwards), but we learned that there was a German band with the same name. For this reason we opted for Imago Mortis.
Did you know there is a Brazilian with the same monicker? How do you deal with situations like this?
Yes, we discovered it in 2000 on the Internet. There have never been problems about the name because both bands have very different underground realities, we play black metal and they play romantic goth-doom. Neither of the two bands has signed a deal with Sony or Universal, we don’t have business problems. Hahaha!
Imago Mortis translates as The Image of Death. Why have you opted for this name?
We decided to adopt this moniker from the caption of a famous depiction of the Dance of Death from the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493. From the beginning Black Metal has been the band’s form of expression through which we explore the dark side of the soul in symbiosis with the tradition of northern Italy. We believe this name represents our obscure path.
Your album “Carnicon” requires a careful, intense listen cause it doesn’t stick in our minds straight away. What has the reaction been like?
The opinions around Carnicon are very positive, and our adepts and music editors have commented in favour of this new album. Everyone agrees that it traces a new step on our artistic journey. Surely the album requires a deep listen for better understanding the elements that are part of it.
The album is “an incursion into your local witchcraft, occultism, esotericism and death stories / facts”. What attracted you to these themes? Are these the topics you used in all of your full-lenghts?
We are attracted by our territorial tradition and personally I use a lot of free time to study dark arts, spirituality, shamanism and mysterious stories. Many of our lyrics topics speak of these elements in symbiosis with our territory, Bergamo an historical city located near the Alps.
Most of your releases have Latin titles and in “Carnicon” you have used defunct languages like vernacular '600, latin and Bergamasco, as well as current Italian. Why the variety of languages?
Yes, we sing in Italian, Bergamasco, ancient Lombard and Latin. We believe that music is an art form, and for this reason it has no limits of expression.
Why have you opted for these languages?
The fact of singing in various actual or dead languages represents the conception expressed before. Nothing is planned, everything is pure spontaneity and expression.
Some of your lyrics depict real stories. How did you come across them? Why have you decided to use them?
Personally, since childhood I was passionate about arcane stories, legends and encounters with the unknown, even then I cut out newspaper articles that spoke of mystery, occult and Satanism. Studying for a long time this type of topic, I moved my attention exclusively on our territory and progressively I came across interesting stories that I decided to narrate with Imago Mortis.
Do you think albums that lead the listener to dig in deeper are more interesting? Don’t you think people today want everything here and now and don’t want to make an effort for anything? Has your hard work paid off?
I like to think the music listener is a passionate lover of reading. A reader wants to have the book in his hands, browse it, understand it and see it in the shelf. The same goes for music. The supports and details completing the opera. In the visual and tactile elements still lurks the actions of the artist, listening only to digital files is the same as eating only a small part of a delicious dish.
The album has been released by Drakkar Productions, a label famous for its devotion to black metal. How’s it like being in such a cult label?
Our relationship with the Drakkar Productions has its roots in the late '90s, at that time we traded our demos with them. In 2001 they decided to reprint our demo tape "Mors Triumphalis" and after listening to another promo "Black Arctic Sun" in 2004 we were proposed a deal that has allowed the creation of the albums: "Una Foresta Dimenticata" (A Forgotten Forest), "Mors Triumphalis", "Ars Obscura" and the current "Carnicon" and in an EP named "Sgàbula". We think the work that Drakkar Productions has done with us so far has been very positive. After a long collaboration it is natural that there is now a relationship that is based on mutual respect, support and friendship. The label guarantees us its support and respect in our artistic expression.
Have you played live to promote the album? Where do you usually play? Do you often play live?
We perform live on a regular basis, and any occasion is good to promote every new step of our band. We play usually in underground gigs in small clubs, pubs and festivals.
The band will play live in a few weeks with Death Dies… are you looking forward to it? Do you usually play free shows?
Yes we will support Death Dies, a band formed by ex-Evol members. When we organize a gig, if it’s possible, we try to have a free entry.
The band is comprised of three members. Do you keep this line-up when playing live or do you have session musicians?
At the moment, we decided to keep three members and we are not interested in session musicians, considering that playing in Imago Mortis requires complete dedication.
The band has been featured in many compilations… is it a way to keep busy in between releases? Were the songs in your demos ever featured somewhere else?
Yes, in the past we have participated in various compilations, now we prefer to express ourselves directly on full-lenght albums. Yes, on “Mors Triumphalis” album, our sold out “Danza Macabra” demo, edited in 1999 with only 33 copies, is presented as bonus.
Of all your 3 full-lengths “Una foresta dimenticata”, “Ars Obscura” and “Carnicon”… which is the best?
I think every album has its own particular characteristics. Personally I like "Ars Obscura" and this last "Carnicon", because these best represent our stylistic and conceptual evolution.
The band has been active for 22 years already. What have you learnt as a musician?
Surely we have learnt many aspects. We have gone through many study phases and we have reached a better conceptual level. We have also refined our musical technique. We have learned to stand on a stage and especially that without engagement and passion you cannot get anything.
How’s the Italian underground scene? Any bands worth checking out?
Certainly over time they have established structures, situations and instruments that allow the extreme metal scene to express themselves at their best, but there is still much to do regarding this. They have improved premises and vehicles of communication. I suggest you listen to the big names as Mortuary Drape, Opera IX and Necromass, but also bands like Movimento D’Avanguardia Ermetico, Mefitic, Blaze of Sorrow, Infèren, Ars Goetia, Evil Spell, Unctoris, Nebrus, Kult, Disharmonic, The True Endless, Soulphureous, Infamous, Heretical, Tumulus Anmatus, Malvento, Kaiserreich, Fosch, the list is long...
What does 2016 have in store for Imago Mortis?
In the next weeks we will perform some live dates after which we will start composing new songs for the "Carnicon" successor, we have some ideas.
Please leave a final message to Pest’s readers.
Thank you very much for the interview and support, for any info visit our web sepulchres www.imagomortis.net or www.facebook.com/imago.mortis.1994 and remember ... Mors Certa Solum Tempus Incertum Est!
Interviewed by Sonia Fonseca