It's safe to say that 2015 has been a great year for Weeping Silence. Not only was the first edition of their Metal Over Malta Festival - held last March - a great success; the event also helped to consolidate the band's position on the international scene. Indeed, further to the several foreign appearances already performed, the band has already been confirmed to appear at a number of significant live events next. In fact, with brand new album Opus IV Oblivion in hand (and an increasing number of glowing reviews pouring in), the odds are that 2016 could well be the start of a very important new chapter in the band's history. Michael Bugeja asked them a few questions ahead of the official album launch concert taking place at Chateau Buskett this Saturday.
How much of an impact did the band's 2012 line-up change have?
Having been around for some 20 years now, Weeping Silence has quite a history behind it, and there have been several line-up changes along the way. When Diane (Camenzuli) and Dario (Pace Taliana) joined the band on vocals, they brought with them a new energy that was especially evident onstage, and understandably this had a positive impact on all the band. Naturally, spending so much time together these past three years, performing live in Malta and Europe, and even writing and recording our latest album have all played an important part in how this formation has bonded and moved forward. On top of that, our album has been released with an amazing record label too, so we’re in a very good place at the moment.
Opus IV Oblivion is the first offering from the new line-up. Did it feel like starting over as you geared up for the whole process or was it more of a transition?
Every band goes through some form of transition every now and then, and one can hear this on each of our albums. Our sound is now more defined and the song-writing has certainly matured over the years. This does not mean that we are letting go of our 'older' songs though. We still include them in our live repertoire but we’ll obviously be playing many songs from the new album in our upcoming shows.
There's an evident shift in the vocal delivery on this album, a more pronounced balance between the high and low elements which has reinforced the melodic aspect...
Being a mezzo-soprano, Diane doesn't use the high register that sopranos tend to, although she can still reach high notes with relative ease. Instead, her vocal dynamic focuses more on a lower register that enhances the album's 'gloomier' vibe. The band has also down-tuned further to achieve a heavier sound, and Diane's voice complements this quite effectively. The album has received very good reviews, with several critics commenting positively about the shift to a lower register in the female voice.
Clearly, the Goth influence is still strong but there's also a more prominent hint of Doom Metal which has fitted in quite comfortably. How difficult was it to balance such a mix so effectively?
It’s not about consciously finding a balance; more to do with composing songs we like naturally and using our experience. The sound on Opus IV Oblivion is aggressive, melancholic yet melodic, and incorporates very slow sections with others that are faster than anything on previous releases. The guitar melodies keep the heavy gloom sound balanced, and this is aided by the vocals, with female vocals on one side, and harsh as well as narrated male vocals on the other, in a form commonly referred to as 'beauty and the beast'.
Weeping Silence is held in high esteem also in the world of female-fronted metal bands. What do you feel it is about your music that has boosted your profile internationally and landed you slots performing with stalwarts like Therion, Draconian and Sirenia?
Being a style that sits in a grey zone between genres, the music of Weeping Silence attracts fans of Gothic Metal and certain elements of the Doom Metal scene, most of which are fans of the bands you mentioned here. In addition, we made a conscious effort to place ourselves on the international music map by building a good rapport with bookers and promoters overseas. These past two years we played a number of shows in Europe, including some prestigious events in the UK, the Benelux countries and Slovenia. Following that we signed to Massacre Records (Germany), which saw a spike in the band’s promotion and album distribution. These things put together, as well as the music itself, is what we believe has boosted Weeping Silence internationally.
The album title suggests there may be some kind of concept lurking within. Is there one, or were the songs written as standalone numbers?
The title Opus IV Oblivion is a play on words really; a musical work written for oblivion on both a personal and a communal level. It is also our fourth album, hence the Roman numerals. The lyrics focus on mankind’s oblivion, the mortality we all face and the terrible way humans treat the world. When one ponders on these aspects of life, it tends to become melancholic and heavy with thoughts, which is also reflected in the mood of the album.
This album is probably your most accessible to date, and while the metal punch is very much present, some of the songs could easily attract fans from outside the metal scene...
Some people who are not familiar with metal tend to like a lot of its aspects when they hear it. This is probably due to the fact that the metal genre is varied and contains influences from outside the genre too. When it comes to our music, one can hear a lot of classical influences, for example. The album also includes a 'ballad'-esque song, probably its most accessible track, but despite all this, our music remains distant from any commercial lucre.
A word about the cover art, which has a distinctly familiar feel....
The artwork is inspired by the tomb art at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. It is death personified, and very much in line with the lyrics described earlier. This art really gets us thinking about time, the continuum of life, and the passing of death upon us. Credit goes to Darkgrove (Finland) for a fantastic job in transforming this art into an album cover, which we are very happy with. It also gives this work a distinctively Maltese touch to it.
With so many positive reviews already in hand, Opus IV Oblivion looks set to boost the band to new heights. What's next for Weeping Silence?
We're definitely looking forward to the album launch this Saturday, together with special guests Nomad Son. Yes, 2016 is looking very promising for us. In January we'll be heading to France, Belgium and The Netherlands for a short tour with Belgian band Thurisaz, partly supported by the Malta Arts Fund. Then, in March we will play at the second edition of Metal over Malta Festival, which we also host and we're to confirm we'll be performing at two open-air festivals in summer; Gothoom in Slovakia and Metaldays in Slovenia. We're all very excited, and there are still more live dates to be announced.
This article was first publihsed on The Sunday Times of Malta's ESCAPE magazine (22 November2015)
Photo by Steve Muliett