Interview: Hideous Divinity

Perhaps for the very first time, people are fully understanding our "cinematic" attitude towards the extreme metal approach. That makes me really happy, it shows we're going somewhere.

Hideous Divinity have just brought out their latest opus Unextinct and it sees the Italian metal heroes exploring different sounds in their music from macabre and filmlike elements and beyond. Following the records release, Gavin Brown caught up with Hideous Divinity guitarist Enrique Schettino who told us all about Unextinct and the themes it deals with as well as talking about a number of topics relating to the band, the importance of a visual presence and Italian metal.

E&D: Your new album Unextinct has just been released, how has it been received so far?    

Enrique: I’d say responses have been really positive: after all, we took another step towards longer tracks with complex structures, you can’t never be sure about how fans are going to react to that. I believe people got it. And, perhaps for the very first time, people are fully understanding our “cinematic” attitude towards the extreme metal approach. That makes me really happy, it shows we’re going somewhere.

E&D: It has been five years since your last album Simulacrum, do you feel reenergised with this new record? 

Enrique: Indeed. There was also an EP in the middle, that we released in the middle of the pandemic times. Its purpose was more about “staying alive and active”, but nevertheless LV-426 was crucial to experiment new things without the pressure of a full length release. ‘Unextinct’ brought all those efforts to a new level. Yes, we feel reenergised. Older, but stronger.

E&D: Do you feel that this is your most ambitious record to date, both musically and lyrically? 

Enrique: As obvious as it may sound, yes I do. For a very simple reason: when you try to progress, the next album always represents a challenge. You do the same thing on every album, that question loses meaning. When you’re ready to do something different on every record, the best album always is… the next one. But I’m 100% satisfied with Unextinct: this is what HD is right now.

E&D: The album is heavily influenced by the story of Nosferatu. Can you tell us reasons behind this and about the themes that the songs on Unextinct cover? 

Enrique: Nosferatu represents the nature that unleashes his fury in a world “not made for humans”, and the image portrayed on the amazing artwork depicts the ultimate loss of hope. He’s the monster alright, but why is Nosferatu a monster to us? He becomes the expression of a non-human world: the world of predators, the world in itself that brings extinction, something impersonal and horrific: Nosferatu is the shadow of the “world-not-for-us” that we must acknowledge in horror.

E&D: Why did you pick Nosferatu as subject matter for this album? 

Enrique: In an Herzogian world, he portraits the sadness of a creature that can’t experience feelings. In a Thackerian world, he’s the violence of nature we can’t even understand. Luckily, I’d say.

E&D: Which cinematic versions of Nosferatu had the biggest influence on Hideous Divinity and Unextinct

Enrique: Murnau for his unmatched minimalistic horror, Herzog for the void of a nothingness with no feelings. Murnau’s movie, even though a mute film, is like a scream; Herzog’s more like deafening silence.

E&D: Zach Jeter of Olkoth/Nile features on the album track ‘Atto Quarto: The Horror Paradox’. How was the experience working with him and what does he bring to the track? 

Enrique: We are proud to call Zach not a friend but a brother. He was our bass player in the 2nd leg of the US tour supporting Hypocrisy, we became friends right from the start. He’s a helluva bass player but even a greater guitar player, with fantastic taste and tight AF. Asking him for a guest solo wasn’t a difficult choice. And of course he didn’t disappoint.

 

E&D: What are the biggest influences on the sound of the new album? 

Enrique: Modern death metal bands like Cattle Decapitation and Aborted are and will always be on my player, both for their songs and their production, they’re always showing “where DM is going”. But to me, an even bigger interest comes from those BM bands that are literally changing the game during these years: Akhlys, Funeral Mist, even Marduk, to name a few. Last but not least, I listen to EVERY band that comes from Poland. You just can’t fail. 

E&D: Can you tell us about the stunning artwork for Unextinct

Enrique: I had this image in my mind, the final surrender of the captain of the ship bringing Nosferatu to Wismar. He’s the portrait of abandon. A quote from Paul Monet’s novel resonated in me. First Nosferatu whispers to the captain tied to the wheel “Nothing is required -but the courage to be alone”. And then the captain’s final act of surrender: “[…] he buried his face against the stranger’s neck. He wept for his loss of strength, for the lies he was taught at the altar rail, for the men he had failed. There was no comfort anywhere but here”. Adam Burke took these references and did the painting, giving a prominent role to nature -again-, represented by the violent sea waves melting with the sky.

E&D: The video you have done for ‘More Than Many, Never One’ is fantastic. Can you tell us a bit about the visuals you chose for the video? 

Enrique: Thank you very much. The credit goes to Dema Novakova and Eclypso Studio, this was an idea she had since a long time and when we finally had music that was suitable enough for this amazing “birth of the universe” visual experience crafted inside a petri-dish we said “OK let’s bring it on”. 

E&D: You have also done videos for other album songs. Is the visual aspect of Hideous Divinity important for you as a band? 

Enrique: It’s necessary. It’s your visual chance to communicate to the world you have some creativity. Metal demands cliches, it’s your task to make them less obvious and make them visually interesting.

E&D: Are you looking forward to the festival season this summer and what festivals are you playing that you can tell us about? 

Enrique: Looking forward to Hellsinki Metal Festival, Gothoom and Metal Mine in particular. Also, this year we will play for the first time in Romania, long overdue. 

E&D: What other touring plans have you got for the rest of this year? 

Enrique: Some big tour is cooking but it’s too early to say anything. We’d love to be back in the US again soon. 

E&D: Will Unextinct form the basis of your set for your forthcoming live shows? 

Enrique: Absolutely. We will play the 3 new singles plus another song. Lots of rehearsal work but totally worthy. It was challenging to recreate all guitar layers but we’re pretty satisfied with the result.

E&D: How was the experience of touring with Belphegor and Kampfar on the Unleash The Devils tour as year and what were some of the highlights? 

Enrique: Tour was great to reach a new audience, not great at all because of the constant problems caused by the headliners and the booking agency. Tours are always challenging, but when the main band is doing everything in their power to make every second miserable just to teach you some kind of lesson?!, then it gets really hard. Whatever. It won’t happen again. Nothing to say about Kampfar by the way,  they’re good guys.

E&D: What have been some of the most memorable live shows that Hideous Divinity have played over the years? 

Enrique: The two shows on the 70K Tons Of Metal cruise were amazing. Also our show at 2023’s Metal Days under pouring rain was fantastic: too bad they never paid us.

E&D: What is the state of the extreme music scene in Italy at the moment? 

Enrique: I love it and it’s healthy. Lots of new bands, and many of those are subverting the rules and going for a more natural, organic approach. They’re taking everything we made and literally tearing it apart. That’s good for progress.

E&D: Do you feel that Italy is somewhat overlooked when it comes to metal bands? 

Enrique: I’d not say that. There’s an outstanding Italian band in basically every metal niche.

E&D: Who are some of your favourite ever Italian metal bands of all time? 

Enrique: From the old days I was a fan of Ghouls, Grimness, old Novembre.

E&D: What newer Italian metal bands could you recommend for us to check out?

Enrique: Ad Nauseam, The Clearing Path, Devoid of Thought.

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