Flail of Venom Interview’s Transcript (July 2020)

Words by D. O’Mahony

Having released their debut “We Who Light the Fire” in late-2019, Italian one-man epic/black metal band FLAMEKEEPER has been under the needle for the past few months. The bands only member, Marco S. spoke to us about the influence, message, relationship with the label and themes of his music.
With a burning passion for music and philosophy, FLAMEKEEPER produces epic metal with uplifting themes and refrains. Using a metaphor of fire, the lyrics behind the band focus on introspection and inner struggles.

– FLAMEKEEPER takes inspiration from life itself, from personal experiences and by the values I choose to live my life with. It takes inspiration from our desire to discover ourselves, that inextinguishable spark of faith that make us move on even when, overwhelmed by darkness, we think all is lost. I call this psychophysical state of resiliency and determination “Inner Strength”. Fire stands as the perfect metaphor for Inner Strength as it expresses the gift we have as humans to do good and bad: Fire is the archetypal source of light and heat, essential to our survival, but also a dangerous threat able to raze everything in its path. In the same way, we can decide when to gift the world with our positive energy and when to rebel to it.
We live in this constant paradox where, even if we know we are on this world to pursue our own unique cause, we built a society which pushes us to align our dreams and beliefs to one major consumistic narrative and this calls for unmerciful spiritual rebellion.
In different times of our life it’s up to us to understand whether to be a creative or destructive force.

Philosophy and reality are at the core of FLAMEKEEPER, while also being influenced by perhaps lesser obvious art, namely “Fight Club”, but musically it is a maelstrom of styles.

– In Flamekeeper, message is key. Musically, it is a vortex of everything I listen to. I mostly listen to music which sounds epic to my ears: NWOBHM, epic metal, late-70’s Hard Rock, Hellenic black metal, Folk, Classical and Medieval music. I’m a huge fan of ENNIO
MORRICONE and his spaghetti Western soundtracks too.

Undertaking almost everything involved with the project, Marco S. formed the FLAMEKEEPER as an off shoot of his band DEMONOMANCY. With a clear vision for how the band should write, sound and be presented, his hard work has not only paid off, but puts further emphasis on the ideas behind the music through existentialism.

– I tend to be a control freak, in this case it is also because my vision is so clear and I have all the tools to deliver on my own. I studied Songwriting, Sound Engineering and Graphic Design so I clearly see what I want to achieve musically, sonically and visually.
I did not feel the need for other band members because I have a good network of friends to help me when I am blocked. For example, in the beginning I struggled with melodic singing and my close friend Giuseppe from the band NIGHT GAUNT helped me out as vocal coach. He recorded some amazing sounding guidelines for me which I ended up keeping as proper backing vocals tracks . I don’t want to keep Flamekeeper as a singular entity though: not only I plan to have many guests on the next releases, but I want to find a proper stable line-up able to contribute artistically.

With the debut EP “We Who Light the Fire” released via INVICTUS PRODUCTIONS in 2019, Marco talks of his relationship with the Irish label.

– It was about 3 years ago when I went to Dublin and I met Darragh from INVICTUS PRODUCTIONS. I have been a fan of the label for years and we kept in touch. We started working together when he released my other band DEMONONMANCY’s album.
With Darragh it is more than business, we are good friends. I have been at his home and met his family, we have had some great times together and have been in touch ever since. I produced a few Invictus releases over the years such as SACRILEGIA, MALOKARPATAN and
my friends in THULSA DOOM. I’m really happy I have the opportunity to contribute to the label’s history and to make a small difference.

Having established the label as his port of call, Marco talks about how INVICTUS also suits the music perfectly.

– When the idea of Flamekeeper came up, I sent Darragh two demo songs to listen to and he agreed instantly to release it. For me, the most important thing is that the cooperation between band and label is philosophical and not only economical. I am proud to have the Invictus logo on the back of my records as the label supports and endorse the message of my music.
The debut EP was released on the back of no previous demos or releases. Ambitious to release his music, Marco speaks of the concept of demo tapes and why he chose to dismiss one for a more comprehensive release.

I had enough music to release a full-length but I carefully selected 5 songs that would represent the birth of Flamekeeper without revealing too much all in the first release. I thought a properly produced mini-album was the right choice and I’m still very happy about it.
I felt like a demo tape would not fit the concept, as I had a clear structure and plan in mind. I used to love demo tapes when I was a teenager, a huge fan of the likes of NECROVORE, INCUBUS, BLOOD SPILL, BEHERIT etc. I find the intrinsic artistic innocence of these demos
extremely charming and I feel like a similar output by Flamekeeper wouldn’t be as sincere as my ideas are very defined and refined. Also, having the support of the label since day one, it didn’t make sense to release something low budget.

FLAMEKEEPER faced its own journey, relocating from Italy to Sweden during the writing of the release. Marco explains the effect this change has had on the music and its production.

– My life experience has influenced my view on the world and therefore makes its way into the music. The plan of moving to another country influenced me deeply, of course: part of the EP was recorded in Italy (before leaving) and part in Sweden, so the theme of travel is found
throughout the songs, especially in “Dead Sea Waters”, a quite biographical song. I’m always influenced by my own present: for example, the coronavirus changed the life and routine of us all; my thoughts and beliefs about the destiny of the world as we know it are thecentral theme of many of my new songs.

Regardless of style, date or country, most heavy music is generally rooted in imagination, good or evil. FLAMEKEEPER rejects fantasy for reality, instead drawing upon more human aspects of myth rather than any fantasy, a more refreshing approach that happens to fit the style of the music.

– I often see people hiding in fantasy; especially in the metal scene is very common to find people living vicariously the adventures and the great deeds narrated by power metal bands. For this reason, unfortunately the heroic and epic atmospheres are naturally linked to fantasy type settings, astray from reality, as if real life is too boring to match human expectations to achieve something amazing like books and film.
I instead think we have one life and it must be lived mythologically. The reason I want my music to sound so epic is to inspire people to live life with courage and strength, to embrace hardships and face adversities instead of escaping in worlds of fantasy.
I don’t want to sing about superhumans who can fight dragons or other distracting metaphors, I prefer to be more literal in my lyrics. The real mythological act in our life is overcoming our boundaries day after day, becoming a better version of ourselves.

FLAMEKEEPER recommends music by MALOKARPATAN (heavy Slovakian black metal), CHEVALIER (Finnish speed) and VULTURES VENGEANCE (Italian heavy metal).

Keep the Flame


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