Crimson Dawn - Dario Beretta

Crimson Dawn - Dario Beretta

Italy has produced some truly interesting pieces of music over the years. Epic Doom outfit CRIMSON DAWN released the second full length album “Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter” in spring and now, about half a year later it was time to check in and see how things have gone so far. While at it and having musical mastermind Dario Beretta on the line a catch up on DRAKKAR seemed to be in place too.

Crimson Dawn - Dario Beretta

Hello Dario, welcome to METAL KAOZ! It’s almost a year since “Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter” was released now, how has the response been so far?
Very nice indeed. We’ve gathered lots of good reviews and most fans seem to like as much, or better, as the first album. We’ve very happy with how everything went with it.

I think it's a master-piece, a perfect mix between the obscure and more traditional Doom. What are your main inspiration when you write music?
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I couldn’t really tell you what inspires me to write music. It’s always a very natural process, sometimes I get a melody stuck in my head, other times it’s a riff that comes to me either while I’m practicing or... doing something else entirely! You never know. Of course I am influenced by all the great bands which I listen to daily. I am a huge fan of Metal, first and foremost, and I like most of its sub-genres, so I’m never left without great music to love and discover.

Tell me a little about the song-writing process.
As I mentioned, it’s really natural to me to write music. Anything can kickstart a new song – an idea for a riff, a melody, sometimes a piece of lyrical content... Then it’s a matter of developing that idea, making sure the structure of the song works. Once you have a complete song, the most difficult part of it it’s done and it becomes a matter of finding the right arrangements for each instrument, which is something we all do together.

You released a video for “The Skeleton Key”. Why did you chose that song for a video?
Well for starters, it’s one of the shortest songs on the album. And this is important because when you don’t have a big budget to work with, the longer the song, the more difficult it becomes to keep the video interesting. On top of that, it’s a catchy song with a refrain which stucks in your head immediately, so it made sense to use it as a first “single”, so to speak.

The video holds a nice little story. Can you tell a little about it? Who came up with the idea? How did you work with filming and production of it?
We’ve been working with our friends from Action! Studio, they were also behind the first video we ever did for the song “Crimson Dawn”, included in our first record, “In Strange Aeons...”. They came up with the story of the video after reading the lyrics of the song which I sent them – together with some background information about the “Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter” saga – and I think they were able to convey the atmosphere of the song in a very nice way. I love both videos they’ve done for us and we’ll definitely keep working with them in the future. Also because they helped us create the “Undead Hunter” who’s is now our official mascot, so...

“Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter” was released on Punishment 18 Records. Why did you choose to work with them for this record? The 2013 release “In Strange Aeons...” is released on My Graveyard Productions, why the change?
Well, we are still in very good terms with Giuliano from My Graveyard, but he decided to put the label on hyatus for personal reasons, so we had no choice but to look around. It took us quite a while to find a new deal which was completely satisfying to us, but luckily, we ended up with the guys of Punishment 18!

Are you satisfied with what Punishment 18 Records had to offer and what they've done for you in promotion etc.?
Absolutely, they did a very good job in getting the album out there and make people aware of it. I’m convinced that we’ll keep working with them in the future as we have a very solid relationship (it doesn’t hurt that I have known one of the owners, Corrado, for 20+ years!).

You played 'Doom Over Scania' in April. The show was great, you sound fantastic live as well. What did you think of that show?
It was amazing! From all points of view, it was probably our best ever. I think everyone in the band really delivered that night, the crowd was great and really into it, and also from a technical point of view everything worked really well. I really have to thank the whole management of the festival because boy, did they deliver! It was such a great night!

What more have you been up to this year (other than playing 'Doom Over Scania' and releasing the album)?
We did a bunch of other shows, among them a release party for the vinyl version of “Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter” with our friends from SENDRA and IN AEVUM AGERE which turned out really good. It’s been a good year.

What plans do you have for the future?
At the moment, we’re writing material for the third album. We’ll also keep playing live whenever there is a chance for an interesting show. There’s a couple of very interesting things which I can’t talk about yet, but we hope will materialize down the road.

Around in Europe and spreading over to USA there are a lot of Doom festivals nowadays. Which one would you like to play the most and why?
There surely is a lot of great Doom festivals around. The doom metal community is amazing, there’s such a love for the music, a sense of standing together to “fight the good fight” for this kind of music... I really feel there’s something special going on between Doom fans so every festival we’ve played has been a joy. That said, of course I would love to play the ‘Hammer Of Doom’ festival in Germany... it seems like a great show from what everybody’s telling me who already played there. So far we haven’t been able to get in the radar of the promoters organizing it, but you never know, let’s hope we get a chance somewhere down the road.

How is the scene for Doom in Italy? Or Metal in general... Is there a scene to talk about? Clubs that bring in bands to play and so on?
The Italian scene in general is very, very difficult to survive in. There are only a few places where you can play a decent live show and there’s always too few people turning up to see the bands, unless they are super-famous acts, then every metalhead will suddenly crawl out of the woodwork... One thing which bothers me is that we have many great bands. Especially in Doom Metal, we have a host of amazing bands which are getting a lot of recognition abroad, but they are scarcely considered in our own country. It’s tough. On the other hand, we’re always trying to keep it alive by working with other bands, trying to get people to come to the shows, doing everything we can. I know of some bands who just stopped caring. They go abroad whenever possible and simply stopped trying to get people in Italy to care about them. I can understand that perfectly. Sometimes you’ll do hundreds of miles to play in front of 8 people and that really hurts. Still, I haven’t given up yet!

You are also involved in the Heavy/Power Metal band DRAKKAR. How do you split your time between the bands?
Well, both bands are firmly planted in the underground with both feet, so it’s not really that difficult to find time for both. Also, now half the line-up is shared between both bands and this makes things a little bit easier. You only need to make sure you don’t book conflicting shows. Once you do that, the rest tends to fall into place easily.

Reading your most recent post on Facebook DRAKKAR have gone through some line-up changes and you are set to work on your sixth album. Can you give us an update on what's going on? What's the plan moving forward? Do you have a planned release date for the album at this point? Record company?
Yeah, as I said, we now share half the members of the band with CRIMSON DAWN. Me, Marco (guitar) and Lele (keys) are doing double shifts. :) Fact is – it was only me at the beginning, then our keyboard player left and to recruit Lele was a natural thing to do because he had been a fan of the band for such a long time, he already knew most of our songs. Then about 9 months ago, both the drummer and the bass player from DRAKKAR left the band. As we went about looking for replacements, I realized it was a good chance to finally bring a second guitar player onboard, something I had been thinking about for quite a while. I just thought that, since we had to rebuild the line-up anyway, it was worth doing all changes at once! And as me and Marco have know each other since we were in high school, and we’re already used to playing together in CRIMSON DAWN, it just make sense to bring him aboard.

As for what we’re working on, we’re currently finishing our job on a special release that will be out end of April, when we’ll be doing a couple of Italian shows with IRON SAVIOR together with our friends in AIRBORN. I can’t go into details yet, but it’ll be a perfect chance to introduce the new line-up. Then right after that, we’ll head into the new album, which has already been written for the most part, but still needs polishing and, of course, recordings and stuff. The aim is to have the special release in April as I said, and then the sixth album in early 2019. I would love to have the Crimson Dawn new record out at the end of the same year, but it will depend from a lot of things going smooth at the same time!

Style-wise, do you have any idea where the new DRAKKAR music will go, compared to the earlier releases?
In the last few years, we’ve moved more and more into traditional Metal/classic Hard Rock territory, without giving up our power metal roots, of course. I can see that progression continuing into the new releases, because our new drummer, Daniele (ex-HOLY MARTYR), comes from a traditional metal background and also adding two guitars will make it even more natural for us to rely on guitar harmonies and the like.

Is there any difference how you work with the two bands? When it comes to songwriting, recording and so on.
In the past, there was virtually no difference, because both bands had members spread out so chances to meet and rehearse were limited. Now it’s starting to be a bit different because, after many years, we have a new line-up for DRAKKAR where we all, except Lele, live close enough to each other that we can meet regularly. So for CRIMSON DAWN, we’ll keep working as we always did, doing a lot of work from home, each on his own, and then meeting to put things together when they are already somewhat “defined”. For DRAKKAR, on the other hand, I expect that we’ll be rehearsing new songs all together a lot more before going into the studio, which will probably lead to more changes and more experimentation into each song. It’ll be interesting to see where this will lead us.

Do you know immediately if an idea is going to DRAKKAR or CRIMSON DAWN?
Almost every time. Despite having some things in common, like the epic metal influences, the sound of the two bands is so different that it’s quite easy to keep them separate. On occasion, there might be some riff or melody which is conceived during a session for a band that ends up in the other, but I usually recognize those immediately.

There are a few bands named DRAKKAR, basically in the same genre who are active (One from Portugal and one from Belgium). Have there ever been some mix-ups for you? That you've been taking for someone else or the other way around?
It happens all the time with the Belgian DRAKKAR. They’ve become active once again a few years ago, and since then, people in Belgium and France tend to mix up our Facebook pages a lot. Still, 99% of the time it happens with people from those areas, so it’s somewhat less of a problem, eheh.

Anything more you would like to add? Else, thank you and I really hope to see you soon again, with CRIMSON DAWN or DRAKKAR!
Just want to apologize for taking so long to answer this interview! Working with two active bands on top of having a “day gig” is not easy, I can tell you. But I wouldn’t change a thing, as music is my life. Thanks for your continued support and I hope to see you again soon at a show somewhere in Europe!