Hour of Penance's clash with Catholicism

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 – Rome’s Hour of Penance reigns supreme in the death metal arena this year. Their latest album, “Sedition,” should stand tall as the genre’s fastest, most ferocious 2012 release. Even if it doesn’t, the Italian quartet recently made their case with an all-out conquest of American concert venues. Speaking with lead guitarist Giulio Moschini via Skype, I got the scoop on Hour of Penance’s current heavy metal crusade and how it hasn’t meshed well with the Catholic Church.

Thanks Giulio for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me today. My younger brother recently saw your American tour and said it was great. How was it playing with bands like Skeletonwitch, Nile and the Black Dahlia Murder?

Giulio Moschini: It was great. We had excellent times and it was an awesome experience touring with such amazing and professional bands. It was also our very first time in the U.S.

It was like a dream come true for us. We had the chance to share the bus and stage with Nile, a band that influenced us a lot. They’re simply legendary, and after that we had the chance to see Skeletonwitch and The Black Dahlia Murder in action every night. We’re definitely looking forward to coming back as soon as we can.

Hour of Penance (Photo: Prosthetic Records)

Hour of Penance (Photo: Prosthetic Records)

 How does America differ from Italy having now played in both countries?

Moschini: I have to say that I felt depressed as soon as I landed in Italy. We’re simply a third world country in terms of extreme music here. The support you get from the U.S. fans is something that you can forget about here. We’ve got no venues, the majority of the promoters here are always trying to cheat you somehow and even if you work hard with your band, record albums and tour as much as you can you’ll always be considered a bad band because you play extreme metal. That’s why we play like three or four shows a year in Italy even though it’s our home.

I’m sorry to hear that. Why do you think Italy is hostile to extreme music like that?

Moschini: I think it’s something related to Italian culture and the values of Italians. What with the Catholic influence on our society, if you’ve got long hair you’re scum. That’s what most of the people think of metalheads here.

Last year we were on tour with Deicide and Belphegor and we did three shows here in Italy as part of the tour and before one of those shows we had a Catholic association writing letters to the mayor of the city trying to cancel the show at any cost because in their opinion, we were “encouraging the youth to do drugs, homosexuality (that’s very funny to us) and suicide.” That’s what it’s like for us.

Do you have a favorite U.S. tour memory to make up for your reception back home?

Moschini: We had great times in the U.S. and give our thanks to the tour crew, to our diehard fans and to the bands we were sharing the stage with.

One of my favorite memories is when Nile’s lead singer and guitarist Karl Sanders invited me on stage to sing the chorus of “Black Seeds of Vengeance” with his band. It was an amazing experience.

All these shows support your latest album, “Sedition.” What’s that title’s significance to you?

Hour of Penance&squot;s "Sedition"

Hour of Penance’s “Sedition”

Moschini: “Sedition” is a title that clearly explains our latest album’s theme. It’s about rebelling against everything that stands in the way of knowledge and is embodied by the serpent in the cover art. We want to reclaim our future and regain the glory of our past, a time when Italy was the cradle of art, knowledge and power. The Catholic Church must be swept away for this to happen since it has dumbed down every positive force in this country and now we’re left with nothing.

I think that most of the people don’t understand that and they’ve just flagged us as “yet another anti-Christian band” but hey, what can you do? We’re not some Norwegian black metal weirdoes doing nothing besides burning churches for attention.

Do you have a favorite song or songs from “Sedition?”

Moschini: It’s hard to pick a song off “Sedition” as my favorite though there are some songs that I enjoy playing live the most. I really like “Ascension,” which is a very simple song, and for something more “challenging” I enjoy “Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God,” which is probably the fastest song we’ve ever recorded.

“Sedition” offers strong criticism of Catholicism. Why is that topic important to Hour of Penance?

Moschini: We truly have problems here with the Catholic Church. For now, let’s just mention a few facts from the last 50 years: They helped the Nazis in getting an Italian name, an Italian passport and fly to South America. Since the 1960s they’ve basically controlled our government with their secrets agents. They worked with the Mafia and other terrorist associations here in Italy. It’s all in books and the newspapers. Our message is: “Why doesn’t anybody do anything against that?”

Why do you think Catholicism has had this effect on Italian society?

Moschini: I think the Catholic Church acts in their interest as a side government - not any worse or any better than the official government we have here – and they have power but they want more power just like anyone else.

There are a lot of books about it out there though. One in particular is called “The Black Book of the Vatican” or something like that. I don’t know if there’s any English translation, but if you find it it’s definitely worth reading. It’s about 3000 pages or more on all the Vatican’s scandals during the last century.

Pope Benedict XVI is currently in the news after one of his servants began leaking private Vatican communications to the press. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Moschini: I’m not surprised to be honest – everybody here knew about that. Pope Benedict is just a puppet. Behind him are cardinals that, as I’ve said before, have some weird connection with the Mafia and the most corrupt politicians here. This is not like one of the thousands of conspiracy theories you find on the Internet. This is true.

As a death metal musician, what would you say is your favorite death metal album and why?

Moschini: I don’t have just one, so I usually reply to questions like this by picking something that influenced me and the way I play my music.

One of them is definitely “Bloodthirst” by Cannibal Corpse. That album to me marked the moment in which death metal started sounding more technical and complex. It’s a fracture between the old school way of playing death metal and the new school of playing death metal. Cannibal Corpse definitely left a mark with that album on the death metal scene.

What do you hope Hour of Penance accomplishes next?

Moschini: We definitely want to return to the U.S. for another tour. I can confirm that we will do just that this fall though I can’t say which bands it will be with just yet. It’s a great lineup and we can’t wait. It’s going to be an excellent tour.


Read more of Mark’s work in Heavy Metal Hensch at the Washington Times Communities. When not writing for the Communities, Mark serves as a digital editor for the Times’ Times247.com.

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Mark Hensch

Mark Hensch is a heavy metal fanatic who has been scribing about the genre since 2003.  A Grand Rapids, Mich. metalhead, Mark also writes for www.thrashpit.com while serving as its editor.  He maintains a recurring column there called "Hensch's Hometown Heroes" which spotlights unsigned heavy metal bands.  He apologizes for any subsequent ear bleeds readers incur while checking out his music blog. He also writes about restaurants and mixed martial arts for the "Washington Times" in addition to extreme music.


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