BLIZARO “Blizzard of the Bizarre” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

I’ve spent a good portion of my life looking for bands that immerse themselves in darkness and weirdness, but in an original way. Such a band is Blizaro, the creation of John Gallo, a Renaissance man in the doom metal underground. You may be familiar with his band Orodruin, who play traditional doom in the vein of Candlemass and Black Sabbath. But less well known is his Blizaro project, which is much more esoteric and idiosyncratic.

Blizaro also has a Black Sabbath feel, but instead of the usual sludge riffs that most Sabbath-inspired bands draw on, they are influenced by the WEIRD side of the band. The part of Black Sabbath that did songs like “A National Acrobat”, “Who Are You?” and “I Think I’m Going Insane”. With this unique flavor, Blizaro mixes heaping helpings of strange Italian prog rock and creepy synthesizer horror movie scores.

The result is unlike anything out there today. And it can all be found on the latest Blizaro offering “Cornucopia della Morte”. The album sounds as dark and hallucinogenic as its twisted purple cover indicates. When I heard this masterpiece of the macabre, I knew a chat with Mr. Gallo was in order.

And here it is, for your perusal…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings, Johnny! With “City of the Living Nightmare”, you really established Blizaro’s unique sound. Was “Cornucopia della Morte” designed to amplify every aspect of the previous record to the Nth degree?

JOHN GALLO:  I suppose it’s a step forward in terms of where the last was going! Just bringing to a new level of live appeal and haunting darkness to sizzle through the fires of Mordorian rage. 

WC: The influence of Italian music and film is extremely strong on the new record. Can you explain the hold that Italian darkness has on you?

JG:  I really become enveloped into the sounds of Land of Mystery, Museo Rosenbach, Rovescio Della Medaglia but with the realms of Frizzi and Goblin interwined of the movies of Fulci and Argento. Like madness and doom meeting at progressive stables in the Antarctic to unleash unrivaled power and distinction. 

WC: Italy is known for a lot of weird and dark prog rock. Who are some of your favorites in that realm and what would you say was your biggest influence from that genre?

JG:  Probably Bigietto Per L’Inferno, and of course Black Hole with their strange atmosphere. Paul Chain is the biggest. Osanna is not really dark but it has those elements!

WC: You’ve also got a song called “Giallo” so obviously Italian thriller flicks are also a big influence. Was there one particular movie or director whose work inspired the song?

JG: I just really love “Profundo Rosso” and “Bird with the Crystal Plumage” and this is like a song that I would have wrote for “Deep Red” or” Inferno” if I had a chance! Mark came up with that killer bass line and I just did wacky keys over it. 

WC: You cover the song “Voyage to Hell” from Paul Chain. How long have you been a fan and have you ever interacted with Paul Chain himself?

JG: I have been a fan since this Italian friend of mine Vera sent me his stuff in like 2003. I knew then that with the inspiration of Pagan Altar Volume 1 that Blizaro must be formed! 

WC: The production on “Cornucopia della Morte” is one of the best analog, 70’s inspired jobs I’ve heard. How did you achieve this perfect sound? Did it come naturally or was it hard to pull off?

JG:  Well, it’s all digital really on my old ass Dell PC from 2002 with a Cakewalk recording program from around 2001.  All the connections in were analog and no USB but I have gotten pretty good at mixing things to sound old. 

WC: There is such a glut of 70’s occult rock bands now…how does Blizaro separate itself from the pack?

JG: We don’t try to play that style.  We just are inspired by old heavy metal like Nemesis, Sarcafagus from finland, Black Hole, and the previously mentioned things. I don’t know why we would get lumped into that? It’s just otherworldly doom  metal.  Into the stars in time bursting from seams of despair through caverns and passages of dragon fire and falling pillars!

WC: The “Nemesis” group of songs is an ambitious statement. Has this been brewing in your mind for a while and what was the genesis of this story?

JG: It was something I felt went hand in hand with the concept underlying the frequencies of a journey into the solemn stone edifices of your mind and coming back out again. I sort of was influenced by the name of Leif Edling’s previous band of the same title. 

WC: The keyboard sound is very important on the album and you come up with a wide variety of different key sounds from organ to synth to piano. How challenging was it orchestrating all of this?

JG:  It was all pretty much done on my Moog Opus 3 synth, which is very temperamental but fun to experiment with. It was a variety of customization and 3 oscillators to work with.  On a few parts I used a mellotron soundbank. 

WC: Does Blizaro find fans outside of heavy metal? Do you get some prog-heads or even soundtrack fans who are drawn to the band?

JG: I would hope so and feel it does have that cross over effect so I don’t see why not?

WC: How did you hook up with the I, Voidhanger label? They certainly specialize in some very unusual material.

JG: He was a fan of the music I was doing and I believe a friend , Len from Holland, showed him our stuff. We got in contact and hit it off very well. 

WC: You also have a wild purple cover on “Cornucopia della Morte”. What’s the story behind this outlandish image?

JG:  Our great friend Dan Bell from Yarrow, another exceptional Paul Chain style band, concocted that masterpiece! It’s really brilliant representation of the journey that correlates to the music therein. 

WC: Any plans for Blizaro to play live?

JG: Yes! We are planning a tour with Castle of east coast this summer which will be a blast! Starts July 31st in Cleveland to Aug 6 in Philly!

WC: What’s the status of some of your other projects like Orodruin and Crucifist?

JG: Orodruin has so much material that we are on the fringes of a new album! Crucifist has been broken up since 2010 but I’d like to see a reunion show or something more?!

 WC: Any other outlets for your creativity?

JG: I also play in a classic fantasy heavy metal band called Elfspell with Ron from Crucifist and awesome friends Monica Finger, Ian Downey, and Travis Indovina (Shredmaster!).  I still do John Gallow which is my doom solitude- esque bedroom sloth affair! 

WC: If you could ask any 3 people in history to dinner, who would they be?

JG:  Tony Iommi, Vincent Crane, and Ken Hensley.  All brilliant musicians of a high impact on my musical outings!

WC: What was the last CD or release you checked out just because you wanted to hear the band?

JG : Bastard Lord, total crushing doom! 

WC:This can be from any band you’ve been associated with. Have you ever had any Spinal Tap moment where things went crazy that you could share with us?

JG: Everything  you can think of, like at Days of The doomed fest in 2011, Orodruin played at 4:20pm as sort of “take the doom toke with Orodruin” even though we are no stoner band but when we played we apparently made the PA’s blow out and this crazy smell started around the stage and venue. I swear I thought the PA was smoking a joint and that promoter Mike Smith had done this for some stage effect! We all were confused but carried on with heavy doom riffs!

WC: Any last words for the fans out there?

JG: Listen to doom: Penance, While Heaven Wept, The Wretch, Pale Divine, Cathedral, Revelation, Death Row, Dream Death, Candlemass, Trouble, Vitus with Reagers, Cold Mourning, Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar, Gates of Slumber, WFG, Paul Chain, Obsessed, Blood Farmers… listen to the groove but zone out to the chugging apocalyptic riffs and then single note dreari ness! True doom for life and love of all that is holy and lucid to the dream that is within us all!