" The Horror Leads The Dance"

By: Lord Randall

For those not in the know, "Hands of Orlac" is the name of a classic horror story about a pianist whose ruined hands are replaced with the severed extremies of an executed knife murderer. Instead of tickling the ivories, Mr. Orlac is now more predisposed to tossing sharp cutlery into people. The macabre tale has been filmed 3 times:  in 1924, with Conrad Veidt; in 1935, with Peter Lorre in a version called "Mad Love", and in 1960, with Mel Ferrer.

And now Hands of Orlac is also the name of a rather morbid band from Italy, who play a doomy, moody kind of Gothic metal steeped in horror. Their latest grim offering to the music world is entitled "Figli de Crepuscolo", which translates as "Children of Twilight". Lord Randall ventured into musty catacombs to speak to The Templar, one of the founder of Hands of Orlac and receive tutelage in the ways of Italian horror and doom...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Why the move from Italy to Sweden in 2012? Was it primarily to have a hub around which the entire band could be based? Threats from the Vatican? It would just seem that, given your inspiration coming from the Italian horror masters (Bava, Argento), Italy would be a more...fertile ground.

THE TEMPLAR: The relocation to Sweden made the recording and rehearsals for "Figli del Crepuscolo" easier, plus, to be honest, the farther from the Vatican the better. [Laughs] The two of us do't seem to get along too well. As far as inspiration, myself and the singer are the Italians in the band, and we've had a lifetime under that sort of atmosphere, so conjuring those feelings is easy, no matter where.

WC: What do you think it is about Italian horror and the sense of fear evoked by films like "The House That Screamed" and "Black Sabbath" that has earned it such a special place?

T: Unique events and conditions lead to unique consequences. The feel of those movies has been possible in a certain era of Italian cinema, for what it came from and for those who made it at that time. To HOO,  it's a very important theme.

WC: Do you think that your new surroundings have colored your original sound? Were there things brought out in "Figli del Crepuscolo" that might not've been were the members still living in seperate locations? Also, was there anything you wanted to clearly stay away from this time, be it subject matter or in your songwriting?

T: The new surroundings have had an influence on the new album,that´s undeniable. But "Figli del Crepuscolo" sounds much more "Italian" than our first album, to a careful listening. We didn´t want to stay away from specifical things but we wanted it to continue toward a direction. Lyrically, we kept loyal to ourselves, so I would say more gothic than slasher. We wanted to make an impression on the listener.

WC: One thing noticeable from the debut is that everything just sounds...bigger. The mix is more well-defined, but still has that organic sound that a band such as HOO wants to keep. There are moments when some sounds bleed over into others, but on the whole, I think it helps the album keep that robust, healthy sound...not too sickened by over compression or digitization. Was this something you knew you wanted to spotlight, and do you think your choice of studio made a difference?

HOO: The final product is a deal between the band and the sound engineer. We stayed loyal to Studio Misantropen and the Baron that runs it not only for sentimental reasons. He knows what we want to  do and has got ideas of his own about how things should work. Such struggle is part of a process, like a clash of forces to give birth to an unpredictable result. How the albums sounds in the end is also due to Berno Paulsson that mastered it.

WC: As much as "Figli del Crepuscolo" is a leap forward sonically and in the songwriting department, there are moments where (as in 'A Coin In The Heart') you let the old school doom roots of the band show, and in doing so, craft something closer to original in this day of bands moving to one extreme or the other. With the flute and female vocals, there's an old, ritualistic mood evoked, but some of the music arrangements are pure '70s prog. How do you balance the two?

T: We have to have that balance. The horror leads the dance, and we just have to make sure that anything partnered is compatible. The thrill is what it's all about, and the story has to get a response, or the thrill won't happen.

WC: When writing lyrics for HOO, do you first turn to cinema to look for inspiration? Even though based on something someone else has done, does the film/story have to have a personal meaning to you in order to honestly translate the feeling to lyrics and music?

T: Lyrics are often inspired by movies but not necessarily. If so, the narrative lines differ from the plot of the existing story. It could be a change of point of view like in 'Vengeance From The Grave' where is Murdo's instead of the main characters'. It could as well be a focus on a certain aspect evoked in the movie as in 'Coin In The Heart'. What we like to  pursue are the atmospheres that can be found in certain movies and literature. We can say that it's like if the songs are "fictionally experienced" but there is no biographic sense at the end of it all. Possessed.

WC: What's coming up in 2015 from HOO?

T: We are planning to haunt our hometown of Rome where we never played with the actual lineup, as well as more Italian shows and festival appearances.