Science fiction and power metal collide as the mighty Drakkar returns with an all-out vengeance. Based out of the legendary Italian metal scene, Drakkar has been on hiatus for a decade, and their grand reawakening has arrived in the sonic form of When Lightning Strikes. Released worldwide via My Kingdom Music, When Lightning Strikes by Drakkar is absolutely epic in scope, guaranteed to thrill the metal masses with its powerful vocals and sweeping musical interludes.
Here is a recent interview we conducted with guitarist Dario Beretta to find out more the grand metal adventures of Drakkar…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Drakkar, and how long the band has been together.
Hi, Dario here. I’m the guitarist of the band. Drakkar has been together since the end of 1995, and our fist record came out in 1998. We have a bit of history behind, that’s for sure.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Most of us come from Milan, Italy. The Italian metal scene is a very nice one nowadays, full of talented bands. Unfortunately, there are very few venues to play live (most places only take cover/tribute bands), so it’s always a bit of a struggle. But the passion is there and is fueled by many good musicians.
How did your cooperation with My Kingdom Music come about?
When we finished the recordings of our comeback album, When Lightning Strikes, coming after a 10 years hiatus from our previous full-length, we started looking for a label to publish it. I was made aware of My Kingdom Music by my good friends from Crown Of Autumn, a band that we have a special relation with, as we’re close friends since the time when we were both just getting started with music. They were pretty satisfied with their deal. We already had some other labels interested but we thought that there was no harm in getting in touch with them as well, hear what they had to say. Their offer turned out to be perfect for us, so we decided to sign a deal with them and we’re very happy about how things are going.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title When Lightning Strikes?
Yes, there is. The story begins with an alien invasion of Earth in a distant future. Soon we discover that their aim is a single man, a fighter pilot who they kidnap. As soon as the man is in the aliens’ gigantic starship, he starts to remember different lives and eras, until he finally understands that he has been reincarnated many times, a witness passing through the ages of man. The aliens themselves are responsible for this; on their first visit to Earth, in the IX Century A.D., they transformed him into an immortal living recorder of the evolution of mankind. Now that they are back, they can extract his memories and judge the story of humanity through an “inside” point of view, and therefore determine if the people of Earth can be allowed to continue growing and one day leave Earth to join the galactic community, or if we are too dangerous and must be destroyed or confined.
So basically, the story is divided in three parts: it begins with the return of the aliens in a distant future, then it goes backwards in time to chronicle some of the lives of the protagonist (most of these were inspired by real, historical events, like the Battle of Borodino in 1812), then into the future once again for the aliens’ judgement and the end of the story.
Please select two songs from When Lightning Strikes and what inspired the lyrical content?
Winter Soldiers – As I was telling you, the songs in the middle part of the album are about the previous lives of the protagonist. In “Winter Soldiers”, he is Pëtr Ivanovič Bagration, russian general in the Battle of Borodino. The song is from his point of view, and it depicts the iron will of this man who is deeply convinced that not even a general as great as Napoleon can win against the combined might of the russian people AND the russian winter. The battle will cost him his life, as he will be severly injured and die a few days later, but his prophecy will be fulfilled.
My Endless Flight – Lyrically, this is probably the most important song in the whole concept, as it’s the one where we discover, together with the protagonist, his role in the story, the purpose of his plight and the final sentence of the Space Gods (the aliens). It is a song about our success and failures as human beings as much as it is a science-fiction opera.
What could one expect from a live Drakkar show in 2012?
The same that we’ve always delivered: power, aggression, melody, a band that plays from the heart. You will never see us standing still and performing like machines. We’re all about passion, as we believe people come to see the shows to have that raw energy given to them, not to see a perfect replica of what they can hear on the CD’s in the comfort of their homes.
Has Drakkar ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
We never had the chance to play there. We’d love to, but we are an underground act and the expenses to fly over there make it very difficult to realize. However, we are not giving up hope. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll find a promoter so interested in our music that we can come for a tour. We’d love to, as I said.
With so many lineup changes over the years, what do you think has kept Drakkar a thriving, prosperous entity since 1995?
Most of the changes were concentrated in the first years of the band. Myself, Davide (vocals) and Corrado (keys) are playing together since 2000, and our current bass player Simone joined in 2006. After so many years, we are all very close and we understand each other perfectly. That makes it easier to work together. Of course the downside is that we have been inactive for some years because we all had stuff going on in our personal lives, and if you wanna stick together you have to wait for each other to sort things out. But now that we have finally put those times behind us, we feel a lot stronger as a band and I don’t know if it would have been the same if we had simply left somebody behind. Anyway, what motivates us is always passion for music. As long as we have that, we’ll continue.
What made you decide to cover Poison by Alice Cooper on the A Tribute To The Glory Of ’80’s Metal and do you know if Alice Cooper has ever heard or commented on it?
We were one of the last bands (if not the last) to join the roster for that record, so basically all the more classic/power metal bands from the eightes were already “taken”. I think it was Corrado who came up with “Poison“. We all like the song, there was nothing by Alice on the album and it was so typical, almost like an ’80s manifesto, that we decided to go for it. I doubt that Alice himself ever listened to it, I think we’re well below his notice, honestly!
If you were invited to appear on a Dio cover album, what song would you record by the legendary Ronnie James Dio and why?
You have to know that Ronnie James Dio is my favourite musician EVER. I worship the man, so basically I could play any song of his, from the Rainbow, Sabs or Dio days, and I would be happy. Live, we sometimes play “Rainbow In The Dark“, so that would probably be a good choice. It’s a song that really fits with our musical style.
What’s up next for Drakkar?
We are trying to find some good live opportunities at the moment, to promote “When Lightning Strikes” as much as possible, and at the same time doing interviews and the usual promotion that you do for every album. However, I already have a lot of material for the next record that I have begun writing, so it’s likely that it won’t be long before we’re back in the studio. 10 years have passed between Razorblade God and When Lightning Strikes, so we have to make up for that and be quicker with the next one!
Any final words of wisdom?
Listen to the new album with an open mind and, if you like it, buy it! 😉
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thanks to you for giving us some space on your website. Stay metal!
Dario Beretta: Guitar
Davide Dell’Orto: Vocals
Corrado Solarino: Keyboards
Simone Cappato: Bass
Guests: Paolo Pirola (session live drummer) & Mattia Stancioiu (session studio drummer)
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)