For the second installment of our Albums of Influence series, I asked Aphonic Threnody mastermind, Riccardo Veronese, if he would mind sharing some of the records he has found inspirational throughout his life. Something that he, perhaps, feels is a bit under appreciated.
Riccardo Veronese (RV): Iron Maiden – “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” Onslaught – “In Search of Sanity.” My Dying Bride – “A Map of all our Failures.”
There are more but these 3 are big albums for me.
“Somewhere In Time” was the first Maiden album I bought. I was just getting into guitar in ‘86, so by the time “Seventh Son” came out, I could actually halfway play a song or two. Both of those records made a huge impact on me as well. I was fifteen or sixteen at the time, as were you, if I’m not mistaken! That was a great time for Metal music, and an even better time to be a budding guitarist. In between ’85 and ’88. What led you to Maiden initially?
RV: I think it just resonated with me for some reason. I would sit for hours listening to it. Watching videos as well. Yes, you had the big single,“Can I Play with Madness,” but for me “The Evil that Men Do” was the track that I absolutely loved. It was huge and just such a great track. The title track “Seventh Son” was also a big track.
That was my first experience at a big track in length. But I think the structure of this song is magnificent. The building of it is something I really took on board and appreciated. I can think back even now and it takes me back to a special time in my musical journey. I was even doing exercise to this album this morning and it was still so powerful. Like i said before, Maiden are true to themselves and I love this.
The next album you mentioned, “In Search of Sanity” by Onslaught, was released a year after “Seventh Son.” I must confess to not having heard of Onslaught at the time, which is a bit odd in retrospect, because 1989 was still a big year for music of that type. Testament, Metal Church, The Cult… stuff like that. On the other hand, a lot more extreme stuff was starting to break through. Faith No More, Morbid Angel, and Godflesh, for example. Not to mention “Grunge” type groups like Soundgarden and Nirvana. How did the Onslaught album break through all that was going on at the time for you? What made it special?
RV: Well, around that time I used to listen to a show in the UK called The Friday Rock Show, and it used to have so many great bands who were coming out. It ran from 1978 till 1993. The presenter was Tommy Vance. I heard of bands like Onslaught, Metal Church, and Guns and Roses. Obviously, at that time I was heavily into Metallica, Testament, and bands like this. When I heard Onslaught, they just sounded amazing. Tracks like “Shellshock” and “In Search of Sanity” stood out. The guitar just sounded so fresh and new for me. The track that did it for me was “Welcome to Dying.” It’s around 14 minutes long, and for me is just beautiful.
The singer, Steve Grimmett, was working in Woolwich, which is right next to Plumstead, I think, and I spoke to him about this album. He was working at Our Price, which sold records. It’s so cool that another person was close to where I lived. His vocals are so powerful, and his range really moves me as well. I fell in love with this whole album.
Sometimes albums just grab your attention in a way others don’t. I really feel it’s an underrated album for it’s time. Like I mentioned, that track “Welcome to Dying” got me through some bad times, as music does. To be able to connect with music on such a deep level is amazing, and I appreciate such great bands and musicians for helping me through some bad times with my mental health.
We’re definitely on the same page by you mentioning how music has helped you through tough times, and helped stabilize your mental health. It’s a great feeling when an album hits you that way. One in a similar vein to Onslaught that I loved back then was Badlands, which was Jake E. Lee’s band after he left Ozzy. I still love that first Badlands record, probably just as much now as I did in ‘98. My taste in music has drastically changed since then, but some of those albums still help me out on a rough day.
RV: Yeah, mate. I totally agree. It’s strange but some albums I listen to now again and wonder what the hell I loved about them. Ha ha. I guess our musical pallets change on some music through the years and some albums stand the test of time.
So, coming from the background of Maiden and late 1980’s Metal, what ended up leading you to the Doom/Death side of things? Where does My Dying Bride’s “A Map of All Our Failures” fit in?
RV: I came across Doom Metal around 2007. I worked in a distribution centre for Pinnacle Records. My friend was into MDB and I got me regular tickets and backstage passes, so I met the band and Aaron on a few occasions. It was a really interesting time for me.
I then really got into MDB and Anathema. We started a traditional Doom band called Gallow God and released an EP and an album. From there I started a side project called Dea Marica, and that is when I met Robert Mura who introduced me to Funeral Doom and other genres. This is when Aphonic Threnody was born.
“A Map of Failures” hit me hard. My mother died and I was really lost. There is a huge amount tied to that experience which will be what the next two Aphonic albums are about. Songs like “The Poorest Waltz” really got me through this time. Songs heal me and make me really contemplate life and what I’m going through. The album is so powerful, and I love the melodies and the overall flow of it. They are just such a fantastic band. Maybe I’ll tell Aaron how much his lyrics and their music has helped me. I doubt he would remember me now. We did have some long chats and I had hair then.
I think you absolutely should tell Aaron how much his music means to you! He may or may not remember you, but if you’ve got the opportunity, go for it. I bet he’d appreciate it, especially since that particular album helped get you through so much at such an uneasy time in your life.
I think that’s beautiful, man. When a record can be there for you in such a way, it’s like magic.
In fact, “The Great Hatred” was extremely helpful to me last year. Many evenings on my long commute home from work, I’d put that on and feel at peace for a while. It was such a crazy year, and I worked all through the pandemic. Having the opportunity to chat with you about that album was a high point in 2020 for me. So… thank you for that, man!
It’s difficult for me to say what my favorite tune from A Map of Our Failures is, but “Hail Odysseus” would be close. “Abandoned As Christ,” though…
RV: Yes, those are great songs, bro! I will reach out and see what he says. Well, If he replies. It’s so strange that “The Great Hatred” was so popular with so many people. I’m just sad with all that happened with Juan that the album was tainted for me and I never enjoyed it. Glad it helped you as well.
That’s a real shame you’ve been unable to enjoy “The Great Hatred,” considering how much work went into it, and how personal it was for you. Perhaps enjoyment of it will come to you after some time and distance from the surrounding circumstances.
“The All Consuming Void” was just released a few weeks ago, with an entirely new lineup. The first time Aphonic Threnody has been a full band since “When Death Comes” in 2014. Is this the lineup you’re planning future Aphonic releases with?
RV: Yes, I guess so, brother. Time heals so much. I have to learn to accept things for how they are. I really believe in karma these days, so I’m sure thing will even out somewhere.
Regarding the lineup, as with Aphonic, it always seems to change. I had to fill the gap with vocals and was really happy to get Daniel on board. He done a great job. Drums wise Val was more like a session player on it. Even though people viewed it as a proper lineup of sorts, it could never be permanent. Justin is the only member who has properly joined the band, and we are currently working on the next double album at the moment. Joss, from the band Estranged, is on drums, and somebody everyone knows will be doing vocals. It also the first time we will record live guitars which I’m really excited about. So far it’s sounding really big. Also Kostas is back on keys which I’m super happy about.
That’s exciting news, man! I love how Aphonic evolves. A little different flavor with each record. You mentioned some of the themes you’re concentrating on with the new material. Are these connected in any way to your current release?
Still no plans to perform live either, correct? Last we chatted, you were in favor of focusing on putting out quality material in lieu of performing live.
RV: Yeah, I think these next two albums. Well, it’s literally a double album of sorts, and will be really different in sound. A lot heavier and slower. The theme is about personal experiences from myself and what I have been through. It’s quite deep and very thought provoking. I think it’s not really connected to our latest release, but I did write the whole album within a few weeks straight after the last album. It just flowed out of me and I think it’s my most powerful stuff that I have written.
I think we will always struggle to play live. I would love the chance but it’s getting a band together to do it. It seems we are forever doomed on this front.
Well, I hope very much one day you can make that happen.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, man. We’ve talked about a lot of excellent music!
“The All Consuming Void” is Aphonic Threnody’s fourth full-length album. It was released independently on April 23rd this year, and can be found on all major streaming platforms as well as the Bandcamp link below.