The Continuum welcomes Hiss of Atrocities


Hiss of Atrocities is a metal band that brings an energy and excitement commensurate with their name. Classically trained, with roots in Europe and Africa, HOA brings a brand of metal that is at once exciting, intelligent, and will melt your face.” Catching up with them was quite an honor for me. Here is the account of our conversation.

Q: For our readers, who may not be familiar with you, tell us what we need to know about the band.

Giovanni (drums): H.o.A. was formed about 4-5 years ago in Boston by Roy (guitar) and I.
Francesco (guitar) and the rest of the line-up joined the band right after. After moving to L.A. we changed line-up (new bassist and singer).
Francesco: 5 passionate musicians with unlimited desire.

Mike Orrigo (bass): We’re Hiss of Atrocities, a metal band based out of Los Angeles, CA, and we sound like no other metal band you’ve ever heard before.

Q: Your music is described as, “Driving, battering power.” (and in listening to your music it seems a fine description) Elaborate on this a bit more.

Mike Z (vocals): Well I believe that it is true in our hearts and minds that we want to bring something a bit fresh to the stage. Above all, regardless of the music we are each listening to we all tend to enjoy music that really has a good punch to it while delivering an epic sound. Powerful music hits people and leaves them coming back for more. We want our songs to hit really hard and at the same time drive home the qualities we each enjoy about the music we feel inside us. Like the beauty of a hurricane. So beautiful and pristine yet the power she unleashes is everything you could want from an awe striking powerful burst from mother nature.

Q: Having formed in Boston, how did you end up on the West Coast?

Fran: After graduating from Berklee College of Music we decided as a band to move to Los Angeles looking for a more wide-open musical scene and in general looking for more opportunities in the music business.
Gio: The weather! I’m kidding. We thought that being closer to the “industry” would have been a good thing for us in the long run.

Q: Your website references your European influences. You also have band members from Kenya and Italy. Talk about them a bit.

Gio: Francesco and I are both from Italy with a really strong accent! That’s extremely good for hooking up chicks. Roy is from Kenya…but we don’t talk about that…. it scares people. I don’t know why.
Roy: I was born and raised in Kenya even though I am of Italian and Israeli descent. While living in Africa I must admit that American metal was what inspired me to become a musician. Bands like Metallica, G n’ R Megadeth and the whole Nu metal movement played a big part in my musical growth.
It was towards my last years of high school and when I came to America that I started getting into the more European style of Metal. The more I improved on the guitar the more I was interested in new sounds that involved being technical and more experimental in terms of harmony within the metal Genre. Bands such as Opeth, Meshuggah, Dimmu, Archenemy, Behemoth and American bands like Dream Theater, Nevermore, APC, really inspired me to eventually write and perform music in the vain of what can be heard on our albums.
Fran: I’m 100% Italian…I grew up mostly listening to European classical music and European metal, even though I love so many other artists and genres from different countries…I think what most people regard as “European” music is really what my musical foundation is based upon.

Q: You have rocked venues such as The Key Club (where your video was filmed), The Knitting Factory, Crash Mansion, The Jumping Turtle, and Musician Institute. What have been some of your favorite places to play and what do you think makes a great venue?

Roy: The Key Club is definitely a special venue to play at because of how great the stage is set up and plus the lighting is phenomenal, it is definitely a venue in which a lot of cash was spilled into. During our latest tour we played in many different venues across the states and although most of them were great I must give out a special shout at Bozeman’s Filling Station for how great they treated us and how well we were received by the audience. In terms of vibe and atmosphere I thought he Dragon’s Den in New Orleans was really sick.
Gio: It was in Montana at the Filling Station. Crowd was great. They responded really well to the music and the show. Fran: My favorite venues were definitely the Key Club in Hollywood, CA and the Filling Station in Bozeman, MT. In the first case the stage was really great plus we had all our best friends here in LA in the crowd and it was our album release party. In Montana we probably had the best show on our last tour. People went crazy during the show!!! We had two guys who drove 4 hours from Wyoming to come see us …we had so much fun that night.
Mike O: For me, a great venue is all about vibe. You can be in some little dive bar with a milk crate for a stage and have a totally memorable show as easily as you could playing the Whiskey. It’s all depending on the vibe. During our summer tour, one of my favorite shows was in this small bar in Northern Cali. We probably had the best collective performance of the tour that night, playing for a small, engaged crowd and drinking free beer!

Q: What can you say about what your live show brings to the audience?

Fran: It’s all about emotions; it’s a musical journey…great energy, professionalism and technicality…always trying to reach that perfection.
Mike O: It’s all about the show. We’re all highly trained (myself especially) individuals in the art of face-melting, and when we combine our talents together on stage it’s devastating. Our show is what every metal show should be; electric, fast, hard, brutal, at times dangerous and always fun. We have a blast playing live and show does our crowd.

Gio: A lot of energy and excellent music!

Q: What is your current status label-wise? Fran: We are still not happy with the offers we had so far, so we are just waiting to find or to be found by the right Label. Meanwhile we are proving that we can do this on our own too…producing our music, promoting it and ultimately bringing it to the crowds across the country.
Mike O: We are currently unsigned, but we are gaining a strong buzz in the LA area, so anything can happen.

Gio: Looking for some label to hook us up with a great distribution deal?!?…..please.

For Mike Z:
Q: You do plenty of screaming, but also have moments of beautiful singing. How do you decide when to do what and what a song really calls for when you’re writing it?

Mike Z : Well it’s really a very emotion filled experience. Depending on the concept we have agreed on, the present status of the world and my own emotions go into the writing. Once I finish the framework for a song it is presented in the studio from there we will try different things and collaborate in the production together as a band. I wrote most of vocals and lyrics for this album while traveling through Europe in 2008. The experience gave me lots of time to let the music soak in and speak to me.

Q: How did you develop your screaming voice?

Mike Z: Developing the screaming and heavy vocals was something that took a lot of time to really mold and develop. I started the transition into screaming and growling along with melodic when I was about 20 in one of my first bands. The key to being able to be consistent is being able to produce the sounds and power behind them while protecting your vocal chords for wear and damage. When you are going to scream like this every night on tour you must be able to collaborate with the proven techniques along with that many heavy metal singers use as well as know your limits and be able to brand your own techniques and grow from this foundation. Singing like this is such a hidden art in the fact that most people don’t understand how much practice and technique is involved in being able to produce these kinds of vocal sounds on a consistent basis without destroying your voice. The main way I developed is by practice and study of the ways not to scream along with just getting to know how my throat and vocal chords work in particularly. Everyone is different I guess.

For Roy and Francesco:

Q: The guitar solo seems to be a bit of a dying breed in the mainstream today, but you provide no shortage of them. Would you agree with that assessment? What do you think your solos bring to the table in this band?

Roy: Mainstream metal has decided that the “Solo” moment in music is not needed anymore. In my opinion we can blame Nu-metal and MTV for that. But I think that in the background “solo’s” have always been there and never really left. The breed of guitarists that strives for technical emotions by playing fast licks, sweeps and whaling lines is a big part of what metal is all about. I don’t think there is one band I listen to nowadays that doesn’t have any solo’s and every-time I see these bands perform live they have thousand of people in-front of them loving every-moment. In terms of HoA I approach the solos as musical moments in order to enhance the colors of the music. It is a tool to take the songs into different emotional plateaus.

Fran: I think that a solo provides an instrumentalist with an opportunity to speak on an individual level, as opposed to as he would normally speak within a band or ensemble, that is, collectively. Very much like in a “cadenza” in the classical music tradition, solos played by me are generally characterized by a more virtuosic approach. For me a solo is mostly a musical moment in a composition/song that still has to communicate with the rest of the underlying “notes”…it doesn’t matter if it is improvised or written-out, it has to be part of the overall “design”.

Q: From an artistic standpoint, would you say you both are trying to do what has been done in the past but do it better, or do you feel you’re more into pushing and doing brand new things with the instrument?

Fran: My goal is definitely to push and bring something new to what has been done for years; there are so many great guitar players with their own “thing” going on that the only thing that is important to me in this regard is to create an individual and distinguished voice for myself. Take for example someone like Allan Holdsworth, who I find to be one of the most unique and incredible voices on the instrument. His individual approach to harmony and his freedom in improvisation are things that I have always admired and strive to achieve within my own playing.

Roy: I think that it has always been part of my desire to be as original as possible and not imitate other players and just create my own sound. But whether you like or not every musician is always influenced by the music he or she likes the most. I suppose that theoretically my originality stems from how others have approached their own original sounds. For example Opeth in terms of Harmony and Meshuggah in terms of rhythm. I should also include that after having studied at Berklee and learning so much about music theory it has really opened up my eyes in terms of how much Harmony can be explored and isn’t used in metal. Therefore being able to manipulate different kinds of harmonic systems and translate them into cool sounding metal is one of the keys nowadays to be an original metal artist.

For Mike O:
Q: As a bassist myself I’m always curious about what other bass players are trying to do fundamentally and artistically. Would you say you just hold down the low end or is there much more to it than that for you?

Mike O: I most certainly hold down the low end. That being said, there’s an awful lot to just holding down the low end. Fundamentally speaking, it’s a support instrument, so it’s important to be über confident with your playing and your knowledge of song forms. You also must be the strongest in the band physically, because gear is heavy, and guitarists are weak.

For Giovanni:
Q: What impact would you say your Italian roots have had on you as a musician? (if any)

Gio: None. I don’t play tarantella on my drums. My influence has been and still is the all mighty DAVE LOMBARDO. He is a genius.

Back to the general,

Q: Where do you all see this band going, moving forward?

Fran: We are currently writing new material for a second album…we keep improving everyday…we are musical minds that can’t stop creating. Our live shows will keep getting better and our music will keep getting more mature and unique. The drive behind this “creature” is too strong to be contained; the extent of this obsession has reached a point of no return for me.

Gio: Hope as far as possible.

Mike Z: Well like Fran said we’re working on new material and I think there is a shared approach throughout the band on continuing to bring new things to the table instead of rehashing what we have done before or what other bands are doing. We are looking forward to touring and growing in this career path. I know I speak for all of the guys when saying we are really passionate about getting in front of people and giving them a new experience in the genre.

Mike O: Oh I dunno, In-n-Out, the Asian Diner, Jack-in the-Box. It’s hard to get everyone to agree on something.

Q: Who might you say is the face of metal today?

Roy: Lamb of God is probably the band that is achieving the most success right now by playing extreme metal music. I think that they are doing a great job by bringing metal to the huge masses without mellowing down, which is a tendency many metal bands have. So respect to LOG.

Mike O: Mastodon and Meshuggah are the some of the very few bands in metal doing anything interesting today, but for someone to say metal has a face these days is wishful thinking. Hair metal is dead and most people in metal bands are ugly now.

Fran: I personally think that bands like Meshuggah and Opeth (two of my favorite bands) have opened new doors in this genre. Both bands pushed the “language” of metal by creating something new and fresh, this is what I like to hear and feel when I listen to bands.

Mike Z: Well for me I guess that depends on what you mean by the face of metal today. If you mean bands I really couldn’t tell you since there are so many out there and they all differ from each other so much. I believe there is a strong connection and family oriented bond shared by the musicians and fans out there. I think that’s the face.

Q: Ok, here’s your free chance. Plug your website(s), album(s), shows, other bands, whatever ya want!

Gio: Hey if you are reading this and you are a hot metal chick then I am really interested in you. Contact H.o.A. at http://www.hissofatrocities.com and send a message to the drummer! If you are not a hot metal chick it’s ok you still can enjoy our music!
Thanks again for this interview. Horns up ImI

Fran: Check us out at: http://www.hissofatrocities.com http://www.myspace.com/hissofatrocities http://www.sonicbids.com/hissofatrocities
Come to see us live, contact us and get your copy of “Rituals of the Lost”.

Keep an eye out for more from Hiss of Atrocities, here as always, in the continuum.

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