Plateau Sigma released their sophomore full length ‘Rituals’ back in March, and it’s remained one of my highlights of the year since. What started off as a new EP outgrew the format and turned into a full length spanning over forty-five minutes in length. The Italian band has only been around five or six years now, but one listen to ‘Rituals’ is all it took to see why Avantgarde Music added them to their roster. Filled with soaring progressive melodies, crushingly bleak funeral doom, and everything in between, Plateau Sigma offers up a considerable amount more variation than a lot of their peers. I had the chance to ask the band about the process behind the new album and their influences.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. You’ve been playing some shows in Italy recently including a show with Novembre, can you tell us a little bit those experiences?
Plateau Sigma: It was an incredible experience. We would never have expected to play with a band that has influenced us so much in our youth. The gigs in Bologna and Torino were the most important we’ve done so far and it was amazing! Great feeling with the audience and an incredible energy on stage. We had fun and played with really good bands.
TO: When did the writing process for ‘Rituals’ start, and how long did it take for the final album to come to fruition?
Plateau Sigma: The songwriting for ‘Rituals’ was relatively brief. We had been playing some of these songs live last year. At the beginning the idea was to make an EP with some “not prepared” stuff, including that material, focusing the lyrics and mood on the ancient Roman culture.
But then in the studio we realized we were making a new album, due to the length of the songs and variety of material.
Some of the songs were written quickly and we think you can feel that from some hasty solutions. But we are happy enough about what we did: the sound and mood is really cool and it corresponds to us.
TO: Tying in to the previous question, how does your writing process work? Are parts written individually and then worked out in practice, or do you handle writing collaboratively?
Plateau Sigma: The primal core of Plateau Sigma is the mind of Manuel. He provides to the band all the original material we work on (riffs, melodies, lyrics), then we shape it together in the rehearsal room.
Many of the riffs and metrical solutions come from Francesco, who embodies also the figure of producer. He records all the albums, cares about the sound and generally oversees the process of musical creation.
TO: You recorded at Igloo Audio Factory, and the recordings were mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna). What was it like recording at Igloo, and how do you feel Magnus’ mastering work helped the final album?
Plateau Sigma: For the first time, we recorded in a real studio and it was an amazing experience. For a week, we worked together night and day, to make the album sound the best we could. The Igloo is located in the countryside of central Italy, near Correggio, a perfect and quiet place to produce music.
We are really satisfied with Magnus’ work. His mastering skills really improved the sound of ‘Rituals’ and we are happy to finally have a professional product.
TO: What drew me in to the album was how absorbing the melodies are, and the progressive feel of a lot of the instrumental work. When exploring these sweeping melodies alongside crushingly heavy doom, what music and other things do you look to for inspiration?
Plateau Sigma: Our inspirations are many, starting from the classic metal, early doom, death metal, funeral doom (Mournful Congregation, Disembowelment, Evoken, Skepticism, Whitehorse…) and the gothic-doom British bands as Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride or Anathema.
But also new wave and dark rock from the 80’s are fundamental elements of our music (bands like Dead Can Dance, Fields of the Nephilim, Cocteau Twins, Also The Trees, Bauhaus).
We really appreciate more progressive stuff from the 70’s but also current bands such as Opeth, Katatonia, Meshuggah, Cult of Luna….
We believe we belong to the same “Wave” of bands like Ahab and Evoken, while still being something different.
Each of us has his own musical influences, but we try to gather these in a dark, powerful music, trying to mix the tragic theatricality and eroticism of dark rock with the crushingly power of death and doom metal.
Our lyrics are mostly inspired by ancient and contemporary history, literature, mythology, conspiracies, science fiction, war, sex, religious mysticism. It is an oniric Demimonde of terrible and beautiful things.
TO: The depth of the vocal work on ‘Rituals’ is absolutely incredible, particularly the interplay between the clean and harsh ranges. What are your backgrounds as far as vocals go, and how do you think your styles have changed/progressed from the EP to now?
Plateau Sigma: The alternation between harsh and clean vocals is pretty common in this type of music, we’ve been doing this from the beginning because it suits our style and helps developing a bigger variety of colours and tones.
We think our style remained basically the same. In ‘The True Shape of Eskatos’ we went in a more Funeral doom/Death Metal direction, while for ‘Rituals’ we had maybe more post-metal influences.
Essentially we’re just trying to improve our songwriting skills and do better in every recording.
TO: You’ve covered so much ground as a band, with the atmospheric sections and overwhelming doom sections coming through as fully thought out. With that being said, are there any particular elements of your material you’re interested in pushing even further as you move forward?
Plateau Sigma: As said, we really want to improve our way to write music and develop a more mature sound. We tend sometimes to overcharge our songs with many different elements. We are currently trying to write some more direct and logical material.
TO: ‘Rituals’ encompasses a wide range of the rituals from ancient Greek-Roman culture. What is your background with these topics, and what made you decide as a band to further explore this as Plateau Sigma?
Plateau Sigma: As Italians, we are really proud of the ancient culture of our country and we really love ancient history. Writing the new material, we realized the mood was really epic, so it came naturally to us to focus the lyrics around the pagan mysticism and rituals of ancient Rome.
TO: ‘Rituals’ is your first album on Avantgarde Music. How did this deal come together, and what are some other bands on the label you guys enjoy?
Plateau Sigma: We joined the Avantgarde family through Maurizio: he met Roberto Mammarella in Milan and submitted our albums to his attention. When he told us the label was really interested, we couldn’t be happier! Avantgarde is an underground label that has produced so many important bands….so Roberto proposed us to record an EP for him and we managed to produce ‘Rituals’ the fastest we could.
We met members from other bands from the label (Selvans, The Clearing Path, Downfall of Nur) and we really look forward to play with them!
TO: So far all of your releases have come out on CD and digital formats. Do you have any interest in trying to do any vinyl at some point?
Plateau Sigma: We are big fans of the vinyl format, but we didn’t have the chance to print any of our releases in vinyl. We will surely reprint some release at some point and even for the next album we will really think about it.
As Italians, we are really proud of the ancient culture of our country and we really love ancient history. Writing the new material, we realized the mood was really epic, so it came naturally to us to focus the lyrics around the pagan mysticism and rituals of ancient Rome.
TO: Italy has so much music to offer, though sometimes it seems like its metal gets overshadowed by some other parts of Europe. What are some other Italian bands you’d recommend our readers check out?
Plateau Sigma: There are really good bands in Italy, in every musical style…but regarding our genre, we would absolutely recommend our good friends (Echo) from Brescia (they just released a killer album), but also bands like L’alba di Morrigan and Shores Of Null….go and check out!
TO: Do you have any more touring plans lined up for 2016, perhaps in other parts of Europe?
Plateau Sigma: We did seven concerts so far to promote ‘Rituals’ and we are satisfied right now, but we will surely look for some festivals to play in this summer. We will probably plan other gigs next winter as well, outside Italy.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Rituals’ or Plateau Sigma?
Plateau Sigma: Thank for this opportunity, it was a pleasure to talk about our music. We will continue to share our passion with other bands and fans.