Seek and Ye Shall Find: Italian Death Squad Screaming Banshee

With so much attention paid to northern Europe and its contributions to extreme metal, we should not forget to applaud the brutality bubbling from the more Mediterranean members of the EU.  Screaming Banshee hail from Rome, home of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Hour of Penance, and they ply an admirable racket that draws from all kinds of deathly styles from melodic and technical to old-school and raw.  They join a couple other bands this year (Gruesome come to mind) dedicating their approach to Chuck Schuldiner's ground-breaking work in Death, but they have truly found their own voice on debut full-length Descent.

Stream the album here (direct from their Bandcamp site) and read guitarist Simone Ornati's thoughts about the band's drive and absolute passion for their music.  Turn Screaming Banshee up LOUD.

How did the members of Screaming Banshee meet?

We all live near each other and, being all musicians and metal fans, we knew each other from the scene. We met our drummer during a gig of one of his bands, where we proposed him to create a band to play something similar to Death, of whom we were all big fans.

What are your musical backgrounds?

Every one of us has been previously member of a couple of minor metal bands, except of course for David [Folchitto] who has almost 20 years of drumming in the scene with Stormlord and others.

When did you decide that you wanted to play death metal with progressive musical elements?  What is it about this style of music that excites you?

I think there wasn't a specific moment for that.  We all grew up listening to Death and Chuck Schuldiner's work has always inspired us. Personally, what I love about this music is the fact that it's always a challenge to improve yourself as a musician and composer. You can push on complexity without sacrificing the melodic feeling of a song and it gives you the opportunity to keep experimenting.  It's not an easy listening style of music but still, if you give it enough time, it's a music you can deeply relate to. The masterminds of this genre gave us albums that, still after a lot of listenings, they can still surprise you with something you didn't notice before.

I lived in Rome for several months in the winter/spring of 2000, but I have not been back recently.  How is life there?  What do you like or dislike about the music scene in your area right now?

To live in Rome is a pretty stressful experience. The city is overpopulated and institutions are dysfunctional, it can easily take you 2 hours to go to work. But still the upside is that it's a big city that can satisfy everyone's tastes and needs. I think the music scene here is in pretty bad shape. It's impossible to be paid for a gig if you make original music. Venues prefer to pay tribute and cover bands, because they often make sold out shows. That's because people prefer to go to listen to someone playing someone else's songs they heard thousands times, instead of discovering and supporting new bands. The upside to this is that you can always get a chance to be on a stage in Rome, because we have a large number of venues and shows every night. Of course this means fanbase is spread and it's hard to sell your merchandise, so you always have to keep investing on yourself.

How would you compare Descent with your 2010 EP?  Did your composition or playing style change at all?

Descent is a quantum leap forward compared to The Chronicles. Our first EP was written and recorded in very little time and with a very low budget, but it was useful to get things start going. Descent's production is way better and more suitable for our sound. I think composition style improved too. The EP had a more "melodic death metal" approach with some progressive elements, while on the new album we tried to put more work on these elements and on the songs’ structural complexity without sacrificing power and heaviness.

What has been your favorite stage or tour experience so far?

Being on the road it's always exciting. We recently did a tour in Russia which was a crazy experience. Everyone who came to our shows made us feel welcome, sung with us, spent hours after shows to chat and ask for autographs. It's was a great vitality injection that we hope to repeat soon!

If you could tour anywhere, with any other bands, who would you go on tour with and where would you go?

To tour the USA is a dream that we hope to realize soon, to play on the land that gave birth to the bands we love most would be awesome. One of the new bands on the scene that I love is Beyond Creation, but of course it would also be great to share the stage with some legends that are still around, like Atheist.

Which do you enjoy most:  writing music, recording, or playing on stage?

Every part is exciting but what I love most is writing because it's a magic moment where you share something you worked on by yourself for a lot of time and it starts growing and getting better thanks to everyone contribution. By the end of Descent's composition period we locked ourselves with our drummer in a room for like a month to complete the last 3 tracks, it was a stressful experience but still it's one of my best band-related memory. Of course, after that to play live the songs you worked on it's awesome.

Descent has been finished for a while... what do you think Screaming Banshee will work on next?

Right now we're focused on promoting Descent as much as possible. Like I said, we did a Russian tour last December, and we're planning another one by the end of August. We're already working on the material for the new album, which we hope to record next year.

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