Italy’s horror inspired extreme metal act STIGMA strikes again
with its sophomore release ‘Concerto For The Undead’. Fusing
staccato, spastic, guitar riffs with uncompromising breakdowns and
lyrical themes deriving from the cult comic series Tales From The Crypt,
‘Concerto For The Undead’ places the Italian quartet in a league
of its own. Founded in 2000 by frontman Stefano “Vlad” Ghersi and
guitarist Morgan Ferrua, STIGMA began its conquest of the Italian
metal scene immediately, releasing two critically acclaimed EPs. After
signing with USA-based record label Pivotal Rockordings, STIGMA
recorded its debut effort ‘When Midnight Strikes!’ in December
2007. Following the release of ‘When Midnight Strikes!’ STIGMA
took its horror show on the road for seventy dates, conquering
captivated audiences at festivals and clubs across Europe.
STIGMA’s mission to supersede its breakthrough debut album and
unleash another tasty lesson in horror yields ‘Concerto For The
Undead’, the band’s sophomore effort to be released worldwide
through Pivotal Rockordings in April 2010. Recorded at Fear Studio and
produced by Bring Me The Horizon guitarist Jona Weinhofen and mixed and
mastered by Scott Akins (Behemoth, Cradle Of Filth, Sylosis) in December
2009, ‘Concerto For The Undead’ presents listeners with a
ferocious barrage of uncompromising, vertiginous riffing from beyond the
grave complemented by infectious gang shout choruses, relentless blast
driven drumming, and relentless, thundering bass lines.
The cover artwork, a stunning comic-esque tribute to all things Tales
From The Crypt, was created by Andrea Berton of Corefolio Design and
features comic illustrations that accompany STIGMA’s lyrical
fright-fest. With additional guest appearances by Jamie Hope (ex-The Red
Shore) and Jon Hunt (Dead To Fall), this is one is not to be missed.
After reviewing the new album we were also given the opportunity to ask
frontman Stefano "Vlad" Ghersi (Vocals), all about STIGMA’s
latest effort. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of
Could you start this interview off with a short
introduction of the band and the origin of the name of the band for our
readers and what’s been happening since your previous release?
Yes! STIGMA is an Italian deathcore band born nearly ten years ago. At
the early stages of our story we were playing old school hardcore music,
mostly influenced by Raised Fist and bands like Morning Again and
others, then, after a first line up change, we started mixing our roots
with death metal influences. We released two Eps in 2003 and 2005, then
signed for US label Pivotal Rockordings and released our first album,
entitled “When Midnight Strikes!” in 2008. We toured all Europe in
support of it and after parting ways with our former guitar player we
wrote and recorded our new album, “Concerto For The Undead”, which came
out April 30th in Europe, May 4th in the USA and
the 7th in Australia through Stomp Entertainment. Our name
has different meaning for us, connected to the archaic meaning of the
letter stigma and others related to the type of music we were playing in
our early days.
How did you launch into writing material for ‘Concerto
For The Undead’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
The songwriting process for “Concerto For The Undead” was very different
compared to the one of our debut album, mostly because we focused on
what we think could be better on our first full length and worked hard
to improve both as musicians and songwriters. We wanted this record to
be catchier, but more technical as well, we wanted songs to be more
oriented to live shows and I wanted to work on a concept making the
subject to influence directly the music and not the opposite as it was
in the past. The whole phase lasted one year, even if we got tours in
between, then we went into the studio and recorded everything in a
Which approach did you choose to make this album, did you
go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your
previous other works, or something all together different?
The music we love and want to write is mixing hardcore with death metal,
so that was the only landmark we had, we didn’t think about paying
tribute to our old releases or didn’t go too far from them to make sure
old fans will still supportive, we just wrote what we wanted to write,
this is what we are at this moment and we’re all very proud of this new
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘Concerto For The Undead’, any elements you definitely wanted to
have on the album?
Yeah, as I told you we all found some weak points in our debut album and
definitely wanted to avoid the same errors on this one. Don’t get me
wrong, we’re very grateful to “When Midnight Strikes!” for what he gave
us the chance to do, and I still think that was a solid debut album, but
it was still a bit too chaotic and written without thinking exactly what
we wanted to write, so this is the main difference between that release
and “Concerto For The Undead”!
The main themes in your lyrics are clear, but can you
give us a little background information on the songs and the lyrics?
Yes, this record is a concept based on the US comic “Tales From The
Crypt”, we personally chose our favorite stories out of the original
comics and then I started writing lyrics trying to tell the whole thing
or, in some cases, just focusing on some aspects of the characters. The
stories are all very different characters-wise, but I can feel a sort of
common sense of revenge going around the whole record. For the ones who
will buy the record they’ll get the chance to actually see an extract of
every song in the artwork, so it’ll be easier to recognize the original
story! We’ll also post the full lyrics and reference to the stories I
got those from soon on our website, available for free download!
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
To be honest I didn’t want to hide any type of connection between lyrics
and real life, I just want people to have a good and hopefully scary
time listening to our music! It’s of course a better horror trip if you
actually know the stories behind the songs, or just get into them
reading the lyric, but I don’t want to influence anyone with my lyrics,
it’s just plain fun!!
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song? Is
there a typical way in which your songs come into being?
I can say we want them to be various, catchy and heavy, these are the
common elements in our horror receipt ahah!
How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the
typical writing process like for Stigma?
We usually start from guitar riffs, trying to fuse them into a solid
structure, then everyone adds their parts and I have a final word on
everything because of the vocal lines. We work as a team and on
“Concerto For The Undead” we finally found our way to write songs
without forgetting any detail. We’ll start writing new stuff in the next
few weeks, right after our first festivals and shows to launch this
What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
It depends! On “When Midnight Strikes!” we first had nearly all the
music written before the concept idea came out, this time we wanted to
have the theme and mood first, so we could make music to match better
with the lyrics! We always try to keep trained with the songwriting, so
we’re actually always writing new stuff, then when we have enough things
to work on we officially start the songwriting process!
How has the band's sound progressed from your first EP to
‘Concerto For The Undead’ in your opinion?
I think it changed a lot, but keeping the same hardcore background,
letting it to be influenced by other forms of extreme music. The first
EPs were way more chaotic, maybe even closer to grind than melodic
death, “When Midnight Strikes!” was the first step into our actual
direction, it’s still hybrid but you can feel we wanted to have a more
regular approach to our music, then “Concerto For The Undead” is
definitely a good mix of everything we’ve done and some more! I love the
way it is, we’re all very proud of it!
The Production of ‘Concerto For The Undead’ was done by
Jona Weinhofen, what made him the perfect man for this album?
Jona is a good friend, he plays in one of the most popular alternative
bands these days, comes from one of my favorite bands ever, so that
shows exactly why we chose to work with him, he has a great experience,
he’s a music lover and is extremely passionate in what he does! We’re
very proud of having him working on the record and we can’t wait to work
again with him in the future!
In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly
hear his vision and ideas?
He helped us out during the song writing process, following every step
from first riffs to the pre-production phase, everything you hear in the
record is written by us of course, but he helped us out reaching our
main objective: writing real songs, with a clear structure and good
How did the recording process proceed this time, did you
work differently than you did on your previous works and how much time
did you spend in the studio?
Yeah this time it was very quick! We recorded everything in 3 weeks,
then one week of mixing and a few days for mastering the whole record,
we basically did everything in five weeks!! We were very worried about
this point before hitting the studio, cause for many reasons “When
Midnight Strikes!” took us nearly one year to be recorded, this time we
knew we had to stay in a tight schedule because of Jona and Scott being
very busy, and I’m happy to say we managed to do everything at the best
and in a very short time!
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective and what
about the CD are you most proud of?
“Concerto For The Undead” is hands down our best release so far and we
all love it, it represents the band and the sound we wanted to create so
we’re really happy with it! I have a couple of small vocals parts I’d
sing in a different way now, but it’s pretty normal to always find small
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
What are you personally into?
I’m a normal guy with the dream of living with my music. I’ve always be
a big horror fan so I wanted to fuse all my passions into one and
decided to write lyrics about characters and stories taken from old
movies and comics. I don’t want to create any type of link between
lyrics and real life, I’m not hiding anything, I just want to make
people having fun while listening to a horror freak shouting like
there’s no tomorrow ahah!
What have been the highlights and low points throughout
We managed to do a lot in our first ten years of existence, we toured
Europe, played with nearly all of our favorite bands, played big
festivals like Wacken Open Air, then of course had bad shows with nearly
none in the crowd, but this is necessary if you want to grow in the
right way, we can honestly say we’ve seen a lot and we’re devoted to our
How would you sum up Stigma to someone that has never
listened the band?
Let’s say we play fast melodic death mixed with hardcore parts and in
our songs we talk about monsters, werewolves, vampires, zombies and
everything in between ahah!
The metalcore scene exploded in the last couple of years,
hundreds of bands seem to have popped up. So, in your opinion, what
makes the band stand out compared to other bands and is there anything
missing in the scene?
We’re honest and really doing what we love to do! I know many other
bands mix our same influences, even if we’re doing this since the day
when this wasn’t The Trend, but we’re good guys and I truly believe our
music is worth your money, so give us a chance!!
Could you respond to the following terms in just one word
Metal : freedom
Underground : treasure
Internet : revolution
Religion : old
Politics : sucks
The Netherlands : great scene
Italy : pizza, mafia, mandolino ahah!
What can we expect from Stigma in the near future, any
Yeah sure, we’re playing festivals through out the
summer, then we’ll tour Europe in the fall! Keep an eye on
www.stigmahc.com for our plans!
Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song
do you find is the
most challenging one to play live?
I love playing “3000 Years And Still Keeping It Real” cause it’s heavy
as fuck!! I think the most challenging is “Prove You Are A Man!”, is
tech and has lots of time changes, but so far worked really well at the
end of our sets!
Where do you see the band going within the next
couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going
for the next album?
We’re working hard to hopefully get the chance to tour way more than we
did in support of “When Midnight Strikes!”. We’ll hopefully tour
Australia as well in this touring cycle, so we’re stoked to visit new
continents and meet new people! We’ll keep on evolving but we’ll still
play fast and heavy horror anthems, don’t worry about it! Ahah!
Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement or
anything else you'd like to add or like to share with us?
Thanks for giving me the chance to tell you more about us, we love your
country and have great memories of our shows there, hopefully we’ll come
over soon to play some new tunes! Take care!
Stefano "Vlad" Ghersi - Vocals
Andrea Bailo - Guitar
Flavio Magnaldi - Bass
Stefano Ghigliano - Drums
(2007) When Midnight Strikes!
(2010) Concerto For The Undead