AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIELE LIVERANI OF TWINPSIRITS

Daniele, congratulations on the new Twinspirits album ‘Legacy’ it’s a fantastic piece of work.Twinspirits have been building rapidly since the debut ‘The Music That Will Heal The World’, with the excellent ‘The Forbidden City’ and now ‘Legacy’.  You seem to be very inspired with this band, what is it about the band and music that you inspires you?

D: Thank you very much! Well, what can I say, Twinspirits has born in 2004 and the main concept behind this line up was to gather some very cool musicians I’ve been discovering during my musical path and working with for my past projects (Genius/Khymera etc..). Twinspirits is the most inspiring environment for me at the moment, because it continues the musical thread I started with the genius rock opera back in 1998/1999, and therefore it’s the situation that represent me the most in terms of songwriting and musical vision. Of course the talent and musicality of all bands members is a constant inspiration for me, when writing and producing, and they arrangements contributions to my songwriting is also very important and it really gives life to the songs.

Can you give our readers an overview of how the creative process for the album took place?

D: Basically I write the music and Lyrics and a pre-produce a rough version of the songs by myseld which becomes a sort of sketch for the songs, then I give it to the guys and they arrange their parts, write solos, give suggestions a songs structures and I take care of their feedback, of course trying to make a synthesis of all ideas without loosing the vibe and the direction of the original songwriting. Then we record each instruments, starting from Drums, then bass and guitars, then Keyboards and finally vocals and backing vocals. Then I mixed the album in my home studio. It took almost 2 months to mix this Legacy album, since I really wanted everything to sound acoustic and natural (no triggers or stuff), and I really did my best to take care of all details and give justice to the songs, I have to say that, so far, I’m very happy of the result.

You found a fantastic vocalist in Goran Nyström whose range is very impressive, is this a voice you enjoy writing for and what role does Goran play in his vocals ideas?

D: Yeah! Goran is absolutely an amazing discover, he’s so versatile, got great range, can sing almost in all ways and styles and has a good tone…what else can you expect from a singer? Basically I submit him the preproduction’s with lyrics I write, and when we work together in the studio we go along all phrases and find substitution when the sound he wants to achieve is not compatible with the words I wrote, so there’s a good interaction with him in the studio, and he adds a lot of arrangements and gives life to the initial ideas with a lot of creative adds in terms of style, passages and stuff. Album by album we are construction a great interaction process and it becomes more natural for me to write songs for him, and for him to arrange and give songs the right mood/vibe. It’s really a pleasure to write lyrics for Goran, because you don’t have actual limits to the creative part, he can sing everything!The main nucleus of the band have been together for a while now, and having played a number of live dates in the run up to the recording of ‘Legacy’ shows in the performances and tightness of the band.

How do you feel playing live have benefited the band and music?

D: It’s been extremely beneficial, we had the change to play live many gigs during the promotion of “The Forbidden City” in 2009/2010, and that live experience has given us more strength, tightness, and you can really hear in Legacy, in my opinion, this improvement. It sounds more natural and every member is more comfortable with their role. Playing live is so important, and we’re continuing to do that as much as we can!

‘Legacy’ can be split into two distinct sides with the first half being quite commercial songs that are not tied together, whilst the second half sees a mini suite that I believe is probably the best thing you have released.  Can you tell us what led to the 2 halves or “sides” of Twinspirits and when did it become clear that this would work?

D: Well, I had in mind the concept behind “The Endless Sleep” suite since years, and I decided to record a preproduction of the whole suite (30min) and I found out that it was very inspired and I really liked the result. That’s why I decided to go ahead and include that song in the new album. I new it was a challenge, but I thing it’s a well structured multi part suite, and we’re experiencing that is working very well also live and it turned out to be the favourite song of all band members!  So the first 6 songs are more straight to the point, even if still progressive in many ways, to balance the complexity and long journey of the second part of the album which is more dramatic, intense and needs more listens to get into. “The Endless Sleep” is been one of the most demanding compositions of my life, and I’m so happy about the result and how all band members gave life to it…

‘The Endless Sleep’ suite is superb, tell us more about its creation and in what phases it was recorded?

D: Thank you! Well it’s creating lasted a couple of months, initially I wrote the lyrics and after that a put them in music. I have to say that it came out very fluently part by part, and it’s been a natural process, I didn’t had to force any aspect of the creation, and that’s why in my opinion it’s a  long piece of music that really flows fast. So it’s been written all together in a couple of months, it’s not the result of a year lasting process.

Does recording something as ambitious as this get easier over time as the last 2 albums weren’t lacking in big compositions either?

D: Well, it’s of course ambitious to create, arrange and produce a 30 min suite, and probably now the band is more mature and it was a good moment for this challenge. Anyway when I write I tend to be free from any rule or external influence and environment that the music will be produced with. I have to be free to create, and the suite “the endless sleep” just came out in this last 2 years period, you really can’t expect what will come next in your creation process, at least speaking of my type of creation process. It just came at the right point of the band evolution I think, and I feel lucky for that inspiration at the right time!

Do you provide music transcripts of the parts you want the rest of the band to play or do they play from ear and add their own ideas?

D: I provide basically full preproduction recordings (also sung by me in a rough way) in an organised multi session project that includes also midi of most of the parts (except guitars and vocals), it’s enough for the guys to pick up the song and start to work on arrangements. The midis and scores for guitar player and bass player are very useful for the more challenging parts like duets, tricky parts or tricky harmonies.

Twinspirits have their own voice in the progressive metal scene, is this something you strive hard to create?

D: Well, I think it’s the goal of every artist/band is to create their own voice on the scene. I’ve always worked in that direction, trying not to follow any stereotype and to transform all influences I had into something possibly new and fresh. It’s very difficult nowadays to be very different, so having some sort of original formula into a genre is already a great result in my opinion.

You have worked with Tommy Ermolli for a number of years now on different projects, what is it about his playing that you find inspiring and how do you feel he has grown as a player over the years?

D:Tommy has always been a mature musician, even when he was 13. That’s what’s amazing in his musical side and was the most impressive aspect I noticed when I discover him back in 2002: his musical taste and incredible melodic sense in addition to a great technical skill. This is very rare in a musician in my opinion. By the way, year by year and album by album you can hear a great evolution of his playing. Now he’s focusing also into the big picture and his style has evolved into a very consistent playing and arranging of the Twinspirits material. So I think that the talent and the musicality have always been there, but evolutions of his playing can be noticed constantly album by album.

‘Pay For Their Art’ touches on a subject that many bands are scared to speak up about – illegal downloading of music.  How has this affected Twinspirits and what do you believe the future holds?

D: Illegal downloading has affected Twinspirits and all my release of the past in a major way unfortunately. And as me, many other artists have been seriously damaged by this new era behaviour. I wrote that song cause I felt the urge to say something about this issue to our fans an to all listeners in general. It’s really a heavy topic for both label and bands in this period, many situations are at risk of disappearing if things won’t change in some ways. I think that the message of “pay for their art” is a positive message, and tries to reach the fans and let them understand what’s behind the music they listen to, the work, the passion, the nights spent in recording, producing and mixing, a live spent in writing music to deliver the “soundtrack of  your life”.

I think that the only way to solve this problem is to create a new culture that can teach to new generations a new level of sensibility of what they do when they download an album illegally. It’s became normal behaviour nowadays, and it’s been lost the idea that you’re doing something wrong and stealing something. We have to teach younger generation to become more responsible about this topic, I don’t believe that technical solutions (internet blocking or stuff) will be a solution to prevent this phenomenon, it has to start from the culture and from the right educations about this topic, that’s why I decided to write my little piece of message into the song “pay for their art”. In that song you can hear a sort of dialogue from 2 different kind of persons, a responsible one and a person who things it’s “cool” to download illegally, the first one trying to explain why he should “pay for their art”.

What other lyrical subjects are touched upon through the album?

D: Most of the songs are inspired from life thoughts, and personal experiences…we have a sort of “relationship ending” topic on song Senseless, then other topics like “the difficult world we’re living in” in Slave to this world, the difficult process of understanding our right path in life in “blind soul”…I usually write and put on paper my thoughts about life. The endless sleep is  different, it’s a visionary story I developed where a young person, due to a premature ending of his life, gets the change to discover and meet a superior entity that approaches him in the afterlife and gives him the chance to get back to the real world for a limited  period of time with a mission to accomplish that could lead to ease the pain and all the suffering of the current world…very difficult to explain all the concept and the story in a few words, but what’s nice in my opinion is that you can give different interpretations to what you read in the lyrics, I tend to write in a very open way, poetically, without explicit connections to specific religions, politics, real events, remaining very visionary and abstract to give a sort of freedom to the listeners to create their own idea of what’s behind some concepts/story I write, whatever are their life styles, ideas, profiles.

I believe the band will be hitting the road again in support of ‘Legacy’, can you give us more details of what to expect?

D: We’re doing shows in March 2011, travelling Italy and Switzerland, touching cities like Uster, Venezia, Bari, Caserta, Reggio Emilia and Vicenza…and more shows are in the organization phase, you can find all details and dates updates in our myspace profile http://www.myspace.com/twinspiritsband or our web site http://www.twinspirits.net

What else is in store for 2011 from Twinspirits?

D: Well, a lot of live appearances hopefully and some footage material of the “making of Legacy” and the making of the 2 videos we release recently “number One” and “Slave To This World”

Daniele, many thanks for your time.

D: Thanks to you for the support and to all Virtuosityone readers!!!

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TWINSPIRITS – LEGACY

Released February 18th 2011 on Lion Music

Daniele Liverani’s melodic progressive metal outfit Twinspirits have wasted no time in building on the success of “The Forbidden City” with their third opus “Legacy”.  Having spent time on the road in support of album number 2 the band are well oiled and it shows on this new release which sees the band build ever further on their signature brand of prog metal.

“Legacy” marks the second album of vocalist Göran Nyström in the band, and his voice delivers another commanding performance over the material penned by band mastermind and keyboardist Daniele Liverani.  Guitarist Tommy Ermolli takes a heavier role this time round whilst the rhythm section of bassist Alberto Rigoni and drummer Dario Ciccioni hold down the complex patterns with precision and the whole package is wrapped up in a powerful clear production.

“Legacy” sees the band deliver a cohesive set of 11 tracks split into the two distinct areas.  The first 6 tracks are perhaps amongst the most accessible and commercial songs the band have penned to date with each offering its own sound.  Opening 8 minute “Senseless” sets the scene nicely with strong riffs and melodies.  “Pay For Their Art” is an ode to those don’t see how downloading music is killing the metal scene for hundreds of bands.  “Blind Soul” is heavy with good riffs and shows Nyström’s lower register voice to good effect, fans of Oliver Hartmann will dig this voice.  “Slave To This World” is a frantic metal assault and features some excellent drumming from Ciccioni as well as possessing an infectious chorus.  The ballad “Don’t Kill Your Dreams” might be considered a little twee to some and is arguably the weakest track on offer.  The balance is soon restored by “Over And Over” which sees the rhythm section come into its own with its off beat riff, this track is also a grower over repeated spins and a highlight. 

The second aspect of the album comes in the form of the final 5 tracks which make up “The Endless Sleep” a 30 minute concept suite that has all you could ask for from a bona-fide prog metal band.  However, the band manages to keep their focus on the song being the key aspect at all time.  As an entity in itself this probably amongst the best thing Twinspirits have done to date and highlights come throughout this 5 track segment of the album.

Musically the band don’t overkill with solos like say DT even though they have the chops to match the Americans, but Twinspirits’  focus on songs is well served making for an often more enjoyable listen from start to finish.

 Daniele Liverani is well known for his grand visions (‘Genius Rock Opera’ anyone?) but with Twinspirits he seems to have found his niche, delivering creating intelligent, mature and enjoyable metal all performed to virtuoso levels by all involved. 

As it stands “Legacy” ranks as the strongest Twinspirits release to date and comes highly recommended for progressive metal fans. 

Rating – 96%

TWINSPIRITS – THE FORBIDDEN CITY (ARCHIVE)

Out now on Lion Music

Back with their second album, Twinspirits led by keyboard whiz and general musical genius Daniele Liverani follow up the debut album “The Music That Will Heal The World” with another progressive metal offering in “The Forbidden City”.  With one line up change happening between albums, the band welcome in new vocalist in Swedish powerhouse Göran Nyström, whose vocals are simply superb.  The rest of the line-up is “as you where” with the Italian contingent of the aforementioned Liverani handling all keyboards, guitarist Tommy Ermolli, bassist Alberto Rigoni and drummer Dario Ciccioni.

Our glowing reviews of the bands debut (here) ended by saying it would be interesting to see where the band headed on their second album.  Well in short, Twinspirits have consolidated their own sound which was evident in a number of places on the last album.  New vocalist Göran Nyström plays a big part in this with superb range, yet an original tonality and deserves a lot of praise.  But then you also get the impression Liverani had a clearer idea of where to take the bands sound.  So essentially all is good, the production is superb, a great powerful sound, great separation between the instruments and excellent clarity, arguably one of the years best so far.

Musically the band still plays accessible progressive tinted metal with a strong melodic edge.  Whilst not overloading the album with overly extended instrumental segments like DT, Twinspirits use their instrumentation skills for purely for the song and the flashes of musical brilliance are there to enhance the proceedings.

Opening with the ten minute title track is a bold move, yet the track “The Forbidden City”, is strong enough to maintain your interest throughout.  In initially teasing the listener for close to 3 minutes building the track instrumentally Göran Nyström makes his grand entrance and instantly you feel he is a better match for the band than his predecessor. This is a voice which is rich, powerful and quite original in character, similar in power to Jorn Lande but with a different tonal slant more in tune with say Bruce Dickinson. “Taste The Infinity” brings the tempo down to a soothing dark ballad, lone piano starts and once again Nyström makes his mark on this subtle, yet captivating track.

“Number One” is a fast paced track with intense riffing, vocally the track is interesting due the different voices Nyström uses to add character.  “Everything” is back to the classic prog sound, those that heard Liverani’s last Cosmics album will instantly feel at home here as the musical reminds me a lot of that release. Building nicely, with keyboard working heavily over simple power chords the impact is impressive before working to another dark riff for the verses. The track has a great chorus, powerful and melodic.

Guitarist Tommy Ermolli gets to shine on “One Of Us”, arguably the most commercial number musically speaking on the album, its powered along with a very tasty riff from Ermolli, simple yet melodic with Liverani layering keyboard and organ textures to enhance the sound further.  The pre-chorus is quite unique in character, with an ascending chord progression before the luxurious main riff charges in hard for the chorus.  Ermolli also delivers a glorious solo, yet is painstakingly too short.  A massive track.

The instrumental “BTR” plays around with exotic time signatures and again the mix of guitar and keyboard work incredibly well.  The rock solid bedrock of Dario Ciccioni and Albert Rigoni is highly impressive on this track as well. Ballad number two “Hide This Feeling” is a much more joyful affair than the “Taste The Infinity”, presented in a major key tonality the track features Nyström duet-ing with Irene Ermolli who also possesses a superb voice.  “My Future” presents itself as a nice fusion of metal and modern musical styling, dark and home to a mysterious quality that is quite unique, yet I find it strangely alluring and captivating, and after repeated spins has become a favourite.

The closing duo is started with “Reaction” which comes across in the early stages like modern Deep Purple before the band mold the track into a melodic metal direction.   Again highly melodic and Nyström gets the chance to show us what he can do in more straightforward rock waters, and again he impresses, the commercial is reminiscent of the heavier numbers from Journey i.e. interesting melodic structure.  Tommy Ermolli goes a little Marty Friedman meets Neal Schon in the songs solo, exotic melodies mixed with sustained melodic content – nice.  Another 10 minute epic “I Am Free” closes the album in even more fine style.  One of the heaviest numbers on the album with numerous segments which work well to form a solid cohesive unit finishing with a big finale.

With “The Forbidden City” Twinspirits have passed the often tricky second album with flying colours.  As already mentioned the album builds upon the debut in every department and this album deserves all the praise I can see it getting from the prog metal crowd.  Whether this will translate into mainstream media remains to be seen, yet any metal fan with an open mind will find a great deal to like.  Daniele Liverani has penned a number of great albums over the last few years but this has to be considered his Magnum Opus.  This collection of 10 tracks is pretty much superb from start to finish, with nothing that sounds surplus to requirements.  In short, if you like your metal well played, with strong melodies and delivered in a great sound then Twinspirits have the album for you.
 
Hot Spots : Taste The Infinity, One Of Us, My Future
Rating : 95%

MISTHERIA – DRAGON FIRE (REVIEW)

Mistheria is a name that may well be familiar to the more neo-classically minded readers of this site.  Or indeed anyone that owns Bruce Dickinson’s ‘Tyranny Of Souls’ album for it is Mistheria that provided the keyboards on that album.  Otherwise he is probably a known name amongst musicians and not a lot else.  In 2004 he released the ‘Messenger Of The Gods’ album, a strong album with some production issues and after working with Angel Of Eden the Italian keyboard virtuoso return with an all star cast for his new neo-classical metal work – “Dragon Fire”.

All certainly looks good from the off.  The guest list of the album is certainly impressive, for vocalists try John West, Mark Boals, Rob Rock, Lance King and Titta Tani for size.  The guitar front is equally talent packed with George Bellas, Roger Staffelbach, Neil Zaza and Emir Hot handling six string duties whilst the rhythm section is Twinspirits’ Alberto Rigoni on bass and drum legend John Macaluso (Ark, ex Malmsteen). Quite a line up and something of a neo-classical wet dream in terms of personnel.  Yet all these first rate names are nothing if the material is not up to par.  Mistheria appears to have played safe on the vocal front allowing each vocalist to pen their own lyrics and melodies and with the names mentioned why not.  Elsewhere the guitarists get free reign with solo ideas whilst Rigoni and Macaluso worked with charted out music based on Mistheria’s ideas and a good job has been done here too. 

Musically this is strong keyboard dominant neo-classically tinted metal. Opening trio of “Dragon Fire”, “Lies & Deception” and “Killing The Pain” hurtle along at a frantic pace and have strong vocal melodies and pulsating rhythms.  Indeed this is music on a par quality wise with likes of Artension and it should be noted this is the best I have heard John West since the early days of Artension.  Naturally there is a lot of virtuoso musicianship on display which each track being a hotbed of undisputed skill.  Yet it’s the quality of song craft that really shines through, particularly on the likes of the beautiful power ballad “Now It’s Never”, the almost Symphony X like delivery of “Fire & Flames” and the classic rock hooks of “The Power Of One” which sounds like a metalized version of early Foreigner with its strident piano refrain.

That’s not to say all is perfect.  The mix is found wanting in a few areas, notably the level of instrumentation.  Keyboards dominate this album (perhaps understandably) yet when guitar solos by some of the best names in the business are difficult to hear you have to ask why?  Also it would have been nice to have more rhythm guitars, as opposed to rhythm keyboards using distorted guitar sounds.  These sound very digitized and rather lifeless in this area, particularly when mimicking harmonic squeals.  The album cover is also not of the general standard to have come from Lion Music of late (Pangea not withstanding).  But if you can get past these issues you are left with a good album of good songs and performances.  Hopefully the next effort from Mistheria will not take as long to come out and hopefully resolve the issues mentioned.

Overall a good slice of neo-classical metal.
 
Hot Spots : Killing The Pain, Now It’s Never, Fire & Flames, The Power Of One.
Rating : 88%