Italian prog metallers Shading are proof that anyone who puts their mind to it can transform themselves into a rockstar. The band first formed ten years ago, with all five of them – then 13 or 14 years old – totally incapable of playing an instrument, yet they’ve evolved into masters of the art of prog metal in the decade since.
The Venice quintet’s frontman Damiano Affinito explains: “I think we individually always loved music, but when it comes to playing that takes a different kind of passion. We were developing similar tastes in music, and when everyone was consuming all the same commercial stuff, we used to share songs and suggesting artists from the metal scene of that period. At some point, we all just wanted to start playing an instrument, and during the summer before our first high school year, we finally formed the band. It was the most spontaneous thing ever!
“Initially, we worked with covers but started to write our own material as soon as we could. During the years we had some line-up changes here and there, but after almost 10 years we finally have the strongest line-up.”
Turn the clock to the modern day and they’re blasting out intricate, technical prog metalcore with a fascinating, unique twist. The quintet – completed by Alex Aramini and Andrea Miotto (guitars), Luca Ragazzo (bass) and Mattia ‘Bastia’ Bastianello (drums) – offer up an intriguing concept of cyberpunk themes against a backdrop of progressive melodies and slick progressive metal – which comes to the fore in second album The Vanishing Of Our Lore, which is out on 12 October.
The album imagines a hostile world ruled by high-functioning machines and artificial intelligence and explores the dark sense of hopelessness felt by the last sparks of humanity.
As Damiano explains: “Everything started by watching 3D art on the web. We found about this artist called Stuart Lippincott and we really felt a connection with his work, there was something magical about it. A sense of loneliness inside a dystopic future contaminated by technology where humans find themselves in these mastodontic landscapes. We didn’t manage to collaborate with him, but we found another 3D artist with a slightly different approach to the same themes, his nickname is Polygonatic. We started to follow him and we became addicted to his work. It was clear to us that he was the right guy for the artwork!
“We naturally developed a connection with other cyberpunk operas from different media like cinema and, of course, music. Blade Runner is the best example of how we feel this art-style: giant skyscrapers, endless night-time, infinite landscapes and city skylines with neon textures. There’s something in this imaginary environment that just connected with us and our vision of our music. We want people to imagine this environment while listening to our music. Once this was clear to be our choice in terms of visuals, we chose to add synths and samples to our music. This choice gave us a completely new point of view about our music – one that just felt right!”
Our first taste of this fascinating concept is the album’s first single The Scent, which wastes no time in launching into a huge smash of metal chaos. Huge screamed vocals dominate, over pounding drums and jumpy proggy guitar blasts, then drops into a more mellow section of clean vocals over drawn-out guitar chords. Almost rapped vocals kick in, before launching into another huge chorus of impressive vocals, then funky little prog guitar loops. There’s a slight pause for breath half-way through, then darting guitar riffs build up to another smash of guitars, brief spoken vocals, then dives into a final intense chorus led by Damiano’s powerful vocals.
If the rest of the album is as good as this, then we’re in for something pretty special come 12 October. Check out The Scent in the funky video below:
Looking ahead to the album launch, Damiano tells us: “When you’ve worked on a project for almost two years, spending countless hours writing, playing, recording, rehearsing and so on… you just can’t wait any longer to release it. We literally can’t contain the excitement, but we’ve trained ourselves to be patient! We’re totally ready to give it to the world.
“The Vanishing Of Our Lore is our most complete work to date. When we first started the writing process we told ourselves ‘we want this album to be heavy and melodic.’ The final result is a 9-track album where you’ll find heavy chugs, intricate rhythm patterns, fast riffing and a constant melody which keeps everything cohesive and concrete.”
Inspired by the likes of Monuments, Periphery and Architects, the band drag influences as wide ranging as pop-rap to blackened-noise metal into their prog sound. It’s heavy and intense yet deeply melodic and technical. As Damiano puts it: “If you like both screamed and clean vocals, if you enjoy intricate rhythm patterns and you’re into big open choruses, then we’re the band for you!”
Shading are yet another example of the growing Italian rock and metal scene, from which we’ve already discovered the likes of Foredawn, Deeper Down, ANEWRAGE, Halflives and many more. On this, Damiano tells us: “We’re so proud to be part of this scene. When we started there were just a handful of bands, but now the scene has grown stronger and there are a whole host of really cool acts!
“We think here in Italy there are some of the best bands we’ve ever heard: As A Conceit, Wrong Way to Die, Not Yet Fallen, Despite Exile, Abiogenesis, Lies of Nazca, Noise Trail Immersion, Forlorn Seas… These are just a few names, but we’re fortunate enough to call these guys our friends.”
The band are all set to release The Vanishing Of Our Lore on 12 October, with new graphics, videos and photos in tow, and we’re really excited to hear what the band have to offer. Damiano adds: “Even despite being a band for almost a decade now, we still consider ourselves a starting project. What we need is to be discovered and now, with the Internet, this can be easier and more difficult at the same time.”