Italian symphonic death metal quartet Genus Ordinis Dei are a fascinating proposition, having honed an exciting sound that fuses heavy metal with more delicate, often haunting orchestral instrumentals. Furthermore, their music is largely inspired by their alternative take on passages of the Bible, which fuels the intrigue.
The quartet of Nick K (vocals and guitars), Tommy Mastermind (guitars), Steven F.Olda (bass) and Richard Meiz (drums) were born and raised in the town of Crema, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, and shared stages in various different bands before forming Genus Ordinis Dei back in 2012.
Having opened for Lacuna Coil on their cross-Europe tour in 2016, which included a sold out show at Camden’s Koko, it’s safe to say this is a band that’s going places and has fairly lofty ambitions. As they tell us: “To be the kind of band who inspires the next generation to do music, like Metallica or Iron Maiden did to us and pretty much everyone!”
Inspired by the likes of Lamb Of God, Gojira, Dark Tranquillity, Dimmu Borgir, Insomnium and Periphery, you’d be right in assuming this is pretty heavy stuff, with fascinating vocal delivery and booming guitars supported by haunting symphonic instrumentals.
Their latest album Great Olden Dynasty, released last year, is a work of symphonic metal brilliance, which also features the unmistakable vocals of Lacuna Coil frontwoman Cristina Scabbia on penultimate track Salem.
Opening track The Unleashed, throws you straight in at the deep in with huge driving drums, powerful vocals and guitars soon joined by darting violins before huge booming guitar chords join the party.
The album is chocked full of awesome tracks but worthy of particular mention is the spectacular The Flemish Obituary, which opens up with haunting organ music that’s soon joined by choral vocals, which continue alongside booming metal guitars. It drops into light guitars, then chugging guitars under wild vocals that lead into really cool darting guitars. The choral vocals return, a meandering guitar solo kicks in, then a faster solo gives way to more choral vocals and violins are joined by heavy guitars and drums as the song draws to a mighty ending – this epic track really has everything.
Then, of course, there’s the fantastic Salem. It opens with a light piano intro that gives way to booming guitar chords that are joined by a driving fast-paced riff. Nick’s huge vocals come in answered by melodic yet powerful responses from Cristina Scabbia. Check it out in the lyric video below:
On what inspires their music, Richard tells us: “Pretty much everything that’s art. We live in Italy, so we are surrounded by art in every form. We find inspiration in books, cities, travels, music… but also films and TV series! Everything that makes the ‘Right vibes.’ (But) our key topic is a reinterpretation of the Bible like every passage of it seen from another perspective.”
“Every one of us had this dream and we found out that we all have the same ambitions. So we started the band and here we are! It’s like having a second family. We always support each other not only for the ‘band things’ but for everything else too!
And Richard tells us their creative process is far more complex than simply getting into a studio and jamming songs out. As he explains: “We are not the kind of band who just go and rehearse until a song is written. We must write first due to the orchestral parts that have to be arranged.
“Me and Tommy are the main composers of every song. I usually start with the idea of a song and later on Tommy does all the orchestrations and the final arrangement, then I start to work with Nick on the lyrics.”
We’ve featured many awesome bands coming out of Italy, for whom the difficulties of making a living out of rock and metal are a common theme. Richard told us: “It’s not easy at all! I mean, it’s easier now to start doing music because everyone can record at home and thanks to the Internet you can share your music everywhere. But if you can do that, every band can do that! It’s quite impossible to make a living because CD sales are falling down and the only way that a musician can earn is to tour. But touring is most of the time expensive until you reach a certain notoriety!”
Genus Ordinis Dei are a fascinating band who, from what we’ve heard, certainly have the capability to earn that notoriety. They have a couple of videos released for album tracks and have started the writing process for their next album. You can also see them live in the next couple of months as they play Legend Club in Milan on 17 June then Rock In Park in Grosseto on 15 July. More info on upcoming gigs is here.