While there was certainly no shortage of exceptional metalcore releases in 2018, one in particular possessed a level of ingenuity in its craft that deserved far greater praise. Despite their underground status, Noise Trail Immersion managed to emerge from the depths to secure a portion of the spotlight, revealing to a broader audience their expertise over technicality and atmosphere. Their brand of post metalcore contained a frighteningly aggressive quality owing to influence from black metal titans of the modern day. Such a combination bred a sophomore record that immersed listeners in a realm of psychological terror, portraying the decomposition of one’s mind as it travels through stages of nihilism, a loss of faith, and an eventual acceptance of cognitive demise. It was a blockbuster album towering above a stacked field of aspiring artists; few were able to contend with the level of songwriting the young group displayed so early in their career.
Creating such an experience, let alone constructing a worthy sequel, is a tall order for any collective to fulfill. After a prolonged period dedicated to arranging this long awaited album, the band joined forces with I, Voidhanger Records in order to house their latest creation. Considering how highly I value the nascent body of work cultivated by Noise Trail Immersion, comprehending the process that motivated their efforts immediately caught my interest. With the upcoming third disc approaching on the horizon, primed for takeoff to impose further dissonant riffs upon the masses, I had a conversation with primary composer and guitarist Daniele Vergine. We discussed various aspects of the band ranging from its beginning, how the unholy Symbology of Shelter came to be, where the crew plans to go on their latest LP, and fellow outfits they believe deserve attention. Come sit down, brew a cup of coffee or whatever fits your fancy, and enjoy a nice perspective into the method behind Noise Trail Immersion’s madness.
To start with, I think it’s worth saying that the group is relatively young, but there’s a sense throughout your debut and sophomore effort that the cooperation between members is incredibly tight. What brought Noise Trail Immersion together, and what’s helped it click as well as it has?
Fabio wrote me on Facebook 7 and a half years ago asking me to join the band and with the other guys we immediately talked a lot about what kind of sound we wanted to forge. I think that what brought us together was the passion for two very different musical worlds: black metal and mathcore. We always thought that those two genres, in spite of their very different history, share a fil rouge, which can be found in obscurity and abrasiveness. We then spent a lot of time shaping our sound, trying to find a way to mix the ferocity and the chaos that typically characterizes mathcore songs structures with the bleak, ominous and gloomy atmospheres of black metal. That was the most difficult part, because it is not trivial to merge very distant music worlds without giving live to a complete disaster. We really hope we didn’t make this kind of mistake, but we can’t be the judges of course!
Part of what makes the band so intriguing is how you tackle profound aspects of the human experience. Who usually composes the lyrics, and what influences them the most?
Our singer Fabio writes the lyrics. We like to consider our lyrics as a stream of consciousness dealing with various aspects of the human experience, from the inner relationship with the Self to the role of faith and the question of escaping from nihilism.
We’re influenced by many philosophical authors and currents of thought, like Existentialism but also ancient Greek philosophy.
It definitely has that atmosphere to it. I think it pairs off well with the darker, quieter moments that come about.
When you broke through with Symbology of Shelter, you aimed to make an album that was less of an album and more of one large, continuous song. How did this idea start, and what prompted you to try something so ambitious?
The idea was born when, after the release of our debut album “Womb”, we realized that as a band we wanted to write a record where all our different stylistic influences, like Black Metal, Mathcore, Post-Metal and Ambient, could be somehow intertwined in a monolithic work.
We still love Womb but we feel like in that album the different components in our music are somehow more distinguishable one from the other, and what we wanted to achieve with SOS was a well-blended mix of different musical worlds that in the end stands out as something of its own.
We wanted to create an album that sounded organic in its nonstop flow and that since the very beginning drags the listener into a dead-end vortex and doesn’t let him go until the record is finished, leaving him with a disturbing sensation of pure void, which is all that remains after the chaos has manifested. As we always like to say, when trying to blend very different musical influences, there’s a high risk that what will come out of that is a pure disaster. We really hope that it’s not our case, but we cannot be our own judges of course!
Putting together a record as a singular track takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. What was the songwriting process like?
Contrary to what one might think, we didn’t write the record sequentially from start to finish: instead, first we wrote different sections without a specific order but at the same time keeping a certain schema in mind. What we focused really hard on, at a later time, were the transitions between the songs: in other words, we tried to make sure that the entire flow of the album would be preserved when putting the tracks in order. This was done by trying to spot potential “matching points” between a song and the following one: for example, for the track “Mirroring”, we noticed that the drum pattern in the final loop was pretty similar to the solo drum part at the start of “Repulsion and Escapism I”. Therefore, to connect the two tracks and make the transition sound smoother and more natural, we stretched the final part of Mirroring, making the loop longer, more hypnotic and somehow more “tribal” sounding, and then we decided to apply a gradual fade out to all the instruments except for the drums, so that the start of the drum loop in the following track wouldn’t sound too abrubt and sudden. In this case, the “matching point” was a rhythmic one, in other cases it was more a matter of harmonies. For example, to connect “Acrimonious” and “The Empty Earth I”, we adapted the final part of Acrimonious to recreate the chord changes in the intro of the next track so that the two things would sound as a whole.
Regarding songwriting in general, I write pretty much everything in terms of riffs, structure and arrangements: after I have an entire song written down on Guitar Pro with the complete parts for every instrument, I send it to the other guys and we review it all together. Sometimes I speak with other band members about ideas, concepts and song structures before starting to write stuff and we take “notes” that I will later use as starting points or ideas for enrichments. There are also times in which I try to be completely autonomous when starting a song, letting the inspiration take over and only in a second moment I confront with the guys. It really depends on the kind of song I want to write and on the type of workflow I want to adopt: I have my own personal methods I try to adopt and refine when writing or exploring new sounds and imaginaries, but at the same time I try not to be too rigid and I happened to change approaches along the years.
That’s actually very intriguing! I had always assumed it was meant to be as one, but it didn’t necessarily start off that way. Very cool how well it linked up in the end, however.
What do you think was the hardest part of putting the album together?
To be honest, I don’t remember parts that were particularly hard to put together: writing the album surely took time, but honestly it all came together very naturally. For me writing is kind of a “trial and error” thing, where at first you got a very rough conceptual idea of what you’re going to create and than you gradually add concrete pieces by exploring sounds and riffs until things finally start to “click”. The most important thing during the composition process to me is, after messing around for some time, getting to the key point where a clear idea of what the album is gonna be finally takes shape: after that it all simply becomes a sort of natural selection of the most beautiful musical ideas among those that came to mind. Sometimes it takes a little bit of courage to trash ideas you worked hard on and just admit that they are not good enough or simply don’t pair well with the rest. We tend to become more and more selective with time, because we don’t want to repeat ourselves: we try to give every album his own specific character and identity.
I appreciate the explanation! It makes sense. Things seemed to come together naturally for this, so it wasn’t particularly difficult to hit the ground running.
Going forward, it has been described how the band plans to change things up a fair bit on your future work. Given where your last disc left off, where does Noise Trail go from there? How do you plan to shake things up?
In our opinion Symbology of Shelter culminates with void, leaving the listener with a sense of resignation determined by the chaos that follows every failed attempt to attach all-encompassing meanings to life. We feel like that journey has now ended, we have nothing more to say as a band in those terms. Therefore our new record starts from scratch, from a sort of “zero point”: it is our most spiritual record so far, and it’s an attempt to describe a path starting from absolute void and reaching, after a troubled journey, an inner peace with our most dark side, a sort of cohesion with the Obscure. The overall atmosphere is characterized by a sort of “sacred dissonance” aura, which aims to takes obscurity, uneasiness, bleakness and give them a spiritual character, without making them disappear. Since we didn’t want to repeat ourselves, this album has not been structured as one long track like SoS: instead, it has a more circular structure, with three strategic tracks (respectively at the start, in the middle and at the end) that help create a conceptual link and enforce the overall idea behind the album. We wrote those three tracks on classical guitars and we asked our good friend Gabriele Papagni to record them, because we wanted a real classical guitar player to perform those songs. In musical terms, the spiritural character is represented by some new influences, like Dark Folk and Contemporary Liturgical Music, which have been incorporated in our style to shape a new, enriched NTI sound, which takes some elements from our past endeavours and gives them a new face. We worked very hard to mix the Mathy/Dissonant Black Metal component of our sound with the new influences.
Really hope it all works together, because that’s the thing on which we focused the most!
That’s definitely an interesting new perspective to explore, and one that takes a lot of time to develop. Considering your underground status, I know it can be difficult to get the attention of a wider audience despite portraying strong concepts. How has Noise Trail kept together, and what plans do you have for the future?
To be honest, making music for us is something that comes from an inner necessity and from the beauty of committing to a a project with people who share your passion and your musical vision. Our goal is pretty much to make music for the sake of music itself, giving birth to musical works that can satisfy our own wish and taste first. Therefore, the audience problem is not really a problem for us. Obviously, it’s always an immense pleasure when your music is able to meet other people’s taste too, but that’s not our goal in the first place.
About the way Noise Trail Immersion has kept together, I’d say it’s all about good friendship between all the members, common musical vision and will to invest most of our free time in this project. We all have other jobs and/or study so being able to conciliate all these things is not trivial of course.
About plans for the future, we basically want to continue releasing weird music for a long time, shaping new sounds that can match the NTI vision and hopefully play lots of live shows too.
Hopefully live shows are coming back soon! Early signs so far have been encouraging. Just for fun: if you could have a tour with any bands of your choosing, active or not, who would you like to play with?
Some bands we would definitely love to tour with are Plebeian Grandstand, Ulcerate, Gorguts, Nero di Marte, Gorrch, Ad Nauseam, Yellow Eyes, Liturgy
A decade recently passed, and there was certainly a lot of wonderful music to behold. Out of curiosity, what were some of your favorite album picks from that span? What do you still return to?
These are some of our favourite albums of the last decade:
Amia Venera Landscape – The Long Procession
The Secret – Solve et Coagula
Deathspell Omega – Paracletus
Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
Dodecahedron – Kwintessens
Alcest – les voyage de l’âme
Mournful Congregation – the book of kings
Corrupted – Garten der Unbewusstheit
Sigur Ros – Valtari
Celeste – Animales
Grouper – A|A – Alien Observer
Gorguts – Colored Sands
Tim hecker – Haunt me haunt me, do it again
Ulcerate – The destroyers of all
By the way man, I don’t know if your into ambient music too, but in that case my new ambient solo project is streaming tonight on WherePostRockDwells youtube channel. Just telling you in case you wanna check it out
Premiere will be on in about two hours and a half
Not the biggest, but I’d be willing to give it a shot! I’ll add it to my list.
Thanks for responding for the interview! It has been a pleasure.
It has been a real pleasure for me too!