This year has seen many highlights already in its first few months and none more enjoyable and invigorating than the self-titled debut album from Connecticut metallers Freedoms Reign. Brought to ‘life’ by original Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini on his return to metal, the band has created a brawling sound of energetic intensity and hungry passion with their first album and a collection of songs wrapped in an incendiary mix of strong and potent flavours. It is a thrilling and invigorating release which does not break into new creative pastures but owns those existing with aggressive enterprise and adrenaline honed contagious mastery. Offered the opportunity to talk with Victor we seized the chance to find out more about the release, band, and what he has been up to between leaving his former band in 1985 and Freedoms Reign.
Hi Victor and welcome to The RingMaster Review. Thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
You have just released your excellent self-titled debut album, how was the adrenaline and nerves upon its unveiling?
We have been anxious for months. As we began recording it we learned quickly it was going to get a great sound and bring out the best in the songs. I haven’t felt this kind of excitement and purpose since Fates put out Night On Broken. There’s no difference 30 years later. I’m still excited to have someone hear music I’ve written. The band worked really hard together to make something special and we’re very happy how it came out.
It is a powerful and scintillating encounter, rapacious even, has your sound organically evolved from all your personal tastes and experiences or was there a deliberate direction set in place for your sound from the start?
When I write a song it always starts with a riff or putting something over someone else’s. When I go back to my roots I always find Sabbath. Iommi is the master of riffs, so is Blackmore…they were a huge influence in my musical upbringing and when I write today it’s no different than 30 years ago. Still gotta have a great riff and then your other influences fill in the gaps. It’s never deliberate. I just start playing and you just know when you got a good one. The fact that some people including myself hear some phrasings and styles similar to that when I played in Fates is because I’m still into the same stuff with another 30 years of experiences to add on.
Has there been expectations placed upon the band from your past in Fates Warning and if so have they helped or been an obstacle to go past?
I’m not sure what people are expecting. If they’re fans of the earlier stuff then they might dig some of this as it’s similar in its aggression and heaviness. A bit of prog riffs but nothing near what Fates has become, which is a purposeful thing for me. I’d like to think earlier fans of Fates may pick up on the similarity of my style and playing and enjoy it for what it is, not looking for a “Fates” record.
The band formed in 2011 I believe, how did the line-up come about and members originally meet?
The band was actually in place for 2-3 years before I joined. They were just writing riffs but not doing much else. I offered to record a demo so they could take it to the next level. We knocked it off over a weekend and then I took the tapes home. While mixing I began to really like the music. There was something there I connected to. I asked if I could do a vocal (their singer was nowhere in sight). I wrote some lyrics, and the tune and then added solo. It was very organic and soon I found myself finishing 10 songs. I was asked to join and it’s now two years later. Mike (bass) and I have known each other since 1972 and we both played with Steve Zimmerman of Fates Warning before it became FW.
Was there the instant understanding between you all which seems so open on the album itself?
We understand each other pretty well. We don’t fight, Everyone takes direction and constructive criticism well. Our goal is to make some great music and get the opportunity to play it on stage. We all share the same excitement and dedication. It’s really a cool thing to be a part of.
The songs on the album are varied within the adrenaline honed tempest you unleash, how would you describe your sound and what are the major influences which have given your creativity food for thought?
I like an album to have the ebb and flow I used to enjoy on many classic albums. No matter what kind of music you play it always needs this to keep the listener (and yourself) interested. Some songs are just 5 minutes of driving power and energy. Others need space to breathe and change direction a bit. Fates started doing this on Spectre which was a reflection of what we enjoyed listening to and beginning to learn how to write an album and not just 10 songs. I took a lot of time just to get the song order right as I’m a big fan of songs that flow together well. Influences are too many to list at this time of my life but Sabbath and all the classic bands from the 70’s – 80’s are always somewhere in a song.
How long did the album take to make from the songwriting through to the release?
We began writing about a year before release. Brother was the first written from a riff Tommy showed us. Up From Down and Believe were next…We sat on those for a few months and did some shows. It became apparent our new music was gonna be quite different from our earlier songs. We were now writing together as a band and the songs became a bit more complex, intricate and focused…and quite a bit heavier..
Are you a band which have songs ‘finished’ going into the recording or continue evolving them in the studio as you record?
The general skeleton of the song is done before we go in. We rehearse twice a week and are always going forward with new ideas and a lot of practicing. By the time we get to a studio we know our parts and what we want, however I always leave a bit of the unknown in the process. I will have general ideas for solos but I write them in studio. Vocals are pre-demo’d but again things are open for change. Some of my favorite parts on the CD are the ones made up in studio. It keeps it fresh for us.
You recorded the album with Nick Belmore (Toxic Holocaust/Hatebreed), how was the studio this time around compared to previous experiences, did you approach the album differently to others you have been involved with?
Nick has a great studio with simple but quality equipment. I still like to record like I did with Fates. I don’t want pro tools to fix my CD. I’d rather just do the track again and let the studio just capture and reproduce the sound I’m looking for. Nick took us to another level. He understood us as a band and was another creative member while we did it. It was a very relaxed experience and I’m looking forward to working with him soon on the next one
It has been impossible to choose a favourite track from the album, though Ritual, Shadows Of A Doubt, Believe, and No Excuses all stand to the fore. Is there a track or moment on the album which sparks the biggest strike of pride or you realised the band had found a real potency?
Depends on the week…we tend to change our minds a bit but I’d say Shadows Of Doubt is a very strong song with a powerful in your face attack. The cool thing is every track is a bit different and I like them all because they each stand alone in their own way. When I did Spectre Within it is was the same feeling as each track was killer and the album was a flowing piece of music
Is there a certain link or thought which unites the songs or themes the album other than to make them as creatively impacting as possible?
I wouldn’t say there’s any specific link or theme to our CD. It’s 10 songs that all carry a certain feel and sound, each one taking you a bit deeper into its progression. I do tend to write a lot about death or the afterlife or just trying to get the listener to think outside the box a bit.
The album is the first release since your return to metal, can we ask what has occupied your time and creativity between the 1985 release of the Fates Warning album The Spectre Within which was of course your last record, and now?
I left Fates to concentrate on my family. I had a daughter on the way and back then there was no money to be made even in FW. I raised two great children Jillian and Steve and wouldn’t change a thing. I have played on/off in a few local metal/rock bands throughout late 80’s-early 90’s. At that time I decided to go back to school and I became a Registered Nurse. I work with geriatric population and specialize in Alzheimer’s Disease. I also recorded a self-produced CD titled “Painted Horse” which I may re-release in the future. I got back into playing around 2003 and played with Connecticut’s best musicians in a Classic Rock cover band called The Remains. After 8 years I started to want to expand away from the scene and began jamming with friends. Little by little the music got a bit heavier and complex. The timing was perfect when I agreed to produce Free Reign’s (our original name) demo. I’m now 100% back into what I do best and this CD is the best thing
What triggered the fire to return with Freedoms Reign for you?
The desire was just to start writing some cool songs. I was ready to become creative again and once you start it’s like a drug that just propels you to do better each time. I love making music… the whole process from the first riffs to mastering the final product. I just felt the desire to go back to who I was in 1985 and continue what I started. Today feels no different than then. When you’re in the moment with writing and rehearsing it still feels the same and the riffs are even heavier..
How have you found metal as a situation when it came to releasing the new album and how have things improved or become less helpful since The Spectre Within?
The industry has changes so much. I’ve learned a lot talking to people like Tom Phillips (While Heaven Wept) who has guided me through the process and schooled me on today’s metal scene. I still think and act like 85″ but it’s far from that. I do still believe when it comes to someone listening it is still the same. A good riff, a great sound is still what matters and that’s what we’re trying to produce.
Have you returned to touring yet, what was the anticipation for that aspect like for you and the fans?
We have begun playing up/down the east coast. We’ve already done around 10 shows. The reaction to the new songs has been great and there’s been some excellent feedback on the CD. We have some dates lined up with ARGUS in July and will be playing with ATTACKER in August. Touring is great and we want to play this music to as many people as possible. We really need to get over to UK. Our music will do well there. There is an audience and fan base for what we do and we’re hoping we get the opportunity to do some festivals/shows within the year.
Is playing live a bigger buzz for you or is it the creation of songs which burns fiercer for you?
I think every member of the band may have a different answer for this one. Personally I love to create new songs and be in the studio. I do enjoy playing live too but nothing beats making an album. I don’t like doing both at the same time. Once we shut down you won’t see us until the next one is out.
What is on the horizon of Freedoms Reign and its members after the fire of the release and its promotion has dissipated in intensity?
We’ll promote this until it stops breathing then do it all over again. I enjoy the process and we all plan to write even better songs and make a better album. I generally don’t want to look too far ahead but I know this is only the beginning and we have more to accomplish together
Once again thank you for talking with us, any final words you would like to leave your growing legions of fans and the readers with?
To anyone who’s an old Fates fan, Thank you so much for remembering me and having an interest in what I’m doing now. Give it a listen and I think you find something you like…and if you do tell someone else. There’s just so much music out there these days it’s hard to know what’s good, bad or indifferent. We plan to keep making some cool music and look forward to playing some killer shows this year.
Check out the review of Freedoms Reign’s album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/freedoms-reign-self-titled/
Interview by Pete RingMaster
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