EMQ’s with PENTESILEA ROAD

Pentesilea Road Logo

EMQ’s with PENTESILEA ROAD

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview, with Netherlands based, Italian Post-Progressive Rock project Pentesilea Road. Huge thanks to main man and guitarist, Vito F. Mainolfi, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Hi all, this is Vito guitar player of Pentesilea Road, thanks for hosting the conversation! I actually started this band as a solo project in the UK, back in 2014. For a few years I have been publishing demos on my SoundCloud, mostly instrumentals, in which I was basically playing guitar, bass, keyboards on a (mostly) synthetic drum. The idea behind that, was getting a demo portfolio with the aim of getting some other musicians onboard. Actually, this went on for a few years, but I hadn’t found a real match in the bands I have been playing with, mostly because of musical background difference. Last year I finally decided to record the whole thing properly and working on the final structure, by also finalizing the lyrics. At the end of the polishing work, the material was good enough to start looking for some session musicians to play any instrument other than bass and guitar…this was more or less around July 2020. A couple of months later the recording line-up was completed, so in September we started recording the album. It took at least 3 months to complete the recordings, as we started with drums and all the other instruments were recorded on top of that. It’s been actually a lot of work the coordination of 8 musicians, all living in different places!

How did you come up with your band name?

Besides being the Amazon Queen in Greek mythology, Pentesilea is the name of one the cities from Italo Calvino’s book “Invisible Cities”. I particularly love the chapter of Pentesilea, the diluted city, liquidly spread, with no defined boundaries. I did like the idea of using it as a metaphor of the globalized world. Pentesilea Road therefore is the archetype of the, mostly unnecessary, travel around the world. It is loosely autobiographic, but I am pretty sure it is a concept known to many people.

I like to describe it as an act of dissidence, a protest against the new world order recently imposed to us and the one that it might be coming shortly. It talks about globalization, surveillance and behavioural capitalism, the role the mainstream media play in this big game, as well as roots, identity…all those things that involve familiarity and that once were considered the fundamental of life. The album does have a deep philosophy behind it.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

I am originally from Naples, although I have been living abroad for many years, currently in NL. Here in the Netherlands the heavy scene is really fantastic, lots of people listening and play heavy music, of any kind.

The live scene, furthermore, is over the top…lots of concerts and super organized venue. The right place in Europe for playing prog rock or metal, I would say.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

The first and only release we have is the “Pentesilea Road” album: we never released anything before this, under this band name. My other band mates, though, they have their other respective bands or have been playing as session musicians for other projects.

‘Stains’ feat. Michele Guaitoli (Official Lyric Video)

‘Noble Art’ feat. Ray Alder (Visualiser)

Who have been your greatest influences?

I have been listening metal for over 3 decades and enjoyed hundreds of bands: I think very many of those have left something in terms of influences, whether in a conscious or unconscious manner. However, if I have to name the main ones, I’d say Fates Warning, Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Savatage, Riverside, PFM, Russian Circles, Pain of Salvation…so many! From the perspective of guitar playing, I have been strongly influenced by Marty Friedman, Satriani, Petrucci, Adrian Smith…

What first got you into music?

Well, it’s been so long ago. I guess because my brother brought home some metal vinyls, in the 80’s. I got into music then and it’s been a passion throughout all these years.

Since I got an electric guitar, in the early 90’s, I never stopped playing…

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician, who would it be?

Probably with one of the musicians I do respect the most. I am thinking to Steven Wilson, for example, or Kevin Moore and definitely to Jim Matheos, who’s been one of my greatest influences.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I’d be extremely happy to bring the band on the stage of the main progressive festivals: I am referring to the ProgPower USA or EU. I mean, that’s the place where you really want to play live if you’re into this type of music. Personally, I do have the dream of playing in a couple of venues in the Netherlands, like De Boerderij, for example. I think it would be exciting to play in those places in which I’ve seen so many bands live…the idea of seeing the venue form a different perspective is definitely intriguing…

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Thank God, nothing so far…

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

I have to admit I do not like the word “fan” at all, due to its etymological meaning. I mean, I also adore a lot of musicians and bands, however that does not justify the sense of idolatry towards individuals that, at the end of the day, are just people. This does reply to the question, doesn’t it? 😊

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

I have a regret: I’ve never seen Ronnie James Dio playing live. Yes, if I could, I’d like to have him back. I have the feeling that would be just a little bit better than the hologram…

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Assuming a musician is someone who lives off music, then not being a musician is the thing I do enjoy the most while making music…it gives me an extra degree of freedom.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

You just said that: the “industry” part. The idea of subordinating the artistic mean, to something systematically organized, serialized, streamlined in order to optimize sales, in my opinion is suffocating the artistic potentiality of so many musicians. The situation gets worse when labels are involved: at the end of the day the sales process might be often in radical conflict with the domain of the muses.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

No doubts, one and only: Iron Maiden – “Somewhere In Time”

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

It depends on the context, of course. Probably nowadays, Downloads are the most practical, used and abused. However, should you get stuck on a desert island, they are the only ones you can’t feed a fire with…

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Exactly what I am doing now. I am professional in the field of technology and I’m happy with it.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

That’s a hard question, isn’t it? Here’s my high five:

Alfred Hitchcock, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Nicko McBrain, Franco Battiato and Antonino Cannavacciuolo, this last one behind the kitchen of course.

What’s next for the band?

Currently we are working on the next album. I can’t say anything about the timeline, but this time it won’t be only myself in the song writing process. Both Ezio and Alfonso (keys and drums, respectively) have officially joined the band and we will work together on the new songs! It will definitely be an interesting piece of work!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

We use all the main social media, actually: Facebook mainly; we’re also on Instagram, Twitter and we do have our YouTube channel. For the moment we have chosen not to have an official website.
www.facebook.com/pentesilearoad
www.instagram.com/pentesilearoad/
www.pentesilearoad.bandcamp.com/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/2dfuaABjoufPDGwPHAp090
www.youtube.com/channel/UCKeoz8TsveQC6MOzQPysoKA

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I have to admit I had to google it, as I had no idea on what it is…I don’t know, but they don’t look like the greatest stuff from McVitie’s, if I may be honest…

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Yes, first and foremost, thanks for hosting this, rather fun, conversation! Second, I’d like to highlight the quality of the review we have received on your website: I have read several reviews on the album, but no one has been so lucid and impressively close to the reality like the one made by Simon Black, in the good and the bad things. That impressed me: your guy knows how to do a “behind the curtain” analysis and I’d like to tribute him the honour of the arms. Thanks again!!

Simon’s Original Review of “Pentesilea Road” on Ever Metal

Pentesilea Road Pic

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pentesilea Road – Pentesilea Road

Pentesilea Road Album Cover Art

Pentesilea Road – Pentesilea Road
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 71:00
Review by Simon Black
6/10

This is pure Prog. Originally starting life as a solo effort from all round instrumentalist Vito F. Mainolfi, the outfit has extended over lockdown to a wider project, although clearly Mainolfi remains front and centre given that he is delivering guitars, bass, programming and assorted other instruments. The record has actually been available digitally for a while, with a physical version now available this month.

Opening with the lengthy instrumental ‘Memory Corners’, this band deliver pure 70’s influenced Prog from the opening bars and throughout its, quite lengthy, seventy-one minutes of run time. As you would expect, there’s plenty of instrumental breaks and nearly all of the twelve tracks clock in over six minutes of run time, so experimentation is very much the order of the day. Lorenzo Vincenzo Nocerino has a slightly more edgy vocal tone than is normal for this sort of Prog, where cleaner than clean is the norm but actually it works quite well, but the strongest song is when the vocals open up and goes full on rock mode with the guest appearance of Ray Alder from Fates Warning on ‘Shades Of The Night’ being a good example – although he does feel like he has been added to the mix quite latterly.

Recording remotely through lock down has been a challenge many acts have had to manage in the last eighteen months, but many at least have had the advantage of working together physically before Covid called a halt to travel. That’s important here, because with contributions coming from band members and assorted guests located in The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the USA who have not worked together face to face there comes the risk of fragmentation.

There is some great playing here and I cannot fault the skill of this, but where the album is weaker is the song-writing. Even though by its very nature Progressive music is not going to opt for over-simplification of song-structure, this one rambles just that little bit too much in many places. It’s worth noting that even the masters of the genre can lose focus in this way though and there’s a fair number of noughties-era Dream Theater records for example that suffer from this sort of meandering and slightly lost feeling. The trick would appear to be to have a strong core song structure and then play around the edges, whereas in this instance the experimental parts have been allowed to predominate. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens again when all of the players are in the same room together when material is written and recorded, as all this could simply be the product of the fact that the core material is based on Mainolfi’s original demo’s, with everyone else added later and remotely.

In fact ‘demo’ is probably the key word here. This very much has the feel of a record that is only at the pre-production stage and is missing that crucial studio phase when the artists develop their short hand interactive personal chemistry (perhaps more vital in Prog or Jazz than any other musical genres) and where a firm handed producer focusses them on tightening up the arrangements. Get these guys in a room together to polish for a few weeks, then I suspect the end product will be quite formidable.

‘Memory Corners’ (Visualiser)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Memory Corners (feat. Mark Zonder)
02. Stranded
03. Genius Loci
04. Spectral Regrowth (feat. Mark Zonder)
05. Stains (feat. Michele Guaitoli)
06. Give Them Space (feat. Mark Zonder)
07. Shades Of The Night
08. The Psychopathology Of Everyday Things
09. Noble Art (feat. Ray Alder)
10. Pentesilea Road
11. A Tale Of Dissidence
12. Shades Of The Night (feat. Ray Alder)

LINE-UP:
Vito F. Mainolfi – Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals, Programming & Whatever Else
Ezio di Ieso – Pianoforte & Keyboards
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
Lorenzo Vincenzo Nocerino – Vocals

Special Guests:
Ray Alder – Vocals on ‘Shades Of The Night’, ‘Noble Art’
Mark Zonder – Drums on ‘Memory Corners’, ‘Spectral Regrowth’, ‘Give Them Space’
Michele Guaitoli – Vocals on ‘Stains’
Paul Prins – First Solo on ‘Give Them Space’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.