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dismal giostradivapore
Artist: Dismal
Title: Giostra Di Vapore
Genre: Gothic Steam / Alternative / Metal
Release Date: 31st January 2014
Label: Audioglobe (SPV)

Conversation with Bradac, pianist and orchestrator from DISMAL, on the album ‘Giostra Di Vapore’ and the band’s body of work.

Music’s agency has taken many shapes through time. From the 60s we saw the emergence of music as social actor combined with agitprop and art. Paradoxically, against rockism, the 70s punk took further the capacity of music to deliver messages from one point to the other of the spectrum, whether as Rock against racism, or as nationalism confused minion. Yet, music’s best trait lies within its birth. As the daughter of memory, music is an amorphous yet infinite collection of thoughts, experiences, lives… triggered or attached to it, music’s main role is the ageless and infinite memory keeper. And in DISMAL’s work, music combines Post Punk’s fascination with Dada, and the sixties commitment towards delivering a message. Yet the band’s development could be equated to that of a revolutionary in mind and body. And these are the stories I want to explore, the memories that trigger change, so I approach Bradac, pianist and orchestrator of a band in constant evolution…

To start with, Bradac regrets what has become of humanity under the libertarian model, an excess of capitalism gone wrong where governments, instead of taxing billionaires for relief, consider this an unjustified intrusion into the freedom of the powerful and instead, protect their right to choose. “Because of Capitalism, it seems that our wellness strictly depends on our health. I tis such a negative protocol that influences all the levels of our lives and behaviours, so that’s why we protect our precious (let’s call it) childlike sense of wonder in a kind of “fairy tale” in which romance and the truth, that each of us carry within from the cradle, hasn’t been yet damaged by the decline of society.”This reflection has become a constant in DISMAL’s compositions, the motor that inspires and challenges. Indeed, through the different pieces we can almost see and live the fairy tale. Closing our eyes and letting the music shape our visions and stories…

‘Fiaba Lacrimevole’ (Tearful Fairy Tale - 1998), DISMAL’s first album, explores the common places of horror and darkness, flirting with old LACRIMOSA, DEAD CAN DANCE, and DEVIL DOLL influences so in vogue back in middle to late 90s. According to Bradac, “it´s the rebellion of the adult against the system. [The adult] has realised its own incapability in living into this world.” And indeed, the feel of desperation and fear can be felt “projected into thick, black and medieval atmospheres and the darkness is almost everywhere in it.” Especially through the use of Bram Stocker’s Dracula movie - Mina’s possession by Dracula’s concubines’ sampling. This album gained the band a good acceptance within the Metal subculture to the point that until this day, when looking up DISMAL on the world wide web, the search will return some other bands with a heavier sound sharing the name.

dismal fiabalacrimevole

The progression elongated found a more refined sound five years later in DISMAL’s second album ‘Rubino Liquido’ (Liquid Ruby - 2003). Summoning what boils in our veins, Bradac explains that behind the lyrics we find how “the anger turns into love with its renaissance atmosphere. May be love a way to exist and survive?” and points out the “the song ‘Venus’ [as an] example of the awakening of the senses. Here we have cold and essential drums while the general sound aims to build an architecture of balance, entwining its features as in the Gothic architecture that created light, pleasant and airy buildings and some monsters too…”Touching a soft spot, the Gothic has been a haunting umbrella term that encompasses architecture, history, memory, imagination, literature and more. When it comes to architecture, there was a universal fixation upon verticality: the churches were designed to reach up to heaven, and to let heavenly light in, enhancing the fragility and luminosity of the interior. This could be felt in the presence of echo and above all space throughout the album; and by the angelic voice supported by its rougher counterpart in a doom metal flirtation. It seems hard to drop the DEVIL DOLL inspiration while the monster as a symbol prods our fascination with the uncanny.

dismal rubinoliquido

The album hints an evolution which finds resolution in DISMAL’s third album ‘Miele Dal Salice’ (Honey of the Willow - 2006). Contrary to many other bands that take several years and albums to find their sound, DISMAL found it in this beautiful and complex production. In it we encounter the dragging yet more refined sound and motifs from previous albums, a deeper exploration of the inner child and an approximation to the band´s more fitting influence on the chamber orchestra composition. It is here where a perennial symbol becomes prominent: the Willow. Associated with witches back in the Greek and Celtic mythologies, its Latin term “Viminia” has named the eponymous hill, one of the Seven ones upon which Rome was founded, and the motherland of the band. The willow holds a natural and wise attraction, better identified as magical by its connection with the moon and water, and given its adaptability and flexibility, can be used as a metaphor for life’s adjustment, to let go and surrender completely to our innermost selves looking for a deeper understanding of our unconscious. Bardac shares that ‘Miele Dal Salice’ is “the return of the child playing alone in the dark, in a dangerous waltz of the mind, unable to attribute beliefs, fears and desires to the self and to the others. The forces erupted from the collective psyche bringing confusion and mind blindness”yet a tint of innocence prevails in the single ‘Mélissi’ which video makes use of scenes from the movie ‘The Wings of Desire - Der Himmel über Berlin’ to press the point.

dismal mieledelsalice

And once more, after a hiatus of seven years, DISMAL is back with its fourth album ‘Giostra Di Vapore’ (Steam Carousel - 2014), a deeper exploration of sorts. Maintaining the fairy tale the music is filled with more palatable and sweet sounds that has let down one too many Metal Heads stuck in the Doom Metal statements of the past, yet this is what makes music exciting, when it challenges our ears. Simon Reynolds, music critic and historian has explained that back in the day “post-punk was a sustained surge of innovation on multiple levels: the sonic, the lyrical, performance, and also in terms of the discussion about what music was for, what power it could have”and concludes that the genre was more like a space of possibility “because it let back in ideas of complexity and progression that punk had trampled, reconnects even more to all those sixties ideas about rock-as-art [and] listeners needing to be challenged and artists needing to stretch themselves.”So for all those too many Metal heads unable to move forward, incapable of seeing beyond their noses, ‘Giostra Di Vapore’ might pose the challenge, combining Steam-Punk with better chamber orchestra arrangements, to question again the power of music as agent of revolution.

dismal giostradivapore

Of the album, Bradac writes that “It´s a carousel with steam engines, electricity, petroleum, magic lanterns and phantasmagorias. The inner childhood did survive between all the technological, socioeconomic processes of change. Nonetheless the mass production, the disenchantment and the awareness of reality as an illusion, the game is still on and our tale isn't over yet…” Indeed DISMAL’s body of work has come full circle but if we hold Bradac to his word, it might only be a spiral for what it is to come. Because if DISMAL has proven something, is that the ever-changing continuum flows, “what we are now is the result of a slow process of refinement, as in a chemical context the physical separation of a substance of interest needs to be isolated from foreign or contaminating objects. This kind of spiritual alchemy manifests itself as the gradual appearance of our musical formula, with its own characteristics of bright harmony, rather than melancholy or dismal motifs. So by choosing with accuracy the nuances from our colour palette, we try to articulate an individual hope towards the people, through sharing it with them and making, thanks to them, this hope bigger…”


01. The Four Vibration
02. Giostra Di Vapore
03. Il Ballo Degli Obesi
04. Microcosm & Macrocosm
05. Eden
06. Vimana
07. Mélisse (Part. 2 La Danse De Mélisse)
08. One Step in the Dark


Frater Alchemoth Katharian – Bass
Bradac – Drum programming, Keyboards
Alessandro Verando – Guitars
Vlad di Saturno – Violin
Rossana Landi – Vocals
Cadarb Afelio – Vocals, Guitars



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