Fallen Sanctuary – Headed to the TopThursday, 9th June 2022
It’s always exciting to hear premiere musicians’ express affinity for a specific style of music, get together, and end up releasing a new band and album that revives a movement that was delivering quality record after quality record for the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Such is the case for Fallen Sanctuary – a power metal outfit with guitarist/vocalist Marco Pastorino (Temperance) and vocalist Georg Neuhauser (Serenity) plus bassist Gabriele Gozzi (Eternal Idol, Rhyme) and drummer Alfonso Mocerino (Temperance) developing a killer mix of classic power metal with AOR/melodic rock atmosphere for their debut album Terranova. The type of record that conjures audio memories of early Sonata Arctica, classic Stratovarius, Helloween, Edguy, Masterplan, and Avantasia among others – rich with hooks, stirring melodies, passion, and enthusiasm.
We reached out to Marco on Skype recently to give us insight into how this band came together, the songwriting and recording sessions, crowdfunding campaign success, thoughts on power metal and the old/new generation of followers, plus what the future holds for this act against the work of Temperance and Serenity.
Dead Rhetoric: The seeds for Fallen Sanctuary began back in 2018 when Georg and yourself shared time together with your main bands Temperance and Serenity touring together. Can you discuss how those initial talks evolved into this band – and did you know straight away the type of melodic power metal you wanted to develop that would be distinct and different from your other work, or was it a building/feeling out process to reach this point for the style and direction you wanted to take?
Marco Pastorino: To be honest, when we did the first tour together during 2018 in the UK and then in Europe, we talked a lot basically every night after the shows. We wanted to create something new together, back then we decided to try to write some stuff for the Serenity album The Last Knight. We wrote four or five tracks together, and after that we promised each other that we would do something more in the future. In the first month of the lockdown, we decided to create Fallen Sanctuary. We wrote the entire album Terranova in two or three months – up to the end of the first lockdown. We were able to meet again to do the last arrangements.
And about the influences, for sure Georg and me are big lovers of power metal from the 1990’s. We like the early Sonata Arctica (albums), Avantasia, Edguy. So, we decided to take this path. Our other bands – Serenity and Temperance – are still doing something completely different. For sure it’s melodic metal, but we have no chance to do power metal like the stuff that we heard in the 90’s.
Dead Rhetoric: And when it came to filling out the lineup, did you know you wanted Gabriele and Alfonso to the rhythm section right away?
Pastorino: For sure Alfonso was the first drummer, he is one of my best friends and we are still playing together in Temperance, and we are involved in other projects together. And he’s a good friend of Georg too. And about Gabriele, honestly, we thought about him later because I recorded the bass for the album. Then when we decided to play some shows live and tour, we decided to try to search out a good bass player but also a fantastic singer – and he is the best option for that. He is one of my favorite singers from Italy right now.
Dead Rhetoric: I did notice when the band plays live from clips I caught on YouTube, it’s very unusual to have not only yourself as a lefty guitarist but Gabriele as a lefty bass player…
Pastorino: Yes, exactly! It’s a very different feeling, it’s totally uncommon to have a single lefty musician in the band. Right now, we are four lefties – Alfonso is only a lefty though when it comes to writing, he plays soccer that way – but he plays right-handed dominant when it comes to the drums.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album is Terranova – what were the recording and songwriting sessions like? Did you and Georg have distinct duties to achieve, and were there any surprises, obstacles, and challenges to overcome during the process?
Pastorino: The recordings, we recorded the guitars, bass, and keyboards in Italy at the Groove Factory, by Michele the singer of Temperance. All the vocals were recorded not so far from Georg’s place, and the drums were recorded in Napoli, the southern part of Italy, by Alfonso himself. It was a very challenging album, we decided to put a lot of stuff there. Not only with speed and fast tracks, but in every single track you’ll find a lot of different kind of vocals, choirs, but Georg and I did those choirs by ourselves. It was quite a challenge with only two people recording a lot of different tracks. We are very satisfied with the final result – especially during the mix, it was very difficult to try to find a good sound for this. As I said before, we are a big fan of the early Sonata Arctica stuff, Avantasia, Masterplan – and nowadays it’s not so easy to manage a good mix for this kind of stuff. Jan Vacik who did the mixing and mastering of the record, did a fantastic job with this.
Dead Rhetoric: There is a lot of socio-critical commentary that you discuss lyrically on this record: topics including progressive destruction of the environment, a call for non-violence, worries about humanity and the treatment of the planet, plus the widespread global drug addiction problem. As singers in this platform, what do you hope to achieve that matches the passion of your music through this content? Are you hopeful that this will open more constructive talks with the fans and get them active to solve some of these problems effectively?
Pastorino: Sure. With our other bands, we use different topics to talk about. With Temperance, we talk about space, our future, modern stuff. With Georg in Serenity, he used to talk about historical stuff. We wanted to do something completely different, just to change the topics. To change something, the way to write a song is pretty much the same. Whenever I would write a song for Temperance, or a song for Fallen Sanctuary, basically you will find my typical skills on songwriting. We wanted to do something different on the lyrics. Georg did a fantastic job; he wrote basically 90% of the lyrics.
We decided to put some very difficult topics with addiction for the title track, and also difficult stuff to talk about like war, loneliness. Also, some positive topics, as in the track “To the Top”, one of my favorites is a sort of a theme of good vibes and to reach a positive way to go forward to try to reach the top, at least.
Dead Rhetoric: You also started a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year that was successful. How do you feel this campaign went, and do you enjoy the process of developing the perks, price points, and special items that you offer to these supporters?
Pastorino: Honestly, we decided to create this campaign, because we had no plan at all. We had no deal with no label at all, nothing basically. We decided to do something to see if the people would be interested in doing this and support us or not. It was fantastic, we reached 100% of the funding within a couple of days. It was very cool, we offered some special perks as you said before, like a private acoustic show, or a bonus track only for the crowd funders, more and more. We received some offers from different labels, and we decided to sign with AFM. They released tons of great stuff over the last twenty years, we are big fans of the label. They are totally involved in this kind of music, power metal. It’s the very first time in our career for me to work with this label.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell me about the cover art, who designed this, and what did you feel was special about this?
Pastorino: The graphic design is Gustavo Sazes. We work together for several times with Temperance and other things. He was the graphic designer for the Serenity album called Fallen Sanctuary. We thought it was a good connection between the past of Serenity and the first three albums with Temperance. The cover art is amazing, it’s the representation of the stuff we talk about on the title track. We talk about addiction, and oblivion for people. There is a face of the girl on the cover, looking for something or nothing at all. He did a great job, and I’m very happy to say that he is a good friend of mine. We are very satisfied again.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it an easy decision to pick out the singles and videos for the record – and how do you feel the video shoots went?
Pastorino: We discussed everything with the record label, and they let us decide what we wanted because they thought it was a fantastic album. Every single we would choose, they thought would be okay for them. That was a good point. We decided to release “Broken Dreams” as the first single, it was a selling point for us with the a cappella part at the beginning that has choirs, it’s a rock song with the mood of a metal song. We can show my voice, Georg’s voice, the positive vibes as well. The second single is the title track, the opening track of the album. It’s the best power metal manifesto of the album, a very fast song totally inspired by 90’s power metal. The third single will be out soon, it’s called “Now and Forever”, another favorite of mine. The last single will be “To the Top”, the rock song of the album, just after the album is released. That will push another side of the band.
About the video shoots. We recorded “Terranova” first, but we released that second. We shot the stuff last August, and then we shot the other three videos in Italy.
Dead Rhetoric: How will you be able to balance the workload between your main bands and this new act? Do you believe there is enough distinctive elements to remain creatively satisfied, especially given the chance to work with different musicians in all these bands?
Pastorino: Sure. In my opinion it’s a completely different thing. Georg and I, we are the main songwriters for Serenity and Temperance. If you listen to a Fallen Sanctuary album, they will discover some of the same influences we had in those bands. But it’s a different thing. Probably in this band, we have less rules to follow. We have some AOR and rock stuff, some acoustic stuff, we truly believe in this band, and I can’t wait to go on tour with the other guys. Try to release something new in the next years, try to keep the band on the road as long as it is possible.
Dead Rhetoric: There is mention in the background sheet about role models for this style from Helloween and Rhapsody to Angra. What do you consider some of the pinnacle records that fuel your passion for this style, and how do you see the state of power metal currently – do you believe there is as much quality and passion for this style as say in the late 90’s and early 2000’s?
Pastorino: In the last few years, there was a resurgence for power metal in general. Something different from the stuff we used to hear in the 90’s and the first few years of the 2000’s. Avantasia is still there, but also bands like Sabaton and Bloodbound are totally different in the way they show the power metal style to the people. In this album, you can find some influences from Stratovarius, Helloween, and Angra – and acoustic things for sure.
Hopefully the power metal fans will love this album, and we will be able to tour with some of the bands we talked about before.
Dead Rhetoric: If you had unlimited resources, finances, energy, and time on your side, what are some things you would put in place to further the reach of music, entertainment, and the arts in general? Does it concern you that younger generations may not have the same passion and excitement for those activities as older people – or is it just a case of life and humanity evolving due to the plethora of choices at their disposal?
Pastorino: The world is changing for sure; the music business is changing day after day. It’s not possible to try to reach the same people we used to twenty years ago in the same way. Back then, there was not a chance to use Spotify, YouTube, and probably there were less tours on the road. Nowadays, I still buy a lot of physical stuff, but I’m totally into Spotify, listening to it every day and listening to a lot of stuff. We have to accept the changes, no one knows what will happen. I’m still positive for our kind of music, for metal, power metal, melodic metal, physical stuff will keep selling. We have tons of diehard fans on our side, we may have to tour more and more, but that’s fine. With Fallen Sanctuary, we can’t wait to meet all the fans on the road in Europe but also in the US.
Dead Rhetoric: How has it been getting to know Georg as a musician and a person within this band?
Pastorino: When we talked for the very first time about Fallen Sanctuary, we already knew that we have a lot of interests in common. In music and in life, and that’s the best way to create a band. You have to stay with this person and not only him but the rest of the band for a lot of days. Probably a lot of months every year, and if you have not connected with the other guys, it’s difficult to go on – especially if you have to go on tour every year.
Dead Rhetoric: What sort of advice would you give to younger musicians in the metal scene that maybe you wish you had thought about and considered when first coming up and developing your work?
Pastorino: You are never sure. The early times with Temperance and the first show we did as Fallen Sanctuary, we met younger metal guys and it’s cool to see there is still passion for the music. This new generation, because of the success of Powerwolf and Sabaton, they attracted a new generation of people to discover bands like Fallen Sanctuary, Serenity.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for the next year or so with activities related to Fallen Sanctuary, Serenity, Warkings, or any other musical endeavors?
Pastorino: Once the Fallen Sanctuary album comes out, we will play four shows in Germany and Austria to celebrate the release of the album. We will try to get on the road on the next months. We have a lot of stuff to do with our other bands, postponed tours. We will probably be able to go on tour closer to 2023. With Temperance, we will be doing a full European tour in the next months with Leaves’ Eyes. Just before that we will do a UK headliner tour. Georg will have some festival gigs with Serenity. We will go across the road with Tarja with Temperance in Europe later on as well. Right now, we are talking about some different chances to play shows with Fallen Sanctuary in early 2023.