Freedoms Reign – Long Way Back to BrockenThursday, 23rd May 2013
In most instances, new bands featuring “former members from band X” or “the return of so-so” leave a bit to be desired, or fall prey to the hype machine. Some metal dudes think they can just show up on our doorstop, plop down an album, and we’re expected to salivate. Generally, the only salivating done in these parts is for a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, but former Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini has a good product on his hands in the form of Freedoms Reign.
Formed in 2011, Freedoms Reign is Arduini’s first shot back in the global metal spotlight after leaving Fates Warning in 1985 after the release of The Spectre Within. The results are top-notch, with classic, but not cheesy metal riffing on display, filled with head-strong melodies, hooks, and a surprisingly memorable vocal performance from Arduini that couldn’t be more unlike his original band. And with the help of While Heaven Wept main dude Tom Philips, Freedoms Reign were able to secure a deal with Italy’s Cruz del Sur, a label no stranger to snapping up budding true metal acts. With the band’s self-titled debut just getting its release date, we figured we’d hit up Arduini for a round of questions. Here’s how it went down…
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve spent a considerable amount of time away from the scene since you left Fates Warning in 1985. What have you been up to?
Victor Arduini: I got out of music after Fates to raise a family. But within a few years I began playing again. Mike (Jones) and I began doing some originals. I think we even did a five-song demo. Then I joined a hard rock act Sinis Gally and began writing with them doing the “attempt to make it.” Almost got there too! Since then, I’ve tried to broaden my musical interests in various bands and recording projects. Never once going back to metal. Yet, it’s still in my soul and once this band began playing together it came to life again. I am feeling better than ever about my writing and playing this new stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: Did you follow the band after you left, or was it one of those things that you decided to not keep tabs on?
Arduini: I followed them for a bit. Awaken the Guardian was fantastic and clearly the direction we were going in after Spectre. I actually was rehearsing a few songs from it and when it came out I attended an album (that’s what is was back then…) release party at John Arch’s house. Never forget hearing it over and over that night. Things changes a bit for me once he left. As more original members left, I got less interested. I respect Jim [Matheos] for all he’s done and keeping the band’s name going. It’s just a bit different than what is once was and I can’t say I’m following them much these days. I totally dug Arch/Matheos. Somehow John’s voice and Jim’s music brings the best out of each other…
Dead Rhetoric: Are you in touch with any of the guys now? Surely the Arch/Matheos project rekindled some old memories for you…
Arduini: We all talk from time to time. Still on good terms and would call them “my friends of long ago.” Actually, I see Steve [Zimmerman] more often and Joe [DiBiase] and I bump into each other here and there. John has come out to see FR and seemed to like it, too.
Dead Rhetoric: How long have you had the idea in mind to start your own band?
Arduini: This band happened by accident. Just planned to record some songs for a demo at their rehearsal space. Dug what I heard and next thing I’m writing words, laying down vocals and solos and before you know it I’m in a band and releasing a CD locally. But it was the new CD which allowed me to truly get back into writing, arranging and producing my own music which became Freedoms Reign. It’s been over two years and we’re just hitting our stride. I’m already writing for the next one and there’s some pretty heavy riffs going on. But for now let’s get this one heard by all!
Dead Rhetoric: Thus far, what’s it been like getting back into the swing of things with the scene? Obviously, it’s a bit different than the 80’s…
Arduini: It’s been an adjustment. I tell people all the time I’m still stuck in 1985…I’ve worked hard to understand today’s world of music promotion and business. But no matter what when I’m at practice, it’s still old-school time. I have no interest in writing, recording like others via internet. You gotta be at practice and we work together to bring the songs to life. I may write a lot of the riffs but everyone finds a way to kick it up a notch. Great bunch of musicians to work with.
Dead Rhetoric: Having a guy like Tom Phillips in your corner must be pretty cool. How did he come into contact with the band?
Arduini: Tom and I connected a few years ago. He heard our first CD and because of his love of Fates wanted to correspond. We’ve had some amazing talks about music that last for hours! He’s such a cool dude, a great guy and someone I’d call a friend. Knows his metal and has turned me on to so many great bands such as Argus and Slough Feg.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the approach with the band going to be? Weekend shows, or short runs of touring? Euro festivals?
Arudini: We generally do weekend gigs but are expanding up and down the east coast this summer. I’d love to take the band out on the road it the right opportunity presented itself. I want to see how CD does in first month and go from there. We want to do some UK shows as that’s where I feel our music will do well. Our record company Cruz Del Sur Music is primarily a European label and our music may be appreciated a bit more over there. Want to get into a few festivals…and that could be a possibility if the CD does well
Dead Rhetoric: As for the new album, your vocals are simply fantastic. Have you always wanted to be the vocalist?
Arduini: I appreciate the nice comment. Still a bit getting used to for me to sing. It takes a lot of commitment and It doesn’t come easy. I’ve had two of the best singers to work with over my career and never even thought about it. It was simply by necessity I began to sing. I heard the melodies for these songs and could not find anyone who would do them the way I heard them. It’s more about the tone, melody and delivery that works for me in a vocal and while I’m no John Arch, I do like the way they work with the music.
Dead Rhetoric: Your style is straight forward heavy metal. There’s not as many nods to Fates Warning as some would expect, or even hope. Were you worried about any potential FW comparisons?
Arduini: When Fates started we were pretty straightforward metal too. I think there are certain tones or riffing patters that some Fates fans may pick up on. What it says is I was in Fates and I did write music. Those skills and influences that were with me then are still there today. You can’t just change it nor do I want to. I’ve evolved a bit and have had quite a bit of time to get into so much more great music. I simply write what comes to me naturally and I embrace the old Fates. Not a bad thing I think to continue where I left off in some fashion.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on deck for the rest of 2013?
Arduini: We will be working hard to promote it, play it live and see what happens. We are very proud of how it came out and just want people to give it a listen. We’ve been very busy with interviews and such. It’s been great and the reviews and been very positive. That’s all it is for me. Just enjoying the ride. I’d like to see us begin writing some new music this summer with hopes of getting it recorded by winter and out for next spring. Some pretty heavy stuff, I’m sure.