Stephan Forte - guitar
David Readman - vocals
Franck Hermanny - bass
Dirk Bruinenberg - drums
Kevin Codfert - keyboards
In October 2000, two weeks after the end of the recording of Sanctus Ignis, Stephan Forté started the composition of the new Adagio album entitled “Underworld”. Between the intensive recording of “Sanctus Ignis” and the preparation of “Underworld”, Stephan’s musical and mental worlds had changed considerably, marked first by new musical influences, and also by much research about his very deep self. This introspection led him to many questions about life and death, which definitely influenced his current way of life and composing.
Musically, the first big influence of this new album is the famous film music composer John Williams. Amazed by the orchestral art of the genius, Stephan decided to study the composition technique of the maestro, and tried to develop a similar use of orchestral arrangement in the music of Adagio. For almost two years, he divided his time between the study of orchestration and the composition. The result is the first part of the song “Underworld”, which took six months of hard work. This four-minute introduction clearly shows the new musical direction of the band: dark and orchestral.
If Mozart, Penderecki, Bartok and Messiaen mostly represent the classical face of Adagio, the metal side takes a more extreme direction. “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”, the album of the Finnish cult black metal act “Dimmu Borgir” charmed Stephan right away. The power of the songs, the use of orchestral arrangements and the obscure concept of the music brought Stephan back to the time that he was listening to death metal bands such as Death, Carcass, Dismember, Suffocation, Pestilence and many others. As almost ten years have passed since then, Stephan wanted to discover the current extreme scene, in which his favorite bands are Dimmu Borgir, Messhugah, Nile, Fear Factory and Children of Bodom.
But even though these great bands are very inspiring, Stephan did not want to avoid the melodic vocals and the progressive vibe. However, for the first time he asked RMS Hreimarr, frontman of the black metal band “Anorexia Nervosa” to make a guest appearance on two songs: “The mirror stage” and “From my sleep...to someone else”. This song is definitely the most personal composition Stephan has ever written and clearly represents the strange and dark world that he was in while composing “Underworld”. This mental state pulled him down during one year but brought great deal of richness to his compositions. Each song is tinged with the pain of these strong moments and consequently brings Stephan’s emotional and dramatic aspects of composition to another degree.
2002 also marked the departure of Richard Andersson and the arrival of a new member of the band: the keyboardist Kevin Codfert. Coming from classical music, Kevin is strongly influenced by romantic composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov, and contributes a great emotion to Adagio’s new songs. He also participated in the composition of one song, “Next Profundis”. It was during a master class of Stephan’s that the guitarist and the keyboard player met for the first time. Kevin was a fan of Adagio and brought Stephan an instrumental demo quite representative of his playing, hoping he could help him to find a band or a project. Stephan listened to it once he got back home, and proposed that he join Adagio as a permanent member.
Once all the demos had been finished, Stephan sent the songs to Franck, Kevin, David and Dirk, who practiced their respective parts over many months. The intensity of this involvement greatly affected Kevin, Dirk and Stephan’s health, and they all suffered physically and mentally under the pressure of the intense amount of work they had to produce in such a short period of time.
Finally “Underworld” was moving forward, and it was time for Stephan to think about production and a studio. Once again Stephan decided to work with Dennis Ward, but this time as a co-producer. As the orchestral aspect of the songs was preponderant, it was clear that Stephan should record the album with a real orchestra and a full choir ensemble. Franck Hermanny introduced him to Jean-Pierre Taurignan, oboist of the Avignon symphony orchestra, so that he could present the project to him and see if there was any opportunity to record this album with the orchestra’s participation. The same day, Stephan met Guy Cornut, the choir conductor of the “Ensemble vocal de Lyon”, for the first time; a few months later; Guy Cornut would direct the choir for the recording of “Underworld”.
Facing the eternal problem of budget, Stephan and his manager/assistant Fabien Muller started asking for some subventions and sponsorship to at least partly pay for the orchestra, but, unfortunately, they received negative replies from every side. Deciding not to give up, Stephan finally paid for the recording of the choir.
The contact with Guy Cornut immediately went well, and shortly afterward, they started to work on the choral arrangements. The recording of the choir took place in April 2003 (2&3/04/03) in the beautiful “Temple des Terreaux” in Lyon.
The rest of the album was recorded in two sessions of one month each in the “House of Audio Studios” in Karlsdorf, Germany. The basic rhythm tracks (rhythm guitars, bass and drums) were recorded during the first session (September 2002) and the album was finalized (vocals, keyboards, solos etc…) during the second one (April 2003). All the musicians, well prepared, did their best to give life to the songs, and the album was finally completed in June 2003.
Adagio’s Japanese label, Avalon/ Marquee, announced the release date for July 23rd, and the rest of the world will hear the album at the end of September 2003.
Cedric Galabert, a French graphic artist, was in charge of the cover art, representing with talent the world of “Underworld”.
An Adagio tour will follow in February 2004 for at least 11 shows in France, and some European shows will be announced shortly.