Interview with Andrea Bignardi of DESCENT INTO MAELSTROM

Descent Into Maelstrom

Self-proclaimed Italian Dodecaphonic Metal band Descent Into Maelstrom have just launched their second album “Iconoclasm.” The group’s guitarist and songwriter Andrea Bignardi spoke for Guitar Sphere about what got him into playing guitar, gear, music, and more.

How would you describe your initial exposure to music?

I started to play guitar at the age of 21, so relatively late. I couldn’t do it before ’cause I was afraid to be an awful guitarist, at that time I was sure that the most important thing was the technique. Now that I’m a more mature guitarist, I guess that the truly important thing is to use your instrument to share a message, without caring too much about technique.

Were you in the music programs in school while you were growing up?

Yeah, unfortunately in Italy (strange to say) but music programs stops after the middle school, unless you choose a music school after that. So I started with the flute… and I hated it! But my parents didn’t want to buy me my first guitar ’cause “it’s too loud!”.

How did you get into playing guitar?

I’ve always wanted to play guitar. Since the age of 5 I watched obsessively videclips by The Queen and Brian May was my idol. He is one of the most influencing guitarists for me, even now that I play Dodecaphonic Metal!

Did you start to listen to music differently once you discovered guitar?

I have alway listened to different kind of music like classical, folk, electronic, jazz, blues, rock and metal but when I discovered guitar I also started to appreciate in a new way the most “guitar friendly” genres.

Who were some of your early guitar influences?

As I said Brian May but also Chuck Schuldiner, Joe Satriani, Allan Holdsworth, James Hetfield and John Gallagher (Dying Fetus).

Tell me about your guitar technique.

I like to mix different techniques, mostly legato and sweep picking, but I don’t care so much about execution speed or virtuosity in itself. I think the aim is to express something and that’s why I often compose my solo starting with improvisation and then working on it.

What guitars are in your collection? What is your a guitar that you trust the most?

I have a Schecter Demon 7 and that’s THE guitar! I also play an acoustic VGS and an electric guitar I custom made some years ago when I attended a luthiery class.

With the advancement of the technology and amp/effect simulation, do you still use pedals?

No, I don’t. I only use a Rockton Multivalve Rack model…very vintage!

In your opinion, what are the three skills that every guitarist must bring to perfection?

For sure creativity, expressiveness and versatility.

How did you work on perfecting your rhythm and solo parts?

I start improvising and trying to find something that suits the mood of the song and my expectations, then I work on it to get to a more structured result and to learn it. In that phase the metronome is essential.


Back to music… You’ve just released your latest album with Descent Into Maelstrom entitled Iconoclasm. Lead me through its creative process.

From a composing point of view we took inspiration from Shoenberg and we tried to go through dodecaphonic music ourselves, revisiting it with a metal sound. It’s not been easy at the beginning but we accepted the challenge to create something new. For lyrics we took inspiration from paintings (Goya and Beksinski among the others) and through them we decided to give a suggestion on what to imagine while listening to the song.

What evolution do you feel Iconoclasm represents for you as a composer and guitarist?

For all members of the band, it is an encouraging starting point to deepen dodecaphonic music associated to metal. We realized it’s our sound!

What were the biggest challenges you faced as a guitarist when making Iconoclasm?

For sure combining metal and dodecaphonic music, two elements never supposed to be mixed together!

How do you go about channeling inspiration into writing?

I really don’t know and I cannot explain…sometimes I even wake up with a full length song in mind!

Back to tech talk, tell me about your guitar rig you used for recording Iconoclasm?

Engl Tube Power Amp, Rocktron Piranha Preamp and 2 x12 Mad Cat Cab

What are your five favourite pieces of gear in 2019, and why?

My gear is very jealous, so I don’t even dare looking to other pieces!

Now with the album out, what other dragons are you looking forward to slaying?

I would like to play my music abroad and to find fans there. It would be really great if dodecaphonic metal would become a recognized new kind of music!

Iconoclasm is out now; listen to it on Bandcamp