When in Rome, rock your socks off like Kaledon! These Italian epic metal bastions are rightfully proud of their latest studio concept album called Antillius: The King of the Light. With many layers evident as each track melts into the following one, this album is just one moment in and amongst a series of concept albums which make up a larger story of a kingdom rife with adventure.
Lead guitarist and main man behind Kaledon, Alex “The King” Mele, possesses a passion and devotion for his craft and is only too enthusiastic to talk about the band and the music which flows from their collective hearts and minds.
Taking the Italian guitarist back to the start, what would he say was the reason he loved playing heavy metal or power metal in the first place? “Probably it’s a life style, I mean that I have in my mind the same ideas and the same principles that power metal has; fairness, wisdom, loyalty and other things like that! For us it’s more than a religion, it’s the only way to live.”
Mele continued: “If I remember right it was the summer of 1992 and during a vacation with my family, I met a boy with tons of heavy metal cassettes. He gave me his music; there was Queen, Metallica, Megadeth and other great bands. I immediately loved Queen and Brian May became immediately my hero. He still is my hero in 2014! He is my unique and big influence. Since that moment the guitar was in my life!”
Kaledon the band hasn’t just sprung from nowhere as Mele was an integral part of a previous band called River of Change. “Well, in 1998 my previous band decided to give me a kick in the ass, and they told me that I was not too good with the guitar! The cool thing was that without me the band broke up shortly after.”
Curious about the band name, it was interesting to know if Mele and the guys in the band back in the day had other ideas on what to call their musical project. Perhaps there were several other options on the table? “Absolutely not. The band was born directly with the idea of Kaledon – related to this fantasy concept story.”
Knowing that each of the previous albums are also wrapped up in this extraordinary ongoing story it was evident that a summary was inadequate as Mele laughed. “We need tons of pages… I can tell you that at the end it’s a story about envy; the envy of the evil king towards the good king who had given peace and prosperity to his kingdom.”
Detecting the story length to be somewhat similar to a book or three, what inspired Mele to tackle such an overly ambitious project? “During my military service while I was still in River of Change, I started to write the entire concept story of the kingdom of Kaledon. The mountains of the small city where I was inspired me to write the entire story. I wrote the basic parts in two nights and after that I wrote the entire story. At the end of the year when Kaledon was born, I decided to use this concept in the band’s work.”
According to the lead guitarist and creative source behind the band, he hasn’t yet considered recording an album which wasn’t a concept. Thinking that perhaps each concept album was part of an overall bigger story arc, was it fair to say that on a lyrical level newer fans would encounter hardship relating to, or embracing these albums?
“I am very sure that at least fifty percent of our fans have not read the concept story so we have a product composed by fifty percent of music and fifty percent of fantasy story. If you like both you can appreciate the product at one hundred percent, but if you like only the music, you can of course enjoy our great music.”
Speaking of the grandiose unraveling of such a story it felt appropriate to inquire on any place where fans could read it? “For the moment there is the illustrated book available. I strongly suggest this publication to all of you to understand very well what you can find behind the music.” He then pauses and shares a website address. http://www.lulu.com/shop/alex-mele/legend-of-the-forgotten-reign-illustrated-book/paperback/product-21558392.html
When you listen to earlier studio albums like Legend of the Forgotten Reign – Chapter 1: The Destruction and compare it to Antillius: The King of the Light, the music has really progressed and changed over the years since 2002. “I think that it is a natural evolution. You know after many, many years in the same band, there is a kind of magic in the air and of course, year by year there are natural improvements.”
Talking about the sound captured on Antillius: The King of the Light, there are charging hymns of glory and adventure, rivals, love and so much more. Sweeping melodies caught in the net of powerful metal arrangements and a solid production which compliments and only assists the music to drown the senses. Stick this album on in your earphones and close your eyes; you are transported to the kingdom of Kaledon where your imagination is taken on an exquisite journey.
From Mele’s point of view the listener is taken on “the entire story of King Antillius; from his birth to his death!” Are any of the characters featured in this story based on real people he knows? “Absolutely not. Every character of the story was born in my mind. I don’t have any ‘real’ influences for my story.”
Feeling the epic overtures in the lyrics, intent and the music on this new album, is there any fear about following up Antillius… with an album that can capture the same magic? “I really appreciate this but I can tell you that the music of our album is very related with the character! I mean that this album is so epic because Antillius is a strong and epic character. Maybe the next one will be different?”
Mele then tackles the details behind the recording of the album. “Every album is very different from the previous one but the recording sessions are pretty much the same. The only difference for this album is that I was behind the Pro Tools for the vocals, guitars and bass production. It was a kind of test. Of course after that our producer Giuseppe Orlando made the great mix that you can hear on the record.” He pauses and then adds “We play power metal that was born in Germany with the first Helloween album at the end of the eighties. All the bands that play this music have these great bands as inspiration.”
How long did it take to record this latest album? “We started immediately after the end of the 2013 tour with the songwriting sessions and after that we spent a lot of months in the recording studio. The mix was very long.” Listening to the album you’ll hear a female vocal. “Angela (DiVincenzo) is a friend of mine and I have asked to her to contribute on this collaboration because I definitely love her voice! You should hear her band Secret Rule – they very awesome.”
What is to come from Kaledon and what would Mele say were his proudest achievements and moments with this band? “Expect a lot of shows during 2015 and of course news and more news! We never stop working. We are very proud about the tour with Rhapsody of Fire, with Lordi on two occasions; we are very proud about our headliner tour in 2013, the stage sharing with Ronnie James Dio and so many other things during these years.”
What must it have been like playing a show with the legendary Ronnie James Dio? “It was one of the greatest days of my life! Ronnie was an incredible person, very kind. I remember that after the show he spent a lot of time with us to make photos, autographs and many other things. We have a great memory of him.”
So is Mele the same when he is a musician as to the other aspects of his life, or does he find time to change and accommodate the different parts of his world? “For sure–very different compared to the Alex Mele musician! I am a very normal person who likes to watch movies and hear music with friends and family. My metal-head alter ego comes only in the night.” With this response Mele giggles to himself with the thought of it all.
He comes across as a strong and focused individual who has already achieved a lot with a series of concept albums numbering eight, including this latest audible monster known as Antillius: The King of the Light. Throughout the interview he was relaxed and keen to explain anything and everything in connection to this fictitious world which reaches out further and further. Anyone who thought the Lord of the Rings was an epic read should brace themselves if they wish to approach this saga.
If you appreciate Helloween, heavy metal and melody, plus tales of wonder in a faraway kingdom, then you should treat yourself to this latest album by Kaledon as they fulfill the expectations with a prowess and confidence which has been sorely overlooked by most of the world outside of parts of Europe. Rejoice now through what could be a winter of discontent and embrace the King of the Light, the mighty Antillius!