Long-in-the-tooth Italian tech-death alchemists Hateful have a rich history that goes back to 1997. However, the trio of members, drummer Marcello Malagoli, guitarist Massimo Vessani and bassist/guitarist/vocalist Daniele Lupidi, have also bred familiarity and a common musical language with one another by playing in a variety of bands and projects together over the years. But Hateful is where their hearts, laser-sighted focus, steely intent, extra-nimble fingers and prodigious skill finds a collective home.

With a sound that hails from the school of Suffocation, Deeds of Flesh, Gorguts and Immolation, the band’s latest and third album, the Transcending Obscurity-released Set Forever On Me, is one where destructive ball-peen hammers collide with large science journals and extra-large music theory textbooks coloured by creative expression and bouts of personal terror.

We caught up with founding member Lupidi for illumination into the band’s history and process, the importance of Hateful to its creators’ well-being and sanity and the fear that follows when that most coveted of avenues nudges against the brink of extinction.

Let’s start with the usual, boring question: can you give a brief history of the band?

Daniele Lupidi: “Of course! We formed the band many, many years ago around 1997, but we didn’t become the kind of band we are now until 2003/2004 when our commitment became finally serious and the songwriting skills permitted us to create the music we wanted. I’ve been the sole stable member through the whole journey, but (drummer) Marcello (Malagoli) has been present on all the records and has never left in the past 17 years. The first two albums came out respectively in 2010 (Coils of a Consumed Paradise) and 2013 (Epilogue of Masquerade), we are still hyper-satisfied with them and I hope we outdid them with the new Set Forever on Me!”

I noticed that the three of you have played together in various bands at various times. Was there something specific that allowed you to forget about the past and come together as Hateful?

“Hateful has always been my priority. This is the band that permits me to express my musical and lyrical visions and I think also Marcello always found our material the best place to convey all his skills and drumming influences in. We still have other projects, also together, and we feel that they don’t take anything away from Hateful in terms of time investments and commitment.”

With playing in other bands at the same time as being in Hateful, do you find yourselves having to get into a particular mindset when writing or performing under the Hateful name?

“I think this is our natural mindset. I almost unconsciously come up with these odd song structures, riffs and harmonies and the songwriting reflects our ideal of extreme music. Of course, there is also a lot of science and hard work when it comes to arranging the material and playing it properly, but the creative process is so natural that I’d say we need to switch to a more ‘normal’ and somehow less comfortable mindset when we do stuff with the other bands (laughs). This band is our main vehicle for expressing our musical creativity, not only this specific style. But of course, all the experiences with other projects helped us become better musicians and are part of our individual growth.”

Artwork for ‘Set Forever On Me’ by Hateful

It’s been seven years since Epilogue of Masquerade, so I’m guessing there have been moments of busyness and boredom along the way. What would you attribute (or blame) the time between records to?

“As for the seven years time frame, it’s funny because I never understood bands that took so much time between one release and another. Unfortunately, I can now be included in the category (laughs). But there have been several problems during these years, from myself getting heavily arm injured, it took a couple of years before I was able to play properly again, and some lineup mismanagements. It was never a lack of ideas or a creativity issue. I work on Hateful music on a daily basis and never run short of ideas. I promise you won’t wait so much anymore!”

How long did it take to write Set Forever on Me and what point did you become more motivated and focused on writing this new album? How far back does some of the material go?

“I believe the songwriting process started while we were still recording the previous album Epilogue of Masquerade, around 2012/2013. But it was only a ‘gathering ideas’ process. I started creating these musical sketches in that period, but we started rehearsing the real material a couple of years later. The aforementioned problems didn’t help, but we finally managed to record the pre-production demos in 2018 and enter the studio a few months later. In the meantime, I was already painting the cover artwork and working on the layout.”

Was there anything that was done differently in terms of the way the album was written or recorded compared to how you had done things in the past?

“Songwriting-wise I think we have taken a huge step forward in the arrangements department. In the early days, I spent hours and hours perfecting the riffs after the song structure was complete. On this new album, most of the energy was spent trying to create the best bass lines and twin guitar interaction. The sound now is much more multi-layered and there are many cool details to discover while listening to the record. This time the recording and mixing/mastering sessions were done professionally in proper studios (Art Distillery and 16th Cellar, respectively) and the difference in terms of quality and sound personality is enormous.”

How much live/touring work had you done since the last album? Did you learn any lessons from the way the live shows went and how crowds reacted to the songs that were applied to the new album?

“I can’t say we did tons of shows and extensive tours, but we’ve done our part considering that we are free agents. Other than the shows in our country, we did three mini-tours in Europe with Ad Nauseam, Logic of Denial, and Unbirth. I don’t think we changed our songwriting approach after these experiences. It’s great to see people going crazy with your music, but I would never modify my vision solely to reach this goal. We hope the new songs will pass the stage test once the global emergency ceases to be!”

What is the significance or story behind the album’s title? And what’s going on on the album cover?

“The title was chosen in the midst of a very difficult period for me and for the band. We were completing the music for the album, taking care of the arrangements and I fractured my right arm, jeopardizing my ability to play and the whole creative process. I was forced into complete inactivity for almost two months and was very worried about the future. Since there was nothing else to do I started writing the lyrics, something I had planned to do after the music completion. The whole situation gave the album lyrics a darker vibe and a sense of hopelessness mixed with the classic Hateful lyrical style, a blended visionary and cynical view of the world with some digression into literary-inspired verses.

The album title seemed the perfect culmination of this harsh and anxiety-inducing reality, a sort of liberating exclamation on the verge of madness. The cover also reflects this negativity; it depicts a sort of world fragment, an asteroid containing signs of a (lost?) opulent civilization, controlled and probably kept alive by an artificial sun or satellite. I painted it following the mood of the album, the colour of blood was something still very vivid in my mind and I choose it to paint the dystopian cosmos the main subjects are immersed in.”

How would you characterize Set Forever on Me as compared to your previous albums?

“It’s both more complex/layered and easier to remember. The songs are slightly longer and this permitted us to experiment a bit more with melody and harmony. It’s still super-dense and frantic; you can never predict how the following track will develop. A lot of progressive music influences can also be detected, I guess. In general, we are completely satisfied with the final result.”

I’m going to guess you had a plan to support the album before the world went to shit. How have your live show and touring plans changed? Are you still hoping to do more touring and get to new places and other parts of the world? Or has the virus made you nervous about travelling?

“We were trying to do a ‘road map’ of the live activities in support of the album and then suddenly everything changed. We only cancelled a couple of confirmed shows, but this is not the main problem. Of course, we hope to be able to make plans once again; the album definitely needs live promotion and we have a new killer live lineup ready to hit the stage. In this very moment, I think we have to be cautious, the pandemic is not over yet despite what many people like to think. Considering that Set Forever on Me will be released on September 25th, it is reasonable to think about a 2021 live campaign. We can’t wait to bring this new material on stage and let more people enter our sick imaginations!”