In spite of my fairly well known (among friends, anyway) appreciation for good, quality heavy metal, it didn’t seem intuitive to chart that kind of territory in Parlour to Parlour. Not on the surface, anyway. But then I received a tip from an unlikely source last summer on a ridiculously talented guitar shredder residing in the south of France. His name? Cyril Lepizzera. And so began the farthest reaching, and most rewarding, leg of the Parlour to Parlour journey.
It was the summer of 2008 when I received the call to check out Cyril Lepizzera’s MySpace page. The call came from my mother, who had received the tip from another family member. The “be careful” bells in my mind started going off when my mother revealed that Cyril was a cousin – Lepizzera was my grandmother’s maiden name, and as my mother explained, all Lepizzeras came from the same little village in Italy (only Cyril’s family had left for France decades ago while still maintaining close ties back home). “Be careful” to neither give undue attention to someone just because he’s family, nor to ignore a potentially great talent just because he’s family.
Fortunately, there wasn’t much care that needed to be taken in recognizing this guy’s talent. For one, he shared many of the same influences as those of a California shredder I had befriended four years ago – monster players like Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker were among those shared influences. Plus, Cyril’s own recordings presented a player who could stand alongside those guys as a peer.
Best of all, Cyril was just super amazingly cool as we traded emails back and forth during the year or so leading up to the weekend where I visited him at his home outside of Aubagne, France, in August of 2009. And beyond that visit being a joyous, long-awaited family reunion, I learned much more about my gifted cousin:
- He had been playing acoustic guitar since he was 9 years old, starting around 1978-79.
- He started playing electric guitar on his own when he was 18.
- He studied classical guitar for 5 years at the Conservatory of Marseille, and studied music at IMFP in Salon de Provence.
- He played in a small local band called Blizzard around 1994-95. The band played mostly around Marseille and Aubagne, never making it up north to Paris. Cyril is still friends with his former band mates to this day.
- In 1997-98, he spent 2 years in Sweden doing studio work, then came back to France to make the Structural Damage album (with his friend Richard Roncarlo, billed as Heavy Guitars) in 2002.
- 2004-05 – recorded the Eternity album as his first solo release.
- 2006 – released his second solo album, Servatis A Maleficum.
- 2008 – released his third album, Smile Has The Death.
Driving with Cyril around the south of France, I heard songs by many of his biggest influences and favorites (Symphony X, Dream Theater, Nightwish), while hearing more of his formative favorites when lounging around in the house (Tony MacAlpine, Metallica, Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and “Give In To Me”). When Cyril broke out the acoustic guitar one night, I even got to hear him take a pass at David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” via Nirvana’s Unplugged interpretation (which isn’t all that different, but still, that’s how we both heard it first).
As for Cyril’s own music, it took me back to the days when I would hear guys like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani blaring out of the speakers when tuned into the local rock radio station, or alternatively, when I’d be riding around town with one of my metal-loving friends who had loaded up his CD changer with the likes of Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Satch and Metallica. His music fit right in, perfectly, in that Cyril has a strong appreciation for melody, not just flash and heaviness for flash’s and heaviness’ sake. “Another World” is a great example, and one for which Cyril had a friend create a low budget music video that somehow made its way to MTV2 for a few spins.
But it seems Cyril’s gifts are coming to their greatest fruition yet with his joining the Parisian metal band The Faceless God earlier this year. How he found them turned out to be a strange coincidence, as you’ll notice in the interview footage.
The band combines the progressive metal elements that Cyril loves with brutal heaviness and somehow manages to keep that heaviness and brutality intact when employing strong melodies and harmonies – no easy task. “The Next Descent” is a perfect example of this tricky mixture, and while Cyril’s performance footage of this song in instrumental form brings his individual guitar parts to sharper relief, the fully produced vocal version on the band’s MySpace page will give you the bigger picture.
Needless to say, this was a heavy trip in more ways than one. And in relying on calling cards, dodgy pay phones, and my extremely limited skills with the French language, it’s a wonder I made it to Aubagne at all. Fortunately, Cyril’s English is much better than my French. And if there were any moments that were difficult for us to understand, the music was never an issue. In fact, throughout this entire series, the music has been the one constant that has brought out all the good I knew was out there. Music and love. When they come together, magical things happen.
Cyril Lepizzera – “The Next Descent” (instrumental version of the song by The Faceless God)