Keygen Church

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Keygen Church, the brainchild of technologist/songwriter Victor Love (Vittorio D’Amore), have digitized their new album, Nel Nome Del Codice, for Metal Blade Records. Love, also of 8-bit phenoms Master Boot Record (MBR), is a one-person outfit, writing and recording via undisclosed real-time stream events, where the dedicated (and lucky) bear witness to Keygen Church‘s spontaneous creative process. Like previous alt code/text art-titled albums ░ ▒ ▓ █ (2022) and ░█░█░░█░█░█░ (2022), Nel Nome Del Codice is a modern-primitive love letter to doom/gothic/black metal with foundations in Baroque-era Classical and Romantic-era music. This time, however, Love has refined his sonic tool kit – “the complete set of sounds,” he says – the aftereffect of which is computerized big-hall libations like “La Chiave Del Mio Amor,” “Nel Nome Del Codice,” and “Lode Al Disco Sacro.”

I stream while composing Keygen Church stuff,” Love offers from his Rome-based lab. “The approach is the same [as MBR]. I’ve been perfecting my skills at this, and sharing my process with my fanbase is exciting. I usually never announce my streams, though-these [sessions] are reserved for my core fans. On the other hand, the streams are only available when they happen. The entire process isn’t streamed; about 80% is. The ‘boring’ part is polishing and finalizing, which take the longest and are the least interesting. For Nel Nome Del Codice, I did four streams in mid-June, six more in September, and a few in November last year. Each stream was about two and a half hours.”

Love got his start in music through technology. He was a tech at his father’s computer business, where hands-on experience with hardware and software cultivated a jump to sysadmin at university. From there, the Italian fell into digital marketing and trendsetting. When the Keygen Church architect was exposed to pirated software, the intro-called ‘cracktros‘ – music was pivotal to the ‘key generator‘ culture. The scene (aka ‘demoscene‘) that evolved out of that caught his metal-attuned ears and gadget-oriented mind. MBR and Keygen Church are the products and expressions of a bygone bootlegging era thrust into the present through different genre lenses. Suppose the former is inspired by death metal. In that case, the latter is symphonic black metal, and Nel Nome Del Codice is not unlike Arcturus‘s La Masquerade Infernale or Elend‘s The Umbersun if envisioned by Japanese 8-bit composer Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest).

I see MBR and Keygen Church as two separate projects that play in the same new music genre I call ‘synth metal,” Love says. “I wanted to experiment with something different from MBR but still influenced by metal-more obscure and Baroque. The main instruments in Keygen Church are pipe organ and piano. The pipe organ is more oriented toward Baroque music, while the piano leans more Romantic. Also, the visual style and concept have a common denominator with MBR. Still, Keygen Church is more focused on a religious view of old technology and the old-school underground computer scene. The vision behind the church of Keygen is to see it as a holder of the secret and power of the old code. It’s a church that preserves and protects the ancient codes, programs, games, and cracks-to keep their memory alive. A sort of cult of the old code.”

Song-origination begins in Love’s imagination and is brought to life electronically with Cubase 11 Pro (his digital audio workstation or DAW), Hauptwerk (for organ), The Grand by Steinberg (for piano), Massive VST (guitars, bass), Superior Drummer 3 (for drums), and EastWest Hollywood Choirs (for choirs). One of the main differences with Keygen Church is the use of sonata (songs) and cantata (chorals). On “Se Hai Timore Del Vero,” “La Chiave Del Mio Amor,” “La Voce Del Destino,” and the title track, Love’s expansive use of chorals affords Keygen Church a cathedral-like scale, where adorned vaulted ceilings meet the darkest crypts.

The choir part [of the songwriting process] has been the most challenging,” Love reveals. “The software is great, but it has a lot of limitations. In particular, some of the syllables sound weird in Italian, the language of chorals. The software is, of course, developed by English-speaking people. They don’t get how Italian words are supposed to sound. I view the limitations as a challenge, though. It was fun figuring out which lyrics made sense while sounding like Italian to a native Italian speaker. I picked the Italian for the titles because it fits the Baroque influences and also because I’m Italian. It just made sense.”

Love’s work in Keygen Church is homage and innovation. He’s a fan of ciphers-astute fans will have to figure out where they’re used on Nel Nome Del Codice. The logo is ASCII art, a ‘graphic language‘ created by bulletin board system (BBS) users in the early days of the Internet. While the cover may appear minimalist initially, the 1-bit pixel art by Germany-based illustrator Valenberg (VirtuaVerse) signals Keygen Church‘s ascent to their final form. If the metamorphosis is complete, Love’s journey to Nel Nome Del Codice has been inspiring. The refined craftwork of “Lode Al Disco Sacro,” “Sulla Via Della Gloria,” the nearly eight-minute closer “Sempre Nel Mio Pensiero” beholds darksome liturgical majesty, the likes of which we’re hearing/experiencing for the first time at our respective pews.

My plans for Keygen Church are long-term,” says Love. “I am taking more pipe organ and piano lessons to bring this to the stage with my other bandmates in MBR. I’ll need to do it right or not do it all, though. That means I’ll have to figure out how to bring a pipe organ and piano live-or build a custom instrument. I want our first show to be in a church, and I’ve already got some ideas about how to make that happen. After, I’ll probably drop a new album, the follow-up to Nel Nome Del Codice.”

100% Synthesized. 100% Dehumanized. Nel Nome Del Codice is Keygen Church disincarnate.

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