As some of you heard about it, Finnish metallers POISONBLACK have decided to disband after 15 years. This news was surely not easy for us die-hard fans and most of us had the “why, how, when” questions in mind… Surprisingly and luckily, with the help of a friend, I was able to contact the mainman Ville Laihiala about the decision of the band, what he has been up to and what lies ahead in the future… so here’s the e-mail interview with VL!
Blackened folk metallers CELTACHOR have recently released their brand new album “Nuada of the Silver Arm”. I must say that the album has impressed me from the first listen (click here to read the album review) and surely, I wanted to know more about the album and learn a bit more about these Irish metallers! Here’s my e-mail interview with the vocalist Stephen Roche and drummer Anaïs Chareyre!
Hello guys! How are you?
Anais: Hi there, we’re all good!
Steve: Keeping well Basak, thanks for asking! Hope you are well!
Firstly, for the readers that do not know the band that well, can you tell us shortly about the history of the band? How did the idea of CELTACHOR arise?
Steve: The idea for the band started in 2007, myself and the guitarist David wanted to showcase the sagas of Irish Mythology in our way, we wanted to make it darker, more brooding but at the same time majestic and full of wonder. We played our first gig on August 27th 2010 supporting Cruachan. Shortly after that gig, Anais joined us on drums and Fionn soon after as second guitarist. Oliver has been our new bass player last few years, and we have all gelled well together.
The brand new album “Nuada of the Silver Arm” has recently been released! Can you tell us a bit more about this album?
Anais: This album focuses on the Tuatha’s High King Nuada, he was an important character of Irish Mythology. We tell his story from his arrival to Ireland with his people, the battles he fought, his kingship lost and taken back, until his death on the battlefield.
Steve: As Anais said above, this deals with some of the major events for Nuada of the Silver Arm from losing his arm at the battle of Magh Nia, to his new arm being forged at Tara. Nuada and Lugh setting out with their men to fight and defeat the Fomorian Leader Balor of the evil eye. Nuada is killed but the Tuatha rise up to avenge him and they win out over the Fomor(The Second battle of Magh Tuiread). Looking forward to continue the sagas and work on the next work, some work has already begun.
When you compare the upcoming album and the previous record “Nine Waves From The Shore”, what are the main differences?
Anais: When we started to write “Nine Waves From The Shore” (2012), we were a four-piece band, Fionn joined as second guitarist later. So Daithi was the main composer of the first album, whereas Fionn is the main one for the second. Since the last album, we learnt to play and write better together, and we improved individually as musicians. We also went for a real recording studio (Sun Studios in Dublin) and worked with an excellent sound engineer and producer, Ola Ersfjord. This choice made another dramatic difference in our sound. I think our fans will notice all of this…
Steve: The difference is like night and day, I think once you have worked in a good studio you will never go back to doing things by yourself. Depends on the situation really but we are really happy with how the new album has turned out!
Were there any new challenges or difficulties during the recording process? Were there any highlights?
Anais: During the recording there was a few difficulties there and there, but nothing we couldn’t fix at the end. We couldn’t afford to record for as long as we would have wished, but sure, we would spend an entire year in a studio if we were allowed, it’s such a cool toy! For me, hearing ourselves back with a big sound was the overall highlight, as well as getting a cello player (Rama Block) for some parts, and an amazing Uilleann Pipes player (Ian Lynch). And we got ourselves some real strong chanting with the help of Carl King (ex – Two Tales of Woe).
Steve: Too much coffee! It was an enjoyable experience and we have a better idea of how we will tackle stuff and organization in future. It pushed me much farther as a singer too,but I think for everyone collectively it was a great experience and one we cannot wait to do again.
The album artwork caught my attention from the first glance. What’s the story behind it?
Anais: I chose to make an image of Nuada while he watches his new Silver Arm in the fires of Teamhair. He had lost his kingship when his arm was cut during the first battle of Magh Tuireadh, as the Tuatha’s law says their leader must have a perfect health and body. With his new arm, he will be whole again, and will take back his kingship. Behind him his people are standing far from the flames, as they cannot take its overwhelming heat and brightness. In the fire I depicted the three Goddesses of Ireland, Fodla, Eriu and Banba.
“Nuada of the Silver Arm” is also an interesting title. What is the meaning behind it?
Anais: It is the way Nuada was called since he got his new Silver Arm made by his druid Dian Cécht. He was also called Nuada Airgead Lamh.
You guys have toured abroad last year for the first time in Germany and your performance in Dark Troll Festival was really fantastic. Did touring abroad add any experiences to the band’s progress in general? What were your impressions in general?
Anais: It wasn’t a proper tour sadly, but we play in Germany, UK and France. We LOVE to travel abroad to play, and we give it all our energy! The German crowd was so strong, so into it! We would love more of it…
Steve : It was a really great experience, we felt so welcome, it is always great to play to a new crowd and we spent a few days with our label Trollzorn. Really great guys and we hope that we can come back to Germany to play again soon as we get a chance!
Speaking of touring, what are your next destinations and which has been the most memorable touring experience that you had?
Anais: We are soon going to Arnhem to open for our good friends of Heidevolk, on May 2nd, and it will be a party and a half! My best gig memory is probably our gig in Paris for Cernunnos, packed room, crowd on fire… Unforgettable!
Steve : Cernunnos fest in France and Dark Troll Festival in Germany were great experiences and great to finally get out and start playing Europe, which was the main goal for us that year and we hope more opportunities come out of it! Also we were welcomed so well and was great to hang out with our label heads Trollzorn for a few days for plenty of beer and fun!
In the world of pagan/folk metal, there are many newcomer bands as well as the ‘legends’ trying to improve their sounds without repeating themselves. What are your favorite bands from the genre/Do you have any favorites?
Anais: To name a few ; Nokturnal Mortum, Skyforger, Absu, Moonsorrow, Bathory, Belenos, Heol Twelen, Primordial. But if I think of it too much I will write for too long.
Steve: Skyforger,Arkona,Metsatoll, Bathory,Falkenbach, Summoning.Ildra,etc.
What are your plans after the album release?
Anais: Get gigging! And get writing the next one too, we already have the next concept and the guys started writing riffs, I can’t wait to rehearse them!
Steve : Play as many gigs and fests as we can! If there are any promoters reading this that would be interested in having us, please send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, any last words to your fans?
Anais: Thank you for your support over the years! We hope you will enjoy this album as much as we enjoyed writing it!
Steve: Thank you for the interview Basak and we hope everyone will enjoy our new album! Support us when it comes out and pick up a copy! Cheers!
Special thanks to : Steve and Anais!
Get the new album : https://celtachor.bandcamp.com/album/nuada-of-the-silver-arm
For those who haven´t heard the name MYRKGRAV, this one-man folk metal project founded in 2003 by Lars Jensen in Norway. The band is heavily concept-based, with lyrical and visual themes rooted in folklore and local history from Lars’ homelands, Ringerike and its surroundings. Myrkgrav relies strongly on Norwegian folk music (including the use of traditional instruments) in its sound, while retaining a distinct extreme metal basis, such as to aspire towards bringing folk and metal together like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
After reviewing Myrkgrav´s latest single “Vonde auer”, I had to conduct an interview about it.All in all, there was a lot to be discussed regarding the project´s sound, the album and the mainman behind the project, Lars Jensen.
So, here it is! The fun and interesting e-mail interview with Mr. Jensen! Enjoy!
Firstly, thanks for taking time for this interview and congratulations on the release of the new single. How has the reaction been so far?
No, thank you! The feedback so far has been very positive, although fans and critics alike are getting antsy for a full-length record instead of these small, independent releases Myrkgrav has put out over the course of the last few years – which I can certainly understand. What makes me very happy is that many zines that don’t normally do reviews of singles have made an exception and reviewed Vonde auer despite normal practice. I’ll take that as a huge compliment!
Oh and funny story, for the first time in Myrkgrav history I got a truly horrible review, by a person who had absolutely nothing positive to say about the new release and only compared it to the debut album. 2/10 score, fuck yeah!
How did you come up with the idea of a single and what was the idea behind Vonde auer? Especially when I compare this single to “Sjuguttmyra” (2013), this single has more of a natural approach. Was this intentional?
As the years go by, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to bridge the gap between the sound of Myrkgrav on the debut album Trollskau, Skrømt og Kølabrenning and what the project sounds like today, especially with no full-length releases after the debut. The Sjuguttmyra EP was definitely one step on the way towards incorporating more folk music in Myrkgrav, and Vonde auer is simply an extension of that idea.
There is also the discourse on whether releasing music in album format fits into the cultural mindset of people today, as our attention spans are getting shorter and most people prefer to get into a little at the time instead of sitting down for 45 minutes and listening to a full-length release. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be a second Myrkgrav album, but I have to admit it’s much more enjoyable to focus entirely on shorter releases when making them as well. You can put more work into the details because the workload isn’t as immense, which in my opinion makes for a higher standard in terms of overall quality of the whole “package”, so to say.
Not to mention, it’s common practice to release a single shortly before a new full-length album, right? 😉
What does “Vonde auer” mean and what does the song tell?
As with most Myrkgrav lyrics, titles and content rarely translate well without having the cultural context explained. “Vonde auer” literally means “evil eyes”, which is what some sorcerers and conjurers were said to be in possession of in Nordic folklore. Basically what this meant was that the person with the evil eye had the power to inflict harm upon those who wronged them, and that is exactly what happens in the lyric of Vonde auer. A poor farmer quarrels with a Finnish woman who has the evil eye, and thus falls ill. The situation isn’t resolved before the farmer’s wife visits a (good) conjurer who tells her what to do to lift the Finnish woman’s spell and how to avoid it happening again. Basic Nordic folklore!
What is the story behind the album cover? It looks simple yet really interesting and beautiful.
The idea was to make a cover with a contemporary layout and design, while drawing on the traditional roots that is the core of everything Myrkgrav. One of Norway’s most famous late illustrators was Kjell Aukrust, and the illustrations on and in the cover is in a similar style as Aukrust’s many renderings of Norwegian agricultural life. I stumbled upon Erich Frey Illustration “by accident” a couple of years ago, when Frey had done a sketch of a picture of me he saw on reddit. Best advertisement he could’ve done for himself, keeping in mind that I was looking for exactly his style of artistry for cover art illustrations. The drawing on the front cover itself is a scene from the Vonde auer lyrics, which I have to say is impressive for being done by an American in the 21st century with little concept of what clothing and architecture in nineteenth century Norway is supposed to look like. Nailed it.
In the song, a very special instrument called the ‘Hardanger fiddle’ is played by Olav Mjelva, which is really captivating! How did you collaborate with Olav and can you tell me a bit more about this instrument?
The Hardanger fiddle or Hardingfele is Norway’s national instrument, which is a highly decorated fiddle with 5-10 sympathetic understrings that ring together with the 4 strings being played by the bow; which creates a very unique tone that makes Norwegian folk songs stand out in regards to sound. Olav is a renowned professional musician who is very active with his own solo project and other bands, and is often featured on TV and such back in Norway, but I somehow managed to snag him before his career took off a few years back – seeing the potential in combining metal with more genuine folk music than many other folk metal bands were doing at the time. We’ve been working together ever since, and he already recorded all the Hardanger fiddle parts for the upcoming album in 2010. I can’t think of a more professional musician really, all I had to do was give him the instrumental songs and lay down some ideas as to what I wanted things to sound like, and he mostly came up with perfect phrasings on the first try for every damn song. He wrote the Vonde auer traditional version in about one hour the day after he came back from a tour in Scotland with his other band!
Speaking of folk instruments; I have an interesting question. What is your favorite folk instrument; which folk instrument captivates you musically?
It’s got to be the willow flute. It’s such a simple design, and keeping in mind that you can make one for yourself in early spring that will only last a week or two before it dries out, it resembles the sound of spring itself for me. It’s got this uniquely airy, wooden tone to it that brings me back to simpler days – both in terms of it being an instrument I heard a lot of when I was younger, and because it’s featured in traditional Norwegian music. Listen to Fejd’s Vid Jore Å at the 03:20 mark and you’ll see what I mean.
You are also studying besides music. How do you keep the balance between studies and the project?
My studies and Myrkgrav pretty much fall in line perfectly, in the sense that I study folkloristics at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. From my own personal prior research in the area combined with the new knowledge I gather from studying the field at the university, both give something to each other instead of cancel each other out. I know from firsthand experience that combining work and time-consuming hobbies such as music can be the worst inspiration killer ever, but I must admit that I find my studies only contribute positively to everything that is Myrkgrav. Besides, I don’t really work with Myrkgrav all that often anyway – although I certainly spend way more time with the project now than when I had a full-time job that sucked the very essence and life out of me, haha.
As a folk metal project, what do you think about today’s folk metal genre? Are there any folk metal bands or projects that you find interesting?
To be honest, I haven’t kept track of what’s new in the scene. There are a few bands that I listen to, such as Fejd, Dunderbeist (hardly folk metal) and Glittertind (now more like Mumford & Sons), but I have to admit that the genre doesn’t hold that much appeal for me personally. That was also one of the reasons why I founded Myrkgrav; in order to make the music that I wanted to hear – as it is with most musicians. One thing I will absolutely never understand the appeal of, is all the party folk metal. It’s hardly any folk in it at all, and a lot of bands seem to spend more time singing about partying and actually partying than composing decent music. Maybe I’m just getting old, but what the hell.
Myrkgrav has been formed initally as a ‘black metal’ project but with the previous and also with the latest single, we see a different style. How did this ‘change of style’ evolve?
I’ve gotta be honest, and the reason why Myrkgrav started as a black metal band is because I didn’t yet have the knowledge and musical ability to write more melodically complex music with folk music incorporated in it. I’ve always strived to evolve the project’s sound towards the latter, and that happened only after the debut album was released really. Trollskau was written by a 17 year-old idealist, and it definitely sounds as such too. Not to criticize the past, but personally I think I’ve come a long way since then in terms of musicianship and such.
Myrkgrav was formed in 2003 and you are still active all these years with a good fanbase. Do you have any wish/wishes for the project that you want to fulfill in the upcoming years?
Mostly I just want to finish the sophomore full-length album, after working on it on and off for almost eight years. As my musical preferences have shifted significantly, it would be a great to be able to get some closure and move on from the past in order to open doors to new soundscapes and musical realms. Whether or not that will be anything in line with Myrkgrav that will be easy to get into for old fans, I guess time will tell. Either way it always sounds peculiarly Lars-y, where I begin and where the music ends has turned out to be quite the conundrum!
Any last words to say to your fans?
I would simply like to say thank you to all the fans for the continued support throughout the years! Without a record label backing you up it’s pretty difficult getting the word out in terms of new releases and such, so I would simply encourage fans to help me do the dirty work and spread the message of Myrkgrav still being alive and well! Also, the second album is coming – I promise!
Special thanks to : Lars Jensen and Markus Eck!
We recently encountered with German symphonic and gothic metal band Xandria. Past few months they changed their vocalist and not long ago they released a brand new album “Sacrificium”.
Today Xandria is celebrating their 20th year in music and still rocking hard despite the changes in the line-up like Manuela Kraller‘s [former vocalist] departure. We talked about a lot of stuff stuff with the guys but let’s not spoil it more. Here are the words of Steven Wussow [bass] and Dianne van Giersbergen [vocals].
Hello! Thank you accepting our interview. As we begin; I want to ask about your new album “Sacrificium” . How do you feel about it, and how are the feedbacks so far?
Dianne: Hi! And thank you so much for your interest. We are very happy to promote our new album and to speak to you. Speaking of the album: we are thrilled and so, so happy about the many positive feedbacks we have been receiving so far. Every day more compliments are coming to us through our pages, the tour is going great and the people really seem to enjoy our new songs live. We couldn’t have hoped for anything better!
Steven: Also a nice “Hello” from me! Yes we are still so stoked, so overwhelmed by all the positive reactions on “Sacrificium”. We are having the time of our lives right now.
It has been a while since Manuela Krallers left but could you tell us what happened?
Steven: Actually nothing dramatic. She just didn`t want to do it anymore. She wanted to have time for other things or projects. Just take a step back from the music business in the way it is handled with a touring band like Xandria. A sad, but understandable decision. So what could we do instead of wishing her all the best & letting her go.
I know it has been a while but how did Dianne join the band? Dianne van Giersbergen is a really good vocalist in my opinion and as
far as I listened, “Sacrificium” has been ‘risen’ by her contribution.
Steven: You are absolutely right. Dianne puts the whole material onto another, even higher level. We are still impressed. By the time it became clear that Manuela is leaving, we all sat together and thought about who might be a good lady to fill the vacant spot. Actually our co-producer Joost van den Broek came up with Dianne’s name. We met, rehearsed one Saturday afternoon and there we were again. Dianne is not only an excellent singer & musician, she also has a great sense of humor, which made it pretty easy to connect with us boys. Guess we found a little diamond 😉
Your first music video of the album has been shot for the song ‘Nightfall’ ( If she’s there, say hi and I might fall in love with her 😀 ). Do you have any other plans to shoot another one? ( Well, there’s the lyric video of ‘Dreamkeeper’ too. )
Dianne: Haha well ‘hi’ to you too! And thank you for your compliment! Shooting a video takes up a lot of time, of course there is the actual day of recording, but it all begins with writing a script, getting the location and props organized, making sure nothing is overlooked and of course handling everything budget wise. The purpose of the video is also to provide the audience with a first glimpse of the album before it is released and to be a teaser, so to say.
Keeping that all in mind it is not very likely to shoot another video for this album. But I must agree that the music we make is really suited to be accompanied by video so if we get a good offer for it you can count me in.
Well I am pretty sure that Xandria fans are waiting to see you guys live. Do you have some upcoming concert dates for us?
Steven: Right now we are on the first part of a European Tour which is mostly covering Germany, Austria & the UK. Second part might happen late this or early next year. Then we have some summer festivals, the US tour with Sonata Arctica & Delain, more festivals in October and another tour that is not 100% confirmed… You see: A busy year for us.
The Sacrificium World Tour will last something like 2 years and will hopefully take us to every place where people want to hear us play.
Can you tell us about your lyrical themes? Your songs are mostly deep and sometimes giving hope but sometimes touching the broken hearts.
Steven: At first Marco [Heubaum; guitars,vocals,keyboards] is a great lyricist! He has the gift to wrap up different topics in beautiful pictures and awesome metaphors. So we have a wide range of introspective, sociocritical or even beautiful love stories on this album. Just take your time to discover the lyrical world of “Sacrificum”. It will be worth it! Promise!
What is your favorite song in the album and why?
Steven: This is a mean question. It is like having 13 kids and you are forced to name your favorite one… There is actually no song that I don`t like a lot. But the one that has a special personal meaning for me is ‘Dreamkeeper’.
Dianne: When I joined Xandria I have been already for 20 years in the business. Playing for everyone who wanted me to do so. So I thought 20 years might be enough and it could be good time to call it a day with making music no-one ever wanted to hear. I wanted to maybe write a book no-one wants to read. Hahaha..
Then the Xandria boys invited me to a rehearsal. I drove up there in the middle of a terrible snowstorm (no joke!). And the rest is history. My dream is still alive and Xandria is my “Dreamkeeper”.
This question is directly for Dianne. You have a beautiful voice, a trained voice I assume? How do you protect your voice and any suggestion of practicing to fans on the road of singing the way you do?
Dianne: Correct, I have studied classical music at the conservatory for 7 years. First the Bachelor course and then a Master for which I also researched the vocal cross over between metal and classical music.
It is through this study but also the experiences I build up through concerts with my other band Ex Libris that I have learned how to handle my voice. But I must admit that with every tour I learn a little bit more.
The trick is really to take good care of your instrument, like every musician. In my case this means: get as much sleep as I can, live healthy, don’t smoke and avoid smoking areas, don’t drink alcohol (I only drink alcohol –wine- when I do not have to sing that day or the next), and always sing to your best technical capabilities.
What do you guys do besides music? Any other occupation or hobbies?
Dianne: A favorite hobby of mine is making jewelry. If you watch our ‘Nightfall’ video, then you will see me wearing a necklace made from bass guitar strings and a headpiece, both of them I made myself.
Steven: I love listening to music (which I usually do in every free second!) or going to concerts if there is any time left for it. So no real hobby for me 😉 Just Rock`N`Roll.
What do you think about musical evolution? There is so much crappy music ( I’m ashamed to call that music but.. ) on the world and
personally industrial and popular music has been killing pure, good and real music. What can you say about those situations?
Steven: Puh difficult question… You know I try not to judge about other people’s efforts making music or art. If you don`t like it, just don`t listen to it. Just like I do. Hahaha. But what can we and our comrades do? Just make the best records we can make and hope to as reach as many people as possible and make the world a better place with much more rock`n`roll!
The world is working on cruel basics and yet another catastrophe occured in Turkey and hundreds of souls lost by accident in lignite
coal mine in Soma/Manisa. When do you think this corporate greed will end or will ever end and start giving value to life?
Steven: Yes this is cultural, worldwide problem. Or should I better say it is THE main problem of our society, of the whole wide world. Humanity is on decline. No one cares about the people anymore. Everyone only sees the money that is earned with those people`s bitter & hard work. The rich getting richer and the poor starve in their shit. When will it end? When every one of us starts changing his mind and his attitude towards these mechanisms. We have the freedom of speech, the right to vote… these are our tools. If a change is still possible? I don`t know. But we will never find out if don`t try!
Thank you for sharing your time to answer our questions but before we close our conversation, do you have any last words for fans?
Dianne: Thank you so much for your support and faith in Xandria, and also for giving me a warm welcome into the band. I am really looking forward to meeting you all and singing our music for you!
Steven: A huge “Thank You” also from me for all your love, support and dedication! We really, really appreciate that! Hope to meet as many of you somewhere out there! See you on the road my friends!
Special thanks to : Dianne van Giersbergen, Steven Wussow and Mona Miluski at Napalm Records.
More info :
Swedish dark metallers KATATONIA have had a very hectic year. The band has been on the tour for a very long time and in the hectic touring schedule, the band has managed to release “Dethroned & Uncrowned”, which is the stripped version of the previous record “Dead End Kings” (2012) . Furthermore, the band has also been celebrating the 10th year of “Viva Emptiness” (2003), which has been reissued.
Recently, Katatonia has been on the road with PARADISE LOST and LACUNA COIL to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of “Viva Emptiness”. I had the honour to interview the guitarist Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nyström and the vocalist Jonas Renkse before the band’s show in Cologne on 4th November about the new albums, the band’s sound and the future plans.
© Mathias Blom
How are you guys doing? How is the tour going so far? This is a special kind of tour since it is the 10th anniversary of Viva Emptiness and also 25th anniversary of Paradise Lost.
Anders : It’s going really smooth. We are good friends with Paradise Lost; we enjoy touring together. We also have a similarity in our fanbase. Everyone’s nice, chilled and hanging out. I had some trouble in my voice. It’s back now but for a few days, I couldn’t get out a good sound so I haven’t been singing in the shows and it’s a turn-off for me. Tonight I’m gonna try singing again.
Jonas : The tour is going really smooth and easy-going.
Anders : It’s really fun to play “Viva Emptiness”!
You have been on the road for a very long time. Does this tour feel somehow special for you? You are only playing the entire set of “Viva Emptiness” and not like a mixed setlist.
Anders : Yes. It’s very special!
Do you see really hardcore fans or is it a mixed fanbase in the shows?
Anders : They are so far away that we don’t see them! *laughs*. Well, we are the opening band so we have only 1 hour so instead of doing a ‘best-of’; it’s a much cooler concept to do an album that fits within that hour. So the people who have this album as their favorite can expect a pretty cool show.
Jonas: The problem is, if someone does not like this album, then it’s pretty shit [to come to the show].
Speaking of “Viva Emptiness”, it was released 10 years ago and it was reissued recently. In the cover, we see that the girl is also ten years older now. When you think about the title, what did it mean to you 10 years ago and what does it mean to you now regarding the character of the band?
Jonas: Since it’s been 10 years, it’s quite a long time. Things have happened in the band. We have the new bandmembers. But in the musical sense, it still makes perfect sense because we are still the same songwriters with the same visions and ideas. If we did the album today from the scratch, it would probably sound different; we have grown up as musicians and songwriters but when we went back to listen to the album and rehearse it now, we were all like “There are so many good songs in this album!” . We haven’t really thought about it because we haven’t played some of the songs live before so once we started jamming ,we were like “Wow, that’s good stuff°”. So generally, we have made small changes.
Anders: I think we have been able to bring new life to this album.Personally, I have rediscovered the album and I fell in love with it again. I have forgotten about the album before but it’s very exciting now. It is what it is, it’s been 10 years but it’s very refreshing to perform it live. That’s the important thing right now. We also finally got a peace of mind with the reissue because we finally got to do the adjustments to the mix this time and we are happy with the production as well. All the small things like the keyboard sounds and additional vocals [in the last song] made the whole album very exciting again.
You have also released the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” album on September. I personally loved it but it also caught my attention that some fans were not pleased with it. Did you expect this reaction?
Anders: Yeah, we expected this. It’s such a drastic turn; basically, if you were into the last album because of the heaviness or the whole metal vibe, that’s taken away now.
But I think the essence is still there, right?
Anders: Yeah, totally! We are open-minded people so we see beyond the genres of our limitation. We just look at what’s good musically. The songs are more beautiful than ever but if you don’t have the open-mindedness to see that, you will think like “Oh, this sucks! What’s this pop shit?!”. Those people can think whatever they want and the world probably also needs those people too because it creates contrast. Everyone can’t think the same.
How did you come up with the idea for “Dethroned & Uncrowned” ? Did it happen while composing “Dead End Kings”?
Jonas : It happened actually when we did “Dead End Kings” already and we realized that so much of the stuff that’s gonna be in the background sounded really good. We listened to more ambient stuff and there was so much music that was gonna be buried in the mix. So we started joking about the idea and then it became reality. The record label was into it but we didn’t have the financial budget so we started the PledgeCampaign and we’re gonna also take this album on tour next year.
That was what I was wondering about as well! Are you gonna tour just for “Dethroned & Uncrowned”?
Anders : No, there’s gonna be everything included in the setlist.
Jonas : We’re gonna work more on some old songs as well.
Anders : We’re gonna make it so different. We have booked churches and stuff like that. It will be really atmospheric with the church candles so we are gonna make it really moody and calm this time. It’s gonna have a different vibe from normal rock/metal shows.
Jonas: Some of the venues are even seated.
You started as a very different band and your sound has changed throughout the years. How do you manage to keep the essence of the band? I see some really good bands changing their sound but losing their essence as well.
Anders: I think the secret is to not listen to anyone else and make the music for yourself. You have to make it for yourself, you cannot lie to yourself. You have to love what you do and have to be motivated and have the drive, keep pushing yourself and raise the bar. Every album we do is a new challenge and it becomes a part of the integrity. It’s loving art and people can see whether you do it from the heart or not. We do it from the heart. It’s quite a journey to come there but it’s not hard; it’s very natural. The keyword is natural.
Jonas: It’s also because of what kind-of people we are from the beginning. We started this band many years ago and we have a vision and we still keep it because we do not want an overnight success or fame or money. We still have the same goal as we started; we wanna make dark music and that’s it.
Anders : The albums are like the the clothes that we change; it’s the same message and vision but the appearance changes as you grow. You don’t wear the same clothes that you did when you were 10 years old; everything changes but the mentality is the same. Our darkness has been wider now.
A lot of fans are wondering about the upcoming DVD. Is there any news about it?
Anders: It’s such a strange and frustrating experiment. There are so many factors that are out of our control. We have the show but the frustrating part is that the show is coming older and older; it’s been 2 years now and that’s frustrating. That’s completed but the other parts are not and that’s what people want; the whole documentary and the bonus footage and that’s taking forever. I always said we shouldn’t stress and rush either because nobody’s gonna be happy with the final result.
Jonas: We have been trying to reach out to people that has been involved with Katatonia one way or the other. It’s not just interviews with us.
Anders: We need key people in the history.
Jonas: They are busy or away.
But is it gonna be released or cancelled? Because it’s been 2 years already.
Anders: I had the same question in my mind. It’s not gonna be cancelled. It might turn into another DVD. Something’s gonna come out but we don’t know what’s gonna be the ‘main’ thing. The anniversary in London was the key footage there but maybe that’s gonna end up as a bonus footage of another show.
Jonas: The main thing is that it has to be a really good release.
Anders: I think we are halfway there somehow because we have so much footage. It has to be gotten together and we don’t have the time since we are on the road.
Jonas: The new album was released on the way as well.
You have had a very hectic year. What can you say about the highlight of the year for Katatonia?
Jonas: In the beginning of the year, we did a tour with Opeth in Australia. For me, that was a really good experience. We had great shows and the tour with Opeth is always fun. Seeing Australia like that was the highlight for me.
Anders: It’s hard to pinpoint one highlight because as you said, the whole year for me was a big highlight. We managed to do all the tours worldwide and come up with two albums. 2013 has been a massive year for us. It’s almost like we spoiled our fans.
Jonas: At least for me and for us, “Dead End Kings” is still a fresh album.
Anders: We still call it the ‘new album’ and the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” album was released a bit too early as well. It was already out there but we are touring for “Viva Emptiness” right now so it’s a bit reversed since the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” tour is gonna be next year.
© Independent Music Promotions
If Katatonia would release a unique and special merchandise item that would represent the character of the band, what would it be?
Jonas: Dead birds! *smiles*. We have been thinking about this and the whole wine/beer thing is getting too common these days. Some of the guys in the band love gin-tonic so we wanted to do a gin-tonic drink and call it ‘Katatonic’.
Anders: It’s pretty cheesy because gin also has a flavor of pine trees in it and there are pine trees in the layout of “Dead End Kings”. This drink in Finland is really popular since they sell it as a long-drink (Lonkero) so we could also call it ‘the longest drink’ [tribute to the Katatonia song “The Longest Year”]. We’re just having fun with those ideas; it’s not really a priority for us. We actually had a really weird item in the “Viva Emptiness 2003″tour; we sold fucking thongs. I don’t know who came up with that idea and we never ever had it since. It was just there one time.
Jonas: It was this merchandise company that just decided to do it.
Anders: But why?!
Jonas: Yeah, that’s really weird.
What is in the future of the band? Do you have ideas for another new album or are you gonna give a break?
Anders: There’s never a break. The break is actually writing a new album.
How do you actually manage this then? You must be getting homesick and tired, you have families and everything.
Anders: We do get tired but then we come back again to the part that we are doing what we love and as soon as you remind yourself of that , who you are and the journey you had to come this far, you cannot throw away all of it. It’s a lot of hardwork but the reward is to see that it pays off. That’s the fuel for the vehicle.
Jonas: You could be so bored during the day but then you go on stage and after that, we feel like this is what we wanna do.
Anders: That never gets old. I never had those thoughts on stage.
Special thanks to : Katatonia management & promotion, Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström and Jonas Renkse.
Swiss epic folk metallers CALADMOR released their second debut album Of Stones and Stars on August 2013 and with the release of the album, they have immediately caught my attention. Normally, when it comes to folk metal bands, I have to admit that not all bands are quite unique but what I loved most with Caladmor was the fact that they are female fronted and the diversity in their sound
After reviewing the album, I also decided to do an e-mail interview with Babs (vocals) and Maede (drums, growls, clean vocals, synth).
Check out their answers below! 😀
Hello! Firstly, congratulations on your new album „Of Stones and Stars“. How do you feel?
Babs: Hey! Thank you very much – actually we feel very good about the release of Of Stones and Stars. We are especially happy about all the awesome reviews and the fact that our fans seem to love the album as well. We worked almost two years on the album, gave all our time and hearts to it –so we feel of course also a bit revealed that all went that well and the result is convincing.
Maede: We are happy and a bit tired! 🙂
You guys have recently played a gig with Swiss metallers ELUVEITIE. How has the feedback on the album been in the gig? How was the whole atmosphere?
Babs: Ah it was overwhelming. The audience was amazing – open minded and open hearted – and we rocked our asses off to let them have a great time with us. 🙂
Maede: It was fantastic to play in front of 1000 People! I think people liked us very much, we got a lot of good feedback and sold a lot of merch. 🙂
It’s been 3 years since you released a new record and I think the band’s evolution can be clearly seen in this album. What changed in these 3 years musically? How did you evolve as a band in this time?
Babs: Well thank you! Indeed we improved a lot in our instrumental and vocal skills. I feel more confident with my voice now than I did on Midwinter. Concerning songwriting I guess we also made some progress as the songs might sometimes show more depth and emotions than on Midwinter – at least in my opinion.
Maede: Songwriting and arranging have become more complex during the continuous improvements of our skills and experience. We can also say that we even grew stronger as a ‘family’. We still are quite different when it comes to our personal styles and this explains the variety in our music.
When I listen to the album, a lot of legendary folk/pagan metal bands like ELUVEITIE or WINTERSUN come to my mind. What were your musical influences for “Of Stones and Stars”?
Maede: Well, when I (and the others too I guess) write songs, I don’t have specific bands or songs in mind I wanna sound like, that would be cheap. But bands I most listen to are Ensiferum, Turisas, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Eluveitie, Therion, Tyr and quite a few others, so I think you are automatically ‘influenced’ by those big bands. 🙂
We try to get our inspiration from not only bands but different sources; literature, philosophy, history etc.
Another thing that got my attention is the stories behind the songs; every song tells a story. How did you get inspired for that?
Babs: Well observed 😀 This is truly one fact behind the motivation to call our music “Epic” Folk Metal – the songs are indeed lyrically inspired by some old greek or medieval epic poems. When it comes to tales I kind of never really grew up – I love every kind of tales, stories and mythological legends and since I’m studying German linguistics and literature at the university, I’m happy to come in touch with lots and lots of legends, tales and epic poems, and they often inspire me to make a song or to weave them in our lyrical content.
Speaking of ELUVEITIE, two bandmembers from Eluveitie were also featured in this album. How did you get to work with Chrigel and Päde?
Babs: Actually Päde was only involved on Midwinter (1405 A.D.) while Chrigel only supported us on the new album on ‘Dawn of the Deceiver’ and ‘Heralds of Doom’.
Maede: When I composed ‘Dawn of the Deceiver’, I knew that only Chrigel could play those flutes as I intended to. We know each other from earlier days (a few beers long time ago) and I just ask him if he would play flutes and bagpipes on a few tracks. He liked our songs from the preproduction and consented.
The name of the album is also interesting. What does “Of Stones and Stars” mean?
Babs: Actually it first was the name of the song and then became also the title of the album because we loved its poetic sound. But I really also love the lyrics of the song ‘Of Stones and Stars’ because there are several stories woven into it. Maede wrote the song and came up with a part of the lyrics. His first intention was to make a song inspired by the fable of the greek philosopher Thales of Miletus who fell into a well because he did observe the stars while walking, not taking care what was lying in front of him (so the ‘stones’ in the title of the song are metaphoric for the wall). We changed the meaning of this a bit into “When you look upon the stars, you realize you are nothing compared.” We added also some other aspects to the lyrics, for example such as “free your mind from all that dies”, which is reminding of the baroque Vanitas poetry (memento mori).
What is your personal favorite from “Of Stones and Stars”?
Babs: Hmm that’s a difficult one! 🙂 ‘Mimirs Born’ is the one I love most to do on stage because of its energy and the singing passages. ‘Helios Sky’ also means a lot to me because I wrote the whole choir and I just love how the result is sounding. And ‘A Nymph’s Lure’ is the most interesting song to sing as it demands a certain interpretation of the Nymph done by the vocals.
Maede: I like all songs very much. ‘Of stones and stars’ and ‘Alvissmal’ are great. I really love Babs’ vocals on ‘A Nymph’s Lure’ and on ‘Laudine’s Lament’.
A lot of fans will wonder about the touring schedule for sure. Is there a possibility of a tour in Europe? I would personally love to see you play in Germany!
Babs: Sure we would love to tour through Europe! We already checked some possibilities and as usual it unfortunately is a question of money which we do not have. So we’re thinking about a crowd funding action to collect some and conquer at least our neighbor countries! Would be a blast of course!
You guys are from Switzerland, which is a country that is kind-of known when folk metal is considered. What can you say about the Swiss metal scene?
Maede: The good thing about the swiss metal scene is that it is very small, the bad thing is that it’s quite intolerant and not very open. Most people just listen to death and thrash metal. For some idiots, female fronted metal is still not real metal, that’s just bullshit. But we made the experience, that our fanbase is constantly growing and very loyal, so we stick to them!
A big problem is also the organizers. You always see the big names on stage and you have no chance as a ‘smaller’ band to play on big stages, if you don’t have very good connections and lots of money. And quite a lot of organizers book only death/thrash and black metal as I said before.
CALADMOR has a long history; you guys have been formed in 2001 and it’s been 12 years now. When you look back, what can you say about the biggest achievement on your career so far?
Babs: Yes it is a long history indeed. I think the new album can be set as a milestone as we really feel comfortable with it, feeling that we have made an album that is really representing us.
What lies in the future of the band? Do you have any plans?
Babs: Yes, one plan is as mentioned to tour different countries outside Switzerland. Caladmor wants to see the world! 🙂 Also we plan to write new songs, Maede has already some stuff in mind. And who knows, maybe there will some side projects, too…
Lastly, what do you wanna say to your fans? 🙂
Babs: Hey ya crazy fellows out there! We’re coming to get you as soon as possible with one of our shows!! Thank you for all your support so far! Keep visiting us in our virtual homes for any news from the Caladmorian lands.
Thanks to : Babs, Maede from Caladmor and Markus Eck from Metalmessage! 🙂
Finnish folk metal band Finntroll released their latest album ‘Blodsvept’ on March 25th. The fans had been beyond excited for the band’s sixth debut album; especially after the release of ‘Nifelvind’ (2010), it was a bit clear that Finntroll decided to take a ‘darker’ step regarding their sound. So how was the new album going to be? Was it going to be even more atmospheric or was it going to be more fun?
I had the chance to interview the guitarist Routa on February 2013 via phone for Muzikantenweb and we talked about the new album’s sound as well as the band’s future plans. Check out the interview 😀
Hello Routa! How are you?
I’m alright. We had a long evening yesterday with Vreth [vocalist] but I started to wake up now.
You finished recording your new album, ‘Blodsvept’ and it will be released on March 25th, 2013. How do you feel about it? I have been checking the Facebook posts from fans and the expectations are quite high.
As a band we love the album. On this album, we wanted to have a more straightforward approach and we didn’t want to paint any musical landscapes or anything like that. We just wanted to make like ‘slap-in-your-face’ vibe. [laughs] And I really hope the fans will appreciate that. I am sure it’s going to divide opinions about us. People who expect atmospheric folk metal from us might not like the straightforward approach.
What can the fans expect from this album musically? Do you think it is a classic Finntroll album or is it a bit different?
I wouldn’t say we did something completely different. Whenever we do an album, we want the music to sound like Finntroll but we really want to find some new themes to mix it. It might be a music style to have influences or weird sounds or something similar. This time it was the punk rock-ish approach.
The new album is called ‘Blodsvept’. How did you come up with the title?
It’s really hard to explain it but I don’t know the right word in English for that. It’s like wearing blood. It is the same way as how Egyptian mummies are wrapped but with the blood.
I think ‘Blodsvept’ means ‘blood swept’ but I don’t think that’s the word, is that?
You could translate it to blood swept as well but it doesn’t mean in that context. It means ‘wrapped in blood’ basically.
Is this a concept album or do the song tell different stories?
All the songs have different stories this time. We didn’t want to make a concept album with one long story in it. We just wanted to do an album with individual small tales.
What are the themes, what do the songs tell generally?
It differs from song to song. There are songs about old finnish myths and then there is a song about a murderer. There are lots of different stories in the album generally.
Did any guest musicians take part in this album? In your previous record, there were a lot of guest musicians like Olli Vänska [violinist from Turisas].
Yeah, Olli Vänskä also took part in this record for the violin parts. We also had a couple of professional musicians from northern Finland and the guys from Moonsorrow took part in the choir and the screaming as well. They didn’t take part as musicians but we needed male voices for the songs and they took part in that.
When you think of the memories during the recording process, what was the funniest or the weirdest experience that the band has had during the recording of ‘Blodsvept?’
It was a pretty normal recording except we had to record the guitars twice. We kind-of deleted the guitar parts by accident so we had only a few days of recording and we had to it all again.
It was quite a challenge for you I guess, right?
Well yeah because we had to record the parts again 1,5 days and it’s ridiculous!
When you compare your previous record ‘Nifelvind’ and ‘Blodsvept’, what are the differences? What makes this release different?
Soundwise, we wanted to have more natural sounds so it wouldn’t be so over-produced. We wanted the fans to hear everything released through that. At first it might sound a bit lighter compared to the previous record but when you get into the sound, it’s not lighter, it’s just more natural.
I think this record is also a bit faster and not so darker compared to Nifelvind as well.
Yeah but it wasn’t anything that we decided to do in this album. It was because of the straightforward approach so the songs were also fast.
One thing I noticed in this record was that there is not a long intro which is quite uncommon for Finntroll. Was this intentional?
We didn’t have any intro composed for this album and then we had this feeling that we don’t need an intro. We don’t want to build some atmosphere on this album; it doesn’t need it. We felt like we could make the small welcome for the fans and then we wanted to jump straight into the music.
What other parts of the world (apart from Finland) inspire you musically? I have noticed that there are different influences like Balkan or oriental sounds in 1-2 songs.
Everything. When you keep your mind open, you get inspiration and ideas from everywhere. We don’t want to get inspiration from one thing only but we try to keep our mind as open as possible and take it all into our minds.
Which song did you pick or are you going to pick as singles? Are there also any video shootings in the near future?
Yeah, we are gonna shoot a video at the end of February 2013. We still haven’t decided on the song; we have a couple of ideas. We are still discussing it within the band. I know that Century Media [Finntroll’s record label]wants us to release a preview rather than a single from the album.
If you have to pick a song that would be the highlight or the favorite from the album, which song would it be?
At the moment, I really like Häxbrygd. I love playing it. I don’t know if we will play it live or not but that song works so well.
You are already confirmed for some festivals. Are there any plans for a Finntroll headlining tour?
Yeah, we are planning to do 6 or 7 special release shows around Europe. Then we are going to do a bigger show in small venues. That’s the plan for now.
Do you want to play in Heidenfest 2013 this year again?
I don’t think we are going to play in Heidenfest this year. We were asked to play this year but we feel that we want to to do something else this year so we are probably going to play with bands that we choose.
Finntroll @ Heidenfest 2012
Are you going to choose more unknown bands or bigger bands?
We don’t know that yet. We have to talk with different bands but at the moment I would personally love to tour with Skalmöld from Iceland. I hope we can tour with them.
You have toured with many bands before. Are there any particular musicians that you would love to tour with but you haven’t toured with before?
I would love to do tours with some very big names but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
What was the best country that you have toured in so far?
It’s hard to say but one of the tours I really enjoyed was the tour in Australia. There was something different there than in Europe and that was just awesome.
Finntroll has been around for quite a long time but you haven’t released any DVD yet. Are there any plans for a DVD release?
Yes, there are plans for a DVD release but we have had so much bad luck and it’s not going to happen anytime soon. We don’t want to release a DVD with just one live show; we want to have a special package for the fans. It’s going to take some time though.
Finntroll’s new album was one of the anticipated albums of 2013. Are you looking forward to any releases in 2013?
I haven’t even checked any upcoming releases. I’m like an instant buyer. I don’t plan it; when I see it, I am just like “Oh my god, I have to get that!”
So what was the last album that you bought?
It was actually a Tori Amos album. I like to keep my mind open.
Finntroll has been around since 1997 so that’s a lot of time. When folk metal is considered, I see a lot of new bands trying to make it big. What would be your advice to the newcomers?
Just stay true to yourself and try to be authentic. Have your own thing going on no matter what people say because if you start to copy somebody else, fans will notice it. I would say the biggest advice would be like do whatever you want and be yourself.
I wanna thank Routa for taking time to answer the questions. I will hopefully see Finntroll live on May 2013! Long live the trolls! 😀
GRAVEBORNE is a black metal band from Finland. The band was formed in 2008 by the guitarist Marchosias and the drummer Pentele. The lyrical themes of the band’s music are about darkness, death and anti-christianity.
Graveborne released their first demo ‘Astride Over The Grave’ in 2009. This demo gained positive feedback from the metal scene, with the music described as; raw, fast, and even catchy black metal reminiscent of Marduk, Gorgoroth, Impaled Nazarene, early Emperor and Immortal. Two years after the release of the demo, the band released their first debut album ‘Pure Negativity‘ via Nykta Records. In this time, the vocalist Raivo was replaced by Raato on vocal duties. Musically, ‘Pure Negativity’ delivers a much wider spectre of darkness than ‘Astride Over the Grave’ due to the cohesive and synergistic involvement of Marchosias, Pentele, Brutalust and Kalmo in crafting the songs. The blast beats are still there, faster than before, and the atmosphere still raw and gripping; Graveborne’s evolution is evidenced through heightened song structure complexity and development. The lyrical themes of the album dwell in different forms of negativity such as anti-Christian and anti-religious revelations, loss of faith, hope and humanity, despair, depression and suicide.
Apart from the releases, the band also played in Nummirock in 2010 and they also played with some bands like The Iniquity Descent and Ceaseless Torment.
Recently, I had the opportunity to do an e-mail interview with the drummer Pentele about the band’s sound and future as well as the upcoming album. Check it out! 😀
Hello! Firstly, I want to mention that I discovered you recently but I really enjoy listening to your music! How are things in the world of Graveborne?
In the world of Graveborne all things are burned down and the embers are slowly extinguishing under the falling first snow. Seriously, we have been living a quiet life over a half year now and focused on recording the next Graveborne album. Raato, our vocalist, had to take a break from the band and get his personal life back in track. For a while it looked that we have to get another vocalist. We even auditioned a couple of candidates. Luckily Raato regained his motivation to continue with Graveborne.
You guys are currently recording a new album. How is everything going?
It is a quite long project. I started with laying down the drum tracks last year in early June, and we have just finished the last vocal tracks. I think we are ready to get the album mixed and mastered next month. This time we decided to record almost all of the new material. Quite a few songs have been sifted out during the rehearsal and arranging process, but there are still about 15 recorded tracks. There is going to be material almost for two full length albums. This gives us the possibility to choose the best combination for the upcoming album. The remaining tracks will perhaps be released in one format or another.
What can the fans expect from the new release?
A dark, heavy, dirty and blasphemous sounding album with killer riffs and murderous songs.
Your last album was called “Pure Negativity” (2011) and the concept of that album was anti-religion, despair and depression. What will be the concept of the new album?
The anti-religious and blasphemous themes are strongly present in the upcoming album. But instead of despair and depression the concept could be described as a re-evaluation of all values through the nihilistic realization of the absence of transcendental truths. The only truth is that, there are no truths. Like Tom G. Warrior likes to put it: “Only death is real”. We are preaching the cult of death and Satan is the perfect sledgehammer for smashing down all kinds of castles in the air. When you are faced with absolute death, it is no use moaning and longing for a lost paradise. You have to face your own mortality. It is only through the acknowledging of your limitedness and absence of any fixed meaning or purposes that you can create new values that are worth living for. Of course, everyone is not capable of building on ashes.
Considering your previous release “Pure Negativity” and the new release, what are the similarities and the differences between two releases technically?
The new album will sound much rawer than “Pure Negativity”. The production of “Pure Negativity” was quite polished both performance and sound vise. This time we want it to sound rough and dirty. Therefore we have not tried to capture flawless performances. On the contrary, there is a lot of filth in the playing and vocals, and it will not be edited, cleaned and corrected. For example, I only recorded the maximum of three takes of every track and choose the best one only after the recording session was over. The guitar sounds of the new album will also be heavier and more distorted. I believe the songwriting is better. The songs seem to be shorter than before. We have focused more on the arrangements and tried to cut out unnecessary complexity and repetition. There are going to be a lot of blast beats, but we are not trying to break any speed records. Blast beats are only there to serve the songs – they are not a virtue per se. Besides the usual English, there are also two tracks with Finnish lyrics. Or actually, the other one is in both Swedish and Finnish. And the Swedish parts are going to be performed by a guest artist.
What were your inspirations behind the album? What influenced the band in the songwriting process?
There are four guys writing music for the band and the influences and inspirations vary a great deal. I listen to a lot of different types of music and I might be inspired by as divergent stuff as, for instance, the latest album by Sargeist and the early works of the Italian singer- songwriter Fabrizio De André. One idea, that at least I followed when I wrote material for the album, was to focus on writing songs instead of a bunch of riffs tied together. So, extra attention was paid for the arrangement of the material.
Are you planning to go on tour after the new album is released?
It would be great to do a short tour, but it is easier said than done. Firstly, there has to be enough people that want to see Graveborne live. We are still a pretty unknown band, so I do not have high hopes for a tour. Maybe it could happen together with a bigger band, or we might perhaps play a couple of separate gigs in some small festivals…
© Ville Mikkola
You guys have played in Nummirock festival in 2010 and you have also played with The Iniquity Descent so that’s not bad for a “newcomer band”. With which bands would you like to tour in the future?
I don’t have any particular bands in mind. I imagine that it would be best to tour with other black metal bands.
When I checked your past live performances, I have seen that you only played in Finland. Do you plan to tour in Europe as well?
Yes, if such opportunities rise.
© Viktoria Viiand
Graveborne was formed in 2008. Can you tell me about how the band was formed, how did it happen?
We had played in the same bands with Marchosias already in the mid-1990s when we both lived in a small town called Kokkola. Later I moved north to Oulu and Marchosias south to the Helsinki. Our paths crossed again in 2008 when I moved closer to Helsinki. He had this black metal project with a couple of friends. When I joined in we decided to take the band to a more serious level. I think that was the moment when Graveborne was formed. At this time the line-up also changed considerably. We recruited Kalmo (bass), our first vocalist Raivo, and Brutalust (guitars).
Let’s talk about the bands that you like. Which bands do the band members of Graveborne listen to?
As I already mentioned, I listen to a lot of different kinds of music from Bach to Bathory and Magma to Mgła. I know Marchosias also has an extensive musical taste. Besides metal, Raato is also interested in more bluesy stuff. Brutalust and Kalmo are more strictly into thrash, death and black metal although I know that the latter also listens to other styles of music.
I also noticed that in the band, everyone has a nickname. Your nickname is “Pentele” for example. How did you come up with the names for each bandmember?
My old friends have called me “Pentele” already from the early 1990s. It translates to something like the “Devil”. It’s a bit softer expression than “perkele” or” saatana”. I could have invented a more evil and “true” sounding name, but I think it’s better to stick with something that has a history, personal signification and is actually being used. The other guys just made up a name that they feel they can relate to within the context of Graveborne.
Are there any amateur bands from the Finnish black metal scene that you can recommend?
I doubt that there is any professional Finnish black metal band out there in the sense that they could get a living out of it. So, practically every band is an amateur band in the Finnish black metal scene.
When the genre of “black metal” is considered, the first country that comes to mind is Norway. As a black metal band from Finland, what can you say about the differences and similarities between the Finnish black metal scene and the Norwegian black metal scene?
Obviously, the Norwegian scene has become more assimilated with the mainstream, whereas Finnish black metal has always been more of an underground movement. Musically I don’t think there is any essential difference between Finnish or Norwegian black metal.
I want to thank Raato for ‘arranging’ the interview as well as Pentele for his awesome answers. I hope to see the band around someday, they are awesome!
Graveborne is :
Raato – Vocals
Marchosias – Guitar
Brutalust – Guitar
Kalmo – Bass
Pentele – Drums
Hailing from the southern edge of Finland, BATTLE BEAST represents the traditional heavy metal sound. Delivering crunching riffs, high screams, blistering solos and strong choruses – in one word: Power.
Battle Beast was formed in 2008 and the band became quite known in a very short time. If you think that this band is a typical heavy metal band, you are wrong; Battle Beast won competitions like W:O:A Metal Battle and Radio Rock Starba as well as making an appearance in the Finnish Metal Expo. Shortly after the success, the band signed a contract with Hype Records in 2010.
Battle Beast’s first debut album was Steel which was released in April 2011. Although the album was released only in Finland, the awesomeness of the album spread around the globe in a very short time. The following summer, the band toured extensively in their native country, Finland, and also taking a short stint in Germany supporting their fellow metalheads POISONBLACK in November.
2011 welcomed the band with a change of a record label; Battle Beast was signed to Nuclear Blast. The same year, Steel was also released internationally and to celebrate it, the band toured with the mighty NIGHTWISH as a support act for their Imaginaerum tour. Spanning more than 20 gigs in 13 different countries, the tour proved massively successful and won the band new fans by the tons.
In September 2012 the band announced another set of breaking news as Noora Louhimo was introduced as the new lead singer, replacing Nitte Valo. Along with the line-up change came an announcement of new tour. In November 2012 BATTLE BEAST returned to Europe for another 20 shows supporting their label mates SONATA ARCTICA.
With Noora in the band, BATTLE BEAST is now ready to take itself and its music to the next level. The whole band is burning with newly found energy and motivation and hell bent on conquering the entire metal consuming planet. Currently the band is working on their second album, expected to hit the world quite soon!
As a fan of the band and as a person who saw the band on November 2011, I decided to do an interview via e-mail. Eero (bassist) was kind enough to reply to my questions! 😀
Hello! How are you? How are things in the world of BATTLE BEAST?
Hello there! I’d say we’re doing pretty good at the moment. Anton and Janne are adding final touches to the mixing of the album after which it will be sent out to be mastered. The rest of the band is mainly focusing on pulling their personal lives together and preparing for the roller coaster ride the rest of the year is likely to present.
You are getting ready to release your second debut album, which is due spring 2013. What can the fans expect from this record?
Actually, due to some business-related reasons, the album won’t be released until June.
Simply put, people should expect a killer heavy metal record. The release of this second album is really a trial by fire for us, so we’re gonna give it everything we got.
There also has been a change in the band’s line-up last year; the former vocalist Nitte Valo was replaced with Noora Louhimo. How did you pick her as a vocalist?
Finding Noora was really a stroke of luck. Anton accidentally came across a video of her singing on the internet, and sent us the link. We were all sold the moment we heard her sing. Fortunately, she also was interested in doing this kind of music, and a few weeks from the moment we had ever heard of her she was in the band.
Battle Beast with the former vocalist, Nitte Valo
Will the change in the line-up affect the band’s sound in the upcoming album? Normally, some bands change their style if the vocalist is replaced.
Of course the second album is gonna sound different from the first one, but I wouldn’t say switching the singer has anything to do with it. It’s all about the natural progression of the band. After all, we never intended to record Steel 2.0.
When you compare the upcoming album and your previous record, what are the similarities and the differences?
The songwriting on the new album is pretty much in the same vein as on Steel: straightforward, powerful and catchy. But like I said, we’re not planning to repeat ourselves and there will be new elements too. However I don’t feel like spoiling the surprises just yet.
Battle Beast has become quite known over the years since you toured with many bands and surely, the band being Finnish helped that. Do you think that the new album will attract a new audience?
Well we sure the hell hope so! After all, attracting new audiences means more secure position for the band.
Anyway, we don’t intend to ruin a working formula in hopes of attracting a bigger audience – we can live with the fact that this kind of music is not for everyone. We aim to stick to our guns and do the kind of music we want to, and hope people will like it.
As a band, you were formed in 2008. Can you tell me about how you became a band? How did it all start?
Oww, I think I’ve answered this one about a gazillion times…
Basically Anton, Juuso and Pyry were high school buddies who had been playing together for some time before the official formation of the band. In 2008 shit started getting more serious with the band, and Janne and I were added to the boil after auditions. About the stuff with the lead singer you’ve probably read from elsewhere… 😉
From the first moment, the band’s name also caught my attention. What is the idea behind the name “Battle Beast” and who came up with it?
As I understand there’s no real story behind the name. Anton came across the name spontaneously on one night many years ago, and as he found it fitting for the music, christened the band Battle Beast.
What were your inspirations for the new album? What is the band’s biggest inspiration musically?
As a band I think it’s fair to say, that we’re inspired by all kinds of good music, be it metal or not. Since Anton writes pretty much all the music, it’s obvious that his musical inspirations play the biggest role, the most important of which of course are the classic metal bands. However we all think it’s good to draw inspiration from whatever music one finds appealing, and on the new album you’re gonna find some sounds and techniques one might consider pretty unorthodox for this kind of music.
I first saw you guys with Poisonblack in Cologne in 2011 and the audience there was not so lively, mainly because you guys were not so popular back then! When you look at your first concerts and your recent concerts, what were your observations about your fanbase? Is it the same or did it change?
It’s hard to say. As of now, we’ve never toured in Europe as a headline act, so one can’t tell how big a crowd we would attract on our own. Hopefully our fan base has grown bigger – at least we’ve been getting way more publicity than we did back then. And of course I would also like to think that we’re a way better band than we were back in 2011!
You have also toured with some big names like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica. If you could pick a band to tour with, which band would it be?
On the moment’s spur, I’m gonna answer Iron Maiden. You’ve probably heard of them.
You have toured in Europe mainly. If you could pick a country that you would love to tour in, where would it be?
The U.S.A. would be quite an obvious answer, since that’s the place all the European bands head to once they’re big enough. I would also be thrilled to do Japan and South-America as well, since we’ve been quite a lot of fan mail from those places.
The journey for Battle Beast started in 2008 so it’s been 5 years already. When you think about your career, what are your expectations about the next 5 years?
The way I see it, the best thing we can do to improve our career is to make good albums and killer shows. Of course I would like to see us outselling Justin Bieber and being nominated to the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, but this is a tricky business, and you never know what’s gonna happen. Maybe we’ll all by obliterated by giant robots tomorrow, who knows?
Simply put, we’re gonna do our own thing and we’ll see where it takes us.
Battle Beast is :
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitar, backing vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums
Juuso Soinio – guıitar
Eero Sipilä – bass guitar, backing vocals, narrator voice
Janne Björkroth – keyboards, orchestrations, backing vocals