Hailing from the arctic nation of the north, Finland, Amberian Dawn have been wandering the icy landscape for the past decade and despite having parted ways with numerous musicians along the way including vocalist Heidi Parviainen (who now fronts Dark Sarah), guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen and sadly the late Tommi Kuri, Amberian Dawn are leading the Finnish Metal front-line with newfound renaissance and oomph in their stride.
Celebrating their landmark achievement, the Neo-Classical Power Metal outfit fronted by Capri (Päivi Virkkunen) since 2012 have shown no signs of stopping and as they have recently completed their first ever headline tour, it was only right for them to be grilled by means of our interview interrogation. Tuomas Seppälä stood up to the task of giving the accounts of Amberian Dawn's past, present and future....
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"The tour was amazing. It was our first European tour as headliners and there was a lot of new things for all of us. It’s different to arrange your own headliner tour, than take part in some other tour as a supporting band. We all had a great time. There was a lot of highlights, the London show was one of those I think. We had a nice amount of gig-goers everywhere and that encourages us to continue touring."
You've released 7 albums in 11 years, which is your favourite out of the lot? Do you keep in touch with Heidi? Are you aware of her new band Dark Sarah?
"My favourite ones are probably all the latest albums on which Capri is on vocals. That’s because at the moment I feel that I’ve found my true way of composing music with her as vocalist. About Heidi, I haven’t really been in contact with her and I haven’t checked out her musical projects. It’s nothing personal, I’m just not interested in that kind of music."
Would you say your sound has changed a lot over the last decade? Or would you say it's still considered 'Neo-Classical / Power Metal'? What is Neo-Classical?
"The sound & feel has changed a lot over the years. My way of composing music varies a lot in time and I’m always trying to find some new angle with each and every new studio album. I don’t want to do the same kind of music over and over again. It’s obvious that Neo-Classical & Power Metal elements haven’t been in front lately, but I think that some of those elements are coming back on our next studio album. Neo-Classical as a term (as far as I know) means having elements of classical music mixed in your own music. "
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Finland?
"I would do it if the circumstances would be just right. It’s also about timing, about my other projects, schedules etc. Someday I just might go and apply for that contest but I still don’t know if that is what I would like to do it with Amberian Dawn, or by myself as solo artist. Let’s see what’s going to happen in the future. I’m always open for different and new things (new things for me at least)."
What in your opinion makes metal music popular in Finland? Is it still as popular as say a decade ago?
"Rock & metal music in general has always been popular here in Finland but it’s starting to change here. Finland is following the trends set by the rest of the world so metal music is losing it’s fan base (not so popular among younger generations) here and many heavy metal enthusiasts are really worried about that.
What does Amberian Dawn mean?
"The name of the band is just something we came up whilst doing a lot of brainstorming and discussing. It’s always hard to come up with a new band name. So many good names are already taken. Gee, I would love to have “Rammstein” for example as a band name, if it would be unused as a band name. It would be awesome to have a cool name like that for our own band"
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"Yes I’m worried about it a little bit but I don’t really know that I should be worried about it or not… but it’s going to be a real shame if we’re not able to do shows in the UK any more due to some political things."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Well, right now we’ve just started recording a new studio album and that’s how the next few months are going to be spent. The album is coming out later via Napalm Records, the exact release date isn’t decided yet though. After the release there’s probably going to be some touring in Europe at least. I wish that all of our UK fans would have a chance to see us live. With our previous tour we were only able to do just one show in the UK (in London). I hope that with our next tour we’re able to do more shows in UK."
It's conceivable that the Finnish people are metal-music crazy, with a hole host of bands making names for themselves and achieving mainstream success. From Children of Bodom to Nightwish and HIM to Lordi (who won Eurovision 2006) and Apocalyptica who still to this day remain as the sole Cello Metal band. But gnawing at the latter's heels is the nonet Ravenia of whose self-styled Symphonic Metal sound takes on an epic dramatic twist, with the symphonies being engulfed by film-score/operatic elements that leave the listener entranced by this sensational outfit.
Having released their debut album "Beyond the Walls of Death" back at the end of April, it was about time GMA locked the group away in a Lapland cabin, waited till dark and under the night sky watched the Northern lights dance away whilst we interrogated Armi Päivinen, Ravenia's vocalist. It begins with the background story of Ravenia's past...
"I don't think that metal music is very well represented in the the history of soundtracks but maybe we can fix that"
"Back in 2013 Samuli Reinikainen asked me to sing on a couple of his songs, so I wrote the vocal arrangements and lyrics for them. The vocals had already been recorded when he decided that he no longer wanted to work with me. Well, we figured why waste the vocals when they were already recorded, so we decided to compose new songs around them. Hence Ravenia was born. After that we started composing music for our full-length. Samuli knew our other violinist, Ville, so we asked him if he wanted to be a part of the album, he also recruited the other guys.
We previously worked with Veikko in the group In Silentio Noctis, so we really wanted him to be a part of this as well, he was an obvious choice for us. Samuli has also played together with our bassist Toni Hintikka, so he asked him to tag along, we felt that his style would fit our album perfectly. After we finished recording in the summer of 2015, the album was then mixed at Sonic Pump Studios and mastered at Chartmakers. Finally, our debut ”Beyond The Walls of Death” was released April 29th via Inner Wound Recordings."
Ravenia is called a 'Epic Film score Metal' band, what is inspiration behind this and do you hope it will enable you to create your own genre?
"Who knows, it would certainly be cool. We really love film score / trailer music and we really wanted to get a chance to do that ourselves. Since metal has always been the thing closest to our hearts, we didn't really want to stray too far from it, so we figured why not combine the two. The trailer music elements are definitely our main focus, so the guitars and drums are there really to support that theme and not the other way around."
Because of your distinct sound, could you see Ravenia writing the score for a film? What upcoming film(s) would you love to pen the score for? Do you feel that metal music is not well represented in film soundtracks?
"We could definitely see ourselves writing a score to a fantasy or a war film. It would have been fun to be involved in writing the music for the Assasin's Creed movie but since it's already coming out in December, it's a little late for that. I don't think that metal music is very well represented in the the history of soundtracks but maybe we can fix that, hahhah!"
As Ravenia is a nonet (nine-piece), is it hard to maintain stability and write music together? What challenges has the band faced?
"Since Samuli and I write all the songs together, it makes it a lot easier than having nine people all pitching in with their ideas. We've had quite a few challenges, of course budget wise and more than our fair share of difficulties with the studio computer not working because of the massive amount of tracks. Sometimes we are forced to do things really slowly and it's wasting a lot of valuable time, so we certainly hope that once we start making our next album we would have been able to fix that issue."
Your debut album 'Beyond The Walls Of Death' is now out, what has the response been so far? Do your plan to tour the UK / Europe in support of the album?
"So far the response from most people has been absolutely incredible, it's truly wonderful to see that the emotion is coming through in our music. I have never really heard such beautiful things that
some of our listeners have said, it is very touching. We don't have any touring plans at the moment because of the size of our group, also we have quite a large amount of backing tracks, so unfortunately the venue needs to be quite large in order for those things to work well in a live setting. We have kind of dug a little grave for ourselves with that."
Could you give us a brief breakdown as to what each song means, which was the easiest and hardest to record and what one is your favourite?
"Here it goes, I'll do my best to break them down..
Hmm, the hardest one to record for me was probably ”In Silence”, I don't know why, it just took the longest. The easiest one for me, I would say was ”For Those We Forsaken”. It's hard to name a favourite, parents love all their children equally but ”Into Oblivion” has always been close to my heart musically, it really has the best of both worlds I think."
Your music video 'We All Died For Honor', what is it about? Is it about the Lapland War against the Soviet Union in WW2? Or something else?
"We didn't want it to be about a specific war, so it's more of a general description. The point of the video is not so much on the war itself as it is in those that were left behind to mourn. We wanted that to be the main focus."
Barack Obama acknowledged Finland's long history of successfully exporting metal music at the Nordic summit, what is it do you think that makes Finnish Metal music so popular? With Lordi's Eurovision win arguably being the most outstanding achievement for any Finnish musician, let alone metal, would Ravenia contemplate putting themselves forward to represent Finland at any forthcoming edition of the ESC?
"For some reason, you are not the first person to ask us that. Lately quite a few people have been
asking the same thing. We can't really see ourselves participating in the contest at this point but who knows what crazy plans we'll come up with in the future! It's kinda hard to say what makes Finnish metal so popular but it might have something to do with that that it's cold and dark almost all year long and what else is there to do in Finland besides making music?"
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's, greetings you wish to send out?
"First of all thank you for the interview and to all our listeners a huge thank you for all the kind words and support. Stay epic."
Ravenia's debut album "Beyond The Walls Of Death" is out via Inner Would Recordings
It's not uncommon for a metal band to fall into a sub-genre that is totally unique, not only in terms of lyrical content or sound, but by the sub-genre name itself. So when Finland's Whispered announced details for their forthcoming album "Metsutan - Songs Of The Void", the slight-head turn became imminent after the first word. Why is a Finnish Metal band using a Japanese word in their album title? Turns out they're a 'Samurai Metal' band, well musically they're Melodic Death / Power Metal tinged with Eastern 'Oriental' Folk music influences, but we prefer the new genre tag as a way to describe them.
They might be fashioning blades, experts at martial arts, or masters at kanji calligraphy, but they're not resistant to our interrogation methods. Sadly no sake came between us or the band....
Vocalist / guitarist Jouni Valjakka and guitarist Mikko Mattila entered the interrogation chamber.