Eurovision was a big moment for Blind Channel, the sextet from Oulu secured 6th place and cemented themselves in a line of successful rock and metal bands to have graced the Eurovision sphere. The rollercoaster did not stop there as they signed with Century Media, performed sold-out shows across Finland and are now planning on their first major European tour with many shows looking set to sell-out also.
Aptly dubbed 'Finnkin Park' (even though their 'Violent Pop' sound brings together a variety of rock and metal genres), Blind Channel released a music video for their latest single 'Balboa' (released back in August), echoing the core story of the Rocky films i.e. getting up and taking the fight head-on.
Blind Channel's Joel Hokka spoke to Global Metal Apocalypse about their journey since that evening in Rotterdam and how one of Finland's most successful musicians Lauri Ylönen (The Rasmus) came in touch with Joel about doing a special cover of 'Dark Side'.
Blind Channel gained overnight international success after the Eurovision 2021 finals, talk us through the emotions on that night. Additionally, what was it like signing with Century Media?
“Yep it happened pretty quickly with 'Dark Side' & the whole ESC thing. To be honest we didn’t expect that kind of success at all. We were thinking that if we hit the finals it’s already a win for us, and then we ended up in 6th place. But the real victory happened the day after when we saw that 'Dark Side' was #62 on the international Spotify global charts. I think we’ve been hyped up since that night until the last live shows of the summer ended last month. Century Media feels a great home for us. We want to be a massive alternative music outcome and CM / Sony has a great platform for us to be who we are without selling our souls!“
Your achievements have given bands not only in Oulu, but other Finnish cities too, hope that they can break out internationally. Thinking back to when you first started out, did you ever imagine you would be where you are at now?
“We always wanted to make it big internationally. There was no other choice. We were always looking up to Finnish exports like HIM, Children Of Bodom etc, and we thought if those guys can make it so can we! So yeah, we were pretty sure since the start!“
You released your new single / video 'Balboa' last month, first impressions are that the song is to do with the 'Rocky' film franchise, is this true? Either way what was the inspiration for 'Balboa'?
“Balboa is an anthem for the underdogs. It’s simply about getting up again and again. That’s how we’ve felt with our career for past 8 years. And yes, Rocky is the ultimate example of an underdog!“
Assuming 'Balboa' will be included on your forthcoming album (due out 2022), how far are you in the album creation process? When will the next single drop? Will this album be the darkest you've ever done?
“The album is right now in the hands of Dan Lancaster who will be mixing the whole thing next month. After that it will mastered in the US. The next single… hmmm…. maybe soon. The album itself will be the purest Blind Channel ever. We’ve gone through a lot while writing & recording this so there’s a LOT of stories to tell. Of course there’s always the darkness in our music. We come from the North. It’s in our DNA.“
Will the new album be released on vinyl? Will there be special, limited editions released? Maybe a mini-documentary of the band's rise from humble origins to international success?
“There will be many different forms of physical album. Vinyl's for sure for example! We’ve already documented a lot of stuff during 2021 but of course there’s a lot of things still to show for people so let’s see. Hopefully!“
Now you did a live duet with Lauri Ylönen (The Rasmus) on the song 'Dark Side', tell us how that came about? Could we see Blind Channel tour with The Rasmus in times to come?
“Lauri called me (Joel) and told me about the idea. I was blown away ‘cause Lauri is one of my childhood idols from early 2000’s and I really love The Rasmus. I really hope we can tour together ASAP! Maybe next year?“
Speaking of tours, you recently finished a string of dates across Finland, talk us through the logistics and emotions. Your next tour in early-2022 will be with Eskimo Callboy and fellow Finns One Morning Left; assuming you will be playing songs from the new album?
“The shows in Finland have been incredible. Thousands of people every night, pure insane adrenaline all the time. We played over 16 shows and had the best times of our life. The tour with Eskimo Callboy is something we really look forward to now. We will be playing brand new songs but also classics. Our set will be around 40 minutes per night so we need to be smart with the choices when it comes to songs!“
Regarding next year, are you looking to secure slots at festivals across Europe? Could we see Blind Channel at Download or Bloodstock in the UK?
“We’d LOVE to play some big European festivals but right now we don’t know about them yet. Only thing we know for now is that there will be MASSIVE festival slots in Finland for sure but Download, Rock Am Ring, Bloodstock, Reading etc. is always good for us!“
What plans do you have for the year ahead and into 2022 other than your tour supporting Eskimo Callboy?
“Album 4. Hell a lot of touring in EU / FIN (Hopefully US as well), new videos, cool TV things and tons of empty white wine bottles!“
Do you have any greetings and thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?.
“Greetings if you read this whole interview! We really respect that a lot, and also thank you for all the support. Without you (the people and the medias) we’d be nothing. See you at the shows!!“
"Heavy Metal is still very very popular in Finland and every time a metal band brings out an album, it's always in the top 10 chart over here."
Ensiferum celebrate 25 years in 2020 and have just recently released their 8th studio album "Thalassic"; which in itself marks as a first as the band's first themed album. Sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as with all forms of entertainment and art, Ensiferum's plans have been put on hold or cancelled, sure they managed to do a live stream show, but the anniversary celebrations may have to wait until next year, that's if they do it. Stepping up to speak to GMA was vocalist / guitarist Petri Lindroos, he survived our interrogation as he confessed his passion for vinyl, his sorrow at the depletion of venues in Helsinki, his excitement at the new album being released and his nostalgia for the pastimes or indeed things he grew up with, that is as said vinyl, but also cassettes, CD's and going into a record store and being able to listen to a record before purchasing the item(s).
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how did you celebrate your new album "Thalassic" and your 25th anniversary as a band?
"That is an excellent question, well we did a live stream show and this was really the only form of celebration that we can pull off this year [Ensiferum had some shows planned prior to the COVID-19 pandemic]."
What in your opinion are the main factors that have made Ensiferum retain solidarity over the years?
"Well I would say we get along really well, our chemistry matches really well, we have a good crew that takes care of us on the road and stuff, we all still love and enjoy the things that we are doing - writing music, recording albums, going on the road and performing them."
You released the single "Rum, Women, Victory" prior to the "Thalassic" album release, what was the reception like and what can you tell us about the single? What does the word "Thalassic" mean?
"We received very positive feedback from it and for great reason as it's a killer track, we really love that track, it was a very good choice for our first single from the album. It's a nice starting point for the album, it gets your feet moving and head banging very nicely, even if it's a very metal-ish song from the Ensiferum repertoire, it's a very guitar-driven song and is definitely one of my favourites.
Thalassic means 'relating to the ocean and water', so it's not actually pinpointing anything specific but like water-related, ocean-related, this is the first ever themed album by Ensiferum, so this was a new approach for us - our bassist Sami Hinkka came up with this idea a couple of years ago and has been working every now and then until we started to actually form album material. He did a lot of research in historical events, ocean-related myths and things like that, so he is very much responsible for the whole theme actually."
Talk us through the "Thalassic" creation process from start to finish, was there any challenges you had to overcome?"
"Well the recording took around 5 weeks, and then it was mixed and mastered in 2 weeks by Jens Bogren in Sweden. Basically our style of writing music is really really slow, our guy Markus Toivonen one of Ensiferum's founding members brings across the ideas that he has, puts it down at the rehearsal place and plays around with them... we try all of the ideas including the crazy ones before we nail anything down, this takes a while as things change a lot and then when we were ready to hit the studio, we done it and then the final touches actually happen on-the-fly in the studio whilst we are recording."
Could you tell us what the track 'Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III)' means?
"Well the song is the 3rd part of the 'Väinämöinen' trilogy of what has been in existence with Ensiferum for a long time, since the first album... we also wanted to add a little bit of old school Ensfierum vibe into that song and I thought we pulled it off pretty nicely; you can hear that it's completely new but still has a lot of the old Ensiferum elements in it."
Most albums tend to have some songs that never make the final cut, did this happen with "Thalassic"?
"Actually nope, we have almost never had any leftover songs that does not fit into the album, we basically worked the material already and when it's almost ready to be recorded we start to figure out things for the studio; basically we don't ever have leftovers."
Therefore it keeps things tidy and not open for reflection in the context of what songs should have not been left out right?
"Absolutely! Then there is no questions of 'what if', what if this song should have changed to this one and why it didn't make it into the album, things like that, but also saves us getting a headache with that."
Do you have any funny stories to share through your touring experience?
"A lot of cool stuff has happened, it's usually in the middle of the night when people are drunk, when you're just coming out from a show and gear is packed up from the venue and loaded into the bus, ready to head to the next venue. All the funny things between the night and following morning, I cannot pull out any significantly funny moments out of my back pocket like that."
What are your thoughts on "Thalassic" being out on vinyl, was vinyl something you were used to growing up?
"It's very nice to see the album out on vinyl, actually I think that all of our albums are now pretty much on vinyl, even the first one, so the whole catalogue is out. I think that is just wonderful, I don't use Spotfiy at all basically, I just don't like to use Spotify. When I am at home, I listen to vinyls and have CD's, I also have a CD / cassette player attached to my stereo system which I also find very cool. I was listening to a mix-tape I made somewhere in the early 90's and was pretty surprising stuff what came out then, because the title just said 'Power Metal'.
When I was a child, we had this very old stereo system at home with an analogue radio, I think there was even a double cassette / CD player and vinyl player, so yeah there was vinyls back in the days when I was growing up. I actually bought myself a vinyl player a few years back and have started collecting vinyls now, I really do enjoy listening to vinyls, it feels very good."
Of course there are people who prefer digital and others like yourself preferring physical, do you feel at some point there will be a common ground?
"Yeah of course, I also have all of my music stored on my iPad, so of course the convenience of having all of your music on your little iPad or mobile phone, or you store it to the cloud so you can basically listen to it anywhere in time; that one comes to mind when I am travelling. I don't think it's that handy to be travelling with a vinyl player, amplifier and two huge speakers to pump music out you know? Travelling with dozens of vinyls could be tricky... so I think there are good and bad sides for both in a way, but I guess the older people from the 80's & 90's prefer the physical copy of the album in whatever format, that they can hold it in their hands.
But the new generation who have been growing up alongside this digital technology, they will appreciate it a lot more just to have it as a download in mp3 version or whatever it is on their mobile phones, etc.
In a way it is also nice that you can listen an album or at least parts of it online before you purchase them, back in the days you could just go to the record store, pick up an album and take it to the guy at the counter who would hand you over headphones so you could listen to it there, now you can do this at home or wherever you are, sitting on a bus, train, you name it... you can listen to so much music now in an easier way with this digital technology."
Some bands are not fussed about genre tagging and some are, where does Ensiferum sit in this?
"That is a very good question because I think it also depends on who you ask, we have a lot of songs that take influences from many different metal styles, it's hard to pick one specific genre and apply us to it, but we have these Pagan and Viking metal elements alongside Folk Metal... I think we are a part of all of those genres somehow, but we still do consider ourselves a Heavy Metal band which has folk influences in it."
With that in mind, given how distinguishable Finnish folk music is, how would you describe it, how does it differentiate from other folk music?
"That is a really good question actually, well to me when I listen to the Finnish bands from this genre, they all sound very different to each other, but they are easy to recognise - they have this 'Finnish' sound and touch on the music. If you listen to Turisas, they have very much got their own sound in contrast to say Finntroll who have a totally different sound, to me there is a lot of common factors with these two bands - for example, that they come from Finland."
Speaking of which, given how global metal music is with bands from Botswana, Syria, etc., what are your thoughts on the genre's universal appeal?
"Heavy Metal is very universal, that is something I can say. Every place that we have played at has had metalheads there no matter where it is. But these countries definitely have Heavy Metal bands from there, just that we over here in Europe or the USA haven't actually noticed them somehow, that's perhaps the trickiest part - I don't know that many bands though I have seen it on Facebook here and there, that there are metal bands coming from the Middle East and have been taking a listen and are like 'oh, this sounds very cool, why not'."
With respect to not just upcoming Finnish bands, but upcoming bands worldwide, what is the biggest bit of advice you could offer?
"Well first of all play the music that you want to play, play from the heart, never give up; it's a hard and rocky road, with COVID-19 obviously it's not easy for anybody. Just keep on doing what you do and believe in it."
For Metalheads visiting Helsinki, surely there are a lot of venues and so what venues have you most enjoyed performing at? What more can be done to support grass-root venues?
"Well unfortunately there was 3 venues that have just closed in Helsinki permanently, these 3 venues went down within a period of around 6 months. One of those venues was also working as a rehearsal room for dozens of bands, was knocked down and demolished and from what I know, office buildings will be built in it's space. This venue is actually looking for new premises to continue their work, hopefully they can find some.
The 2nd one which was called Virgin Oil is being converted into a hotel, so that one is gone and The Circus in down-town Helsinki is also being converted into an office building. So 3 major venues are gone from Helsinki, but we still have the classic Tavastia club - I guess this one will never go away, it's been there since roughly the 60's / 70's, a very long time. Then there are a couple of new ones popping up here and there, I haven't been to those ones so I don't know how they look and sound from inside, but hopefully we will get some new venues to replace the ones that we have lost so far.
I have seen many shows in these venues and seeing them go really sucks, the local crews from these venues have lost their jobs - both of which are very sad situations.
That's an excellent question, well I think a lot could be done to make this venue situation a lot better... I don't know, it's so much out of my field of knowledge and know-how to know how these things could actually work in being somewhat successful."
For Metalheads visiting Helsinki, what sights / attractions could you recommend, is metal still as popular in Finland?
"There are museums and a fair good number of record shops to visit just around the city centre, so I definitely recommend looking those ones up, they have very nice selections and great staff, decent prices too - so check them out and support the record shops. There used to be a lot of metal bars in Helsinki, but I am not sure if we have one left, that was one of the good things about Helsinki, a long time ago though.
Heavy Metal is still very very popular in Finland and every time a metal band brings out an album, it's always in the top 10 chart over here."
"Our influences vary from pop to progressive metal and musicals to death metal."
Right now the Modern Metal genre is massively hot with bands dabbling in pop, electronic music and other avant-garde genres that would otherwise make metal purists vomit in their mouth... guy's it's the 21st century, keep up... metal is evolving and so embrace it. Ember Falls have done exactly that and by bolting together the unmistakable sound of djent with pop and Groove Metal, the Finnish horde have crafted a sound that would be the ire of the elitists (who cares anyway, metal is about opening your mind and Ember Falls do exactly just that).
Now they are working on their new album which is destined to see daylight later this year or early next year, depending on the situation regarding COVID-19. GMA interrogated on their current plans, how COVID-19 has affected them, their past blessings in touring, future plans and what their sound consists of.
For those who have not heard of Ember Falls, could you give us a brief history of the band and what the band name means?
"The band was originally formed under the name Mekanism in 2010. We started out as a kind of attempt at a Pantera / Muse hybrid as we can recall. Later it became much 'djentier' and heavier for a few years, and then more and more electronic influences started creeping in. After some line-up changes in 2015 (Thomas joined on vocals and Olli joined on bass; Mikko - who’s since left the band - switched from bass to synths), we changed the name to Ember Falls and released the first song with the new name and image. In a way the Ember Falls sound is sort of a mixture of the earlier “Pantera-influenced” poppy stuff and the later electronic-influenced sound. But a lot better and more compositionally mature, we feel, of course.
Ember Falls is a name we came up with to stand for a fictitious city in an imaginary multiverse somewhere in the distant future. On the newer songs we are trying to paint this into the lyrics a lot more than on the debut, where the lyrics were a bit all over the place thematically."
You've had a good career so far through supporting bands like Amaranthe and W.A.S.P., surely this must have blown you back a bit?
"We’ve had great moments and shows definitely. Sometimes it’s hard to believe what we have actually accomplished so far. But we have also worked hard not just as a band but individually too."
How would you describe your sound as you have an eclectic style of metal music going on? What are your influences?
"Our influences are all over the place. We all share a passion for metal music sure, but our influences vary from pop to progressive metal and musicals to death metal. I think in some of our latest songs you can hear multiple different genres happening."
Were you in bands previously? If not how did you get into playing music, specifically the instruments you play?
"I was, and still am, the lead singer in a metal band called Everwave. I have a history as a drummer when I was younger but nowadays see myself clearly as a singer. I do dabble a bit with the acoustic guitar sometimes."
Jay V & Calu:
"We are brothers and we both started playing guitar as teenagers.We also had a Melodic / Technical Death Metal band called Damaging Fallout back in the days. Jay V was one of the founders of Mekanism and soon Calu joined in as a rhythm guitarist / vocalist."
"I started playing drums when I was 17. Played in one “semi-serious” band in high school / college, but Ember Falls (then ‘Mekanism’) was my first real band so to speak, and here we still are 10 years later."
"I've been a part of various projects ranging from pop to progressive metal but Ember Falls stands out as being the most serious one. I started playing the bass and the guitar at the age of 15 or so. I'm also writing and producing my own music."
You dropped your latest single 'We Are Become Fire', what was the reception like and have you had any listens from outside of Finland?
"The reception has been overly positive. We feel our music is now more “us” than it has ever been and people can probably hear that. Currently United States and Germany outrank Finland in streams but we do have have listeners all over the world at least according to Spotify."
What plans did you have before the lockdown set in and were any cancelled / postponed? What plans do you have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"We did have some live shows planned for the spring, which either got cancelled or postponed to next year. We also were planning to finish our second album which is still on the works. Depending on how this situation develops the album will be released late this year or early next year."
For metalheads visiting your city of Tampere, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Tampere is having a lot of construction done at the moment. Things don’t look very pretty down-town but we do like to sit in the parks and have a few beers when it’s warm out. The basic go-to bars for a metal head would be Jack The Rooster, Trasherie, Majava Bar and the legendary Klubi / Pakkahuone."
Do you have any greetings or thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Thank you for all the support! We hope you are staying safe and that this situation eases out soon so we can start touring again and say hello to as many of you as possible!"
"Nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Metal has to evolve naturally and in doing so has to embrace what some might see as unorthodox sounds. One such band who is devoid of being restrained and willingly exploring the music avenues in pop music and disco, is Finland's Memoremains of whom released their latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" to critical acclaim. If you were to strip Amaranthe of it's Death Metal influences and inject it with ABBA or the BeeGees, then you get Memoremains. Given their sound, it almost seems inevitable that they will go far and become another Finnish Metal success story.
Filling in the details of their history, their sound, plans and what metalheads can do in their city of Seinäjoki, the band clearly have a roadmap of where they're aiming to go and showed no weakness in their interrogation... determination radiating from this quintet.
For people who have not heard of Memoremains, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"Memoremains was founded 2016 in Seinäjoki, Finland. The band began to build its career by releasing singles. In 2018 the band released its first EP, “Louder”. Memoremains started touring late 2018. Their first gig in Bar15 was chosen as “The Best Gig of the Year at the Venue”. Since the very first show, the road has already taken the group on an European tour and to summer festivals in Finland - including Provinssi, one of the biggest festivals in Finland.
2019 was a roller-coaster and climaxed with gigs and a new single. Always flirting between metal and pop it was probably just a matter of time when this genre-bending band would release their first pop cover song: Madonna’s “Sorry”.
Memoremains wastes no time and is already fiercely writing new music after COVID-19 cancelled all of the spring and summer gigs. Well received new song "Pounding Heart" was released in early April. As a release party Memoremains set afoot on new territories and dived in the world of streaming as they had their first live streamed gig on YouTube. Memoremains is locked and loaded! Ready to release their debut album this fall and hit the stages ASAP!"
How would you describe your eclectic sound seeing as you bring in influences from Symphonic Metal, Groove Metal, pop and disco?
"We don’t use time thinking about what genre we play or are some musical influences right for our music or not. We listen to a wide variety of music and bring the best parts to our music. We haven’t yet found any limits where we could not lead our songs."
You released your latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" (taken from your debut album out this Autumn), what was the reception like and have you had views outside of Finland?
"Reception was awesome! Thanks to everyone who has given feedback for us! People have said that the song is catchy, fast and well-produced. They have liked the music video as it presents the song genuinely. We have got fans outside of Finland already from our very first releases. It’s actually a bit strange how music can spread nowadays all around the world. Of course nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans have you had postponed or cancelled? What have you been doing whilst under lockdown?
"We had a few gigs in April / May and those have been moved to the future. We had to have our support gig with Battle Beast in April in our home city cancelled; it was very sad that it was cancelled. But we have used this time by making our debut album “The Cost Of Greatness”. We still have some recording to do, but we have progressed quickly. We also had a live stream on the 3rd of April when we released the “Pounding Heart” single."
What plans do you have for late 2020 going into early 2021? With Brexit, are you worried about the financial cost of coming to play in the UK?
"Our debut album should come out 16th of October and we have few gigs already agreed during autumn and winter. We try to get some more gigs and plan a tour outside Finland in 2021; and who knows if we write new music also. About Brexit. Well, it makes things of course more complicated, but we don’t think it would be a problem to come to play in UK if we had a chance!"
Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of Memoremains? How do you unwind at the end of the day?
"We all have jobs because Memoremains is not working full-time yet. So most of our time goes to our work. Music is the biggest hobby in our free-time and some of us has other bands running on. We also try to do sports and sometimes we are just hanging out together, which has nothing to do with music."
For metalheads visiting your city of Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"For metalheads we would definitely recommend to check out “Rytmikorjaamo” if there would be interesting gigs for you. It’s our city’s biggest venue, you can also find more live shows and underground metal at “Bar 15”. But we recommend to explore Seinäjoki open-mindedly, we have a lot of nice pubs and bars all around the city. There’s not many any mind blowing sights. We recommend to look around and enjoy the rivers, lakes and nature or whatever makes you feel comfortable."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Hey everyone! Follow our journey! We have awesome singles and music videos coming out over the coming months. And don’t forget to check out our debut album in October!"
It's been 18 years since the Finnish Industrial Metal band ...And Oceans released an album and yet here we are, album number 5 'Cosmic World Mother' is due for execution on the 8th of May. There is a reason behind the lengthy period between albums and that is because the band was under another moniker for 8 years (2005-2013), the name being Havoc Unit. However the sextet from Pietarsaari are back with a new lease of life and are set to carry on from where they left off albeit with 2 members being from the original set-up. New vocalist Mathias Lillmåns and original guitarist Timo Kontio spoke to GMA about this change in name, the new album and the current health of the Finnish Metal scene.
So here we are album number 5, "Cosmic World Mother" - it looks like ...and Oceans are coming back with renewed vigour, what does it feel like coming back under your original moniker other than 'Havoc Unit'?
"Of course it feels great. We had such a great run with …and Oceans back in the day. We had thought of coming back a few times. Then we always thought that maybe it’s better to leave it to rest and not trying to force it and make a comeback for the sake of it. Then we had a couple of rehearsals and it was clear that we had to do this. We made a short rehearsal room video and put it online. Feedback was quite great. It gave more boost to that to happen. Soon we got some offers for gigs and festivals. After those we thought that it would be great to do some new music as well and here we are now.
Havoc Unit was totally different thing music wise and basically everything else as well. …and Oceans, Festerday and Havoc Unit have always been different units. It’s a known misinterpretation that we would have just changed names between them. For example Festarday and …and Oceans are both active now."
Could you give us a brief background behind each of the songs on the album itself? It must feel good to release a new album after 18 years since 'Cypher'?
"When I wrote the lyrics to this album it started to shape into a concept album and each song has it's own place and story within that concept. I will not at this time reveal any clues to unlocking each song, since I think that people should think for themselves and form their own vision of what the songs stand for. I can tell that much that this album is all about energy and how it transforms."
Do you feel there is a current lack of Industrial Metal bands? What is about the genre that captivates you and how does this filter into ...and Oceans?
"I don’t know about that. Don’t follow the current scene that much. Even less of industrial metal bands. My cup of tea is more of black metal and death metal. People might hear that on our new album as well."
Would you say the artwork can be interpreted in many ways? In the case of ...and Oceans perhaps shedding your old line-up away to be reborn anew?
"That can be one of way looking at it, yes. It would fit, but it's not my own interpretation. As I said before, I think everyone should form their own opinions. Don't wanna spoil too much here either, but it is very closely connected to the concept. In fact you when you will see the whole artwork of the album you can unlock everything that is "Cosmic World Mother"."
What were (if any) the more challenging aspects of creating the new album? Will there be a European tour (and overseas) in support of the album?
"There were thoughts not doing this like mentioned earlier. Reason was the doubt how it would turn out. Now when the album is ready those doubts were unnecessary. New riffs and melodies kept coming like it’s ’95 again, haha.
One challenge was the fact that we live so far away from each other and in several different cities. Arrangements and testing new stuff for example. That wasn’t possible at least not so often. It turned out great though.
We are working on a tour and a few nice possibilities is already there, but we come back to those when confirmed. European tour first."
What is the current state of the Finnish Metal scene? Is it still in the public domain or has it receded more to underground levels?
"Quite a lot new bands both in death metal and black metal scene. Almost like a 3rd or even 4th wave, haha. People seem to appreciate Finnish bands a lot and why not since quality stuff. Metal in general has been noticed quite well since that is the one thing people know when talking about Finland. Though there are only a few big bands coming from here. Most of the bands are in the underground willingly or forced to stay there for a reason."
For metalheads visiting both Pietarsaari and Vaasa, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"Visiting Pietarsaari, hmmm. Not too much to see here. Hardly any live events at least not metal. Our band members live in four different cities nowadays. None of us lives in Vaasa any more."
What are your plans for 2020 post-album release? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Of course we want to have a really strong coming with this new album. Loads of gigs/festivals, tour. A new video in the making. Hope to see new fans out there and also old fans from the old era of this band. See you on the road!"
Pop Metal? Melodic Heavy Metal? Finnish Metal? However you want to describe Segmentia is down to you, but the truth remains that they are one of the fresh products coming off of the Finnish Metal conveyor belt. Only having formed this year, devised and unleashed their debut EP 'Shanghai' and signed a deal with renowned Finnish label Inverse Records, things certainly are going well for this quarter. But as Jere explains, their humble beginnings have provided some guidance for this new beast to follow by...
"Rumours say that Alvar (Aalto) wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!"
Give us a brief background of Segmentia, were you in previous bands? What does 'Segmentia' mean?
"We started playing together with Arttu in 2012. During that time we were playing only covers and the line-up changed a lot during the years. I had already composed a few songs of my own but before that I proposed that we started to create own music, with the band I wanted to have line up that works. I think it was around 2015 or so when we recorded our first demos with that line-up. After that the line-up still changed a lot but we still decided to start recording the songs for our EP.
All the recordings were ready at the end of 2017 but we were still struggling with our bassist and vocalist. Finally in the end of 2018 when Sami joined the band I was sure that the 3rd member was found and soon after that Laura joined to complete the line-up. I personally have played in many bands, but before Segmentia my main band has been a Power Metal band called Celesty. Actually when we decided to end Celesty it took like a couple of years when I started to look for a new group.
Segmentia doesn’t mean anything. Our first name was Seventh Segment, but we wanted to have a band name with only one word so I came up with the idea of Segmentia.
You play Pop Metal, would you liken yourselves to Dead By April or how would you describe your sound?
"When I start to compose a song I never think about the genre or any other band. I just create what’s in my mind and basically clear my head from melodies to my computer. Then I start to write vocal lines and add rhythms etc. then I go to my rehearsal room’s studio and start to produce the song. I know Dead By April and I listened to their first album a lot when it came out, but they might be like one of the 100 influences I have when I create music."
Shanghai' is your debut EP and so what was the response like? Will you tour in support of the EP? Any shows outside Finland?
"The response has been great. I only have heard good things and when we play live, people really seem to enjoy our performance and music, even if they don’t know our songs well. We have done some shows in Finland and yeah we are planning to play worldwide. This is only the beginning of Segmentia and we have lots of plans for the future, so we’ll see what is going to happen. Anyway I’m very excited about the future."
Talk us through 'Shanghai', what do the tracks mean and why is the EP title borrowed from a city in China?
"Shanghai reflects the light that comes when there is someone whom shares the joys and sorrows of this life. We are quite alone here on Earth called "The Dark Sea" in the song, and when there is someone whom you can share that life, the shores of the dark sea shimmer. Geographically, Shanghai is an island in the middle of a dark sea, and thinking of that actual island maybe can help to see this idea.
I almost ended my entire musical career after Celesty about 7 years ago. Then my current wife told me to stop those crazy talks. This gave me the courage and the spark to try and start a new band. Shanghai's lyrics are not only a tribute to love, but also a tribute to my wife. The song also tells us how each of us should have that bright person in our lives. We called the EP Shanghai also because every song tells a story in its own way from different parts, from the trip to a band and family. We have to be able to share joys and sorrows because that sense of security really has a lot to do with how our band holds together."
How does it feel to be a part of the Inverse Records family? Surely this is a dream start for the band?
"Well this was very natural choice for us. I have studied their work a lot and I know the guys who work there. Also we decided to try to do a lot of ourselves for the release and that we didn’t try to get any labels behind us or anything like that. We just started this by ourselves and so that we can do a lot of ourselves we choose Concorde Music Company and Inverse to help us out."
For metalheads visiting Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any pubs, venues?
"Actually Seinäjoki is like other cities in Finland as well, it's at it's greatest in the summer. Here in Seinäjoki is quite little sight so see but one of our sights is the church in the down town who has designed by famous Finnish Architect Alvar Aalto. Rumours say that Alvar wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!
We also have many quite big festivals here in summertime. Provinssirock is one of the coolest and biggest festivals in Finland and the venue called Törnävän Saari is also wonderful sight to see. Also we have Tango music festival here, which also brings a lot of people to our city. Then there is also Vauhtiajot rock and race festival which is music and rally on the same weekend. Then we have the famous club called Rytmikorjaamo and a legendary pub called “Warttibaari” Bar 15, where also Segmentia played their first gig on 6th April 2019."
With 2019 coming near to a close, what plans have you got for the rest of the year leading into 2020?
"We have planned a lot. Priority one is to finalize our own website http://www.segmentia.net. Also this end of the year we are planning to play at least one gig and also we shoot our second music video from one of the EP songs but I won’t tell you yet which one. Also I have started to record demos from new songs I have composed and I believe that we start the pre-production of Segmentia debut album in year 2020.
Also, we are going to be active in many ways to keep the name Segmentia familiar in people’s ears. Play lot of gigs in Finland but hopefully also in approach, maybe support some bigger bands."
Are there any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"Hello all Global Metal Apocalypse readers! Greetings from beautiful Finland, the land of the thousand lakes! I hope that you enjoyed our interview. Go and check Segmentia music, follow us on social media, tell us to your friends and families and most important, remember to say kind words to your loved ones!"
Order the CD: https://www.recordshopx.com/single/segmentia/shanghai/#654877
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.