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.