I spend a lot of time being grumpy at the state of the world and listening to Slayer or Run The Jewels, smoking joints. I especially like the “I’ll tea bag a piranha tank” lyric from RJT2, as it inspires me to bravely go make coffee and face what the day brings. In a world of crime, racism, poverty and where even Bernie Sanders voted yes on the Cyber Security Act that lets whistleblowers get shut down, I know I can at least rely on a handful of artists to create powerful works that will stand the test of time until the world blows up. I want to be optimistic and do indeed preach love and tolerance each day, except when trolled too hard by emo fans.
Finland’s Wolfheart are a band who I can proudly point at and say they will undoubtedly be reliable as heck. Tuomas Saukkonen’s track record as well as the sheer scope of the band’s new record Shadow World are as inspiring as discovering some of the greats like Primordial or Soilwork, bands who have soldiered on year after year. I truly hope all metalheads can embrace Wolfheart’s cause and dare say few will not be moved by the intensity and range of dynamics from guttural screams to pummeling heavy melodeath or piano to stir the soul. It might not win the 2015 weird and spooky award like Locrian or be reinventing the wheel, but Wolfheart have a lot to be proud of.
In a world where time seems scarce and we don’t want ours wasted, metal can trust in this band.
Enter the shadow world BELOW.
How does it feel to have Shadow World completed and presented to the masses? It seems like people really respond to your songs live, like the true essence of heavy metal ritual. DO you think if a band like you guys or Neurosis or, say, Reign of Sleipnir fully commits to the intensity of the music it can not help but be felt?
-It feels really good. The album was already mixed and mastered in october 2014 but since Spinefarm wanted to re-release the debut album we decided to wait a bit with Shadow World so some waiting has been done . I believe that the energy on live shows towards and with the audience is really important and indeed when there is the certain intensity in the performance it will make the audience react. Best live experience comes from strong connection between the crowd and the band.
How has it felt being ahead of Disturbed and Bon Jovi on the Finnish charts? That’s very impressive considering how heavy you are, or even if you weren’t heavy!
-It was really cool. I have written 14 albums for my other bands before Shadow World so I have had some time to create a loyal fan base in Finland. Also needs to mentioned that Finland is very metal oriented country when it comes to listeners, media etc. I used to have a Bon Jovi poster in my room while I was a kid so it was pretty awesome to top them in charts
The melodic intensity of your band is so strong musically and I feel like even people who don’t like harsh vocals would not be unnerved by them in your songs because they just fit the huge sound so well. Any detractors?
-Of course there is a lot of listeners who prefer clean vocals and I have used pretty much of cleans with my previous bands so there has been some complaints from fans of my old bands but then again there has been a lot of people who prefer it this way and I use the guitar melodies to compensate the lack of vocal melodies so I don´t see any reason to add clean vocals for Wolfheart. I also try to arrange the vocals in a way that they work more as an percussive element on top of the heavy guitars than distracting brutal element.
So am I correct in hearing all the material is composed by you?
-the debut was 100% written by me but on the new album there is material also from our solo guitarist and since I usually been writing all the material for my albums it was really refreshing to be able to brainstorm with a super talented musician and song writer like Mika Lammassaari is. Mika wrote one full song and riffs for 2nd and in the future will definitely work more closely together when it comes to songwriting.
Is the name “Shadow World” a metaphor for the underground or a mythical or Umbra type setting from legend?
-Shadow World is a metaphor for inner darkness that changes your view of the world / life etc.
How has being from your country shaped you as a person and musician? I know that is hard to tell in a short answer!
-The beautiful Finnish nature and long and hard winter has always been a big source of an inspiration for me. Also the certain type of melancholy that seems to be in our dna plays a role in this for sure. My music in general sounds very Finnish to my ears and of course the very positive environment for being a metal musician helped a lot in the beginning.
Was it hard mastering the piano and did you ever think “this is too wussy for metal”? I personally love it and it adds so much reverent almost Hollywood epic movie feelings to your songs (like the end of “Veri”) or a band like Solstafir’s or even Mogwai’s music. Your music reminds me of like At The Gates playing Bathory’s viking songs, haha.
-ATG playing Bathory´s viking songs….that should been a sticker in every cd case haha! I have played piano since I was 19 but never had the time to actually rehearse to play it properly so my technique is horrible and also needed to work a lot in the studio with my dynamics but I am happy of the result.I had only 1 night in the studio for piano recordings and was able to get to play a grand piano so it was really cool but also very stressful night. A lot of ambient mics etc so no editing possible and all tracks needed to played whole and correctly which is a bit of a challenge when you are guitarist/drummer who played piano maybe once a month. I am far from mastering the instrument but I am able to play or learn to play all ideas I get into my head so that is enough for me. i have been a bit fan of Dissection and when I heard ”Storm of the lights bane” outro when I was a kid I was convinced that piano fits to metal like a glove in a hand.
What have been some of the biggest triumphs for Wolf heart so far that have kept the pack’s heart’s strong?
-Getting the debut album out from my own label and getting this rolling really well was a big boost in energy and motivation and also after the release being able to play in big Festivals in Europe and Scandinavia was awesome as well. Show in Summerbreeze where we did the video for ”Aeon of Cold” was the biggest highlight of 2014 for sure. Self financed and released debut with no promo budget or distribution outside Finland and audience beyond awesome making so much noise that we barely heard the intro on stage is something that will always remember. It is not just the band directing energy towards the audience but imagine the amount of adrenaline in the blood when you came with 0 expectations and walk in front of an audience like that. I am counting days to get on tour and for the festivals of 2016 !