Is the successful Finnish band one of the upcoming leaders of the European metal scene?
I’m glad we have this chance for an interview, Eero. How are you?
Hello, and thanks for having me! As you might guess, it’s pretty busy. We’re rehearsing for the upcoming tours and developing the live show which obviously takes tons of time. On top of that, we’re working hard to promote the new album; filming trailers and whatnot, and of course, answering a lot of interviews!
First of all, I want to congratulate you for your upcoming album, “Bringer Of Pain”. It’s an interesting attempt to break new ground and a frequent listen the last few weeks. So, what was the idea behind the creation of the album? Did you aim for a more accessible, pop-ish sound or you just brought the ideas you had to the table, worked on them and that it?
A bit of both. We’ve always been a band with very variable song material, and nowhere does that show clearer than on “Bringer of Pain”. Still, we’re not a band that makes music with pocket calculator in hand – when making music we don’t think, “is this gonna sell, or “is that gonna sell” . We had those songs we liked and we put them on the album. Period.
I became really interested about the band in your second, self titled album. Since then, you released the very successful “Unholy Savior” album and you became a hot name for the new era of European heavy/power metal scene. I have to say, though, I found “Unholy Savior” a bit of a letdown in compare with your previous efforts. Now, with “Bringer Of Pain” in the horizon, do you believe that your new effort has what it takes to satisfy your old fans and bring you some new ones?
I agree. I think with “Unholy Savior” we strayed too deep into the traditional power metal territory so “Bringer” is in a away a return to our older sound. It’s really impossible to tell what the grand audience will like, and also I think it’s pointless to stress yourself worrying about that stuff. The only way I know is to make music you yourself like and hope other people will think the same. That’s the attitude that got us so far.
Since it’s the first time we talk, I’d like to ask you some questions about the past of the band. Firstly, why did you decide to split ways with Nitte Valo, back in 2012? Have you heard anything from Burning Point, her new band?
I follow them on social media and we seem to run into her and the guys from Burning Point often on festivals. It’s a small country after all. Seems they have their wheels rolling nicely and seems they’ve managed to land a pretty solid record deal. I wish nothing but the best for them!
How did you find Noora Louhimo? She’s definitely an impressive singer, definitely not the typical female metal singer most of the people have in mind...
Believe it or not, she was actually discovered on Youtube. She had a clip of herself singing “Another Piece of My heart” by Janis Joplin, based on which we drove into her home city to see her. Luckily, she was willing to join. The rest, as they say, is history.
Something I always wondered is which artists have mainly influenced you as a band. Sure, Judas Priest and Sabaton seem to be some obvious choices, but what about the other ones?
We didn’t actually know about Sabaton until years after starting the band. Maybe the tons of touring with them have rubbed on us a bit, though. Judas Priest and other ‘classic’ metal bands are definitely a key influence. Other than that, it’s difficult to point out. With six members writing music, the complete list of influences would be long and confusing. But to put it briefly: good music.
Although the bass lines in your music are sometimes underestimated, your role in the band is obviously very important, both as an excellent bass player and a competitive songwriter. So, what about your personal influences as a musician?
Thanks for your kind words. As a teenager, I was really rooted into music of 70’s and 80’s - Sabbath, Maiden... you know. On the top of that, I have a few years of classical training in a conservatory. Anyhow, all I really wanted to do ever since age of 13 was to play in a band like Battle Beast. Careful what you wish for, and so on...
“Bringer Of Pain” is your first album without Anton Kabanen, who was the principal writer of your music. Why did he leave the band? Now, with Joona Bjorkroth as your new guitarist, did you share the songwriting process, or there was again a main songwriter who brings the most of the ideas with some little help from the others?
To answer it shortly, no-one was enjoying being in the band. I really hate line-up changes but I still think this was the only possible way. Everybody contributed for this album with both of the Björkroths having a major contribution
If I had to choose my favorite moments from “Bringer Of Pain”, the self titled track and “Beyond The Burning Skies” would be definitely my picks. Could you share with us some extra information for each one of them?
It’s funny you should ask about Joona’s contributions, since both of the songs are mainly his effort. I think those songs actually depict the two sides of the album really well. “Bringer” shows that traditional, head-first kick-ass metal we’re known for, whereas “Beyond” uncovers some new musical territory. I don’t think we’ve used the piano in any song like that before.
“Bastard Son Of Odin” strongly reminds me Stratovarius, with its keys and its whole structure. Am I right or the similarities are only in my mind?
“Bastard” had its start as joke song, really. We were drunk in a tour bus one night, and the conversation turned into the tv-series “Vikings”. I don’t really know how it got on from there. I came up wth the most of the chorus lyrics and a rough guide for melody, which Joona later worked into an actual song. The basic idea was to put into one song every metal cliché we could possibly think of - no offense to Stratovarius!
“King For A Day” was an unexpected first single, having an almost ‘80s pop sound. Also, this almost pop feeling rules the majority of the album, but not in a bad way in my opinion. So, what should we expect from Battle Beast in the future? Something even more pop-ish, like the recent work of Amaranthe for example?
Expect the unexpected. At least for me it’s too early to yet think of our next album cycle now that we have about two years of touring and promoting to do with “Bringer”. We definitely will not stick to just one type of music, that’s for sure.
Do you have in plan an extensive tour to support your new album? Will we see you in Greece anytime soon?
Starting from March we are doing first five weeks as a headliner in Europe and then another month in North-America supporting Sabaton. Apparently our booking agent has had trouble booking us shows in Greece since no dates are in our current tour. We’d absolutely love to come though, we had a great time the last time we were there in 2015. So if some enthusiastic club owner happens to read this: please, give us a call!
Which are the 5 albums that you’re listening to the most this period of time?
Wow, guess I’ve really dwelled in the past lately. Here it comes, in no particular order.
- Savatage: Edge of Thorns
- Yes: The Yes Album
- Fleetwood Mac: Rumors
- Blue Oyster Cult: Agents of Fortune
- Winger: Winger
Thank you very much for your time and your answers. Close this interview as you want...
Keep up the faith, Greek friends! We will do our best to extend a show in your beautiful country again as soon as we can! Cheers!