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Oddland

We had to be patient for four years, but the Finnish progressive metal band Oddland does not do half a job; After flabbergasting us with their debut ’The Treachery Of Senses’ in 2012, the minutely crafting of new material results in a brand new complex work, worth diving deep into as listener. Thus ‘Origin’ shows the further musical development of a bunch very accomplished musicians. We contacted bassist Joni Palmoth and guitarist Jussi Poikonen to find out more details about this new effort.

By: Vera | Archive under prog / sympho metal

Four years have gone by since our first interview for your debut album ‘The Treachery Of Senses’. How are you doing?
Hi, nice to chat with you again! We’re doing very well, thank you - really relieved and excited to finally have the second album out and to be getting back to playing live again.

What happened with Oddland after the release of your debut? Could you support the album with enough live gigs?
About a year after the release of ‘The Treachery Of Senses’ we played as many gigs as we could, including some very nice festivals like Tuska, Headway and Progpower, and a mini-tour with Soen. So we did OK, but of course there could have been more extensive touring; we had negotiations about tours with some pretty well-known bands at the time, but unfortunately these were cancelled due to various reasons. Let’s hope we have better luck this time!

When did you start writing new material and what can you tell about the writing process for ‘Origin’?
Elements of some of the new songs (like ‘Untrue’) existed already during the making of the first record, and the first entirely new songs (e.g. ‘Unknown’) were written during 2012. Of course, everything changed quite a lot during our pre-production limbo, as it always seems to happen with us. Late in 2013 we decided to focus fully on writing, rehearsing, and recording new material, and the songs were mostly finished during summer 2015. The writing process is really slow for us, because we don’t keep anything which does not satisfy every one of us. And even if we consider a song finished at some point, usually we end up changing things after pre-production recordings.

I think there is proper evolution and development in your music, compared to the debut… more intricate and complex structures, but how do you see the comparison between both albums and your musical development?
Regarding the writing approach for ‘Origin’, we were aiming for deeper, more layered compositions and more organic transitions between parts compared to the first album, which had somewhat more traditional riff-based songs. Also, on ‘The Treachery Of Senses’ there was some pretty in-your-face guitar noodling, while here the technically challenging stuff is more hidden in the background. Still, we’ve had a lot of comments in reviews of the new album about how technical the material is. This is a bit surprising for us, since although much of the new material is pretty difficult to play, we didn’t think you can really hear that in the end. Regarding the overall atmosphere of the new album, we were going for a heavier, starker mood than on the first one; we feel that this is pretty well reflected in the compositions, lyrics, and overall production.

I remember you put a lot of efforts and time into the recordings of your debut. What about the recording process this time?
Yes, we recorded the debut album three times; this time we did it just twice hehe. But for this album the process took a longer time and many more iterations of the songs in pre-production. So overall, we probably put even more effort to the recordings this time. Also, we did a lot of work on getting especially the guitar and vocal tones just right, trying out a lot of equipment combinations etc. However, after a couple of years playing the material at rehearsals and doing detailed pre-production, the actual recording process was relatively painless and done over a period of a couple of months in fall 2015.

Once again you engaged a famous producer to do the mix and mastering. How did you come in contact with Daniel Bergstrand and how was it to work with him?
We loved working with Dan Swanö on the first album, and are very happy with the sound he crafted for those songs. However, we wanted to try out a new perspective to the mixing, especially since the mood of the songs is a bit different from those on ‘The Treachery of Senses’. As we got closer to the mixing phase, we started going through albums whose sounds we like, and sent a bunch a queries to the related producers. Bergstrand was one of these, since we really appreciated his earlier work with bands like Meshuggah, In Flames and Soilwork. In his mix, Daniel emphasized somewhat different things than we were expecting, and he had a strong idea on what the overall sound should be. This was refreshing in a way, since by ourselves we often end up going back and forth a lot on even the smallest details. In the end we feel that the final mix complements the heavy, somewhat darker feel of the new songs nicely.

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What can you tell about the lyrical contents of ‘Origin’ and can you go deeper into the lyrics?
The initial approach for the lyrics was to explore where we come from and who we are. Sakari gathered thoughts and ideas from the other guys about things that are important to them. These ideas were then translated into lyrics for the songs. Joni for example gave a photograph of four generations of men including him as an inspiration for “his” song ‘Esotericism’. ‘Origin’ is not a concept album although it well could have been, and not all of the songs touch a personal base; there are a couple of songs like ‘Skylines’ and ‘Faraway’ that are of more general topics. ‘Will’ on the other hand looks into a collective experience of troubled father-relationships.

In March 2016 you signed a contract with Sensory Records. What is the story behind finding a new label and why no longer Century Media?
The prosaic story is that CM was getting rid of a bunch of smaller bands from their roster at one point, and we got kicked out too. This did not have a major impact on making the new album, since we handle all of the production, recordings, etc. by ourselves anyway. Thus we decided to go ahead and finish the album, and figure out the publishing details once it was finished (and to be honest, in contrast to the artistic work, publishing the record ourselves was not something we were enthusiastic about). When the material was nearing completion, we contacted some record labels, and finally got in touch with Ken Golden from Laser’s Edge/Sensory; he was familiar with our first album, liked the new material, and offered us a deal. We were more than happy to sign up, as Sensory and Laser’s Edge have some really cool bands in their roster, and we feel we fit in really nicely.

Are there any guests on the album?
No. This was not a matter of principle or anything like that; we considered getting for example some guest vocalists again, but in the end felt that the songs really didn’t need it this time.

In our previous interview you told me that you can get a lot more dynamics in music without using growls, yet we hear some grunt-like growls on ‘Origin’… Did you change your mind?
Not at all. We use growling mainly as an effect for example by doubling some vocal lines. Probably the lead vocals themselves on ‘Origin’ have more diversity, as Sakari has developed as a singer, and did a great job in bringing out the darker moods of some of the new songs. We still mostly want to avoid the pretty widespread vocal approach of having separate growling and clean singing segments, as we find a more organic dynamic to be more interesting.

Are there plans to shoot music videos?
Sure. Currently we’re planning to do at least a play-through of ‘Thanatos’, and probably a more traditional music video of ‘Skylines’. And any day now we will be releasing a lyric video of ‘Will’, done by our drummer Ville, which showcases some of the cool album art.

Who did the artwork and can you tell something about its symbolism?
The art was done by the very talented Egyptian artist Mohammed Essam. We gave him rough mixes of the songs, and he was inspired to make separate works of art for each of the songs. These reflect the impressions he got from the songs, but also tell their own story as a collection (although probably not in the same order as the songs, in case you want to puzzle it out). We were very impressed by how well Mohammed captured and represented the mood of the album in the artwork.

What are the plans for the near future?
In the immediate future we’ll be focusing on playing the new material live; in the beginning of October we’re having a release party in our hometown Turku, and the week after that we’ll play a gig with Ne Obliviscaris in Helsinki. Then we’ll be organizing some selected concerts in Finland, and hopefully head over to central Europe soon. And one can wish it won’t take us another four years to get the next album out...

If you like to add something, feel free to do it here…
In a few weeks, we’re releasing a limited edition double vinyl version of ‘Origin’, including a full-size art booklet. It’s sounding and looking great, and you can get yours from our webstore over at www.oddlandband.com. Thanks for the interview!

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