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Vanaf half februari zal het nieuwe Amorphis album 'Eclipse' verkrijgbaar zijn overal in Europa. Dit zevende studioalbum laat een terugkeer horen naar een harder geluid, hetgeen onder andere zijn weerslag vindt in grunts én heldere vocalen. Wie kent de veelzijdige Finse band niet van 'Tales Of The Thousand Lakes'? Naast de fans die de band altijd trouw gebleven zijn, is 'Eclipse' ook een album dat de fans van het eerste uur terug zal aanspreken. Wie is trouwens die nieuwe zanger die ons vaag bekend is van Sinisthra? Op een doordeweekse winteravond hangt ie enthousiast aan de lijn om ons te vertellen wat er na 'Far From The Sun' allemaal gebeurd is in het Amorphis kamp. Aan het woord is Tomi Joutsen.

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

After ten years of loyal service, Pasi Koskinen left the band and replacing him was not an easy task. 'Eclipse' was recorded with a new singer, a powerful vocalist with tremendous long dreadlocks, skilled in grunts as well as clean vocals and all in between who is also the frontman of Sinisthra. The first question is logical as hell:

band imageHow did you get in contact with the band and became the new singer?
Actually it comes through my friend Marko who is the guitar player in my other band Sinisthra. He is a good friend of Tomi Koivusaari and Tomi told him that they had not succeeded in finding a good singer for the band. Then Marko said: “Why don't you try our singer?” cause he knew I had also been playing and singing in death metal bands and I can also sing clean vocals. So they called me and asked me to come over. I was very nervous of course. I didn't know what to say. Finally I said, OK let's give it a try. So we went to Helsinki to their rehearsal place and we played a few songs and everyone seemed to be happy. I was most happiest of them all I guess.

Do you stay in Sinisthra or not?
Yes, of course. They are all close friends of mine and I will not disappoint them. We work like in periods with Amorphis and Sinisthra. When we don't have shows and tours or recordings, we don't play. Everyone has enough time. They can do what they want in that free time, so we all have other bands. Tomi and Niko have their projects too. It is a natural thing to have other bands, it is really a happy situation, we all have an open view on it.

When you came in the band, was all the material already written or did you have an influence on the writing process?
When we talk about music, it was already done when I came into the band. Actually I got some demos. When we came back from the US tour I started to practise the songs. Even vocals were done, but I didn't want to hear anything from Pasi, because I just wanted to do my own melodies and lines and stuff. They gave me the chance to do that. I had my melody lines and they did and we worked them out together.

So it happened quite sudden that Pasi left the band?
Yeah, kind of. What I have understood from it, is that he didn't have the same motivation as he used to have way back. And I think everyone is happier this way. Pasi has his own projects and wants to develop that way. Anyway, I am happy with it of course (laughs)

Yes, that's obvious. The grunts are back. Was it your idea or was it already planned?
No, it was actually my idea. When we started to play the songs, I was thinking: “what if I try to do some growls again”. The guys went like mmmmmmm… okay! Everyone in the studio was very open minded, so… Also the technician Nino said, okay, go over to those growls again. So, it was my idea to grunt again.

Let's have a look at the lyrics now. I have heard they are based on the Kalevala again?
Yes, it is kind of a concept album. Actually there's two songs which are not from the Kalevala, which are 'Under A Soil And Black Stone' and 'Brother Moon'. The rest is taken from the Kalevala. We used the story of Kullervo on the album, something about his poor life. A Finnish writer Paavo Häävikko did his own version of this. He is a famous writer here and we used his version because it was a bit easier to understand. We did it with his permission of course. It was a bit longer. It is not that the first song is the beginning of the story and the last song is the end of the story. We used two stories from the big story. The title 'Eclipse' tells something about that sad story, it sounds like a man's life that comes in darker ways, a sad story with a very sad ending. He kills himself in the end.

But isn't it true that the band used stories of the Kalevala on 'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' already?
Yes, I think they took stories from everywhere in the Kalevala. On this one it is only from that one tale of Kullervo. That name is a flower, but it is a man's name too.

'House Of Sleep' is the first single. You shot a video from it. Can you tell anything about that?
We did it in one day in Finland. There is not a story running through the clip. The band plays and you see images, I don't know exactly how to say it. I think it is a great video because it fits very well with the atmosphere of the song. Kind of floating, atmospheric and dreamy images.

That's something that struck me also with Amorphis. There is always a kind of atmosphere, created by the guitar sound of Tomi and keyboards. Do you know which are the main influences of Tomi on guitar?
I don't know exactly. I think he listens to all kind of music. From Pink Floyd to even Abba. He is really open-minded.

And what are your preferences and influences?
If I think about singers, it should be Glen Danzig, Dave Wyndorf, Jörgen from Grave, Swedish death metal band, he's a killer. What else? I like Nick Cave, he has such a dark voice. I also like all kind of music. I like soft music and I like heavy music. I like Portishead, that's a great band. When I was younger, I listened to only metal music, but now when I grew up I listen to all kind of music.

What about the recording process?
It is basically recorded here in Helsinki in Sonic Pump studio. Nino Laurenne of Thunderstone recorded it. We didn't use an extern producer but did it ourselves. I don't know exactly how many days we spent in the studio, but it was like five weeks or something. It was easy for us because Nino was such an easy and talented guy. He had a lot of great ideas. I really hope that I can work with him in the future again. Everything went quite easy and we did not had so much pressure. We had great songs and were really motivated.

Was it the first time Amorphis recorded there?
Actually, yes. Cause it is a new studio. They have rebuild it. They had another studio before, but it was much smaller. Now it is really big. And it was close to home. All the guys live in Helsinki. I live in a smaller town and it is about a one hour drive from Helsinki. So we could all go home at night. Important, cause we have families.

What about touring?
We have one show at the Finnish Metal Expo, Helsinki at the 18th of February. Later in March we have a Finnish tour. And I hope later this year there will be shows all over Europe. Maybe in autumn we go to America again, but we don't know details at the moment. And of course I really hope to do some Open Air festivals in summer.

band image

I hope we can see you here in Europe, because it didn't happen that much in the past…
I really, really hope we are going to do lots of shows in Europe, because I haven't been in those countries and I really want to see all those places. And I am a big fan of open air festivals, I have been to them but always in audience (laughs). I like the atmosphere of having a good time.

To be on stage there must be something completely different…
(laughs) I think I take my tent with me haha. No, seriously, it is a dream come true. I am really looking forward to that.

The cover is done by Travis Smith, very nice again. Can you tell a bit more about that?
Tomi knows him a long time, we sent e-mails from time to time. And I think Travis is a fan of Amorphis, so it was easy to ask it. Travis did all the artwork with another guy and they worked really hard. It took about half a year, it is really beautiful. A great atmosphere that goes together with the music.

The title 'Eclipse' was chosen because it fits with the tale, as you said before, but were there other reasons why it is called that way?
We had some ideas about a title and it was very difficult to choose, because we didn't want to take a title from one of the tracks or straight from the lyrics of one song. We wanted to give it a name. When we came up with the name 'Eclipse', I thought: “yes, this is a good title” because the images from the Kalevala give also that kind of feeling. A feeling we had in 'Tuonela' too.

What does 'Tuonela' mean?
It is a kind of underworld. Not like hell, but it is the place where dead people go.

If you look at the titles: 'Two Moons', 'Brother Moon', 'Eclipse', 'Am Universum', 'Far From The Sun', you seem to have a soft spot for the universe or astronomy…
Yeah…maybe… I don't know. It is not on purpose. It fits with the band and the general atmosphere of the music. It is part of our whole idea behind the band. It has always had an atmospheric touch. And we like progressive music too.

Another important thing is that you have a new label Nuclear Blast. Tell me everything about that…
All Amorphis guys are very happy about that. It feels like coming home. I had the chance to visit their office in Germany and meet lots of people. I liked the people and the spirit. They are really interested in music. Of course they are also skilled in business, but I think these guys and girls are really hard working with their heart and soul. And they have done some really good promotion for us. We are very happy about that, because it is so much easier to do your stuff when you have a good label.

[/b]Did you do something else than vocals in your musical career? [/b]
Yeah, I composed music for other bands. And I play the guitar also, but I am not a Steve Vai. But I have different projects and it is a kind of therapy to play music. But we have some excellent composers in the band, so I don't know if I am going to do it in future. All these guys are so talented. Maybe if I get some extremely marvellous idea in my head I can give it to them, but for now I am already so happy about this situation, that I can do my own melodies and sing in a band I have known and admired for so long.

Are there certain songs on the album you want to mention or tell something about?
(think deep) One of my favourites is 'Under A Soil And Black Stone' because it is so different. It is a kind of slow song and it ends like Iron Maiden (laughs). But it still sounds natural. And I like 'Perkele (The God Of Fire)' because it is really heavy and wild. I like that whole song: headbanging! I think it has all kind of influences in it.

And what about the bonus track 'Stone Woman'. Where is it available?
I think on a special edition. On the Japanese version. It is pretty much a song like 'House Of Sleep'. No death vocals, a more catchy, gothic touch.

That's good for a single. With 'House Of Sleep' you are in the charts in Finland.
(enthusiastic and proud) Yeah! We are at number one! It is a very good song, but still it is amazing!

Yes, it seems those Finnish charts are better than here, cause Swallow The Sun was in the charts too.
Yes, indeed. And do you know a band called Reverend Bizarre? A doom band. They were in the charts too at number one. That's really amazing, but I am really happy about that.

There is something going on with Finnish musical taste! These days the website of Amorphis is totally renewed with the images and artwork of 'Eclipse', done by a new webmaster Tero Salonen. Everyone should have a look at and buy 'Eclipse' because it is one of the best albums they ever made and this may sound as a cliché, but the album is not! The only wish left for this year is seeing the band in our areas on stage!

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