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Burning Point

Ondergetekende was al behoorlijk gecharmeerd van het vorige Burning Point album 'Burned Down The Enemy', maar de laatste release 'Empyre' van deze Finse band wist me nog meer te bekoren. Reden genoeg om maar weer eens contact te zoeken met de sympathieke frontman Pete Ahonen om de gebeurtenissen van de afgelopen twee jaar eens door te lopen.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

Pete, it's been about two years that we spoke about the early stages of the band and about the release of your third album 'Burned Down The Enemy'. What has been happening with the band after the release of that album?
Well, we did shows nationally and also made an appearance in the Maximum Rock Festival in Romania. Furthermore there were a few changes in the line-up, our original drummer left (I could of course say in mutual agreement haha…) and Jussi, originally on keyboards, took over the drums. As a result of that we added a new keyboardist called Pasi Hiltula (ex-Kalmah, ex-Eternal Tears of Sorrow) who also played on our first two albums 'Salvation By fire' and 'Feeding The Flames'. All looks great now, the band is tighter than ever!

I quite liked the 'Burned Down The Enemy' record, but how do you look back on that album now two years later?
I think we share the same taste in music, because I like it too. Well, to be hones I stand behind every piece of music that we've ever done so far and I do both love the 'Burned Down The Enemy' album as well as all the previous ones. I think that it shows more of the power metal side of Burning oint, since there were basically six out of fourteen very fast songs, while there are also more progressive songs present.

What did 'Burned Down The Enemy' do for you from a commercial perspective? Were you able to enlarge your fanbase as a result of it?
Oh yes, certainly if I base it on the fan email that we received. And it was also very nice to notice that although there was a gap of a few years between the albums, we were not forgotten.

You were also going to make a video for the song 'Heart Of Gold'. Did that actually happen and if so, did it help in any way or wasn't it worth the money and effort creating it?
Yes, we actually did a video from that song. You can find it on our Myspace website or on Youtube where is quite a lot of nice Burning Point stuff to be found by the way. Judging on the number of views on Youtube all our videos have been watched quite nicely, so yes I definitely think it was worth the money and effort.

When I asked you last time what your dreams for the future were, you stated that you wanted to make a new album, do as many gigs as possible and maybe even release a DVD. You've succeeded in doing the first, but what about the other two?
Well, although we did gigs on a very regular basis we're always looking for new ones! Unfortunately we've struggled years without a proper booking agency, but as we're no quitters we'll continue our fight on that area. When it comes to the DVD, we are collecting lots of material all the time and filming the new shows within this year. We did a pro-shot gig last fall but we thought it would be nice to include as much stuff on it as possible, so since a lot of stuff that we would like to add is not filmed yet we've decided to wait. But it is definitely coming, that I can say!

When did you start with the preparations for 'Empyre' and what did you want to accomplish with this new album?
I think I recorded the first tracks early 2008. Well, it would be nice to get to the point where the album sales are good enough that we would be able the tour all around or at least in Europe. We get so much fan mail concerning the Burning Point shows in lots of countries and it would be great to make their wishes come true!

How did the actual song-writing process for 'Empyre' look like? Who was responsible for the musical part of it and who took care of writing the lyrics for the songs?
This time it was totally different compared to the old days where I basically wrote almost everything, 90% of the songs and lyrics were written by me and I wrote all the vocal melodies. Now it's like four guys in the band are capable of composing songs and to me it is a huge relief and it took a lot of weight from my shoulders. Burning Point is functioning as band now more than ever!

Let's stick to the lyrical side of things for a moment: what subjects are you trying to cover in the lyrics and are they important for you as a band?
Well, the lyrics have always been from the real life and we've mixed them with a little fiction. Lyrics that are based on a real happenings are very important to me, I just don't seem to be able to fit in words like dragon, sword and shield or sentences like “do you wanna rock” and “I love you baby” haha…. And I mean it in a good way, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the bands that sing about those things.

Your music has a strong link to the eighties, but with a more modern sound in my opinion. Is that your favourite musical period and which bands have made the biggest impression on you from that era?
I grew up listening to metal in the eighties so yes, my roots are definitively there, in bands like Accept, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, W.A.S.P., Judas Priest, but I also listened to a lot of A.O.R. bands like Bon Jovi, Europe and Foreigner.

You recorded three cover tracks for the limited edition version of 'Empyre' being Running Wild's 'Gods Of Iron', The Rods' 'Nuclear Skies' and Q5's 'Let Go'. Why these songs and, since I haven't heard them, how does the result sound? Have you stayed closed to the originals?
Actually the limited edition contains four covers, the fourth one being a song from a big Finnish artist called Kirka. Unfortunately the info sheet gives you a little bit of false information regarding that matter. There's no particular reason why those actual songs were chosen, I just picked a few from the long list of covers I've been wanting to do haha… We did stay pretty close to the originals but I think that we definitively put the Burning Point trademark on those songs and were able to drag them in to the present day. Now when I listen to them they are very much in line with the other material on the album, almost like they were our own songs! And last but definitively not least, with all those amazing guest musicians on those covers, Majk Moti (ex-Running Wild), David “Rock” Feinstein (The Rods), Jonathan K. (Q5 and Nightshade) the limited edition of 'Empyre' is surely worth the money! Another big milestone for Burning Point was the fact that we did a radio single for the Kirka cover which made it to the play lists of several Finish radio station and it has received a huge amount of playtime since mid January.

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'Empyre' starts with an intro ('The Godfather Theme'), followed by the title track, which in my opinion is one of the strongest tracks on offer. Why did you decide to use an intro and what is the meaning of the word 'Empyre'?
Well, 'The Godfather Theme' is just one of those things that I've wanting to do already years and years ago, but unfortunately never got the chance to actually do it, for one reason or another. We wanted to continue our fire theme which are on all of our album titles and as you know “pyre” is a very much fire related word so empire became 'Empyre'!

Another positive surprise for me was the semi-ballad 'Was It Me'. What are for you the best moments of the new album and why?
The album in a whole is my best moment ha ha…. I really mean that, I really love all the songs, the production is top notch, the cover art is amazing, the lay-out and the booklet is excellent and we have some pretty cool covers and guests.

I really like the title of the song 'Only The Wrong Will Survive', but what's the message that you want to bring across with a title like this?
You know, in everybody's life there is someone that always gets away with things without having to suffer the consequences of their actions. No matter what he or she is doing, they just “slide” away from it. The song is about people like that.

Of course every band will say that their latest release is their absolute best, but what are in your opinion the biggest differences and/or improvements when comparing 'Empyre' with your first three albums?
First of all we are better musicians and songwriters, secondly I feel that my singing has improved a lot and I think that the songs are much more mature now. When it comes to the songs itself, this time they're more straight forward rockers but you'll never know what to expect from the next album. I mean that we never plan to write any particular type of songs. The next album might be totally power metal or whatever, as long as it is within the boundaries of melodic heavy metal!

What are your expectations of the new album, when will the album be a success for you?
Well, we are humble workers and since the first record contract and the release of the first album for us everything has been a success.

The internet is very important nowadays for band promotion and you've created a new website www.burningpoint.net. When I go there however, the site is not fully operational yet. When will this become fully operational?
Yes, we changed our server operator and some problems have occurred during that, I'm not exactly sure what…but the site will be re-opened soon. In the meantime our Myspace (www.myspace.com/burningpointband) pages are kept updated with news about the band.

'Empyre' is the second of three albums that you're contractually obliged to make for Metal Heaven. What do you think of the relationship with them so far and are they still big believers in Burning Point?
Things seem to be quite okay and we definitively hope that they do believe in us because we're fighters for sure and are planning to keep on doing this for the years ahead. We just hope that the album gets promoted and advertised as well as it deserves!

From what I've seen, the response on the album has been very positive. How does that make you feel?
We are very, very happy about the response! It's been amazing and the reviews have been excellent!

What are your plans for the short-term future? The album is out now, so what are the next steps for you?
I guess that doing interviews and rehearsing to the upcoming gigs are the next in line.

What are your plans to promote this album live? Are there any concrete plans and if so, will it bring Burning Point to the Benelux area?
Our little tour with Cryonic Temple and Tragedian starts on March 13th and there are a few gigs in Sweden and a few in Finland to this point. There has been a discussion to do more dates and if it would be up to us entirely we would be doing shows all around, but these things primarily depend on the album sales. I've said this before, if someone who's reading this interview knows any concert promoters or club owners that would be interested to organizing a show for us, just contact me at info@burningpoint.net

What are your plans on a more long-term perspective with Burning Point? To what level do you want to bring the band and why do you think that Burning Point has the potential to reach that level?
As I said before I like to see this band in a situation that is releasing albums and doing tours! I honestly think that the quality of the songs is high enough to be able to reach to that level!

Pete, thanks for you time and willingness to answer my questions. As always, the famous last words are yours?
Thank you for this interview, I had lots of fun doing it. We hope you'll love the new 'Empyre' album and hopefully we'll see some of you on tour as well!

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