Doing a Lantern interview was long overdue, but here we are. Of course your newest release is the main reason to ask some questions, but perhaps you can give a short introduction how Lantern was formed and what you have been up to since 2008 when you got together?
Lantern was actually formed ten years ago, in 2007, with me and our vocalist Necrophilos as the founding members. We, being rather old friends then already, met in the summertime shortly after my previous band Cacodaemon was put to rest, and the intention was a) for me to carry on writing music and b) have Necrophilos try his sound as a vocalist (he was quite new to the band bustling back then). There we had it, a new band, a clean slate, nearly no restrictions. Prior to the sophomore full length ‘II: Morphosis’, we have released a demo (‘Virgin Taste of Damnation’), an EP (‘Subterranean Effulgence’) and an album (‘Below’), working as a duo, that is.
Here at Lords Of Metal our first article about Lantern was the review to your previous full-length ‘Below’, which was released in 2013. In the meantime you have expanded from a duo to a five-piece. Can you tell a bit more about this?
Indeed. I lured these old friends of mine into playing Lantern music in 2011, when we decided to take the material on stage and thus form a live line-up. So, our ranks grew with second guitarist St. Belial, bass player J. Noisehunter and drummer J. Poussu, who took part on our latest album ‘II: Morphosis’ in studio, as well. This was due to soon figuring out that this five-piece really seemed like a, you know, band. I don’t regret this decision: the burden that was on my shoulders due to playing everything myself (as well as writing the music / lyrics, recording, mixing etc.) was highly taxing. And as said, this line-up consists of friends only. They are also as close to my own style of playing and musical thinking as people can ever come, not to forget the small bits and pieces the guys are helping to handle for the band (merch, driving to shows, even fixing some gear / cymbals).
Did the line-up change have any influence on the musical direction? To me it seems you have added a bit more thrash influences and I thought that ‘Below’ in a way sounded a bit like a mixture of old Deicide and DarkThrone's 'Soulside Journey' with added weird but inventive guitar parts. The latter still being present though. How would you describe your progress as a band?
The line-up additions haven’t really affected the musical direction, or at least not consciously. There are as much if not more possibilities than before, especially knowing that J. Poussu is a far better drummer than I am. All of these newer songs have already been smouldering inside of me during the first days of playing with this line-up, or even prior to it. The thrashiest song ‘Transmigration’ is originally from our first demo, so the thrash, or better still, mid-80’s death metal vibe has been there ever since. In fact, Possessed is my - hands down - most favourite death metal band ever, not to forget my ancient influences á la old Slayer, Destruction... and why not ‘Soulside Journey’, which I hear has been a great influence for the early 90’s Finnish scene, too. So it’s just my brain taking this concept further, the natural process of enhancing my creation. There haven’t been any dramatic decisions or drastic new influences, just trying to keep us from sounding the same. All our previous releases have stood out from each other, which is the case with ‘II: Morphosis’ too. One could say we are becoming tighter release after release, pressing out more and more excess air from the compositions and being less wavering as the days go by. This sums up things really well, I would say. The hooks and weirdness are there, but it’s more amalgamated than before.
One thing that also can be seen as a big difference is the production values of “II – Morphosis” opposed to “Below”. What can you tell about that?
‘II: Morphosis’ is the first release not mixed by me myself. This time those duties were handled by our mate Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio - and with satisfactory results. This decision was mostly due to me running out of time, because my everyday life is starting to require a bigger part of my energy day in, day out (until I can leave my day job and fully dedicate myself to music, haha). Dan is an audio professional, whereas I am only now starting to feel like I might be able to understand a few things how to REALLY record and mix audio, if I took in a new project or two. My past methods were more or less unorthodox, hence, the weird soundscapes, unintentional but apparently enjoyed by many! The old releases do have their charm, but Lantern aren’t ‘necro’ by choice, which is why I think the nowadays production suits us better. Our songs are brimmed with myriad details and complex riffs (usually combined with relatively fast playing), which deserve to be audible.
Being from Finland a lot of people think about certain bands when it comes to a typical Finnish sound. That goes back to the early 90s with bands as Demigod, Abhorrence, Adramalech and so on. Do you feel there is such a thing as a typical Finnish sound? And do you think there’s a current Finnish death metal movement that still keeps that flame burning? Maybe it’s the other way around as far as you are concerned?
To me, it’s this certain spine the likes of Demigod, Abhorrence and even Demilich have in their way of playing, especially in the leads and specific theme riffs. Nowadays, I guess bands like Corpsessed represent the very Finnish sound quite fittingly, only taking it through their personal filter. Galvanizer, Lie in Ruins, Krypts etc. could be listed here, as well. Of course, there are those far less conventional Finnish death metal bands like Swallowed, Desolate Shrine, and Lantern. I think you have a point there with your ‘other way around’ sentence: I strongly feel the olden spirit that’s in Finnish death metal and Finnish music in general could just be that everlasting fire that feeds the unique sound and the primordial yet strangely sophisticated mentality.
You have been dealing with Dark Descent Records for a while now. They have been growing as a label and are meanwhile a force to be reckoned with. Is that something you notice as a band?
Well yes, I’ve noticed that Dark Descent Records has seen a significant, well-earned rise during the past five or six years we’ve been in interaction. Still, the relations between Mr Calvert and us haven’t really changed. We have the freedom to do everything we need like we’ve had before, there’s no ‘urine in either one’s head’, so to say. We are doing this music first and try to keep as things nice and simple as possible, allowing him to execute whatever merch / version visions he wants from the label point of view, as well. It’s great to see Lantern’s name and music spread in a wider scale and enjoyed by more than a dozen people; I see this as a positive thing. Still, we can label ourselves as an underground band. Like I said, we want to do this music / artistic side first, and we’re lucky we haven’t had to sell out or jump on the tight release schedule train etc. but still be able to work with a professional label.
Any plans to do some tours in addition to the release of ‘II – Morphosis’?
No tour plans for now. The only booked show right now is Helsinki Death Fest on May 6th, which will also be our album release show and ten-year anniversary special. Hence, expect special shenanigans / don’t miss out. It would be interesting to try touring once or twice, even though I don’t foresee loads of road time with this line-up, since we have our day jobs and families. Our past standard has been about 3-8 gigs a year, which has been quite the pleasant pace. But who knows what the future will bring... if someone wishes to book us, do not hesitate to contact us or our label! We don’t usually say no, unless we have a solid reason, like being on live hiatus due to honing our set list / practicing for studio, etc.
That’s all from my side. Anything else you might want to add?
Well, just stay posted for the new album (out on March 17th). And like I said in the previous answer, drop us a line if you want to see us live in a place with electricity near you. Thanks for the interview!