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Deathkin

Deathkin was vorige maand een grote verrassing – je hoort niet veel echt coole dingen meer in black metal, gezien er zoveel wordt nagedaan. De heren uit Finland lieten horen hoe je nadoen echter kunt omzetten in “eigen maken” en zorgde daarom voor een ijzersterke plaat. Wij voelde gitarist Tero aan de tand over de plaat en hun schrijfwijze.

Door: Job | Archiveer onder black metal

Hi! Congratulations on the stellar ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’ – that’s an album to be incredibly proud of! Before we start off: how have you been?
Cheers! ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’ really is an album that we are really proud of! We have been quite nice, thank you for asking, even though it has been a bit quiet for the most of the time. We have been playing several gigs mostly in southern Finland during the last year with good feedback. There have been some nice memories along the way, like for example touring for a few gigs with a major influence of ours, Negura Bunget, on their last tour. It was truly a great honor and we were really saddened by the news of Negrus passing immediately after the tour ended. Also a sold-out show in our original hometown, Jyväskylä, was a really nice thing, not to forget the most recent gig in Tallinn, Estonia, along with Luctus (which is a great live band, by the way) and a couple of other bands. It was the first time for Deathkin to play outside Finland so it was a bit more special for us than just a normal gig.

Apart from playing gigs every now and then, we have begun writing material for a new album. It hasn’t been really easy to get the process flowing since our main songwriter got a head injury in 2016 of which he is still recovering. Luckily it seems that the cosmic gates have opened and the material is seeping beyond the vast depths of the black infinity and the riffs and song structures are finding their shapes. It will be interesting to see how it all will turn out, will it be a continuum to ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’, will it be few steps back or forward from it, or will it be a step into another direction? We really don’t know more yet. Three members of Deathkin have also been somewhat busy with their other project, Väki, which released their first EP in October 2017. So far they have material for a debut album almost ready, so it will be interesting to hear how it will turn out. The band has a slightly different approach than Deathkin, being more a dark metal band with stricter focus and more up to date style, as Deathkin is kind of a timeless melting pot.

With the album out for a while now, has it been received like you envisioned it to be received?
Yes, it has been out for a year now, since we released a small batch of the album by ourselves in November 2016. It was also available in Spotify for a couple of months during last winter. Now the album is back in Spotify via Hammerheart Records and will be released in CD and vinyl in the end of November. ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’ was received in a way that has exceeded our expectations. First of all, it gave us a possibility to ink a deal with Hammerheart Records, the former home of many of our favorite bands in the last 20 years. And secondly, it has been a really great to notice that the album is widely appreciated and enjoyed worldwide by almost all who has heard it. At least we haven’t heard much bad talk about it and there has been so many great reviews of the album. Guess there is no other possibility than to be really proud since something we have really put a much effort in, has been so positively received among listeners. Though it wasn’t a really big surprise, since we ourselves understood the quality of the record when we heard the first mixes of it.

For the people that haven’t heard of you yet, would you mind giving us some insight into your influences and the origins of the band?
Deathkin was formed by our guitarist and drummer in 2009 after few different experiments in Black Metal, Death/Grind and Avantgarde. We understood that we need to focus on something that musically comes out naturally and lyrically reflects our own philosophical views. So when we began playing under the name Deathkin, we decided not to have any barriers other than aforementioned focus and proclaiming the unholy trinity of death, chaos and amorality. After some lineup changes, couple releases and some gigs we were in a point where recording a full length album seemed to be a relevant step to take. We have been influenced by a very wide selection of different genres and artists. Genre-wise everything from black metal to neofolk and from classical to electronic music. In artist point of view from DHG to Queen, from Wagner to Rome, from Napalm Death to The Doors. What that means is that everything you listen has some influence on the music you write, especially when you don't limit yourself but let everything flow freely, as long as it happens in the bands main framework. But the most important musical influences have been from Black Metal, the most important being Primordial, Emperor, DHG, Deathspell Omega, Negura Bunget, 1349, Marduk and Mayhem, to name a few. It is also important not to forget the meaning of literature and movies. For example movies of Lars von Trier are something that inspire a lot.

I’d love to go in-depth with the album, if you don’t mind, starting with opener ‘Pimeyeden Poltteen Ohjaukessa’ and the clear Emperor and Dimmu Borgir influences in there. Coming from Scandinavia, are those influences something you are constantly aware of, or do you tend to avoid them when writing?
Yes, considering the fact that we come from Scandinavia and we have grown among the second wave of Black Metal, it can’t be denied that it has that certain influence on our music, of course. Emperor has had some influence on ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’ which can be heard most easily on some elements on “Pimeyden Poltteen Ohjauksessa” and “Iänkaikkinen” even though nothing of it has been in any way intentional. And of course we have to be aware of our influences. You have to familiar with the history and understand the basic structures and building blocks of the music you are writing. This is important for two reasons - not to write something that somebody already has done and sometimes to ease the writing process to find some kind of “best practice” -solution, especially in a situation where you see that the song is missing some small detail or a passage between two different parts of the song. Obviously this is not done by copying anything but by finding a path to a possible solution. What comes to song writing and avoiding obvious influences, it really is something that we tend to do in our own manner. Like told earlier in the interview, Deathkin is kind of a melting pot. The goal is to great something new upon the fountains of old, doing totally your own thing while not forgetting your roots.

I heard some great Shining (SWE) influences on ‘Varttuvista Veren Varjoista’ and I hope you excuse me for not being able to understand most of the lyrics which are a mix of Latin and Finnish, if I’m not mistaken, right? What are the lyrical themes of the album?
The lyrics on the album are written mainly in Finnish except the song ‘Varttuvista Veren Varjoista’ which has parts of the lyrics in Latin, which is true. Formerly our lyrics have been in English but this time our main songwriter already had some decent lyrics in Finnish on which the whole lyrical concept was possible to build upon. This meant that this time actually many of the lyrics were already done before a single note of the music on the actual song was written. The lyrical thematics on the album is mainly a journey of growth through aeons. From the birth of the universe the entropy has grown faster and faster which results a greater and greater chaos as time goes by. The main focus is on a growth of knowledge and strength through our ancestors, through countless rebirths in countless aeons in this ever-growing state of entropy, to illuminate and witness the true face of chaos itself.

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’Raatojen Rovio’ is some of the most furious black metal I’ve heard in a long while; this blistering typhoon of blast beats and screams takes a while to die down. Does writing in this style come easy to you or does it take a considerate amount of effort?
Writing furious black metal is something that comes really easily. It comes too easily, to be honest. That is one of the main reason we tend to hold down a bit the fury and challenge ourselves by getting to the same goal with slightly different elements. Yet not to forget the fact that when pure and furious audial chaos is served in small portions it is much more effective that way. One of the main problems many black metal bands have is the disability to use dynamics or underestimating its effect upon music. It can be seen in a similar matter as the problematics with the lyrical content having too much meaning against the musical quality. But as it can be understood, musical diversity and dynamics are the main pieces in the base foundation of Deathkin. There is no point in doing the same thing everybody else is doing. There is no point in doing the same brutal bashing from the first to the last second on a song or an album. There is also no point in floating through endless, soothing musical landscapes. When Deathkin is in a point of no vision of diversity or dynamics there will be no point to carry on. Maybe our last album will be pure fucking annihilation all the way through.

I loved how ‘Iankaikkinen’ incorporated some black n roll influences with a very melancholic and epic instrumentation. It’s by far the longest song on the album, clocking in over ten minutes. What makes this song special to you?
‘Iänkaikkinen’ is a song that was written from a small cratch (the growth from the slow part and the first part of the guitar solo) made few years before it was finalized. It is by far one of the best songs we have written along ‘In Your Image’ which is the last song on ‘Purged by Impurity’. Thematics on both of the songs are pretty much similar also. It was something purely magical when the lyrics, the music and the vocal arrangements were ready. Everything in ‘Iänkaikkinen’ is just perfect, just in a way it should be. Even though it is a lengthy song it doesn’t really feel like it, that is something that tells a lot of the quality. Musically the song is like standing on the edge of a cliff and watching a merciless, raging storm ravaging everything. Lyrically it is a kind of an anthem or a prayer for the great gods of death and chaos. ‘Iänkaikkinen’ has so big personal meaning both musically and lyrically that it is pretty close the most important song we have written so far.

The tremendously old school sounding title track closing out the album is probably my favorite on the album – its brooding atmosphere, combined by the dark chord progressions really hit a sweet spot for me. What made you choose this song as the closer on the album?
The title track, ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’, is personally an interesting song since I was quite unsure about it being good enough for the album when writing it. It was a really puzzling song to create as it consists mainly on three different parts of which two are also really simple. So it really became a hard work of variation and building the intensity. When all the small things fell to the right places and the song was ready it became possible to recognize it being a really good song and a strong candidate to be an album closer. Especially when the lyrical content was ready it could really easily be seen as a song that kind of ends the storyline. Actually the album being a concept album meant pretty much that it became really important to put the songs in the right order both musically and lyrically. I personally think that it is something that we are really good at, building a dramaturgy over the whole record. It worked perfectly on ‘Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta’ as well as with our s/t and ‘Purged by Impurity’. The latter is still available and our self-titled release is also possible to have some day.

I wanted to spend some time talking about that stunning artwork. What can you tell me about it?
The artwork was created by our friend, Saila Leskinen, who by the way is not only a big black metal enthusiast but also an art historian and a freelancer museum conservator, which made the whole process easier or even possible, at least on the level it is. We had some kind of an idea of what kind of imagery we would like to use and she did nail the whole thing in the most perfect way. Everything in the artwork is drawn by hand on paper and the coloring is done using the computer. It gives it a much more authentic feeling which is important since the imagery is mainly of an ancient origin. The artwork resembles in a way the whole concept on the album. There is this seeker who travels through aeons and countless rebirths to gain more knowledge and grow strength. Then he finally is at the portal to the great chaos itself, on the verge of a supermassive black hole. We would like to say that the artwork kind of finalizes this piece of conceptual art the album as a whole can be seen as.

Once again, I really enjoyed the album. Is there anything else you’d like to say to close out the interview?
We are glad to hear you enjoyed it. As final words we would like to encourage your readers buying our album and merchandise and trying to arrange us on a tour on a club near you. We haven’t outsourced our management so all the contacts go via deathkinband@gmail.com And last but not least, support your local underground!

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