We really liked your ‘In The Cremation Ground’ EP, so we thought we might as well do a quick interview to introduce you guys to our readers. So, the obvious first question: who are the two of you?
Jani: We are Cynabare Urne - a death metal band from Finland. The band indeed consists of two members; me, Jani Koskela and Sameli Köykkä.
Sameli: Here’s a few words about our history. In the beginning of 2014 Jani told me he had composed a few death metal songs. I’ve been into death metal since the mid nineties, but never actually had the chance to play in a proper death metal band, so I was interested to hear what Jani had achieved. We both played in 0XÍST back then and I’ve also been a huge Let Me Dream fan since the nineties and knew Jani’s great voice and capability to create very dark compositions, so I let him know that if he happened to need a bass player, I’m available. Still, after a while when he played me the first demo I was surprised by the quality of it and I think it was already the first riff of the first song called ‘Fire The Torches’ which blew me away and I instantly told him that I’m in. I asked him who we should ask to join our band, but his message was clear: “I don’t think we need anyone.” So, we continued as a two-piece from there and soon we wanted to arrange a rehearsal in order to play the songs together and develop them further. We had no drummer and even if I really wasn’t very interested in drumming at the time I took in the drummer’s task and ended up playing the drums on our first two EP’s too. I think we both see music mostly in the same way and share each other’s views so working as a two-piece has been a very productive and pleasant journey so far - at least for me, haha.
Jani: For me, this is also the first death metal band I have been in that has released anything. My early steps as a music writer around 1990, or to some extend even before that, were taken with very primitive death/thrash-like riffs & songs. However that process soon evolved into more dark metal direction of the first Congestion (= early Let Me Dream) demos.
The second question that has been burning in the back of my mind is this: what does Cynabare mean – or, what does the band name mean? Obviously, Urne means ‘urns‘ and the name sound cool, but I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure it out, so please, relieve me from this burden!
Jani: The name is written in middle English and it means cinnabar urn. Throughout the whole human history, the colour of cinnabar has symbolized the colour of blood - it is a symbol of life and death. What caught our interest in cinnabar in the first place, is the way how the mineral and its colour was used in Mayan death rituals. They sometimes covered corpses and whole burial chambers with cinnabar powder.
Cool, nice to know the story behind the name! Alright, with that out of the way: congrats on the EP! I really enjoyed it. How have the reactions from fans and media been so far? And are you guys yourselves happy with the result?
Jani: We are very satisfied with the ‘In The Cremation Ground’ mini-album. It is our second release, so naturally we were eager to finish it and to have more Cynabare Urne material unleashed into this world. There haven’t been too many reactions yet. The ones that have reached us seem to indicate that there are people who like it.
Sameli: ’In The Cremation Ground’ is still very new and we really haven’t seen many reactions from the public yet, but we have a strong label behind us which gives us the support we need, so we believe the release will get the publicity it deserves. I personally am very satisfied with the material on it although there are always things you’d want to improve. I think we caught the old school feeling on it quite well by just doing things very simply and to be honest, the drum recording was supposed to be just a test for my very old and crappy drum microphones! The test was successful and the first two songs came out pretty okay so we moved on to record the rest of the songs without too much consideration and finally had drums recorded for the whole EP.
Can you shed some light on the lyrical themes of Cynabare Urne?
Jani: Many of our songs deal with different death and burial rituals of this world - some of them were practiced by ancient cultures, some of them are being practiced today. Another major theme has been different death deities. For example, the track ‘Conquistadors Of Death’ visits the world of the Hindu death deity Yama. The title of the mini album is related to the song ‘Smashana Sadhana’, which is about Shiva and the sight of open air Hindu cremation ground.
I really like the artwork, it reminds me a little bit of the blood drawing of the first Centurian album, ‘Choronzonic Chaos Gods’. What is the story behind the cover art – if there is one of course? And who did the artwork?
Jani: Thank you! It was made by A. of Cold Poison and he did indeed use actual collected blood to colour it. The deity that you see in the picture is his vision of Yama. I do not know this Centurian album that you mentioned, but I am very much into artists such as Vincent Castiglia. Therefore I immediately also liked Cold Poison’s way of colouring the design, when he presented it to us.
After I listened to the EP a couple of times, I really got the feeling I wanted more of this, so on the one hand I was happy to see there were a couple of other, earlier songs on your bandcamp page, but also a bit sad that the cassette/shirt we’re sold out. Any change you will do a re-release on that, or maybe use it as bonus material on a future release? (I know, maybe a bit early to talk about a re-release, buy hey, who knows, maybe you have already thought about it...)
Jani: ‘Fire The Torches’ is actually in the process of making itself available again, but this time on 10” vinyl format. The original plan was to get it released as 7” vinyl, but the idea of presenting it on 10” format transmuted it to even something even so much greater. We’ll soon have a new t-shirt available with the ‘In The Cremation Ground’ theme, but we also do hope to make the golden logo t-shirt available as well. We see our releases as individual products with each of them having unique feeling attached to them. Therefore we do not do extended releases, with bonus songs on them. They would disturb the feeling too much.
Another obvious one: you are a duo, and always have been if I am correct, which I assume has some pro’s and con’s. What was the reason to become (or perhaps: to stay) a duo?
Jani: Working as a duo is flexible. Also, we had no plans of doing live shows at the early stages of the band, so there was no need to invite other members to join in.
Sameli: One pro in working as a duo would be the lightness of everything. Communication and decision making compared to a bigger lineup is faster and easier, so we don’t have to use much time and nerves to find consensus which gives us more time to focus in relevant matters. Since our careers in metal music are quite longish and we both have a lot of experience which gives us a strong vision, wide network and a lot of know-how, there really isn’t much need for a bigger lineup. However, we are going to use session members in the near future and who knows if they become permanent members later. Being a two-piece is tempting, but maybe not the most practical option in the long term. We’ll see what the future holds.
You will be playing your first live show in august, at Helsinki Death Fest, I assume you will be using session musicians for the live gig?
Jani: We are indeed at this point rehearsing as a three piece group, involving a very talented session drummer. Our intention is to concentrate on our debut album process for the next few months. At some point, closer to Helsinki Death Fest III and our first live show, we will be giving a thought to the idea of adding a second guitarist to our live line-up.
Any more gigs planned after the Helsinki show?
Jani: Not at the moment. Due to the way how we work, we will most likely be quite selective with live shows and will be doing them quite rarely.
Sameli: We’ve already played with other bands in so many small shitholes especially in Finland, that there really isn’t much urge to go through the same experiences again. However, touring is great and discovering new places in other countries is very inspiring, so we are open for more live shows in the future. We just don’t want to push it. If the music is good, the gigs will come.
So, what are the plans for Cynabare Urne when it comes to recording? Any material left, or plans for a full-length?
Jani: Yes. We have more than an album worth of unreleased material written and we are rehearsing for it at the moment. More decisive plans are yet to be made, but most likely we’ll have a full-length album recorded and mixed well before the end of the year 2018.
You are still active and have been active in a few other bands or projects, is there anything newsworthy about those you would like to mention, so our readers can check those bands out as well?
Jani: Besides Cynabare Urne, I am active as Horizon Of The Mute. It is a very dark and heavy doom/death act with industrial and drone edge to it. The second album ‘Chiliad Rite’ was released in late January 2018.
Sameli: Currently I’m involved in a handful of metal bands. I play drums in Counting Hours, which is an old school melancholic metal band, following the footsteps of Rapture and old Katatonia. We’ve done one sold out demo and a couple of live shows so far. At the time we’re preparing material for our debut album. Then there is Sinister Craving where I play bass. Our first demo is in the makes right now and it will include something I’d call thrash metal. And of course my most engaging band Kalmankantaja where I handle the drums as a live musician. Kalmankantaja plays nordic black metal and we have a burst of live shows coming up this spring and summer. Check out Jani’s Horizon Of The Mute, ‘Chiliad Rite’ is great.
Alright, that wraps it up. Any last words?
Jani: The ‘In The Cremation Ground’ mini-album is available on music cassette and will be released in CD & vinyl formats on 28th of February 2018. The new t-shirt should be available by then as well. Have a look at the Helter Skelter Productions bandcamp page!