Barren Earth Guitarist Sami Explains New Album "The Devil's Resolve"
Band Photo: Barren Earth (?)
The Finnish metal heroes of Barren Earth have now released a second opus in which prog rock violently collides with extreme death metal, titled "The Devil's Resolve" (reviewed here). Now that the metal masses have had time to digest "The Devil's Resolve," I got in contact with guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö to see what he had to say about the band's latest output, how the overall fan reaction has been, and what Barren Earth has in store for the metal world in the future.
xFiruath: What’s going on lyrically with “The Devil’s Resolve?”
Sami: There are several lyrical themes on the album. The very first song "Passing of the Crimson Shadows" deals with the unnoticed passing of time, how it sometimes seems to slip like sand through your fingers and the fact that something needs to be done about it: The past is gone and no-one knows about the future. Obviously since death metal is involved, the end of the world is also an important theme. Satan and alcohol shouldn´t be forgotten either. Inspiration is drawn both from literature and everyday life. Usually the more brutal side of life. Lyrics were written by O-P Laine, Marko Tarvonen, Janne Perttilä, Mikko Kotamäki, and Mr. Jussi K. Niemelä who is a friend of the band and a renowned Finnish atheist.
xFiruath: Tell me about the album’s artwork and how it connects with the themes of the album.
Sami: The hourglass on the cover has to do with the theme of "Passing of the Crimson Shadows." The artwork was provided by Mr. Paul Romano. He heard some of the early demo versions of the songs and based his visions on them.
xFiruath: How does this album differ from “Curse of the Red River?” What was different as far as recording, writing, musical direction, etc?
Sami: We started working on the songs a long time ago, even before CoTRR was released. Therefore we had a lot of time to prepare for the studio and lots of ideas were tried out. “The Devil´s Resolve” was recorded at Sonic Pump in Helsinki where we had the chance to play live altogether in one room while recording the basics. This was a luxury. Also after touring together I feel that the band had improved as a unit and everyone knew better what each other is capable of as a musician. At least the vague outlines of the musical direction are quite similar with the debut in my opinion. It´s hard for me to tell since there never was a master plan of any musical direction in the first place.
xFiruath: It seems like the album had actually been recorded for quite some time before release but then got delayed for some reason – what happened there and how does the whole process work for a metal band recording an album and then having a label release it?
Sami: We recorded the album already last May-June after that July-August was mixing, also this time by Dan Swanö over in Sweden. We were at first aiming for an October release but because the artwork was delayed and we noticed that a March release would also fit better to out touring plans with Barren Earth, we decided in the end for a later release in the hopes that this way the album will get more recognition. Also March was better for Peaceville but I wouldn´t know exactly why.
xFiruath: Now that the album is finished and out there, looking back is there anything you wish you could change or anything you’d like to do differently for the next release?
Sami: Well, believe it or not we are already working on new songs. Dan did a great job mixing as always but next time it might be interesting to see what would happen musically with an entirely different production team. It´s too early to tell yet. In general everyone has been very pleased with the end result but playing around with the idea to do things a bit differently next time is intriguing.
xFiruath: How do you feel about the fan reaction and reviews so far, and are people reacting the way you expected them to?
Sami: The reactions to the new album have been absolutely amazing, extremely positive and far beyond our expectations. Only one negative slaughter so far that I´ve heard of, but it seemed like the entire genre was too difficult. Progressive death metal or whatever you want to call this will always be too much for some people who are more used to a mainstream approach and that´s OK. I believe music is always also a question of taste. This is also why we obviously didn't expect anything. As a musician I always try to give my very best, but after that it is out of your hands and you can only hope that people can appreciate it. This time it looks like most people who heard it did.
xFiruath: Are there any leftover songs from the studio that weren’t released with this album?
Sami: There is a song called "The Passage Unfolds" which is a 70´s vibe acoustic-vibe tune that is released on the Japanese version of the album as a bonus-bonus track. It´s a song that perhaps was a little too different from the other tunes. I don´t consider it as a leftover though. Most of the leftovers were deserted already while doing demos…
xFiruath: You’ve got two albums out now and have some touring under your belts, so it seems like Barren Earth is now officially its own solid entity instead of a side project “supergroup.” How is Barren Earth affecting the band member’s other projects and do any of you have active work going on with other bands right now?
Sami: Luckily these days tours are booked way in advance. Obviously it is sometimes very difficult to fit timetables together but we hope to tour as much as possible in the future. Tomorrow we are going to Turku and the day after that to Salo in Finland to play club-shows. This means a short Finland tour is going on as we speak.
xFiruath: What’s on the horizon for Barren Earth as far as live shows and festival appearances?
Sami: Two festivals in Finland are already booked and our German booker is hopefully working on something in Europe as well.
xFiruath: What are you most looking forward to in the world of metal in the coming year?
Sami: Basically the same things as every year. Good albums and good shows. Hopefully people buy albums and keep on going to shows. This is the only way to keep the scene alive.
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