Esa From Amorphis Chats About New Album "Circle"
The pride of Finland, Amorphis began in the earliest days of the extreme metal scene and is still going strong decades later. The band has weathered vocalist changes and gone through a series of major style shifts to reach where it is today with latest album "Circle" (reviewed here).
"Circle" is out now in Europe and due in North American shops on April 30th. Fans wanting to find out about the inner workings of Amorphis during the creation of the album can now get an inside view of the process courtesy of guitarist Esa Holopainen. Read our interview with Esa below to discover how the lyrical themes have changed, what's happening with music videos from the album, and how a few recording changes offered a different sound for this latest full-length.
xFiruath: Let’s start with the recordings for the new album “Circle.” How did the studio time go?
Esa: It was great, we had Peter from Hypocrisy producing us. We were pretty well prepared before music-wise, everything was prepared. There was no hassling at the studio. It was quite the experience because a lot of the songs had instruments change up during the time at the studio, at least compared to what we did with previous albums. Peter’s idea was to bring out more guitars and to focus more on different guitar sounds. It was a good session. Before it was always like somebody plays something, then you go home and watch T.V. and you sort of lose the focus, but this time it was like the old days with the camp feeling where everybody is doing the same thing focused together on the music.
xFiruath: Were there any guest musicians this time around, and did you guys do anything different from previous albums?
Esa: Some of the guests, we had a cello player and a guy who plays flute and saxophone on some of our old albums like “Am Universum.” He was available. He’s a pretty busy guy because he plays jazz and folk music so he’s always traveling somewhere, but he was in Helsinki then so it was good timing. Then our keyboard player he recorded real church organs. He went to one of the biggest churches here in Helsinki for the organs, so that turned out a really huge sound.
xFiruath: Are there any extra tracks that will show up in special edition releases later?
Esa: We recorded 14 tracks altogether and nine of them are on the album. I think another track is going to be released on the U.S. edition as a bonus track, then the Japanese edition gets a bonus track. Nuclear Blast is putting out a special edition with the bonus tracks, then we have a double vinyl coming out with two or three extras. So every song is going to be released somewhere.
xFiruath: What is the lyrical direction on this album?
Esa: The lyrics aren’t about a straight story from Finnish traditions or folk beliefs this time. The story is sort of a survival story about the unfortunate fate of a man struggling and getting help from Finnish gods. The album cover describes the shaman, one of the characters in the story. There’s still some mystical parts to the lyrics, but we wanted to bring out a story that’s not related directly to old traditions.
xFiruath: There’s already been a few lyric videos released, will there be a full music video soon?
Esa: Yes, there will be released soon a music video for “Hopeless Days.” It’s an animated video where the band doesn’t appear, so I’m curious to see how it turns out. It looks pretty nice so far. It’s pretty artistic and not the typical metal video. Then we go to do a video for the track “The Wanderer,” so that’s going to be more like a band playing live video.
xFiruath: Will you be coming to the U.S. to support the album?
Esa: I hope so, that’s something that’s been in the air. We haven’t booked anything yet, but we’re looking for the right time to come over. What’s confirmed so far is going to Israel this week, then fly back home and do some shows here in Helsinki, then in June we start to play summer festivals till the end of August. For the next tour we go to Russia for 11 shows, then to Australia and Japan in the beginning of the fall. There will of course be a European tour and then hopefully on to North America.
xFiruath: I’ve enjoyed the last couple of albums, but I actually got started with Amorphis on “Am Universum,” and that remains my favorite release so far. Do you guys play anything from that album live?
Esa: We try to cover almost everything we’ve done. Almost every show we play “Alone,” probably the most well known track from “Am Universum.” I’m trying to think if we’ve played that recently, that’s probably the only one we do from that album.
xFiruath: What’s happening in the metal world that’s got you excited?
Esa: Probably I’m really curious to hear the new Children of Bodom album. They are friends of ours so we want to follow what’s happening with them. I haven’t heard yet the latest Riverside album but I’m looking forward to that.
xFiruath: Does the Amorphis crew have any other projects active right now?
Esa: It’s really full time with Amorphis at the moment. I’ve had a plan for a long time to do some sort of solo project and I have a lot of tracks. I’ve been working with the songs for years but haven’t found the time for them. Then I have this death metal project Chaosbreed, it released an album five years ago and some of the guys want another chance to do something in the near future. Some of the Amorphis guys have a rock project that’s really AC/DC style called Grease Helmet. It’s a really good band, they have done a couple shows in Finland.
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