Bloodred Hourglass Guitarist Lauri Silvonen Talks New Album "Your Highness," Lyric Themes And Giving Away Candy
Finland has given the world of metal music so much over the years. Whether it be the symphonic titans Nightwish, the grizzly grindcore icons Rotten Sound, black metal extremity with Impaled Nazarene or the classical grace of Apocalyptica, this relatively small country has had its hand in every sub-genre and always produced at least one band which masters it. Melodic death metal is no different, as bands like Omnium Gatherum, Before The Dawn and Mors Principium Est have proved. Today we examine another of these groups, whose new album, "Your Highness," blends crushing heaviness with some of the most lush melodies in recent years. It can only be Mikkeli's own, Bloodred Hourglass.
Bloodred Hourglass were formed back in 2005 and after a long time fighting and honing their craft, they unleashed their debut "Lifebound" seven years later. Three more albums would follow, with the most recent of which, "Your Highness" being released a mere seven days ago. To find out more about the record, its title, the use of melodies and much more, Metal Underground spoke with guitarist Lauri Silvonen. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Your Highness" is out now. It's quite an interesting title. Can you explain the reason behind it?
Lauri Silvonen: Yeah, I think we chose the name of the album a long time ago. The album is about strong and powerful women that have been, or still are part of our lives and also strong and powerful women from around the world. Lyrically it's about lost chances of love and life in general. So, there you go, "Your Highness."
Oz: There you go. As for the recording of the album itself, was this a smooth process? Were you able to get together or was this all done in isolation?
Lauri: No, despite the pandemic we managed to rehearse together and also we managed to do the recordings together. In a way we were more together than I think we've ever been because before, we would do it with each guy into the studio to record his parts and then comes the next guy. Now we recorded drums in a different studio and booked a cabin for two weeks. Of course not every guy was there for the whole two weeks. Some were there for only one week, or three days one week and two the next. It worked out really easy.
Oz: Excellent. That's quite interesting that you felt more together on this album than previously because so many bands I've spoken to lately explain how they've had to do their album alone.
Lauri: Yeah, for the previous records we'd kind of created a method where obviously everyone rehearses their parts wherever they are and then we get together for a weekend or two and play for a couple of days, then do it again after a month or two. I think it works really well for us.
Oz: This is actually the first time I've heard Bloodred Hourglass and I was blown away by the melodies. They're so beautiful, yet so fierce and crushing. How vital is the melody to Bloodred Hourglass's music?
Lauri: I think it has a key role. I suppose because we're fans of big melodies and obviously longing and sorrowful themes. There's those feelings of despair in these melodies, but there's also this kind of joyful tone that I think is typical of Swedish metal or something like that. Some of us actually compose our songs first using keyboards, even though it's music made for guitars. Some of the guys build a song with keyboards then they add riffing.
Oz: I think you can tell that as well because it's very intelligently put together. What would you say makes "Your Highness" a different album than "Godsend"?
Lauri: The first you hear when you start playing it is the production. It's a bit bigger, a bit fatter and I think it's on another level. Also I think it's by far the most diverse album that we've ever made and there's lots of different things going on. There's really low, really heavy, really slow songs, there's what someone called a "melodic death metal ballad" and also there's lots of very technical things going on. Obviously if you've heard us before, one big thing is that there's some clean vocals on the album, which we've had before but not in such a big role.
Oz: Why was the decision made to bring more clean vocals into this album than you've previously used?
Lauri: It's a good question. I think there's more softer spots now and there's a song which we basically built as a ballad and I don't know if it would work if it was all screaming and growling.
Oz: Given what you've told me about the themes and the lyrics on the album, it seems to tie in very well with the artwork. Who put this artwork together?
Lauri: It was actually a picture from a tattoo artist. Our singer Jarko does most of the graphical stuff in our band and he put it all together, but he was also the one who spotted the picture and made some modest changes there.
Oz: You've also done two music videos for this album, "Kings And Queens" and "Drag Me The Rain," which was released a while ago but the song is on the album.
Lauri: Yeah, that was released eight months ago. It was the first single and to be honest, there's four videos out now: One lyric video and three "real" videos. But yeah, we released "Drag Me The Rain" as the first taste of the new album eight months ago because the album was recorded exactly one year ago. So we've been sitting on it for quite a while now and we obviously planned for it to come out this year but because of the pandemic, we didn't know when would be the perfect time to release it and also there's some long waiting times for vinyls now so that's one thing that we needed to consider. But yeah, it's been eight months since that single, then I think "Veritas" was next, then "Leaves" and now "Kings And Queens" is the latest.
Oz: You mentioned the vinyl and it's interesting looking up this album because you've got a very special edition coming out, which amongst other things has got a bag of sweets, which I've never seen given away with any album, much less a metal one.
Lauri: Yeah it's kind of like salty liquorice, which I think is very Finnish thing. I'm honestly surprised that more Finnish bands haven't done that before because it's like the most Finnish thing you could do. We were thinking about a lot of options that could be fun and interesting but also easy to ship, because we didn't want to make a huge ass package.
Oz: It's very different and you know it's the kind of thing where people will keep the wrapper. You've also got an enviromentally friendly rubber patch and the certificate which I think is signed by everyone in the band. How much input did the band have?
Lauri: Our label helped us out a lot with this one and the biggest thing, or the hardest thing, was to decide the things that wouldn't make it overpriced, because of course if the price is too high then it doesn't make any sense. So yeah, the hardest thing was including things that wouldn't raise the price of the album but also wasn't common in every special box set. I think it was as hard a decision for the label as it was for us! So really it was cooperation between the band and the label on these ideas.
Oz: Speaking of the label, this is the second album you've released through Out Of Line Music. So far, how has the relationship been? Obviously it sounds quite productive.
Lauri: Yeah, I think that by far one of the best things that happened to us is when we were hooked with Out Of Line Music because it really pushed things forward and you can see that by our listens on Spotify. They have lots of good connections and so we've been able to get our songs on metal playlists and that's something you can't do if you don't have the right network behind you.
Oz: Finally, what's the plans going forward once this album is out? Are you hoping to get on the road soon?
Lauri: Yes, we will have an album release show in our home town, Mikkeli, which will be the biggest show that we've ever done. It's like a big indoor festival that we're having, which will be a black box event with a big production, but after that there are festivals confirmed and tours being planned which I can't talk about. Obviously the main goal is to tour as much as possible.
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.
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