As far as metal is concerned, Finland is considered a godfather in terms of quality bands founded there. Kalmah is counted amongst the country’s repertoire of best acts. Guitarist AnntiiKokko talked to Ghost Cult about expanding upon Finnish music greatness with the band’s latest opus Seventh Swamphony.
Veli-Matti Kannanen is the new keyboardist in the band. How did you find him and how’s he fitting in the band so far?
He was touring with us in Russia 4-5 years ago as a session musician. So we made friends. After that we have been in contact every now and then. And when Marco left it was clear that we should ask Velski to replace him. Velski is a normal guy like the rest of us so he has fit in perfectly.
How does ‘Seventh Swamphony’ stand out from the rest of your discography?
All in all we wanted to bring something new out of us. I searched for the inspiration about a year ago. I got some riffs and melodies we tried at the rehearsal place but it sounded a bit old. When inspiration gave me the first riffs/melodies of Seventh Swamphony we got to the right path. There is a new kind of riffing, song structures and melodies and of course Velski brought orchestrations and not-Kalmah-like sounds to the package as well. In a way the album feels consistent. 15 years work together as a band has paid off.
You decribed Seventh Swamphony as a milestone in the band’s career, how so?
With this I mean the feeling we have. We know inside that this album is good. It is good for us so it will be liked by fans as well. I´m very satsified with all of the songs and the atmosphere feels like it was with the very first album which was of course a milestone itself being the first album. I think this album represents a “modern” Kalmah that has stepped one step further. The sounds and everything just seems to fit prefectly. On the other hand, this was the end of our recording deal so far.
How did the writing and recording sessions go for the new album? What were you striving for?
As usual we practiced every song to good shape before the studio so we could just concentrate on the sounds; playing came from the backbone. This time we focused carefully to the guitar sound. We wanted every instrument to be listenable on the album and therefore the guitar sound should be “dry” but “hitting”. At the end we managed to do it. One real thing we were striving for was electricity. There was too much snow on trees and they fell on power lines and electricity went off and on for a week. Luckily, it didn´t break any amplifiers.
Where does the band’s collective fascination for swamps and bogs stem from? What do you find so inspiring about them?
Nature is the source of inspiration for us. We hunt, pick berries, go fishing, etc. The area we live is 60% covered by Finnish swamps which I think are the soul and lungs of the whole landscape here in Northern Finland.
Melancholy is the one element that binds a lot of Finnish metal bands together. Where does this penchant for melancholia originate from?
For me it is the heritage of Finnish folk songs or Finnish pop music in general. It is kind of melancholic. That I don´t know where it comes from. Propably the nation’s history where after second world war we had to build the country again and work very hard to get living, etc. There are lots of songs with sad stories and remembering something that was better before, etc. All in all melancholy is very characteristic to people’s state of mind in Finland; cold, dark and long winter, short summer etc. That all together may be the key.
In Finland metal is seen as a legitimate form of art, unlike many other countries, why do you think this is?
I think it is quite true. Finnish bands tend to have good players, songs are good and people train hard to put effort in it. I don´t think it is about production since a lot of bands here don´t use a certain producer. It is the ambition of the players themselves that carries the thing. On the other hand the first bands that got wider publicity here worldwide have set the bar pretty high so no one wants to lower the bar. It just has to be top notch.