Jyri Vahvanen (guitar/lyrics) from Battlelore
Interviewed by Theis
"Battlelore is a metal band from Lappeenranta, Finland. All of Battlelore's lyrics concern J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Battlelore mixes female vocals with harsh male growling in "beauty and the beast" duet, backed by heavy guitar riffing and occasional keyboard interludes. The band's style takes elements from gothic metal, folk metal, power metal, and melodic death metal. Because of the ambiguity of Battlelore's music, different reviewers have labeled the band with each of these, as well as idiosyncratic terms such as "epic metal" or "fantasy metal". Battlelore's songs are all centered around J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Tolkien inspiration also includes a distinctive stage pseudo-medieval dress and make-up. Battlelore newest album, Doombound, came out in January 2011."
Hey Jyri! Let’s get it on with some questions! You guys in Battlelore have just released a new album entitled DOOMBOUND. What do you think specifically sets it apart from your previous releases?
Musically Doombound is not so “easy to listen to” as our previous album The Last Alliance is, which has a lot of catchy melodies and choruses. With Doombound we wanted to go deeper with the moods and atmospheres and add more levels into our songs. Doombound is also our first true concept album with a continuous story: The story is about Tolkien's tragic hero Turin Túrambar and it has a lot of similarities to Finnish folk epic Kalevala.
Was it a complex process getting it recorded compared to the previous releases?
No it wasn't. The whole recordings went very smoothly, and we stayed to our schedule thanks to our brilliant producer Janne Saksa. The problems started when we sent the tracks to Sweden where Mr. Dan Swanö mixed the album in his Unisound Studios. For some reason, all the tracks in each song were mixed up so it took a lot of time and work to put everything in right order. Dan took it very calmly and piece by piece we got it done. It took a few weeks extra time, but as we heard the final result, it was really worth it.
Considering my own listening of the album I drew parallels to the sound of pre-EVERNIGHT as well as EVERNIGHT itself. But at the same time this release seems like the most mature release yet; even though The Last Alliance was very mature in my opinion. What do you think about that?
I agree that Doombound has same elements as Evernight has. I think that the mood between these two albums is quite similar. The darkness, sadness and grief are present, but there's still a glimpse of hope and light in the horizon.
Being a theme album, how different was the experience of writing and composing it compared to your earlier work?
Composing wasn't really a problem, because we did a lot of composing and writing with this album. Although I was quite hard to myself with my own songs and dropped off all the song candidates which didn't feel right. The hardest part was the lyrics because I had to follow the specific story line with the themes and topics. At one point I had a kind of a writers block, but luckily Jussi (guitar) and Tomi (vocals) wrote some of the lyrics to help me get over it.
Has it ever felt limiting to “only” deal with the works of Tolkien compared to having “free hands”?
This has been asked a lot from me. Tolkien's Middle-earth is a world full of themes and things to write about. I don't need to write only about Frodo and the Ring. I can expand the view as much as I want to. How about misty morning on the Grey Mountains, thoughts of a lonely orc, hidden caves of Angmar or secrets of the Southern tribes? The only limit for the song themes is my imagination. Of course I'll respect the written facts of Tolkien, but the world he created gives you a lot of room to work with, with your own imagination.
Happy anniversary! You have been around for 10 years? Can we expect some special concert involving previous members of the band or other stuff?
Thank you very much. Yes, we've been around ten years or something like that. We've been talking about the possibility of some special live show(s) with our past members etc. but nothing's been confirmed yet. It needs a bit more planning to make it right.
Do you have any particular favourite songs that Battlelore has made throughout the years? And why those if you have?
Maybe "Fangorn" and "Journey To Undying Lands". Both of them are on our first album and as I listen to them, I just wonder that what's been in my mind when I wrote them? It was almost ten years ago when we all were young, 'green' and eager to conquer the whole world! Nowadays there's too much thinking and compromising in my writing process which have come during the years and experience. Is it good or bad? I don't know, but back in the days I did things very differently than today.
Can you reveal any tour plans as of yet? We would like to see you in Denmark or United Kingdom soon, hehe.
There's not many confirmed gigs in our schedule yet. There will also be a small break for touring in Spring/Summer because a couple of our band members are having additions to their families, so we have to keep the live playing quite low until the late Summer. Late Summer and the rest of the year will be the place for some live shows, but any big tours? Can't say anything yet. First things first.
Do you have any favourite metal releases from last year? And looking forward to any here in 2011?
Here's a few of my favourites from 2010: Burzum - Belus, Rotting Christ – Aealo, Keep of Kalessin – Reptilian, Tarot – Gravity of Light, Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time etc.
In this year 2011 there's a few great albums out already: Moonsorrow – Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa and Draugnim – Horizon's Low.
If you were asked to do a collaboration album with an existing band today which would it be?
Thank you so much for your time. I hope 2011 will be a great year for Battlelore!
Thanks for the interview!