Interview with the Finnish band GLADENFOLD

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INTERVIEW WITH GLADENFOLD 

Gladenfold may not ring the bells for most of the readers out there. However the band already started out back in 2003 under the different moniker. The debut album called FROM DUSK TO ETERNITY came out in 2014, until now the second album WHEN GODS DESCEND is out now on Reaper Entertainment. The second album is a great slap of melodic powerful death metal that would please several metal fans indeed. Metal-Rules.Com had an pleasant task to interview Matias Knuuttila(guitarist), Esko Itala(singer) and Lauri Itala(drums). 

Interview by Arto Lehtinen


Good day – How’s it going in the Gladenfold camp at the moment ?

Matias: Thanks for asking, we are doing really well and happy that the new album is out finally!

Esko: All good, thanks.

Lauri: Feeling very good and proud about the new album.

 

HOW GLADENFOLD STARTED OUT

It would be a perfect way of kicking the interview off by asking about how Gladenfold got started out in the first place – Could you shed some light on the history of the band for readers ?

Esko: I was 16 or 17 years old back then and studied music theory and acoustic guitar. I had a friend Anssi Lautjärvi who shared my interest in music and at some point during the high school we had an opportunity to participate a school project with the idea to compose one song and perform it as a band in a stage at music event called Relax. Even though we both had strong history in classic music there were no question about what we were going to do. It had to be metal! So we gathered a group from our schoolmates and started to forge a masterpiece. For some reason we couldn’ t find a bass player. So we were lucky to get my little brother Lauri, 14-years old little boy, to handle the bass. For some reason I ended up playing the drums. After a few months later we performed our very own metal song “Nocturnal bless” at the Relax concert and at that moment I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do. So we got drunk with Anssi and decided to start our own band with own music. That’s when Gladenfold was born, it was year 2003.

As far as I know you recorded a heap of demotapes and released quite a few EP, what kind of respond did you receive for those releases !?

Lauri: I think that throughout the years the feedback that we’ve got especially with the demos and EPs has been mainly positive but the core message has been quite the same and that is that there is lots of potential in Gladenfold but it’s not there yet. Hopefully we have fixed that with this new album. At   least so far it seems quite good.

How much did the early material on the demos differ from what you are doing nowadays or have you kept some elements in the sounds that become more trademark for the sounds of Gladenfold ?!

Matias: The combination of power metal and melodic death metal has always been present in Gladenfold’s music, that has become our “trademark”. However, some of the earlier demos had more folk metal elements, also black metal influences here and there. In general, I think the songwriting and particularly how we arrange the songs is nowadays more coherent.

As far as the name of the band is concerned, how did you come up the band name Gladenfold and does it have some kind of symbolic meaning related to your music ?

Lauri:  When we started our music was much more folkish than what it is today so we thought that the  name should somehow be related to nature. So Esko came out with this idea of combining two words, Glade and Enfold, into one so that’s how Gladenfold was born. Other than that there is no deeper or symbolic meaning to that.

What kind things and music have had an influence on how Gladenfold sounds !?

Matias: We grew up listening Finnish metal scene in late 90s and early 00s, bands like Ensiferum, Children of Bodom and Norther. Quite a big bit of influences come from that direction. Also German power metal, bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray and Freedom Call were on a heavy rotation. And of course, you should not forget Finnish power metal giants like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica.

How would you describe the music of Gladenfold for people not familiar with the band before ?!

Matias: To put it simply, our style is a combination of melodic death metal and power metal, enriched with symphonic elements.

Members have come and gone within these years, what has been the basic reason for having these changes in the line-up, especially guitarists have been replaced more than a couple of times, right ?!

Matias: The band started out as a bunch of teenagers. Young people have changing ambitions, so obviously many ex-members just lost the interest to play in the band and wanted to do something else. No drama behind the scenes.

THE SECOND ALBUM – WHEN GODS DESCEND

WHEN GODS DESCEND – does that title of the album refer to something or where did you find and how did you come up a title for the album ?

Esko: Not until we had the composing and musical structure of the album somehow ready, we started to focus on the lyrical concept and the main theme of the album. We wanted to make sort of like a theme album, to have some kind of a storyline from start to the end, that would combine the songs together.

So we came up with this idea of this common threat,the awaiting catastrophe that would eventually lead to the destruction of all. We have epic and quite massive music so we needed a theme that would carry the musical weight. In this aspect the “Gods” represent the threat and destructing for humankind. There is absolutely no reference to any religious stuff, but may have it as a metaphor for the Judgement Day or just take the simple reference to Dungeons & Dragons fantasy literature.

Where was the album recorded and who was behind the helm in the studio and how long did you work on the album ?

Matias: For recording the album, we had quite a complex workflow actually. First, the drums were recorded at the Bunker Amp studio in Turku by Artturi Laukkanen. Then we tracked and recorded guitars, bass, keyboards and orchestrations at our home studios. The album was mixed and mastered by Joona Lukala at the Noise For Fiction studio. All vocals and choirs were also recorded there. All in all, putting everything together took about 3 years.

Are you fully pleased with how the result turned out or are you able to pick up or point some part which could have been carried out in the other way ?

Lauri: As a whole I am very pleased how the album turned out. It is a huge upgrade from the debut album. But because the process took so long (drums were recorded over three years ago and the songs have evolved quite a bit during the whole process) there are one or two things that I would have wanted to play differently. Nothing major but some small details.

Matias: Nothing major really. I have to say that the amount of details on this album is overwhelming, of course you can always find some things you could improve or change a bit. Mixing the album was a real pain-in-the-ass thing to do. After some setbacks in mixing, we fortunately found a good mixing approach that worked out. So after all, we are really satisfied with the result.

Are there any particular songs that have become personal fave one and why ?

Esko: “The Forsaken” has been my favorite song from the very beginning, when I started composing it. In that song I feel like I got  all the aspects I love in metal music, combined fluently together. It is a very complex song and I had my fears about how we are going to make it work at the end, but the result was better I ever dared to hope. Everyone put so much effort on that particular song and I feel like it’s the fruit of our co-operation as a band. Then there is “Immortalis” in which the interaction between music and lyrics hit the top level in this album. I’m satisfied with the story and how it flows on during the song. We made quite a dramatic change on how the vocals are arranged in this song, compared to our previous material. It was a daring change but definitely a good one. I would also like to mention “Succubus Kiss” and “Last Goodbyes”.

Matias: I could name “The Forsaken” as my favorite song, because it was maybe the trickiest song to record and mix, yet it turned one of the best songs on this album. It also represents our style really well.

How did you start working on the songs for the second release ?! Do you create the music and develop the ideas on your own or did you work and compose the music as an unit ?

Esko: I started to make new songs pretty soon after the first album. I had certain things I wanted to change from the previous album but I didn’t have any masterplan for the next. Composing is some sort of passion to me and also a way of relaxation. I do it a lot. I like to compose the songs as ready as possible and I do write everything down, except vocals. I’m still composing with my dear old companion Guitar Pro 5 (I upgraded from 4 to 5 some years ago). But, after the song is written we start to process it as a band. Everyone has free hands to make changes and give ideas. In this album we have many complex songs with much details and layers. It took a lot of time to make the musical arrangements and everyone was involved in that process. What took the most effort and time from my part was the vocal arrangements. It was a big effort to make the vocals fit this massive beast. I’m also lazy bitch when talking about writing lyrics. I do not consider myself as a writer but eventually I got 9 songs written down. I’m very grateful to Matias for doing the lyrics for “Succubus Kiss”. All in all, it was a huge project to make “When Gods Descend”, it was daring and also risky but we kept focus on our thing and had strong fate for the songs and the concept and we succeeded. I’m proud of my band fellows, my brothers in beer, for putting themselves on this album.

How has the response been for the album in the press and above all in the social media ?!

Matias: The response in social media from fans has been really positive and encouraging, that is what matters when thinking about feedback. In press, reviewers have given mixed feedback. Some think that the album is a mixture of too many genres or being too complicated to digest, or the album is too orchestrated or synth-driven. On the other hand, those are reasons why many reviews seem to love it as well. This is our style, and it’s understandable that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

The debut album FROM DUSK TO ETERNITY (2014) came out via Buil2Kill Records, whereas Reaper Ent. put out the newest one, what is the biggest difference between these two albums from your point of view?

Matias: Like Esko said he wanted to change certain things on this album. The debut album was really straight-forward fast and heavy stuff, not much dynamics and time to breathe in or between the songs. So naturally we felt that there should be some slower and lighter songs on the album in contrast to fast and epic stuff.  Thus, the new album is more rich and diverse, and probably more pleasant to listen from the beginning to end. Also production-wise, this one is a big step forward in all aspects. For example, we really spent a lot of time for arranging the orchestral parts and finding the right sounds and samples.

 

INKING A DEAL WITH REAPER ENT.

How did you end up having a deal inked with Reaper Ent. ?

Matias: Reaper guys showed their interest almost immediately once we had contacted them. After some discussion, we felt teaming up with them would be the best way to release this album. The album is out now and we are really happy about the release and co-operation with them.

When you were looking for a new label for Gladenfold – Were there other labels interested in signing you a right way?

Matias: We contacted potential labels in the beginning of 2019 soon after we got the album master finished. Yes, a few other labels were also interested in releasing the album.

How comes there is a five-year-break between albums ?! no labels, lost interest ?!

Matias: The album itself was a huge effort for us. The debut album was released in 2014, and soon after that we started working with new songs. Once we got songs composed, the recordings started in December 2015. Recording and mixing the whole album took more than 2 years. And the reason is simply that we have jobs and families, and we try to find time for band activities somewhere between our daily lives. So it is purely a scheduling issue, not related to motivation or lack of interest.

Obviously the promotion for the second album will be completely pretty massive – How many interviews have you done so far in order to promote the newest album ?!

Matias: I guess it is around ten interviews by far… and counting. But indeed, the promotion has been massive, and we are of course really happy about it.

Reaper Ent. has signed five bands from Finland, are you a bit surprise the German label has picked up quite a few Finnish bands and will these Finnish Reaper bands carry out something together in the future ?!

Matias:  Not surprised for real, because our Finnish label-mates are all pro guys and do quality metal. And in the end, I guess the Reaper guys love Finnish metal, maybe that’s the reason? I hope there will be co-operation between the bands, at least if it is up to us. Once again, I think there would be a common interest, but sorting out all the practical things like schedules for touring might be an issue.

I can’t help asking about the Buil2Kill label from Italy, what kind of label were they and were you pleased with them after all !?

Lauri: With the debut album it was very hard to find a label that wanted to publish the record. I think it  took several months before we received any interest so at that point the deal with Buil2Kill was very  welcomed. So yes it was a good deal at that time but we knew that with the new album we would  need a new label that would have the time and interest to push and promote us in a bigger scale and that is what we have got from Reaper Ent.

What’s the next step for Gladenfold ?

Lauri : More gigs and bigger gigs, hopefully also outside Finland. And of course the groundwork for the third album is well on its way. No 5-year gap between the second and the third album 😀

All right I for one thank you for your time and interest to do the interview for Metal-Rules.Com, but the last words are yours …

Matias : Well well, please check out our new album “When Gods Descend”. It’s a fine blend of melodic metal, particularly for those you enjoy power metal and melodic death metal.

 

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