ANGELS OF DISTRESS : Career interview with Shape Of Despair (FUNERAL DOOM/DOOM DEATH METAL)
Interview with Jarno Salomaa (guitars/Keyboards)
FUNERAL DOOM METAL WITH BLACK METAL SHAPES
Can you remind us the conditions of birth of the band ? You were first called Raven, back in 1998, and you were already playing melodic and dark profound Funeral Doom ? How did you passed from one band to another and why ?
Yes, we started around '94/'95 with Raven. At first, Raven's music were actually more in the vein of today's post black metal without vocals. On atmosphere-wise it drove pretty much the same as later when we slowed things down for good.
We made one rehearsal recording back at the first year and then left everything behind for some reason. Can't remember were it cause of other bands (With Death, Haven in shadows, Wanderer etc..)..we had a lot of projects going on at that time with just the few of us living near by. Lots of journeys into the woods and too little of sleep while making music, best way to inspire. But, then in '98 we decided with Raven to record the demo out with the songs we had done few years back and to see if things would go anywhere. I quess after this recording and few years in between all this reflected in making some new music with a different approach in it. Bought a synth and pretty fast after that we made the promo tape where you can hear Quiet these paintings are's first version.. which is for me better than the album version. Different tone and a bit different arrangements.
We gave this promo tape to Sami at Spikefarm records who really dig (or pretended to dig) this music as it were very different to that era of styles.. but, after all there were (and still is?!) a band called Raven, i had to see some alternatives for our music. Good that way cause it really were necessary to change the name for more descriptive name for the music i started to make.
Why did you choose that extreme form of Doom Metal that is called Funeral Doom ? Was it a good way to deal with emotions ? What is funeral doom for you ?
You'll get a hint from previous answer but.. what i have to underline is that i/we never « chose » to play music labeled as funeral doom. Most what mattered, were just to make music no one did before or music which just reflected the feelings we had from some certain music or situations in life/surroundings.
Back then doom music for us were mostly Unholy, Skepticism and Thergothon but most what really inspired us musically were honest and raw primitive black metal and of course dark ambient. And honestly, this hasnt changed much even in nowadays.
Funeral doom for me is Skepticism. I don't categorize us into the same category with them, they earn it ;) There's luckily not that much of bands who really can create art in the same genre. Lots of bands making doom these days but, let's say, lots of bands which could make something else than what they do at this moment.. too much of a fashion to be part of.
As a Finnish band, can you tell why is that genre is so popular in your country ?
Could be the typical seasonal effects on us. Long days without the sun and of course, our superior mentality how we handle loneliness combined with some amount of misanthropy.
Were you influenced by the founders of the genre, The mighty Thergothon and Skepticism ? And what can you tell us about those bands ?
Not actually influenced but appreciated how they did create something very original. We actually did cover Skepticism's song years ago and really enjoy their first albums.. great personalities also behind there.
Too bad Thergothon never continued but one of the guys have done some really good compositions later on with different names and music styles.
In 2000 you released your first album shades of…, a very melancholic and beautiful piece of art. From the outset we are immerged in an oniric and feeric atmosphere, that is your trademark in a way. The music is quite heavy and slow but very much more melodic than the one that played Thergothon and Skepticism…What led you to this particular style ?
Well, those songs on that album were the first ones for Raven. Inspired from nature and black metal mostly. At that time especially what influenced were Strid, Burzum and alikes. Even these doesnt really sound out from the album but in atmosphere what these brought to us alongside with all the feelings and ideas from nature was the thing here.
In 2001, you released Angels of Distress. For some of your fans, it’s still your best effort. A friend of mine, Philippe Saidj, wrote a thriller book (in french) called « La forme du désespoir » (shape of despair in french) and the story revolves around this particular album. I don’t know if you heard of that book, it’s great ! This album, again, is filled with beauty and dark feelings, but it’s more atmospheric than agressive (even there is agressivity in it, almost in the vocals). This is a real masterpiece. How do you consider this one, and can you describe the various stages of its creation ?
Thank you. Havent heard of this book before, sounds interesting and i feel humble about having our music as inspiration there. If i'd understand French language, i'd most likely would try to look that out.
Songs on Angels -album were actually composed solely with Ensoniq synth i have been using for all of our albums. Songs i made were meant to be only synth works at first but.. started to add layers of guitars alongside. Started to sound more and more how you hear the songs now. To live for my death- song were almost dropped out of the album as at first it really didn't work out in any way. Just after the vocals were done, it somehow started to sit tight and now it really is as what it was supposed to be. Driving the suicidal atmosphere forward.
Before we entered the studio to record Angels, we didn't had any vocalist. Our previous vocalist Toni moved to Lapland which was something i'd never expected, at least when i think he had very good voice on our music. But, later on had Pasi to join us. At that time, Pasi really had a good touch on all of this, good sound overall. Idea was also to keep our identity in secrecy, to keep things only on music side and not to have anykind of an push, so to say, from Amorphis fame. Too bad Relapse screwed this thing making a big sticker on the album about Amorphis.
There is oftenly heavenly voices in your music (female vocals) is it a way to transport us to heaven or an illusion ? You play with light and darkness, not only in darkness such as a lot of bands in your style. Is it a choice ?
I think Natalie's voice fits very well to balance the heavy side of this music. I've always liked the idea to have ethereal atmosphere and having Natalie with her voice along with the wall of guitars just fits more than well.
Illusion’s play is the successor of Angels…in 2004, what do you think of that album 15 years later ? it’s more heavy than the two first ones, no ?
Illusion's play ideally worked good but in soundwise it really didn't. Overall the album works and i stand behind it but, sounds could've been way better. Curse life were made actually near the Angels- era, as the whole album, and it stands out for myself almost as the most important song from us. But, if i'd made one album again, Illusion's play would be that album.
Are you under the influence of bands such as Dead Can Dance ? It seems to me there is some part of your music that reminds me of them ?
Yes, alot indeed..
What happened to the band after that album ? We had to wait 2010 to see a new record coming, the Written in my scars EP ?
We had some personal issues as well as lots of going on with the other bands with few of us. Time just flew by.. we were supposed to play even our first show back in '04 or something but then i got hospitalized for few weeks so everything went down again.
At the time when we started to write those 2 songs for the ep with Tomi, it was getting more clear about having new vocalist for various reasons.. ep's title really holds the meaning inside for some things around that time.
Your last album to date, Monotony fields is a pure beauty ! It looks like a best of what the band can produce. That heaviness and that sadness combined with great melodies (your keyboards are perfect) which makes it understandable to all. What is your personnal vision of that one ?
This album really worked out for good. We had a really professional guy behind to work on the sounds itself.. Have to admit that Monotony Fields holds the best production we've had. Also the songs itself worked really well. But, as we've tend to make abit different albums from each other, i'm sure next one will be different one again.. will be damn good one also.
Is there a new album coming soon ? And if yes, what can we expect ?
Yes there will be. Already have songs for at least one album. Won't say anything else about it than that it's in a way a little step back while having some new things on it. Misery is well present.
MELANCHOLIC DEPRESSIVE DOOM METAL WITH ELEGANCE
Your band is unique, with a mix of styles such as death/doom and gothic/rock influences. Can you present us bands you recently discovered that are unique for you ?
There's too much music these days.. haven't really searched any new music other than just bumping onto some.
A traditionnal question : can you give us your 15 best records ever, any period and any genre of music included ?
That's quite impossible, here's some even you really can't place only 15 albums.. there's a lot more.
Burzum – Hvis lyset tar oss
Raison d'etre – Empty hollow unfolds
Darkthrone – under a funeral moon
The cult – love
Monumentum – in absentia christi
Dead can dance – Within the realm of a dying sun
Autopsy – mental funeral
In the woods – heart of the ages
Katatonia – discouraged ones
Slowdive - souvlaki
Unholy – second ring of power
Evoken – Quietus
Raison d'etre – in sadness, silence and solitude
Bolt thrower – for victory
Morbid angel – blessed are the sick
Are you inspired by books (you and the other members) ? And if yes, can you tell us which ones ?
Not really inspired. When i read books i mainly ready biographies or history related books.. could read alot more though.
Thank you so much Jarno, if you want any additional information to give us, it’s time !
Thank you so much Jarno, if you want any additional information to give us, it’s time !
Thank you. We have just a couple of shows for this year and then again gathering things ready for the next album. There's more info on our website. We're also entering a studio with Counting Hours for it's first album. There's me and Tomi from Sod. Sameli from Kalmankantaja, Ilpo and Make from The Chant. Check the band out, more faster paced than Sod but for sure melancholic and depressive stuff..