1. Welcome LL. Thank you for your time and answers. Frankly, until “Deliverance from The Godless Void” I just paid little attention to DESOLATE SHRINE. That was a huge mistake as your recent album just blew me away and showed your immense own profile. Despite that I know a musician is never satisfied with his own work, would you nevertheless say that “Deliverance Form The Godless Void” is your best output so far and may be a good entry point to gain access to your musical vision?
Thank you for the comments. I would say that “Deliverance from the Godless Void” is the pinnacle of Desolate Shrine so far. That being said, I have returned to previous albums every now and then and found myself surprised by the songwriting and the ideas there. When you do a new album, you always feel momentarily that the previously made music has lost something or is not “that good anymore”. New always feels and sounds better. I like “Tenebrous Towers” a lot even it´s really different than the rest. I think our best song is on The “Heart of the Netherworld” and even when I made that, I knew I won´t attempt to do part 2 of that.
2. You are responsible for everything behind DESOLATE SHRINE. You play all instruments, do the recordings and even did the artworks. This must be a massive amount of work. So why do you do everything by yourself? Is it about some dyi-attitude or to keep full control of your very own vision behind the music?
Quick answer is that a) I can and b) I might be a control freak.
It is a lot of work. Every time I finish an album and it´s sent to mastering I promise to myself that next time I´ll get someone to help me out with whatever; guitars, mix, recording, artwork etc. And then, after year or two goes by I realize that sure - I want to do things by myself after all. It is at times crushing amount of work and of course stressful as fuck but I never wanted or needed this to be easy.
3. Is there any instrument that you might consider as “your” instrument? That you play best or feel most comfortable with?
Drums, easily. Guitars and bass are mostly at “whatever to make it sound good enough for what I hear in my head” skill level.
4. A logical consequence would be to handle the vocals duties by yourself too. But you involved RS from Cryptborn and ML from Sargeist to sing in DESOLATE SHRINE. What made you giving away the control over this aspect of your band?
I have never tried or wanted to be a vocalist and those really excel at that. It was the most obvious and easiest decision that we made. I also enjoy a lot our recording sessions which are inspiring yet chaotic as hell.
5. With two singers in DESOLATE SHRINE, but a sole person responsible for the music, who is in charge to write the lyrics? Do you write them as you might have a certain vision about the words that support your music? Or do you give ML and RS free hand for their texts?
MT writes all the lyrics and has total freedom about that. We do talk about overarching themes before the writing process starts. I have something I want to tell with music and the lyrics do portray that the best way possible. For The Deliverance from the Godless Void I wrote a bunch of really abstract ideas, keywords, feelings and showed some early ideas of cover artwork which was the fuel for MT. He brings he´s own view and twist to things.
6. You told NCS that your lyrics deal with “To face overwhelming challenges and odds and rebuild from there.”. So I assume that they are very personal and have a real life background?
Yes – you are right. Past two years have been, and continue to be, extremely challenging for most of the band. On a really personal level that is. We tend to write quite abstract music and lyrics at times but there is a really strong and connection to the world and life we currently live in.
7. For the artwork you also said that you want to create a unity for DESOLATE SHRINE, to get a coherent concept of the (un)holy trinity of lyrics, artwork and music. So the cover image represents both lyrics and music and enriches them with an visual aspect. On an abstract level it is fire, darkness and void, that describes the trinity behind “Deliverance From The Godless Void”. I think this fits pretty perfect since the atmosphere of this album is bleak, overwhelming and shows many furious moments. But there is little hope within the music.
Yes, exactly. There must be a connection of those three aspects. I´m tired of albums that has a “cool cover artwork” with virtually nothing to do with music itself. Those (covers are) just separate things put together just because. Especially most of metal nowadays is a cool logo, some mediocre music and cover artwork of some monster or city in ruins whatever. That does not excite me in any ways and for our releases I always try to bring all the elements closer together. Bleak, furious and overwhelming is a really well said.
8. Well, there might be little hope on “Deliverance From The Godless Void”, but in “The Graeae” there is a short interlude where the instrumentation offers a slight moment of light within the baneful atmosphere the rest of the song creates. I really like how you play with contrasts, dissolve the dissonant beginning of the track with this short passage to create an impressive song. Same for the exchange of brutal eruptions and more reasoned, almost calm moments in “… Of Hell”, which also has some hints of hope in it.
For me “the Graeae” became a personal favourite after the vocals were recorded. There was bit of a danger of being too corny or overly dramatic with all the whispering and storytelling –vibe of the intro. But it turned out just great and definitely feels like a way I want to explore more. That might mean that our next material is (even) less traditional death metal than before, or not.
The ending of “…of hell” was something I really worked with. I know that it will finish the album and has to be perfect – to leave a certain impression or feeling after a really hard an oppressive album. It had to be, for the lack of better word, triumphant.
9. Most of the time your music is build with the classic metal instrumentation: Guitar, Bass and Drums. But in very well placed moments you use keyboards to intensify the atmosphere. In one moment more atmospheric, in another more dissonant and baneful. But the balance between the keyboards and the more traditional approach is simply fantastic.
I agree that it works really well. The inspiration from that comes from soundtracks, classical music and ambient where it´s important to create subtle textures and movements. Desolate Shrine is not a minimalistic band in ANY way, but for the synths and keyboards that´s something I kind of aim for in a sense. Or maybe minimalistic is wrong word for this. Spacious, slowly moving ambience is what I´m looking for.
10. Although I use words like “classic” or “traditional” in the last question, I have to admit: For me DESOLATE SHRINE emancipated from most old fashioned genre borders. With the blend of styles between black metal, death metal and doom, and the heavy usage of wide and open atmospheric instrumentation, I see you closer to a contemporary movement that might be called “post-death metal”. You share the same mindset and musical vocabulary as bands like Ulcerate, Ulsect, Departé, Beyond Terror, Beyond Grace, etc.
I do not really disagree with you. I want to point out though that these bands or this genre is not something I´ve listened myself so it is mostly coincidental! Like stated before, I love soundtracks and ambient stuff in general a lot and it always felt like a natural marriage of he “traditional” old school metal approach and more abstract and ambient, otherworldly feel.
So in a way I definitely see that comparison, but the route for the similar sound or feel has been probably different. Or at least I don´t know any better, haha. Also, I like post-rock and post-metal a lot so that MIGHT have something to do with that.
11. With only little hope and many unconventional ideas, “Deliverance From The Godless Void” surely is a challenge for the audience. And maybe the extraordinary long running time of over 50 minutes might be challenging as well. Don’t you see a risk that this might be too much impressions for the listener?
Yes. If it´s too much - then don´t listen. There are millions of bands out there doing short and easy, catchy songs.
12. Yet DESOLATE SHRINE take a refreshing approach on extreme and gloomy music, Finland in general tends to offer forward-thinking and dark metal bands - at least when you have a look at death metal: Funebre, Demigod were much darker than other Scandinavian bands, Demilich was absolutely obscure and forward-thinking and newer bands like Cryptborn or Lantern deliver outstanding material as well. Why do you think your geographic location forms this kind of music? It is about saunas and vodka, isn’t it?
I would like to say it´s the weather and during winter the constant darkness BUT most of Sweden is like that as well. So what makes Finnish approach gloomier? I have no definite answer for that, really. Finnish mentality, spirit, has always been a bit more melancholic and bleaker than our neighbours on the west. Historically we´ve been sandwiched between Swedish and Russian powers and therefore had to persevere harsh conditions, occupation of hostile forces and clashing cultures. That has probably shaped us, our view of life and sense of humor.
If someone would read our folklore and hear our trad. Music, he or she would instantly notice this gloom and despair. It´s hard-coded in us.
13. As a musician I really enjoy having influences from the outside that complement a bands vision, give some ideas the band might not have had yet. An important moment is in the studio when the technician might emphasise some passages to better showcase them or giving the album a slightly different vibe by modifying small parts within the sound. As you did the recordings for DESOLATE SHRINE all by yourself, do you think you miss those external input? Or do you have a clear and fixed vision how your songs should sound so you would never let anybody else take influence on your ideas?
Sometimes I do. I tend to ask input from other guys but rarely there´s much to say. It´s more general like “this part is odd” or “This part works out really well”. Not going into details, really. So in that sense it would be interesting to have a producer of sorts as an external pair of ears and brains. I sometimes do send semi-finished songs to friends but they never really give any real input for the song, haha.
Influencing some details would be welcome but the actual songwriting is something I don´t want anyone to interfere.
14. To form your dark and special vision of extreme metal, you must have some external influences nevertheless. Of course, many will be found in classical extreme metal, early death metal, black metal, etc. But are there any sources of inspiration that are not rooted in metal? In any other musical genre for example? Or which artists influenced your style you use for your cover artworks?
My main metal influences are mostly early to mid 90´s stuff which I think is really apparent. Besides metal I really enjoy soundtracks and some classical stuff as well as (dark) ambient. I do enjoy some electronic music every now and then. The common nominator is that the music paints some kind of images in my head. It has to conjure something in me. About cover artwork – that´s a hard one. I enjoy many but don´t even know the names probably. I´m not too much into basic death metal artwork nowadays to be honest. I´d like to see more bands going for more bizarre or abstract direction. So I´m not absolutely sure who or what has influenced me directly.
15. LL, thank you very much for your time and answers. It was a pleasure for me having this interview with you since “Deliverance From The Godless Void” is an outstanding album. Feel free to leave some words to my readers.
Thank you! It´s great to see that the interviewer actually has listened the album and looked at the artwork and from my point of view, understood the underlying motivations and concepts behind it all quite well.