AMORAL have been consistently active in the Helsinki metal scene for nearly two decades now. Before their performance at one of Tuska Festival’s iconic after parties, we spoke to guitarist and lyrical mastermind Ben Varon and returning member Niko Kalliojärvi to discuss the band’s upcoming seventh record, performing live as a six piece band and why the Finnish metal scene is so globally revered.
You guys are set to perform at one of the after parties at Tuska, are you guys looking forward to that performance?
Ben: Yes, it is our only Tuska after party which is always good for us but it is also our first show as a six piece and our first show in like seven or eight months because we have just been writing and recording, so it is going to be interesting in so many different ways!
Niko: It’s like a really heavy sneeze that you are just anticipating!
This is the first time you will be performing with your new lineup. Has there been any anxiety prior to this performance?
Ben: Not anxiety, that isn’t the right word. I’d say more excitement. We now have two singers we need to think about but also Niko is taking over some guitar duties while Masi who used to play just guitar is now our keyboard player for some songs. Some songs have three guitar players so it is a big mix of musical chairs!
Niko: I like the way he put it when he called me for the first time when we first started thinking about me being back in the band and it was like this mad professor kind of thing. That is what we are aiming for.
So can fans expect a mad stage show?
Ben: It will be mad for us at least!
Niko: Yeah we will be like what instrument am I supposed to play on this next song haha! There will be something cool to check out at all times because even in the middle of a song someone might change an instrument on the fly.
Ben: And something else which is really cool is having Niko’s stage presence again because we got a bit notey as the stuff we play is intricate, at least for us it is pretty challenging, so we can’t do crazy windmills and kick-flips when we are playing our shit! So we need to focus which can look a little boring from time to time so it’s good to have this crazy motherfucker back on stage!
AMORAL are currently in production of your seventh record. Is it a continuation of your past material or are you going to embrace new elements?
Ben: I’d say it’s both. I think it’s a very natural continuation from Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows but also of course things have changed since Niko coming back. There’s going to be more instruments, there is a lot of percussion for example, for some reason we just got really into mixing percussion with heavy music. It hasn’t been done for a while, Sepultura did a great job with it in 1996 and then it just seemed to fade. It can make stuff sound really heavy!
Niko: I think on one side it’s going to be more experimental like the last album by being dynamic with lots of different sounds. And on the other side it will enable us to bring back more of the aggressive side. Ari has done some of the extreme vocals too but have we have two guys so everybody can focus on something. I think there are some really aggressive parts, it’s really awesome!
AMORAL has been involved in the Finnish metal scene for quite a number of years now. How do you think the Finnish scene compares to the rest of the world?
Ben: It’s hard to say because here we see things from such a different angle, like we know all the bands where as if we are in Germany we see it only for that one night. It’s incredibly big here, there are a lot of bands so a lot of competition but I think that is a good thing because it keeps everyone on their toes.
Niko: I don’t know what’s happening at the moment but in Scandinavia in general, bands seem to be more innovative. Or doing something weird and then it becomes a standard! The rest of the world is very talented for making it a working brand for example.
Finland is considered to be a home for metal, it is common in your culture, is it normal for you guys to experience metal on such a regular basis?
Niko: Yeah, it’s so normal I don’t pay attention to it really. I’ve heard how the scene is in other countries but in Finland, it’s really really normal!
Ben: It only become weird when someone else points it out yknow? Like the new Insomnium album is third on the Finnish charts and it’s like, yeah that’s normal.
So with your new record set for release next year are you hoping to play in countries you have not played before?
Niko: We hope to go everywhere, that’s always been the case. We will literally play anywhere! We love to see new places.
Ben: it’s not really about getting any money from it, it’s just experiencing everything. The live show anywhere it is will be cool, it’s just a huge bonus to see new countries and play different cities. I love travelling, that’s what I spend my money on. So to do that and play shows is the best thing ever!
Is there any country in particular you’d love to play?
Ben: South America as a whole, we’ve never been there. Australia, we’ve never been there. And the States too! We’ve only ever played one show in Texas so I wouldn’t say we have that part of the world covered.
So you have the after party at Tuska, what else can fans expect from AMORAL from the rest of this year?
Ben: This year is going to be quite chilled and relaxed for my taste. I would hope to get the ball rolling earlier but we want to get some shows done by the end of the year, but booking agents want the new album out first. If we were to play in November, we wouldn’t get the same clubs in February, so it is better to save them until the new album comes out. So it just looks like we’re going to be practising but I’m sure we will probably write half of the next album instead of just sitting on our asses, we’re going to use our time productively. One of my goals in the six months before this album comes out is just practise a lot of the older stuff. We have seven albums so that’s a lot of music. So we want to pick out some special songs from the back catalogue and bring it back to the live show. We want a huge pool of songs that we can take to the sets whenever we want, and also do some new arrangements for the songs. Like involve some keyboards when there hasn’t been before or try three guitars.
Well best of luck for the future guys!
Ben & Niko: Cheers, thanks!