Battle Beast – No Pain, No GainMonday, 23rd January 2017
The tide had been rising for Battle Beast for a number of years all the way up to their third release, 2015’s Unholy Savior. Shortly after the album had been released (to even greater successes than the band had seen to date), they lost their main songwriter, Anton Kabanen. Rather than buckle under the pressure, they carried on with touring and restructuring the band and their approach to songwriting.
Next month’s Bringer of Pain is the band’s fourth effort, and first without Kabanen. The band appears more than ready to carry on their high energy traditional metal with a helping of fun, with the entirety of the band being involved with writing the material, and their enthusiasm is infectious. A busy few months are also coming, with the new album comes a European tour, and the band’s first trip across the Atlantic to join forces with Sabaton and Leaves’ Eyes. We were able to chat with vocalist Noora Louhimo for a few minutes to see what else the band has up their sleeves.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel defines Bringer of Pain?
Noora Louhimo: There’s something for everyone I think. It’s also been written by the whole band. That is something very special. I believe that many bands can’t say that. It’s still got the signature Battle Beast sound, but we have developed our sound forward. It’s always good to go forward and not get stuck. It can bring in new fans for us. The main thing for us though, it just to do good music and hope that someone else will also like it.
Dead Rhetoric: What were some of the challenges you faced in replacing your guitarist and main songwriter [Anton Kabanen] at the time?
Louhimo: There were many challenges – I think the biggest challenge was to write the songs themselves. You have all of this baggage because of the breakup. People have expectations, so there is this extra weight you have to carry. You always have the pressure to do good music, and so the album will sell, but also that you can get that rewarding feeling for yourself. This time we had to also prove to the world that we could do music without Anton.
Dead Rhetoric: Did having a new guitarist [Joona Björkroth] help spark some creative juices at the same time?
Louhimo: Actually, he was one of the first guys doing music for Battle Beast after Anton left. He was just playing around – seeing if he could do some songs, without knowing we were going to ask him to join the band. He really showed us the devotion and the kind of work ethic that we really appreciate. He’s a really great guy – he’s become a good friend. It’s been really nice to work with him.
Dead Rhetoric: This is your third album with Battle Beast. You took some heat when you first started with the band – have things finally died down in that regard?
Louhimo: Yeah, it’s like some people don’t even know that there was a singer before me [now]. One of the reasons why I joined the band was the previous singer, Nitte Valo. I loved her voice and I loved her sound. She’s one of the best examples of female singers who sing with balls, and not fairy wings [laughs]. So the pressure was very high when I joined the band, especially when I had never sang heavy metal before Battle Beast. But I love a challenge. I found my place in this band. I feel like I can do everything I want, as a vocalist, in this band. I can use my whole range and capability as a singer. Even if I sometimes do these gigs, doing some pop music or whatever just for fun. In Battle Beast I can do my own thing, and that is really important to me.
Dead Rhetoric: Before you joined Battle Beast, did you have any vocal lessons or training?
Louhimo: Yes, I have a long history as a singer. I started to become interested in performing and singing when I was four years old. Long story short, I was first self-taught, then I started taking some private lessons. Then I went to a classical school for a year, to learn classical/opera style singing. After that, I kept doing my own music as a teenager at home. I didn’t have any band – I kept rehearsing, and then I went to another school for pop/jazz. During that school, I found my first band, which was called Admiral Octopus. It was a hippy rock, kind of blues, band. We were playing Janis Joplin and Eric Clapton. All that ‘60s/’70s kind of music. That’s the first time I had the rasp in my voice. Janis Joplin was the reason I got the rasp. I’m not really a religious person, but I feel like she’s been a guardian angel for me. When I was picked for Battle Beast – I was singing Janis Joplin on a YouTube video. I did “Piece of My Heart” and that was the reason that they contacted me.
Dead Rhetoric: It seems like there are more ‘80s influences creeping into the tracks, particularly with the synths this time around, was this an intentional goal?
Louhimo: There are ‘80s [influences] – I love that. There are these ‘80s kinds of sounds, and most the songs were written by our keyboardist this time. He wrote 7 songs out of 13. There are more synths of course, since he is a keyboard player and thinks for that instrument. I don’t know if it was intentional – our goal was just to do good music. It’s been really nice that people actually hear those influences – they are influences that we have as music listeners ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: There seems to be some Doro/Warlock vibes on the cover art, would you agree?
Louhimo: Yeah – I’m not sure if it’s intentional because Jan Yrlund, the guy who did the cover art, it was his point of view on how he saw Bringer of Pain. Of course, we gave some hints but that was his view. I like that the cover art is kind of a comic book-style. I love the colors and the theme in it. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Dead Rhetoric: Agreed. It kind of has its own vibe to it, especially the colors.
Louhimo: Yeah, I like the purple.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, there’s not nearly enough purple in metal covers. So, you’ll be hitting the US for the first time this spring with Sabaton and Leaves Eyes. Anything that you are particularly looking forward to?
Louhimo: I’m looking forward to meeting all the fans we have there. They have been asking for years, and now we are coming. That is the most important thing. Of course, I’m really excited to see the culture – I’ve never been in the United States. I’m really excited.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there any specific place that you are looking forward to seeing?
Louhimo: Anywhere [laughs]! Anywhere is fine. I just want to get there and enjoy the ride.
Dead Rhetoric: What can US fans expect from a Battle Beast live performance?
Louhimo: They can expect a lot of screaming [laughs]. They can expect a lot of fun, a lot of movement, and the best heavy metal party you have ever been to.
Dead Rhetoric: So what other plans does Battle Beast have, other than a European tour and the US one?
Louhimo: We are going to start doing new music, bit by bit. We aren’t going to record, but start doing some demos. We have some plans to go to Japan and Eastern Europe at some point, but we don’t have any dates yet. Hopefully the end of this year. Then we have all of the summer festivals all around Europe. I hope we get to the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise someday. That would be my dream come true to get there.