Convulse – Reborn Through ChaosWednesday, 5th March 2014
The reintroduction of Convulse to the scene last year via Evil Prevails (their third album, and first in 19 years) has helped bring upon a renewed, or rather, fresh interest in pure Finnish death metal. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who the country’s prime contributors the sound are (i.e. Amorphis, Sentenced, and to a lesser extent, Xysma), but those bands trailed off the DM path, going onto more spacious (Amorphis), suicidal (Sentenced), or downright weird (Xysma) territories. Those who stayed the course, unfortunately, were left behind, or broke up altogether.
Prior to their 1994 split, Convulse released two albums, World Without God, and Reflections, the latter of which saw worldwide release via a then-fledgling Relapse Records. By no means a commercial success, Reflections featured subtle, if not forward-thinking swells in the atmospheric and darkness department, some of which recalled pre-Tales Amorphis; others emerging as their own body. An immediate follow-up was not to be, but Evil Prevails proves to be a more than suitable successor, funnelling raucous, oft-kilter riffs, with the impervious bellow of mainmain/guitarist Rami Jämsä, who was kind enough to submit to a round of questions, which follow below…
Dead Rhetoric: To start, the Finnish metal world is a lot different than when you left it in 1994. Have you kept tabs on what’s going on, and if so, what are your thoughts?
Rami Jämsä: I know some of the “new” Finnish death metal bands like Lantern and Vorum and so on. I listen to music very open minded, so perhaps I am not the best possible person to tell about the death metal scene in Finland. Overall, it´s cool to notice that there is still much going on in the Finnish death metal scene.
Dead Rhetoric: In the mid-90’s, Finland had Amorphis and Sentenced starting to pick up steam and gain in popularity. Did you have much inkling that these two bands would be the catalyst for a broader expansion in Finnish metal?
Jämsä: Both bands were great already at the beginning of their careers. So perhaps it was not so big surprise that they upgraded their music successfully to a next level. They have done a hell of a work for other Finnish metal bands and gained reputation for our metal scene.
Dead Rhetoric: I’ve read that your breakup in 1994 was due to a lot of things, some of which centered on the inexperience and immaturity of the band at the time. Looking back, do you wish some of these things would have been resolved?
Jämsä: Life goes as it goes. We had to rush to get Reflections ready in the end of 1992, because three of us started mandatory military service in January 1993. We spent the whole 1993 year in the army. It was quite a bad thing for the band. Everything stopped for a year and when we started again 1994, we realized that we had grown apart both personally and musically. Nothing really dramatic happened. Everybody just wanted to do different things.
Dead Rhetoric: Over the years, were there a lot of demands for you to get back together?
Jämsä: Not really. I noticed that there was lot of demands to reissue World Without God album, because it was only released on vinyl and very hard to found these days at a reasonable price. When Relapse Records reissued World Without God, I understood that fans have waited the CD and we had gained some sort of cult band status over these 20 years.
Dead Rhetoric: Are you surprised and/or pleased with how well both World Without God and Reflections have held up?
Jämsä: Somehow I am surprised. But when I listen to World Without God today, I still hear the rage and dark vibes that held up forever.
Dead Rhetoric: From what I gather, you’ve never been 100% behind the recording of Reflections. What do you remember most about that point in time?
Jämsä: You are right. We had to record it too fast and everybody in the band were not with a 100% attitude in studio. Also we handn’t got a chance to take part in the mixing sessions. So it was quite a surprise when we got the finished album. It was so polished and sterile. Of course there is also some problems with the groove of the band, can’t blame only the production. But Reflections was an interesting effort to upgrade our sound and there is still many good things also in that album: Riffs, melodies and some weird arrangements.
Dead Rhetoric: Is straight-up rock and roll one of the worst things to happen to death metal next to clean vocals?
Jämsä: I have never quite understood people who think that band should sound just the same trough their whole career. I am a curious person and I want to try some new things also. Don’t think that I want to make Reflections 2.0. I just mean that it is pretty obvious that when you learn more about music and life, it reflects also to music you make.
Dead Rhetoric: As for the new album, Evil Prevails, what was the approach going into the songwriting? Was it an easy thing to get back into?
Jämsä: I just started to make new riffs without any certain destination. Pretty soon we realized that new songs are sounding more like World Without God material than Reflections. So we left out rocking at this time. I have to say that everything went quite smoothly. We composed the Evil Prevails album in nine months, so we were pretty fast.
Dead Rhetoric: The production for the new album is strong, but not overly polished. Were you wary of doing something that was too “clean sounding?”
Jämsä: You are right. I wanted to do things like back in the 90s and we choose almost 60 years old sound engineer who have ran his analog (JJ-Studio) over 30 years. I like hand work and the authentic feeling. We didn´t want to create [a] modern sound and work with Pro Tools. I wanted to concentrate to the right feeling. I need some mud to be created – not fucking quantization of music.
Dead Rhetoric: Getting back into the swing of things with live shows…how has that been thus far?
Jämsä: Just great. We have practiced a lot and we have also never stopped playing. So it is cool to get on stage and just let it go. Fans have been great and it’s great to see that people have waited for us.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda going into 2014?
Jämsä: We have just started to write new material. I would like to record new Convulse album in 2015. We’ll do also some shows during this year, but we are not in a hurry anymore. We are already 40 year-old guys, so we can take things as they come.