Counting Hours – Carry the Will

Tuesday, 10th November 2020

When we first got in touch with Finland’s Counting Hours in 2017, the band was fresh off the release of their debut demo, a caressing display of dark metal in the vein of (classic) Katatonia, Paradise Lost and October Tide. Such names immediately evoke a certain sound and/or feeling, to which Counting Hours sufficiently nailed. Fast-forward three years and the band has re-emerged with their first full-length album in the form of The Will. It’s one of those always-enjoyable instances where a band exceeds the promise shown on their demo — The Will is a near-perfect snapshot of melancholy, grief, introspection and melody, backed by a band with the pedigree (see: current and former members of Rapture, Shape of Despair, The Chant and Impaled Nazarene) and the songwriting smarts to create something of vast significance. Here to chat about The Will is the man largely responsible for its songs, guitarist Jarno Salomaa….

Dead Rhetoric: First off, did the pandemic impact any of your 2020 plans?

Jarno Salomaa: It didn’t, actually, but just in a way that we had to cancel just one show we got confirmed earlier on. Everyone in the band isn’t dependent on live shows so all this hysteria around the pandemic wasn’t a big deal to us. We got more time to focus on the coming album instead and on some new material, also.

Dead Rhetoric: How has Counting Hours adapted to this unusual situation? Are you able to rehearse?

Salomaa: Yes, everything’s back to normal in our case when it comes to rehearsing. Otherwise, it’s been quieter on the live front than usual. And, we’ve had more time to focus on newer material.

Dead Rhetoric: Your debut demo did a great job of presenting Counting Hours to the metal scene at large. Except for “Wintry Insight,” why did you re-record and enhance three of the demo’s songs?

Salomaa: Thank you. “Wintry Insight” was a bit of a ballad compared to others on the demo, though a good one. But then again, a demo is a demo and we didn’t pay too much attention to the sounds and song arrangements in general. We mostly wanted to push these songs out and think later, I guess. And that was also one reason to rerecord these three songs again because I think we had some ideas to work ‘em out more properly.

Dead Rhetoric: Stylistically speaking, The Will perfectly taps into the classic Katatonia/atmospheric metal vein. What is it about this style that appeals so much to you?

Salomaa: Maybe the timing was right, or then again, metal + melodies + darkness and all those which captivates the atmosphere of futility, loss and helplessness, but with a groove and good vibe does the trick. And I think that when I left Rapture, the songs I had for them were haunting me too much to leave ‘em be just unnoticed. But I think that some of the music which was released in the ’90s made such an impact on me which still stays in a very special place, be it black metal, death metal, shoegaze, ambient or those classic albums of Katatonia or alikes. There were so many masterworks from that era.

Dead Rhetoric: Take a song like “Atonement” for example. It’s simply a brilliant stroll down Discouraged Ones-era memory lane, but, at the same time, it has a uniquely Finnish twist. How did this song come about? Did the finger-tapping part serve as the foundation?

Salomaa: Actually no, that part was the last [created]! Funny thing is that most people say that when tweaking a song too much, it usually goes in a bad direction and the first version is always the best one, but with this song, it was a totally different thing. I had made a couple of versions of this song and feel that now it’s THE version here. We even played live a different version, just before entering the studio. I really like this way the most how it turned out.

Dead Rhetoric: What type of subject matter are you tackling with the lyrics?

Salomaa: The Will as an album itself is about relief of some sort. Be it a relief by leaving your life or another’s. But it’s all about to fix things in the present time, to get rid permanently of all ghosts from the past so to say.

Dead Rhetoric: And, Ilpo does a tremendous job. He’s always been great in The Chant, but these songs fit him like a glove. What’s it like to work with a singer of his caliber?

Salomaa: Oh yes. I’ve been enjoying The Chant’s live shows a lot and noticed that Ilpo really does his singing damn good. But, I didn’t think how good this would turn out with Counting Hours after all. The idea was and still is, to try out some almost a bit of a cheesy-like approach on some of the lines. It fits perfectly when you think about the music, lyrics and how it’s sung.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you hook up with The Vinyl Division for the release of the album?

Salomaa: I knew David before this so it was very obvious to ask if he’d be interested. He released our demo on LP as well and he’s been releasing only pro work on everything he’s putting out — from the sleeves to the album itself. Also, what matters the most to us is to release music without selling your rights to anyone. I’ve made that mistake and seen how some others are exploiting your work without having respect for the fans.. or the artists themselves who made the music or who brought the music alive as an art. Have to say that those exploiters are cancer…

Dead Rhetoric: And, finally, what’s on tap for the rest of 2020 going into 2021?

Salomaa: Seeing our album finally out! Anxiously waiting to hold it in my hands. Also, working on new stuff with Counting Hours and some other bands I’m working on as well. Sameli has some new material with Cynabare Urne and Tomi has done a new album with Impaled Nazarene so lots of good new stuff coming out! Other than that, we’re trying to find out would it be possible to have any kind of live show with Counting Hours as well. Open for everything.