Evemaster – On Hallowed GroundSunday, 31st March 2013
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)
Completing an album is not as easy as it looks. Just ask Evemaster mainman Tomi Mykkänen, who with a little help from his friends, spent the better part of three-plus years trying to complete the band’s third album, III. The original plan was to have Children of Bodom drummer Jaska Raatilkainen hit the skins, but touring commitments with Bodom (read: Slayer) prevented Raatilkainen from recording. After a drunken chat with Moonsorrow’s Ville Sorvali, Mykkänen secured part-time Battlelore (who Mykkänen also is a part of) drummer Enkku Khert-Neter’s services, and thus drum recordings were completed all the way back in June of 2008. Bass, guitars, and vocals (by only other full-time member Jarno Raskula) were subsequently completed in February of 2009, and shortly there afterward Omnium Gatherum gunslinger Markus Vanhala provided a pair of solos, while My Sweet Sorrows keyboardist Ismo Monola added synths.
According to Mykkänen, the proverbial icing on the cake came in the form of the mixing/mastering services of Dan Swanö, who not only added his trademark sheen to III, but also lent his mystical clean vocals on “New Age Dawns.” With all the guest appearances, one would never surmise that Mykkänen jumped through so many hoops, for III is a decisive, cunning melodic death metal platter, stocked with prime Finnish melodies that is on full display on world-beating numbers like the aforementioned “New Age Dawns,” along with “Humanimals” and “Losing Ground.” And as it stands at the present time, it’s perhaps the year’s best pure melodic death metal album, and subsequently improves upon the black-death combo heard on 2005’s rather intoxicating MMIV.
Since III has yet to lose its muster, we figured it would be a good idea to rope Mykkänen in a for a chat. And luckily for Blistering, the multi-talented guitarist responded in kind. Have a gander…
Blistering.com: To start with the obvious, why such the long layoff between MMIV and III?
Tomi Mykkänen: We (I) kind of worked on the album for a long time even though not like every day or anything like that. It was on and off. But, I was not in a hurry and recording on my own equipment gave me the freedom. After everything was recorded I gave Dan (Swanö) a nice surprise and told him that the material was finally ready to be mixed. He was waiting for it, so he started working on the material straight away. I had recorded a few clean vocals here and there myself, but as I hate my own voice, I wanted someone to re-record them. So Dan was nice enough to do it when I boldly asked him if he wanted to.
When the first mix of “New Age Dawns” came from Dan, I almost cried when I heard the middle part with his vocals. I was so proud of myself, Jarno, all my friends and Dan. Finally, the album is getting to be readied. After that it took a few emails and the album was mixed and mastered. Then I asked my other dearfriend Timo (Honkanen, Death-Illustrated, Battlelore, Dark Elite) if he was up to making the covers for the album, and he was. So after a while, we had a full album with artwork ready for a release. So I started checking for possible labels to work with. It took some time and then we got in touch with Johnny Hagel (Tiamat) of Supernova records and then all the label-stuff was handled and finally in June 2010, the album was released in Scandinavia. Supernova was also able to do the digital release of the album but they were not going to release it as a CD worldwide which I of course, would have preferred. So after long waiting, we finally got the word from the label that we are free to work on the worldwide release so then we enter the time being. We contacted Inverse records and started working on the new release. And now it’s finally out so that anyone can get it.
Blistering.com: What ultimately brought the two of you back together for the recording of III? Was it easy to get back into the swing of things?
Mykkänen: Well, me and Jarno we’ve known each other since 8th grade (we were 13-14 years old back then). Been through a lot since. So, basically the delays have been because of me. Jarno would have worked a lot faster but it takes so much time for me to come up with new songs and demoing them so that Jarno can start rehearsing vocals. But as you can see from above, that we’ve been working for a long time and we also made a few gigs so it was no problem getting back into the swing of things. Now we are trying to do it again; Jarno is kicking my ass about new songs and I’m trying to do something but it seems that I have so many other things happening in life at the moment that it’s hard to find some free spots to sit down and start writing new material.
Blistering.com: Your sound has certainly been refined since MMIV. Do you think you’ve fully shed the black metal elements from your early days?
Mykkänen: III is kind of different, I share your point of view. I have a few song ideas brewing at the moment and I have to say that the black metal elements are not fully shed yet. We’ll see how it will turn out to be, but I’m not making any decision to any side, what comes out comes out and we’ll see if it works.
Blistering.com: Describe the working relationship between you and Jarno. In what ways to you complement each other?
Mykkänen: Well, I make all the music and lyrics and mostly all the vocals arrangements as well. I’ll give a demo for Jarno and then he rehearses the stuff and makes changes if needed. Lately I’ve been asking Jarno to give me more feedback and ideas and I’m actually thinking of forcing him to work on the vocal arrangements himself. As we’ve been in a same band and similar situation for so many years, I quite well know how Jarno does his vocals so I can think if his breathing and all. So, I’m quite happy that I have this very good vocalist in my inner circle and he’s even happy to work with me. Back in the old days, we always said that I was the artist of the band and Jarno was the secretary handling snail mail stuff and promotion and mailing out tapes and stuff. Nowadays, that’s changed because of the internet.
Blistering.com: You had some very notable guest spots on the album, including Dan Swano, Markus Vanhala, and Ville Sorvali. How did you get these guys on the album?
Mykkänen: Markus and Ville are both old friends who just were interested and available when needed. With Dan it was a bit different thing. When he was re-starting his studio [Unisound], my friend Aki Nuopponen (ex-Korroosio, Imperiumi.net, Inferno Magazine) told me about Dan re-starting the studio and gave me Dan’s contacts. So, I contacted him and asked about Evemaster-project and he was of course straight into it. But as you can read from above, the Evemaster stuff took a long time to be ready for Dan, so in the period in betwee,n he worked on Battlelore’s The Last Alliance album. And after III, he also did the latest Battlelore album, Doombound.
Blistering.com: Per the previous question, Swano’s vocal slot on “New Age Dawns” is one of the album’s highlights. Was that part written with him specficially in mind?
Mykkänen: No, it was not written for him. I did it myself first. I was supposed to work with Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation with the clean vocals on the album, but it just didn’t happen. So, when I was ready to send the stuff to Dan for mixing, I just asked him if he was up to it. And it didn’t take many days when he sent the first mix with his vocals and it was GODLY. I love his vocals on the album. They are so frigging great. Like I told you before, I almost cried when I heard the first mix.
Blistering.com: The album has a distinct melodic angle, but a strong traditional death metal feel as well. Which side of Evemaster do you prefer?
Mykkänen: I don’t really know. I can hear myself and my niches on that album and pretty much all the music I write for Battlelore as well. It just comes out like that. When we started I “overdid” all the melodic stuff to work with Jarno’s not-so-melodic vocals and it has stayed with me since. To be honest, I’m now kind of thinking about a different angle on the next album as arranging the songs for live situation has been a pain as there is so much stuff going on the album that it would need four guitars to do it on stage. That’s why I’ve been thinking to tone it down a bit on the next album, but we’ll see what happens. Now that I said it, probably next album has dozens of layers of guitar on it ha-ha!
Blistering.com: You did some live gigs a few years, so do you have any additional ones planned?
Mykkänen: At the moment, no. I don’t actually see the reason why we should play live at the moment. If we would get some gigs abroad I would consider it, but playing in Finland is not needed at the moment. We’d need a new album for that. But as I said, now that the album is released worldwide I do see the reasoning for gigging abroad. But no, we do not have any planned or in sight. We haven’t rehearsed in almost a year or so and as I moved away from the other guys, it’d have been a bit hard to arrange rehearsals. If we do play some gigs I’d like to add some visuals and stuff to it so that there would be a bit more than four overweight guys rocking and one fit guy screaming on it ha-ha!
Blistering.com: Have you started to think about a follow-up to III? And if so, what can we expect?
Mykkänen: I have started coming up with ideas. I have a few ideas recorded already and I can say that there’s something that is “ordinary Evemaster” for me and then there’s something that we’ve never done before and then there is something leaning towards the darker side of things like I told you before. I don’t have any whole song ready yet. Lyrically I actually have quite a lot of stuff written down and it’s not going to be a “story-like” album like III but I’d still say it’s going to be a concept album anyways.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2012?
Mykkänen: I need to come up with the ideas and start putting them on tape. I actually have talked with Enkku that we’d work a bit differently this time around and he’ll have quite a free hands coming up with the drum-parts. We’ll see how that will turn out. Hopefully we will have the next album demoed towards the end of the year and can start recording of the follow-up to III next year.