Battle Beast – Breaking the RulesTuesday, 1st February 2022
One of modern metal’s more upbeat and entertaining offerings, Battle Beast deliver solid material that makes you want to raise a fist, sing a long with a chorus, and move around a bit. It’s a formula that comes through a great diversity of material, and you can hear it developing further on their latest release, Circus of Doom, along with a more bombastic, theatrical approach. We spoke with vocalist Noora Louhimo to get her take on the new material, juggling her busy schedule, and even a look back at the handful of acoustic shows that the band did in their last US tour before the pandemic.
Dead Rhetoric: You did an impromptu couple of shows acoustic on your last tour of the US pre-COVID. What stands out about those shows to you still?
Noora Louhimo: I’m all about challenge [laughs]. It was pretty fun and we got very good feedback from the fans. They were very happy that we didn’t just cancel the shows, even though our drummer Pyry [Vikki] couldn’t play. I remember that his hand wasn’t working properly – we hadn’t ever done acoustic shows as Battle Beast before so that was very unique. I have to say that we are not going to do that…like Sonata Arctica is doing, doing acoustic worldwide tours.
We really love to do the shows as a band and with full force. We love performing with 3000% on stage. Our songs also demand that we do it that way. Of course, we make some exceptions and we want to surprise our fans. So never say never, but I believe that as long as every one stays healthy and safe, we will be doing shows, but with full power and less acoustic [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: I was at the New Jersey show, and thought it was cool to have that experience since I know it wasn’t something you were trying to do.
Louhimo: I had the advantage that I personally have been doing acoustic shows for 15 years, so I was in my comfort zone. I wasn’t like, “Oh my God, how does this work?” I knew it wasn’t going to be a disaster even if some of the band wasn’t as experienced so they were a little more nervous. But that’s my job, to relax their nerves since I have had experience doing shows in so many different ways. I have actually done a few shows with Joona [Björkroth], our lead guitarist, acoustically as a duet. So it was easy to lean on him as well since we had a history of doing a collaboration like that.
So it was totally fun, something unexpected but I really love surprises and challenges, and I love to see how I can cope with that. That’s actually how it all started with Battle Beast for me. I had never sung heavy metal before, so when they asked me to join the band, it felt like it would be a great challenge [laughs]! I am up for challenges. I don’t know what it is about having these dangerous moments that are so exhilarating, but it is!
Dead Rhetoric: How does Circus of Doom compare to your last release, No More Hollywood Endings? Was there anything that you wanted to try out or do differently?
Louhimo: Of course, as a band, we want to develop ourselves. I think we did it [laughs]! I think we made some steps ahead again, both musically and with the production. We are going in the direction that we want to develop to all the time. I think with this album, we developed in a better way from No More Hollywood Endings. We had more time to focus on songwriting and making the best album we can. I think you can hear that in the album. Everything is more polished and it sounds bigger than before. I love the orchestrals, the dynamics, and the whole theatrical aspect that we have added more to the music.
Circus of Doom is like a whole adventure when you start to listen to it. It’s not just one song repeated 12 times, and they are all different from each other. That’s what I think makes it fun to listen to. It’s an adventure. There are different emotions and stories in each song. The issues change all the time. Some songs are about serious issues, some are about hope, some are about love, and there are both reality and fantasy ideas. There’s a lot to listen and chew on. I really like that they are not songs that have gone through a certain pattern like verse/chorus – we have taken some freedom in breaking the rules in how a song is written. It’s fun! For some listeners, it can be irritating [laughs] and for others it can be exhilarating. We will see how that divides people!
Dead Rhetoric: That’s one thing I like about Battle Beast. Like you said, there’s differences between the songs. There’s individuality to it. With that difference, what unites them. What makes a Battle Beast song a Battle Beast song?
Louhimo: I think the essence is that we have three songwriters. Janne [Björkroth], our keyboardist and producer, Joona, and our bass player Eero [Sipilä]. Since Bringer of Pain, they have been writing the songs for Battle Beast and they all have their own style. They are the holy trinity [laughs]. Janne usually writes the most theatrical ones and with pop influences. Joona writes more epic and sometimes funny songs, like classical power metal. Eero writes songs like more true heavy metal [laughs]. So we have these three different, important divisions that combine together to make Battle Beast. I think what combines them is my voice [laughs], the production, and the sounds of the instruments themselves. But of course, my voice is like the glue in the songs. They are different, but it’s a Battle Beast song when I am singing it [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: How much consideration is given to the songs being played live when you are writing them?
Louhimo: While writing, the guys might think about how it would be, and of course we have to consider if it is possible to play it live. For me, personally, I don’t want to even record a song that I can’t do live. I think it’s not worth it [laughs]. I think the thing is that every time we have demos, we have the ultimate test for the song – when I do the demo vocals. If the song works with my voice, then it will pass to the point that we consider it for the album. If it doesn’t sound great with my vocals, it’s going in the trash [laughs], or maybe it is for someone else and their project.
I think it’s good that we do it that way, because it wouldn’t work if we tried to force a song on the album that didn’t work with my voice. The thing is, my voice is the most important instrument [laughs] in the algorithm. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The song is somehow bad. But it must be a match made in heaven when I am singing the song.
Dead Rhetoric: I know you are super busy. How do you balance your time with the number of different musical outlets that you are involved with?
Louhimo: [Laughs] That is a good question! I must admit, I am a bit of a workaholic. But you know the saying that if you do what you love you don’t work a day. That’s the case for me. To be honest and for real, they haven’t been happening at the same time. There have been all of these recordings at different times, and I just scheduled my calendar with recording dates. When the lockdown started I didn’t want to stay at home and be depressed. I wanted to make my time worth it. I wanted to concentrate on things that I love and bring me positive energy. So that’s music. I started writing my solo album with full force, then I had all of these other cool collaborations.
So I filled my life with music and singing, which was good therapy for myself. I am fortunate that everything went as it did. Of course, it seemed when all of these releases came out, that how was this possible? With the pandemic, some schedules started to overlap with releases. So some of them have been released one after another. So it seems like a lot, but it wasn’t my plan to do it that way. But for some of these projects, they overlapped and didn’t get the attention that they deserved.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s something you have yet to accomplish that you’d love to do, either just yourself or with Battle Beast?
Louhimo: Yes [laughs]! It’s a never ending hunger. I want to be even more known with Battle Beast and with my own solo stuff around the world. Just to keep on touring and writing good music for people and entertain them. As an artist myself, I have very high ambitions and want to develop myself to be even better than yesterday. I think it’s great to have that hunger all the time. It keeps me humble all the time. I am never ready and I am never perfect. That’s how I want to keep it. If I wake up and think I am perfect, then I can just quit [laughs]!
Dead Rhetoric: You will be on tour here with Dragonforce soon. What else is planned for 2022 for Battle Beast or yourself?
Louhimo: We had a European tour planned but we had to postpone it because of the pandemic spreading. But I truly, deeply hope that we will get to the US. It would be so cool to tour with Dragonforce and Seven Spires. But I shouldn’t be too hopeful. You never know what happens, but I hope we can come there. I miss touring and I love touring in the US. The audiences there are just great! I love the small-talk culture. Finnish people don’t have that sort of culture, most people are very to themselves. It’s not about being rude or anything, but that’s how people are in Finland, but I am not [laughs]! So I feel more American [laughs]! Every time we tour in the US, I am like a fish in water – I come alive because I can chat with so many people and I really enjoy it.