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Welcome to our new website, how are you doing? How was your summer?
Eld: Hi, your site looks really good. Thank you for the interest to do an interview with Hellspirit. I'm so sorry about the delay with answering. Now wrestling with fever at home. Last weekend was spent in Helsinki, good company and watching gig of Sólstafir among others that performed. Summer was great, most of our roadtrips were with Hellspirit, playing gigs at Tampere with Blood Red Fog, at our "official" record release party for both bands. One gig took place at Selviytyjät Private MetalFest as the headliner of Friday. The last gig of this summer was few weeks back in Club PRKL, Helsinki. Everybody from the band attended Steelfest Open Air and 3/4 members of our band visited at Magic Circle Fest that took place at Suvilahti, Helsinki. Summer went deffinately too fast but it was a good one indeed.
We usually begin our interviews by letting the band give an introduction of its members and history; can you tell us something about your project? Who are its members? And how did you come up with the name?
Eld: Hellspirit was formed about ten years back by Dethrone (guitars and vocals) with Goat (ex drummer) with idea of playing black metal in vein of old school names that effected to them back in the days. Band's current lineup is: Baron Dethrone (guitars and vocals), Heinrich Von Heretik (bass and second vocals), Eld (drums) and MSA (second guitar). With this lineup the band has been working since 2011 and been playing gigs from spring 2012.
You have been playing for about a decade, why did we have to wait so long for an album release?
Eld: Dethrone wrote really much material for the full-lenght album. There was twice as much stuff originally, that there ended up into the actual record. Dethrone writes the songs with pretty merciless hand and those songs that simply didn't fit into the big picture or the once that felt like missing something from them were left away. Dethrone's idea with making riffs and songs is: "If it ain't sounding good today, it ain't tomorrow or next month either". With recording the album there was a long mournpath to walk. First it all went really well; drums recorded in six hours, next day the bass in four-five hours. There came the technical difficulties with disappearing guitar tracks that needed to be re-recorded. After the recordings appeared the label issues that lasted til last spring. Originally the album was ment to be released under No Sign Of Life but world is mysterious and unfortunate things happen to others too. Now we are under Saturnal Records. Label does great work and band has a big thank you to say for them.
How did your cooperation with Nocturnal Graves and Yosuke's label (Nuclear War Now! Productions) begin? Do you think this partnership will continue in the future?
Heinrich Von Heretic: Nocturnal Graves asked from Hellspirit about the interest of making a split. Hellspirit didn't have any contacts back then.
While listening to "Dawn Under Curse" I felt as a teenager once again. The year 2000 was so far away from my mind, given the evident passion for the '80s and '90s that comes out of the atmospheres, riffs and the sound in general. What were your feelings while composing this album and what was the first thought that came to mind when you listened to it for the first time?
Eld: Band wanted it to be epic and idea was to make album with strong sound. I think that in the old material there can be heard the foundation from through the years. Age of our members and the infulencal bands can propably be seen. Old '80s and '90s classics are the same we've been listening as teenagers. Other thing is that the oldest song in full-lenght has been with the band since demo days. Band's been going forward, people have grown and during the years I think that one of the biggest infulencal turn happened for Dethrone when he found music of Primordial.
I have often read and heard people complaining about how many contemporary metal bands just tend to be clones of big names from the past, or else some random mixture of different elements labeled as avant-garde or alternative; what do you think is necessary in order to compose a good record?
Eld: First there was the void between generations, then there came the "who is trying to be who" issues. From personal view (and only from personal view) I am not really aware of what's happening in underground nowdays. Never been the most active or the most interested one to co-operate within it. I like to buy music and to listen the bands that I find good. There's no use being anything that you really ain't. Those performing are people too, with bands they like and music they listen. What ever it was… I like of the old names that I've been listening since teenager, still I'm searching new music, new releases and such releases that effect you really much in emotional level. To be able to listen such bands is a previlige. Nowdays the generation with internet has such easy access to music in it's various genres and forms. Music is a way of expression, same as art and literature, that more or less follows it's time and how it's breathing. Was it avant-garde, alternative or more traditional. Everybody follows their own path and have the freedom for making and listening such music they feel home with. I was just checking my fourth or fifth Sólstafir gig at Helsinki last week. It takes alot of guts to still be singing with native Icelandic and to anyway make your way so far. Certainly one band from my older age that I'd name as my current favourites since saw them first time in Jalometalli 2009. Hopefully their career will be continuing with the same enthusiasm.
In your production, enjoyable melodies coexist together with the rawest and old-school elements of black metal, what track do you think best represents what Hellspirit is today?
Eld: Everybody agrees "Eternal Night" definetely represents most the road that is ahead of us. Since last spring we've played live couple new tracks; "Shrine Of Decay" and "Láthspell" that are really much showing the current feel of the band with material what has been made after the album. Atmosphere is searching it's way into more epic, even melancholic way. Heavy metal leads and catchy riffs are still with. We like it so and anyway, it seems to be the trademark of Dethrone.
What is the path you are treading in terms of themes?
Eld: New lyrical content comes out from my pen. Themes move more around metaphors and symbolic that comes from inside the anguished mind. Own demons, fears and path that is being transformed into words that I feel like describing Dethrones riffs. As the lyrical themes, the pictures that are in use, come from my pen and are the way I see band's music. I am not the happiest or brightest person and the road there's been, has left it's marks. I draw to remember and write to speak it out, to let t out. Similar feeling with cover art is that when there comes the time to finish the work. Thereìs at the same time this great feeling of relief and still it is hard to let go.
The use of evil, satanism and its iconography as themes for metal albums is slowly disappearing. This is probably due to the many bands that abused of them with an excess of unnecessary "fucks" and blasphemy, which might be entertaining for an evening of booze, but will usually have a quite boring result. Have these themes been overexploited?
Eld: There's the religious aspect in lyrics, then the one that I find more tempting, the aspect with what to seek the mystical experiences. Hellspirit is not religious band, neither the members. Every man is able to listen to their self and to see more than only the world inside the barriers of them self. There´s more to experience in this world too. The devil's music in this context has devil´s appearance in it. My coverarts at the full-lenght are more into old school themes, like the band's winged creature and picture of the devil with song "Weak Flesh/Filthy Blood". There's in a way some kinda freedom left for those watching them, to experience the picture the way it feels. I draw what I see in the music and I have never been interested of things where everything is chewed ready for you. Since the band has never been and never will be one of those that dive into deepest depths of this genre there's no need to manifest. Material in the full-lenght album has really strong foundation with old school themes like war, blasphemy and hate in it's various forms. Lyrical themes in old material come from Dethrone and Heinrich. Like said before, my themes with writing are more around the images that come from within.
Let's talk about live music, how was it to bring your songs on stage? Did you receive an immediate feedback?
Eld: We bring the music on stage as it is. The best feedback there is comes from audience that is with us on the gigs. People have given positive feedback which feels good. Every band has their bad evenings. There's been the times we have played bad gig or then there's been total lack of audience. Anyway each gig you'd hope to play more raging and alive than the last one.
What is a Hellspirit performance like?
Eld: Good Hellspirit gig is four guys covered in blood, playing raging gig with crowd that is enjoying. Last gig at Helsinki was worth saying "thank you" for everyone that attended. We have played good gigs, we have played bag gigs and we have played gigs without audience. Whether you had the great feeling of being on stage or not, the crowd makes it always. Seeing people in front makes it worth being there. So thank you all who has been there.
Have you already scheduled some dates? Will we see you in Italy?
Eld: Few weeks back we were performing third time at Club PRKL in Helsinki with Finnish band Aihos and Russian band Todestriebe. In October Hellspirit will be seen second time at St. Petersburg. The last gig for this year will be taking place at sea. We are playing somewhere between Helsinki and Tallinn at a boat where is being held an academic metal party. This will for sure be our most obscure performance in band's history and we're really looking forward to it. Next spring there's one gig at Turku Saatanalle III. Getting abroad is something we hope for and every organizer is totally free to contact us if interested.
What is your instrumental equipment? Do you use the same which was featured on "Dawn Under Curse" when you play live?
Eld: The equipment that is on record, is the same on stage. The synth parts and acoustic guitar at the intro of "Eternal Night" are stuff that aren't seen on stage. Couple of times we've been playing with intro tape, when gig's been starting with "Eternal Night". At the gig of Selviytyjät Private Metal Fest we had really drunken gasmasked ritual clothed friend on stage for the epic drum parts of that times intro. During this summer we played gigs that were lasting round one hour, last one was bit shorter, round thirty five-fourty minutes.
Could you name ten fundamental albums in your musical growth?
- Eld: Agalloch – "The Mantle": "The Mantle" was the first Agalloch record that I heard. I bought it when it saw the daylight and it's been there with me ever since. Elements of acoustic folk, more primitive metal and the epic feel of music with lyrical themes around the dark landscapes. This has been keeping it's power to seduce me over and over again. I think the band described the former album "Pale Folklore" the way that: Imagine: you're lost in the woods, feeling cold, it's snowing. You're gonna die if you don't find a shelter. Then you see ruins of a cabin, you get inside and feel safe… "The Mantle" has been my cabin in the woods ever since. Personally I don't use any substances like drugs or alcohol if coffee doesn't count. I want to take the world as it is. There comes the times often that you seek the sanctuary from the world. Sometimes reading Hermann Hesse. Sometimes finding yourself safe inside this album.
- Bathory – "Twilight Of The Gods": no song existing like "Under The Runes".
- Burzum – "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss": this one has a pulse through the whole album, with what you travel time after time somewhere far away. No matter what season, no matter what time of the world: There's been something in this one since teenage that will always put heart beat faster. No matter were you listneing to this when walking in the woods or while painting – getting such emotions rid of this one.
- Coven – "Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls": first album of Coven, occult and satanic themes through more evil version of Jefferson Airplane. Definitely a mindblowing classic. Found this in later age and it felt like a missing link that was being found, giving passion to find so many more old bands in the same vein.
- Darkthrone – "A Blaze In The Northern Sky": What comes to Darkthrone — I really like the drumming in "Soulside Journey" — so dynamic in it's all, but this one: "Blaze" was my first love from the band. The first DT album I ever heard and the one to what I return time after time. Actually I had my final exams at senior high school from english while wearing shirt of this album [laughing]. It is forbidden to wear any text shirts at final exams in Finland) Old Norway was there with our first demo band Hexcraft. No more needed to say than "Vinterskugge". Isengard is purely amazing project too.
- Dodheimsgard – "Kronet Til Konge": other Norwegian Black Metal releases like Dodheimsgard's "Kronet Til Konge" has sound and feel worth being jealous about. Timeless classics worth listening from year to another. During last few years this one has been found again and seems to be spending really much time at the stereos. One of the reasons too for wanting to learn to play bass at the older age.
- Jethro Tull – "Heavy Horses": triumph for the melody in music. So many summer and spring nights spent with this one. To feel the first warmth of spring night and the smell of waking soil when listening to this on your walks outside at night. If you like old prog classics; check out finnish band Orne. "Conjuration By Fire" stands in my shelf as the Jethro Tull of 2000-century.
- Mayhem – "Deathcrush": Mayhem… We used to sew on patches into our vests with SMBR from Saturnian Mist and worship my ghettoblaster while drinking coffee with this one. I'm sorry mate, we'd propably both be at the moment rocket scientists if we had never met in senior high school…[kidding]
- Saint Vitus – "Born Too Late": when there's no air left and no place to hide from the collapsing walls, there's always Saint Vitus.
- Unholy – "From The Shadows": primitive and brutal sound, record that's taking you into some kind of trance when listening. Unholy was one of those bands that opened up for me at really late age around 2005-2006. When getting into this, it just became something really important.
- Warning – "Watching From a Distance": the most soul crushing album that ever existed.
Baron Dethrone: Bathory – "Bathory"; Death SS – "Heavy Demons"; Deströyer 666 – "Unchain The Wolves"; King Diamond – "The Eye"; Primordial – "The Gathering Wilderness"; Sabbat – "Envenom"; "Samael – Blood Ritual".
Heinrich Von Heretik: My main ones are about: Absurd – "30 Jahrige Krieg"; Agalloch – "The Mantle"; Bathory – "Hammerheart"; Bathory – "Blood Fire Death"; Bathory – "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark"; Abyssic Hate – "Suicidal Emotions"; Abyssic Hate -"Decade Of Hate"; Isengard – "Vinterskugge"; Darkthrone – "A Blaze In The Northern Sky"; Ulver – "Bergtatt".
The five best albums by Finnish bands?
Eld: My top five finnish ones:
- Babylon Whores – "King Fear": "Say you love Satan". Stunning lyrical content with catchy and heavy death rock. One of the greatest releases from Svart Records was the vinyl box from this band.
- Beherit – "Drawing Down The Moon": I'll say it once and will say it twice: Eternally the greatest metal recording in Finland.
- Mana Mana – "Murheen Laakso": no words…you experience it – you know it.
- Pekka Streng – "Kesämaa": landscapes from beautiful soul that left too early when dying for cancer at the age of twenty six. Pioneer of Finnish folk & psychedelic rock, timeless summer classic & one I love to listen when travelling.
- Reverend Bizarre – "So Long Suckers": "Anywhere Out of This World." Masterpiece from the finnish doom metal pioneers. Epic soundworlds and total Black Sabbath worship in the drumming of "Caesar Forever". My first love from this group was "Harbinger of Metal" EP that holds the amazing cover song out of Burzum's "Dunkelheit" & my most beloved favourite: "Strange Horizon".
Dethrone: Finnish top list: Amorphis – "The Karelian Isthmus"; Beherit – "Drawing Down The Moon"; Impaled Nazarene – "Suomi Finland Perkele"; Sarcofagus – "Envoy Of Death"; Tarot – The Spell Of Iron"; Urn – "Dawn Of The Devastation".
Every once in a while there is some talking about the "pay to play" issue; when the topic comes up, everyone talk about it for some time, only to let it disappear again after a while. Have you ever been asked to pay money to play at a festival or to have a better position in the bill?
Eld: I don't know how many bands would say it outloud if such things happened. Hellspirit has been playing more rarely in the past, never asked to pay to play. Gigs the band's been playing have never been to produce money. Same thing with Russia (our first gig abroad) The people arranging got us a place to sleep, food to eat and booze for the rest of guys. We have so far only been invited abroad these couple times, both to Russia. St. Petersburg was great and generous place to visit.
What do you think are the pros and cons of the contemporary music scene?
Eld: In it's all or in Black Metal? About Black Metal I don't really know, there's other people that deffinately know better than me. Underground lives it's own life with it's own way… I am used to whether hearing from everything "too late" cause of not following enough, or then two good new bands are missed because of totally diving into some release of third band that feels amazing and that it's needed to listen twenty times a week. Ten years back I could have easily been saying about some music "shit without listening"… so happy to say I couldn't do it anymore. At 90's some todays cult bands were shout off the stage to get some "cooler" band to start their gig faster. At the year 2014 people would cut their wrists open to see the "first not so good band" live, that once existed. In it's all, music is breathing and living. This autumn is great one with releases from all the areas of music. Re-release of Thergothon's "Streams From Heavens" and Camel's "Moonmadness" on vinyl, new releases like "Otta" from Sólstafir. Even Growlers (a new friend) releases something soon. What I consider more underground; Mausoleum Gate's "s/t" is seeing daylight on vinyl from the local defenders of traditional Heavy Metal. If there's something in this world being found that won't make you feel miserable… I quess it is waste of time to think is it acceptable to be listening to it or not. Music is a bridge between worlds and that is far too often being forgotten. It's music, not something with what to built your ego bigger than others, not something with what to rise upon others. Way of expression, previlige to find something that is bigger than life and to have such sanctuary in the world of this age.
Who are the members of Hellspirit out of the band? What about your interests and everyday life?
Eld: Our members are working, studying and living their life. We gather at rehearsal flat to make music, such we like to play… that much more doesn't matter.
Shall we invite our readers to listen to "Dawn Under Curse" and we will let you conclude the interview with a message to the readers of Aristocrazia Webzine.
Eld: Since "Dawn Under Curse" is now on Spotify, it is much easier to give it a listen. Please, if you got interested; check out the album, digest it in peace and take your time. Maybe we will be seeing at the future gigs, hopefully abroad too. St. Petersburg and Heavy Cruise attenders, we will be seeing you soon! Hellspirit will be playing next spring also at Turku Saatanalle III with Hoath, Perdition Winds etc.. Read our updates because more gigs will be revealed soon. Thank you at Aristocrazia for the interview and to those reading!