For the first time in their 23-year history, Finland’s Amorphis are finally touring Australia. Off the back of the diverse new album, Circle, drummer Jan Rechberger talks to JESSICA WILLOUGHBY ahead of their show at Capitol on Wednesday, October 16.
Amorphis are back.
This is an unusual statement, considering they never parted ways or stopped creating music. But it is the consensus of a majority of fans and critics alike following the release of their 11th album, Circle.
An release that reveals a darker and heavier sound from the Finnish band, the focus on further orchestration and bringing the guitars to the forefront of this mix are not the only new additions that received the general nod of approval. It is the ability of the six-strong outfit to truly shed their skin and defy all odds by breaking away from the lyrical pattern they had stood by for their entire career.
For the last 22 years, every opus released by Amorphis has retold tales from the Kalevala – an epic poem native to their homeland and widely taken as a defining literature in establishing the Finnish national identity. Although the piece has served them well, it was now time for the band to stray from this pattern and bring their own stories to life.
With an original lyrical journey penned by long-time collaborator, Pekka Kainulainen, drummer Jan Rechberger says it is a welcome change for Amorphis. “When you deal with certain kinds of things long enough, you feel the need to change something,” he says. “I don’t know if there’s any more interesting stories left in that book (Kalevala) for us to use. It’s good to have something else. Pekka was the guy who was interpreting our lyrics in the past. He is an amazing person, with his knowledge of Finnish mythology and magic and stuff like that. It was kind of good to get him to write his own story and his own point of view on this folklore. I think it came out really good; it’s multidimensional. I hope we can continue with him in the future.”
Opting for an original story is not the only change Circle brings for Amorphis. Basically producing their last few releases themselves, Rechberger and company brought in producing mastermind Peter Tagtgren (Celtic Frost, Dimmu Borgir) to add his polish this time around.
The band also decided to avoid the hustle-and-bustle of their hometown Helsinki and go to the land to record. Splitting their time between Petrax Studio in Hollola and their own studio, 5K, the whole process was more relaxed – according to Rechberger. “This time we went to a countryside studio to do the drums, so it was relaxing to sit back for four days and record and see what’s working and what wasn’t. Nobody was going anywhere. If we record at Helsinki, it’s always busy and everyone needs to go home and see their families or whatever. It always feels interrupted. It was really a good idea to get away.
“After we did the drums, we came back to the city to our own studio in downtown Helsinki and recorded all the rest of the material. That was also a nice choice, because in your own studio you can do whatever you want and be as long as you like. We also went to another studio to record some old vintage organs and grand piano. We even recorded some keyboards in a church. There was a flood of different environments in this recording and I think it shows.”