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Interview and Photo Report: Hallatar

Interview – Juha Raivio (Hallatar/Swallow the Sun/Trees of Eternity)
Photos – The Nightingale plays Aleah and Hallatar- 23.2.2018 – Turku, Finland
Interview and Photos by Serena Solomon

I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Juha Raivio in the cold, quiet, graffiti covered back stage loft of Gong in Turku, Finland, and discuss the present and future of Hallatar, the meaning behind the music and future plans for Juha and the music Aleah left behind for us.


How has the tour been so far?
Well to think we rehearsed for the first time, the full set together as a band, at Tavastia [Helsinki], during the soundcheck before the first gig…with that in mind, everything has been going really good. The music is so… not the easiest songs to play live, and we didn’t have any time to rehearse before that, so it was quite nerve wracking but it went quite alright. We’ve played half of the shows on this tour this past week, at Lutakko [Jyväskylä] and Joensuu, they were quite fantastic. Tavastia was still a bit hard…you know, it’s hard for me to get the grip of saying much about the shows because I get into it on stage, kind of like getting into a survival state, so it’s hard to say much about it. It’s kind of like opening up and being in a survival state at the same time and confronting the music and lyrics. It’s ultimately good and bad, its a very strange feeling.
     But that is what music is meant to be, you have to feel it in your guts and your heart. There’s a time for all the music – the pop music and the music that doesn’t matter. I like pop music that doesn’t have any meaning too, it’s fine, but it’s not something I would want to listen live, you need to feel the music then. This music has lots of feeling for sure. That’s a long answer, but really it’s hard to say about the gigs, they’re on the edge of heaven and hell.
-I saw the gig in Helsinki and it was great, so emotional and intense, and I’m interested to see how it has evolved since then…
Well you know Gas isn’t playing tonight which is making this, again, so nerve wracking but now we’ve got Pasi Pasanen, ex drummer of Swallow the Sun, so he’s doing the show straight, again we just rehearsed once for the first time in the soundcheck. So again, more stress, though it went ok in the soundcheck but Gas will be back for the next few shows.
– Have you an idea of what the opening act tonight, The Nightingale plays Aleah, will be like? What they have in store?
Yeah I have, I asked them to open these shows but I asked first for a couple more songs after I heard the cover they posted on YouTube of “Sinking Ships”. I really liked this singer. It’s ultimately really hard to do Aleah’s songs in the first place, and nobody can, of course, do them just like she did but this vocalist has the same kind of something… This fragile, beautiful edge on her voice that I really like. I haven’t heard her live yet but what they sent and recorded for me was fantastic. I’m looking forward to that.

Did you imagine Hallatar would be gaining so much momentum when you first began this project? The Emma award nomination, the tour, playing festivals…
No, of course not, the music and the lyrics are the main thing. Whatever happens around it is a plus, in a way. It’s going to be difficult to play many shows with Hallatar because Tomi is going to be so busy, and Gas, and I’m going to be busy myself, in the next few years, but I’m kind of like, if there aren’t too many shows, I’m quite happy. It’s kind of like stabbing myself in the heart when I go on stage so, in a way. If there aren’t a hundred gigs from this album, totally fine with me. There isn’t really more expectation than to get the music and these lyrics out in the world. Now that the album is out, I’m very happy and taken that the people are not afraid to listen to it and really feel it. It’s not easy for people, to feel, to feel it’s togetherness, it’s unity, but that’s what music is for, to feel as if you’re in that same core.

Were Tomi and Gas your first choices when you formed Hallatar?
Yes they were definitely my first choices. I’m a huge HIM fan, I’ve always been a huge HIM fan. A fan of Gas Lipstick and his drumming and same with Tomi and Amorphis. I just can’t believe I’m playing with these guys, it’s such an honor for me… but it’s more than their abilities as vocalist and drummer, it was much more about their heart, cause I know both of them more personally, than musically, if you can say that. I know that both of them have a huge heart and they feel the music, and live the music. It’s not just them and the music, it’s together- them within the music. So it was more important for me to get good, wonderful people who I know can put their heart and soul into the music and not just play. And it’s unbelievable, you can just see how they are on stage and you know there’s no faking. It’s a big honor for me to have them on an album and being able to play shows with them.
– Did you have any concerns with Tomi’s distinct vocal sound being so associated with Amorphis?
No, when I was talking with Tomi about the vocals, I was talking about leaning into more black metal vocals and low growling, but then what ended up on the album was just like, it went way over my expectation with what he did. So, the music is quite far from Amorphis so I didn’t think about that too much. There isn’t that much clean singing to connect much with Amorphis. Which I wouldn’t mind at all but the music just doesn’t sound at all like Amorphis. I think we both have that Finnish core in the melodies, which might be something that connects the two bands but still, well I don’t know how it sounds on the outside, do you get a huge Amorphis feel?
-Well when I heard Tomi would be on vocals I was curious, because I associate his voice and sound so strongly with Amorphis, I was wondering how it would work, how he would interpret Hallatar’s sound separately. But I personally think it did work quite well.
Yeah, me too. When listening to the album, I’ve never heard him doing this…get that deep in all ends of his range. I know the mans range, his growls and that higher pitched black metal kind of screech. He did amazing things there, and I’m very happy and I don’t even mind if it sounds like Amorphis or HIM somewhere, if you can connect those bands too. I don’t mind.

The word “hallatar” can be seen previously in the lyrics for Swallow the Sun’s “Songs of the North”, can you explain what it means in English and maybe any further relevance to this albums music?
I just love the word hallatar, for no specific reason, it’s just a beautiful Finnish word. I used the word hallatar in that Swallow the Sun song, those were my first ever Finnish lyrics that I wrote, basically to my parents who have both passed away. So it’s kind of like a memorial theme for both of my parents and, in that chorus, the word hallatar is meant like “death”, if you translate it directly it’s like “queen of frost”and frost many times, you know, kills the crop on the fields, kills the flowers, when the seasons change…frost kind of represents the end of a cycle and the death of things, so I used it on that song as meaning death. Then of course, to connect to Aleah… it’s beautiful. It’s the female version of the word. Anytime you put “-tar” at the end of something in Finnish, it turns it to a female version of the word like “kanteletar” from Kalevala, so “hallatar” is just the female version of frost so it was clear to me to use and, unfortunately, represents death to me, but in a beautiful poetic way.
– Do you think you would write in Finnish for anything in the future?
I don’t know, I haven’t been thinking about it much. Finnish is quite a hard language. To think that chorus in “Songs of the North” was the first thing I wrote in Finnish, ever…in that way I’m pretty happy about what came out but then again, it’s not in me to write in Finnish. Maybe I’m just too young, maybe I need forty more years to have the license to write in Finnish. Who knows.

Is there any background insight you can give about the song “Dreams Burn Down”? What it was originally intended for?
I’ve been gathering a lot of Aleah’s recordings from her studio program and computer and hard drives and trying to keep everything safe. I found the chorus and he verse, as an unfinished song. I just took it and it was a lot like making a Trees of Eternity song, Aleah’s music just showed me what she had and I made the rest, except she wasn’t there to tell me how to fix it or do it another way…
-That also explains the “unknown lyrics” written in the text of the song…
Yeah, exactly, I really don’t know, I’ve been looking but couldn’t find any lyrics for it. And I seriously don’t know if it’s even English, because Aleah had her own language, she was making chants, like spiritual chants. It might just be something recorded so she could remember the melody but it also could be some language that I have no idea. Yeah, she was quite an interesting, mystical person so I can’t be sure.

I read that your writing process for this album was quite intense. Is it similar when you’re writing for Swallow the Sun or Trees of Eternity or other things?
Well, writing for this album… I have no memory. And well, I don’t have that much memory of writing for Swallow the Sun albums either but I still remember a few things from then. For this album, it’s like either one of us could do the interview, I’m almost like an outsider, I remember as much as anybody else. It’s very strange, I just don’t remember and all of a sudden… there it is, the written album. I remember recording, of course, but writing… it came in like, one week. I remember I felt “I need to do something or I’m just gonna shoot myself, so better to take the guitar” and there it was, a week after. I don’t remember anything, but I knew I wasn’t going to change anything. When I started to record, I made this promise that whatever comes out, I’m not gonna change anything. That’s it. It’s been made exactly as it is in that moment and that’s how it ended up on the album. Even if I thought I could do it better or something, it was important not to go and fix it because then I would ruin whatever it was that the music came from, that’s what it is, very raw and unedited, unpolished. Hopefully you can hear and feel it.

So what of the future of Hallatar?
We’re gonna do the rest of this tour and with good luck there might be a few festivals and maybe a few other shows, but the harsh reality is Tomi is going to be very busy and I don’t want to make it so there’s pressure on anyone. Of course we would want to play more, specially I’m sure, after these shows, after we know the songs and can actually play them so it can be even easier to get into the feel… Which I’m also a little nervous cause even now I’m starting to get more into the zone with the songs. I don’t have to stress as much anymore, the first gig in Tavastia was great but in Joensuu, I was already starting to get so into it so much easier. I welcome more shows but again, if it doesn’t happen that’s fine. For me the most important thing is to get Aleah’s music out, even if I have to stab myself again and again, I’m going to do it. It feels right, it’s my promise to her.
-Thats where my next question kind of leads to, you have a bit more material from Aleah, enough for more Hallatar/Trees of Eternity? I read there might also be a solo album…
That solo album will mainly be her acoustic stuff. I’m gonna work on that soon but I need to have a little break after this Hallatar album and the Trees of Eternity album, I have some thing going on with Swallow the Sun too, but now I have to take a little time before I work on that again. Also, sometime in the future, there’s going to be the last demos from Trees of Eternity for the second album which is still very raw. Me and Aleah got to a point where we started on the second album but unfortunately, it ended very fast. There is still about thirty minutes of raw demo material I want to get out later on, record with the full lineup, with Kai and the Norrman brothers, not just release the demos as they are.
-I’m really looking forward to that.
Me too, but I need to take a break and also first work on Aleah’s solo album. I’ve done almost half of it already, but there’s still a lot to do.

And now for a few lighter questions – what music are you currently listening to/inspired by?
I don’t listen to too much metal music, like at home. I stick to my old favorites, I’m a huge Type O Negative fan,and a huge Marillion fan, Duran Duran…so I mostly listen to those. I can’t think what else, maybe it hasn’t been so good, that’s why I don’t remember.

Are there any songs or artists you’d like to cover or pay homage to?
I’ve always wanted to do a cover of “Save a Prayer”by Duran Duran, that would be great. And a Marillion cover maybe one day too.

And I heard you have a few animals at home?
Yeah, my babies…
– Do they inspire you at all? Help you write your music?
Oh yes, every time I try to record something, they’re on the keyboard. Always at that moment they want attention. Lots of horses and cats, lots of fur everywhere. Four Norwegian forest cats and eight horses. The horses are not all mine, but I’ve been taking care of them for years, now there’s four Friesian horses. There were five but one recently died. I was just riding yesterday in the forest, in the snow on this huge black horse, such amazing animals… they are not animals, they are friends, family members…

Is there anything else you’d like to contribute to the interview?
Just take care everyone, take care of your loved ones. If you can, face the fire. Don’t turn your face away. Even if the music might rip out your own wounds, just go for it. There’s a light at the end of the dark, that’s why we make this music and that’s why I hope people listen to it too.





Also check out the full photo report form their first gig in Helsinki with Hanging Garden: https://darkartconspiracy.com/2018/02/16/photo-report-hallatar-hanging-garden/



Kultika Interview by Andruta Ilie/ Dark Art Conspiracy

Hi, guys! How’s it going? When was Kultika born and how did it all start? I’d like you to go back in time and describe that particular moment when you decided to start the band and how it all went from there.

Fulmineos: Hello, nice to meet you! Well, these days we are preparing the second full-length, it’s a process that takes time, but we like to be involved in the creative process and to exchange musical and lyrical ideas to fulfil our goal to release another great album.

It all started in 2008, we were more black sludge experimental than nowadays, but the credo remained the same: no boundaries, no limitations, express only what you feel! The rest is like every other band, but despite numerous lineup changes we went forward driven by our will to release good and credible music.

Continue reading INTERVIEW: KULTIKA (RO)

INTERVIEW: The Black Dahlia Murder (US)


by Carina Lawrence/ Dark Art Conspiracy

The Black Dahlia Murder are one of the most well-known death metal bands and they have cemented their place in the genre since their formation in 2001. Now in 2017, they

Continue reading INTERVIEW: The Black Dahlia Murder (US)

Interview: King Leviathan (UK)

INTERVIEW: King Leviathan (UK)


by Carina Lawrence/ Dark Art conspiracy

Blackened Thrash Metallers King Leviathan from Brighton, UK have been building the cult-like following since their formation in 2014 after the release of their critically acclaimed 2015 E.P ‘The Shrine’, spreading their “Black Mass” to Bloodstock Open Air, local festival Mammothfest as well as touring and sharing the stage with the likes of Darkest Hour, Abhorrent Decimation, Meta-Stasis and more. Their mass continues to spread as in August this year they unleashed their highly anticipated debut album, ‘Paean Heretica’ via new label Infernum Records who they just signed with. There is lots going on for this metal quartet right now, so we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Adam Sedgwick to discuss their new album, the label, their origins, what lies ahead for the future and more.

Can you tell us about your formation in 2014 and how you arrived at the name of King Leviathan?

Our formation was pretty simple to be honest! Rob and I (Adam) Had been in a couple of projects before King Leviathan started, and a lot of them we’re hard rock based or Metalcore influenced. As much as we enjoyed them, when those projects dissolved we decided we wanted to do something that was straight up Sylosis and Slayer worship! Then Sam asked to join the band as he wanted to start playing metal again and we found Danny at a gig after seeing him playing drums with some bands at College – we asked him to join and then the rest is history!

The name was pretty easy as well, I had a solo project when I was living in Northampton called Crown I, Leviathan and I hadn’t used it for about 2 years by the time I started writing the first EP. I changed the name up to King Leviathan to give it a change, and that’s how it came about!

How would you describe your sound?

It’s a whole amalgamation of sound, cause we’re all influenced by very different music! But the easiest way to describe it would be cold, dark and aggressive.

Continue reading Interview: King Leviathan (UK)

Snovonne – “The Child And The Bitch” is dedicated to the psychology of my life 

Interview by Andruta Ilie / Dark Art Conspiracy
“Resourceful and painfully straightforward, Snovonne is one of the few artists whose hypnotic voice can whip up a storm inside the deepest corners of your soul, only to take you from heaven to hell and back. On stage, she turns into a vintage doll escaped from an antique storage trunk to offer a complex view on the human nature. 
Who’s the child and when is the time for the bitch to show up?
Snovonne talks her latest album, “The Child And The Bitch”, the atmosphere within her band, and what is home to her, in an exclusive interview given in Tampere’s Jack the Rooster. “

Continue reading Snovonne – “The Child And The Bitch” is dedicated to the psychology of my life 

INTERVIEW: Bleed Again (UK)

INTERVIEW: Bleed Again (UK)


by Carina Lawrence/ Dark Art conspiracy

Brighton metallers Bleed Again are ones to watch and have had an exciting and busy year so far, so I caught up with vocalist James Dawson to talk about all the major milestones for the band recently, such as signing to American label Sliptrick Records, releasing their debut album ‘Momentum’ (which was mastered by Acle Kahney of TesseracT), recent tours and their massive album launch show with Brutality Will Prevail and Raging Speedhorn and more, as well as looking at what lies ahead for this fresh upcoming modern metal act.


Firstly how did you arrive at the band name Bleed Again?

We wanted something that represented bring back the past, reliving the bad times and learning from them. The funnier answer is after shortlisting a few, we then would check MySpace ( Old Skool ) to see if any of the name had been used. Until this day, I think we are the only band called Bleed Again.


You recently released your debut album ‘Momentum’ through Sliptrick records, how exciting was it to finally release your anticipated debut?

Very, Very exciting. Me and Simon wrote the first song for momentum in August 2015. We had the whole thing finished by April 2016 and filmed the music video for ‘Walk Through The Fire’ that month, so for it to take another 13 months to be released was frustrating, but very exciting once it finally came out in May of this year. So much was going on behind the scenes i.e the label interest, and we had to take our time to make sure we were making the right decisions.


You signed with Sliptrick records earlier this year, what has the experience been like so far?

Really good. What we found with Sliptrick is that they were experienced and focused. We had a pretty strong idea of how we wanted to push the band further and they were open to any discussions about the finer points of the contract so it became and kind of win win for us and them. Everything they said they would do, they have done. We can’t ask for more than that.


What was it like working with Acle Kahney of TesseracT who mixed and mastered the album and how did you end up working with him?

It was great. Our drummer Russell has his own studio which we have always used to record, and he is constantly finding out who is doing what when it comes to Mixing and Mastering. Russell is a big Tesseract fan and was aware the Acle Mixes/Masters most of their records and they always sound incredible. We contacted him and he was happy to take part. He was so open with us and was always happy to help, perhaps beyond his professional responsibility’s. We were quite fussy when it came to the mixes and as soon as he knew what we were after he really went to town on the songs. He even added bits to make the songs on the album fit better together and I really feel his personal stamp is on the record and we couldn’t be happier about the final outcome.


Can you tell us a bit about the main themes and influences that run through the album?

The main theme on this album is to look after yourself. Anything that ever gets in your way of achieving goals in life, needs to be dealt with personally. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family, a wife and so many friends around me. However when the shit really hits the fan, it’s only you that can get you out of that situation. It’s about believing in yourself, and trusting your decisions. Another thought I always had, and will always have, is that we should use our experiences in life to help others. Whether that will be friends, family, loved ones or your own children. There are some political points on the album also. Everything I have said has been about a specific point in my life, and I’ve tried to turn that into something more accessible for the listener, with an overall positive vibe.


What was the writing and recording process like for your debut?

Stressful. I can’t thank Russell enough for the time and effort he put into this record. He spent 5-6 evenings a week after working full time, making sure this was something we were going to be proud of. Every member of this band stepped up their game compared to previous EP releases. I took a step back on this album compared to our old CD’s. I used to be there for every single part of it and really stick my nose in. With Momentum, we all wrote this album. Rather than always be at the studio telling everyone what I thought sounded better, I just looked forward to hearing rough mixes and listening to everyone’s personal stamp on each song. It gave me so much more inspiration when it came to vocals, to know that I was putting words on top of songs that each member was already really happy with.


You have just finished touring with Death Remains, how was it for you?

Incredible. We have done three tours now and several weekenders, and I feel blessed that all of them have been with such nice people. Death Remains are an incredible band, fact. Their new album Destroy/Rebuild is insane. We have never done nine shows in a row before and it was a massive learning experience for me as far as keeping my voice strong. It took lots of water, lemon tea Vocalzone etc but I got there. I remember a few years ago talking to a friend of mine and asking how he managed to do a 45 minute set and sound as good at the end as he did at the start. He just said practice and care. For a good 18 months I have really been trying to look after my voice and when we finished this tour, i just realized I did nine shows in a row and held out. I got a long way to go but I’m happy with my progress. Some of the shows on this tour were quiet, and some of the shows were surprisingly busy, so all in all it was a fantastic time with great people, and more importantly we got to play our new songs to new people.


On May 6th you had your big album launch show hosted by Mammothfest UK with Brutality Will Prevail, Raging Speedhorn and more, how did it go and what was it like playing alongside them?

It was definitely one to remember. The bands we had on the top of the bill are serious bands, they know their shit. It was a brand new venue to us and I don’t think we felt as comfortable as we have at some other places in Brighton, but when the lights changed and we saw 300 odd people watching us and our local fans going crazy down the front, we felt right at home. The whole day was an amazing atmosphere, so many friendly faces all getting along with each other. There was so many Bleed Again T-shirts and Hoodies I was really quite humbled, and I won’t ever forget that day.


You are heading out on your own headline tour in July, how excited are you for this?

Really excited. It’s nice to know that when you have finished one tour, you have another round the corner. Were lucky enough to have As Flames Rise with us and were sure it’s going to be a fun five days. We’re playing brand new venues to us so that gives us a chance to make some new fans.


You also have some festival appearances coming up, including playing the new and first Amplified Festival UK in July, how does it feel to be playing at the first event and who else are you looking forward to sharing the stage with?

This is a show I have been looking forward to ever since we got booked. Our first outdoor festival on the second stage is amazing. I get to see Puddle Of Mudd for the first time which should be cool. I remember playing their album on repeat whilst trying to complete Driver on PS1.


You are then appearing at Mammothfest UK again in October on the main stage, how does this make you feel to be local favourites and to be regulars at the festival, and what can attending festival goers expect from your set?

Mammothfest is huge in Brighton. If you’re into Metal and live within 20 miles, you’ll likely be there. We had the most incredible response last year. People literally lost their minds during parts of our set and we really felt we had made a name for ourselves in Brighton after that show. To be main stage this year is an absolute privilege. We will have some much more room on stage, and the crowd will have so much more room for partying with us. They can expect epic singalongs, circle pits and walls of death, ya know… all the fun stuff.


Since starting out you have supported the likes of Soil, Darkest Hour and Devil Sold His Soul, what was this like for you and who else would you like to support in the future?

Supporting Soil was likely the highlight of my music career to date. I went to my first gig at The Concorde 2 in Brighton when I was 16 and saw Amen. From that point I knew I had to play that stage, and many years on I got to look out at 300 plus people at 7.15 on a Tuesday night and realise that is where I felt most at home. Meeting these bands and seeing them all back stage is a pleasure. You realise that they are all regular people, and more often than not, very polite and complimentary of your music. It naturally makes you up your game, almost reach your potential. I like the pressure and thrive of the bigger crowds. The goal for supporting would be someone like Killswitch Engage in the UK or anywhere haha. They have influenced me so much and are such normal dudes that I think the entire experience would be incredible.


What else is in store for Bleed Again in 2017?

We have two more music videos on the way, and possibly another tour towards the end of the year. Apart from that its gig gig gig and get this album out to as many people as possible so that when album two comes around we may really be able to take flight towards some amazing experiences.




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