Bassist Olli-Pekka Laine rejoined Amorphis in 2017 after a 17 year absence, and just as the group began to record their new album Queen Of Time. Several years on and Amorphis has just released their new record Halo, of course with Laine on bass. We caught up with Laine and discussed the story behind Halo's recording, got a crash course in Finnish literature, and found out the reason he thinks Finland remains one of the most important metal hotspots on earth.
What felt different about Halo compared to Queen Of Time?
Queen Of Time was a really hectic recording session. I think we played the last shows of the Under A Red Cloud touring cycle on Saturday, and on Monday we were rehearsing new songs. The pre-production only took one month and then we were in the studio. So really, very quick. I probably spent three or four days playing my bass parts for that album. That's actually the same amount as Halo, but it was a little bit different this time because I had a new bass producer. It was much more free and loose working with him, because I could really do whatever I liked. We recorded this one in Helsinki at Sonic Pump, so we didn't need to travel to Sweden like last time.
How did it feel rejoining the band after 17 years?
Honestly, it felt pretty good. I rejoined during festival season and it started to build naturally from there. I quit my day job and rejoined the band for good six months after. It was totally the same as 20 years ago. Same bad jokes, even some of the exact same jokes from the '90s. But now we have ear monitors and proper backline and professional producers and stuff, which was not the case back then. It's just way more professional now. But playing gigs felt like the same.
When looking you guys up, I kept seeing the word Kalevala. What is the Kalevala and how does it relate to Amorphis?
The Kalevala is a national book in Finland that kids start to learn in kindergarten. There was a guy named Elias Lönnrot who traveled across eastern Finland, what's called Karelia, in the late 19th century. He knew that there were traditions in that area of people singing stories, which were transferred from generation to generation. He started to collect poems from the people who sang the songs, as well as local artists. The straight translation is "poem singers." They would take your hands and just start to sing. So Lönnrot sort of put the stories in chronological order. It was good timing, because the tradition started to die out right after, until it's extinct like today. So that was a very good cultural thing to do.
So you guys were inspired by that?
Yeah man. I happen to know that J.R.R. Tolkein used it for inspiration too, while he was writing Lord Of The Rings. It's really well known in that scene.
That's so cool. Finland has so much epic and bombastic metal. Do you think that this is part of it? This epic part of Finland's culture?
Yeah, it could be. There's this folk metal movement in Finland, like Finntroll and Ensiferum and Turisas, just to name a few. It could definitely have something to do with it. It's hard to speak on behalf of Amorphis. We took some of our epic influence from bands like Bathory and Manowar and started to add keyboards, but I don't think Amorphis is an epic band in the way of Nightwish and Hammerfall. It's quite hard to say, but Finland has definitely been a heavy metal country since 70s and 80s. At that time, Finland didn't have really any contact with the outside world. We didn't have the albums and bands didn't come here. We could only dream of seeing bands in Finland. They came to Sweden, of course.
Do you remember the first metal bands you saw in Finland?
Yeah! It was Mötley Crüe in the 80's, probably '86. Then came Iron Maiden and Metallica in 1988. They played full packed shows. We went to see every one of them, even if we weren't the biggest fans. Bands like Dokken. But they came and then everyone else did too.