Throw a stone in Finland and you'll hit a lights-out excellent metal band. Fact!
The country has produced its fair share of heavy hitters, from Children of Bodom to Ensiferum, Nightwish, Apocalyptica and Amorphis. Insomnium belong in the pantheon of the Finnish elite, helping grow – along with many of their countrymen – a new wave of melodic death metal.
Ahead of the release of their subdued and stripped down new EP Argent Moon on September 17th, frontman and bassist Niilo Sevänen caught up with Metal Injection for a deep dive into the new EP, and a potential concept album in 2022, Insomnium's doomed North American tour at the onset of COVID-19, influential Finnish bands and albums and much more!
On New EP Argent Moon
It's been strange for everyone. I'm sure you've talked with many musicians that all tell the same stories. But when this whole thing started a year and a half ago, we had to return home from the US tour after one show. And of course everything was so strange and unreal. But soon we thought, OK, we have to keep on doing something. We just can't wait home. Nobody knows how long this will last. And if we can't play shows, then we have to do music. And preferably something that we could release pretty fast so that we could put out something, our fans could get something that they might enjoy. We would keep ourselves busy and there would be something interesting to do all the time.
So I think that's how we got the idea. OK, let's do an EP, let's make four songs, four videos and release as singles. And then the physical EP will come out in the end and kind of spread out during the year. Spread the joy or something like that. I don't know how we got the idea originally that it should be a mellow ballad kind of EP, but we wanted to have some kind of theme concept, not just four random songs. Yeah OK, let's make a mellow EP this time.
Our fans, they can take it easy. We haven't changed our style to radio friendly. We're still going to be a melodic death metal band. This was a special EP, something we haven't done really before. Back in the 90s many bands released EPs, and many of our favorite bands released EPs, but nowadays it's pretty rare somebody would release a four song EP. So we haven't done anything like that. We wanted to try it.
On Disasterous Cancelled Tour
Yeah, it was kind of funny that when we left Finland, it seemed like, OK, we can do the tour no problem. But when we landed in the USA, the United Nations had declared that it's a pandemic and it kind of escalated really, really quickly. And then in the evening Trump says that, OK, Europeans will be banned, and it really got out of hand really quickly and it was just unreal to watch it. This is really happening. We have to get home now quickly while we still can. And of course it's a huge investment to come to the USA and pay for the visas and the flights. And of course the bus is rented for four or five weeks and the crew and everything. So it was a huge minus.
But luckily our fans helped us right away. It helped a lot. So we got on our feet financially from that first punch. And luckily we've done the streams, people have bought tickets. So we've got some income. We are still here, we are still running the band. And now we've been doing alright, but for all the bands that are smaller than us, I'm sure it's been really difficult. And nobody knows how long this will continue like this.
On Friendship with Omnium Gatherum
Well, they are such good friends to us. It was great when we had this festival weekend about a month ago that we were booked on the same festival. We flew to Austria together and then we flew to Finland and played a Finnish show together and traveled and jammed in the same three small cars, two bands and all the equipment. And it was a lot of fun.
With those guys it's always fun. Planning these tours together feels really natural. Of course for Markus it's a bit of double trouble. He has to play two shows. It can be exhausting if you do this for four, five weeks. And otherwise it's just great.
On Influential Finnish/Melodic Death Metal Bands
Amorphis and Sentenced were those two Finnish bands that really influenced us. Children of Bodom a bit later, but like musically not so much them. Ensiferum, they started about the same time as we did, but Sentenced and Amorphis were those Finnish favorites and then from Sweden, In Flames and Dark Tranquility, At the Gates. Those were the bands that we really dug when we formed the band in 1997.
And it's a bit hard to explain where it really comes from. Like, I know Nordic countries have good musical education in school and stuff like that, but that's not everything. For some reason this kind of metal music and black metal and melodic death metal became some kind of thing here. The first Finnish bands that really got some recognition outside of Finland were metal bands. And they, of course, encouraged young kids to start playing metal as well. That's kind of a snowball effect in the 90s, I would say. There were Amorphis, Stratovarius and Sentenced, the first Finnish bands that really were noticed outside of Finland.
On All-Time Favorite Albums
Well yeah, Metallica is kind of too obvious. I will say something else. The record that really got me into the world of melodic death metal was Sentenced, Amok. I think it came out in 95. So I heard it from the radio, the Finnish charts … I had never heard of the band before. And then afterwards I heard it's a Finnish band. Wow. That was good. And now of course I went and bought the CD and immediately fell in love with that style and Sentenced Amok. And of course Amorphis Tales from the Thousand Lakes. That's the other one. So cornerstones of Finnish melodic death metal.
On 20th Anniversary of Debut Album in 2022
We could play some 20th anniversary shows for sure, if we can play shows. It could be just one special or some kind of mini tour or whatever, but now that our career spans 20 years, we could play these anniversary shows every year there's an anniversary for some of them. Yeah, let's see. It could be fun to do stuff like that. And I'm sure the fans would appreciate that kind of special.
And we are really fortunate. I would say that our fans are really dedicated and they're intelligent people and really, really dedicated and they support us. So yeah, what can I say? We're really fortunate to have these kinds of friends with us here.
On New Album/Possible Concept Record in 2022
That's the plan. Chaos and brutality and melancholy and mellow sadness mixed together. I think that's the Insomnium recipe and it will be something like that. And we have about ten demo songs at the moment. So I already have a pretty good feeling of what the next album will be like. And there will be a story, probably a long story spanning the whole. So it's, maybe, a concept album. It looks like it will be a concept album, but let's not reveal too much. But like I said before, this EP was kind of an experiment. Soft songs, but we'll bring the chaos back with the next album.
I personally love concept albums. If it's a well written planned story, it kind of gives another layer to the whole thing. It's not just a collection of random songs, it's something bigger. And maybe for that reason Winter's Gate is so important, personally for me, from all of our albums, because I think we succeeded pretty well in creating something special and unique with that.