The Awakening

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Hailing from Finland, Folk three-piece (with the aid of some noteworthy session members) Crimfall entered the folk metal fray back in 2008 with their Burning Winds demo. And now with their Napalm Records debut, As the Path Unfolds, those demo tracks as well as eight brand new tracks deliver exactly what you’d expect from a Finnish Folk/Viking band-and more. With the luscious Helena Haaparanta providing an operatic gloss to the expectedly up beat, typically Finnish, blackened yet epic and bouncy fare, Crimfall, like the recent release by Kivimentsan Druidi, Arkona and country mates Battlelore, have given folk/Viking metal some elegance amid the grime and chain mail driven throes typically associated with the genre. From the bombastic chorus of “The Crown of Treason” through the ethnic chants of “Wildfire Season” and Middle Eastern Aura of “Sun Orphaned” to ballad “Aubade” the album covers all of Folk Metal bases with confidence, gusto and an orchestral grandeur. I visited with guitarist Jakke Viitala to find out a little more about one of Finnish folk metal’s newest additions…

First off give us the usual run down and history of how the three of you came together and formed Crimfall.

The whole idea for founding Crimfall was my personal need to express myself. I was not playing in any band but I was heavily searching for one. Since I did not found any group that I thought was interesting and potential enough, Mikko told me to create one of my own.  It took a while before I though it was time to actually do something about it. After I composed the first version of “Where Waning Winds Lead”, I needed additional help with the vocals. Since Mikko was around the corner, I just asked if he wants to do some lyrics and scream the male part. Then I was thinking do I even need another singer and should I have male or female vocals? Then I remembered hearing Helena singing in previous band called Tacere, I took a closer look to their material and noticed her unique skill to sing with thousands of different styles. I tried my luck and contacted her with email. The first time I actually met her in person was the recording session in our living room for our demo “Burning Winds”. With that demo we got Napalm Records interested in us and after the signatures we became officially a real band. Since then we have gathered even more people to form the core line up. And today we have the full Crimfall army for conquering the stage.

What does the name Crimfall mean?

The original idea for our name was Grimfall. Which means Grim Autumn. But as it does not look that good when written, we decided to change the first letter to C, by doing this it is also a bit more unique compared to the original concept. The meaning remains the same.

There are a few session members helping out on the debut album notably Henri Sorvali of Finntroll/Moonsorrow-how did he get involved?

Well… he was already a friend mine. We have been doing these latest albums (As the Path Unfolds, Tulimyrsky, Ur Jordens Djup) at the same time and played the early demo versions to each other asking for some feedback. That’s why it was pretty natural to ask him to play the bass. He already knew my material and could easily come up with the bass lines I wanted.

Does having a marquis name like Sorvali’s help out with your album help or hinder you as a band?

Henu was there only for helping us with the bass lines (and piano in “Aubade”), but as I mentioned earlier we also commented each other’s material. And of course watching him at work, gives me tips that cannot be read from any books. He has also encouraged me for doing Crimfall stuff.

With only three of you as a full time band how do perform live shows? Do the albums session members help out or do you get whoever you can to help out when needed?

We actually had our first show couple of days ago. Our studio drummer Janne Jukarainen is now a full time member of the band and as Henri is too tied up with his other bands we replaced him with Miska Sipiläinen.

Coming from the Finnish folk/Viking scene there are bound to be certain expectation as well as immediate comparisons to the likes of Ensiferum, Finntroll, Turisas, Wintersun, Battlelore and such. Is there concern about being immediately be lumped in and compared to those acts? Or do you welcome such pigoen holing?

There are two sides in this story. Of course people will compare us to these bands and have some expectations. But since our material is not exactly what people have used to hear, it might give various opinions. For some it might be nice fresh approach, but for some we are not pure folk metal band enough. The future will tell how the things will go on. But I’m not concerned. We are not copying those bands even you cannot deny the influence from these pioneers of this genre. As long as we keep doing our own stuff, there is room for us for sure.

Why does Finland has such a rich folk/metal legacy?

I really don’t know. Maybe it’s because we have been doing this much longer than for example in Germany. Maybe it’s because the soul of this music lies in cold north.

That being said how do you feel about folk/Viking/pagan metal from say California or South America?-Can it be viewed as authentic and be given the same amount of credence and bands from Scandinavia, Russia or the UK?

I have heard only couple of those bands. But so far I can say that it sounds as natural and pure as Finnish samba festival here in Helsinki (our capital city). If the stuff does not run in your blood, maybe some other thing might work better for you. You cannot learn these things only by listening and watching. (Of course now when I answer like this, I’ll find greatest folk metal band ever from Eastern Islands…) But in the end, people should enjoy doing their music. No matter what others say. If they want to do folk or samba, bring it on!

Is there any pressure being a folk metal band from Finland especially as acclaimed and successful as your peers are?

I don’t want to think about these things. As long as I enjoy doing Crimfall music, we are here to bug you. Our saga has just began so it is so hard to tell what happens. So far everything has gone well, but there will be some bumps on the road in the future for sure. We just take one step at the time and concentrate on the near future. At the moment our short distance plan is about playing live as much as possible.

With Helena Haaparanta in the fold, there’s an added element to the typical trappings of folk/Viking metal-how is she balanced to keep things still recognizably folk metal but utilize her operatic voice without suddenly being a Nightwish styled band?

Since I’m not huge fan of this operatic stuff, having Helena in the band has deeper meaning. As it can be heard from the album, she is capable for singing many different styles. With Crimfall we were using more the rock side of Helena. In some songs we needed this classical style as well but it is more like an extra effect than our direction. Of course having Mikko with his killer vocals in the band takes us away from the “femme metal” genre.

There seems to be a fair balance between Finnish bands that utilize their native tongue and English-what is the decision making process for the language of the album as far as accessibility vs ethnicity is concerned?

The main reason for choosing English is the fact that our own language does not sound that good when singing. It works better with screaming (like in Moonsorrow for example), but as we have also clean vocals in the band it wouldn’t make justice to Helena to sing in Finnish. Other reason is that singing mystic and symbolic stuff (like Mikko wants to write our lyrics) in our language sounds pretty funny for the Finnish people.

With pagan/Folk metal gathering steam here in the US, would you guys ever be interested in making an appearance at something like the Pagan Fest or Heathen Crusade tours at some point or are you concentrating on your homeland and Europe first where folk metal is far more widely accepted?

C’mon, do you need to even ask that! If requested, WE ARE SO THERE! Our guys and girl enjoy so much playing live, no matter where.

I really dig the artwork for the albums-who did it?

It is done by Kris Verwimp, the great painter from Belgium. He has done lots of art for this genre. I really recommend you to check out his other stuff as well.

Ah of course, I should have recognized his work. Any final words for the readers?

If you are not afraid of accordion and violin, but still can keep you ears open for a bit different approach to this genre, you should check our album out! Hopefully we will see you one day in tour! Take care!

[http://www.myspace.com/crimfall]

[http://www.crimfall.com/]

Comments

  1. Commented by: bast

    Digging cover art, band name, pics, etc. My third eye tells me: Lets hear the music!


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