With the heavy music scene in Finland quickly heating up, it's not hard to say that Sweden and Norway aren't the only Scandinavian countries where you can find talented metal bands these days. Enter Oddland, an outstanding progressive metal act who released their debut The Treachery of Senses a few years ago and now have unleashed their sophomore platter in the form of Origin on the well respected Sensory label. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with the band recently to discuss this exciting new album!
SoT: The bands debut, The Treachery of Senses, came out a few years ago on Century Media, a very popular metal label, but we now see you are on Sensory, a less well known but highly respected label. Can you tell us a little bit about how you were able to get on Century Media initially, and what led you to Sensory a few years later?
Century Media arranged a competition for unsigned bands in Finland in 2011; it wasn't an Idols-type talent show, but more of an online voting deal with a big live playoff as the final. We ended up winning, and got the deal with CM. (A bit of trivia: we were planning to play Faith no More's 'Epic' in the final, but luckily they rather wanted to hear original material - our story might be a bit different if they hadn't!) The first album 'The Treachery of Senses' was quite well received, but at some point CM cleaned up a bunch of smaller bands from their roster, and we got kicked out with the lot. We produce our albums ourselves, and work on 'Origin' was well on its way at that point, so we were in a pretty good position to look for another company to release the followup. Sensory/Laser's Edge was on our A-list of candidates since they have some really cool stuff in their catalogue, Ken Golden dug our material, and here we are.
SoT: Your new album Origin is a breathtaking collection of songs that are as powerful as they are challenging and also brooding & atmospheric. When did the band start putting together the songs for the album, and how did the whole process take to completion?
Thanks! We started to really focus on new stuff in 2013, although some fragments existed from before (for example, we originally considered having what is now the song 'Untrue' on the first album, but very little of the original material remains in the final version). Our way of composing and arranging is very laborious, as we maintain the principle that all of us have to be satisfied with every detail of the songs - and there are a lot of little details in there! Thus, most of the songs went through many iterations, with the most painful ones (the last two songs 'Faraway' and 'Will') being finished right before recording in the fall of 2015. Working on the songs for a long period of time is both a blessing and a curse, since we get to listen to the draft material for an extended period of time, and make changes if something doesn't hold up to repeated listening, but on the other hand this tends to make the writing process even longer. It's a vicious cycle!
SoT: I know it's early, but what type of reaction have you gotten so far from Origin?
The reception has been really nice! We were expecting some mixed opinions about the new album, since we were going for a slightly different sound and atmosphere compared to the first one. For Origin we wanted a darker and heavier feel, and it seems that most of our fans are onboard with this. We're happy!
SoT: When listening to Origin, I hear some possible influences of Meshuggah and Opeth, but what other bands & music helped form what is now Oddland?
We have very diverse musical tastes, and usually in our songs we try to avoid elements which for us bring to mind a specific band. However, to name a bunch of artists that come to mind as significant to us, collectively or individually: Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell, Primus, Tool, King Crimson, Sohn, Katatonia, Massive Attack, Faith No More, Tom Waits, Testament, Stone Temple Pilots, Pain of Salvation, etc. And maybe it's not the first band you would think of when listening to our music, but Korn has also had a big influence.
SoT: These days we hear the terms 'progressive metal' , 'extreme metal', and 'djent', among others, tossed around to describe different flavors of heavy metal. How would you describe the music of Oddland to someone who has never heard the band before?
With the release of 'Origin', in several texts discussing the album we've come across the term 'Nordic prog'. Insofar as this refers to the likes of Leprous, Ihsahn, Pain of Salvation, Opeth, etc., it isn't too bad of a genre, if we had to name one. Defining factors would probably then be complex, heavy rhythms and strong clean vocals.
SoT: What are the bands touring plans in support of Origin?
Our main plan is to head over to mainland Europe, preferably with some cool bands that suit our style; we have some exciting plans for this, but it's still too early for details, since these things tend to depend on a million random factors… In the immediate future we're playing some special gigs in Finland, starting in our hometown Turku in the beginning of October, and continuing with a gig with Ne Obliviscaris in Helsinki a week after that.
SoT: Finland is becoming a hot bed for heavy music now, quickly catching up to Sweden and Norway in my view, though we've seen more black & death metal acts, as well as more retro hard rock styled bands coming out in recent years. What's your view of the current scene in Finland?
It seems that some of the Finnish folk-influenced or pagan metal bands are quite visible around the world, but there's a very broad variety of smaller metal bands in Finland. It's a shame that besides Spinefarm, there aren't many labels around here who would work with exciting young metal bands and help them develop, especially since the big companies over here seem to focus mainly on pop acts who sing in Finnish. But for example Svart Records is doing really fine work both on re-releasing classic hard-to-find Finnish records, and releasing material from a pretty diverse range of new artists.
SoT: Here in North America we don't get the wealth of metal festivals that take place in various parts of Europe, so it's harder for many international bands to come over here and tour. Has there been any talk of getting Oddland over to the US for some live gigs, possibly even as a tour package with other Sensory bands?
No talk so far, but we would love to come play over there. Finances are of course the problem, as it would be really expensive for us to organize a tour by ourselves in the US. However, festivals and joint gigs/tours with more established bands have been very good for us so far, so let's hope we figure something out in the US before long!
SoT: The production of Origin is quite good- what was the overall studio experience like producing the album mainly by yourselves, and then working with Daniel Bergstrand on the mixing & mastering?
We're rather picky with the details regarding our sound - especially with the guitar and vocal tones, so producing our albums mainly by ourselves suits us pretty well. On both albums we've done the drum tracking with Samu Oittinen over at Fantom studio, and that has always been a pleasant experience. For the final drum and bass mix, Bergstrand had a clear idea which we feel suited the material really well. It was very different working with Daniel compared to Dan Swanö on the first album; Bergstrand had his own idea of how the album should sound, and there was a lot less room for second-guessing on our part. But we're very happy with the end result for both albums, we feel that the final mixes complement the different types of songs well.
SoT: With the release of Oddland, the immediate future looks pretty bright for the band- what are your goals for the next 1-3 years?
Our main focus during the next year or so is on playing good gigs and hopefully some festivals around Europe. Later this year we will be releasing a really high-quality LP version of 'Origin', and we're also planning to shoot a couple of videos, for example a playthrough of the song 'Thanatos'. And hopefully within three years we'll also be back in the studio preparing a third album!