I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Matti & Niko from one of Finland's finest death metal bands, Corpsessed, to discuss their recent European tour with Cruciamentum, new line-up, new music and their up-coming appearance at Unconquered Darkness Fest. Read on for a fascinating insight into the life of Corpsessed...
Corpsessed interview with The Lair of Filth February 2016.
Interview by Trevor Proctor.
Hi, first and most importantly, thank you for agreeing to another interview with The Lair of Filth, Jude and myself have been huge fans of the band for quite a while now, so it’s very much appreciated that you’ve agreed to bring us up to date with what’s been happening with Corpsessed over the past couple of years.
Matti: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to speak about what is going on with the band once again, Trevor! Much appreciated.
Your debut album, “Abysmal Thresholds” was released back in February 2014, receiving a lot of positive feedback from media and fans alike, including joint No.1 spot on my 2014 album list – were you surprised at the praise it received?
Niko: I would say weirdly surprised, because pretty much all of the praise came from outside of Finland. Here the album just kinda "came and went,” the media or the festivals didn't seem to be that bothered about it. So when we did the tour with Cruciamentum, it was funny to hear praising face-to-face comments about an album we already did almost 2 years ago! But yeah, it’s definitely surprising and humbling to hear that Abysmal Thresholds ended up in those "Album of the year" lists.
Matti: I heard some gripes too... Some people came to talk to me and said they prefer first EP more, mainly due to the sound/production of the full-length. And sure, I agree. The production is different on these releases. The EP has a more traditional death metal sound, where the full-length's production while still very low-tuned is more akin to a black metal record, I would say. That was my decision at that point in time, so blame me.... what will the production be in the future? Something of a mix of both of these perhaps.
I understand you’re in the process of writing and recording a new release – how’s this progressing and have you a tentative release date yet?
Matti: It took me quite a lot of time after the first full-length to start coming up with new ideas that sounded inspired. The arduous process of writing and completing “Abysmal Thresholds” had left me quite empty and drained! It was after a full year from the release of the album that my creative juices started flowing again naturally and the results started to sound really pleasing to my ear. Of course, I also finally completed the TYRANNY (my other band) album during this time, which only took 10 years to finish, haha! But doing something completely different can inspire you in other ways…
Currently we have loads of great ideas for Corpsessed, and also the fresh blood in the band has helped us loads in the arrangements of the new songs. We are at the moment in the process of demoing the new songs and ideas and then decide which work as a larger whole, before starting to record the actual next release... no tentative release dates yet though, there's still a lot of work to be done!
Your previous music has all been released by Dark Descent – will you be staying with them for the new release and what factors do you feel have led to this long-term relationship with the label?
Niko: The next one will also be released by Dark Descent. I think the main reason is that Matt/DD just focuses on signing and releasing music that he enjoys himself, and lets the bands have complete artistic freedom. DD was also a new label when Matt contacted us the first time and nowadays the roster of bands and releases is pretty damn amazing, so for us to be part of it is the best kind of advertisement we can hope for.
You adopted quite an in-house approach when recording Abysmal Thresholds with Matti doing a lot of the studio work himself at home– will you be following a similar approach for your new music?
Matti: That's undecided yet, but the current feeling is that I will do the demo recordings, but when it comes to the final definite recording sessions - I would like us to enter a proper studio and have someone else, an outsider of the band, do the recording/mixing... just to save me of so much work and burning myself out again on it. This would of course require for us to find someone who would understand what kind of a sound we are after and to have the skills and equipment to pull it off properly. I have quite clear visions already in my head how I want the new stuff to sound like.
Not only was the music fantastic but Abysmal Thresholds also had great cover artwork, have you any artists in mind for the new cover and is there currently a work in progress?
Matti: Thank you, I think Danille Gauvin did a great job on the last one as well! What the final artwork for our next release will be is yet uncertain. The art and layouts are always done when the music is complete, when we can see the bigger picture and start thinking about what kind of artwork would reflect the themes of the album. I have a few artists in mind we'd like to use for the next one. One thing I can tell you that this time I would like to break the tradition just a bit and step outside of the monochrome / black white theme, but I can't reveal too much at this point.
What can we expect from the new music in terms of song length etc., and have you decided if it’s going to be an EP or album? You’d two tracks on Abysmal Thresholds that were seven mins long – can we look forward to hearing more tracks of similar lengths?
Niko: Still too early to say if it’s gonna be an EP or album. Talking about song lengths... don´t want to give too much away but we've had this one idea for a while now, that would enter the double digits-length....
Matti: We are currently working on 6 new compositions of which one is a lengthier track. Not sure what the final playing time will be at the moment or if all songs will make the cut or feel like they'd fit some other release better thematically... and who knows, there might be more tracks too. Things are currently in a volatile state and prone to change... so all I'm saying now might be different in a few months’ time, heh.
Some may feel that well over two years between releases is, by today’s standards, quite a length to wait. Do you agree with this and do you predict a similar timeline between future releases?
Niko: By today's standards, sure. But we much rather follow the standard of "making the best possible album, no matter how long it takes". The only real motivation that drives us as a band is that this has to be "fun." And a big part of that is about working at our own pace. Might be a long wait for some people, but for a death metal fan, there's so much interesting things happening at the moment that I don´t think there is any real chance of getting bored.
Matti: "Fun" might be a bit of a wrong word in that sense, that yes, of course I have also musical aspirations I wish to accomplish, and the music I create is also extension of my persona and channelling of the ideas/visions I hear within. So it also serves a "higher" purpose for me in my pursuit of the more artistic endeavours. And therefore creating the songs will take as long as it takes; it needs to be pleasing to us in the foremost. Where the "fun" or enjoyment steps in, is when we gather as a group... functioning as a band we need to also feel that what we do is satisfactory, or there would be no purpose in doing it anymore... but I'm perhaps rambling on a bit too much.
You embarked on a ten date European tour last November with Cruciamentum, how do you feel the tour went and am I right in saying you’ve long term connections with Cruciamentum? I understand D.L. was involved with the mixing of Abysmal Thresholds…
Matti: The tour was great in my opinion! I got to know D.L. originally when he lived in Finland during 2012-2014 as we played in the same band (Profetus). He has also mastered all of the Corpsessed releases so far and helped me a great deal with mixing "Abysmal Thresholds". During 2013 I also played session bass in Cruciamentum for their US tour with Anhedonist. And of course, above all we are very good and close friends. So when the question came up who would we want to tour with in Europe, Cruciamentum was pretty much my number one choice.
The tour consisted of ten consecutive dates, covering many countries in Europe, did this hectic schedule take much of a toll on the band and would you be happy to fulfil such an intensive tour schedule again?
Niko: It was the first proper tour I have done and to be honest, after the first two days I wasn't sure if I was gonna make it to the end! But after I got used to sleeping 4 hours a night and 2 hours of power napping during the day, it got easier, haha. The schedule was pretty hectic, but it was properly organized and the only problems we had were stuff like traffic etc. that was out of our hands. To me the whole tour was one of the best experiences I have had so far in my life, so definitely would like to do it again!
Matti: This was the 3rd tour I've done myself, so I kind of knew what to expect and that it was going to be physically exhausting at times. But, with the right people it can also be rewarding, intense and fun as hell at the same time! Which it was... I would definitely do it again. It's basically up to the bands own motivation, this tour was the result of one year of planning and work, these things don't just appear by themselves. Big thanks goes to KillTown Bookings and Daniel for working with us. We'll definitely be planning something similar in the future.
For the tour you had a new band member in the form of Tuomas Kulmala, your new bass player – did having a new member bring any added pressure to the tour?
Niko: Tuomas came in to help us at a very short notice, and even though we knew him already I guess there was still some stress or uncertainty on whether or not our chemistry would work during on those usual unpleasant touring circumstances. Luckily everything went really well, so much so that after the tour we asked Tuomas if he was willing to become a permanent member. And obviously, he said yes.
I was lucky enough to catch the first night of the tour in Oberhausen, and enjoyed what I felt was a very tight set, during a brief chat afterwards Jyri and Jussi were quite modest and both stated they were pleased with the performance but there was room for improvement. Are you always so modest and do you feel the performances improved as the tour progressed?
Niko: I remember me and Matti had the same exact thoughts when we talked about it. It was the first show and we had a pretty long day of travelling behind us, so a bit of stress and nervousness was in the air. But then again, how things look and feel when you’re on stage is very different on how things look and feel to the audience, so maybe the stuff we feel critical about isn't visible to anyone else. And modesty of course is a very common trait all over Scandinavia and Finns are the heavyweight champions of it, so it’s very rare that we will be 100% satisfied with everything!
Next time I see you live it’ll be a bit closer to home for me as you’re due to play Unconquered Darkness Fest, an amazing underground two day festival in Dublin, hosted by Invictus Productions and Dark Descent Records – will this be your first time in Ireland and do you think you’ll have a chance to explore a little while you’re here?
Matti: I've visited Dublin before, I was there for 2 weeks for some work related thing in 2008 I think... travelling mostly between the centrum of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. Got to know the Temple Bar of course and they also took us to see the Newgrange and some other ancient grave sites, the mandatory Guinness and Jameson factory visits etc. Good times... looking forward very much to return to Dublin and playing there! We'll have 3 days there this time, so hoping to see some more of Dublin as well. Usually when playing gigs, especially on tour, you don't always get that much time to walk around and explore the cities, other than seeing it from the bus window.
Are you fans of many of the bands from Invictus Productions and are there many within the Irish underground you normally listen to?
Matti: Yes, I know Invictus Productions and I've ordered stuff from their distro on a few occasions. I enjoy quite a few of their releases from bands like Bölzer, Negative Plane, Diocletian etc. When it comes to Irish underground bands (affiliated with the label or not), I know and like Malthusian, ZOM, Wreck of the Hesperus, Vircolac, Mourning Beloveth and Primordial.
The line-up to Unconquered Darkness is unbelievably good, which bands on the bill are you looking forward to seeing the most?
Niko: The biggest highlight for me is Lvcifyre. And I´m also excited to see and hang out with the other Finnish bands; it’s very rare that we all get a chance of meeting in a big group like this so loads of alcohol fuelled fun ahead.
Matti: Yeah, agreed. Looking forward to meeting friends old and new. As for which performances I'm looking forward to the most.... Adversarial.... definitely!
Your set in Oberhausen featured a new track; can we hope to hear further new music from the new album at Unconquered Darkness Fest in Dublin?
Matti: Quite possibly, but let's see how things work out by then. At least I can promise you that our set will be drastically different than on the tour. We always try to build our live sets so that they are a combination of older and newer stuff.
Will there be many other live dates this year, perhaps after the new music gets released?
Matti: The plan is to concentrate on writing during the first half of the year and return to play more gigs during the latter half, and possibly test out how the new songs will fare in a live situation… who knows. The plans aren’t set in stone yet and might change along the way. The first priority is on the new material, but if a good gig opportunity rises up we probably won't decline.
Finland has a great history for death metal, what up-coming bands from your homeland’s underground should we be aware of?
Matti: Up-coming bands? Not that many spring to my mind currently, the crest of the wave and explosion in bands that we saw a few years ago has already passed if you ask me ... or then I'm not paying close enough attention. I guess I could mention Necromonastery, Galvanizer and Necrolepsy. All the rest that come to my mind are already more established and have some official releases out so I guess they don’t count.
2015 was a brilliant year for the underground, with some fantastic releases; what were your highlights last year and what are you looking to hearing this year?
Niko: "Krete Drogi" by Death Like Mass and "Kill Them...All" by The Kill are the first ones that comes first to mind. The upcoming Inverloch album is looking very promising, hopefully it will be as good as the previous EP they did.
Matti: Some of the highlights for me were Adversarial - "D.E.N.a.t.B.K.o.N.", Akhlys - "The Dreaming I", Cruciamentum - "Charnel Passages", Vorum - "Current Mouth", Macabre Omen - "Gods of War At War", the new albums from Skepticism and Shape of Despair, The Curse - "Come Forth" EP deserves also a mention and is worth checking out for every Kaamos fanatic. So 2015 ... A pretty good year in total, I agree.
For 2016 I'm also looking forward to the Inverloch full-length and the Funebrarum EP. Not sure what other releases are planned, but I'm keeping my eyes open...
Thank you both very, very much for taking the time to answer these questions it’s very appreciated by me and The Lair of Filth. I’ll catch up with you in Dublin for a few drinks; in the meantime have you any closing comments and good luck with the new music.
Tickets to Unconquered Darkness Fest are currently available from Invictus Productions and Dark Descent Records along with Corpsessed music and merchandise.