Slow Fall continues its journey with a second album.
Formed in Finland in 2016, the band now consisting of Markus Taipale (vocals), Juho Viinikanoja (guitar, Darklaid, Casket Soil), Heikki Kakko (guitar, Dream of Unreality), Markku Kerosalo (bass, Dream of Unreality), Janne Lukki (drums, Tomb of Finland, Elvenscroll) and Lasse Launimaa (keyboards, Dream of Unreality, Henget, Thyrane) signed to Out of Line Music in 2023 to present Obsidian Waves.
The band quickly establishes its cold, melodic roots on Polaris, the first track, which welcomes both massive vocal parts and heady keyboards, while the rhythmic drive fast into Son Of Sleep, which reveals a slightly different approach while keeping the majestic sounds. Clean vocals also make an appearance on verses, leaving the break to become much heavier under howls, before Obsidian Waves, the eponymous track, floods us with its heavy riffs supported by keyboards. The contrast between the different elements remains an important part of this composition, punctuated by Progressive Metal-infused shifts in intensity while leading us into Omega, which places more complex, sometimes even joyful or disquieting tones into its solid incisive mix. The eruptions of rage become more and more numerous, before calming down on the introduction of Melancholy And Witchcraft, which borrows from haunting impressive Doom/Death to build a thick, slow rhythm. The last cries are the most striking, followed by the return of coldness with All The Blood, whose keyboards are reminiscent of an intoxicating Old School approach which perfectly complements the imperturbable melodies, before Reflections In The House Of Shadows crushes us with its double-kick roll. Dark softness breaks the dynamic, which is transformed into aggressive heavy and jerky riffs, letting the different vocal parts bring their impressive diversity, while Reaper Of Days offers more accessible sounds. The track also reveals itself to be rooted in the band’s Progressive influences, allowing lead parts a great freedom to embellish the catchy rhythm before leading into Crown Of Dead Leaves, the final composition. Its length allows the band to feed their complementary inspirations to transform this final track into a veritable whirlwind of melody, melancholy and fury, skilfully alternating between each emotion.
If you don’t like simple, easily-labelled tracks, Slow Fall will take you on a chilling journey through melodies and virulent explosions on Obsidian Waves, which pushes each musician to exploit all their abilities to create an as surprising as coherent result!
Few questions to Juho Viinikanoja and Heikki Kakko, guitar players for the Finnish Progressive Melodic Death Metal band Slow Fall.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Slow Fall without using the usual Metal labels such as “Progressive Melodic Death Metal”?
Juho Viinikanoja (guitar): Hello! My name is Juho Viinikanoja and I play guitar in Slow Fall. We are a six-piece metal band from Oulu, Finland. Slow Fall is a sonic crystallization of northern heaviness and hopeless longing. According to the news, Finland may be the happiest country on the surface of the Earth, but at least our music doesn’t reflect that too much, haha.
Heikki Kakko (guitar): And I’m Heikki Kakko, the other guitarist of the band. Bonjour! We bring melancholic mindscapes into your ears.
How do you link the name Slow Fall to the band’s music identity?
Heikki: I have often linked it to a vision or a dream of slowly falling into an abyss or something. On the other hand, a thought of a slow, or really long fall/autumn feels equally accurate.
Juho: The slow and inevitable fall to emptiness.
Your second full-length Obsidian Waves has been out for few weeks now, how do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Heikki: I think we’re all quite proud of it and so far we’ve got mostly praising feedback and reviews. For me, personally, it’s special since I got my first marks as a composer, too. I can’t wait to build up from here.
Juho: I feel that Obsidian Waves is a beginning of something new for us. I think that we found our own sound more with this album and that’s also what other people have told us. I love to play with these guys and I can’t wait to do more live shows and start writing more new music together.
How would you sum Obsidian Waves’ identity up in only three words?
Juho: Brave, honest, polymorphic.
Heikki: Exciting, cathartic, beautiful.
How did the composition process happen for Obsidian Waves? Did you notice some differences with the previous releases?
Juho: The main difference this time was that the whole band participated more in writing and arranging the songs, so in a way Obsidian Waves feels more like a band album. Our singer Markus wrote two songs and Heikki wrote beautiful acoustic intro for the song Crown of Dead Leaves. Most of the music was again written by me and our bass player Markku and we wrote the songs either together or on our own.
Heikki: Nothing to add.
What about the artwork, what were the guidelines and how do they fit with the music you created?
Juho: The only guideline for artwork was to use real photos this time. We got to know Vesa Ranta when he shot Polaris’ music video for us and we knew he is a super talented photographer as well. So we asked him for some photos and he sent us a bunch we ended up using on the album’s artwork. Vesa’s photos are very atmospheric and I think they fit our music perfectly.
Where do you find inspiration to create your music?
Heikki: I think nature and forest play a big part. As well as human nature.
Juho: Inspiration can be found everywhere. For me the biggest sources of inspiration alongside music are movies and books but everyday life in general might be the biggest one. There’s always something to be upset about, haha.
In the songs on Obsidian Waves, we can feel a lot of influences: Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal of course, but also a bit of Doom/Death on Melancholy And Witchcraft to nearly Black Metal on Omega. How do you manage to get the right balance between everything?
Juho: We love to test our boundaries with each new album. I think in the end it comes down to the album structure and placing the songs in the right order. It surely is a pretty tricky process with the very varied style of ours but also a very rewarding one. We certainly don’t want to write the same song twice for we want each and every song to have their own strong identity while forming a very solid and strong album as a whole. It would be super boring to have 9 identical tracks on the same album.
Heikki: I feel Juho really knows how to put an album together, no matter how different each song turns out. Of course we need to pick the songs together for the album.
Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or maybe the hardest one to achieve for the album?
Heikki: My favourites would be Melancholy & Witchcraft and Crown of Dead Leaves. I’m really pleased with how they turned out. Some epicness was achieved!
Juho: They are all very close to me for different reasons but I also like the epic ones the best. Yet the hardest song to arrange as a band was definitely the song Reflections in the House of Shadows, it really took some time to get it to work properly. Let’s see if we are ever able to play it live, haha.
The band welcomed two new members back in 2021, keyboardist Lasse Launimaa and drummer Janne Lukki, how did you guys get in touch? Was it easy to add new band members to the group, and to the composition process?
Heikki: I’ve known Lasse since we were like 5 and we started playing together at age 11, I think. Markku also knew him from way back and we three have played together before. Having had a couple of former bands together with him it’s great to have such a great guy in the same group again. And Janne is an old friend of singer Markus and is a really great guy and drummer so yeah, the process has been easy enough.
Juho: We only accept the best and we got them! And the composition process was really smooth with Lasse and Janne since they both are super professional and full of great ideas.
Do you think you are still improving yourself as a musician and songwriter?
Juho: Of course! I feel the best way of improving myself as a musician is to learn the stuff that other guys in the band write. And of course all of us are very dedicated to this band and we do our best every time playing live or recording an album etc. As a songwriter I just want to stay honest to myself and play music that comes straight from the heart.
Heikki: As a musician I think it’s hard for me not to improve. We hear so much music these days and every little thing can leave a mark in my brain for later, for an idea on how to express myself better musically. Wandering around the guitar’s fretboard is still a magical way to spend time, so that helps. And as a songwriter I’m still only starting.
The band’s latest show was at Qstock 2023 in Oulu, how was this experience for you? What does playing at this festival mean for you as a Finnish band?
Juho: It surely was a great experience! Qstock is the biggest music festival in the whole of northern Finland with its 40,000 guests during two days. We got to play the same day with bands like Megadeth and VV so of course it felt great to play there.
Heikki: Everything went smoothly. Easily one of my best performances. Pouring rain from halfway to finish only made it better. 🙂 I think we got a couple flashes of lightning too. It would be great to go back there next year.
Are there any musicians or artists you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, or maybe more.
Heikki: I don’t have any particular ones in mind. Naturally it would be exciting to do something with any of the ones we have been listening to all these years. We’ll see.
Juho: Let’s see if something interesting pops up at some point. All these kinds of collaborations need to be based on good judgement, and not to be just a cheap marketing trick.
The band is signed to Out of Line Music and now also Hell Frog Promotion for booking & management, how is it for you to have them on your side?
Juho: Of course it feels great to have such professional people working alongside us. They really know what they’re doing so we can focus more on the creative side of this business.
Heikki: Indeed. So far so good, haha.
Maybe you know the French Metal scene? Which bands do you like?
Juho: I really like Gojira and I love their older albums such as From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh. But I guess my favorite French band is Alcest, I love all their albums and I’d love to see them live some day.
Heikki: Alcest! Their music is great company for long walks. Gojira works too, for sure. We saw them at the Tuska Festival in 2018. Unfortunately we were drunk off our asses.
If you had to organize a concert for Obsidian Waves’ release show, which bands would you love to play with? I let you create a poster with Slow Fall and three other bands!
Juho: We played our release show with Woeful which is also a band from Oulu. I think those guys rocked super hard so I would pick them again. With the other two bands I would just give up on every bit of reason and go on with bands that no longer exist. I think I would have pissed myself if I had ever played with Children Of Bodom and Sentenced.
Heikki: Sure. Let’s go with those.
Funny and last question: which dish would you compare Slow Fall’s music with?
Juho: It surely ain’t just one dish but a whole buffet!
Heikki: Juho is right! But I want to say some fried stew with game meat like elk and reindeer. Buttery mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. Traditional Finnish dish.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Juho: Thank you for your interest and feel free to check out our music from the platform of your choice!
Heikki: Hopefully we can play in France next year. See you at the gigs! Merci beauté, au revoir!