Today (17th), Insomnium’s new EP, Argent Moon, finally arrived via Century Media Records. The EP shows the softer side of these Finnish melodic death metal masters. However, we caught up with bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen as he promised the next album will have more “blast beats.” Additionally, we discussed the EP, the wake of the pandemic where the band performed one show in the states before flying back to Finland. Their devoted fans more or less saved them during those challenging times and their overall experience with livestreams and more.
The pandemic has definitely affected all of us, which you can hear a lot of the emotion we’ve all been feeling behind Argent Moon. What are some things you did differently putting this EP together?
The pandemic has affected us all, obviously. And when this whole thing started, we had to come home from the tour, and everything seemed uncertain and hazy and a little bit scary. I think we quite soon decided that we had to keep on making new music. That if we couldn’t tour, nobody knows how long it will continue, but we can at least do music. And pretty soon we decided that, “Okay, let’s make a four song EP.” It’s something we haven’t ever actually done before. And it’s something that in the ’90s many of our favorite bands released EPs, but nowadays it’s a rare thing to happen. But we wanted to try that. And we wanted the EP to have some kind of theme and concept. So we decided, okay, let’s make four ballad kind of easy going slow songs that are still, of course, Insomnium songs. But there is much less blast beat or chaos on this EP. It’s a different kind of EP. But it’s a special thing, and the next album will be something different.
I definitely feel the ballad and it’s a brilliant EP. I don’t think you guys have any bad songs, ever.
I listened to it quite a few times and it’s definitely released during the perfect time for what’s happening around the world. Can you talk more about the video for “The Antagonist?”
“The Antagonist” is a song that Jani and I composed, then I did the lyrics, and it was the first demo out of these. It took them some time before we made it ready. But it set the mood for this project. And in the lyrics, the idea is that the protagonist, the man telling the story, realizes that actually he’s the villain and the bad guy here. He messed up his life and it’s his own fault. We want it to depict that in the video as well. And then of course, it’s the director’s vision of what happens there but kind of shows this guy who understands it. He’s the one to blame and he’s the culprit, and the villain here in this story. In a nutshell, that’s the idea.
I like how the video played out as a short film. I remember last year seeing your social media posts about recording new music, and it looked like you guys were making a full album. Do you have a full length album in the works after the EP?
In the works? Yes. We just had a three day training camp. And actually we all got in the same room for the first time in a year and a half. So it was kind of special now, Ville was able to travel to Finland. And we have about 10 demo songs in some kind of shape. So the next album is starting to take shape and it looks good. It still takes time before we are ready to actually record them. But the process, it’s in motion, there are some really good songs, there are really good parts, and the concept, the big story is developing, and it looks good.
You guys were hit probably in one of the worst ways for bands when the pandemic started. I remember you flew into the United States just to find out the tour was canceled. How was that overall experience in the beginning like for you?
It was pretty tough. When we boarded the plane in Finland and started the flight it still looked like, “Okay, we can do the tour, no problem.” But during the flight the United Nations had declared the pandemic situation, and then it escalated really, really quickly. And then the next day we had to book the flight back home, and we actually played just one show in Philadelphia and that’s it. Of course also financially it was a big hit. It’s a big investment to come to the USA to play, pay the visa and the flights and the crew and the bus and everything. But luckily we have the best fans in the world and they helped us out and also financially supported us after that catastrophic US tour. And we got back on our feet and, well, the pandemic, it didn’t start well for us, but we’ve been busy and we’ve tried to make the most out of it. And we’ve composed new songs and tried the livestream concept. I think we played four livestreams now, and I think our fans have liked it and there have been ticket buyers on all of them, so that has helped us also. Helped us a lot.
I remember seeing the GoFundMe and you really do have an amazing fan base. Speaking of the livestreams, what was it like for you putting it together and performing in an empty room?
Of course, it’s strange and different, and the first one, well, we had some technical problems as well there. But it felt like we were playing for the empty stage, empty hall, it felt stupid, and you have to really use your imagination that the audience is there somewhere, all over the world, but you just can’t see them. And after I think the other ones went pretty well. Once you find the right mindset, it’s actually fun. You know that the audience is there and they will see it, see the whole thing. So it’s not the same as playing in front of the live audience, but it can still be fun.
Do you have any plans to release any of the livestreams on Blu-ray or live album?
Maybe at some point. Not something that would happen right away, but maybe if we want to release something like a live album or live DVD sort of thing we might record it yet again and not use any of those that we have done so far.
I think you guys recently had your first live show in over a year?
Yeah. We played three festivals this summer.
Yeah, right now everything’s either happening or canceled last minute.
It’s a very crazy time. What is your whole take on this performing, not performing and never knowing when your next show is going to be?
Well, very frustrating of course. And some tours have been postponed two or three times already. And still nobody knows if it’s possible or not. These three festivals happened for real this summer, and they went really well. It was great to get in front of a live audience, and it was a lot of fun. I guess sooner or later, when the world is vaccinated we will get through this shit, but it might still take some time. Let’s see.
Yes, hopefully people will finally make the decision to help this pandemic no longer exist.
Yeah. I hope everybody will make the right decisions.
For fun, I remember you guys posted a poll on social media asking what your fans’ favorite Insomnium album is. With that said, what is your personal favorite album?
It’s very difficult, I often get this question and I can’t just pick one. Winter’s Gate is really personal for me of course, it’s a concept album and my short story there. I think it turned out to be something really special. So Winter’s Gate for sure, but for example Above the Weeping World is a really important album for us, thinking we kind of found our own thing on the album number three, and that’s always a special one. But of course the first one also, In The Halls Of Awaiting, for all the nostalgia reasons. So they all feel special in a different way, so it’s really difficult to pick just one.
Of course. And as I said earlier, I don’t think you guys have one single bad album or song, you guys have been consistently brilliant.
You’re welcome. My last question for you, is there anything else you wanted to say or add about the EP?
Well, the fans can rest assure, we’re not changing our style to radio friendly Insomnium now. This was just an experimental EP with these easy songs, and there will be blast beats and shredding and blackness and chaos in the future as well, so we haven’t changed our style. I’ve seen a couple of comments where people were kind of afraid that, have they changed now? I can say we haven’t really changed. So fans can enjoy these four mellow songs now as they are and expect something different again in the future.
I think it’s a great EP and I’m looking forward to the next album. And hopefully when the world comes back to normal, you’ll be able to tour in the states again.
Yeah, let’s hope that happens sooner than later. And I’m sure in a year or two and we’ll be through this whole thing, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.