Beast in Black are back with 11 fresh tracks that hold their high standard of song-writing. They have smashed it out of the ark with their new release From Hell With Love, with catchy hooks showered over massive power metal dual-guitars and a dance club electronic vibe that makes your ears beg for more.
Metal-Roos: Hi Anton! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today! The new album ‘From Hell with Love’ is an amazing set of tracks, are you happy with how the album has come out?
Yeah, I’m happy, the whole band is proud. At the moment, we are preparing for the headline tour. We’re working really hard, we have to plan all the elements of the show, movement, choreography stuff like that…
M-R: For those who don’t know can you give us a quick rundown of how Beast in Black formed? How did the members come to you?
Well most of the guys are my friends from the past, so we came together quite quickly. The bass player (Mate Molnar) and original drummer told me that if I ever need them, I can ask, so I did! And they joined. Kasperi Heikkinen, the guitar player, is also a friend from the past. I asked him, and he was interested and ready to go. Yiannis Papadopoulos is from Greece. I found him on YouTube and sent him some messages, we were in touch through the Internet. Then in 2015, we met face to face, and I explained more about what I had in mind and asked whether he was willing to join the project and he said yeah, so that’s how it started. When Sami Hänninen left in 2017, we were lucky to find Atte Palokangas through a friend of mine. He did some shows with us we were already quite sure that he was a great fit, the chemistry worked out. We then performed shows in Germany and were one-hundred percent sure that we wanted him in the band, we asked him to join permanently and here we are.
M-R: Even though From Hell With Love is the second album, has the writing process for Beast in Black evolved at all? How did the writing for From Hell With Love differ from Beserker?
Musically speaking, it’s same process. There’s a lot of material from the past that we go through and choose songs that we feel should be on the next album. The biggest difference were the lyrics. It was a first time that I co-wrote the lyrics with a friend of mine Paolo Ribaldini, who lives in Helsinki which the same city as me. He is also a fan of Berserk manga. On the album there was five songs that we co-wrote the lyrics for, he wrote all the lyrics for one and I wrote the rest.
M-R: Beserker was only a little over a year ago, how did you deliver a new album so quickly, with your hectic touring cycle? Did the songs just come out?
I guess we just don’t have a proper social life! Most of the songs already existed, only a couple of songs on the album are brand new. I think it’s only two songs that are fresh, we wrote those early last year. For example, we had True Believer ready for the debut album but we went for Crazy, Mad, Insane instead. So, we had that song waiting for four years to be used.
M-R: You recorded the album in your own studio (Sound Request Studio). How much do the songs evolve while in the studio?
They basically stay the same, small nuances change. I think most changes are in the keyboard sections. There’s many sounds that you can use, and you can easily get lost while you’re searching for the right sound. So, I experiment with the sounds there. While recording Yiannis vocals he always has some ideas and shares them about harmonies in backing vocals, changing notes or adding lines, adding a unison or an octave unison. The schedule was so tight that the lyrics weren’t ready when we were recording the vocals. The whole time we were recording his vocals, I was writing the lyrics, so I was constantly asking his opinion. I would have four versions of a chorus and ask his opinion on which his favourite was or what we could do to make the best chorus out of those four. That’s how the songs evolved in studio.
M-R: Were there any unforeseen challenges during tracking? Or any moments of studio magic, where a new idea comes in and changes everything?
While changes happen quite often, we only stop working on the songs and I stop producing the songs when we think they are good and ready to go. My song-writing process is quite clear. I try to make the first versions of the songs as ready as possible, this makes it efficient in the studio, everyone knows what to do. We don’t do demos, you know, we have Guitar Pro files. I write the songs with Guitar Pro 4 which is like a 15 year-old version of the software but I haven’t updated it once because I like this version so everything’s pretty clear and simple. In the studio we just work on nuances especially with Yiannis’ vocals.
M-R: What inspired the synthesizers and electronic elements for Beast in Black? I love the way they add a massive 80s flavour, but still sound sharp and modern…
I guess for me it’s in the blood, I grew up listening to that type of thing. Listen to the themes from 80s cartoons like; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I was a fan of these and the movies back then, great soundtracks like Rocky IV. I think Rocky IV has one of the greatest soundtracks ever. I guess that’s just how my tastes towards 80s stuff goes. Luckily Beast in Black all love the 80s, so, we share that kind of passion, which is good! It gives the band a clear imagery of what we stand for, we’re a band that play traditional metal with 80s and 90s keyboards and electronic influences.
M-R: Some of the electronics sound like synth-wave, a real up and coming genre. Is this something you’re into?
Yeah, I listen to it every now and again, especially on YouTube, there’s this new retro-wave channel so every now and then I check it. I’m a fan of that David Hasselhoff song True Survivor written by Mitch Murder the Swedish guy who wrote the song. I think that’s one of the best of new synth-pop songs nowadays. It has a chorus with a real melody, that’s catchy. I don’t think most of the stuff is that catchy, even though this new retro wave is trying to be 80s. The thing is in the eighties the melodies were, dare I say it, better…they were more memorable, they spoke to you somehow. Nowadays it does sound 80s, but more the soundscape instead of melodies. There are some melodies but they’re hazy and unclear, just thrown in there somewhere. For example, the Axel Foley Theme from Beverly Hills Cop is an anthemic instrumental song, everybody remembers it. I cannot hear riffs like that in this new electro-wave, maybe there is, but most of the stuff that I have checked is lacking that strong characteristic of strong melodies. It’s more just the sounds of the 80s. Sometimes that’s good, it’s nice to have atmospheric stuff as well, but I think that’s the main difference between real 80s music and retro wave.
M-R: Speaking of 80s flair, I love the use of key changes in both releases. Is this a guilty pleasure of yours?
Yeah, I guess so! You could put it that way, it just happens naturally. We were laughing with Yiannis about it in the studio, during the chorus, we were all like; “here we go again” hahaha It was a pain in the ass when you have to record all the backing vocals for each of the choruses, then there’s a modulation. There’s so much work in repeating the same lines over and over and over because of the key change.
M-R: What made you choose to self-produce From Hell with Love? It does sound fantastic.
Thank you, it’s nice to hear! The reason is simple I never thought that I needed a producer personally or the band needs a producer. I know what I want to do with the songs. Even if there’s some sound stuff that I’m not 100% sure about, I will take the time to find the right sound or effect. I have my own studio, I can afford to do that, we don’t have to pay daily studio rent or an outside producer. I just don’t see the need because it all works out totally fine so far.
M-R: Your first album Beserker had huge success with the singles gaining millions of views on YouTube and chart success in various countries. Did this add extra pressure for the new release?
I guess… I mean, we don’t like to think about it, but I’m sure in our subconsciousness there will be pressure for us. Although it wouldn’t change anything from our perspective, we always go 100% in whatever we do. That’s all we can do, the rest is up to the fans. The people who listen to it decide our fate. We give it 100% and after that it’s in the hands of the fans. If they like it, we’re super grateful, we know we did something right and we will continue doing it.
M-R: How did you get into manga, when did it start having an influence on your music?
I watched anime when I was a kid, but when I seriously got into it in about 2006. A childhood friend of mine introduced me to Berserk the anime, the 1997 version, and I was hooked on the very first episode. I watched the whole series in one go and the 25th episode it ends in a cliff-hanger to end all cliff-hangers, so I had to pick up the Manga and read it to find out what happened next. That’s how it started. Ever since I’ve been a fan of Berserk, I’ve written songs about it on every album, all the three Battle Beast albums and the two Beast in Black albums, every single one had songs about Berserk.
M-R: You have decided to continue to work with artist Roman Ismailov, what drove this decision?
First of all, he’s a very good friend of mine, but also, I really like his style. There’s something old in the way he does fantasy art. It doesn’t look modern and CGI. It’s more like an oil painting and I love that. Also, it’s because we’re both fans of fantasy artists like Ken Kelly, Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta. He uses those influences in his art, and I think he’s the right man for the job.
M-R: Thank you so much for chatting with me, one more question any chance of coming Down Under to play?
We really hope so, we would love to come down. I think the correct way would be as a support for a big band or to play at a big festival if they will have us. We’re a new band, going to a new territory, you really have to make yourself known to the wider audience. After that you can try a headline tour. If we have that opportunity will definitely take it and come down. I hope it’s going to happen sooner rather than later!
M-R: Well, with the festival scene in Australia gaining massive momentum, hopefully it won’t be long! Thank you again!
Thanks for a good chat! Hope to see you guys soon!
Interview Date: 2019-01-23
Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley