Interview with Kari and Jaakko of Sepulchral Curse

Interview with Kari and Jaakko of Sepulchral Curse

- in Written interviews

Hi! The evolution of Sepulchral Curse‘s sound has been described as expanding and diverse. Could you tell us about the key influences and experiences that led the band to develop this powerful and identifiable sound?
Kari: Sepulchral Curse took its first putrid breath with the idea of creating more traditional Death Metal in the vein of the old gods. After our first EP “A Birth in Death” it became very obvious that our creativity was already taking steps to different direction and a bit more ambitious one. Henceforth pretty soon after “A Birth in Death” was released we already added Aleksi Luukka to the line up in the form of second guitarist. One might say that we have evolved with each recording more and more, while finding our true sound. Our backbone in music is very firmly in Death Metal, but I assume our influences in other styles of music flow into the overall sound. Besides obviously Death Metal, we also enjoy Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal and a lot more. Our music is primarily written by Jaakko and Aleksi (our guitarist duo) and I think both of their styles could be described as composing very dark Death Metal. They have a tad of adding dark and crooked melodies yet keeping the music heavy, violent and punishing, this I would say is our trademark sound.

With your second full-length release, the music is noted as being more intricate and complex than before. How did the band manage to maintain coherence while incorporating myriad elements into your sound?
Jaakko: The songwriting axe-duo seems to be quite fond of harmonizing and layering differing guitar lines rather than going via the more “traditional” route of two guitarists pummeling out identical riffs broken only by solos and leads. I’d say that “Abhorrent Dimensions” holds a bit more classic metal influence with its flashes and frills when it comes to guitar work. The original baseline compositions are usually more or less blueprints or rough sketches for us and then we just pile everything together as a unit with our own personal influences and styles for the final arrangement. Maybe the perceived complexities and intricacies are our own individual stylings and influences working in tandem, who knows!

How did the band approach vocal performance on this new album to ensure it complemented the intricate music and conveyed the desired emotions?
Kari: This time I deliberately wanted to do all the vocals myself. Before we have had more of shared approach with our former drummer/backing vocalist, but now I wanted to have a stronger connection with the singing and lyrical content. I also wrote all the lyrics for the album, which was more of a reason to think about vocals and arrangements more personally. With “Abhorrent Dimensions” I took more of a classical Death Metal-way, with less all over the place vocals (grunts, screams and whatnot). This was done in the mind to pave the road for next album and of course next step. Our bassist Niilas did backing vocals for the album, as he has been doing live.

Can you elaborate on how Sepulchral Curse approached melody within the context of a crushing and domineering musical style?
Jaakko: I’ve never really subscribed to the idea that melody undercuts for example brutality or heaviness. Sure it’s more to-the-point (no pun intended) if you use riffs as a blunt instrument and bash out chugs and breakdowns, but countless artists like Vital Remains, Sulphur Aeon etc. have pulled off heavy and exceedingly melodic compositions without the final creation coming out as “limp” or “poppy”. For us as individuals and as a unit a melody is a key creative tool of expression and we plan to use it generously when appropriate.

What were the main challenges in striking a balance between complexity and retaining the band’s dominating presence?
Jaakko: We are all self-taught players and our musical language and know-how is pretty garbled so our own musical complexities have to feel come out natural and realistic. It’s a cliché, but we still like to push ourselves in our craft. Maybe the complexities will evolve in some ways in the future, but at the moment we feel that a natural balance has been struck with repetition including trial and error.

How has the band’s creative process evolved over time, and what led to honing your sound to perfection?
Jaakko: On previous works we more or less went by way of composers sealed the deal solo and some minor tweaks were thrown in as a group before recordings. Today we still rely on solo effort when it comes to basic compositions, but the arrangement phase is much livelier than before and everyone chimes in with ideas and we try to communicate and try them out with our aforementioned garbled musical language. Some numbers don’t really shift all that much, but others really get rolling with a “group push”.

Can you tell us more about the themes and inspirations behind the lyrical content and how it complements the music?
Kari: My initial spark for lyrics can come pretty much from anywhere. Literature, comic books, movies, games, life in overall. There usually is one idea what gets me hooked and I start writing around that. I might abruptly stop and write down a good idea I just came up with and return that when inspiration hits. For me I write and make vocal arrangements at the same time. I might have the idea for a song already in mind, but not the right song where to put it.

I am not a philosopher, more of a storyteller with my lyrics. I am an avid lover of classical fantasy settings, so usually that inspires me and I might take more of a sword & sorcery take, but at the same time I try to keep it very subtle. Modern ages never really interested me, more archaic themes. Also I find the darker aspects of humanity to be inspirational, the balance of what we see as good and evil. Dark music of course needs dark lyrics to make it a complete creation.

As the band embraces diverse influences, could you share some specific musical elements that you incorporated into this new release that you feel have enriched Sepulchral Curse’s overall sound?
Jaakko: Well, now we’ve got the bass taking the lead spot a few times amidst the bulldozing! I’d say that overall “Abhorrent Dimensions” comes alive with a heavy use of differing guitar passages, leads and melodies plus a more “open” bass implementation topping the whole thing off with frenzied drums. So, pretty much the usual Sepulchral Curse methods but with an added touch of old heavy metal!

This album marks a significant step forward for Sepulchral Curse. Were there any pivotal moments or experiences during the recording process that helped shape the final result?
Kari: We recorded our EP “Deathbed Sessions” with Tomi Uusitupa of Oxroad Studios. That experience was so positive, that it was a relatively easy decision to hook up with him again. Tomi does not take in just any project he is offered as he can be picky, he wants every project he records and mixes to be of interest to him, so we were naturally very honoured that a person of this talent wanted eagerly work with us. The biggest change for us was, that we recorded at an actual studio for the first time with our sound guy Tomi working as a producer too. I think his input was of great value to us and helped craft the final form of “Abhorrent Dimensions”. Tomi is one of those studio wizards who take up a recording project and takes a deep dive into the world of that music and does his research. Putting focus on many details as he wants to be proud of his work after many years. I mean a guy who does stuff from Death Metal to Black Metal to Power Metal etc., needs to know his stuff. The chemistry between Tomi and Sepulchral Curse worked better than I could have hoped which grew to even better performances. Also the milieu of peaceful Finnish countryside of Marttila, where the studio resides can be inspiring. We have also done a music video with Tomi, which will be released quite soon. For our third album we have already booked a time from Oxroad Studios. Tomi and his deep knowledge and love for the band “Sielulintu” made an “impact” on us for sure…

How do you ensure that your music stands out in a genre that has a rich history and numerous talented bands?
Kari: Honesty, personality and hard work. We are a band that is always moving forward and for everyone Sepulchral Curse is the main band and only thing to which put focus on. To keep yourself always active with new music and playing gigs will pay off. Musically I would say when you have found your sound, push into it and broaden it in the way you feel it would naturally flow. As long as you create music from heart and not music you would expect people to want to hear, you are on right track and talent will stand out. Of course working with talented and great labels will always help, heh!

What are your aspirations for this album and how do you envision it impacting your future endeavors?
Kari: In a way we feel like “Abhorrent Dimensions” is a new start for the band. We have our decade of history behind us which we are more than proud, but this album marks the beginning of Sepulchral Curse with the new line up. Johannes Rantala joined us as a drummer at the beginning of 2022 when our old drummer stepped down from his duties. When Johannes joined Sepulchral Curse I feel like it brought a different kind of energy and determination. For example we have been having more rehearsals than before which of course shows as more tighter performance and tighter unit in general. One major thing about “Abhorrent Dimensions” is the culmination of what I would call “Sepulchral Curse sound”. I think now we are there what this band is meant to create.

Given the complexity and depth of your music, how does Sepulchral Curse approach translating your sound into a compelling live performance?
Kari: We as a band completely see ourselves as a live act first. Sepulchral Curse is best experienced live. For me, when I step on stage and we start playing, some form of primal force feels like it is taking me and the fiery nature of the music kicks in. Complexity and depth only give much more intensity to our relentless and chaotic set. Whereas I believe a gig needs to be precise and executed with conviction, it can still show that you are enjoying yourself on stage. One compliment we have received quite often is, that you can see from us, that we love to be performing this music live. For this I take great pride.

The band’s music exhibits various shades of emotion. Could you provide insights into how Sepulchral Curse achieves this emotional depth, and how it resonates with your audience?
Jaakko: I believe we work and create by the old adages of staying true to your passions and playing music you’d like to see and hear more out in the world, and so on. Me and Kari initially wanted an outlet for stuff in the vein of Nunslaughter, Dismember, Autopsy etc. but that shifted naturally very early on in a different direction and today we have a pretty decently working hybrid of twisted brutality and emotional breadth! The initial feedback for the new album has been rather encouraging, but we’ll see that play out later!

Thank you for your time!
Kari: Thank you for the interview and stay tuned for our new album “Abhorrent Dimensions” out 27.10.2023 through Transcending Obscurity Records! Stay CURSED!

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