Hallatar have recently played a couple of live shows in their native Finland and it was announced yesterday that the band will be playing at this year’s Tuska Festival.
From the coldness of the North to the darkness of the heart and soul, producing the sweet sorrowful tunes of Swallow the Sun.
Combining the attractive folk sounds with Melodic Death Metal music, Juha Raivio takes Doom Metal music to another level. After meeting Aleah, Juha managed to enhance his musical creation with mixing the doomy angelic voice of Aleah with another Doom Metal combination which is more into Atmospheric style. For the third time, Juha Raivio proved his geniuses after forming Hallatar. Rock Era managed to have an interview with Juha Raivio about his Doom Metal Career.
Let’s talk a bit about your first tour, how did you manage it, and what was the feedback? And what was the funniest thing that happened on stage or on tour?
The first tour in Europe was almost like a nightmare. It was fun to play but everything else around it with the bus that had only a couple of sleeping places and the temperature was like minus 5 inside the bus;it was a nightmare. No toilet either and people smoking inside the bus every minute of every hour of the day and night. I remember police attacking the bus with a dog at the night on that tour. I guess they were looking for drugs or guns or something. Anyways,the feedback on the gigs was great and made it worth to play to the people.
What is your most unforgettable concert? Which fans did you love and interact more with?
Maybe one most unforgettable concert was in 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise on the Caribbean. We played on the deck of the huge ship in a total sun at the Caribbean Sea and fans were drinking beer and cocktails in the pools. I have to say that was pretty unreal to play this kind of music in those conditions, but it was a lot of fun at the same time.
Let’s fast-forward to your latest triple full length. Honestly, a magical piece. How did you manage to work on three different full-lengths with three different tastes and three different concepts?
It was very easy to write all the songs as all those styles have always been in our music pretty much, but recording them was a huge work and a stress. I knew for many years that one day I will write that triple album in a way of gloom, beauty, and despair that has been our style from the beginning. But there was never time to write all the 3 albums for one release. But this time, I found the time to do it.
How challenging was it?
Writing the songs was not challenging at all as the music just came to me, but like I said recording, rehearsing and arranging all the different studios to record all the 3 albums and mix them etc was a real stress.
Swallow The Sun always seem to represent the taste of their homeland folk tunes as we see in the second CD from Songs Of The North and you also use some Finnish lyrics. Tell us more.
My father died during the process of writing the album so I wrote the Finnish lyrics pretty much to memory him and also my mother who had died some years before.
Through your career, what were the main negative comments you received? And how did they shape your music?
There has been a lot of hate from the “true” doom community as they think we are sold out and I understand them too but could not give more shit about it as every note of STS is absolutely honest music written from the heart. When I see a bad review I just feel sorry for the person not to understand the music and hope he or she will get it later on.
Photo: Aleah L Stanbridge
How do you see the current Doom Metal industry?
I don’t follow much of Doom Metal unfortunately, I just dig the old bands like Candlemass and Type-O Negative. And every time I listen to those classic albums I still find something new from them. But I’m very happy to see how much the doom-metal scene has evolved and came back in the last 10 years or so; so many bands and that is amazing. When we started at that time there was basically nothing around, now there are hundreds of bands going on and releasing albums.
What is your favorite album from Swallow The Sun?
Those would be Ghosts of Loss, Plague of Butterflies and Songs from the North. But all the albums are my children, so they are all my favourite albums.
Would that be your current favorite Doom Metal release?
Like I said, I don’t listen that much to Doom Metal. But I have to be absolutely honest and say that the best doom metal album ever to have come out is Hour Of The Nightingale by Trees of Eternity. It can’t get more honest and perfect than that album for so many reasons.
Last year in 2016, regarding STS performance in Metal Blast 2016 in Cairo, did you have any information about The Egyptian Metal Scene?
I didn’t play any gigs that time so I did not play there, unfortunately. And I have to say I have no idea about Egyptian Metal Scene. I hope there are some metal bands that use your wonderful way of your own history and melodies.
Moving onto Tree of Eternity, what is the concept of Hour of the Nightingale and how did you choose the title of the album?
Aleah’s voice was always like a singing of a Nightingale, something very magical. And as the album lasts one hour, I felt it is the perfect name of the album.
So, tell us about how you met and how did you decide to build the atmosphere for Trees of Eternity?
I met Aleah back in 2008 when I was looking for a female singer for a Swallow The Sun song, Lights On The Lake. I wanted to find someone who would sound like a ghost with very velvety voice, and I found Aleah’s acoustic songs and fell in love from the first note she sang. I have never heard as powerful and deep voice from a soul like hers, and I never will. When I went to meet her in Sweden to record the Lights On The Lake song we realized how well we worked together, and that moment decided that we have to put a band together, that became Trees of Eternity.
How difficult was it for her to manage to record such amazing vocal lines?
She never recorded anything, not even one word, before she was in a right place with emotionally so she could sing straight from the heart. So, sometimes it took weeks or months to record something as she refused to record anything if she didn’t feel it at that moment. But then from time to time she just recorded a whole song very fast when all the gates were open to creating that magic.
Moving to talk about Hallatar, why did you choose to form another band under the theme of Aleah?
I didn’t want to release this Hallatar album under the name of Trees Of Eternity as there will never be another Trees Of Eternity album without Aleah singing on it. Aleah was the true heart and soul of Trees of Eternity and I could never imagine another singer on Trees Of Eternity album.
What are the main concepts of Hallatar first album?
Well, all the lyrics and poems were written by Aleah and I can’t answer for Aleah about the lyrics and concept. But you have to listen and feel the music and create your own truth of the lyrics through your own life. Music is a very personal thing anyway, and we all take it different way anyway. Everyone has to create their own truth of the music and lyrics by your own life experiences.
You announced that you will continue working on Aleah’s single album; can you tell us more about it?
Yes, I hope to release Aleah’s solo album next year hopefully. I will go continue with it soon. It is based on her acoustic songs and most probably it will be double album with the original and the best versions of the acoustic songs with only her and acoustic guitar. And then I will produce same songs into something else too for the other disc.
When can the fans expect you back on stage?
I have started to do some gigs now and I am planning to play all the gigs for rest of this year and hopefully will play some gigs and tours next year too. Let’s see.
Would you perform in Egypt one more time?
Of course. What the boys told me it was fantastic trip and audience. So, I would love to one day.
Interviewed by: Rana Atef and NJ Bakr.
Edited by: Nehal A. Ali.