This time we are thrilled to be in conversation with the dynamic and enigmatic musical force from Finland, Ancient Flame. Known for their spellbinding soundscapes and transcendent performances, Ancient Flame has recently unleashed their latest sonic work, the EP “Manifesto.” Get ready for an insightful and exhilarating conversation with Petteri, the vocals behind the enchanting melodies of “Manifesto.”
Hello Petteri, how’s it going at the moment?
Petteri Urmas: Hi Benedetta, doing great! Even though the winter’s still a bit chilly up here in the north, close to -20 Celsius as we speak. Definitely waiting for the spring and a bit more amicable temperatures to arrive, haha.
Oh, I bet! You have just released your new EP “Manifesto”: can you walk us through the creative process behind the EP? Were there any unexpected challenges or surprises that influenced the final product?
Petteri Urmas: We were busy with the production of our debut full-length album ‘Blood Stained the Barren Land’ pretty much through the year 2022, but the song material on that album was actually much older. So in fact the writing process of these new songs was already underway at that same time. Once the album was completed we immediately began to arrange this new material more closely with the whole band and felt pretty good about its potential. We soon decided it would be a good idea to produce a “tight” and swift follow-up release in the EP-length this time. The production stage of ‘Manifesto’ followed pretty much in the footsteps of the previous album, with our guitarist Risto Hämäläinen handling most of the recording and mixing duties. Overall, the production went really smoothly and took about two months time. These five songs on the EP are mainly composed by Risto, and I have written the lyrics. Unlike before, a couple of these songs are based on our own Finnish mythology and history, which is a whole new artistic direction for the band. But I believe we will continue further down that path and keep exploring our own cultural heritage in the future as well.
That is absolutely brilliant and innovative! I think that the tracks off of “Manifesto” would work so well in live shows. Do you have any plans for a release show or tour in support of the EP?
Petteri Urmas: I think so too, and we’d love to do that of course. But there are a few practical challenges to overcome. First and foremost, we all have our daytime jobs and some other personal obligations to deal with, meaning that a proper tour with some bigger headliner band would demand an overwhelming amount of preparations and planning on our behalf in advance. Some individual promotional shows might be a more realistic possibility, but even in that case the logistical side and technical preparations for a six-piece line-up such as ourselves would be a bit of a handful. So unfortunately the equation has not been very easy to solve in our case, but we’re nonetheless keeping ourselves musically in shape and all the hooks in the water. Maybe the right opportunity will arise…you never know.
For which artist/band would you play as opening act in live concert?
Petteri Urmas: I feel we’d suit well as an opener for pretty much any melodic metal or hard rock band as a headliner. We might not be the best fit for some really extreme black/death -metal-oriented crowd – I only do very few growling parts in our songs, haha.
What is the best feedback you’ve received as an artist?
Petteri Urmas: In my mind, simply playing live for an enthusiastic and energetic crowd offers the most sincere and direct feedback you can have as a musician. But of course, all positive comments or reviews about your own music always feel heartwarming as well.
Here at Chaoszine we are very interested in vocals and the inspiration behind vocals. So I wanted to ask you which artists have inspired your vocal style?
Petteri Urmas: Back in the 90’s when I was a teenager and first started listening to metal music, my absolute favorite vocalists were Eric Adams (Manowar) with his sheer raw power, and King Diamond with his unique style and theatricality. Then a few years later as I started taking my own first steps as a metal vocalist, I became really power metal-oriented. The ‘Episode/Visions’ -era Stratovarius with Timo Kotipelto was probably the biggest source of inspiration for me in those days. Later on, I’ve come to really appreciate some of the most versatile rock vocalists out there, such as Mike Patton, Devin Townsend, Maynard James Keenan, to name a few. When it comes to Ancient Flame songs, I feel it’s a very important aspect to “narrate” the lyrics and have sort of a storyteller approach in singing, so to speak. The technical cleanliness of the vocal delivery is of course ever important, but in my mind, it shouldn’t be the sole focus when performing metal music. We also put quite a bit of thought and effort into optimizing our vocal arrangements and harmonic parts with Kirsimarja, our other lead vocalist.
Excellent choices! Do you sing in the shower? If so, which songs?
Petteri Urmas: Well, I’ve done my fair share of that in the past for sure. Nowadays I have a home studio setup, and mostly do my practicing there. But I do love to sing along to whatever tunes are on the radio when driving in my car alone.
What kind of questions don’t you like to answer?
Petteri Urmas: I guess we Finns are known for liking our privacy, so very personal questions outside of music might feel a tad awkward. On the other hand, talking about politics can be a bit of a minefield these days, and as a band, I think we won’t be getting into that area very much.
Agreed! I wanted to play a little game with you if that’s alright. If “Manifesto” were a dish, what ingredients would it have, and how would you cook it? Any secret spices or unconventional cooking methods?
Petteri Urmas: What an excellent question! Maybe a rich and wholesome vegetable stew, starting with traditional and fresh Finnish ingredients, like potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and maybe some zucchini, and cauliflower. Then add plenty of aromatic and exotic seasoning, in the style of Indian/Nepalese cuisine perhaps: Sweet pepper, ginger, coriander, and other herbs. Braised slowly, and served with fresh baked bread, cream cheese, and full-bodied red wine. Yep, that would sound about right!
Yum! Thank you very much, Petteri, for taking the time to do this interview with me! Is there anything else you’d like to add to Chaoszine’s readers?
Petteri Urmas: The pleasure was all mine, thank you again for the interview! I would encourage all you guys out there who are into melodic heavy metal with some symphonic and/or oriental elements, to go and check out our music in the streaming services. Perhaps we’ll make a nice addition to your playlists. Take care & stay heavy!!