|Tyranny have released two albums within two years, shaking the underground with the devastating power of their Lovecraftian Funeral Doom, bringing dread and fear and then retreating into silence. After all these years, Matti Mäkelä accepted to talk with us about his band, its past and future…|
|1) Greetings Matti, how life’s been treating you lately? |
Matti: All is well, thanks. At the moment we're rehearsing old and new TYRANNY tracks after a long silent period for future live appearances, and recordings.
2) Would you mind telling us a few things about the band’s history for those that don’t know you and would probably be eager to check your music after reading this interview?
Matti: TYRANNY consists of two persons, myself and Lauri. We both handle multiple instruments and Lauri is in charge of the main vocal duties. From the start I have also been responsible of the audial side of the band (the sound production, recording, mixing etc) while Lauri handles the visual aspects, which we view as important part of the whole concept as any other piece of the puzzle. We've been creating music together since 1998 in various forms and settled on the moniker TYRANNY in 2001 when the vision became clearer and more strict on what we wanted to do with this band.
3) Concerning the name of the band, Tyranny, it was a dictatorial political regime in ancient times… How would you conceive it in terms of sound and how did you decide to take it as moniker in the first place?
Matti: “Tyranny” is just apt description of what we sound like, every note and chord, every word is final and absolute, there are no higher powers to appeal to, just the uncompromising judgement and totality. The overall idea of the Sound and the Name both had simmered long in our unconscious and both just surfaced around the same time.
4) Which bands would you consider as major influences for your sound?
Matti: Our influences are mostly black and death metal based, with a few more doomy acts on the side. If we'd have to name a few I guess they would be Burzum and Esoteric... perhaps the Hierophant demos and Dusk's second EP were an influence as well to some degree, at least for me. Originally there wasn't even any doom influences as such, only the idea of how our music should sound without ever really even knowthing the whole genre of funeral doom or much bands that played in similar style. We've never really had that direct idols or major influences in relation to writing the TYRANNY material, it's hard to draw conclusions, it's all just a sum of things slowly twisting and merging in our subconsciousness.
5) You have remained silent for about 5 years so far, is there an album on the making or songs written? What made you step aside for a while instead of going on composing a new album?
Matti: I have to admit that things within the funeral doom genre got a bit too stale in the past 5 years and I somewhat lost interest in it – though not totally. I guess it was also necessary (amongst other things) to distance myself from it for a while to keep a fresh view on things. The idea of the third album never left our thoughts though, and we have slowly been gathering ideas for the greater work during these years... It seems like the time is again ripe to start recording and awaken the slumbering beast.
6) Being only two members makes it much easier to cooperate and work things out in the band, did you ever think of having more members, one per instrument for example, or it works fine just as it is?
Matti Things work fine as they are with just the two of us, and it is easier to keep the ideas we have for the songs more pure in a way. Usually, more band members means more input from other people and everybody having their own personal view on how things should sound like... not that this is totally a bad thing, but in the context of TYRANNY we don't like to compromise at all and found that doing things by ourselves works best. We do rehearse with other musicians for live appearances, but this is a totally different situation where they follow something that is already written and don't participate in the writing process...
7) Do you perform on stage? If so, are there any session musicians that partake in the overall outcome? What should anyone expect from a Tyranny live show?
Matti: We're not the most active live band by any means... We've played a few shows in the past, and at the moment of this interview there are a few live appearances in the planning stage. We use sessions members on stage to get the full band experience. What to expect? A hypnotic and crushing aural journey. Let go and submit. We've made some changes to the material to get the most out of a live preformance, TYRANNY live is a different beast, should be interesting to see how it works out.
8) Are you still under contract with Firedoom Records?
Matti: We're on our own at the moment. The original deal with Firebox was only for the two albums we did anyway. The idea now is to complete the next album at our own terms and pace, and after that see if it raises any interest with the labels... If yes, we'll try to find the most like minded and suitable partner to work with in releasing it.
9) Bleak Vistae was your first EP, Funeral Doom with a dreary atmosphere, but still, it had a primitive vibe and a raw edge, what are your recollections of the recording sessions and how did it feel when you held the first copy in your hands?
Matti: This was our first recording that was conceived with just our own contribution, without relaying on any help from outsiders. Of course we felt proud when we finally saw it complete... It was a product of 3 years of composing ideas and finally laying it down to tape in a short session. Even today we are satisfied how it sounds and feels.
10) One year later your first full-length (’Tides Of Awakening’) was released, it sounded more mature in terms of composing, performing and atmosphere as well. A horrifying piece of extreme Funeral Doom that took you on a journey to the point of no return…How did this sickening and ominous work came to life?
Matti: With “Tides...” we took what we had established before, but wanted to work on a concept of another kind compared to “Bleak Vistae”, which meant the sound needed a different feel and approach to it as well, and we didn't want to repeat the same album twice. This time it was to be more massive, dissonant and horrifying where as the former release was perhaps more austere and primitive.... bleak and stripped down to bare bones.
11) Tell us a bit about the vocals; they are one of the scariest, ugliest, deepest growl I have ever heard! Like coming from the very prehistoric core of the earth…
Matti: What can I say... I don't think Lauri has any special technique behind his vocals, that's just the way they sound and come out natural to him. We don't rely on effects that much but ofcourse reverb gives it that cavernous feeling. Also important is the reverence for the source material and themes which require concentration and dedication with the most suitable of atmospheres and surroundings to perform them in.
12) What’s remarkable regarding your sound has to be the fact that it flows as a whole,; for some kind of reason the instrumentation flows so naturally well you’re being hypnotized in a good manner of speaking, well, to be more specific, your attention is being drained by the whole monolithic and at the same time atmospheric scenery. Are you satisfied with the kind of blurry and surrounding production? In my opinion it serves its purpose.
Matti: Yes, we're satisfied with the production we've had on our albums and it serves its purpose in certain ways. We don't consider there being any definite TYRANNY sound as such, it's more of an attitude or view towards playing and certain elements incorporated therein. It varies on depending what we are striving for thematically. This fluctuates between albums and the ideas that drive the whole composition – ie. different moods require their own kind of soundscape to work, and I aim for a monolithic and fluid production that comes naturally to the project at hand.. all elements need to support and flow unhindered into one another. It's hard to explain with words, it just “feels right”.
13) The progress in between ’Bleak Vistae’ and ’Tides Of Awakening’ is vivid, how did you feel this evolution within those two years from the first EP to the first full-length?
Matti: I guess I already answered to this on some extent in the previous questions. Perhaps there is a more firm grip to certain aspects on the later album, and it was easier to put together since the groundwork was already done on the first EP, and now the work became more straightforward and not relaying so much on experimentation – we already knew what would work and what wouldn't and take it forward from there. “Tides of Awakening” might be viewed as “Bleak Vistae”'s sounds taken further and grander, but we see it as a different angle at the same point of origin.
14) Even the cover art of those two had a different aura, the first one was quite bleak, the second an overwhelming masterpiece of excruciating fear: that goddamn eye amidst the sky above the ancient ruins is terrifying I have to admit. What does the cover represent to your own eyes? What do the tides awaken?
Matti: The cover artworks are the visual counterpart of the album theme, thus “Bleak Vistae” being more primitive and downtoned whereas “Tides of Awakening” has brooding terror and insinuations at ungraspable concepts beyond human cognition.
15) Your lyrical content paces in the same introvert horror your music evokes; which themes do you find more seducing so as to express yourself?
Matti: As with the artworks, lyrics weave into the overall narrative and build on the concepts behind the album theme. With “Tides of Awakening” even more so, both visual and lyric portions constructed as to enable the listener to draw forth his own conclusions and assumptions in the true Lovecraftian manner, theme also being a homage to the Great Old Man himself, it's a convoluted tangle of intertwining motives and agendas spanning the cosmos and drawing to a close in vortex of spiralling black madness and sanity-shattering revelation & realization.
16) Finland seems to be having a hell of a scene ranging from unearthly ambiances just like you to more melancholic and desolate soundscapes like Shape Of Despair for example. Which is the core of all this negativity that seems to be soaking dry all hope over Finland?
Matti: This is a question that we get asked a lot, and I don't really have any answer to it or don't see it objectively as a native. It's just something that comes naturally. Perhaps it is true that there is something rotten in the soil of.... Finland
17) How does it feel that this ultra slow sub-genre named funeral doom has its roots from there with bands like Thergothon and Skepticism? What does funeral doom mean to you?
Matti: Well.. the style of our music sort of evolved naturally to us, we never chose specifically that we should do funeral doom, especially since it would be a somewhat “Finnish thing” to do. “Funeral Doom” as a scene or genre means very little to us – it's just a general description of bands with some similar characteristics grouped together. Only the music and the moods crafted within it holds any significance, it either “talks” to you or it doesn't. Thergothon and Skepticism are undeniable pioneers of this sort of music, so all respect and hails to them for walking the unknown paths.
18) I’ll name a few of your Doom countrymates and I’d like you to share some thoughts on these acts:
Matti: I dont really see the point of these kind of questions as people form their own opinions of music, but very well...
Thergothon: The pioneers... both, in sense of combining the crawling slow death metal passages and Lovecraftian themes. The miserable soundscape on their both releases just adds to the hopeless atmosphere, which are undeniable classics, what else can I say...
Skepticism: Perhaps THE pioneer band when it comes to forging the sound of Funeral Doom. I found Skepticism always to be the more symphonic than metal in the way they compose their pieces... the drumkit is used more like an orchestral set than regular drums and the driving instrument is always the synth. It's like trying to combine the feel of Conan the Barbarian soundtrack with traces of metal. Though I nowadays seldom listen to them, the albums and EPs up to “Lead and Aether” are essential.
Woods Of Belial: One of the many Sorvali cousins / “Meathooked scene” bands. The demos have certain Abruptum inflienced madness in them. The full-length was a bit of a letdown after the demos, this time being more industrialized with the few Celtic Frostish riffs here and there. Not bad, but I prefer the demos.
Unholy: Originating more from the early 90s Finnish black metal scene, atleast the first two albums are totally essential pieces of black tortured doominess and personal favourites of mine. The later two albums have their moments as well being more experimental, but never opened for me like the earlier material does.
Shape Of Despair: Originated as Raven from the “Maalinauhantie scene” of mid 90s along with Wandered, Wintermoon and what ever other bands/projects Azhemin and Vindasyl were part of, and developed into Shape of Despair... I like the demos and the first full length in all their atmospheric minimalism. From the second album onwards they evolved perhaps into a more “romantic” direction, which I don't find that interesting.
Dolorian: A very original entity, stemming more from the Oulu dark ambient circles. Unlike the other bands mentioned before, they seem to become more interesting as they evolve, as with the other bands it is the first albums that are more interesting to me personally.
Colosseum: I'm more acquainted with the early material of Yearning, which was Juhani Palomäki's earlier/other band, but from what I've heard Colosseum seemed to be a very solid band as well. Kepeät mullat....
Stabat Mater: Mikko Aspa's soloproject of Northern Heritage/Clandestine Blaze/Grunt etc fame... A band with a certain sadistic edge to it which makes it interesting. The songs released on the splits were good stuff, but I haven't delved into the full-length album yet that thoroughly to give any definitive opinion on it.
To sum it up; All different bands from Finland lumped under the same genre tag, but all with a distinctive style and sound of their own.
19) You share the same vision in terms of threatening atmosphere with Esoteric, Wraith Of The Ropes, Evoken, etc… through a different prism though, each one to his own, do all these abstarct themes- fear/horror/nightmare have a limit? What make them so inspiring to you?
Matti: Fear is a primitive emotion which relates back to the very reptilian origin of man, especially fear of the unknown... it can stimulate the imagination to craft unspeakable horrors, and that is indeed what we would call Doom. Fear can also be a powerful tool, both for control and for building mental strength and as nature intended, survival instinct flee from danger. Abstract fear is a personal experience, this is why it varies from person to person and as such cannot have a limit in variety nor intensity, different persons fear different things. The abstract aspect of fear for us is to set the mood to get the listeners unconscious working on his personal fears. There is so much untapped potential in fear and unconscious, much more than just complacency and growing soft.
20) Tyranny, as I said before, was a strict political constitution; do you think democracy as it is being served nowadays is a tyrannical hallucination? How free are we?
Matti: TYRANNY as a band has no political context... eventually it will be irrelevant since the stars are nearly right, all flimsy man-made sociopolitical structures will topple and vanish in onslaught of the tides of awakening.
21) You have recently started a Death Metal band, Corpsessed, paying tribute to the glorious times of Autopsy and Incantation. What do think of that kind of revival; It seems to become a real trend in the underground, like old-school would be fashionable. What does that kind of music give you that you don’t find in Tyranny?
Matti: I guess you're right that there is a certain surge of old school death metal going on at the moment, which I find interesting. For me this isn't just some jumping-on-bandwagon-thing (that's what they all say, right?)... I've been playing death metal pretty much ever since I started to learn how to play the guitar, and even the members of Tyranny had a short lived death metal band going on in the late 90s which did one demo, but we never officially released it. Corpsessed was born in 2007, but I guess the roots were laid already a few years earlier when I was asked by an acquaintance from a local death metal band to play session-bass for their gig in Latvia. Later that project fell apart, but I kept in contact with the drummer and shared some ideas with him what kind of music I wanted to do and a new band was born. As the music of Corpsessed is totally different compared to Tyranny, it gives me a freedom and an outlet to work on totally different ideas that I simply could not release under Tyranny. The music might have similar aspects though, being dreadful and powerful, but viewed from a totally different angle.
22) Well, I think we have reached the end, the final words belong to you, thanks a lot for the interviewing chance and for the horrifying music, I really do hope to cherish something new from Tyranny as soon as possible.
Matti: Thanks for the interview. We've never been that fast composers and new music always takes its time to get it just right, but I can guarantee you haven't heard the last from us.
Visit the Tyranny bandpage.