One of my all-time favorite bands is the Greek-Swedish combination Nightrage. Formed in 2000 they rose rapidly through the ranks of metal to the melodeath greatness it is today. Band members have come and gone, but the band is ever strong and is currently working on its fifth studio album, following up on 2009′s Wearing a Martyr’s Crown. I spoke to Antony Hämäläinen, the band’s vocalist since 2007. About their history and his joining, their style and their upcoming album. So, loads of interesting news to gather about the band here!
After numerous line-up changes since its start, Nightrage now consists of Antony Hämäläinen, Olof Mörck, Anders Hammer, Johan Nunez and Marios Iliopoulos, who is the only remaining founding member. As said, I spoke to Antony, who was kind enough to share some of the details on the new album. Thanks Antony!
Q: Antony, you joined Nightrage from out of nowhere in 2007 and you’re doing a great job with your raspy raw vocal style. How did you get to join Nightrage, not the least of metal bands with all the famous metal names that have come a gone? How did it feel to be able to join such an accomplished band in the world of metal?
A: I joined the band by sending Marios some demos. I heard from a friend (who was also apart of their record label) that they needed a singer. It was a true dream to join the band. We all had similar interests in where the band should be going.
Q: In the period you joined, there were a lot of “comers and goers” in the band. Was there a common cause for all this commotion? Do you feel the band has now found a stable line-up again?
A: Well, in the beginning the comers and goers were all in other famous bands. Firewind, Disfear, Evergrey, The Haunted, etc. etc. So they all had their main bands and to them Nightrage was a side project. Then Marios wanted to have a “real” band so he got the New Disease line up. Then those dudes wanted to do pop-metal (laughs!). So he was just having bad luck. This line up we have now has been together for three and a half years. That’s mostly because we share the same vision for the band. So yes, I feel the line up will stay together for a good while, I’m sure.
Q: About the band’s origins, Nightrage was formed by Marios and Gus in 2000, after which they relocated to Gothenburg, Sweden and hooked up with Swedish musicians. What caused these two Greek Metal Gods to move to Sweden exactly? And how big of a coincidence is it that you are part Greek yourself?
A: Well, I’m not part Greek really. My stepfather is Greek and he raised me pretty much. I don’t know how this part Greek thing started. I am fully Finnish with a lot of Greek mentality habits. But to answer the first part of your question, those boys moved to Sweden because they couldn’t find anyone in Greece that was dedicated enough to make music full time. It’s getting better nowadays there, though.
Q: Does the fact that Nightrage is a multicultural band impact on your music in any way? Do you take influences from both countries?
A: Well, not really. Marios has his own guitar style that really defines Nightrage. It was the same in his previous band Exhumation, the sound was really his own. Me and Olof bring in our own ideas that give his riffs a new twist. The band has been based in Gothenburg for ten years and this sound is something Olof, Anders, and myself grew up listening to. So it’s going to be pretty hard for it not to come through.
Q: You stated Nightrage’s fifth album is in the making. That’s good news to a lot of people, including me. At what stage of the album’s development are you now?
A: We are in pre-production at the moment. We have about nine songs done and some ideas of a few songs we want to cover for bonus tracks.
Q: From 2003 onward, there has been a Nightrage album exactly every two years. Continuing that pattern means that Nightrage no. 5 will be released to the ears of metal fans somewhere in the first half of 2011. How accurate is that estimate? What are you aiming at?
A: It’s an accurate estimate. We’ll see if it happens. We’re taking our time with the new album. We want it to be perfect.
Q: Musically, what can we expect of the album? Will Nightrage stay true to its basis of swirling, stairs-running lead guitar melodies, acoustic fillings and melancholic setting with a steak tartare-raw vocal layer? How will you renew or reinvent yourselves musically?
A: It sounds really heavy. Stripped down and in your face. The songs are a bit shorter and with fewer acoustic guitars than Wearing a Martyr’s Crown. I think so far, out of the nine songs there are no clean vocals at all. It’s a very pissed of sound, so it’s going to be a really heavy record. Lots of guitar solos and melodies there too of course.
Q: Will the new album feature another one of those great instrumental tracks again, in the vein of Sting of Remorse? What do you, as a vocalist, do when the rest is in the studio playing their socks off? Give interviews? And what about acoustic tracks, will there be any of those on the new record?
A: I think we will always have an instrumental on our albums. It’s an old school thing to do that no one is doing anymore. So we will continue this tradition. I listen to Howard Stern and drink coffee with Fredman when I’m not recording. There might be one or two acoustic parts. But so far none of them have been written yet.
Q: What will the new album be called? Can you give away some track names yet?
A: We have the album title but I can’t release it to you yet. The art work for it will be amazing, I can tell you that, along with the concept. I’ll give you a few track names: Poisoned Pawn, Delirium of the Fallen, and The Utmost End of Pain. There you go!
Q: It seems Bob Katsionis is your regular music video director. Will you hire him once again for the new album’s singles?
A: Bob will have to be really nice to me. We’ll see. You never know. We love Bob’s work a lot. And he’s a good friend to all of the guys in the band. Firewind and Nightrage are related in some weird way. We are all real great friends and love to work together somehow some way.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to say?
A: Thanks mate, for the interview. Hope to see all the fans out there on tour sometime soon!
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