Battle Beast have returned to the scene with their fourth studio album, ‘The Bringer of Pain’, the follow up to 2015’s ‘Unholy Saviour’, and the first release since Anton Kabanen – the group’s main songwriter – left the band. Metal Wani’s Bruno Medieros had a quick chat with the singer Noora Louhimo.
Hello Noora! Let’s get to the point right away: Battle Beast released two videos for the new album: “King for a Day” and “Familiar Hell”, which are not actually the fastest or heaviest songs on the effort. Can you tell us a little about how you chose those two songs specifically? Was it because of the more commercial approach they have? And what about the fan reactions, did they enjoy it?
“King for a day” was chosen by the whole band from the first hearing. When we only heard the demo version with different words of it, we still were instantly sold and that was something very special. The whole band wanted this song to be the first single because it’s exciting, good melodies, riffs, big sound and story.
“Familiar hell” was chosen because we wanted introduce one of the new elements of Battle Beast – Hard Rock influences. I also created the term – “RockMetal” for our music, I think it describes us the best way musically. “Familiar Hell” is very catchy song with strong hard rock influence and the chorus just sticks in your head. I love that our music can be loved by different kind of people, not just people who listen traditional heavy metal. Music is for everyone.
‘Bringer of Pain’ is coming out on February 17th via Nuclear Blast. This is the first album without Anton, so how was the songwriting process and what was your role in it this time?
Songwriting process had many forms: Independent, co-work, molding, twisting, turning, giving a birth to the songs. Some were born easily and some we had to shine to their brightest form. The biggest input this time did the Björkroth Brothers.
Speaking of the album, ‘Bringer of Pain’ is considerably different than your previous works, song-wise. You guys are relying more on the keyboard arrangements and the synthpop elements are stronger than ever, like in “Dancing With the Beast” and “Lost in Wars”, for instance. What was the main idea for this particular album? You had a specific strategy and chose to create more commercial and radio-friendly tunes, did it came naturally when in studio?
Janne, our keyboardist, did 7/13 songs on this album so you can imagine it’s got something to do with that, haha. We just decided to do whatever we want to do and our goal is to do good music.
The album is very diversified music-wise, with melodic songs like “Beyond the Burning Skies” and “Dancing With the Beast” and some aggressive ones like the title-track, and I sensed some similarities at times with bands such as Sabaton and Dynazty in the arrangements. Are you worried that the fans might not like this approach for the album?
I’m not worried at all. We have done our best and delivered a fresh album full of exciting and different songs. I believe people are going to appreciate that we have the balls to do things the way we want to do and not try to please everyone. There is always going to be lovers and haters, I hope never something from between.
Can you tell us about the lyrical content of ‘Bringer of Pain’? Are there any songs which are linked in any way, for instance?
Bringer of Pain is a female character in a new fantasy world I created while writing the lyrics for the song. She is the warlord and heiress of the kingdom of GLOW. It is a place with eternal winter. The song is just one scene of the story. I will definitely continue revealing more of the story in the next albums. “Bringer of Pain” describe the final battle between Bringer of Pain and her sister’s army. The question is – which one is on the good side?
What are your favorite tracks in Bringer of Pain and what songs can we expect to see live?
I have to say I love them all equally, they are our babies after all. But it depends on the mood which one I prefer each day, today it’s Bastard Son of Odin. Expect the unexpected, you have to come to our show to figure out which songs we’re going to play.
What made you want to join Battle Beast, a very young band at the time? You were asked to join by Anton (Kabanen, former guitarist), right?
The music. I heard Battle Beast on the radio couple of weeks before Anton contacted me. He had found me through YouTube by accident singing Janis Joplin “Piece of my heart”. I had never sang heavy metal before but I had started listening to it since 15 year old. My first love in heavy metal was Bruce Dickinson, as a vocalist and performer.
Battle Beast began to add some synthpop elements to the sound after you joined the band in 2012. Did you had a prominent role in this transition or was this just a natural progression you guys already wanted, musically-wise?
I had nothing to do with it nor anyone else in the band, Anton wrote all the songs in the previous albums and didn’t want to include anyone else to the songwriting. Synth-pop sounds must be just a natural development of the band sound wise. We all like 80’s kind of stuff musically among other styles, so it must reflect somehow.
What was your inspiration on adopting a more aggressive look than when you first joined the band? Was this something you thought of naturally or a label demand?
Haha, It is all me. I love to be theatrical and use costumes and have big eyelashes. I’m so happy that I can express myself in so many ways artistically in this band. And the label just loves what I’m doing with my style. When I started in this band I realized that I can create my own style and I did it. I still continue developing it forward and play around with different make-up and materials.
Who are your main vocal heroes? You have a very unique voice – allying aggressiveness and melody – and I definitely can’t trace a parallel to any other female vocalist out there, so was any particular singer or band helped shape your vocal timbre when you were growing up?
There are dozens of idols that I look up to but some of them are Whitney Houston, Bonnie Tyler, Tina turner, Lee Aaron, Ann Wilson, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Freddie Mercury, Brian Johnson and Robert Plant. As you can see there are various artists from different genres so I’ve got mixed influences and my style of singing is combination of all these great vocalists and performers. My biggest influence of all has anyways been Janis Joplin. She’s my guardian. Whenever I’ve sang her songs, something great happens in my life. Like I was chosen to Battle Beast because they heard by accident me singing Janis’ “Piece of my heart” on YouTube.
Were there any special reasons – personal or musical – that made Anton Kabanen leave the band?
Kabanen didn’t leave the band, he was kicked out. He wanted to do everything by his own and didn’t appreciate other members in personal or professional level. That is why we had to do the decision to go separate ways with him. Now we all, including Anton, can do the things we like them best and everybody’s happy. We still have always appreciated him as a songwriter and we wish all the best for him.
Speaking of Anton: In the first albums, there were several lyrics and songs that referenced the Manga culture (mainly the Manga Berserk). Now that he’s out of the band, can we expect more Manga-inspired songs or was that something characteristic of Anton’s songwriting?
Actually me and Joona, the new guitarist, are also excited about “Berserk” so we will continue using that as one of the themes. In Bringer of Pain-album you can listen one of our bonus tracks “The Eclipse”, which is about “Berserk”. In the album there is also a new fantasy world, like I described before.
Battle Beast will be touring Finland, Germany, Italy and a couple of other countries this February and March. What is the band schedule after this? I saw a couple of other dates on August, but are you also planning on performing at the major summer festivals across Europe?
On our website www.battlebeast.fi/tour you can see all our shows in EU, USA and Canada tours. Our own second headline tour: Bringer of Pain -tour (6 weeks) will include Finland, Germany, Poland, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary and Slovakia. Then we head back home for a week and go on our first tour in USA and Canada as a support band of SABATON for a month. There will be another support band called Leave’s Eyes too. We are very excited to finally get there and give our American and Canadian friends the best heavy metal party they have ever been to.
Thank you so much for taking some time to answer my questions Noora and all the best with your future endeavors with Battle Beast. Now it’s time for your last words to wrap this interview up properly…any message to the fans?
We love all of you so much and truly appreciate all of your support. Come to our shows and get your own copy of “Bringer of Pain” and let’s Roar together! We welcome everyone to Battle Beast clan now, in the future and beyond the burning skies!