Interview with Tuomas Karhunen (vocals, guitar)
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 12, 2011
FORGOTTEN HORROR is the musical incarnation of mastermind Tuomas Karhunen that he formed in 2004 together with his two other band mates, Corpse and Kassara, from the more established and known Finnish Death / Thrash Metal act DEATHCHAIN. With FORGOTTEN HORROR Tuomas and co. are able to show their passion for a little different type of extreme Metal compared to DEATHCHAIN's stuff, in which the guys can also do some more self-exploration deeper into the world of extremes as far as playing Metal music is concerned.
FORGOTTEN HORROR's debut album, titled "The Serpent Creation", came out on an independent Finnish underground label Woodcut Records just a couple of months ago, and since the record totally surprised me content-wise, I decided to contact Tuomas to ask more about the record itself – among a few other things naturally as well.
Read on – Tuomas fills you in on more information about the forgotten worlds of horror...
Luxi: Where did the idea to put together a band like FORGOTTEN HORROR first come from in the first place?
Tuomas: It all began from the fires of the late 90's / early 2000's underground Black Metal scene of my home city, Kuopio. I started my own band in January 2004 which I soon named as FORGOTTEN HORROR. I simply wanted to start my very own thing.
Luxi: FORGOTTEN HORROR in 2011 Anno Bastardi, consists of you (Tuomas Karhunen) on vocals and guitar, Corpse on bass and Kassara on drums. Each of you are experienced musicians and known for some other bands / projects already (DEATHCHAIN, WINTERWOLF, DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED, etc.). How important do you see it that you found exactly the right minds to carry out all your ideas and visions as far as FORGOTTEN HORROR's whole concept – both ideology- and music-wise, is concerned?
Tuomas: It's extremely important that the chemistry inside the band is carrying the concept forward, and both Corpse and Kassara fit in the band perfectly, they are like brothers to me. The formation of the line-up happened very naturally. Since we play kinda... I wouldn't say technical, but sometimes quite fast stuff, it really needs to sound tight, and those two guys are exactly the right persons for that sort of thing. FORGOTTEN HORROR is mainly a tool for me to explore the unknown and to go forward in my own initiatory path of dark magic, so the ideological concept is a very personal one, you know?
Luxi: FORGOTTEN HORROR recorded their debut, self-titled 4-track demo back in 2007, which seemed to create quite a positive stir among Metal fans worldwide, definitely stamping the band's name on the global map of Metal indelibly – and basically working out as a very good stomping ground for things coming ahead for the band. Now when you look back, could you say you are still relatively proud of that demo how it represented FORGOTTEN HORROR at the time, and all things related to the band?
Tuomas: I listened to the demo a little while ago while rehearsing for our album release gig, and I was surprised by how good it actually sounds, in my opinion. It has exactly the aggression and atmosphere which were present while making the material. I don't look back that much, but I definitely stand behind all that FORGOTTEN HORROR has done and released.
Luxi: It was just a matter of time before FORGOTTEN HORROR's debut album was to be released – and finally, after 4 intense years of waiting, it's now been released on a domestic extreme Metal label called Woodcut Records. Was Woodcut Records your obvious choice to get the album released, or were you also negotiating with some other labels regarding the release of your debut full-length studio album, titled "The Serpent Creation"?
Tuomas: The paths of FORGOTTEN HORROR and Woodcut Records crossed just at the right moment. As a matter of fact, the very same day I was about to start seriously looking for a publisher for the album, I received a message from Woodcut saying they'd like to sign us. So we discussed further and everything went smoothly from there on. I must say that so far things with Woodcut Records have been going exactly as they should between the artist and the label and I'm very satisfied with their effort and with the current situation.
Luxi: To me, the music on "The Serpent Creation" harks back to the times when such dark, grim but melodic enough legions of Swedish blackened Death Metal as Necrophobic, The Unanimated, Nalgfar and such, got their debut studio albums released in the early / mid 90s, finely blending the extremity and brutality of Black and Death Metal with some well-crafted melodic passages – offering one heck of wholeness altogether for its listeners that firmly nails the ears to the wall. How much influence would you say the early Swedish Black / Death Metal scene had on FORGOTTEN HORROR, sort of admitting its somewhat strong presence as a part of FORGOTTEN HORROR's sound, as it seems to be revealed on "The Serpent Creation", with its all full and deep colors shining through beautifully?
Tuomas: Well, a majority of my all-time favorite Death Metal and Black Metal albums are from the early and mid-90's, and there are also Swedish bands among them. I was just a kid at that time, so I don't know, maybe the music that has an impact on you when you're young leaves its permanent mark on you, and that influence remains as your fundamental approach to music. Sometimes when the stuff I make is being compared to bands I've never listened to, it crosses my mind that maybe the whole influence thing goes deeper, that the roots of the sound come from the same - also non-Metal -sources which have influenced the whole birth of Metal music. I wouldn't be surprised if many other Death Metal and Black Metal musicians would have been growing up also listening the music from Ennio Morricone and Ludwig van Beethoven for example, as I have.
Luxi: How pleased are you personally with the outcome of "The Serpent Creation"? Are there some things on that record from your personal point of view that you could have changed or bettered slightly if you had had a second chance to do so?
Tuomas: As a debut album, "The Serpent Creation" exceeds my expectations and it's a perfect starting point for what I'm about to begin building. Big thanks go to my fellow band mates and to the sound guy Jari "Tupi" Tuomainen for patiently manifesting the vision into reality. There's maybe one or two things I'd like to do differently, but that really doesn't matter. The album represents FORGOTTEN HORROR in that period of time, and that's it. As I said I don't look back that much and since I believe there's a time and a place for everything, if I'd place my current self making an album back then, I would probably make a completely different album, you know.
Luxi: As good as your 2007 demo was (in my opinion), I bet there's gonna be a bunch of people out there whose heads are filled with big question marks as to why on earth none of the demo's songs made it on your debut album, despite how good the songs were on that particular demo. So, would you mind telling the main reasons why you ended up omitting all of them from your debut album? Would it even be possible that those 2007 demo songs might be released on the next FORGOTTEN HORROR product in the future as bonus?
Tuomas: The material from the demo carries a different energy within it. 'The Serpent Creation' is an initiatory opening for a very long journey while the demo stuff is a search for direction, like randomly shooting everywhere. And it is that search, that spark which enlightened the way towards an initial realization of the dark powers and of The Other Side. So, between the demo and the album material, some answers and the direction were found and 'The Serpent Creation' is the first step towards the Qliphothic dark gate of Lilith's womb. Of course we'll play the demo songs live, and maybe some day I'd like to re-record some of them, who knows? But at the moment I'm only looking forward, towards the next album which I have already started making.
Luxi: All music – including lyrics on "The Serpent Creation", are done by you. How critical and self-analytical do you consider yourself when it comes to reaching some sort of perfection and balance between the music and lyrics that support each other somewhat seamlessly?
Tuomas: I guess I'm quite critical with myself and also some kind of a perfectionist, as I hear it quite often from others, ha-hah! With both composing a song and writing lyrics, at some point you just have to learn to let go. When working with others concerning FORGOTTEN HORROR stuff I might be quite demanding, as I want everyone involved to give their very best, and even after that doing that extra effort. As you mentioned, balance is a keyword indeed. Balance between the music and the lyrics, balance between polishing details and moving on. Because on the other hand, sometimes composing a song or writing lyrics just come out completely intuitively, as if by itself, and I've made some songs from one sitting. In many cases this comes in connection or as an aftermath with rituals, invocations or other occult workings.
Luxi: How would you determine well-written lyrics and perfectly composed music by your own words anyway? What does it demand from you as an artist, to find that end of the road where you can admit that you can safely say that this or that song can be left as it is now because it feels perfect for yourself, allowing you to carry on to the next skeleton of a song – and start adding the much needed flesh around it?
Tuomas: Either if the material comes directly from your heart, or if you're acting as a channel for other powers, as long as it's done sincerely and honestly towards yourself then it's enough. I have so many visual, lyrical and musical ideas in my head that I'm actually doing music and lyrics for several bands simultaneously. But the FORGOTTEN HORROR songs have their own unique way of manifesting. Sometimes I compose them kind of chronologically, like a journey, from the start and let the powers I invoke guide me until the rest of the song. Then the other members of the band bring in their own interpretation and personal touch, and I want to emphasize that it matters a lot also. Sometimes I can hear a melody in dreams, and after I wake up I record that melody. Concerning the upcoming material the whole process will change and become more focused, aiming more specifically towards certain goals.
Luxi: Do you intend on keeping FORGOTTEN HORROR primarily as your own beast of horror and doom in the future, or have you already thought of allowing also your two other band mates Corpse and Kassara to contribute, depending on whether their ideas can be used for the concept of the band?
Tuomas: FORGOTTEN HORROR is a very esoteric creation for me, and most likely I'll keep on writing all the material myself. I have nothing against the others bringing in ideas, but since I work alone with the music and present ready songs to the band, it's not very likely that others could participate in the process. But still the other band members affect the final result and bring their signature to each instrument. Since it's all about going forward and since there's a sincere interest inside the band towards the same dark path I'm gazing into, of course this workflow might change. Everything is possible.
Luxi: FORGOTTEN HORROR has already participated live at "The Darkness Festival II: The Return..." in Tampere, Finland, together with SARGEIST, ONDSKAPT, SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT and VALOTON on September 2nd 2011. This was also FORGOTTEN HORROR's official record release gig – and in fact, the first time ever that the band performed live. Did this experience leave you hungry for more gigs?
Tuomas: Definitely, I had waited for that moment for years and the album release gig went great! I want us to start from scratch, without much visual elements, and to begin building the whole FH live performance from zero by adding in more ingredients along with the upcoming gigs. With FORGOTTEN HORROR there must be a function, the energy, and a purpose for everything we do. In this band's context, I see no point in using blood or using a lot of spikes or whatever, if it has no deeper meaning, you know? And it was my first gig as a front man playing the guitar and doing the lead vocals, so I wanted to focus on the quality of my playing, making it as tight and aggressive as possible. All in all, the first gig went well and you said it, that's exactly what I have; a hunger for more live shows and to build it into something special.
Luxi: Are there any bands in your mind with whom FORGOTTEN HORROR would be willing to do even an extensive tour, being it a tour around Finland, Scandinavian tour – or touring around the whole globe even?
Tuomas: Of course extensive touring is what we want to do with FORGOTTEN HORROR, but first we'll probably do more single gigs in Finland. As I live in Sweden, there's some talk of arranging gigs here in Sweden also. So far there's no talk about a tour, I think that'll be more relevant after the next album. Or who knows, let's see what happens.
Luxi: Do you see gigging an important part of promoting the band a bit better to the audience, or is it more like a ‘necessary evil' for you; otherwise you'd possibly not get the name out as much as you'd want to?
Tuomas: I see gigs and live performances as possibilities for channeling and directing huge amounts of energy. On stage, many times the words "I'm home" pop up into my mind, heh. So gigs for me are a very necessary evil which I want and need to inject into my veins on a regular basis. Of course good gigs spread a band's name forward, but that's not the point, that's just something that comes along with it.
Luxi: It must honestly be admitted there really ain't any similar sounding outfit from Finland in particular nowadays – with the similar vibe and feeling of ancient evil that FORGOTTEN HORROR carries under its dark and horrendous wings, making the band a pretty darn unique and original act after all. This is something you must feel pretty darn good about, making you happy – and first and foremost convinced that that's absolutely something that you also wanted FORGOTTEN HORROR to be all about: A unique Metal band, with a slight difference. Or am I misunderstanding something here?
Tuomas: To my ears FORGOTTEN HORROR is a unique sounding Metal act, and it's nice to hear that in these days of complete overflow of bands out there I'm not the only one who has this opinion about us. But instead of making me satisfied, it makes me hungry for more. New battles, new challenges, carrying the torch deeper into the unknown darkness. FORGOTTEN HORROR is all about rebellion and evolving. You haven't seen anything yet.
Luxi: All three of you also play in DEATHCHAIN, which can still be considered as your main band, I guess. What's up with Deathchain anyway? Is there a new album in the works?
Tuomas: I play in several bands and DEATHCHAIN is one of them, and I consider all those bands as my 'main bands'. They are not in any order of importance, but FORGOTTEN HORROR is of course the one closest to me personally. About DEATHCHAIN, we're currently writing the material for the sixth full-length studio album. Things have been going forward and in the direction we want, and there will be very good news from the DEATHCHAIN camp announced soon. The next album will strike hard, and the title of it will speak for itself, so no need to talk more about that yet... wait and see. Meanwhile we've filmed a music video of a track from the latest album, "Death Gods", and it should be out quite soon.
Luxi: What do you believe (or hope) FORGOTTEN HORROR has achieved within the following 2-3 years or so? Namely I personally strongly believe "The Serpent Creation" won't be the band's last album – and there will definitely be some continuum to be expected for this band if just the stars of the night sky will turn to the favorable positions for you guys, correct?
Tuomas: As I mentioned earlier the next album is already in the making, and it will be made in a very different manner. Everything will be more focused, more charged with energy. It is a vision, and as adepts we'll transform that vision into reality. The first album has opened the gates and now the journey with FORGOTTEN HORROR truly begins, as with the second album we will walk through those gates. I take things one step at the time and I don't hope for anything. What I want to accomplish, I make it happen.
Luxi: Thank you Tuomas for your time, and hopefully you found these questions worth answering, too. If there's still something you'd like to say to the readers of The Metal Crypt, by all means spit them out to conclude this interview.
Tuomas: Thank you very much for this interview, it was a really interesting one! For the readers, check out "The Serpent Creation" album and the nasty music video, they're both unleashed now. If you like what you hear and see, keep in mind that things are only going to get more evil and twisted from here on... follow the torch to the acausal abyss!
|Other information about Forgotten Horror on this site|
|Review: Aeon of the Shadow Goddess|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Tuomas Karhunen on July 24, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Video: The Serpent Creation|
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