Interview with guitarist Jesse Kämäräinen
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 8, 2018
Inkvisitor is a Thrash Metal band from Finland that has been making quite a name for themselves since forming in 2012. They have supported two full-length albums by playing live whenever possible. The second studio album, titled Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (which is a concept album based on a neo-noir murder mystery laced with necromancy), was released on April 20th of this year. It grabbed The Metal Crypt's attention, so it was time to contact the band's main motor, guitarist Jesse Kämäräinen to find out about this second opus, line-up problems and touring plans amongst other things...
Luxi: So, what's cookin' in the kitchen of Inkvisitor at this moment?
Jesse: Stuff concerning the release of the new album, mainly. Waiting for the reviews to come in, interviews and tour stuff. But also, the riff factory has opened again, and we are getting into songwriting bit by bit.
Luxi: After your debut album, Doctrine of Damnation (released in 2015), the band's lineup changed quite a bit. What happened to cause such turmoil?
Jesse: The reasons are pretty anticlimactic. The members who quit just didn't have enough motivation any longer. We all knew that the new album was going to take time and money, and they just weren't up to it. Nothing personal or dramatic. Even though the changes were challenging, it was for the best. The line-up now is much stronger. The first taste comes with the Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals album (where Tino and Markus are the new guys), but the full power of the completely retooled line-up will be witnessed with our third album in the future. Then our newest members Mikko (guitar) and Sakari (bass) will get to action. Of course, we tour and play live with that line-up now.
Luxi: Do you feel that these new soldiers have brought in more creativity, unity and talent as far as working together is concerned? What kind of a process was it to find suitable guys?
Jesse: Definitely. Although I've only made songs with Tino (Drums) and Markus (Vocals) so far, I am very excited to get to work with all the new guys. There have been interesting bits of new stuff already. Our songwriting process will likely change, too. In the past Lauri or I wrote all the music by ourselves. In the future, I expect that the whole group will share input. It will surely bring out new aspects in our music.
MURDER MYSTERIES MEET HORROR FANTASIES
Luxi: As promising as your debut album was, your follow-up album Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals, is more ambitious and diverse, not only music-wise but also concept-wise. Would you mind by opening up a little bit about the making of this album?
Jesse: I've been thinking for a long time that I wanted to make a concept album someday. On previous records, I just didn't feel ready. When we started the writing process after Doctrine of Damnation, Aapo (ex-vocalist) and I had a writer's block. What later became the concept for the whole album was initially supposed to be the lyrics for one song. After Aapo and I attended Jarkko Martikainen's lyric clinic, he encouraged me to pursue the concept and told me that the story had a lot more potential than just one song. A few weeks after that I was watching a movie and suddenly inspiration hit me like a bolt of lightning. I wrote the whole storyline in one sitting. After that, it was pretty easy to carve out the lyrics since we had the framework to draw inspiration from. When Markus joined the band, he got the hang of it quickly and he wrote fitting lyrics for the album. I wrote maybe 30% of the lyrics in total, plus the story itself.
About the concept, it's a murder mystery story meets horror fantasy. A detective gets assigned to a bizarre murder case where all the bodies have been drained of blood. When he starts to dig into the case, he finds no clues. After a long time spent investigating, he starts to have a nervous breakdown. He consults an elderly anthropologist and finally finds a clue in an ancient book. He deduces that the anthropologist is behind it all and on top of that, he is many centuries old. The anthropologist turns out to be a necromancer who has lived thousands of years by sustaining himself with blood magic. The necromancer has grown weary of humanity which has lost its ideals and core values to religion, politics and modern vanities. He plans to make the detective his heir while he himself transfers to the afterlife to discover the rest of the answers. The detective eventually succumbs to the will of the necromancer and starts on a path to become the new necromancer. In order to receive the mantle, he has to sacrifice his own family in a blood ritual. He grabs his family, but just as the ritual is about to begin, he regains his humanity and decides to fight back against the necromancer. He manages to save his family but dies from his wounds.
After a short visit to the afterlife, he wakes up in his own bed as if the murders and the necromancer never existed. After a while, he receives a letter from the necromancer who reveals that it was all a test and the detective has passed. The detective is now the new necromancer, with all the knowledge bestowed upon him. Even though the album is a concept album with a clear story, we still managed to put a lot of things between the lines or hidden on a plain sight. You can hear the voices of the writers in the lyrics and how we feel about certain topics. The album has a deeper meaning and deals with things on multiple levels.
Luxi: When building up the songs for this follow-up album, which took quite some time, did you always know deep down which musical direction you wanted to take?
Jesse: Actually, the material for the album was written pretty fast, it just took time to make the band work again and then to record that stuff. I think that the songs came naturally. It was the direction we were supposed to go anyway, so in that sense, we never felt lost or had to reinvent stuff.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING SOME DIVERSITY IN THE SONGWRITING PROCESS
Luxi: Where does all the diversity of songs come from?
Jesse: It's still all about thrashing our hearts out, but there's more going on within the songs on the new album. I think it's two things; 1) you grow both as a musician and as a person, so naturally, it affects your writing. The music that we listen to obviously influences us a great deal but progressing as a songwriter makes you do different things. It was a natural progression in that sense for us. 2) New people bring in new ideas. Markus brought up stuff lyrically and Tino participated in the writing of the songs. With his skill, many ideas became possible.
Luxi: For this album, did you also feel you were firing on all cylinders, thinking it was all or nothing?
Jesse: When the old line-up started to fall apart, we had to make a decision with Tino about pushing forward or calling it quits and doing something else. Since the initial material was so strong, we decided to keep going. Eventually, things came together, and it was worth it. Musically, we upped the ante quite a bit compared to the previous album. We aimed to broaden our approach and set the bar higher in every way. Tino brought some fresh aggression behind the kit that enabled Lauri (ex-guitarist) and I to explore new territory. Lauri and I had also improved our own playing significantly compared to our previous work. Production-wise the new album is a giant leap forward. Whereas Doctrine of Damnation was made in a school studio and mixed by a friend, this time we booked the best studio near Jyväskylä and the mixing was done one of the most renowned Metal producers in Finland, Nino Laurenne.
You could say that after a visit to the repair shop, the engine was firing on all cylinders. However, we think that we can still go further and add some nitro in the mix on the third album.
Luxi: Are there some songs on this new record that you are exceptionally proud of, and why?
Jesse: Hmmm, a tough one. I think all of the songs came together nicely, and since it's a concept album where the songs are pieces of one puzzle, I can't pick any particular song. It's more like a complete victory.
Luxi: The response has been very good towards this new opus. I suppose that doesn't surprise you as you must have known that you have something very special in the works. Feel free to correct me if my assumptions are wrong...
Jesse: Yeah, Markus (vocalist) has had a warm welcome. Also, overall fan feedback has been very positive. I'm still waiting for most of the reviews to come in, so I don't know what critics think of the album. I think that this album can be divisive due to the concept in general and how we incorporate many elements in our music rather than just going full speed all the time. However, when I look at the numbers and statistics on YouTube and some other streaming platforms, I see clearly that people have been listening to the new stuff A LOT more than our previous works combined.
We as a band think that if someone thinks that this album is worse than the previous ones, he or she has shit taste in music and doesn't understand Metal at all.
INVASION ABROAD - VOLUME ONE
Luxi: Is the band aiming to conquer the international markets?
Jesse: I think that we have to get out of Finland as soon as possible. In that sense, the bar is higher, and we have always striven for global markets. Finland is so small after all, and I've heard that there are many great countries full of metalheads that need to hear us or see us.
Luxi: How much interest has Inkvisitor generated with gig organizers, label owners and other people related to the music industry?
Jesse: Some, but not nearly enough. We hope that this album helps to break the ice, so maybe our third album will be released through a label and we can tour Europe in the near future.
Luxi: Gigging-wise, you have been pretty active, which is a good thing if you are determined to grow the band's fan base. How important and vital do you consider playing live with the band?
Jesse: I founded the band so that I could play live. It's a huge thing for us, and I think that without touring this would be somewhat boring. Of course, making records is fun, but this music is to be played and listened to live. Also, we sell basically all our merch at gigs, so if we want to keep recording, we have to tour.
Luxi: You have a gig coming up on July 27th this year at Nosturi, Helsinki, together with Sweden's The Crown. How did you end up getting this support slot?
Jesse: Nothing too fancy, I just asked Nosturi's promoter if he had any slots for us, and luckily, he had. It's gonna be a cool show to play, I'm a big fan of The Crown's Deathrace King.
Luxi: How do you see the future of the band?
Jesse: The best days are surely ahead. I would feel very disappointed if they turn out to be already behind us. I hope to see some international stuff going on for us, touring outside of Finland and at least one more album.
Luxi: Thank you Jesse for coming over and having this "chat" with me about your band for The Metal Crypt. The last commentary is naturally left for you... ;o)
Jesse: Thank you for doing this! I have nothing to else to add except go listen to the new album and come to our shows, whoever might be reading this.
|Other information about Inkvisitor on this site|
|Review: Doctrine of Damnation|
|Review: Doctrine of Damnation|
|Review: Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals|
|Review: Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals|
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