Interview with guitarist and vocalist Aleksi Vähämäki
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 5, 2021
Galvanizer, Finnish purveyors of fine, old-school deathgrinding metal, released their album, Prying Sight of Imperception, at the end of July 2021, which strengthened this trio’s status as one of the most noteworthy and promising outfits this Nordic land of a thousand lakes has produced over the last decade or so. The album’s got the blazing and destructive guns needed for the band to seize more territory in the oversaturated world of death metal, achieving the overwhelming positive response it deserves. The pandemic ruined many things for this Finnish trio, especially gigging, but they played a few nice shows such as the third edition of the Finnish Death Metal Maniacs Festival at the beginning of July this year.
We contacted the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Aleksi Vähämäki, to find out what they have been up to lately and if the putrefying and slime-soaked path they’ve been following has been worth all the effort despite these tough Covid-19 times. Aleksi kindly got back to us and enlightened our path of knowledge about the band’s latest comings and goings...
SECOND BULLET: PRYING SIGHT OF IMPERCEPTION
First off, my sincere congrats on your new album, titled Prying Sight of Imperception. How was it making this album knowing that your debut, Sanguine Vigil, was so well received back in 2018? Any additional pressure this time?
Aleksi: Thank you! Of course, that’s always the case when you are making a new release, but we weren’t overwhelmed, and we had a strong faith in the new songs. Also, we had a much clearer idea about how the album should sound and how we could achieve that. The pressure was there but I feel it only gave us more drive to get better in every aspect from songwriting to recording! I would be talking bullshit if I said, "It doesn’t matter if people like it or not". Fans who like our music are the power that pushes us forward and encourages us to improve what we are doing!
It took a relatively long time, at least three years, for the fans who were eagerly waiting your newest outing to get it in their hands. I bet you didn’t want to rush things too much after the success of your debut, correct?
Aleksi: The process with this album wasn’t as straightforward as with the debut. First, we played a ton of shows between 2018 and 2019, which slowed down the writing process, and we all have other things in life as well. Also, this time around we really planned ahead and tried our best to get the full potential out of the songs. Our third album will come out at a faster pace than PSOI for sure!
How pleased are you with this new album when comparing it to your debut? Did you feel that you exceeded expectations?
Aleksi: We are really pleased, and I really do believe that if we had released the album one year earlier, the result wouldn’t be nearly as good. I think the three of us in Galvanizer agree that Prying Sight of Imperception is on a totally different level than Sanguine Vigil. This new album makes me wonder how much better we could have done with the debut if we had planned and rehearsed more. But on the other hand, this is the name of the game, and you learn step by step. There are always things that could have been done better and that’s the fun thing in music; you never stop learning!
What’s behind the album title, Prying Sight of Imperception?
Aleksi: Our drummer Nico answers: "When I saw the album cover, it made me think about the sense of sight, and what others see when they look at me. They don’t know me like I do and can’t see me for what I am. That experience of not knowing how others see you and them not seeing you for what you are can make you feel vulnerable. Or maybe it’s just a cool name for an album with a giant eye on its cover, you decide."
The album maintains the ‘90s grinding death metal charm nicely. I think I am not too far from the truth to state that is what you intended to do: create a bunch of songs linked by the same vibe and feeling that many (Finnish) death metal/grindcore acts created during the first wave of Finnish death metal. We are all ears to hear your thoughts...
Aleksi: Well, the influence is obviously there. We haven’t reinvented the wheel, that’s for sure, but we are influenced by a ton of different bands, and I guess it’s up to the listener what he/she hears. Sometimes we are compared to bands that we feel we don’t have anything in common with but that can be a subconscious thing as well. All people hear it differently.
In a way you’ve got the catchy grooviness of Finnish deathgrinders Disgrace and Lubricant present in your new opus, albeit with more melodies and your own death metal leanings. How would you describe the album for a casual extreme metal music fan who’s looking for some new music to sink his/her teeth into?
Aleksi: Some reviewers have noticed that the grindcore part has been toned down a bit on this new album and I would agree. It’s not as straightforward as the debut and like you said, it has more melody, and the song structures are more complex. That’s why I often just call it death metal now but it still has some grindcore edge to it so the best description could be, "Finnish groovy and grinding death metal (with some cool/catchy melodies)", haha!
THAT SPECIAL GUITAR SOUND
The guitar sound is exceptionally heavy, dark, and fat on the album, reminding me of Demigod’s Slumber of Sullen Eyes. Is that the guitar tone you were going for on this opus or did it happen by accident?
Aleksi: I love that album so much and I honestly think it’s one of the best death metal albums ever made, CHANGE MY MIND! That guitar tone is amazingly heavy and cool, but I did not think about it when we made the album. The main idea was to give my Peavey 6505 more space not to overdo it with HM-2 (I have started to dislike that pedal, haha). The Swedish buzzsaw sound is still there but I wanted to tone it down a lot to give more room for a cleaner sound so people could actually hear the riffs we are playing!
The album was released at the end of July on Everlasting Spew Records (digitally and CD) and Me Saco un Ojo Records (vinyl). How pleased have you been with all the work these two fine underground labels have invested in your band?
Aleksi: Yes, and the tapes (US and EU versions) were released by Headsplit Records and Extremely Rotten Productions. We started our cooperation in 2017 and we’ve been very pleased and happy to work with them! They are really professional and they promote us well. Everlasting Spew even has a special category for all the Galvanizer merch on the front page of their web store and we sell our merch through them since Finnish postal rates are astronomical these days.
To me, it even seems like pre-orders for your new album started well. The orange-colored vinyl version of the album is already sold out on M.S.u.O. Records’ shop. I guess that’s signaling people’s interest in Galvanizer, which is great, of course! Were you pleased with the album’s advance sales?
Aleksi: Absolutely! The orange version sold out very quickly and the black vinyl has sold really well also. This time around it was 1000 copies for the first press instead of 500. Of course, we are really pleased that people seem to like it and we appreciate all the support we’ve received! It’s still sometimes hard to believe what we have achieved; a growing fanbase of sick death metal maniacs from all around the globe and we don’t take it for granted!
GIGS IN PANDEMIC TIMES
Due to the pandemic, playing live has been restricted all over the world. However, in Finland, some of these restrictions have been lifted, allowing people to arrange gigs and festivals during the summertime, which has been a big relief for many artists. You also performed at the third edition Finnish Death Metal Maniac Festival at the beginning of July, along with many other cool names from Barathrum to Rippikoulu and so on. How did you like the event in general? Was it as much fun as you expected it to be?
Aleksi: Yeah, they’ve been tough times to be honest. If you’re used to gigging tens of times per year, a sudden stop hits hard. For us, the pandemic had the worst fucking timing since 2020 was to be the busiest year for us gig-wise. It has been rough sometimes as you also lose a big part of your social life. Fortunately, it seems to be getting a little better even though the virus still rumbles on the earth. Playing at FDMMF was almost like a relief of a gig celibate and it burst out hard, haha! Seriously, it was so goddamn great to play for a real live audience after such a long time! It was more fun than I thought it would be for sure!
Did you suffer any serious neck injuries after your gig? I mean, the intensity level that poured out from the stage during your performance was overwhelming.
Aleksi: Well, Vili and I had stiff necks for a few days, haha! It’s typical after a break from live shows. This time I didn’t stretch my neck too well either. I know that our live performance can cause real problems for my neck, and I should rehearse more, but what can you do when the crowd goes wild and you want to deliver the best possible show?
With two albums and an EP, you certainly have enough songs to choose from for your live show. Has this caused any headaches within the band as to which songs to play so that everyone is happy with the final set list?
Aleksi: Yes, sometimes. When we release something new, we usually build the set list mostly from the new songs and then add a few older songs. It’s hard to choose from the old songs sometimes, so we often play the "clas-sicks".
Are there some band favorites among your songs that are always nice to play live for some reason or the other?
Aleksi: Well, these classics I mentioned, are songs like "Sanguine Vigil," "Putrefaction Blues," "Domestic Mastication" and "Mood for the Blade," but there’s one song that we have dropped out of our setlist only a handful of times. It’s from our Horrid Tales of Death... EP, a song called "Wounds." It’s a catchy and fierce grindcore blast and it’s often the choice for ending a gig!
How much did you guys miss playing in front of a REAL audience before this F.D.M.M. event? I mean, it’s been "a while" since you performed live with your band. Can you remember the last time you played live under normal conditions?
Aleksi: A LOT! When you have done it for many years, it becomes really important. Like I said, it’s also a social gathering for like-minded people, so it’s not only playing live but socializing as well. The last time we played live for a real audience before FDMMF was our show at Tallinn Music Week in the summer of 2020. I didn’t play there for personal reasons, so our friend Jussi from Sonic Poison replaced me for the show.
GIGS ARE CALLING OUR NAMES
What do you guys have in store live-wise in the future?
Aleksi: Hopefully the future looks a little better live-wise. For 2022 we have a lot of sick festival shows coming up, such as Netherlands Deathfest, Obscene Extreme, Chaos Descends, Masters of the Unicorn, and so on. We are super stoked and deeply hope that these shows don’t get postponed! Some tours are also in the making but those can still be tricky to organize. Time will tell...!
What else do you have on your bucket list as far as the band’s future plans are concerned?
Aleksi: Recording our third album in 2022 would be a good objective. Setting the bar higher all the time is on our bucket list and it will stay there!
That’s it for my part, so thanks a lot for this chat and I would also like to wish you all the best with the band’s future endeavors and conquests. The last commentary is left for you, sir, so go ahead if you have anything else on your mind...?
Aleksi: Thank you for this interview and the wishes, Luxi! Thank you to all the readers as well, I hope you all enjoyed it! See you guys at the upcoming gigs and thanks for all the support!
In the meantime, if you want to follow what we are doing and be up to date on the latest Galvanizer news, follow us on:
Our merch and records are on sale at: everlastingspew.com/34-galvanizer
Tour/gig inquiries or anything else: firstname.lastname@example.org
HAILS FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES!
|Other information about Galvanizer on this site|
|Review: Sanguine Vigil|
|Review: Prying Sight of Imperception|
|Interview with guitarist and vocalist Aleksi Vähämäki on December 11, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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