Oulu, Finland’s Verikalpa are ready to unleash their freshly brewed “beer-drenched troll metal” with Tuoppitanssi, due in nine days on February 21 via Italy’s Scarlet Records.
Verikalpa’s most recent single, “Nalulattujen Vaellus”, will appear on the album, and it gives listeners a taste of what to expect for the group’s sophomore full length. The band’s overall songwriting has matured, and the Finnish lyrics of this lively call to action don’t need to be understood to be felt. Harsh vocals and troll-inspired choruses layer over a folk melody, replete with occasional blast beats and the welcome sounds of accordion.
In a recent interview with Metal Solstice, the band, comprised of Jani Ikonen (vocals), Sami Knuutinen (bass), Jussi Sauvola (keyboards), Jari Huttunen (drums), Jussi Heikkilä (guitars), Sami Ikonen (guitars), lay down their intentions to build upon the momentum of 14 years’ tenure, and to continue expanding their reach of live performances in 2020.
Metal Solstice: Tell me about the process of signing to Scarlet Records. What do you look forward to most with this partnership?
Jani Ikonen: We had couple labels in mind and then our drummer Jari mentioned Scarlet Records; hisband Requiem released an album with them. Their lineup looked great and they liked our stuff, so here we are. We hope for a long relationship with them. They’re chill folks at Scarlet Records!
MS: The release date for Tuoppitanssi is quickly approaching- February 21, 2020! How will this album’s sound build on your existing body of work? What do you hope that listeners will hear?
J. Ikonen: Well, with our debut album Taistelutahto we already had all the songs ready and played them live already, well before we hit the studio. And with this new album it was quite different. There are a couple older songs we wrote around the time were recording our first album, but other than that everything is fresh and new. It is still very Verikalpa, but I think progress can be heard in songwriting and the overall sound.
MS: 2019 was a quieter year for Verikalpa shows. What plans do you have to tour in support of the album?
J. Ikonen: We had talks about a tour after the summer and closer to a fall this year but nothing confirmed. Festivals are also not confirmed yet. We have a few gigs before summer here in Finland.
MS: For us non-Finnish speakers, could you share a bit about the subject matter and lyrical themes of the album? Do you also include any Oulu dialect in any of the songs?
J. Ikonen: Every song has its own tale to tell. It all depends how the music sounds. Mostly the songs are about Scandinavian folklore, battles, preparing for battles, trolls, knights and getting drunk. Trolls having a bar fight, which is pretty much the whole story for the title track, “Tuoppitanssi”, which translates to “pint dance”. We get the music and melodies done, and then I get the idea for the lyrics. I write the lyrics for the most part and with guidance and assistance by Jussi S., our keyboardist, and I like to write them as I speak normally, which includes heavy doses of Oulu dialect. It also sounds fluent with our music.
MS: Tell me about the creative process of this album. was songwriting a group effort, or were responsibilities divided?
J. Ikonen: Usually either Sami K. or I write a song alone, or we sit together at my place to play and write down ideas. Mostly we come up with a song and then we send it to others. If it hit the nails, then the songs will take their final form and shape at the rehearsal place with everyone included. For this album Jussi Sauvola provided his songwriting skills to the table with the sixth song, called “Peikon Kieli” or “Troll’s Tongue”.
MS: You have been a band since 2006; why were 2018 and 2020 the right time to release full-length albums?
J. Ikonen: In 2006 Verikalpa was born, but it was just me and Sami K. having some fun. It was only supposed to be a recording project and nothing too serious. Years went by and we grew up as musicians, to the point we wanted to take a step ahead. We started looking for band members, and all of a sudden we had the first self-released ‘’real demo’’ which later became a title track for our debut album.
We started rehearsing with the same dudes involved with the demo and the band was born. We were fully committed with the band with all the members in 2015 and that´s the year we prefer as when Verikalpa began. Even though the name and few quite interesting songs existed in 2006!
MS: Now that you are about to achieve this milestone with Scarlet Records, what else do you hope to accomplish as a band?
J. Ikonen: To play live as much as possible.
Sauvola: Tours and sold-out shows all the way!
MS: In terms of Verikalpa’s performances- can you tell listeners about the “troll metal” live experience? Everyone wears makeup, but how do you prepare for each gig?
Sauvola: The troll metal experience is a lot of headbanging and some funny banter with the audience; we’re here to entertain and have fun! We all have our own rituals before the gig to get to the right state of mind. Usually when we start putting on the warpaint, we realize that we’re actually going on stage and the mental preparing begins. A couple of beers always also helps!
See Verikalpa live at Hevimesta, Oulu on February 22! Tickets for the album release show can be found here: https://hevimesta.com/233-22-2-verikalpa