Interview with Ephemerald’s Vesa Salovaara: Looking Ahead to “Between the Glimpses of Hope”

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Finland’s Ephemerald have announced a debut album, Between the Glimpses of Hope, out on February 19, 2021 via Inverse Records. Although it will be their first full-length endeavor since founding the band in 2016, the symphonic death metal outfit is comprised of seasoned members of Finland’s music community: Joni Snoro (ex-Frosttide) on guitars, Vesa Salovaara (Vorna) on vocals, Lauri Myllylä (Voidfallen) on bass, and Juho Suomi (Apocryfal) on drums. Tuomo Sagulin (Mechanik Project) is new addition on keyboards, bringing a unique perspective from other projects outside the metal genre.

The latest single, “No Fall Is Too Deep”, arrived December 2. Accompanied by a lyric video, the track emerges from the dark themes promised in the rest of the album and delivers a positive message of overcoming turbulent times. The unrelenting blast beats and flourishes of brass and synths accompany both growling and clean vocals, giving “No Fall Is Too Deep” a robust cinematic feel without going over-the-top.

In an interview with Metal Solstice, Salovaara confirmed both the frustrations and rewards of assembling Between the Glimpses of Hope, as well as what he hopes listeners will experience when they hear it for the first time.

Salovaara remained realistic about Ephemerald’s activities, not seeking to predict the future beyond February’s release. However, if the listeners’ response to their initial singles and the band’s collective talents are indicators, they’ll have plenty of engaged fans and opportunities to take the stage once Covid-induced performance restrictions are relaxed, if they so choose.

Metal Solstice: Why did 2020 become the right time to record Ephemerald’s debut album?

Vesa Salovaara: The reason is very simple actually: we finally found the time to finish the album during this spring and summer. Although I think it’s fair to admit that I have been the main factor why the album has taken so long. The album was pretty much finished music-wise a year and a half ago already, excluding some orchestrations, and drums, basses and guitars were recorded in 2018. But I was able to finish writing the lyrics and the vocal arrangements and record the vocals only this spring, thanks to Covid-19 and all the cancelled tours and shows of my other band Vorna. So, there’s a silver lining to everything, I suppose.

MS: With regard to the addition of Tuomo Sagulin- can you explain more about how he joined the band? How has his presence contributed to the group’s dynamic?

Salovaara: Tuomo is our bass player Lauri’s cousin. Tuomo was inspired to try something different to what he normally does with his electronic and cinematic music projects and we were looking for a guy to work on the synths and orchestrations of the full-length album, so we had a mutual goal in a way.

Tuomo is a very skilled artist and although he first joined this project as a session guy, it in time became very clear to us that we’d like to welcome him as a full-time member to the band. It’s definitely a strength, that Tuomo is coming from totally different musical landscapes than the rest of us, and thus, brings very fresh ideas to the table which is truly inspiring for us all.

MS: By the time the album is released, several songs on the album will sound familiar to listeners, including “I Bear Fire”, “Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole”, “Servant”, “No Fall Is Too Deep”, and any other upcoming singles. How long have the remaining songs been in the works?

Salovaara: Majority of the songs were written after the first two singles “I Bear Fire” and “Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole” (which were both re-recorded on the album, by the way.) The basic musical structure for “Servant” on the other hand existed already before Ephemerald was even formed and was one of the two songs Joni presented to me, when he first asked if I’d be interested in making music together in 2016. So in a way, “Servant” is where it all started. Most of the lyrics on the album were written this year, however.

Ephemerald’s songwriting process has been very straightforward: Joni writes the music, I write the lyrics and vocal arrangements and nowadays Tuomo contributes to the orchestral arrangements and the overall soundscapes of the songs.

MS: Could you also share a preview of the rest of the album’s content, including any lyrical themes you’d like to highlight?

Salovaara: The core themes of the album are countless new beginnings and attempts to break free from the shackles of the past towards a better tomorrow. Hope lies in the unseen future. Hardships are there to be beaten, but things are never going to change for the better for good, if it is mainly the external circumstances that are changing without a profound change in the individual themself. Thus, you’re going to greet a familiar darkness after the first rays of dawn have withered away. Between the Glimpses of Hope travels in this space.

Ephemerald 2020. Photo credit: Jaakko Manninen.

MS: For you personally, are there any differences or challenges in writing & performing in English (with Ephemerald) vs. in Finnish (with Vorna), and what are they?

Salovaara: There definitely are. I find it easier to articulate my thoughts and ideas in Finnish, but English is surely a more flexible language when it comes to singing and arranging vocals. Singing Finnish lyrics also always feel much more personal to me which maybe limits my writing a bit, though mainly in a good way. In English I feel like I can write about different topics and with a different approach than I normally would in Finnish. It has been refreshing.

MS: Let’s talk about art! Who designed the art for Between the Glimpses of Hope and the new singles, and why did you choose these images?

Salovaara: They were designed and made by Petri Lampela – a true gift, a man from the north! I shared some visions and ideas regarding the lyrical themes and Petri made his own visual interpretation out of it. He’s a master in understanding the concepts and presenting them in a physical form.

MS: On the Ephemerald social media page you ask what the listeners expect to hear. To turn the question around- what do you want them to hear?

Salovaara: Ha, clever move! I want the listeners to hear the energy and maybe even the frustration that went into making this record. Personally, this album still makes me feel a bit restless and distressed as that was mainly the vibe I had while writing and recording it. I’d like to think that this album is not too polished and safe listen, which hopefully leaves room for the sheer emotion we had while recording it.

MS: In a time where things can be unpredictable, it’s time to get out your crystal ball! What do you foresee for Ephemerald’s future?

Salovaara: Right now, we don’t have any other plans for the band than to release the album in a best way possible considering the situation. In a way, Ephemerald’s future remains a mystery to all of us. It might be so that we’ll never tour or play live. I’d like to encourage everyone to enjoy the moment, stay safe and healthy and feel honestly whatever they feel while listening to the album when it finally comes out in February.

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