Abbath drummer Ukri Suvilehto has established himself as one of the most diversely involved participants in metal, appearing in a variety of musical projects during a time when connection was particularly challenging.
In an interview with Metal Solstice, the 27-year-old Finn provided a personal account of his ongoing experiences with shamanism, self-care, and professional collaboration. He also gave insight into future Abbath material; while a release date for the band’s third full-length album is yet to be announced, Suvilehto hinted at a body of work that will be “authentic and raw”.
Metal Solstice: Recently you’ve done studio drums for IA, and lent your vocals to Pahan Ikoni. Can you tell me about how you’ve connected with other bands and projects during the pandemic, and anything particularly memorable from these experiences?
Ukri Suvilehto: During pandemic times I have borrowed my voice on gang vocals for Pahan Ikoni and featured on the upcoming Mercury Circle album on a shaman drum. IA also released the initIAtion debut album last year, indeed. Anton was one of the original links, but there were other links and interesting synchronicities on how I originally got involved with the IA band in 2015 already. One of the memorable and fun experiences from my recent musical involvements was featuring on the gang vocals for Pahan Ikoni with few old friends of mine.
MS: Speaking of these projects, let’s talk about shamanic drumming for Mercury Circle. Which drum did you use? Would you like to see shamanism and related musical elements have a greater presence in metal?
Suvilehto: Actually the singer of Mercury Circle, Jaani Peuhu, originally saw my photo on Instagram with the shaman drum. So he asked me to collaborate as they had a song in which they needed some tribal percussive drumming. The drum itself was actually built by my father at an instrument building class few decades ago.
Shamanism and esoteric spiritual elements have brought more place in the metal music during recent years, as far as I see it. The tribal feeling and musical elements have always been involved in the metal music. These two worlds work well hand to hand when combined properly together.
MS: The Abbath Facebook page has promised, “hard, heavy, catchy and huge. The best of all worlds,” for album number three. What details can you share about the album?
Suvilehto: The upcoming Abbath album brings more unified musical chemistry from the band. In my opinion it also brings on the table some of the best and some of the catchiest songwriting from Abbath of all his bands. It is a musically diverse album and it feels very authentic and raw in its expression.
MS: What kind of modifications did you have to make to the way you typically collaborate, record, etc. on this album, due to Covid-related restrictions?
Suvilehto: I traveled to Bergen in January to work on the pre-production before we entered Kristiansand in February to record the album at Dub Studio with Endre Kirkesola. Working on the album itself was smooth. However, there were a lot of Covid-related travel restrictions to make the whole process a bit more difficult.
MS: In a time where live music and the metal community are awaiting a full return to normalcy, and free time is still abundant, what are some things you’ve done for self-care and to feel “normal”? Also, what is something that you have recently learned, whether about yourself or a new subject?
Suvilehto: I have spent a lot of time working on self-development and on physical exercising. I have studied some new things as well, such as playing the Indian classical music instrument called sitar. Also, I have studied some new languages such as Portuguese for the sake of my own fun and keeping my brain well and developing.
MS: Why is it important to you to be a student- both inwardly (e.g. meditation) and outwardly (e.g. learning to play the sitar)? Similarly, why is it important for you to share these journeys with others?
Suvilehto: In practices such as meditation or learning an instrument, for me they are different sides of the same coin. It is about creating rituals and routines which bring about balance and meaningfulness in my life. Sharing my journeys with others is a way of documenting events which I find meaningful to share and something that I personally like to go back to reflect.