Interview with Anima Hereticae: Genesis of the Band and the “Ov Behest” EP

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The frigid Finnish air has breathed life into Anima Hereticae, a blackened melodic death metal outfit who will offer their debut EP, Ov Behest, this Friday, October 1.

The trio, comprised of vocalist/bassist Ville Rutanen (Aeonian Sorrow, Red Moon Architect), guitarist Taneli Jämsä (Aeonian Sorrow, Red Moon Architect, Hukutus, Frosttide, Ghost Voyage), and drummer Teppo Ristola (Paara, Where’s My Bible, Lost in Grey, KaijaKKojootti), forged Anima Hereticae with the intention of carving a new path outside of their existing groups’ musical styles.

Clocking in at just over seven minutes, the EP’s first track “Stone That Burns” enjoys ruthless blast beats and Rutanen’s black-metal-leaning vocals over a bed of synths and orchestral instrumentals. A welcome breakdown at the five-minute mark offers a brief, grooving repose before hurtling towards the finish line.

“Ov Behest”, both the first single and the EP’s namesake, falls more squarely into melodic death metal than its predecessor. An accompanying music video, directed and produced by Framenoir’s Tino-Viljami Vanhala, depicts the band’s aesthetic, replete with corpse paint and moody, misty forest scenery. ”Constellation of Capricorn” is the EP’s longest offering, straddling the line between death metal and black metal in its eleven minutes, also featuring a long instrumental interlude.

In an interview with Metal Solstice, Rutanen and Jämsä commented on the birth of the band, as well as the patience they exerted while waiting to unleash the Ov Behest EP. They also shed light on the release’s dark themes, explaining the lyrics in some detail but also leaving enough mystery for the listener to interpret their own meaning.

Photo provided by Anima Hereticae.

Metal Solstice: Your debut single “Ov Behest” leans toward melodic death metal, with a few black metal elements, also including the band’s aesthetic. Which metal crowd do you think your music will attract more: the death metal folks or the black metal folks? Can they coexist?

Ville Rutanen: A difficult one straight as a first question! [Laughs.] My answer is yes, and they already do co-exist. I think bands invented a term for that in ”blackened death metal.” But in the end we don’t overanalyze our creative process too much. We just make the music you would like to hear. Who knows how we sound in ten years and who will listen to us then, right?

MS: The three of you are currently part of nine other bands, most of them quite established in Finnish metal, so your musical reputations preceded the birth of Anima Hereticae. What has listeners’ feedback been so far regarding “Ov Behest”?

Taneli Jämsä: Feedback has been only good and it has been so great to hear how people like us. And fans of our other bands have been also so excited about the Anima Hereticae atmosphere and sound.

MS: Why was this the right time to start Anima Hereticae? Please share a little bit about how the band formed, and why this name is fitting.

Rutanen: I was longing for a faster, death metal band for quite some time. I found out that Taneli, with whom we play in two doom metal bands, has the same kind of ambitions. I was gonna record a solo album first, but this turned out much better I’d say.

I’ll try to keep it short with the name. In a philosophical context ”Anima” means the irrational part of the soul. We as a species have developed cognitive abilities only to be at constant conflict with who we are, as individuals and as a society. ”Hereticae” of course comes from the word heretic.

The name is how I see the band’s song themes as an exploration to the human mind and to the great conflict within. I think the heretic there just fits that idea that even though you can give man all the science and the knowledge, but in the end he/she is drawn to nature, to the old beliefs and to the earth. In the end it’s pretty primitive who we are.

MS: Similarly, what creative “itch” does playing this style of music scratch for you that perhaps you don’t get to play in your other bands?

Jämsä: There will be different vibes if you play fast or slow. This kind of metal band with blackened ambience, I haven’t had many in my life but playing and composing stuff like this is something I always wanted to do on some level.

Rutanen: I think the end of the question is exactly on the right track. Doom metal takes you to a very meditative place that no other style of music can achieve. It’s beauty at its darkest. But when you play that type of music for an extended period of time you start to miss certain things.

Death metal resonates on totally different energy levels. I think in general music as a whole is a language, and death metal is the cuss words. As a metal musician and a creative person I have to use the whole vocabulary. I could give a long answer, but anyone who has been to a sold out death metal concert knows what I am talking about. It’s primitive, it’s raw, it’s controlled chaos and there is beauty in there. You just fucking feel alive.

MS: Do you intend to bring Anima Hereticae to a stage setting, or keep it as a recording project only?

Rutanen: I mean, we recorded this EP almost a year ago and it got postponed because a lot happened during the year that was beyond our control. The world got crazy and there just was no time to do everything right in time. You know how hard it was just to sit on it? Now it’s out and we already have plans for shows and maybe a full-length album is in the making soon. Let’s first finish the release of the EP, however.

MS: Can you explain who took which role in composing each song? Also, did you bring in other musicians for the orchestral instruments, or did you play/program them yourselves?

Jämsä: I have done composing on this Ov Behest EP. Wanted to create balanced whole with three very different songs and keep that ”blackened death metal groove” on. I also wanted to keep Nordic-style melodies and melancholy, as if you just close your eyes you will have journey to deep in beautiful northern nature. Long songs have been always my trademark and one of those fit perfectly into this trio. Some help with orchestral arrangements was also given by our trustman, Saku Moilanen of Deepnoise Studios.

MS: This EP was written during a time of both global and personal turbulence among the band. How did you channel that emotion into this EP? Was this process an outlet?

Jämsä: Global bad situation helps things hapen by having the free time to write songs and can’t claim surely there are some effects of shutting world on those guitar riffs and melodies.

Rutanen: I’d like to say it was. However at the point this EP was made it wasn’t that bad yet. I think time will tell you how this affected us all, but for now I would like to exit the thing and then pretty soon forget about it. Or maybe forgetting isn’t the best option. I hope we remember that things aren’t to be taken for granted. Family, having a drink without buds, attending a live show. Exiting your house. Be grateful.

MS: Let’s discuss the other upcoming songs beyond the EP’s namesake, “Ov Behest”; can you discuss their content and any musical or lyrical themes that run among them?

Rutanen: I think this EP is an intro to the world we want to invite the listener to. Even though this is not a concept album it revolves around the same theme. I am not a great fan of over explaining the lyrics; I belong to that generation that bought a physical album, and during first times hearing the record you would sit the album sleeve on your hand trying to digest what did the lyricist and the composer intended the message to be.

“Stone That Burns” is a classical adaptation of the Greek Icarus story. Our subject of the story is trying to achieve eternal life through means of alchemy. It’s written in a chronological style of telling. This is my favourite style of writing lyrics. “Ov Behest”, in a way, is more of a metaphor. I opened the meaning of our bands name before and this song reflects that concept. “Constellation Of Capricorn” is the most abstract of the songs. I think a good lyrics doesn’t always have to have strict narrative. It’s more about the dark dance between the music and the lyrics.

So as I said all of the songs revolve around the same theme, but approach lyric-wise from different angles.

Jämsä: Those three songs are a good representation of what will become.

Find Anima Hereticae on Bandcamp and social media here:

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