Jyväskylä, Finland-based metallers Trauma Field independently released their third full-length album From Wounded Soil on January 31. In their 18-year tenure the band has navigated melancholic and atmospheric waters—and this album, while less strictly heavy than its 2016 predecessor, delivers more nuance and variety than before.
A brief intro leans into “Wounded Soil”, which travels through a few phases: layers of growling vocals and choral synths come before thoughtful and hushed clean vocals, followed by blast beats to carry the song across the finish line. “Golden Fields” is next; its 7/4 time signature feels almost progressive and is an exercise in the band’s songwriting capabilities.
Jaakko Pesu (vocals, guitars), Atte Toivola (bass), Mikael Saalasti (drums), Ville Koskinen (guitars), and Antero Jokinen (keyboards) dish out something of a surprise on “Skyharbour”, as From Wounded Soil’s second single offers an uplifting feel in a major key. “In the horizon there’s a harbor//A place to go and chase your dreams//You’ll find the ships made out of clouds//They’ll take you where you need to be.” Later on, the piano flourishes, guitar solo, and vocal harmonies of “Gone Home” are particularly memorable. Beginning and ending the album with bird sounds, the final moments of this track mark a peaceful conclusion: Trauma Field has fledged the nest.
In a chat with Metal Solstice, Pesu, Jokinen, and Saalasti shared personal insight into the creation of From Wounded Soil, as well as their sources of inspiration behind the album’s underlying “concept of home”.
Metal Solstice: This was Trauma Field’s first full-length offering since 2016, and second following some now-distant-past lineup changes. At what point did you start working on the From Wounded Soil material? Please walk me through the creative process for this album.
Jaakko Pesu: For me the inspiration to make songs goes in phases. After each album there’s a few months or years when nothing happens, but when the phase changes and songs start coming, I usually make more than one. With this album, I believe that the first songs were composed in 2017. “Gone Home” was one of the first ones, and maybe “Five Years”. I then made the demos in the summer of 2018, and nothing much was changed after that, we only added more layers to the final product.
As is the case in all of our albums, there is a theme here as well. At the time I was planning to move back to my original hometown, Lappeenranta, after studying in Jyväskylä for ten years. It made me think about the concept of home, because Lappeenranta has always felt more like home to me, and I don’t know exactly why. So that theme became the core theme of the album as well.
I don’t like repeating myself too much with my songs, so there is something more or less new in every track of From Wounded Soil. “Wounded Soil” contains some more jazzy chords, and “Golden Fields” is the first Trauma Field song to go in 7 [time signature] and things like that. “Esi-isille” deserves also a mention, since it’s the first Trauma Field song in Finnish, and is a lot more folk metallic than other songs. It’s an honest bow to Moonsorrow, a band which has given me lots of inspiration.
MS: From Wounded Soil was also the first album in which every band member got a chance to sing (and you’ve even posted a video clip of it!) Tell me about that experience- was everyone up for it? What made you want to try this as something new?
Pesu: Yeah, everyone wanted to sing, we didn’t have to force anyone! We like to have backing vocals and choirs, and we have practiced doing this live as well, so here it was only natural that other guys sing on the album too. The vocals sound more diverse when there are multiple singers and different voices.
Antero Jokinen: This was the first time I’ve sang on an album so it was very exciting! Like Jaakko said, the vocals sound more diverse; the end result sounds more like a band and it’s closer to what we sound live as well.
MS: On to the album art by Sofia Härö. She’s not mainly an album art designer, but instead does a great variety of black-and-white drawings. How did you find her, and what direction did you give her for this cover artwork?
Pesu: Sofia is a friend of mine, and she liked the demos I made a lot. And I like her drawings a lot. So we got this idea to combine them and have a really different art style on this album. I’m super happy about the results.
The idea of the album is home and one’s roots, so with these themes in mind Sofia made a couple of sketches, and from those we chose our favorites. After some brainstorming we ended up with this idea: a heart that lies in the roots.
MS: Let’s talk about the scene in Jyväskylä. When things are open, how does your local crowd support Trauma Field? Which other bands would you say are your local brothers (or sisters)-in-arms?
Pesu: We don’t play shows very actively, but when we do, there is usually a quite nice crowd. It would be nice to expand our territory a bit, we have some contacts in other bands like Ever Circling Wolves in Helsinki.
Jokinen: We’ve played multiple gigs with Scars of Solitude in Jyväskylä. There are many great bands here. And we often see familiar faces in the crowd which is of course awesome!
Mikael Saalasti: Though many bands set their own shows up with local venues there are a couple of organisations here that do their own promotions. Jelmu RY and Jyrmy RY for one. If I had to name one bigger brother in arms from Jyväskylä it would be Swallow the Sun.
MS: Well, you’ve surprised me—with a name like “Trauma Field” and the darker, more melancholic vibes of Changing Tides, you don’t necessarily expect an uplifting track like “Skyharbour”. Can we discuss your inspiration for this track specifically?
Pesu: Black looks blacker next to white, and vice versa. It’s nice to do different kinds of songs with different emotions, not just the dark stuff. The inspiration for this track comes from a Finnish artist J. Karjalainen and his song, which is translated, “Everything is like before”. In the song there is a verse which goes something like this: “Clouds are like ships that wait in the horizon. There will come a time when this winding road takes me home. Everything is like before.” I think about this verse and my future every time I’m at my summer cottage and look to the horizon, where the setting sun paints big clouds with vivid colors. Where will the road take me? Where is my home? So I made a song about that, from a parent’s perspective who has walked that road before.
MS: You’ve mentioned that the main theme of this album addresses the “concept of home”. Which elements, whether musical or lyrical, feel like home to each of you? Are there specific feelings or places that you can pinpoint to certain band members, or is the “home” idea a bit more abstract?
Pesu: The concept of home for me has multiple layers. My summer cottage that I mentioned earlier is kind of a home for me. There I have made many, many songs and there are many memories. I think about those places and sceneries when I sing many of the Trauma Field songs.
I think the feelings of peace and safety and belonging are the most important ones that can determine home. In the song “Wounded Soil” there is the softer middle part where the protagonist returns home and drinks some whiskey by the fireplace. I think that is the part that feels like a home to me, both musically and lyrically.
Jokinen: For me, home is a warm and safe place and feeling. In this album, I think there are moments when the narrator is a bit lost but also those comfortable moments when the narrator feels like home. Gone Home is a good example of feeling a bit lost and “Skyharbour” is a good example of having a safe, familiar place.
MS: “Wounded Soil” is a pretty big composition, with layers of synths and piano, a guitar solo, and a brief period of rest before blast beats and harsh vocals finish the job. Why did you choose this song to represent this album as the (almost) title track?
Pesu: It’s a good in-your-face starting track and a kind of a cross-section of the album. By listening to it you get a pretty good idea what this album is about. Also lyrically it’s a natural way to start the journey: A man must have a place to hang his coat in. The past is what it is, but keep moving forwards and you’ll get there. This song was also named long before the album, and the name “Wounded Soil” is also the name of our first EP, where it all began.
Jokinen: Trauma Field has come a long way From Wounded Soil. [Laughs.] See what I did there?
MS: On February 12 you did a livestream; other than a few connection issues, how did it go and what was the reception? Where did people join from; were you able to engage with listeners that you might not have been able to otherwise?
Pesu: I think it went really well! We had some Finnish viewers and even one from Mexico, which was really mind blowing. It was the first time we could talk to our foreign fans, so I’m really glad we did it in English. We hope that more people find it later when we upload it to other platforms as well. For me it was also interesting to hear honest opinions of other band members about the songs. We’re Finnish, so we are not good with compliments, so it was nice to hear what they had to say.
Jokinen: I’m sure we will do it again; it was so much fun! Now that we’ve done the first live stream, it will be much easier to do it again. There are so many interesting things you can do with them and connecting with the audience this way is a lot of fun.
MS: Besides the September gig at Ilokivi, what other plans do you have for Trauma Field in 2022?
Pesu: The plan is to promote this new album. A LOT of work went into making it, so it would be nice that as many people could get to hear it as possible. Planning shows is hard with the pandemic still going strong, but we will play live as soon as it’s possible.
Jokinen: We’ve done a lot of stuff in addition to the actual album as well. There are studio documentaries on YouTube and there will be other fun and interesting videos too. So be sure to check out our social media and YouTube for more content!
Check out Trauma Field on Spotify here: