Because every day another band records another song. Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck. Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm. Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.
The phrase “progressive elements” in a promotional blurb can, for the jaded and cynical among us, cause an almost mandatory smirk, narrowed glare and cocking of the head slightly to the left. It can mean anything from multisectional songwriting to the use of keyboards, from djentrification to the splicing together of disparate musical forms. Until the results are rendered, it’s hard to be sure what those two words mean.
Once the context words like “Finland” and “gothic rock” and “fans of Junius” take their place, it becomes much easier to discern the direction that Edge of Haze plan to take. And so much the better. Their second self-released full-length, Illumine, draws together the strongest qualities of melodic heavy music – commanding vocals, contemplative melodies amid emotive and truly muscular guitar rock, sky-high musical ambition that never loses sight of gut-thrumming ground. Sure, the keyboards become prominent at times, and there’s some djent here, but the whole of Edge of Haze’s sound turns out to be quite a bit greater than the sum of these parts.
Now, a week before its official release, you can hear Illumine for yourself and find out from bassist Eero Maijala and percussionist Janne Mieskonen all about the band's intent, process, and experience with, um, man-birth. And if you like, check out the band on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages for more info.
Edge of Haze began life as Damage. Can you talk about how that original version came together and what your vision was for it? How did it grow into being Edge of Haze?
Janne: We formed the band as Damage with Eero in 2007 and were driven by the pure will to play and create music together. We've known each other for more than ten years so overall the project was about having fun and trying our limits. The music was more straightforward attitude metal with some alternative influence. After discovering bands like Katatonia and Swallow the Sun we began to write more atmospheric and experimental stuff and pushed the initial sound towards something completely new.
Eero: We became a full five-member band in 2010 and as a result we decided to change the band's name for something more original and suiting the sound better. The spirit we had has lasted and above all all the band members are best friends with each other.
Janne: Yeah, all of us have been good friends before being in a band together.
Unlike many bands, Edge of Haze started recording music very quickly. Was original music always a driving reason for the band?
Eero: Definitely! The two of us began writing our own songs with a crappy keyboard and a drum set sometime after we had first met. We recorded those songs into an old MP3 player and we still have that distorted jangle stored somewhere haha. Writing our own original music has always come naturally to us and we never really got into playing covers.
What would you say Edge of Haze is all about for you? What do you hope it communicates to your audience?
Eero: Discovering, exploring and maintaining our own sound. Using every color of the palette when it comes to songwriting. Being as open-minded as possible band-wise.
Janne: Exactly. We'd like to convey our vision on good music and share the ideas we have behind the songs. I think our music has the ability to get you to a certain state of mind which is always cool. It's also cool to try to visualize what we've been after music- and lyric-wise, for me each song on the new album has its own color and environment.
Do you think anything has changed in your approach since your last album?
Janne: We have expanded the field we operate in with more dynamics, rhythmic elements plus bigger production. I think the songs are more mature, better organized and more interesting than before.
Eero: Janne and I like to call the last album, Mirage, "nightclub metal", as while listening it you feel like being in an old nightclub from the 50's with jazz playing, Frank Sinatra etc. We don't exactly know where this notion came from, I guess it's just a vision in our heads from the ethereal vibe of the album. The Mirage nightclub is warm and cozy and not really dangerous in any way. As Mirage was like this casual jazz club, Illumine is that same club in a future dystopia. With decayed walls and abandoned hallways, with a lot more edge and danger. And with a very menacing atmosphere.
Janne: Yeah, as Mirage was more like a safe but vague selection of songs we had back then, Illumine is a clear uniform entirety. Each song has its role in the story.
Eero: It was also really cool to work with guys like Acle Kahney, who is primarily known from TesseracT and Tuomas Yli-Jaskari from Tracedawn. These guys really gave the album the sound we were looking for.
Do you have a specific approach to songwriting that you have used multiple times, or has the process been different for each song? Can you describe that a little bit? Is it an individual or collaborative process?
Eero: Now that I think about it the process on every song on Illumine was quite similar. Every member of the band has recording equipment at home, and one of us usually gives man-birth to an idea or a full song at his home and sends it to others. Then we begin to work on it, bounce off each others ideas and arrange the final version together as a band.
Janne: Nowadays we have five active composers in the band so all of us are involved in composing and it's really cool to notice how we all share the same vision what Edge of Haze is supposed to sound like. Every one of us has their own style to contribute with but as we've known each other for so long we kinda end up making material that not only sounds like our own but also settles well together.
Do you think Illumine came from a particular emotional or philosophical place, or is each song its own entity?
Janne: Illumine came from the same foundation lyrically since it's a concept album. I really enjoyed writing the story for I remotely see some association with me and the protagonist. The album is about finding yourself and daring to have an opinion, similar stuff which I've been dealing with in real life. I had the original idea for the album while spending a week in a cottage in the middle of wilderness. I had all the time in the world just to think about things and let ideas flow through my head. I somehow ended up imagining a city which represented all the limitations in the world and the place I was in, the wilderness, as the ultimate state of freedom. I really started liking the confrontation and so I made up the story about the transition between those two states. It's simple, it's universal and something you can identify yourself with and that's why it works. I was also inspired by a book called Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden about a North Korean dissenter who had been living his whole life in a miserable prison camp but eventually had the courage to take the leap and attempt an escape. I think that is something to inspire every human.
Are there particular musical ideas you hope to explore more with Edge of Haze?
Eero: As Illumine was recorded almost a year ago, we have some new and unused material for the third record already! If I was to describe the new material I guess it focuses more on singing and little bit simpler song structures, something like Radiohead meets Gojira and Hans Zimmer [haha]. One thing that I'd love to do is to write a totally acoustic song for Edge of Haze in the future and on the other hand a crazy, fast song, kinda like “The Pyre” on Illumine but more twisted. This all is exciting for us too because we don't yet know where this progress will take us but so far it seems really promising!
Janne: I would like to explore both making straightforward songs and in the other hand pieces that focus on the flow, atmosphere and dynamic building. It's really exciting to notice how tenuous the limits are for an Edge of Haze song.
Do you have any specific plans/goals for Edge of Haze in the near future?
Eero: We definitely want to perform live more! We have some club gigs booked to support the album but we'd like to do more. So a tour in Finland or Europe would be fantastic.
Janne: There are a couple of music videos coming up too which will keep us busy at least during the fall, stay tuned for those on Youtube! Our singer and guitarist Markus and our good friend Olli Kiikkilä have some real talent on the visual side too and we want to utilize that as much as possible. And then of course we'll keep on making new music as every member of the band is writing stuff for the new record already.
Eero: Every one of us has their own influences and an own style when it comes to writing music and it is always great to put these ingredients together and see what kind of mixture we'll end up with!