Thursday, 3 April 2014

Project Updates

Currently I am working on reorganising this blog so I can categorise updates on different projects I am working on as well as considering how to go about including personal updates here. As a result working on so many different projects has made it hard to write about each thing without confusing any readers, so soon updates on my involvement with Skyhammer will happen elsewhere and this page will deal mostly with Snowkid related content and there will perhaps be a different page for anything else I am working on.

At the moment I can briefly say that I am busy in pre-production for the next Snowkid album (Blue Eyed Emotion) and things are nearly ready for recording and the main production stages. There has been a confirmed track listing as of now, although I don't want to reveal it until there is more promotion and the album is in post-production.
There will be some more exciting news about this soon. Like I said, I can't say much yet because certain things are still up in the air, but if things work out this could be a very cool year.

I played with Skyhammer in support for the Swarm Tour featuring Dead in a Second (Sydney) and Jerrico (Melbourne). Black Water from Adelaide opened the show. This actually turned out to be an awesome night! I can say with confidence that if you didn't go, you missed out on a lot of fun and good music. Thanks so much if you were part of the audience, you were a pleasure to play for!
There were some hectic and funny moments though xD moments before we had to play we couldn't hang our banner because someone forgot the duct tape, so our vocalist's brother was lifting me on his shoulders so I could reach random nails and once-used tape from previous shows still stuck to the wall.

We recently have made new versions of our EP, they look much better compared to the first batch that we received.

Also, I had a custom kick-drum head made for us when we play live. I'll fit it to my drum kit when we have our next show, I'm rather pleased with how it came out. 

The company that I chose was to print the head. I recommend them if you are planning to have something like this made for your band, the site is very easy to use and the head builder is self-explanatory. Plus the customer service and value is very good!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Summer Sweat Fest

I'll be in Adelaide soon playing a show with Skyhammer! I haven't played with them for three months and I really miss letting loose on those heavy songs. I'm going to drum my heart out assuming the hot weather doesn't kill me first after being in Finland for so long.

We're playing at Strike Metal Club's Summer Sweat Fest! Held at Enigma Bar on Friday the 21st of February along with Balls Deep, Paraphernalia Wagon and Age of Horror. Go check the event page and other bands if you live in Adelaide and are interested to go! Strike Metal Club has been really good to us and they deserve way better attendance at their events.

For those who don't know anything about Skyhammer, we're a mixture of melodic metal and power metal. Certain songs have death elements and others have more of a progressive influence. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Blue Eyed Emotion

As I have mentioned, I have some news.
I have mentioned this to people already, but I'm going to now announce properly that I am working on a new album!

It's going to be called 'Blue Eyed Emotion', and I've wanted to make this for over three years now. If all goes to plan it will be a melodic metal album relating to a story I've been planning over this time. At the moment I'll say that the story contains many elements and involves back stories of multiple characters forming the main plot, a mysterious adventure dealing with some very dark themes. 

One thing about this that I am trying to do differently than most concept albums is find a way to separate, and give the album its own artistic identity while being able to show the story side when the listener pays attention to it. This took a long time to figure out, but I have decided to solve this by actually writing a book. This way the album can be enjoyed and not ruined by lyrics chained down by a story, allowing the listener to interpret the songs in their own way. This also allows the story to be much clearer and easier to follow, able to be seen for the story itself or help the reader to see the songs on the album in a new way. 
I will mention that writing is not my central passion like music, however writing has been something I have also enjoyed since I was a child. I am doing this because I love it and I am trying my best to express this. I don't care whether this book turns out decent or worse than some embarrassing fan-fiction found on DeviantART, I am going to do this! 

Now that most of the news is told, here is some concept art for the album and story, showing the main characters!

This was made by two artist friends of mine, Essi Pekkonen and Laura Torvinen, and I made the background myself. Laura helped me make artwork for my first album, Skyrunner and Essi has now joined the team to help out with character artwork. The album will contain a lot of visual content in the form of a comic-like insert. I have been designing the characters for a long time and they have all changed in some way from the beginnings, but now I am really happy with how they look and I can't wait to see it all come together! But more about this later.

I have one more thing!
To kinda celebrate all of this, I'm releasing a free single for everyone to hear online! I have a lot of material already written for the album, and I want the album to have a heavier sound but this particular song ended up being pretty different, closer to the rock sounding songs on Skyrunner (and it has hand claps.. which is just unacceptable on a metal album!) I decided to produce this song myself and use it as a single to bridge the gap between the albums.
It's called 'Frostbitten Forsaken'!

The lyrics are there in the link, so see it however you want. It's not completely related to the story, but it does relate to one of the characters. ; )

Vocals are by the awesome, Kristy McCormick who will also appear on the album to come! Guitars are by Jake Keeler from Skyhammer who might also appear on the album!
I took care of the rest of the instruments as well as production as I mentioned earlier.

I hope you enjoy it! Happy New Year to everyone and I want to thank those who have supported me this year. It means so much to me and hearing your encouragement makes it all worth it! <3

Friday, 20 December 2013

Don't Look Back

So much happened this year, if I wrote about everything that happened in detail I would be here for days. However I want to talk about a few things before my big announcement for Christmas and the New Year!

It has been a big year for the band I drum for, formerly known as 'Zero Hour'. We have grown as musicians, friends and a heavy metal team. But the first big change is the name! We came to a decision to change our name due to some other bands sharing the same name and also as a rebirth for the new lineup and style.

We are now officially known as 'Skyhammer'! We also have an EP out as well consisting of three originals and a cover of 'Take on Me' originally by Aha! It was recorded throughout the year and then mixed by Jake Keeler (guitarist) and I, and mastered by myself. 
Check it out on ReverbNation now!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Matronarch (Live Show Critique)

It's frustrating that there are so many average metal bands around, especially in areas where the metal scene is only small. We're lucky to have an existing scene of this genre but if the reputation of sloppy, bland bands continues, there won't be one. However, on occasion a decent band will play a show and it makes me smile. One band recently made me forget where I was completely; it felt more like a metal bar somewhere in northern Europe. That band was Matronarch.

It's obvious these guys work hard, and actually practice away from the band space. Metal just isn't a genre where you can half-ass the job and expect it to sound authentic. Skill and knowledge will always separate the cream from the crap. And when listening to the band it was clear that the song arrangements were well thought out and allowed space for real melody and hooks. So many bands here chug out forgettable noise that they call a 'riff', and some boring power-chords for the chorus, then copy-paste-copy-paste it until it fills up the song length. The difference with a good band is the thought put into the 'riffs' and chord progressions which actually are worth gold from the get-go. Matronarch actually included catchy riffs and melodies with sophisticated harmony, and then had all of the virtuosic guitar shredding and keyboard soloing draped generously throughout, with taste.

Visually, the band is quite appealing. A common problem that makes other bands lousy, is their appearance. They look horrible on-stage because they come unfit and physically unprepared, resulting in hairy, sweaty troglodytes pulling the most ugly facial expressions because they can't breathe. It's exhausting for the audience to watch a drummer cringing in pain because the tempo is too fast for his poor technique and health. But the Matronarch members either looked calm or like they were rocking out to the music, which drew a good crowd response. They look like a metal band but stay well groomed, there is no excuse for looking like a hobo on-stage.

Perhaps the only lacking aspect is that between songs, it became awkward sometimes when the band seemed to forget that they were on-stage and engage in whole band conversations about petty things with the audience. However it still shows they were having fun, and trying to add a level of intimacy. It was great to see a band being so nice to the audience.

It's also great to see that the band is making progress. Not long ago they supported Kamelot and also Alestorm, and I think they were rightfully chosen. I'm looking forward to their debut album and future shows!

Find them HERE!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Nightwish - Imaginaerum Movie Review and More

I am a big Nightwish fan. The band, music and ideology was like an escape for me in my late teen years and still is. The combination of epic fantasy and dark emotion with heavy metal and beautiful melodies justified my feelings perfectly and touched a deeper side of my emotions. Their live show brings a certain magic that I have never experienced with other bands, as each album came out the surreal world blossomed more and more and the shows became more passionate. 

Before anybody had even heard the word Imaginaerum, I could only imagine the band's future potential; knowing that somehow, among today's suffering music business (thanks to free file-sharing and pop marketing fooling the public to enjoy un-originality and mediocrity) this band still manages to sell records, merch and pull great crowds worldwide. 

However I never imagined Imaginaerum.
Well.. I had, for myself. With Imaginaerum those guys managed to somehow take all of my childhood imagination and harness it into one effort, while blending it with my favourite music, while revealing the whole Nightwish world and Tuomas' mind like never before, while also working the whole thing to metaphorically symbolise life itself. 
I always wished the band would do something like this, and as they brought it together I had high hopes that this was going to be fantastic. However... Other people seemed to feel differently, and I remember being surprised when so many people said they hated the movie.

When the 'Storytime' video was released along with the album shortly after, the general reaction was that people were amazed. The video was notably different than past Nightwish videos in the sense that the fourth wall was manipulated as a result of the film-production footage being weaved into the performance. It had an interesting effect when a product of the band was essentially them 'making the product'. 'Storytime was probably also the first Nightwish song that not only worked as a great single, but also spoke for the album as a whole entity. This made people excited, along with the visual, theatrical image introduced that was perhaps only occasionally referenced in the past; through imagery in song lyrics. In other words, the band had moved to a new level and big things were in store.

When I saw the movie, I loved it. And it will always be a movie I treasure, without one bit of guilty pleasure. I'm proud to love it and I truly believe it is severely underrated. 
The visual appeal of the film is so nostalgic and magical. Numerous artifacts and nuances of childhood decorate the scenery throughout. When this is mixed with the darker elements, the resulting mood is eerily captivating. The soundtrack and audio sequencing really brings out the visual appeal even more. Due to already having a connection with the Imaginaerum album, there were so many powerful moments  in the movie when hooks from the songs were sequenced and fragmented into the soundtrack. The story telling is different than most films and when watching, I noticed I had to pay close attention to what was being said, and what it really meant. The film uses many metaphorical situations and symbols to tie everything together so it can be easy to get lost if you're not paying attention. I feel this would have been confusing to viewers used to a more obvious form of plot structure, but if you pay attention and figure the clues out, the effect is very cool and quite mind-blowing. The film rapidly alters between different time periods of the protagonits' (Tom's) life. At first this confused me because the indication of a time change isn't always obvious and without paying attention to names, it's hard to identify the characters in different ages. I began to think that maybe this was intentional.

What happened when I watched it was, I started piecing things together as more clues were given, and that explained what I had previously seen that confused me. Such as when Ann in her aged form continued to appear in Tom's 10-year-old age, the way she spoke to him confused me as there was no way to tell that Tom was connected to this person in later years of his life. Furthermore it's strange for an old woman to speak to a child as if they've grown old together and can reminisce. Tom even reacts confused to this.

 However, in the jazz-bar-'Slow Love Slow' scene, Anette Olzon herself is presented with the band, Tuomas is obviously playing Tom as  his middle-aged self and Ann as her older-self appears in tandem with Anette. This instantly made me understand that Ann is an inspired version of Anette as Tuomas' vocalist, and everything started making sense. The same thing happened with the Snowman (Mr. White) being a metaphor for Tom's father. It's those 'Ahaaa' moments that shed light on the storyline, showing the viewer how to understand the film-style. 
On a side note as a fan, it was so awesome to see the band appearing in the movie and playing the songs in such a theatrical way!

People had been exposed to the style and visual appeal of the movie, and knowing Nightwish, it was obvious the movie would be deep. Yet when the movie was released, the reaction contained a somewhat surprised distaste. 
The most common complaint was that the movie was more like a huge music video that had no responsibility to make sense. Furthermore, those who felt this way often said that something like this had not been done before and wasn't normal, too weird. This is not true. Are we forgetting The Beatles movies? Films such as 'A Hard Day's Night', 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Magical Mystery Tour'  were enjoyed in their time and were just as obscure if not, more. 

This is a movie by a band. My guess is that it would be designed to appeal to fans, after watching it I clearly see it was. It was never trying to be an Academy Award-winning Blockbuster so I feel it shouldn't be seen as a failure on those terms. Because I can say that as a fan, the film blew me away because it let us see clearly into Tuomas' mind as a poet and 'song-maker'. For years the songs made me wonder what everything meant, and it came with a mysterious aura. What was the real idea behind songs like 'Bless the Child'? Who is the Dead Boy? What is an Ocean Soul? All of these concepts coloured in the Nightwish world and with Imaginaerum, I feel that we really see what Nightwish means to Tuomas, I can find new meaning in the old songs and it also reflects Tuomas slightly as a person. For example, Thomas Whitman is known for showing his feelings for people in his songs because he can't express it in person. In the early 'End of Innocence' documentary, Tuomas himself tells that 'Dead Boy's Poem' is his way to thank those close to him in his life.

One theory as to why the whole idea even attracted negative attention, is because of those embarrassingly stupid Tarja VS Anette wars between the fans. I am proud to be a fan of the band, but I don't ever want to be seen alongside people like that. Not only was that totally unfair and unsupportive towards Anette who allowed the band to continue, but some animals even decided to take it as far as to bully her! Spreading insults, hate comments and sometimes blatant vulgarity about her around the internet, as well as mocking her and taunting her while she was performing.. Seriously, I remember being so disgusted at that behaviour and it still makes me angry today. 
Even though Anette had become very tight with the band and had a second album with them really letting her shine, people still saw the project negatively just because Tarja wasn't there. I enjoy all eras of Nightwish and Tarja was also a very important member, however Anette allowed the band to explore new territory and experiment with different styles within the genre. Imaginaerum couldn't have had its charm without her, and it's sad that she is no longer in the band either.

With all critique aside, I recommend the film to anyone who loves to get immersed in fantasy and enjoy hidden meaning and mystery. It has a high replay value for me, every time I watch it I find something new and it never fails to bring me a heavy metal mix of emotions.

Friday, 26 July 2013

For the Children

In this post I want to talk about quite a sensitive topic to me. As much as we don't like to admit it, we live in a pretty cold and dangerous world and while there are good things in life we must cherish, tragedy still strikes every day, every hour, every minute. As I grew older and had the real world unveiled to my innocent eyes, I struggled to accept it and still do. I can't help but feel pain and sympathy every day for those people who are suffering, sad and lonely.

However, one part of this hurts me the most and really disturbs me.. The fact that there are children suffering everyday and being forced through horrible experiences at the fault of adults. Adults who are supposed to care for them and protect them! 

While we hear about the most sickening and heartbreaking cases in the news and on TV, many people don't comprehend that these things happen everyday in our own communities and go unnoticed. 
I had a good childhood. While I was bullied at school for many years, I had a safe and secure home-life and I know that without it, I don't know what I would've done. I was lucky yet still there were many times where I felt scared, unsafe, lonely and miserable. While they say that every child needs to know these feelings to grow stronger, the thought that there are children who have nothing but those feelings every day for their lives, let alone children who are abused, tortured and raped makes me sick and turns my heart to ice...

After growing up in a safe home and knowing how fantastic the world can be for children, I want to do something. Every child should have a sense of comfort and security, someone to love them that they can trust and be able to enjoy stories, magic and fantasy; the things that make life worth living.
A charity group who strive to help children in horrible situations and restore sunshine to their shattered lives is The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. The charity was set up in memory of two girls who were tragically killed in the 1996 Tasmanian shooting, in which a terrorist attack took the lives of 35 innocent tourists. 

The charity helps children in need across Australia by providing comfort to those kids and families taking refuge from domestic violence while also helping to rehabilitate children who have had traumatic pasts.
Also importantly, they ensure that schools are aware of bullying and educate parents, caregivers and schools about these matters, acting to prevent children ending up in these situations. 
Many instances of child abuse could have been avoided if those responsible were brought up with different morals and values.

As a songwriter, I can't help but notice that many of my lyrical themes are at times, dark and desperate. I don't want listeners to feel that I see the worst in my own life, because I am grateful for what I have. The truth is that I write from the souls of those people who really are in dark places, all those children I mentioned before. It stays with me and my sympathy comes out in my music, and if you are in times of darkness, then I write for you too.

When I realised that this is the way I want to express my feelings about it, I decided that I want to use my music to help these children.
I have decided that half of the profits made from my debut album, Skyrunner, will be donated to the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

If everything goes according to plan, I'll be selling physical and digital copies through Bandcamp, it will be available on iTunes, Spotify and other online stores. I will have more information about this within the next two weeks and I am hoping to have it released by August 10th.

Thank you for reading, it means so much to me. I just want end by saying that I am well aware that I may only be small in the music industry and some might see my contribution as feeble, I've even received negativity towards my music, but I honestly am not doing this to bring attention to myself. I just want to help those who need it, I want to do anything I can and I want to do it now..
This album is about being who you are and expressing your feelings, and not letting anyone bring you down!