The Search for Perfect Melody
CoC interviews Esa Holopainen of Amorphis
by: Pedro Azevedo
From the cold northern lands of Finland, Amorphis have been growing, album after album, to become one of the giants in the current European metal scene. Few bands are as technically excellent and creative as they are. As you can read in Gino's interview with this same band almost a year ago [CoC #11], these Finnish melodic metal masters made a giant improvement on their _The Karelian Isthmus_ with 1994's _Tales from the Thousand Lakes_. Last year's awesome _Elegy_ showed even more improvement on the already great _TFtTL_, mainly in what concerns melody, and it's also the main subject of this e-mail interview, as we discuss the past, present and future of Amorphis with guitarist Esa Holopainen.

CoC: What is it that you think makes the awesome _Elegy_ a better album than (the also excellent) _Tales from the Thousand Lakes_?

Esa Holopainen: We have developed a lot as musicians and composers since _TFtTL_ and of course there are lots of things in _Elegy_ which are more connected to our culture and folk music. In _TFtTL_, there's lotsa cool things as well but these two albums are made with different mood so for us they are two totally different albums musically.

CoC: Do you think your quality has improved with the addition of the new keyboardist, Kim Rantala?

EH: Kim's got a part of it as well as Pasi but we had already composed a lot of songs before they joined the band. Kim's sound world and musical roots are very different from Kasper's.

CoC: And what about the new vocalist, Pasi Koskinen? Would you say his voice is better for Amorphis than Koivusaari's grunts?

EH: Tomi's voice is growling and Pasi's voice is pure singing so you can say that growling vocals are for us more like an effect but it gives a great mood for the songs. Pasi has a great melody sense which is very important if you are the lead vocalist. I can't say which one is better, it's the same thing if you ask which one you prefer, your guitar or your delay pedal.

CoC: I personally enjoy Koivusaari's style, although I think Koskinen fits in quite nicely (after enough listens, that is). What are your plans for the future in what concerns the balance between the two vocalists?

EH: Pasi's voice is the lead one so he'll sing in almost every track in the future. We still haven't forgot Tomi's voice and as long as our music needs a growling voice we will definitely use it.

CoC: Is there any sort of problems in the band concerning your musical direction (like between new members and older ones)?

EH: No problems at all. When we arrange our stuff everybody must be pleased with the sound, then we know that we are doing something good. Even though we have different music tastes between some members it does not reflect on the Amorphis sound.

CoC: Why did you record _Elegy_ in three(!) different studios?

EH: First we went to Sunlight studio in Stockholm and recorded all the basic stuff there but during the sessions we noticed that it wasn't technically prepared enough to finish the album there so we came to Helsinki and used two studios to finish the recordings. Finally we ended up going to Liverpool to mix the album there with top engineering fellow Pee Wee Coleman who did a really awesome job.

CoC: It's pretty clear that your (Holopainen's) name is the one that shows up most frequently in the song credits. Do you consider yourself the band's creative center? (I should mention that you are currently my favourite guitarist, the one who combines technique and creativity best.)

EH: I did several songs and was part composer in most tracks but in our band every member is creative and some people come up with songs more often. I had a lot of ideas before we started to do material for _Elegy_. We always arrange the music in our rehearsal room together as a band. Otherwise, I do a lot of interviews, etc., so my name might come up often in what comes to Amorphis. I'm really impressed about your comments what comes to my guitar playing so cheers for that.

CoC: Just how do you manage to come up with such amazing melodies all the time? I mean, _Elegy_ is probably the greatest opus of memorable melodies I've ever heard, it never ceases to amaze me.

EH: We are searching for perfect melody. That's our meaning of life and that's the rule that we are following.

CoC: How well have your last couple of albums been selling so far?

EH: Pretty good. _Elegy_ has sold so far over 100 000 copies.

CoC: How have the live shows been going lately?

EH: Very nice, we just finished our _Elegy European Tour Part 2_, which was really cool. We went to play in smaller cities were we haven't yet played in Europe so much and the response was really great. Otherwise, we did a massive touring with _Elegy_ and we still are going to play summer festivals under the _Elegy..._ tour.

CoC: In your point of view, which are the best Finnish bands right now?

EH: The best one was Kingston Wall which does not exist any more, but a few cool bands are Xysma, Sentenced, CMX.

CoC: You're supposed to be releasing an EP in April. Would you like to give us some more details?

EH: It's coming out in June, don't ask me why the delay. It includes "My Kantele" from the _Elegy_ album, two new tracks, and two cover tracks, one from Hawkwind and one from Kingston Wall.

CoC: In which ways do you think Amorphis will change in the future? Will you become heavier, softer, groovier or more melodic. What do you think?

EH: Hard to say. I hate the word groove, so that's something it's not going to be. Still heavy.

CoC: OK, that was my last question. Any messages for our readers?

EH: Thanx for this cool interview and I wish you best luck.

(article submitted 13/5/1997)

5/19/1999 A Bromley Amorphis: Living Up to Their Name
6/9/1996 G Filicetti Amorphis: The Alteration of All Norms
10/24/2009 K Sarampalis 9 Amorphis - Skyforger
11/19/2007 J Ulrey 9.5 Amorphis - Silent Waters
2/17/2006 P Azevedo 7.5 Amorphis - Eclipse
5/29/2003 P Azevedo 5 Amorphis - Far From the Sun
8/12/2001 P Azevedo 7 Amorphis - Am Universum
5/19/1999 P Azevedo 8 Amorphis - Tuonela
5/10/1996 G Filicetti 9 Amorphis - Elegy
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