There is a vibe to the name LANTERN that feels comforting in some ways. Strange but that is what drew me to them. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Could you please explain to me what the meaning of “mid-10’s dark and arcane DM revival” is all about? What bands and sound are we talking about in this revival?
-Many bands of this archetype must have been founded between 2005 and 2010 in particular, but anyway, I think I know what you are talking about. You could make an endless list with bands like Krypts, Corpsessed, Genocide Shrines and Ascended, even though each one of them has their personality and nuances instead of being just a part of some wave. To me, it’s mostly about death metal bands a) overdosing on dark ambiance as a counter-reaction towards modernization and b) returning to the ways of the early 90’s, when the borders of different kinds of metal (death, thrash, black…) were slimmer. I guess one could merge Lantern in such lists, yet I must say to my “defense” that I have composed and played richly atmospheric and necro (and thus more or less arcane) death / black metal since the late 90’s. Lantern is basically the crown jewel evolved from my old band Cacodaemon, with the past bestiality taken a step further and through needs of my musical ambitions. So I feel like I’ve never entered that 00’s revival cave, because I’ve never really left it.
With a new record to promote how do you feel about it? What can we expect from it? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-After taking a few months of post-mixing / -mastering hiatus, I could watch II: Morphosis from distance and notice that it was still relevant and satisfactory. All the emotions we had in the start, of the music being high-quality and Lantern-like were still there, years later, even if the creative / executive process usually blinds the author’s perspective – in both good and bad. The outcome is a bit clearer than I first thought, but that’s not a negative thing. The balance and the impact the album as a whole is able to bring is what we had in mind from the start. II: Morphosis is much tighter than Below (both playing-wise and as an album), even if the latter has a different kind of approach and cannot be compared to the new one 1:1. The more professional production suits our multi-layered songs better, meaning fewer details go underneath the shroud of mystery. Expect no extra air, but an intense, breathtaking piece of crooked underground metal.
Do you feel that you by now have found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it?
-Trying to determine and categorize the Lantern sound is a never-ending labyrinth. Like the flame of our namesake object and the shadows it creates, we’re constantly on the move, vivid and renewing. There are certain musical elements that have been cemented as a foundation of sorts: the twisted and eccentric riffs and leads, Necrophilos’ raw yet highly discernable vocals, the free-spirited and unrestricted nature of our compositions, and so forth. But I could say we will probably sound more like we sound now than how we sounded on the earlier releases in the future. This is also thanks to the efforts of the current five-piece compared to what we did as a duo, prior to II: Morphosis.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Lantern’s lyrics reflect on my visions of horror, death, existence, philosophy, human / inhuman soulscape and so forth. Instead of religious preaching or spiritual manifests, I want to keep the lyrics fascinating, even entertaining, the way any non-scientific or -technical text should be. In my opinion, they manage to take our songs to a completely different level. In this sense they are more than important, but that’s just how I see it from the Lantern point of view. Some death metal bands work just as well without worrying on the lyrics too much: to each their own. Black metal, on the other hand, is another case. Sometimes I do conceal a lyric within a lyric, creating a so-called sub-text to turn facts or fiction into faction, trying to make it both simple and more profound.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-I wouldn’t release a record that has no real cover art. Maybe I’m just old(-fashioned). The sensation of laying your hands on a 12” or even a CD – the jacket, the case, the lyrics – cannot be surpassed by the digital media, not in my eyes. I must admit that I haven’t been as active buying records as I should be, but this is mostly due to lack of storage space and me focusing more on writing music instead of listening to it. Although I don’t worry much about sales, I think the cover art does bring more value in this sense, especially for collectors. Vinyls (and CD / tape, too) are a great subject for collecting, and a great cover can take the experience to a whole new level.
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-The world has become very small, as flights cost way less than, say, 10-15 years ago. Apart from us being somewhat weird and a bit marginal even in the underground, I guess what’s preventing us from playing more shows outside Finland is the fact that we’re a five-piece. Bölzer must be cheaper to fly around, since they are a duo, hah. Also, we don’t promote ourselves too much; we just respond to requests when people ask us to play in a place with electricity near them. To me, success means my music making an impact to the listener. If Lantern’s music has made a difference to someone, I’ve succeeded. If someone has found our music interesting, enjoyable, or moreover, a source of inspiration or new thoughts, even better. Of course, playing a couple of more gigs abroad could be considered my so-called “rock ‘n’ roll pipedream”, but we will never be a widely and constantly touring band anyway, because we have do our day jobs and families… for now, haha.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-Stay true to yourself and do what you feel is right, that’s the only way, really. Superficial gold diggers and imposters will fade away or change scene.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-The Finnish scene, especially this “inner circle” of friends, acquaintances and people playing together more often is something I cannot complain about. The “outside” seems comfortable, too, and there’s not too much bullshit or backstabbing going from my point of view. The scene here in Kuopio is small but intense right now, mostly traceable to a couple of practice spaces, haha, of which one is naturally ours. But the personnel and the bands they represent are diamantine. And I don’t think one really needs a national scene to succeed (at least not here), as there are many examples of (Finnish) bands having made it big in Germany, Japan etc. but never breaking out in the domestic scene / market.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like that in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-Heavy metal is very accepted in Finland. Not too much lame name-calling or persecution from the bigger crowds, really. There was more ruckus towards black metal in the late 90’s and the early 00’s, but nowadays we have TV commercials with Immortal replicas advertising cough medicine. The underground is a great place to exist without being bothered by such nonsense, but things do lack the feeling of danger that was around a decade and a half ago. In this sense, a bit of stone age wouldn’t hurt, but being treated somewhat equally for opportunities regarding practice spaces, live shows etc. is something you can’t really complain about (except in certain subgenres of metal).
What does the future hold for you?
-Well, you can never say that for sure, but if I were asked, we will next see our new album out, finalize our postponed 7” project during the second half of the year, try to play some more shows and keep mustering material for at least a third full length Lantern album… hopefully a fourth one, too, eventually!