KALMO Interview

11 min read

A week before the release of the long anticipated EP “Demoni”, I sat down with the mastermind and the lost soul behind KALMO in order to discuss every tiny detail around the material, the art, the production and the darkness surrounding the Doom of dungeons. KALMO barely opened a door, and an almost invisible ray of light tried to reach his black realm with this interview, just for us – to be able to feel his blackened heart and witness his endless artistic potential.

– Hello and welcome back to Blessed Altar Zine, Kalmo! We met last summer for your first interview on the Zine. Now, half an year later you have a special occasion and lot of news to share, but first of all how are you on the threshold of releasing your brand new debut EP?
– Thank you Count Vlad and Blessed Altar Zine for having me. It is my pleasure to meet again. As for the EP release, I am more than nervous and restless. The black inferno of excitement is scorching me inside.

– It is great that so soon after our first chat we can sit again and discuss your new material and its release. Now, when everything is ready, how do you see the EP? Let’s hear about it from you directly and how you are going to present it to our readers?
– First of all, had some lost soul told me two years ago, when fanning the black flame of Kalmo, that I will release an EP, I would not have believed it. Well now here we are, and I’m thrilled about it!

For me the EP is a kind of rite of passage. Closing an obscure chapter with something that has been made as good as I am able. The original idea last autumn was to have all new songs for the EP. With the limited time of a mortal that turned out to be way too ambitious. After getting two songs pretty much ready and some motifs underway I found myself meandering in an endless circle of fire. Riffs started to repeat themselves way too much. Late autumn I concluded that I needed to stop pushing it and change plans. The history was wailing in the mist that I needed to finalise what I had started. I decided to answer the call and finalise the demo versions.

I am happy with the end result. The coarse brutality and unpolished raw style I was looking for is there. The songs are different from each other, but still as a whole make a good infamy casket for a fiend.

– Why “Demoni”?
– The name Demoni came to me while I was thinking about what I should do about my release plans. After stepping down from the ambitious levels I mentioned above, I considered editing the existing demo materials and releasing them I like word plays and Demoni is a play on words, a silly but apt one. Demo is “demo” also in Finnish. The Finnish word Demoni means my demos, but it also means demon. That was it. It joined the ends and closed the circle.

– For this EP you re-recorded and polished some old tracks, which are known by the fans with their vidos and demo versions. Others are brand new tracks…
– Yes, that is right. Those who have followed Kalmo more closely may find they have heard many of the songs earlier as more or less demo versions. While going through the songs I had on demo level I found myself thinking: what if I push myself a bit more and re-record some of the songs instead of editing the already recorded demo tracks? Well, a demon’s appetite grows by what it feeds on.

I then had Runar Magnussen mix and master all the tracks. He did the original mix for the autumn 2018 version of Mustaa. He did great work on that song, so I wanted to ask him if he was interested in joining this project.

– Last week we had an exclusive stream of Elävä Vainaa here on Blessed Altar Zine, but let’s go song by song. What can you tell us in detail about these six desperately black and horror tracks – the ideas behind, the lyrics, the music?
– The EP opens with Piru. The song is a story about that Old Nick who lures all of us to the road of no return with his twisted phrases. This song was originally released with a music video. The video material is cut from the classic German film Faust, released in 1926. I am extremely happy with the video as the song’s lyrics, the theme of Faust and the storyline of the video match each other so well.

The next song, Elävä Vainaa, is brimming with the smell of smoke and eternal fire. The character of the endless road to damnation is further revealed in the psalms of this song. The heavy burden of never forgiven sins haunts our souls on our road to hell. I will most probably re-release the video with the EP’s music track. The original video was released with a demo version of this song.

The lyrics for the song Lupaus are from an old wooden hearse at St Mary’s Church in Sastamala, Finland, dated 1834. Lupaus was written and recorded in a day at a cottage in the middle of nowhere. The writing process was fuelled by beer. I have some random ideas for a music video, screaming for some free time so they could get realised.

Valo is a desperate cry for light. You can picture a cenobite, who has answered the call of that evil reprobate, captured in a dark cave. A narrow bright beam of light breaks into the darkness. Faint hope of salvation is carried within that beam of light. The innately dark soul of man answers to the alluring temptation of the shadows. This dark psalm is from a few years back and also was released as a brutal demo version.

The track Mustaa emanates the silent darkness of the shadows hanging over the void. Everything, I mean everything, will end.  Mustaa is perhaps the first song written in the story of this one-man doom metal project, way back 2008. It found a new shape in the autumn 2018 and was released with a music video.

Show me your face is a story of the calling of unholy creation and man eventually transforming into that unholy creation himself. The original, more Demo(n) Quality and Low Fidelity version has been fully reformed and re-arranged for this EP. It now has more dark strength in its soul and seeks to unfold the listener’s sold soul’s full fate.

– The bonus track “Show me your face” is a song you did once for YouTube competition. (!) Now the tracks is re-recorded, re-arranged. It is also the only in English. Why did you decide to include it in the EP?
– As I had such little time to work on it for the competition, the demo version was crappy. I almost didn’t enter it in the competition. I took this opportunity to work more on the track. The idea was to make it like a legion of monsters with burning fire in their eyes running over you, smashing and overwhelming. The song turned out to be powerful, yet still simple and to match Kalmo’s style. In addition, it fitted so well the rest of the songs. It would have been a pity to leave it out, even with the English lyrics. You never know, Kalmo might release more material in English at some point.

– Five of the tracks are in written in Finnish. Is it on purpose you are not using the tradition English? I mean, in Finnish, the tracks sound even scarier and underground…
– The decision to use Finnish was intentional.  And yes, you are right there, Finnish sounds brutal and harsh and fits the Kalmo sound well. They say that things you do not know scare and allure you. I hope there is a bit of that too *evil laughter*. For those not familiar with this brutal language of doom there is a booklet in CD version with lyrics also in English. You can find lyrics in both languages also on Bandcamp.

– I really mean that your chants in combination with the dark music from the dungeons – everything is creating a horror visions and nightmares…Do you have your favourite track out of the six and why?
– That is difficult question. They are all loved even though they are ugly 😀

Valo is a favourite because of the story in the lyrics and the creeping intro. Lupaus is another because of the more contorted musical set-up.

– The artwork, your pictures and all the details in your videos have always been impressive demonstrating the very artistic side of Kalmo. It is so important to have impressive artworks these days, right? Tell us more about it? How deep into the art are you?
– Totally agree, it is important. If you think about the live performances of some death and doom metal bands, the aesthetics have an important role, with all the stage props, corpse paints and blood, skulls and everything. For example, Gorgoroth with the goat heads, people hanging on the crosses, blood and fire, or King Diamond with all the stage set-ups to match the storylines of the songs. Alternatively, the visual design can be very simple yet powerful. A long time ago I was on a Trio Niskalaukaus gig. The only prop they had on the stage was the bright white light pointing at the audience from behind the band. Simple and a damned powerful effect. However, it is important to remember that the music should be in the focus and the visuals have a supporting role. Well, digressing from the question a bit here…

I am an admirer and consumer of art, the darker the better. One of my favourite artists is Polish Zdzisław Beksiński. Also, Dariusz Zawadzki has very similar style. One more to mention is Oliver Latta, who creates amazingly crazy animations; ones I would like to twist a bit to evil side and make look a bit more rotten and use for a music video.

– Were there many bottlenecks while the recording process? As a one-man band should have been challenging?
– It sucks all the available time from the calendar and even more. And as I am not that experienced with playing the instruments it takes even more time *laughter*. From the beginning of the year until early March I basically did nothing but practiced and recorded, in addition to my daily work and a few hours of sleep.

Working on the tracks by myself, I have found that I need to be systematic. Once I have an idea for a song, I record one guitar track to get the structure. Next, I create a baseline for the drums. Then I record the guitar track again to get it to the timing. That gives the foundation for building the rest of the material: bass, riffs, other rhythm guitars and the vocals. The workflow is pretty similar for all songs. The length of the process varies.

– The EP is so dark, so morbid, it is evil, it is doom from the dungeons, as I described it in my review. Furthermore, you are doing music for around ten years under different names. What is required, or how much darkness in the soul is needed, to compose such music? Kalmo means “cadaver” in Finnish…
– Thank you so much for those words. I think it requires a love of horror stories, some twisted views on Christianity, especially the beautiful darker side of it, and strong disbelief in humanity. I wonder what it would be like lyrics-wise if I had been indoctrinated to some other religion, say for example Buddhism, in my youth. The dark art and stories are also great source of inspiration.

– “Demoni” is somehow a milestone for your after being so active over the past two years releasing singles and videos. This EP summarizes what’s been up to now for you. However, what is ahead of Kalmo now? What are your plans and next steps?
– That is right. It closes a book of history and opens a new, hopefully even more macabre hymn book to be written. Now I can leave the material written earlier to live the eternal death on their own and focus on the morbid future.

For now, I think I will focus on relaxing for a moment from all the work done for this EP and then start to work on new material. Inspiration requires laziness and idleness to the point of boredom and beyond. For this EP, I had a project plan of 113 lines, each line representing a task that needed to be done – all this excluding the recordings and everything that happened before that. So, not that much time for being idle or getting bored *laughter*.

There will probably be one or two single releases later this year. In longer-term visions, I have a dream of producing a vinyl release.

– “Demoni” will be officially released on 10 May. What formats and merchandise can we expect?
– Yes, 10th of May is the day when the gates will be opened and Demoni will be unleashed. The EP will be released in both CD and digital format. In addition, there will be also available a Demoni t-shirt, for wrapping that doomed cadaver in. The metal ladies and metal lads can order these through Kalmo’s Bandcamp at https://doom.kalmo.fi

– Did we miss something important to mention, something still standing in shadow?
– There is a blackened heart full of gratitude.

I want to give huge thanks to Runar Magnussen (facebook.com/magnussenaudio) who did amazing work at mixing and mastering the songs. He was, once again, excellent at finding ways to implement the visions I had.

And of course, my sweetheart Mari gets all my love and gratitude. She has beared all the practising and endless riff replays over and over and over again to the point of madness. She has also helped a lot with the production: she took the promo pictures, helped with the props set-ups, maskings, and has proofread all the material with excellent improvement ideas.

Then the metal community: thank you for giving such a warm welcome to Kalmo.

– Kalmo, on the behalf of the whole Blessed Altar Zine I wish you much success with “Demoni”. We are looking forward to your next chants and morbid evocations from the dungeons. Thank you very much for your time for this interview. And…stay doomed!
– Thank you! It has been my pleasure. I would also like to thank you Count Vlad for your review and say it was very gloomy and ominously well worded! You do awesome and important work in supporting the underground at Blessed Altar Zine!

And yes, Stay Doomed \m/

Interview by Count Vlad

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