Marrasmieli is a Finnish pagan/folk black metal band from Lake Tuusula. Their name, translating roughly as ,,November spirit’’ - comes from the Finnish word ,,marras’’, meaning ,,death’’ and ,,mieli’’, meaning ,,mind’’ or ,,mood’’. They released their self titled EP debut album in 2018 through Naturmacht Productions, a Finnish ambient/black metal label. Their second studio material, the full length album called ,,Between Land and Sky’’, was released on the 27th of January 2020.
The band consists of Nattvind as vocalist, drummer and keyboardist, Zannibal as guitarist and keyboardist and Maelgor as bassist.
With a fresh sound filled with surprises at every step, the band seems to be getting better and better with every album and, if they continue in the same direction, they will certainly become a very influential black metal band. Seeing that this is just the beginning, this band is only now tapping into the vein of talent in what’s to come in the future. There will certainly be amazing music coming from these three gifted musicians.
We had the pleasure of interviewing them. Here is what they had to say.
Your documented list of influences is quite impressive. Names such as Moonsorrow, Agalloch, Darkthrone, Emperor and Burzum all carry a perceived remarkable weight. Exactly what is it about these bands that allows them to influence Marrasmieli collectively?
Nattvind: We are influenced by other kinds of music as well (not only metal) and those bands are only some examples of our influences. Each member in our band also has their own influences and don’t necessarily share the same ones with the others. But what those bands have in common is that they’ve all got their own distinctive sound and have given us some framework about the sounds that we all feel like wanting to follow. All in all, those examples act as a pretty good overview about our main influences as we’ve taken inspiration, for example, from close-to-nature blackish metal like Moonsorrow and Agalloch and the second wave of Norwegian black metal which the other bands represent. Also, to a certain extent, we’re influenced by Finnish folk metal bands of the 2000s which Moonsorrow represents to some degree as well.
Growing up and living in Finland must offer you wonderful opportunities to immerse your mind and body in nature when the time allows. Please describe this closeness that links your music to natural landscapes.
Nattvind: As you stated the great thing about Finland is the fact there’s still a lot of nature left. Even in bigger cities like Helsinki there’s nature spots where you can go away from the urban areas (even though you can’t escape the sound of traffic). Unfortunately, in Finland as well there’s a lot of people who don’t care about treating natural environments well and don’t appreciate it. As humans we are also only a part of this world and not above other beings. Too few people realize it.
Marrasmieli makes excellent use of keyed instruments to create the flowing melodies which bridge quite peacefully with blackened guitar riffs. This essential pairing anchors the foundation of your Pagan/Folk style of black metal. Will you explain in detail the band’s approach to songwriting and elaborate on a few lyrical inspirations?
Zannibal: There isn't really any formula for making a song. Sometimes I come up with a chord-progression and start working from there (such as the song Marrasmieli), sometimes I have a song-structure in my mind (such as with Karakorum) and try to make a song fit that, sometimes I come up with a riff (Embrace the Eternal) and start from that etc. I usually write as much as I can come up with, then show the song the band and they give feedback. Then I write more and send it again etc. It's just back-and-forth like that until the song is finished.
As for lyrics, I can explain the ones I've written:
Marrasmieli: The song was short and catchy and I felt it'd be perfect self-titled track for the band. I basically just wrote about what the band's name reminds me of
What Nature Fears: I wanted to try if I could make a Lovecraft-ish story work in a folk metal setting
Karakorum: I explain this later
Aallot: I wanted to write something sea-themed. Also wanted to try making something more metaphorical
Nattvind: I wrote the lyrics for two songs on Between Land and Sky. The first song on the album, Embrace the Eternal, is about finding one’s place among nature. Those Who Are Long Gone deals with death. I took inspiration from the ways that death is portrayed in Finnish mythology. It also seems to me that we are closing the end of the world with all that’s happening in the world (such as increased political tensions, environmental disasters and the way mankind treats nature) so I was influenced by those feelings as well.
Your 2018 self titled EP set the stage in introducing the project to the world. Both tracks paint a picture in the listeners’ minds that associates winter reflections with an old pagan spirit yearning to be set free again. What were the thoughts in your heads at the time these two songs were crafted?
Zannibal: What Nature Fears was the first song I wrote. At the time we had no idea what we were going for. Originally I was thinking about more ambient (I think I even explained my original idea to Nattvind as "folk-Burzum"). The intro of the song was much longer and monotone. But then it kept getting more catchy and fast and I scrapped that idea. Thematically I wanted to make the song feel like a dark winter night (since the nights aren't dark in summer in Finland) where you can see the stars and the galaxy in the sky. That's why there's a bit of a sci-fi vibes in the intro
It’s obvious the lengths you all go to in connecting the music to nature. Without getting political, will you share your personal opinions on current climate change? Also, what have you seen in regards to climate change in Finland over the course of your lifetime?
Maelgor: In Finland, climate change has manifested itself in, for example, generally warmer winters (each year is different though). This winter has been particularly warm. At the moment the temperature is hovering a bit over 0 °C and it’s already February. Even though these kinds of winters have occurred a few times since they started measuring temperatures in Finland in the 19th century, studies have indicated a general increase in temperatures during wintertime.
That being said, I don’t think climate change is a matter of opinion. Or that at least it doesn’t matter what you think about it. We all know the average global temperature has been rising increasingly for over 100 years, and still is at this very moment. What matters is what each of us, within the limits of our abilities and possibilities, chooses to do about it.
Any plans for touring in the near future? Possibly catching an open slot on a larger club tour through Europe? What bands would you see as a good fit for Marrasmieli in terms of touring partners?
Nattvind: There are no touring plans as of yet. We don’t have a lineup for playing live and we haven’t made the decision to start searching for one.
Congratulations on the new full length album, ,,Between Land and Sky’’ being released in late January of this year. This is a praiseworthy accomplishment. The music you’ve written for this album is truly special, it represents the album’s title perfectly. The listener is carried through valleys, down riverbanks, across mountains and into the clouds reflecting golden rays of a setting sun. Can you share with our readers your thoughts on the atmospheric connection between black metal and the spirituality of Earth itself? We feel the currents of the past pouring out in every note from within your music. Specifically, the pagan past longing to be free again. Man rekindling his own spirituality in form and practice. Describe the pride that swells from within as Marrasmieli perform their magic through themes of folk laden purity.
Zannibal: I think you could say there are ways to connect black metal with the "spirit" of Earth.
Sometimes it's as simple as the production of the album. One example that immediately comes to mind is Autumn Eternal by Panopticon. If I had to describe the sound of the entire album, I'd say "organic". It just feels very natural and I don't think that kind of production would work in most other genres.
Then there's these hypnotic songs like Burzum's Dunkelheit which I think can achieve quite a meditative effect.
Finally, there's what in the classical world would fall under impressionism / tone poems. Yea, who would've thought you could explain black metal with such fancy words. But sometimes you have bands where the riffs and melodies aren't the point, they just serve to create an atmosphere. Or in some cases they're outright trying to imitate the sound of a freezing wind or something. A great example that comes to mind would Paysage d'Hiver.
In an interview from 2018, you state you are inspired by nature, mythology and days of old. Do you have a preference for a certain mythology? Do you like history? How was this passion born?
Zannibal: Not really. I find all kinds of mythologies interesting. For example, the song Karakorum was inspired by a book called "Buried in the Sky" which is about the 2008 disaster in K2, but it also goes into great lengths in explaining about the lives (and mythologies) of the local Sherpa people. You can find a lot of references to the mythos in the lyrics.
As for history, well, who doesn't? I find my interest shifting from one period / geographical location to another over time. Lately I've been studying Polish language and of course reading about their history too.
Nattvind: I find all mythologies interesting as well. Especially ancient Finnish beliefs and Scandinavian mythology are fascinating to me. I’m definitely not an expert at them but I’ve read the Prose Edda for example. Still I have my share of studying to do. I agree about history with Zannibal. What I find very interesting is when one find’s parallels from history with modern age. Such as the ways how political extremities started to gain power in the same way as they do now. To know the future you must know history.
You all use pseudonyms. Is it because you don’t want your identities to be revealed or is it to honor the legacy of black metal? How did you choose your pseudonyms?
Nattvind: The thing with the pseudonyms is that we wanted our music to have a certain kind of mysticism and using pseudonyms seemed suitable for that. Obviously, the idea got born from the traditions of black metal and it just felt right for this band too instead of using our real names. My pseudonym is a combination of two Swedish words: natt (night) and vind (wind). It simply felt like a name that could be suitable for creating this kind of music. In Finland it’s actually obligatory to study Swedish in comprehensive school. Most people hate it but for me it’s never been a problem as I’ve always liked languages.
Zannibal: Zannibal is just a name I've used for years.
Can you please tell us how and when did your passion for metal begin?
Zannibal: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 at the age of 7. The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden was on the soundtrack and I really liked it. In fact, I even turned off all the other songs from the settings and then played the game for hours with NOTB looping in the background. Later that year a friend introduced me to Children of Bodom's Follow the Reaper.
Nattvind: My first encounter with metal was Nightwish at the age of 9. I remember being completely hooked on their Once album which was the number one album at the time in Finland. But what really got me passionate about metal music and culture in general was discovering Metallica through my brother when I was eleven years old. I spent my time listening to all their older albums and reading about the band online. Then I got to know Megadeth through Metallica and I was also introduced to Finnish melodic metal bands at the same time like Children of Bodom and Ensiferum. After that at the age of 13 to 14 I started to discover more extreme metal genres and bands.
Maelgor: When I was around 8-9 years old I started getting into bands like Children of Bodom, Slipknot and Battlelore, and expanded my horizons from there. In my hometown, metal was very popular among the youth at that time so it wasn’t hard to catch up on it.
Could you please tell us a few words about how Marrasmieli was formed?
Nattvind: I had been really wanting to start a band that plays some kind of folkish metal for years. As I knew that Zannibal (who was in the same high school with me) was a fan of that kind of music as well and created music himself, I decided to message him and ask if he wanted to form this kind of musical project with me. Quite quickly the music took a much darker form that was influenced by black metal a lot as we were fans of black metal too. During the songwriting process of the Marrasmieli EP we decided to ask Maelgor to join the band as well. He also used to be in the same high school with us and I had been playing with him in quite many projects before so we knew that he would fit this band perfectly.
Do you listen to other types of music as well?
Zannibal: Definitely! I love all kinds of atmospheric music, such as dungeon synth (which I also sometimes make myself), movie/game soundtracks, and some other synth stuff (such as Jake Chudnow).
I also really like classical music. My most favorite composers would probably be Sibelius (especially the 7th Symphony) and Bach (BWV 578). Of course there's tons of others I love too and I also have studied some classical music theory which I plan to use in my future music (not sure if with Marrasmieli, tho).
I do listen to pop music every now and then, too. Sometimes modern, but mostly 80s. Karma Chameleon is the peak of Western Civilization.
Nattvind: If you only limit yourself to listening to metal you’ll miss out on a lot. A Finnish prog rock band from the 90s called Kingston Wall is one of my favorites of all time. Lately I’ve been listening to Jethro Tull’s Aqualung a lot. I also like their Songs from the Wood and Thick as a Brick albums. At one point I was listening to gothic industrial quite a bit. Mostly to a band called Grendel. So yeah pretty much all kinds of stuff gets listened to here.
Maelgor: Pretty much anything I happen to deem interesting. To name some, all kinds of electronic music have been close to my heart, especially trance, drum & bass and early dubstep (when it still had something to do with dub), lately I’ve also got into synth wave. However even in those genres I often tend to go for the darker and/or heavier stuff. I like combinations of different types of music, like in the way Ojos de brujo has done. There was even a time I listened to a lot of swing and it’s electronic derivative too.
I saw that Maelgor likes building flutes. Where did he learn that? What are your hobbies?
Maelgor: I do indeed enjoy making different kinds of primitive wind instruments, even though it’s not a year-roud hobby since materials for different instruments are only available (in a usable state) in certain seasons, e.g. willow bark, wild angelica stalks and reeds. I was trying to make a flute of actual wood for the album but found that I lacked the skill to use well enough the tools I had and couldn’t afford new ones. For the time being I also don’t have a convenient place to facilitate woodworking.
As I read, Zannibal likes H.P. Lovecraft. What are some of the band’s favorite authors?
Zannibal: I don't really have a list of favorite authors. Usually I prefer non-ficiton to fiction.
My all-time favorite book has to be The Hobbit. I've read it several times and never get bored of it. I also really like short-stories (more so than full-length novels, really) and apart from Lovecraft I've liked the works of Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe, the Witcher short-stories and even Kafka. I know with Kafka you're supposed to over-analyze every word but I just enjoy the odd atmosphere in the stories.
Lately I've been also getting into classics, such as Divine Comedy. I thouhgt it'd be nothing short of torture to read it, but turns out it's actually quite an interesting and easy read.
Maelgor: I, as well, have enjoyed J.R.R. Tolkien work a lot. Nikolai Gogol’s short stories are also some of my favourites.
Nattvind: Nowadays I read way too little but the books by J.R.R. Tolkien have made a big impression on me as well in my youth. I was also completely hooked on the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R. R. Martin a couple of years ago.
Do you like hiking/strolling through nature? What are your favorite places to visit?
Zannibal: I love it! Although I'm not really super professional about it. In fact, the cover art and all the art in the booklet are from Jotunheimen National Park in Norway (except one photo, which is from Zakopane, Poland). The photo was taken at the end of a 3-day hike (2 days hiking and one day climbing the Glittertind mountain). 3 days without a proper meal, without a good night's rest, with several areas sunburnt (who would've thought the sunshine is stronger 2km in the air), getting lost a few times etc. But the that sunset over the lake Gjende (which is the cover art) made it all totally worth it.
Bergen is another great place I plan to visit again. Not a huge wilderness like Jotunheimen but the mountains surrounding the city are beautiful and enjoyable to hike at (and easy for even less experiences hikers). Also, I ran into Gaahl at the docks of Bergen, so that may happen too.
Also, there's this nice, small forest / river thing that's a protected area in my hometown. I like walking through it especially on summer evenings while listening to music. It also is really beautiful during winters when there's snow. The cover art and the band photo from our EP was taken in that area.
Can you tell us a few words about Finland and the Finnish language, please?
Zannibal: The good news is that the Finnish language doesn't have articles nor grammatical gender. The bad news is that there's 15 grammatical cases and I'd imagine it's virtually impossible to learn them perfectly if Finnish isn't your main language.
Have you played any live shows yet? How would your live shows be, if you did?
Nattvind: As I stated earlier we haven’t played live. I guess that our shows would offer something more than your ordinary metal shows.
Your music is wonderful. With your second album, you’ve outdone yourselves! How do you feel that the songwriting on this full length album differs from your previous EP?
Nattvind: Thanks a lot for the compliment! The way I see it, on Between Land and Sky the songs are quite a lot more straightforward than on the EP. It just ended up being like that. People seem to like it even though it’s a little bit different than our EP which is very cool.
Have you thought of the future direction of the band in terms of the sound?
Nattvind: Nothing is completely decided yet, but we’ve been talking about making the next one a bit more organic sounding than Between Land and Sky.
Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
Marrasmieli: Thanks for reading this interview and to all who support us! If you haven’t already, you can check out our new album Between Land and Sky which came out recently through Naturmacht Productions. We hope you’ll like it!
Thank you very much for granting us this interview! We hope 2020 is a fulfilling year for Marrasmieli and wish you the best of luck in all you do!
Interview by Silvia & Bryant Shelby
Photos by Aarnivalkea art