D: When did you decide to play avantgarde doom metal? What was the reason for creating the band?
MW: I created the band around 1998 e.v. as an outlet for my creative & destructive urges. I didn't decide to play 'avantgarde doom' or any other definite music style, but to just make whatever kind of music I felt enjoyable without any genre restrictions. I have based Aarni's music mainly on doom metal because I like that style, but our tastes have evolved and changed with time, so we have also incorporated other favourite genres of ours, such as folk, progressive rock/metal etc.
D: What is "Aarni"?
MW: Well...our band? The Finnish word derives from the Germanic term meaning 'eagle', but in Finnish it has the definitions of 'griffin', 'virgin forest', 'forest spirit' and 'treasure-guarding spirit entity'. It can also be seen as representing the Shadow archetype of Jungian psychology and the "demon" Choronzon of Western occult tradition.
D: Describe the concept of your difficult-to-understand art? What does Aarni stand for?
MW: Aarni has many concepts. So far we have featured at least Lovecraftian, Jungian, Ancient Egyptian, Thelemic, Discordian, Gnostic and shamanistic themes. I also have included elements from Fenno-Ugric and other mythologies, as well as references to some conspiracy theories. The music is quite literally "occult". I guess that ultimately Aarni is our stream-of-consciousness stuff, so it can be difficult to understand for other people. But we try to occasionally think of the listener, so the music won't end up as mere chaos.
D: Please tell about your new album 'Bathos'. What is it about?
MW: It has many themes like I stated above. Maybe the album could be mainly described as a search for balance & harmony in life. I have clothed that message in Alchemical and Hermetic allegory. I also included instrumental tracks, which I intended to create a relaxed and mellow feeling in the listener. I wouldn't describe 'Bathos' as doom metal, there are too many different styles on it for that. Hopefully there is no sadness or melancholy present. The album may work best if listened to in an expanded state of mind.
D: Doom metal bands are mostly situated in Finland. Do you know what is the reason for the phenomenon of this northern country?
MW: I can't really say, but maybe it has something to do with the traditional Finnish lifestyle and outlook on life. Here many people see themselves as being melancholic, depressed, unworthy and otherwise doomed - I think one reason is harmful "cultural" indoctrination in the 19th century, as well as heavy drinking of alcohol. Also having been conditioned by the Protestant (the worst?) brand of Christianity doesn't help. Fortunately religion has been dying for a couple of hundered years now, but old bad habits die hard... On the other hand, music is an important part of Finnish culture and everybody gets at least a basic musical education in school, so that could explain the large number of aspiring musicians compared to the overall population in Finland.
D: It seems that you are a fan of Astrid Lindgren troll-books. Is it true?
MW: Not really. Perhaps you mean the doomintroll-moomintroll thing? The Moomintroll books were written by Tove Jansson and I enjoyed them as a child...they also have much adult material in them. We can learn many useful things from the Moomins' anarcho-shamanistic lifestyle.
D: I think that the main doom metal feature is long-timed songs. Without this grandious slowness such themes can be described just as rock or death. Do you agree?
MW: Sort of...I agree with you that the main feature of doom metal has to be slowness. I believe that's about the only common thing between the different subgenres of doom metal. But apart from the slow tempo, I think doom is also usually lyrically different from most genres of rock/metal.
D: The slowest/hardest doom metal band for you?
MW: Actually I don't listen to doom that much anymore, I think I have perhaps "overgrown" it. Certainly I am not interested in who can play slowest. I still enjoy more or less classic bands like Candlemass, Solstice, Solitude Aeturnus and even My Dying Bride.
D: Tell your opinion on MDB, Paradise Lost and other famous doom bands' latest albums.
MW: I didn't enjoy MDB's latest album very much, because I feel they are mostly
recycling material from their classic albums. Seems to me that they have been stuck
in a creative rut since the departure of Calvin. Their newer material feels "ok",
with some good songs, but nothing special. Paradise Lost have returned to some extent
to their classic style, which I like. But still their songs are very short with
a catchiness and needless 'poppiness' that seems forced to me.
That's about it, I haven't really heard the latest material from other bands that I would call "famous". I am looking forward to Candlemass' new release which should be out in a few months.
D: What would be the situation with doom metal if Black Sabbath would never have appeared?
MW: Impossible to say, of course. The history and current state of the entire metal music genre would probably be very different. At least doom metal wouldn't be the trend that it is now :)
D: Last doom metal release that impressed you much?
MW: It has been a few years, but perhaps Shape Of Despair's debut album? Like I said earlier, I'm currently not very interested in following the doom metal or any other music scene. The latest bands that have impressed me are Kuusumun Profeetta and the 1970's albums of the progressive rock band Camel.
D: Do you think doom metal always must be gloomy, sad and scary?
MW: Absolutely not! Quite the contrary, in my opinion...I think those subject matters and sentiments are pretty childish & too "easy" to use. Maybe angsty teenagers enjoy dwelling on such material in their self-pity, but I myself would like to make music for adults. But to each his own...in any case I'd like to see more variation in doom metal than there is currently.
D: How frequently have you gigs?
MW: We have done no gigs so far. Perhaps the most important reason for not gigging is that we don't believe in live performances. We're not interested in seeing even other bands play. Most people seem to go to concerts for social reasons, not musical ones. I prefer to enjoy music by listening to records.
D: How do you see doom metal in the future?
MW: Perhaps as more varied, but this isn't something I'm really concerned with. I don't care how "doom metal" will turn out in the future. I try to concentrate in making our own music, playing in some projects and discovering good music and bands, regardless of the genre or such artificial restrictions.
D: I'm out of questions. Tell some words to the doomers...
MW: Aarni's music is better than it sounds and buy a copy of 'Bathos' directly from
me...that way the price is lower and there are no music business middlemen involved.
More info on the Aarni website.
We are currently working on the second album, which looks like to be more extreme than 'Bathos'. Heavier and "doomier" & also more psychedelic. Thanks for the interview and smoke a good joint every now and then!