Interview of Mikko Häkkinen, singer and lyric writer of Twilight Ophera.
The band celebrates his ten years old!!! The members have often changed. Can you tell us more about the actual line-up and “The Order of the Sanguine Diadem”? How these members have joined you for Descension?
After the release of bands second album “Midnight Horror” the times of struggle ensued. Nowadays only two original founding members remain, Toni Näykki and Timo Puranen. Fortunately it is Toni who has always been the man behind the musical vision and our main composer. I joined the faltering ranks to replace Sauli when the last decade turned. After all these changes you can say that Twilight Ophera is us three.
During the creation of our latest album “Descension” it occurred to us that we wanted something different this time. The music was large and unique so we wanted it to sound like some kind of twisted opera where possessed singers and cursed musicians fight to bring the lunatic script alive. So we contacted some different people whom we knew had talent and right spirit for this. The final result was so excellent we wanted to continue this theme in the covers, and so “The Order of the Sanguine Diadem” was born. Everyone who worked for this album has been excited about the result.
Your music includes a lot of various elements; I mean sounds and effects of different styles. What influence your compositions? And in which category would you “like” to see Twilight Ophera ranked?
This would be the question for Toni who does all the music nowadays (with some help from Timo with orchestral parts). There is that fascinating amount of diversity in the music and influences I admit. I know Toni listened a lot of old Emperor, Arcturus and Therion at that time, still you can hear shadows from King Diamond for example. After the last album we wanted to cut down some ordinary heavy metal stuff and bring in more sinister elements and theatrical expression.
It is damn hard to categorize ones own music, without at the same time casting it into some mold and limiting its growth. I understand categories are much more easier for people to help them find new stuff and divide bands into different boxes, especially during these days when there is so huge amounts of new music being released. I think best description for us would be some kind of Symphonic Dark Metal or Chaos Metal.
“Descension” is your fourth album. Do you feel a musical evolution since the first one? How would you describe it?
Lots of stuff have changed but the core remains the same. When this band was formed its fundamental idea was to bring synths and orchestral stuff into extreme metal (more than 10 years ago it was not so common as years later). The music is still about that atmosphere and symphonic parts will remain in music until its demise. Of course the skill and production is much better and I'd like to say we have discarded lots of “safe” and traditional influences and grown into more unique art with distinguished methods of creating music.
The lyrics are written by Mikko Häkkinen and the music is composed by Toni Näykki. Were the lyrics born from it or reverse? How did you join these two components?
The process of creating songs for TO has been first the music and then the story is written and entwined into it according to emotions, moods and visions it brings to me. Music is not the art-form to bring words alive, literature is tool for that in my opinion. I've always wanted my lyrics to support the music and not the other way around. Still we have decided to do it differently next time. I'll write a story and Toni composes the “soundtrack” for it.
This album takes us to a dark atmosphere, by the music but also by the lyrics. The title Descension seems to me quite explicit. Please, explain us the concept. Not any hope, no belief at all?
Descension deals with mortality and the dark side of man. It is a journey into depths of humanity where the denied beast of madness and truth lies hidden and waiting for weak moments of flesh that is mind. The lyrics are quite nihilistic and anti-religious. Life is the only glimpse of light man has been given and it is a tragic dance filled with chaos and illusion. All that can be taken away with slight change of movement in the pattern of this dance. Hope and belief are drugs to numb the throbbing truth.
Few years ago, the band has changed of record label, leaving Cacophonous Records. Are you satisfied with the work done by Low Frequency Records?
Absolutely. They have given support and ways for us to create our art even though at some stages it has been commercially foolish. They seem to really believe in our music instead of seeing us as unit of moneymaking. Unfortunately it is a small label with limited resources so after this release our deal with them is done and we shall seek other possibilities.
Do you plan to gather Twilight Ophera AND The Order Of The Sanguine Diadem on an European tour?
We are only going to tour if we can summon the same magic live as heard in “Descension”. So there will be no half hearted gigs, it is either the whole package or no touring at all. We have the will but let's see if we are given the means.
What are the projects of each member?
Toni's life is music and he plays in various bands (Soulgrind, million dollar beggars etc.) so lots of different stuff. I have two more or less active bands, Thyestean Feast which plays melodic guitar based dark metal and Draugnim which is more Summoning type of folk metal. Still Twilight Ophera is the main band for us all.
Finally, you want to add something?
Not much to add. Go grab your filthy hands on our album and give it a change. It is not for the inpatient listeners but if you allow yourself to descent I guarantee it will leave you moved. Be it disgust or awe, this is not the music to be ignored.
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