Jul 272023

(Next month Hammerheart Records will release a new album by the Finnish death-doom metal band Asphodelus, and that impending event led Comrade Aleks to contact the band for the interview that we now present.)

It’s an interesting coincidence – the last interview I completed was the interview with Temple of Dread, whose new album Beyond the Acheron (which will be out on August 11th via Testimony Records) touches themes of Ancient Greek mythology. And the new album of Asphodelus, Sculpting from Time (out on August 25th through Hammerheart Records) deals with similar topics as well. But this is the only similarity between the bands, as Temple of Dread performs their own original death metal and Asphodelus are into very obscure death-doom with gothic flavours and the taste of the early ’90s.

So Asphodelus was born from Cemetery Fog, founded in 2012 in Finnish Hamina. Sculpting from Time is Asphodelus’ second full-length work, and naturally it’s the most mature material they have ever released. The main feature of these songs is a true sense of old school death-doom with an authentic vibe of “cloudy” Tiamat and a mix of a straight-in-your-face approach with atmospheric melodies.

Sculpting from Time sounds like a tape lost in 1993 and found nowadays, mastered, mixed anew, and served a bit raw. Here you’ll find out more about the band and their forthcoming release.

(Thanks to Marianne Aarts, Hammerheart Records, for organizing the interview.)

Hi Asphodelus! How is it on your side? Your second album Sculpting From Time is about to be released, so accept my congratulations. Those tracks I’ve heard – they sound impressive.

Hello hello! We are very happy on our side, getting close to getting the album out. And thank you! We are really confident in our new album.


Speaking about the band’s past… It was started as Cemetery Fog in 2012, but it was renamed Asphodelus after the release of three demos and the EP Towards The Gates (2014). How would you summarize this period?

The Cemetery Fog years were some pretty wild shit, with the band taking leaps forward that we maybe weren’t even ready for. But after some time, such big changes were brewing in our sound that Cemetery Fog just didn’t feel like the right name anymore.


What are you meaning when you tell that you weren’t prepared to make “leaps forward”? Did you get a deal with the major label, some glory and money so fast?

No, no, no, nothing like that. As we started to gather some momentum, we moved away from our hometown into different cities in Finland, and life just got in the way.


Why did you re-launch Cemetery Fog under the new name?

We wanted to distance ourselves from primitive horror themes and instead set our sights on literature, mythology, and how these tie into the human condition. Our music also started to take different shapes, with less emphasis on thrashing and more focusing on songwriting.


Soon after renaming you met Iron Bonehead Productions, who released the EP Dying Beauty & the Silent Sky. Did you feel it as a sort of break from that prolonged starting period?

We were on Iron Bonehead from the Cemetery Fog years already and the EP was our final release on their roster. It set in stone our new direction, which we’re still following today.



Your hometown Hamina is a quite small and calm place. Did you play live there? Where do you usually play live? Is it a problem to organize gigs in your area?

There were only a couple of venues where gigs could be arranged, we helped put on a festival there, and we also played there. We play most of our gigs in bigger cities, like Helsinki, where we live now. We haven’t had problems with getting some gigs going.


Do you aim to perform your new album abroad? Which bands do you find fitting to perform with?

Definitely! It’s always cool to get to play and see places abroad. We already played in Italy this year and we have some other appearances in the works. We feel that since our style of music isn’t that common, it creates a nice balance with other bands who have their different styles. Whenever we play abroad, it would be nice to get to play with some bigger band in that country that we know. Getting to play alongside some of our teenage idols would be the dream scenario.


Stygian Dreams was recorded in Chamber Studio, Hamina, by Tomi Pekkola. What kind of studio is it? How did you work with Tomi?

Tomi is Jari’s cousin, and we’ve worked with him since the Cemetery Fog days, and he was the recording engineer up until our upcoming album, and producer up to the Asphodelus EP. But he’s still featured on the album, playing the synths. Tomi is a great guy with a nice sense of humor. Thanks to him, we could take our first steps in recording and getting music out. The studio was just a shared recording space provided by the city’s youth program, though.



The Stygian Dreams and Sculpting From Time songs keep a bit of a raw old school feeling, but they sound vivid and dynamic. Which bands inspired you during the composing of this material? What kind of sound did you search for originally?

Early-to-mid ’90s era metal, Sentenced, the Peaceville Three, Amorphis, Katatonia, Rotting Christ and other Greek bands. Outside of metal, for example, Kent, Kate Bush, Slowdive and Grimes. And various new wave and gothic rock influences. It’s from ingredients like these that our stuff is brewed from.

We looked for a huge mid ’90s sound, playing with tried-and-true equipment (Les Pauls, JCM 800:s and 2000:s and drums with deep toms), and we didn’t use a click-track at all this time around.


That’s an interesting approach! How did you manage to find all necessary equipment for this recording? Which one was the hardest to obtain?

That’s just the stuff we own that we’ve come across through the years, and even if there was some specific gear that we needed, there are places where people sell used music gear. It isn’t about the gear but rather how you put it into use.


How satisfied are you with Stygian Dreams?

While we are somewhat satisfied with Stygian Dreams, the album was definitely rushed at places, due to our inexperience and a lack of budget.

We wanted to get a more nuanced mix for Sculpting from Time, with the synths being a bit more embedded in the mix and not as up-front as on Stygian Dreams.


You named the band after one of the Ancient Greek after-worlds; the debut album’s title refers to this mythology too; and finally the Stygian Dreams artwork seems to deal with Greek myths too. Did you have this concept for Asphodelus from the start?

Every band member has been obsessed with mythologies from childhood, but the allusions to mythology have been increasing only lately, with the EP still not being that invested in mythological storytelling.


Why did you choose Ancient Greek mythology? How much of it is actually in these songs?

There are a lot of references scattered around the songs, and they’re there because we find it to be so fucking cool!


In your lyrics you quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, John Milton, Dante Alighieri, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and more. It adds some sophisticated classic touch to your songs. Are you fond of classic poetry?

Great literature opens possibilities for great quotes and inspiration. Finding a good passage in a book is something that can happen at any time, anywhere, which can then fuel the ideas for a song, or even a whole album, for that matter.


Sculpting From Time was recorded with a guest bass-player and drummer. And keyboards were performed by Tomi Pekkola again. What motivated you to record this material even though there were only two members in the band at the moment?

The bass was played by Anselmi Ahopalo, who is not a guest member, but rather our producer and an official studio-member of the band. Anselmi played the bass parts, because he has the best touch with playing bass and a great ear for melody.

The drums were played by Joel Marttinen, because we did not have a regular drummer at the time.

Jari wrote most of the songs, but there were always contributions from Joonas and Anselmi, so there was never a feeling of this being an album made just by two people, and it didn’t matter that we used session musicians.


And now you have a new drummer – Ilkka Narinen. Was it difficult to find a replacement for V. Kettunen who was in the band from very beginning?

It wasn’t difficult at all actually, because after Vili left, Ilkka asked if we needed a new drummer. We were acquaintances before because we’ve played a tour in Eastern Europe with Ilkka’s former band. And even though things are going smoothly with Ilkka, we’d still like to salute Vili for his efforts and time with us and we’re still close friends.


Will you promote the album with a series of gigs? Do you have both the desire and the opportunity to do it?

Yes, we will be starting by playing Helsinki Death Fest and we also have some other gigs lined up. We really hope to get more opportunities to showcase our live form, which we have worked really hard on.


What are your plans for the rest of 2023?

We’re going to do some promotional work for the album, and then we hope to cap off the year with some nice gigs and meeting and talking to people there. We’re excited to hear what people will think about the album! We’ve also started to work on new material, but don’t hold your breath on hearing that stuff anytime soon…

If you want to book us for a gig, send us an inquiry to asphodelusdoom@hotmail.com and we’ll get back to you!


Thanks for the interview and good luck with the promotion of Sculpting From Time!

Thank you!






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