Oct 082013

(NCS guest writer Kevin Page interviews Tuomas Saukkonen of Wolfheart and formerly of Before the Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace, and Routasielu. Wolfheart’s new album Winterborn will be released October 11.   This is Kevin’s second NCS interview of Tuomas; the first one can be found here.)

K:  The last time we spoke in March 2012 was when Rise of the Phoenix came out.  You seemed energized over the new direction of Before the Dawn and were ready to move forward.  Now, here we are 1.5 years later, Before the Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace, and Routasielu have been stopped, and your sole project is now Wolfheart.  What happened ?

T:  Well I kept on moving forward . There are a few songs on the last BTD album like “Throne Of Ice” and “Eclipse” which opened the door for Wolfheart musically and I didn’t feel like to follow that path with Before the Dawn anymore. Also Before the Dawn started to feel more and more as a job during the years and I needed to regain the passion toward music even if it meant taking a few steps backwards career wise.


K:  Was there a sudden realization one day that “I’m bored, I need to stop this” or was it a gradual thing?

T:  A gradual thing.  Already while working on Deathstar Rising I felt like this might be the last album for Before the Dawn. Then came big changes and a lot of energy came with that album.  But that energy went to music and song writing instead of leading the band.


K:  Was there ever a time over the years where it felt mentally draining juggling numerous bands at the same time?

T:  Nope.  There were times when I felt mentally drained by one band.  Sometimes crazy schedules, just simply a lot of work, problems with labels etc.   And during those times it  was a big relief to have other projects to pour my creativity into. Continue reading »

Jan 112013

(all photos by Janica Lönn / STORM Photography 2012)

As bombshell news goes, this is a pretty big detonation: Tuomas Saukkonen announced yesterday that he is shutting down all of his current musical projects — Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Routasielu, Dawn Of Solace, and Final Harvest — and starting a completely new one under the name Wolfheart. At the same time, he released a teaser of new Wolfheart music.

Saukkonen disclosed his decision and his future plans in an extensive interview published late yesterday by the Finnish Kaaoszine site. Fortunately for non-Finnish speakers, the article includes an English translation. In a nutshell, Saukkonen explained that he had been growing disenchanted with his most popular vehicle, Before the Dawn, for several years, and that even after the release of BTD’s well-received 2012 album Rise of the Phoenix, BTD no longer gave him the artistic freedom to make the kind of music he wanted to make.

Perhaps ironically, the success of Rise of the Phoenix gave him the freedom to finally leave it behind without regrets. Once that decision was made, he explained, “it was logical for me to clean the table at once and start building something from scratch again.” And that led to the demise of his other bands and the birth of Wolfheart.

Saukkonen says that he began writing new music for Wolfheart in the fall of 2012 and at this point he has already finished recording and mixing half of the songs for the band’s as-yet untitled debut album, with plans to complete it in March and then explore label opportunities. His goal is to release the album before the winter of 2013. Continue reading »

Sep 062012

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s first two days, and tomorrow we’ll have his impressions of Day 3. We’ve also collected videos of many of the performances at the end of the post.)

So… German festivals go Thursday – Saturday, not Friday – Sunday… who knew? Well apparently everyone else in the world except for us, when we booked an overnight stay in Cologne on the Wednesday night! Still, Cologne was awesome, and only a mere four hours drive away…

Anyway, on reaching the site (after a desperate last minute rush to the petrol station – seriously, make sure you fill up before you reach the Dinkelsbuhl exit guys and gals!) we joined a surprising, infuriating, queue of cars, followed by an interminable security check… time was ticking away and Be’lakor (one of my primary reasons for going to the festival) would soon be taking the stage! So with some slightly rushed stunt driving (I’m pretty certain I went down that grass verge as much sideways as I did forwards) and a breathless scramble… we made it. Just.


Justifying our desperate, occasionally slightly risky, efforts to get to the festival on time, Be’lakor were undeniably awesome. Live, the Agallochian overtones of the music come through a lot more, a melding of misty melancholy with swells of oceanic heaviness giving the band a more distinctive and individual live presence. The group’s image is a little difficult to reconcile with the music though, encompassing a host of short haircuts, laid-back Australian accents, and inappropriate t-shirts! Shame on you guys!

The next band I was dying to see also happened to be one of my favourites, my loyalty to Darkest Hour forcing me to choose them in an unfortunate clash with Glorior Belli. And though it pained me to do so, I’m glad I did. Darkest Hour never disappoint, their punky, hyper-energetic take on melodic death metal fitting perfectly with the blazing sunshine and free-wheeling atmosphere of the festival. Plus, I was still yet to see them live with either the new material or the new line-up, and both absolutely killed it live. Continue reading »

Feb 282012

(We welcome hard-to-please NCS reader KevinP, who provides this guest review of the new album by Finland’s Black Sun Aeon. This is the second of two reviews of this album that we’re publishing today. For the first one, use this link.)

Some of you are saying, “Hey look, another Tuomas Saukkonen album. Does this guy ever take a break?” Well apparently not, as this is the third album he released in 2011 (FYI, he has written, produced, and played all the instruments on nine other full length albums since 2003).  But I digress…

This is also the third album in the Black Sun Aeon catalog in a three-year span.   Thankfully, it took me a few months to sit down and actually write this review, though.  Based on my initial impressions, this one was my least favorite of the three.  But as the months went on, it grew and grew on me.  I’m still not sure exactly why or how that came to pass, it just has.  Now, I‘m completely comfortable saying it’s their finest work yet.

So what changed since the double disc Routa in 2010? Tuomas still handles the growls (with guest dark vocals on “Brothers” and “Wasteland” by Mynni Luukkainen) and Mikko Heikkilä the clean male vocals, but Janeca Lönn (female vocals) plays a much more prominent role this time.  All three styles get their time in the spotlight, sometimes overlaying each other and used wonderfully, without feeling shoehorned-in just for the sake of being there. Continue reading »

Feb 282012


(DemiGodRaven reviews the new album by Finland’s Black Sun Aeon. This is the first of two different reviews of this album that we’re publishing today. Check out the second one here.)

Projects featuring Tuomas Saukkonen have a pretty bad habit of coming out of nowhere to little or no fanfare, only to be found later and leave people wondering why they hadn’t noticed it when it was first released. Such is the case with Blacklight Deliverance, which saw release in late 2011. Black Sun Aeon is now three albums deep, yet it seems that very few people have noticed them.

Tuomas is one of those people who seem to involve themselves in an almost infinite number of projects. Whenever some new band pops up, I half-jokingly wonder to myself if either he, Christian Älvestam, or Ripper Owens is involved in it, one way or another. Those guys have basically become the Samuel L ‘Motherfucking’ Jackson’s of heavy metal. They’re not going to limit themselves to any one project and instead have chosen to just never turn down any work. Between Dawn Of Solace, Before The Dawn, and now Black Sun Aeon, there is a vast amount of material featuring Tuomas — and those are just the three I’ve named off the top of my head.

Black Sun Aeon’s last release, Routa (2010) (also my jumping-on point), was an album that had a lot of potential but also some flaws. It seemed like maybe Tuomas was spreading himself a little thin with this project. Even though he had a friend along for the ride who contributed a large amount of the work, it still found itself in the shadows of both its own genre and Tuomas’ other, more mainstream band Before The Dawn. The melodic doom that it did tease at was enough to keep some people (including myself) eager to hear a follow up, and on the new album, the group have definitely delivered. Continue reading »