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Lord Vicar releases don't come along that often, and when the invitation for an interview accompanied the promo for 'Gates Of Flesh' that he reviewed, Nick jumped at the chance to have a chat with Kimi.

Interview with Lord Vicar.

Lord Vicar guitarist Kimi Kärki, answering today's questions.

(1) Hello, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. Your latest album, ‘Gates of Flesh’, has received rave reviews in the metal press, including from Doom-Metal.com who awarded it album of the month. How do you feel about the way the album has been received by fans and the press?

I feel grateful and happy, as we have been having sort of low profile for a long time. It’s been five years since the second album, Signs of Osiris (The Church Within Records, 2011), and this is a much shorter and yet again more relaxed effort. We feel it’s been a very natural evolution, but one can never know how the new music is received. We are proud and happy about how the new album came to be, and it is satisfying to know our craft is still appreciated by others as well.

(2) For the benefit of any readers that may have been turned onto Lord Vicar for the first time by the new album, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves. What are your backgrounds, and how did the band first get together?

We started back in 2007, and realised the first 7” and album Fear No Pain (The Church Within Records) one year later. My old band Reverend Bizarre was falling apart, and I still had the passion to carry on playing doom metal. After a few twists and turns Lord Vicar was formed with singer Chritus Linderson, who is known for his work in Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma, and Goatess, and drummer Gareth Millsted, who had previously been a member of Genturions Ghost. In bass guitar our longest surviving member was Jussi Myllykoski. Throughout this last year or so bass duties have been handled by Sami Hynninen, who was the primus motor of Reverend Bizarre, also my band mate in Orne. His tenure in Lord Vicar will end in October, we still have two festival gigs together, after which he concentrates more on Opium Warlords, Spiritus Mortis, and Tähtiportti. We should have a new British bass player in place by November, when we plan to tour central Europe, leaving me the only Finn in this most international of all adventures, haha!

Lord Vicar in 2016: Kimi with Sami Hyninnen (Bass), Gareth Millsted (Drums) and Chritus (Vocals).

(3) When you started writing and recording ‘Gates of Flesh’, did you have any particular goals in mind in terms of the sound and the lyrical themes of the album?

First songs were ready soon after the last album was out, but it turned out to be a slow process of getting rehearsed and prepared to record. Gareth was working in Kuwait for a long time, and Jussi departed from the band some time before the recordings as well, leaving Gareth and me splitting the bass duties on the new album. Originally we envisioned a raw, live feel album with shorter, punchier songs, but eventually we ended up with a more polished, warm and organic sounding effort. We wanted things to sound natural, tight but loose…

(4) Each track on the album seems to complement the others and develop the themes of ‘Gates of Flesh’, making listening to the album in its entirety a very rewarding experience. It’s interesting that you chose to include all songs on a single track, what made you choose that approach? I speculated in my review for Doom-Metal.com that you may have been trying to ensure the album is listened to as a whole, rather than picking out individual tracks as is often the way in the digital age. Was I close?!

I wish that was the reason, but this was simply a communication hazard between the label and the studio. For some reason our label manager didn't notice the cue file, and thought that we indeed wanted everything in one monster track. Actually, in that sense, you are right! I do strongly recommend listening to the album as a pauseless narrative arc — it was our intention to reward the listener with something that makes sense as a bit of a unified work of art, in the most Wagnerian sense of Gesamtkunstwerk. And this means that also the visual side and lyrics are complementary. So, dear friends of our music, please buy the record, do not accept the streaming or downloading as the final solution. We are on a small and vulnerable label as well.

(5) ‘Gates of Flesh’ definitely feels like an album that would lend itself well to the vinyl format. Are there any plans for a vinyl release, and how do you feel about the recent resurgence in the popularity of vinyl?

Of course! The vinyl will hopefully be out for our November, and will again be something special in terms of packaging. I love the survival of vinyl format, it really compliments the album visually, and the warm analog sound is perfect for our music. Long may it continue!

Album discography: 'Fear No Pain' (2008), 'Signs Of Osiris' (2011) and 'Gates Of Flesh' (2016).

(6) What do you think your 16-year-old selves would think of ‘Gates of Flesh’, and Lord Vicar in general?

I would love it, and be amazed that I would have something to do with something this cool and heavy. I started playing guitar when I was 15, and was by then worshipping Led Zeppelin, Queen, a lot of progressive rock as well. But I was a rookie living in a place with limited exposure on music. In terms of metal, Maiden, Metallica, and Black Sabbath were the most extreme stuff I listened to, and there is no big jump to this music from them. But I had no idea about what doom metal is back then, that came about after meeting Sami and founding Reverend Bizarre in the mid-1990s. He did a lot of cool tapes for me, and I fell in love with Pentagram, The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Cathedral, Trouble, Count Raven, etc. That has not changed…

(7) What musical tastes and influences do each of you bring to the band, and what drew you to the Doom genre?

We all love old school doom metal, heavy metal, hard rock, and progressive rock. All things to do with heaviness, intensity, good melodies, harmonies, possibilities of variation and progression. It is all about being part of a great tradition, and realising a vision of our own within it. We all feel a commitment to that idea.

(8) Sometimes we can all be very keen to label music with a particular genre or category, but ultimately there are only two kinds of records: good and bad. What makes a good album?

That it feels real for the maker of the music. Everything else is depending on taste issues and cultural context. For me, if I take a more personal angle, a good album has variation, plays with traditions with respect, strong melodies and a clear lyrical vision.

(9) The artwork for ‘Gates of Flesh’ is fantastic. What made you choose William Adolphe Bouguereau’s ‘Nymphs and Satyr’?

It really perfectly resonates with the album themes of sexuality and loss of it, the weakness of the flesh. The mythical painting surely reverses gender roles as well, and there is both beauty of the nature, and terrible destructive threat within it.

Bouguereau’s original ‘Nymphs and Satyr’ (1873).

(10) What influences outside of music inspire your work?

The cruelty of lived life and relationships between people, history, war, religions, fanatism, nocturnal aspects of nature, traditions, strange films… Fear of the future as it seems to unravel, like a train heading to a cliff and free fall, without brakes.

(11) ‘Gates of Flesh’ has some interesting references to Paganism, particularly on ‘Green Man’ with its cry of ‘Green, green fill me with power/with fertile semen and endless potency'. Is there some kind of higher power out there? Someplace we’ll go when we pass on?

Who knows, but probably not. But we continue to exist as a dusty part of this beautiful Earth, the circle of life and endlessly moving matter. Something nice grows out of a grave… Push, push!

Lord Vicar – 'Birth Of Wine' (Official):

(12) ‘Woman out of Snow’ is such a beautifully haunting track that tells a great story. What was the inspiration for that one?

A great story I heard from our bass player — but I am not going to utter it here — mixed with an adaptation of the Kalevala mythos about the blacksmith who decided to forge himself an obediant wife. That didn't work well.

(13) 2016 has been a tough year for metal, and for music generally, with the passing of some true legends. Has it made you ponder your own mortality seeing the likes of Lemmy and David Bowie pass away?

I had thought about it already before, that is one of the reasons I started to do Aikido a couple of years ago. I am 40 now, so there is still time for an effort to find maximum mental and physical wellbeing. Bowie and Lemmy were indestructable icons, so obviously their passing is painful. But they left their mark, something to return to and celebrate.

(14) After the success of the new album, what do you have planned for the next twelve months or so? Could we perhaps be seeing you out on the road?

As mentioned, we still have a couple of gigs with Sami Hynninen, and then a European tour. In early January I’ll head to Cleveland to work as a Fulbright researcher, who knows if we get something going there, on the other side of the pond.

(15) I saw your post on facebook confirming that the Blowup Vol 2 Festival in Helsinki in October will be Sami Hynninen’s last show with the band, can you tell us a bit more about that?

It will surely be an emotional moment for us all. He came to fill in, and ended up staying nearly a year with us. Good times! It’s a great festival, everyone should come and give Sami a proper farewell!

(16) You’ve also got a gig coming up in Sardinia soon, are there any particular albums you like to listen to when you’re travelling long distances to gigs? Are there ever any arguments between you?!

We listen to a wide range of stuff, sometimes new releases that are about to come out from some of the labels we are involved with. There used to be more arguments, I guess our brotherhood has by now seen pretty much everything about each of us, haha, so things are really good.

(17) What makes a great live performance?

Energy between the band and the audience. Chritus is truly like a missile, when people fuel him… That spiraling energy makes us a fiery band!

Lord Vicar – Live in Klubi, Turku, 2015:

(18) There was quite a gap between ‘Signs of Osiris’ and ‘Gates of Flesh’. It’s very early to say, I know, but could it be another five years before the next Lord Vicar release?

Why not, haha! Nah… We record and release as quickly as we can. The logistics, however, are insane. We are really happy if we get to rehearse twice a year.

(19) I hope our interview has given you the chance to give us an insight into all things Lord Vicar, but is there anything else you’d like to share? Any words of wisdom, or news about the band we haven’t covered?

We are planning a new EP, The Black Powder, let’s see when it’s out… Maybe next year.

(20) In that case, thank you very much for your time in giving Doom-metal.com this interview, and congratulations again for the great new album. All the best!

Cheers! Everyone: follow us in bloody Facebook, get our albums if you already don't have them, and come around if we manage to play relatively near you.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Lord Vicar bandpage.

Interviewed on 2016-09-18 by Nick Harkins.
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