Perihelion Ship

Finnish progressive death metal band Perihelion Ship emerged in 2013, and a year later they released a demo EP titled Maven and Other Stories, which included two songs stylistically belonging to extreme progressive metal, drawing influences from bands such Opeth and Wintersun. The group, cofounded by singer and guitarist Andreas Hammer and keyboardist Jani Konttinen, spent next year on writing their full-length debut A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring which was released in January 2016. The album introduced the Hammond organ to Perihelion Ship‘s sound, along with a use of Mellotron.

With A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring, Perihelion Ship dropped some of the Black Metal influences from their sound and turned towards Death Metal. The result was an epic album, with a closing title song being a 21-minute monster which showed that the band is more than capable to write lengthy tunes without sacrificing the actual structures of the songs.

Fast forward to October 2017, Perihelion Ship launched their sophomore effort titled To Paint a Bird of Fire which continues where the previous album stopped; with evident progress topping it all.

Speaking about the group’s mission, Hammer modestly tells Prog Sphere, “Our mission is to create interesting prog music with metal and progressive rock influences.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

The album writing process for ‘To Paint a Bird of Fire‘ started from the first lyrics you hear on the album: ‘A New Sun rose, empty alone…’,” he continues. “These were written by Jani and I just started writing some music. First I guess I tried to have more Black Metal influences on this record but the style started to shift when I came up with all the riffs for the first song. The hardest part writing this was the time limitation of 42-43 minutes, which was set to fit one vinyl. I had to cut some parts and condense some songs to fit this. While I was writing the new songs, Jani wrote the lyrics slowly and the theme started to form a shape. The theme is very evident in the lyrics and cover art so I won’t spill the beans about that – just read the lyrics sheet while listening.

Hammer usses notation / tabature software to creates the basic structure of the songs and then imports that structure into a DAW where a simple demo can be constructed by using real guitars and virtual drums/synths. 

The demo process is useful to get a decent grasp of the song beforehand and it is used to record the drums,” he admits.

The dynamics of some of the pieces on the new album were carefully architected. Andreas goes on saying: “Obviously the first and last song can be glued together as they end/start with the same riff. As well as the strange ending to ‘River’s Three’ can be justified by modulating to the key of the next song ‘Wind of No Echoes.’

The approach to recording To Paint a Bird of Fire was to a have more “analog recording process.”

Hammer comments: “The drums are completely real without samples. The guitar sound is completely captured with the Engl Savage and Bogner Überschall amp heads as well as an Electro Harmonix delay pedal. I think if you spend too much time on using Kemper/Axe FX and plugin effects, it takes the joy out of the mixing a bit. The first album was done more with the mindset of ‘Just get things sound as good as possible with any methods available,’ but I think having limitations gives you a higher chance of having an original sound. If you listen to some factory produced metal these days, they don’t have any limitations in their production and yet they all sound the same.

The writing phase for To Paint a Bird of Fire took about half a year.

Composition started in January 2016 and it was finished in the Summer. We started the drum recordings in September and the album was finished in April 2017.

Perihelion Ship

Speaking about the bands or artists that influenced the album, Hammer states: “Agalloch and Van Der Graaf Generator / Peter Hammill were a strong influence vocally and production wise. And of course ‘Still Life‘ era Opeth as well as Tool influenced songwriting and guitar playing. Plus classic prog bands such as Genesis, Yes and Tangerine Dream. I was also heavily influenced by the painting ‘Wanderer above the sea frog’ by Caspar David Friedrich. I thought of this picture a lot when we discussed the thematic of the album with Jani.

Andreas agrees that technology in music is fantastic, saying that “It allows easier access for people to create music – of course this creates an overabundance of “artists”, but it also allows rare gems to be created more easily so the labels don’t dictate what you hear. It has certainly helped me and I don’t doubt it has helped other small acts. Tech can be abused as well and sounds like autotune and sampled+timelined kick drums are quite horrible.

Asked if he sees the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music, he amusingly notes, “the time signature sequence of this album is the code to create Skynet.

Commenting about Perihelion Ship‘s future plans, Hammer says: “We’ll write our best album and do some gigging.

To Paint a Bird of Fire by Perihelion Ship is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Stay tuned for more Perihelion Ship news via band’s Facebook page.

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