Finnish metal six-piece Archares have honed a fascinating sound that’s “very Nordic” with big catchy melodies and engaging vocals supported by a cello, synths and orchestral elements.
The band, formed of five engineers and a teacher, started out playing covers of pop songs at university then got a big break by reaching the Finnish finals of Emergenza, a festival and contest for new bands. This gave them the confidence to move well away from their pop cover past and develop their own unique sound.
The result of that is debut EP The Curse of Valor, which was released in June. Its opening track Hologram gives us the perfect introduction to the Archares sound, diving straight into a delicious riff that kicks on alongside lively drums and darting guitars in the background. It drops into chugging guitars under frontman Miika’s engaging vocals. That feeds into a laid-back chorus supported by various instrumentals, then a chilled section gives way to big screamed vocals that drop into another chorus which ends on a big guitar solo. Give it a listen (and check out the electric cello and awesome keyboard guitar) in this quarantine music video:
But the band sent us the EP’s second track Defiled, which opens up in epic fashion with powerful vocals and guitars then drops into a wild synthy solo. More intense, almost growled vocals take over alongside fast-paced drums and chugging guitars, which drops into a little flurry of guitars then cool backing vocals over chugging guitars.
A funky darting riff takes over then the gruff vocals return alongside pounding drums and flickering riffs with darts of synth jumping in. A big chorus takes over to bring the track to a catchy ending. Give it a listen here:
A personal favourite is third track Spectator, which opens up with a delightful combination of electric cello, guitars and various synth sounds before dropping into a dark brooding verse. It intensifies with powerful vocals and stabbing guitars then an awesome little guitar solo drops into a light verse, before dropping into a laid-back cello section. It gradually builds up led by Miika’s engaging vocals and a twisting guitar solo and synths feeding into a final chorus. Give it a listen here:
We had a chat with the band to find out more about them, their music and the state of the current Finnish rock and metal scene.
GR: Who are Archares?
A: “Archares is a metal project formed by six old student friends, with a shared love for making music and melancholy melodies. The band was formed from the ruins of two previous band projects of our guitarist Oskari Kilpi. The first project was a metal act during times of teenage rebellion, in which Oskari and singer Miika were introduced with each other.
“Stylistically, that band was already relatively close to what Archares is today. However, the band was formed during times when big individual life choices had to be made, and the project had to be left on hold. Going forward – briefly after Oskari started university, he bumped into a bunch of metal head freshmen musicians, who seemed like decent fellows. Some of them even knew how to play their instrument, and one of them was a cellist, how exciting!
“The stars were aligned – perhaps this was the time to start the metal act of the century? Unfortunately, there wasn’t any demand for metal music in the student parties, and the newly formed freshmen band drifted into playing cover pop songs to get gigs. The band of course squeezed all the metal into those covers that was possible. As these freshmen slowly grew to actual engineers, the band started to look like grey haired grandpas in the student parties – therefore it was time to look forward.
“Oskari then called his old pre-university band mate Miika, and by combining the university party band and Miika, Archares was formed – five engineers and one teacher, with one shared love for music and metal. Archares got a flying start in the beginning of the journey in 2017 when it joined the Emergenza contest, in which the band made it all the way to the Finnish finals. This boosted our confidence and we started believing that this band could actually yield great music one day.”
GR: You sent us Defiled. What should people be expecting from the song?
A: “Expect angry, dissonant but also catchy metal with unexpected turns and lots of energy. This piece was given spark by Carl Sagan’s fantastic Cosmos. Realizing the widespread damage Christianity has had on mankind and our planet bred a furnace of inspiration where the frustration and fury of Defiled was born. The text and music catalyzed each other’s growth and a demo version was completed in one session.
“How much more advanced our technological capabilities would be, if the Pope had not suppressed all science for a thousand years? How much more time to save the world from the perils of climate change, if solar power had been invented with only half of the current population? Why do we still let ourselves be brainwashed every day, though now more by commercials than clerics? The song does not give answers, but it is a channel for emotional eruption.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
A: “Our music sounds very Nordic. We love melancholic, yet catchy melodies. Mostly clean vocals, harsh growls kicking in at times. And a shitload of backing vocal tracks!
“Some of our songs follow the classic verse-chorus-verse-pop structure, and some songs are more challenging and progressive – we don’t want to restrict ourselves too much. I guess our songs vary quite a lot with the style in our EP. And that’s fine, why the hell should we make two similar songs?
“You can really hear the influences of 2000s Finnish metal bands, however, with our twist. We take influences also outside the metal genre, even some (Finnish) pop artists are great. The rhythm section is based on traditional rock/metal act with only one guitarist, and then we have cello and keyboards.
“Mostly our cellist Veikko uses electric cello, yet Defiled was recorded with an acoustic cello. Of course the sound of the cello is processed through some hi-gain amp. Synths and orchestral elements play a large role in our music, the sound of guitar is not the most important thing in our music although we are a metal band.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
A: “Archares draws inspiration from the interaction between humans, humanity and nature, exploring the blurry lines between fantasy and reality. Some songs, like Defiled, are inspired by our frustration towards mankind, some songs are more self-centered and some are story driven. Usually, we try to sneak in some optimism, we like to believe in better tomorrow.
Defiled was written by Veikko, our cellist. Veikko has often a critical point of view in his lyric writing, and he likes to use dissonant chords and bring progressive metal elements to his songs. Besides Veikko, also Oskari writes a lot of music for Archares. Beautiful melodies are the key thing that he looks for, no matter what the genre is – great melodies can be found everywhere.
“Many of our lyrics are also by our singer Miika. He likes fantasy and stories, many of his lyrics involve a protagonist on an adventure. Miika tends to see the light side of things in his lyrics, whereas Veikko’s lyrics goes for the doomsday option more often – as we can hear in Defiled.
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
A: “We draw a lot from the Finnish metal scene: Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Amorphis, Stam1na and Insomnium can all be heard in Archares’ tracks. Amaranthe, In Flames and Periphery are also among the great bands we look up to. Progressive elements are extracted from the likes of A Perfect Circle, Leprous, CMX and Devin Townsend. Heck, I bet we could list a hundred artists here, but the first three mentioned are the big ones for us.”
GR: We’ve not spoken to many Finnish metal bands but, as you mention, the country has a rich rock and metal history. What are your thoughts on the current Finnish rock/metal scene?
A: “Finland is a land of thousand lakes, and a thousand metal bands. It is cold as hell in the winter, or at least, used to be cold as hell in the winter before the climate change. Now it’s just dark throughout the winter – we barely see the sun. Because Finland is sparsely populated country and winters are long, there is really nothing to do except playing some instrument and drinking excess amounts of alcohol. One could say, music is a survival mechanism from drowning in despair and self-destructiveness during the times of darkness.
“Although Finland is known for metal, rock and metal is not mainstream even in Finland these days. Yes, we have some big names but those guys are getting old. There is not really many new big metal bands with the members under their 40s at the moment in Finland. However, the underground scene is very active on the metal front in Finland. Perhaps the golden age of metal is over, but we believe that we’ll the birth of a new metal generation within the upcoming years.”
GR: What have you got coming up?
A: “We would love to be gigging right now, but pandemics really do suck. Therefore we’ve been focusing on cooking new stuff in our basement. Once the smoke clears out, we’ll head out on gigs.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
A: “We are very keen to know what our audience thinks about our music, please have a listen to our The Curse of Valor EP and drop a DM in Instagram to let us know what you think! We are also open to do future collaborations with other musician / other artists, so if you think that you are a talent in music, dance, video editing, photography, you name it, please let us know!”