IN this day and age of globalisation and omnichannel tele presence, this scribe still feels that it’s a little bit special to be talking to someone as far away from Australia as Finland. Noora Louhimo is the singer and front woman for Finnish sensations Battle Beast. In what HM will confidently refer to as a likely candidate for the rock release of the year, Bringer of Pain is a relentless mix of metal, euro-pop, disco and eighties-style rock treats.
Louhimo’s voice is as confident and boisterous in an interview as it is on record – she genuinely sounds like an old fashioned rock star in the making. Here is the response to HM’s request for her thoughts on the anticipated reception to Bringer of Pain.
“I hope that people are going to like it! I still hope that there are also people who hate it because there are always people who love it or hate it or love us or hate us. I think the most terrible thing that can happen to a band, is that people don’t have any opinion of us. So that is why I say this, because if we can manage to have people have some strong emotions in one way or another it is all good and I really appreciate if we can push some buttons of people. I am really excited and nervous at the same time because we are going to show our new baby to the world.”
So Louhimo is keen for a response from listeners even if it is less than flattering? She could be onto something there as Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta has mentioned many times on his podcast that ‘key board warriors’ and the idiomatically termed ‘haters’ are actually a sign of the level of engagement in a band and not to be dismissed as merely background noise.
So the new album can be compared to a baby?
“Yes, I am very motherly like – for my band mates. I always want to take care of them and they don’t like it, they are often like, you know, what boys would act like, ‘my momma is stupid [Laughs]’. But I love them and I love our new album.”
There is a noticeable disco feel across the album, particularly on the track “King for a Day”. Is that intentional?
“Yes, actually, Janne Bjorkroth (keyboards, vocals) who wrote that song … he also wrote “Familiar Hell” and “Dancing with the Beast”…..
“He has got these strong influences from dance and pop music and I have those influences also and that is why I can actually sing those songs. I think Janne’s intention was only to do good music and music that he likes and hope for the best that everybody else is going to like it, too. ‘King for a Day’ was the only song on the album that the whole band was, like, ‘this is so good, we want this to be the single!’“
HM even pondered that “King for a Day” sounds like a heavy metal/rock version of Abba’s music or “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” era Rod Stewart. Does Louhimo agree?
“It’s okay to say that, in fact that’s great!” (continued below)
In preparation for the interview HM watched a few fan-filmed concerts of the band on YouTube. Louhimo’s live vocal is a great feature; so how does she manage to stay in tune and carry such a strong performance?
“A lot of practice and in-ear monitoring. In ear monitoring is something that also is very much the key for saving my voice, and also being in pitch because before I had in-ear monitoring – for example if you listen to my vocal on the Sonata Arctica Tour, when I was singing – my pitch wasn’t so good because I couldn’t hear myself so good. But after that tour, I got myself the ear monitoring, and that problem was solved. But also, many things were fixed with in-ear monitoring, like I could hear myself, I didn’t have to scream my lungs out, I could actually use an economic technique with the vocals.”
Louhimo may look like a mid-twenties Doro Pesch but to HM she sounds like Pat Benatar in overdrive. It turns out her inspirations are less obvious.
“Yes, I have heard that a lot, many people have said I am like Doro, but also my influences are mostly guys, like of course Ronnie Dio is number one.”
So it’s that man, the legend, Ronnie James Dio… and the other inspirations read like a laundry list of the greatest rock and pop front men ever. HM jests that Agnetha from Abba might be in there as well…
“Rob Halford, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant … so many. You know, the reason why they are mostly men is because there are no females who do this (sing) in a ballsy way”
Referring to the considerable talents of Once Human’s Lauren Hart and other notable front women, HM mentions the trend toward female vocalists performing in the traditionally male dominated death metal croon and that it is almost unique to hear a female vocalist singing and carrying a tune melodically while fronting a band full of long haired male musicians in 2017.
“Yes, but actually it is good that you said that, because Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) is the only vocalist who I like doing that kind of growling sound. I really appreciate Alissa as a vocalist and as a performer but when Doro has this sort of raspy sound – and I really appreciate Doro – she has lead the way for female heavy metal singers and I really appreciate that. I really want to push it even further, that females can be using male vocals and have these balls, so to speak.”
Joining the likes of Kontrust as loosely defined metal bands that you can dance to, HM will surely be on the dance floor should Battle Beast tour Australia.
“I am really looking forward to that, maybe in the next year or a couple of years, we will definitely come to Australia. Let’s hope for the best that we can get there as soon as possible!”
Bringer of Pain is out via Nuclear Blast 17 February.