"15 Years of Arkangst" tour continues - three weeks to go 'till the Baltics!
Four weeks ago in Tampere and Tammisaari, we kicked off "15 Years of Arkangst” tour, a series of gigs to celebrate our one and a half decades of existence as a band (as you guessed from the tour title :). It’s not only special tour for us timing-wise but unique in many ways. Not only do we play the first tour as a newly knit four-piece with Heikki Haapanen who joined the band as session guitarist in November; we end a long period of "live silence" which started in April 2017, during which we have concentrated on creating and polishing the songs for upcoming third album ”Master of Fears” (great to try out these never before presented songs on the road!). Last but definitely not least, we'll also take Arkadia abroad outside the borders of Finland for the first time since the band's founding in March 2003! In exactly three weeks, we are playing three shows in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia for a metal Easter 2018!
The first gig weekend of 2018 four weeks ago proved out to be the perfect start for the tour. On Friday in Tampere, we played the Herwoodstock festival in the recently renovated Varjobaari, where we have played many times previously. The stage there is now much bigger than before (although there still is a pillar in the middle of stage ;). The guys from TTSS organizing the festival showed great sound and lighting technicianship to boost each band’s performance. We had three new songs on our set-list from Master of Fears, and crowd response to them warmed our metal hearts! First gig of 2018 well deserved some drinks afterwards, but not too much, as we headed out to Tammisaari on the following day. We played at Santa Fe for the third time, and this was by far the best gig from our experience and seemed also to be judging from the crowd's reaction. Newer songs had even better response overall and we had great live sound for the evening, crafted by previous rhythm guitarist Kimmo who joined us as the technician. Another fun night out followed. Always a pleasure to play on the sunny south coast!
But that’s not all folks! As we published in November and mentioned above Heikki Haapanen joined the band as session guitarist with agreement to play on gigs in 2018 and record Master of Fears album guitars for Arkadia. We are now happy to announce that after several great training sessions and especially this great first gig weekend together, Heikki has now joined the band as a full time member! So not only we have the absolute pleasure to present his stellar guitaring on Master of Fears, we’ll solidify the foundation of this band live and also as a group of rockers! So this four-piece is Arkadia of 2018, the year which could not have been kicked off better. We have a feeling this line-up - and the album we'll make together - will stand the test of time. While waiting for new songs to be released or a gathering at a location nearby you, feel free to read more about Heikki here at his personal band member page we just added.
The tour shall continue in next week, when we head back to Tampere and beyond - practicing long distance driving when we visit Kajaani for the first time in almost 5 years for a Saturday night gig. Expect further tour reports out here and at our Facebook page later.
-Mikko, Vesa, Mikael & Heikki-
Heikki Haapanen joins Arkadia as a session / live guitarist, Marko Keskinen leaves the band
We announce another line-up change for 2017 as Marko Keskinen, Arkadia's tour guitarist since 2015 and member since 2016, departs the band. The decision to walk different ways was not the easiest one, yet grew slowly but steadily over the summer and fall on both sides, as the material for upcoming third album became to form, and the differences in style and direction became apparent. Marko now has the chance to work solely on his other band Dark Clarity. While it's always sad to see a friend go, we are happy we reached a mutual decision, thank Marko for the good times and his steady efforts on Arkadia on all fronts and wish him the absolute best in metal!
The cloud has a silver lining, they say. This certainly has one as well.. We are happy and proud to inform that along the past couple of months, we have "reached the same note" with Heikki Haapanen (Arasaw) on trainings and musically regarding the path to be laid on upcoming third album. That meaning, we have agreed with Heikki that he will immediately join Arkadia as session / live guitarist. We've already had couple of training sessions together and Heikki has actually trained half of the songs of Master of Fears already. And even better, not only learnt but taken them further. His stellar sharp technical skills on guitar will bring just the extra edge to take the sound and impact of Master of Fears - and Arkadia - further.
It's not the first time we will have a chance to play together with Heikki. We go along a long way as friends, his brother Vesa played drums in Arkadia during 2011-2013 and Heikki has also been supporting Arkadia on other temporary changes over the years. For instance, this is what we had to say back in the end of year 2012 (check out Old News for the full blast from the past ;):
As the year 2012 is about to close, we feel like it's time to recap the past year a bit and give some insight into the forthcoming one to remember. First of all, thanks and kudos to Heikki Haapanen for his performance replacing Mikko in the lead guitars for the majority of this year. Heikki delivered in practices and at gatherings. We'll collaborate again in music some day for sure!
So, it is truly a pleasant rendez-vous - we'll have a blast together! To celebrate the occasion and to try out new songs before hitting the studio, we'll hit the road early next year. Currently we have a couple of gigs booked already and the next one in calendar currently is Tammisaari on 10th of February. So then you have a chance to meet the new four - and the new, never before heard songs!
- Mikko, Vesa, Mikael -
Third album songs ready: “MASTER OF FEARS” recordings to start 2018
Early this week I made a trip to Kuninkaansaari, a tranquil and peaceful island just outside of Helsinki, to work on lyrics of a song called Herakles. Previous time I had visited this special place was more than a year ago in August 2016. Back then, I returned home with the story of Rummelsburg, words for the first new piece of music that'd been composed after releasing our second album Aspirations & Reality early last year and touring around Finland to solemnize its release during the first half of 2016. With Herakles' music and words done, we now have ten new songs ready and rocking for the upcoming full-length album of Arkadia!
While the crafting is still in progress, I can reveal some things. The third album will bear the name Master of Fears, and in multiple ways it will be something different. The journey musically from Aspirations & Reality to Rummelsburg and onwards to Herakles has been a long one. So has the one for me to take over vocals from previous vocalist AJ Valkama and for the band to undergo multiple line-up changes during the past couple of years. The album songs are the most personal ones I've ever created so far, honestly describing my path growing away from the fears and failures of the old in ruthless detail. The path of which this band has been a part of for over 14 years.
Yet the recent changes have been so drastic that I paid some thoughts during the formation process on whether this would be an Arkadia album after all - or if we'd release it under a completely new band name. But those thoughts faded quickly, as while the songs all are quite different to our old stuff; more ambitious and complex, more versatile both in terms of the composition and the vocals, somewhat more positive and also more extreme at the same time, there is still something very familiar in the overall atmosphere of the music. Guess the foundation built in a rural Pohjanmaa garage sticks pretty hard with you. Not to mention the sound we have crafted together with Vesa already since 2004 and Mikael since 2013.
So the battle goes on! We've also started to book some gigs for early 2018. Excited to throw some new songs at ya before we hit the studio!
Viikholm leaves the band - ARKADIA continues as four-piece
Olari Viikholm, who joined Arkadia just three months ago as clean vocalist, has resigned from the band effective 1.1.2017. No point in going through all the reasons here, since we want to move on, but brief statement from the band's point of view: despite joint efforts during the fall to try and find a common ground as musicians and right chemistry as bandmates, in the end, Olari’s expectations for his role as vocalist and his ideas for the music of Arkadia did not match the vision of the rest of the band enough for us to be able to continue our musical journey together. Despite this outcome, we wish Olari nothing but the best in his future endeavors both in music and personal life.
While this short period seems to have been a misstep for us as a band (we only released promo of three songs and threw one full length gig together) - we regret nothing. During the fall, we as a four-piece have gotten stronger and tighter together and learned how important it is to stay true to one's values and vision. Withdraw Your Courage promo still represents how our growls sound now as sung by Mikko. New Year’s gig at Helsinki Hard Rock Cafe and Seinäjoki Rytmikorjaamo gig in September proved we have come a long way forward as live act this year. During the fall, we also have started creating and rehearsing multiple exciting growl vocal based new songs together.
For the time being, we are not actively looking for a new clean vocalist in the band. Marko will take a bigger role in the clean vocals - as already mentioned before, he has the necessary skills and capabilities not only in guitar but also owns solid rock & metal vocals - and wants to take bigger responsibility in them. We will continue working on the new material with our eyes on the prize - third album - which already has a theme and roughly 50 % of songs in the making. And we have got to tell you - they sound better than any of the stuff we have ever made! We will also immediately start booking gigs for 2017, to drive our quartet together and experiment with what we've got cooking.
These news including, 2016 was an extremely eventful year for Arkadia, but also very exciting. We released our second album, Aspirations & Reality, which was well received around the world and still gets plenty of airtime and attention. We toured all around Finland during the spring and had big gigs during the fall. Founding member AJ Valkama departed in September, but still continues to support the band in the background, for which we are grateful! After the above-mentioned period of search in the fall, we are now more ready and steady than ever to continue on our path - as we share the same clear goal and passion for this band. Thus, we truly welcome and look forward to 2017!
Humble thanks for your continued support! It keeps us going - no matter what!
- Mikko, Vesa, Marko & Mikael -
Meet Arkadia's new clean vocalist Olari Viikholm - and find out what happens to growls...
It is with great pleasure that I can present the new clean vocalist of Arkadia: Olari Viikholm, who hails from Estonia! Olari has spent a big part of his life in the world of classical music - he has performed at opera shows, oratorios, musicals and operettas in Estonia and around the world in three continents. He is a professional singer - currently a bass baritone and vocal coach in the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in Tallinn. In case you are interested to hear more about his classical journey to this point and to listen to his classical singing and view his acting, visit his home site.
However, for years he has been a listener of metal music and within the past year or so, the desire to enter the metal music community - and to change it for good - grew stronger and stronger. After discussing with several bands, now he has finally found the one to work with and to begin the musical journey on "the dark side". As Olari said himself: "Arkadia as a band has the perfect match of melody and power". I, as the main songwriter of the band, can safely say the same about the match of his singing voice to our sound.
Apart from the musical justification, above all, Olari is a super guy, always friendly, always professional and we as a band have already had the pleasure to enjoy his wit and energy on several trainings and also during and after one gig, as he got up the stage of Kaamos Metal Festival II at Seinäjoki's Rytmikorjaamo a week ago. After we had brought AJ Valkama to his final song by re-visiting seven tunes from our long journey together, AJ left the stage, Olari entered and we played Frozen Globe, Spitting Image and A Drop for the Past together to seal the gig. The picture below encapsulated the energy and attitude Olari brought to the stage on that special night.
Wait - Spitting Image sang with clean vocals? Yes, you understood right, but only partially. The song has a clean chorus, and Olari also occasionally joined in stellar cleans throughout the verses to bring energy and power. However, for the majority, the song is a growl song. And it is going to stay one. At this point we want to highlight, that we are not going to turn this band an opera-metal band and abandon the direction towards power demonstrated by our second album Aspirations & Reality, which mainly had vocals sang in growls. No, quite the opposite - and this was also the wish of Olari as he joined the band.
So, we will continue to have growls in our songs and we will continue to play the darker and more brutal material of our past albums (but at the same time add Olari's cleans to the equasion). The exact ratio of cleans to growls remains to be seen - but there's going to be plenty of both. The successor of AJ in the growls department is going to be... me. In the end, it feels like the natural path to take - I have been supporting AJ already for years on second growls and backing vocals and now it is the time to take my voice to the front row next to my lead guitars. And since the lyrics are mainly written by me - I should know what I am singing about.
For all of you that weren't there a week ago to experience the new Arkadia, we will have a treat upcoming. During this fall, we are returning to vocal studio with Olari to record one previously unreleased song and selected pieces from the first two albums to illustrate what is our sound now - to show how Olari's cleans and my growls go together with the powerful instrument sound laid out in the studio sessions of Unrelenting and Aspirations & Reality. And this will be released in covers of an EP by the end of this year. Besides this release, we are going to start booking gigs for 2017, as well as the planning for a third album. I already have a handful of brand new songs ready...
What a diverse and exciting year 2016 has already been. Release of our well received second album, Aspirations & Reality, along with three music videos (Foundation, Small Town Syndrome and To Those It May Concern). Throwing 15 gigs all around Finland, including the grande stage of Rytmikorjaamo. Going different ways with a good friend and founding member AJ Valkama. Joining forces with Marko Keskinen on the rhythm guitars. And now - finding the perfect clean vocalist to complete our sound and a great person to complete our crew. I have the feeling that 2017 is going to be one hell of a year for Arkadia.
- Mikko -
Major changes in line-up: founding vocalist AJ Valkama and Arkadia part ways, tour guitarist Marko Keskinen becomes a full member
With great emotion we inform you that Arkadia’s founding member, vocalist Antti-Jussi Valkama and Arkadia will part ways in September 2016. This decision from both sides was not an easy one to make, but in the end, the differences in the aspirations of the band and those of AJ as an individual became too different to match and go forward together.
This is a tough issue to face for the band, especially considering we just released our second album Aspirations & Reality in June and are starting to receive the mainly positive responses to it and also witnessing the effect on the press, radios and social media as the word starts to spread around. In average, we have received 4/5 rating for the album. (Check out the Reviews section for details.)
While this event will create a delay in our activities, for instance launching the following tours, we are confident that in the near future we will have a steady direction for tours of 2017 - and also a great vocalist within our ranks. We’ve already had some try-out sessions with capable vocalists during the summer break and will continue to hold them until we have a perfect match.
This is what Antti-Jussi has to say about the departure:
I want to try my wings as an independent artist from now on. In the future, I wish to concentrate fully on creation, instead of being a member in a touring band.
I will write lyrics, read poetry and continue taking classical singing lessons. Music will continue to be part of my life in one way or another. For example, I continue to teach it at elementary school.
In the future, when the time is right, I might again participate in some band-related activities, but I want to do them according to my own wishes. Perhaps I will make a demo with my own songs. Purely as a hobby and to my own joy.
13 years in Arkadia has been a giving journey, but at times quite demanding. I thank you: band mates, friends and all the people I met in the venues for the past years! Stay heavy!
AJ’s final gig in the ranks of Arkadia will be on Friday, September 9 at Kaamos Metal Festival II in Seinäjoki's Rytmikorjaamo. Join us then for a special night at the main stage of Rytmikorjaamo along with four other great metal bands!
On other and greatly more positive matters, guitarist Marko Keskinen, who has been the touring guitarist during the first leg of Aspirations & Reality tour in Spring 2016, covering all 14 gigs, will become a full time Arkadia member starting this very day. It has been a great pleasure to share the stages (and party hard!) with Marko and we are even more happy to have him on board going forward.
Marko is a seasoned guitarist with more than 10 years of on and off stage performance. He currently plays the lead guitars in (and composes songs for) Dark Clarity. In addition to stellar and energetic live performance and solid skills in both lead and rhythm guitars, Marko can also do great clean vocals. This will further diversify our set of skills as a band. You can read more about Marko here.
We sincerely thank AJ for all his achievements in Arkadia and wish him the best of luck in his independent endeavors in the future. His efforts in Arkadia have spanned well beyond singing only - during the years he has for instance created majority of our cover art and the wooden prop "tulus" so he has had a great impact on the image of the band in many ways.
At the same time, we warmly welcome Marko as a full time member to Arkadia! We will surely have a blast together as a quartet until the lead singer is found to the band.
- Mikko, Vesa & Mikael -
Second album ”Aspirations & Reality” out in Finland! International release date is June 17
Aspirations & Reality album has been out in Finland for a couple of weeks now! It is sold on Levykauppa X, iTunes, Inverse Store and a number of other ground floor shops around the country and also in the web. Further, it's available in Spotify so have a listen through the nine tracks for free and let us know what you think! The first album reviews have been promising - going to update them on the Reviews section shortly but due to rushes here and there - for now, you can browse them through via the links at our Facebook page. In short the ratings have been in the ballpark of 4 / 5 which was our target for the album. So for now we are happy and excited!
Internationally, release date is next week's Friday with international webshop presence and also distributed via the following actors: Plastic Head (UK), TWS (Germany), Bertus (The Netherlands), NonStop (Switzerland), Sound Pollution (Sweden), Lethal Conflict (Hungary), among others. Available in many of the mentioned stores already as a pre-order so go ahead and grab it!
Further, we have released the first full feature music video out from the second album. It bears the name "Foundation", and as the name suggests, it represents the building blocks upon which we have been building our "temple" for the past thirteen years. It has been quite a journey, but we are really proud to have reached this point in time when we can celebrate the release of this album and this song! Go ahead and guess which are the bands that influenced this song ;-)
The Aspirations & Reality Finland Tour Pt. 1 went really well - between March and June we threw 14 gigs around Finland and while the size of crowd were alternating between venues, in average there was much more people present than during the Unrelenting tours. So thanks for showing up! While there were plenty of great gigs during the Spring, we've got to say that Joensuu's Marks took #1 place considering the overall reception and the feeling to play for the metal city. Our first gig in Pohjois-Karjala was a blast! We are currently promoting A&R album heavily and when the dust settles so to speak, we'll be back on the road for sure. Hopefully also outside Finland... So keep watching this space - and do enjoy the album!
Second album ”Aspirations & Reality” mixed & mastered, first song & lyric video released!
The past 12 months have truly been eventful for us: starting from the second part of our debut album release tour in February 2015, ending with a second album master record at our hands. Only 18 months since the release of ”Unrelenting”, we are prepared to release our second album ”Aspirations & Reality". Strike when it’s hot, they say. We tend to agree. On the 33 gigs performed since the release of ”Unrelenting”, we started running in the majority of the tracks to be released soon.
In many ways, we continue what we started with ”Unrelenting”, but more importantly we travel to new grounds. Despite the debut album was an entity we still are proud of, it also was a collection of songs developed during the first 11 years of our existence (a story often told with debut albums). The songs in ”Aspirations & Reality” are for the most part composed within the past couple of years, with notable exceptions ”Thorns”, "Spitting Image” and ”The Luring Madness".
”Aspirations & Reality" is much more diverse than the debut album, but at the same time we are building upon our strengths. Vocals have mainly turned to growls, which always have been the powerhouse of Arkadia along with raw and powerful guitar sounds. With occasional clean vocals and some surprising compositions the musical scene is shifted rapidly, most likely demanding the listener to take additional plays of certain tracks to dig deeper under the surface.
The album was once again produced, mixed and mastered at Fantom Studio by Samu Oittinen, who recently has worked with big Finnish metal names such as Insomnium and Diablo. We are excited to continue our great co-operation which started six years ago with ”A Drop for the Past” EP and are stunned by the outcome Samu crafted out of the half year of recordings we did between August 2015 and January 2016. Album has 10 tracks which will comprise a roughly 47 min album:
01. Aspirations & Reality
The second last track of the album, "To Those It May Concern", is the first song released off the album. The song represents the more hopeful and multiplexed compositions of the album and brings nicely together the contemporary sound and scale we have in 2016. Not the most brutal or straightforward of songs but seeking balance and inspiring to continue on the journey - it’s a true story of why we still are doing music after 13 years. Hope you enjoy the lyric video, here goes:
Exact release date of the album is still unknown, as we are intensely looking for labels to co-operate with. But our intention is to release it during this spring in March or April. We are starting album tour in March, comprising 14 gigs as of now. For more info on dates, check out the Gigs section.