CONVULSE “Transmissions From The Deathstar” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

There are some bands that always have the restless itch to shake up their sound. Not many, but they’re out there. In the Finnish metal scene, the first name that comes to mind is CONVULSE. I’ve called this band the “Finnish Chameleons” in the past due to their ability to constantly shift their sound and add new aspects to it. With their new album “Deathstar”, they stay true to that nickname.

First off, the record does stay rooted in death metal, especially when it comes to the deep abyssal roars of singer/guitarist Rami Jamsa. But from there, they take some left turns into classic prog rock territory, a bit of psychedelic rock and roll and straight up heavy metal. You are kept on your toes and that’s just the way Rami wants it. I was glad to get together with him again and find out what’s new in the ever-shifting world of CONVULSE...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to CONVULSE! I’m curious about the title of the new album “Deathstar”. Of course the first thought upon seeing that name is Star Wars, but I’m sure the meaning has nothing to do with this. What exactly is “Deathstar” about?'The cover art for the album is also intriguing and excellent. What’s the story behind this piece and how does it link to the album?

RAMI JAMSA: Hi and thanks for this interview. These first two questions are linked together so I will answer both of them. “Deathstar”  is our planet Earth that I am worried about. For me it seems like we are accelerating towards the inevitable end of our planet. I had an idea about Earth for the cover and the name “Deathstar”. Then I saw my old friend Minna Mead’s painting called “Strangled” and it hit the point. I also asked her to paint some more illustration for the cover. The cover was finished by Jan Yrlund from the idea of Minna Mead´s painting called “Strangled”. “Deathstar” is quite like a concept album after all.

WC: How easy or difficult was it to write the material on “Deathstar”? Do you write with any expectations of the fans in mind or do you block out all other influences?

RJ: I and we write music for ourselves, to be honest. I don´t want to have any limitations to my vision. In addition, I am not so sure where my all song ideas come from, so I have to do those songs that are coming in that particular moment. Of course, it would be cool if someone finds something good from CONVULSE´s music, but it´s not my main motive to write and play music as an artist.

WC: Do you have any songs left over from the “Deathstar” sessions that might appear on later efforts?

RJ: We are always on progress and process, so there are plenty of new song ideas coming. Some are left over from “Deathstar” material, some are new ideas. It doesn´t mean that we have twenty finished leftover tracks. That´s not our style to write music. We can leave ideas unfinished if they are not making themselves ready over a  certain time, for example a couple of months. We can use them later in other songs, if it fits there better.

WC:  One death metal aspect that you keep are the growling death vocals. Is this the easiest and most natural singing style for you or are there other reasons for keeping the growls?

RJ:You hit the nail on the head with your question. Growling is my natural way to express myself. I am also much better on growling than clean singing.

WC: Is there one song in particular on “Deathstar” that you are drawn to more than the others?

RJ: Well, I have a feeling this time that we managed an overall nice work in the studio. Of course, when you are doing analog recording and mixing, you managed some songs a little bit better than with some others. I don´t want put some songs ahead of any other. They are all somehow 
different and have their own meaning and place on this album. They carry on the story of the album towards the end.

WC: “We Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll” reminds me a lot of the “Reflections” album and seems to be a call out to BLACK SABBATH. What’s the meaning behind this one?

RJ: The Rock ´n Roll song started purely as a warm up jam in rehearsals. It was winter and we were freezing. So we just started to play to warm up our hands. The song includes some influences from BLACK SABBATH and RAINBOW. It reminds you also of the power of music and calls you all to listen our music with no expectations. 

WC:  How important was your previous album “Cycle of Revenge” to the development of “Deathstar”?

RJ: Well, that is the good question. Somehow we started to find ourselves with “Cycle of Revenge” as a three member band and after years of playing together it lead us further. So “Cycle of Revenge” was an important album and it taught us a lot. Without it, the “Deathstar” album would not be so good and versatile.

WC: “Chernobyl” is the most “psychedelic” sounding song on the album. Have you ever visited this area? I know there are parts of Finland that feel effects from the Chernobyl disaster. Is this a personal song for you?

RJ: Our recording engineer said that this was the sickest track on these album sessions. Well, perhaps it is. I haven´t visited Chernobyl, but I have lived those scary moments in 1986. I remember the overall atmosphere here in Finland when this nuclear disaster happened. We didn´t know at first what to it safe to breathe, drink and eat? The whole 80´s was somehow the nuclear decade with nuclear missiles and Reagan´s Star Wars project and of course the Chernobyl explosion.

WC:“Make Humanica Great Again” is a take-off on Trump’s slogan. Is the song a specific comment on what’s happening in the US or is it a more general kind of lyric?

RJ: I am a caring and sharing simple man, who´s death wish is that we stop this stupid egoism and start to love other people and our surroundings more. It is my naïve, but honest wish.

WC. One thing I’ve always noticed about CONVULSE is that the music is very concise. No long jamming songs and the albums are fairly short. How important is keeping things compact? Have you ever had the urge to do a really long song?

RJ: We jam a lot and our songs are much longer when we start to compose them. We record almost every rehearsal and versions of the songs. After this adapting process, we have tried dozens of versions from each song. Finally they find their way to pleasing us. We have over 5 minutes long songs and the album opener “Extreme Dark Light” is over 7 minutes long. Perhaps we have finally managed to write songs that are quite long, but they are sounding shorter .

WC: Do you have any other projects you’re involved in or is all the focus on CONVULSE?

RJ: CONVULSE is our band and it´s our only band. I am a lucky man, when I have so loyal and many-sided musicians with me and the best part is that they have no doubts to follow my and our musical ambitions.

WC: How did you wind up on Transcending Records? Were other labels interested in you?

RJ: When we started to rehearse and record the new album, we didn´t have a record deal. We just had a passion to play and record the new album. We saved money for three years to cover proper studio costs in an excellent analog studio with an excellent recording and mixing engineer. At first we tried to send some e-mails to different labels and we didn´t get any proper answers. After I released cover art and info on our social media, we got eight different labels that were interested in us. There was a couple of other good options too, but Mike and Transcending Records convinced us. Mike was very keen to release it and he had listened to the album several times and had found its´ value. 

WC: What the status of CONVULSE’s live shows in the Covid age?

RJ: Bad. I don´t see any chance to play live shows abroad in this situation. Neither do I see any chance to play for a couple of people here in Finland. So we have to just wait and hope things are getting better. We concentrate on rehearsing and making new material at this moment.

WC: Are there any ideas of what might lie beyond “Deathstar” for you?

RJ: Love and hope.

WC: Any last messages to the fans?

RJ: Thanks for this interesting interview. You have really listened to our new album and it brings joy to me. Take care and stay safe!