CHALICE absolutely confirm their path in heavy metal music with their debut album Trembling Crown. After listening to their EP Silver Cloak last year couldn’t wait to have their debut album in our hands and it completely fullfills our best expectactions. Trembling Crown thickly underlines the fact that the Finns have been a tad more playful and inventive than their contemporaries ever since they started out in 2016. We know all the deatils about how they have crafted this little jewel of an album in this chat with Verneri Benjamin.
Hi Verneri, the release of your ep “Silver Cloak” last year left us begging for more, but what was the feedback you received?
Verneri: The feedback that we received for „Silver Cloak“ was extremely positive and the songs really achieved what we were aiming on doing with the EP; giving a glimpse of what’s to come with the full length album!
Fortunately, you have not made us wait too long, and here we have your debut album “Trembling Crown”. It will be released on December 11th through High Roller Records. The date was fixed initially or it has been postponed so much as you could because of the pandemic?
Verneri: Originally there were talks about the album being released already in October, but obviously considering the strange circumstances everybody has faced this year we already had the feeling earlier on that the release would be postponed. We as a band are still very happy with the fact that the album will be released this year and not pushed further to 2021.
When did you start composing “Trembling Crown” and how was the process of it all?
Verneri: The composing process of Trembling Crown was not necessarily an entirely connected process periodically, since some of the song ideas are as much as 5 years old. You could still say that the majority of the work was done between 2018-2019.
The composing process itself was something that was flowing quite naturally I’d say, because once we felt the strong connection that the songs had conceptually, it really opened up the more theatrical aspect of the album and gave us way more „freedom“ if you will with the songwriting itself. Also the addition of our drummer Olli to the band in late 2018 was something that I feel really took our writing and arranging to the next level, not to even mention what a powerhouse of a drummer he is!
If you liked the Silver Cloak EP it is truly impossible you don’t love “Trembling Crown”…
Verneri: I do agree that the elements that are strongly presented with „Trembling Crown“ were already heard on the 7“ so in that sense, you’re correct! I’d also like to think that on the album we’ve presented a even more varied sound of the band, not necessarily because we aimed to do so just for showcase purposes, but because the story of the album is something spoke to us this way.
If anything, this “Trembling Crown” clearly demonstrates that you are hard working guys, because there is a pile of details to pay attention in every song
Verneri: You’re absolutely right. If I may say so myself, I’d say that the beauty of the album lies in the interpretation of the story by the listener and the details that are yet to be found before each new listening session. Then again, I’ve heard feedback from few extremely experienced listeners who have been scaringly close to what we had in mind even after the first listen….
We use to have a debate between what is more important in music, whether the high skills or the feeling, but if you can have both of them why deny it?
Verneri: If I had to choose one I would choose feeling over skill, but I also think that a lot of times the higher skill level can enhance the deliverance of the feelings you wanna express with your music. That being said we all know there has been plenty of examples in the history of music of people not necessarily the most talented with their instruments who still ended up composing some of the most memorable music ever.
Verneri you are a great guitarist, but surprisingly, or not, you still manage to do very well as a vocalist too
Verneri: Thank you for the compliment! I’d say personally that I feel my vocal deliverance has improved a lot since our first two releases and continues to do so. I think on the album I could also present a wider range of my vocal skills, which was of course already hinted on a bit on the ep, but songs like „Hunger of the Depth“ or „Stars“ really underline the variety of the album also vocal-wise.
The cover artwork seems much connected with the name of the band, kind of mythological, isn’t it?
Verneri: The great art presented on the cover by the late british mastermind William Blake was something we wanted to have on the album because it definitely connects to the story of the album. Like the music, the cover also hides plenty of small details that require closer attention from the listener.
What are the lyrics about?
Verneri: „Trembling Crown“ as a name refers to a state, position of power that gets intoxicated by the its very self and starts to fall into the depths of madness. The album essentially tells the story of the demise and rebirth of this realm. Could it be based on real life? Is it really about even a person? I let the listener decide on that when they listen tot he album….
Talking a little about the songs, we have the feeling of the NWOBHM flowing throughout the album
Verneri: It’s obvious that all of us in the band have been fans of NWOBHM since our early teens so in my opionion it’s almost inevitable that there are some of those elements on the album. I’d say that „Trembling Crown“ is a blend of a large variety of influences and NWOBHM being just one of them, but all of our influences atleast in my mind blend into a dark, mysterious soundscape that is the sound CHALICE.
You are able to create big choruses like in the song Wings I’ve Known, how do you work this matter?
Verneri: I’d like to highlight the expertise of our bass player/backing vocalist Joni with this matter, as he has been the one responsible for many of the big chorus vocal lines on the album, including „Wings“ and „The Key“ for example. There’s been more than a few occasions that me and Mikael turn to him for a big, singable vocal line to perfect our songwriting and this is obivously a big advantage for us.
I think another strong point in the album is the way you master the melodies
Verneri: I can speak on behalf of both me and Mikael that melodies (guitar and/or vocal) rank among the highest of importance in our songwriting. We have always had a sweet spot for dark, wistful and melancholic melodies that are memorable and easy to hum or sing along to. The fact that you think it’s a strong point on the album is a great compliment for us and we appreciate it highly
The final shot with Stars is really brilliant, 9 minutes of an intense ballad that we could define as a classic anthem with all rights
Verneri: Thank you! Personally I’d say that I rank „Stars“ among the proudest moments of mine and Mikael’s songwriting carreers, because writing a strong ballad kind of song to finish the album on a high note was a very ambitious goal but it ended up being one of the biggest highlights on the album. Without being too confident in talking about our own music, I feel that we accomplished in writing a song that grows in intensity from the calm beginning until the end of the climax that fulfills the end of the story.
Exactly, another bull’s-eye. You also have included an instrumental song, Karkanxholl, that might well be a tribute to that great band that is Pagan Altar
Verneri: Pagan Altar is a band we as a band are fans of and appreciate their music greatly! We are fans of emotional music, something that reaches something beyond and has a strong, unique atmosphere and they really fit into this category. With that being said, we didn’t really have any particular band in mind when writing the song. It was yet again something that fit that part of the album, storywise.
Any favorite song in the album for you?
Verneri: It’s hard to choose just one, but I’d highlight the title track and also „Hunger of the Depth“ that both take the turn for the darker part of the album. Especially „Hunger“ is something that people may not have expected from us previously with an extremely dark and I’d even say a oppressive feeling to it. The torment of the main character and the losing of control are just some of the themes included in this two songs…
With the classic sound and quality you deliver it’s possible to believe that heavy metal can still defy the pass of time. How do you see its future?
Verneri: To me Heavy Metal is timeless music. I believe that in the future there’ll be more unique sounding, original bands that pursue the same kind of path that we’ve laid for ourselves with CHALICE because for us it was always extremely important to have our own, signature sound and I believe we have accomplished that. The greatest compliment for us is when somebody says they can’t really say what CHALICE sounds like, or even if they mention something the names vary from Eagles to Beherit. I firmly believe CHALICE sounds like CHALICE and nothing else, and even if our releases are connected musically, artistically and atmospherically, there’s still way more to be unveiled of what truly is the beast that is CHALICE….
How are you dealing with the covid19 pandemic and how do you think the world will look like after this pandemonium?
Verneri: The entire global situation is obviously extremely difficult for the entire music scene and affects everybody. We’re still scheduled to play a record release party in January but we just need to wait and see what’s the outcome in the end. I think that the current situation will affect the world greatly still for years to come and if talking about the music scene, it’s gonna be a long while before things start to look somewhat close to normal…
Any touring ideas for the aftermath?
Verneri: We are extremely hungry to play live when things return to close to somewhat normal! We’d also love to play Spain too because we know from experience from previous endeavors that the Spanish crowd is always a wild and loud one to play to!
You are welcome whenever you wish to come, man! Thanks for your comments and congratulations for your top debut. If you wish to add something…
Verneri: Thank you for the interview and make sure to check out „Trembling Crown“ on the 11th of December. If there’s something I can guarantee a new listener it’s that the album is definitely not a predictable, safe metal album. that’ll leave you wondering whether or not you were listening to the same song for 45 minutes. Instead you’ll get a ferocious dive into the depths of wistfulness, sinister atmosphere, intriguing storytelling and strong musicianship that evokes emotions.