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INTERVIEW with Riina Rinkinen of Silentium

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Finland’s SILENTIUM arguably has been a force within the symphonic metal subgenre since the band’s inception in the mid-nineties and is only a few years younger than the genre their most closely linked to (give or take a few years from whenever you think symphonic metal became a thing). Metal probably has as many subgenres as humanity has fingerprint patterns…ok, maybe not that many, but there is no shortage of bands whose existence and commercial viability are tied to and defined by whatever classification latches on or the trending artist at the time for better or worse. Some artists transcend their genre to develop niches of their own while some are overshadowed by more well-known acts despite the quality of and/or how adjacent the music may sound.

By Russell Miller

Published Thursday, 15 August 2019 10:53

SILENTIUM’s signature blend of melody and power come from their use of orchestral sounds accompanied by guitar riffs. Since joining the band in the mid-2000s however, vocalist Riina Rinkinen helped further refine the band’s sound with her unique vocals, emotive delivery and poetic lyricism. ‘Seducia’ was the first album to feature the Finnish vocalist and brought solidification to SILENTIUM’s sound. Rinkinen’s performance was nothing short unique and definitely dynamic. There is range to cover any melodic passage, enough power to contend with the maelstrom of heavy riffs and blasting drums as well as the finesse to draw the listener in when the song demands it. As far as gothic and/or symphonic metal goes, a strong argument can be made as to how underrated this bunch is.

That all said, we caught up with Riina (and keyboardist Sami Boman) to get to the bottom of why they’re one of the best bands you’ve not heard enough of as well as a few nuggets concerning their return to the studio.

Silentium has been around for a long time and has seen some lineup changes. How would you describe the band’s sound over the years you’ve been a member to those who have not heard you yet?

"It’s true, this band is old! One of the things I love about Silentium is indeed the distinctive sound. It’s melodic, symphonic, pompous even, yet somehow soft and fragile at the same time. We make use of real orchestral instruments wherever we can. We don’t have a violinist at the moment, but Jani Laaksonen, one of the original Silentians, has made his strings sing for a couple of songs on the upcoming album. One song has a woodwind quartet. Even though our songwriting has evolved along the years I think the sound still holds the same qualities that give us our special twist."

The writing style has always had this emotive authenticity to them and the performance never fails to carry the lyrics home. What is it like to hear the music underneath those words and give life to the story in each song you write?

"I’m glad you said “story” because that’s exactly what singing is to me: storytelling. Before this new, still unreleased album, Matti Aikio (bass) was mostly responsible for the lyrics, but this time they’re mostly mine. To me, singing is an outlet for all the emotions I go through day by day. As an HSP I experience things very intensely and I like to think I can convey some of that to the songs I sing. Sharing those emotions and hopefully being able to provide whoever is listening some relief, joy or something to relate with is the best I can hope for. I think besides motherhood, it’s my most meaningful task on this planet."

What is the process of writing and composing of a SILENTIUM song like and how do you know when you have a completed song?

"We have two main songwriters in the band: Sami Boman and Juha Lehtioksa. Those two together or separately, come up with the basis of the song, the frame or the base so to speak.

Sometimes I’m the one to come up with the melodies, sometimes it’s a joint effort. 

Sami always does the orchestrations and usually has his hand in arranging the final product, even if the song is written by Juha. Then there’ll, of course, be nuances and bits and pieces added by everyone once the band rehearses the new material together. I’d say the song is ready and completed once it’s been recorded and mastered - up until then anything can happen."

The band’s last release came about 10 years ago: a) how does it feel to be getting back into the thick of things after the time off from the release of Amortean? b) what does it feel like to beat TOOL to the punch of releasing new music?

"Simply put, it feels amazing. We’ve been cooking these new tunes, some of them, for years now. We are all extremely excited, it feels like the stars have aligned and pieces are finally falling into place. I love doing live shows and it actually makes me emotional just thinking we get to invade some stages soon enough.

Feels even more amazing. Expecting Mr. Keenan to blow up our inbox with pure hate any minute now. (Not really tho, we love you, Maynard!)"

On the band blog, there is mention of getting some hands dirty with some old music in addition to the new music that’ll be on the new record. Could you share a hint or two…or five…pertaining to what the new album has in store?

"The new album is the best we’ve done so far. Musically, aesthetically and technically. The songs have a good variety of different moods and styles, all the while retaining the sound we discussed earlier. We have yet again failed to write a song short enough for repeated radio play. I, personally, don’t mind. We have a couple of ten-minute monsters in there and one of them is pretty much my favourite. Hard to pick one, tho. Lyrics-wise, I’ve been writing about my depression, about humanity and lack of, and about survival. The most personal lyric I wrote for my son. Good luck singing it without crying, Riina."

What was the recording process like for the new record?

"Sami Boman: It was longer and more precise and thorough than ever before. In the past, we spent like four or five weeks in the studio in one go and came out with the recorded and mixed album exhausted and dizzy. This time we had a couple of weeks off after every instrument so we could rest our ears and tune every detail and nuance to serve the purpose we wanted. It kept the workflow fresher and I really think one can hear the positive influences it had on the new album.

Riina: I did my vocals in two sessions. The first was extremely draining because of non-music related circumstances. Before singing the single “Empty” (Eva + Manu cover), after a night of zero sleep, I was literally sitting in the bathroom slapping myself in the face and bellowing the positive affirmation of “get it together, bitch!”. Thank the cosmos for Aksu Hanttu, the wonderful dude who produced the album, he had an empathetic approach to my momentary crumbling and we were able to make some magic. The second round was less stressful, but there’s always a lot of emotion entangled in studio work, no matter the situation."

The band just dropped a music video for Empty, a cover song. What went into deciding on this song before the any from the new album?

We wanted to do a stand-alone kind of piece before the album to let everyone know we’re back. Schedules wouldn’t allow us to even consider one of the new original Silentium songs for this, so it was sort of a no-brainer. Besides, the song is amazing, originally and as our version, even if I do say so myself.

If you could describe the new material as a movie soundtrack, how would you describe the movie’s plot and which movie(s) would you say would fit it best?

"[The movie would be] a sort of a dystopian fantasy, with elements of romance, tragedy and war. Can’t think of a movie that fits the bill at this moment, maybe we should start drafting a script and pitching it to all the big names?"

Will Silentium be touring in support of the new material?

"We haven’t booked a tour yet, but that is most definitely the plan. If you happen to be in Jyväskylä, Finland at the end of September, 28th to be precise, you can catch us at Lutakko playing with ENTWINE. All info of future gigs will be available on our Facebook page as well as our website."

What would be the dream festival bill for Silentium to appear on and where would it be?

"Bands like KATATONIA, OPETH, ANATHEMA, DIMMU BORGIR, SOEN (whose last album was really good) and from a selfish perspective I'd love for DRACONIAN to be there as that would mean hanging out with one of my dearest friends. The “where” is easy, someplace warm..stupid Finland, always freezing. Wouldn’t mind playing Wacken Open Air and Summer Breeze for instance."

Are there any juicy tidbits of info you’d be able to share with Underground Press readers and where can we all stay hooked?

"I can tell you that we’re definitely releasing another single this fall, September-October, and this time it will be one of the new songs. Still having an internal battle with the guys about which one!

You can follow us on our Facebook page Facebook and at our website ~ More action at the FB page tho."

Updated on:
>> Friday, 30 September 2022 14:35

Gothic Metal


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About Silentium

Silentium is a Finnish gothic metal band. The band was formed in 1995 and it originates from Jämsänkoski, Finland. Keyboardist Sami Boman and original vocalist Matti Aikio created Silentium by adding violin player Jani Laaksonen, guitar players Toni Lahtinen and Juha Lehtioksa and drummer Jari Ojala into the line-up of their previous band Funeral.


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