This interview with the guitarist Jyri Vahvanen of the Finnish fantasy metal band Battlelore was done through e-mail in July 2002.

Hello, how are you doing?
I'm fine, thanks for asking. I'm just working with new clothes for our live performance.

It has now been some months since the release of your debut album, what has the response been like so far?
The response has been very good. I knew from the beginning that we are going to be a band for the fans, not for the reviewers. All the feedback has been very clear: some people likes us and some people haven't find any point from our music. It was a little bit risky to do so versatile album as "...WTSL" is, but I believe that it was a right decision. So far we have had awfully many "true" fans and it's always nice to have that kind of respect from your work.

The cover art was done by Ted Nasmith who is rather famous for his Tolkien illustrations, was this a natural choice for you?
Well, first we asked John Howe to do the cover art for our album but he was very busy because of the LotR- movie and he couldn't give us a permission for his earlier works, but he promised to do our second album's cover. We all like Mr. Nasmith's illustrations very much, so it was easy to ask his painting for the album cover.

How come you have this very strong fascination for Tolkien, what do you think make his writings so special?
Surely he is a pioneer when we talk about fantasy books. Everybody are copying these things what he invented. All this Middle-earth subject is so enormous that it really takes your breath away and it's hard to imagine that it's all made by one man.

The obvious question, what did you think about the first Lord Of The Rings movie compared to the book? I guess you are really looking forward to the next one?
Of course the book is much more deeper and fascinating than the movie but my opinion is that you can't compare 'em. The book and the movie are two different things and I really want to put 'em in the same category of judgement. The movie is fantastic and I really look forward for the upcoming parts of it.

You, or possibly the label, decided not to print your lyrics with the cd, how come? What are they about?
Hmm... this is strange. I have never seen a copy of our album without lyrics. There are two kind of releases of "...WTSL" the digi-pack and the jewel-case and both includes the lyrics. Are you sure that you don't mean the promo-cd? Obviously there aren't any lyrics in promo-cd. [Editor's note: I ordered my copy of the album from an online company who seems to have lost the booklet somehow...]

How do you go by when composing songs within the band? With seven members I guess there are a lot of different opinions?
Yes, there are a lot of different opinions but after all it's quite easy to make songs. It's a long process but not so very hard. Usually I make a basic structure of the song with guitar and then we just add everybody's ideas and elements on it. And when we go to the recording studio, we make about 40% of the song in there. It's usually I or our producer Miitri Aaltonen who have the final word if we have any disagreements about the song.

You have recorded two demos called "Warrior's Tale" and "Dark Fantasy", what is this material like compared to the album?
The demo material is always demo material. Bad sounds and poor producing in short time and all because you do not have enough money. Nowadays our songs aren't so fragile and "thin" any more and our sound is much more mature. We have learned a lot in the past few years.

The second demo got you the deal with Napalm Records, were there any other labels who offered you a contract?
There were a few little labels who offered some poor deals for us so it was easy to choose Napalm's offer.

Are you happy with the work Napalm has done for you so far? What do you think of the other bands on the label?
We are very pleased for the Napalm's work with us. Napalm Records have many great bands like Tristania, Sirenia, Vintersorg, Summoning, Abigor and many more. They also have some German / Austrian bands which aren't so familiar to me but I think that their quality level is very high.

I would say that the keyboard is the most important instrument for Battlelore since your way of using them makes you stand out from most other bands, do you agree with me on this?
Yes, I agree. It is kind of weird 'cause I make all of our songs with guitar and add synths afterwards but the final result is always based in synth.

You have now played some live shows for the first time in your short career, what has it been like? What can the crowd expect from a Battlelore gig?
The live playing is always the greatest stuff in music business and our few gigs have been very successful. I have heard that our songs work very well when we play live and some people likes 'em better live. The crowd can expect raging live act with fantasy gear like swords, axes, banners and flags, live fire etc. You just have see us live and I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

I think that you were once a member of Horna under the name Skratt, am I right about that?
You miss a little. I was one of the Horna's founder and I used name Moredhel. [Editor's note: mistake noted :-)]

Your two female members have been or are still members of two bands called My Sweet Sorrows and Elderthrones, could you tell us a little about these bands?
My knowledge about My Sweet Sorrows is very small so you have to ask that one from Kaisa. It's some kind of melancholy gothic pop. Elderthrones is melodic blackmetal or paganmetal as they describe it.

You have now found a new guitarist called Jussi Mononen to replace Tommi Havo who left the band earlier this year, could you tell us something about him? Has be been playing with any other bands prior to joining Battlelore?
Jussi is our old friend and very good choice for a BL's guitarist. He's a great person and his motivation is very high. It's pleasure to play with Jussi. Jussi plays in a band called Cabal. I believe that there's many bands with the same name but this Cabal comes from Lappeenranta, Finland and they play very aggressive metal. I actually can't categorise 'em.

Has any of the other band members been involved with other bands than Battlelore?
Kaisa, our female singer have a few projects with some other bands and our male singer Patrik plays in a bands called Ruoska and Reduced To Ash.

What do you all do when not playing or composing music, do you go to school or work?
Most of us are still studying. Patrik have a permanent job and I and Miika consecrate fully to our band and music.

What albums are the most important ones to you in the history of metal?
This is a hard one... Usually people ask your favourites but the most important albums for me in my history of metal are: Immortal "Pure Holocaust", Rotting Christ "Thy Mighty Contract", Runemagick "Supreme Force of Evil" there's a few to mention.

What plans and goals do you have for Battlelore in the nearest future?
We are going to start our second album's recording in the end of this year and hopefully we could do some European touring in next summer.

Now to my very own right or wrong section. You are just going to tell us whether you think the following acts would be right or wrong:

a) If someone killed Hitler prior to his mass murder campaigns.

b) To burn down a church because it's "evil".

c) To burn down a church because it represents oppression.

d) Sado-masochism.

e) Death penalty.

f) To lie if it will be of benefit to yourself.

g) Censorship.

h) Religion.

i) Communism.

Any final words for your fans?
Come to see our gigs if we tour near you and visit our website:

Links of interest:

Napalm Records