“We always try to do more cool harmonies and melodies and also we try to – since we have two guitar players, we try to use that much as possible, so we always try to do harmonies.
“Also, we talk about how to create more dynamics before we went into the songwriting process. I think we had all that in the back of our heads.
“I mean, I’m not going to lie, both me and Johan Söderberg, the other guitar player, we are huge fans of Priest and Maiden. We always wanted to do more harmonies and more guitar work. If we can, why not?”
Discussing the “experimental” elements of the new record, the guitarist said:
“I think that is what I just mentioned earlier: We said we wanted to create more dynamics into the songs. One way to do that is kind of like ‘Ironside.’
“It starts with this mellow, acoustic thing and in the middle of the song, it almost goes like gore vocals, then the acoustic comes back and then clean vocals and then back to the old-school heaviness. That’s just creating dynamics.
“Same thing with ‘Valkyria.’ We did a piano outro. I think ‘Shield Wall,’ in the middle of the song, there’s this acoustic, really mellow breakdown part. ‘Fafner’s Gold,’ the opening track, we have the chorus as an acoustic version. We’re just trying to [find out] how we can make our songs more interesting.”
Talking about what inspires him to write music, Mikkonen said:
“I think I definitely need to be in a certain mood. The thing is, I think it’s all different. What I felt about this cycle or writing process was that what really triggers me is when things are going good for our band, like, when we ended the ‘Jomsviking’ touring cycle – it was a successful cycle.
“I mean, the best tour we ever did, or tours we ever did and also the vibe in the band has been amazing during the last cycle. The very next day when we came back from the last show, I went into my studio and started writing songs. When things are going good and have this positive energy, that really triggers me to write.
“The thing is, I kind of learn, when I’m having a good feeling about stuff, I just write and write. I know at some point, you’re going to have a dip and you’re not going to be able to come up with anything for weeks or for months. When you get there, I just do something else until I have that good feeling again.
“I think we’re fortunate to have a situation where we don’t have to force anything. We write whenever we feel like we want to write. We don’t really have a rehearsal room where we work together like that. We all work individually from home.
“When I’m in a good mood writing stuff, the other guys, they don’t have to be that. They can work on my stuff or the stuff I’ve been working on whenever they want. At one point, we get together and that’s when we put the songs together.”
Read our review on “Berserker” here.