Interview: The ‘Circus Of Doom’ With Noora Louhimo of BATTLE BEAST

Words by Sam Wolstenholme {Sam Wolstenholme – Singer/Songwriter + Seraphic}

Finland’s power metal mavericks Battle Beast have exploded into 2022 with the highly anticipated release of their magnificently theatrical sixth studio album ‘Circus of Doom’ on January 21st. Sam Wolstenholme was fortunate enough to sit down with their powerhouse frontwoman Noora Louhimo to discuss this exciting development in the Battle Beast camp. Read on to for Noora’s insights on how ‘Circus of Doom’ channels the very spirit of the sensational six-piece, how she feels she has grown as a vocalist in the process, and how Battle Beast are going to conquer the world.

SW: Hi there Noora, how are you?

NL: I’m great! I’m here with my morning coffee. It’s my “must” – it’s 9am here in Finland!

Well thank you so much for making the time to chat with me over your morning coffee! We’ve just heard Battle Beast’s new album ‘Circus of Doom,’ and wow, what a powerful piece of work. What a way to start the year! How are you feeling about it?

Thank you very much! Well, I’m feeling great about it. The reception has been amazing, and people seem to like it, and we thought in the band as well before we released the album that now we have given our heart and soul and everything to this album. So I’m very proud of us, and I was like, I don’t even care if people don’t like it! [laughs] It’s been just a bonus to have this kind of reception, and I think the most important thing has been that we as a band have found the right way for us to do this, to do our music and be a band. And it’s my tenth anniversary in the band this year!

That’s really interesting – so when you say you’ve found the right way to write music in Battle Beast, could you tell me more about that?

Well, first of all, we have more than one songwriter in the band. After we separated with Anton [Kabanen] 7 years ago, we decided that the point was that we all wanted to participate and express ourselves and be creative, and since 2015 we started to let everyone put effort in the band as much as each one of us wants to. And after that we started to kind of find everyone’s roles in the band. So, since the ‘Bringer of Pain’ album, there have been three key songwriters – our keyboardist Janne, and he’s the producer as well, and there’s the lead guitarist Joona and Eero, our bass player as well. So, they three bring, in my opinion, the essence of what kind of songs should be in Battle Beast, and I am sort of the glue in the band, singing those songs, and even though the styles are different in their songs, my voice combines everything together.

Oh, that it does! Your voice is such a focal point, it shines and stands out, so I definitely agree with you on that one.

Yeah, and it’s very comfortable being in the band when you know what’s your place and what’s your role in the band, and you don’t have to feel any kind of uncertainty of your place in the band and your role. So, I feel like during this album ‘Circus of Doom,’ we have found our place, that each member of the band has found their own place and their role in the band. And I think that the perfect song about this – it wasn’t, of course, about this when Eero wrote it – is the song A Place We Call Home; it’s very convenient when we are talking about the roles in the band.

It sounds like you’re all feeling very at home in the band right now.

Yeah, and you know, we wouldn’t be here still after [all this time] – I’ve been in the band for ten years now and the guys have been in the band since 2008 – so, there must be some kind of common goal. And we definitely have that – we want to conquer the world! We want to make good music together and we love to perform live shows together. So, there are a lot of things that we love to do together. And we are like five brothers and one sister, so we have fights and we have arguments, but we overcome them, because in the end we love each other, and we want to do fun stuff together.

With the pandemic being how it is, obviously touring opportunities have been affected. But I noticed that you had a live online release party for the album via your Facebook page. How did that go?

That was great! It was so great to see so many people participating and sending us so many comments and feedback about the album. We were toasting there, and we made a couple of acoustic versions of the new songs. So there were acoustic versions of Master of Illusion and Eye of the Storm. You can still see those on the Battle Beast Facebook page, it’s still there. If you want to see it, it’s an hour and a half-long show. We were just talking about the making of the album, and we also had a competition for all the participants. There were two CDs that people could win as signed albums sent to their home. It was really nice, and I’m happy that we celebrated the release of the album in that way. Even though it would be great to do it in front of a live audience, but this was a great way [to celebrate it].

Sounds like it was quite a treat for the fans!?

Yeah, and now that we are waiting to get on tour, while we’re waiting, we will definitely do more livestreams. For example, last year or the year before, we did a few episodes of “Battle Beast RAW”, and it’s like a livestream talk show and people can comment and stuff like that. So we definitely are willing to do more of those episodes, and we were asking our audience actually, what would you like us to put in our social media? We are maybe going to do in the future some livestreaming from our band rehearsals, because people seem to be very curious about our rehearsals. So we might be doing a few episodes of us having rehearsals and talking together.

That’s a great idea! Fans love to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Yeah, and I have some plans as well for my own social media, because people have been asking, you know, what are the stories behind my outfits, and my makeup and hair and my horns? So I’m going to make a whole series about my clothing! So I have some things to do this year! [laughs] Of course, we also have band rehearsals and preparing for upcoming shows, whenever they happen.

The lucky folks in North America can look forward to seeing you on tour with Dragonforce in a couple of months, from what I can see!

Let’s hope for the best! It’s still in the calendar, but you never know with this pandemic what it can do. So let’s keep our toes and our fingers crossed that we can get onto that tour.

Definitely keeping them crossed for you! Now, the album. This is such an innovative album – I noticed, and correct me if I’m wrong, this one features many more rich orchestral layers to give it that real theatrical feel. Can you tell me more about how that “circus” theme is represented in the music on the album?

Well, the whole thing started when Janne, our keyboard player, he did these circus-themed songs. And the one I love on the album is the opening track, Circus of Doom. I just love the dynamics and the dramatics and the orchestras, and the choirs and the way that I could bring something new vocally to our audience. I think it definitely represents the whole album, like how diverse and exciting it is, and it’s got so many different contrasts, in the moods and what kinds of songs there are. Some songs have serious and dark issues or themes, and then there are some very cheerful and happy songs.

We definitely didn’t want to make a concept album, but when we were discussing what could be the name of the album, Janne said that he had these different working names for this opening track. Of course, he didn’t know back then that it was going to be the opening track, but then he mentioned the name ‘Circus of Doom,’ and our bass player Eero got very excited – he said, “That’s the name! That’s our album’s name, it’s so cool”. Then we started discussing it in the band and in the end, we decided to go with the ‘Circus of Doom’ name, and, because I love circus, I immediately got this visual stuff in my head going on, like this is going to be so cool, what we can do with this theme visually to our fans for live shows.

So definitely, even though not all the songs are about circus, we can definitely have so much fun with it visually, and also you can hear when you start to listen to the album from the beginning to the end, it’s like stepping into this big circus tent and whatever can happen there. It starts with this big, exciting, a little bit scary maybe, dark and gloomy feeling, but then you notice that it’s not that scary, it’s actually entertaining and cheerful. And I really like that we have so many dynamics in the album and so many different stories. It’s not just talking about one thing so that the songs would be like twelve similar songs.

There’s definitely a lot of diversity on this album, I mean a circus has so many different attractions to see, right?

Yeah, exactly. We also definitely have this kind of humorous side a bit, like Circus of Doom is like Battle Beast when we come on stage! Super energetic, and we try to surprise our audience every time, like you never know what to expect but that it’s going to be an explosive and energetic show. I think Battle Beast is like Circus of Doom – we come to destroy, in a good way!

Well you did say earlier that you want to conquer the world! It really sounds like ‘Circus of Doom’ is the essence of Battle Beast, and where you are and what you want to do. But I want to circle back now to when you said that you brought something new vocally on this album, could you tell me more about that?

Well, when the lockdown started, I started to make my own solo album. I wanted to go back to my musical roots and open up to my fans why I’m the kind of vocalist I am and what kind of person I am. I wanted to let people inside my head. I had been dreaming about making my own solo album for a decade, and I’ve been writing songs since I was a little girl. So it was like, now is the time – if I don’t do this now, it might take another ten years to make my solo album! So I started to do it, and I found new ways and new tools to use my voice during the making of my solo album. For example, I found a sweet spot in the upper range in my voice that I was so excited to get to use in Battle Beast.

So I released my solo album last March, and then straight away I went to the recording booth for Battle Beast, and I was so excited because I knew I had so much new, cool stuff to use as a singer. I felt more comfortable and confident, because I felt that after making that solo album, I was more comfortable and confident with myself. I knew who I am and what I am as a singer. So it definitely helped me a lot to give even more to Battle Beast as a singer. Everything is just a plus! People have been asking, why did you do the solo album? It’s because I’m an artist, and I need to express myself in different ways, and it definitely helped to find new ways to express myself as well in Battle Beast.

Oh, absolutely – artists can’t box themselves into one thing, it makes you a better artist to try different things. Especially having that amazing challenge of writing your own solo album, it makes sense that that made you feel more confident in Battle Beast as well.

Yeah, and it was nice to do totally different stuff, because in Battle Beast it’s heavy metal, and I didn’t want to do that in my solo album. I didn’t think, okay, now I’m going to show what kind of songs I do as a solo artist in heavy metal. Because the thing is, and I don’t feel ashamed of it all, in songwriting, it doesn’t feel natural for me to write heavy metal. It’s more like blues and rock and soul music. So I do that, and I’m more than happy to be the storyteller in Battle Beast, and I have a big role in the band, even though I’m not writing the songs. I’m more than happy to tell the stories that the guys have to tell, and it’s my favourite thing to be performing those songs!

There are so many things I love about this album campaign. You said that the album was self-produced by Janne, that’s so impressive!

Yeah, Janne is a professional and he’s been doing this for so long – he was also the co-producer when Anton was still on board. So he was helping Anton when I came in the band and we did the ‘Battle Beast’ album, and already back then Janne was co-producing and doing the orchestras. He was possibly even doing that on the ‘Steel’ album beforehand. So he’s got a long history of producing and mixing, and it’s been great to see how much he’s been developing over time as a producer and keyboard player. It’s been great to watch his growth as a producer!

It’s also nice that we have done the recordings at JKB Studios, which is Janne’s studio. We have unlimited time to record our albums, so that’s a treat. You don’t have to pay thousands of Euros to make the album in the recording booth – of course we pay Janne for all the effort that he does.

But it would cut out a lot of the stress to not have to count every hour in the studio.

Yeah, exactly.

Another thing I love about everything that’s been released is these amazing music videos you’ve released for the album singles, most recently the video for Wings of Light, directed by Patrick Ullaeus. How do you feel the videos reflect the themes of the singles and the album as a whole?

I think all of the directors did a really great job. They all have their own artistic way to show what kind of feelings the songs brought up in them, and we wanted to give the directors creative freedom to show that. But also of course, we decided that the songwriter for the certain song, they have the final say in what they want [for the video]. My participation has been that I’ve been designing what kind of clothing I’m wearing, and also I’ve given ideas to the directors if needed. But for example, with Patrick, he just told us to come over and not to ask too many questions! So we went there, and he’s that kind of artist in that he just does stuff and it looks amazing. He had a really good idea with using this new kind of gimbal camera, which makes it look like you’re flying all the time, which is really cool.

And then, for example, with Legenda TV, Markus [Nieminen], the director of the Master of Illusion and Where Angels Fear To Fly videos, he wanted to do this more storyline kind of video. I really love that style as well, I’ve always loved music videos with story. My wish for Where Angels Fear To Fly was that I wanted to fly. So there’s this scene where I fly a little bit, I’m getting lifted in the air, which is super cool and made it even more fun. I really like high places – someday I will do the parachute jump!

That’s a real bucket list thing, hey? All power to you! Now, you said that you design all your clothes?

Yes, now of course I have my dressmaker Katariina Tuttavainen from Ilmatar Couture, she’s been working with me since 2017. It’s been amazing. It was funny, because she was actually a Battle Beast fan and she loved our music, so she contacted me through Instagram or something and then she asked if I would be interested in collaboration. She had never done clothing for stage, so it was her first time making those, but she is a professional dressmaker especially for corsets and wedding gowns. So I was super excited because I really wanted to see what this young dressmaker had in mind, and I had all these crazy ideas. This has definitely been a match made in heaven because she’s crazy as well and she loves to learn new stuff and she has been developing as a stage clothing dressmaker so much, and she’s very talented. Whenever I have an idea, she tries to make it come true. She’s like my…um…

Fairy godmother?

Yes, fairy godmother! [laughs] That’s true! She has done a great job. For example, in Where Angels Fear To Fly, there is this dress I have where there is like 80 metres of fabric in it! I have crazy ideas, but she makes it true, so it’s not too crazy! More is more.

Well that definitely works with the theme of this album and your live performances, being so big and bombastic and glorious on stage! I’m curious – what are some of your favourite shows you’ve ever played, and why?

Well, this is a very hard question, because there are so many great shows we’ve had. But if I had to mention one, it must be Wacken [Open Air] 2019, when we were on the Main Stage, because that was a big deal for us, for me. I felt like I could levitate on the stage! It was like, the feeling, the energy that came from that number of people, like 70-80,000 people watching us, it was just beyond feeling. It was Beyond the Burning Skies of feeling!

Yes! Well hopefully you can get back to that one day.


I just have one more question before we wrap up – I wanted to know, do you have any advice to give to aspiring metal vocalists? You’re such a powerhouse, you do amazing things in this genre, and you’re such a versatile vocalist, so I’m sure there are a lot of baby vocalists out there thinking, wow, I wish I could do what she does! Do you have any advice to give to someone thinking that?

Well first of all, here’s a little advertisement! Because I also coach singing and performing, and I’m going to start giving live-streamed coaching. So if you go to my social media, I will announce there when it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen pretty soon. So if you want to learn the stuff that I do, how do I do it, you should definitely start following me on Instagram and Facebook, as I will announce there when the live-streamed “Sing Like A Beast” coaching starts. Then you will get all my secrets! I will tell everything.

And here’s a free tip for every beginner who wants to be a badass singer – don’t let anyone put you down, trust yourself, love yourself, and remember, you are enough. You are beautiful. If someone tries to put you down, don’t care about that, because everything starts with yourself. If you believe in yourself and what you’re doing, then others start to believe that as well, at some point.

That’s so true – people can tell when you’re really feeling connected to the art you’re creating.

Yes. I’m going to do the performing and singing coaching in English so more people will understand it! But I will do it Finnish and English, because there are a lot of Finnish girls and boys who want to learn heavy metal and rock style and how to perform with confidence, and some of them don’t necessarily understand English so well. But definitely in two languages. If you are interested in my secrets of how I do what I do, you should sign up!

I love it. Well thank you so much Noora, I really enjoyed chatting with you.

Thank you, take care and stay safe. Hopefully we can get to Australia as soon as possible!

Purchase ‘Circus of Doom’ here.

Click here for tour dates and ticket links.

Follow Noora on social media for details on her upcoming live-streamed coaching:

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With thanks to Nuclear Blast

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