Roots in the 1990s
Welkins Boreal was founded by the songwriter Teemu Kautonen in 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. While the band as such is new, its roots go back to the mid 1990s when Teemu was active in several bands including Darkwoods My Betrothed, Furthest Shore, Nattvindens Gråt and Wizzard. In fact, Teemu sees Welkins Boreal as a reincarnation of Nattvindens Gråt.
Nattvindens Gråt released one cassette EP and two full-length albums in the mid 1990s: ‘Där svanar flyger’ (1994), ‘A Bard’s Tale’ (1995) and ‘Chaos Without Theory’ (1996). The band also performed on a European tour in 1997 with Babylon Whores (FIN) and Wish (NL).
The line-up on those albums included Tuomas Holopainen and Sami Vänskä of subsequent Nightwish fame, and Tapio Wilska who has played in many Finnish metal acts including Finntroll, Sethian and Survivors Zero. The band reformed with a different line-up in 2000 for one more album ‘Subuniverses’, after which it was put on ice for an indefinite period.
From dormancy to resurrection in 2018
Many years in Teemu’s life passed without any musical activity. A ‘no-life’ career-building phase, frequent moves between countries, family, and hence, no time for music (or any other hobbies for that matter). But music was always in the back of his head. Often as frustration.
While Teemu sees the albums he produced with his other bands in the 1990s as products of their era and fine as such, ‘Chaos Without Theory’ always bugged him. The album contains a number of great song ideas but the execution was lacking. Well, what do you expect when you have a teenager with more enthusiasm than skills or patience arranging the songs, and a miniscule studio budget that forces you to rush through the recordings.
For many years Teemu dreamed of being able to remake some of those songs, but the hectic everyday life never allowed it. Until time was ripe in 2018. He went through all three Nattvindens Gråt albums and ended up with a list of nine songs that he thought contained some amazing ideas that so much more could be done with. Five of those songs are from ‘Chaos Without Theory’, the remaining four from ‘Subuniverses’.
Teemu set out to arrange the songs from scratch while staying true to the spirit of the original versions. This also included revising the lyrics which – with the benefit of 20 years of hindsight – appeared, err, somewhat juvenile. Staying true to their original spirit proved to be a challenge, but with the help of his endlessly patient Canadian colleague (you can visit him in the Helsinki mental asylum), Teemu managed to come up with versions that he is now happy with.
After eight months of revising, arranging and recording, ‘Phantoms of Yesteryear’ was unleashed to the world 19 September 2019.
Brand new material in 2020
Even though the story of Welkins Boreal began with a look into the past, the idea was always to expand the project to brand new material. In fact, a few weeks after finishing ‘Phantoms of Yesteryear’ Teemu started to work on new songs. His old friend Aki Koponen joined the band in late 2019 and the duo decided to hire a session drummer and record three new songs at Finland’s legendary Astia Studio with the ‘apostle of analogue sound’, producer/engineer Anssi Kippo (e.g., Children of Bodom, Ensiferum).
In contrast to the robotic precision of most modern music, the production of the ‘Ashes’ EP is fully organic: no midi, no autotune, no computer editing of any kind. Everything was played and sung live and recorded and mixed on magnetic tape using a fully analogue signal path. The result might not be technically perfect, but it feels alive and gives a sense of danger that is absent in recordings that have been edited to perfection.
‘Ashes’ was released on CD and on all streaming services 11 September 2020.
Welkins Boreal are now working on new material and intend to record their sophomore album in 2021-2022.
While the band has not performed live so far and there are no concrete current plans for concerts, live shows are certainly not out of the question in the future.