perjantai 4. huhtikuuta 2014

Is this metal band awful?




Recently I stumbled across a very interesting blog- entity run by a group of American “folk metal heads”, who have an uncontrollable urge to spread people the gospel of Righteousness. And the more I read it, the more I started to think that when the purpose of the blog was "listing all the dangerously stupid people in the metal scene" they, sadly, forgot the mention themselves. While I´m not an expert on labeling and judging things on their outlooks, I´m pretty sure these peeps are. At least the clear- sighted knowledge on the matters shine through their articles like a beam of light into a dark, wartime bunker. And today, ladies, gentlemen and all-those-who-wish-not-be-labeled-into-anything-because-it-might-offend-their-freedom-to-choose, we are in that bunker: bathing in the light of Truth, admitting our sins and repenting for all those who died. Amen, sister!

  ...Well, if you have to ask, it probably is.

The foreword of this epitome of an American Inquisition starts with -how I would see it- as an almost sorry- sounding excuse. Itエs almost like you could actually listen to our band despite of ME. However, Mitja is completely fine, because he once said that he hates the nazis. (I guess the Illinois Nazis are not qualified, as everyone hates them.) I mean, with these compliments I almost feel like I should dedicate all our musical works to the author solely:

"I LOVE MOONSORROW A LOT. When they say epic metal they mean EPIC and IT´S SUPER GREAT and hey looks like they´re majority not dicks, that´s good."

While not being completely sure what "they´re majority not dicks" is, I suppose it refers to the presume that most of the people in the band are not resemblant to penises. I could be wrong, though, as I´m not a native English speaker. But if I´m correct, it must be your lucky day, because one member of Lakupaavi - a band which is a clear "no- no" to the author- actually looks like a dick. Good thing he is not a Moonsorrow- member, or the author´s day would had probably been ruined. You see, she clearly doesn´t appreciate the fine offensive art of Lakupaavi- 
"which, yes, we understand is supposed to be an offensive joke and sort of parody of Anal Cunt or something, but dudes?? please don´t wear Hitler masks." So, I take it as Anal Cunt singing about rape, uncle Adolf or whatever semenburgers and sexual minorities is completely fine because they don´t wear those dreaded hitler- masks? Next time we´ll write a song about "ha ha you´re an american internet blogger" while steering away completely from such sensitive subjects as rubber masks of some dead dictator.
After all, it´s completely ok and funny to piss off everyone else but you, so we completely understand the issue here.

Another fun fact is also, that apparently at some point of my life, I´ve become a "public figure". And you see, public figures aren´t sadly allowed to wear shirts that may offend someone. Completely understandable though, as it wasn´t allowed in 1940´s Germany either. Verboten!
About 70 years, a zillion dead and one particular living Norwegian nazi later, a picture taken from the recording sessions of Varjoina- album showed me sporting a Burzum- shirt, which was wished to be censored in the future from our public imagery. Cencored, by someone who has absolutely no idea of what else Burzum  represents as an artist to people like me, people who actually were actively involved in the “scene” when this second- to- hitler -madman made his famous albums. And even is she had, why on earth should I follow the subtle and polite hint of “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HENRI SORVALI, PLEASE STOP WEARING BURZUM SHIRTS IN PUBLICLY POSTED PHOTOS”? Would the next thing be maybe removing all the Burzum- influenced parts from our music as well? Heck, let´s actually ban whole Moonsorrow from the surface of the Earth because I´ve heard that someone in the band heard Burzum at a party in 1996! No- one expects the American Inquisition!!

Then again, as long as the children feel safe, I´m later being allowed to wear my garderobe. Ironically, just like some tiny souls telling the gay peeps to stay in the closet, the gay people now tell me to wear my shirts somewhere privately, “OR AT LEAST NO BURZUM SHIRTS WHERE THE KIDS CAN SEE.” Children? Seriously? Is my antichristian and aggressive, screechy and noisy Pagan music with the vengeful and bloody lyrics completely fine...just as long as the children don´t surf into a Moonsorrow website and see some fat bloke wearing a black t- shirt with some random letters printed on it? Are the children in America perhaps told about the "dangers of Burzum" before they go to school?
I love children- in fact, I have two of my own who unfortunately have already been exposed to this foul and smelly shirt- but this reminds me of something else....yes, that was it.

“It’s not about imposing some sort of sanctions on [subject] …It’s about protecting children from such information,” Mr [spokesperson] said.

Yes, it was the Russian President Vladimir Putin, explaining about the new laws against homosexuality in Russia just a couple of months ago. How could I forget that, silly me? And he did it also for the children´s protection, to care about our precious little new generations, just like you folks out there! How adorable! Just like in the 80´s when the PMRC had taken kids´ and teenagers´ needs into a special attention while attacking musicians like Dee Snider and Frank Zappa, we must always think of the children today as well! Even now, 29 years later, the Moral is still strong in the U.S. and no children shall be exposed to something denegerate, immoral and offensive as a t- shirt.
On the matter of censorship on Artists The Blogger Doesn´t Personally Agree With, I´d like to dwell a bit deeper into the PMRC- court case and quote my absolute hero, mr. Frank Zappa from  the Statement for Congress, Sept.19, 1985:

“The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of Moral Quality Control Programs based on “Things Certain Christians Don’t Like”. What if the next bunch of Washington Wives demands a large yellow “J” on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine? 

Record ratings are frequently compared to film ratings. Apart from the quantitative difference, there is another that is more important: People who act in films are hired to pretend. No matter how the film is rated, it won’t hurt them personally.
Since many musicians write and perform their own material and stand by it as their art (whether you like it or not), an imposed rating will stigmatize them as individuals. How long before composers and performers are told to wear a festive little PMRC arm band with their scarlet letter on it?

maanantai 17. maaliskuuta 2014

An open letter to Ihsahn

In Inferno Magazine 10/13 Ihsahn points out that (freely translated) "I think that anyone who does music for living or has a past like this [Emperor], understands the fact that it´s not always easy to relate to people who think you were at your best when being seventeen years old". However, I remember reading the same kind of sentence from various places before, like in 2010 here and in 2012 here and I started to think how irrititating it must be for a musician, who is definitely not a "one- hit- wonder" or some untalented luck of the draw.

Ihsahn´s past being taken up in every single context really seem to bug him for obvious reasons. I get the point, though- no matter how good you get or good music you put out, you´ll be always compared to something you did 20 years ago when you barely could play your instrument, while being referred as the "high point of your career." So, as a musician and a someone who loves old Emperor albums but doesn´t find saxophones sexy at all, I felt like spilling my guts over the matter- directed straight into the accused himself-

Mr. Ihsahn.

I´ve been following your career since In the Nightside Eclipse, loved Anthems,...not sure if liked IX and thought Prometheus was pretty much the "Spheres" of your band. But I never thought "you´ve lost it". On the contrary, I thought you (and still think) as one of the most talented musicians on this planet who could probably do whatever he wished and pull it off easily. The thing is just that I didn´t like the style you went on with Emperor, that´s all.
Just like in a smaller scale people would like to hear only trollhammarens from Finntroll, in your case people would rather have a thousand innoasatanas mixed by Pytten. This is something we musicians with a long career history have to live with, or start dwelling in the past like there was no tomorrow. Which is something that a true musician and a self- respecting individual would never do, so I guess we just have to move on instead of cheesing and reissuing it out the Swedish way (no names mentioned, but you can probably figure it out anyway if you aren´t Blinded By anything).

Obviously, we musicians tend to -or at least should- evolve. I don´t think Sibelius was born with a filled orchestra sheet on his hand before he learned how to play piano nor do I think Steve Vai´s first crappy acoustic guitar was a 7- stringed one. But when we evolve, we always leave a bit of something behind -or at least more to the background- when we push forward.
I tend to think this musical evolvement as a sort of a trade- off, really. When we were 19 years old, our composition skills, musical theory or knowledge on e.g. orchestration wasn´t exactly what it is today. Not to mention the production values of our recordings, which were close to "weekend at this guy´s parent´s garage with a 8- tracker" instead of now actually getting weeks (!) at a professional studio. Our main creative force was sheer passion (and love for the bands we listened to) and what we lacked on skill, we replaced with that passion. I´m not saying that either of us lacks it nowadays- quite the contrary- but I´d say it has become more sophisticated, more controlled and more "evolved" passion. Besides, still composing the way we did it 15-20 years ago would be rather uninspiring and regression- driven, don´t you think?

For what it comes to the cause of your irritation of people comparing your different works in the same context, I´d like to draw parallels into the world of painting; if we were impressionists in the beginning and mostly known because of that style, many of those admirers back then would have gone rather apeshit if we´d go total Caspar David Friedrich (or Hans Gude, if you prefer).

Wrath of the Tyrant 
Das Seelenbrechen


Why? Because they just happened to like impressionism over romanticism. Our sophisticated use of colors and shadings would only pale in comparison on our TRVE EARLY WORKS, even though we´d think quite the contrary. But they liked it that way we used to do it in the beginning, just like we preferred ..And Justice For All over Black Album.

Audience Reaction
I think everyone who has ever done anything creative in their early 20´s while still doing it in their mid- 30´s (especially if you do it full- time) finds that many times it´s not about being good or bad; it´s about the star signs, what you had for breakfast and did that passing car have a bumper sticker or not. In other words, sometimes you succeed with a piece and sometimes you fucking blow.  No reason. Live with it, love it. I know I do.
And as it all is a sum of it´s parts, I dare to claim that you couldn´t pull off another Cosmic Keys, just like I couldn´t do another Jaktens Tid. If we tried, it most likely would sound a watered- down, calculated piece of shit. Add a production either too good - or intentionally too bad- with everyone playing on beat detection like their lives would depend on it and the result would be just horrible. All sum of their parts again, stars aligned.

Could we actually recreate that one fun day again -just the way we remember it- if we all just put the same clothes on we wore then?

Like everyone creative person looking retrospectively on his works, among the more common works of ours we also find either "oh god this is just so bad, what was I thinking" or "jesus fucking christ how could I compose THIS even though I barely knew how to play, fuck, I´m gonna sell all my gear and start driving a truck instead"- type of stuff.

The most important thing, however, is that we do not let our past affect us unless it´s in all aspects 95% better than what we do nowadays. Which it probably isn´t.

Sincerely yours,

Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali,
a colleague, fanboy and a music freak.
(who sucks on using Blogger layout, so sorry about that)

maanantai 3. maaliskuuta 2014



"Reality bites"

Let´s face it- I hate most of this thing refererred as "reality". My primary interests are heavily involved in escaping it, my job is to make it disappear and my home looks like a crossbreed between a typical family home and something that escaped from Tim Burton´s movie located in the imaginary middle ages. Since a kid, I´ve always felt the need to belong somewhere else, sometime else and someworld else- and 30 years later I still need to drown my mind daily into sound, visions, literature, games and pictures to visit regularly places beyond the world as we know it.
And thus is why a grown man needs a good and solid gaming computer to escape the world he has not chosen for himself.

I had owned my previous computer since early 2008, which was am "ok"- ish Thinkcentre compiled for me at work. It cost 270 € and was probably best suited for watching Youtube videos when you´re not preparing Excel sheets.
So I always had this little envy when visiting Tundra, seeing his blinking led- supermachines and razermambas accompanied with a screen so crisp you thought you could pull all those little orcs out from there from their ears. I convinced myself every time that those awesome things "are just gimmicks and I don´t need no fancy stuff for playing", usually succeeding to assure myself that. But- if you are into PC gaming at all, you'll probably know as well as I did back then that the Seeds Of Corruption (see what I did there? AoE wallet damage, baby!) had been spread into my fragile mind and the only cure was a dose of l337ness.

This is not exactly that particular l337ness. Luckily for her, she found a perfect new home at my friend´s house a bit later! 

The specs were the following:

Lenovo Thinkcentre
Model 87057JG 
BIOS: IBM Bios Ver 2OKT47.0 
Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E4500 2.20 GHz 
ATI Radeon HD 4600 series [non- stock]

For years I could resist the temptation about getting some proper gaming equipment, but during the last couple of years I managed to "accidentally" buy a Logitech G11 keyboard second- hand from my friend and a bit later a G300 mouse. The my monitor broke down completely last summer (after taking 5-15 minutes to turn on every time for half a year), so I got myself a second- hand 24" HP very cheap.But at some point, after replacing my second broken- down cheap budget GFX card with another cheap budget card while trying to find a faster replacement processor for an outdated motherboard, last autumn, I started to realize that there´s a huge bottleneck in my gaming and it´s called my cheap PC. And that problem would stay forever if I just always bought cheap shit on top of cheap shit.
So I made some calculations, consulted a couple of gamer and PC- builder friends and settled for a budget of about 600 € for the parts I needed, which were the case and everything inside it without the hard drives. Needless to say, I had to stretch my budget a bit but still kept it way under 700 €. Which, in case you´re not a PC gamer, is practically half the price of the same machine if it was bought ready- made. But what did I get with that money?


"I´m your biggest fan"

For the case, I chose a mid tower which was Zalman´s Z11 Plus- not because of the functionality first but for the fact that when I saw it I knew instantly that I want this, no matter what it costs. I called it a "Starcraft command center" and my wife probably thought she was the only adult in the house when I was pointing the picture of it from my screen while bouncing with excitement. Much blue leds, such wow!!!! The motherboard (Asrock S1155 H77) and processor (Intel i5 3350P, 3.1 gHz) were easy- MoBo being something compatible with the processor while having surround- sound possibilities and loads of USB ports and processor being "something relatively ok- ish and fast enough from Intel". (Later I´ve only regretted a bit that I didn´t buy the unlocked K- version for overclocking, but maybe at some point. ^^) This time I also decided to invest on a proper processor cooler as well, as my primary interest is gaming, so I ordered a Cooler master Cm Hyper 212 Evo for doing the job, and am very happy with it. I can´t get the temps rise over 42 C no matter the game, and even with stress tests with OCCT and Prime95 it took over half an hour of 99% load to rise even over 50 C. So I´d say that was one of the best 35 € I´ve spent for a while, and can warmly suggest it to anyone without the possibility of using water- cooling.

The PSU, playing a very important role in gaming setups, was Antec HCG PSU 520W: while not putting out extreme amount of power, it was enough for me with the processor and GFX card I was buying and it was reviewed as being reasonably quiet as well. Retrospectively, I should had bought a modular PSU instead if I had realized it earlier, but that´s something for the future as well. And- as you can guess- I realized this small and annoying mistake when trying to hide and tidy the spaghetti inside the case. For the memory I chose two 4GB pieces of Kingston HyperX- blocks (which I still haven´t tweaked- shame on me!) and when I had already ordered everything, I realized I want a SSD- drive afte all so I got one used from my stepfather for 20 €- one of the best decisions I made with this computer. If you´re still using HDD as your primary disk- don´t. Just don´t. :D It´s that noticeable difference.

One of the most important things for gaming is of course the graphics processor, which took me the longest to decide. It had to be AMD with 2GB of memory and definitely not the cheapest one but not a flagship either. I had only 200 € of the budget left at this point, so I needed to find the best possible product for that money, which was a Radeon HD 7850 royalQueen. Though the manufacturer- Club 3D- hasn´t always been the best option around, thus far I´ve been very satisfied with it. I´ve overclocked it a bit but it´s still on process for me to get some time to push it to it´s limits.

Such lights! Next time it´s a modular PSU in order to get rid of the spaghetti, though.

With windows like this, I feel sorry for putting the computer hidden beneath the desk.

After getting everything together and working, I started to tweak with the cooling and fan control, and realized I had left the air ventilation and pressure still a bit neglected. So I ended up ordering a couple of more fans and a Bitfenix Recon- hardware controller for them. I spent some hours tweaking the software (note- under any circumstances do NOT use Bitfenix´s own software but get Phoebetria instead for that!) and finally got myself a fully- automated 5- fan system with temperature sensors. And led -fans! Moar leds!!! Starcraft!!!  "RAYNOR MUST SURVIVE". Ahem.

I´m having a positive air pressure unless the case temperature reaches 40 C, in which case it switches to neutral by simply speeding up the exhaust fans. I´ve yet to see more radical inside- temperatures, but in case (*drumroll*) they go over 50 C, all fans hit total maximum bananas. In case you´re interested more on the airflow directions and pressure- and how it affects your computer, I suggest you to surf here!

Did you know that blue leds and buttons are extremely good for luring toddlers to touch them? Especially when dads are in the middle of a fucking WoW raid and suddenly the screen goes blank??? I KNOW IT NOW.

So, my computer was ready. But one quite essential part for the escapism and illusion wasn´t. And that was the audio- in fact, I hadn´t even thought about it. Me, the 1st Duke of Sorvali? Here? With my reputation? Has no-one thought of the consequences?
Ahem. Again.

Fastshows aside, something had to be done, so I gave my Visa a sad look and marched to buy a sound upgrade as well. Sporting a 10 years old crappy Logitech 2.1 speakers and the cheapest USB headset I had found years ago from a supermarket, I decided to buy something that would last as long, so I walked away with a box of Logitech Z506 5.1 speaker set.
Seriously, a 5.1 set. In gaming? I felt like a kid at christmas morning. I´ve always adored the surround sound, as I feel it´s a really essential thing on building the complete illusion of escapism and finally I actually the opportunity to use that on games! I spent quite a time tweaking it via software into oblivion and back but it was worth the time when I got it finally working. Cranking that loud in a game makes you really feel like you´re an actual part of it, so I´d say mission accomplished!

As I still needed a headset as well (especially now when I have more kids who still take naps, etc) and the old one was held together with a duct- tape (...) I took some time to compare different models and prices and finally settled to Steelseries Siberia v2, like so many others before me.
The sounds is incredibly good and sports a lot of lo- mid- frequencies while not being mushy at all and they keep their comfortability extremely well during even longer periods of gaming. A really otherwordly experience was also the use of virtual 7.1 with the accompanied USB sound card, though I have to say the software is quite a pain in the ass to get working properly and has a ´98- esque interface with some annoying bugs which ended up resetting all it´s configurations a couple of times.

My personal escape pod was now finally finished and I could start enjoying my games with almost maxed- out GFX settings and surround sound. The comparison was pretty much the same than changing from a black- and- white telly into a plasma flat screen and even though it cost me about 900 € I really feel it was a good decision to "invest".

The fun thing is that as you can´t really put a price tag for actually getting time to use the setup as well, it´s more than usual that I have someone accompany me if I play (something family- friendly then, though). It really tells more than a thousand words that my son insisted to get into the same picture with the computer while I was taking those. :D

PS: Yes, it´s a World of Warcraft- poster in that cupboard. And you have absolutely no idea what I had to go through to convince my wife that it will stay there.

torstai 30. tammikuuta 2014



"It´s never too late to learn new stuff"

When I turned 18, my parents promised that they will pay me driver´s licence if I haven´t bought it myself before I turn 21. Being a piss- poor student, I waited nicely - until I forgot the whole thing- just to remember it again when I turned 22... but alas, my mom got worried in the end AGAIN and started squirming about me still being too reckless and all sorts of stuff moms say and worry about. (I guess at 35 she´d still like to see me as that chubby kid who was afraid ot the Muppet Show) So my parents suggested that “what it they would get me a computer with proper music hard- and software for the same amount of money?”
Loving making music and computers, I swallowed the bait as whole and took the generous offer of getting myself a computer instead of that driver´s licence. Which, was pretty much the best decision I´ve ever made for obvious reasons. So I moved from using a four- tracker into the world of digital recording and spent days and night doing any kind of music, realizing quickly that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life instead of being a hired- gun piano/ keyboard player. And I´m still wandering that road 13 years and tons of burnt- down PC´s later.

Remember when you got your first computer? You could probably turn it on and off, play some game but that was it. If there was a problem, you asked your brother or dad to fix it. Needless to say, that was pretty much the only thing I could do as well at the time I got that machine. So I grew increasingly frustrated having to call my stepfather all the time I had some problems (this was before I had internet, and mind you- the internet wasn´t quite the same it is today in the year 2000) and decided that I will learn this myself or die trying. Getting help from him and various friends (e.g. Marko from Moonsorrow) and destroying a couple of OS´s in the process, little by little I figured out what´s hidden in the settings, how to make things work and what´s inside that black box and why. Later I became good friends with my workplace´s IT- guy who also taught me a lot, and suddenly I realized building and tweaking PC´s like there´s no tomorrow.
And all because of I just wanted to make music without suffering from technical flaws.

Enter 2013. We have five (!!) self- built PC´s and three laptops (+ tons of different Android- based devices and a Raspberry PI - server running Ubuntu) at home, computers and tweaking them have become my dearest hobby after music and I´m married to a woman who works with them daily.
In 9 cases (pun intended) out of 10 I always build my computers myself with carefully selected - or, “whatever I can get” - depending on the use of the setup- parts and run all the machines anally barebone and clean. Meaning that all the power can be squeezed into the things I really need it for- which also explains why I´ve basically always managed to achieve everything needed with the setups I´ve been having (more on that in the upcoming second part). 
Only minor upgrades have been enough up to the point the motherboard or processor finally calls it quits and it's time for a fresh start.

Naturally, not all my components are good. In fact, most of them are mid- hi at best with some rare exceptions. Many bought second- hand or got for free and tweaked for my purposes. But it´s all about the thrill of the hunt, really, and not so much about the actual soon- to- become- old- technology- überness. Or, as it was said by @mariieneige
I love self-built desktops PC. Made from parts of older ones & born at home. They are cute like mix breed dogs ♥
Like I find no use for getting a Nvidia Titan for my audio workstation (yes, I would find much use for it in my gaming PC but as we all regular folks, our wallets find many other use for that amount of money :D) I wouldn´t waste money for an Intel i7 processor either for a computer which is running as a media center in the living room. And most importantly- I also do not throw working shit away and tend not to buy stuff I don´t need. My views on tech are extremely eco- (and wallet, to be honest) friendly despite of my enthusiasm, and this is something I have taught to my next generation as well. Computers are shut down, put to sleep when not in use and the rule of the house is that only the computer you´re using is allowed to be on.
When things become useless, replaced or obsolete they are sold or given away- or recycled properly. With this amount of technology we are using in an increasing pace with no slowing down in the horizon, we need to make sure it doesn´t bring us more harm in the future. Besides, it´s against my nature to just throw anything functioning and usable away - be it technology, clothing or food...which might also explain my overweight and holey socks. :D

In the next chapter I will talk more about why and how my gaming setup got a huge facelift and why it is so important for a grown man to have an alternative reality to sink on. With pictures! So, stay tuned for #pcmasterrace_2 if you´re interested!

tiistai 14. tammikuuta 2014


It seems that 2013 finally ended.

It didn't end me as far as I can tell, but it was near. So near I could smell it's foul stench and hear the cold breath pushing it's invisible tentacles down my neck, strangling me pale from inside. 

In that one year I lost my job* and the safety it brought I had for nine years, moved into a house with more work and responsibility than ever, spent probably more nights awake than sleeping (combination of a non- sleeping baby and extreme stress FTW), and learned how to be a CEO/ customer service/ worker of my own business in the same package, got finally a new and way more demanding job by sending one casual non-work application email at a right time to the right person....and most importantly- got a valuable reminder that you can be prepared for anything but you still cannot predict the future. 

*For the record, the thing I do for living is quite a rare job and thus the obviously most fucked- up thing was that there simply weren´t any places open, which made the situation a bit more "demanding" to say the least.

Despite of my overweight, I usually tend to fall on my feet. Or, maybe it's because of that? So- lucky for me, in the end I ended up with things better than they used to be but the stress, worry and work meanwhile was nearly killing me in the process. And still does a bit, to be honest. Not even mentioning the gloomy option to having to sell our newly- bought house for probably less we paid for it if I hadn´t got any work. But somehow I could always believe that things will go fine at some point. Why? Because I will not submit. And in some brain cortex I must be a positive- thinking person after all. :D 
Part luck, part very careful strategizing and preparing and mostly because of the primitive "fuck you"- attitude towards the fate, is how I see my strategy for fighting the mishaps that dare to drift in front of me. I simply refuse to give up and force myself to beat the game with another tactics and laugh on it afterwards. GG NO RE, thank you.

“GG NO RE” stands for "good game, no rematch". It's mostly used in multiplayer shooter games where you greet your opponent for the match and state your wish not to have another one. Funny how that´s exactly how I feel about last year.

Lok´ tar Awesome,



PS: As New Year´s resolutions are for silly people, I will make statements instead.

1. Moonsorrow will finish writing the new album, which we have already started.
2. There will be more blog posts in the future (but don´t blame me if you don´t like them though :D )
3. I will double- check the files I overwrite so I don´t end up accidentally destroying half of the text I wrote earlier like on this one.

keskiviikko 4. syyskuuta 2013

"Band, I am disappoint"

When everything sounds like shit, it probably is shit.

And when you work with a paying client, you work it through, no matter what. You lose sleep, overdose on coffee, get cranky and explode on minor mishaps at home. A situation that is highly not recommended, yet sometimes almost inevitable. We are all human after all, and we all know how sometimes too much work or unrealistic deadlines can cause some nasty situations to your psyche. No- one likes to be the "SIR YES SIR"- person, but sometimes -especially when working as a mercenary for different clients- it is sometimes necessary. After all, they pay your salary in the end. And if you leave a shitty aftertaste, your next project will be consisting of driving a taxi instead.
"But of course this traffic jam is my fault, sir, and I understand completely if you wish to not pay for this subpar ride".

However, when you work with your own band, the situation is completely different. Most importantly because the responsibility is - contrary to a common mistake- not to the fans, not to the record label or to the management. The responsibility is to you and your bandmates. It might sound harsh, but that´s the way things are, unless you´re Justin Bieber or an other record label´s little creation in which case you actually are responsible for that employer. Career choices, I guess.
So, unless you´re not a dick- puppet of some pissy A&R guy, record labels do not decide how to sound or when you will enter the studio. They do not decide your album covers nor do they say what to wear at the promo shoot. The only thing record labels actually (should) decide is the budget and the date of release when the product is finished.

Which brings us to the case, "when the product is not finished".

To cut it short- this is about the new Moonsorrow material and the fact that we are not entering the studio later this year as planned. The album is coming at some point, and to soothe you a bit, it is more likely to happen in 2014 than in 2015. Another record label could had demanded another band to "go to the studio as planned, no matter the quality". Century Media, however, doesn´t, because they believe that in Moonsorrow´s case quality overrides quantity. And I certainly hope you folks reading this think the same. We think that we deserve the best music possible and you do as well.
The product is not going to be finished on time, because basically I -as the main composer and producer- simply don´t have the energy to do it right now in the way it demands. Most of the material I´ve been composing for Moonsorrow lately has been sounding just plain boring, lacking ideas and the amount of riffs could be counted with probably ten fingers.
But does that mean that there will never come new Moonsorrow material? Silly you, of course not. This is only temporary and the reason for this is extremely clear.

Originally, our plan was to start composing in May and enter the studio in the turn of 2014. Then, right before May, the shittiest possible thing happened to me and I was laid down from work after almost nine years completely out of blue. That could happen to anyone, true, but here´s a fun fact for you- what isn´t so ordinary is the fact that I actually composed, produced and arranged every single album I´ve done between 2006 and 2012 at my work. Since 2006 I´ve had no music equipment at home at all except for one guitar (for possible rehearsals) so suddenly I was left not only jobless but also without a place and time to compose music for my bands. The cloud having a silver lining, we had just moved into a new home where we still had a spare room- which I now could build as the audio room for me to continue working.
But suddenly I wasn´t just "working" the way I had used to, but somehow forced to evolve into a overstressed CEO, accountant, chairman, producer, H&R and the sole worker of Trollhorn Music LTD instead of "being that audio guy and getting paid for it". Careful calculations, counteroffers, emails and Excel sheets laughed at my attempts to actully do what I´m at my best and mocked me while I wanted to just fucking compose that music. And naturally, I´ve been pushing extremely hard to show my best to Rovio as well in order to actually make them want to hire me full- time, so I´m quite exhausted on working since late April on my toes, pleasing everyone and showing them how capable I am while doing all the email work, plannings, contracts and whatever paperwork for my own company besides actually doing the sounds for them (and Rovio) they need. In other words, I´m burnt out to a fuck at the moment.

So, one might wonder how much I have creativity for Moonsorrow at the moment? Pretty much zero, thanks for asking. After a long discussion with Marko- who is also playing a huge part in Moonsorrow´s composing process- we agreed that we´re not going to do shit because someone might expect us to do something. If my whole time is going to somehow manage normal living, it is quite natural that the moment when I don´t work my ass off isn´t going to magically push the "be creative for Moonsorrow, NOW!"- button for me. The Gods know I want to music for this band but right now I am so tied to managing my "normal" work that it is impossible to find any inspiration for something as profound as Moonsorrow. And while the management, record label and fans might be disappointed to this decision, we stand behind this as a band and have agreed all together that we will start composing the music properly when all the people who are needed in that are actually capable of doing that.

All the members of Moonsorrow also agree that during the latest five years, the constant rise of success hasn´t come with only positive sides. Even though we absolutely do this with 100% dedication, things have got into a point most of us think that they are a bit over our reach with constant pulling from different directions. Many members just don´t have the capability of doing this in the volume it seems to demand according to The Music Industry (tm). In fact, to quote one member... 
"During 2008-2013 Moonsorrow has been growing a lot. Going to the right direction, getting many new fans, doing things more professionally. However, at the same time the whole thing has gone more and more calculative with release dates and, most importantly, touring."
"Moonsorrow was never meant to be a household name".
And another, por favor:
"My perspective on everything has changed, too. Not too much, but I thought it'd be polite to update so no one freaks out when I eventually turn down an offer for a show."
And lastly, myself: 
"...extremely correct (referring to "Moonsorrow was never meant to be a household name"- H) and I´ve been thinking this a lot as well during the past years where everything has gone a bit into a different direction I would had personally thought. Don´t get me wrong- I´m not against actually selling records or getting popularity, but I personally think that there is too much business involved in this work of (he)art and the more we can crawl a bit back into our "personal forest", the better."
As you can probably read between the lines, we are in a point where we do not want to sacrifice this band upon the altar of monetization, schedules, demands, popularity or anything else. We hold this collective cult more important than anything that would end up exhausting our burning flame and we need to watch for that not to happen before it consumes us. Sacrifing the mutual passion and killing the inspiration due to countless touring or forced composing isn´t doing any band any good, and that is especially important with a band that consists of good old friends who share the same passion for music and beliefs. No earthly gain is possibly worth loosing that.

To quote another member at the end, who we all agree 100%... 
"I love all you guys from the bottom of my heart and I could easily see this band still around in 2030 and never splitting up."

We are Moonsorrow and we do things our way because we believe in them.

sunnuntai 4. elokuuta 2013

The Internet is for...

...Summer cottage! Wait, what? That sentence wasn´t supposed to end like that. But alas, it just did. Because today, we´re discussing a bit of using technology in archaic circumstances. The heresy! So, forget the metal thingies for now- this is more of a personal rant from someone who´s grown up in a culture where manliness is measured by the depth of the burnt part in your sausage which you roasted in a open fire with about 10.000 mosquitoes. Sure, I can live with that- after all, I am a Finn, male, and I love summer cottages and camping. And burnt sausage! But what I don´t get is the intentional archaic, even lutheran humility we instantly bathe on since the moment when we start to unload the car at the front of our summer cottage. Oh wait, actually we walked the last hundred meters because roads are Satan´s invention. In fact, we should had walked there in a snowstorm.

The one debunkable myth of the Finnish "summer cottage culture" has to be pointed out when discussing the use of internet. And that is the "WHY NO U LIVE LIEK TRUE AKRIKULTUARL FINNS IN CABIN". Well, simply because you won´t either. Read more to find out what´s my beef on this thing!

The amount of summer cabins without a some sort of radio apparatus is probably close to zero since the 1960´s. And for what it comes to some ancient - yet working- television, don´t even get me started. Every cottage has one. Besides, TV´s are nowadays so cheap that you could get one to that cottage for a € 100 unless you want to play a hypocrite and use that early grandfather´s old 1980´s crap instead "because it´s more real and TRUE".
My point? Finnish summer cottage culture includes radio and television, and it has been like that since electricity was drawn to those mosquite- infested huts. They are used for news and entertainment- which is basically subtle music in the daytime or watching the National Lottery from the telly after sauna. Sometimes people get all crazy and bring old CD´s from home to listen if the radio has a CD player built- in. Or, they might burn a copy of some really shitty old movie at home and bring that to be watched later with that TV which has a DVD slot. But why? Why don´t we actually bring good music and good movies with us? Surely they take the same space in the luggage?

Because, the rule #1 in the entertainment in Finnish summer cottage culture is that "If there´s something too modern, you cannot use it properly and break these unwritten rules, ashaming your family line". 

TV´s have to be tuned in a way that half of the channels are missing. The radio is stuck into the crappiest schlager channel forever. The CD´s you brought have to be some gas- station compilations of old classics "NOW PERFORMED BY AN EX- POLITICIAN AND SINGING DOGS!!!".It´s the way it has always been and an integral part of the humble Finnish culture. We can´t have working, modern technology in summer cabins. Period.

So, as this is why we can´t have nice things, you can guess how much laughter it always raises when I rig up the personal entertainment section up when we arrive anywhere. Cottage, hotel, even the childbirth room in the hospital (!!). I always carry that with me when we spend nights somewhere with the whole family. Nothing fancy though- just some small speakers, a 9" tablet in a stand, different chargers and stuff. That´s my news, my radio, my television. GOD FORBID if I want my news and music to be available where I want it and when I want it.
Or if I want to watch an episode of "The Walking Dead" with my wife when the kids have gone to bed? No, we are to fill crossword puzzles and read magazines from the mid 80´s instead. (Which is awesome entertainment every now and then though, mind you.)
If the signal is too weak inside, I´ll rig up the phone outside when needed, switch tethering on and use that. I just returned from a trip where I had to build a home- made signal booster from an empty beer can and aluminium foil for the phone, which was tethering the signal to inside. It took me some time and I was proud of myself when it finally worked.

But let me remind you- it´s not the same that climbing to the roof to fix a TV antenna for that B/W telly in heavy rain being drunk, holding a burnt sausage. There´s a certain code, and if the deed you do doesn´t involve visible things fixed, it´s not counted as honorable thing.

I get the point of people holding pitchforks, screaming NO INTERNET IN SUMMER COTTAGE. They are probably direct descendants of the people back in the days claiming electricity in the same cottages to be the devil´s work. But the thing is that I don´t use that internet for posting pictures of my burnt sausages into Facebook. I use it for the same reason you use radio- music and news. I use it for getting my ebooks and comics out from the cloud to read in that uncomfortable chair someone´s grandpa bought after the war.
I use it for getting the information on tomorrow´s weather and possible weather warnings. For me, it´s radio, tv, books, comics and newspaper combined together, blasted with the possibility to get any information out on cooking the fish I just catched into "dad, what are those weird bugs in the porch?" So next time you think the internet is only for stupid people in stupid Facebook and for reading that work email, the problem might actually be despicable you.

Okey, I intentionally left something out. I have to confess that last time I rigged the tablet into a tv with a HDMI cable and played Donkey Kong Country with my son, using an emulator and a bit modified PS3- controller in a rainy afternoon.
But hey, isn´t the time spent on summer cottages meant to spend for relaxation and good times? We sure had both, and that didn´t even involve internet.

The writer is a 34- year old musician, a rare hybrid of techno- pagan and a person who had a great urge this time of emulating a stupid typical column text from a magazine.