tiistai 28. heinäkuuta 2015

Time is money, friend!

I´d love to write this blog more. In fact, I find writing very therapeutical in a way that at least my head is not occupied with music when I write. As you can see, it´s been goddamn quiet on that front lately- and the reason is not surprisingly mostly Moonsorrow.

The last 2 weeks especially have been constant work as I´ve done approximately 14- hour days since I returned from my short summer vacation: first doing my regular job and then going home and continuing with Moonsorrow from the moment we get the kids to sleep. As my time is very limited- usually being able to work with the stuff after 21:30 onwards or occasional time on weekends- I haven´t been able to do almost anything else. But I´m not complaining- I need to get this done because I want to. "Woe is me", said the artist and expected everyone to pity the poor soul.

But when you´re as fixated on things as yours truly, at some point it actually becomes a burden because you don´t know when to stop. Or YOU might do, but your brain just isn´t obeying it. I even lost my sleeping abilities completely in June and either stayed awake for hours in bed or woke up in the middle of the night thinking of the arrangements of the songs. Or in some cases, went to my studio room to compose music 3 AM. But it´s like this for every Moonsorrow album. I remember completely flipping right before Verisäkeet, staring at the computer monitor in tears, screaming on the screen until I went to the rehearsals of which I have a complete blackout until I remember going home from there. I take my shit seriously, it seems.

I am a fucking professional composer. I should know how to work. But suddenly, when it´s about your soul and beliefs squeezed into a musical journey, all the aspects of professionality disappear and you become Odin hanging on that tree...with the difference that it´s not over in nine days.
Besides, Moonsorrow´s music is trying to combine the both sides of structured tonality and unstructured chaos. Without chaos, music becomes dull, boring and predictable. But without structure and tonality, you lose the very core of the idea of the composition itself. Unless you´re Bestial Warlust, though. The more professional and organized I become, the more hard it is to just "go with the flow" and I end up overthinking everything to death. And this whole spring and summer has been fighting that overthinking.

Now it´s been a bit less hectic lately- it seems that when I got the first song nailed the rest of the songs are molding noisily on their own in my head. I just finished the second final demo yesterday evening, which was a battle in itself though- I was fighting over drum arrangements for hours on three evenings until the guys convinced me the constant kick drumming does not bother them at all. Now I´ve made myself a strict schedule I´m following which means that as of today, it´s two weeks per song and then it´s onto the next one be it ready or not. We´ll figure it out in the rehearsals together before the studio if I can´t make it done on time by myself.

As I´ve said before, it´s not about the material. We got a fucking TON of it. But it´s the problem about "what parts to keep" and "what kind of direction we want this song to take". Finding the right balance between everything while still keeping the song interesting AND having enough time for different parts to evolve is fucking hell with this band. It´s been always like that since Voimasta ja Kunniasta. The first two albums were rather simple. But as you evolve as a musician, you tend to grab more challenges. Until at some point, it comes to this:

First you play part X for eight times. Then you play part Y. Then you realize you´re having parts X, Y, Z, ÅÄÖ and so forth each played once and the song is a mess. Remove Z, double the amount of Y. "But I liked Z! It´s better than Y!" Hmmm....what if I took Y and made that the main riff? "But the main riff is quoted on the riff Ä and if we take that away the whole purpose of Ä is obsolete."

Then I realize it´s 23:30 and I haven´t progressed anywhere. And when I go to bed, the arrangements play simultaneously on top of each other in my head.

As I´ve now finished two songs out of five completely, these problems seem to have diminished greatly as mentioned earlier. As I work only seeing the whole album with Moonsorrow (the songs are just manifestations of the bigger whole for me), the more there is "confirmed" material means that I don´t have to fit those parts anywhere else. As an example- one song has now a certain kind of acoustic part I wanted to use in the album. I know now that I don´t have to stress about fitting that element to any other songs, as it is already in the album somewhere.
One of my biggest issues as a composer is that I have a fixation in uniqueness- I absolutely HATE to repeat myself especially in the same context. Sure, we all have our own trademark gimmicks as composers but using the same ideas on purpose is just a slap in the face of creativity and self- respect. Writing a theme/ leitmotif- driven score is a completely other thing, though.

Speaking of scores, the Curse of the Witches´ Blood (the soundtrack is already out and is freely streamable here) just got FINALLY out of the sound edit last week. As I promised to the director to do the final sound post- processing myself, I´ve been spending some of my days at the office working with that whenever my workload allows it. It´s a great counter for creative composing to work with something more technical which still gives you the same immersion that great music does. Besides, I always get ideas from that to my sound design on our albums as well.
For a fun fact all foley FX, dialogue recordings and pre- processing were done by Esa Orjatsalo, who is also known for being the live audio engineer for Korpiklaani. And who is also going to record the newest Moonsorrow album in two months, so the circle is completed.

While I´m typing this, my daughters are playing in the floor besides me and we´re listening to martial industrial music. You know, that stuff all little children love to listen with their parents. And as soon as I get those little hellraisers to sleep, it´s going to be Moonsorrow tiem again.

tiistai 20. tammikuuta 2015

This week, I´ave mostly been eating...TARAMASALATA!

I have a couple of unfinished posts coming up, but meanwhile here´s something which might interest you while waiting. Did you know that we used to make a fanzine back in the 90´s with Ville and some other dudes? We used to publish our personal playlists there (while mocking each other for their bad taste of music), and I later continued it online in my personal homepage and in a couple of web forums. As I´ve not done it since 2006 or so, I´ve been thinking for some time to revitalize this utterly boring tradition to people who couldn´t care less.

So, here we go: Trollhorn´s playlist and recommendations for December/January 2015!

Trelldom (NOR): Till Et Annet... (1998)

Slave Til En Kommende Natt

I find this band, and especially this album to be an excellent example of withstanding time rather well, which is why I´ve been listening it again lately. The music has a great balance between a "serious" approach and a "piss on everything"- attitude and for all the kvlt hype surrounding mr. Gaahl, this album actually has something to back it up a bit. The vocals are one the greatest reasons to spin this disk again and again, being massively otherworldly and varied throughout the whole experience.

Aosoth (FRA): Ashes of Angels (2009)
Songs without Lungs

I got introduced to Aosoth a couple of years ago, and have been listening to their albums quite much since. Very chaotic (yet structured and organized) and dissonant songwriting with downtuned guitars in black metal is rather interesting concept and their albums seem to have a very strong aura drawing me to pick them up more often from the shelf I intend to. Don´t close your eyes while listening to this or you´ll end up staying there.

Gryphon (GBR): Midnight Mushrumps (1974)
Midnight Mushrumps

Medieval classical music meets progressive rock? Yes, please! I got a tip on this band from a comment in this blog last year, and am very grateful for that as the music was even more awesome I could had imagined. The musicianship and arrangements are absolutely top-of-the-notch and a must to check for everyone into medieval music and old progressive rock.

Byron Metcalf (US) feat. Steve Roach- Shaman´s Heart (2005)
Raven Medicine

I love Steve Roach and have a soft spot in my heart for any meditative music, so when you have stopped laughing at this new age- thingie for a moment, take a look at this with a more serious expression. This brilliant album, besides being all great meditative and hypnotic music, has also an interesting addition: so- called "Hemi- Sync" which is suppposed to stimulate and synchronize brainwaves using binaural music technology as it´s advantage. Not that I find much more than plain stereo spreading on everything instead of any pseudoscientific audio processing here, but nevertheless it´s hypnotic and minimalistic just in the way I like to soothe my brain with.

Tangerine Dream (GER): Goblins Club (1996)
Towards The Evening Star

I just love how this album reeks of the 90´s in all aspects. But what I like in this album the most is the weird, almost magical and somehow even pseudo- occult touch that is somehow lurking in the background all the time. Then again, at parts it sounds like it was composed into a skin- treatment commercial. And even though I know categorizing music into genres is rather futile and embarrassing at it´s worst, I have huge troubles to decide what this particular music style represents. Electronic rock? Electro- Kraut? Synthrock? Just check out the damn album, ok?

Bergthron (GER): Verborgen In Den Tiefen Der Wälder (1997)
Verborgen In Den Tiefen Der Wälder

Shitty vocals? Check. Bad drum machine? Check. Horrible melodies? Check. Only one, half an hour song? Definitely check. I really have no idea why I like this album so much. In all truth, I should probably hate it. But I dug it up from my hazy memories left in 1997 or so, gave it a listen and weirdly got attracted to it this time. Maybe it´s part of the fact that this type of music is rather rare these days and it contains many of the elements I like in my black metal? Not definitely an album I´d take to a deserted island with me, but I´ve still found myself listening many times during the evenings lately.

Satanic Warmaster (FIN): Fimbulwinter (2014)
Fimbulwinter´s Spell

BUT HOW CAN YOU LISTEN TO SATANIC WARMASTER BECAUSE....uhm, yeah, fuck you too. One of the most creative and talented metal composers in Finland, SW´s newest offering is actually sporting a very good sound this time, which might even scare the most puritan dictation-machine- lovers away. Representing the sharpest songwriting in his career to the date as well and including a Vornat- cover (infernal hails!) this is a must- check for people into more old school BM but with a rather modern sound. There aren´t many -if all- weak moments on this one...well, except for the last song which got ruined by some fat asswipe called Trollhorn, whoever that is.

Lie In Ruins (FIN): Towards Divine Death (2014)
Blood of the Dead

It´s crushing. It´s heavy. It´s occult. It´s evil. It´s DEATH METAL, in it´s literal meaning. The second full- lenght of LiR is a step from more traditional death metal into more blacker and occult grounds- meaning lenghtier and less technical songs, tons of uncommon instruments and soundscapes... and a heavy load or religious imagery. The artwork in itself is already worth checking out in it´s all detail.

Ophthalamia (SWE)- A Journey In Darkness (1994)
Castle of No Repair/ Lies from a Blackened Heart

When all the cool band names had already been taken, It and friends settled for no compromises! Despite of the rather eye- catching name though, the music is just the way I like it- black metal with doom- influences. The clever guitar harmonies everywhere deserve an extra credit here as well, and while Paradise Lost was once a rather entertaining band I´m sure Opth....Oth...Phot...salami have been spinning a disk or two of their early works before creating this album. Too bad they went all too gothic afterwards.

Urfaust (NL): Der Freiwillige Bettler (2010)
Vom Gesicht und Rätsel

As mentioned earlier, if you speed and pitch this up for 30%, you get a hidden Primordial album. While I´m not particularly a great fan of Primordial myself (hi guys :D), this album made me a fan of Urfaust. Not right away, though- I had to listen to it a couple of times to get rid of the "Primordial on Ritalin"- effect, but I´m glad I gave it a chance because it hit me like a truck after some repeats. Definitely worth checking out!

Bubbling Under:

TARAMASALATA/ Tzatziki split 7" - Hellenic Dish Kvlt

I can already taste an upcoming side- project of Varathron and Zemial members in my mouth. And as a bonus if you actually read thus far: here´s my playlist from late 1998, straightout scanned from Meathooked #2!

maanantai 15. joulukuuta 2014

"You call your metal black? Its just plastic, lame and weak"

I started writing this post in February 2014, but due to lack of time I never finished it. Nevertheless- my opinions and annoyement haven´t changed at all lately, rather on the contrary. While there´s some seriously good music in the world, some things are just so plastique and embarrassant that it makes even Nargaroth looking like the real deal in comparison. While "The Day Alcest Killed The Smiths" is yet still looming in the horizon, please stay a while and share the embarrassament with me. Merde!

"Robert Smith Ist Krieg"

The bucket to spill my guts on the matter leaked over in January 2013, as I was reading the newest issue of Inferno Magazine. An interview of this, yet another new one- man- band stated how his music was all about "combining Burzum and Cure together". Later, I stumbled across an article I wasn´t really sure it was parody or not, which reminded me again of really wanting to write about this topic. To cut is short, yes- black metal fans are elitist assholes and so are the musicians. Black metal is elitism. Sue me for that.
But why u mad, bro? Well, I have never kept it as a secret that I always want to do something else with my bands than the others are doing. With Finntroll, we drifted more towards whatever chaotic circus- music and even psychobilly when this humppa- folk- thing got oh so trendy. And the stuff Moonsorrow has been done since Verisäkeet and especially Hävitetty has been this heavy, atmospheric...well, Cure- and- Burzum- influenced black(ish) metal. Whenever our style seems to be get a bit too popular, I (un)intentionally drift towards something else. The spirit of Loke is strong.

Now don´t get me wrong here- I don´t think we started the thing, quite the contrary. As I was heavily inspired by Drudkh especially when we were doing Hävitetty, and listened a ton of Esoteric, old Katatonia and In The Woods as well at those times, I also wanted the music to be a reflection of my inner feelings at that time. Plucked, distorted huge guitar chords with the drowning and pulsating mass of reverbs and dreamy soundscapes with even more of those "cure- guitars" and slower tempos than ever. We were actually laughing about being all shoegaze at the time. I´ve always loved that sound and felt we really took the musical depression those band represented into another, heavy level without forgetting our roots in black metal. As said, you can´t spell Moonsorrow without sorrow, heh!
But when composing Varjoina... in 2009, we were already seeing so many of this same "post"- shit around that we intentionally took another leap on our sound and gave more room for going as heavy as we possibly could, with still having those "cure- guitars" there with the massive, drowning synths. More palm- muting, less open strings, basically, because we thought everyone and their friends were starting to do that... uhm, Curzum- thing. Some bands I liked and thought we had much in common, like Fen and Austere, while some -in my opinion- took the "black" completely out and desecrated the whole thing. And the worst of them all was Alcest, having the commercial success of theirs combined with the absolute cheesing of that sound we held dear.

"Hello Kitty Elohim Meth"

I absolutely detested Alcest at that point and thought they were the epitome of something which had took Black Metal´s best kept secret and turned it into something that my mom would like. Retrospectively speaking, it´s not hard to see why we went rather heavy and oppressing sound instead of this Smithsesque whining shit everyone and their girlfriends seemed to love.
Reading things like...

"A sinister mood???.... That really bothers me that you should say that because that proves that I did not succeed in communicating what I had inside me... I hope that this time [talking about upcoming material] there will be no compromise as you are not the first person to feel my music as dark music"
[source: wikipedia]

...didn´t make me any more comfortable either. I only could interpret this that the guy makes black metal into a living, pissy chorus- guitar- filled joke without while having absolutely nothing to do with ideologies related to it...while some of us here were trying to actually be serious here. I don´t think Dance of December Souls was supposed to be about "Fairy Land" nor I found any traces from elves farting sparkles from Drudkh´s material either. I don´t know if this Neige has been studying too much maths instead of listening to his music collection, but in this case, two sad, sorrow- and hatefilled and longing negatives DO NOT MAKE A POSITIVE.
The absolutely worst thing though, is this dude´s side- project called "Lantlôs",which sounds like something you would here in a fucking spa treatment with blast beats.

"Over Brooklyn Grater Himmerik"

In the beginning there was Black Funeral, Demonic Christ, Absu, Grand Belial´s Key and countless others, original bands- now there is Liturgy, Wolves in the Clone Room and Deafheaven (what the LIVING FUCK is that supposed to mean? A special place after death where you can´t hear their musical parody?). While black metal is supposed to evolve naturally, I´m not particularly sure this is the way I have been depicting it to happen over the years. But then again, it´s America- the land of eternal possibilities we´re talking about! So I guess when that one guy introduced Hvis Lyset Tar Oss for the other guys in that emo party in 2011 or so, things started to go a bit astray. Suddenly the new wave of American black metal was not about their original interpretation of the sound evolving naturally with the corresponding ideologies- but rather quickly dividing into two different, set- in- stone categories.
First we´d have unemployed crust punk- looking guys doing a ton of drugs. Bandmembers come and go, contact addresses seem to be rather uhm...of evolving sort, and most of the music is released mostly through small distros. Ideologies tend to drift more on the hateful side, yet it´s more about being angry on the people who have actual homes and washing machines. The music? Pointless "psychedelic", nowhere- going, mindlessly improvised 20- minute long epics with lyrics against animal cruelty. Welcome to the Finnish punk scene in the early 90´s, lads, please leave your jacket somewhere before you step through the metal detector/ time machine.
On the other hand, there are guys who did cut their hair, got a shower, stopped doing those drugs and dress up in clothes Scandinavian pensioners regularly wear when taking their daily stroll outside. They have jobs, and judging from their outlooks, they play it cool there while having a bit frightening and mysterious hobby to brag at that advertising agency they work with the other people who look just like them. Just make sure no- one ever catches them listening to Marduk with pleasant volume from their $ 700 iPhones, though. They spread positivity, success and the melancholic American dream. If the Republicans ever played black metal, I´m pretty sure this is the equivalent of that. The music is that major chords, more spa music and blast beats with a top- notch production and the ideology is about something between a café Latte and men´s healthcare products.

"I am the African- American Entertainers/ Du som kanskje ikke gillar Gud- split 7"

Watching Fenriz in "Until the Light Takes Us" documentary (2008) trying to explain how he feels his beloved form of art was taken away from him and twisted into something complete antithesis of it made me feel rather related on the matter. While black metal was supposed to evolve and challenge itself constantly while being the storm of a creative negativity, we got a watered- down, politically- correct form of mass- entertainment instead. How did we end up from a rebellion wrapped in black and accompanied with noisy music into a freak circus where there´s a soft heart beating inside of the World´s Most Tattooed Strongman? Maybe the music was just too good to pass away even though the ideologies were a bit controversial- or maybe the controversy was the first attraction. 

Whatever the reason, I´d still not buy those Dimmu Borgir jogging pants they sell at Nuclear Blast webshop.

The writer is a 36- year old elitist asshat who has played black metal with a Hello Kitty guitar and this post could had been originally released in 1996, 2004 and 2009 with different examples of the bands.

lauantai 27. syyskuuta 2014

perjantai 1. elokuuta 2014

Crowdsourcing for inspiration.

How coincidental. Yesterday I got an angry email from a certain person working with a certain band I´m involved in, stating basically that "what the fuck is taking so long with your new album, you´re ruining all the future plans here". I tried to reason him with the very fact that we thought the music we had done earlier for the new album didn´t match the standards we have set on this band, and thus it has taken a bit longer to find the proper approach.

 Or, to quote myself straight away-
"...we´ve been basically working on this album "for real" since early April. Everything done before that has been ditched, as we have now found the approach we are heading towards."

As I´ve been telling the people- be it the record label, manager, or you the reader out there- Yes, there has been some serious problems with finding the inspiration for the right approach (see the entry from last year) but in early April I made something that felt like curtains had been drawn off my eyes. And when Marko had the same approach on one of his new songs, we knew exactly what is our plan for the music. And since April, we´ve been working on that direction very heavily, sporting 3-4 new "quarters of a song" already.

So it was about the creative process being blocked, which we managed finally to overcome. Nothing extraordinary, nothing unusual, albeit a bit too long period which I can admit. But for some people, things are not that easy. You could also get drown into a swirl of neverending perfectionism and blame the lack of even better equipment for being the sole reason why the album isn´t on Time.

Which, I both get and don´t get at all.

I´ve been doing albums since 2002 with a computer- based setup, and when I started I had only a hint about studio technology and mixing. My demos back then were sounding like shit, but at least we could try different things and hear the music "in action" before going to the expensive studio to make it properly. During the years the demos got better and even more polished/ well- thought until at some point we reached the stage when we only started to enter the studio to just "perform" them as a band- but with some additional ideas, tweakings and inspirations come flying by. All the demos were done twice- first the mockup for the basic ideas and the arrangement, and then the latter and final version would be extremely close what you´d hear when the album is released. Yet, the equipment used for both is basically the same- things are just done a bit differently. In the final demo, e.g. all acoustic instruments are real, the sound is mixed more closer to the direction we wish to achieve in the studio and there are all sorts of small tricks and hooks added to the cake.

When I start composing, the gear I use at home is quite modest- not because I don´t necessarily have the better stuff available, but because I try to keep everything very simple and non- distracting while I create something. If it gets the work done it is enough, is my principle. Musicians should never surround themselves with fancy equipment in the creative process, because those things have pretty much zero input to the actual creation of the music. Just like most of the film and game composers use a fucking PIANO ONLY to get the composing process rolling, we shouldn´t be needing a noise- isolated mixing rooms for trying out ideas or a fucking stack of guitar amps and microphones for cranking some riffs on tape. When has it come to this that the musicians need a goddamn € 100,000 studio equipment for composing and creating music? When the second phase, a.k.a "the proper demo" comes to picture, I start to experiment more and actually bother even to use a pre- amp and channel strip for the microphones. But it´s still far for perfection...and will always be. Imperfection and the human element is what makes music what it is. Just ask Glenn Fricker if you don´t believe me!

I have the fortunate chance of living in a house now instead of flat, where I have one room for my equipment and can technically make as much noise as I will without interfering the neighbours. But before last year, I was living in a place where I had no musical equipment available at all. Yet, I somehow managed to do quite many albums. since 2006 I have recorded and mixed all the proper demos (read "polished/studio quality") at my workplace on evenings and weekends, where I could scream my lungs out and play acoustic guitars as much as I wanted. Sure, the air conditioning sometimes hummed. And sometimes someone else was making coffee in the next room, which uhm...spilled to my takes. But I didn´t give a fuck. I even did some extra album instrument recordings there, because in the music I make, certain small badness just adds to the blend just fine. :D
Of course, if you´re making a new Sting- album, you probably wouldn´t like to do that then. Or, a Wintersun album on that matter. So I do get the point that music needing the perfect production cannot be produced in sub- par conditions. But in all seriousness, the line should be drawn somewhere.

If the guitar sound in the studio takes me weeks to get, I´m doing it wrong. If my € 8000 computer cannot handle orchestral samples, I´m doing it wrong. And if I need months for mixing, I´m definitely doing it wrong. Just as a reference point, Bohemian Rhapsody was done with a 16- tracker. While I agree we shouldn´t go back to those days, I am a sole advocate of "instead of the boring option which is anyway out of your reach right now, try something creative instead".
We need to KNOW WHAT WE WANT, or we´ll never get anything finished. Period. A producer must have a clear vision in the studio, a vision which has been tested out earlier in less expensive and stressful conditions. The studio is a place where you´re supposed to go to finish the product, not to create it. And when you run into problems, you overcome them. You shake your fist at God, defying the Almighty and fucking NAIL IT. You might also lose your sleep in the process and cause a lot of quarrels, but you´ll sort it out. At least I cannot remember a single session where we had to give up doing something we really, really needed because of technical limitations. When there´s a will, there´s always a way. And the answer is not always about buying your way out of it.

In this mess of technology, money, record labels and expectations people are sometimes dreadfully forgetting what is the key element to music that stands against Time and dust of forgetfulness. It´s good music, simple as that.

And nothing can ever replace good music.

perjantai 13. kesäkuuta 2014

The Zen (of Social Media)

I have to confess something. Though I´m one of those people who have deliberately tried his best to chain technology to work for me instead of holding me on it´s grips, I have a bad habit of using my tablet for reading news and books after I´ve gone to bed. As I´m fully aware that too much of that light is quite inevitably fucking up your hormone system -and your sleep in the process- I´m using the screen in the dimmest setting possible and have dark background for the apps I use for all reading. However, there´s one thing I won´t do with it in the bed- and actually pretty much nowhere, and it´s called interacting. That´s something I do with my wife instead.

At some point, thanks to mobile internet and social media, we privileged folks with smartphones and whatnot have developed a very bad and stressful habit of being always reachable by anyone at any time. Due to the endless need for the human brain to be liked and accepted, we crave for thumbs, retweets and attention like our lives depended on those. We crank up the volumes of our communication devices so loud it´s humanly possible to not to miss a mention in Twitter or getting notified of that random instahorribilized and color- distorted picture of Jimmy´s feet on a beach. But is our life so meaningless without the social media we couldn´t shut it down for certain periods? Do we need to get constantly reminded of John´s birthday or Anna´s vegan food party at her neighbourhood, 150 kilometers from your home (where you´re not going anyway)? The social media- as useful as it can be at it´s best - can also be quite a burden for people who cannot separate their time online from their time offline. A research shows how much it can distract you from your work and productivity instead of being a "break" (like it should)- and I don´t personally see any difference between work or home for what it comes to getting distracted per se. To put it straight, if it distracts you at work, it most likely is doing it at your home as well.

During regular workday I´m taking care of emails and also interact with people in Facebook, Twitter and this little blog every once in a while when I have time and energy for it. After the computer is shut down, there´s a fat chance you won´t hear from me until the next day or the day after that. I have email in my phone and tablet for emergencies, but they are set not to fetch anything automatically. I have no social media installed on any of my portable devices, and am basically unreachable from the point I leave the office for anyone who doesn´t have my phone number. In this time and age, we could probably find anyone at any time we could interact with, so I just choose to opt out from that because I already have three other people at home to do that with me. With the possibilities social media and technology bring us, I still choose them to serve me and not being their humble henchman instead.

Another thing why I´m not so keen on being available at any time for anyone is privacy. Being the tin foil- helmeted warrior that I am, I´m extremely anal on my privacy everywhere in the internet (and quite frankly- you should too) and am not very fond of spreading my personal life around any more that I choose. In the social media, my Facebook- account is only meant for friends I know personally and for interacting with people who do not belong to that particular group I use Twitter and this blog instead. Even though I´m quite far away from being a "public figure", I still get a lot of friend requests from people who like my music, but I just don´t wish to share my personal, boring life with just anyone in the world. So I use these other abovementioned channels for that instead.
For me, accepting a random Facebook- friend request is the equivalent of giving my phone number and home address to anyone. It´s already a tough battle fighting the corporations stealing your data and selling it to advertisers, so I choose to not make it even tougher by handing my private information and life to everyone on a golden plate.

But please don´t get me wrong- though being the raging self- proclaimed elitist misanthrope that I am, there´s still a soft spot (pun intended) in me which likes to interact with people. Otherwise there wouldn´t be much point writing this, don´t you think? It´s just that when I opt out from the interactive flood, I opt out. I sign out, clear my cookies and close the browser.

Well....ok, I´ll just quickly check out Twitter before that. Hush!

torstai 29. toukokuuta 2014

MetalSucks - The Director´s Cut

This text was published at www.metalsucks.net as a part of their "Idol Listening"- section. As it was only concerning the albums found from the upcoming Moonsorrow vinyl box set, the last chapter- concerning Varjoina...- album and the future, was left out. So, for those who are interested, here is the whole story in it´s whole bori...uhm, epicness. If you´ve already read it, skip to the last part straight away, as the rest of the text is completely identical with the already- published version.

a.k.a “how we managed to steal everything and never got caught”
Written by Henri Sorvali 2014

Andi Fara/ Prologr”
This story begins in a boring suburbs of Helsinki, Finland, in summer 1995 at my parent´s garage.
When we weren´t tape- trading together like hell and hanging at the record stores with my cousin Ville, we spent our time doing project- esque rehearsal demos with my four- tracker at that garage. And among others, there was something called Monhzur.

1995- 1998 : The early years.
Our feeble, partly Finnish- sung attempt to rip off Burzum (sic!) recorded half of a demo, which we found not good enough to even finish (especially because of the cheap drum machine we used at the time) and left us quite a load of ideas and riffs for future use. After the halted demo recordings, we still wanted to do black metal, so it evolved into something we called as "Sorrowwoods". I remember us being quite influenced by Carpathian Forest, Bethlehem, Emperor and Celtic Frost at the time and blended it all together badly, resulting in "Thorns of Ice", which was recorded in different takes during the year 1996. Shortly after making the demo covers, we thought Sorrowwoods was a rather bad name for a band and thought we could use "Moonsorrow" instead, (being a song from Monhzur, actually) and thus the name you nowadays recognize better was used instead.
In early 1997, being heavily inspired at the time by Enslaved´s debut and the last Behemoth demo, we started creating a proper demo instead of using different takes and recordings, resulting into "Metsä". Originally called "Thrymgjöll" but changed in the last minute, we were proud of the result and this time we actually thought this could be worthy to release to other people as well. I guess it´s also safe to confess now that as we didn´t have any "medieval battle"- samples available for our intro nor we had the possibility to record them straight from Conan The Barbarian like they did, we actually took them straight out from Demoniac´s "Prepare for War"- album. Recycling at it´s best!
When I finally got a real sequencer and recording facilities in 1998, we thought only the sky would be the limit. Tämä Ikuinen Talvi was something that had to be done in order to realize that it wasn´t the musical direction we wanted to go after all...but the visual, almost theatrical audio was definitely there to stay, though! Both Enslaved´s “Eld” (obviously) and Emperor´s “Anthems” were a huge influence to us, especially the latter with all the synthwork, and there are traces of Immortal, old Dimmu Borgir and tons of Obtained Enslavement (especially in the last song) scattered everywhere. The demo earned us our first record deal, but before it was even released to the public, we had already dwelled into more slower, heavier- and most of all- folkier sounds, which would be known more as of our style in the following 15 years.

1999- 2003: Slowing down a bit.
Less than two months after the release of the last demo, we were already rehearsing our first full- lenght album with Marko- the strongest influence being Bathory´s “Blood on Ice”, which had completely blown our minds earlier. Combined with a dose of Hades´ “Dawn of the Dying Sun”, Borknagar´s debut, Thyrfing´s “Valdr Galga” and Einherjer´s “Odin Owns Ye All”, we felt we had found our spiritual and musical home. One can still find traces of Enslaved and Ulver scattered every here and there, but the "Finland´s answer to Bathory" was probably the most used term for our debut album.
We continued the path onwards and Marko participated on composing for the first time with us on the next album, “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta”. The creation of the new material already begun a couple of months after the recordings of our debut album, and while we were still influenced by the abovementioned albums -Bathory being even stronger influence than ever- this time we brought even more folk music to the package. I was listening a lot of Scandinavian folk at the time (Garmarna, Annbjørg Lien, Hedningarna and Nordman (!!!) being my favourites), and picked a ton of influences from there, while Marko also brought in some ideas from 70´s proggressive rock for the first time. We also listened a lot of punk and vikingarock while drinking together, and brought some ideas from there too- especially in the song "Kylän Päässä".
The natural evolvement of our sound and tendency for dramatic pompousness led to creating the massive opus "Kivenkantaja", which was the first album we had the artistic courage to blend in any kind of elements we had previously thought not to fit our music. Like Marko, I also have a history with progressive rock, so we listened a lot of old prog vinyls (Rick Wakeman´s “King Arthur” being the most influential record for us at the time due to the historical themes it sported as well) and experimented with all sorts of instruments we could think of. We felt we combined every single musical influence we had ever had in our lives, resulting in a rather interesting blend of metal, folk and progressive music. Jumalten Kaupunki was very much inspired by Bal- Sagoth, and Kivenkantaja bows heavily to Windir, who we all loved. The sampled vocals in the beginning of Tuulen Tytär were taken from a Mari Boine- album, and even though I don´t like Pink Floyd, I had to borrow some influence from them to the ending of Raunioilla with the guitars. (And as you probably know, that sure wasn´t the only one “being inspired by” - part done with that song, hah!)
But when everything is done, topped, creamed and overproduced...how are you supposed to do it even better? With Kivenkantaja, we felt we had painted ourselves into a corner and there would be no way to make another, even more epic and over - the- top Kivenkantaja #2.
So we decided to BLOW THE FUCK OUT THAT CORNER instead.

2004- 2008: Speeding up again.
When me and Ville gathered for the first time to think what would we want to do with the next album, we both agreed to wave goodbye to the overproduced epicness and concentrate more on moss, woods and more "traditional" production. The first song which was completed was “Jotunheim”, and it had a completely different, Kivenkantaja- sounding music in the middle of it at the time. After having started with “Karhunkynsi” and turning it into the enslavedesque it became, I quickly went back to Jotunheim to realize it needs more of that "traditional approach" as well, which was the turning point for the whole sound to become. Soon we were basically inhaling our records shelves like crazy, being heavily inspired by pre- 2000´s era Satyricon, Enslaved, Burzum ...and many other less pompous Norwegian bands who were a big influence for us in the beginning. When the recordings were finished, we were sure no- one would like the album but us. To this day, still I consider Verisäkeet having the best atmosphere from any of our records thus far.
Picking up from where Jotunheim was left, we continued working with Hävitetty in spring 2006. As a band of eternal opposites and controversy, it was pretty natural move to make a way slower album after a rather fast one. During the time we composed and recorded the album I was also having the worst period of my personal life ever, which reflected quite much on the musical side and production as well. I was listening to tons of Cold Meat Industry bands (In Slaughter Natives and Puissance in particular), but held Drudkh, Esoteric and the debut albums from Katatonia and In The Woods extremely inspiring at the time. For what it comes to the biggest influences, though, I can safely say that without “Forgotten Legends”, “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” and “Disintegration” (The Cure) we would had probably sounded way different. My purpose musically was to create a web of music where tones and timbres tangle into each other, forming into a tightening and suffocating grip resembling of drowning, depicting how I felt at the time. I still cannot listen to Hävitetty due to the memories it brings me from the time it was recorded, and consider the album being the most personal I have ever done in my life.
In 1992, there was Conquest of Paradise. Twelve years later, there was Arns Rike. And as I couldn´t wait my turn to rip Vangelis off at 2018, we did Tulimyrsky already in 2008 to break the tradition. The composing of the song started with Marko´s main riff (4:50 onwards) and ended up being probably something Jethro Tull or Yes could had sounded like if they played Enslaved- inspired black metal. The song was probably our most technical entity thus far, it´s structure and arrangements resembling more of a progressive rock song from the 70´s or classical music rather than straightforward Bathory- rip- off. While we had implemented quite much sound effects to our music earlier, Tulimyrsky also took that to completely into another dimension and featured even acting and foley sounds behind the music. (The tradition which kept continuing in “Varjoina”- album later). We were doing the album at our friend´s studio with no strict schedules, so we had time to test ideas, drink beer and have fun as well instead of extremely organized working we were used to do under pressure. While we make extremely visual, dramatic and pompous music on purpose with absolutely no irony on it, we often tend to hide some musical "tributes" here and there for our own amusement. And as usual, all sorts of them were also present this time. Vocal delays done purposedly out of time in the true Norwegian tradition, some parts sounding so much like old Amorphis that we actually asked our friend Tomi Koivusaari to grunt on top of them, and in one riff the vocal arrangement was mimicking Ulver´s "Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Ned" as closely as possible. The best thing for myself, however, was to actually have a chance to finally hide a Wilhelm scream to the part where the ships were attacking, haha!

2009 onwards: The heavier combination of everything above.
Dust settling and firestorms slowly extinguishing in early 2010, I wasn´t totally satisfied with Tulimyrsky as a composer. I felt it had way too many parts and sometimes stumbled into it´s own technicality. As a personal statement, I wanted to open the next album with something slow, crushing and celticfrosty, resulting into the first minutes of "Tähdetön". We were completely sick of post- black metal (spit!) bands popping out of everywhere and wanted to make a clear distinction on them as well, and thought it had the perfect start for the album. And as the whole concept and tracklist was written before the composing started (!), we ended up creating all the songs in the order they were intended to be, in where the first chords of Tähdetön served us as a great starting point from where to continue onwards. We took inspiration from other stuff as usuall- from the metal side I listened a lot of albums like Thyrfing´s “Hels Vite”, Melechesh´s “Emissaries" and Raate´s “Sielu, Linna” to name a few, and you can spot traces from Gentle Giant, Paul Simon (!!) among other weird influences. And believe it or not- 1800´s traditional Scandinavian funeral music (played with pedal harmonium and other folk instruments, which I unfortunately couldn´t find from Youtube, so this was the closest reference I could dig up and has nothing to do with folk music in particular) was a huge source of inspiration throughout the process, which can be mostly heard in especially in “Kuolleiden Maa”. Perhaps the most influential record during the arrangement- process, however, was the stunning debut album of Triptykon, which inspired us to take heavy (pun intended) advantage on guitar department- adding quite a lot of feedbacking and very bottom string- structured playing to our music besides our usual string arrangements. Which, I believe, will also play a huge part in our upcoming album we are working with as we speak.

Epilog/ Slaget”
As a music fan first and then a musician, I have never found any shame on giving credit to the artists who have inspired me in my own art. Without the abovementioned artists, albums and songs Moonsorrow wouldn´t probably existed in the first place and I´d like to express my sincere gratitude towards all the people behind my inspiration and influences. Hopefully this wall of text has shed a bit light on the creation of Moonsorrow´s sound throughout the years, and I thank you for actually reading this far. We´re currently in the process of composing our new album, which is scheduled to be recorded at end of 2014 if everything goes as planned. Expect to hear traces of everything listed here with a ton of new elements and other nasty tricks up our sleeve.
Henri Urponpoika Sorvali, Moonsorrow.