27.2.2012

Enslaved interview II from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)



Career Analysis without Edgeways, pt. II

Interview: Kuronen

Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved speaks from Bergen, Norway in the fall of 2004:

“One of my favourites is Vikinglr veldi, the first full length we just re-released through Candlelight. The reason is that there are five songs on it and it is fifty-five minutes long. The arrangements are very arrogant. We got a lot of people saying, ‘Those songs are too long’. We just didn’t give a fuck. We said, ‘Okay, this riff is running sixteen times and it is supposed to be like that because it is so great,’ heh. We were so young and we just gave the world a finger. Fuck off, this is our thing. We don’t care. So I really like the guts on that album. It sounds like an early 90s black metal album and it also has the massive moods from the progressive music of the 70s. I love that album. It’s a very special album.

Frost totally convinced people in 1994. It was a great release for us. It got a lot of good attention and reviews. Frost was a milestone, perhaps the biggest milestone for the band this far. We got to tour both the US and Europe and it was very important to have such an album out to spread the name. But it’s not my favourite Enslaved album. I haven’t listened to it in years, actually. We do a couple of songs from that album live and they sound better now than they did ever before. It’s not my favourite album musically but perhaps the most important.

Eld is—how should I put it—the dope album. The drug album. We were way out and drunk and potted and pissed all the time. Ivar doesn’t remember much of the recording, with all the smoking and acid and speed and so on. The drummer was an alcoholic and I was kind of far out myself. What I remember is that it was only me and Pytten mixing it. I was sitting there almost falling asleep and going ‘aaaarghh’. I don’t remember that much of the recording. It sounds very interesting. The sound is odd and the tracks are weird. It’s the most progressive of the early albums and I still like it a lot. I like it a lot better than Frost actually.

“On Blodhemn there are some mellow, progressive elements but mostly it’s just raging fury and hyperblast. That’s Enslaved’s black metal album, really. The black metal people constantly ask for songs from Blodhemn, and every once in a while we play a song from that album. It’s a good album but not my favourite Enslaved album, no.

Mardraum was also one of the milestones. It was when we started to have a bigger way of thinking with the arrangements. It’s very atmospheric, with clean vocal parts. So it was a very important album for the so-called new Enslaved. I still like that album, there are some really good songs on it, especially the first one. It’s also a fine mix between the old Enslaved and the new Enslaved. There are some black metal influences, some thrash metal influences and some progressive rock influences. We had a very good time when we recorded it in Sweden. It was excellent. I think Mardraum sounds pretty good whereas Blodhemn sounds perhaps a bit too much like Abyss. It wasn’t maybe the right solution soundwise to record two albums in the Abyss, but it was right back then. We could never have recorded Monumension in Abyss, Mardraum was the last album we could do there.

Monumension is a very strange album. I remember that we were all busy in the recording process, we all worked and stuff like that. There was never more than one of us in the studio at the same time. That’s why I think it sounds too strange. It doesn’t sounds finished to me. The arrangements are floating in too many different directions. There are some very good songs on it. Apart from that, I really don’t know. I don’t think it’s one of the best Enslaved albums. I’m far more satisfied with Mardraum and Below the Lights for instance.

Below the Lights was a very dark album, a little mellow,  atmospheric and psychedelic. This time [on Isa] we take it a little further, it feels a little more aggressive and a lot rawer. But still, there are these long progressive parts. It’s like a step further. It’s a natural development, and the fans kind of expect the unexpected anyway. We try to keep this interesting to ourselves and that’s why we change all the time.

“The sound is far better on this one. We got a lot better guitar sound and especially the drum sound is ten thousand times better. I’m very satisfied with the songs on Below the Lights, but we could have had some fresh air in the arrangements, if you understand what I mean. We could’ve had more people in the studio who could have come up with some ideas. On the production side, I’m not that satisfied with it.

“I wish Below the Lights was released on another label… So that we actually sold some copies of it. It received great critiques and we took a huge step from Monumension. We kind of collected all the loose ends with Below the Lights, made it more structured.

“Osmose were always honest, they always gave us what they owed us. They always paid the studio. Good guys. In the beginning it was very good for us, especially with the Frost album. But I don’t know what happened. It somehow felt that they were very satisfied with just releasing the albums. They didn’t bother to promote or distribute them. I was telling them, ‘C’mon, c’mon, you gotta advertise in big magazines, you gotta do this and that’. And they we’re always like ‘No no no’. Always complaining about those magazines. And they couldn’t cooperate with American companies. I really don’t know what happened. I mean, why? They had a lot of great bands, they had Samael, they had Immortal, they had Marduk, they had us and Impaled Nazarene. There’s no one left. Herve releases thousands of records that sell two thousand copies. And the bands have shitty contracts. They don’t get money, he gets all the money. That’s not the way I will do business anymore. If he’s satisfied, it’s okay.

“I guess the puritanists hate the new album, I guess they rather listen to the first album. Okay, then let them listen to the first album. I don’t care, I really don’t. There’s nothing wrong with old school metal, I like old school metal, but I really want to develop. If they don’t want to develop, that’s fine by me. Listen to old stuff like that. Just don’t bother me with the bullshit about this being commercial. I’ve heard it a thousand times before. They don’t even have a new statement, it’s always the same.

“We had some good memories with Kronheim, the guitarist. He had some experiences of smoking a bit too much. I think one of the most funny moments might have been when we had just recorded Mardraum and we had some joints at Dirge Rep’s place and were listening to the result of the recording. We were very satisfied and just listened to the album on repeat for one and a half or two hours. Suddenly Kronheim told me, after two hours of silence, ‘Grutle, what you need right now is a huge marzipan dwarf’. I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I wasn’t about to say that, it just came out’. I think that has to be the single funniest comment ever made in the Enslaved history.”

Enslaved interview I from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)



Career Analysis without Edgeways, pt. I

Interview: Kuronen

Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved speaks from Milan, Italy in the spring of 2003:

“I’m very proud of all the albums. To me it’s impossible to name favourites—I have favourites, but they change from time to time. If I put one album away for a long time, it’s like, ‘oh, I cannot listen to this any more’. Then I can take it back again and it sounds good again. Like the first album [1994’s Vikinglr veldi]. Personally, I got really tired of it because there was a lot of fuss about it for a long time. Then you kind of put it to rest and take it back again and discover new stuff. All the albums have different stuff. I think the arrangements and the production and everything is special about Frost. We had a bit of luck at the time because we tried something new and it kind of worked out. But then again, you have the trance-like feeling from the first one, Vikinglr veldi. When I listen to it now I sometimes get impressed by the atmosphere creating this album. And then you have Eld, where I’m noticing when I listen to it now that some weird chords are sneaking in and we’re trying to be clever. It’s the first time we try this and it sounds cool, some of it. Then you’ve got Blodhemn, which is just so fucking angry. It’s also a good album, if you’re in that kind of mood. There are Maldraum and Monumension, being, how should I say, like a newer kind of Enslaved. I remember when we decided around Maldraum to try these ideas in the studio and it sounded good. It had a very good, proud feeling and also a very positive one. I think this was a big statement to me, telling that we had a long time ahead of us. It’s like walking along a road for a very long time and when you think you’ve come to the end, you see it’s just a crossroad starting a new road. It was a very good moment for the band.

“Then there’s of course the new one [Below the Lights]. I listen to it every day and I think I must’ve heard it forty times. I still get a little bit surprised because we had all ideas ready and we recorded it and worked day and night to get all the ideas into the album. Sometimes I will follow the vocals and drums and guitars and sometimes try to listen to the whole thing. It’s simply the best thing for me that we’ve done.

“With the concept and everything, it’s a difficult thing to label us anything. It’s metal and it’s at times quite extreme. But now we see that some people call us black metal, some progressive extreme metal, some metal and some extreme metal. If people still want to call it Viking metal, it doesn’t really matter. For us, it’s metal. Always has been. If you want to express the concept, Viking metal is okay. What we mean with Viking metal is just to say it’s metal and the concept and philosophical ideas are derived from this particular period of time; the mythology and the mysticism come from the Viking era. But then, Viking metal has later become more like a role-playing thing. It doesn’t bother me, but what Viking metal has become is a bit like a joke in some ways. But people can call it what they want. I think that when people put on the record and see the lyrics and the pictures, they understand that we’re not to jump around in plastic Viking helmets and scream about bears.

“The first year after we did Frost, with the response and the European tour with Marduk, is a special memory for myself. I think it was the second black metal tour in Europe after the one Immortal, Rotting Christ and Blasphemy did the year before. A lot of people showed up, it was all curious, new and cool. Later that year we went to the US, Canada and Mexico, which was also very exotic and strange, to go to Mexico City and see that people would have the album there. That was something really special for us, to discover that when we’re sitting at home making music it automatically gets spread all around so far.

“We still have lots of stuff to achieve with the production in the studio, with sounds, with live stuff and how to arrange songs. For me it’s kind of good news because if I worked with this every day for the rest of my life I still wouldn’t have come to any conclusion in the end anyway. So I guess the last thing I would do before I die would be to think, ‘fuck, no more time to do this’. But it’s got to happen some time, so it’s just about trying to keep a high tempo up to that moment.”

21.2.2012

Immortal interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


When Permafrost Thaws

Interview: Kuronen

If the universal gods of Karma were to scribe an epitaph on the tombstone of Norwegian black metallers Immortal, would it read, “here lie Abbath, Demonaz and Horgh, who fell asleep… but we buried them anyway!”?

Some people will tell you that Immortal ( 1989 2003 2005) put together their most convincing fits of fury a decade prior to temporarily closing their business in the summer of 2003. Others will say the oeuvre of these ‘grey metallers’, as they were once upon a time described by those who could not observe the radiant and insistent glory of Immortal, is nothing but a manipulative fluke, a bandwagon-riding endeavour based on lacklustre, if not nonexistent, beliefs and standard, if not preposterous, musical backbone. Round these parts, neither of these allegations strikes the brain buds as the unequivocal truth. Not quite. As beamingly as Pure Holocaust is received upon every listen, it only marks the early acme of this excellent band. Many other high points were to come, among them the roasting rage of Battles in the North, the calmer, more contemplative iciness of At the Heart of Winter and, finally, the catchy, engaging heavy metal thrust of Sons of Northern Darkness, a ‘classic in the making’, as they say. Even Abbath’s approach on Immortal bastardised by Motörhead—as proven by I’s Between Two Worlds—is genuinely chilling.

The momentary loss of one of the most entertaining extreme metal ensembles to come from Europe was an unfair one. At their choicest moments, Immortal were the musical equivalent of the northern darkness in Siberia at -55°C when the heat pipes start to crack. They were very much alive until the decision came to take leave. What we are left with today is the music of Immortal plus the hope that one day there will be a return—not in the form of a ‘comeback’ or a ‘reunion’, though—which picks up exactly where they left off. Here’s to the fulfilment of that prospect.

On the splendidly bright day I interviewed Abbath prior to the hiatus, little did I know of what was to come. Little did Abbath know, too, speaking of Iscariah ‘getting there’ when it comes to songwriting, speculating about the return of Demonaz into the fold, and promoting in advance the live album which he hoped “will be out next year”. Ah, all these sweet expectations and hypotheses, and then the sneering figure of fate paid a visit. Perhaps it will bring this magazine a welcome sense of perspective to issue here some of Abbath’s words from that interview, which now seems a bit more than distant.

“We’re damned in black,” the bearded Norwegian says when I ask him what’s the well of Immortal’s strength and endurance. Punctuating his sentence is a hearty bit of laughter. “This is what we have become, this is what we are, this is what we’re like; it’s not the latest trend or anything. This is what we do, this is what we’re proud of, this is what we want. Starting from last year we’ve been lucky to live from this and not have to do other things. That’s also a real privilege, we worked very hard for that, to play this kind of music and not change our style to survive. We didn’t have to do that. If it had been only for fame, money and all that, we wouldn’t have played this kind of music. So we are very proud that we have achieved this long playing the kind of music that we want to and the music we like, following our heart feeling. When we started playing this kind of music, only death metal was the big thing. But we didn’t want to play that kind of music or be that kind of band. We wanted to do something different, and we did. We are still being that band and nowadays a lot of bands who followed us have changed again. They’ve changed their style very drastically and taken out their make-up and stuff, but we don’t feel like doing that. You will never see Immortal without make-up, not being the kind of band we are, but we do develop anyway, we don’t feel like stagnating and doing a Pure Holocaust part II or something like that. We just want to be around doing our thing and getting better and better in what we do. You’ll never hear or see an Immortal album without knowing that it is an Immortal album.

“There’s always progress. We try to make our concept and music and everything better. We are now way better musicians than earlier on. At the same time, we don’t overdo anything; we don’t want to change because of that. We just want to make our style and sound better. Instead of making new versions of the old songs we make new songs inspired by what we’ve done in the past. It’s like we bring the old roots and the old stuff with us to new songs and mix them with new ideas for today and for the future. Of course, like I hear now afterwards, you can find things on the new album that have links to Battles in the North and so on. We are 100 percent proud of everything we have done. Blizzard Beasts could have been better done, but we were in a rush; there are still great songs there even though they could have been played better and could’ve had a better sound. Instead of making new versions of the old songs, as I told you, we are honouring them on new songs, if you know what I mean.”

Even though money is a factor no fan of Immortal will want to reminisce at present, it is something that, at least to some extent, made the wheels of the Immortal carriage turn at the end of their career—hence the contract with Nuclear Blast.

Abbath sets the line straight: “Of course money is very important, but it’s not only about money, no. I don’t think Nuclear Blast would have started in the first place with this if it were only for the money. Nuclear Blast is doing a very important and good job for the metal scene in general; I don’t think metal would have been this big in Germany if it wasn’t for Nuclear Blast. We have one of the most lucrative contracts on Nuclear Blast; I think Immortal and Helloween have probably the best contracts on the label. They really wanted us and we got what we wanted. We’ve been very satisfied so far. They don’t tell us what to do and they can’t tell us what to do, it’s total artistic freedom—and what’s better than that? Nuclear Blast has no effect on the Immortal concept or the Immortal style or whatever. They are a bigger label and they have a bigger capacity and they can do a better job for us now. We are a bigger band, so we also need a bigger label.”

When the steeliest of ice starts to melt, there is undeniably something wrong with the environment.

“What I hear is that the sun is expanding, it’s expanding and expanding and expanding, and then it will start to die,” says Abbath. “But nowadays it’s still expanding. Also, in some places the ozone is extremely thin, like on top of the Antarctica, is it? I guess it will start most radically from down there.

“I have already seen some changes in the nature of Norway. The winter has started very late and the summer in the north of Norway has been very long, and that’s not normal. So of course I think that most places are on a roll and everything changes. We will see a lot of changes in our time, but I think the people of the next generation will be the ones who will suffer from that.

“Our time is short and we’re just doing what we want to do and what we’re able to do. You can die any minute, you can die ten or fifty years from now, you can die tomorrow, you can die in five minutes. Try not to think too much about it. We should enjoy life and do what we want to do as long as we are here.”

9.2.2012

Isten interview from Qvadrivivm #2 (2000)



Introduce Isten 100

Interview: Kuronen

Want to play with dead batteries? Let Mikko Mattila supervise your metal. 

And you thought the sun would never go down.

You thought Metal would never fail you. The biggest part is that you never ever thought Isten was going to let you down. It was always there putting the blocks where they belonged, seeing you off to school on Monday mornings, discussing Metal with you whenever you were lone at heart. Well, bite the iron, it's a deception from your best friend going on. And it ain't looking pretty, here where no sun shines anymore.

The stupid scene has stolen
Isten from me. Just ask me if I am revengeful.

On second thought, you better not. Bitch.

And you, scene, you oughta beware, as I am crushing you the first moment I see your pathetic figure again. Burn in the pits of uncompromising crucification, you scene you.

Rewind back to
Isten.

The first sprinkler ever to shower your metallic lawn. The first puck ever to pass your goalie. It's the back-post of your music, the stop sign warning idiots to come no closer.

Now they have sludged it all, and you feel you could just weep. Since
Isten was your day no. 1, it was the starting grid of your life. You feel you're dead now. Oh yes. Proceed to retribution: 

'My words come across gold, and my throat spits raging Hell's fire' 

The world speaks bullshit. Isten 100 contained an interview with Trey Azagthoth - 'deep stuff', the editors had decided. Haven't my icons been rattled enough already? The last thing I need is one of my All Time Favourite Guitarists rant nonsense for six pages; non-stop, on air.

Enter Mikko Mattila, editor of Isten. 

"Duh-nuh-nuh,"
he cuts it cheap.

Now, don't even get me started on that Treyland talk. Let me guess: The tree of life, excerpt 1?

Somewhere through the halfway of the interrogation, I put the obvious question to Mattila. And he isn't that light-hearted. So: If there's a brilliant statement like 'Arrogance in Uniform. Since 1984.' in I100, there's at least 10 pages of dead-end yattering about sceneness and the like. I agree - but why emphasise the situation to sidereal deathness?


"No, you don’t agree,"
churns Mattila and keeps going with messiah-like statements, less important hereon.

Do I not? Whatever. It's a bit sad that a magazine editor of
Isten's intelligence doesn't see the point. I only dare to ponder upon if the situation would've been different if all my questions had been of the same base as the former. Losing touch, perhaps? Roberto Mammarella seemed to have views of the same ilk, Isten becoming overly cynical and old. What says Mattila?

"It’s not cynicism, it’s idealism. Two questions: "Does Metal mean as much to you as it does to us?" and "Does Metal mean as little to you as it does to them?" That's Isten 100 in two simple lines, courtesy of my friend and fellow Istenite Dominique Poulain. He also stated that the incomplete, unfinished aspect of Isten 100 plays no small part in the big picture: "As a reader you are forced to fill out the missing sections with your own vision of Heavy Metal, your own personal relationship to it." So I take it that if you ain’t got much to draw from, it’s bound to sound hollow and repetitive. If, however, you have ages of great metal resonating in your chest… well, what can I say, "It's a metal thing – you wouldn’t understand"?"
, the editor gives a lecture.

If you're honest, the answer leaves you all-gulping. It's a euphemism for 'if you don't like Isten 100, you are half-arsed in terms and should never contact us again'. No matter how you take it, Mikko Mattila is still the greatest inspiration.

I am just hooding at corners here.

Hm. I'd say we should go for another Dominique Poulain aphorism. With opening words by Mattila:


"Metal’s meant to knock you over, turn you inside out, drain you of all substance, and fill you up to the brim again. Don’t settle for anything less. That is "love for a music that is currently being killed by its self-styled defenders and propagators while its name is flown around like some tattered flag." I know I’ll be into metal this way 10 or 15 years from now, while many of you guys will look at metal as a whore you fucked when you had nowhere else to go."


Once more the consistent question:


"Now, see, you don’t agree, do you?"


Why'd one agree with a thing he has received the most from, in all his life's glory? I am only obliged with one simple human mind. And that's the metallic one, with which I don't agree with, as I was informed. Perhaps I am to kill that mind?


"You remember in Mädchen I wrote that the day someone kills himself because of something I wrote will be the proudest day of my life? All I want is for each issue of Isten to be a deathcheck for everybody."


Deathcheck. Right. There's a lot of them in the NHL. Remember the one that Phil Housley did to the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selänne? Ouch. That was a nasty one - but you were saying...?
 

"Isten is not about wanting to do this or that, it’s about inner compulsion. Haunted in mind bear the blackest of hates.".

Ok, I am all right with that. And no, I never agreed with Mikael Åkerfeldt of you being a sickety to feast on such killing things.

One huge gushing oxymoron, that's metal like - but you hardly know how it feels like to be stuck inside that vacuum. That Mattila of theirs didn't know that much either, sadly. Along other things that seemed appropriate to be deleted, there was something going on about dark forces who, according to Mattila, collaborated with
Isten, when ravaging I100. Then, let me operate the final deduction: First and foremost, you must be throughoutly evil?

"Oh yes, and Isten is a hard, throbbing Satan masquerading as a fanzine."

Isten; Mikko Mattila; Peltolamminkatu 6 A 17; 33840 Tampere; FINLAND


Weren't the humble always of the best kings? Isten must be an exception to the rule. If you need to change your life, and I think you do, order Mädchen, it should still be available. The best magazine ever. No matter how hard that is to believe.

2.2.2012

Mother Depth interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)



A Barrage of the Profound

Interview: Kuronen

Now it is time for the proverbial blue moon when people in trolleys are headed towards the madhouse. And for nothing more than being a little strangely constructed and loopy in the head. If there is some sense in the answers of this interview, let alone the questions, it must be misguided. Understand what you will never understand is the whole of the law. Jaundiced contents, lines that do not match, the darkest of skeletons running amok on the loose... yes, the usual. For this bleary psychedelia, make use of your mind’s inattention. Where the hell are the “I am a stupid Finn” disclaimer tags?

The usual route for a Finnish band to get recognised (and have their fingers and minds burned in the end) is to make a demonstration tape that has as much Amorphis flavour and Sentenced smell crammed in it as is practically possible for one to have, get it reviewed in the loveable Suomi Finland Perkele metal magazine with one of those drunkenly performed hyper-hype reviews that they are famous for, and finally get picked by Spinefarm or Spikefarm and sign a record deal that is cool and raving perfect as well as it is barking formal and is set to last för all tid. Only very few orchestras keep away from this lowly path, as unbelievable as it may sound to any of you. The others either never get any recognition or then are something so wickedly special that only a handful people are to understand them, share mutual interests and knowledge with them. But hey, this is Finland. You are not likely to spot anything worth spotting by spinning blindfolded in the street, stopping and then pointing with your finger at any random direction. Intelligence is not needed as long as you are not compelled to have dealings with it.

Having been around since 1990 as a unit of sorts and since 1995 with the moniker Mother Depth, the Helsinki based lads that I have chosen under closer inspection in this space most certainly belong to the league of exquisite and odd bands that have more leftist blood running in their veins than would be generally permitted in the metal scene. They are not the ones with a past of gigs played in total and complete darkness at the youth centre only because the singer said it would be utterly fascinating and mysterious and downright evil. In short, they are not idiots.

Then, the most important question is, why have Mother Depth not gone for the obvious? It would be so easy with their material and musical thinking and playing skills to raise a cashing cow that would put the whole country on its knees in a matter of weeks, make the girls with their ‘Hate Me!’ garments weep of love towards the new idols, the Mother Depth converted Mother Cheese. And as it has been proved that Mother Depth are no idiots, then why, why, do they not aspire to become rock stars as they so effortlessly could? What slows them down? Integrity? Personal character? Lack of motivation? A certain yearn for depth concerning artistic matters?

Tuukka, guitar being his instrument in Mother Depth, resides in the lands of ennui as he answers ‘no’ for integrity and ‘yes’ for the rest of the list.

Yeah, but really?

Jaakko, who is responsible for the lead vocals as well as the bass thumping in the band, elaborates: “I’ve never seriously thought that I’d want to be a rock star. Making music and performing it has much more to offer than just that.”

That is quite self-explaining, if you think about it. Concerning Mother Depth, the music for the most part truly does stand out for itself.

Speaking of those matters, would Tuukka and Jaakko say that they have become more deliberate in their artistic inclinations via Mother Depth throughout the years, up until this fresh new creation, the Miscarriages demo? Would they say that the authentic essence of Mother Depth has only more recently, meaning after the Serenity Run Through demo yet prior to Enshrined All Woe, unambiguously and completely clarified to them?

Tuukka: “When we started out, we obviously didn’t have a clue. The first song I wrote for the band was called Eat My Fucking Shit. I believe the authentic essence of Mother Depth has evolved rather nicely since.”

Has this process been conscious?

Jaakko answers: “The process itself is not conscious but I’d say that the essence of Mother Depth and music in general has, to me, become clearer in the last years. I don’t know how to describe the essence but I can sense it being easier than a couple years back. I’ve kind of developed a certain taste for it.”

Tuukka sees that the process as we witness it today came to rise at a relatively early stage.

“The choosing of a non-random name and recording Serenity Run Through could certainly be called a kind of a turning point, where some idea of the art began to form. I’m not sure that anything will be clarified, though. I believe the essence of Mother Depth in itself is quite ambiguous.”

Getting to the rundown on your prior existence, what of the Enwreathing One-III releases? There were some complications with them, am I right? Of which sort were those?

Tuukka: “Enwreathing One was a selection from Serenity Run Through. II & III met with an overflow of the ambition and technology ratio, resulting in incremental updates instead of completely new releases. Nothing dramatic.”

As I have already mentioned, you have been around for quite a long time. I read in one publication that you played some gigs in France, at some point, even. Woo-hoo. But I am not interested in that, actually, or interested in any other pointy facts, but am rather curious of hearing of how the ambience of the band was back then, apart from prompting other people to eat your shit. Personally, when I look back at anything that happened ten years ago, a harmonic wave of nostalgia usually tends to sweep over me (call me sad, but that is how it is). I am guessing that you share the same kind of feelings about the past of your band, only increased to the second power. On the other hand, do you possess any spiteful agonies in the corners of your mind, any Dark Recollections?

Concerning their tour de France, Tuukka practises phoney offence and refuses to let out any secrets. The tasty details will escape you, he says.

Jaakko rationalises: “The feelings I had back in 1997 in France were quite the same I have nowadays, but the landscape was much more of a gruff sort than it is today. There are of course some nostalgic memories from the past years but that’s something that is bound to happen. I myself am mostly proud of everything we’ve done with the band. Nothing to be embarrassed about. No dark recollections or anything of that sort.”

Tuukka: “I and Jura Mikkola put the band together way back then. Eventually we recorded a demo as E.N.D. in 1995. Jura was replaced by Ville Salo in 1998. Occasional gigs have been played. The rest is, more or less, between the lines of our discography.

“Ambience you say? Lyrics inspired by Conan, or created by extracting pseudo-random sentences from Star Trek movies-turned-into-novels? I think our unwitting grasp on the perverse was far greater. That’s definitely something to be nostalgic about.”

Jaakko: “For me the ambience of the band has not changed in these years, everything is just as melancholic, dark, beautiful, intriguing and inspiring as it was in the beginning.”

Yes, grandeur words. As Jaakko’s answer hints, Mother Depth almost exclusively play with the most powerful of emotions in their music. In the songs, despondency, dejection and acrimony are built up to great castles, weighing tonnes and tonnes, yet not being all that overdone at all for the sentient listener. The difference between the every-day light feelings and the heavy moments of self-inspection is that the previous is considered the norm, while the latter is expected to be something that one experiences only occasionally. Therefore, the harmless feeling, which stays undisturbed, is preferable, and every ounce of energy is required to be focused there. In short, one is endorsed to a life in virtue and in positive thinking for nothing more than because the ‘bad’, the ‘foul darkness’ functioning as the other side of the coin is foreign and not known well enough to be advisedly recommended. Then, for which reasons has this path of the disheartened been chosen in Mother Depth’s instance, if it has been socially proven that it is not a desirable path? Should one’s personal life and musical expression be distinguished here?

Tuukka: “It’s just the nature of this band. I cannot remember choosing a path. This is where I am. Besides, this is not a documentation operation. Full convergence of personal life with musical and lyrical expression is by no means necessary… and you really couldn’t tell anyway. What you can’t see is what you may get here. Still, I wouldn’t wish to advise anyone as to how he or she should couple their lives and music, if they should do so at all. If our music had more of an idealistic streak, this question could really be raised. As of now it is only observations.

Jaakko: “I wouldn’t describe our music as disheartened so easily. I’ve always tried to give all of my feelings in the music, not only the ‘bad’ ones. The both sides of the coin if you like. The good and the bad feelings are both an important part of life. Instead of ‘coin’, I’d rather use the word ‘spectrum’ here to describe the landscape of emotions. The question is just how you can or want to express them. Some by anger, some by disheartedness. But in a way I make music to prolong my catharsis. To make it last.”

Tuukka: “How could you actually recommend something like ‘foul darkness’? It sounds so nasty.”

It is a matter of negation and variation. Sometimes even the devoutest of saccharine lovers want to taste something else, and I would guess that living in perpetual happiness functions the same way. You can get fed up with unwrapping the papers only to receive the same gift over and over again. In such a situation, would you not beckon one to the opposite, if solely for the possible chance of healing? If even for such a nasty entity as the ‘foul darkness’?

When one tries to figure out the consistency of how the different aesthetic elements mix in Mother Depth and what may be the proportion of these elements, one instantly thinks of depression, which pretty much seems to be their primary substance.  But is depression not an overly used concept these days? Anything from your granny’s moaning to the wonderful darkness of winter to Slovakian brutal death metal can be traced as the ultimate source of depression and depressive elements. Whenever someone has not got the ‘good vibes’ pulsating in the heart of his or her life, or whenever something stops to function, if even for one second, the world suddenly becomes a horrid and depressing place. Suicide instantly becomes a valid option for the shallow folk. In my opinion, something is deeply wrong with such behaviour. Do you have an aversion to this superficial way of thinking?

Tuukka does not take up on my suicide theory.

“Depression is when suicide seems worthless and futile. Actually, I don’t seem to recall seeing ‘depression’ in the headlines lately… seems to be in regression. ‘Burn-out’ is back. Wonder who or what will be on top next year?

“People really seem to get caught up in all sorts of transient things and forget the path for the pebbles. Must be fun, that. It happens - else nothing happens. Curiosity keeps you alive either way. Keep all your eyes open.”

Will we ever hear a Mother Depth song that is, as Anders Nyström of Katatonia puts it, about ‘the true struggle and hope to reach happiness’? Do you postulate that you would have enough talent to not treat this matter with the juvenile touch that so many have treated it before - like most of the radio garbage, MTV, etc., which, as everyone knows, up to a very high extent are about procuring seconds of happiness unto the suggestible audience?

Tuukka: “Question your desire for happiness. Not that it will change anything; you’ll still want it. What makes you happy? Whose interests does your happiness serve? Mother Nature has you on a chemical leash.”

Ah, so cynical and idealistic. But really, you cannot phase out the fact that happiness still is the leading factor in people’s lives. It may drive us into foolishness or it may drive us into success, but it controls our actions all the same. Admittedly, it would be extremely satisfying to see the majority of human population obeying this law of the Mother Nature, but the sad truth is that most would not, for the life of them, recognise this chemical leash from the one on the gallows that prevents them from achieving ultimate happiness. For instance, you have the Norwegian band Ved Buens Ende who used to write brilliant tracks about devils and swans and things, fill their lyrics with striking metaphorical innovations, and still merely a handful of people ever gave a damn about it. “This sweetness that surrounded us, and bled with us… / We touched it, and it smelt far worse than weeds…” In a synchronous event, you would be smelling your idealistic world, and would notice that what catches your nose in fact smells like an icky world; a realistic world, the world that actually exists.

To taste night’s blood is what Nödveidt, another legend, is in search of on one of the most fundamental Swedish records ever, Storm of the Light’s Bane. He has made it all, or did make it all, very outspoken with his band: from the roots they strove and toward shreds of clear sophistication they went. How do Mother Depth comply with the variant needs of the underground scene, wherein one might want it brutal, the other experimental, meditative and so on. Especially the demo Serenity Run Through very much hinted at some effect of ‘two-sidedness’ and obverse factors with the harsh gruff vocals and painful riffs on one side and the lulling clean vocals and soothing melodies on the other. Was this a dilemma that you saw you had to untangle? The new material, in its shape, is much less obscure, though still not simple by any means. Musically it appears to have gone a tad more intricate even, right?

Tuukka: “Regarding compliance, I think complying with our own variant needs is all the compliance we can handle. As for variance, I thought Serenity Run Through was our most coherent release to date…!”

Hey, I was just going out on a limb there… Who knows… It was the personal aesthetic apparatus that reflected this on the instinct rooted cerebrum forum.

“We always have quite variable material, so we just try to figure out which pieces fit together, avoiding and embracing obversity as needed.”

Why do you insist on romanticising practically anything and everything between heaven and hell?

“Romanticising is the creation of a personal myth, reflections of experience extrapolated. There are de-romanticising elements as well. Some things put on a pedestal, some put down.”

Yet regardless of everything, charismatic attributes galore is the only way I am able to describe your band. However, something that I discover to be particularly to my liking are the design and layout of the releases. They seem very thoroughly thought of before the magic of printing. I presume it is mostly Tuukka and Ilmari that are responsible for these matters. Could Tuukka say if there is any special target that they try to attain with the layout - layout which most daft metal heads probably do not even notice or care about when consuming the platters.

Tuukka: “The design is just another instrument, really. It serves to enable the packaging to coexist with the music. This is necessary. The photography comes mainly from Ilmari, his family and friends.”

To land with a mundane question in between, have you drawn any straws of inspiration from the premium Finnish death/doom ensembles? And which bands would you wish to greet in terms of gratitude and admiration if I was to give you space for such activity hereon?

Tuukka: “My Dying Bride, Anathema… My familiarity with Finnish metal is woefully lacking.”

Jaakko: “Nothing here either. The 3rd and the Mortal, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, The Sea… nowadays.”

Tuukka, in the Meathooked #2 feature of Mother Depth, you made a statement that was sturdy enough to pass as the heading of that interview. The statement was, and I quote precisely, word for word, “My view is that no good music has been made after the 18th century.” What was the idea that you intended to bring forth with this rather prudent statement? Was there any seed of truth in it? I cannot imagine.

Tuukka: “That was me? I probably couldn’t tell apart the 60’s from the 70’s. I must have been summing up someone’s thoughts on the unavoidable recycling of musical ideas. Call it a preamble to synthesis; a device of discourse. Or, in layman terms, ‘shock value and being audacious’.”

Before approaching the demise of this interrogation, here should be mentioned my sincere thank yous to Mr Sorvali of Meathooked magazine for initially taping me the Enshrined All Woe demo of the band that you have just read about, and thus making it possible for me to further investigate the Depths by myself. Now let us proceed onto the last theme, i.e. the transcription of the emotions portrayed by the music, as for once that sentence proves valid with a metal band.

Usually I would spend far more time, space and kilobytes discussing (but not quite dissecting) the lyrics of a band, which in Mother Depth’s case are so deliciously meaningful that the temptation is almost too much to bear. But, seeing as I have inquired about so many different type of subjects already, I cannot quite start an immense analysis on the lyrical topic here, not anymore. Because I do regard myself to have some of that substance that in the metal world usually goes unnoticed: yes, decency.

Notwithstanding, something has to be mentioned, so pay heed for the last few lines. That how Mother Depth’s lyrics at places seem so delicately to take the best out of worn-out clichés (for instance, “The time we spend together / Will stay forever - in my heart”, in the track Meadow, is actually the crest of the entire song) is close to being over all my understanding. The sensitive (and yes, very sentimental) lyrics together with the touching music have soundtracked my ponderings on many a sleepless night, and will do so in the future as well.  They are exceptional, the lyrics. So, see this as a further recommendation.

Tuukka hears me out and intervenes for one last time: “Where’s the cliché in Meadow, really? What makes that a cliché? Perhaps it’s been fed to you too many times.”

…Which is precisely the point. Recently I have caught myself off guard many a time musing upon this contradiction that the marketable, clichéd emotions as opposed to my personal emotions create. And there is certain fatigue to be seen on the personal emotions due to this. How is this for Mother Depth?

Tuukka: “Besides disposable entertainment fodder, emotions have real uses too. If we have occasionally managed to convey emotion where, once uttered, it is not already worn out and tired, good.”

Emotions which have been depleted once can still verse into new-found beauty; this is firmly substantiated by the music of Mother Depth. Love this demo band that will hopefully not be a demo band for much longer.