With projects and bands like Tyfon’s Doom, Legionaire, Angel Sword and Satan’s Fall coming through more or less at the same time, on top on already established, but still kind of “new” acts like Ranger and Speedtrap, Finland suddenly doesn’t seem like such a miserable place to be. While I was a bit more lukewarm towards Angel Sword as you can read in my review elsewhere, Tyfon’s Doom really caught my attention, which in turn lead to an extensive feature. Now the time has come to get to know Satan’s Fall a little better. Most of the questions are answered by guitarist Tomi Mäenpää, but for parts of the interview he was helped out by the other members.
Tomi: – I formed Satan’s Fall with Kride (guitar) just because we wanted to play heavy metal for our own fun. After a couple of jamming sessions together in late 2014 and early 2015, we got an idea to ask Tommi to play the drums. Then we started looking for a bassist and a vocalist. Soon after, a bass player, Joni and a singer, Markus joined the band.
Is Satan’s Fall pretty much the first band for the five members, or do you have experience from previous acts?
Tomi: – I’m in a black metal band Ominous and was in two thrash metal bands in the past.
Joni: – I’ve been playing around, but haven’t really joined or established any band earlier. I am too picky and detail oriented, I guess. However, some of the best material I really look forward to using at some point, is from back in 2007. They’ve been waiting in the drawer to see the sunlight until the time is right. Now it’s time to do some new stuff for Satan’s Fall.
Kride: – Tommi and I play in a death metal band called Church of the Dead.
My previous bands are the death metal bands Lithuria and Ghoul Patrol along with Dead Shape Figure, which performed thrash metal. Satan’s Fall is the first heavy metal band for me. Musically I have never been closer to what I wanna do. Heavy metal is the main reason why I started playing guitar 15 years ago.
Markus: – I started playing guitar in the year 1999 and has been in bands since then. My current projects besides Satan’s Fall are Kausalgia, a dark metal band, Astral Sleep, Night of Suicide and Stone Ship, which are all doom metal, and Seer of Ages which is epic metal.
Tomi: – Tommi is also in a stoner band called Satanic Jazz Band.
You are based around or in the city of Helsinki. Did you all knew each other from before? Is there a scene for traditional heavy metal in the Finnish capital at the moment?
Tomi: – Yes, we all live in Helsinki, but not all of us are originally from here. I knew Kride and Tommi before and also our singer Markus, but not that well as nowadays. All of us met Joni for the first time because of this band. There is definitely a heavy metal scene in the capital area at the moment. They’re mostly younger guys and girls in their early twenties. I think they’re connected pretty nicely with people in other cities as well. You can see that when you go to heavy metal gigs outside of Helsinki and spot the same faces everywhere. But that’s how it should be, to keep live music and bands alive.
What is the idea behind the band name? For sure I won’t confuse it with a classic name like Satan’s Host, but I do feel it’s a little too similar to names of other new acts like Satan’s Hallow, Satan’s Satyrs or Satan’s Wrath?
Tomi: – Me and Kride were thinking about the name for the band in the late 2014 even though Satan’s Fall formed in early 2015 as a whole band. I then came up with the name Satan’s Cross, but a couple of weeks after, I noticed that some Mexican black metal band already had taken that name and released a demo. One day, when we were on our way to rehearse, we came up with the name Satan’s Fall. Maybe one metro stop later, we realized: “Oh right, that’s a Mercyful Fate track, fuck!”, but we still thought it was a pretty good name for the band and at least it was from such a killer band I think everyone can agree with that. I had been talking about this name thing with Joni and just like him, I dont like it when bands take their names from albums or track titles of old bands, but now we did it ourselves. Haha!About the names you mentioned, of course I know Satan’s Host and I like them, but for me it’s pretty irrelevant to start looking up what kind of names other bands have nowadays. It’s basically just a name. You can feel the dedication and passion in the music if there’s any , that’s the only thing that matters.
Joni: – Hahah Tomi said it already! In general, I strongly dislike borrowed names and would’ve preferred Satan’s Cross, but hey, Mexicans can be fast. After all, Satan’s Fall is not the worst reference to have if there’s to be one.
Kride: – I think it’s a proper name for a heavy metal band. As long as it’s Satan and as long as it’s not ”We Butter The Bread With Butter”. I never heard about Satan’s Hallow, Satan’s Satyrs or Satan’s Wrath.
It seems like you have been in contact with festivals and labels, giving them bits and pieces of songs before you went out and made the band public, which nowadays means Facebook. Is this part of a well thought out strategy?
Tomi: – Yes, but only a couple of promoters who I can trust with the rehearsal tracks and we contacted the labels while we were recording the “Seven Nights”, so we gave them almost ready stuff to listen to. I think it’s a pretty good strategy, because I hate if the songs get old before someone wants to release them. So at least I think it’s better to find a label before releasing any material.
I guess this is proof that it’s important to have pretty good connections within the scene. I hear some bands say that they don’t know who to contact and how to promote themselves, but it seems you already knew some of the right people?
Tomi: – It sure helps a lot, but the fact is that you’ll have to make good music. Honestly, I don’t believe that people will help you out if your band sucks. Even if you don’t have any connections, good music will always find its listeners and fans, and through them you’ll find the right people to work with. The problem with many bands nowadays is that they spend their time for begging gigs and so on, instead of using the time to rehearse and write interesting songs. You don’t have to play in every fucking pizza place to promote your music today, because we have the internet. We are living in 2016, not 1986.
You released the digital demo of “Seven Nights” through Bandcamp in late January. What are your experience with the digital format and Bandcamp so far?
Tomi: – This was the first time I put music up on Bandcamp, but the experience has been really good so far. People are actually buying our music in a digital format. It felt strange, because I’m more into the physical formats, like vinyls and video games. A good example is that I just bought Playstation 3 a little more than year ago and it was strange to talk with people about how they like to buy games from a web store and not having the physical copy of the game. But yeah, Bandcamp is a really good tool for bands. It’s really easy to use and it doesn’t look too complicated with shitty commercials etc.
The introduction of digital formats, available for instance through Bandcamp, has made the term ”release date”, pretty irrelevant, as the digital format is often available a long time before the physical formats. Do you see this as a disadvantage when it comes to promotion?
Tomi: – Well, I would see that as a disadvantage if the band doesn’t have a label to release physical formats. In our situtation digital demo is a good promotion for the upcoming physical releases.
I believe this demo is your very first recording, was it also the first studio experience for you as musicans?
Tomi: – Yes, it’s first studio recording of Satan’s Fall, but it wasn’t the first studio experience for us, or maybe it was the first one for Joni. Markus is actually a sound engineer and he recorded, mixed and mastered the “Seven Nights” demo. But it was the first studio experience for us as Satan’s Fall.
Joni: – Yeah, I haven’t recorded any proper material yet. A few songs some ten years ago that never got the vocals on ’em, but nothing worth promoting.
Markus: – As the other guys pointed out, I am a professional studio engineer and actually the whole ”Seven Nights” was recorded in my own studio, Saarni Studio, so this was maybe my 666th studio experience. Haha!
When it comes to physical formats, the demo is coming out on three different labels on 7”, tape and CD-format. Did the interest from these labels come when you put the demo online? Was it impossible to find one label handling all formats?
Tomi: – We made a deal with Underground Power Records for the 7″ vinyl before we put the demo online. Soon after putting the demo on the internet, our friend Vagelis from Greece was suggesting a tape version via Iron On Iron Records and that seemed like a good idea to promote our music in Greece. I did know Stormspell Records from the States and I sent them a message about our demo and the need of a CD version. They already knew our band and they wanted to release the CD. To conclude, we never tried to find one label to handle all formats. It just happened this way and it’s good because each label operates in a different country.
You claim to be heavily influenced by eighties traditional heavy, speed and US power metal. There are a lot of bands today that claim to be the same, what sets Satan’s Fall apart from the rest?
Tomi: – As I said earlier, I’m not into checking what names other bands have these days, and the same goes with this thing. I don’t go looking for what other bands do or sound like, and try to define what we are through their music. So I really can’t say what sets Satan’s Fall apart from the rest. It’s something we’ll leave for the people to decide.
Markus: – I think Satan’s Fall has its own kind of sound because all the guys know how to handle their instruments and I am certainly giving all I can in vocals, but we are not concerned too much about sounding as professional as possible, the drive and the energy in the music are more important.
Could you name a couple of bands from each of these subgenres that are important to you?
Tomi: – It’s easy to say that the most influential bands of all time for me are Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Then comes a big red line and other bands after that. There are so many good bands to mention, but I say Agent Steel for speed metal and Crimson Glory for US metal. Worth mentioning are Riot, especially the era of “Thundersteel”and “The Privilege of Power”. Also Liege Lord’s “Master Control” along with Savatage’s “Power of the Night” as well as the teutonics Running Wild and early Helloween deserves a mention.
Joni: – Keel, Exciter, Crimson Glory! Though there shouldn’t be any doubt of the greatest of them all – to quote Paul Stenning’s elegant expression that has stuck with me: “Heavy metal is nothing without Iron Maiden and a metal fan who fails to acknowledge Maiden as king of its genre is probably not worth his weight in leather.”
Apart from Oz, which I guess is important for more or less every Finnish band performing heavy metal, are there other older Finnish bands worth mentioning as sources of inspiration for Satan’s Fall?
Tomi: – OZ of course, and I would add Tarot and their first two albums “Spell of Iron” and “Follow Me Into Madness”. I don’t know how big of a reputation they have outside of Finland, but I suggest to check them out if you’re not familiar with them yet.
Joni: – Tomi nailed it here. Tarot’s first two records are second to none in Finland.
Kride: – Hurriganes is the most important Finnish band to mention.
Tomi: – Yeah, Hurriganes of course, if you’re into real rock ‘n roll, but then I have to give my eternal hails to Irwin Goodman too!
Markus: – The first, the best and the most important Finnish heavy metal band for me is Sarcofagus and one of the greatest influences for me is one of the singers featured on their second album, “Moottorilinnut”, Kirka, especially his heavy metal career.
You are doing your very first show at the Ultimate Revenge Of Heavy Metal-festival early in March? How confident do you feel three weeks or so before you enter the stage?
Tomi: – My confidence is pretty good. At least in the rehearsal place everything goes really well, but there’s always some shit that can happen in a live situation, such as technical problems, which can fuck up things for us.
Joni: – In yesterday’s rehearsal Tommi already expressed his gratitude for the cold water we might get in the venue. He seemed happy and confident.
Kride: – I never felt more confident.
Markus: – On stage we will give everything we got and I am pretty confident that the energy can be felt in the audience too.
As you are scheduled to perform a 30 minutes gig, you must have more songs ready, apart from those featured on “Seven Nights”?
Tomi: – We’re going to play three other songs, but not any cover songs. It’s better to perform your own songs instead of covering other bands. I think cover songs fit better for bonus tracks on recordings.
Joni: – I feel it’s too often that younger bands carry a cover song in their setlists. On some occasions a cover could be considered, why not, but at least for the first show we’ll give it a go with our own material.
Markus: – When we decide on the cover, we will propably play one live. On the first set there will be 3 new songs which are at least twice as powerful as the older songs featured on the first release.
Are these three new songs what you have ready now, or do you have even more songs written and ready to go? Can you reveal any titles?
Tomi: – Yes. Those songs are what we have ready now. We’re going to play this debut show first and then we concentrate on making more new tracks. We have some riffs ready and waiting.
What do you see as the next logical step for Satan’s Fall after the release of “Seven Nights”? Will you look to record a full length?
Tomi: – A full length seems logical for us, but it’s too early to say anything. Lets wait for the 7 inch, the tape and the CD to come out first, and of course we need play the debut show.
Markus: – I think we will aim for the debut album as soon as we have enough songs that swipe the floor with the older ones.
All the songs on “Seven Nights” are pretty short and fast, clocking in somewhere between three and four minutes. Is this the kind of material we can expect on future recordings, or are you looking to mix things up a little and be a bit more diverse?
Tomi: – The songs we’re going to play live are about same length as the songs on “Seven Nights”, but one is over four minutes. So it’s the longest song we have now. For me it’s irrelevant to think how long song should be, because if it’s good, it’s good. Length doesn’t matter.
Joni: – Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to more variety in the upcoming material. More Dokken and less Exciter. Haha! I guess the other guys might disagree about Dokken though. Maybe Fifth Angel-ish then? However, as Tomi said, the length of the songs doesn’t really matter. They come up as they are meant to be.
Markus: – The new songs come as they are. I have feeling that these guys are more fluent in playing fast than slow, so I don’t think we will be slowing down and doing longer songs just yet.
I haven’t read the lyrics to the songs, but judging from the titles, which of course can be wrong, “Poisonhead” is the one that makes me most interested…What is this particular tune about, and how important are the lyrics for you?
Tomi: – This is something Markus and maybe Joni can answer.
Joni: – Personally, I care a lot about lyrics. Should spend more time writing ’em and bring them to the table. Great lyrics can really make a difference. Just check Cloven Hoof’s “Mistress in the forest” and compare those lines to any of the bland love ballad lyrics throughout the decades. Now there’s some depth there! Then again, the lyrics don’t need to be fancy as long as they suit the music. For example, Onslaught’s “The Force” couldn’t have better lyrics. Likewise Kai Hansen’s finishing line in “Victim of Fate” is simply genius: “Flyy-yy high, touch the sky, you will die! Haha! Lousy rhymes, but they make me smile every time! Well this started to drift away now from the original question. Markus wrote the lyrics for “Seven Nights” and can thus tell you more about “Poisonhead”.
Markus: – Joni mentioned ”The Force” by Onslaught, which was one of the first metal albums I heard ever and I have subconsciously drawn some influences in my lyrics from there. Besides themes such as satan, metal, hell, beer, etc. I also get some ideas from the more serious side of the occult, literature, pop & underground culture and ”zeitgeist”. ”Poisonhead” is basically about how some people seem to have a mind that is so clouded and an irrational way to use their brain that it seems as if they have some sort of poison inside their head.
Is it aimed at a special group of people, or just people in general?
Tomi: – Like Markus said ”some people”, so yes it’s aimed for a special group of people. That’s the listeners’ interpretation of the lyrics.
Both with the Ultimate Revenge Of Heavy Metal-festival as well as new bands like Ranger, Speedtrap, Tyfon’s Doom, yourself and Angel Sword coming through, it seems like there are some interesting things happening within heavy metal circles in Finland. Is it more than a coincidence in your opinion?
Tomi: – Those bands exist pretty much because they love heavy metal music and it’s normal to start doing something that you love. I believe that all of these bands are antithesis to all plastic music which people prefer as “metal” nowadays, so it’s obvious that there’s an opposition for that. Thinking about the younger people getting interested in almost every forgotten B-class heavy metal band from the late seventies and eighties is because those bands actually sound pretty warm and authentic compared to all mainstream bands with fancy sounds, overcompressed guitars, plastic synths and a thousands of euros or dollars spent on studios and producers. A coincidence or not? Does it matter?
Joni: – I don’t reckon any large phenomenon here, there are a bunch of guys playing music the way they like, I guess. I don’t really care. Actually I heard of Tyfon’s Doom not more than a month ago for the first time – but man, ”Got To Love The Midnight Train”! Great stuff.
Markus: – Tomi nailed it: The stuff we play is the kind of heavy metal that we love. The modern way of heavy metal is very different from the original. Personally, I hate it! It’s great that there are other bands that think so too, bringing the young energy on the stage and on to the speakers. Legendary bands have their classic songs, but they lack the energy and rage of the younger generation. By the way, a couple of years ago I was a part of Angel Sword too, for a short period of time.