Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Emptiness of Spirit


A decade ago Spirits And August Light was published in Finland. The making of the record in August-September 2002 had been so difficult and painful, including terrible mistakes (like the style of bullshit vocals in many of the songs) I thought would never be forgiven by myself, the audience or the other band members, that when the reviews finally came during the early Spring of 2003, with Kerrang! giving us 5/5 and the German RockHard 8,5/10, I knew.......  For so much wrong there must be something right, also. 

I wasn't into metal anymore. But I had been called in, literally (a phone call in October 2000), to do this thing. One theme on the album is Minne, or "courtly love" as they named it in the Middle Ages. I guess the saying about love enduring every hardship and suffering all wasn't invented out of nothing. Without love it would be impossible to go through hell. I can't blame the musicians or even the metal scene that demands low frequencies and demons to come out and play. Who is responsible for the heavy load of X.X.X.X that would make the spirit of this record "shine"?

Today I brought the original old-and-broken disc, released by the late Rage of Achilles, down from the attic and put on my cd-player to give it a little spin. The guitar sounds are great, the riffs are well crafted and there is an epic atmosphere, at times. But when the vocals are added on, it becomes completely different. Maybe that was the recipe for the fine reviews and the reputation this record would slowly get. It was all because of human weakness and failure that it ended up sounding like this. Had we done what we were supposed to do, there would have been nice by-the-book ripping off. Had we "succeeded" in this, SAAL could have been a bombastic very fantastic one. Or maybe not. There were enough copycats in the business. And we had already made our own style and way with our power metal MCD Steal the Light the previous year. Why not continue doing something unique. After a maidenesque 5-piece it was time to give them a dirty piece of shit. As if the band had changed to another. And this progress would continue on the next one, also. Years in Waste (2004) does have a sound of its own, and it is (not) the same band that made....

The lesson is, what makes an aesthetic work is the amount of love, even a small amount is enough to save the day in the end. You may not realize it at once, but it will get through to you as the years go by. The working title of SAAL was The Summer of Love, Rock N Roll & Death Metal, and we had real plans to make a video where the drummer Jarmo Pikka is wearing bahama shorts and drinking coctails in the sunshine, while me and Markus Vanhala are driving around the streets of Kotka, looking cheesy and stupid, smiling like morons. That's the way it was meant to be in the note books! And when you look at the history of yesterday, that is how many bands would eventually make it. I can't say we invented this trend, but it was our own idea and no one was doing it those times. I am talking about how things were in the so-called "death metal world" around 2002, for you to get it right.

In the spirit(s) of August all kinds of things were getting involved. I have heard many bad boys and girls like SAAL because they think it's evil. It is good if they like it. Certainly there is evil, but there is also good. Although it's not so easy to see, especially if you do not want to see it? One really sees what one wants to see.

And the fact is, despite a few raging reviews, no one was interested in the band ten years ago. It would take a long time before SAAL actually hit the stores here in Finland. We were just losers who had failed to do a decent record. And I had carried a lot of shame for it all through the year. So, I almost quit the band in September-October 2002, because I thought the failure was too much to bear. But I could not let it be like that. Meanwhile, the reputation of Spirits and August Light would become what it is nowadays. Latest news confirmed that it has sold more than any other record of this band. Where ever you may go, ti amo.