– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with KUOLEMANLAAKSO?

Laakso: Great, thanks for asking! We’re currently doing a lot of press, working on some t-shirt designs and preparing for live shows. The album will be released in a couple of weeks, and we are obviously looking forward to it. So, as they say, the future looks bright.

– First off, could you please share some history of the band? And what does «Kuolemanlaakso» mean?

Laakso: Kuolemanlaakso started out as my one-man solo project, but since everybody seemed to be enthusiastic about the material, I decided to recruit some of my favorite musicians and personal friends, and make it a genuine five-member band.

The inspiration for making gloomy, doomy and depressively heavy songs came from hearing «Eparistera Daimones» by Triptykon. It’s a masterpiece, nothing less.


– You will soon unleash your debut album, «Uljas Uusi Maailma». What are your expectations on it?

Laakso: The feedback has been surprisingly positive. Don’t get me wrong, I think «Uljas uusi maailma» is a brilliant album, but I didn’t expect as much buzz as it has attracted internationally. I sincerely hope it will sell enough to keep the label happy, so we have the opportunity to make more albums. We’ve got some new stuff in the works already.


– All of you are also playing in other bands but what does KUOLEMANLAAKSO provide you other bands have never given you?

Laakso: Well, first and foremost a channel to do whatever I want artistically. On this album all the songs and lyrics are pretty much from my pen. There are a few lines on «Kuun lapset», which are borrowed from a poem by Eino Leino, and «Aurinko» was more of a band effort, but I’ve basically written and demoed everything else in my home studio. With my other band, Chaosweaver, there are three songwriters with «an equal amount of votes», so to speak.

Kuolemanlaakso’s music is also something that I’ve never done before. I’ve never played or composed music with a drop tuning (drop c to be exact) before, written lyrics in Finnish and used so much string bending. I’m also very happy to be playing guitar (and keys, but in studio only), which is my main instrument. I’ve played both bass and keys in Chaosweaver.


– On this first «Uljas Uusi Maailma» there’s a really good balance between light and darkness, melody and aggressiveness. Are contrasts an important part of the band’s musical personality? I guess, besides making things interesting for your listener, it may also make things interesting for yourself, both when writing and when performing.

Laakso: Thanks! Yes, contrasts are majorly important. Without them there wouldn’t be enough drama, and the heavy parts wouldn’t sound as heavy if they were overused. I’m very happy about the way our album begins and how it ends. The «theatrics» of it are well thought of.


– In fact you manage to capture all the essence of the cold Finnish forests and transport it through your music. Is it easy to come up and create such powerful atmospheres and soundscapes? As they seem to be an important focus for KUOLEMANLAAKSO.

Laakso: I take that as a huge complement, because it was exactly what we were trying to achieve! To tell you the truth, writing this sort of stuff comes very naturally from me. I didn’t have any problems with composing the songs what so ever. They shaped up pretty much «automatically». There’s an ancient forest literally in my backyard, which is obviously an important source of inspiration.

The lyrics were a bitch, though. Finnish is such a harsh language to make sound good on top of the music, as is German. But we’re all really pleased with every track on the album. It turned out even better than we dreamed it would be – a big thanks to V. Santura (Triptykon, Dark Fortress). His stake on the production, sounds and arrangements was invaluable.


– Most bands from Finland also share this dark sound, I guess climate could have something to do with this, but have you ever felt like doing something more positive (so to speak)?

Laakso: Well, not seriously, no. Writing depressive and evil stuff is what I do. I have a number of non-publicized musical projects, which I do just for fun either by myself or with friends. Maybe some of the stuff will see the light of day, but the majority will not. The musical styles vary from hip-hop to Ennio Morricone inspired «western» rock, from black metal to electronic music and from punk to traditional doom. Not all of them are heavy, but they all have some sort of melancholy or darkness in them.

To be honest, I have thought of composing a «radio hit single» sort of a pop tune just to see if I can do it. It doesn’t matter if it will be published or not, but I’d enjoy the challenge. It is important to evolve constantly and expand your limits as a musician and a songwriter. Only by then you can fully understand different styles. I’m nowhere near that point right now, but I’m enjoying every bit of the ride.


– One of the strong points about the album are lyrics, inspired by Eino Leino’s poem collection «Helkavirsiä». Would you mind to elaborate a bit on the concept?

Laakso: I translated all the lyrics to English, and they can be found on the booklet. Most of the themes on it are very personal and have some sort of a truth base in them, and some are much inspired by the mystique of the Finnish forests, like for example «Kuun lapset» («The Children of the Moon»), «Ikiuni» («The Eternal Sleep») and «Aurinko» («The Sun»).

I didn’t borrow that much of the topics from Eino Leino, but there were bits and pieces here and there, which were very inspirational. As well as the use of old and forgotten Finnish words, and the rhythm of the language he uses. They fit perfectly in this style of music.


– If you release a second album, lyrics will also be inspired in poems?

Laakso: I have thought about it, but at this moment I have no idea. I’m sure that the main influence won’t come from the same collection of poems, but Leino’s style of writing is something I greatly appreciate.

On this album, I think I found my own approach to writing lyrics. I never want to do the same thing twice, so I’ll probably come up with something new, but also keeping in mind the things that I learned during the making of «Uljas uusi maailma».


– And what does the cover artwork represent?

Laakso: Short answer to a short question: the brave new world.


– The record was co-produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by V. Santura. Are you satisfied with the result obtained? Even he also provided some guest guitars at different tunes. Could you say he has added a different flavor with his guitar?

Laakso: Santura’s style of playing is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before at a close distance. To give you an idea, he told me that playing in Celtic Frost was the ultimate school of learning to play wrong on purpose. I couldn’t have put it better.

Celtic Frost’s and Triptykon’s style has a lot to do with fucking with timings and bending strings to keep the listener on its toes and to make the tunes sound twisted and evil. They are the masters, we are the disciples.

Santura’s knowledge and skills as a sound wizard also blew me away. It is definitely very, very much his «fault», that this album sounds so crushingly heavy, rough and raw but at the same time exactly as clear as it should.


– All this about «Uljas Uusi Maailma» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?

Laakso: Heavy, gloomy, diverse.


– All of your are well-known artists into the Metal scene, which tends to be like a double-edged sword for young bands but, in your case would you say it’s something positive or the opposite? Does make things easier in terms of promotion or maybe can make you work under more pressure? As from such a line-up people will always expect more.

Laakso: Yeah, I guess it has its ups and downs, but I really don’t care. It’s obviously great that lots of people are immediately interested in the band, because they are fans of band members’ other projects, but in the end it’s only the music, that matters. If people don’t like it, it doesn’t make a difference if the singer is Elvis or Satan himself.

It has been very easy working with this line-up so far, as everybody shares the same vision, and is enthusiastic to take the concept on the road. My other band Chaosweaver doesn’t do any gigs at all, so it’s a blast to get to play live for people and meet the fans!


– And finally, what are your near-future plans?

Laakso: We just signed a booking deal with RedBerg Agency (HIM, Moonsorrow, Mayhem etc.), so I hope we’ll be doing a lot of shows. It would be super cool to do a European tour and some summer festivals. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it happens.


– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.

Laakso: Keep the underground alive, and support your favorite bands by buying their albums! Thank you for the interest.


Sergio Fernández



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