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Satan's Fall Tomi Mäenpää: "Why should there even be anything for us? The birth of the entire universe is just one big coincidence and we are nothing on that scale. On our own scale, we humans are quite a joke."

Interview with Tomi Mäenpää from Satan's Fall
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 22 November 2020, 11:35 PM

So where are we headed anyway? That is quite of a tough question to answer. Is there anyone out there interested in us? It is also hard to say, probably impossible unless we make a break that would change the face of how we are being watched. Sounds familiar right, Star Trekkers rejoice right here. But seriously, there are questions that no one is asking, is there a purpose for us humans. Another thing to think about. Finland's Satan's Fall is taking a higher ground with their new old school Heavy Metal message of "Final Day". New label, new path, revamping the best of the past. Steinmetal talked to founder Tomi Mäenpää about the band's new prospect, philosophy and more…

Hi Tomi, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been there in the Finnish Autumn gathering up?

All relatively well here, despite the corona. We’re starting pre-production of a few new songs and practicing our future live set

With the second wave of Covid-19 hitting Europe pretty hard, several countries already returned to the lockdown policy as a countermeasure. Do you really believe this method actually works or rather postponing the inevitable? Are we being played here in your opinion?

I’m not an infectious disease expert, so I can’t say what’s right and what’s wrong. We trust these things to professionals. The purpose of the closures is certainly not to overload the health care system. But like I said: we leave these stuff to the professionals.

Certainly this pandemic has been a hardship for plenty of people, in particular to the shutdown of segments of the economical market. In relation to our world of music, how are things looking for the Finnish music scene? Is there a chance for it to return into a sort of activity after all this? What are the predictions?

In Finland, things were still relatively good a moment ago, but now it seems that decision-makers may close Helsinki. That means, of course, that gigs aren’t possible. To my recollection, it has now been permitted to hold events for a maximum of 500 people. Safety distances and hand sanitizers included. I don’t think we will get to a normal life in the near future. I am very optimistic, if we could, even in the fall to do a few gigs in Europe. For those performers, this is the worst, whose livelihood depends on gigs. Technicians, producers and other professionals in the field as well.

I had the chance to stumble upon Satan’s Fall with the release of the compilation of “Past Of…”. To be honest, I didn’t dwell on it that much, yet I took plenty of interest in your debut, “Final  Day”, which evidently swallowed my essence. Up until now you sent hints of material out there to the public, then you signed with High Roller Records, released that compilation and now the album, when you look back at these five years, ever since you were formed, how do you view the journey?

We’ve had an absolutely great journey from founding the band to this day. The band has always had only good guys with whom it has been nice to do music and gigs. Of course, problems are not avoided either, and sometimes even small clashes happen, but that is part of it. We’ve also evolved as a band with an incredible amount of those demo and EP times. As you probably noticed when you listened to our debut album. The strangest thing is that it's really been five years. It holds good memories, like making the first demo and gig - and my own favorites when we played at the Headbangers Open Air in Germany and made this “Final Day” debut album.

When I came across “Final Day” and its miraculous old school driven artwork, it hit with that measure of pessimism towards our very own existence. So who would be out there for us? Will it be an outer source, perhaps alien or rather it will be our own reflection to hunt us?

I don’t think there’s anything or anyone out there for us. Yes, I believe that extraterrestrial life exists because it would be pretty ridiculous to think that in an ever-growing universe we would be the only planet on which life would have been born. Secondly - I don’t think any civilized form of life would be interested in us. Anyway, we live somewhere in the countryside of the universe, so it would take quite a bit to travel here. Why should there even be anything for us? The birth of the entire universe is just one big coincidence and we are nothing on that scale. On our own scale, we humans are quite a joke.

Furthermore, you talk about survival, and how to deal with the challenges that life throws at us. Are there any personal examples within the lyrics that you decided to share with the listeners or merely hidden messages of actual positivity against the usual raising the issues? 

Life is one survival - sometimes you have to fight life itself and people who are trying to hit you on the ground, as the "Retribution" song states. I always get a very positive feeling when I spin through the record. All melodies are catchy, invigorating and support the message of the lyrics. Sounds cliché - stay strong, never give up. Hopefully this message will be conveyed to the listeners as well. In the title track, Miika wants to tell the listener the things he himself would say on his last day. That's my favorite song from the album. It’s a very inspiring song, and I often become emotionally moved from those lyrics combined with great music.

When you look at what is going on today in the world, against what is being dealt with on “Final Day”, do you find any parallel patterns? Do you believe that this record can also serve as a booster for those who stopped believing there is a way out?

There are similarities there. But without revealing too much, there is also room for interpretation for the listener. It would be great, of course, if every listener could find their own story there in our lyrics and songs. And through that, find what they need.

With Satan’s Fall being a rough edged Speed Metal force, living the revival of Heavy Metal, as being well made in Scandinavia, “Final Day” tells a story that is more in line with early Ambush, Enforcer, thus re-creating NWOBHM in your own image. Right before you dwelled on “Final Day”’s songwriting and musical aspiration, what made you turn back from being a raw natured old school Metal band and become your current state?

We didn’t actually turn back - we just went ahead as a band. I experience this as a normal development - both as a player and as a band as a whole. The lineup changes in 2017 also had a really big impact on this development - I could say the biggest. These changes have been completely natural to us and nothing has been forced. If we ever run into such a situation - then we will turn back a bit and think again. Miika's entry into the band also had a huge impact on lyrical themes. Instead of singing any more about occult and similar topics - we moved in a slightly more serious direction in terms of lyrics. Then it is also good that the music responds to that theme. We now sound much more mature than before. Such a development is also an advantage for us in the sense that we do not drown there in the masses of hundreds of similar bands.

When you said on the dossier that you are focused on the content, what does it mean exactly? Can it be a focus on the song structures, making them assorted, adding more elements to the music, something like that?

Exactly. Instead of driving to the fullest, we sometimes stop to breathe as well. Without further ado, you already said everything essential there.

With this transition as you referred to it, what would you say were your prime challenges while working on the songwriting of “Final Day”?

For myself, the biggest challenges were inside my own head. I kept thinking that the record has to be great - not ok. Wrestling with self-criticism often went too far. Another challenge was certainly that we didn’t put together a decent studio calendar. We neglected even the little that was drafted.

When it comes to what is being brought to the table, in your opinion, what makes Satan’s Fall shine in comparison to the other old schooler bands that have been on the rise in the last two decades?

I cannot say. At least we have a hell of a good sense of melody. I like bands like Enforcer who are really great songwriters. Maybe in that sense, we also stand out very well - with good songwriting skills? Maybe you can tell us if we stand out in a positive way from others?

The addition of Miika Kokko, which I see as young Mark Tornillo (Accept), to the front of the vocals, even though he actually joined in 2017, how do you find it in relation to musical efforts on “Final Day”? How do you find his fitting to the new image of the music?

As I said earlier, Miika’s entry into the band had a big impact. He has written all the lyrics, except “There Will Be Blood”, which is mainly written by our bassist Joni. Both music and lyrics - with a little help from Miika and Lassi. Miika fits the band like a glove. He has a really good voice - on the record you can hear everything from rasp to more atmospheric interpretation. Not to mention Miika's particularly good arrangements skills on vocals. He understands what is a catchy chorus.

“There Will Be Blood” while being a heavy dose of crushing riffs, it also shares a kind of atmosphere that is between heaven and hell, in particular in its chorus, and thanks to Kokko it is right there for the taking. What do you make of this tune?

Like Joni said: “There Will Be Blood” takes the listener back to the 1960s and the misty streets of divided Berlin, where the sirens wail as the hunter and prey are on the move – once again. Drawing from arms race and merciless predation, the song paints a portrait of two opposing powers whose stories are destined to merge into one in a nocturnal scenery.

The album’s memorable appetizer is “The Flamekeeper”, maintaining ample Speed Metal persuasion while being anthemic with strong melodies that penetrate the skin. Could this be the major hint of how Satan’s Fall is to be featured on its next releases?

"The Flamekeeper" is a song written by our lead guitarist Lassi - with Miika 's lyrics. In a good way different from other songs. More epic, if I said. I wouldn’t say that song tells anything about upcoming material, but Lassi is sure to come up with something for the next record as well. I immediately liked the song when Lassi played it for me. The guitars in the beginning bring to mind a newer Judas Priest - perhaps "Nostradamus" era.

If there is a song for a sing-along, with lyrics that are rather easy to memorize is the last track on the list, “Final Day”. Furthermore, there is a strong moral from this one as well. What can you tell about this track’s creation and your personal appreciation of it?

As I said, the title track is my own favorite from the album. I wanted to make my own epic song on the record. That was the starting point when I composed the intro and the main riff. Lassi put his own spices in a form of a couple of riffs and awesome solos. The lyrics made by Miika, which I praised earlier, meet music perfectly. The song was a little shorter at some point, but then we started to come up with an idea for it as a finishing song for the record. That’s why we started reworking the ending of the song, which you can now hear on the record. I think it’s a pretty perfect ending to a great record. Especially Joni’s last bass note, which concludes the album is sweet. It has such a great Iron Maiden "The X-Factor" feeling.

I know that not a lot of old school bands appreciate the live stream that has been a substitute for the actual live in front of audience, yet I have to ask, you are in for it or rather wait patiently?

I am not interested in streaming gigs at all, and I would not go to do them. It’s not a gig if you’re not interacting with the audience - for me at least. So I rather wait. I understand better known bands and performers doing stream gigs who have to make a living with that music.

Tomi, I can’t thank you enough for this interview. You crushed me with “Final Day”, no doubt a debut that was worth waiting for. Cheers

Great to hear. Hopefully we will get more similar feedback as soon as the record is finally released. Thank you very much for the interview. Metal Temple rules!


 



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