Sentenced - Run to the Light

Sentenced is a band that no needs no introduction. Dubbed "The Northernmost Killers" due to their black metal prowess during the early '90s, as the decade progressed, the members of Sentenced were eventually to be known as "The Northernmost Suiciders" as a result of a drastic shift to the goth metal subgenre. Now, in 2002, Sentenced has made yet another leap: the band can now be referred to as "The Northernmost Rockers", as the unit's latest release, The Cold White Light (a surprisingly catchy and even more surprisingly uptempo affair) sees the light of day via Century Media. Digital Metal had a chance to catch up with vocalist Ville Laihala to discuss darkness, renewal and (oddly enough) Loons.

The Cold White Light is your latest release, and it's quite a departure from the suicide-based nature of Crimson. Tell us a little bit about this new record.

It's a fresh start for us. After Crimson, we found we had done too many tours and too many shows. We were fighting with each other, and realised we needed a long break. After that time apart, when it came time to record The Cold White Light, it was fun being back. It was fun being Sentenced again. Rehearsal and recordings went very well, and musically and lyrically we've used some new ideas. So this new album just feels... new.

Is a tour in the works to support the release?

Yeah! We're playing in Finland starting next Thursday. We're doing 10 club shows and 10 festivals. Then we'll do some German festivals, and in September we're going to embark on a three week tour of North America with Iced Earth and In Flames. In October we do six weeks of headlining, and after Christmas it's back to the U.S. and then South America. Our last show was in Turkey over two years ago, so we're really looking forward to the road. A little anxious, actually.

How would you compare The Cold White Light to previous works? It's quite the departure...

Crimson was the end of one era in this band. This, like I said before, is a new start. You can hear elements from all our albums on this one; there's kind of this weird twist of persistence. The Cold White Light is less suicidal, and we've displayed that through the light reference in the title of the album. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's fuckin' far (laughs)! We're starting to open up and not taking all of this so seriously. There's a lot of black humour on the album, also.

How do you classify your sound? With the release of The Cold White Light, critics and fans will have an even harder time pigeonholing you.

We're melancholic rock, I'd say. We're not metal anymore. We're always changing though, so maybe our next record could be death metal. You never know with us.

Some put Sentenced in a category with My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost. Others will say you fit moreso with Lacuna Coil, Tiamat and Moonspell. Which faction do you associate Sentenced with?

I don't know, really. I guess I'd have to go with the Paradise Lost group. We've been around for 12 years, and we really have our own sound. Moonspell are way different lyrically and musically. They're gothic. We're rock 'n' roll.

What's more important for Sentenced, atmospherics or aggression?

It depends on the song. It depends on what the song needs. But we don't think about it. We don't say, "we need four aggressive tracks and four moody tracks." The songs come out the way they come out.

What inspires your depressed, down-trodden state?

We're from Finland, and Finnish people inherently have low self-esteem. We, as a nation, dwell in self-pity. But for the lyrics this time, I wrote more about life than about death. There isn't as much suicide stuff, and even when it comes up there's black humour involved. I mean, look at a title like "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself." That's not to be taken seriously. But, on the other hand, I'd hate to write about fast cars and ugly women. It would feel weird, and unnatural.

There are Loons featured at the begining of the first track, "Konevitsan Kirkonkellot". What's that all about?

The Loon is a bird that's found in Finland, and we wanted the album to feel Finnish and to let the listener experience it through music. The Loons give the album a national identity.

Are the members of Sentenced still "The Northernmost Killers"?

Yeah (laughs). We've been the same guys the whole time, the same ugly guys playing the same shitty music (laughs).

"Make the Most of the Day" is the lyric that sticks out the most, at least for me, on The Cold White Light. That's not a very desopondent or depressed sentiment.

This band is a big part of our lives and we do it because we love to do it. We don't want to express a depressive image all the time, because we've done that in the past. People will say, "You're happy now" in a disapproving tone. And we say, "Yeah, so what?" We do this for ourselves. To do it for others, please... there'd be no point. Sentenced would just become stupid. This will forever be about how we're feeling at the time we write the songs.

By David Perri

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