Only a few bands from the fruitful early 90's deathmetal underground have managed to expand on their initial achievements and become something that is both admirable and esthetically satisfying to a wide range of listeners. Finland's Sentenced are one of those bands. With seven releases and almost 10 years under their belts, these guys will give us a very strong new CD on January 17th next year. REZ recently received the promo and the great "Crimson" establishes the band's infectious and melancholic songwriting right from the start all through the entire album. Guitarist Sami Lopakka explains...

Sami, where are you now and how are you doing ?

I'm at Century Media's office in Köln right now and I have a terrible headache. We went to the Type-O-Negative show here in Köln last night and I had too much to drink.

How have the reactions been so far on the new album? I think it's a very strong one.

Thanks! The reactions have been better than we could have expected. We'll be the album of the month in Hammer and also the other major magazines are very positive about this CD. But, we want to know what the fans think of it, they are the real audience. For what it's worth, our friends and family are also very enthousiastic about "Crimson". But, as a band we're satisfied with the entire proces of writing and recording this one, that's cool.

You recorded the album with producer Hiili...

Yeah, we did. He was in charge of all the soundpolitics, where we concentrated ourselves on the songs.

I assume you will be touring next year ?

In February and March we'll tour through Europe for 5 or 6 weeks. We hope to do some festivals in the summer and after that we'll do The States in August.

The States? Have you ever played there ?

No, this will be the first time for us to go there. Our last couple of albums are out there and we received a lot of e-mails from people who asked us to come and play. I hope they'll like us !

How is your relationship with Century Media ?

Very good. With every album we get more support and priority, that's important. We're satisfied, yes.

How does Sentenced write their music ?

Miika, our lead guitarist and Ville, the singer come up with the main ideas for the songs and as a band we'll work with these ideas until we get the songs. After we've finished the songs, we'll work on the lyrics. We always write these straight from the melodies and the atmosphere. We try to match the music and the lyrics as a whole.

Yes, especially on this new CD you've really succeeded in creating an atmosphere in which the music and the lyrics are 'one'. Tell me something more about the lyrics…

Thanks, man! That's just what we tried to do, you know? The lyrics are pretty personal, as they always are with us. They're real and down to earth. The main theme's on this album are depression, a negative attitude towards life, lost love and self hate. Our lyrics are multi levelled, we try to leave some room for personal interpretation by the readers.

Who writes them ?

Mostly I write all the lyrics. On this album, I wrote them for 9 songs and Ville did the other 2. I'm not that depressed, you know? It's just a way to get rid of negative feelings for a while. For instance: "Killing Me, Killing You" is about love that is fading away between two people. But, I won't tell you anything more, okay? I like to leave things open for the readers.

Are you guys still in contact with Taneli Jarva, your old singer and bassplayer ?

Yes, I am. He's at the University overhere and some of us are too. I understand that he's been busy with the music again. He's in a band called 'Black League' and they're recording at the moment. The music is different from what we do and what we did. It's something like rock'n'roll and blues.

Sami, tell me something more about the actual recordings…

Actually, we worked in 4 different studios this time. We tried to get the good atmosphere we experienced during the recordings on tape. In the first studio we did the drums and in the Tico-Tico Studio we recorded the rest. Changing from one studio to another turned out to be very good for us. It keeps you fresh and you don't get bored after a while. Then we went to the third studio and did some little things like the keyboards and stuff. We only were there for 2 days. In the last studio, the Finnvox, we mixed the album in 9 days. We almost took a full day for one song and that was a good thing to do. You need this distance and the free hours to keep an 'open mind' towards your songs. There's more in life than the recording of these songs, ha ha.

Are you all full time musicians ?

Since our "Frozen" record we all are, yes. But, everyone does their things beside the band, there's more in life than Sentenced, you know? You need this distance from the band every once in a while. It's healthy, I think. Some of us are part time students and Ville has a part time job. We've always wanted to keep the business and our music seperated. We just want to forget everything when we compose our songs. We'll stay true to the music and won't sell out. We were ripped of just once and this was in the beginning with our first album. The guy from the Thrash Records label still has to pay us some money. We called him, faxed and stuff and he never got in touch with us anymore. Well, if we'll ever see this him again, I think we'll shake him a little, ha ha.

What's your opinion on the metalscene at this moment ?

It seems to be growing and in Finland it's very healthy. We have at least 10 bands with international attention and they all do something different, that's the healthy part. They all try to do something new and want to have their own sound. But, to be honest, I'm too busy with Sentenced to keep up with all the new stuff. I do like the new Anathema and the new Type-o-Negative.

Sami, R-E-Z is an Internet magazine. What do you think about the Net ?

I really like it. It's easy, cheap, fast and very nice to work with. It's a very easy way to communicate with each other. Plus, I think it's absolutely great for bands to present themselves to the entire world. We also have our own page and e-mail. We try to answer all the questions ourselves, it's fun. I do think we have to come up with some kind of a regulation as far as the MP3 stuff is concerned. A few songs on the Net is cool, it's very good promotion. But, the entire album? No, I don't like that. It will destroy the bands in the end.

Thanks a lot for this interview! Any last comment ?

Yeah, greetings from Sentenced and see you guys on tour. Stay depressed !

Johan Godschalk / Rock-E-Zine

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