ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW - Jarmo Puolakanaho

In the early ‘90s a music explosion from Finland brought to our ears extreme and beautiful music. One of the pioneer bands that started back then and still holds the banner of the Finnish MDM high are Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, so here’s what the guitarist and co-founder Jarmo Puolakanaho talled to us... \r\n

\r\nHi there Jarmo, first of all i would like to thank you for this interview for metalzone.gr. Lets start with introducing the band to readers that might haven’t listen to your music. How would you describe it and what are your influences?
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\r\nJarmo: We’re Eternal Tears of Sorrow from Northern Finland and we’ve been around since the early 90s. Many people categorize us as "melodic death metal" and that’s actually a very good definition for us as in my opinion, melodic death metal is an amalgam genre that combines the extremeness and heaviness of death metal to many other metal genres, such as heavy metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, gothic metal and so on. That’s especially that happened with melodic death metal in its early years, the early 90s, in Scandinavia, the UK and the rest of Europe - and not forgetting the bands in the US, even though very few of them was actually playing melodic death metal.
\r\nAnyway, I’ll try to narrow down the number of bands who have influenced us. First of all, the band who changed our style completely in the early 90s (from thrash/speed to death/doom) was Paradise Lost and their idea of combining death metal and melodies. It just sounded so heavy and still so atmospheric, so we had to try it ourselves, too. Other bands from the 90s (that influenced us) were Death, The Gathering (their first album was one of the first death metal albums to have keyboards) and the whole Gothenburg scene.
\r\nAnd, obviously, the two or three albums from Amorphis and Sentenced influenced us a lot. Not only musically but also by showing that the extreme kind of metal can be done successfully in Finland, too. From the other bands that influenced us a lot, I have to mention Edge of Sanity who really pushed the barriers of melodic death metal with their diversity within their albums. I think we still owe a lot to Dan & the rest of EoS group with their sense of combining melodies and heaviness.
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\r\nThe band had some line-up changes by now and there are also some past and present members that are dealing also with other projects, could you tell us some more details about the bands history by now?
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\r\nJarmo: Well, we started making music with Altti (bass/vocals) in the late 80s. By 1992, we had the name of the band (Andromeda) and some songs ready, and we recorded our first demo. Later that year, we expanded our roster with Petri (drums; now in EToS), Olli (guitar, was in EToS ’till 1999) and Mikko (vocals). The rehearsal place caught fire and burned down a couple of months later, however, so we had to think of something new.
\r\nIn 1993, Altti, Olli and I started a new project that was renamed EToS the next year. We recorded a couple of demos until we got a record deal with a small record company in Gothenburg in 1996. We recorded our first album "Sinner’s Serenade" later that year and it was released in 1997. In 1998, we had new songs ready, so we recorded "Vilda Mánnu" by ourselves and with our own money, and soon we got signed by Spinefarm Records.
\r\nIn early 1999, Olli left the band and we hired three new guys: Petri, who had already played us with the earlier projects and on gigs with EToS, Antti (guitars) and Pasi (keyboards). We recorded "Chaotic Beauty" later that year and it was released by Spinefarm Records. In late 2000, we toured Europe with Nightwish and Sinergy and right after the tour, Antti was replaced by another Antti (now in Kalmah). We recorded our fourth album "A Virgin and a Whore" in 2001 and after releasing the album, started a long break as we were so tired with the band.
\r\nIn 2004, Altti and I started thinking of coming back with the band. Petri was still with us, but Antti was replaced by Risto and Pasi by Janne (who also plays in Tarot). We started writing new material and in 2006, our fifth album "Before the Bleeding Sun" was released. \r\n

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\r\nWell, the fact is that your music style has changed a little bit through the years. Before the bleeding sun sounds more mature. How does it feel to listen now older tracks lets say from Vilda Mánnu? What is responsible for the changes? is it the new line up or just time?
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\r\nJarmo: That’s a very good question. I would say there are three different things affecting the change. The first two are time and the ever-changing line-ups. The third thing is the fact that we have an urge to change our style on every album. We don’t do it for the sake of changing - we just want to try different things on different albums. For example, "Chaotic Beauty" was really an extreme album at times, so with the next album, we wanted to be more atmospheric. \r\n

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\r\nDo you have any plans for a new album? Does the band do any live shows at this moment? What are your plans for the future? \r\n

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\r\nJarmo: At the moment, we’re busy writing new material, so we don’t do any gigs for a while. We hope to record the album by the end of next year, so the next album will probably come out in early 2009. We could do it quicker, but we just don’t want to rush with the new material. We’ve learned from the past that some things just need a lot of time. \r\n

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\r\nAll good Finnish bands are dealing with Spinefarm. Its a great label with great bands, are you satisfied with them? \r\n

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\r\nSpinefarm does a good job with many bands, that is true, and they deserve their place in the Finnish metal genre. And ten years ago, when we signed to Spinefarm, they were the only good record label we could think of. They’ve done a lot for us and they’re still a great label. However, nowadays they are not the only choice for a Finnish metal band to be signed on, and that’s a good thing.
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\r\nWhen you started the band did you had in mind that you would get so far? Do you think that ETOS get the recognition they deserve?
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\r\nJarmo: When Altti and I started thinking of having a band, all we could dream of was having an EP or an album out. But during the years, we saw the band coming bigger and bigger, and I think one of the things for the break between 2001 and 2004 was the fact that the band had become too big for us to handle any more. Do we get the recognition we think we deserve? Well, we don’t really think about things like that. We just write music, record them and play gigs. We write music mainly to ourselves, although it’s a nice bonus if other people like our music, too. And in the end, there’s nothing we can do whether other people like and/or respect us or not. We just have to do our best and see where that goes... \r\n

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\r\nDo you have any other profession or you live from music? What are the conditions for a metal musician in Finland? \r\n

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\r\nJarmo: We do have other professions. Some of us work 100% with music and the rest of us do very different things. Unless your albums sell really well (like in the cases of HIM, Nightwish and Apocalyptica, to mention some hugely successful Finnish bands), it’s really hard to be a full-time musician, especially if you want to concentrate on one band only. Personally, I really wouldn’t want to be a full-time musician that plays in one band only. That would lead into a situation where all your money comes from one band. That would be a dangerous situation because if you wanted more money (to get new gear, for example), you’d have to sell more albums i.e. you would have to write more commercial and radio-friendly music. So, I personally like my current situation - I work at daytime and deal with my bands on my free time. Fortunately, my working hours are very flexible and I can easily get days off my work when I need to work with the bands. \r\n

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\r\nPersonally i consider you as one of the pioneers of the Finnish scene (along with COB). What happened back then in the 90’s? Where there any specific events that leaded to the Finnish scene explosion?
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\r\nJarmo: Oh, thank you! I think it all started in the 80s when the Finnish metal scene was small but successful in Finland. At that time, the Finnish metal scene was virtually unknown outside Finland but there were a lot of good bands here. In the early 90s, the Finnish thrash metal scene died but new bands started to pop up in the underground. Well, not only in Finland but also in our neighbouring countries, Sweden and Norway. I remember listening to the demos of Sentenced, Dark Tranquillity and even Children of Bodom (at that time they were called Inearthed) and they all sounded good. It’s a bit weird to think that all of those bands became so big and successful. So, I don’t want think that the Finnish metal scene was so powerful alone. We had a lot of things that we shared with the Swedish and Norwegian scenes and also had a lot of contacts with them. \r\n

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\r\nThere are many new bands from the US, especially from Oregon that seem to be really influenced from the Finnish scene (especially from bands like Ensiferum).Is there any chance that US is the new homeland for the melodic/death/ and folk Genres? The fact is now though that we dont see very good
\r\nnew bands any more from Finland . At least none that i am aware of (last one was Wintersun but Jari is in the scene for many years). Would you like to tell me some new bands that are really good and you think that are promising for the future?

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\r\nJarmo: Yeah, I’m starting to think the U.S. of America could really be the next country to hold high the flag of melodic death metal. I’ve heard some great bands, such as Mutiny from New Jersey that are still at the demo stage but already sound very professional. I suppose the reason for the North Americans "stealing the crown" is the fact that they can bring something new to the melodic death metal genre. I think there really hasn’t been anything new in the MDM scene for a while, and many of the European MDM bands have started to sound more or less like the North American bands, too. In addition, when it comes to the natural evolution of metal, the North American metal scene has always been responsible for developing metal into a more aggressive direction. For example, the thrash metal and death metal scenes created something new and more aggressive compared to the previous metal styles. Now, the same thing is happening (or has already happened) to melodic death metal. And it’s good that metal evolves in different places at different times. Are there any good and new bands in Finland? I suppose so. I’ve heard some new Finnish bands. Unfortunately, many of them seem to lack the originality that made the Finnish metal scene popular in the 90s.
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\r\nWhat should the Greek fans expect from ETOS in the future?
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\r\nJarmo: Well, check out our website (at eternaltears.info) for the news concerning the next album. I think we start recording the materia next summer, so there’s going to be a lot of news from us next year!
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\r\nAny last question that you wanted to be asked but never had the chance?
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\r\nJarmo: Well, I’ve been asked this question once, but it was a relative of mine, so I’ll do it once again. "Why was it metal that you wanted to play instead of so many other styles?" My answer is "Metal chose me, I didn’t choose metal". I mean the same thing can apply to anything. If you’re young and you like football instead of basketball, football’s going to be your hobby. And if you fall in love with motorcycles, it’s quite certain you’re going to love them forever.
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\r\nAnd of course a message to the readers of metal zone?
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\r\nStay heavy!
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\r\nThanks,
\r\nJarmo \r\n

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