Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Bowling For Tentacles & Mail This To Siberia"

Monday, day 13.

I´m not sharing any names, but one of the guitar players didn´t show up to play his missing parts this morning. Luckily, the other one performed those as well, so when I got to the studio everything was played just as asked, with some extra awesome stuff as well. So kudos for this other guy!

The rest of the day was spent by editing the bass. Playing some parts again, making it sound like it should and finally having MAJOR problems with the tuning, I used all my professionality I could possible have to tune the parts digitally. Then we realized that Tundra´s bass playing wasn´t actually that bad at all, but the autotune had actually fucked up the timing in most of the places, so the more we used it the more the timings went astray. The joys of digital signal processing, I guess.
At the end we had a perfectly pitched bass- track.... which was played like someone who just got his first bass guitar.
After hours, bugged Pro Tools and tons of "FUCK THIS, delete, start from scratch" we finally got it sounding right like it was performed in the first place. And before you ask, no, there was no fucking way we´d play those songs again from scratch. Using 4 hours for editing is less than using 12 hours for playing AND editing.

We got home at 1AM- No keyboards were done due to the bass editing,but at least we sound now like we should.

Tuesday, day 14.

So, with all the "band" now finally done, lagging behind for only three days, it was finally time for me to do something else than edit, repair, instruct, scream and cry. So, enter the keyboards! FINALLY.

We rigged my (t)rusty N364 with Virta´s two better hi- end Korgs and started to ruin all the songs. That was so fucking fun compared to that hell I´ve been through for the last two weeks.

We first layered the "basic" stuff from my N364- Analog Pad, Choir and Strings. Seriously, the strings just sound so good in that machine. It´s the exactly same sound that e.g. Nightwish, Bal- Sagoth and Dimmu Borgir have used, and afaik, Tuomas Holopainen still uses.
Fun trivia: If you got access to that machine (or X3/ X5), pick up Prog C07- "The Strings" and start playing "Mourning Palace". You´ll be surprised. Not to mention that one...whatever, "Festival!" or something, which is exactly this sound. Hailz for creativity.

My wild guess is that back in the mid 90´s when me and countless of other metal keyboard players had access only to one piece of equipment, we got the best overall synth with a reasonable price, thus ending up getting that particular piece which was very popular. However, the number one rule of keyboard players:


Get it? Seriously. Never use them. On the other hand, we found out that Jeremy Soule has a Korg as well. Shame on you for laziness, Jeremy. Then again, we used it for too. We also used some Nintendo- sounds just because it turned Lolbster into a platformer game from the late 80´s. And then it started to sound like Giana Sisters. Yet, even though we love to take the piss on everyone, we´re not actually putting them that audible, so fear not. We´ll still be sounding like Finntroll instead of playing some uninspiring Göteborg- metal with occasional C64- sounds glued on top. No names mentioned.

After playing keys for Blodsvett (using Shakuhachi as a "old school Finntroll tribute I could swear I´d see Somnium clapping his hands for this one"!), Kyyppari (ended up sounding like a Turkish scifi- movie from the 60´s at some parts. Black Metal, no compromise!) and Kylskåp (Ever thought what happens if Demented are Go, Darkthrone and Nightwish clashed together?) , I went to visit home quickly (I live only 12 kilometers from the studio), had dinner with my wife, went to sauna, shaved face and head, and got back to the studio where Vreth already had started to do the vocals. The joys of recording near home. :D

I wasn´t very fond of the vocal sound so we sat down and started to tweak it into more violent. In the end we went with a guitar distortion plugin (!!!) and a compressor so tight you could hear the guy fart in the next room as loud as Vreth screams. The result sounded so uncannily aggressive that we decided to go for it as a template. We did vocals for Blodsvett and Kylskåp as well and headed home at 1:30 AM.

Wednesday, day 15.

I got vacation from work for today, so I headed straight to the studio and started to edit the trumpet and trombone takes. Virta got there half an hour later, and Vreth followed soon. I brought the upright bass track for Piraatti which I had recorded at my office (!!), imported it in and started to lay keyboards for Piraatti with Virta. We had some akward ideas, tested many, and finally started arranging the keys more to suit the upcoming vocal lines. That was one helluva task, yet rather fun. You see, we just got the lyrics for it, and realized that they are not fitting the way we thought they´d do, so we started to think how to "fill the blanks" in the chorus with keyboards.
 After finally getting Piraatti sounding like it should, we ruined Lolbster with all sorts of cheesy organs, 8- bit sounds and horns and whatnot. Then I ended up playing all cool shit into Halkodisko, including something so weird I´ll leave it as a surprise. Let ´s just say that our metal got even more black with this one.

After amusing ourselves with the keys, it was Vreth Tiem. We did vocals for Kyyppari and Lolbster and started to get rather hysteric at some point, after working for 13 hours in a row. We heard Vreth singing lines like "Vi skinka, vi gurka", "Penetratzioon" and whatnot, but finally got everything sounding perfect. Little whipping, little whiskey and he´s topping himself once again. Halkodisko started to sound a bit tired at some point (you try to scream 3 hours in a row at night and let´s see how your voice sounds like, hehe) so we decided that it´s 1:20AM and we should probably hit home after doing a 15+ hour workday.

When we got off from the studio, I realized it was freezing, extremely windy and there was snow everywhere. I dropped Tundra home and drove small roads back home, at max 40 km/h. Every turn was like bobsledding, and I certainly don´t need a smashed, unusable car at this moment. Some World of Warcraft soundtrack on the background, and we ended up chatting with Tundra about....yep, World of Warcraft for the whole trip. Hey, it´s very nice counterpart for doing metal for the whole day.

Got home at 2:10AM, remember pressing the snooze- button at 8AM.... woke up 9:20 with a phone on my hand. FUCK!  Looked out of the window. More snow. FUUUUUUUUUUUUU.
Had to get tires changed and ended up being at the office at 11 instead of 9. Fuck yeah.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"The Purple Army"

Friday, day 10.

Bass, so much bass. I edited guitars for hours, and played some of them again. Then Tundra played bass. Loads of it.

Saturday, day 11.

I came to the studio to EDIT MORE GUITARS. Tundra continued with his bass at the afternoon while I had some family- stuff to take care of. After taking care of that, I got the studio with my son right away, and edited more. And played some while Tundra was taking my son to a "studio- tour" to see "all cool stuff". I also sweared like a seafarer for 10 seconds in a row until I realized my son was right behind me. Nice parenting! Tundra was left playing more bass.
Went home, realized how much we´re lagging on the schedule and had a beer. Is it ok to cry if you´re 34?

Sunday, day 12.

OH FUCK YEAH MORE GUITARS. Don´t even fucking get me started.
Then we started recorded trumpet and trombone. At 17:30 I realized I was already supposed to go to the store in case we want to eat something at home and pick up my son from my parents. After I somehow managed to do these all, I tucked my kid to his bed and drove back to the studio to replace the last out- of - tune guitars (which I had actually played, so this time the blame´s on me solely).

At 22, those guitars were finally replaced. I ended up playing those parts with only the clean DI- sound. This way, we could be 100% sure there´s no tuning problems. Especially Skrymer´s guitar (just ask him about the frustration with that, hehe) has so horrible fine tuning due to...something...maybe crooked neck, don´t really know, that every time there´s a chord present, it has to be tuned "wrong" in order to get that chord sounding right.

Then we started to check and edit the bass takes. That was pretty much a fucking picnic compared to the guitar- concentration camp. Did four songs, we played some parts again and I got home 1 AM, only to wake up 7 AM again. And guess how well I slept while MARILYNBASSLINES HALKODISKOGUITARS trolololol TROMBtrytosleepONE....zzzz.....SURPRISETRUMPEzzzzTLINE....fuuuu....oknowigottopisswhattimeitis.....


Friday, November 23, 2012

"Future Basement & U-Suck"

Previously happened on "Stargate SG-1"

As you know, we are lagging in the schedule quite badly as the guitars got destroyed. So, another hit would be a death- sentence for these sessions. So the poor guitarists (and the respective bandmembers who have engineered the recordings) have done "quite" long days in order for us to make this possible. So, everyone was doing their best on wednesday. The guys actually sat there until 2:30 AM while Beast was recording at the point until they couldn´t do it anymore and went home. So, everything went smoothly and all the guys were definitely pushing their limits and doing their best.
And now, the conclusion.

*enter opening credits*

Thursday, Day 9.

Did you know that smoking can actually save lives? Or at least teeth. You see, when I rushed out of the controller room in a red- hazed rampage, so furious that I have no words to describe it here, Routa was very lucky to be at the downstairs at the moment.

But let´s rewind a bit.
If this is "too long, didn´t read" for you, here´s a spoiler. It wasn´t Routa´s fault after all.

While I was at the office, Routa was playing guitar at the studio. I got there about three- ish while he had already played from four hours and three songs. I edited some stuff and went straight to Kylskåp, on which song we agreed that I will play the both guitars after all. I had played Skrymer´s part on monday, and now it was time for the other guitar then.
So, I started to play. A bit "clean" guitar sound didn´t bother me at all, as I was used to hear the DI box (=clean sound channel) quite loud. I just thought that Routa most likely wanted to hear more of that while playing and I don´t mind playing with the same setup and sound.
While I had performed the other, newer guitar track to Kylskåp, edited and "glued" it together, I noticed that the guitars are not in tune together for some reason. So I deleted everything I had done today and started over. When it was finished, they still were out of tune. Then I realized, after trying and checking everything I could (even using Auto- tune on the clean signal to see how it analyzes the pitch) that the previous guitar track I had played was the one to blame after all. And of course lowering the pitch afterwards caused the sound to go totally fucked up due to technical shit I won´t bore you with (for the studio geeks, one word. Phase.).

"Well, I guess I know who´s to blame...", I snorted ironically and started to play the first guitar again. But using Tundra´s just arrived (15 minutes ago) tuner instead of Skrymer´s, because I knew that Tundra´s one is super. After I had performed the fourth fully recorded take for this one fucking song, the tune was super indeed. There are differences in tuners, trust me on this one. You don´t want to go with the cheapest when recording stuff.

Fast forward. Long story short, I also played Nexro´s other guitar. After I had edited, glued and blabla, I was very satisfied with it. At this point, it was already five o´clock and I was supposed to leave in 40 minutes. So, we started to do the bass sound. The cables and cabinets were rigged earlier in the afternoon, so we only had to put the microphone on, switch some cables and boxes and basically would be ready to start molding Tundra´s sound into something unintelligible. While I was still doing channels for bass in Pro Tools, Virta was rigging the setup.

Then I heard his voice.

"Ummm.....these guitar pedals are not on....what the hell?"
- what pedals, huh...., I mumbled while still occupied with the channel- creation.
"Noise suppressor [hum and noise eliminator, engl.note] and distortion...hmmmm"
-Whaaaaat?????, said yours truly, turning instantly around in the chair, suddenly not interested in the bass sound at all anymore.
"Are you telling, you will NOT, PLEASE DON´T tell me...."
- Yeah...uhm, just how long have these been switched off?
- Well, I didn´t touch them at least before I started to play. I was continuing Routa´s takes and using exactly his sound.
 And now, let me re-phrase again something. Remember this?
"So, I started to play. A bit "clean" guitar sound didn´t bother me at all.....""A bit "clean" guitar sound...."
"clean guitar"

I grabbed Routa´s guitar instantly in a panic, accompanied with a loud "EI.....VITTU" (english translation would be rather desperate "oh fuck no") and pressed record, starting to play.
"Ok, switch the Noise Suppressor on", I said to Virta. He stomped it on, and it didn´t affect anything sound- wise. "Pheeeeew", I said and continued playing....."Ok, now the distortion pedal".
Time seemed to be running in half speed as I was playing the guitar, not seeing what Virta is doing behind my back.
"Please tell me you switched the distortion on already"
- Not yet....wait....ok nnnnnnOW IT´S ON!

At that very second it became extremely clear to me that everything we had recorded today, EVERY SINGLE NOTE AND EIGHT HOURS OF WORK (including me playing Kylskåp three times which seemed like a slap in the face at that point), was unusable because the day´s first player (whose responsibility it would had been)  hadn´t turned the pedals on when the sessions started in the morning.
My heart made two extra pumps. Then it missed four. I grew two years older in a fraction of seconds and lost probably ten years of my predicted life span.
I started screaming. Or rather, roaring. First Routa´s guitar flew into the couch from my lap. Then, flew the chair. And then there was a cry of war. A huge, distorted cry of war, accompanied with me storming out of the control room, looking for Routa to punch his teeth in, to violate him most brutally and bang his head to the metal door. Luckily for everyone, he was at the street, four floors down, having a smoke, completele unaware what is happening upstairs.

Roaring and outbursting my rage, I leave you also unaware on the not- very- nice- things I yelled and the amount of stuff that flew throughout the studio. Not the mention the studio´s metal door at all. Lucky thing it´s made from metal. Thick, solid metal.
After about half a minute of that sort of rampage that would make Donald Duck´s rage seizures look like a sloth on Ritalin, Skrymer said something.

"Dude, DUDE! Wait! The DI box- sound! Fuck, we can RE- AMP IT!!!!"

And there was silence. Accompanied with "OH...MY....fucking.....god....... eivittujätkäonneroeijumalauta.......aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa". This would mean that we could actually just drive the clean DI- signal through the amps, this time with the distortion and use everything we had recorded after all. So, only 30 minutes waste of time instead of 8 hours. Also, please note that after the earlier guitar- mishaps, this really was the last straw that snapped the camel´s back for the sessions. We would had been seriously fucked for good if we had wasted one more day and would had probably cancel the mix and postpone it for months.

I jumped two meters up and hugged Skrymer for at least five seconds. And that´s a lot for a brohug.
Nevertheless, I was very fucking pissed still at Routa at that point, so when he came back up, I said to him what was happened and told him to fuck the horse he rode in with. He said that he was EXTREMELY SURE AND ANAL that everything had been switched on when he started. In fact, he even checked battery levels and everything. So, "fuck you too".

I apologized him quite a lot and we started to think what the hell had happened. The only possible explanation was that someone, while rigging the bass in the afternoon, had switched the pedals off- either by accident or on purpose, in case while forgetting to put them back on when he was finished.
We know by now who was behind it, but it´s not really necessary information to badmouth people here. Especially, as technically, it is us who´d have to notice these things even though there wasn´t any suspections that something had changed.
What happened, happened and the most important thing is that it can be fixed.
And no, it wasn´t Routa. And not Virta either, because that´s what you´d think next. Let´s just say that it´s a big studio with a lot of people coming in and out, and people are sometimes in a hurry and things may get fucked up if you do them too quickly.

After I had restored my balls from somewhere between my navel and throat where they first jumped when I realized what had happened, we calmed down (or to be honest, I was rather the one who needed to calm down) and started to mold Tundra´s bass sound. Seemingly the Gods of Karma were pitying us, as we nailed it in 10 minutes. Tundra started to play his parts very excitedly, and I had to leave to pick up my son from my parents.

2:21 AM I received an SMS from Tundra.

"Let´s start about 1PM- ish. Just got home from the studio.

I just have to lift my hat to these guys´ work ethics. Let´s see how today´s turning out!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"The Human Show"

Wednesday, day 8.

Seriously. The guys played over half of the missing guitars in one day and managed to do it even better, just like some people actually predicted in the internetz. I went there with my son for an hour, edited Soutu into final and left the guys ripping again.

This morning all the brass arrangements got finished, Mp3´s extracted, notes scanned and finally printed. And I can tell you there were quite a many. Close to hundred pages, to be exact.

And below you can get some perspective on the amount of them. Seven songs are getting a brass- treatment, with different stems for trumpet, trombone, alto and tenor saxophone. I´m not sure who´s going to sweat more- me writing and arranging those or the players at the studio when they start recording those. :D

It looks like I´m going to edit the guitars in another computer while Tundra´s playing his bass, starting today. We should be ready with the guitars and bass on saturday afternoon, which makes us only half a day late from the schedule.

After the guitars are edited and bass played, we will do some additional feedbacking for them as well. As you can probably imagine (or I´m crushing your delusions, in which case I´m horribly sorry) normally people don´t play guitars in the same room the amp is located as it´s FUCKING LOUD.
So, that means the guitar doesn´t feedback at all as it´s not close to the amp. And if you have thought of having some feedback somewhere (in, for example, some "mid- part" where the guitars are having a long and open chord) you have to do it afterwards while standing in the front of that FUCKING LOUD amplifier. I have already marked all the feedback- sections down so it´s pretty much one hour and we have captured those. Then we just glue them to the actual rhythm guitar tracks and are having a blasting feedback all the time it´s needed. A bit cheesy, I know, but unless you´re playing everything live, it´s almost impossible to create the sound otherwise. The guitar amp is blowing over 100dB, so imagine how loud your headphones would have to be in the recording session.....not really healthy at all.

While the guitar adventures continue, I will accompany the guys in a couple of hours after I get away from the office. Meanwhile, riddle me this. What´s in the picture?

I´ll leave you thinking.

Later, peeps.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Tentacle Jail"

Tuesday, day 7.

I didn´t cry. I didn´t even scream. In fact, my first reaction was laughter. Ironic laughter, that is. Followed with a very long sigh.

All of the recorded, edited and polished guitar tracks were gone for good.

It all started with a innocent, "...yeah, I´ll just start backing up the stuff and then we can leave it be and go home for the night". And then, something went horribly wrong and the guys were left with a stupefying expression on their faces. Backups had somehow being replaced by four days earlier backups and as a bonus, the latest versions were gone from the actual hard disk. I heard that Vreth was literally shaking when he realized that every single note we had recorded since friday evening had been blown up into cyberspace forever.

It could had happen to anyone, so I don´t give a rat´s ass who pressed any buttons at the moment they got destroyed. When the computer says "no", you fucking dance to it. No options.
Then the guys made the computer dance, but it was already too late. Nothing could be found for good. So they actually stayed the whole goddamn night AT the studio, trying to figure out what the hell can they do to restore the files. At morning, when Nino (the studio owner) got there, he was explained what had happened. Needless to say, he was quite frustrated for us. Especially as he know what kind of a battle it had been to record those guitars.

Luckily, when I had edited and gone through every guitar part, I had consolidated them as 100% mixing- ready files with all crossfades and edits done. This would also help me to keep in track in what was 100% approved as I could see that if the file´s in one piece, there´s nothing that I should do to it. So, when we realized that if we can recover anything, we don´t do a flying fuck with thousands of "gtr_mesa1_57_fade.wav" files which last for 0.5 seconds each....until we realized that my consolidating was a gift from Gods at that point. If we could recover, we´d have the exact guitar tracks in one piece instead of thousands snippets. And on the top of that- if we could only find the consolidated DI- track, we could re- amp from that in case we´d miss e.g. Skrymer´s cabinet #2. 
(The tracks per guitar were Mesa + 57, Mesa + 421, Orange + 57, Orange + 421, DI). The only recorded songs I hadn´t consolidated yet were Blodsvett and Soutu, because they were played just before everything got destroyed while I wasn´t there and thus I hadn´t had any chance yet to check, edit and consolidate them first.

So, the guys started recovering the files with some software. After three hours, we found snippets from someone´s Orange amp miked with a SM57.... 1 minute of Halkodisko´s Skrymer- side and some years- old drums from some other band. And then, we found Piraatti´s guitars! Or, at least....the DI´s. So, we re- amped them and.....yeah, that´s about it. 40 hours of time wasted. Ten songs recorded, of which NINE were destroyed.

"Fuck", said Skrymer, and grabbed his guitar. "FUUUUUUUUUUU," said Routa, and grabbed his cigarette pack. And "FUCK MY LIFE", said yours truly and bummed a cigarette from Routa.
I quickly made some estimations, we thought a perfect plan how to proceed and decided that there´s no time for cursing, being cranky nor going all drama here. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. So here´s another plan for now.

We know 100% sure we can´t rescue Blodsvett or Soutu because I hadn´t consolidated, a.k.a "glued" those guitars together before the Great Destruction. (read the studio jargon- part if you want more on the subject) So, tonight´s plan was Blodsvett again, Soutu again and then Kylskåp and Nexro (of which both hadn´t been touched yet). And after that, the guys leave and leave a "deep scanning recovery" doing it´s job for the whole night. That will take MANY hours but might be more effective than the normal recovery they ran yesterday.
So, if the deep scan finds anything usable, great. If not, Skrymer starts to play his parts again from the beginning. It should be faster now, as he has already played them once and knows exactly what to do. And when Routa comes at the afternoon, he continues.
It´s going to be a 4- day job in two days if we want to keep the schedule even somehow, but it should be manageable. We´ll see what happens, but I can assure you this won´t be exactly a picnic.

There will be no shit captured, were it a hurry or not, so this may turn up quite a task. "This is good enough", is not good enough. And we have basically only today and tomorrow. But we can do this, because we are Finntroll. Wimps and posers, leave the studio, we´re here to CRUSH and no fucking hard drive failure will stop us doing so, even if it took us 30 hours per day.

Let´s see how this will turn out.

I just talked with Virta and Skrymer on the phone. Seemingly, the deep scan had found shitloads of files, yet NONE we could use. So, we´re back in saturday afternoon. Skrymer starts playing this moment until the point Routa arrives after 4 hours, and then Routa will play his parts to the songs Skrymer has recorded today. I´ll come to do editing for at least two songs at the evening with my son and continue editing tomorrow after office work. The plan is to have everything recorded and edited by saturday morning. Fuuuuuu.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Tentacle Headquarters"

Monday, day 6.

I had taken a whole day off in order to concentrate on the guitars today. So, Skrymer was already at the studio at 10:15 when I got there and we started to check how Mitävittua was caught on Pro Tools. A couple of hours of tweaking, editing, some "play this tighter" and "we weren't sure about this one ending so we left it out" and we were ready to wrap it up and start with Marilyn.

After several hours of serious cursing, we finally got Skrymer's guitars recorded. I have to admit it's simultaneously fun, yet quite a double- edged sword to start demanding more from people playing- wise each session.
This time, it was Marilyn's main riff, consisting of small rythmic variations which really are the core of the riff- otherwise it would only sound like some bad ZZ Top- esque. And the whining of yours truly when it sounded like that. "There are no gaps, you have to punctuate the off- beats as hard as the main rythm in between while playing it as militant as you can...and please, remember that first syncopation on the second round".
Well, at least I'm still alive writing this. After Routa had his parts recorded, we noticed that -despite of our completely anal approach on the issue- the guitars sound that they are slightly out of tune with each other. We ended up downpitching Skrymer for 3 cents (yes, it is that accurate for you studio geeks out there) and most likely it did the trick. Let's see what the rest of the instruments will do, if it's still too "chorused", we might have to play it again. Noizzzz.

We hopped into Soutu, I clarified a couple of riffs and parts to the guys and gave them a lesson how to read my guitar notes I had made for myself with both guitars. If they can read the rythms and notes from those, they can also use those as the final FINAL double- check if they can' figure the stuff out from the rehearsal Mp3's.They seemed to get the idea so I'm glad I had made those!
I had to leave the studio at 18 in order to pick up my son, and Vreth hopped into engineering- part while Virta was supervising the playing. Tomorrow morning there should be Routa's part of Soutu as well, and both guitars of Blodsvett. I'm going there at 13, and should have enough time to check and edit today's playing. I have no doubts the guys are doing their best, so thumbs up! We'll get into the bass sound most likely on Wednesday, so the schedule is looking like it should.

This will be one hell of a record if everything keeps going as planned, I can tell you. ^^

"Tentacle Disco"

Wednesday....what happed in Wednesday? That was day 1 out of 27. Wait, I remember. Kick, kick, snaresnaresnare. This tom is too tight. This one's sounding too hollow. Did I go through this already?

Thursday, day 2 out of 27.

I have done quite a few albums, sessions and gigs with Beast Dominator. But I swear to Rivfader this guy has never, ever played this well. And seemingly he senses it too, as he's full of ideas and spreading ridiculously groovy and technical (yet extremely fitting) drum stuff to upon the poor listener. Seriously, if rehearsing pays off this much, we gotta start doing it more often. Besides, the more input and enthusiasm I get out from the other people, the more excited I am, which leads to even better results production- wise.
Trust me, when your only feeling is frustration and lack of all hope, you don't want to ask someone to overachieve himself and simultaneously doing the same yourself anymore. You just want that shit to end, mimick the demos precicely, finish it with pride and walk the fuck out. "Yes, it's good enough".

This is not definitely a "serious case of Finntroll", but rather universal. We've all been in a situation when you just want to wash your hands and walk away from that mockery of professionalism you've been shoved into, but obviously you can't. You may be leading it (in which case there's maybe a mirror too look on), or you might be responsible for your boss for the outcome. Whatever the reason is, you're stuck, screwed and want to punch babies.
With Finntroll, it happens sometimes. And with other bands or projects as well. I was once doing a movie score- choir recordings where the "professional" singers were actually a hungover bunch of metalheads and schoolgirls who were too shy to sing. I ended up doing the last Gregorian choirs by myself at my office, using a SM58, a harmonizer plugin to get my girly voice low enough and a fucking airport- sized reverb to mask those whiny exhales of mine into something more credible. The females got some serious "guest starring" from EastWest "female aahs a-e" and I am still so goddamn proud of how I actually got the final result to fool everyone, including the singers. :D

You know, motivation usually leads to better results. Add fun (I haven't had this much fun ever in a Finntroll- studio), people constantly pushing each other way beyond their skills, wacky ideas and awesome last- minute hooks and you're on FIRE.
And that particular hairy guy lit over half of the songs ablaze in one day. Jebus christ. Motivation, we all can haz it!

Friday. Day 3 out of 27.

It all started with arranging the brass section and printing notes for the players. Which I didn't do at the office in the early morning if anyone asks, by the way.
Beast decided that he's gonna start with The Dreaded One today and played it without me, using only the backing keyboard track. Vreth and Virta were producing the final versions and while I was reading the news at the kitchen, poor Vreth edited the approved and grooviest takes out from The Dreaded One. Beast was put to play it over and over again, because we thought he could play "less safe and more dangerously". We wanted drum fills which sound like a hulking orc in a car crash instead of a couple of cymbals, you see. And most of the stops and breaks were sounding so much better when played a tiny bit too "fast" compared to the actual tempo track that we wanted more of those as well. Like in Reign in Blood, where the music sounds all the time it's going to fall apart because it's played so uptempo. :D

If you're wondering what song is so dreadful Tundra is sweating constantly while rehearsing it in half tempo, Routa is turning from red to even more red and I refuse to record any guitar players, it's Nexro. Probably the hardest song for anyone in this band's history. When you hear it, you'll shit bricks. And when you hear it, spare a half-a-minute silence for the people who actually performed it onto tape for you.
Silence aside, Beast performed...or rather ass-raped with a hammer the missing songs and went to buy some well- deserved beer at that point. I was rather keen to see Mgla performing at the city, but yet spent two hours of watching people guitar- porno- ing amps, cabinets and whatnot. At 22, everyone was so tired that we went home. I didn't like the guitar sound at that point, but I was 100% sure the guys want to redo it tomorrow when they have slept overnight and hear it again. :D Missed Mgla, missed sauna but at least we had ice-cream at home!

(No, I don't actually give a rat's ass about guitar sound in general in this kind of music, to be honest. It's anyway so "traditional" that as long as there's enough distortion we can mold the sound in the mix instead of spending hours to think how many cabinets we need or what pickups give the best plectrum-hit-sound before we still have to mold it in that mix. Add ten thousand synths, play buzzing riffs with that sound you made for three hours and more drums, vocals and compress the fuck out of them and suddenly no- one hears any difference on that sound. And no matter what people want to experiment, it's going to be that 57 and Mesa anyway what they decide to use for the final sound. ;)

Saturday, 4/27.

Surprisingly, the guitar sound was tweaked to be actually good. For my great delight, all this had happened before I got to the studio so I was more than happy. Instead of the traditional "Skrymer plays all his guitars first and the Routa plays his guitars" we decided to have a different approach- when Skrymer has played one song, Routa plays his side immediately after. This way, he can get the same instructions Skrymer got at the same time and they both know what each other plays and we can test arrangements right away. We are also taking the clean signal for emergency, so we decided to do the most naziest, most evil and prolly the most anti rock'n'roll producer trick ever and made the guys actually hear the clean sound as well. No more timing problems, fuck- ups with wrongly rehearsed stuff or tune problems- with the clean sound accompanied, not a single fuck- up passes the producer's ears now unnoticed.

I recorded the guys playing Halkodisko and Kyyppari and left them at 21 to play Rivfader, which Virta recorded. I didn't see Necros Christos performing (yes, there was a BM- festival ongoing: we don't usually get darkthrones and gravelands playing every tuesday at local pizzerias here if you wondered that) either, but at least I got home before midnight.

Sunday, 5 of 27.

No, we don't rest, thanks for asking. In fact, we don't have a single day off during the whole session. Today we started with playing about 30% of Rivfader again. Could had been much worse if you ask me, so kudos for the guys. Then we stormed through (red clouds and holocaustwinds) Piraatti and Lolbster and I left Tundra to record the boys playing Mitävittua.
I have decided that in order to keep my mental health, making everyone's motivation better and actually being able to do my best, I won't do everyone's and their grandma's job at the studio. Thus far, it hasn't been a problem to anyone, but everyone have been doing their parts and even more. Just like a real band does.

Tomorrow I'll have the morning off from work so we start earlier with more guitars. Now I need some sleep. Later, peeps!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Building The Fire"

9:50AM an SMS arrives from Beast.

 "Samuli, Mössö, Henu; Does any of you have BOSS Metal Zone?"
"Nope, but I wonder if Mathias has? I´ll ask around from my contacts"
"I got the most peculiar idea coming up..."
"I like it already"

I wonder what the hell mr. Beastur is up with this. :D

Yesterday we spent storming through the drum sounds, which sounded helluva good. No triggering, loads of room ambience and TONS of cymbals. Cymbals are aggression, and aggression is good. While the other guys went home to do whatever, we started to record "Mitävittua" with Beast after hours of twiddling and testing. I played the guitar, Vreth recorded, Virta took notes and both of them produced. The groove was astonishing, so it really helped that we rehearsed a lot beforehand.
We´ve normally used my earlier- played- and- imported guitar files for him to play with, but he wanted to be more old -school and thus I was playing with him real- time. That was really fun and makes a ton of difference to the final outcome concerning the groove.
At 9PM Beast was tired as fukk (for he had woken up 4AM to go to work before the studio) (!!!!)  and we called it for the day.

Today´s drum agenda will be about 4-5 songs, and I have no doubts they will sound as crushing as Mitävittua was. We´ll start at 13PM and continue as long as Beastur can pull it off. Luckily he didn´t have to wake up that early today, so I don´t have any doubts about him performing like hell also today. I, on the other hand, am so tired I could smash my head to this keyboard while falling asleep and couldn´t probably notice a thing. Nice 13+ hour day coming up. :D


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Brewing Up a Storm"

Dear diary,

approximately 9 months I have shared my life with you. And the three readers as well!
We finally pulled the shit together with loooong days at Trollhorn's office, not even mentioning the individual work all the people did at their homes. We did countless of hours planning, talking, and thinking. And when the songs were finally composed and arranged, they were taken to the final test lab- the rehearsal place. There we spent tens of hours rehearsing, planning, trying different tempos, arguing and tightening our performance.

But before all this, we wondered what is the purpose of these songs. Why are we doing this the way we do it? What is the essence of Finntroll that makes us sound like we do?
Is it the folklore-elements both in music and the imagery? Or perhaps the cartoon- esque way of presenting some of our works? The videogame- references mixed with the elements of black metal? Or the sheer aggression, rushing onwards like an orc on steroids?

We never got the answer but kept pushing boundaries instead. Combining our trademark sound with even more influences from non- traditional genres in metal music, we have created 11 songs which show you everything we want to offer. And boy, wasn't that one of the hardest task for some time. After all, how do you keep your sound fresh, yet familiar,  after 6 albums and 15 years?
At some point, we were afraid that the songs are not melodic enough. Then we started to fear they became too melodic. Then we let the songs rest for a while and molded them more in a way that the non- melodic stuff got something to hum with, and the cheesy pop- songs were arranged more stripped and aggressive. We were confident, yet sometimes scared what will people think of the stuff we've been doing so hard. What if they hate it? That would be fine, but if they would hate it because the material was uninspiring, boring and done-to-death, that would be a huge disappointment. So, we kept pushing and tried to keep it fresh all the time while still having the "this has to be Finntroll because no other band sounds this insane"- grinning going on.

In the end, we were left with eleven new songs, which we think represent Finntroll the best way ever, combining everything we've done with shitloads of something new to chew and gnaw on. We are entering the studio tomorrow knowing that we have done our best, and can only hope you feel the same when you hear the final product when it's out.
From now on, there's no turning back. No more new riffs to try out, no more countless hours of arranging. It's time to turn up the amps, grab the axes and shove a fork up this so called scene's ass.

Hope you brought your own lubricant.

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Meeting Ben Franklin"

To: Olli Vänskä
Date: 08/11/2012
From: Henri Sorvali


Needless to say, he approved this.

On the other, small and unimportant things, all the music is composed and arranged and after we rehearse the last ones, we´re definitely ready to hit the studio with a very strong confidence this will be our coolest album ever. Yes, I wrote it down. WE´RE FUCKING READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
11 songs,  a bit over 41 minutes and tons of blood, sweat and tears.

for we are Finntroll. And we are many.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Goodbye, Dead Cousin Ted"


"So, you haven´t actually done a jack shit until this moment- and there´s no way in Hell you can pull if off due the deadline anymore even though you started now?You want to keep up the appearances and look professional and interested?"

Just repeat these magic words with me and once you´ve mastered them, you present them to the people waiting for your "almost done" work a week before the actual deadline. It´s easy and convenient, and no- one can´t really blame you for not doing your job in time even though everyone knows what´s the real deal. It´s like in a American court- tv- series: all about pokerface and bluff.

"So, when was that deadline again?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Ned & Jed Edison"

I spent last tuesday at work while having over 38 degrees of fever. And on the top of that, the day lasted 13 hours in total, including some serious Finntroll- sessioning afterwards with Tundra and Vreth. However, I managed to change Blodsvett into a Fucking Awesome Song (tm) instead of being A Good Song With A Mid Part I Didn´t Like Which Felt Totally Out Of Place (tm).
After I finished that by myself, we stormed through Piraatti together, experimented with trombones, tomwaits and whatnot and had shitloads of fun. And yes, it is ready as well. :)

So, because of my stubborn mentality of work- comes- before- health, I actually spent wednesday and thursday with high fever at home. On friday morning, I decided "I have stuff to fo and besides, I feel so much better" that I went to work despite of the doctor´s orders (...)  and to the company Halloween party afterwards. (..........)
Which led into fever on saturday again. Which I tried to calm down with ibuprofen. Which, my stomach -despite of the doctor´s earlier warnings- couldn´t handle anymore so I got the change the experience probably the worst pain in my life ever and got rushed to the doctor, who kindly told me that I am having severe symptoms of peptic ulceration. I was sent back home and told to come back if the symptoms re-appear. And now I have to eat these stupid fucking pills for some time.
So in the end, I got prescribed medicine in order to be able to take other medicine. Sounds...healthy? Add some horrible headaches for days in a row on top of it, and you got youself someone who is starting to get a bit worried about burning the candle from two ends simultaneously.
(If I can see my arm is bleeding, I know why and how long and what to do with it, but it´s a bit more scarier situation when all the pain is constantly happening "inside" and you have no idea what causes it and what the fuck is wrong and how wrong it is. I guess you all know what I´m talking about.)

So now I´m taking everything a bit less rushed and try to say myself that the "world doesn´t end" if we don´t have the lyrics in advance or we´re still figuring out how are we getting Skrymer to Helsinki. I´m not supposed to take care of everything, and I am much more useful doing most of the stuff I was supposed to do instead of lying in a fucking hospital bed, covered with tubes, pissing in a goddamn plastic urinal bottle. Especially in a situation I´m having going in the background besides this band- stuff. "Well, nurse, the father of this child is in the next hospital, so he couldn´t attend to the birth unfortunately". :D

Last week left before we enter the studio and I still have one song to finish. Except for Piraatti, all rehearsal tapes are posted to people and everyone knows what to do and when. If I can´t make it to the rehearsals, bad fucking luck. I will do my work at the office, figure out the last song meanwhile in all peace, breathe properly and play Super Mario 2 with my son.

My point? Even though managing, scheduling and everything is helping, there are times even they are not. So, if you get sick, BE SICK. I told Virta and Vreth to stay the fuck out of rehearsals in order to rest while they have fever, but somehow I thought I am so important I have to go there, no matter what. So, I might want to stick into my head the fact that while I am maybe important to some, I´m irreplaceable to some others.

To nicer things- I didn´t remember how freaking awesome Mortiis´s "Crypt of the Wizard" was. :D Despite all the horrible performance, awkward melodies, and rather...ehm... peculiar sound choices, this is one of the feelingful albums ever made. So cold, so northern and so...home.
Home is where the North is. <3