18 years ago, inspired by fanzines like Voices From The Darkside, Chaos Mag and the usual suspects, I felt the urge to start my own zine. So me and a friend of mine started writing reviews and sent some interviews out to some bands we admired and thought being worthy enough to be featured in our zine. Unfortunately that zine never saw the light of day and all the stuff remained unreleased. Until now… So here we have a chat with Jarkko Rantanen, guitarist and vocalist, who once used to be a drummer. He is the mastermind of ADRAMELECH, a band that definetely doesn’t have to hide behind the more wellknown acts like DEMIGOD, ABHORRENCE, DEMILICH and PURTENANCE, just to name a few. Let’s see what he had to tell back in 1997.
If I remember correctly ADRAMELECH played in Germany for the first time ever in ’97, although the band exists for quite a longer time now. Pass me a few but detailed impressions about your appearance at the first Fuck The Commerce festival and about the so-called "Repulsive Tour“ with your label mates AVULSED, DEEDS OF FLESH and INCANTATION.
"Yes, that’s true. And the gig in Trebbin was also the second one we have ever played! We had some great time though we had some problems with the tourbus. I was a bit nervous before that first gig. You know, there were hundreds of people and we had no live experience, except for Seppo and Jussi, who had played quite a lot with DEMIGOD. But when we started playing, I wasn’t nervous anymore. We had no problems with the other bands, we are quite typical Finns, we don’t talk too much and we are very adaptable. The other bands were cool, great guys. I noticed that all the other bands were a lot more dedicated to their careers. ADRAMELECH is still only a hobby for us, but those guys were really serious! But in Finland the situation is different; you can only dream to make a living by playing Death Metal with the style we are playing it."
For the fact that you are rooted in Finland, it is very surprising that you’ve established such an unique style. Most of the Finnish bands nowadays prefer to do something more in the vein of Grind/Rock with some Death Metal influences, like for example LUBRICANT (RIP), PARAXISM, XYSMA, PAKENI or even CONVULSE, just to name a few. In contrast you are devoted to brutal, twisted and technical Death Metal. Did you intent to distance yourself from the other bands or have you simply been more interested in Death Metal from the beginning?
"When we started, the situation was different. There were bands like DEMILICH, DISGRACE and AMORPHIS who played really brutal Death Metal. Then DEMILICH split-up, DISGRACE and AMORPHIS changed their style. But I have got the attitude through the years, that’s why we still play the style we started with. And I think we are still getting better and Repulse Records releases our material, so why should we change our style when all is ok? We are not the same band which started in ’91, but we still have the same attitude!"
Is it a disadvantage for ADRAMELECH, being considered as a mixture between IMMOLATION and DEMIGOD in so many reviews, because of Seppo being an ex – DEMIGOD member? Is it therefore an upcoming problem to break free from that image, or do you take the comparison to these bands as a compliment?
"I don’t see any good reason for that comparison! I don’t know if it’s a disadvantage, but we don’t owe DEMIGOD or IMMOLATION anything. Hey, I don’t want to discuss this shit, it has nothing to do with our music! By the way, DEMIGOD has been formed again…"
You’ve already released a three-song EP through Adipocere Records entitled "Spring Of Recovery". The reviews for that release described it as atmospheric Death / Doom. Since DEMIGOD still existed at that time, I am in two minds about Seppo already playing in ADRAMELECH then. Did he influence your music to some extend, so that you now play a different style than before?
"Atmospheric Death / Doom my ass! Where did you read something like that? We have always done our music with the style we are playing now, though we play more technical stuff nowadays. Seppo has done some cool melodies for ADRAMELECH and a couple of riffs, but I think he hasn’t influenced us that much, ’cause I still do something like 90% of our stuff."
It is plain as the nose on one’s face that you are really into the mythologic stuff. For the fact that you are responsible for most oft he lyrics, I’d like to know if you are just interested in mythology or if you really believe in it?
"I’m just interested. I don’t believe in god or satan or anything like that. What I’m trying is to believe in myself and there’s sometimes so much to do! My self-confidence is not always really strong, I’m trying to kick my ass to be more self-confident. I respect people who find a reason to their life by believing in something, i fit makes them happy, it’s great, but that’s not my thing."
I guess it’s not just my own opinion, that it is quite unusual having a drummer that is also responsible for the vocals (like in DECEASED or AUTOPSY). Isn’t it very strenous and hard to solve both duties?
"It is not unusual, but I think there is no real front man in a band if the drummer sings. I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to play drums and sing, I have never tried it. But we are faster than those bands you mentioned. I watched Seppo on that Repulsive Tour and I couldn’t even think about him doing the vocals while playing the drums; he was quite tired sometimes."
Except for your bassplayer nearly every member had been involved in the songwriting, but again you are the mastermind of it all. To some extend you put your stamp on nearly the whole album. Due to that fact I’m wondering if the others agree with the whole concept, or aren’t they really interested in participating?
"I have done most of the riffs, but when I got an idea for a song, I show it to Seppo and / or Jani, then we improve my idea as a team. Sometimes I hear Seppo saying that ADRAMELECH is my band, but I don’t see it that way. I enjoy working on new stuff, I’m used to work alot with the songs. I have always been the main composer in this band and in some previous projects."
Of what linguistic origin is your bands’ name and could you explain its meaning in a few words?
"ADRAMELECH is an Assyrian god according to the "Encyclopedia Of Occult", but I’ve got some letters in which ADRAMELECH is said tob e a Samarian beast."
I’ve already mentioned the three-song EP. Has it been the first release of ADRAMELECH or did you put out some demo- / promotapes before?
"In ’91 we released two rehearsal tapes and in ’92, before that "Spring…" we released a demo tape entitled "Grip Of Darkness". After recording the 7“, we recorded a promo tape, but it was sent only to some record labels, it has not been officially released. Only that "Spring Of Recovery" 7“ is still available."
Considering the huge amount of bands recording their albums at Tico-Tico Studio, it almost could be considered as the Finnish Sunlight or Unisound. What’s the reason for that rush? Does it depend on the qualities of producer Ahti Kortelainen so that there might be the best conditions a band could imagine? At least your 3“ MCD "The Fall" has been recorded there, too.
"Yes, Tico-Tico is our own Sunlight. Tico-Tico is a rather cheap studio and even if it doesn’t have the best equipment (far from that!), Ahti ist he only guy at the moment who has some kind of an idea what kind of sound there should be for a Death Metal band. Even if we have to travel about 700km to get there, it’s always worth it."
Who is that guy that hides behind the name Turkka Rantanen? He was responsible for the artwork, the graphic design, the photography on "Psychostasia" and he even contributed the lyrics for the song ‘The Book Of The Worm’. Is it pure coincidence that you share the same name or are you related in any way?
"Turkka is my brother. It’s funny, he has no musical talent at all and I’m a lousy drawer! He has done all the artwork for our releases and he took all the pictures. Further he’ll also do all the lyrics for our next releases. We are going to record a MCD in September; it’ll be released by Repulse Records later this year, I don’t know…"
Musically you seem to be very versatile, as you also did some guitar leads on "Psychostasia". Do you play some other instruments besides guitar and drums?
"Well, I can play drums reasonably, I can play bass somehow, but guitar is my main instrument. I did those leads so late that Jani had not enough time to learn them before we went to the Studio, so I decided to play them by myself. I was the bass player / vocalist on tour, so I’m also a bass player if needed, though I’m not very good in that."
For what reason did you decide to put three out of the four songs off your MCD also on your debut? Didn’t you have enough songs for a full-length without them? Please state briefly the lyrical contents of these songs.
"Those three songs were good in our opinion and we wanted them also on the album. "The Fall" was only a ‘warm-up’ for "Psychostasia", lots of 3“ MCDs were sent around the world for free. Also from the next MCD the song entitled ‘Seven’ will certainly be included in our second album. Our lyrics tell about mythologies; for example we have lyrics about Greek, Egyptian and Teutonic mythology. Our lyrics tell mythological stories in my own words. You can get all these stories from books."
The official release of "Psycostasia" has already been about one year ago, so are you still satisfied with it or do you think it does not represent the current ADRAMELECH?
"Psychostasia" represents ADRAMELECH from summer ’93 to winter ’95. I’m quite happy with the album, but we have moved forward again and the next release will be even better, believe me. If you want to know in which direction we have gone lately, listen to ‘The Book Of The Worm’ from "Psychostasia" and you’ll get an idea about it. This song was the last we composed for that album."
On that Repulsive Tour you’ve played, among others, together with AVULSED, whose vocalist Dave Rotten is also your label boss. In which way did you get along with that fact and has it been some kind of positive for a future co-operation with Repulse Records?
"We had no problems with that. Dave is not that guy who wants to play god or something like that. He was just like all the others and he mentioned many times that he only wants to be a member of a band on that tour, not a manager. We had no conflicts with him and I guess he was satisfied with us. I don’t know if the tour caused any positive consequences for future co-operations, but at least it didn’t cause any bad ones!"
Do you perform some cover songs at rehearsals or at live shows to pay tribute to bands which probably influenced you in one way or the other?
"On tour we played a cover song of FEAR FACTORY. The song was ‘Self Immolation’ from their first album. You might wonder, why we decided to play that song, but we wanted to play a song which is different to our own stuff. That one has been the only cover we have played for years. I remember that we played an ABHORRENCE (FIN) song back in ’91. We mainly prefer to play our own material."
Do you have some plans in your mind concerning the future of ADRAMELECH? Perhaps we can expect a follow-up and that some new songs have already been written? I even dare to ask, but will there be any changes musical-wise? (hopefully not!)
"As I already told you, we are entering Tico-Tico in September to record our next release, a MCD. It’ll be entitled "Seven" and it continues from where "Psychostasia" left us. No big musical changes, just some natural progress. Then maybe next summer a new CD, if I get enough inspiration in songwriting. We are almost as slow songwriters as METALLICA! It takes a lot of time, but I hope we can enter a studio again next summer. Over two and a half years since the recording session of "Psychostasia"."
My last question is about something that confused me to some extent: in an older review (from Repulse!) for your 3“ MCD they mentioned another ex – DEMIGOD member called Esa Linden, who also used to play in ADRAMELECH. But neither on your MCD nor on your debut he did appear. Please clear up that mistake.
"It wasn’t a mistake. Esa was in the band a couple of weeks, but he didn’t want to continue because we had no possibilities to rehearse as much as he would have liked to. I wrote to Dave to tell him about it, but he was already doing some new flyers and that’s it. It just happened."
Well, Jarkko, at this point I just pass it on to you, to relieve your thoughts and simply tell us what comes to your mind, so far as if it seems to be necessary for you! Thanks a lot for your patience and good luck with ADRAMELECH!
"Ok, thanks a lot for this long interview, pal. I have said so much that there is no need to add anything more. Support the scene and just turn the page!"