Part 4: Turning Rock Into Metal

We kept rehearsing in my parents’ garage, and I came up with some new songs, but the guys weren’t happy with them. Too much rock. Not enough metal. The stuff I wrote just wasn’t tough enough to separate us from the hair metal (that wasn’t yet called hair metal) scene. “Rock the Crowd? Why Rock the Crowd? Why not Kill the Crowd?” Rytky asked with a cigarette dangling from his lips, seemingly frustrated, referring to one of my new songs. I started to think he may have a point.

I heard “Ton of Bricks” by Metal Church and thought I should try to write something similar. The next couple of new songs we rehearsed, “Choir of Damned” and “Fear of Death” were not hard rock anymore. They were my first stabs at trying to write metal. And by then, I had the mysterious palm-muting down and everything! I still remember how amazed I was when I accidentally played like that for the first time. It sounded so cool! I had no-one to teach me how to play rock or metal.

The next gig we played, our fifth, was at the local sports hall during the annual Ruska Swing jazz festival in September 1989. Oasis had split up that summer, and it was us playing with older guys, local bands. Again, as unbelievable it may sound, we got to do a radio live. This time two new songs of ours were broadcasted on the mo*******king air. Unfortunately, it was pretty much a disaster. Assu had a laryngitis or something that made him sound really raw, and Rytky had tuned his bass down to D, which I didn’t know and it sounded like he didn’t either, and it didn’t go well with my standard tuning, and I wasn’t good enough a player to handle all the guitar duties by myself. The big boys in the other lame bands playing that night thought we sounded ridiculous.

And in a way, they were right. Listening to the recording from that night, I thought we should just call it a day and go home. But on the other hand, what else was there to do? Go water-rallying with snowmobiles or something? Never. Musically, we had already taken the right direction. Now, we just needed to improve ourselves. And we needed another guitar player. And a singer and a front man, so that Assu could focus on drumming. But how? Who? When? There weren’t any metal singers around. There were no other metal bands in town (except for a group called Noise Pollution, but they didn’t play live), and no audience for metal in our neck of the woods. And we didn’t know any good guitar players. There was no scene in the middle of nowhere.

But then, I just happened to hear Janne Särkelä play.


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