Metallijate (Ville Mussallo, Mikko Heikkilä and Antti Rantavuo) means metallic garbage. T(h)rash metal? Anyway you will meet the word written on containers wherever you go in Finland. Downtown. In a suburbian living area. In a park. On the beach. On a parking lot along the road. Even on a trail in the middle of nowhere in the loneliness of Lapland. The newly established band has not made it this far yet. Meeting Ville and Mikko in a gloomy bar below the famous Nosturi concert venue in Helsinki, Mikko tells me how it all began: With a photo of exactly such a container for metal garbage on a beach.
Metallijate – The Accidental Band
But why? Mikko and Ville have been friends for most of their lives. They have made music together for many years and will go to hit the stage tonight with their band Kaunis Kuolematon. Why Metallijate? How came it to be? “In accident“, Mikko says. He explains that some years back he had decided to have only one band and that this would be Kaunis Kuolematon. I look at him curiously and ask: “But then ….” – “I don’t know”, Mikko says. He explains how he came up with the name that was actually meant to be used for a fun Instagram account not related to a particular band. Then again in this very moment he thought already it would make a good band name. Ville says: “I think you sent me one demo.” With a smile he asks his friend: “How did it happen?” They discuss what was first and will discuss this later again. Mikko: “First, I got a couple of songs. And I made those demo growls for Kaunis Kuolematon “Vapaus” album and also this new one.” He mentions that he asked Ville to come up with some music for the growls he had recorded and that for him it was ok to have only computer drum parts with it. I frown as Mikko and Ville mention again that then suddenly it just became bigger than putting a couple of demo versions online. With a slight tone of irony Ville takes the blame on himself for encouraging his friend to make the idea a band.
Of Therapy and Self-Expression
Mikko and Ville say that Metallijate is to them some sort of therapy as it is a rather unfiltered output of their creativity. It is not the first time that I hear my interviewees refer to this term. Although I see their point in it, I am not exactly happy with it. It suggests – in a way – creativity to be a disease. A sickness. An ill condition. But creativity is not a disease. Not at all. It is a gift. A talent. A language. In my mindset creativity is an implicit part of a personality, part of the person’s tools of communication with the outward world as much as with him-/herself. But it also is a force. A source of energy. Imagine creative energy to be a water. Water will always find its way. It will make its way out and if need be with all given force it has in each of its states of aggregation. Frozen water – ice – it cracks asphalt and erodes mountains. Avalanches flow on a thin layer of water just like skis do or ice skates. Nothing will stop water on the longer perspective as long as the source – the well – does not run dry. Creativity will force its way out. Blocking it will cause issues. A river might divide into arms and here we are back to Mikko and Ville.
Kaunis Kuolematon – The Joint Self-Expression
Going back in time a bit, I met Kaunis Kuolematon – the complete band – after their Nummirock gig to learn that the band is all about their musical self-expression. Never have they had the agenda to make it to whatever extend of external success. The band has always been meant to be a vent for their joint creative energy. No more or no less.
So Kaunis Kuolematon is the creative output channel of Mikko, Ville and their band mates, Jarno, Miika and Olli. Their soundscape is – despite usually dealing with the dark side of life – rich, colourful, an audible image of pulsating contrasts of void and brightness in weighed tempo. Each of the band members has played in several bands, often enough more than one at a time. Water running through the ground or the mountain ranges will divide in several currents. Smaller and bigger, some no more than a couple of drops. We know rivers such as the crystal blue Sava in Slovenia and Croatia, nearly black Rio Negro in Brazil or yellow-brownish massiveness called Amazonas. We know water in all colors. And with that in mind it is easy to imagine that Mikko and Ville have felt the need to express themselves in more than one way, in more than one band.
Metallijate – Mikko and Ville Unfiltered
They have to plan or goal. However, Metallijate has an important role in Mikko’s personal need for diversity in self-expression. “I like to try different styles to make noise” Mikko says.
I ask them what the emotional difference is from their point of view on both bands. It’s just their’s, they say. There are no rules, no expectations. Mikko points out “But when it comes to Metallijate I just write down what’s coming to my mind. I don’t think at all. If it’s not perfect to me and if it’s not disturbing Ville” then that’s it. My thoughts wander. Have they known each other good enough to complement each other’s creative output to make it a whole? But I ask about the topics of their lyrics. Mikko’s lyrics. “The same as always“, he says. “Death. Darkness. Grief. Yearning. Loss. Sadness. Everything.”
Just to point out, neither Ville nor Mikko is a sad or depressive person. Their lives cover the full range of emotions – like yours or mine, and they show this during this interview. We feel happy and laugh as we speak. A person’s creativity can be the outlet of a particular share of his or her emotional experience. The Rio Negro runs in nearly black water and yet water is not black, not even the single drops that make this current. In making music they process their darkness. And in the diversity of their music, in making and playing, we can recognize all the shades and flavors of darkness, sadness, loss, depression and all this.
The Soundscapes: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec vs Edvard Munch
I have always loved the music of Kaunis Kuolematon for all the graceful and heavy melancholy I have found in it. Despite melancholy is a pool for darker emotions, it still also consists of all the bright shades darkness has – just think of the nightly sky with all the bright spots of the stars and planes and satellites. Think of the dark spruce woods of the Northern hemisphere in a foggy autumn morning when light wins only after a long fight over last night’s darkness. There will be the blindingly bright spots from the yellow leafs of the birches and the orange leaves of the alders. They will shine so bright that will sting in your eyes and thereby perfectly blend into the melancholy of the dark spruces and fogs around.
Metallijate confronts you with an entirely different soundscape. Aggression and pain yell at you in a way more archaic manner. While Kaunis Kuolematon is elegantly and sophisticated like an painting of Henri Tulouse-Lautrec, Metallijate comes in the pure and hit-you-in-the-face manner of Edvard Munch’s paintings. Black metallish, screeching, metallic, raw and very straight forward, unfiltered in a way.
A Brief Review
I ask a friend, singer and metal head, to check out Metallijate and describe his impressions. His words are so much more illustrative than my own in this case. He associates “Kuoleman raiteilla“ with running through dark cellar hallways, too fast to keep the pace of what haunts him. Even the brighter parts of the song don’t feel cheerful in any regard but deliver some consent with unpleasant terms of an issue.
“Vainaja” comes with a sharp break introduced by a trigger that pushes him back into a sad memory of warm but definitely past moment. The trigger tells now from then and the chorus softens with an air of spirituality my strong, oppressive sensation.
“Pieni Surullinen Maailma” has the gloomy atmosphere of sadness despite some sort of defiance. Its complexity seems to say ‘let go of me I can get along best on my own’.
I try to sum up how Metallijate’s music came to be. I fail. Mikko says, he had one song and that one made it on their EP. He says Ville had some old riffs, too. “No, not old ones. I just played them.” – “And then it happened again?” I wonder smiling. Ville smiles back and confirms. He gives some insights into his way of composing which I understand to be mostly jamming when he feels like it – “Ville is doing everything two hours before he goes to evening shift“, Mikko says not entirely serious. Ville’s smile in reaction reveals that there is some truth in it. “Just when the inspiration is coming I have to go to work. It’s killing inspiration”, Ville says laughing himself now. Then I experience their friendship. So who sent what first?
Mikko sent first. Yeah. No. Well. It goes back and forth. Friendly and quiet. Relaxed. With the mutual comprehension of two men who have walked many miles together, they speak. It doesn’t matter who began. Not to them and not to me. There were songs that needed to get out. Songs that needed the other one’s input to be born. And now there is Metallijate. Let’s see where it takes them!
Review: Bastian Blessing
Photos, interview and text: Ms Cesar Little