Impaled Nazarene, the self-proclaimed cyber-punks, was originally formed in November of 1990 by former members of Mutilation and Asphyxiation. In February 1991 the Satanic Finns recorded a demo called Shemhamforash and Antti Pihkala was at this time replaced by Harri Halonen on bass. In April 1991 the band opened for Beherit in Kempele, Finland. In August of that year they entered the hitherto unknown Tico Tico studio in order to record a demo tape called Taog Eht Fo Htao Eht. A show called Day Of Darkness followed in Oulu. Other bands playing were Amorphis and Belial. In October the group recorded the Goat Perversion 7" EP for the Nosferatu label. Holappa and Halonen both left the band before the band signed with France's upstart Osmose Productions.
In the summer of 1992 Taneli Jarva of Sentenced joined the band while Jarno Anttila replaced Pääkkö before the recording session for Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz. The title is supposedly in Enochian language. The 7" EP Sadogoat was simultaneously recorded at Tico Tico. During this period the band and Norway would mutually boycott one another and a war of words would ensue. Impaled Nazarene re-entered Tico Tico in July, 1993 and recorded Ugra-Karma and the Satanic Masowhore 7" EP. A tour with Ancient Rites followed.
The band re-signed with Osmose for two more albums at this point. In July of 1994 an album announced as Hail To Finland was recorded which became Suomi Finland Perkele. The title was chosen as a tribute to soldiers killed in The Winter War. A tour with Absu and Australia's Sadistik Exekution followed in Europe. With Jarva and Kimo Luttinen getting into a fight the recording of the Hamnasnas MCD was cancelled. Kimo, the brother of Mike, was ousted in favour of Reima Kellokoski. Kimo and Taneli would form The Black League years later. A tour with Krabathor and Ministry Of Terror was completed. In February 1996 Tico Tico saw the band again. The Finns recorded the Latex Cult CD and the Motörpenis MCD. Not surprisingly the band now smacked more of Motorhead than mayhemic black metal.
Jani Lehtosaari would replace Taneli Jarva. This line-up played with Grave, Rotting Christ and others. Another European tour featured Angel Corpse and Gehennah. Somewhat belatedly, Impaled Nazarene and Osmose Productions were sued by Hare-Krishna for the artwork of Ugra-Karma. Subsequent re-issued of the album featured a new artwork.
The band supported Rapture by playing in Mexico, Europe and Canada. Alexi Laiho of Children Of Bodom would also be recruited at this time. He would soon leave, however, as he had little time outside his main band and Sinergy. He would return later though. A 1999 show in Wollongong, Australia was cancelled in 1999 due to pressure from parents, zealots and pundits.
A change of venue to Astia Studio in Lappeenranta resulted in the Nihil album. The band also found time to record songs for a split EP with Driller Killer. Shows with Finntroll and others followed. The act also appeared at New Jersey's March Metal Meltdown. The band played with Children Of Bodom in 2000. The band would soon see Jani Lehtosaari depart. At this point Luttinen, who had moved to Belgium in order to get married, would relocate back to Finland. His stay in Finland would yield the Decade Of Decadence compilation. The band re-signed with Osmose in 2001 and began working on a new album. Teemu 'Somnium' Raimoranta would soon leave this mortal coil. The live album Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces was recorded in Helsinki after plans to record in Italy had to be scrapped. 2005 shows had the band on the road with Yyrkoon and Phazm. In 2005 the Finns re-signed with Osmose Productions for two more albums. The band entered Sonic Pump on November 21st to begin recording a new album. Pro Patria Finlandia was issued in the winter of 2006. A tour with Dark Rise, Master and others followed. The Finns had to cancel a portion of its European tour though after being dogged with allegations of fascism. The openers Sun Descends were also affected. The band begun writing a new album in late 2006, which was supposed to be called Manifest. The band was also re-releasing Rapture and Latex Cult with new covers and bonus tracks and was going to issue double 10" EP versions of Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz and Ugra-Karma later that year. The band also reported further censorship and bureaucracy on the part of a German state organization called BPjM. Guitarist Tuomo left in the spring of 2007 and was replaced by Tomi UG Ullgren (Thy Serpent, etc.) who had sessioned with the band since 2000. The band's Manifest album was due in September. The band used the Karmageddon Canada 2008 monicker for an Eastern Canadian tour in July of 2008.
After 18 years in the band, guitarist Jarno Anttila left Impaled Nazarene to concentrate on his career and wife. The band was recording an album called Road To The Octagon with its soundman Tero Kostermaa. Impaled Nazarene issued a 20th anniversary in November of 2010 album called Road To Octagon through Osmose Production. Osmose Productions released a new DVD by Impaled Nazarene. Entitled 1990-2012, the two-disc set contained footage of two separate concerts filmed nearly two years apart in 2010 and 2012.
IMPALED NAZARENE -NIHIL - OSMOSE
It is surely a sign of the jaded times we live in, when the release of an album by a band called Impaled Nazarene comes to pass with nary a controversy. Can the human flock be waking up? It's right on the cover of the album: Our Finnish heroes have allowed no compromise and are still belting out cutting edge grinding black death as only they can deliver. Past the bombastic cover art, tracks like Wrath of the Goat, Assault the Weak and especially Nothing is Sacred clearly demonstrate this is not for the teenage fan of Cradle of Filth or Emperor. This is for fans of true, shredding black metal art where all senses are torn to shreds and the music is more akin to sliding the razor's edge than anything else. Excellent lead guitars, faster than blitzkrieg riffs and bile vocals come together to remind us what the words 'heavy' and 'metal' combined are meant to represent. - Ali "The Metallian"
IMPALED NAZARENE - ALL THAT YOU FEAR - OSMOSE
Impaled Nazarene is back with a pounding slab of depravity and just in time too! The world needs to know that Finland still has it in itself to deliver a good dose of aggression.
The album - red cover, and do not expect to see the title there - begins with a digitized scream and it is quickly clear that the Finns are bent on invoking fond memories of albums like Ugra-Karma from their own past. The screaming is desperately hellish, the bass cranked to maximum distortion, the rhythms tight and blistering and the drummer, well, he is out of his mind! All this can be deceiving though. For Impaled Nazarene is a proficiently tight and skillful band. The Endless War slows down and introduces a nice melody even if Luttinen's vocals are as screeching as ever. Having said that, he enunciates quite clearly throughout the album. Suffer In Silence, with its implicit Satanic message, is a prime example. Coincidentally, the deceptively spartan riffs often come across as quite hardcore-oriented. Goat Seeds Of Doom begins with a bass straight out of Iron Maiden 1981 and follows it up with a ska beat played the Impaled Nazarene way. Another interesting part is in the middle of Tribulation Hell which is reminiscent of Helloween on Walls Of Jericho! both the melody and the lyrics remind this reviewer of the German metallers. Otherwise, the rest of the song is cranking speedeath. Although, the band could remarkably could not fight its Finnish blood all the way and just before ending the album introduces a keyboard part on the last song, All That You Fear. Could it be a message?
Aided by a new lineup, All That You Fear has all that is needed to become a Metallian Album Of The Month. - Ali "The Metallian"
IMPALED NAZARENE - DEATH COMES IN 26 CAREFULLY SELECTED PIECES - OSMOSE
The concept of a live album was not necessarily appealing even if this writer has been a supporter of Impaled Nazarene since day one. As most readers know by now live album nowadays are largely a moot point having lost their purpose to videos and becoming victims of contemporary bands' lack of a sense of adventure or experimentation.
Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces runs counter to the norm of the day. The album is not only exciting enough to make one want to go see the Finns live, but also has the band perform songs with added flair and distinctiveness inspired by the live setting. The band rages through 26 carefully selected songs enjoying a sound so good that one would suspect a certain amount of subsequent studio enhancements must have been worked into the album. The songs rip. Osmose and the band have actually invested a little money into this album and included lyrics which is a rarity for live albums. Kudos to them for providing a superior package. Nevertheless, the main point remains this: far from suffering from the doldrums of a live album Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces is full of brutalizingly violent death/black explosions that serve to remind us of the potency of Impaled Nazarene 15 years after its inception. - Ali "The Metallian"
IMPALED NAZARENE - PRO PATRIA FINLANDIA - OSMOSE
Speed metal is what Impaled Nazarene is about here. Pro Patria Finlandia starts off with Weapons To Tame A Land, an out of control mix of speedy riffs, drumming, and screams of hate, devastation, annihilation and extermination. Something Sinister starts heavier, jumps to all-out speed and is a natural continuation of the opener before it. Goat Sodomy has a more distinct '80s speed metal sound adding a short passage reminiscent of the more recent Scandinavian metal sound, but overall it wouldn't be out of place on Kreator's Flag Of Hate. Neighbourcide is another scream-filled assault with the aforementioned riffs peaking through. One Dead Nation Under Dead God is slightly more black metal sounding, reminding one of Marduk's Those Of The Unlight era. For Those Who Have Fallen, a seemingly anti-war song (?) is more melodic by the standards of what preceded it and it features thicker and crunchier riffs. A short instrumental in Leucorrhea later, Kut arrives with early speed black metal riffs and screams, a few growls and a short speedy solo too. This Castrated World and its almost uninterrupted fast riffing is another clear example of what Impaled Nazarene and this release are about. Psykosis presses the point even further. Contempt is as angry as its name suggests with lines like 'How can you be so retarded...' I Wage War, Cancer and Hate-Despise-Arrogance provide an overdose of high speed riffs and solos, crunchy segments, screams, and as a bonus throw in more black metal sounds as well. The clear verdict is that, musically and lyrically, Pro Patria Finlandia is not for the faint of heart. - Anna Tergel
It is a fairly well-documented rule of thumb that heavy metal bands were not made to last. The extreme nature of metal being what it is fans know and expect their favourite bands and musicians to wimp out or sell out (progress, mature or become better musicians in industry parlance) sooner rather than later. So, what to make of Impaled Nazarene which, under leader Mika Luttinen, has not only remained absurdly intense, but also continues to defy the conventions of his homeland and steadily decline like fellow Finnish bands Amorphis, Sentenced, Disgrace, et al? Neither in the cards is adopting the ways of the newer generation of pretenders from that same country. In the course of an hour Ali "The Metallian" spoke to Mika at length about these and other topics prior to the release of an album, ironically, entitled Pro Patria Finlandia. - 22.03.2006
METALLIAN: Mika, seeing that Pro Patria Finlandia is your tenth album how cognizant of the anniversary and the band's longevity are you?
MIKA: Well, you know, actually it is more like the ninth album because we don't count the live album Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces. I think in that way the new CD is album number nine.
Regardless, I am still happy that I am still around, we are still releasing albums and that people are still interested in the band. Considering the number of interviews I have before me it seems that there is still great interest in Impaled Nazarene. I am happy as hell!
METALLIAN: Regardless of the album count the fan's perception of you is akin to an elder statesman of the scene. After more than 16 years of existence and so many albums Impaled Nazarene has maintained its extreme stance and is, consequently, regarded with that much reverence. Does that do anything for you?
MIKA: You know, I don't really think about it that way. I said long ago that as long as we are called Impaled Nazarene we would be doing extreme music. We definitely wont be wimping out or anything like that. The thing is that we are all metal fans ourselves. When we were growing up we were growing up with Venom, old German speed metal and the Bay Area thrash metal scene. As you said, most bands change with album number two or three or four and it was always so disappointing. We used to ask ourselves, "What the hell is this?" I am not into slow music or super technical stuff or however people want to change their music. I want to keep things pretty simple, still have that dangerous element in the music that Impaled Nazarene has had since the very beginning. I don't want to lose that. If we lose the 'punk' then this band is done. I want to do the music that I hoped my favourite bands should have kept on doing when they were young.
METALLIAN: While everything you say is commendable is there any tiny bit of envy in you that some of the bands which started out alongside you, and subsequently changed or modified their sound, have achieved the type of commercial success that eludes Impaled Nazarene?
MIKA: Actually, I know the reasons that we are not that big. I have already accepted that we will remain the underground's favourite band. One of the main reasons that we have not been able to be that successful… we have done many tours and sold many records, but in the year 2000 we were in a situation where we had to go and get day jobs again just to survive. You know, when you have a day job you cannot leave for a six-week tour or shit like that. That has been one of the reasons why we haven't become more popular recently. The other reason has to do with North America because the market there is huge. You have to get your foot in the door, you know? We have been missing that. We have done like six shows in the US and Canada so far. That is something that should absolutely change because this band needs to tour USA and this band needs to tour Canada. I know that those people have not seen a band like us because we don't sound like anybody else. Impaled Nazarene is like Impaled Nazarene. We have our own sound. We mix thrash and death and black and punk and grindcore and that's Impaled Nazarene at the end. Of course, sometimes when you are drunk and you are alone at home, let's say twice a year, you take out your back catalogue and you listen to it and you think that Impaled Nazarene could be like Slayer, but then again I am realistic. At least, I can look in the mirror and say that we haven't wimped out.
METALLIAN: What do you think of the phenomenon of disbanding and reforming bands which suddenly are more popular and in-demand than ever before, or at least better received compared to the period just prior to disbanding?
MIKA: Yes and even if those bands say that it wasn't the money that brought them back I would say that it was the money that brought them back - in most cases. Especially bad are those bands that released really awful albums and went away and then they come back and are suddenly doing music that they were doing only much earlier. You can question the motivation of bands which on album number four were sounding like some kind of a glam band, but then suddenly are trying to do shit they were doing on their first couple of albums! I am kind of suspicious of those bands (snickers). Then again, if we are speaking of Celtic Frost, one cannot deny the impact this band has had on me. The fact is that we are scheduled to play with them at a festival in Finland and you can be sure that I will be in the front row. Who knows, maybe I will walk away with tears in my eyes because they are awful?
METALLIAN: Staying with the topic of the status and popularity of Impaled Nazarene one has to speculate about your remaining on Osmose Productions in contrast to bands like Marduk, Immortal and others which decided to leave. Surely that decision alone impacted Impaled Nazarene in North America, if not in Europe.
MIKA: Yes, and I can tell you that we have had offers from other labels. We even had offers from other labels for the new album as well. Our contract had ended with Osmose. The contract had actually ended before the live album Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces and we decided to give it to Osmose even without signing a contract. It was important to have a live album out and that's it. The thing with Osmose is that we compared the contracts we received with the one Osmose offered us and the lawyers were telling us that the Osmose offer was two or three times better than the other ones. Then you would have to consider that when you change to a bigger label you lose something because we are the biggest band on Osmose, which puts us in a very good position. On a bigger label we might be band number 47 and they might not return our phone calls. You know, I am talking about the shit I have heard from other bands on other labels. We are still with Osmose because, from day one and until today, they have given us total artistic freedom. They have never even said we should spend less on a studio, should go somewhere, should be more melodic or whatever. For example, for the new album I called Osmose's owner Hervé and told him that we are using our own sound-man and we are entering Sonic Pump Studio. He just told us to go ahead. He didn't ask how qualified the soundman is or how much the studio would cost. This is why I like Osmose.
Nihil was our worst selling album. Following that album we told Osmose we wanted to enter an expensive studio and wanted a known producer. The production costs for The Absence Of War Does Not Mean Peace album were three or four times those of Nihil, our biggest flop. All Hervé said was that we should go ahead. He believed in us even when we did not sell well. That tells me that we are on a label that is not like the rest of the music business. I have seen bands, which got signed, didn't meet sales expectations and were dropped right away.
I also want to say that Osmose has had extremely extremely bad luck with North America in the past. There was Osmose USA for a while that disappeared. There was JL America earlier that also disappeared. In a way I understand why we haven't been able to do things in the USA. Moreover, if we had been on Nuclear Blast, for example, maybe instead of being bigger we would have been kicked out of the label by now because we didn't meet their sales expectations.
METALLIAN: Anyone who even barely understands this business would agree with most of the things you mention, although one has to be fair and say that Osmose has always behaved strangely in North America. As far back as 1995 I advised Osmose to directly establish an American office, which would eventually grow. His response was that he would only trust his brother to do it and no one else. Instead, he proceeded to out-source the job to a couple of junkies who would not even answer the phone even were they to miraculously get out of bed before noon! The label's behaviour has been erratic and solely focused on the short term. This cannot benefit the bands leading to several leaving. On the other hand, who can dispute the number of quality bands dropped by the bigger labels in tandem with the trend of the day?
MIKA: I know what you mean. Exactly true that he made some wrong choices. We are just happy to be here now. It is actually the first time that we are doing more than one interview for North America (laughs). That has to be a good sign. I hope we get some tour support so we can do a long tour in the US and Canada. We like to prove to people that we are something they have not seen before.
METALLIAN: You mentioned the live album you released last year. While live albums have become obsolete, redundant and business ploys Death Comes In 26 Carefully Selected Pieces packed a punch rarely ever heard anymore.
MIKA: You know, I agree with you totally about live albums. Most of them are absolute crap. You can hear that the bands have changed the sound in the studio and corrected their mistakes. There, however, is one live album that is the ultimate lie album for me. That album is Sodom's Mortal Way Of Live. I once read in an interview that it was recorded in front of 200 people. It is a fantastic live album. I wanted to have an Impaled Nazarene live album out. My only reference point was the Sodom album. I wanted Impaled Nazarene to have an album like that where you hear the energy, the mistakes, the microphone feedback and everything else that happens live. We succeeded in doing it too. Our mission was successful. I was so fucking happy.
There also was an extra energy flowing that night. We had huge problems recording the live album. We tried in Italy, in Sweden and in Russia. It became so bad that before finally recording it in Helsinki we said that if it failed on that night we would finally forget about the whole damn thing. That gave us the extra boost to make it happen.
I wanted people to hear the old songs the way they are played now. For example, if you compare the studio version of Let's Fucking Die with the one on the live album the current version is two or three times faster. It is much more interesting now. I don't really buy live albums, but if I did I would want songs to be sped up and have the brutal energy. I want to close my eyes and feel that I am at the concert hall.
METALLIAN: Around the time you were recording your live album you claimed that you were poisoned. Can you give further details about what actually happened?
MIKA: I was serious. We were in Moscow hanging out with the fans and a couple of guys came over and said they wanted to buy vodka shots for me. They went to the bar to get it and must have put something in the drink because as soon as I had the shots and went backstage I passed out in one second. This is two hours before the show. The other band members thought I must be joking, but then they opened my eyes and saw my pupils they knew that something was wrong. I was taken outside by security, made to vomit and given smelling salts. It actually woke me up. We did the show and I was on stage, but I have only a slight memory of it all. All I knew was that I am holding the microphone stand and was thinking that I will die there.
Later on when I asked the band how I sang all they could say was that I somehow pulled it through under the circumstances. I passed out again after the show. I was woken up later and couldn't remember anything. Some people… I did an interview with Metal Maniacs and the guy was making a total joke out of it. I can tell you that it really happened.
There has been ongoing war in Russia among the promoters. They are doing anything to hurt each other. Our promoter said that she thinks another promoter was trying to sabotage her show. The first time we played in Moscow was in 2002, I think, and during sound check the Russian army guys march in and we are going "what the fuck?" They had received an anonymous phone call telling them that we sacrificing virgins and conducting a black mass on stage. Our promoters had to pay shit-loads of dollars to the army to let the show go on. Even when we were playing there were 25 armed officers around the stage to make sure we are not doing anything illegal. People who haven't been to Russia cannot understand what the scene there is like. It is not like in Europe. It is completely different.
METALLIAN: In the meanwhile, you have elected to call the new album Pro Patria Finlandia. Your nationalism is well documented. What about the similarity between that title and your 1994 album Suomi Finland Perkle?
MIKA: Yeah sure there is some kind of a slight connection between the album titles, although in reality there is not a link. Secondly, people say we are nationalistic, but to tell you the truth if I could I would live in Japan. That is my favourite country.
We chose the Pro Patria Finland title because I wanted a Latin title. I borrowed a Latin-Finnish dictionary from my dad and named it actually after the Vodka; not the country! So there is some humour on the album. People fail to see the humour though. They miss it completely. Interestingly enough, one of the biggest Finnish newspapers refuses to interview us because of the album title. They are claiming that it is a fascist title. I mean, hello, look in the dictionary and the difference between a patriot and a nationalist. It is not the same thing. More ridiculously, I am not patriotic! I am not patriotic at all. I mean, yeah sure, I like Finland as a country. There are good things about Finland like its relative safety, the good hygiene standards, the good social welfare system, how we don't have to pay when we go to see a doctor and more. Then again, there are things I don't like about Finland. So this album's title is not 'hail to Finland.' There is no message we are sending with the title. It is just a title. It is three cool words. That is it.
I have seen so many things around the world that I cannot call myself right-wing. I have seen shit that is not good. I am not into politics at all. The answer is no. I would never vote for extreme right, never. The biggest problem with the right wing parties, or even the centre parties, is that the church always comes into the picture. It is always about Jesus Christ, the god and the holy land. I mean just look at our lyrics. How cool do I think those people are? People like to talk shit, especially on the Internet, and they are sure that we have tattoos of Hitler on our asses, but come on.
METALLIAN: It would be interesting to hear your perspective on the Finnish metal scene. Around the time you were starting out Finland had one of the heaviest and most innovative metal scenes with bands like Disgrace, Sentenced, Demigod and others really packing a punch. Those bands changed and nowadays pretty bands and their keyboardists dominate the scene. What do you think changed and what do you think of the phenomenon?
MIKA: That is actually a very good question, but I am the wrong person to answer it. You know, around the time you mention we were the band that was ignored by the Finnish scene. We didn't hand around with others and when there were gigs in the '90s we were never invited. We played like seven shows back then. Only later I checked out some of the Finnish albums that came out at that time. For example, the band Xysma was like Carcass on the first album and then turned into a speed-less kind of music. I didn't understand it. I was wondering what the hell happened. What the fuck happened? If those bands want to claim that they have simply grown up then they can fuck off because that is not an answer. Perhaps they weren't into metal in the first place.
METALLIAN: How would you say Pro Patria Finlandia is a different or better album than your other recordings?
MIKA: (Laughingly) It is the same shit with a different cover. Well, maybe the songs are better now. It is better-produced, it is better-played and the songs are now faster. My vocal performance is actually better on this one. I thought I sounded clinical on 2003's All That You Fear and I wanted to change that after listening to the live album. I thought I sounded better on the live album. I thought I must work differently in the studio. I asked our soundman and producer if I was imagining it. This time when recording my vocals I used a hand-held microphone and was running around with it and recording. We did a couple of songs like that and noticed it sounded great. We then did the whole album like that.
METALLIAN: One thing that has changed on the last couple of albums is the louder, heavier and more upfront bass guitar.
MIKA: That is Impaled Nazarene nowadays. Our bass played, who has been with us since 2001, is a huge fan of Iron Maiden. As you know Iron Maiden likes a loud bass. Nowadays you can hear the bass actually. That is a good thing because our bass played is doing different kinds of stuff than the guitarists. It also sets us apart from other bands.
METALLIAN: How is your voice changing as you grow older?
MIKA: When I listen to 1994's Ugra-Karma I think the vocals sound pretty much the same. Now I can do longer screams and can do them much higher than I could back then. I have never had any kind of technique. Well, perhaps my technique is that I drink lots of whiskey. That's my secret. I have never taken care of my voice. I did notice during the last tour that I need eight hours of rest. Now I am the first one to go to bed after the shows. It sucks totally! I don't want to perform like some kind of a half-assed version of Mika Luttinen. I want people to see and hear the band in top shape all the time.
METALLIAN: What about your energy level after so many years?
MIKA: It is absolutely there. I said it years ago to the band. The day it becomes a job, in the sense that it is not fun and we dislike it, I will split up the band. We are still having lots of fun. This is the best thing still. We have a new album. We are doing a long tour of ten weeks in Europe, which is the longest we have ever done. We will have our biggest production ever complete with our back line. We are taking everything from Finland. We are taking all our crew from Finland. Everything is looking good.
METALLIAN: Mika, is there anything else you wanted to mention?
MIKA: I think you covered everything. I especially hope the album name's meaning is clear for everybody. It is getting on my nerves that people are seeing something on the album title that is not there.
Also, thanks to you. It is always fucking fantastic to chat with somebody who has been following your career since the beginning. I hope to see you in Canada.
He meant to say Metallian Towers. Nonetheless, Mika, guitarists Jarno Anttila and Tuomo Louhio, bassist Mikael Arnkil and drum maniac Reima Kellokoski have a fantastic album with Pro Patria Finlandia, which will be released imminently by The End Records in America and by Osmose Productions in Europe. For more information visit www.impnaz.com.