Demigod interview – 2006

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Originally published in ‘zine issue #35, 2006

From their humble beginnings in Loimaa, Finland, Demigod (first interviewed for these pages in D.U. #5) grew to become one of the most striking death metal bands of their time with the release of their first album, Slumber of Sullen Eyes, and their next album, Shadow Mechanics, which showed the band’s compositional growth over a decade. Here, vocalist Tuomas Ala-Nissilä and founding member and guitarist Tero Laitinen both look back and ahead for Demigod.

The big news in the Demigod camp, firstly, is the recording of their as-yet
untitled third album, and the band is already making plans for a fourth album even before the third one is completed, which they expect will happen in June 2006.

“To me the new material sounds thrashier than Shadow Mechanics. There won’t be hardly any ‘clean’ vocals this time, but the third album won’t be a return to the good ol’ death metal style either,” begins Tuomas.

“Yep, you could say that we’ve found our style finally,” agrees Tero. “The new stuff is more focused and sounds like one band. As Shadow Mechanics had all kinds of experimentations in, this time it won’t happen. New song are more straight forward and maybe thrashier as Tuomas mentioned.”

Demigod band lineup

Demigod’s lyrics, Tero says, “deal more about what’s going on in this sick world, I guess. We aren’t taking any political stand in our lyrics; I’d say more observing type of side. There are a different topic dealt in every lyrics. I think the style of writing hasn’t changed that much, because the newer lyrics are still quite obscure when you read them. To make it short there are my favorite topics of human mind, such as insanity, fear, rage, and all those happy sides related to it, and something about the unstable situations of people in some parts of the planet and Earth and life dying in general.”

Demigod has gone through several periods of inactivity and even breakups, and as Tuomas explains, something keeps these guys coming back to the band.

“Friendship is one of the key word here, I guess. Demigod was formed in a very small town, so everyone knew everyone beforehand. Many years later, after the recording session of Shadow Mechanics, the band was once again splitting up, but the right fellows appeared and everyone took the training seriously. In my opinion you have to enjoy the rehearsing more than anything in this case. Otherwise there won’t be any gigs, albums, et cetera. So after 16 years the love to the music we play and the atmosphere at the rehearsals keep us going on.”

Two of the band members, Esa Linden and Seppo Taatila, left around the Shadow Mechanics album’s recording and release in 2002, Tuomas recalls, “but they both appeared in the audience at our ‘comeback’ gig, which happened in Tuska Festival in the summer of 2002 … I guess that nowadays we have finally catched the death/thrash spirit that has been the musical goal for Demigod since 1993 or so. After Slumber of Sullen Eyes, the band felt that there has to be some kind of musical changes. So there was some musical experiences in late ‘90s, which can also be heard on Shadow Mechanics. Some of the tunes on Shadow Mechanics are far from the death metal style that we represented on Slumber of Sullen Eyes, but it was an album which just had to be made.”

“It all starts with a good riff.”

Many, at that point past and present, members of Demigod contributed to the recording sessions of Shadow Mechanics, and as Tuomas reveals, “There was a certain lineup problem during those days. The album was almost ready; only the vocalist was missing. So the guys asked Ali Leiniö to sing for them. First he refused and they called me. So I came straight to studio and the guys liked my singing style. Then Ali decided that he would still like to try it out and he did few songs. Mika Haapasalo, who had also played guitar in Demigod a long time ago, was the owner of the recording studio we were abusing, so he was available anytime. His had done vocals to some of our the musical experiences I mentioned earlier and we felt that some of the slower, melodic songs would sound boring with the brutal death style vocals only. So we tried many kinds of vocal arrangements and chose the best ones for the album.”

Tuomas expands more about the music of Shadow Mechanics: “If you think about it in a restricted way you may thought that ‘Gates Of Lamentation’ is the only tune that remains you of the old Demigod: fast and brutal death metal. But if you listen it carefully you’ll find it contains certain Demigod trademarks here and there. I mean, there’s some catchy riffs, melodies, or moods that create the so-called ‘typical’ Demigod sound. Some tunes like ‘Trail of Guilt’ or ‘Crimson Tears’ represent the experimental side of our music. The tracks are good, but they don’t sound like typical Demigod songs. The combination of some death and thrash metal mixed with some acoustic guitars and three different vocalists makes the result quite unique. That wasn’t the purpose when we were in the studio. I guess Shadow Mechanics was supposed to be like a testament for Demigod. But then one thing let to another and the band didn’t split up. And that’s why the album has its place in this saga.

“It all starts with a good riff,” Tuomas goes on. “Jussi Kiiski [guitar] is nowadays the main composer of Demigod. So he writes a lot of material from which he chooses the best parts. Then he makes some instrumental demos with Sami Vesanto [bass]. Together they record some demo guitars and basses with a computer. After that they introduce the new tracks to the rest of us. Then we check if anyone has done any lyrics that could be used with our new material. So we do some vocal arrangements with the new lyrics and try to record the demo vocals too. And through the whole process there’s five critics in the band that are trying to make the songs sound as good as possible.”

2006 should see the return of the band to the live stage as well as the studio, as Tuomas explains.

“Right now we are not doing any gigs at all, because of our recording schedules, but there is a plan to do a mini-tour in Spain and Portugal later this year. That would be a first time for us to play shows in those countries, and why not. The response there has been good. We have reached quite a lot of mail, especially from Spain, so if the tour happens, it probably shall turn out in a good way I suppose.”

Demigod performing live

Besides favorites from Slumber of Sullen Eyes, Tuomas continues, “We like to play live some of the heaviest stuff from the Shadow Mechanics album, too. We have also played some unreleased material from the upcoming album too, so the setlist is always a great mixture of old and new Demigod tunes.”

Another exciting aspect of the band’s activities is that the first album has been reissued. Tuomas: “The album is remastered by old Demigod guitarist Mika Haapasalo. He did a great job. The re-release contains also our very first studio demo, Unholy Domain [from 1991], which is now available on CD for the first time.”

There was a planned celebration for the re-release amongst past and present Demigod members, but as Tuomas admits with a laugh, “Ehm, the celebration has now been cancelled twice due some personal reasons. But we will have a celebration for the re-release of the first album with our ex-members Esa and Seppo some day in April 2006. So let’s see what will happen. Maybe you’ll get a scandal report of it into your next issue!”

The Slumber of Sullen Eyes re-release is available through The band has some t-shirts left as well as mp3 samples from their past releases and additional info at ■

Photos: Demigod (top) and Tero (live in 2003) by Hanna Maunuksela


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