Death 'N' Roll Machine Rolls on
CoC chats with Nalle Osterman of Gandalf
by: Adrian Bromley
Sophomore jinx? I think not. Finland's death 'n' roll machine Gandalf move forward with their sophomore effort _Rock Hell_ (Wicked World / Earache), a potent fire 'n' brimstone, balls to the wall concoction of AC/DC drive and devil worshipping attitude. [See CoC #52 for a different opinion.] Lock up the kids, Gandalf is ready to rock the house!

Unfortunately, that same drive can't be associated with Gandalf drummer Nalle Osterman right now, as it closes in on 1:30am his time and he is dead tired. But like a true trooper of metal, and from under the covers in his bed, he relates to Chronicles of Chaos why rock 'n' roll drives his band's music and why he doesn't like Entombed anymore.

"I think we really wanted to capture the essence of every metal era with this new record", starts Osterman. "We took a bit of everything from those eras. From the '60s with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, onto the '70s with what Rainbow, Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin and what they did with the music, then moving into the '80s and what Iron Maiden and Slayer provided us with, and then into the '90s with what bands like Machine Head were doing. We took all of those influences and brought them into the new millennium with our music. We aimed for something unique and I think we were able to bring that out in _Rock Hell_."

Has Osterman seen changes in his playing since the band's Wicked World debut disc titled _Deadly Fairytales_ (1998)? "Of course you become more mature as things go on, and I think we as a band [rounded out by singer Jari Hurskainen, guitarist Timo Nyberg and bassist Kimmo Aroluoma -- Adrian] have been able to see what we want to do. We definitely understand music a lot more than we did when we first started out as a band. Those changes have helped us to not only evolve our sound but become more original in what we do as a band. We want to make things more interesting as the years go on and I think you can hear that with the new record."

About the studio experience for this record, he says: "We knew exactly how this whole studio experience was supposed to work out. We had rehearsed all of our parts and knew what was going to happen, but each studio trip brings out new ideas as well. Just by trying other ideas in the studio and working with a producer [Hannu "Guts" Leiden at Seawolf Studios -- Adrian] who wanted to get more out of us, I think the record really turned out better than we had ever hoped for. He was able to bring out a lot from inside of us. It was all rehearsed musically, but that whole studio experience was aided by the visions of all these great engineers who just added to the strength of _Rock Hell_. All of these ideas just stand so strong compared to what we have done in the past."

On the songwriting process, he comments: "It is always a new musical adventure each time out that we go into record an album. I don't want to see us repeating our ideas or ourselves. Everything has to be new and inspiring for us to go forward with recording material. I make an effort to write songs that are just different from each other. There are so many bands out there right now that have found their particular sound and they just stick with it an cash in and not worry about it all. They can make money now and not worry. But for the visionaries in this music industry, it is much more challenging to find new visions with each song that you create." He adds, "Making an album is supposed to be rewarding. How can you feel rewarded with an album if it sounds like the last one? I think we are one of the few who make an effort to be creative and not predictable."

"I want to make records a lot faster, but the label's policy on recording and releasing albums isn't like that. If you look at all of the bands on Wicked World when they started releasing material -- bands like Elysian Fields, December Wolves, etc. -- you will know that we are one of first bands to put out our second record. Obviously we want to record and put stuff out. I don't want to wait too long to record material because you start to lose the momentum and lose fans along the way, because they forget about you. It is as if you have to start from scratch again. This is a good record and we don't want to go unnoticed. We need to make an effort to get back into the scene after not having a record out for two and a half years and let people know we are still here. We are inspired to create music that we want to share with metal fans worldwide."

Speaking of inspiring music, what albums influenced Osterman to want to join a band and make music? "I'd have to say Slayer's _Reign in Blood_, At The Gates' disc _Slaughter of the Soul_ and Entombed's _Wolverine Blues_. Slayer's disc at the time just changed things around so much. A lot of people think it is the quantity of music that matters. _Reign in Blood_ is under 30 minutes and it just delivers such a punch. It still stands up after all of these years and hasn't lost any appeal to metal fans. _Slaughter of the Soul_ was such a powerful record. I never liked At the Gates, but after I heard _SotS_ I was like, "What the fuck is happening?" It blew me away! It still does. As for _Wolverine Blues_, I just was so fond of that record. Nicke Andersson [Entombed drummer -- Adrian] was my mentor of sorts. He influenced me so much. He just really made me appreciate what they were all about. This record just really inspired me. After he left the band, it just wasn't the same for me. All of those records, when they came out they added fresh blood to the stagnant death metal scene."

So Nalle, is it fair to call Gandalf a "death 'n' roll band"?

"I don't know what we should be called", quips Osterman. "Our producer told us it is metal rock or rocking metal. I don't really see a use in putting a term on what we play. We are just here to rock hell! <laughs> Let the fans decide what they want to call us. I don't care what they all say, as long as it is something good -- that is all that matters."

(article submitted 13/5/2001)

3/13/2001 K Buchanan 4 Gandalf - Rock Hell
3/10/1998 A Wasylyk 3 Gandalf - Snakebite
8/12/2001 P Azevedo Katatonia / Akercocke / Gandalf Brave Redrum Night
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