The Changelings
CoC interviews Finland's Sentenced
by: Adrian Bromley
Change has come quite often for the music and sounds of Finnish quartet Sentenced. Each of the band's releases - _Shadows of the Past_ (1991), _North from Here_ (1993), _Amok_ (1995) - has seen the band evolve and form their own style and direction. The band's latest, _Down_, is a truly stunning assortment of aggressive rock and tough attitude, a far cry from the death metal beginnings of the band. As far as changes have come for the band, guitarist/songwriter Sami Lopakka has been pleased with what has transpired over the years. "We made a different record with _Down_. When compared to previous Sentenced records, _Down_ is very different in many ways but you can still recognize the band from what we had done earlier with the band. On _Down_, we are concentrating more on melodies and harmonies that are now included in the guitars and vocals. As well, we have a new vocalist [Ville Laihala who replaced Taneli Jarva] and of course it is a big difference then. We constantly are changing with the changes we bring to the band with new band members. We have never done two similar albums in a row and I don't think we ever will."

He continues, "Before _Down_, we were looking for something fresh for the Sentenced sound, and before we recorded _Down_, we went to Germany to work at the studio with Waldemar Sorychta (Grip Inc. guitarist, producer for Tiamat, Samael, Grip Inc.), which was the first time we ever had a producer work with us, and now when we listen to it and hear what came out of the studio work, we can all really say that all the effort and hard work was definitely worth it. The whole feeling of _Down_ is what we were looking for us as a band (rounded out by Vesa Ranta and Miika Tenkula)." The topic turns to the rock feel to _Down_. Lopakka feels very strongly that the band captured a true 'rock n' roll' feel with their latest, an album that he describes as, "general negativity, suicidal depression, and aggressive hard rockin' metal." About the sound of the record, he adds, "When our former singer Taneli left the band, we knew what we were looking for with a new singer. We were looking for a vocalist who could do aggressive stuff and still sing in tune and do a bit of rockin'. I think we found that in Ville."

About bringing Ville Laihala, Lopakka mentions of the problems to replace ex-singer Jarva early on. "We had difficulties finding the right guy. We tried for two months and tried out ten singers but they were not what we were looking for. Us finding Ville was based on luck. Our drummer found him in a bar singing one night, got him drunk and interested in coming to the rehearsal studio to try out for the band. He came down the next day and tried out for us and we knew right away that he was the guy for us because we got along with him on a personal level. We aren't very social people but from the first minute he came into the studio, we got along and we knew we could tour with him and work in the studio with him without any problems. From that point on, it was easy for us to get ready to record _Down_."

As effortlessly as the new styles mold into the music of the band, Lopakka acknowledges that the songwriting has not suffered or been stifled with all changes either. "It comes together pretty easy for us. The song writing, creating, and rehearsing of the material has been pretty much the same for us for the last six years," he says, "The only difficulties we may have is trying to do something really new and that sometimes causes problems because trying out new ideas may sound stupid at first, but after working the ideas into the music, it shapes itself quite well."

About the depressive nature of the songwriting, Lopakka says, "I don't really like to talk much about the songwriting because it is quite personal, but when I sit down and write, stuff happens, and it comes out like a terror before me. Kind of like getting rid of all these suicidal thoughts I have in my head. I have to say, though, that not all our music is depressing or suicidal. There is some humor amongst what we do. And why do we write material like this? I guess you can say that we like heavy drinking and suicidal behavior."

One thing that the band has seen in the last little while is its share of success in the European metal music scene. Like many other bands, Sentenced are one of many bands who have shown lots of promise in the last few years, helping shape the sound and direction of the scene over there. Lopakka has his own views of music in Europe. He says, "A lot of bands are taking metal to many new directions. There are thousands of bands out there and maybe 95% of them are crap, trying hard to make new musical trends. I think a lot of those bands and what they do is shitty, and I am not fond of following what is in or out in the music industry nowadays. I just don't care about what is going on. I focus on what I do and what I like and what I have been into over the last few years. To me, music is the important thing and not the fashion or the trendiness of it."

And how have they avoided following trends? He responds, "Whenever there is something new that comes around, we don't grab our instruments and say, 'Let's do that!' We don't care about what people are playing or incorporating into their music. If some band has Celtic music in their music, we don't do that. We stick to being Sentenced and that's it."

(article submitted 7/6/1997)

3/5/2000 A Bromley Sentenced: Living on the Edge
10/1/1998 A Bromley Sentenced: Never to Be Freed
5/13/2005 P Azevedo 6 Sentenced - The Funeral Album
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 7.5 Sentenced - The Cold White Light
3/5/2000 P Schwarz 8 Sentenced - Crimson
9/1/1998 P Schwarz 9 Sentenced - Frozen
3/10/1998 A Bromley 8 Sentenced - Story: A Recollection
2/4/1997 A Bromley 8 Sentenced - Down
12/13/1995 G Filicetti 7 Sentenced - Love and Death
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