Finnish death metallers Wrathrone have been around since 2008 and with their second full length, Reflections of Torment, newly minted to the metal masses they have firmly planted themselves into Finnish death metal royalty. The difference from debut Born Beneath is astounding. And that’s not discrediting said debut but here the songwriting and overall death metal chops are simply on another level. Two years have made all the difference and the band is much better for it. We’ve touted Finnish death metal here since forever and this album further cements that point but puts the exclamation point firmly on the melodic side. Plainly put, you need this. Anyway, just behind the album’s release we sat down with Matti and Mikael loaded with our Profile questions so head inside to see what they had to say.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Mikael Ruohu (drums): I started with piano at the age of ten, because my parents wanted to. After a year or two I got bored with that and switched to drums. Still not sure why. I bet my parents weren’t pleased with the change because they ended up buying a drumkit for me and had to listen to my playing for years, poor them!
Matti Vehmas (vocals): I started playing violin when I was six, added the clarinet a few years later. As a teenager, I started to dig metal music and partly because of that, my older instruments just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I learned the basics of bass guitar and started rehearsing growling. A few band experiments sprouted from that too, good times.
MR: As a band we aim higher with each release. As a perfectionist I am never completely satisfied with the stage we are in and always try to push things further. But with the new album and with the help from the labels releasing it we have taken a huge step forward.
MV: It’s good advice to anyone that anything you do, try to do it a bit better and on a bit larger scale. I think that is just what we’ve been doing with Wrathrone. Slowly but steadily forward, challenging ourselves to achieve more every time.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
MR: I don’t think we have done anything debasing with this band, we are getting old, the crazy stuff already happened years ago with our previous bands.
MV: Yeah, I agree. We are pretty good at having a good time and a beer or ten when traveling with the band. One memory springs to mind from one of our Baltic excursions. As usual, I had been eagerly having my share of beer along the way and therefore was in a quite happy state. As we stopped for a break by the shoreline of the Baltic Sea, Vili and Mikael started jumping off the sand dunes there. I convinced myself, amazingly fast, that I could do the same but harder and better, though I’m not all that nimble and might be a few barrels heavier also. So I did, and sprained my leg at it. The rest of the trip I just limped and even the booze didn’t kill the pain. Was able to perform still luckily.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
MV: I think there is a huge amount of talented, young bands that are able to record good quality material and get it out, thanks to the affordable recording software and the internet. On the other hand, as there are so many bands, it’s getting more and more hard to stand out. It’s somewhat sad that physical releases are slowly dying, and the online platforms gain space more and more. Luckily vinyl has become quite popular again in certain circles. It’s cool that our new album, “Reflections of Torment”, is released in all the available formats (cd, lp, tape and digital).
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
MR: As a band we have no gods, no rulers, no masters. What our members do on their own time is their own issue, but as a group we don’t have any agendas. Our lyrics are quite basic death metal lyrics.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
MR: I think I was like 12 or 13 when I started to listen to some heavier stuff. My family didn’t appreciate it too highly when I started to wear only black and later on I even had kind of a goth phase, which feels really funny now.
MV: My journey into metal started in 7th grade, I think. At that time I listened to some rock oriented stuff along with virtually everything else. At my friends house, his older brother was always listening to metal, bands like Slayer, Manowar, Motörhead and such. I got more and more intrigued and when I bought my first metal album (Black Sabbath’s Headless Cross), that was it, there was no turning back. And not that I would want to! My mother is still not too keen on the music, my dad understands it better, as a versatile musician himself.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
MV: It’s good that there are a lot of sources that remember the smaller bands too and don’t focus entirely on the household names. Working with and boosting aspiring bands is really, really important and that we respect immensely. As for the critics, it’s always interesting to hear what people think of our albums. I think it’s important for a critic to try and keep analytic and objective. If you like it, good, write it, if you don’t, still good, write it. Honesty serves everyone best.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
MV: I think for us the most important thing is to enjoy what we do, and at the same time, try to get that feeling delivered to the audience. We are always trying to top what we’ve done before and by that to improve all the time. So long as it feels good to us, we’ll keep spreading the disease! Everything shouldn’t be that serious, although we do this seriously, I think you’ll catch my meaning.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
MV: I’m pretty lazy looking into new bands these days, partly due to more hectic life including family, work, friends, band and so on. I tend to stick with bands I’ve been listening to the last twenty years. Lately I’ve really enjoyed listening to bands like Centinex, Bolt Thrower, Old Man’s Child and Carach Angren. And these are bands that I haven’t really listened to that much before.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
MV: We have just reached the release of “Reflections of Torment” in cd and digital formats through Satanath Records and The Void Records, we’re certainly hyped about that. For now, we’re doing select release gigs in Finland. In September the album will be released on vinyl and tape formats, issued through Cimmerian Shade Recordings, really cool! Along with that release, we’re heading on a Baltic tour and later in the fall to Germany also. By the end of the year, Wrathrone will reach the ripe age of ten, we’re surely gonna celebrate that in some way too!
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Matti, Mikael, and Wrathrone for their time!