Antti Saarilampi (vocals/guitar): We’re three guys who play blackened crust in Oulu, northern Finland. The band was formed in 2015 and we’ve released one full-length/demo album and a 7-inch split with the deathgrind band Napalm Ted before our latest album Katharsis. The other members in the band are Tomi Luimula on drums and Christopher “Onni” Livingstone on bass and backing vocals.
2,Recently you have released a new album, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Antti: I don’t really know if the style itself has changed that much, maybe our previous stuff was leaning a bit more towards black metal. I think the main differences are that this time it’s played tighter and the album feels more cohesive as a whole. Also the sound is much better thanks to Keijo Niinimaa, who recorded and mixed the album, and Brad Boatright who did the mastering.
3.This is also your first release in 4 years, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time span?
Antti: Well, first we had the issue of replacing our bass player. Our previous bassist Aino (who also features as a guest vocalist on the new album) unfortunately didn’t have enough time to invest in the band, so we started searching for a new one. Luckily we eventually found Onni, who learned the songs and became an integral part of the group really quickly.
Another thing that obviously took some time was the writing, planning, recording, mixing and mastering process of the album, after which we had negotiations with several labels around Europe about the release. Finally we decided to have the CD and digital stuff out on Off Records from our home country, since it’s already two years since we recorded the album and we wanted to start focusing on new stuff. We’re still talking about a future vinyl release with the other labels though.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new album and also how would you describe your progress as songwriters over the years?
Antti: Most of the lyrics on this album are about feelings of futility, guilt and the process of atonement or (you guessed it) catharsis. They’re mostly projections of anxiety. The cover booklet also has English translations of all the lyrics in case anyone’s interested. This time around there aren’t that many social or political issues in the lyrics compared to previous material, but they will definitely be an important part of our songs again in the future.
For me it’s hard to say how the songwriting has evolved in this band, I’ve been writing songs for over 20 years so I’m already probably quite set in my ways. Maybe it’s more focused than in the beginning.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Mustasuo'?
Antti: Mustasuo is the name of a district in our hometown Oulu, and directly translated it means “Black Swamp”. We thought it would be a cool name for the band, nothing deeper than that.
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Antti: The painting is called “Näky” (“Vision”) made by the well-known Finnish artist Hugo Simberg in 1895. I came across it when I was thinking about what to put on the album cover, and thought that it would be a perfect fit for the album’s atmosphere. I strongly recommend checking his other work out too!
7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Antti: Unfortunately, due to work and/or other bands, we haven’t yet had time for longer tours, so we’ve mostly played locally and around Finland. We were supposed to do a tour of the Baltics this summer but apparently there’s some kind of a flu going around so we had to cancel it. I think one of the most enjoyable gigs so far was at the awesome Hässäkkä-Päivät punk festival here in Oulu. As for the stage performance... I'd say it's quite straightforward, we don't have any special gimmicks. Everything (except the vocals) on Katharsis was recorded live in one day so it's probably quite a good representation of our live energy playing-wise.
8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal and crust?
Antti: Overall the reaction has been quite positive, but of course not everyone will like it. Also, not being that restricted by genre definitions might cause some of the die-hard punk fans to think we have too much black metal influence and vice versa, but we don’t really care about that.
9.The new album was released on 'Off Records' can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Antti: Off Records is the label of our friend Jaakko Tarvainen, who also plays in a couple of great bands called Vvorse and Aivolävistys. It has been hibernating for a few years but was activated again to release this album. He’s released some really cool Finnish hardcore albums in the past.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Antti: It will most likely continue to be pretty diverse with similar basic building blocks, maybe a bit more towards grind and hardcore on the next album. We could also throw in some completely clean stuff! We already have a bunch of new songs ready and probably will start thinking about recording in the very near future.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Antti: Well, I could write an endless list here. All of us have really broad musical tastes, but I think some of the more direct influences could include something like Napalm Death, Converge, DrDoom, Livstid, My Dying Bride and a bunch of classic black metal bands. The latest albums I bought were the good old Satyricon/Enslaved split and a couple of bossa nova albums...
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Antti: Can’t think of anything mindblowing, just stay safe and check out our album on Bandcamp or wherever you like!