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Interview with Factor (year 2003)

Metsatöll is a band from Estonia that mixes metal and ethnic folk music. Here is an interview with Factor (Drums) where he intoduces us the band and also speaks about their future plans.

1. Can you introduce the band?

Metsatöll as a group unites people with very diffent world views and attitudes, who are united by a desire to express musically something archaic, using ancient melodies, rhythms and tones. As a contemporary band, we use contemporary means in conveying our message: electric guitars, effect modules and so forth. We fuse metal with ancient Estonian folklore, using ancient instruments: bagpipes, flutes, zithers. A question often arises whether one aspect will overshadow the other, but we try to balance it out, to stay in equilibrium. Both folk music and metal are active, living genres of music, and to us they seem to fit together very well. Metsatöll is a link between contemporary metal and ancient ethnic music.

2. Which are your and band the main influences?

All of us are very different, with varied tastes. Our music is a blend of influences across the entire spectrum of metal and world music, as well as anything else some of us have heard and liked. Varulven also plays in various folk bands outside Metsatöll, so we are not purists by any stretch of the imagination. It's hard to pinpoint any specific band, but the core of Metsatöll is definitely metal. We do what we enjoy, and I think that's pretty much what any band can and should do.

3. Personally I love viking or pagan metal, how did you get into it?

As I've already said, we all have varied tastes and do not necessarily listen to what is known as pagan metal much. And I think it shows in our music. We somehow recognised something really "us", perhaps a part of ourselves in ancient runo singing, in ancient tunes, and we couldn't help but use it in our music. There was never any idea to play viking or pagan metal exclusively, and neither does any one of us listen to it exclusively. Therefore, I wouldn't call Metsatöll pagan metal, for we are not pagans. A pagan is a non-christian from a christian perspective. But why should we associate ourselves with something stemming from a christian perspective? Once upon a time, Estonians called themselves earthfolk. That's who we are: simple people, who do not associate themselves much with religion of any sort.

4. You have told me that the current style is quite different than the one you played on your debut album, can you explain that difference? or how the new sound is?

The addition of Varulven, who plays all the folk instruments, to the lineup, is the major difference. Originally, Metsatöll was a three-piece, using no ethnic instruments whatsoever, just playing epic metal with tinges of ancient melodies. We also have a new bass player, KuriRaivo, who has brought a more massive and hard hitting rhythm section to the band. There are now two guitars, as well as two (sometimes three) singers, so there have been many changes that obviously reflect in our music.

5. Honestly I don't know many bands from Estonia apart from you and Whispering Forest, is metal scene big there?

The scene itself, considering the overall population and the number of people into metal, is quite active and large. There are metal gigs pretty much every weekend, often two or three. However, for some odd and unknown reason, everything new and interesting seems to arrive in Estonia with a delay. While there are very proficient and skilled bands in Estonia, they usually tend to be derived and perhaps a bit dated sound-wise. Black metal, and various forms of the so-called core metal (moshcore, metalcore etc.) for the newer generation of metalheads seem to be the largest subcultures of metal in Estonia today. There tends to be little diversity music-wise, although the situation is steadily getting better.

6. Which are Metsatöll's future plans?

We are currently recording our sophomore CD, tentatively to be released later this summer or early fall. This will be a self-release, and we have great hopes for it. But on a more general level, we hope to introduce two magnificent types of music - metal and folk - to a wider audience, thus perhaps generating more interest in our ethnic culture, and why not also in metal.

The band:

Markus - lead vocals, guitar
KuriRaivo - bass, backing vocals
Factor - drums and percussion
Varulven - guitar, backing vocals, torupill (estonian bagpipes), kannel (estonian zither), flutes and other traditional instruments

Author: Pablo Defino
Zine: Gotham City

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