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Superficiality sucks, and Estonian language sounds beautiful.

Despite being only a stone's throw away from Finland, metal is not export product number one in the Baltic state of Estonia. However, even in this corner of the world there is an exponent to be found of the music genre that we all adore. Metsatöll play a very infectious style of folk metal and this month we received a copy of their re-recorded debut album 'Terast Mis Hangund Me Hinge 10218'. Just like the music on that album, drummer Atso's answers are as simple as they are effective.

I recently received your latest release, 'Terast mis hangund me hinge 10218', which is actually not your new album, but a new version of your debut record. Tell us, what were the exact reasons for re-doing the album?

First of all, the debut album was recorded live, had terrible production values and had many jarring rhythmic errors that made listening to it a real chore. Second, no traditional instruments were used. Third, there were only 400 copies of it, and all were CD-Rs. Fourth, all these songs now sound several magnitudes better when played live, and it would've been a real pity not to record a proper album. After all, the contrast is spectacular.

Should we treat it as a mere re-release, or do you view it as an entirely new effort yourselves?

My personal opinion may not coincide with the rest of the band, but I consider the first CD-R to be a demo and the last one a proper album.

What does the album title mean? Is there a certain concept to this album?

The translation of the tile is Steel frozen in our souls. There is a sword inside every person and everybody knows in their heart when the right time comes to use it. Everybody forges their own swords in their hearts, but not every item so forged by brings about only positive things. This iron can be used to do both good and evil.

I read that the number in the title is actually the year 2005 in Estonian traditional time, right? How does this time system work? What is it based on?

The year 10218 indicates the year 2005, and refers to the Billingen disaster, 10218 years ago, when the land of Estonia was born, freed from under the waters of an icy lake. It is weird for us to count the years starting from the birth of Jesus.

Come to think of it, I do not think that a lot of our readers will be familiar with Metsatöll. Could you give a short introduction to your band and your music?

We are a metal band from Estonia, and we use ancient, traditional instruments in our music, such as torupill (a variant of bagpipes), kannel (a variant of zithers), and recorder. Today, our line-up consists of:

Markus - Vocals and Guitar
Lauri - Vocals, Guitar, Flutes, Torupill, Kannel
KuriRaivo - Bass and vocals
Atso - Drums and vocals

At our gigs, we frequently make use of four simultaneous voices. Metsatöll means wolf. There was a traditional belief among Estonians that the name of the wolf can not be said oud loud, and that whenever you name a Wolf, it will appear.

On this album as well as your other album 'Hiiekoda' (2004) every song is sung in Estonian and you use some traditional Estonian instruments as well. Why is it important for you to emphasize your Estonian roots?

Because we love our land and it is „our thing". We emphasize our Estonian roots and the spirit of the land for both Estonians and other peoples.

The use of the Estonian language makes Metsatöll less internationally accessible, of course. Do you think it is easy for Metsatöll to create an international following?

Personally, I do not think so. The translations of all the lyrics are avaliable on our webpage, and I don't think you'll have to blatantly reveal every detail. Anyone interested in the topics of the songs and is not superficial, finds all the information they need. Superficiality sucks, and Estonian language sounds beautiful. I also think that Metsatöll succeeds in creating an international following, you just have to be at the right place at the right time.

The use of these traditional instruments obviously tells us that you are heavily influenced by the music of your home country. But what about the other part of your music, where do you take your metal influences from?
On the contrary, we have listened to metal all our lives, and are influenced by many bands, for example by Iron Maiden, Slayer, Kreator, etc. The traditional instruments are an added bonus in our music that should not be over- nor underestimated. We are metalheads.

The traditional elements obviously create a very folk music atmosphere and actually makes (some parts of) your music quite accessible for non-metal heads. Is this reflected in the crowds at your shows?

Yes, definitely, otherwise we would not be among the five top-selling artists in Estonia.

How does Metsatöll actually play the music live? Do you always bring the traditional instruments with you? I can imagine that this is quite a burden, not only to bring them but also, they must be quite expensive and unique!

We always use the same instruments live that we used to record the albums. It is not particularly bothersome. Everything has been thought out carefully and we have a very scrupulous crew.

Have you played a lot of shows outside of Estonia already? How does the music go down in other countries?

We play in Finland every month, and we have as strong a fanbase there as in Estonia, and we have also played in Latvia, Lithuania and Belgium. We will see what the future will bring, especially after the new album, due early next year. The goal is to tour Europe with another band.

What is the metal scene in Estonia (or all of the Baltic states for that matter) actually like?

Of the three Baltic states, the Estonian metal scene is definitely the strongest. See for example, where you can find both listeners and musicians. There is a definite sense that metal is becoming increasingly popular in the Baltic states.

I read that Metsatöll are busy recording a new album at the moment. How are things coming along? When can we expect it?

We started with the pre-recordings in August, we will be in the studio in November and December, and mixing and mastering is done in Finland in January. The album will be released on February 24, that day the Republic of Estonia will be 90 and Metsatöll 9 years old.

Well these were my questions for now, thank you very much for your time and lots of luck with the new album!

Thank you for the questions, and keep an eye on

Author: Richard G.
Zine: Lords of Metal

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