From Frigid Farmlands to Unholy Domain
Picture in your mind a small town in rural southwestern Finland somewhere in the 1980s.
Dozens and dozens of kilometers of flat, boring farmlands in every direction. Occasionally, a few square miles of spruce and pinewood forests separate the fields from each other. Every September, it begins to rain, and the downpour continues for two months, until the frigid darkness falls and grips everything in its iron fist. Around Christmas and new year, the temperatures drop under -20 degrees Celsius and the lands suffocate under a meter of frozen snow. Next time the sun will rise in late February.
The war ended four decades ago. Every family had someone who fell fighting Stalin or Hitler. Nearly a hundred thousand died – young men, mostly. Grandmothers and grandfathers still cannot talk about the things that happened, their daughters and sons carry the burden of their elders in their silence. The occupation is still going on a mere 100 kilometers away, in Estonia, on the southern bank of Finnish bay.
The world is small. "Being abroad" means a ferry ride across the bay and a weekend in Stockholm. Those who are lucky may fly to the Canary Islands for a week every two years. There is no Internet, no smartphones, no jumbo markets. Meat and potatoes every day with an occasional apple for dessert. Church every Sunday, whole-day skiing competitions gather millions of viewers every winter weekend. Boys are being taught to bow and girls to curtsy. The blue cross flag is ceremonially raised on schoolyards every morning. The radio plays foreign popular music for an hour twice a week, and even that is being frowned upon.
But the world is changing. Rapidly. The people in bigger cities already know about the Sex Pistols or Motown. VHS recorders, C-cassettes and pop culture magazines spread the word in every corner of the long-suffering country somewhere up north. Kids talk about MacGyver and Knight Rider, Star Wars and Schwarzenegger, the first McDonald's restaurant is opened. The generation that saw the war is turning gray and moving back. Their children want to open the doors for the bigger world, the allurement of the west.
And once the kids born in the turn of the 1970s reach their teens, heavy metal arrives in Finland. The war falsetto of Ronnie James Dio, the raw sexual energy of Gene Simmons, the glam rebellion of Dee Snider and Bruce fucking Dickinson and the monster army of Iron Maiden. Suddenly, the country is filled with long-haired kids wearing jean jackets and key chains and Levi's, raising their rock retreats in garages and guest rooms and warehouses.
The everlasting silence of the north is buried under a crackling, metallic guitar wall.
The town of Loimaa is located in an area called "The Clay Region" in southwestern Finland, right between the Swedish-era Finnish capital of Turku and the major industrial city of Tampere, around 160 kilometers northwest of Helsinki. While a major restructuring period took place in the 1960s, forcing small farmers to sell their fields and move to towns and cities, The Clay Region is still known as the breadbasket of Finland: rye and wheat and rapeseed fields, mills and dairies and slaughterhouses, farmhouses and forests filled with mushrooms and berries.
Meanwhile, the railroad connects Loimaa to Turku harbor, taking Finnish exports to the markets of Germany and Sweden and providing a handful of local companies just enough wealth to come along. The number of people living in densely populated Loimaa hovers around 7,000 people and the large surrounding area including smaller conurbations such as Hirvikoski, Alastaro, Ypäjä and Mellilä has a total population of around 20,000. Pretty much everyone knows each other, keep each other's backs, and look after their neighbors. It is more than understandable that the story of Demigod begins with a pair of cousins, who just happened to be best friends as well.
Tero Laitinen (Guitar/bass guitar, Demigod 1990-2012, b. 1972): We are first cousins with Esa Lindén and naturally, we have known each other ever since we were little kids.
Esa Lindén (Leading vocals/guitar, Demigod 1990-2012, b. 1970): I am from the Suopelto district of Loimaa while Esa hails from Ypäjä, 15 kilometers east. Our mothers are siblings and especially during summertime we spent almost every week together at each other's homes or at our grandmothers' place at Ypäjä railway station. Since Tero is two years younger, he pretty much followed my lead everywhere.
Tero: When heavy metal music landed in Finland, Esa was among the first to listen to the classics: Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and all that. Metallica's Ride the Lightning was especially breathtaking when it came out in 1984. The feeling when we first placed the vinyl on the player, listened to the intro of Fight Fire With Fire and then heard the riffs... we couldn't believe music like that existed.
Esa: It started from those late-1970s, early-1980s proto-heavy metal: Iron Maiden, Dio, Saxon. Metallica followed soon after and from that moment on, there was nothing else but thrash metal for us. Once we hit our teens, we began to gather many kinds of thrash metal bands among our friends and started to learn what the band thing was all about.
Tero: We really did not know how to play but we punished the cardboard boxes with drumsticks and Esa had an old acoustic guitar he tried to strum. We filled our school notebooks with all kinds of lyrics.
Esa: We had the cheapest guitar in the world and amazing do-it-yourself MacGyver amplifiers: mine was modified from an old-fashioned Finnish Asa radio and Tero had boosted up his old radio with an overdrive pedal.
The Finnish restructuring period took its toll on the population, leaving many unemployed and struggling with alcohol. Tens of thousands of Finns in their 20s and 30s moved to Sweden in the 1970s, forcing the country to respond to the growing discontent of the youth by spending extra money to youth work. Eventually, the policymakers understood not everyone would be into skiing or orienteering and therefore the counties and schools bought or rented empty properties for the youth to use for band purposes – as long as rules of certain behavior rules were obeyed.
Tero: Somewhere around 1985 or 1986 me and Esa decided it was our time to take this band business seriously. Our friend Erik Parviainen played guitar and Jonne Talvinen and Seppo Kankare took turns drumming. When we allotted the instruments, I was left with bass guitar, so I went to the Loimaan Musiikki music store to get one. With this group we pretty much tried to follow the lead of Sepultura.
Esa: At first, we did not have the luck of the draw for band rehearsal joints. Luckily, Erik's parents used to work for the OFA chain factory, and they had the possibility to live in this long building with apartments at each end of the house. In the middle of the building, there was a former dining room which was usually empty. Erik's parents gave us the permission to jam until late weekday afternoons when they got back home from work.
Erik Parviainen (Guitar, Demigod 1990): We pretty much listened to both new and old music, rehearsed together and tried to play some of the songs. Later, when I moved away from my parents' house, we started to have a few beers during rehearsal sessions as well. We listened to many kinds of music but mostly thrash and some early death metal.
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal revitalized the old genre in the late 1970s, introducing younger, faster, and more energized bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard to the audiences. Between 1983 and 1984, more than 20% of all the records sold in the United States were heavy metal. Around the same time, heavy metal began its divide between distinct subgenres such as thrash metal, led by the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. Metallica's 1986 hit album Master of Puppets was the first in the genre to sell platinum.
The most brutal and violent of these thrash metal band was Slayer, universally considered as one of the founding fathers of what was later known as death metal. Another pioneer was the NWOBHM band Venom who managed to create havoc among conservatives with their blasphemous, diabolic lyrics and macabre imagery. The San Francisco-based Possessed and Ohioan band Necrophagia followed the lead of Slayer and combined the brutality and speed of thrash and hardcore music with satanic or nihilistic lyrics, slasher video aesthetics, machine-gun percussions, heavily distorted guitar, and murmuring death growl.
While the exact birthdate of death metal can't be universally determined, the Florida-based band Death with their debut album Scream Bloody Gore is nowadays acclaimed as the first true death metal record and their lead Chuck Schuldiner became the unholy apostle of the genre.
Seppo Taatila (Drums, Demigod 1990-2002, b. 1974): The story of thrash metal began when bands such as Metallica and Megadeth challenged the slower, more traditional heavy metal. Then suddenly there was a surplus of even more violent, more unorthodox Finnish anti-mainstream bands such as Oppression. In the mid-1980s, the Finnish metal scene was filled with high quality underground thrash which never got the attention it deserved, such as Maple Cross, Sacred Crucifix and ARG.
Esa: Before the Internet, we had no other way to find out what is going on in the genre but to read the major Finnish music magazines Soundi and Rumba. Out of these two, Rumba was filled with commercials of small subgenre zines. We used to put our money together among friends and mail order different thrash metal zines. Because there was no Wikipedia or YouTube or Spotify, we pretty much learned to speak and read English by reading interviews and reviews by these zine reporters who raved about their favorite bands. Some metal bands also toured Finland even way back in the 1980s. Someone's parents always promised to drive us around to see our favorite bands. I especially remember seeing WASP in Huittinen in 1984.
Tero: In 1987 I ordered Death's Scream Bloody Gore LP and my mind exploded. We listened to it with Esa in my room again and again and again so that my vinyl player almost burst on fire. For me, the record is still one of the biggest death metal albums of all time.
Esa: I first got a taste of death metal when listening to bands such as Kreator. Then came the new wave of death metal, bands such as Possessed and Death which absolutely took the shit to a whole other level. Those two bands began the golden era of death metal: we couldn't have gotten rid of heavy metal and thrash metal fast enough when we finally had the ability to listen to Carcass, Bolt Thrower or even later, the new wave of Entombed.
Seppo: Right near Turku bus station a guy named Teje Caldén owned this mystic joint called ComeBack Records. Teje brought the first death metal records to Finland from Stockholm with the help of a local friend of his. Teje was the absolute scene pioneer of Finland and he seemed to have an unlimited stash of cassettes and vinyls from Sweden, Great Britain, or the States.
Teje Caldén (Owner, ComeBack Records): My record store was totally unique, you could not find another joint like that anywhere in the world. Once I counted all the death metal demo tapes, I had and a total of 65 bands sold their demos through my joint. I was a pioneer in the genre and guys my age used to think I was a nutcase since I was interested in all kinds of noise and death metal. Bands used to bring their demo tapes straight to me because they knew I got shit done and that death metal heads knew where to find their stuff. For instance, Turbonegro – which was back then called "Turboneger" – brought their first demo tape straight to me.
After a couple of years of intense heavy metal LARP around Erik Parviainen's parents' residence, the members of the not-yet-official band received the long-awaited news in August of 1988: the youth council of the county of Loimaa presented them with a training facility.
The place in question was a piss yellow 1950s-era row house in a quiet suburb of Peltoinen, a mere five-minute walk from the Loimaa railway station warehouses across Rantatie road. "There goes the neighborhood", moaned the middle-class parents living next door, when dozens of pimple-faced, long-haired teenagers with messy facial hair carried their guitar cases and clinking plastic bags to their personal heavy metal heaven while spitting and cursing aloud along the way.
Seppo: I ended up in Rantatie with Jarkko Rantanen, a good friend of mine. Jarkko and his brother Turkka Rantanen were Class A heavy metal fans: for instance, despite heavy warnings from their teacher, they had headed out to Helsinki to see DIO in concert back in 1986. The Rantanen brothers were such an inspiration for us after that! Me and Jarkko dragged our homespun instruments and devices to the premises and decorated the wall with posters. I had built my drum kit from scratches, merging several used drums together. We played everything from Iron Maiden to Metallica – or tried to play, to put it more realistically. Jarkko laid the groundwork of his future band Adramelech during those years. Other bands laughed at us since we played heavy metal with humppa pattern (editor's note: "humppa" is traditional Finnish social dance music from the 1950s, made famous by the band Eläkeläiset.)
Esa: The most experienced band in Rantatie was Poor Boys Limited. They used to play all kinds of cover songs such as Born to be Wild. I hung around in their premises and witnessed how things work while still learning how to play the guitar. These guys had studied music since they were kids while I had not taken a single singing or guitar lesson in my life.
Seppo: Poor Boys Limited were huge Rolling Stones fans. We immediately thought we are going to metal up their asses!
Tero: Another band more experienced than us were Seurakuntapuutarhurit ("Parish gardeners"). They were a year or two younger than us but had already played together for years. We got along well with all the other bands despite some of them wondering out loud what the hell was that infernal racket coming from our chambers...
After getting to know Esa Lindén and Tero Laitinen in Rantatie, Seppo Taatila got to know the other heavy metal band on the premises quite well and eventually joined the band despite being a couple of years younger. Another major link was the smoking area between Puistokatu High School, the alma mater of 15-year-old Seppo, and Loimaa commercial institute, where 17-year-old Tero Laitinen and Erik Parviainen underachieved through their business and administration studies.
Seppo: Laitinen was such a legend. This long-haired guy with heavy metal t-shirts and pilot jacket. We hung out, smoked cigarettes, and talked about metal music.
Tero: I was in the same grade with Erik. Seppo joined in eventually, spending one year in commercial institute before heading back to senior high. We had noticed Seppo first in Rantatie: this massive fella with long open hair down to his buttocks wearing Testament t-shirts. We became friends the instant we began to talk about music.
Seppo: I was only 15 years old when I first hopped into Esa's Toyota Corolla and got the opportunity to drive around town on weekday nights with all these older heavy metal guys. Esa played Reek of Putrefaction by Carcass to me and I was awestruck: is there even a possibility that music this heavy and fine actually exists? In the summer of 1989, I bought myself a New Sound double drum set and even though I didn't really have the patience to practice, I learned how to use double bass in the course of one evening and that was pretty rare at the time. I also had mastered the art of several different drum patterns. One evening, Esa came to our premises to hear me play and immediately said: this is it, now we can play death metal.
Esa: Seppo's age was not an issue for me. I did not care whether he was four years younger or four years older. If he could play, was nice to hang out with and could gel with the other band members, he'd be more than welcome. And to put it realistically, there were not that many options to pick from in Loimaa. Basically, for kids who just wanted to play music, Loimaa was a good place to grow since everyone had an opportunity to jam with guys who were on same skill level.
Seppo: We also drove to Aura brewery (Turku) and Lepakko (Helsinki) to see death metal gigs. We had the opportunity to witness early Finnish death metal bands as well as some international bands such as Dismember, Entombed and Therion. Therion used to play decent music back then compared to present day, by the way! (Laughing)
Meanwhile, the western world – including Finland – was witnessing a death metal "boom".
The first Finnish death metal zines popped up around 1989 and during the next four years, underground publications such as Isten mag, Axe fanzine, Blazing Corpse 'zine, Miasma magazine and several others formed the Corpus Hermeticum of death metal heads in the frigid north.
Also, 1989-90 gave birth to a sort of "Finnish school of death metal". While the Florida death metal sound was dominant in the mid-to-late 1980s and pretty much created the pattern for European death metal bands to copy, Finnish death metal bands wanted to do things differently. One of the prime examples was the hyper-technical Demilich from the Savonian capital of Kuopio, which is still considered one of the international pioneers of the genre.
Esa Lindén, Tero Laitinen, Erik Parviainen and Seppo Taatila decided to form a death metal band of their own somewhere around 1989. Their first death metal band was called Internal Denial while the name Demigod was lured out of the collective unconscious in 1990.
Esa: Internal Denial was not that much of a band. It was more of a play, a proto form of Demigod. We might have rehearsed a song or two in Rantatie but we didn't publish anything, not even a practice session tape.
Tero: The name Demigod originated from Deicide's eponymous debut album. Erik saw the word in the lyrics, and it sounded great.
Erik Parviainen: We went through all sorts of names until we were all fed up and nearing nervous breakdown. Then it came out of nowhere – Demigod – and BAM: everyone knew that was it. It is still a great fit for a death metal band. The word is mentioned in Deicide's song Sacrificial Suicide and it might be it just struck my head from there.
However, the fate of Erik Parviainen was to be faded out of the band.
Tero: Erik is hell of a nice guy and we absolutely owe everything to him since we had the possibility to begin practicing in his parents' house. However, he did not quite improve as a musician as much as we others did. Me and Esa decided that it was time for us to move along without him.
Erik: I did not have the skills to play in Demigod and that is a fact. However, I wanted to play something and formed a band of my own called Mythem. The music I played with Mythem was not that technical or challenging as Demigod, but still, it was something.
Seppo: Erik knew how to play but his awareness of rhythm was the problem. He either had to chase us or he went miles ahead. Esa and Tero told me that since they had known Erik for so long, I had to bring out the bad news. I thought well, isn't this nice.
Esa: I seriously do not remember but it could be that Seppo was the messenger. However, I am the guy who had to receive the immediate feedback!
Seppo: Parviainen gathered a band called Mythem around him and worked for years at the Loimaan Musiikki music store. Erik is one of a kind: once he gets interested in something, whether it is heavy metal music or Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he gives everything he has. I bet he could turn Al Assad and Trump into pacifists. Then they would all smoke Camel cigarettes and drink warm beer together and have a blast.
Esa: There are some metal bands struggling with the issue that their name is courtesy of a founding member who has been left out of the band. Children of Bodom is one example. Erik could have made an issue of us using the name Demigod but we are thankful he decided not to make a fuss out of it.
The infamous threesome of Tero Laitinen, Esa Lindén and Seppo Taatila decided to waste no time. The sunny days of summer were gone and the ghouls of the winter of 1990-91 were whispering at the doorstep. The trinity spent countless hours on Rantatie premises, occasionally drove to the corner market to pick up Lapin Kulta beer and meat patties, listened to the newest death metal albums and composed songs of their own.
Tero: Esa composed the majority of the riffs while me and Jussi offered a few occasional brain farts. Once the riffs were finished, Esa and Seppo arranged the riffs with Seppo's drum patterns.
Esa: We did not give a rat's ass whether anyone liked our music or not. We knew what we liked and followed that lead: this is how death metal is supposed to be played. When an occasional visitor said something like "you know you shouldn't do this this way", I told I do not know shit about music theory. We just wanted to make music. There was a breathtaking intensity of doing.
Seppo: Esa and Tero mostly wrote the lyrics for our songs. I remember how this Oxford British type of English teacher at Loimaa commercial institute was of awestruck by Tero's English skills.
Tero: English was by far the easiest school subject for me and Esa was just as good. We began writing lyrics at the age of 13 or 14. During my years at Loimaa commercial institute, the late 1980s metal boom was at full swing and we read and translated the lyrics of other thrash and death metal bands. I took some of the lyrics of Carcass's first album to our teacher. He gazed us with his round eyes and kept asking that where the heck does this stuff come from. He took the lyrics home with him, dug out his professional dictionaries and brought us full translations. And we basically picked and mixed lines or words from different bands: "Obsession of putrefaction!!"
Meanwhile Esa Lindén, the mellow-looking blonde kid from down the street, came forth with one of the most impressive death growls in the history of death metal.
Esa: Nothing but practice. Countless hours. I used to work night and early morning shifts at the local post office, so I got to keep the whole house to myself from noon to afternoon. I pretty much listened to singers of other metal bands and imitated them. After a while, my throat got used to it. Several years later I actually found out that there were actual techniques to do the shit correctly, but I never bothered to find them out!
The first official Demigod song was called Frozen Flesh Funeral. However, the song was never officially released – and neither were the three which came after that. While the first four songs did not exceed the quality standards defined by the band member, the four next ones – Perpetual Ascent, Anxiety, Reincarnation and Succumb to Dark were selected to be recorded on a demo tape.
Esa: We first did this rehearsal tape with four songs and decided none of them was good enough to be on a demo. The next four songs were on different level. We basically finished eight songs in a matter of two months. I have often said that once you have the passion in you and no outer distractions at all – that is to say, women – you can do miracles in no time. After sucking in ideas and impressions like a sponge for a couple of years just waiting for your possibility to have the skills and the time to play, new songs kept on coming.
Seppo: It was remarkable. We made a new song in a day or two, decided whether it was good enough or not, case closed, and on to the next one.
The young men of Demigod put their money together and found out about a homespun joint called AMR Studio in Viiala, a 25-minute drive southwest of the industrial city of Tampere. Several Finnish metal bands had turned to legendary accordion master Heikki Peltonen who ran his own studio business in the cellar of his own house. Just two days before the winter solstice of 1990, the members of Demigod drove to Viiala for a full-day session at the studio.
Esa: Once we got to the studio and began unloading our stuff from the car, Heikki appeared to the stairs and said: "Guys, I can see this is your first time at a studio and you are making a primitive mistake here." We look at each other and think what the hell is this guy talking about. Then he turned to me and said: "First of all: you are clearly the head of the band since you are the singer and the lead guitarist and still, I saw you driving the car. Let us get this straight: the bass player is pretty much nothing but a glorified roadie. Next time you guys come here, make sure that he drives the car, not you", he said pointing his finger at Tero.
Seppo: Oh, all the jitters we had that day. We had collected the money ourselves and had huge expectations. Heikki Peltonen was this rather quirky older guy, a former accordion player who told us that one day, someone is going to play accordion through an overdrive pedal. We looked at each other and thought that guy is out of his fucking mind. (Editorial note: Finnish accordion avant-gardist Kimmo Pohjonen fulfilled Heikki Peltonen's vision and become an international underground musician legend in the aughts.)
Esa: Turku-based death metal band Funebre had been recording at AMR Studio before us and they actually thanked Heikki Peltonen and "piss-burnt AKA Studios" in the cover of their demo. That was a fair description.
Tero: We had only one recipe: distortion, distortion, distortion. We distorted bass guitar so much that Peltonen actually asked us whether that can even be done. I said we are looking for the heaviest, rawest death metal sound known to mankind. Peltonen grabbed some pillows and taped them around the microphones because he was afraid they would crumble – in the end, they did their job just fine. And Peltonen turned out to be a fun guy. Even though he had no background in metal music whatsoever, he was thrilled with our energy and he had all kinds of new gadgets he wanted to try with our music.
Seppo: I wonder how Heikki endured us. He was extremely good in the studio basics and we really tested his patience since we did not know how to play or behave. Then again, he realized we were these really young countryside boys with all kinds of unrealistic expectations, and he kept on supporting us. Of course, he occasionally chucked us out to have a cigarette so that he could perform his studio wizardry all by himself. He was a great guy.
Since aesthetics plays a major part in death metal music, Demigod took a lot of time to ponder who they would order the cover art from. They did not have to look for long. A local metalhead, amateur musician and overall goofball Turkka Rantanen was also an aspiring draftsman. Rantanen is responsible for the nightmarish Unholy Domain cover art with all the haunting skulls and gargoyles. He also drew the original Demigod logo.
Tero: I actually drew the first version of our logo, but we decided that we should turn to someone who actually knows how to draw. Turkka Rantanen took my version of the demo and took it to next level.
Seppo: Turkka Rantanen was a huge Bolt Thrower fan. He was into Games Workshop stuff, Dungeons & Dragons an all, and H.R. Giger was probably his biggest inspiration. When I first saw the cover art, I immediately noticed that he had the local church of Kanta-Loimaa in his mind – the church had only gone through H.R.Giger/Bolt Thrower/Dungeons & Dragons filter.
While the neoclassical, cathedral-ish church of Kanta-Loimaa, which was built in the late 1830s right next to Iron Age-era sacrificial pits (!!) indeed acted as an inspiration for Turkka Rantanen, the Unholy Domain cover art is mostly a potpourri of artistic influences from several sources.
Turkka Rantanen (Unholy Domain cover artist, 1990): I think the Giger filter had not yet kicked in when I did it. But yeah, Bolt Thrower, or, more like, Games Workshop shit, sure had something to do with that. D&D? I was interested at some point, but good luck with trying to play it in some small town in the middle of fields in 1980s Finland. And yeah, that church sure was more of an inspiration than the modern anti-devil bunker in Loimaa. I might not be the greatest fan of what they represent, but I like old churches and religious art.
And the logo... yeah, I drew that. I was working in a factory at the time. My job was to operate this huge barrel full of animal pelts. Every now and then I would stop it and throw some acid or whatever in there. "Ok, done. Now I have 45 minutes before next time I have to work." So I drew probably 50 different sketches, and the band liked that one. Finished it. And, as they say, the rest is history. I guess the Venom logo might have been an inspiration. Been a while, heh. Also, that factory was pretty metal. You forgot a coin in your pocket, and it turned black after a day. Sounds pretty healthy.
Eventually, Turkka Rantanen became a major artist in the Finnish metal scene, drawing cover art for other Finnish metal bands such as Demilich, Adramelech and Depravity. Rantanen has been living in Southern France for 12 years now.
The Unholy Domain demo tape was first released in the early days of 1990. This was during the golden era of the metal tape trading culture. Cassette recorders and tapes made copying extremely easy and metalheads all across the globe sent local cassettes to their tape trading partners to spread the word. Naturally, the majority of the tape traders were aspiring metal musicians who could not get enough of their passion.
Tero: Me and Esa did the tape-trading thing actively. Basically we wrote letters to metalheads all over the world and copied cassettes and sent flyers to each other. That was also the way Unholy Domain was spread.
Seppo: Unholy Domain spread like a damn wildfire. These two guys, Luxi (Luukas) and Jami Lahtinen from the small town of Pöytyä near Turku really did us a favor. The Lahtinen brothers were underground metalheads who never wanted any attention for themselves at all, but they worked countless hours to make sure that the bands they loved were noticed.
Luxi Lahtinen (Finnish metal tape trading pioneer and staff writer at Metalcrypt.com): I still remember the day when Esa of Demigod brought a small bundle of Unholy Domain to ComeBack Records. Me and the owner, Teje Caldén, decided to listen to the demo right away. After a few more minutes, me and Teje kept raving what a brilliant recording this is and Esa couldn't help blushing. Only a couple of weeks after that, I got the possibility to meet Tero, Seppo and Jussi when Demigod played their first gig at the Loimaa youth community center.
Teje Caldén: If Luxi says so! I listened to more than ten new records a day so I really cannot pick one. I do not even remember all the death metal records I used to publish. Naturally, I remember the name of Demigod which already makes it a better band than the rest. I also do remember the name Esa Lindén.
Jami Lahtinen (Finnish metal tape-trading pioneer, brother of Luxi Lahtinen): I do not think we ever needed to rant and rave about Demigod, their music did all the work. Since we already had quite a lot of pen pals and tape-trading friends, we just wanted them to know about this up-and-coming death metal band and their brilliant demo Unholy Domain. We also mailed a few promo packages including the demo and other material for different zines, record companies, distros, and underground radio stations. Even though this was during the pre-Internet times, the information spread rather quickly and people following the genre knew what was going on.
Luxi Lahtinen: During the days of the global death metal boom in the beginning of the '90s, there was a lot of international interest toward Finnish underground death metal bands. Demos, rehearsal tapes, live recordings on both audio and VHS were extremely desired amongst tape traders. I also opened my skinny student wallet to promote some Finnish metal bands by sending countless letters and packages to record companies, radio stations and remarkable peoples in the scene such as Chris Reifert of Autopsy. It was thrilling to notice how several Finnish death metal bands of that era eventually broke the barrier and got signed to record companies: Funebre, Xysma, Disgrace, Impaled Nazarene, Unholy, Mordicus, God Forsaken, Sentenced, Convulse, Belial, Purtenance, Mythos, Demilich – and not to forget the pride of Loimaa, Demigod.
Tero: Suddenly we had people from all around the world approaching us, wanting to order our demo tape. We went to the local library to read the atlas to find out where the hell is this "Guatemala" some people have sent us mail from. Fan mail kept pouring and we sent people our demo tape for five dollars apiece.
Esa: We sent the master copy to our distributors all over Europe, North and South America and Asia. Since double-deck cassette recorders were common back then, second or third generations of demo copies must be still be out there by the thousands all over the world. Suddenly our interviews were in all death metal zines. Still do this day, to many OG Demigod fans, our future LP was nothing, Unholy Domain was the shit.
Hippo Taatila (b. 1981) is a Finnish author and freelance writer who used to play with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy figures and pick boogers out of his nose back when Demigod was the shit.
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