Studio Diary 2013

KUOLEMANLAAKSO: SECOND ALBUM SESSIONS
A top-secret location, Finland

Starring:
Kotamäki, vocals
Laakso, guitar & keys
Kouta, guitar
Usva, bass
Tiera, drums
V. Santura, production & engineering

Day 1: The Arrival
August 12, 2013

As some you might know, we recorded our debut album “Uljas uusi maailma” with producer/engineer/musician V. Santura of Triptykon and Dark Fortress fame at his Woodshed Studio in Germany. Our cooperation was such a knockout professionally and personally that we decided to extend our working relationship to further albums right then and there.

Well, here we are now, at a top-secret location in the middle of the woods, waiting for Santura to arrive.

The place is very peaceful and quiet. The only sounds that grace our ears are the chirping of birds, the rippling of the lake, the wind in the trees, and the occasional raindrops falling softly on the roof. We could have chosen another location, such as Woodshed, but we specifically wanted to “live the lyrics”, so to speak, and spend three weeks in a genuinely primitive setting as possible to capture the true essence of these new songs. They are above all influenced by the Finnish nature in various forms: the illustriousness of the forests, the serene eminence and ominousness of the lakes, early 1900s poetry, folklore, and ancient invocation poems. Even though cloaked in a dim gown of the nature, some of the lyrics are extremely personal.

Musically, compared to the debut, we’ve chosen a more epic and melancholic perspective on our dark craft. Not forgetting the crushing heaviness, diversity, and our love for the avant-garde, which defines our sound, of course. It is such a cliché to say this, but I have a feeling, that once Santura works his magic and we capture the new songs on hard disc, they will blow our minds. Perhaps yours, too.

The Owls have landed.

The Owls have landed.

We got here last night at about 10:30 pm, unloaded the equipment, had a few beers, relaxed and had a good time. Usva and I will pick Santura from the Helsinki airport today, while Kouta and Tiera will start setting up the drums and other gear for the next days to come. Kotamäki will join us later. The Owls have landed.

I can’t wait.

Laakso


Day 2: The Gathering
August 13, 2013

The usual suspects woke up one by one with a slight hangover. Today’s task was to pick our producer/engineer V. Santura up from the Helsinki airport. Kouta and Tiera stayed at our secret hideout, Woodshed Finland if you will, as Usva and I drove down to Helsinki, bought a bunch of guitar strings and drum skins, and headed for the airport.

As we were waiting for Santura to arrive, Nightwish and The 69 Eyes were at the same package claim with our German ally. After stopping by at Jumbo’s mega-sized Prisma supermarket and Alko, we were good to go. I convinced Santura to try out some mustamakkara (“black sausage”, a black sausage made of mainly blood), which was a bloody success.

Not that much happened during our drive here but catching up and talking about old times. We listened to some Blood Ceremony, My Dying Bride, Swallow the Sun and Pan-Thy-Monium on the way. Good music is great for the soul.

When we got here, the guys had set up and pre-tuned the drums. They also had a sausage fest going (I do mean literally, no reference to “men only”). So, after a bunch of beers, haze and grilled sausage, we hit the sauna. Everybody but me went for a midnight swim in the lake. I’m not a fan of cool water (+ 21°C), so I mainly concentrated on purifying my weary body.

Right now Santura is finishing up on setting up the computer and drum mics. We are almost good to go.

Laakso, 15:05 pm

Chanterelles.

Chanterelles.

P.S. We are going semi-self-sufficient, as we picked decent piles of chanterelles, blueberries and lingonberries. Old school is the only school.

Day 3: The First Evidence on Tape
August 14, 2013

Yesterday’s main task was to get the computer and drum mics up and running, and to capture the first beats on hard disc. As V. Santura was busy plugging cables and uploading software, the band headed outside for some manual labor.

Kouta chopped the branches of an entire cut down birch, Usva and Tiera picked a few small buckets of blueberries and lingonberries, and I transported a couple of pine trees worth of logs to our “wood chopping center” with a wheelbarrow. It is important to get some fresh air, and relieve tension and stress by punishing your body in a gentle matter.

Usva the Master Chef.

Usva the Master Chef.

However, Kouta was so beat, he went for a nap for few hours during the day. While Santura and Tiera were doing a drum sound check, Usva and I lit up the open fire grill, and made some drumsticks, halloumi cheese, and a superb marinated champignon and eggplant dish. Usva is one helluva chef.

After a late dinner, Tiera blasted the drums for a song titled “Kalmoskooppi”. As Darth Vader would characterize: “Impressive. Most impressive.”

Kouta and Usva on the golden lake.

Kouta and Usva on the golden lake.

This day was a small victory.

Laakso

Day 4: A Trace of Smoke in the Air
August 15, 2013

I’m writing this entry from a porch graced with epic lake scenery. It is 15°C outside. There’s a mild breeze in the air, which makes the leaves of the birches hum.

Usva is setting fire on an open grill. The chef is making coconut curry with chicken drumsticks.

The only thing corrupting the idyll is Tiera’s relentless pounding. He is working on a song called “Tulenväki” right now with V. Santura and Kouta in the building on top of a rocky hill.

Kouta, axe of the epic

Kouta, axe of the epic

Tiera was on fire yesterday. He beat the crap out of no less than four slices of doom. Everything has been going very smoothly, and we’ve had absolutely no technical, musical or personal problems during these few days. Santura has even been very happy with the sound of the log cabin room, which we recording at.

As always, Santura headed for a run after the working day was over. The lazy Finnish bastards, meaning us, stayed behind and heated up the sauna. There was a trace of smoke in the air.

Earlier today Kouta nailed guide guitar tracks to the heaviest song we’ve ever done, after which the two of us headed to Lidl and Prisma supermarkets, 30 kilometers from here. Now we are set up for a few days – although we haven’t had any luck fishing.

Tiera, the thunder over dark waters.

Tiera, the thunder over dark waters.

The goal of today is to nail the drums to four songs, 3 of which are already in the bag. It’s 5:33 pm right now, and the guys only started a few hours ago. The dude is on fire.

Laakso

Day 5: The End of Drumming
August 16, 2013

Tiera nailed four songs yesterday, and finished the last two today. So, the drums are now recorded. It would be useless to brag about how awesome they sound, but for the record: very.

We ended up having a wee bit of a party after, and had a few good laughs. Everybody was feeling tired, so we didn’t stay up very late – or at least I didn’t. I was supposed to get some other work done by the next day, but I watched a couple of episodes of That 70’s show, and hit the sack.

Usva, luring the fish.

Usva, luring the fish.

My wakeup alarm went off at 9 am, and I started working on the non-musical task I had. As always, I got the assignment done in a few hours. It felt great to get it out of sight and out of mind.

Meanwhile the other guys and V. Santura had almost finished working on the guitar arrangement of the first ever cover song we will record. We were planning to start Kouta’s guitar parts, but had minor technical challenges, so we decided to call it a day.

It was a pasta bolognese day – they’ve never failed us yet.

Laakso

P.S. Still no luck with fishing.

Day 6: These Go to Eleven
August 17, 2013

We actually didn’t call it a night after the latest entry, but found the perfect rhythm guitar sound instead. Santura had actually pre-prepared it for us – the guy knows EXACTLY what we are looking for, which is one of the reasons we love to work with him.

Compared to “Uljas uusi maailma”, our new sound is even heavier, bigger and more epic. This album will sound huge, that’s a fucking promise.

Tiera left to Kuopio this morning. He did an incredible job on the drums. To quote Santura: “You were grooving like a motherfucker!” His drumming was more versatile than I’ve ever heard him play before. It will be a pleasure to play on top of his tracks.

Usva and I headed to the nearest town to buy some groceries this morning. Meanwhile Kouta and Santura had started recording guitars for “Kalmoskooppi”, the same song, which Tiera started with a few days earlier. It is a straight-forward song with a clear structure, so there was no need for Usva and I to be present, so Usva made some banana pancakes and I transported big-ass piles of logs and chopped wood from A to B.

Kouta nailing "Aarnivalkea".

Kouta nailing “Aarnivalkea”.

It is 15:32 pm right now, and “Kalmoskooppi” is in the bag, and “Aarnivalkea” is in the works. Kouta’s goal is to nail five songs today – and he probably will.

Laakso

Day 7: The Death of Summer
August 18, 2013

Kouta delivered: five songs are in the bag as far as his rhythm guitars are concerned. He is a very precise and sharp player, so it seemed to be a piece of cake for him. However, he was exhausted after he got the job done, so he hit the sack right after.

Today’s plan is to get another 5 tracks on hard disc, and leave one till Monday. The new songs are relatively long and versatile. Today’s mission includes the cover song, classic Kuolemanlaakso heaviness, My Dying Bride type of melancholy and black metal influenced darkness as well as a few other fresh spices.

I still have a lot of lyric writing to do, so I will to my best to concentrate on it today. We went to bed early, and I feel physically and mentally reborn. Too bad, that I seem to have lost half of the notes I’ve written down for the lyrics, but they can’t be too far from the recording room bench I’m sitting on right now.

The birch leaves are turning yellow day by day. As always, Santura had a swim in the lake first thing in the morning. According to him, the water is also getting colder and colder.

Rise of the fall.

The rise of the fall.

The summer is dying slowly and inevitably. It is pitch-black at nights, lit only by the belt of stars glimmering above us. As the fall conquers the summer, our album is gathering mass bit-by-bit, riff-by-riff. Awaken, the Children of the Moon.

Laakso

Day 8: Hienoa, turtanyytti
August 19, 2013

The drums and Kouta’s guitars are done. Kouta blasted through another five tracks yesterday, so we are actually ahead of schedule. Today we will record some acoustic guitars and a song, which requires no electric instruments.

V Santura's Finnish-English studio dictionary.

V Santura’s Finnish-English studio dictionary.

We were feeling quite cheerful after a successful week of recording, so I drove down to the nearest gas station (7 km away) to get some beer. It had closed five minutes earlier.

It was getting close to 9 pm, after which it is forbidden to sell alcohol in the shops in Finland, so I had to rush to the next city, 30 kilometers away. I think I made it to Siwa at 8:58 pm, and bought a few twelve-packs.

When I arrived back to our little boot camp of doom, Usva had prepared us a late dinner in the grill, and Santura and Kouta were just in the middle of checking out our fish trap. After a week of dryness from the Gods of the lake, we actually caught a pike! Kouta disemboweled the fish like a warrior woodsman, and we grilled it fresh.

Then: beer, sauna, beer, music, beer. I woke up with a slight hangover. Usva and Santura seem to be fine, Kouta hasn’t woken up yet. It’s 12:40 pm right now.

In the morning Usva and I polished up the structure of the song, which we are going to record today. It will be quite different from everything else we’ve ever recorded, but equally cool.

We’re going to have a day off tomorrow, and the whole gang is going to Kuopio. It will be way beyond awesome to take a shower with running water, and sleep in my own bed.

Laakso

Days 9 & 10: Acoustics & a Day Off
August 20-21, 2013

We were ahead of schedule, so we didn’t feel too much pressure for this day. Kouta played his acoustic guitar parts for a few songs. After he was done, we concentrated fully on arranging and nailing the non-electric song. I think it will turn out as one of my personal favorites. It’s such a groovy and spooky song.

When the fucker was in the bag, we cleaned this place up and headed to Kuopio for a deserved day off. We dropped Usva off to his apartment, and continued to my house with Kouta and Santura. Everybody was feeling exhausted, so we hit the sack right away. Well, it was about 2 am, when we got there… We would have made it a lot earlier, but we took a little detour on some unpaved road, and stopped at an ABC gas station to get a few mega-sized burgers with four steaks and bacon.

Our day off turned out to be more fun than expected. We had lunch at a local Viking restaurant called Harald. Santura had reindeer for the first time in his life, and he absolutely loved it. Same thing with the restaurants own brand of beer, and ultra tender moose meat.

Konttila by night at full moon.

Konttila by night at full moon.

We went for a walk at the harbor and Väinölänniemi, which is a gorgeous cape by Kallavesi, and met with Tiera at the city centrum. I managed to borrow some cool and uncommon instruments from a couple of friends of mine, so we are good to go for today’s recording session.

Kouta’s job was done, so he headed for a little road trip, while the rest of us had a barbeque gathering at my house. Markus Makkonen of Hooded Menace and Sadistik Forest joined us, and we had a great time just talking a lot and eating a little.

Now we’re back in action, recording Usva’s acoustic parts. It’s sunny and warm outside, and the mood is mellow. I think we will work late tonight.

Laakso

Day 11: Call of the Night Owl
August 22, 2013

Usva finished all of his acoustic guitar parts, except a couple of melodies on one song. I don’t think I’ve been as tired at this album recording session before as I was last night, so we decided to start recording my acoustic guitars in the morning.

I only had one song to do, which turned out to be tougher than I expected. The song isn’t technically challenging, but playing the acoustic guitar was honestly quite painful – and I do mean literally.

Anyhow, I got the job done after an hour or so. Usva grooved on the same song with an acoustic bass like a mofo. He also
nailed electric basses to two other songs. NOW they sound HEAVY.

Bats circling over the lake of two full moons w/ the call of the eagle owl in the air.

Bats circling over the lake of two full moons w/ the call of the eagle owl in the air.

A few visitors came by to for the night. As the night conquered the day, two bats circled over the dark waters, lit by the full moon. As if it wasn’t eerie enough, the baleful call of an eagle owl echoed very, very near in the night forest. Is this the perfect place for recording or what?

Laakso

Day 12: Low Tone Extravaganza
August 23, 2013

We had a long day of bass recording ahead of us. Gladly we had a bunch of wicked bass sounds already set up, and Santura came up with fresh killer tones as well.

Usva was improvising quite a lot while recording. Improvisation usually leads to pretentious crap or greatness. In a few months you’ll hear which is the case here.

Usva nailed seven tracks in one day. Not bad. So, there is only one song missing as far as the bass is concerned. While Usva and Santura were busy in the studio, our guests found a whole bunch of chanterelles. Usva made badass chanterelle gravy with pasta, and Santura another cheese pasta dish. Epic mealtime.

When our guests left and the guys were recording the basses, I wrote some lyrics and recorded demo vocals for one of Usva’s songs (set up: MacBook Pro, Garage Band & MacBook Pro’s own mic). There’s still one verse missing, but I’ve got to say – being an overly self-critical bastard – I’m quite enthusiastic about the way the text and vocals are building up on that one.

The evening sun at the lake.

The evening sun at the lake.

After a long and efficient working day, we had a couple of beers and listened to 90’s classics such as Storm of the Light’s Bane by Dissection, Tonight’s Decision by Katatonia, Jester Race by In Flames and Blessed Rawings by Kyyria. Good times.

Laakso

Day 13: Logs, Burgers, Acoustics and Electrics
August 24, 2013

Usva nailed some missing acoustic leads and even a solo on the non-electronic track. Even though he is a bassist, he is by far the best acoustic guitar player of the band. While the guys were recording and working on the solo, I continued the log transporting and chopping marathon. Lots of work done in that field of business, lots to go.

Usva and V. Santura after the bass recordings. Sometimes it's hard to let go.

Usva and V. Santura after the bass recordings. Sometimes it’s hard to let go.

After Usva’s task was done, we prepared epic burgers with self-made buns, minced meat steaks, mushroom gravy (from handpicked boletes), cheese, salad, cucumber and different sauces, and homemade fries. Usva was so full that when he dipped his head underwater (daily routine), he instantly threw up. Good times.

Epic meal time.

Epic meal time.

Finally it was my turn to start with electric guitars. We began with probably the most epic track of them all: an eight-minute spectacle, which showcases the classic Kuolemanlaakso features and a spectrum of others.

I played my rhythm guitars first, and then concentrated on the leads and clean guitars. The rhythm parts were relatively easy to nail, and they were caught on hard disc rather quickly. As always, it takes some time to get the perfect sound for different parts, but Santura had a few tricks up his sleeve again, so we were good to go with the leads in no time.

After I had played the leads and the clean guitars, Santura wanted to try out a new lead on top of an instrumental passage. His objective was to tie the song tighter together by using elements from the intro melody (which are not repeated later) on his lead by varying it a little bit. I liked the idea, but we ended up twisting and turning it for two hours before both of us were satisfied. I love his vigorous and unconventional style of playing. Now the part is perfect.

We were supposed to go to the sauna afterwards, but Santura was the only one who had the energy for it. These Germans seem to be quite efficient.

Laakso

Day 14: The Profit of Doom
August 25, 2013

It was time to get my guitar recordings fully rolling. Two songs were in the bag (one electric, one non-electric), nine to go. I started with a track called “Tulenväki”, which is more or less musically inspired by the Bram Stoker’s Dracula soundtrack and the early works of Emperor. It was easier to nail than I thought even though it has some tricky parts in it.

“Aarnivalkea” was a bit harder, because it is quite an epic with loads of different shit to play – plus one of our heaviest riffs ever. After that baby was in the bag, the three of us, Santura, Usva and I, headed to the nearest town to purchase groceries. It was such a beautiful, sunny and warm evening, that we headed to admire the view from the dock for a while.

Upon our return, I nailed the catchiest tune on the album in no time. One of Usva’s songs took a while longer, and Santura ended up playing a few parts on it as well. He even wrote some leads to it. A very cool tune, one of my favorites. It’s the closest thing to black metal that this band has done so far.

As we were working on the leads to that one, Usva baked a badass lingonberry pie, which we consumed on the spot with some Alice in Chains in the mist. Five songs to go, and lots of lyrics to write before the vocal sessions start. Doom or be doomed.

Laakso

Day 15: Party Like It’s Your Birthday
August 26, 2013

Another day of guitar recordings. We started by redoing some of yesterday’s takes. They were alright, but needed a different kind of attitude in playing. Santura nailed some awesome licks again (one with a pen), and the songs are taking their final shape before the vocal recordings. Everybody’s quite excited about all the tunes.

It was also my birthday. I actually started the day by driving down to the nearest town to buy a hex key, because I left mine at home, and you cannot tune a Floyd Rose tremolo guitar without one. Those things suck, by the way. By “those” I mean Floyd Roses. They make tuning and string-changing a living hell. Note to self: get rid of all my Floyd Rose-infested guitars.

On “Uljas uusi maailma” I played all of my parts with my Schecter Hellraiser V-1, the same one I’ve been abusing at all of the Kuolemanlaakso shows. This time I’ve mostly rocked an Ibanez RG570, my favorite axe. I love its heavy-ass sound, and it’s really easy and smooth to play. Dudes at Ibanez: if you’re reading this, an endorsement deal would make a fine birthday gift…

Kouta and his girlfriend dropped by to see us, and have a peak at what we’ve been doing for the past week. It was very nice to see them even though it was a brief visit. We had a little sausage fest, and off they went.

Usva and Santura worked on some leads to Usva’s song for a couple of hours during which I chopped a huge pile of wood and smelled like a true lumberjack for the rest of the day.

A wet dream of a lumberjack.

A wet dream of a lumberjack.

We got pretty much everything done except the leads to the cover tune. After nailing that one, we’ve got time to go through every song in great detail, and see if they need some additional spices before Kotamäki gets here with his vocal cords and impressive facial hair.

We cranked up the sauna and had a bunch of good ol’ Finnish lager with “kiuasmakkaras”. Usva baked a badass lingonberry pie again, and dj’d with Björk, Cult of Luna, Ghost Brigade and such until the birthday boy took over with Oranssi Pazuzu, Beherit, Harmaja and The Morning Never Came by Swallow the Sun, one of my favorite albums ever and one helluva soundtrack for the Autumn.

Laakso

Day 16: Like Sands Through the Hour Glass
August 27, 2013

We spent the day recording missing details from here and there and penning down notes for additional percussions. I’m writing this on August 30, as I’ve been busy working on the remaining lyrics in addition to the usual shenanigans. These last few days have been a blur, and time has been flying like bats in heat. Not much else to say about the day. Well, I stayed up until 4 am watching Prozac Nation.

Laakso

Day 17: The Second Day Off
August 28, 2013

We were originally planning to have the day off in Helsinki so that we could have picked Kotamäki up on the same trip. However, we decided to spend it here in the wilderness.

I spent the day working on the lyrics of one of Usva’s songs, and Usva and Santura took the rowing boat and headed off to a nearby bay to pick mushrooms, blueberries and lingonberries. They had discovered decent piles of each one, especially the mushrooms.

Epic mushroom.

Epic mushroom.

As I was finishing the lyrics and vocal demo, the guys prepared badass mushroom gravy with fried potatoes. Santura went for a run at sunset, and the rest of the evening was spent in the sauna.

Laakso

Day 18: Shit Hit the Band
August 29, 2013

I don’t know if it was the mushrooms, sauna sausages or what, but I woke up at 7 am with a weird stomachache. My belly had swollen ridiculously, and I was feeling horrible. I don’t want to go to nasty details, but I believe it had something to do with the (non-magic) mushrooms we had the day before.

Santura was feeling 100 % normal, but Usva had exactly the same symptoms as I did. He had also woken up at 7 am, and hit the crapper immediately. In fact, he was in a much more serious state than I. He spent most of the day in his “private suite” sleeping, reading about soccer and trying to survive.

Santura and I went through each of the songs that we had written notes for, and recorded all the missing parts, except a solo on the cover song we’ve recorded. Santura will nail it at his studio, when he gets back.

This day was all about fun and feeling mellow (and shitty at the same time). We recorded some guitars, but the main thing were the percussions. As our selection of “real instruments” is limited, we experimented with a bunch of stuff we found in the kitchen. In addition to recording witchdrum and tambourine, we nailed some finger snaps, handclaps, Pepsi Max shaker, sugar, couscous and oat.

Instruments of terror.

Instruments of terror.

So, we’ve only vocal recordings to do. But let’s not jump in joy yet. A friend of ours was supposed to bring a vocal preamp to Kotamäki last night, but his car had broken down, and the guy wasn’t that excited about walking around Helsinki at nighttime with a heavy device after a 10-hour working shift. No preamp, no album. We were going ape-shit here, and it was nearly midnight.

After scratching our heads trying to figure out a plan b, Kotamäki sent a message, that Mikko Karmila, one of the most notable Finnish producers, just walked into the same bar he was in. Karmila was kind enough to rent us his preamp, and thus we are good to go again. What a great day of Mikkos!

Laakso

Day 19: Storm of Tonight’s Decision
August 30, 2013

Usva was feeling much better than the day before, and so was I. We’re still not in our normal everyday condition, but at least we’re both functioning. All three of us (Usva, Santura and I) drove to the nearest city to pick Kotamäki up from the railroad station.

Kotamäki had Karmila’s preamp with him, which pretty much saved our asses as far as recording vocals is concerned. We headed straight to the local Prisma, and bought shitloads of stuff, mostly meat, beer and wine. All six of us, Santura and the band, appreciate good food and enjoy cooking (culinary doom), which is awesome.

Kotamäki started his epistle with possibly our blackest song ever, and nailed it in no time. He was feeling a bit tired, as he had only slept for five hours on the previous night, so our goal was to record two songs, not more. I screamed demo vocals for three songs as guidelines for him during the break. The purpose of them is to help him out with the rhythms I’ve had in mind for the lyrics. Some of them he uses, some of them he doesn’t. The only thing that truly matters is the best possible outcome.

The ever-cheerful vocalist has arrived.

Our ever-cheerful vocalist has arrived.

The second song he nailed was Kouta’s “Kalmoskooppi”. Evil shit. We had a little party after the songs were done, and the whole gang hit the sauna. Kotamäki had brought a two-star Jaloviina bottle with him. It is a rarity nowadays as it was a limited edition, which has been sold out for a long time. I’m glad Santura had the opportunity to taste it.

We listened to old nineties classics again during the night, mainly “Storm of the Lights Bane” by Dissection and “Tonight’s Decision” by Katatonia. Some claim that the best metal music was produced in the nineties, and they kind of have a point…

Laakso

Days 20–23: The Final Chapters
August 31–September 3, 2013

The last days of recording were so busy, that I didn’t have time to update this diary “in real time”. I’m writing this entry from my livingroom couch, a day after the arrival back home.

While Kotamäki and Santura were capturing vocal magic on hard disc, with Usva as Santura’s co-pilot, I locked myself in my studio bedroom and worked on the remaining lyrics. There were plenty left. I had chosen the topics of the lyrics a long time ago, but hadn’t finished all the texts yet. Luckily I had made decent notes beforehand, and brought a few great books with me.

Time flew so fast, that I lost track of what happened on each particular day, and every day felt like Groundhog Day. Our alcohol consumption was surprisingly low before Kotamäki arrived. That certainly changed, when he got here…

Kotamäki enjoys his beer, wine and liquor, but he’s also a superb chef. Usually the gang got up at around 11 or noon, we had breakfast (or beer), and started working. I had recorded vocal demos of all the songs I had lyrics for, except one. When I finished writing lyrics to that one, I just handed the guys the text, told them to do their best, and headed back to my bedroom to continue on another track.

After a couple hours the guys came knocking on my door. The hair on my arms blasted to a full erection and my smile was wider than Canada, when I heard their vocal arrangements and Kotamäki’s ultra brutal and theatrical delivery – absolute perfection. As were Mikko’s and Usva’s culinary treats.

The guys changed the position of our fish trap, and they captured two decent pikes in two days. Tiera (drums) drove down to feast with us on Saturday. He had only heard his drum tracks and some of Kouta’s guitars before he left two weeks earlier, and was very impressed with our work. And there was much rejoicing. Beer, two-star Jaloviina, red wine and a few pranks might have been involved.

Saturday night fever.

Saturday night fever.

I was feeling stressed out on Sunday: two days left, three songs to write lyrics to. I got the ball rolling rather fast, and managed to deliver two of them in one day. It is quite schizophrenic and demanding to dive mentally in a certain mood, topic and atmosphere of the song you are working on, and continue directly to the next one. I had been giving a lot of thought on the topics of each song during the last three or so months, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Kotamäki had two songs to sing on the last day of recording – and I had to come up with the lyrics of the latter one on the very same day. Be as it may, instead of feeling überstressed, I felt happy, relaxed and creative. The lyrics I wrote that day were surely one of the best I’ve ever done.

We stayed up late on the last night, and had a long and warm-hearted discussion about our three-week adventure in the woods with Santura. Needles to say, we love working with him, and I believe the feeling is mutual. We were already half-jokingly planning our next cooperation, and where it could take place. The first one was in the middle of the winter in German southwestern countryside and this one at summer’s end in the middle of the Finnish woods.

We slept about 4 hours, got up, cleaned up, packed the car and headed to the railway station. Or so we thought… The car wouldn’t start, and we were running out of time! If they guys wouldn’t make the train, Santura would surely miss his flight back to Germany.

I called them a cab, which arrived surprisingly fast, given the fact that we were ten kilometers away from the nearest village. They made the train barely.

The battery of my car had somehow drained. Luckily an old geezer, whose cabin stands nearby, was at the terrace of his place, and helped me out. He arranged a battery charger for me, and after unpacking the car (the battery is located under the trunk) and charging the battery for an hour and a half, I got the engine running again.

What an adventure. And I don’t just mean the last morning, but the whole three plus weeks in the wild. Thank you, Santura, Kouta, Usva, Tiera, Kotamäki, Svart Records and everybody, who made this possible. I do believe that these songs brought out the best in all of us. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. The mixing will commence in a few weeks.

Thank YOU for the support, and reading this studio diary.

With much respect and gratitude,

Laakso

P.S. We will not only be releasing an album, but an exclusive EP as well. So, lots of new Kuolemanlaakso material will be heading your way in the following months.

2 Responses to “Studio Diary 2013”

  1. […] the shores of a lake. This morning I spent time I didn’t have reading Markus Laakso’s day-by-day studio diary, because it was both interesting and entertaining (and mouth-watering — this group ate well […]

  2. […] times before, in connection with their first album, a follow-on EP, and a highly entertaining day-by-day studio diary written by guitarist Markus Laakso while the group was recording this new album with V. Santura […]

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