Here we come
Mokoma is a thrash metal band formed in Lappeenranta, Finland in 1996. Their music also has grindcore and death metal influences with traditional Finnish melancholy.Read More
Mokoma started out as a creation of Marko Annala, who is the bands lead singer, and has been the band's only original bandmember. Through the years several members have come and gone, but only Marko has remained constant. The band started out as a more traditional rock band with their first two albums "Valu" and "Mokoman 120 päivää". However, both albums sold badly and they were eventually dropped when they suggested to their record company (EMI), that they wanted to play something more closer to their hearts, thrash metal. The group moved on and created their own record company, called Sakara Records, and released their third album "Kurimus", which is sometimes regarded as the first thrash metal album sung in Finnish. That was the first release of the members' independent record company Sakara Records. Since then they have released four more albums and an EP called "Viides vuodenaika", which reached position one in the Finnish albums chart. Their latest album releases are "180 astetta" released in 2012 and "Elävien kirjoihin" released in 2015.
Mokoma's story is one of the most inspiring in the history of Finnish Metal and music business. Past years of the band has celebrated their unbelievable rise from being the underdogs dropped by a major company to being the top dogs with their own label.
In the late 90’s Finland’s metal scene started booming with bands singing in Finnish. Previously English had been the one and only metal language. Then some bands combined metal guitars with Finnish lyrics. Successful acts were followed by copycats, and the main recipe was to churn out sluggish mid-tempo riffs accompanied by lyrics dwelling in ten different types of misery.
During those days Mokoma was signed to EMI, and Kuisma Aalto joined as a guitarist and Roope Laasonen in keyboards. The band released two albums "Valu" (1999) and "Mokoman 120 päivää" (2001). Before these albums the keyboard player Roope Laaksonen quit Mokoma, and Tuomo Saikkonen joined as a second guitarist. At that time Mokoma’s sound was closer to grunge influenced rock, with some metal elements emerging occasionally. In 1999 Janne Hynynen left the band and he was replaced by Mikko Ruokonen for one gig, and after him Raikko Törönen takes the place as the drummer for several gigs. Törönen's health crashes down and Juhana Rantala takes his place as a deputy. After realising that Törönen wouldn't come back to the band, Janne Hyrkäs takes the drummers place just couple of months before the recording of the second album.
Both albums sold poorly and when Mokoma introduced their idea about an album based on Thrash Metal songs sung in Finnish, EMI instantly dropped them. Since no other company was ready to produce the album without compromising band’s musical vision, band decided to set up their own label, Sakara Records, and release the album on their own. Mokoma was convinced that instead of following marketing visions of a major company they should be playing stuff that was closest to their hearts – Thrash.
Rest is history. Their first two albums with their own label "Kurimus" (2003) and "Tämän maailman ruhtinaan hovi" (2004) were both benchmark records. "Kurimus" is regarded as the first Thrash Metal album sung in Finnish. It was hailed in unison by audience and media for bringing fresh air into the Finnish metal scene. It shipped less than 200 copies, but eventually sold thousands, as the word and freely distributed mp3-single "Takatalvi" spread among the metal fans. Mokoma made a huge impact on the metal scene. After their success all types of metal bands started to sing in Finnish, Thrash became “hip” again, and more and more bands started record labels to produce their own records.
Mokoma also has strong cross-over elements. Their approach on Thrash has never been too narrow-minded, and they’ve mixed in melodic and slower parts as well. Mokoma is a metal band by definition, but they don’t follow all metal’s rules by default. Thrash puritans have always had problem with this, but Mokoma’s undeniable strength is the fact that by breaking a few rules, they open doors to people whose primary interest is not in the most extreme end of metal spectrum. Marko Annala’s lyrics are good example of this. He explores areas that are far from metal clichés and writes in a distinctive style. Unfortunately you have to be Finnish to fully understand all the intertextual references to literature and proverbs, but fortunately you don’t have to understand a word to appreciate Annala’s powerful expression as a flexible vocalist.
Mokoma’s success came with active touring. In April 2003, at their “Kurimus” album release party in Helsinki, Mokoma played in as-measly-as-it-gets rock bar for about hundred people. Seven months and dozens of shows later, in November 2003, Mokoma ended their tour at sold-out Tavastia, the number one rock club in Finland.
Immediately after the tour to support "Kurimus" was over, Mokoma headed back to studio. "Tämän maailman ruhtinaan hovi" came out in May 2004, and shot up straight to number 2 in the official Finnish album chart. Heikki Kärkkäinen loses his intrest for the band and leaves before the recording. Tuomo Saikkonen and Kuisma Aalto plays the bass for the album. The only album ahead was the debut of a Finnish Idols finalist, released the same day. Talking about perfect contrast: Idols star and DIY-metal-heroes back-to-back on the top of the chart. In total "TMRH" spent 13 weeks in the Finnish top 40.
"TMRH" topped all the expectations set after the success of "Kurimus", and sold nearly 10.000 copies. "Uni saa tulla" became a radio hit, thus widening Mokoma's audience. Again Mokoma concreted its success by touring like there's no tomorrow. Be it a small club or the main stage of a major festival, the audience has learned to trust that Mokoma always delivers an ecstatic show – without stage props or a lighting engineer. All this resulted in the 2004 polls where Mokoma was a top act. For example in the annual Finnish Metal Awards, Sirkkelirock, Mokoma was awarded as The Band of the Year and "TMRH" as The Album of the Year. They were also nominated for Emma Award, the Finnish equivalent of Grammy. Santtu Hämäläinen, the former roadie of Mokoma takes the place as the bass player.
A fair portion of Mokoma’s live energy is captured on the self-titled DVD, released before Christmas 2004. It was an instant success, rocketing to number one on the Finnish DVD chart. Eventually the DVD sold over 5.000 copies, and thus received Gold status in Finland. Gold DVD award is a rare treat in Finland, as in 2005-2006 only six domestic artists, including HIM and Nightwish, were awarded a Gold DVD.
In 2005 Mokoma didn't release any new material, but still did a sold-out club tour and performed at almost all of the major summer festivals in Finland. Mokoma’s career held its rising trend in 2006. “Kuoleman Laulukunnaat” was released in February, and went straight to number one on the Official Finnish Chart. Mokoma’s active fan base was heavily mobilized, as during the first week of sales almost every fifth album sold in Finland was “KLK”. Before the release Mokoma was featured on the cover of every major Finnish rock magazine.
Musically band took another giant leap by producing their heaviest album to date. Like the previous two albums, “KLK” has Thrash as the center line, but on “KLK” Mokoma presents wider influences from Death Metal and Grind Core. Those who know will pick up echoes of such bands as Meshuggah, Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, and Deicide. Not the most typical references for an album about love… Lyrically “Kuoleman laulukunnaat” deal with the aftermath of a broken relationship. Marko Annala goes totally bare reflecting these feelings in the lyrics, but especially in his vocal output. His vocals vary from clean singing to shouting and to deranged screaming. And yes, even Finns need the printed lyrics to follow.
The raging opening track “Valapatto” starts the storyline from desertion and broken vows, and the last song “Lujaa tekoa” ends the chapter while the storyteller - who has grown stronger through the experience - will stand proud regardless all the hits he has taken. In the tracks between Annala spits out every feeling involved; hate, anger, guilt, despair, denial, self-loathing, loneliness and sadness. Song “Itken silmät päästäni” –Crying my eyes out, literally translated – is the culmination point of the album, and its words are the epitome of Annala’s unorthodox approach to metal lyrics.
One very characteristic aspect of the lyrics is that there’s not a single cursing word on the album. The heaviness rises from the personal content and the way they’re sung, not from obvious vulgarities.
The video to track “Pahaa verta” is an exhilarating piece, and its effect on mosh pit activity during Mokoma’s shows has been noticeable.
In October 2006 Mokoma released an EP including some songs that were dropped from “KLK” and one of the few covers Mokoma has ever played – a Finnish translation of Death’s “Open Casket”.
In 2007 Mokoma did many gigs and in end of the summer-start of the autumn they went to studio. In November, they released their sixth album "Luihin ja ytimiin." Luihin ja ytimiin is mix of Mokoma in years 2002-2005 and "death metal -Mokoma." And there is some acoustic guitar, (played by Santtu Hämäläinen) which was never heard before in Mokoma's albums, too (in the ending of the song "Ammu, hautaa ja vaikene.") Jouni Hynynen from Kotiteollisuus visits in the album, playing extra-guitar in song "Marras'" chorus.
Mokoma received their first Gold record (15,000 sold albums) for "KLK" at Provinssirock 12.6.2008. Second Gold record (5,000 sold singles/EP's) for "Viides Vuodenaika" was given to Mokoma 15.7.2008.
Mokoma started rehearsing new songs in spring 2009. The band started to write studiodiary in their forum. Mokoma does many shows through the summer in summer festivals and also in clubs.
The band entered the studio in late 2009, and the seventh studio album "Sydänjuuret" (Heartroots or Roots of heart roughly translated) was released in March 24th 2010. Main theme of Sydänjuuret is Finland, being a finnish and what does roots mean to lyricist Marko Annala. Two singles were released from the album. The opening track "Sydänjuuret" and "Ei kahta sanaa (ilman kolmatta)".