is a band that have released in the past very good and excellent albums.
Their new album “The Cold White Light” is a masterpiece of good
heavy and goth metal music! Sami Lopakka
the guitarist of the band contact us to talk about their new
magnificent work. The phone rings and…
Hello this Sami
good to hear you. This is Sami who?
Sami Lopakka, the guitar player.
As you might know we’ve voted your album as album of the month in our site.
you very much.
Congratulations on the album, I find it magnificent. Sorry, but where are you calling from?
I’m calling from home in northern Finland.
I am asking because I have a good friend who lives in Tampere and I always want to visit.
We are actually playing in Tampere next Saturday (May the 25th)
really, have you organized your tour yet?
Yeah, we have some Finish shows already and we will play some club shows
and festivals over the summer. Actually the European tour & tour in
North American are under booking, but I think we will be very busy after
Yeah, I really hope so too. We already wanted to go years ago, but there
always was problem and we have a lot of funs there & we get response
and requests from Greece and it would be really nice to go.
The Cold White Light…what is the meaning behind the title?
There is no
specific meaning. We wanted to have an open title as there are so many
different songs in the album. The light can be the light of death, or
life, or the life of hope. It can be almost anything and we like this
idea as it is open enough and puts the songs together. And to call it
cold and white makes it more Sentenced-sounding as it sounds north. It
is a cold atmospheric and melancholic title.
I have the feeling that although some call your music “suicidal”, it is not so-at least not anymore. I mean, the lyrics might be depressive, but the feeling I get after listening to the album is one of relief, it leaves a rather sweet taste…
Yeah, I agree, the music works that way as well and it is true that we
often concentrate on negative sides of life and have sorrowful things on
the lyrics and also have many songs that were dealing with suicide and
things like that. When there is this feeling, it doesn’t matter if you
play or listen to it, it’s always a thing of experience. We also
wanted to say that with the band that we aren’t always so serious with
suicide songs etc. For example on the new album there are songs that are
dealing with suicide but also from a black humoristic point of view,
like “excuse me while I kill myself” and we kind of wanted to show
people that nothing is always that bad and we are able to laugh at life
and death and also to our own image. We didn’t like to have this image
of a “suicidal band” it is something that happened because we have
many songs that deal with suicide and we all have like better or weaker
moments in our lives. With Sentenced we often concentrate on those
weaker moments, but this doesn’t mean that we are trying to kill
ourselves every day or we are depressed all the time. You have to
remember that music is a form of art and not a direct report of our
lives or something like that. And suicide and death in general are
really dramatic events. And I believe that in music things have to be
dramatic to get this cleansing melancholy experience I was talking about
So it’s not that you are changing directions or anything, rather you put things back into place, right?
did the recording procedure come along?
We did the album during three months and we had some breaks in between.
We started at Helsinki, which is about 600 km away from here and we
recorded the drums there as there was a large room for that where we
could get the sound just right for the drums and then we came back to
our home town and recorded everything else here, which was very healthy
for the whole project as we could go home after each day and things were
easier. When everything was finished we had a little break between
recording and mixing and we wanted to take the time to listen to all the
things we created. We had a couple of weeks of and then went back to
Helsinki to Finvox Studio and mix and mastered the album there. It was
finished in February.
you have a standard method to compose the songs?
Yeah, I would say so. We have three main songwriters in the band, Miika
Tenkula who writes most of the songs and Ville and me do some as well.
And we do like that: the songwriter writes the whole song and all the
melodies and vocal melodies alone at home, then we do rehearsals to try
it out and see if something is to be changed. Usually always something
has to be changed but when there is in the booklet, for example, music
by Miika Tenkula for “Brief Is the Light” then it’s I would say
95% his work and 5% of the work we did together. The lyrics are added
after the music is done. We record the new song and the new vocal
melodies and things like that, then the lyrics are written from the
feeling we get from the song.
is the deal behind the songs with the Finish titles?
The first one “Konevitsan Kirkonkellot”, is a traditional Finish
composition and we just made it really heavy and gloomy with all these
birds and church bells. The title means “the church bells of
Konevitsan” which is a historic place in Finland and this is
traditional song, we wanted to keep the original title. The other one
“Aika Multaa Muistot” could be translated as “time buries the
memories” as there is this saying – I don’t know how it is in
English – but in a way is “as time passes by only remember the good
things that happened to you and forget about the bulshit. But in this
song it is upside down and we say that as time passes by you will only
remember the bad things that’s happened to you and forget about the
good ones, so your life was disappointment after disappointment. The
reason of having a Finish title there is that there a wordplay in Finish
that works better than in English.
would you describe your sound, to someone who hadn’t heard the band
This is always a
hard question. We have actually being aiming at it so we can only forget
this hard question, but I could say it is melodic metal music with
elements of rock and constant atmosphere of melancholy and quite gloomy
lyrics…yes that would be it.
We still recommend to people to listen to the music and make up their
minds about the sound.
you believe that this record can be a bigger breakthrough for you to
larger audiences beyond the metal scene?
Yeah maybe it could be, but this is not something we thought about when
we wrote the songs. The album is basically done in the same way we
usually do: close all the doors around us and do what feels best. This
time there many different songs in the album and it’s possible that
this would gain us more listeners or fans in and outside the metal
scene. We wait and see what happens. We are not dreaming of selling
millions of albums. It’s not the write point to start making music. We
always concentrate on having the best possible songs in our own opinion
then if people like is good, but is extra to us, as the main point is to
I understand this perfectly and I believe this is the reason why you play this kind of music, but I read an interview by the singer of Valley’s Eve, who said he doesn’t believe that people write music for their own shake and they don’t count fans’ opinion. What would you say about that?
Well, maybe the one who said that, really thinks that way, but I would
say that if we would think about any people’s expectation or reactions
when we write we would come with shit and it wouldn’t work. When you
create something you have to be true to yourself, otherwise you would
make a product like a plastic plate or something. Music is a form of
art, when you write songs and lyrics you to forget any other people,
even your own past and follow your instinct. At least this is how it
works for us. And according to my opinion, this is the only way to
create something worth listening.
respect that. Tell me how many times per day do you listen to the new
S: Well, I’ve heard the songs maybe a hundred times. I don’t have the instant urge to play it all the time when I’m home. Also when we are rehearsing for the live shows at the moment, I hear the songs anyway. Maybe when I have free time on the weekend, I can play it once, but I think I have heard enough of these songs for two or three human lives (laughs).
question is: now that you can look at the album from a distance, is
there anything that you would like to change to it?
No, at least not yet. There isn’t enough distance yet, as it’s been
only a few months that is has been ready, but we are really satisfied
with the album. It has a lot of variation and it came out the way we
wanted it and at this point at least we have no regrets about it.
You said earlier that the only way to write good songs is to forget about the past. Can you do that? I mean you are one of the starting members of the band, how do you see the evolution of the band? Do you ever take it into account before writing the new songs?
Ahm, the early days – at least with the first album “Shadows of the
Past” in 1991 – we were very young and had been playing only for a
couple of years. I think the first album is a typical album. It is all
right but it’s not very original even for being in the early 90’s.
But ever since that album we have progressed and tried to seek for
something new. Already from the “North From Here” album, which is a
couple of years later, we were a totally different band, finding our own
sound and our own style and learn to express things. Then again with the
“Amok” album, which is 1995, it is all different again. You can see
that already from those early albums we could forget about the past when
writing and kept changing from album to album. In the beginning when we
started we absolutely did not see what the future would be like and even
at this point I don’t know what the next album is going to be like.
It’s always the result of the moment when we write the songs.
you satisfied with what the band has succeeded so far?
Ahm yes I am.
The success and those kind of these have been growing with every album
and I would say that the band has been growing and music has as well.
And we can try new things as we have progressed as musicians and also
there are so many new possibilities with how to make the music. I’m
really satisfied with where we are now. And it is interesting to see
with the new album where we will go to.
is the response for the album so far?
It has been very good. We have mainly heard
reviews form journalists and opinions from people we’ve been talking
to and it has been really good. It has been chosen the album of the
month in many magazines like the German Metal Hammer and all our friends
who have heard the album said this is our best one and in a week we will
hit the road with the new songs and see how the fans will react in the
shows, I am really confident with that, as it seems that people accept
this new album and we really like it and are satisfied with the
direction we are taking.
am not trying to flatter you but I think this is your best work.
Oh, thanks, I think so too.
tell me, was there a time when you were despaired with the music
industry or the band itself and
said “shit, I am going to give up, I can’t handle it anymore”?
I would say we were pretty close to that,
after our last tour, which was the tour for “Crimson”…
Yes, not for the music industry. But we
were recording, touring, rehearsing, recording, touring, rehearsing,
several years in a row and we were totally stressed out. After that tour
we took a long break for half a year, during which we didn’t even talk
to each other that much. That was a very wise decision from us, maybe
the only wise decision we’ve ever made, but we found ourselves again
during the break and we found the joy of writing and playing and after
that the new songs came out pretty fast and easily and naturally. I
think you can even hear it from the new album that the band is really
fresh and relaxed, the play is tight and we are enjoying what we are
am tempted to ask, have you heard Tanelli’s new record? What do you
think about it?
Yes, I think that Black League have some brilliant moments in their
music, but for my taste these moments are a bit too few and the albums
are always like 60 minutes or so with kind of like the same kind of
stuff from the beginning till the end. So it gets boring quite easily.
But there is some stuff that I like from them. And actually we are
friends with Tanelli still and we see each other still from time to
time. There wasn’t any bad blood between any of us during the years. I
respect what he is doing and he is doing what he likes to do and don’t
ask anyone’s expectations. Not my favorite band, but ok.
Looking at the band now and what it has succeeded, do you think it was a good decision that he left the band?
Yes, at the timing it didn’t feel very
good when he left the band, but at the end it seems to be a quite good
decision for the band. With Ville we have so more possibilities in our
music. We can concentrate on the vocal melodies and build different
harmonies, create various atmospheres with the vocals. Tanelli was more
of a growling type of vocalist. Ville is a more skillful and able to do
more different stuff.
are the main influences for the band, and for your separately?
For the band is pretty hard to name any specific influences. Almost
everyone has their own musical taste. We try to avoid any specific
musical idols or influences, but almost everything that we hear and like
affect our music. I can only speak for myself. I lately listen to bands
like Anathema and Typo O Negative, also some Finish stuff which is pure
melancholy. My musical taste doesn’t matter what kind of music it is.
I always look for the right kind of emotion and melodies and the
atmosphere and it can be from classical music to extreme metal music.
would be the best group to tour with?
Ahm, the early days Metallica, but they
don’t exist anymore. I would like to tour with Type O Negative, which
is one of my favorite bands of all times.
That would be a great package for the fans too.
Also for us. The guys are really humoristic and we get along with them
release of DVDs seems to be the new fashion. Do you have any similar
Not any specific plans, but we have talked about it and possibly in the
autumn we might tape one show, for a video or a live album. We could
also put our music videos there, as we have five of them now. And we
include some stuff from the tour bus and backstage or something funny
that has happened during the years and so on. It is an interesting idea
and it might happen once, maybe this year. If we record a show from the
tour , we might release a DVD in March or April. (Interviewer's note:
This is an exclusive new!)
look, we have some common weird questions that we ask all our
interviewees, and their answers will appear soon on a special section of
the site. It’s just for fun, are you ready?
really? Do you have any children?
No, not yet.
then imagine that your wife once sells your record-collection in order
to buy a designer dress. How would you react?
is she there?
(more laughs)…I would burn the dress (and more laughs)
imagine that you are not married and you are in a bar and the woman of
your dreams comes in. Which song will you choose in the juke-box in
order to approach her?
Ahm…something really fancy classical music like “Addagio” from
are the dj in a rock club. Which are the three songs you would
S: “Angel of Death” from Slayer, “Moonchild” from Fields of the Nephilim and “Loverman” from Nick Cave.
is your favorite cartoon hero?
S: I would say Donald Duck. Always bad luck.
Ok, mine too. Imagine the ultimate heavy metal band of all time. Who plays each instrument?
Lombardo the drums. Steve Harris bass, Tom Araya on the vocals and Miika
Tenkula on the guitar!
Ok! That’s pretty much it. Would you like to add something?
Yeah, I really hope that we will arrive to play in Greece this year and
would like to send greetings to all our fans there. If we come, we would
like to see you all there. Keep on banging and keep it easy!