(In this interview, Comrade Aleks has a conversation with Mikko Kääriäinen, vocalist/bassist of Finland’s Cardinals Folly.)
As you probably remember, a few days ago we published an interview with Church of Void, a cool Finnish doom metal band. Their vocalist Magus Corvus (a common name in this region) revealed that Church and two other bands plan a dark conspiracy in the name of occult powers, recording a sinister split-album!
So, one of these other bands bears the name Cardinals Folly…. This blasphemous outfit was born in Helsinki in 2004. They play doom metal with an anarchic approach, as some members gained experience playing in black metal bands.
I’ve found this band interesting, as they have their own ideas and proper skills to perform them, successfully following traditional doom metal law. Probably they aren’t perfect, yet remarkable and talented — surely this cult has the power, and this power is dangerous!
Mikko Kääriäinen conducted this interview during a nightmarish and bloody séance, the details of which I would like to miss…
Hail Mikko! Cardinals Folly is a doom band from Helsinki. You started as The Coven in 2004, and since then you have recorded two full-length albums. What else would you like to add to this brief definition?
Only that we’re a REAL doom metal band. One of the rare doom bands who actually play metal… you know, METAL. METAL as in: Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Bathory, The Gates of Slumber, Iron Maiden, Trouble, Venom, Reverend Bizarre, Burzum, Cathedral, Electric Wizard…. METAL! Riffs, melodies, harmonies, varying tempos, mixing slow & low with fast & hard.
And what about those black metal influences I feel in “Morbid Glory”, the song from your second album Our Cult Continues!?
We already started to do that song with Sami, before he left the band. Actually, that song in composed by me, Juho, and Sami, ’cause we continued that after he left. Yeah, things we were following in a new direction already before the new line-up.
Why did you decide to change the name back in 2007? It seems that Cardinals Folly has a similar conception and plays in same vein as The Coven did…
The Coven was a name that fit our music, but there simply were too many bands with the same name. We needed something of our own. I found CARDINALS FOLLY from Wheatley’s black magic novels, it just resonated in me. It fits. It’s us.
Cardinals Folly – Black Baroness
Mikko, Cardinals Folly’s lineup changed through time, you even had Sami Rautio of My Shameful in the crew, and it seems that you are the only member of the original lineup. How did all these changes influence the band’s sound?
Well, we struggled in the past. I needed guys who could share my enthusiasm and dedication. No offence to the former members. They were all good guys. But now we have Juho and Joni, and the circle is complete. With Juho arriving, our sound, influences, and input got much wider, and Joni and his dedication completed the band. Now the band is extremely focused and sharp just by itself, there´s no struggle.
So I can suppose that the process of composing and recording of Cardinals Folly’s first and second album are different? How did you share your roles during the work? And did Sami Rautio try to change the band’s direction to his favorite disturbed death doom metal?
Every process is more or less different. ‘Cause we’re reviewing our methods, we’re EVOLVING…. we write riffs together with Juho, and either of us comes up with a few good ones and we take it from there, usually together.
There´s no damn way to make Cardinals Folly a “disturbed death doom” band…. the aesthetics simply aren´t there…. Sami knew this, and I think we succeeded pretty well, considering the limited time we had… he never had real time for any band.
You’ve started with two EPs – Heretic’s Hangover and Orthodox Faces. I guess that the band has worked over a blasphemous image, or anticlerical at least. What drove you to move that way?
No need to move there, Finland is a pagan country anyway. A certain mentality breeds in the hard frozen north. Or at least it did.
In hell you will definitely meet more interesting people than in heaven, so I’m fine with my way of life and the pact with the devil. Satan is metal´s master! And the source of our power. I’m fine with that. And he’s not “evil”. That´s just dogmatic. He’s misunderstood. Metal is about pleasure and hedonism, Satan is the key. One life to live….
Well, then what are your plans for Christmas? And what’s with the old traditions? Doesn’t Joulupukki feed upon children who acted up during the year?
Going to my parents for the holidays to eat well, and of course drink…. it’s a feast. They treat me like a little pig bound for the oven in the future…. and I love it…. Santa Claus used to be in love with me, now I just need to beg for presents…. luckily things aren’t as bad as in that King Diamond song….
The first full-length album Such Power is Dangerous! was done in 2011. It is good for a debut, yet the sound isn’t perfect. How do you value this record now?
Well, it’s a documentation of that era. It’s pretty epic and traditional doom, faithful to that concept. I sometimes wonder how the hell we managed to make those songs work even THAT well, and how damn long my lyrics were. Weird Tales indeed! It’s something we’ll never attempt to re-create, I’m sure. A product of it’s time and that line-up. I do like the sound though.
What are your requirements for the Cardinals Folly sound? For example, how do you see it on the second album, Our Cult Continues!?
It must be raw, primitive, and heavy. Lots of bass. Plocking and buzzing bass sound. Sharp and metallic guitar. Echoing dramatic vocals…. you know how it is… I actually think we really DO have a sound of our own, it kinda emerged through the years. On the last album, the guitars were intentionally more fuzzy and stoner-ish, but on the next one it’s more traditional metal again.
Our Cult Continues! was released a year ago. How has the band spent this period since then?
We’ve composed and recorded our new third album, Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom, which will be out in February 2016. Actually, we’ve done a huge load of songs during this period — even the fourth album is mostly composed! Also, we have played about 10 gigs since the release of the previous album.
Damn! You need to tell us more about the third record! What do you already have? Where will it be published? Bring it on!
It will have 7 tracks, running totally for 43 minutes. It’s a back-to-the-roots thing IN A WAY. Very traditional heavy doom. Shadow Kingdom puts it out in February 2016, they just told me. The tracklisting is:
- The Poison Test
- Goats On The Left
- Her Twins of Evil
- Nocturnal Zeal (Winter Orgy)
- Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom
- La Papesse
You have a song with an interesting name – “Sighisoaren” — which is dedicated to the mythic image of Vlad Tepes, also known as Dracula. I bet that not everyone knows about Sighisoara, the home town of Dracula, so… How did you work over that song and its lyrics?
On “Sighisoaran”, we actually started building the song by taking old guitar compositions that Juho had made ages ago. It sounded more like depressive black metal than doom, and he felt it wouldn’t work in our music. After he joined the band, I clearly felt that the music would take more influences from black metal though, so I felt those parts should and could be used.
We already had “Morbid Glory” done, with a weird beginning that sounded something like the Burzum way, more than your average trad doom band, so the seeds were planted. I put some doomy parts in there myself, and so we structured the whole damn beast.
I think that song sounds like Drudkh and Cathedral out together in the Carpathian mountains picking venomous berries! I had the “Sighisoaran” title and most of the lyrics done before all this already, I was just waiting for the right song to deliver that atmosphere. This one sure did.
Our Cult Continues! has a truly hideous artwork – how did you decide to choose it? Who is its author, and how did you let him / her know what you wanted to see?
Our drummer back then, Sebastian, painted the cover arts. I had this idea of these characters performing a sabbath in the Finnish midsummer setting amidst the woods. It turned out even better than expected. It’s sinister and hideous, like you said, but also somewhat epic and trippy at the same time. Like a black magic horror movie performed with D&D color schemes.
It’s said that your lyrics are based on “the weird tales of Howard, Wheatley, Lovecraft”, is it all true?
Among other things. Those were the foundation on which I started to build my lyrics when we started and made the first EPs. After that, it’s obviously become more wide.
On our next album, Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom, most of the songs actually derive their inspiration from different kinds of cult movies. I just had a period where I watched about every damn weird movie from around the ’70s era, and they were fascinating stories. Like Cardinals Folly on the screen, really. So I had to write songs about them.
It felt natural. Of course everything I see, read, and hear on a constant basis influences me. It’s mostly pretty dark or weird stuff. This band and its aesthetics are a perfect mental outlet for me, to practice this side of myself.
Considering the new album’s name, I dare to suppose that it’s also based on some of Lovecraft’s stories – isn’t it?
Not actually, just the title. “Her Twins of Evil”, the third track on the album, is based on Lovecraft’s “Dunwich Horror” though… you know…. Wilbur Wheatley and his brother… sons of YOG-SOTHOTH….. but the album title is a perfect way to sum up all the decadence, which we introduce on these 7 tracks of pleasure and pain.
Sir Christopher Lee left this mortal world in June 2015, and you have a song “The Mad Monk” based on one of his movies. What attracted you in this odious figure?
Well, the song is about Rasputin. One of the most mystical figures of known history. Combine the man, the myth, and that movie… and it was not difficult to find inspiration. Again, using hypnotic powers to charm women while enjoying from an overabundance of wine is also very Cardinals Folly. We drink too much as well, and we always mess it up with women.
Mikko, how do you like the image of Rasputin in the songs of Iron Void, Type O Negative, and Boney M?!
They’re alright, but I prefer Boney M’s version…. Of course, the Cardinals Folly version is the best one…. just listen to those riffs while imagining him sipping wine and dancing in a tavern amidst women…. and you will know what I mean!!!!!
Church of Void’s priest Magus told us that you have also taken part in a split release with them and Acolytes of Moros. What have you prepared for this release?
We had two songs recorded that we didn’t put on our next album, so we decided to use them on this split. They’re not leftovers, though. I think both tracks are powerful and solid. We’ve also planned to play some gigs with the Voidhangers and Morolytes when this comes out.
We always have fun with the Church of Void guys, and also those Swedes seem to be OK. Their guitarist beat us in armwrestling, but the official explanation is that we were drunk, and NEXT TIME…
Cardinals Folly – Our Cult Continues!
How often and where do you usually play gigs?
Well, that depends on the offers, but so far we’ve only played in Finland. Gigs in Continental Europe have been planned for next year, hopefully it will happen. We like to play gigs seasonally, like last winter we played a lot and then had a few months break…
Live performance should be a feast, a ritual. We do NOT wish to develop a totally routinistic way of doing gigs. We don´t want things to get too civilized. You never know what to expect — plain tightness, total chaos, or something else…
Finland has a dozens of good and solid doom bands. Can you help our readers and give us some landmarks?
We and CASKETS OPEN are the best ones you might not have heard of. Also CHURCH OF VOID is good. Magus from CHURCH OF VOID is a great guy to pass out with. In the same bed. There´s a shitload of all these stoner/drone/whatever bands…. I don’t really follow…. bear with me!!!!
Mikko, thanks for your answers! I hope to hear some new blasphemous tunes from Cardinals Folly soon! Do you have a few more words of pagan or satanic wisdom for our readers?
You will. The ordinary man looking at a mountain is like an illiterate person confronted with a Greek manuscript. But you, sir, are NOT an ordinary man.
Thank you for this inspiring interview and let’s head forward to 2016 with our hearts of darkness blazing. Thanks to all who have supported us in any way. The world won’t be rid of us soon. The doomed ones ride out again. OUR CULT CONTINUES!