Dec 042023

photo by Markus Lohi

(Today we present a very friendly and engaging interview by Comrade Aleks with vocalist/lyricist Antti Åström from the powerhouse Finnish death metal band Dead Talks, whose debut album was released in August by Apostasy Records.)

There were two bands among others in Lohja, Finland: the melodic death metal one Funeral Jacket, which was active in the late ’90s, and its death metal heir Corpse Molester Cult, which existed from 2005 to 2019. Both bands weren’t very active, but their members remained friends until today, and almost the entire lineup of Dead Talks consists of these guys who have known each other for two decades and more.

They are Joni Laakso (bass), Henkka Åkerlund (drums), Tomi Joutsen (guitars), Timo Vainio (guitars), Jukka Veiksola (guitars), and Antti Åström (vocals). Yes, you’re right, there are three guitarists in Dead Talks and one of them is the vocalist of Finnish metal legend Amorphis.

However, Dead Talks is an independent unit, and they’re damn good at providing old-school death metal at full capacity. Apostasy Records released their album Veneration of the Dead on August 18th, and if you missed it, then here’s your chance to make up leeway. Antti Åström talks for the Dead tonight.


Hi Antti! How are you doing? What’s going on in Dead Talks’ camp?

Hi! Everything is great, thanks. Just writing new stuff and rehearsing old ones. Hoping to find some time for new shows soon.


You started the band in 2019, and if I get it right, you had three guitarists from the start, quite a rare case in the death metal world. How did you come to this decision?

Yup. Line-up is almost the same that Corpse Molester Cult had. When Juki joined Molesters as third guitarist, we soon came up with this idea of starting things from scratch. New songs were growing away from the Corpse Molester Cult style and this way we could expand our material.


Three-guitar sets seems to be complex mix, so how did you share duties in the band? Does it make things simpler or more difficult?

Tomi and Juki are mainly composing songs. They come up with some riffs or even almost whole songs. Then we usually play those riffs/song skeletons and everybody throws ideas and we start to grow some meat on that skeleton. Tipi and Juki mainly play leads and I think it’s really cool to get melodies over melodies. Then I write lyrics listening to the rhythm and riffs. Sometimes I have some ideas ready but usually just that feeling coming from the music, it gets my mind running. For us this comes quite naturally and works fine. You also get a really heavy wall of sound while playing live with three guitars.



And was that a reason why it took so long to complete the first album Veneration of the Dead?

Actually no. We started recording this album in the middle of the covid epidemic. Had to re-schedule some dates and also there were huge lines at pressing. Recordings went great and Jan “Snoopy” Rechberger did a really superb job keeping everything on the rails.


Most of the band’s lineup played in Corpse Molester Cult for years, some played in Funeral Jacket, and both bands didn’t seem to be very active. Tomi and Jukka even played in The Candles Burning Blue years ago (The Candles Burning Blue’s first and only album is to be re-released by Svart in October). So, what was wrong with these bands? Why did they just slowly die?

Nothing “wrong” with those acts. With Corpse Molester Cult we did everything we had in us in death’n roll type of stuff. Sometimes you just have to evolve to a better version of yourself. We all love music. Playing and listening and what not. Different genres and styles. All of us have many different bands with different genres.

Special detail about Funeral Jacket you mentioned before: Before Funeral Jacket the band was called Käsi and as a teenager I was a huge fan of them. They were famous in the local scene in Lohja back in the early ’90s. Fun fact is that Joni, Tomi, Juki and Tipi from Dead Talks played in that band. So in a way that has been a really early version of Dead Talks.



And how did it click with Dead Talks? What made this band more fruitful?

Friendship. We have known each other for a long time. Corpse Molester Cult was founded around 2005 I think, but we have been in the Lohja scene long before that. Still playing in different bands together, etc. We gather once a week to play music we love, drink some coffee or maybe a few beers and have a laugh. Therapy for old scene boomers.


Didn’t Tomi’s example motivate you to put more effort into promotion of your bands? How do you think about it – does the question of popularity depend only on the bands’ skills or is it rather a question of luck? Of being in the right place in the right moment?

We have been friends for so long that we don’t see Tomi as a singer of Amorphis or this rockstar-person. It will open some doors for sure, but it’s not an issue of any kind. We are old, lazy bastards and try our best spreading this gospel of death around. Usually bands needs skills and work, but mostly luck. Some super-great bands work years and years, but never get a deal or a breakthrough. I know loads of bands who have been releasing like 10 really good demos and played tons of shows and still are without a record deal.


photo by Markus Lohi


Antti, you do all vocals in the Dead Talks, and it’s curious, almost funny, as there’s Tomi Joutsen on guitars. How did it happen? Is Dead Talks his way to relax and just perform some cool stuff without roaring all the way?

It went naturally like this. There’s never been any talks to do this otherwise. Tomi likes to compose songs and perform them on guitar in this band. I do growls and I’ll do it my way. We have some multitalents among us. Tipi plays keyboards in some bands (and played drums in Funeral Jacket/Käsi), Tomi is a really good drummer too, and I play guitar in some line-ups. Like I said before, we all love music, but death metal has been a passion for all of us for a long time.


Veneration of the Dead has a comfortable old-school duration – 39 minutes. Was it enough for you to show all of your ideas and skills? Did you use some Corpse Molester Cult stuff in the album for example?

We have been growing with these ’90s death metal albums and not many of them are over 40 minutes. Like Death – Scream Bloody Gore, Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction, Napalm Death – Utopia Banished, Deicide – Deicide, etc. It is just enough to maintain interest towards music and maybe even leave some hunger to spin the album again.


So are you more into technical, extreme, or, let’s say, old school death metal? I heard the album of The Grifted, where there are two original members of Tiamat / Treblinka, and it was nice to hear these pure death vibes from such veterans after all these years.

Definitely old school death metal.  We grew to this scene with bands like Grave, Entombed, Dismember, Xysma, Obituary, Bolt Thrower, etc. HM-2 love at first sight. Have to check The Grifted, thanks for the tip. Love Tiamat’s Wildhoney album and just listened to it about a week ago. Have to say that we are really open-minded about music and it would be idiotic to be too puritanical and just listen to only death metal.


photo by Sam Jamsen


In which conditions did you record Veneration of the Dead? How long did it take?

It was just in the middle of the nastiest covid epidemic. Crappy times. Had fun in the studio though. Snoopy was really patient with us and let us try different things and then he explained to us why something did not work. Hah. He must be missing some nervepoints ‘cos he never lost his cool with us. He might say to me after some black-metallish type of take that was I trying to make this sound like Donald Duck or funny? And let’s not make those vocals too “Norway”. Recordings actually did not take so long. Some dates had to move and covid cancelled a few days, but we had to wait for pressing for such a really long time.


Antti, what kind of themes do you reveal in the Veneration of the Dead lyrics? The songs’ titles look like you’re into a reasonable misanthropic crusade against humankind. Which real cases inspired you?

Veneration of the Dead rose about the idea of learning and respecting your ancestors. If you won’t learn from your mistakes, you will always just walk in circles and will not evolve for a better you. Themes in the songs differ a bit. There’s a personal view about depression in “The End of the Tunnel”, fear of the future to come for our children in “Human Plague”, and some historical true crime like in “Death’s Charioteer”. Some criticism against religions, humanity, society. For example, “Pedophile God” tells a story of a priest confessing his pedophile habits to another priest and getting his sins erased by saying a few biblical lines. New songs are focused more on Finnish true crimes and personal observations about this world around us.


It’s a bit strange to hear, because Finland makes an impression of one of the most comfortable countries, with healthy attitudes towards nature and education for example. What worries you the most there? But I think that I understand your point, and from my point of view any government doesn’t need critically thinking people, so people forget history lessons in mass, as you mentioned, and there’s a lot of everything to distract you from real shit happening around you every day.

I think more like globally. The world is slowly killing itself and turning rich people even richer and suffocating the rest of the planet. In Finland we have things pretty ok, but our beloved neighbour is making things uncomfortable. That’s all for politics. Mainly I’m against all that oppress people or make people divided. I’m worried about what we leave behind for our children.


And I couldn’t have said it better! Well, “The End of the Tunnel” video was shot without a cosmic budget, but it looks cool. How did you shoot it? Was it your family there?

It was made by these two great dudes, Toni Pasanen and Esa Valkeajärvi. My friend participated in the ConanLevitation Hoax music video shoot and I loved that video so I tried to get those guys to make “Tunnel”. Got in contact with Esa and things just clicked. I had some ideas which Esa and Toni developed into a script. We got a budget from Apostasy Records and the crew worked with that. Toni did a really great job behind the camera and had a cool vision.

Yes, my wife and daughter are in the video. My daughter is that little girl with the teddy bear and she made me really proud with her performance. Joni’s daughter is also in the video and all the other characters are our good friends. Special thanks to Jarkko (the priest). He did an awesome work and froze his ass off standing beside that grave for like 12 hours. He’s a singer in a local band called Graydance and a really good friend of ours.

For me as a movie freak, this was kind of a dream come true to crawl in dirt and rise from the grave. Hopefully we will get to do something again with that same crew.


It’s good to know that Apostasy Records care about the band’s promotion this way. Do you have a deal with them for a few albums? Like Amorphis had with Relapse? : D

We are in good terms with Apostasy. Communication works great and we had total freedom doing things. Could not ask for more. Now we are currently without a deal, but we’ll see what will come.


What are your plans now that Dead Talks have a real album on your hands? Do you feel an impulse to strengthen your position with another release?

We would like to do more live shows and hopefully even abroad. We already have new songs enough for a new album but we have to see how things go. This is our passion and we do this as a therapy and for as long as it feels good. It’s been a great ride so far and I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.


Thank you for the interview, Antti! Much appreciated. How would you like to finish our interview?

Thanks. Hope that people will find Veneration of the Dead and that we get to play some shows in as many places as possible. We are ready, but are you?

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