SENTENCED – IN MEMORIAM
When one of the leading and most important frontline metal names on the Finnish metal map, Sentenced, announced earlier this year about ceasing to exist after being around for 16 years. Fans around the globe were stunned and surprised. The band had to explain the reasons to the media and fans why they decided to retire from the metal world even though there would have been several years left for the outfit to carry on and conquere new fans and new territories with their dismal and melancholic metal message.
However the northernmost suicide rockers didn’t hammer the last nail into the coffin after the announcement, instead rolling out for several festival dates to give the very last chances for their own fans to see these five cowboys from the north on stages all around Europe. Due to the huge demand to see the Finnish metal heroes on the soil of their home country, several dates were booked across Finland and even extra dates were added to the farewell tour. Here is a brief report of the few last gigs of Sentenced when the band did their farewell shows here in Finland. Now it was about time to throw the mud on the grave and say goodbye….
The 20th of September
After seeing Sentenced on a few festival dates up here in Finland, it was quite obvious the greatest passion and willing was pretty gone or guys weren’t that much thrilled about performing on outdoor festivals. In club environments Sentenced has always been an entirely different band. Honestly the stuff of Sentenced absolutely fits better to sweaty, smoky and warm clubs when the whole frontline of the stage is completely occupied by a legion of die hard Sentenced fans and in general a packed club creates an entirely different and catchy atmosphere.
The second gig in a row at Tavastia proved these factors right when the show was started out by Where Waters Fall Frozen and was continued by a plenty of well-known Sentenced tunes for example Excuse Me While I Kill Myself, May Today Become The Day, Bleed, Rain Comes Falling Down and the video hit song Ever-Frost. Both bassist Kukkohovi and guitarist Lopakka remained mostly on the left side of the stage and used to spin their head and hair more or less roughly thru the whole gig, whereas guitarist Tenkula remained on the right side of the stage by mostly focusing on the playing. As far as Tenkula’s performances on the stage is concerned, it seemed like the guy was more thrilled about being on a club stage, judging by his absolute head banging and extreme sharp guitar playing, than being on a huge outdoor festival stage as the guy looked more than bored at festivals of the last summer.
As for the vocalist, Ville Laihiala, who had picked up the old Immortal t-shirt, well the guy entertained the audience by keeping quite hilarious speeches, which occasionally sounded pretty dull. But whatsoever, when his stage performance had a more tight grip and especially passion for example compared to those already mentioned summer festival dates. All of a sudden some smartass from the audience got a brilliant idea to get on the stage to have a tight grip of Laihiala, holding him in the air for some time and finally letting him go. That’s one way to say a goodbye to a personal fave band.
As stated a little bit earlier the set mainly consisted of the material recorded during the era of Laihiala, but the unexpected surprise was experienced when Nepenthe cut the air and Jarwa all of a sudden showed up to the stage, the whole packed club went entirely nuts. The guy raged on the stage from one side to another all the time without slowing down at all. It was definitely the first time for 95% of the people at Tavastia to see Jarwa on the stage with Sentenced as there is not that much left from the old generation who managed to witness Jarwa with Sentenced in the mid of the 90’s.
T. Jarwa rocking
When Jarwa had growled the Nepenthe, both the vocalists shook hands and hugged each other. The show continued by the legendary Trooper of Iron Maiden and finally concluded by the last song The End Of Road off from THE FUNERAL ALBUM. The fans of Sentenced of Helsinki got their last opportunities of saying farewells to Sentenced for three gigs. Now time to head up to the north to see the last gig of Sentenced.
The 1st Of October
When entering the Teatria club in Oulu to see the farewell gig of Sentenced I was running thru in my mind these old days as flashbacks in the early 90’s when Sentenced was a small brutal death metal band playing in front of small audience and sleeping in their own sleepingbags in cold cellars and other obscure places when doing underground gigs in several brutal death metal events around Finland. A lot of water has run under the bridge during these 16 years since those days. The band got their first album out on a small French underground label, but when Spinefarm and Century Media stepped in by taking care of Sentenced, the fame and the glory started to be received more and more. After the classic AMOK album and a few tours later the band faced the first major line-up change when the vocalist Tanel Jarwa pulled out to pursue other interests. After finding a new guy behind the mic Ville Laihiala, the four ( later ventured to a five-piece) piece got catapulted to a huge success and gained a devoted fanbase which lasted till now and definitely beyond this funeral gig.
The last and final gig of in the book of the history of Sentenced had been sold out a long time ago and people had even travelled a long way in order to be able to testify to the last performance by these Northernmost suicide rockers. The Club Teatria, being an ancient factory nearby the centrum of Oulu, was nothing, but a perfect place to lay Sentenced to rest in front of over 2000 people. The stage had been decorated with extra visual constructions and lay-outs describing the wild cold winter nature and landscape of Lapland and in general North Finland. It could be said Sentenced have always been keen on the Northern mythology of both the nature and the people living there, which could be instincted in their lyrics, album covers, videos and etc….
The funeral started out around 11 clock when four guys were carrying the coffin while the gloomy peaceful funeral music, Albinon’s Adagio, was playing on the background. After carrying the coffin to the stage the five dismal men in black kicked their last gig ever off with the fast and a bit old schoolish Where Waters Fall Frozen and immediately continued by May Today Become The Day. All the most well-known and essential Sentenced songs were covered one by one. Especially the video song of Ever-Frost definitely got a helluva good respond and above all sounded great in the club atmosphere indeed. For this farewell gig the Sentenced guys had put in a lot of extra effort into the performances as that raging force and intensity that they kept up during the whole time was something unique and exceptional at a Sentenced gig. If they had kept that kind of driving and rocking grip on every gig before, they would have been catapulted another level of an incredible success as a live band. However it was definitely important to set a new level for the farewell gig because the whole show was being shot for the upcoming DVD release. In general the stage of the Club Teatria was an excellent size for them. The first 60 minute of the set was based on the material recorded during the Laihiala era.
After one hour had passed by, the whole band took a short break and a short movie of how these famous coffins were obtained and picked up had been chosen to fill up the intermission. Frankly the movie clip was quite funny when the guys were pondering how coffins should look like. Then lights went off and huge thunderous sounds of war started roaring out of monitors, lights were flashing all around. The recognizable riffs of the opening song The War Ain’t Over off from AMOK woke several old and of course new fans up when the former vocalist Taneli Jarwa hit the stage shouting to the mic “Hakkaa Päälle Pohjan Poika”. Even though T. Jarwa hasn’t been involved in Sentenced for about 10 years he hadn’t lost any inch of his stage manners at all. Of course he has been gigging with The Black League since his departure. All the speeches by Jarwa between songs were short, but effective for example when the Northern Lights was introduced, he just stated “ Soon ends the smile of girls…” Northern Lights was a real flashback to 13 years back when Sentenced was a technical skilled death metal band. At least the band must have rehearsed that song for a while cos the drummer’s footwork worked well and fingers of both the guitarists moved quite rapidly. To be honest a couple of songs more could have been expected to be played from the Jarwa era, especially one song more from the second album North From Here wouldn’t have been a bad choice cos this was however their last show ever. As usual Jarwa was a real relentless showman on the stage, moving all around the stage without slowing down at all.
After the last and fifth song Jarwa and Laihiala hugged each other, but especially the guitarist Miika Tenkula got a huge and warm hug from the band’s former frontman. After the Jarwa part was done Laihiala continued the gig. The rest of the setlist of the farewell show consisted of another amount of well-known suicidal hymns like Noose, Cross My Heart And Hope To Die. Even though the band had been on the stage almost two hours the guys didn’t seem to be losing any notes or getting tired. Instead their heads kept spinning around thru the whole long two hours.
When it was time about to do the last song The End Of Road, Laihiala stated it as “ It is a bad situation now” with his voice shivering…. Honestly It was quite weird to watch Laihiala’s stoned serious face and especially his closed eyes when the last song started and during the whole time he didn’t move any inch on the stage as he has always done on every gig before. Hmm were those drops of sweat or tears falling on his face ?! All of a sudden he stormed off from the stage, running behind stage and later returned back to the stage.. If they were tears let them be, cos this was definitely an emotional state of mind for the whole band and the whole packed Teatria club, cos that meant to be the very last Sentenced song played live ever and after this the whole long road of the career of the Sentenced guys has reached its last destination.
The band thanked the audience and left the stage, the whole sold out club kept a thunderous noise by shouting Sentenced. The end of road had been reached and Sentenced had been laid to rest. Even though the sun won’t shine anymore and Sentenced is gone now, but their legacy and music live on…….
Where Waters Fall Frozen
May Today Become The Day
The Rain Comes Falling Down
Sun Won’t Shine
Dead Moon Rising
The Suicider/Excuse Me
The War Ain’t Over
The Way I Wanna Go
Dance On The Graves
Aika Multaa Muistot
No One There
Cross My Heart And Hope To Die
Brief Is The Light
Vengeange Is Mine
End Of The Road
MORE PICS FROM THE FUNERAL GIG :
Now one chapter in The Finnish metal history is over when Sentenced has finally been laid to the rest of the ever-frost. The band has insisted in several interviews that Sentenced will never raise from the grave sweet grave back to the cold white light, but…. I with sadness and sorrow, but above all joy thank the Sentenced guys for all these years and great music that they have written, composed and released. Only Aika Multaa Muistot according to one of several songs of theirs, perfectly sums up in the best way what they have come up during these 16 years and to reach the end of the road. Kiitos vuosista pojat !!!
1989 – 2005
Sentenced’s official homegrave