Interview with Kim Stromsholm and Markus Markkonen,
the authors of Rotting Ways To Misery
Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you come to decide to write the book?
Kim: “I’m Kim the co-author of the book and used to be the vocalist of ‘And Oceans’ and ‘Festerday’. (Well, that opening sounded like AA meeting). Nowadays I’m in bands such as The Mist from the Mountains, Black Acid World, Extreme Excrement Experiment, KaosGoat, Distortio and .A.C.I.D. I think I was like 15-16 when I decided that I will write three books when I get middle-aged. This is the second book, so…
This book was something I had in my mind for a while. And when I started pulling strings together I heard Markus was doing the same kinda book. Instead of doing two similar books we decided to team up and make it the best we can.”
Markus: “I’m Markus, the second half of Rotting Ways to Misery team. I play bass and do vocals in Sadistik Forest and Nerve Saw. I was also the bass player and live vocalist of Hooded Menace for five years.
When the Swedish Death Metal book came out, I started thinking that somebody should really wrap up all the great stories from Finnish scene as well. Yet, years kept passing and nobody seemed to be interested. Around 2015, it started to feel that this kind of book really should be written and I finally decided to do it myself. Not too long after, Kim got in contact, telling he was planning the very same type of a book. After some exchange of ideas, we decided to join forces. Things really started going onward faster after it. Especially as our ideas about the book content were more or less in similar fashion.”
From the initial concept to when it came off the printing press, how long did it take?
Kim: “I’d say it was 4 years + in total.
Markus: “Started planning around 2015, contacting people around 2016. Materials were largely collected around 2017 and main body of writing was done in between 2017 and 2019. Previous year (2020) was spent finishing the project with Dayal Patterson and Cult Never Dies.”
How did you decide on the title?
Kim: “The History of Finnish Death Metal was pretty much the obvious title, but Markus had already pondered about Rotting Ways to Misery as the head title.”
Markus: “Yeah, from day one I was toying around with the idea of Rotting Ways to Misery being the most suitable title for such a book. First of all, that particular demo of Sentenced is really a genre-defining in many ways, but also because the title itself represents Finnish death metal quite thoroughly. After all, the genre was all about a certain type of miserable gloom and over all rot and pus of death metal aesthetic. Rotting ways of death metal as a platform for Finnish sense of gloom and miserable melody – Rotting ways to misery. When members of Sentenced gave their permission to use the title, it was more or less settled then.”
Were there any big names you asked to participate but they could not or would not?
Kim: “I didn’t think of them as big names as we were reflecting the past between friends, but yeah some of the names are/became much more than just the ragged teen UG death metal we used to be back in the 80s/90s.”
Markus: “About 95% of people we asked for an interview took part. Those very few who did not want to be involved were blaming the somewhat hazy memories of the time being the biggest reason for not wanting to take part. That they could actually end up not speaking the truth, as the memories were a bit vague. But all in all, more or less everybody wanted to be involved and they were quite enthusiastic about it too. The scene wanted this book to be done, so to speak.”
How has initial reaction or reception been?
Kim: “It has been very good. I mean it was more than just appreciated. A lot of people have been thanking us for doing this. Guess it’s a piece of cultural history and a subject never
seen in this format before.”
Markus: “Absolutely. The feedback has exceeded everything we were expecting, or even dreaming of. Yes, we knew there was a some kind of demand for this type of book, but somehow the reception has still been a lot more positive than we ever could have expected. Makes one feel quite humbled, you know, when people from all across the globe write and thank you about writing the book they had been waiting to read for years and years.”
What is it about Finnish Death Metal that makes it so unique?
Kim: “Think of Mordor and you are pretty close. nah just kidding… hahah! The Finnish culture is pretty unique in itself due to the environment and I mean the environment in all perspectives. Most Finns are not that happy happy joy joy type of persons. And when you look outside, it’s either raining or snowing. The gloom and doom is right out there.”
Markus: “Finnish death metal was also very reluctant to copy. Of course, there were always the primary influences, but instead of stealing somebody else’s sound, Finnish bands tried to find a new angle to the whole thing. Copying was definitely not cool, or generally accepted even. So, when a band of certain type appeared in the scene, rest of the Finnish bands tried carefully to avoid that particular sound. It needed at least an extra stigma of personality to it and in some cases, like with Demilich, Unholy and Thergothon for example, bands went as far as becoming something completely unique. Almost like a new sub-genre, as they tried so hard to find a new way to express death metal. I think this was the most defining element in the Finnish scene. How they refused to follow other bands in direction.”
In the book you hinted there might be a Part 2, the modern era. Are you working on that now?
Kim: “Maybe we can reveal this by now, what do you think Markus? There won’t be a second book, but we are working on something called a ‘Rotting Ways’ zine. We have already bands selected for two issues. The second issue – the fist issue was released along with the pre-sale of the book – will be out later this year. We haven’t yet decided, who will release it or if it will be released only the old school way like in the 90s.”
Markus: “That’s right. The first Rotting Ways Zine was done as a something special for people who pre-ordered the book. In the first issue we interviewed modern Finnish death metal bans, but in early 90’s zineish manner. It was something the younger chaps might not have even experienced yet. We had Lantern, Corpsessed, Krypts, Solothus and many other younger torch bearers of modern Finnish sound in the pages. As it was so much fun to do, we decided to continue with Kim and there will be the issue #2 out at some point this year.”
How can people get this book?
Check out my review of Rotting Ways to Misery.