An interview with the tirelessly prolific Harald Mentor of Siviilimurha, Ride for Revenge, Flooded Church of Asmodeus, Will Over Matter, Noise Waste, Irritate, Incriminated, Bestial Burst Records + more.
You’ve created or participated in countless bands and projects since the early 90’s — I must ask, what motivates you to pursue such a variety of projects? Do you find it difficult to sustain interest, creativity and motivation to juggle so many different bands throughout the years, or do you still enjoy the process?
The motivation comes easily, this is just something that must be done or I’ll be so frustrated I’d just explode. So, violent energies to be channeled, and always been into powerful music and noise, so I have to use my rather limited technical talents in this field, just to be able to continue. That’s really my comfort zone, haha! I’m not a big name that would tour the world all the time with one band and also I don’t have a “real” day job, so there’s time enough to run my label and record different projects, even if it’s busy at times. Even if all my stuff is pretty primitive and harsh, I want to use different sounds, different themes, various line-ups, etc., so that’s why there are various projects all the time. Gives me the freedom I need to create things without too much limitations.
And hell yes, I still enjoy the process, although it’s more difficult to get them started when getting older. All the fuzz around live shows like travelling and getting the gear in place feels more stressful now, but it feels worth it, so why not! I think the balance is pretty good now, I find time to record new stuff many times a year and play a show once or twice every couple of months.
What inspired the unique, filthy noise of Siviilimurha?
Just the noisy “pre-noisecore” stuff, most chaotic hardcore punk from early to mid-eighties. I was listening to some fast Finnish & Swedish hardcore, mentioned it to a guy who was then playing guitar in some of my bands and then we went to record “Tolkuton tuho” in our rehearsal bunker. This all happened like in one day or something, haha, it just happened in the spot without a plan.
My first exposure was the “Tolkuton Tuho” 7″ released in 2001. On the next release I heard (your split 7″ with Ulcerrhoea) the vocal style changed significantly to the rabid, maniacal shrieking that has been a staple of your sound since! What inspired that change?
I just started to do the vocals and went over the top, there was no plan… just hit the record button and then rolled around the floor shouting and screaming… and it sounded so fucked up, we decided to keep that first vocal track I did in one take. Maybe it was influenced a bit by classic Sekunda stuff, but can’t remember properly. Very spontaneous.
What is your favorite Siviilimurha release so far?
I like that first EP and the split EP’s with Ulcerrhoea and Agathocles. And the newer stuff like songs on Saastaa Suomesta II, there’s still one split 7″ unreleased from that same session, but haven’t heard shit from the label in a long time.
You were also in Noise Waste. What is your best memory from your time doing that project? Did Noise Waste perform live?
Noise Waste was started in 1993 I think, and lasted for three years, so all (of those) memories are surrounded with nostalgic fog. One memory that comes to mind is how our second vocalist passed out before a show and we got a local fanzine/comp. tape scenester to do the other vocals… and he sounded so weird, even if you compare them to Siviilimurha vox! Yeah, we did few shows around Finland.
Irritate was an excellent grind band with many releases – do you have a particular favorite release from that project? Why did it come to an end?
I don’t see Irritate as an excellent band by any means, but thank you! The songs on the split cd with Utter Bastard I like a lot. And then a couple more sessions from that era. Also the demo we did before the last album I like. The band really had no direction and sometimes the line-up wasn’t right for such style or changes of direction. Most releases have extremely bad production, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I now view it as an experimental phase in my discography. The first era was concluded as I moved away from the area, then we recorded one more demo and the last album with different line up, moved to different cities and played the last show supporting Nunslaughter… and that was it, a good way to go! I may release some of the best sessions in full some way some day as I just found all the best of them gathering dust in various locations.
Flooded Church of Asmodeus is one of my favorite bands you are part of … brain-scouring, deranged filth of the highest order. What inspired you to start FCoA? What is the recording process like for this band?
FCOA was born when we were listening to Gonkulator and Black Mass Of Absu with the ex-bassist Victor Israel. So we asked Adolf Christ to join in drums and went to record a demo in his bunker. And it came out sounding just right. We go through some riffs or chaotic structures some of us has and then record it with analog cassette 4-track. We use maximum volume, sometimes some of the drums go through effects and guitar amplifiers and it all comes out as massive black noise. The songs have become longer and even more improvised now, maybe we’ll move backwards a bit or maybe not!
One of my favorite aspects of Ride for Revenge is that so many of your releases tend to have a uniform aesthetic, with very stark, primitive artwork against black background, which perfectly encapsulates the raw majesty of the actual music. Do you often take great time thinking about the artwork and presentation for RfR, and trying to find artwork that captures the ‘vibe’ of the music? Is this a challenging task?
It depends. Sometimes I have that cover image/idea ready years before the release and sometimes I’ll have to come up with it when everything else is done. Now I have a title, a photo taken and manipulated by myself ready for the next album, but not much music yet. We’ve used drawings taken from old books, images inspired by movie scenes, artists drawing them, myself manipulating some found photos, so there’s no one way to do them. Except the lay out around them has the uniform look. It can be very challenging and frustrating at times, but sometimes it comes naturally and very easy.
Do you have a favorite Ride for Revenge release so far that most perfectly captures your vision for the band?
Very difficult question! Although the vision is clear, they always come out a bit different that originally envisioned. Maybe in a good way, but this causes a lot of mixed feelings for me. If I’d have to give out one of our albums as a calling card, today I’d pick Ageless Powers Arise, but still it doesn’t give wide enough picture of what we’re about.
What kind of bass(es), bass amp(s) and distortion pedal(s) do you most prefer to use? Do your equipment preferences change often?
Whatever there is really! I was never picky about this, so whatever I came across cheap or even better: free! Well, in Ride for Revenge, with pedals there are some requirements, I like to use one or two oscillator based custom-built noisy ones, so I’m able to make weird noises when needed. Maybe some phaser or even delay pedals now and then in the middle. Then as last in the chain there should be cheap ass Digitech Death Metal distortion, because it provides enough distortion and low-end to… kill everything! I have some fancier stuff, too, but they can’t produce enough noise, so I hardly use them. Not looking for anything nice or organic, I’m more into destructive side of things!
In Ride for Revenge, I now play 5-string Ibanez bass, cause it allows me more range and as we play in B tuning it feels natural, active mics so the sound’s more stable. In some other projects I prefer to use cheaper four string basses with passive mics to make more rattle. For amps, simply what’s needed: the ones that can handle enough volume. I’m pretty good in digging up the sound needed to shake the ground, so I feel at home with any equipment at hand. I also like the challenge of limited resources, there’s so much to discover by searching the sound and I’m not afraid to use sounds I never heard anywhere before. It’s more like getting the best out of what’s available and not having too strict preferences to start with, it provides more danger and excitement than having a shopping list of well-known, well-tested brands and combinations of them. With some projects I also use small practice amps or even record distortion pedals straight into line. No rules in Hell!
What is your everyday life like in Finland? Do you enjoy living there?
I pretty much work on my label and bands, so not making big bucks but I survive by doing what I do. Moved from Helsinki to a small seaside town with a cool history, nature and quiet, just one hour away from the capital and like it much more here as it’s not that hectic and people are not so much of that “me first” style busy yuppie assholes, haha! We’ve space enough for a bunch of cats, couple of dogs and a motorcycle… So yeah I enjoy living here. If you don’t count the politicians, multinational money taking over the natural resources, and most people in general, Finland is the best country for me.
You run BESTIAL BURST Records, an excellent label with a long history of compelling releases. What are some of your current favorite releases on BB? Is it stressful to run a label as busy as BB while also doing so many musical projects?
Too hard to pick favourites there, but let’s say I’m extremely proud to have released Oksennus “Sokea idiootti” album on vinyl and cd, Chaos Cascade album is devastating, EDASI “Fake Wheel” is very dear to me as I like the lo-fi approach of improvised psychedelic ritual black metal, haha! Tons of stuff I’m proud of in Bestial Burst discography, could list almost all of them. The resources are limited, so especially the financial side of things can be quite stressing. The things that I love to release don’t always make the money needed for the next ones, but that’s the price of freedom I need to maintain.
What (if any) genre of film do you enjoy? Have you seen any films recently that you would recommend?
Yeah it’s mostly those “genre movies” I enjoy the most. Classic horror, more gory stuff, post nuke, gritty action, Italian crime movies of the 70’s, old sci-fi, sexploitation, biker… Mostly stuff before the 90´s. Documentaries too (made two myself, haha!). Totally into weird obscure stuff. Recently watched “Shakedown” (1988), “Stone” (1974), “Chosen Survivors” (1974), “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1987) and next I’m gonna once again watch Umberto Lenzi´s “Almost Human” (1974). I’d recommend all of those.
Your drink of choice?
I mostly drink cheap beer or dry cider, but screwdriver made of blood orange or gin tonic are often preferred. Can’t answer your questions straight, crooked me.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Any final comments?
Thank you so much for your interest in my activities! “Some things can grow without the light, alright” -Ronnie James Dio