This chat with Carnal Forge's Jari Kuusisto dates back to before
the Metal Gods tour launched with much fanfare only to come to a
premature end. 'The More You Suffer' has been out for a couple of months
now, shows have been played (others haven't) and I still haven't seen a
video. Yet all the while Carnal Forge power on, riding the front line of
the new thrash metal assault - with the future of the sub-genre as bright
as it has been in over a decade. A Swedish resurgence is upon us, and
old-school fans of Testament, Exodus and Kreator are discovering the
younger generation's versions in Witchery, The Haunted, Corporation 187
and Carnal Forge. The Metal Update talked some thrash with Jari, both
classic and current, and got his take on where Carnal Forge stands in
relation to this movement, and to the Bay Area brethren of yore.
METAL UPDATE: I sense this whole "new wave of Swedish thrash" scene
developing. Do you feel a part of that?
JARI KUUSISTO: Yeah, I think so, because we are one of the first bands
here in Sweden that came up with it and we pretty much came up in the
same time as The Haunted, so it feels like we were one of the first
MU: What do you think of The Haunted's new record?
JK: I actually like the first one better. The thing that I don't like,
with the new album, I would say the sound on it. It's good songs, and
everything like that, but I don't like the sound, and I also don't like the songs
they have without vocals, the instrumental songs.
MU: What about Corporation 187, have you heard that album?
JK: Yeah, I think it's a really good album, but there's still something
missing for them to becoming one of my favorite bands. It's great thrash
metal and. . .
MU: Do you see those kinds of bands as kind of doing the same thing you
guys are, maybe with subtle differences, but in the same kind of genre?
JK: Yeah, it's the same kind of style, and I think it's fun that it
becomes more and more bands that play this kind of music. The more bands we
have, the more success the music style can have.
MU: How does this style compare with Bay Area Thrash?
JK: Oh, that one's hard. I think that pretty much it's the same
Actually, because many of the bands that are playing it, including Carnal
Forge, Corporation 187 and The Haunted, have many of these Bay Area bands
as an influence. Bands like Slayer, Forbidden and stuff like that, so I
think that this has much to do with the sound and with how the bands
sounded before. I think the main difference is the production is much
better these days and that's why you get people thinking that the
new-coming bands, like Carnal Forge, are better than the older bands. I wouldn't go
there because the old bands did great stuff and still are doing really
great stuff, and when they get the same kind of production on the albums
that we can get, it's just awesome.
MU: Which of those old thrash bands do you think are still kicking ass?
JK: Slayer is definitely one of them.
MU: Do you think Slayer has sold out or changed their style?
JK: I have always been a huge fan of Slayer, until the 'Divine
Intervention' album. After that, something happened, and then, I cannot
really even explain what my feelings were when I heard what they did
after that. When they released the 'God Hates Us All' album, I was just like,
"yes!" - they found a way back to what they are best at doing and that's
how I want Slayer to sound, so. . .
MU: Did you like 'Divine Intervention'?
JK: Yeah, I think it's a really good album. But already there you can
hear that something. . . they were planning to do something else.
MU: What other bands from the old days do you think are still kicking
JK: Oh, Testament is an amazing band, I think.
MU: What did you think of 'The Gathering' album?
JK: It's one of the best thrash metal albums I ever owned. I think it's
really cool that they still wanted to do this kind of music because they
went a little bit softer for a couple of albums and I totally lost
interest in them and when they came out with 'The Gathering' album, I was
like. . . Everybody that I know has that album and they think it is one
of the best metal albums ever.
MU: You're touring with Testament this year in the U.S.
MU: Tell me how you feel about that whole Metal Gods thing.
JK: We're totally excited about it because for Carnal Forge. . . You have
to realize that Carnal Forge is still a pretty small band. To go out on tour
with Rob Halford and Testament is like a dream coming true because when I
was real young and listening to these bands, I was feeling, wouldn't it
be cool to go on tour with them sometime, and stuff like that. It was
just dreaming and now it's happening. So that is really exciting for us.
MU: Is this your first time in the U.S. or. . . Didn't you play that
Metalfest or something?
JK: We didn't play any U.S. shows before. The Metalfest was the first gig
that we did in the U.S.
MU: And that was the Jersey one that just happened?
MU: Ok. How did that go?
JK: It was totally crazy. We enjoyed it a lot. People were headbanging
and doing mosh pits and even fighting in the audience, so that was really
crazy. Century Media told us people were talking even the day after that Carnal
Forge was one of the best live bands on the bill for that night. The
response for Carnal Forge was just great and we were so satisfied with
MU: So this will be your first tour of the U.S.
MU: And imagine that, your very first tour and it's with Rob Halford and
JK: Yeah, it's totally crazy! (laughs)
MU: Any cities you're looking forward to visiting?
JK: I've never been in the U.S. besides New Jersey, and I'm excited to go
everywhere. I just want to see everything there.
MU: And what do you think of some of the other bands on the bill like
Immortal or Amon Amarth or Primal Fear? Do you like any of those bands?
JK: I that that. . . Primal Fear is not really what I listen to. I think
they have done some good songs, but nothing that I would buy a record with.
MU: Do you like Rob Halford's solo material?
JK: Eh, yeah, I think it's really cool, because he's like the God of
metal. He doesn't care about anything. He does exactly what he wants do
and I think that reflects in his music, so that's really cool.
MU: What about Immortal?
JK: Eh, Immortal. I would say that Immortal is like the European
version of Morbid Angel. I really like what they do and I think they have really
MU: Let's talk about your music for a second, when you write riffs, how
important is it that the riffs are technical versus heavy?
JK: That's not important at all. I don't think of riffs like that. I do
a riff and then it doesn't matter at all if it's technical or how easy it
is. The main important thing for me is if it sounds good.
MU: Do you try to keep it simple or is it just about if the riff sounds
JK: I do it so the riffs sounds good, and then if it gets technical,
well, ok, then it's technical. Otherwise, if it's easy, I don't really
care. The main thing is, does it sound good?
MU: How important are guitar solos to you?
JK: I wouldn't say that they are really important because, from the
Carnal Forge point of view, we don't add solos to our songs just to have them
there. We add them because we feel that, ok, this song could fit a really
good guitar solo because we feel that something is missing from the song.
MU: So you write the song, and then you decide that it could use a little
something more, and then you add a solo?
MU: Those old thrash bands always had a guitar solo.
MU: So how come we've moved away from that era to where guitar solos
aren't as important?
JK: I don't know why, actually. I think that, from our point of view,
the music has been the most important thing from the start, and a solo is
something you put there, like a bonus.
MU: So you don't think that guitar solos are an important element in
JK: No, I don't think so. Of course, it's cool if you're a really good
guitar player and can play guitar really, really good. To do a solo, you
have to be a really good guitar player because if you do it poorly, then
nobody wants to listen to it. So if you can't do it, don't do it, and if
you can do it, do it if the song needs it.
MU: Right. Now that The Haunted has had some success, and as you said,
Century Media thinks you have a shot, how big do you think this style of
music can get?
JK: It's hard to say. The interviews and reviews I've read so far have
given the impression of the U.S. being a little bit bored of bands like
Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park and stuff like that and want something
harder. So it's really hard for me, to live so long away from the U.S.
to tell what's going to develop.
MU: What do you think of Shadows Fall being on the Ozzfest in the U.S.
JK: I don't know, actually, because I haven't ever heard Shadows Fall.
I've never listened to it, so it's hard to say. I know they're doing
some clean vocals and much more melodies than we do and stuff like that.
I don't know what to think about it.
MU: Well, I mentioned them for two reasons: First, because they also list
Testament and some of those bands as influences, and say they are
playing a modern version of thrash. Second, it shows your label, Century Media,
is able to get bands on a big tour like the Ozzfest.
JK: That was the main reason for us in choosing Century Media. We wanted
to have a label that was willing and could afford and do all the things -
put us out on tours and stuff like that. Without touring, I don't think a
band is going to survive for so long.
MU: What does the name "Carnal Forge" mean? Is it something sexual?
JK: It's really hard to explain, actually. I usually explain it like. .
. It's like, a pleasure in flesh. Or, you can also say, that you make
something out of human flesh as a blacksmith does from steel.
MU: So it's sex, right? (laughs)
JK: Yeah, you could say so. (laughs) Ok, it's sex! (laughs)
MU:Some of the guys in the band worked in an insane asylum?
MU: Tell us about that. Does that have anything to do with the lyrics?
JK: I wouldn't say that it has so much to do about it because, from how
it looks right now, Jonas is writing all the lyrics and he writes lyrics
when he feels in a real bad mood - when everything is fucked up in his
life, nothing is working, he has no money and stuff. He starts
fantasizing what he wants to do to the whole world and the people that he
hates and stuff like that. He puts it down and it becomes Carnal Forge
lyrics, so. . .
MU: Does one of you work with Alzheimer's patients?
JK: Me and the drummer is doing that right now and the other guitarist,
Petri, he is still working at the insane asylum.
MU: Are you doing a video for this record?
JK: I don't know for sure, Century Media has said something about it, but
as it looks right now, they wanted us to do it before we leave on the
tour and that's not possible. We are already checking into options and
with who we could do the video. Hopefully, sometime this summer we're
going to do something. I don't know what for yet or stuff like that, but
we are definitely looking into doing something.
MU: Do you think you will come back to the U.S. to tour again after you
finish this tour with Halford?
JK: I wouldn't believe that we would do something this year as it looks
right now. Directly after the Halford tour, we are going to be home for
like two months, then we have a full European tour.
MU: Are you doing the European summer festivals?
JK: We are doing a festival called Pressure Fest in Germany and then we
have to work. Then we're going to be on a European tour with Exodus and
Nuclear Assault. And then, hopefully, we will go to Japan again and do a
MU: What do you think of those bands being back, Exodus and Nuclear
JK: I think it's really cool. I really like those bands and I think it's
just cool that they still find the impulse to keep on going and still do
really good songs. I think it's really cool.
MU: What do you think of Gothenburg bands like In Flames and Soilwork,
and stuff like that?
JK: I like the In Flames and I like the Soilwork and some of it, mostly
on the older records. Now, I think it's just some kind of pop metal
music and it doesn't thrill me at all.
MU: What about the new Dark Tranquillity?
JK: I think Dark Tranquillity has definitely improved, I like the first
two albums with Dark Tranquillity. But I wouldn't say that I'm really into
Dark Tranquillity's stuff. I think that the new album sounds pretty much the
same as the first album.
MU: Is that something bands should try and change or is it cool to keep
putting out the same record, like AC/DC or something?
JK: I think you should. . . Carnal Forge is like, we always try to do
something different - try to improve our sound, improve our songs. I
wouldn't imagine even doing one more 'Firedemon' and calling it
something else because it wouldn't make sense. If I'm going to put out a
fifth record with Carnal Forge, I want it to sound even better than the
first four ones.
MU: Any last words for the Metal Update readers?
JK: Check out the new album, it's a 100% metal album.
review of Carnal Forge 'The More You Suffer'
review of Carnal Forge 'Please. . . Die'
review of Carnal Forge 'Firedemon'
Interview: Eric German [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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