Ecotage: Finnish Vegan Metal Unit on Their Debut EP + Their Lyrical & Musical Influences

Photo: Otto Härkönen

A week ago, I was combing Bandcamp looking for new hardcore releases for the No Echo playlist when I came across Ecotage, a Finnish band that I previously hadn't heard of before. Within a few seconds after hearing the controlled chaos opening of "The Change," I had a huge, dumb smile on my face.

After reaching out to guitarist Olli and vocalist Ulla of the group, I got some background on Ecotage and the music and cause that makes them tick.

"When Tomi (drums) and I were still playing in our previous bands, we once discussed that it would be great to form a vegan band in the vein of Arkangel some day," Olli wrote me. "A few years later, when the pandemic hit and I was bored at home, I sent some riffs to Tomi and we started writing the first songs. It took some time to get the band together, but we eventually found Ulla to do the vocals.

"Tomi, Ulla and I have been playing in Finnish hardcore bands for a long time, and it felt good to find a group of people who wanted to express a vegan message through music. We share the love for this style of music. We kept writing songs to have enough material for a live set and an EP."

Ecotage will be releasing their debut EP, Devastation, in the coming months, but they've already dropped a track called "The Change" to introduce their sound and ethos to the listeners. This is the track I was telling you about above:

From listening to “The Change,” I would say the stylistic vibe is somewhere in wheelhouse of Earth Crisis, Sentence, and the aforementioned Arkangel. I asked Olli what were some of the bands that helped inform what Ecotage is doing from a musical standpoint. "Arkangel was hugely influential to me back in the day. I got to see them in Finland during their early days. I was hooked the moment I heard the intro and the first riff of 'Within the Walls of Babylon.' The vocals, the Slayer riffs, the groove, and the lyrics were all there, it all sounded so vicious. And still does.

"Earth Crisis has been an even bigger influence. With that band it’s hard to separate the music and the message. Destroy the Machines made me go vegetarian and eventually vegan. It's the heaviest record ever with a positive message. 

"I don’t consider Sentence a main influence. But now that you mention it, I can definitely hear it. Straightforward chugga chugga style. Every band with heavy palm muted mosh parts, metal riffs and double bass influences us when creating Ecotage songs. Just to name a few bands, All Out War, Day of Suffering, Repentance, and Length of Time are some of my personal influences besides Arkangel and Earth Crisis."

Photo:  Aslak Junttu / Grim Visions

Since we talked about the music, I wanted to shift the conversation towards the lyrical and overall lyrical vision of Ecotage. "The lyrics of the Devastation EP reflect on different aspects of humanity's impact on the world and the need for change," wrote vocalist Ulla.  "They emphasize the consequences and impacts of human actions, addressing the decline of ecosystems and human cruelty towards other species.

"The lyrics underscore the urgency of addressing environmental issues and advocate for compassion and veganism, emphasizing the need for justice and animal liberation. They offer a perspective on the state of humanity and the world, urging one to consider their impact and work towards positive change."

Ulla then explained the story behind their band name: "Ecotage is a term formed by combining 'ecological' and 'sabotage.' It refers to deliberate acts of sabotage or interference aimed at preventing or stopping activities perceived as harmful to the environment or animals. For me, ecotage means taking actions, sometimes small and subtle, to protest against environmental harm and ethically unsustainable matters.

"In my perspective, it also encompasses educating oneself and others about environmental issues and advocating for policies that prioritize sustainability, ethics, and conservation. It's about finding ways, big or small, to make a positive impact on the environment and show solidarity with the planet and its inhabitants, both through individual actions and through engagement with the broader spheres of education and politics."

As someone who grew up in the States, I've seen how much progress has been made when it comes to veganism and how its viewed here. I was curious how veganism was seen in Finland when it comes to education and options being accessible to most people there. "Over the past decade, veganism in Finland has shifted from being a marginal phenomenon to a more mainstream practice," explained Ulla. "A few years back, veganism emerged as somewhat of a trend in Finland and brought along with it a lot of good.

"The word 'vegan' nowadays is becoming a term that doesn't need to be explained every time; many new vegan products have been launched, and some companies are even adapting their old recipes to be vegan. In major cities, cafes and restaurants offer vegan options, often already marked on the menu. For the welfare of other species and the environment, this trend has been positive. Awareness among people has increased, veganism and related phenomena have gained visibility in the media, and living a vegan lifestyle has become easier."

Ulla continued: "Animal rights and environmental organizations, collectives, and individual activists are doing a tremendous amount of good work to increase awareness and educate people. They highlight the injustices against other species and the state of the environment, dispelling misinformation and beliefs with facts and a scientific approach. 

"Thanks to the rise of social media, connecting with people has become more accessible and visibility is broader than ever. However, the media also has its downside. Companies involved in animal production and factory farming often resort to deceptive marketing, attempting to create a false image of animal production and the welfare of animals." Olli chimed in: "And some companies also resort to greenwashing in their marketing. They claim to be environmental, but in reality they just do the bare minimum to be seen as eco-friendly. Advertising low CO2 emissions or having goals to transition towards cruelty free products while still doing nothing that would have a real positive impact on the environment or animals.

"Education and culture play a huge role in shaping who we become as individuals and what kind of future we build. Finnish curriculum for basic education emphasizes sustainable living, environmental education, equality, and equity. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle is a central part of basic education and learning critical thinking is seen as the foundation of civilisation. However, the promotion of these elements in education varies depending on individual teachers and the learning community. If curriculum goals were genuinely met, younger generations would better understand the prerequisites for a sustainable future.

"Humans however do not have time to wait and hope for better. The scientific message is evident - the climate crisis poses a severe threat to humanity and all life. Our decisions today profoundly impact future generations. Nevertheless, the current Finnish government pursues populist policies that disregard climate and nature. Funds are directed towards harmful subsidies, while support for environmental protection is cut.

"We are facing a global emergency, and immediate action is necessary. Dismantling toxic systems and authority structures harmful to humans and nature is the first step towards a just and genuinely sustainable society."

Finally, I asked Olli what were some of the other current bands that Ecotage felt a kinship with, both on the musical and ideology side of things. "In my view, the whole Finnish hardcore scene is a tight community," said Olli. "It’s great to see the old and young generation blend in harmony at shows. 

"Musically and ideologically our closest kinship lies with Gray State, the originators of the true Sastamala vegan metal sound. Atte played with us and we have shared the stage with them many times already. They’re such a great group of people.

"With Ecotage we have shared the stage with a lot of other great bands too. I’d say we feel musical or ideological affinity with Cleansing, Cageless (RIP!), Cross to Bear, WOAT, just to name a few. Also a shoutout to Eerik/Osteonecrosis who filled in on bass for us on a couple of shows. Osteonecrosis just put out their new record."


Devastation will be out soon via Knives Out Records (pre-order). A special cassette release will be put out by Finnish labels Unvanquished Records and Strange Horizon Records

Ecotage on social media: Instagram

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