FIRE is one of those kinds of records that makes you stop what you're doing and pay attention within a few seconds after it starts. Just released a few weeks back, the latest from Finnish band Violent Spirit is a beautiful blend of raw hardcore punk and NWOBHM-like guitar heroics.
"Me and Ville were both really into Japanese punk and especially Burning Spirits bands," Violent Spirit guitarist Günter Kivioja told me about the group's formation via email.
"We had been planning a Burning Spirits-inspired band of our own for years and finally in 2016 we decided to make it happen. By the time we lived in a small town about 120 kilometers northeast from Helsinki. Tumppi was the only punk drummer in town, and best one in the whole country, so that was an easy decision. We all love Oskari's playing, style and bass lines, so, of course, we had to have him.
"Violent Spirit was a 4-piece band at first but as the songs we wrote got wilder and more over-the-top with crazy melodic double leads, we decided to have Jaakko as a second guitar player, not only because he’s a sick guitar player but also because he’s the boss.
"He’s been with us since 2019 and thanks to Jaakko we’re now like 10,000 times better than before and he’s the one that really makes things happen. I’m not sure if we would’ve ever released Fire EP without him. Bless."
Violent Spirit has a solid pedigree, with members who have played, or still play, in such bands as Foreseen, Hard Action, and Maailmanloppu.
One of the main ingredients that hooked me into Fire was the melodic aspect of the material. It's not often you hear acoustic guitars and pianos on a hardcore record. "We like to take things a bit over the top and a great way to do that is crazy arrangements, flashy harmony leads and different instruments," Günter told me. "I’d like to try something really crazy sometime like brass instruments or synthesizers.
Violent Spirit guitarist Jaakko also added his thoughts via email: "Ville Valavuo, who recorded Fire 7-inch, is also easy to get on board with out-of-the-box decisions on the material that is being recorded. He's ready right away to mic up that acoustic guitar, play some synths on the album, or help you finishing out the lead harmonies."
Günter also offered: "[Japanese band] Paintbox's album, Trip, Trance & Travelling, has some really weird stuff on it like sax, keys and trumpets. [Laughs] Maybe it’s too much, I don’t know."
Listening to both Fire and their 2018 Human Pain EP, I could see both hardcore punk and metalhead crowds going off for Violent Spirit. I asked Jaakko what the reaction has been like from both scenes:
"Here in Finland, the scenes are mixed up in a good way. Punks go to heavy metal shows and the other way around. There's a lot of mixed bills on shows too which makes things wilder and more interesting. You can find Pohjasakka and Beherit members at the same shows in Helsinki."
What’s the plan for Violent Spirit now that Fire is out? Does Violent Spirit plan on playing shows once that opens up again? Will there be a full-length sometime in the future? These are important questions.
"I can’t wait to play shows again," Günter wrote me. "I’m really looking forward going on a tour somewhere outside Finland once it’s possible again. We’re also working on new stuff for a possible full-length.
Jaakko also said, "Yeah, we are currently in a kind of a lockdown mode here. Waiting to wrap this up and get to the rehearsal spot and finish writing that LP. The 7 inch sold out in 5 days and I'm currently working to get it repressed. More info on that will follow when i get the details set on it."
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