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A beat begins--dark, driving. Anticipation builds from the back of the crowd and moves to the front where a gathering of fans fight for position behind a steel barricade. Suddenly, the band takes the stage and the beat erupts into a head-on collision of explosive drums, galloping guitars, and throat-shedding intensity. The melodic metal turns to verse and the crowd begins to sing along: "I'm trying to fight back, I'm trying to forget, I'm trying to make it go away." The energy is contagious and overwhelming. The sound is relentless and one thing rings clear above all else--Widescreen Mode has arrived.
"We just wanted to make the record that we always dreamed about." Samu Brusila smiles, as he puts a bottle of Jack Daniels on the table. Adds Janne Aaltonen: "We wanted the album to be pure, organic, and real." Mission accomplished. The Finland natives are about to release their debut album, Until The End, featuring a dozen of the most innovative and intelligent songs the metal industry has produced in years. "I have always been proud of my metal roots, but I haven't always been true to my own musical tastes. When I was a kid, it wasn't okay to listen to Skid Row or Queen, even if you really liked them. After I grew up a little bit, I made sure that I won't let anybody make choices for me again. The most important thing is writing music that we really like and believe in."
The result is pure Widescreen Mode: combining electrifying, incisive riffs with compelling melodies, and a classic metal attitude. Not that Widescreen Mode is new to this game. Actually, they've been playing separate or together in various outfits for years. At 15, drummer Aaltonen shared a band with then-16-year-old Janne Lahtinen (guitars) called Aggessive Influence. In 1993, Brusila (vocals) and Janne Stenroos (bass) joined them to form the band Fairlane. While they honed their skills together on the club circuit, career decisions forced the group to split up in the late 1990s. "At the time it felt natural to move on," Brusila remembers. "Aaltonen accepted a job in Helsinki as an Art Director, and he was building his career there. Everyone had so many things going on."
It wasn't until Brusila and Aaltonen both moved back to Riihimäki that they hooked up and began thinking about playing together again. "We had dozens of discussions about forming a new band over the years," Brusila recalls, "But they were just discussions." One day, fate (otherwise known as Aaltonen's fiancee) intervened. "She was tired of us dreaming about it, and not doing enough to make our dreams a reality." After a few months, Stenroos was back, rehearsing new material with the pair. Not long after that, at Brusila's birthday party, Stenroos invited Lahtinen to play. "We had the old group back together," Brusila smiles. With a renewed sense of purpose, they began writing in earnest. Adds Aaltonen, while holidaying in Italy: "The timing was finally right. We were ready to give everything for the music again. We take this very serious." And they are serious.
In 2005, the band released a demo EP to raving reviews from around the world. On the strength of the title track, Widescreen Mode made it to the finals of MTV Nordic's unsigned competition. "In Finland," explains Aaltonen, "Unless you have a single on the radio or you're selling a lot of records, it's difficult to get great gigs, but we have been fortunate. We don't even have an official release, but we got to play Green Christmas, the biggest metal festival in the Baltics, supporting Anathema and Die Krupps. We got to play festivals and important shows in Finland, supporting bands like Paradise Lost, the Cardigans, and Stam1na. Interestingly, thanks to the Internet, we might have more fans outside of Finland." Indeed, Widescreen Mode quickly secured management in New York. The metal giants had already amassed 57,000 fans worldwide on MySpace.com, ranking Widescreen Mode among the online community's four most popular Finnish bands along with H.I.M., Children of Bodom, and The 69 Eyes. "It's great to see how well our music has received around the world."
Their debut record Until The End is as luscious and lacerating as it gets: "Another Day" features a stalking rhythm and urgent riff alongside an infectious chorus and a taste of strings adding texture and depth. Its alarming lyrics, "If this is the final wave/I don't want to be without you," are not only about coping with unexpected loss, they are also a nod to the recent tsunami tragedy. "It's unfortunate, but environmental disaster has become a part of everyday life for people all over the world. We can't predict what happens next and we can't make it go away. We have to remember that we are not gods," explains Brusila. Aaltonen jumps in: "We didn't write the song particularly about the tsunami disaster. It's all about the internal dialogue that stops you from doing shit in your life. We shouldn't always count on the days ahead to be in touch with our loved ones. If we really want to do something, we should do it today."
The painfully personal "Dead Inside" has a unique duality to it. The song is pure, unfiltered, uncompromised metal, albeit with a compelling melody and a huge pop chorus. Because of these qualities, "Dead Inside" is Widescreen Mode at its songwriting best. "It's a great feeling to be moved by the beauty in the beast," admits Brusila. "I always feel the metal running in my veins, but it sends shivers down my spine when there are beautiful elements to contrast it." "Everlasting Bomb" has deep harmonies, an electronic synth line, and a chugging guitar that is pure Zack Wylde via Kirk Hammett of Metallica. "Enormous, imposing, and above everything," they say, adding that the original lyrical concept came from the "Planet of the Apes." Aaltonen calls it "a tribute to our musical roots."
"And We Both Know" is a transcendent ballad. Its piano-laden beginning gives way to another lunging Lahtinen riff, before building to a haunting, symphonic finale. "Killed By Vanity" is another razor-sharp cut. Its savage lyrics bemoan the tragedy of the commons in front of an increasingly relevant backdrop of global waste and ticking international tensions. "The idea was to make people think about their choices," Brusila says, "We are spending natural resources to fulfill our individual interests, without considering what's best for the common good. We could easily slow down a bit and be just as happy." From "Burning," with its sinister bass line, to "Escape The World," with its heady introspection, to the turbulent, politically charged "We Don't Need Your War," this is a record that could only be written by one band, with one singular worldview.
"We write from the heart, with our eyes open to the world," says Brusila, pithily summing up Widescreen Mode's modus operandi. Adds Aaltonen, a bit matter of factly: "Love and war are the most sacred and serious conflicts in our society. I wish we could sing about love and peace, but I don't see a lot of peace in our world today." Mixed by Anssi Kippo, who had engineered gold albums for metal giants Children of Bodom and Finnish Idol winner Hanna Pakarinen, the band was enlivened by their time in the studio. "Anssi didn't try to hide his excitement," Brusila chimes in. "It was very easy to trust in his opinion. Anssi put in a lot of long days and nights to take the album to the next level. Our most important job was to stay away from the mixing room, and let him do his magic. We spent most of the time on the second floor watching horror movies." It's a fitting coda to a metallic masterpiece that will undoubtedly be championed by fans for years to come--until the end--and beyond.
News related to Widescreen Mode
- WIDESCREEN MODE: New album out April 8th / 06.02.2009
- WIDESCREEN MODE: 'Dead Inside' Tops Finnish Single Chart / 16.01.2008
- WIDESCREEN MODE; 'Dead Inside' Lands On Finnish Chart / 29.11.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: 'Dead Inside' Video Posted Online / 24.11.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: Order "Until The End" and new T-Shirts! / 22.11.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: Prelisten their whole new album! / 06.11.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE To Release 'Until The End' In November / 28.10.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: Pre-order "Until The End!" / 03.10.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: Number one for the 5th week on the Official Finnish Download Chart! / 30.08.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: "Everlasting Bomb" STILL topping the download charts! / 17.08.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: Number one on the Official Finnish Download Chart again!! / 27.07.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: "Everlasting Bomb" #1 On The Official Finnish Download Chart! / 22.07.2007
- WIDESCREEN MODE: "Everlasting Bomb" single released... / 09.05.2007
Until The End
- Label: Kivi Music Group
- Released: 2007
- 1. Without Me
- 2. Dead Inside
- 3. Burning
- 4. Another Day
- 5. Everlasting Bomb
- 6. Escape The World
- 7. Keeping My Freedom
- 8. And We Both Know
- 9. Not Alright
- 10. Killed By Vanity
- 11. She´s Lying
- 12. We Don´t Need Your War
Single / EP / MCD
- Label: Self
- Released: 2007
- 1. Everlasting Bomb
Demo / Promo
Hello World (Demo Tape EP)
- Label: Self
- Released: 2004
- 1. Last 1 Standing
- 2. She´s Lying
- 3. Again
- 4. Not Alright