The Finnish power metal act METAL DE FACTO is ready to unleash their debut album “Imperium Romanum” on 22 November 2019 through Rockshots Records to the world. The band explores the theme of Rome through heavy metal and wants to bring back 80s power metal, a style that has been replaced by symphonic power metal, and 80s disco beats. Watch the interview here, and read the text below.
There was only one place I could think of to discuss “Imperium Romanum” with the band. Ancient Rome clearly wasn’t an option, so we opted for the ‘looks like every other Italian village’ of the North: Suomenlinna. A place filled with so much history that it even impressed UNESCO, a place that most likely is surrounded by Hobbits, trying to decide where to go for brunch or second dinner. Hobbits aside, I meet up with a very different trio… A TRIO DE FACTO.
I meet up with Sami, Esa, and Mikael of METAL DE FACTO at 14:00 at Kauppatori in the central of Helsinki, from there we will embark on a ferry to Suomenlinna. The ferry is late, so we resort in walking around the market square while hunting for coffee. Luckily it doesn’t take too long before we manage to catch the boat onwards to adventures.
Once ashore, we march to our first location, right before the thick walls of the fortress of Suomenlinna. A historical place that offers the best environment to start discussing the founding of the band. It is Esa who explains that the idea to start this band stems from his thoughts. He started writing the songs 4 to 5 years ago. While touring with ENSIFERUM in 2017, Sami and Esa started to discuss power metal. After suggesting to play the previously written songs for Sami, METAL DE FACTO was born. Sami explains that having a power metal band, also means having a great singer, they ended up with Mikael Salo, who Esa knew from way before. Esa followed his evolution throughout the years, as he thought the young vocalist had a lot of potential. Flash forward to 2019 and the young padawan had grown out to the perfect candidate for a power metal band. Finding the rest of the players, was a bit more challenging, because it was important to have players who are both dedicated, good players, and who had good chemistry. They ended up with an outstanding lineup as they found their match in Benji Connelly (keyboards), Atte Marttinen (drums), and Mikko Salovaara (guitars).
Even though some of those names might ring a bell to some of you who are familiar with the Finnish metal scene, METAL DE FACTO is not an all-star project or more commonly referred to as a supergroup. The band jokingly explains that the only member with a band that everyone has ever heard of is Sami Hinkka, however, they elaborate that the motivation behind the band aside from having a brotherhood, is to have a full-time dedicated project. Supergroups often have the image of being just a studio project, and rarely make it to touring. This is not the case with METAL DE FACTO. The band is dedicated to becoming a live powerhouse and hopes to tour a lot.
The band is wearing their own merch, with the cherry on top being Esa‘s cap on which the motto of “Make Power Metal Great Again” is paraded. I ask the band what has happened to power metal within these years, and why they need to make it great again. Mikael explains that there are very little bands nowadays going back to the roots of power metal, playing tracks like as if IRON MAIDEN or HELLOWEEN had written them. That kind of music at the moment is not that popular at the moment, there is a lot more symphonic power metal, or with dance and electronic elements. The band highlights that it doesn’t mean that others are doing something wrong, the motto emerged as a joke and has drawn attention to their band.
As a producer, Esa explains that it has been frustrating for him how lately all metal bands have exactly the same sounds on their albums. The band agrees that in the past when for example IRON MAIDEN would release two albums in a row, they would always sound different. In the 80s every band sounded unique, and there was no standard sound. This also is the main idea behind the production of “Imperium Romanum”. Having an in-house producer, was a great bonus, but still, everyone has an input. Everybody has some knowledge of production, which makes everything easier. With Esa being the founding member, and principal songwriter, it was important to have a clear vision for the sound.
The idea of making an album about Rome was an idea Esa from the past. Esa jokes that it may have stemmed from the fact that there are always Italian bands making songs about Fenno-Scandinavian mythology, so Esa wanted to turn around the roles and make a Nordic album about Ancient Rome.
Most power metal acts focus on telling stories about war, and battle, but there were a lot of surprising stories present on “Imperium Romanum”, I ask the band about how they came up with the stories. It was important for them to have a varied album, many of the stories came from Esa, as he chose working titles that fitted the music, others were picked based on the atmosphere and sound of the songs. It’s all about exploring specific cultures. The band expresses that while they try to be historically accurate, they also explain that you shouldn’t mess up a good story by the truth, it is difficult to stay objective when writing a song about, for example, Jupiter, but the band has stayed true to most stories. They try to find a human aspect in all of the songs, Esa describes METAL DE FACTO as if they were Hollywood without money.
The band will focus on promoting the album but would like to start touring with the album as soon as possible, they are looking forward to playing a lot of live shows. The second album is already in the making, which the band has already picked a theme for. When wrapping up the interview, the band recommends listening to the album while drinking wine, wearing a toga. They encourage to ask your local promoter to invite METAL DE FACTO to play a show near you! Spread the gospel of power metal, and make power metal great again.