(2000) Sentenced – Crimson: Anniversary Special


Released on January 17th, 2000, via Century Media, “Crimson” is the sixth full length release from SENTENCED. This is the album that introduced the band to many a person my age, especially thanks to the iconic single, “Killing Me Killing You” and its equally iconic video. It is worth recalling that the band was born as a death metal act back in 1989 and went through a few crucial changes in terms of line up and sound: Taneli Jarva left after releasing the EP “Love & Death,” then Ville Laihiala joined as a singer, and the band’s approach became softer and more Gothic-oriented. They then disbanded in 2005. Guitarist and main songwriter Miika Tenkula died in 2009. No reunions nor tributes were started by the remaining members, as a well-reasoned choice that probably made their legacy even stronger.

One of the defining features of SENTENCED is their undisputed irony and typically Finnish sarcasm and black humor when talking about topics such as self-pity, suicide, loss, loneliness, and the heaviness of living as some kind of an unbearable punishment one just wants to get rid of. Irony works as the counterpart to a clearly and shameless cheesy attitude when it comes to the lyrics – the band always managed to toe the line in a weird-but-winning balance between the good ol’ topics of love and death and an easy-going approach, especially riff-wise, that makes their sound so catchy and their songs such veritable ear-worms.

There is a certain something that makes a few albums really special and unforgettable, regardless of the passing of time: their ability to preserve and, in a way, “crystallize” specific feelings and emotions, even after two decades when the listener is in a totally different phase of life, making them a proper time machine. “Crimson” is one of them, as most of the songs contained in this album are likely to be labeled as “highlights,” making it almost a greatest hits on its own. The rockish attitude of the band makes it always unique in terms of trademark sound. Tracks such as “No More Beating as One” or the album’s opening “Bleed in my Arms” prove that the classic rock song pattern – introduction, verse, bridge, chorus – always works, making the album quite approachable also to someone who is not that familiar with heavy metal.

Home in Despair” has a nearly Brit-pop kind of vibe in spite of the lyrics, which suggest a completely different atmosphere: “For as long as I remember, life has been hard. I guess they have “misery” written somewhere in my stars.” Another anthem to pessimism worth mentioning is “The River,” whose chorus really encourages people to sing along as if it was a proper hymn to some dark aspects of life the band feels part of. In that sense, a clear reference to alcohol addiction is also detectable.

The drums and bass combo in “With Bitterness and Joy” or the straightforwardness of the opening riff in the following track, “My Slowing Heart,” (which sounds creepily prophetic) sound extremely fresh and spontaneous, a feature that give this album an extra kick even in its relatively weaker songs.

Nowadays SENTENCED is surrounded by a sort of sacred aura: even if some of the former members have started new projects, SENTENCED’s relevance is still unmatched. As a conclusion, I would point out that “Crimson” is more than just an album: it’s a manifesto, it’s an ode to a certain way to see the world, where a typically Finnish attitude finds its way in a light-hearted musical approach, and manages to create such a unique alchemy.

Written by Licia Mapelli


  1. Bleed in my Arms
  2. Home in Despair
  3. Fragile
  4. No More Beating as One
  5. Broken
  6. Killing Me Killing You
  7. Dead Moon Rising
  8. The River
  9. One More Day
  10. With Bitterness and Joy
  11. My Slowing Heart


Ville Laihiala – vocals
Miika Tenkula – guitars
Sami Lopakka – guitars
Sami Kukkohovi – bass
Vesa Ranta – drums


Century Media Records


Official Website

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