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A new album for 2020 helps keep Finland's Cardinals Folly's work rate high and mighty. Comrade Aleks talks to founder Mikko Kääriäinen about that, and much more...

Interview with Cardinals Folly.
"Started in 2004 as The Coven, this bunch of barbaric Doom Metal heretics from Helsinki weren't extremely active at first. But their 2007 change of name to Cardinals Folly made something click, and since then their blasphemous activity has been of remarkable scale! 'Such Power Is Dangerous!' (2011), 'Our Cult Continues!', 'Holocaust Of Ecstasy And Freedom' (2016) and the killer 'Deranged Pagan Sons' (2017) made the Cardinals' reputation in a circle of true and dedicated Doom followers. Mikko Kääriäinen (a.k.a. Count Karnstein) has led the band all these years, and for the past six his comrades have been Juho Kilpelä (a.k.a. Nordic Wrath) and Joni Takkunen (a.k.a Battle Ram). Now this wicked trio returns with new full-length album 'Defying The Righteous Way'. It's a bizarre nightmare of Doom with blackened Punk Rock attitude and faithful delivery. A good reason to ask a few questions of Mikko..."

Cardinals Folly: Joni Takkunen (drums), Mikko Kääriäinen (bass, vocals), Juho Kilpelä (guitars).

Hi Mikko! So you have a brand new full-length work and it's a killer album, it's savage and vivid and yet it's real Doom. Your first album 'Such Power Is Dangerous!' saw the light of day nine years ago, was it an easy session? Was it your first time at a real studio?

No, we had already done few EPs and demos before. I just remember that it was kinda stiff, because we recorded really long songs, used click and so on. It was labor. We worked efficiently as always, but it wasn't that much fun.

Was it fun to play it live? What do you remember about your first gigs with Cardinals Folly?

Absolutely nothing. Or well, some friends from the crowd. Back then we were so anxious about playing live. Now I could piss on the stage and I doubt anyone would mind. You need to tour a bit to get used to it. Now I actually enjoy displaying myself to the people. Well, we're a good-looking band and all, aren't we?

How would you compare the latest recording session with one you had for 'Such Power Is Dangerous!'? Do you record your stuff faster and more competently now, or does everything depend on budget?

We just go to our favorite studio with our favorite guy, and spend half a week there. Basic tracks we do live, then add one more guitar track, vocals, samples and lead guitars. Then mix and master. This has worked for the past 6 years or so. We work more relaxed and more efficiently, during the first album days all was a bit more stiff and boring. Nowadays I actually enjoy being in a studio and EVEN doing the vocals, which is a bloody fucking miracle.

The next album, 'Our Cult Continues!' was recorded, again with Sami Rautio as sound engineer: how did you work with him? How much of Sami is in this album?

Too much! Haha. He messed up the sound. He is a very good professional, but since our personalities never matched well, he thought we were looking for a way fuzzier and messier sound than we were. That's why it sounds so damn weird!

Core American doom bands have a tight relationship with drugs - what's the role of alcohol in Cardinals Folly? Do you think Old World Doom could be more positive if it was easier to switch from alcohol to herbs?

Lots of alcohol and no drugs at all. Except for some random fans offering joints in after show parties, when the tolerance to resist has faded. I'm gonna switch my beers to weed when you force me at gunpoint, and even then I will take the gun as soon as your attention slips, and then command you with a gun and a beer in my hand.

There were three bands - Cardinals Folly, Church Of Void and Acolytes Of Moros - comprising the Coalition of the Anathematized. At least, you had a split with that name: did you consider these bands a kind of coalition indeed? How effectively did you work together?

Basically we played 3 shows together in Finland and Sweden. It was chaos, really. All the shows were played madly drunk, and I think once I sent a picture of my hairy ass into the group chat discussing the gigs, when I was frustrated nobody knew anything about anything. I'm just glad we got the shows done and that Joel from Mexico released the split CD on his label.

Cardinals Folly - 'Strange Conflict' (2020):

Cardinals Folly give the impression of being quite motivated - you record albums regularly, compared with other bands, you have your style, you play live rather often. What keeps you focused?

I have no idea. It just happened. Fortunately I was patient and devoted enough to find the right members for it, eventually. I guess it's just love for real genuine metal and doom. And Lucifer and Dionysos partying in my soul. I'm somehow deranged and cursed, but it's a driving force in the end. A positive thing, maybe? I'm glad we made it to the stage where we can play live more or less regularly, because I think we really belong to these doom events abroad.

Do you mean it's easier to get an invitation to play abroad? How far do you travel with the band? Do you see an opportunity to organize a DIY tour?

Well yes, we have some sort of live reputation. We have done 50 shows in 10 countries, or so. Playing doom festivals is always fun. Lots of sweat being dripped for true freaks. My fave shows have been abroad. Furthest place we have played was USA, when we did Milwaukee, Chicago and the Doomed & Stoned festival in Indianapolis. That was back in October 2018. We always do some DIY activity regarding tours. We get booked on some fest usually, and then we build some shows around it with our own contacts. This has happened several times. What I love is that quite often the people who help us on our tours also become good friends. There are many examples. Like Jason Ellis, who basically handled our US tour, and Mieke and Piet in Belgium, who did the same when we played France, Belgium and Netherlands.

How often do you rehearse nowadays?

Once a week. Sometimes twice. Every rehearsal is a ritual, or that's how I still feel, I want to enjoy them to the fullest. We have a few beers and play the songs we are on a mood to play. About 3 weeks before show/shows we start playing the chose live set. And so on.

How often do you waste rehearsal time getting drunk instead of playing?

Sometimes during summer it happens pretty often. We just chill on the yard, talk shit and drink. Then play all sweaty until we just are too drunk to go on anymore. Recently we have been trying to behave somehow, though. But it is really important to learn to play properly when drunk, because otherwise you are totally fucked on the tour. Like we've had such tours and shows that nobody would believe how drunk we were onstage. Only practice makes you perfect. Like if you check the Stockholm show from 2016 on youtube, there is one song from that set, and we had been honestly partying 30 hours straight before playing that, but I'm pretty sure you couldn't tell that.

Doom Metal seems to be a rigid and orthodox genre, but you add a bit of Punk and fast Black Metal to your songs. Are you not that charmed by the original low and slow blend?

We're too wild in the end. And we like all good old metal. It's not just Saint Vitus and Reverend Bizarre. It's also Iron Maiden, Venom, Burzum, In Solitude, Bathory, Judas Priest... Look at the first 5 Sabbath albums, it's not just slow and low. The heritage of metal is there. Honestly I just think we are too cultivated and honest to stick to playing nothing but droner songs.

'Defying the Righteous Way' is on its way to Doom worshipers, how would you summarise your experience with this album?

We didn't do a specified writing process this time. The songs just came in time. Many songs were dumped away and not chose for this album. "Ultra-Violence" was written already in 2016, I think. I felt weird to put together an album again, because Deranged Pagan Sons had been so wholesome to us. But I when I did the riffs to "Deranging the Priest" or "Strange Conflict", I started to realize, that fuck yeah, this is going to be our best album again. Let's just say that in our minds Deranged Pagan Sons was such a definitive album, it was difficult to pick up from where it left us. But yeah, Defying the Righteous Way is even a better album. It sounds better and has more surprises, without betraying our style. We used the same production methods, only improving everything, especially the way that separate guitar tracks work together.

Cardinals Folly - 'Deranging The Priest' (Lyric, 2020):

The first new song you've revealed is 'Deranging The Priest'. What's your prob with religion? Did you witness some shit from churches in Finland? Did you pay tribute to the genre? Or whatever...

Religion is the cancer of this world. I'd prefer even free love and weed over it. It brainwashes people into mindless twats, because they don't have the power to transcribe that doctrine correctly. However, there are exceptions. They're just too rare. Besides, deranging the priests is no problem. It can be an improvement as well... you just need to think differently...

Horror movies, horror literature, satanic stuff – how much of this is in Cardinals Folly? Could you imagine the band without these themes in your lyrics?

Hell no. Why? That's how this band was created as. As a wicked traditional heavy doom metal band dealing with occult literature, horror, weird tales and fucked up things. With an anti-christian attitude. What else should we put there then? Global warming? Terrorist strikes? Daily politics? Ghetto wars? Viruses? You see enough of this shit in the news every day… and even most of that is just propaganda. At least we write honestly about what we want, heheh…

There are a few titles in the new album which seem to be connected with Lovecraft's legacy, and I know you've seen that great video interpretation of Colour Out Of Space. I've read a few negative responses from some poor uneducated bastards, but imaginary friends from the well tell me they're going to solve this little misunderstanding… So what's your opinion of the movie? Your opinion is very important to me. As always.

I was pleasantly surprised and I think it's a fine modernisation of that tale. Good special effects and visuals, some really great scenes. Nicolas Cage seems to always overact like hell nowadays, probably it's in his contract. Some characters we're kinda clicheic. These minor flaws don't justify some critics that this movie received. All in all, it was a good new horror movie, and I'm not into new horror at all, probably the previous decent thing before this from the later ones that I saw were the Conjuring movies. And mind you, this is coming from a guy who totally worships those very pedant and minimalistic HPLHS flicks. Like I love "Call of Cthulhu" for an example, but this doesn't change the fact that I respected this new version of Color Out Of Space as well.

What made you include the 'Last House On The Left' story on 'Defying The Righteous Way'? The movie looks like a clichéd exploitation of "righteous revenge plot", another trendy turn of capitalistic cinematography.

I enjoy its filthiness and I absolutely LOVE David Hess in these roles. He's so detestable, that he almost breaks all the limits in being that. I like "Hitch-Hike" and "House on the Edge of the Park" too. Might just write songs about those as well, to complete the trilogy of sickness. Haha! Well, sleaze cinema has been part of Cardinals Folly for long. At least since the second album. But "Last House" is a classic, and the concept of weed-scoring hot chicks ending up in Krug and the gang's hands is just sadistic and sleazy enough for me to enjoy. I always liked revenge flicks for some reason.

How did you get on Rafchild Records? I never heard of them.

We first got to know Raf when playing his festival RIDDLE OF STEEL II in Marburg, Germany, 2018. It wasn't until after that I learned he even has a label. He is a true heavy metal freak, and collaboration with his label has been very nice. He gets our ways, when we arrived to Germany back then and he had sent this kid to pick us up, he even told him: "They might be a bit weird, and drunk, but don't worry!"

Did you try to get on a bigger label, like Svart or Shadow Kingdom? There's a bunch of dedicated Doom focused labels around with promos, distribution and so on. Don't remember if I received your promo this time…

We prefer a small dedicated label over a big one, where we would just be a shelf-filler. Plus, with Rafchild we got the release formats we wanted, they are also doing shirts, helping us with our tour... it's a very ideal collaboration. Regarding promos, we trust our own contacts combined will be sufficient, and this is also super DIY, but I love it. Raf is a good guy and we prefer this kind of connection with a label. Shadow Kingdom we spent many years with, I think we did 4 releases for him. But when your label says that you are too satanic, that's just lame. Svart we have collaborated with for a few shows where we opened up for Spiritus Mortis. But I doubt they would have much interest in our weird congregation... hehe.

Finally, that's all. Let's sum up – what are your plans for 2020, in case a Chinese virus doesn't launch the zombie apocalypse? When will you finally make a pilgrimage to Russian shores?

We will put out the album now, while doing these 4 shows in Germany with LORD VICAR. Then an album release show in our hometown of Helsinki with CASKETS OPEN. After that we will have a slight hiatus, for I will move to Mexico for a good while. Russia we never played, but we've been invited, though. Let's see, maybe someday. I don't think the world is rid of us yet. We are kinda awkward customers. Deranged Pagan Sons are forever. I hope many people will attend these shows in March. It's time to KILL!!!! Always Defying the Righteous Way... Thanks for another nice chat, Comrade General Aleks.

Cardinals Folly - 'Holocaust Of Ecstasy & Freedom' (2016):

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Visit the Cardinals Folly bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-03-05 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Aesthetic Death
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