|Year 2003: The Search For Maximum Intensity:
The Scourger was first kicked into action in the year 2003 in Helsinki, Finland. Formed by ex-Gandalf vocalist Jari Hurskainen together with Seppo Tarvainen on drums. The early days included also Seppo's friend Pekka Hämäläinen on guitar. Now, the musical direction for the band was to be thrash metal played with a modern sound for the new millennium and a fierce attitude that would kick some serious ass in the genre!
The band was working as a three piece on some material in order to start recordings for a demo as soon as possible. At the same time that this was going on, they were searching for a more permanent solution for the guitar and bass positions in the lineup. This was no easy task as the songs that where written had a very challenging aspect to them.
The first rare demo was recorded as a three piece with Tony Näykki engineering and mixing. In addition to three own songs, "The Fool Circle", "Pain Zone" & "Maximum Intensity" the demo also includes a version of the At The Gates song: "Cold". As the band continued towards the new year, little did they know that the demo had already caused some buzz among the people roaming the metal wasteland in the capital area of Finland.
Year 2004: On The Road To The Slayground:
Rehearsal and many hours of writing had resulted in half a dozen new songs in the spring of 2004. Little by little a new lineup started to take form. In a very short time frame two new guitarists joined the band. Two old familiar faces Harri Hytönen (Gandalf, Cubehead) and Timo Nyberg (Gandalf, Divine Decay) took on the challenge. Work started on the final arrangements for the new music written mainly by Seppo. Some time later Alec Hirst-Gee (Suburban Tribe, Divine Decay) joined on session basis on bass.
The band debuted live at Nosturi in August playing alongside Amoral, Drive and Rujo. Opening the show with Testament's "Over The Wall", the band made a clear statement of where the roots and sources of inspiration for this band could be found. Some new songs where also played at this gig, among others, "Slayground" which was to become the title track for the forthcoming Maxi-CD. At this point in time, one Tony Taleva had become seriously involved in the career of the band. He offered the band the chance to make proper studio recordings of the new material.
In the autumn the band entered Moonman Studios in Karjaa, Finland together with producer Aaro Seppovaara, known from the band Blake. Because the lack of time from Alec's side Kirka Sainio (Gandalf, Lab) was asked to help out with the recordings. The end result was a six song Maxi-CD scheduled for release in February of the coming year.
Entitled "To The Slayground" the CD clocks in over thirty minutes and tackles cheery subjects like war, drug abuse, greed and the negative influence the media might inflict on us. Titles included are "Slayground", "Soul Seducer", "Crossfire Of Lies", "The Greediness", "Malediction Of Heredity" and "Black Worms". The old year was kicked out the door at two gigs, one at the Tavastia Club in November supporting Transport League and one at Stella Star Club with Moonsorrow, Imperanon and Born Of Thorns.
Year 2005: Strike Of The Hateheads:
Seen thru rock and roll eyes some things sometimes happen fast and some slower than hell. Nevertheless, one and a half year onwards from the initial formation the band was playing the Dimen Nimeen! tribute gig at Rock'N'Roll Station in Helsinki and scourging the main stage at the Finnish Metal Expo (FME) all within a month. Kimmo Kammonen debuted as the new bass player for the band at the tribute gig. The band shot their first video in FME, to the track "Slayground" in front of a very enthusiastic audience. The video can be found as part of the DVD release Inferno: A Collection Of Metal Videos 2005.
In February the "To The Slayground" MCD was released. As you might guess, to many of the reviewers Christmas came early this year when they received their promo copies. Antonis Maglaras from the Behind The Weil webzine had the following to say: "The Scourger, plays thrash metal the way that thrash metal must be played!". This sums up quite well the reaction to the debut release of the band. The album release was celebrated in high style when the band supported Finntroll at the Tavastia Club in the same month.
The Scourger and their record company belong to the old school of belief that when creativity is on a high level, then also productivity and outcome should be on a high level. So, if you can get to grips with this then you should not be surprised when the band announced that a new single would be released in July. At this point in time, Seppo had come up with the most fierce music he had ever written and when Jari provided lyrics that fitted the mood of this track like a fist in a metal glove, "Hatehead", the most brutal The Scourger track to date was born. Recorded at Seawolf Studios, Helsinki and at Moonman Studios, Karjaa, the "Hatehead" single was the kick off to the recording of the forthcoming album "Blind Date With Violence".
Once again, Aaro Seppovaara was sitting in the producer's chair. The single was released to the public in the week of the Tuska festival in Helsinki and the band supported it by playing the Tuska after show party at the Tavastia Club with Hevein and Total Devastation. What was to follow took everybody by total surprise, the single rocketed to number one in the official Finnish singles charts! Following the week 29 number one position the single, stayed in the charts weeks 31, 32, 33 with respective positions 4, 5 and 12, alongside new singles from such names as Children Of Bodom and Stratovarius. So, this was the amazing response from the record buying public in Finland, but what had the almighty media to say about all this?
To start with, the comment on the success of the "Hatehead" single by record company executive Tony Taleva speaks of the unique feeling: "The success of this single is really amazing, during all the years I have worked with heavy metal, this has just got to be the most fierce track to enter the charts. I know there has been some extreme bands in the charts before, but this is something else! This is the second wave of Finnish thrash metal taken to a whole new level!". If the mood was high among the band, the response from the media was also no other than great. Olli Rinnekangas stated in Imperiumi the following: "Both songs on this release are really excellent" and many of his colleagues in webzines and magazines throughout Europe seemed to be of the same opinion.
In August and September the band continued to record the debut album "Blind Date With Violence" and made one change in the lineup when guitarist Harri Hytönen was replaced with Jani Luttinen, also known from the band The Wake. Besides "Hatehead" the album will feature such titles as: "Enslaved To Faith", "Maximum Intensity", "The Oath & The Lie", "Exodus Day", "Chapter Thirteen", "Pain Zone" and "Feast Of The Carnivore".
Commenting the work on the track "Exodus Day", Seppo has the following to say: "This is the newest of the songs I have written and it contains a rather progressive arrangement. The intention was that this one would have become a straight forward thrash song, but there were some problems with the chorus. I wasn't satisfied with any of the arrangement solutions. Then, I had come up with this nice melody which is kind of slow. I just had the idea that we would use this melody for the chorus and just drop the tempo whenever needed. This one features also a nice phasing on the vocal track, all in all a really fine track and it rocks!!!"
In October the band was invited to support the new US thrash metal sensation Trivium at the Koff 1st Warning Club gig which would take place at the Tavastia Club. This was the baptism of fire for new guitarist Jani Luttinen playing live with the band for the first time. The man took the stage with his fist raised high in the air and played like never before. At the gig the band aired some of the new songs from the album alongside old favourites from the "To The Slayground" MCD. Needless to say, the biggest chants was received during "Hatehead". The year was rounded up with gigs at the venue Gloria (Metal Club Curium) and at the Rautakanki Pre-Club in December together with various other acts.
Year 2006: Towards The Exodus Day:
The new album "Blind Date With Violence" hit the shops in January and received some excellent reviews. The band shot a video for the track "Hatehead" for inclusion on the compilation DVD Inferno "A Collection Of Metal Videos 2006" and another track "Maximum Intensity" featured on the Rautakanki "Linja Pitää" promo CD. In March the band participated in the Rautakanki On The Road tour which also visited Estonia in April.
In May some bad luck struck when guitarist Jani Luttinen injured his hand in an accident and could not play for two months. Luckily another guitarist and friend to the band, Antti Wirman, was able to step in and help the band out at the very special Tuska Open Air 2006 show the band was booked for in July. Around this time negotiations for a worldwide licensing deal for the band had been started and was finalized in June with Cyclone Empire based in Germany. The band also signed a new deal for gig bookings with a big and known Finnish booking agent called Welldone.
The boys kicked some extreme ass at the Tuska and Jalometalli festivals in the summer. The band's show at the Tuska festival was recorded for later use. Also another song from the album was released as a single. "Maximum Intensity" stayed in the singles chart top 5 for four weeks. In August Cyclone Empire announced that the "Blind Date With Violence" album would be released worldwide in October.
The enhanced version would include new artwork and the track listing would be expanded with the cover versions of "Ghosts Of War" (originally by Slayer) and "Over The Wall" (originally by Testament). Furthermore, included would be two tracks from the first "To The Slayground" EP, namely "The Greediness" and "Black Worms". To put the icing on the cake this version features three new live versions from the Tuska show, the show opener "Grading:Deranged" together with "Maximum Intensity" and "The Oath And The Lie".
Come October and some heavy duty reviews kept appearing from the global metal media all around. The response was once again very, very good. Magazines like Heavy and Rock Hard in Germany appraised the album and featured the band in their November issues. The MetalRage webzine, made this statement when reviewing the album: "This band is out to destroy and conquer." On hell of a response that album made, wouldn't you say?
In November and December the band gigged once again all over Finland and started the pre-production process for the next studio album.
Year 2007: From Exodus To Armageddon:
Another thrashing new year and the band was filled with hope for the upcoming metal year. At the end of the previous year The Scourger had been asked to participate on a movie soundtrack to a new Finnish movie called "V2:Frozen Angel". This soundtrack was released in January and the band was joined on the CD by such artists as Norther, Tarot, Thunderstone and Amorphis. Touring duties continued when the band embarked on the Napalm Death tour of Scandinavia. Kickoff was in Roskilde, Denmark on the 10th of January and from there the killing machine thrashed its way to Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Busy times these were, because prior to the Scandinavian tour the band's drummer Seppo had been laying down the drum tracks for the next album at Seawolf Studios in Helsinki. The production for the next album was once again up to Aaro Seppovaara. In this early hour the band shared the first titles that had made the album. These were "Never Bury The Hatchet", "Deformed Reality" and "Cranium Crush". Recording continued at various times from March to June. The title of the next album was exposed to the world in May, it was to be "Dark Invitation To Armageddon". At this point in time it was also made public that "Never Bury The Hatchet" would be the first single from the album. The single hit the shops on 27th of June and as with their previous single releases this one also made it into the charts. Entering at number nine it reached its peak at number five some three weeks later.
Anyway, the buzz around the forthcoming album shot to new heights when the cover artwork for the new album was released. You see, Joe Petagno, the artist behind the Motörhead logo and album art, had designed the cover artwork for The Scourger's new album. Mr Petagno was very excited about creating artwork for the apocalyptic world that is part of The Scourger's vision. In the finished artwork Joe brought to life the vision of singer Jari Hurskainen like no artist has been able to do before. Joe is one of those true professionals in his field, and boy did he deliver this time around! The Scourger salutes you!
Awright, well, as always with something good comes something bad. The bad came when the band decided to hire Pelle Saether from Studio Underground in Sweden to mix the album. Pelle's previous work includes such names as Carnal Forge and Madder Mortem. During the Tuska festival, Pelle visited Finland to watch the band perfom live and this proved to be the start for the mixing process.
The band had really high expectations from this collaboration, but sometimes things can take the most bizarre twists. To begin with things seemed okay, as the first mixes for the low end of the album showed really some enhancement for the drum sound the band was looking for. However, after various delays in the Autumn the sound started to deteriorate and eventually the biggest problem came when the final master was useless for pressing purposes. This set back the release from October of 2007 to January of 2008 as the band needed time to fix the problem back on home ground. No doubt about it, that this final stage of the production phase will be a hot topic in interviews as the band start promoting the album worldwide in 2008.
Come the end of the year and the band once again hit the road for some fifteen shows around Finland. Always keen to provide the fans with some new material the band now showcased tracks like "No Redemption", "In The Hour Of Ruin" and the title track from the new album. Enter 2008 and the band will start the year with the release of "Dark Invitation To Armageddon" on the 30th of January and then thrash the stage at the Finnish Metal Expo on the 16th of February. The thrash caravan plunges onward, the dogs bark, hell awaits and so on but...don't forget, no, don't you ever forget, once a hatehead...always a hatehead!