Members

Pasi Äijö
vocals, bass
(1988-2002)
Ismo Toivonen
guitars, keyboards
(1989-2002)
Jan Kuhanen
drums & percussions
(1991-2002)
Jarkko Toivonen
guitars
(1988-1994)

Jade Vanhala – guitars (1999-2002)
Veera Muhli – vocals & keyboards (1998-2000)
Waltteri Myllynen – guitars (1993)
Kimmo Hänninen – drums (1988-1991)
Mika Arponen – drums (1991)
Vesa Junna – drums (1988)

Session members:
Petri Pakkanen – vocals (Rapture)
Merja Salmela – vocals (The Second Ring of Power)
Tanja Wehsely – vocals (From the Shadows)

Line-up history

2012:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Ismo Toivonen: Guitar
Jarkko Toivonen: Guitar
Jan Kuhanen: Drums

2000-2002:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Ismo Toivonen: Guitar, Keyboards
Jade Vanhala: Guitar
Jan Kuhanen: Drums

1999-2000:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Veera Muhli: Vocals, Keyboards
Ismo Toivonen: Guitar
Jade Vanhala: Guitar
Jan Kuhanen: Drums

1994-1999:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Ismo Toivonen: Guitars, Keyboards
Jan Kuhanen: Drums

1991-1994:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Jarkko Toivonen: Guitar
Ismo Toivonen: Guitar, Keyboards
Jan Kuhanen: Drums

1989-1991:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Jarkko Toivonen: Guitar
Ismo Toivonen: Guitar
Kimmo Hänninen: Drums

1988-1989:

Pasi Äijö: Vocals, Bass
Jarkko Toivonen: Guitar
Kimmo Hänninen: Drums

History

The history of Unholy started in 1988, by Jarkko Toivonen and Pasi Äijö under the shape of a band called Holy Hell. The band released a debut tape titled “Kill Jesus“, but soon after decided to change name into the definitive Unholy. A second demotape has been recorded and released under name “Procession of black doom” then in 1990. The band started to get a precise and original image musicwise with the following and successfull tape “Demo 11.90“, which showed already a band with an incredibly original and personal sound, and a lot of weird ideas. That was a year of death metal “boom”, and Unholy was too strange and weird to be completely understood by fans of main stream brutal metal music. A fourth and last demo “Trip to Depressive Autumn” was then recorded in 1991, and got a good response. It was even taken under license and distribution by Lethal Racords in Europe, and Wild Rags in USA. The sales of this tape, as for the previous one, was high.

Soon after that Unholy signed a long-term deal with the same Lethal Records, and the album “From the Shadows” was released in early 1993. Music was incredibly heavy and original with a gloomy atmosphere. The term “Avantgarde black-boom metal” was given appropriately to band’s music. The CD, despite a not perfect distribution, did sell several copies. During this time, the band got serious arguments with the label, so that they decided to break the deal, and were immediately purcheased by Avantgarde Music, maybe the perfect label for the most “avantgarde” band in the moment.

The second album “The Second Ring of Power” was then recorded in Spring 1994, in a highly professional studio in Imatra, Finland. The band explored even weirder fields, with violins, keyboards, female vocals, obtaining an unreal atmosphere: dramatic and mentally altered. The album The Second Ring of Power got a very controversial welcome among the metal press. The band felt they had finally produced a very good piece of music, but obviously the unholy style still was too weird for critics and bigger audiences.

When the hard work and dedication did not produce such feedback as was desired, the band felt frustrated and suffered from the loss of creative energy. A planned tour failed and other minor disturbances took place. After several serious setbacks in a very short time the band finally felt they have had enough trouble for the time being, and decided to withdraw from the metal scene. This happened in December 1994. Unholy was never buried, but it was left to wait for the right time to come.

Second coming

After the decision to withdraw the members of the band started to work with their individual projects. Jarkko Toivonen’s project was the most successful. His new band “Tiermes / Temple of Tiermes” got on so well that he considered it wise to leave Unholy and go on with Tiermes, in which he could best execute his musical and other ambitions.

In midsummer 1996 three other members of Unholy got together to discuss about the future of the iced band. Everyone agreed it would be okay to start the band again. Jarkko was out but they felt confident to carry on without any new members. Lots of new ideas were brought up and the band decided to consult the Avantgarde Music, their former record label, about the new recording contract. Avantgarde Music was very interested to produce the third Unholy album, and the band strated to write and rehearse new material in September 1996. Reunion was very successful in a sense that band produced lots of new material, some of which was quite different from the old unholy style, while others continued along the heavy and gloomy paths familiar from From the Shadows and The Second Ring of Power, digging even deeper and heavier into those dark fields. A new deal with Avantgarde Music was signed in early spring 1997.

In July 1997 the band entered the studio to give birth to their heaviest and meanest album so far, titled “Rapture.” Released in February 1998 “Rapture” broke the silence that had covered the band since 1994. With “Rapture” Unholy did not necessarily take any huge leap forward, but now the band was back on its feet again, facing the future with more vigour than ever before.

Post-rapturian euphoria did not last long, for the band felt immediately great urge to write new music. By the end of May 1998 they had completed several new songs for future release. During that time Veera Muhli had joined the group for more permanent basis, and the Unholy left behind the trio and returned to the more comfortable quartet mode.

In the mid-July 1998 the band entered Astia Studio, an excellent recording studio in Lappeenranta, Finland. The recordings took few weeks, and after the last mixing session in early September “Gracefallen” had came into existence. The change of climate did good for the band; the new material sounded quite unlike anything Unholy had done in the past.

The release date for “Gracefallen” was set for March 1999. Meantime, Unholy started to rehearse for live shows, adding one more member to the line-up – Jade Vanhala – to play the rhythm guitar.

Though Gracefallen was technically and musically the most solid Unholy album, it sold the worst of all albums. Maybe the extreme melancholy was too much for big audiences? At same time, metal music was totally out in mainstream, which affected a markets and changed an “artistic quality” of some metal bands. That made a life of small original bands very difficult. All this, combined to limited marketing resources of Avantgarde Music, the result was frustrating. Dissatisfation for Avantgarde resources (for example inability to organize tours) at the end lead Unholy to search for bigger label as future partner.

In a year 2000, from several labels interested in co-operation, negotiation started with well known american label but after good start it didn’t go forward so well. Huge delays on communication and extreme long time to get any contracts on paper, finally caused Unholy to fed up to everything and they packed their stuff and left the music scene.

Today

After many years passed, vinyl albums got afresh famous among music collectors and hardcore music fans. Finnish highly specialized indie labels Rusty Crowbar Records showed interest in releasing Unholy demos as vinyl format. Fans had been searching and asking for those demos for long time and only few lucky ones still had them in they shelf. So Unholy decided to make a deal. Limited edition of vinyl demos released in March 2011. First demo Kill Jesus, released under name Holy Hell and last demo Trip To Depressive Autumn released as separate LP’s, and middle two demos Procession of Black Doom and Demo 11/90, recorded in 1990, as double LP. A history booklet (32 pages), based in fresh deep interviews of all four “original” Unholy members, is also available with vinyl package.

While Unholy was working with vinyl project, Avantgarde Music sold bands release rights to Peaceville Records. Peaceville then started to work for re-releasing all the full lenght albums. From The Shadows and Gracefallen released in April 2011 and Rapture couple of months later. Releasing The Second Ring Of Power finished the re-issue project in autumn 2011. Besides modernized cover booklets, Unholy wanted to include some bonus material to reissued albums. So Gracefallen includes one previously unreleased song title “Gone”, originally recorded during Gracefallen studio sessions. Rapture includes two live performed tracks “Petrified Spirits” and “Covetous Glance” recorded in 1999. The biggest changes came to The Second Ring Of Power: Album has completely new cover arts, and as bonus, bootleg live DVD from year 1994.

Old and new fans wanted to see band live again. For many years some rumors told band is going to do comeback. Although band denied these rumors for many years time, finally they decided to give fans what they wanted. So comeback preparations began in the beginning of year 2012. Live shows planned for summer 2012. Project was implemented with so called “original lineup”, Jarkko back in business, after 17 years break. Line-up consisted of two guitars and setlist included mostly the early years music, even songs from demo tapes from late 80’s and early 90’s. Of course some newer material was also played, but the main focus was in old music. Songs like Death Will Rule and From The Shadows came alive again! Naturally the final setlists varied depending of show place and time.

The ultimate surprise was left for last gig held in Dark Bombastic Evening Festival. An atmosphere and audience fit perfectly for “more arduous” or “more intelligence” music: For the first and last time ever Unholy played live one of the most demanding song they’ve ever recorded, Wunderwerck. Arrange job for live act was enormous, considering the length of that song (15 mins), tempo chances, long improvising part in the middle song, and fact that Jarkko had never played that song before year 2012. And all was done without keyboards, just with two guitars! Working for half year because just one song, for one gig, in a way crystallizes the whole idea of comeback: Not for money, but for gratitude for loyal fans, despite of time and hardship the arrangements and making the whole project to happen, required.

During comeback project some non-musical sensations appeared, as always when talking about Unholy. Stage costume with bowler and top hats was probably too different to tradition oriented metal fans. So internet forums filled up with conversations and wondering “how could they do that”. But as always, it all ended as positive publicity for Unholy, and again made Unholy differentiate from masses of metal bands.

After last gig, band did what they promised to do right from the beginning of this comeback project: Hats were taken off and band guys returned to their families. So in August 2012 Unholy retired, finally.

Thanks

Special thanks to people who have helped the band in many ways: Miitri Aaltonen, Jani Arponen, Sami Harju, Jussi Jauhiainen, Pete Kiisseli, Kimmo Makkonen, Petri Pakkanen, Pasi Pelli, Heikki Peltonen, Jaakko Saarilampi, Kai Tikkanen and Juha Vuorma. Also big thanks to all fans who have supported this trip through times.