Labelled both by themselves, and the media in their home country of Finland as "Suicide-Metal", this band has had little popularity out of Europe, despite the fact that they recently had a number 1 single in Finland, "You are the one" from their latest album, "The Cold White Light".

Starting off as a run of the mill death metal band, from their first release, "Shadows of the Past", once they were rid of their original singer, Taneli Jarva, in 1996, and picked up Ville Laihiala, they were free to become much more experimental with their sound. Their next two albums, "Down" and "Frozen" are seen as the best of their work, by the majority of their fans, while some diehard fans still stick to their first two albums.

Their lyrics are dark, morbid and centralised on suicide, and once exposed, many potential brooding depressed teenagers would be singing along to their dark, and at times, heavy sound.

Discography
1991 Shadows of the Past
1993 North from Here
1995 Amok
1997 Down
1998 Frozen
1998 Story: A Recollection
2000 Crimson
2002 The Cold White Light

Lineup
Ville Laihiala (vocals)
Miika Tenkula (lead guitar)
Sami Lopakka (guitar)
Vesa Ranta (drums)
Sami Kukkohovi (bass)

Sentenced formed in 1990 as a technical death metal band, very much like the then young Darkthrone or In Flames. Their first album was released in 1991 on a rip off French label named Thrash Records. The album was called Shadows Of the Past and though it's certainly not bad it is also not as good as their next record North From Here. At this time one could hear their influences and they really were just one of the guys in the metal world. However by 1993 when North From Here was written and released the band had matured considerably, now they really sounded technical and brutal. It was a classic melodic death metal record like Dissection's first few records or In Flames early records like Whoracle. It's sad that Sentenced never get the recognition in the death metal world that they deserve. North From Here was really a great record, though very far from where they are now.

On North From Here bassist Taneli Jarva had taken over vocals from guitarist Miika Tenkula, and his a bit more technical sound vocally was a big part of that record. 1995's Amok was the last with Taneli, and it was a movement away from the pure melodic death metal of their first two records. On Amok they moved to heavier and dark territory, instead of the speedy attack of North From here. However Taneli left the group and the cleaner and deeper sounding singer Ville Laihiala joined. His presence seemed to open up the group to change their sound considerably.

1997's Down was the first record with Ville, and was a great record. It really felt like a continuation of the Amok days, just with a different feel, more melodic, more beauty involved, but just as speedy. However Down is very much a downer, being almost totally about suicide, I think it was with this record they earned their title of suicide metal kings.

With 1998's Frozen the band reached their peak of their earlier music. It's both hard and fast and dark and melodic, it's also a bit less suicide themed, but just a bit.

I personally think that Crimson released in 2000 was the ultimate progression of the sound they started with Down. Crimson was less suicide themed, though still extremely dark, and it was also much more melodic. Like most of Sentenced cd's it both gained new fans and lost older ones who really started to feel that they had sold out. I'm sure with 2002's The Cold White Light those fans totally freaked out, as that was one of those classic records, 11 perfect songs, each melodic, each dark, each absolute perfection, at least to my ears. It is also really a new start, their year-long break really helped them clear their heads. Currently they are in the studio recording their 8th full length record. I personally can't wait to get my hands on it sometime next year.

Sentenced have had a long (almost 15 years) and varied past, but the best thing you can say is that they have been unafraid to branch out from their roots and find their own sound. Sentenced are one of my favorite bands, and if you enjoy dark and melodic music they may become yours too.

Discography:

1991 Shadows of the Past
1993 North from Here
1993 The Trooper Ep
1995 Amok
1995 Love and Death EP
1997 Down
1998 Frozen
1998 Story: A Recollection
2000 Crimson
2002 The Cold White Light

Lineup

Ville Laihiala (vocals)
Miika Tenkula (lead guitar)
Sami Lopakka (guitar)
Vesa Ranta (drums)
Sami Kukkohovi (bass)

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