Mors Subita – “Origin Of Fire” coming soon

Let me tell you about my accidental after-show conversation with Mika Lammassaari from Mors Subita on evolution of personal style, the perception of music and why to go on writing albums.  Yet another conversation with Mika, I could not get out of my mind without writing of it.

An accidental conversation with Mika Lammassaari

Part of the relaxed and comfy atmosphere of the Dark River Festival in Kotka is that it provides a perfect setting for interesting conversations. The crew and the crowd are unique and then you can still run into almost all the artists performing on stage at any time. Well, ok, naturally this is easier if you have access to the backstage area, however, it does not depend on a little piece of paper or cloth attached to your hand wrist. Many musicians take their opportunity to attend some gigs from just amidst the crowd.

My encounter with Mika Lammassaari happens not entirely accidental, though. Mors Subita have packed their gear and take a break outside the backstage tent enjoying the warm summer and the relaxed festival atmosphere. No, I cannot just pass by. “Great gig“, I say to Mika and his band mates. But Mika is not entirely confident. The crowd was great, as he says, but they were a bit out of the timing at times. It can’t be that bad, I insist, and we agree that there can hardly be an entirely flawlessly played gig. The perfectionist adds: “They can listen to the CD if they want it perfect.

Is there a perfect play-through at all?

We ponder on that for a moment. The chemistry, the setting, the stage, the crowd, the PA or settings of sound or light technicians, the mood and even the weather – for example the wind – are never the same. Even if some parameters are reproducable, in total a situation is not repetitive in its entirety, as we conclude our thoughts. We can’t help as to compare Mors Subita’s previous Dark River Festival gig when they opened the Kaaoz stage standing in for Mors Principium Est on rather short notice. They set the musical frame for the first mosh pit of the day. But today is different. “Our vocalist has a good connection with the crowd. We do not want to push too much but more encourage for what they are in”, Mika explains. The crowd today did not engange in serious pits but rather careful listening.

Mika’s thoughts float freely. They played a gig on the Hellsinki festival only yesterday. As they had a longer slot here on the Dark River Festival, they added a couple of new songs. Their setlist comprised of numerous well-known and loved older songs but also the singles from the upcoming album, and naturally of the current album. Especially towards the end of their set, they had a focus on the faster and newer songs. Mika supposes that perhaps they should have mixed a little more between the older, and newer pieces. With all the confident, if not happy faces in mind that I noticed in the crowd during their gig, I would see no reason for any change. But then Mika says, they would usually change their setlist quite often in order to meet the crowd’s mood and keep it more interesting to play.

About the selfish procedure of writing albums

Mika tells me about the upcoming album “Origin of Fire“. He writes albums, not songs, he points out. In a way, he seems to take himself a little outdated with all the world only listening to songs and playlists rather than albums. But he sees Mors Subita and even more himself bount to the old ways. An album, he explains, would need to feel complete. This is not about technical complexity or the tempo of the songs as if each album would need a share of fast and slower songs. It is also not about proving proficiency in their instruments. What he aims at is again hidden from the obvious. Each album to him comes with it own atmosphere, and this needs to feel complete to him. It might be selfish, he says actually a couple of times to insist on writing albums. But he writes for himself, for Mors Subita and for his bandmates. In my point of view it should not be any other way, I say. Art requires independence, and is a very personal affair.

The ‘handwriting’ of the composer

Mika switches back to the new album: It will mainly contain pretty fast songs, he says blinking which reveals him being aware that I in general prefer their relatively slower pieces. I am looking forward for it all the same, I point out, “because what I love the most are those very melodic sequences often well-hidden in the arrangements.” This marks the beginning of a longer discussion. We speak about several details of Mors Subita’s style. We travel from those cherries to the role and weight of Eemeli‘s vocals. “We want them rather percussive. The guitar plays the tune,” that otherwise is usually performed by the vocalist. At this point Mika referes again to the new album. The lyrics come again from Eemeli as do the vocal tunes. Mika is a proficient writer of lyrics, as well. But he emphasizes how important it is to him that Eemili feels sort of home in the vocals. He would assist though if asked, however, prefers not to be asked.

What about your side projects?

Mika has not only played in numerous bands apart from Mors Subita, he usually also has some side projects. He quickly sums up all his recent activies: the upcoming Mors Subita album from writing to production, new material for his solo project OHD, an entire album written only for his former Mors Subita drummer and him to have something to play together and declining some offers of touring or studio sessions. “I like my life as it is with my family and dayjob and the music“, he says explaining further why he declined those offers.

He mentions that he wrote the music for “Heavy Trip”, a Finnish movie on a  metal band making their way to play on a famous festival in Norway. Although it is some time ago now we have never spoken of it before. “Oh that is so you“, I can’t help saying. “I knew it was your music but even had I not, it is 100 % your handwriting.” Mika is a very humble person but my remark makes him a little proud. It wasn’t him if he had not at least one point to talk his achievement small: It was great to have a recognisable style but then if you compose for certain project that is not completely your own, to him it seems he was not able to meet the requested features. I think, he mentioned, he was asked to write as raw and brutal as he could. He made that, right? – If you haven’t give the movie a try  so you can join the vote here. Nevertheless, this brings us to another topic.

The sweet naivity of the listener

I envy you, in way“, he says, and takes me in full surprise. While I saw us on the thematic path to a musician’s personal style, Mika takes a detour back into his childhood. With the confidence of a warm memory in his eyes, he tells me about the time when Terminator II ruled the cinema screens, and Guns ‘n’ Roses released “You Could Be Mine“. It was before he grabbed the stringed axe himself which changed his attitute towards music completely which appears irreversible. What he addresses is the ability to dive into a song, and just let it wander in your mind, move your guts, feet and heart, never caring the least about technique, details of songwriting or arrangements, and even less the skill or not of the musician. Mika leaves no doubt how much he misses this experience. He tells me that whenever he listens to music his mind immediately starts working out the details, taking notice of possible flaws or even mistakes, analyses the arrangements and stylistic details, tries to picture how the guitarist’s hands master specific chords or effects. It is just not the same. 

Spoiled by insights

The irony of the moment is that whenever I write about music, I do miss having more tools to comprehend how music works. Now a most talented and proficient guitarist and songwriter admits envying my naivity. But Mika points out that he is not writing music to be analysed. Actually, he even says, musicians would not write or play music for this very purpose but to compose these little universes for the listener to explore them unprejudiced. Then again he repeats with strong emphasize his selfishness in writing music and moves back to the discussion of one’s personal style.

Mika learned guitar by listening to songs and working out how to achive the same sounds. There was no YouTube to watch and listen what his favourite musicians played. There was his ear and his imagination to identify, and then puzzle pieces of information together, then to translate them into movements of his fingers. The procedure often needed several trial-and-error rounds before he achieved a result to his confidence, he points out. It gives me a flashback, seeing friends of mine in their rehearsal place at our school back in the late 1980’s rewinding “Paradise City”  on a tape for what felt the 25th time to transcribe the chords so they could play the song themselves.

Teachers help to set up a tool kit

Mika moves on. Learning from teachers is so different, he says. Someone tells you in detail what to do to play a certain chord or achieve a distinct sound effect. You are asked to repeat as often as it takes to learn play it. Only once you will have learned all that is needed you will be starting to moving on to what will once make your own style. That seems to much simpler, and naturally systematic as you will learn the more difficult steps only after mastering the basics.

Our conversation lasts a little longer on that. Certainly, I have no intention in talking music schools and teachers small, much more I feel the urge to highlight the multidimensional approach the aforementioned strategy means. The teacher would do the analysis and decide when to try the next step. The classic education provides names for what you do, and also in the end a neat set of tools to work with. Naturally, learing with a teacher also provides a reflection of your doing. You will learn in all details how to hold your pic or the angles of your fingers on the strings, for example. You will learn about different techniques of such that might go unnoticed in self-teaching especially if this goes without any visual medium.

Origin Of Fire” release tour

Time moves on and Mika is called to an already scheduled interview. Before he leaves, he invites me to their tour promoting their upcoming album “Origin Of Fire” (pre-Order here) . The release will be on October 13th and the tour kick of already in the following week. Their shows will come with incredible support acts: Vorna (very melodic folk/pagan/black metal), Shereign (modern metal), and Marianas Rest (melodic death/doom metal). 

Our conversation was not meant to be an interview or to be published. When it happened it was simply a conversation on some interesting perspectives of the evolution of personal style, the perception of music and why to go on writing albums when the world demands rather snippets and pieces.  Yet another conversation with Mika I could not get out of my mind without writing of it. Once more I am convinced the most interesting in music does not happen with the biggest fish playing on the costs of a several-hundred euros or dollars ticket in a football stadium but rather in your neighbourhood.

Thank you Mika, looking forward meeting you soon again. 

Impressions from Mors Subita @ Dark River Festival 2023 (Click on a photo to open the gallery mode.)


Follow Mika Lammassaari online:

Mors Subita (homepage) * OHD = Obligatory Human Destruction  (homepage) *  Heavy Trip (

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