Formed in 2003, Teräsbetoni (Reinforced Concrete) is a boldly ambitious Finnish heavy metal band with a distinctive epic style and impressive following. The members of the band – J. Ahola (vocals and bass), A. Järvinen (guitar and vocals), V. Rantanen (guitar) and J. Kuokkanen (drums) – fight their battles (carry out live performances) with impressive zeal, garbed in leather, chests bare. The visual imagery of strength, power and brotherhood portrayed by the guys while on stage, is carried through into the heroic content of their songs’ lyrics and the dynamic style of their music.
After a stunning journey of more than seven years filled with great achievements, the band decided to take an indefinite break that was only interrupted to play a show to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
J. met A. Järvinen and V. Rantanen during his studies at the University. While the guys were out having a few beers, they started talking about music and came up with the idea of forming a band that sang genuine heavy metal music boldly in Finnish. J. Kuokkanen joined the ranks as their drummer. Rantanen came up with the name Teräsbetoni, which loosely translated means Reinforced Concrete.
In the summer of 2003, the guys quickly assembled an internet site for the band including their demo songs: Teräsbetoni, Teräksen Varjo (The Shadow Of Steel) and Maljanne Nostakaa (Raise Your Chalice). It didn’t take long for the band to raise public interest and in no time at all, the visits to Teräsbetoni’s site were thousands and soon, hundreds of thousands. Teräsbetoni attracted the attention of various record labels and in 2004 Osku Ketola from Warner Music Finland signed the band to a recording contract.
Teräsbetoni went into the studio at the end of 2004 to record their first single, Taivas Lyö Tulta (Fire Stricken Skies ), which was released in February 2005 and immediately rose to the top of the Finnish singles list. The recording of the Metallitotuus (Metal Truth) album began in early 2005 in Lappeenranta, at Astia Studio, with the owner/producer Anssi Kippo and it was released during the spring. The album hit the number two spot on the Finnish album list upon its release and stayed on the list for 29 weeks!
The second single, Orjatar (Slave Mistress) is, to this day, particularly popular with Teräsbetoni’s female audience! The third and fourth singles of the album were Metallisydän (Heart Of Metal) and Vahva Kuin Metalli (Strong As Metal).
Metallitotuus sold platinum and was awarded as “Metal Album of the Year” at the Emma Awards (Finnish equivalent to Grammy). Great shows during the summer festival season and a large scale live performance tour followed the success of the album. The band also visited the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany that same year.
The success of Teräsbetoni’s first album demanded new music from the band and they hit the studio in early 2006 with producer Hiili Hiilesmaa (HIM, Apocalyptica, Lordi, The 69 Eyes, etc.) to record their second album, Vaadimme Metallia (We Demand Metal). The new album’s songs were a bit more ambitious compared to the first album, and the melody lines and song structures, more complex. This album consisted of rockier material with songs like Varmaan Kuolemaan (Impending Death ), Sotureille (Warriors’ Song) and Saalistaja (Predator); epic material like the second and third singles, Kuninkaat (The Kings) and Kirotut (Under The Curse); and anthemic stuff like Aika On (The Time Is At Hand).
The first single, Älä Mene Metsään (Stay Out Of The Forest), caused a bit of disgruntle among some fans because it differed from the assimilated style. In time, fans became fond of the song, but first, they wanted to hear more of the same type of music they were familiar with. The second and third singles, Vaadimme Metallia and Viimeinen Tuoppi (Last Pint Of Beer), were consistent with the public’s expectations.
Vaadimme Metallia was released in the spring of 2006, hit the Finnish album chart at the number two spot and though on its release date came just shy of breaking the gold album line in sales, went on to quickly sell gold. Teräsbetoni gigged in Finland throughout almost the entire year, setting visiting cities and events new to them as their goal.
For Teräsbetoni, the year 2007 was a quieter one. The band gigged normally, visiting clubs, bars and festivals, but they didn’t want to go into the studio that year. Their objective was to write new songs without haste and J. composed songs like Missä Miehet Ratsastaa (Where Men Ride), Huominen Tulla Jo Saa (Tomorrow May Come), Teräksen Taakka (Steel’s Burden), Myrskyntuoja (Stormbringer), Painajainen (Nightmare) and Orjakaleeri (Galley Of Slaves).
The year 2008 began pleasantly for Teräsbetoni when the band entered the studio with already familiar producer, Hiili Hiilesmaa, for their third album, Myrskyntuoja (Stormbringer). This time, the band wanted to do an album with more rock and more attitude. Since many songs from the earlier albums had been pompous and heroic, the guys felt a slightly different approach would be good for the audience and also for the band. So, Myrskyntuoja was born; a faster and more furious album than ever before! Lots of songs were left off the album – for example, the title song Myrskyntuoja – because there was just so much good material to choose from! Järvinen, Rantanen and Kuokkanen recorded their tracks quickly without any complications. J. had about ten days for the vocal tracks and even though he was suffering from a bit of a sore throat, in the end everything went smoothly.
The Myrskyntuoja album was released in March 2008, shooting straight to number one on the Finnish album chart and crossing the gold level of sales. The guys had aspired for an impressive gold album and gloriously achieved their objective! Moreover, they were nominated for the Radio Rock Finlandia Award as “Best Finnish Metal Band 2008”.
Teräsbetoni was asked to compete in the Finnish Eurovision Qualification and won the public’s vote with the Myrskyntuoja album’s first single, Missä Miehet Ratsastaa (Where Men Ride). Missä Miehet Ratsastaa was Finland’s first song entry sung in Finnish since 1998 to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.
In May 2008, Teräsbetoni headed for Belgrade, Serbia, to represent Finland in the ESC. The band promoted and rehearsed the show for about two weeks. At the same time, they had the opportunity to become acquainted with the city, people, culture, parties and of course, the beer (thanks go to Jelen Pivo and Lav!).
Teräsbetoni went through the semi-final into the final in 8th position. The band sounded really great, the show was phenomenal with all the lights and pyros and the guys were totally hot, looking magnificent in their warrior ensembles! It goes without saying, the guys were obviously disappointed with their final placement, but it was certainly an experience they’ll never forget! The band had the rare opportunity to perform live for an audience of well over 100 million people! Thanks go to everyone who gave the guys their support!
After their last album, Teräsbetoni felt they needed a break, but it turned to be longer than expected due to a lack of communication between Warner Music[U5] . Seeing the situation, the band asked to be able to look out for a new label and eventually was allowed to. However, in the time between labels no-one stood idly and when Teräsbetoni signed a deal with Sakara Records they had many songs ready to record.
In October 2010 the band released a new single called Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita (The World Needs Heroes), soon followed by a second single, Metalliolut (Metal Beer), which had its own music video. Their fourth album, also called Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita and produced again by Hiili Hilesmaa, was released on October 24th and got a good welcome from the hardcore fans. The band wanted the album to be everything they had become and more. Thus, they stepped a bit away from the warrior stuff and took a step closer to reality, and songs were more interesting and challenging but yet easy to listen to.[U6] The music and sound were at their highest peak ‘til date
Teräsbetoni did a tour on the following year and in summer 2011, after their last gig in Siilinjärvi (which was a blast, btw!), they announced a long-term break.
The band had done some briefs earlier, but this time the plans for the next phase or event were in the back of their minds. Therefore, they decided to sheath their arms for a longer period of time and not do tours nor write new music.
When announcing the break, Teräsbetoni didn’t exclude the possibility of climbing to the stage if the situation seemed right, and at some point it did.
In summer 2013 the band would celebrate their 10th anniversary, and the better place to do so was nowhere else than on a stage in front of an audience. The battle would take place on 26th July at the Down By The Laituri festival in Turku, which felt the right place, for it’s a city the band visited often since its early times.
The 10th anniversary show was a blast and it felt like nothing had changed , but the band still felt indecisive about what to do. In their own words, they “are not eager to let all the good things go just yet”, but they aren’t “powering up for a new tour or an album” either. Therefore, they decided to continue focusing on their own projects, as they had been doing, and go on with the break without feeling any pressure about which direction to take. Still, in the meanwhile you can rise a pint of metalliolut and enjoy the four albums released so far: Metallitotuus, Vaadimme Metallia, Myrskyntuoja and Maailma Tarvitsee Sankareita.
Text by Tuula Pesonen & refurbished by anonymous