Two brothers from a small Finnish town called Kouvola, Finland, Antti (keyboard) and Joni Koskinen (guitar, growling vocals) decide that they have had enough of playing cover songs and end up writing their own songs. The most influential album that innovates their song writing and they both love and cherish is Moonsorrow’s ‘Voimasta ja kunniasta’ (Of Strength and Honour).
While jamming at their home garage they write their first folk metal song. Joni writes the lyrics and the song is named “Viimeinen Peikkokuningas” (The Last of the Troll Kings). They wonder how to call their two-man project and finally decide to call it Kivimetsän Druidi (The Druid of the Stone Forest), because the lyrics are based on the fantasy novel, that Joni is writing. The novel tells a story ftom The Land of the Crystal Mountain and Stone Forest. Come the end of the year and Antti and Joni have written more songs. They record a homemade seven song demo and call it ‘Kristallivuoren Maa’ (The Land of the Crystal Mountain). The seven songs are 1. Hvel Efangon (prelude), 2. Viimeinen Peikkokuningas (The Last of the Troll Kings), 3. Kristallivuoden Maa (instrumental) (The Land of the Crystal Mountain), 4. Neljä Kansaa (Four Nations), 5. Tulitanssi (instrumental) (Fire Dance), 6. Scrunin Taru (Tale of Scrun), 7. Kotimatka (Outro) (Way Back Home).
Antti Rinkinen (guitar), Lukas Pearsall (keyboard), Jani Rämä (drums) and Jouni Riihelä (bass) join Kivimetsän Druidi and with this line-up the band begin intensive reheasals at the Ratamontie garage in order to get their first live gig.
In June Kivimetsän Druidi takes part to a local band happening at the Kouvola city centre. The audience vote Kivimetsän Druidi as their favourite band of the evening and as a reward Kivimetsän Druidi is invited to play at the Tykkimäki Amusement Park’s season’s closing down party.
Annika Laaksonen (clean vocals) joins Kivimetsän Druidi and makes the sound more versatile and colourful.
At the Tykkimäki Amusement Park the attendance of more than 200 comes to see Kivimetsän Druidi. There can be seen the signs of a local hype.
Through intensive reheasals the band’s music has evolved significantly. The band’s music is now a mystic and epic mix of heavy riffs, medieval and celtic melodies that has a tendency to stick to one’s mind like tar, cheerful humppametal, beautiful folkish vocals, dark blackmetal kind of growls that rise from six feet under and majestic double keyboards.
Kivimetsän Druidi’s fame began to grow at the Finnish web site for unsigned bands – the Mikseri.net (www.mikseri.net/kmd). They get quite favourable feedback.
Kivimetsän Druidi supports a top Finnish popmetal band Uniklubi at the Valkeala-talo concert.
When the band attend a real recording studio for the very first time in December to record their first demo ep, expectations are high up. Their debut ep ‘Taival’ (The Journey) is recorded at the Carelian Corner Studio by Jani Huusari. The three songs are 1. Kristallivuoren Maa (The Land of the Crystal Mountain), 2. Veljet (The Brothers) and 3. Viimeinen Peikkokuningas (The Last of the Troll Kings).
“Taival” ep gains great reviews. It is praised not only in metal and rock web sites, but also in metal and rock magazines. Indierockpunkmetalzine Sue and metal mag Hamara publish interviews, too. But this is only the beginning. Very soon foreign web sites began to ask for the demo to be reviewed. ‘Taival’ is praised also in foreign web sites in spite of the fact that Kivimetsän Druidi sings in Finnish! In August “Veljet” is included in Metal Storm net sites’ compilation ‘Follow The Storm’ and later in October in Miasma Magazine’s second compilation cd. Kivimetsän Druidi wins over lots of fans from all over the Europe and even from Costa Rica, Morocco, USA and Australia.
Joni Koskinen and Antti Rinkinen serve their military service during the first half of the year.
Kivimetsän Druidi is playing more and more gigs. They even attend for the very first time the rock festival, when they are asked to play in Koria-Roll festival in July. This gig is a success. Despite of early appearance time, the frond of the stage is full of audience many of whom sing the songs along.
In November Jani Rämä decides to step aside and move on to become a technician for the band. The band arranges a try-out to find a new drummer and finally Ville Ryöti is chosen. Ville’s very first gig is played a couple of weeks later at Iltatähti in Lappeenranta supporting Battlelore. This is the first gig outside their home county and the response is enthusiastic. ‘Taival’ cd-ep is sold out during and after the gig.
In December they are heading to Jani Huusari’s Carelian Corner Studio again.
The second private pressing ep ‘Mustan Valtikan Aika’ comes out in January. It gains even more interest from all over the Europe than ‘Taival’. The reviewers give this ep praise and top points. There are four varied and powerful songs on this ep: 1. Pohjoinen Mahti (The Northern Might), 2. Koston Miekka (The Sword of Revenge), 3. Pedon Loitsu (The Spell of the Beast) and 4. Mustan Valtikan Aika (The Era of the Black Scepter).
More and more metal people, both professionals and fans, appear to know the band. This is evidenced at the Heavy Metal Expo fair in Helsinki.
“Pedon Loitsu” receives most attention. It is chosen again to Metal Storm’s ‘Follow The Storm’ web compilation in April and is downloaded almost 450 times. For the first time Kivimetsän Druidi’s song is chosen as the ‘Choise of the Week’ in Mikseri.net. At the beginning of May “Pedon Loitsu” peeks the Mikseri.net chart as a new number one song. It holds the number one position for five weeks and end up staying in the Top-40 for eleven weeks and so earn a place in Mikseri.net’s “List Heaven”. “Pedon Loitsu” has been downloaded incredibly more than 15.000 times so far!
‘Taival’ ep is voted the third best demo record of the year by the members of Metal Storm net site. Kivimetsän Druidi is the only Finnish band among the ten nominees.
The record companies both in Finland and in Europe begin to show interest in Kivimetsän Druidi.
More and more gigs are offered to Kivimetsän Druidi. In May they are invited to support Korpiklaani at the legendary Klubi in Turku and in July they play once again at Koria-Roll feltival.
After the Turku Klubi gig Jouni Riihelä move over and Simo Lehtonen from a small place called Sulkava replace him as a band’s new bass virtuoso. Simo’s first gig is played at the Dico in Espoo.
After the Koria-Roll festival the band’s leading lady Annika Laaksonen decides to concentrate on her studies and to move over. She had told the news already in May so that the band could have enough time to look for a new female singer. It is a long and eventful process. They arrange numerous try-outs and finally they find what they heve been looking for.
At the beginning of August Jenni Onishko from the nearby town of Kuusankoski joins Kivimetsän Druidi.
The latter half of the year 2006 sees Kivimetsän Druidi touring more intensively than ever. They will play a three gig mini-tour together with Korpiklaani (at Kouvola, Kotka and Lappeenranta) in November and also have gigs in Helsinki Hevimesta (in October) and Lahti (in December).
At the end of October Kivimetsän Druidi heads once again to studio (NoiseCamp Studio in Turku) to record a new three song promo ep. This time they have promised to sing a couple of songs in English.
At the end of January Kivimetsän Druidi heads once again to studio (NoiseCamp Studio in Turku) to record a new three song promo ep. This time they have promised to sing a couple of songs in English. The record is named ‘The New Chapter’ and the songs are 1. The Tyrant, 2. Burden and 3. Kristallivuoren Maa (re-recorded).
Some more personnel changes follows. Ville Ryöti decides to concentrate on other projects and leaves the band. So does Lukas Pearsall. The new drummer is finally found in May when Atte Marttinen takes Ville’s place behind the battery. Antti will take care of all the keyboards from now on.
More gigs, lots of foreign fans through MySpace, once again at the Koria-Roll festival and even more gigs!
In August they receice an e-mail from Jonne Järvelä of Korpiklaani and he asks if Kivimetsän Druidi would like to come and support Korpiklaani on their massive European tour. It takes two seconds to say yes and so on the 12th of October the band is ready to leave for their very first European tour. The tour appears to be a total success. In Berlin there’s the first “full house” and the audience goes crazy and totally wild from the very first song. It’s the same thing all along. The tour takes them to 14 countries and more than 20 gigs, most of which are sold out. After playing the gig they spent hours in signing autographs and posing in pictures with their fans. At the Ultima Ratio Fest in Oberhausen, Germany they are the last band to play (after Moonsorrow & Korpiklaani) and still they manage to fullfil the expectations of the audience who cry them back to the stage for an encore.
They have fan or street team sites in MySpace in the U.S., UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, Bulgaria and Mexico.
In November Kivimetsän Druidi went to NoiseCamp Studio in Turku once more to record their fourth official demo cd. Three songs are recorded: 1. Blacksmith, 2. Jäässä Varttunut and 3. Veljet (re-recorded version). They are quite satisfied with the outcome that is named ‘Taottu’.
The year 2007 has been quite a year for Kivimetsän Druidi so far and we will see if there is more to come.
After a very successful European tour with their fellow Finnish folkmetallers Korpiklaani also the record companies begin to take serious notice on Kivimetsän Druidi. They receive offers from various European labels and from a couple Finnish, too, but they are not sure whether to sign any of those as they believe something better could be waiting for them just around the corner.
Meanwhile they are booked to couple of awesome festivals – Black Winter Days Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia (February) and Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Lübeck, Germany (May). In February Kivimetsän Druidi has their first important tour in Finland. Female Fronted Metal Tour takes them to six cities together with a great fellow Dutch battle metal band Elexorien, For Selena And Sin and Shattered Within.
During Female Fronted Metal Tour they decide to part ways with their female singer Jenni Onishko because of personal reasons. Once again they have to find a replacement and they really don’t have too much time. After ardent search they manage to get contact with Leeni-Maria Hovila, the female voice of Helsinki based metal band Exsecratus. Leeni-Maria’s beautiful classically trained soprano voice is the missing part they’ve been looking for. So, Leeni-Maria becomes the new female voice of Kivimetsän Druidi.
Black Winter Days festival see Kivimetsän Druidi play with Arkona and Skyforger withouth a female singer and at WGT they are accompanied by Tarja Turunen, Tristania, Trail Of Tears and Elis among others.
More gigs follow. They play at Curium Fest in Helsinki in March and that’s Leeni-Maria’s first official gig as a female voice of Kivimetsän Druidi, again at Koria-Roll Festival in nearby Elimäki and Sataman Yö festival in Jyväskylä in June and also at Rock To The River festival in Imatra together with Norway’s Pagan’s Mind, UK’s Uriah Heep, fellow Finns Teräsbetoni and Lordi.
In June Kivimetsän Druidi’s patience pays off. They sign a record deal with one of the world’s leading and most respected metal labels, Century Media Records. They head to Turku to Noise Camp Studio once again and start recording their forthcoming debut album under the guidance of producer Esa Orjatsalo.
In August they play more gigs. Most important of these is the 20th Anniversary Celebration party of Century Media Records at the famous Tavastia Club in Helsinki. They are accompanied by two labelmates Poisonblack and Norther.
Kivimetsän Druidi’s debut album ‘Shadowheart’ is released in Finland on the 15th of October. During the following week the album is released all over Europe. The album gets mostly very good reviews at the most important European metal medias. Joni and Leeni-Maria give lots and lots of interviews.
During September and October they tour once again in Finland with fellow fantasymetallers Battlelore. Kivimetsän Druidi’s official album release gig in Finland is at Club Teatria in Oulu and in Europe at Ultima Ratio Festival in Oberhausen, Germany on the 1st of November.
During November and December Kivimetsän Druidi plays their second massive European tour. Finnish Fire Tour takes them together with Korpiklaani, Battlelore and Falchion to 10 countries and 23 cities. They play awesome gigs in Prague, Zagreb, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Porto, Marseille, Lyon, Erfurt, Bochum, Vosselaar, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Manchester, London and Leeds among others. Their song “Verivala” is included on the Metal Hammer UK’s December compillation cd. The year ends on 31st of December in their home town Kouvola as a celebration gig of the new united Kouvola City, the tenth biggest city in Finland.
During the year 2008 Kivimetsän Druidi played a total of 51 gigs, 26 of these outside Finland in Europe.
The new year promised to be once again very interesting year for Kivimetsän Druidi. They were confirmed to three great festivals in Europe. In April they played at Rocktower Festival in Lübeck and at Ragnarök Festival in Lichtenfels, both Germany. In October they played at famous Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze, Belgium. This is the festival that has seen all the most important female fronted metal bands (Nightwish, Within Temptation, After Forever, Lacuna Coil, Epica, Leave’s Eyes). All these festival gigs turned out to be very successful.
In March Kivimetsän Druidi was a headliner for two great gigs in Russia – at Club Arctica in St. Petersburg and at Club Relax in Moscow. The response from the audience was enthusiastic!
At the beginning of February ‘Shadowheart’ was officially licenced to and released in Russia by Mazzar Records. As Kivimetsän Druidi comes from Kouvola and south eastern part of Finland, they really feel that nearby neighbour Russia could be their home territory. They already have lots of Russian friends and fans.
In November Kivimetsän Druidi played their first North American tour – Heathenfest America with Eluveitie (SUI), Belphegor (AUT), Alestorm (UK) and Vreid (NOR). This awesome tour took them from New York to Toronto and Montreal, from Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland to Atlanta, San Antonio, Los Angeles and San Francisco and finally from Portland to Seattle and Vancouver. 20 awesome gigs and more than 15000 km in the nightliner and on the road.
They begun to write new songs for their second album in Spring and started recording the songs in September. Everything was planned to be completed before Christmas. We will see and listen to the new Kivimetsän Druidi album in April 2010 when it will be released world wide by Century Media Records. The bandmembers are very much satisfied with the new album, titled ‘Betrayal, Justice, Revenge’. They now call their music as “extreme fantasy metal”.
The year 2010 will see the band touring and gigging heavily both in Finland and all over the European venues. They would also love to visit North America again and also South America and Japan, if possible. We’ll see!
The current line-up (30.03.2008 (DDMMYYY)):
Leeni-Maria Hovila - Lead vocs
Antti Koskinen - Keyboards, live background vocs
Joni Koskinen - Guitar, growl vocs
Antti Rinkinen - Guitar
Simo Lehtonen - Bass, live background vocs
Atte Marttinen - Drums
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