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Stone - Biography




There's a bit of confusion about the fact when exactly STONE was formed. Some sources say that the year was 1984, but others say that it was 1985. It probably was 1985 anyway, so who really cares? Anyway, Janne Joutsenniemi (bass & vocals) and Roope Latvala (guitar) had been playing together with varying line-ups and band names for a few years before that. I saw them live for the first time in 1984 when they were still called Cross Of Iron. The history of STONE began when the other guys (Jiri Jalkanen - guitar, Pekka Kasari - drums) joined the group.

The new band rehearsed heavily and started to play a lot of gigs - anywhere they could. Since most of them were only about 15-16 years old, most of the gigs were at youth clubs. The originally more traditional Heavy Metal sound of STONE started to get more aggressive and faster and their popularity started to rise. At the same time other faster and harder bands began to emerge into the Finnish underground scene, such as Airdash (featuring a guitar player by the name of Markku Niiranen who would join Stone a couple of years later), A.R.G., National Napalm Syndicate, Necromancer and so on. Underground shows like (the now LEGENDARY) Metal Massacre were organized and STONE became the crowd favourite and even more popular. Pretty soon (early 1987 or so) they were noticed by Finnish rock magazine RUMBA and especially their Metal writer Zeus Mattila. He gave them very good live reviews and there was this one piece where he wrote: "I have seen the future of Finnish Metal. They are called STONE!". Rumba also released a big story/interview with STONE in early 1987 and it was a really big thing at the time, since they were an unsigned band and METAL. That was really something, since harder metal groups had been pretty much ignored by the Finnish music press at the time. With the help of a couple of demos produced by Mikko Karmila they finally got signed by Megamania. This marks the beginning of a new era in Finnish Metal. Before Stone not just the press but also the Finnish record labels were basically ignoring metal groups, the only exceptions to the rule being Tarot and Zero Nine. After the release and enormous success of Stone's first single (November 1987) and their debut album (1988) all the other Finnish labels had to have their own 'speed metal' bands too. This meant that all kinds of mediocre/shitty groups that were nowhere near the level of STONE got signed too. Most of them simply disappeared after one or two very unsuccessful releases. Actually, apart from Stone, only Airdash and A.R.G. made some sort of (rather short) careers in the music business and got to make more than one LP. Still - Stone was definitely the biggest (and best?) of all the Finnish metal bands of the time. They toured a lot and everywhere they played, the places were packed full of crazy fans moshing and stagediving and worshipping their new gods!

The second Stone album No Anaesthesia! was released in 1989 and is today still considered by many as their best one. The style of the band had gotten more technical and the songs were longer than on their debut. The title track was over ten minutes long! During the tours that followed the release of the album it became inevitable that there were some serious problems with Jiri. It's not exactly known what the real reasons were, but he was fired from the band after playing his final show on 15th of March 1990 at Tavastia Club in Helsinki. The remaining trio decided to continue and so Markku Niiranen was asked to join Stone. He had made two albums with Airdash so he definitely wasn't an unexperienced player. Stone's ambition for even more technical playing had been growing all the time, and when their third album Colours was released in late 1990, the reaction of the press and fans was rather disappointing. The music was considered too complex and so their popularity started to fall. Stone's falling popularity may have also had something to do with the fact that Death Metal was starting to get big in Finland and some fans thought that Stone was old-fashioned... trendy fuckers! Anyway, lots of shows were still played and the final studio album Emotional Playground was released in 1991. This is my personal favourite of all the Stone albums. Not overtechnical or anything, just sheer perfection. The title track of the album (written by Janne Joutsenniemi) clearly shows that he was already thinking of doing something completely different musically during the preproduction of the album, so it was no real surprise that in the summer of '91 Stone announced that they would disband after a small final tour. And so they did. In September 1991 Stone ceased to exist. During the tour some of the shows were recorded and the live album Free was released in 1992.

The guys went their separate ways. Roope Latvala recorded an album with his brother (Latvala Bros: Wooden Eye) and briefly joined Dementia for their only album. Then he joined Waltari and a few years later Sinergy. He's been the most active ex-member of Stone with lots of different bands and projects. Janne Joutsenniemi formed Sub Urban Tribe and is still playing with them. Pekka Kasari joined Amorphis and is nowadays playing in a band called Road Crew. Markku Niiranen joined Corporal Punishment but is not very active today. At least he's not in any known METAL band. What about the original guitar player, Jiri Jalkanen, then? Well... he's playing some sort of country music in his father Kari Tapio's band.

Stone reunited for a few very successful festival shows in the summer of 2000, but after that they have not played together. They have said that they will never reunite again. During 2003 Stone has been gaining popularity due to the release of the remastered versions of their albums.