Live to Regret with Aittala Art: Mariano Pugliese
Art: Mariano Pugliese

The music of Aittala (pronounced ‘EYE-tah-la’) crosses many metal genres; it’s hard to put it into just one category. The sound infuses elements of classic heavy metal, doom, progressive, power, thrash and hard rock, with lyrics drawing inspiration from the darker side of the human condition. The Aittala sound has been cited as unique, a challenging feat in the metal genre. The first version of Aittala was formed in 1991 while Eric was living in Holland. With fellow American Tim on vocals and Dutch bandmates Ed (drums) and Jon (bass), the band became a staple of the Dutch metal scene. With the release of the 3-song EP ‘Selling Heaven’ in the summer of 1993, Aittala opened for bands like The Gathering and Sadist. Unfortunately, as the demo started creating a buzz in the underground European metal scene, Eric had to return to the US and disband Aittala.

In 2008, the time was right to resurrect Aittala. From 2009 to 2019, Aittala released five full-length albums: ‘Bed of Thorns’ (2009), ‘Haunt Your Flesh’ (2011), ‘Effigy’ (2014), ‘American Nightmare’ (2016) & ‘False Pretenses’ (2019). Each album showcases a natural progression of songwriting and lyrical content but retains and evolves the core Aittala sound. In 2022, Aittala signed with Exitus Stratagem Records and released the band’s sixth full-length album ‘Live to Regret’. It was 11 songs that continued the songwriting evolution of heavier but catchy songs and sonically. The current lineup of Aittala consists of Gary’ Zeus’ Smith (THE FIFTH, ex-MR BLACKWELL) on drums and Ali Lugo (ex-AGE OF DESPAIR) on bass. They continue to write, record and tour to bring Aittala to the masses.

The music infuses elements of classic heavy metal, doom, progressive, power, thrash and hard rock into a cohesive auditory experience. While we don’t care for classifications (we call ourselves ‘metal’), we have been classified as ‘Eclectic Doom’ and embraced it as far as what music means to me; music is life and an integral part of my soul. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I sometimes wonder what people do with themselves when they don’t have music or another hobby that they’re passionate about. That kind of life seems dull and unfulfilling.

The latest album, ‘ Live to Regret’, came out Nov 7, 2022, on Exitus Stratagem Records. It has 11 songs, ten brand new songs, and a rework of a 2011 song from the ‘Haunt Your Flesh’ album called Juliet. I do most of the music and lyric writing in my home studio. When I have about 85% completed, I’ll share the demo with guys in the band for additional input.

Lyrically, the album chronicles a chaotic period for members of the band personally and the global events (pandemic) happening in parallel. As the band’s primary songwriter, when I’m writing music, I just put ideas down that I’m feeling; I don’t pay attention to the genre or try to force it into a genre; I just let it flow naturally. Once I have a few elements of a song that go together (like a verse riff, chorus riff and maybe some other parts), I’ll put them in a loose, basic structure. Then I’ll reference the lyric book, where I’m constantly jotting down ideas or shaping lyric elements and matching lyrics to the music in a way that sounds good.

Once I have a solid base for a song, I’ll take input and suggestions from Gary and Ali and keep working with the lyrics and song structure until it’s finished. As far as inspiration, it can come from anywhere; movies, TV shows, the news, personal experience, etc. I’ll put those ideas down in my lyric book, and when the urge hits, I’ll sit down and use those raw ingredients of words and phrases to start writing verses…then from the verses, ideas and song themes or stories start to shape which get fleshed out into complete lyrics.

Making music is more of a spiritual journey for me. Every song is a piece of me in the same shape, form or fashion that will live on (as long as the internet exists).

KISS was my introduction to hard rock (while they were still in the original make-up), and from then, I gravitated towards rock/metal. And I was drawn to Gene Simmons’s demon persona because of its dark/evil nature. The naturally evolved into metal when I met a friend who was really into KISS and bands like Ozzy, Sabbath and Iron Maiden. I still have fond memories of cranking Ozzy’s ‘Speak of the Devil album as a kid and just being in awe with the guitar playing of Brad Gillis on that album. It was a downward spiral from there.

It’s hard to speak for the world, but for me, music is part of an innate drive; it’s instinctual. Only other musicians that write songs will understand that feeling. I agree that it is a spiritual experience since it comes from a place you can’t explain to people. If you have it, you have it.
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