Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Antidote was a metal band formed in Helsinki, Finland during 1986, the proverbial “heyday” for much of the planet’s thrash music at the time. While bands all around the globe were either just surfacing or somewhat upon their way, their music was beginning to impact musicians everywhere.
That influence and impact were felt on four Finnish gentlemen who, as Antidote, self-released a four-song Demo in 1990. ‘Epoch Of Insanity‘ was a thoroughly DIY effort from vocalist/ guitarist Nino Laurenne, guitarist Pete Eloranta, bassist Antti Kuittinen, and drummer Mika “Arkki” Arnkil, right down to its hand-drawn artwork.
Regardless of its lack of polished excesses and such, the demo revealed a tightly knit group of guys that kicked ass. Chugging guitars, thunderous rhythms, and some solid songwriting showcased Antidote’s ability to deliver the goods while holding their own.
The band’s versatile vocalizations, i.e., alternating between different singing styles, was also something most bands were not doing at that time. Although seemingly rudimentary now, the demo garnered Antidote some respectable attention at the time.
Less than a year later, Antidote was back with a new guitarist in the band, Tuomo Louhio, who had replaced Pete Eloranta. Along with him, the band once again independently issued another demo, 1992’s ‘Spaced Out’. This demo revealed a huge leap in both songwriting and playing for the band, one resulting in a more speed metal-infused thrash direction.
For Antidote, that light-year leap ahead in all the fundamental metallic elements would be fully realized later in 1992. That was when the band, now with bassist Pete Peltonen in tow, recorded and released their début full-length album for Shark Records.
The nine-song, oh-so-appropriately entitled ‘The Truth’ was unleashed upon the metal-loving masses, thus announcing that Antidote had indeed arrived. The truth was obvious, and shared with reverence, that the band was no longer in the minor leagues. Antidote had graduated to the majors with this scathing display of progressive-tinged thrash and furiously glorious speed metal.
Antidote spent the next couple of years playing live as much as they could and touring with the likes of Headhunter and Accused. Then, in 1994, the guys released their second full-length album for Shark Records, ‘Total’ (which Stratovarius’ Timo Tolki helped with in the studio). To be honest, many longtime fans of the bands’ asked “A total what?” with this album, though.
There was a drastic change in both Antidote‘s overall sound and vocal styling with this outing. Slower tempos were explored, some even bordering on those associated with doom music. Perhaps the biggest difference of all was Laurenne’s vocals, which were performed in a way much different from earlier efforts.
Don’t get me wrong now, ‘Total’ is by no means a terrible record by any stretch of the imagination. It still possesses many fantastic songs and respectable performances from the band. If anything, it is probably the result of shifting musical trends at the time.
Grunge and alternative rock were on the rise, while traditional metal bands like Metallica and Prong were also tinkering with their own signature sounds. I think it is safe to say that ‘Total’ is definitely geared headlong toward more progressive metal than other Antidote recordings.
The period of time before Antidote‘s next studio release would see the exit of guitarist Tuomo Louhio, paving the way for the return of original axe-man Pete Eloranta. In 1996, they would record and release ‘Mind Alive’ through a new label for the band, Bluelight Records.
Where many fans proclaim the début album ‘The Truth’ as the best work of Antidote, I dare say that ‘Mind Alive’ is just as good… if not better. This album took the progressive nuances that its predecessor was exploring and finely tuned them, melding them with the intensely metallic vibes of the début. It managed to properly augment them in all the right ratios and the result was an energetically heavy, wide-ranging record.
During this time in Antidote‘s history, bassist Titus Hjelm would join the group. Not long after the release of this third studio record, Antidote disbanded. Nino Laurenne and Titus Hjelm later founded the band Thundervision, while drummer Mika “Arkki” Arnkil would go on to play in Abhorrance and Impaled Nazarene (as bassist). Guitarist Tuomo Louhio would join Arnkil for its 2003 release, ‘All That You Fear‘.
Thankfully, the Antidote story and subsequent musical legacy do not end there. News recently surfaced of an imminent re-issue. With a surety to excite fans of Antidote‘s, Minotauro Records announced they will soon be re-issuing ‘The Truth‘ and it will include a Bonus CD with the 1990 and 1992 demos all restored and remastered!