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Finntroll's Henri Sorvali Explains H&M's Metal Mistake and the Controversial Hoax It Created

Courtesy of H&M
Male models wearing the fake metal band apparel from H&M .

"There are so many things wrong with commercializing metal without knowing what they are selling," says Fintroll member and art-troll Henri Sorvali.

Henri Sorvali of Finnish metal bands Moonsorrow and Finntroll admitted to Billboard and Noisey that he is part of Strong Scene Productions, the "art collective" that set metal blogs buzzing by creating fake histories to go along with the imaginary metal band logos attached to some pieces of H&M clothing.
Sorvali says he and a group of people whom he declined to name launched the joke because they were angry at H&M's campaign -- which includes items like a bomber jacket and pants with patches styled to look like metal logos -- because it was "selling people fake, imaginary stuff from a subculture that is based on honesty and being true," he says.
The story started bubbling up from such blogs like Metal Injection and MetalSucks yesterday (March 23), when the Strong Scene Productions collective sent a press release announcing it was "happy to provide a musical trip down memory lane in support of" H&M's Heavy & Metal clothing line. Strong Scene claimed to have found "lost" music from such allegedly influential underground '80s bands as LANY (as in Los Angeles, New York), Grey, The One and Motmros. It was quickly noticed, however, that the social media platforms attached to said bands (again, as provided by Strong Scene Production) were newly created; and two, nobody had ever heard of any of these acts.
"There is so much controversial stuff which is definitely not suitable for mass marketing, and we wanted to bring the ugly side of metal to their campaign, to show that we as metalheads are more aware of the content you are selling people that you are as sellers," Sorvali explained during a phone call from Finland. "There are so many things wrong with commercializing metal without knowing what they are selling that we felt that somebody has to make a statement about it."

That "ugly side" included the fake promo materials Sorvali and his associates created for LANY, which included ties to National Socialist black metal, which is linked to neo-Nazism. "Whether we like it or not, NSBM is a subgenre of metal, and it was only to bring out the same very ugly side that I was talking about," says Sorvali. "The other thing is there are no other [fake] bands having to do with that NS bullshit than that one particular. There was this one band [Motmros] that had this imaginary 7-inch album called Holocaust Tomb -- that was in no way intentional to have anything to do with any kind of Nazism. [It was because] the term 'holocaust' was used a lot in metal [a long time ago]."
He won't divulge the names of Strong Scene Productions' members -- "I have sworn an oath," he says with a laugh -- but he says one of them bought the coat in question at H&M, and the group decided to "give people what they really need: the imaginary music of these bands. Then it got completely out of proportion. We started doing bios, graphics and fake releases." Sorvali says he supplied some of the music that's heard in the videos for the nonexistent bands. He also supplied his Twitter account, since his had the most followers out of the pranksters. According to Metal Injection, Sorvali had tweeted such remarks as "OMG OMG LOL MY FAVORITE BANDS ARE ALL HERE" and "Who would have thought that H&M decides to use REAL DEATH METAL AND BLACK METAL BANDS on their clothing collection? Better than Ramones for sure!," leading people to wonder why a legitimate member of the metal world was involved in something that was looking increasing dodgy.
"We were actually at one point a bit concerned that maybe this got a bit out of hand, because we never thought that people would actually think that this is some sort of badly gone guerrilla marketing from H&M," admits Sorvali. "We just thought that they would sort of think that it's a joke … then somebody started to think that H&M is behind all this, and that's when all the shit hit the fan." He says he hopes that people do realize in the wake of the prank that everyone involved "ripped off so many bands we actually love, it would be insane if we actually stood against those bands."
As far as H&M is concerned, a spokesperson sent a statement to Billboard saying, "H&M has no affiliation with [Strong Scene]. The collection has not taken inspiration from real or existing bands" -- essentially confirming what Strong Scene was rebelling against. (Ironically, the company does now sell Metallica, Guns N' Roses and Slayer t-shirts.) Sorvali says, "We are definitely not going to apologize unless we are demanded it in."
Now that the jig is up, Sorvali says, "It was extremely fun, and I had one of the most fun weeks in my life." And he can't say for sure that Strong Scene won't ever strike again: "You have to know when to stop a good joke, and if you do it twice it's not going to be as fun the second time."


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