Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Amorphis, Impaled Nazarene, and Sentenced, to name but a few, Finland became a surprising hotbed of heavy metal talent during the late '90s, and symphonic black metal act Catamenia certainly ranks among the most consistent -- if not commercially successful -- of these. Formed in 1995 by vocalist Mika Tönning, guitarists Riku Hopeakoski and Sampo Ukkola, bassist Timo Lehtinen, keyboardist Heidi Riihinen, and drummer Toni Tervoand, and hailing from Sentenced's hometown of Oulu, Catamenia needed only a few well-recorded demos to score a deal with Massacre Records, for which they delivered 1998's Halls of Frozen North and 1999's Morning Crimson in quick succession.
Although both of these albums displayed a large inspirational debt to Norwegians Emperor, they were also creative and inspired enough in their own right, and despite recurring obsessions with frigid album titles and blue cover artwork, Catamenia's sound would grow ever more varied and distinctive with each ensuing release. These included 2000's excellent Eternal Winter's Prophecy (which saw Ukkola replaced by new rhythm guitarist Ari Nissilä and the Black League's Sir Luttinen helping out behind the drum kit) and 2001's epic masterpiece Eskhata (which borrowed Kalmah drummer Janne Kusmin, and did without departed keyboardist Riihinen). The behind-the-scenes shuffling would continue with the arrival of keyboardist Tero Nevala and drummer Viekko Jumisko prior to the band's fifth album, 2003's acclaimed Chaos Born. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia