Midsummer is for many metalheads in Finland strongly associated with Nummirock. This year was special since the festival celebrated 30 years, which tells quite a great deal about its popularity and status. This was the third time I visited the festival with its beautiful scenery next to lake Nummijärvi. Nummirock is dedicated to quite extreme music such as black and death metal, but there are also always some more traditional acts at the festival. This year’s festival offered bands such as Children of Bodom, Trivium, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mayhem, Marduk, Amorphis, Dragonforce, Wolfheart, Stratovarius and many, many more.
My visit started with A.R.G., a Finnish thrash metal band founded in 1987. The band held a long break from the middle of the 90’s until 2011, when A.R.G. did a comeback gig with its original line-up. In 2015 the band released a new record, Redemption from Refaim. The music is quite straightforward thrash comparable to bands like Slayer, and most of the songs that A.R.G. played on the Kaaos Stage this Saturday were really fast paced and featured a great deal of blastbeats. The sound was a little muddled, which is a pity because some of the interesting guitar lines was really difficult to hear properly. Still, A.R.G. delivered a decent set despite the fact that one of the guitars had to be changed in the middle of a song because of some technical problem. By the way, guitarist Jari Kelloniemi looks a lot like Dave Mustaine. Almost in an alarming manner. A.R.G. got to witness a wall of death consisting of five brave individuals, which is very much in line with the spirit of the festival as a whole.
Next up on the Inferno Stage was the Australian technical deathcore band Thy Art Is Murder. I can honestly say that deathcore is not my cup of tea, but I can understand the appeal of heavy breakdowns combined with fast parts. Still, for me it feels like creativity is lost somewhere on the way due to the fact that the songs are so similar in structure. Something I do not understand is the occasional use of pig squeal vocals. Seriously, why does anyone do that? Thy Art Is Murder performed their songs well and the singer Lochlan Watt made a really energetic appearance which the audience seemed to enjoy. Watt has recently joined the band and it is possible that he is only temporarily touring with them, but he did a good job. As a sidetrack, Watt pointed out that it is kind of funny that the festival is sponsored by the Australian beer Fosters, since he claimed that Australians do not really drink it themselves. Back to the music. The mixing was splendid here and the sound was therefore very good, which of course improves the overall impression of the performance. Thy Art Is Murder kept the circle pit going and the heads banging.
Trivium was the next band on the Green Main Stage. This was the first time I have had the opportunity to see these Americans, and they did not disappoint me. Trivium played songs such as Strife, Watch the World Burn, Silence in the Snow, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr and Down From The Sky. The band played quite a varied set with old songs and newer ones, and this mixture works quite well. The sound was not spot on since I had trouble to her singer/guitarist Matt Heafy‘s vocals sometimes, but it was not so bad that it would have spoiled the set. The first few songs did not really get the crowd going, but Trivium received more and more response further into the set . There is really nothing to complain about concerning Trivium’s gig, and the band made sure to keep the audience in motion all the time. All the songs are very professionally performed and In Waves works surprisingly well as the final song of the set in my opinion. Trivium ended up giving me a slight bangover on Sunday.
Peer Günt, founded no later than in 1976, was a band that I looked very much forward to see since I have never seen them live before. I have really only heard the band’s radio hits like Bad Boys Are Here, which they opened with now, and I don’t Wanna Be a Rock’n Roll Star and Backseat, which was the the band’s finale this evening. Peer Günt exceeded all my expectations. Great sound and great musicianship, and their rock’n roll came as a very nice variation to the rest of the line-up of bands on this Saturday. Singer/guitarist Timo Nikki is the only original member, but both the bass player Pete Pohjanniemi and drummer Sauli “Sakke” Koivula played excellently. I am always a little extra impressed with trios that sounds so good live.
The highlight of Peer Günt’s set for me was actually a really bluesy song which I sadly do not know the name of. Nikki’s guitar playing is really awesome in my opinion, which the solo in this song showed. He occasionally also takes out the slide and uses it as it would be a part of his body. Well, it is on his finger so it is not that far from that, but still. Nikki’s voice is also up to standard, and all the songs sounded just great when these three men were on the stage. As is customary at Nummirock, there was a mosh pit during Peer Günt’s gig. I imagine that is something quite unusual for the band, but they did indeed deserve something of the kind. It was truly a pleasure to get to see these guys and I have nothing negative to say about them whatsoever.
Children of Bodom finished up this year’s Nummirock. It has been quite a while since I last saw Alexi Laiho and his men. As far as I remember, I have not been so impressed with the live sets the previous times. The execution has felt kind of sloppy and the sound has had a tendency to be somewhat blurry. This time was different. CoB played quite a good mix of fast songs and mid-tempo songs, and also old songs and newer ones. The band opened with Follow the Reaper and continued with In Your Face. After that followed songs such as Morrigan, Everytime I die, Angels Don’t Kill, I Worship Chaos and Hate Crew Deathroll. CoB really put on a show this time, and they sounded really good all the way through.
It seems like CoB has improved their live appearance quite a great deal since the last time I saw them. Pretty much everything is better now, which perhaps is needed nowadays when music does not sell like it used to. The band does indeed have the material to offer great gigs, and I am happy that they have seized that opportunity. Now the members of CoB remind us why the band is one of Finland’s most prominent both at home ground and internationally. Children of Bodom ended this year’s Nummirock in all their splendour with Downfall, and everyone lived happily ever after. Or something like that.
Nummirock was a great success this year as it had had 19 500 visitors, which is the festival’s greatest number in the 21st century. Nummirock is without a doubt a very special festival and anyone who is into metal should certainly give it a try. Nummirock is the kind of festival where people may wear silly costumes or be all black metal painted, where a big man may walk past you with nothing but a bath towel around his waist and an ice cream in his hand when coming straight from the sauna, and a place where mosh pits and circle pits flourish like brushwood in a neglected meadow. Come as you are and enjoy the music and all kinds of people.