Tag Archives: death metal

Gems of the North

Today is a theme day called Nordic Day, and it is only right to promote cooperation and companionship beyond country borders in times like these. So, in honour of the day I would like to seize the opportunity to bring out some cool bands, not only from Finland, but also from Finland’s Nordic fellow countries. The Nordic countries have a great deal of amazing metal and rock bands and influences have obviously been passed beyond country borders. This has resulted in a very strong rock and metal scene in the region. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of the Nordic countries, I will here present you with a very brief and inadequate account. It is a geographical region in Northern Europe and it consists of the following countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland (both autonomous realms of Denmark) as well as Åland (autonomous realm of Finland).

Let me here grace you with some of the finest art the Nordic countries have to offer. As I have done before, I will try to avoid the most prominent and famous bands since there are others who need your recognition. My taste in music is in my opinion the best in the world since I actually exclusively listen to very good music, which consequently implies that this post will contain a great selection of tunes. Let us now together rejoice in this Nordic treasure.

Evergrey (Sweden) – The Storm Within

Evergrey has for quite some time been one of my favourite bands. This is the title track from the latest album, which in my opinion is one of the best albums of 2016. There is something with the atmosphere of this song that I just find very appealing, and it makes me both happy and sad at the same time. There is a whole bunch of faster and heavier tracks in the band’s discography as well, so do check Evergrey out if you have not already.

Mercenary (Denmark) – World Hate Center

Now we crank up the tempo. This song is from Mercenary’s killer album 11 Dreams. Seriously, this album is incredibly underrated, or perhaps rather overlooked. I urge you to listen through the whole thing if you find yourself in need for high quality music. This song has a great drive and a healthy combination of clean song and screaming. Sadly, neither of the vocalists heard on this track are in the band anymore. 

Hamferð (the Faroe Islands) – Evst

I found this doom metal band a few years ago and it immediately caught my fancy. The brutal growls mixed with the fantastic clean vocals of the frontman Jón Aldará is something out of the ordinary in my opinion. You may know him as the fairly new vocalist of the Finnish band Barren Earth. I also find it quite refreshing that the lyrics are in Faroese. Just a great song all in all.

Suburban Tribe (Finland) – While the World Awaits

These guys never really got the attention they would have deserved in my opinion, and they are not around anymore these days. I once had the opportunity to see them perform with a symphony orchestra and it was really good. This happened in a school gymnasium, which perhaps gives away that the band was not all that famous. I cannot really say that Suburban Tribe is a band that I listen a great deal to, but they have a great deal of excellent songs and this is indeed one of them. Suburban Tribe really had their own thing going on.

Sólstafir (Iceland) – Djákninn

Okay, so here I deviate from my intention to avoid the more renowned bands since Sólstafir probably is one of the most known bands from Iceland.  I pretty much fell for this song like a ton of bricks when I first heard it. It starts out quite slowly but then builds up and creates an almost hypnotic flow towards the end. The band uses both English and Icelandic lyrics, but the album Svartir Sandar, on which this track is found, is entirely in Icelandic. The music could be categorized as some sort of post-rock or possibly post-metal.

Audrey Horne (Norway) – Redemption Blues

Now to some rock ‘n’ roll. Audrey Horne performed at Sauna Open Air in Tampere back in 2010 and certainly caught my attention with their energetic live show. I have the band’s three first albums which are really good ones, but the musical direction of the tracks that I have heard on the two most recent albums have not really appealed to me. However, this particular song is from the band’s fourth album Youngblood, and this is without a doubt a great song.

Arctic Spirits (Greenland)Itillipput

Okay, so Greenland was a tough one and required some research. I managed to find this, which perhaps is not really my cup of tea, but I feel that Greenland needs to be represented as well. The production here is quite terrible, but the song itself is pretty interesting. I have no idea what it is about but I bet it is something really Arctic and cool.

Slumber (Sweden) – A Wanderer’s Star

I stumbled upon Slumber perhaps a year ago or so, and this song immediately got me hooked. Despite the fact that it is pretty straight forward melodic death/doom metal, the band had an original touch to their sound as far as I am concerned. The weird thing here is that Slumber never made another album even though Fallout seems to be pretty highly acclaimed. However, the same guys nowadays play in the band Atoma, but I for one prefer Slumber.

Saturnus (Denmark) – Wind Torn

We continue on the fairly depressive road we already started to go down. Saturnus is a band that I am not all too familiar with, mostly because their music usually is a little too slow for my taste. However, since I felt it was important to stay away from Volbeat and Mercyful Fate/King Diamond here, I gave Saturnus a chance. I enjoy this song for some reason even though the band’s music in general still simply is not for me. However, if you are into doom metal and in some strange way have been ignorant of this band’s existence, you should check them out.

Synarchy (the Faroe Islands) A Reason to Live

Synarchy is not a renowned band at all, and I have to admit that I found this as a result of scrupulous research of the Faroese bands. This is because I did not want to include Týr here since they are quite well known already. Synarchy’s music is perhaps not that original, but I really enjoy this song anyway. I particularly like the bass part in the other half of the song.

Marianas Rest (Finland) – Nadir

This is a band I discovered recently and the song is from their debut album Horror Vacui which was released in 2016. Marianas Rest plays melodic death metal and this song has a very sombre and desperate atmosphere that I like. I think these guys may be on to something…

Katla (Iceland) – Hyldýpi

Okay, so I go with post-rock again for Iceland. There is a fair amount of black metal bands in the country, but this is a subjective list and I am not a huge fan of the genre. Katla is a new band with only two members, and the drummer is actually Guðmundur Óli Pálmason who also plays on Sólstafir’s Djákninn above. He got fired from the band in 2015 for some reason and it is my understanding that many fans have been upset over this. Anyway, this is now his new band and I think this sounds really interesting.

Green Carnation (Norway) – Light of Day, Day of Darkness

I shall leave you with this pearl. Green Carnation’s Light of Day, Day of Darkness is without a doubt one of my all time favourite albums. It consists of one one-hour long song, but I here set the starting point where, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant six minutes in the history of music begins. Just listen to this absolutely marvellous guitar solo! Only a monster could dislike this.

That is all for today then. I truly hope you found something here that you liked since I have put way too much time into this. My sincere apologies to Åland for my inability to find anything to include in this post.

Insomnium, Swallow the Sun and Pressure Points at Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki 14.10

Okay, so there are several reasons to why I should not write this:

  1. I wrote about Insomnium as recently as in June when they played at Provinssi in this same city.
  2. Risk for clouded sense of objectivity due to fanboyism.
  3. I should be working on my M.A. thesis.

However, there is one important thing that crushes these arguments, and this thing is called Winter’s Gate. But let us first deal with the two other bands that played this night.

The progressive metal band Pressure Points was the first band to play. The band did not get more than about half an hour, but I think they managed this time well. I had not listened to these guys before, but I did listen to most of their second and latest album False Lights the day before and it sounded quite interesting. There were some really cool vocal harmonies, interesting tempos and impressive guitar playing in this live show. Of course, it is fairly difficult to say much about such a short gig, but I really think those who like progressive stuff should check this band out. We would get more of guitarist/vocalist Kari Olli later this night since he filled in for Insomnium’s Ville Friman who could not be present this time around.

I have never seen Swallow the Sun live for some strange reason, so it was very convenient that they performed before Insomnium this Friday. This gig must be one of the strangest and most ambiguous I have ever witnessed. I do not mean this as a bad thing. The band started by playing the first half of the set in a semi-acoustic manner with songs such as The Heart of a Cold White Land and Songs from the North, and then suddenly passed into the heavy 10 Silver Bullets, which by the way is an awesome live song. After this followed songs like Hate, Lead the Way!, New Moon and Descending Winters.

I feel a little split about the setlist. I do think it is an interesting move to play several acoustic songs, but I would personally prefer if one of these songs were dropped in favour of another heavy song in this context. For example, the title track Songs from the North, where there is a great deal of female vocal backtrack, could be replaced with a song from the heavy third disc of the latest massive triple album Songs from the North.  The situation would be another if Swallow the Sun was the main attraction and thus would have a longer set. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and well played set.

Now to this night’s main attraction. Insomnium just released the new album Winter’s Gate about two weeks ago. I did not get my hands on it until last Thursday, but I have listened to it a lot the last week. This is the thing: I love the band from earlier, but this album is something out of the ordinary. I know it is really way too early to say this, but I am still pretty sure that it will end up as one of my all time favourite albums. The one-track-forty-minute-album has no weak parts whatsoever, and it offers sides of Insominum that we have not seen fully before. In my opinion, it is the band’s heaviest, darkest, fastest and most progressive album so far. In other words, it is epic death metal at its best. Also, the production is outstanding.

Naturally, I had very high expectations for the show, but at the same time I was a little afraid that it would not live up to the album standard. But, goodness gracious, it did. As mentioned earlier, Kari Olli stepped in when Friman was not available, and he did a very good job indeed. Markus Hirvonen proved that he is a monster behind the drums, bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen delivers massive growls and refined bass playing, and Markus Vanhala plays first-rate guitar. It is just so awesome to get to hear such an epic as Winter’s Gate in its entirety live. The wall of sound that is created is monumental when the song is performed so well. Insomnium has without a doubt developed a great deal as a live band in the last few years.

I have earlier only seen Insomnium at festivlas, so this was actually the first time I got to hear them play a full set. The band began with the whole of Winter’s Gate and then moved on to songs such as The Gale, Mortal Share, Drawn to Black, The Killjoy, Ephemeral, The Promethean Song, While We Sleep, Where the Last Wave Broke and wrapped the set up with the always marvellous Weighed Down with Sorrow. Above the Weeping World is thus still very much present in the setlist due to its ten year anniversary. It must have been a great set since my neck can barely hold my head where it is supposed to be today, and this is, as we all know, a very good standard measure of value.

If you, like me and other sensible human beings, enjoy Winter’s Gate, you have to go see Insomnium perform it live if you have a chance now when they play the whole thing in Finland or later during the European tour in January. We do not know when this will happen again, if it will happen again at all. Take the chance now, because this is some of the best acts Finland has to offer. But beware, Insomnium has now released the beasts of winter!