Tag Archives: Finland

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.

Festival report: Thursday 30.6 at Provinssi, Seinäjoki

Provinssi is one of the largest festivals in Finland, and the selection of artists and bands is very versatile. The drawing card this year was Rammstein, who performed on Saturday. Other bands and artists on the festival were Biffy Clyro, Bring Me the Horizon, Action Bronson, Silvana Imam and many others. I was only present on Thursday this year, mainly to see Nightwish, Insomnium, Flogging Molly and Five Finger Death Punch. This report will be heavily textual since I have not been able to find photos that I could get permission to use. I apologize for this inconvenience.

It has been too long since I last got to see Insomnium live, so I made my way to the festival area just in time to see the band’s gig at 5:30 p.m. I was a little worried that they would not draw so much attention, but to my relief quite a great deal of people showed up for the set. Insomnium played five songs from the highly acclaimed album Above the Weeping World for the reason that it is ten years since it was released.

  1. The Primeval Dark
  2. While We Sleep
  3. Change of Heart
  4. Only One Who Waits
  5. Down With the Sun
  6. Revelation
  7. The Killjoy
  8. Devoid of Caring
  9. The Gale
  10. Mortal Share
  11. Ephemeral

I am not absolutely sure if I got the middle songs in right order since I was distracted by the deluge that struck about half way through the set. However, these were the songs the band played. I was really hoping for The Killjoy, so I am very happy that I got to hear it even though I was struggling to get into the disposable raincoat at the same time. The heavy rain caused some problems for the band as well, since their crew had to move speakers and such further onto the stage because a lot of water came down on the front of the stage. Guitarist/clean vocalist Ville Friman‘s guitar was out for most part of Devoid of Caring, and Markus Vanhala‘s for a short while towards the end of the set, probably due to the fact that everything got wet. But as professionals, the band members kept going and they did it brilliantly. For some reason I have always thought that there is something very sympathetic with Insomnium. A great bunch of lads, in other words. Vocalist/bassist Niilo Sevänen is a great front man and he sincerely thanked the audience for staying despite the torrential rain. After all, heavy rain is always really metal, which the circle pit proved. (It always rains at Provinssi when I am there, so I assume it is because of my presence. My apologies to everyone who got soaked.)

As I said, I really enjoyed the selection of songs in Insomnium’s set. The Primeval Dark is a perfect opening song, and drummer Markus Hirvonen gets to shine and set the beat. While We Sleep and Revelation from the most recent release works very well live, and Ephemeral is a song with very good drive that wraps the set up nicely. Furthermore, The Killjoy and Mortal Share from Above the Weeping World are real killer songs live. I believe Insomnium is becoming a better and better live band with time, and they showed the audience in Seinäjoki what they are made of. Now, those of you who have read my previous posts may foretell that I am something of fanboy of this band. I admit this might cloud my sense of objectivity to some extent, but I am still very sure that Insomnium’s gig was great this day.

With soaked shoes completely wet jeans from the knees down, we walked towards the main stage to see Flogging Molly. The band took some of the blame for the weather and said that they brought it with them. I have not really ever listened to these guys, but I roughly knew what kind of music they play. Flogging Molly is an Irish-American band that plays what could be described as Celtic punk. In addition to the usual rock band instruments, the seven members of the band plays instruments such as banjo, accordion and violin, which I find really refreshing.

Flogging Molly entertained the audience with an energetic and cheerful performance. The band played songs such as Drunken Lullabies, The Hand of John L. Sullivan, Saints and Sinners, Requiem for a Dying Son and Tobacco Island. At the very end of the set when the band was about to leave the stage, the sun came out and Flogging Molly decided to do one more song for us just because of that. I believe it was actually a spontaneous move, since they had already thrown most of the beer (Guinness of course) into the crowd. Singer/guitarist Dave King really opened up during the gig, which made the atmosphere very pleasant. Flogging Molly’s set was in every way merry and the songs were well executed. I think everyone felt a little Irish afterwards.

Five Finger Death Punch is a band that I do not really fancy, mostly because of the frequently quite childish lyrics and pop refrains that do not really fit with the usually quite heavy verses. But I will try to be objective here. I  cannot deny that the Americans have quite a great deal of hits (for some reason), and the audience got to hear several of them, for example Never Enough, Bad Company, Wrong Side of Heaven and Jekyll and Hide. FFDP played their songs well, but I think singer Ivan Moody sings a little slipshodly off and on, like a steam engine that is running quite well but there are some pieces of coal that are damp.

Anyway, the crowd responded really well to the music and Moody claimed that it was one of the best audiences the band has had. He actually sounded quite sincere about this, so I do not think that it was something he says all the time. Thus, the band members seemed to enjoy themselves, which of course always makes a gig more attractive for the crowd as well. The highlight of FFDP’s set was for me The Wrong Side of Heaven with guitarist/backing vocalist Jason Hook  playing the acoustic guitar, since it was the song that stack out the most. Five Finger Death Punch was quite alright in the end.

Nightwish was the headliner of this Thursday. I have seen the symphonic metallers many times, but they never seize to amaze me live. It is pretty hard to grasp how such massive and epic music can be delivered so well live. Nightwish played many songs from the newest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, which makes sense since it is the first album with present singer Floor Jansen.

  1. Shudder Before the Beautiful
  2. Yours Is an Empty Hope
  3. Ever Dream
  4. Élan
  5. Weak Fantasy
  6. Sahara
  7. Storytime
  8. I Want My Tears Back
  9. Nemo
  10. Ghost Love Score
  11. Last Ride of the Day
  12. The Greatest Show on Earth

Firstly, the sound was just great as usual. Nightwish must have some of the best sound engineers there is, because the sound has been amazing every single time I have seen the band live. In addition, the band members rarely do any mistakes, neither with song nor instruments, so the performance is indeed quite clinical on that front. Jansen’s and bassist/singer Marco Hietala‘s voices fit together very well, and the parts where the two sing together sound marvellous.  It is like a symbiosis such as a mycorrhiza. Jansen is highly versatile, which means that she can sing both the older Tarja songs and the Anette songs without any problems whatsoever. Furthermore, I think she manages to do them to her own in a very good way. All respect to Jansen. Touring drummer Kai Hahto also needs an honourable mention since he does an impeccable job behind the drums.

I enjoyed the fact that Nightwish ended with the twenty-minute epic The Greatest Show on Earth. I would say that it is quite unusual for any band to play those kinds of lengthy songs, and unusual things are usually interesting in my opinion. I was also happy that they played Sahara although I have heard it live before, but it is a great live song and one of the band’s heavier ones overall. Nemo could perhaps be dropped from the set since I am very tired of that song. On the other hand, I understand that the band needs some of the older hits in the set that is otherwise proportionately characterized by fairly recent songs. To summarize I will say that it is almost a crime not to have experienced Nightwish live if you like metal music and live in Finland. The band is a something of a national treasure, and seeing them live should really be in the curriculum of life.

Provinssi was very successful this year. The festival set a new record for visitors on one day when 31 000 people visited the festival on Saturday. I enjoyed Thursday even though I wore shoes that were soaked for about six hours after the flood during Insomnium. My feet looked like those of a dead man when I took off my socks afterwards, but rain is metal.

Festival report: Saturday 25.6 at Nummirock, Kauhajoki

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.

Trivium (Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto, Paul Wandtke) from Orlando, FL, USA performing Heavy metal/Thrash metal at the Nummirock Metal Festival 2016 - June 25.6.2016 - Kauhajoki, Finland.
Trivium in action. Photo by Jussi Panula.

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.

Peer Günt (Timo Nikki, Pete Pohjanniemi, Sakke Koivula) from Turku, Finland performing Hard Rock at the Nummirock Metal Festival 2016 - June 25.6.2016 - Kauhajoki, Finland.
Peer Günt. Photo by Jussi Panula.

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 Metal Festival 2016 - June 26.6.2016 - Kauhajoki, Finland.
Children of Bodom firing up. Photo by Jussi Panula.

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.

Festival report: Saturday 11.6 at South Park Festival, Tampere

The festival season has now started for my part as I attended South Park festival as one should in June. This time only Saturday for me though. This year the festival offered acts such as Slayer, Triptykon, Amorphis and Battle Beast on Friday, while Bullet for My Valentine was the headliner on Saturday after Soilwork, Diablo, Thunderstone, Powerwolf and others had done their bit. The selection of bands was considerably more orientated towards heavier music this year compared to the two previous; a development I welcome gladly.

I really looked forward to seeing Thunderstone. I have only seen the band one time before, and I believe that was nine years ago in Kalajoki. It was good to see singer Pasi Rantanen back in business after being absent from the band for some years. The band entered the stage already at 2:30 p.m. so the audience was not huge at the time, but more and more people were drawn towards the main stage during the set. Thunderstone offered songs from all of their six studio albums, which I find very positive. Furthermore, four songs from the new album and three songs from Evolution 4.0 is perfect in my opinion.

  1. Veterans of the Apocalypse
  2. Forevermore
  3. The Path
  4. Higher
  5. Dirt Metal
  6. Through the Pain
  7. 10.000 Ways
  8. Down With Me
  9. Let the Demons Free
  10. Tool of the Devil
  11. Until We Touch the Burning Sun

Thunderstone released the album Apocalypse Now in April this year, and the four songs they played from it worked well live. I have not listened through the album that many times yet, but I can say that it is a grower. Thus, I hope they will play some of the other songs live as well later on. Rantanen seemed to have problems with the higher notes in the beginning, but to his defence I believe there was some problem with his microphone. At least it sounded better after he got another one. The new always smiling drummer Atte Palokangas is also fun to watch and he plays really well, which applies to the rest of the band members as well.

Nino Laurenne of Thunderstone. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

One thing that I found strange was that Thunderstone only played the first slower part of Down With Me and then passed on to Let the Demons Free. There would have been time to play the whole song, and I think it is a little unnecessary to play only a part of song that is not so terribly long in the first place. This is obviously not a big deal, but I really would have liked to hear the whole of Down With Me since it is a great song. One thing I really enjoy with Thunderstone live is the fact that the members master the art of singing in parts really well. Many bands rely on backtracks in situations which require several voice parts, but Thunderstone manages singing in parts well without such assistance, which gives plus points in my book. During the last song, Until We Touch the Burning Sun, it started to rain a little after being sunny for quite a while. The irony.

After getting our things to the hotel and finding something to eat, we returned to the festival area to watch Powerwolf, a band I have absolutely no experience of. I would say that they sound quite a great deal like Sabaton, but I prefer the voice of Powerwolf’s singer Attila Dorn any day of the week. Anyway, the band members look like they play black metal although they play quite straight forward power metal with some darker influences. There is apparently some kind of werewolf/vampire thing going on here, and some song titles and lyrics may appear quite dark at first. However, a closer look on lyrics and titles reveals that the band does not take themselves all too seriously. They are pretty fun to watch and there is not really anything to complain about music wise. In my opinion there is a little too much talking and trying to get the audience to sing all kinds of long melodies (which by the way is really difficult if one is new to the song). Powerwolf could have played another song instead. Oh, and another thing. Why does this band not have a bass player? Powerwolf will return to Finland in October to play in Helsinki and Tampere again.

Powerwolf. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

Next out on the main stage was Swedish Soilwork. I have seen these guys live many times these last years, and I can say that they never disappoint. They always get the crowd going with their faster songs such as Follow the Hollow,  and the band’s energy seems to be contagious. The sound mix has not been that great some of the times I have seen them live before, but this time it was really good, which Soilwork is definitely worthy of. Singer Björn “Speed” Strid really shone this Saturday evening and nailed pretty much all the difficult higher notes as well as everything else. It was probably the best performance by him that I have seen. This time the band had a stand-in drummer, since Dirk Verbeuren is currently playing with Megadeth. Danish stand-in Bastian Thusgaard does not impede Soilwork at all, but is fully capable of playing Verbeuren’s tricky rhythms. All in all, Soilwork once again treated the audience to a well played set and finished with Stabbing the Drama, which is always a killer song live. Do catch these guys live if you have not already.

Then it was time for Diablo on the tent stage. I have now seen the band live three times in a year, and I think this gig was better than the two previous ones. This is mostly due to the fact that this was the first time that they had no technical issues, which meant that the flow of the set was much more enjoyable. Diablo played songs such as Symbol of Eternity, Trail of Kings, The Call, Savage, Mimic47, The Preacher and Prince of the Machine. Read My Scars is a song that works unbelievably well live, also this time. Singer/guitarist Rainer Nygård shouts “READ”, and the audience answers “MY SCARS”. One song that I have been dying to hear is D.O.A from the album Mimic47, but I do not think that they have played that one at all since they returned from their hiatus. Also, it would be awesome to hear the title track from Silvër Horizon, which I know that they have played, but sadly not with me present. Of course, Diablo only had an hour to play this time, so it is not realistic to expect any rarities.

Diablo on the tent stage. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

Diablo is getting into a really great live shape and the songs sound tight as three guys in the backseat of a Nissan Micra. I want to take a moment to appreciate lead guitarist Marko Utriainen, who is probably one of the most underrated guitar players in the country. Namely, I would say that he is one of the best. The very guitar driven sound of Diablo makes heavy demands, which Utrianen delivers in a very refined manner. All the band members do a very fine job, and the tent crowd got to see a Diablo that is certainly back in business.

Bullet for My Valentine got the honour to bring this year’s South Park to a close. It has been quite a while since I last saw these guys live, and that time the sound was awful. This time it was great. BFMV has actually developed into a really good live act these past years, and I am actually a little surprised by how well they perform now. One reason to the clear improvement is the new bass player/(backing) vocalist Jamie Mathias, who is actually both a better singer and screamer than the band’s front man Matt Tuck. This does not mean that Tuck is bad, only that Mathias is better. Mathias steps into the breach in the more difficult singing parts, for example the refrain of You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War). Consequently, this results in a better performance on the whole since Tuck now gets some relief which means that he can do his own parts better. Also, the two occasionally burst into part-singing and do it with credit.

Bullet for My Valentine. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

I think BFMV played a good selection of songs. The audience was spared from songs like Hearts Burst into Fire, Fever and Temper Temper, and instead the band played heavier songs. The set included tracks like Your Betrayal, Raising Hell, Scream Aim Fire, Tears Don’t Fall, Waking the Demon and my personal favourite Alone (Trivia: Gojira’s Global Warming + outro part of Be’lakor’s Countless Skies = intro of BFMV’s Alone). Just like Soilwork, BFMV also had a stand-in drummer, Jason Bowld. He did a good job. I do not know why in the world he got to have a drum solo though. Seriously, few things bore me as much as drum solos nowadays, mostly because they all turn out so similar. I will not be impressed until anyone brings out congas, bongos or something like that on the stage. Otherwise, there is nothing to complain about concerning BFMV’s gig. Sure, the band did not exactly do anything over-the-top (pun intended), but they perform very professionally and still retain the feeling to their music.

This year’s South Park had about 9000 visitors and it is already clear that the festival will be arranged next year as well. I will probably be there as usual since it is always a very pleasant experience to start the festival season in Eteläpuisto in Tampere.


The Man-Eating Tree; in the Absence of Light


The Man-Eating Tree has been around since 2009 and this is their 3rd album, that came out the day of the big solar eclipse; March 20th 2015. They (too) have gone through some changes personnel-wise; a new singer and the keyboardist is now gone, and now their line-up looks like this:

Antti Kumpulainen – Vocals

Janne Markus – Guitar

Antti Karhu – Guitar

Mikko Uusimaa – Bass

Vesa Ranta – Drums

Back when the album Harvest came out, I went and bought the copy from Record Shop X Lahti. Forgot to pay the parking fee, so I got me a ticket for 40 euros instead. Pretty expensive CD. That is basically my history with this band, I felt as if something was missing there.

The new sound is heavier and I like it a lot, they’ve added some growls and the landscape of the music seems to have endless levels and true depth to it. They paint a sad, artistic picture with only dark shades, but by staying metal as fuck. You know it’s good when you want to close your eyes and just let the music cradle you! And then you realize you’re driving.

I listen to music mostly in my car, when I’m driving to work. It gives me time on my own (I do have three kids and a job, these near half-hour breaks really give me strenght) and I continued with this on Spotify through my phone and earplugs.

This album has depth to it like I said; after 5-10 times you still hear new details and that is hooking and addictive! I like it. It starts to unveil and grows to some extend, I tell you! I see the international potential with this band, their sound is beautiful and atmospheric, with the hint of desperation. Or maybe they threw in a good handful of that, but it is a good spice. Good metal can not be happy.  Ever.

They have paid attention to everything, the booklet is well worth buying a physical CD. Much appreciation from here. The visual side supports the music that surrounds you with no hope and darkness.

The new video is almost horror, very distressing and awesome, I’m pretty sure you will feel something! Press play.


So they visited my “home club” Finlandia-klubi with Finntroll and Wolfheart, the three great bands formed up a rather impressive tour. TMET opened the evening at 19:00, I am all for early gigs but this was taking it a bit too far! The turn-out wasn’t really good, to say the least, could be the time (normally at this club they don’t start before 20:00, even I had to hurry when I found out the showtime) and it was Easter Sunday so…. anyways.  I was there.


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Unfortunately they suffered from some tech problems so it could have been so much better!! They would have deserved better. But this explains a lot:

No Strömsö here. “Function now, you fucker”

We still have one chance to see this tour; In Helsinki on this Saturday the 25th of April at Tavastia! If you are around, come by! The showtime will be as early as 18:30, and most likely the setlist will look something like this:

  • Obsidian
  • Flatline
  • Armed
  • the Divided
  • Plaguewielder
  • Death Parade
  • Dead on Earth

This summer TMET will be playing at various festivals in Finland, the best way to keep up with these guys is to follow them on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themaneatingtree?fref=ts

This might just be THE NEXT BIG THING and you should see for yourself, why they are receiving killer feedback for their new album!

Metal from Finland blogger approved.

Interview with Mikko Virtanen (GRENDEL / DEAD END FINLAND)

If you have an interest in Finnish death metal or in this year’s top releases, you are likely to come across the name of Mikko Virtanen. Vocalist of GRENDEL and DEAD END FINLAND, he had a few words with us about how it is to be a metal musician in the highly competitive Finland, and also about the goodies delivered by the aforementioned bands.

MFF:  Hello, Mikko! How is it for you to handle two bands? You had two album releases this year…

Photo by Tage Ronnquist

MV: Working with Dead End Finland beside of Grendel does not cause me much work. DEF doesn’t do live shows and I’ve never even jammed with the band in rehearsals. Santtu Rosén and Miska Rajasuo make all the songs and arrangements. We work together only in studio and basically I do the vocals as they suggest. This set-up works out great since Grendel is so big part of my life and takes so much of my time.

MFF: The Finnish metal scene is well crowded, what feeling does that give to an involved musician? There used to be a wave of gothic metal which had its say and then died out; now, there is a strong development of melodic death metal, with numerous bands already.

MV: There are so many excellent bands that it feels like there is not enough audience for all of them in Finland. For example in Helsinki there are always simultaneous gigs on weekends and different clubs need to compete of the audience with each other. Kind of same situation with selling albums. The internet providing everything for free does not help the case…

MFF: GRENDEL can boast with a nice number of gigs year by year. But we know how life in Finland is, there are countless gigs… How would you convince people to choose a Grendel performance?
Continue reading Interview with Mikko Virtanen (GRENDEL / DEAD END FINLAND)

What I Know About Finns – PART III: Drinking

Where is this myth coming from? that Finns drink more than others, when official charts clearly show that alcohol consumption is higher in over a dozen of other countries?! Check the official facts and you will be amazed:

At alcohol consumption per capita, Finland comes only after 20 other countries.

# 18 in beer consumption. Doesn’t even appear in the wine and spirits charts.

More downloadable charts here.

The abstainer’s chart. Finns drink in general/in greater numbers, maybe that’s where the fake image comes from. And they seem to drink more, when they decide to do so (see the charts).
Only on one occasion Finland tops the charts, that being at the question “Do you think higher prices for alcohol would discourage young and heavy drinkers?” 60% of Finns replied Yes. They’ve already been through a time when drinks were expensive enough and now the prices stand at a lower level than before, obviously making alcohol more handy. If prices would decrease even more, only 9% of Finns would buy more alcohol. Again, see the questionnaire answers.

Alright, but here’s the questions that persists:

Why are Finns seen as such heavy drinkers?
It could be due to what I mentioned before – the higher percentage of population that engages in alcohol consumption. Might be the weather also…

Here’s my view on it:
I’d say it’s rather about the attitude. Of course, I can compare this to the habits of my native country. Here, people drink ‘quietly’ and usually in bars. But Finland has a very different culture. It’s fun to make drinking an event! “Let’s drink!” – the simple phrase that brightens the eyes, brings a smile and renews one’s energy. It’s a social event. It is very common that during summer festivals, attendants barely get to see any of the present bands, because they’re too busy getting drunk or, later on, being wasted. They are allowed to be so! And it’s also fun when you’re not allowed to drink, so everyone takes some beer to the forest, to the parks, even to the public squares. Alright, but why is drinking itself so much fun? Because it brings quite a change… Here we have 2 different attitudes: in some cultures, alcohol makes people be what they’re not, while Finns drink to become themselves. Sure, some of them have beaten their wives, killed their neighbour with an axe or whatever, but most of them drink in order to be free from the frustrations and fears they usually have. It’s not easy being a Finn. It’s in their nature to be shy, somewhat fearful, melancholic, very reserved, giving so much space to others that they won’t manage to reconnect. To fill the gap between them and the rest of the world, such social inhibitions must disappear. It’s the alcohol that does it. It acts like a lubricant in these social encounters. If they do something stupid, they can just blame the drunkenness.

Thus the Finns (who are highly capable of being charming and having entertaining conversations) dare to approach somebody, to see the bright side of a situation and to start speaking. I’ve seen this many times: they love being around people as much as they love being all alone. It’s like they have 2 types of batteries – the ones that recharge by togetherness and the others, recharging in solitude. Finns love to communicate and they need it. When talking to somebody, it’s like getting reassured that you’re able, that you matter as an individual. You get the feedback you were looking for and sure that makes you feel better. Unfortunately, some of us can be open to communication only when the chemicals in the brain are modified. So, this is how you get a genuine friendly Finn: let him/her drink! 🙂

However, don’t expect the wonder to last. When alcohol is too much, you won’t get anything of what they say; or, the next day they will return to the before-drinking mood.
But hopefully, they will remember that they trusted you and that they had a good time.

I’ve seen enough Finns while indulging in drinking, yet never had a truly bad time because of it. They have to do that, to fool their demons for a while…

If, after this little exploration of Finnish drinking culture, you feel sympathy for it, maybe you want to check the Drunk Moose design 🙂 at MFF SHOP >>