Tag Archives: metal

Festival Report: Saturday 24.6 at Nummirock, Kauhajoki


This year’s Nummirock had a fairly strong and consistent line-up with band such as Devil Driver, Epica, Rhapsody, Insomnium, Wintersun, Raised Fist, Jinjer, Shade Empire, Ensiferum and many more. As is now more or less custom for me, I attended Nummirock on Saturday evening. The weather was rainy and it could not have been more than 10-12 °C, so wearing T-shirt and shorts was not an alternative this time.

We entered the festival area just as Epica started their gig on the main stage. I have not listened a great deal to Epica, but I can say that the band’s music works very well live in my opinion. Epica had to face a rather cold and therefore quite sedate audience, but the band members did their best to get the people moving. Epica started out with Edge of a Blade and A Phantasmic Parade from the new album The Holographic Principle, and these songs fits very well in the live set. They also played older songs such as Cry for the Moon, Sancta Terra and the gig’s last song Consign to Oblivion.

Escapade
Coen Janssen of Epica wanted to be closer to the audience. Photo by Jussi Panula

Epica is really fun to watch because the members really put on a show. I particularly enjoyed keyboardist Coen Janssen’s escapades down from the stage to be close to the audience with his unconventional, small, circular and portable keyboard. Furthermore, singer Simone Simons sings extremely well, but it was sometimes difficult to hear her voice properly due to slightly blurred sound. Epica is definitely worth seeing live even if you are not that familiar with the band’s music. I will have to give the band’s discography a real chance.

Next up was Whispered, the Finnish samurai metallers. These guys play some kind of progressive melodeath with some serious vibes from the Land of the Rising Sun. Whispered began their set with the song Strike, which I think is a really cool song. Some other songs of the set were Jikininki, Kensei, Lady of the Wind and an unexpected cover of Matti Nykänen’s terrible song Samurai. I can assure you that Whispered’s version was a lot better.

Whispered offer some really interesting guitar work, but there was something that was not right with the mix of the gig. The guitars were too low and the bass and bass drum occasionally made some additional unwanted sounds. Consequently, some of the really cool guitar parts did not sound as they should, which was indeed a shame. Still, the band delivered a well played set with a lot of energy. Do check them out if you are into Children of Bodom and the like.

After a break to avoid the rain for a while and to increase the layer of clothing, we returned to the main stage where Rhapsody played. The Italian symphonic power metal band is currently out on a reunion/farewell tour. I am not conversant in this mess, but it seems to include copyright issues with the original band name and later a division into two different bands. Anyway, this is a short reunion and at the same time a farewell tour.

Rhapsody
Rhapsody in the Finnish Midsummer weather. Photo by Jussi Panula.

I have never listened to Rhapsody because I have lost all interest in traditional power metal with age. However, power metal usually works quite well live, and I think Rhapsody delivered a good set.  Still, there are a three things that annoyed me. Firstly, that bloody drum solo. I believe I have written this before, but it shall be repeated. There are few things in this world that bores me as much as drum solos, so please stop including them in the sets, especially at fairly short festival gigs. Secondly and in relation to this, two ballads is one too many in a festival set in my opinion. Thirdly, the band should skip the part where they leave the stage and the audience is supposed to cheer them out once more. Again, it is a rather short festival gig and these guys were not even playing last. They could have played at least one more song if such time consuming factors were omitted.  Still, many in the audience seemed very happy about seeing Rhapsody, so I believe it was a succesful gig after all.

Some years have passed since I last saw Wolfheart, and it was nice to see Mr. Saukkonen and the guys again. Wolfheart started out with Shores of Lake Simpele and Boneyard from the new album Tyhjyys, and also played songs such as Zero Gravity, Abyss, Aeon of Cold, The Hunt and Routa Pt. Two. Guitarist Mika Lammassaari and bassist Lauri Silvonen engage in some serious headbanging in unbelievable rotation speed. I have no idea have they are able to play their instruments while doing that, so I raise my hat to their dedication to the art of banging head.

Due to some sound issues, Saukkonen’s vocals were not fully audible all the time, but the mix was otherwise quite good. Wolfheart offered a merciless set in the cold rain.  It feels like the cold weather suits the band’s winter metal pretty well.

Wintersun is one of those rare Finnish bands that I had not seen live until this day. Consequently, I had really been looking forward to this since I do listen to the band quite a great deal. This was perhaps especially interesting since Jari Mäenpää have decided to drop the guitar in the live sets so he can focus solely on the vocals.

Setlist:

  1. Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)
  2. Winter Madness
  3. Beyond the Dark Sun
  4. Starchild
  5. Sleeping Stars
  6. Sons of Winter and Stars
  7. Death and the Healing
  8. Time

It was very interesting to hear the opening song since no full songs are yet available from the upcoming album The Forest Seasons. It is difficult to form an opinion only based on this, but it does sound promising. The songs from the first self titled album work excellent live because of a good combination of really fast songs, such as Winter Madness, and slower ones such as Death and the Healing.

I will go ahead and state that lead guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari is claiming the title as the best guitarist in Finland. The guitar solos in Death and the Healing are just unreal, and it is here also important to acknowledge the new guitarist Asim Searah, who does a very good job as well. Bassist Jukka Koskinen is also impressing both in playing and in contribution to the vocals. His low growls are massive. In relation to this, Wintersun offers some fantastic singing in parts since Mäntysaari, Searah and Koskinen are all able to sing great backing vocals, which I something that now makes Wintersun quite unique. I cannot think of any other bands that can pull off such difficult vocal parts so well live. And yes, I believe that Mäenpää made the right decision to focus on the vocals, becuase he sounds really good now. His growls are very powerful and his clean voice also sounds great. His voice started to crack a little towards the end on the high clean notes, but he manages to keep it together well anyway. The cold weather may have made it more difficult as well.

Wintersun
Wintersun after their awesome set. Photo by Jussi Panula.

I would have liked to see Kai Hahto behind the drums, but he is currently injured and cannot play the summer festivals. Luckily for the band, Timo Häkkinen (Sotajumala) is quite used to play in band live since Hahto has been touring with Nightwish lately. The really fast double bass drum parts sounded slightly off at times, but this may also be due to some sound issues. Anyway, Häkkinen has a brutally difficult task to stand in for Hahto, so he is off the hook in my book.

I am one of those rare individuals who prefer the album Time I over Wintersun (at least at the moment), so I found myself very excited during the last three songs of the set. Sons of Winter and Stars is a killer track, and I experienced moments of something close to ecstasy during Time. As I already mentioned, the amazing live version of Death and the Healing that split the two Time I songs was just great. The cold rain did not bother me at all. In conclusion, Wintersun exceeded all my expectations, and I truly hope to see them soon again.

And now to something that I am very ashamed of. This time I actually skipped Insomnium, the last band on the main stage at midnight. For, this would have been the third time within a year that I write about them, and I believe this says more about me than about them. Moreover, we had a two-hour drive home ahead of us, so we made the call to escape the bad weather to come home a little earlier (read: I am getting old). But I have to admit that it hurt my fanboy heart to hear the intro while walking towards the car.

All in all, Nummirock once again managed to offer a good selection of bands, and it is always a pleasure to visit the festival. Yeah, the weather was bad on this Saturday, but it is more or less symptomatic for most of my festival visits these last years. I still enjoyed Nummirock, and I assume that I will be there next year as well.

Throes of Dawn and Furciferi at Leipätehdas, Vaasa 7.4.


I had never listened to Throes of Dawn until about two weeks ago when I figured I had to check the band out since they were booked to play at Leipätehdas, a venue which happens to be located like twenty metres from the flat I am renting. I am very glad that I did, but I am at the same time ashamed of myself for not having established an acquaintance with this band earlier. Throes of Dawn has for some reason completely gone under my radar. But better late than never.

A local band called Furciferi played first at this Volume Metal Night. I find it difficult to say very much about the band since I had only heard a demo song in advance, but I think they delivered a nice gig with good drive in the songs. The sound was pretty blurred, but that is usually the case when a band with two guitars plays in a fairly small venue. Also, my earplugs are of very low quality, which at least does not improve the experience for me. Anyway, the guys in the band seemed to enjoy themselves and warmed up the audience well for the headliner of the evening.

Another local band, Psalms for the Dead Sun, was also supposed to play this evening, but unfortunately had to cancel their gig due to illness. I have seen them once before when they opened for Poisonblack, and it was a pleasant surprise that time. Thus, I had been looking forward to see them again, so the cancellation was a shame.

I did not have much time to familiarize myself with the songs of Throes of Dawn, but I listened to their most recent album called Our Voices Shall Remain and found myself enjoying it a great deal. The band played several songs from this, to my delight. The opening track Mesmerize is really quite an unusual type of song to open with since it starts out calmly and fairly quietly, but I think it works really well in this case. The song builds up towards the end and sets the mood for the rest of the show. From the same album we also got to hear We Used to Speak in Colours, The Undestanding, the excellent Lifelines and the title track Our Voices Shall Remain with the cool bass line which I like a lot.

Naturally, Throes of Dawn also played older songs like Transcendence and Vertigo from the album Quicksilver Clouds. I did not recognize all the songs of the night since I have not heard enough of the material prior to the gig, so I cannot say too much about the setlist. This means that I am not fully qualified to write this, but I think the band deserves the publicity. Throes of Dawn is nowadays based in Helsinki, but was originally formed in Vaasa as early as 1994. This fact was recognized and the guys finished off the gig with the title track of the first album Pakkasherra. The audience seemed to appreciate this.

Throes of Dawn’s music has some really interesting Pink Floyd-vibes, perhaps especially heard in the guitar solos of the new album, and these solos are in my opinion truly enjoyable. I really like the atmosphere of the music in general. It should be said that the new material with mostly clean vocals is quite different from the older more death/black metallic stuff, but I for one really think the guys have found their own thing here now.

Throes of Dawn will play at Tuska in Helsinki this summer, and I encourage everyone who is going there to check the band out. Outdoor festival most likely means better sound quality and such, so I am sure that will be a great gig. Also, do check out Our Voices Shall Remain because it is a very good album. I leave this here:

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!

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.

thunderstone
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
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
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
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.

 

Ten awesome songs by ten not so renowned Finnish bands


As President Obama recently noticed, Finland may be the country in the world with the most metal bands per capita. This means that the metal genre is responsible for most of Finland’s music export, which seems very much plausible due to prominent bands such as Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Amorphis, HIM and many more. However, since there is such a large amount of rock and metal bands in Finland, a great deal of them remain in the shadows of the giants. Thus, I believe it is only fair that I here present a list of ten really cool songs by ten not so famous bands. Also, lists are fun. I try to compile quite a versatile list of songs so there would be something for everyone.

Private Line – 1-800-Out-of-Nowhere (2004)

Let us start with something more towards rock than metal. I discovered Private Line sometime in my early youth at the dawn of times when 1-800-Out-of-Nowhere appeared on MTV’s show Up North. I immediately took a fancy to the song and I still think it is a good rock track. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Private Line was described as Finland’s own Mötley Crüe. That is not really true. Private Line is actually pretty good. Check out their debut album 21st Century Pirates if you like this track. Feel free not to watch the video, it is quite terrible.

 

Rapture – To Forget (1999)

I cannot say that Rapture is a band that I have listened to a lot. In fact, I recently found this song, but it is a cool track. It appears on the band’s debut album Futile and it is quite a straightforward melodic death/doom song. It is melancholic and emotional and thus appropriately depressive.

 

Waltari – Below Zero (2009)

Waltari was probably the band that got me into metal in the first place, even though a great deal of the band’s material could be categorized as something other than that. The album Space Avenue (1997) is still the best in my opinion, while more recent albums have not impressed me so much. However, the title track on the album Below Zero is a great song that shows the band’s potential. I saw Waltari live for the first time some years ago at Leipätehdas in Vaasa. It was a very distressing experience since we were about 20 people in the audience. That is not okay for such a cool band as Waltari. Just listen to this.

 

Bloodred Hourglass – Bastard’s Seed (2015)

Now let us jump to last year to another melodic death metal song. I saw Bloodred Hourglass live a couple of years ago at Nummirock and I really enjoyed their performance. Bastard’s Seed is an eight-minute track with some really cool riffs and melodies. The song is from the album Where the Oceans Burn, which is the band’s second full length record. I could not find this song in its solitude on Youtube, so here is the whole album. It should start from Bastard’s Seed when you hit play if I have done this right.

 

Bloodpit – Platitude (2005)

Let us continue with something a little slower. Bloodpit sounds like something brutal, but it is actually really a hard rock band. Those of you who have played NHL 07 have heard this song before, but you may very well have forgotten about it. A very memorable chorus, peculiar low tempo verses and the intriguing voice of  singer/guitarist Matthau Mikojan makes a really interesting song. It is from the band’s debut album Mental Circus, but it seems that Bloodpit is not around anymore these days. That is a shame since I think these guys were on to something.

 

Catamenia – Kuolon Tanssi (2003)

And now it is time for the mandatory kick in the balls, so let us turn up the tempo. Kuolon Tanssi is the first track of Catamenia’s Chaos Born, and this is also a song I found recently. I usually do not listen much to any kind of black metal but this rather melodic song just hits me hard. Brutal but yet beautiful in its own way, this song gets the party started.

 

Zero Nine – Banging on Drums (1986)

Now we turn on our heels like a diehard fan of nothing else than ‘true’ metal does when confronted with progressive and more complex music. I am going 80’s on you now. Banging on Drums is found on Zero Nine’s fifth studio album called Intrigue. Singer Keijo “Kepa” Salmirinne’s voice is indeed both unique and intriguing, which are the main reasons to the greatness of this song. It awakes childhood memories in me since I was only a little snotty-nosed kid when I heard this track back in the 90’s. It was awesome back then and, I’ll be darned, it is still awesome now.

 

Tracedawn – Without Walls (2008)

I saw Tracedawn live a hundred years ago at Sauna Open Air in Tampere, and I remember that I listened to this song from their debut album before the festival to know what kind of band it was. To be honest, I had forgotten about Without Walls for a long time, but when I found it again I realized how great it is. I am also realizing now that this list is turning out to be some kind of a trip down memory lane for me. Oh, age. Why are you imposing your earthly burden upon me?

 

Thunderstone – Holding on to My Pain (2007)

We need a plain heavy metal track as well. Holding on to My Pain is one of Thunderstone’s best songs. I believe few would agree with me, but the album Evolution 4.0 is in my opinion their strongest release since it is their most creative one. By the way, Thunderstone just released their new album Apocalypse Again, so be sure to check that out since singer Pasi Rantanen is back after being absent from the band’s 2009 release Dirt Metal. But for now, let us hold on to our pain.

 

October Falls – A Collapse of Faith Part II (2010)

Let us wrap this up with an almost 18-minute epic doom/folk/black/ambient metal song by October Falls. The album A Collapse of Faith consists of three parts, so this second part is slightly taken out of its context here. Still, it is a great track and it is without a doubt a grower for me. The atmosphere that this creates is something that really gets to me. Furthermore, the immensely beautiful piano ending is a great way to finish this list.

So there it is then. I hope you found at least something you liked that you have not heard before. If some of you have actually heard all of these songs, you are highly educated and  you shall have my eternal respect.

Why is KORPIKLAANI  so underrated in Finland?


Because we are stupid, that’s why.

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Source: Korpiklaani FB.

Korpiklaani is one of the most popular and well-known metal ambassadors, yet they are not featured in the radio (which we have established earlier, is shit here in the great FIN). They have half a million Facebook followers. They are constantly deployed on big ass tours all around the world.

And they only have one fucking festival booked on their homeland for this summer. How fucked up is that? I have seen them live two times and they are awesome. They throw a party you will never see. They have a fun enthusiastic spirit and it shows, it spreads around the crowd, too. If you have read my previous posts, you might know that I am a regular guest on Finlandia-klubi here in lousy Lahti. Korpiklaani show on October 2012 was THE BEST damn show I have ever witnessed there. I do not understand why they are not booking this band regularly?! After all, you could say Lahti is their home town, home base.

You have better change of catching these guys internationally!

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Fist listening in my car

They released their 9th album, NOITA, a few weeks ago. In my books their previous one, MANALA, was one of the best albums ever to have been made (Sumussa Hämärän Aamun, thats a life-changing masterpiece). So once again I had my hopes and expectations well up in the skies. This is not a real album review, because I don’t really do those, but let me just say that it has taken some time to open up to me. That is not a bad thing. It means its gonna be long-lasting experience on finding new things unveiling.

Noita” in the traditional Finnish meaning is different than what people associate it with nowadays. “Noita” is a person with wider knowledge and understanding of the nature and who also was believed to possess paranormal or unnatural abilities. These people were often also referred to as “Tietäjä”, that exactly means someone with wider knowledge and understanding of pretty much everything. Native American medicine man is pretty much the same thing or actually all the different types of Shamans of the primitive peoples are the same thing. “Noita” is someone that you turn to when you need help of some kind. Finnish “Noita” had the ability to heal, just like their North American counterparts. They were very respected members of the society. Only later Christianity changed the word to mean something negative since those people were considered rivals by the church. Even in Finland this turned into a Witchhunt (=noitavaino) every now and then. ” (Jarkko Aaltonen explaining the meaning of Noita)

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My fridge.

The thing and the twist with Klaani is, that they have this “Beer beer”- Happy Little Boozer thing going on, but they also go deep into the mythology and skillful playing, And I, as a major history nerd, am happy to learn more meaning to words of our language.

This one is more metal, a little bit heavier and I *think* it has something to do with the producer being Aksu Hanttu  – who also played the drum to the album on this one as in Manala too. Matson is not really keen on the studios, so there’s no drama behind this. Jonne Järvelä does most of the music creating work, but their previous accordionist Juho Kauppinen has been composing 4 of the songs and Tuomas Keskimäki has been helping out with some of the lyrics. The album booklet lacked only one thing; I love reading the Thank You-section and this one didn’t have any. Oh well.

I love this one;

Lempo is a cool song too:

If you haven’t heard of this band before, start here:

and this has been watched over 2 million times:

Jonne and I.
Jonne and I.