Tag Archives: Wolfheart

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.

Saturday 26.7 at Qstock, Oulu


Qstock is a large two-day festival offering a lot of different musical styles. Only being able to attend one day, I chose Saturday since I found the selection of bands stronger then than on Friday. There were quite a few interesting metal acts. Megadeth was the headliner on Saturday, but before their gig, one could see bands like Wolfheart, The 69 Eyes, Poisonblack, Bigelf, Soilwork, Santa Cruz, Stam1na and others. Anyway, the large selection of bands and artists seems to be working, because the festival was sold out earlier the same week. 30 000 visitors attended the festival which had no less than six stages. The weather was almost devilishly hot, probably about 30 degrees Celsius.

Wolfheart was definitely one of the main attractions for me, and they played early on the day on the Kooma Stage, which was located in some kind of dance pavilion. From here on, I will refer to it as the Sauna Stage, since it reached that kind of temperature during the day. Wolfheart still managed to deliver a good 50 minute set with a heavy and massive sound.

1. The Hunt
2. Strength and Valour
3. Gale of Winter
4. Whiteout
5. I
6. Ghosts of Karelia
7. Breathe
8. Routa Pt. 2

Wolfheart. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net
Wolfheart. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net

I was kind of hoping that Mr. Saukkonen and his band mates would play a new song, seeing that the band is working on a new album. On the other hand, I had not seen them live before, so it did not really matter much. Having released only one album so far, Wolfheart pretty much have to play through the first album “Winterborn”, now only leaving out “Chasm”. I liked the fact that they played “Breathe”, which came as a nice variety in the set. The song sequence worked very well, and it was a really enjoyable gig. A small moshpit even arose during “Ghosts of Karelia”, despite the heat. The sound was not that great, but it was okay considering the quite weird place the stage was located in. The lead guitar was a little difficult to hear sometimes, so it would have been fun to see them on a bigger stage. Otherwise there was nothing to complain about, and I am really looking forward to the new album!

Leaving the sauna we headed to the Circus Tent, where Poisonblack played. However, I wrote about them in my last festival report, so I will now confine myself to saying that it was fun to see them in their home town, even though the setlist was identical with last time.

After a break, we wended our way to the Kaleva Stage where the Swedish band Soilwork was about to start their gig. They seem to have quite a solid fan base in Finland and thus, the circle pit was soon going strong. Those who were in it are truly worthy of great praise, considering how hot it was there in the sun. If I had been in it, I would probably have fallen and not risen again. As a consequence of the circle pit, a mighty dust-cloud came into existence. It was occasionally so thick that I could not actually see the stage properly. Soilwork did not care but seemed to enjoy themselves and treated us to a well performed set with a good mix of songs.

It has been a while since I last saw The 69 Eyes, so I decided to watch them now. I was getting quite sauna-like in the Circus Tent as well, so I cannot understand how the singer Jyrki 69 could endure having a leather jacket on.

The 69 Eyes. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net
The 69 Eyes. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net

The band played hits like “Dead Girls Are Easy”, “Feel Berlin”, “Kick the Chair”, “Dance d’Amour” and “Lost Boys”. Hearing them live makes you realize how many radio hits they have created. I recognized almost every song although I have never really listened to the band except on the radio. The 69 Eyes do their own thing and they are quite original. Perhaps nothing too spectacular of a show, but it was a professional gig and the crowd seemed happy.

Next up on the Sauna Stage was an American band called Bigelf. They play progressive rock/metal with a hint of psychedelic rock. I assume you understand exactly what the band sounds like based on that description. They are obviously strongly influenced by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen, Pink Floyd etc. The singer plays keyboard and Hammond organ (I think) simultaneously, which is not anything you see every day. One could tell that they are very talented musicians, because the songs they played were very complex. If you are into prog, you should check these guys out; they are really interesting. It must have been tough to play in the sauna since it was getting hotter all the time. I bet it was about 40 degrees Celsius there by the time Bigelf started to play. Luckily, a bunch of fans had been placed in front of the stage to cool the performers down a bit. Note the ambiguity of that last sentence.

Last out on this year’s Qstock was Megadeth. The perhaps most memorable situation occurred when some dude suddenly came up running around on the stage during “Peace Sells”. It later turned out to be another artist called Musta Barbaari. He was supposed to start playing a short set at another stage at the same time as Megadeth. It has been said that the power had been cut for him for a couple of minutes because Megadeth did not want anyone to play at the same time as them. Musta Barbaari was obviously angry because of that and decided to make his way up to the Main Stage. However, it was not especially dramatic and Megadeth did not take much notice of him. Anyway, the band delivered a decent performance with songs like “Hangar 18”, “Public Enemy No. 1”, “Sweating Bullets”, “Tornado of Souls” and of course “Symphony of Destruction”.

Megadeth. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net
Megadeth. Photo by Jouko Posio / keikkakuvia.net

The sound bothered me a little every now and then, because Dave Mustaine’s voice came out a little too loud occasionally, especially when he hit higher notes. Apart from that, it was a good gig. Mr. Mustaine and his companions are tight as leather pants of too small a size, musically speaking that is.

Qstock must have been a real success. Great weather and a lot of people contributed to a good atmosphere and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Everything worked well, and what surprised me was that there were so few long queues at the festival area. At some festivals you do nothing else but stand in different queues all day long. The water points were the only places where longer queues developed, and that is not strange since the weather was so hot. I will definitely consider going to Oulu again next year if the band selection strikes my fancy.