CRADLE OF FILTH – Nosturi, Helsinki, 07.03.2018


The UK’s purveyors of extreme Gothic metal, Cradle of Filth, came to Nosturi, Helsinki to promote their new album, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Even though they began the tour with Moonspell in tow, they unfortunately had to stand alone in Helsinki as Moonspell dropped out of a select number of shows. Rumor has it that it may have had something to do with the fact that both bands are big enough to fill a Nosturi-sized venue by themselves. Regardless, the Ipswich-based dark romantics of CoF have always had a following here and should be a spectacle all on their own. For the squeamish, I must warn that some of the song titles mentioned in this report have expletives in them.

Though CoF were at the height of their career (at least so far) in my formative years, I never quite got into them. They usually get lumped in with black metal but it’s probably not where they’re most comfortable. Black metallers are generally very particular about the company they keep, even though they are highly influenced by black metal and its Gothic themes. For brevity’s sake I’ll be referring to their style as Gothic metal. Nevertheless, at least the stuff I remember hearing from them had lots of blast-beats and evil screams. I decided to don my corpse paint in a vain effort to get into the mood for some blasphemous fun.

You can check out the setlist on Spotify here:

Since there were no supporting acts, the band was slated to begin at 21:00, with the new album cover as the backdrop. The drums were elevated to the left side of the stage behind some Plexiglas, no doubt to keep the drums from interfering with the other mics on stage and vice versa. After two scans of the crowd at this point, I could not find a single other person who bothered to put on corpse paint. Though they aren’t exactly KISS, I was still a bit taken aback. A visually-oriented Goth metal group and not a single other person with a painted face? Perhaps if it had been a weekend instead of a Wednesday and if there had been at least one other act performing, there might have been a bit more enthusiasm.

A grandiose intro tape with “ave Satani, corpus Satani” in the lyrics sung by a choir started the show. It then bled into the first riff; it was “Gilded Cunt” from Nymphetamine. Honestly, the first riff reminded me of Venom and the vocals more or less matched at first. As the pace picked up a bit, vocalist Dani Filth broke out his signature glass-shattering screeches. The second song began with an organ inspired haunting synth solo; it was a lot faster, blast-beats and all. At times it could have even been mistaken for black metal. There was a brief section or two for female vocals too – the first one was an aria with no lyrics. She did a little bit of spoken word and some more melodic parts as well. Love it or hate it, we were quite definitely at a CoF show.

Between the second and third song, Dani Filth told us it was their 40th show in a row. He claimed that roughly one-in-two people in the crowd were in a band and that despite this they couldn’t find anyone to support their act. This was obviously in jest but made me wonder if I should’ve tried to contact them. The third song was dedicated to the people in the first row: “Blackest Magick in Practice” from the album The Hammer of Witches. It was met with thunderous applause and was epic in nature, even though some of the vocal melodies chosen came across as strangely folk music -inspired.

“Heartbreak and Seance” from the new album followed. Dani Filth quite colorfully explained, “It was inevitable that we play something from our latest musical excretion.” It was obviously built to be a single with its catchy chorus and more or less simple structure. In their defense, every band does this to a degree and at least the structure wasn’t completely obvious.

Dani Filth said at this point that it was the 20th anniversary of the album Cruelty and the Beast. They promised it would be re-released and remixed soon with some of the little annoyances – namely the drum sound – fixed. They then played “Bathory Aria” from said album, a rather long song of 11 minutes.

Their attire and make-up more closely resembled their classic look than the most recent charcoal black promo pictures. As for the sound, upon closer inspection, their instruments were most likely directly hooked up to the PA instead of having amps on stage. This enabled a clearer sound… for the first floor. The second floor could barely hear any guitar or bass, and even after that, the sound was mostly artificial and didn’t seem like it was coming from the same room. There had been a nagging feeling that I couldn’t place, but this had been the primary factor in making the entire evening seem disingenuous. It felt as if it may as well have been entirely playback.

After a few more songs, Dani Filth ended “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw” with a mic drop and the band left the stage. Of course, they came back out for a few more songs including fan favorite “Nymphetamine Fix.” Eventually they finished with “From the Cradle to Enslave”, which they predictably dedicated to the audience whilst proclaiming their love for this country.


I have to say that this whole night didn’t exactly work for me. Even though I’m not a fan, I was at least expecting some decent headbanging action. Instead, it seemed a cold and calculated endeavor, devoid of any real essence. Some of the people I talked to at the gig shared my feelings on the sterile sound, while a few touted it as the best they’d seen of CoF live. Both sides of the spectrum agreed, however, that they would have benefited from a supporting band. Perhaps next time they’ll bring a more complete roster, but it would have to be something truly spectacular to motivate me to come see them again.

Intro: Ave Satani
1. Gilded Cunt
2. Beneath the Howling Stars
3. Blackest Magick in Practice
4. Heartbreak and Seance
5. Bathory Aria
6. Dusk and Her Embrace
7. The Death of Love
8. You Will know the Lion by His Claws

9. The Promise of Fever
10. Nymphetamine Fix
11. Her Ghost in the Fog
12. Born in a Burial Gown
13. From the Cradle to Enslave
Outro: Blooding the Hounds of Hell

(2018) Ayreon: Ayreon Universe


Artist: Ayreon
Album: Ayreon Universe (Best of Ayreon Live)
Release: 30.03.2018
Label: Mascot Label Group


Ayreon is known for many things: epic concept albums, great vocalists from all walks of the world, and of course, Arjen Lucassen‘s fear of playing live. However, following the success of The Theater Equation back in 2015, it was clear that Ayreon needed to return to the stage yet again, this time with a best-of set at 013 Poppodium in Tilburg, NL.

After attending the third day of the show, and declaring it the best live show I’ve ever attended, it was only natural that I was particularly impatient for this release to be announced. The rumors behind the poor live DVD quality of The Theater Equation, at least that I had heard on the streets of Tilburg, were that the Luxor Theater had been rather uninterested in allowing the band/label to film the show as they, laughably, didn’t think the show would be a big deal. I was sure that this time around (if that was true), no venue would deny them as many cameras as they wanted. So strap on your seatbelts, this is going to be a bit of a read.

You can listen to the studio tracks from our Spotify playlist here:


The first thing that I want to say is that I am not a big live DVD watcher. I maybe watch two per year at most and only with friends on a party night. So keep that in mind when I tell you that I have already watched this DVD a solid ten to fifteen times, on my own.

This live show presents a proper best-of, and right off the bat, I will say that my opinion is that the show is not flawless, but it is nigh on perfect nevertheless, if that makes sense. There are a few songs I’m less enthusiastic about than others, but that’s okay (and totally subjective). There are a few vocal pairings as well that I’m not 100% on board with too. However, the overall feeling, quality, and impression that this show leaves after watching it is unparalleled, on another level from any other live show I’ve ever seen, and that’s what makes this show essentially perfect to me.

I have literally nothing to complain about for the first third of this DVD, up until and including “Comatose.” The lights, the mix, the performance, they all bring me back to that show, and on a big enough screen in the dark with surround sound (if possible, that is what I would consider the optimal way to view this show). During “Dreamtime”, Edward Reekers‘ [Kayak] final note is chill-inducing. In “Abbey of Synn”, the completely unknown-to-me Robert Soeterboek [Star One] absolutely crushes it on all fronts. The timing and performance of all the musicians is astoundingly good.

“River of Time” was the first track I was familiar with at the show, and Hansi Kürsch [Blind Guardian] and Marco Hietala [Nightwish] are fantastic together. In fact, this might very well be Hietala’s best song from the show, which is interesting because it’s one of the only songs that wasn’t his originally – Bob Catley was the original.

Marcela Bovio [ex-Stream of Passion] and Mike Mills (who also opens the show in a TH-1 costume) are truly gorgeous together in “Blackboard” and “The Theory of Everything”, and I would go so far as to say that Bovio’s performance in this song is superior to the original, done by Cristina Scabbia [Lacuna Coil]. If I was to take a guess as to why that is, based on the interview we did with Scabbia last year, it sounds as though she showed up and did her part, as written already, whereas Lucassen has spoken of many vocalists thoroughly putting themselves into the character. Perhaps Bovio did this, and Scabbia did not? And before I move on from this track, Joost van der Broek’s keyboard solo at the beginning of that track also gives me chills all over my body every single time.

I have nothing to add to “Merlin’s Will” that I didn’t already say about Floor Jansen [Nightwish] in the live report. She utterly destroys the original song, which is a great song, and she is just so fucking cool. She owns the song like she was born with it and it’s been begging to get out all her life. Case in point, “I’ll have you know that I can / charm you with a wave of my hand / you bow to my command.” A wave of her hand and the crowd is wrapped around her little finger.

And if you want the ultimate, supreme combination of haunting voices, look no further than Jonas Renkse [Katatonia] and Anneke van Giersbergen [Vuur] in “Waking Dreams” – a song that I have come to love a lot more than I did before thanks to this show. I think if those two ever did an album together, just the two of them on vocals, I could die happy.

Another complete unknown to me was John Jaycee Cuijpers [Praying Mantis], who takes a song sung by Russel Allen and Damian Wilson – two of Ayreon’s best vocalists in my opinion – and just belts it out like it was his own. Props here also to the choir, Bovio, Jansen’s sister, Irene Jansen, and Lisette van den Berg, who help take this already great song and make it amazing with their absolutely incredible harmonization.

“Valley of the Queens” is a song that has the power to blow out your brain. If you loved this on the album, you will love it here, I’m sure. Jansen, van Giersbergen, and Bovio all harmonizing together is… tear-inducing. Jeroen Goossens on flute needs a mention too – he can be anything a song needs him to be. Fun, gentle, anything. He’s just great.

“Ride the Comet” brings back Renkse and introduces Maggy Luyten [Nightmare] as an unusual but incredible pairing. Luyten was yet another unknown to me and my first impression was… holy shit, who is this amazing rocker lady? She’s unbelievable. And every time Renkse utters the word “extremophile” I am filled with joy.

One of the songs with the most replacements is “Star of Sirrah”, with Mills in the place of both James Labrie (the Historian) and Tommy Rogers (the Chemist), and Luyten replacing Russell Allen as the President. The Captain’s (Tobias Sammet) parts are merged into the Astronomer’s, so Kürsch performs both. Luyten doesn’t perhaps improve on Allen’s parts, but she does a great job of them nevertheless. I don’t have an issue with Mills in this song, but the phantom expressed some annoyance that Mills cuts the “adapt” note in half, leaving a few seconds in the song where nothing happens, then runs off to chuckle with Johan van Stratum, which results in the choir having to cover for him for half a moment when his next line starts. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the phantom hadn’t been hovering over my shoulder commenting on it. We had quite a long debate about whether it was an issue, but reached no agreement in the end, so we’ll have to leave it to you to decide. And before anyone goes crucifying anyone for hating on Mike Mills, we did agree that the first half of his lines are absolutely perfect – he manages to mimic the echoing quality of Tommy Rogers’ voice, and I have never been sure if Rogers used any effects to get that sound on the album – if he did, huge props to Mills for that.

Rob Snijders makes a cameo on drums, starting with “Comatose”, and if you don’t know him by name, you might know him as van Giersbergen’s husband. This is a longstanding favorite song of mine, and something special about it is that every version I’ve heard has been amazing in its own way. Jørn Lande is again the original singer, replaced by Renkse in this video, but Lucassen himself also performed it with van Giersbergen on the acoustic tour (which you can find on YouTube if you’re so inclined). I’ve never heard a song that has each alternative singer do so well with it. It’s hard to imagine anyone shining as brightly as Lande, but Renkse’s eerie, echo-like vocals make this song a pure chill-inducing delight. And of course, he’s with van Giersbergen again, which is always wonderful.

At “Day Sixteen: Loser”, we hit the song I’m not okay with. Here’s my issue with this song, which will echo my thoughts on The Theater Equation: I don’t think Mills’ version of the character works for me. In my head, the Father in The Human Equation is a dark character – abusive, drunk, mean. I don’t see him as a jester, which is how Mills portrays him. I see why it works for some – he’s mocking and sarcastic, and it’s one way of showing an abusive person, but it doesn’t match my personal image of the character. Mills has changed the personality into something that could have worked, but he’s overacting. As well, I don’t think Mills has any business singing Rage’s parts – it’s ridiculous to me that he is singing essentially to his own character, when it should’ve been left to the choir and Luyten. So for me, this is the one song that I actually really don’t like from the show, but I know I’m nit-picking because I’m so invested in the lyrics and story, not just the performance. However, I know that’s a pretty unpopular opinion, so again, I’ll leave this to you guys. And it’s not like I’m saying Mills isn’t amazing, but I just think this wasn’t the place for his theatrics. Though it was very sweet that he shouts, “We miss you Mike Baker!” at the end [the original vocalist, sadly now deceased].

Damian Wilson [Headspace] makes his first of many appearances in “The Druids Turn to Stone”, starting strong and seeming to just get better with every song. This version is somehow far more touching and moving, perhaps more dynamic, than on the album. He starts so gently and then just explodes with passion, then just as smoothly returns to the gentleness. It’s gorgeous. Wilson was another unknown to me before this show, and was perhaps my favorite of them all (though really, how do you pick?) once it was over.

Cuijpers takes over for Jay van Feggelen as the Barbarian, as well as Wilson’s Knight (for the most of) “The Two Gates”, a song that already hypes me to high hell on the album and does so doubly live. This song, as the halfway point, brings an interlude with Irene Jansen, who introduces the choir and band during the echo-y part of the song – a great place to include such a thing. Jansen is very charismatic, cute, and charming, so I can see why she was picked for this role. Wilson, however, does return for his part once Jansen leaves to take over his own role in the C-part, with Cuijpers finishing the last chorus. I want to give props to the pyros in this song as well – I think they’re some of the most effective in the entire show during the motorcycle sounds toward the end.

Tommy Karevik [Kamelot] makes a late entrance as a substitute for Bruce Dickinson in “Into the Black Hole”, and as I’ve said many times, it’s pretty fucking hard to replace Dickinson, but Karevik does an incredible job of this song. I tip my hat to him. The choir again too… damn.

“Actual Fantasy” brings back Reekers and acts as an opening to “Computer Eyes”, where he is joined by Soeterboek. Ferry Duijsens swaps out his electric guitar for an acoustic briefly, allowing for a nice blend of sound with Marcel Coenens. The vocalists layer in a seamlessly magical manner. I keep thinking that this is one of my least favorite tracks, but in the end it’s actually the original that I find a bit dull, and the live version is great.

Moving on to “Magnetism”, the first thing I want to say is that Ben Mathot on violin is incredible. The Theory of Everything may not have quite clicked for me, but musically the album is astounding. Karevik comes out to sing with van Giersbergen, who is replacing Sara Squadrani as the Girl. When van Giersbergen’s voice almost seems to crack during, “we were always meant to be,” you really feel the character – funnily, I’d say she actually outshines both Karevik and Hietala in this song. I’ve struggled to figure out why I’ve never been 100% on board with Hietala’s parts in this song, and perhaps it’s because Karevik and Hietala’s characters are rivals, but Karevik backs Hietala up in the “don’t you believe it” parts. Either Karevik should not be singing or they should both be going full force, almost competing to be the loudest. As it stands, perhaps their harmonization (if it is harmonization – seems like they’re both singing the melody) is a bit weak. It feels like neither of them is quite being used to their full potential.

Things get epic when the industrial intro starts up “Age of Shadows”, with Hietala again in Lande’s parts, and I find that perhaps he wasn’t the guy to replace Lande in this particular song. It feels like the song wasn’t written for his voice, and he’s not quite sure if he wants to take the notes up or down or stay level, and it ends up feeling like it goes nowhere, wavering unsteadily in the middle. However, he and Kürsch are amazing together in the first two choruses, where he feels more like he’s in his element, but at the end he gets awkward again. Jansen comes out once more to show off how awesome she is, and then Hietala’s final line is perfect. However, again it just feels like Hietala wasn’t quite optimal for this song.

Peter Vink makes his very stylish bass cameo (a neon pink bass cameo at that) for “Intergalactic Space Crusaders” – if you read the review, you know that I was in the photo pit doing my utmost not to lose my shit and dance and headbang like crazy to this song. Now that I can watch this at home, I am free to let loose, and I do, pretty much every time. Wilson and Luyten are so fun to watch together, as they are acting their parts as much as singing. Luyten replaces Russell Allen, and is (in my opinion) quite a bit better than the original (and that says something) – her final scream is purely awesome. However, this song has been sped up quite a lot and it does take a while for me to get into the new, faster speed, though once I do, it’s great. Still though, this is easily one of my very favorite songs on this whole DVD.

“Collision” brings Hietala and Karevik back to the stage for another slightly awkward song. It’s essentially the same issue as with “Magnetism” – they should be rivals and equals, but because Hietala has a powerful and unique voice, it consistently overpowers Karevik’s beautiful but less unusual voice. They should be harmonizing, but they’re singing pretty much the same part in the same style. As well, if we’re talking about the story, really, Karevik should be totally equal or maybe even slightly stronger. Ultimately, I do think that if you want Karevik to be the main character in your story, you don’t pair him with Hietala, because Hietala’s voice tends to simply push Karevik’s into a backing vocalist’s place, and perhaps it should’ve been someone else in that role. I also think these two songs were a bit too close to one another in the set and should’ve been separated by more than two songs.

Okay, time to give Mike Mills the love he deserves at last. “Everybody Dies” puts him back in his TH-1 outfit yet again. As the phantom puts it, Mills has a sort of live joker-like character, and it’s very likely that the song was written around who and what Mills is with Ayreon: fast, playful, dramatic, and oh so high-pitched. It suits Mills and his style to a T. Karevik and Kürsch reprise their album roles, and they perform the vocal trade-offs perfectly. The choir (I think it’s van den Berg that I’m hearing) nearly completely overpowers Kürsch in the, “in the end when all is silent,” part (originally Allen’s), but at least she sounds great doing it. Luyten comes in to do the Michael Eriksen’s (the Diplomat) gritty hardcore parts, taking it to yet another level. She also sings a couple of TH-1’s lines prior to that, which I assume was due to her voice just fitting in there so well. The only thing that I’m iffy about in this song is that Karevik plays both the Opposition Leader and the Captain (replacing Tobias Sammet), and if I’m being totally honest, I think that should’ve been done by Hietala, as he and Sammet share a high and unique voice. Karevik does a very nice job, but he doesn’t stand out the way Sammet did, and I think Hietala would’ve done it perfectly (and also would’ve corrected my nit-picky character issue).

Mills stays in his outfit to do the Forever’s spoken parts at the beginning of “The Castle Hall.” At last, Lucassen appears on stage! He joins in on guitar, and I’m really wondering why he’s so nervous about playing, because he’s really great at it. Soeterboek takes over for van Feggelen as the Barbarian this time around; I find myself wishing van Feggelen sang it when I listen to the original, but every time I put on the DVD I take it back – Soeterboek is fucking incredible, really taking the role and making it his own with little embellishments. His deep, low voice is pure magic, and when either he or Wilson harmonize with the choir, those goosebumps come back to overtake my entire body. This song is a full 100/10 score, better than the original (and the original is already one of my favorite songs ever), amazing in every possible way. Even the guitar is so much more lively than on the album. If I have any complaint, it’s that it’s too short.

Lucassen then gives his long speech, which was, I was delighted to find, actually quite different from the one he gave the next day when I was present. He then makes a great joke about the following song, “Amazing Flight”, which I won’t spoil for you. Naturally Lucassen stays to do the Hippy’s part, and he’s very cute and sings very nicely. This is again one of my favorites, and the biggest problem I had with it was that they cut out the C-part, which is the best part of the song, or at least the most powerful, and the song ends after the first big solo part. Jay van Feggelen makes his first and last appearance in this song, and he is amazing. I keep thinking I’d want to hear him sing “The Castle Hall” because he’s so great in this song, but the behind the scenes tells a bit about why he didn’t perform more than this one track.

The show begins to wind down with “Day Eleven: Love”, with Reekers interestingly as the replacement for James Labrie. Another odd note is that Bovio replaces Irene Jansen as well, changing the perspective of the lyrics. I have been wondering why, since Jansen was there, and they were both in the choir. Don’t get me wrong, Bovio is amazing as always, but if Jansen was present and never got a place in the vocal spotlight, I would’ve liked her to do her own part. Nevertheless, Bovio did a great job. As well, Ed Warby (drums) sings Fear’s part, which was interesting. He’s got a very nice voice and sings it beautifully, but part of me wishes van Giersbergen had reprised her role as Fear for that, because the haunting voice just suits that part so well (Renkse would’ve also done a great job of it). However, in the context of a best-of, this really isn’t an issue. It’s a great rendition.

The show closes out with “The Eye of Ra”, another Star One song, which may at first seem like an odd choice to end the show (especially considering it’s not an Ayreon song, technically), but they add vocalists so smoothly that it works; starting with Wilson, followed by Cuijpers, the Jansen sisters finally singing together properly and wonderfully in the, “oooh the eye of Ra parts”, and then everyone just comes on stage to sing together for the choir parts. Let’s bring those chills back one more time, eh? It’s a weird choice on the surface, but it’s actually kind of perfect due to the choir part at the end, where all the vocalist have the opportunity to come out and sing together. After they all take their bows, the show ends with a voice saying, “Remember Forever” and fades out.


The DVD also includes the practice gig with a few vocalists you’ve likely not heard before if you’re not Dutch, as well as all of the interviews with the cast, which was very interesting and completely worth watching, and explains some of the casting choices and other show quirks.


In summary… if you like Ayreon even a little, you’re not going to want to miss this DVD. It has its flaws, but not everyone will agree with me on the things that bothered me. And really, in spite of these things, I just love the whole thing. I want to give it a full score in spite of that, but my inner logic tells me that I shouldn’t. I’ll put it this way, that the show is 95% perfect, with a few things here and there, but ultimately, it’s still the best live DVD I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 9½/10, 5 stars

1. Prologue
2. Dreamtime
3. Abbey of Synn
4. River of Time
5. Blackboard
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Merlin’s Will
8. Waking Dreams
9. Dawn of a Million Souls
10. Valley of the Queens
11. Ride the Comet
12. Star of Sirrah
13. Comatose
14. Day 16: Loser
15. And the Druids Turn to Stone
16. The Two Gates
17. Into the Black Hole
18. Actual Fantasy
19. Computer Eyes
20. Magnetism
21. Age of Shadows
22. Intergalactic Space Crusaders
23. Collision
24. Everybody Dies
25. The Castle Hall
26. Amazing Flight
27. Day 11: Love
28. The Eye of Ra

AURI – Tuomas, Johanna, Troy; Helsinki 2017


As we all know, Nightwish has been on break for the last year, with each of their members focusing on solo projects, such as Ayreon Universe (Marco Hietala & Floor Jansen), Brother Firetribe (Emppu Vuorinen), and in the case of band mastermind Tuomas Holopainen, a new project called Auri. We had a few moments with the band on February 2nd, 2018, to chat about the music and how it came to be.


So before we get going properly, how did this project come to be, in short?
Johanna: I think it’s been in the back of our heads ever since we knew about each other. We found out that there is this person making music and there is that person making music, and the way it touched us eclectically, each other’s input and what we have done musically, it was like finding a little piece of home. And the fact that, when we got better acquainted, we found out that we were born on the same day. [laughter] It’s just effortless being together. It’s such a rare thing to find kindred spirits like this, in addition to all other outlooks as well, because of the fact that we’re all musicians and are able to do music together in these special circumstances, I think is what we are interested in.

Troy: Luckily, in the beginning, there was such mutual… not respect, respect is the wrong word. Both me and Tuomas were serious fans of Johanna’s voice, so it was inevitable. We had to work with that sublime voice that Johanna has. But that was only a part of the story. The crooks of Auri is the way that we approach life itself, life on earth, that’s the crooks of what drives us, to express ourselves in the way that Auri is. The word isn’t “style” either, but the spirit of Auri comes from our mutual view, our mutual vision, and our mutual love of life.

That’s fantastic! Is everything on the album done just by you three, or were there any other guests on single songs, or anything like that?
Troy: Yeah, there are. It’s mainly just us there. The vast, I’d say 80% of it, is just us three, but we did get some guests. We’ve got a guy called Frank Van Essen from Holland, who’s an old friend of mine, who is an incredible player, and an oddity. He’s a freak, because he plays the most sublime, expressive, eloquent violin, and yet he’s a superb animal of a drummer. [laughs] He plays a drum kit like a rock beast, albeit a really prog rock beast. That’s really rare. I’ve never come across anybody who does that, so he was a perfect asset for Auri. So we had him on almost every song.

Tuomas: He was on every song, yeah.

Troy: He was on every song. Then we had a bass player on one song, we had a fiddle player friend of mine from Edinborough on the dance tune at the very end of the album [“Liquor in the Well”], and of course we had Joomba, who is a legendary equestrian master of the keyboards [laughter]. He played a solo. It was difficult for Tuomas to give up that keyboard solo to Joomba.

Tuomas: I had to do it. He was so brilliant. Even his conversational skills are like nothing else.

Troy: Thelonious Monk is a beginner compared to Joomba [laughter]. So that was it! We just took the flavors we needed from the outside world and invited them into Auri for a short time, and we were insulated beautifully from this.

[Ed: to be clear, just so everyone knows, Joomba is indeed a horse]

Is it safe to assume that this project is at least in part named after the character from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle?
Troy: No, it’s not safe! [laughter] It’s very, very dangerous to presume such a thing, madame!

Touché! [laughter]
Tuomas: Have you read the books?

I have. In fact, I did my thesis on them, so I’m a big fan. I had been hoping he would come to Worldcon in Finland last year.
Tuomas: I went to Worldcon, actually. I met Robin Hobb there.

Oh, she’s fantastic.
Troy: She’s brilliant, but no, never met Patrick. But he knows about this project, actually, and I’ve been emailing him about it. But yeah, this is one of the most common questions that we are being asked: where does the name Auri come from? That’s one of the three, Auri, the character in the Rothfuss books. But it’s also Johanna’s second name, and the third one being…

Troy: Aura, which is from the Latin and middle-English for “emanation” or a “golden atmosphere generated from something inanimate or animate.” For me, I haven’t read the Patrick Rothfuss books. [laughs] Yeah, shock and horror! So I wasn’t at all influenced by that, but… the word “aura” has an aura! So when Auri came to me, I presumed it was from that source. But all three definitions really suit our music, so the listener can choose whichever one they want. If they’re Rothfuss fans, they can go, “Oh yeah, that sounds like…” and if they’re not, they can go for the others. But you shouldn’t really need to take a label. Auri, the word perfectly sums up what our attitude really is.

Ever since the “Edema Ruh” song came out on the last Nightwish album, I’ve been curious to know more about your [Tuomas/Johanna] feelings about the Kingkiller Chronicle. How did you discover them and how did they strike a key?
Tuomas: Originally it was Marco [Hietala; Nightwish/Tarot] who said that, “There’s this book called The Name of the Wind, you have to check it out. It’s really good.” So I did and was instantly hooked. I think it’s my all-time favorite piece of fiction ever written. The way he plays with words, his abilities as a storyteller, describing characters, everything, it’s just pure perfection in my opinion. We both are huge fans.

Johanna: It’s like poetry.

Tuomas: It is like poetry, the way he writes. And also the fact that music plays such a big part in his fantasy world. It’s something that we can really relate to. Waiting for the third part… like the whole world.

Like the whole world, undoubtedly. I do understand though – my dream was always to be a fantasy writer and I thought I could do it until I read Patrick Rothfuss and discovered I would never be able to write so eloquently. He’s really an unbelievable writer.
Troy: Plus he has a fantastic beard. [laughter]

Tuomas: He does!

That’s also a very important thing.
Troy: It’s the most important thing.

It’s at least the one thing I’ll never achieve as a writer, sadly. But anyways, what are some of your favorite aspects, or even moments, from the novels?
Johanna: For me, also what sparked the name Auri, is the archetype of her. A bit like Alice in Wonderland – somebody who’s a bit off the world, in it, but a bit on some different level, like Auri is in the Underthing, and she’s kind of living in her own world, glimpsing at the world and wondering about it and wondering why people are the way they are, and she’s never explained, why she is the way she is. I kind of felt a close connection there, in the sense that we feel the same way about life and the way we live. We’re a bit “off”, oftentimes we feel like we’re on this other plane of thinking, just like with making music, this… transcendental place where there are no mundane, trivial things that tie us down the way we are.

Tuomas: If you mean favorite moments from the stories… I think when Kvothe and Auri meet for the first time on the rooftops.

And have you read The Slow Regard of Silent Things? I know Rothfuss was quite nervous about the book, as it was so different from most stories. I personally loved it – how did you enjoy it?
Tuomas: I thought it was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Troy: My favorite bit in the books is where the Kingkiller finds the Chronicle. [laughter]

Let’s turn back away from the books and toward the music then. I know you’ve been heavily influenced by Pat Rothfuss, Don Rosa, Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton… are there any other books or movies or games or anything really that have stuck in the back of your mind for future projects, or even from this one? That you’re willing to discuss at this point, anyways?
Tuomas: There are. Some of the recent series, for example, which have made a huge impact on all of us, would be Black Mirror, for example. I think that’s my all-time favorite TV series.

Troy: And me.

Tuomas: That’s one. Stranger Things would be another one.

Johanna: Also, the inspiration for the logo comes from the video game, Skyrim. But there are a plethora of things, really, that we love that is emanating from the music, obviously. There must be many things that are subconscious that we couldn’t even put our fingers on.

Troy: There’s no explicit desire to touch on anything. It was always an essence, a spirit of something to capture.

In that sense, I read that you don’t want to give too many specifics on what the songs are about, to allow the listeners to discover their own stories and feelings, but were there any overarching themes or concepts or feelings that you were hoping to express with the album?
Troy: From day 1, the overarching theme was artistic freedom, really. Not just a glib statement of artistic freedom, but to actually go deep into it. Be really unafraid, be fearless in what we do. Not even consider possible criticism from anyone, and plus to know how pointless criticism is in art, how important it is not to be enslaved by other people’s opinions in art. It was the critical cornerstone of art that a lot of people forget, and in forgetting it, they lose the spark and the muse.

So that was the overarching theme. Within the Auri album, you have… but again with that, I don’t want to spoil it, but each particular piece does have a reason and a purpose and a theme, but we really went for this idea of letting people come to their own stories, make their own stories around it. When people ask me, I can give people a simple overview of songs, but I like to keep it really minimal.

The album would theoretically have a concept, but you’re leaving it to the listeners’ imaginations?
Tuomas: There’s no concept actually, no.

Troy: And it isn’t linear, there’s no thematic thread through the whole thing. The only thread is this spirit, that we’re determine to try to conjure into the world. And the incantations we use to conjure it are musical.

Presumably, of course, all of the songs mean something to you and this changes, but at this moment in time, this week or day or hour, is there any particular song for each of you that stands out as your favorite, or is it too hard to pick?
Troy: It is too hard.

Tuomas: Way too hard.

Troy: As we touched on before, we can listen to the music now objectively. We can remove ourselves, we can remove our memory of the making of the album and we can listen to it from a fresh perspective, and that’s an unusual thing as well. So when I hear myself in the music, I can’t hear myself in the music [laughs] in a good old paradox. The same with Tuomas and Johanna. I don’t hear them either, but I hear a complete unit. It’s topsy-turvy and it’s all over the place. It’s really like trying to describe the inexplicable and the indescribable with Auri. That’s why it’s so unique and important to me, personally, to pursue it to its absolute graceful end, whatever that might be.

I like the way you think – must be why I liked the album so much when I listened. Now then, I won’t ask about the songs too much, except the last song, which stands out from the rest of the album a little bit. Can you tell me a little bit about that song?
Troy: Definitely! [laughter]

I feel like I walked in on a bit of an inside joke here.
Troy: [laughter] It’s not, but it was a kind of coda, wasn’t it?

Tuomas: It was a coda. Imagine, in this world of music, where all the songs are about love, sex, and death, and losing your baby. [laughter]

Troy: Baby, baby, baby, you left me this morning, I’m really fed up. [laughter]

Tuomas: So imagine, in this musical world, you’re able and allowed to create a song about a girl who is wandering in the woods picking chanterelles, then she finds a well, which is filled with liquor, then she gets really drunk and starts dancing about with the whole universe. Trees, soil, that’s what the song is about.

Troy: That is what it’s about, and we’re not joking either.

Tuomas: No, we’re not joking. Or it can be about anything. But that’s what it’s basically about.

Troy: But Tuomas is bang-on there. It is the case. I’d say 97% of songs are about sex and self-pity. So to have that girl in the woods picking mushrooms, and then it explodes into a universal cosmic dance and the whole world is singing with her, the leaves on the trees, it’s wonderful and it’s fiery and it’s just perfect for me. And it’s got the most extraordinary vocal expressions in music I’ve ever heard. It blew me and Tuomas’ minds. We did pass out. We fainted. [laughter]

Tuomas: Yeah, we did. Because it’s all her. We gave her no guidance.

Troy: No, nothing!

Tuomas: Just sing whatever you want throughout the end-

Troy: And we weren’t there! This is another part of the Auri mystery of beauty. The recording process was done independent of each other. We’re completely dependent on each other. Auri is full of these mysteries. So Johanna recorded all of her vocals on her own. We had no input, nothing. We had none. So then we would hear the results and it was astounding. In that particular track, in that piece, she does sound like she’s at one with everything and she does sound a bit squiffy and drunk [laughter] and she does sound like she’s just 10 minutes ago been born out of the earth. She does sound like she’s flying. She sounds all of those things, and we were there, along for the ride. We were building this massive bed and she was jumping on it like a trampoline [laughter], surrounded by autumnal leaves. It was perfect! It still gives me the shivers when I think about it. In fact, I’m going to go listen to it now… [laughter] [gets up to leave, laughs, and sits down again]

It’s the kind of song you don’t need drugs to get high off.
Troy: Nicely put! That’s exactly it, yeah. However, drugs might be interesting with that song.

Tuomas: Mushrooms especially. [laughter]

Well that’s more or less it for my questions. To end things, what else is on the horizon for all of you guys in the future now that this is going to be released in a month or so?
Troy: The good ship Nightwish is about to set sail.

Tuomas: It’s all about Nightwish for the next 2-3 years I think, with the upcoming Decades Tour, an album followed by that, a tour followed by that album. [Johanna] has her own things coming up. So we’re going to be pretty busy for the next couple of years. But after that, more Auri.

Troy: Absolutely more Auri.

Tuomas: Auri goes live. Cathedrals and Castles Tour in Europe. That’s gonna happen at some point.

Troy: That too. That’ll be 2022. Already we’ve got that tour booked. [laughter] The tickets go online tomorrow and you can buy the T-shirt and everything tomorrow.

Tuomas: Special hats.

Troy: We might even do an acoustic tour of saunas. [laughter] That would be interesting.

Johanna: Oooooooh!

Hey, don’t knock it… it might be a rather liberating/transcendent experience, to get a bunch of people naked and listen to acoustic music in the heat.
Troy: … We do that all the time! [laughter]

Well thank you so much for your time, and best of luck with the album’s release!
All: Thank you.


Auri will be released on March 23rd, 2018, through Nuclear Blast Records. You can listen to the first single, “Night 13”, on YouTube here:

(2018) Gleb Kolyadin: Gleb Kolyadin (English)


Artist: Gleb Kolyadin
Album: Gleb Kolyadin
Released: 23.02.2018
Label: Kscope


Gleb Kolyadin is known as the pianist and other half of the Russian duo, iamthemorning, which also includes vocalist Marjana Semkina. After three albums together, Kolyadin has finally made his self-titled solo debut, which includes contributions by many familiar names from the progressive rock scene. His initial Indiegogo campaign for the album didn’t reach its goal, but Kscope came to the rescue and released the record.

I’m familiar with iamthemorning’s latest album, Lighthouse (2016), and I find its mix of classical piano, complex rhythms, and Semkina’s gorgeous vocals intriguing. Therefore, I decided to check out Kolyadin’s solo effort to see what he could do without his songstress pair.

Listen on Spotify here:


Kolyadin’s album is naturally an instrumental outing for the most part. He’s got Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree (who played on the aforementioned Lighthouse) on drums and Nick Beggs from Steven Wilson’s band on bass, which sets a great backbone for his virtuoso piano playing. Most likely due to the mainly instrumental nature of the music, there’s more of a jazz fusion vibe here than in iamthemorning’s music. It’s possibly strongest on the playful opening track, “Insight”, and the groovy “The Room”, both of which feature Theo Travis (another Steven Wilson collaborator) on saxophone. Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess also makes an appearance, and his instantly recognizable lead tone and Beggs’s low bass add a modern touch into “Storyteller.”

As for the singers, the album features Mick Moss of Antimatter and Steve Hogarth of Marillion. The Moss-sung “Astral Architecture” is one of the album’s highlights, and it’s cool to hear Moss singing in a different environment, since he tends to write guitar-driven music in his main band and his voice complements Kolyadin’s piano well. Hogarth’s contribution to “Confluence” is limited to a spoken word passage, but “The Best of Days” is a good closer, and his unique vocal lines work nicely on top of the music. The inclusion of different vocalists also makes you notice how differently they approach things: Moss’s subdued voice meshes with the music, and he doesn’t try to draw a lot of attention to himself, whereas Hogarth’s forceful singing is more of a focal point, and he takes his space effectively.

There are some recurring themes within the album, as “Kaleidoscope” (a shoutout to the record label?) offers a faster and jazzier variation of the beautiful main melody of “White Dawn”, and “Eidolon” and “Into the Void” (nope, not a Black Sabbath cover) form a similar pair, with the former serving as a quieter introduction to the latter. However, not all the tracklist choices are successful: “Constellation / The Bell” smells like a filler track with its opera vocals, while “Echo / Sigh / Strand” and “Penrose Stairs” have quite similar crescendo endings and are back-to-back in the track order to boot, which makes the album a bit of a blur at that point.


Gleb Kolyadin is an undeniably talented pianist and composer, but I personally prefer the tracks with guests and the short and mellow tunes to the more intense numbers where there are a lot of fast piano runs. Although I believe the Russian virtuoso is at his best while working with Semkina in his main project, songs like “Insight” are an obligatory addition to my playlist of jazzy material to enjoy while chilling out.

Rating: 7½/10, 3½ stars

1. Insight
2. Astral Architecture
3. White Dawn
4. Kaleidoscope
5. Eidolon
6. Into the Void
7. The Room
8. Confluence
9. Constellation the Bell
10. Echo Sigh Strand
11. Penrose Stairs
12. Storyteller
13. The Best of Days

(2018) Gleb Kolyadin: Gleb Kolyadin (suomeksi)


Artisti: Gleb Kolyadin
Albumi: Gleb Kolyadin
Julkaisupäivä: 23.02.2018
Levy-yhtiö: Kscope


Gleb Kolyadin tunnetaan pianistina ja toisena puoliskona venäläisessä iamthemorning-duossa, johon kuuluu myös laulaja Marjana Semkina. Kolmen yhteisen albumin jälkeen Kolyadin on vihdoin tehnyt omaa nimeään kantavan soolodebyytin, jolla vierailee lukuisia tuttuja nimiä progressiivisen rockin piireistä. Hänen alkuperäinen albumia varten luotu Indiegogo-kampanjansa ei saavuttanut maaliaan, mutta Kscope pelasti päivän ja julkaisi levyn.

Olen kuullut iamthemorningin viimeisimmän albumin, Lighthousen (2016), jonka sekoitus klassista pianoa, monimutkaisia rytmejä ja Semkinan upeaa laulua on hyvin mielenkiintoinen. Näin ollen päätin tarkastaa Kolyadinin soolotuotoksen nähdäkseni, mihin mies pystyy ilman laulajatarpariaan.

Kuuntele levy Spotifysta tästä:


Kolyadinin albumi on luonnollisesti suurelta osin instrumentaaliteos. Rummuissa on Porcupine Treen Gavin Harrison (joka soitti myös edellä mainitulla Lighthousella) ja bassossa Steven Wilsonin yhtyeestä tuttu Nick Beggs, ja tämä kaksikko luo hienon pohjan itse päätähden virtuoosimaiselle pianonsoitolle. Todennäköisesti juuri vahvan instrumentaalisuuden vuoksi musiikissa on enemmän fuusiojazz-vivahteita kuin iamthemorningin tuotannossa. Ne kuuluvat kenties vahvimmin leikittelevällä avausraidalla “Insight” ja groovaavassa “The Roomissa”, joista molemmissa soittaa niin ikään Steven Wilsonin kanssa työskennellyt saksofonisti Theo Travis. Dream Theaterin kosketinsoittaja Jordan Rudess esiintyy levyllä myös, ja hänen välittömästi tunnistettava liidisoundinsa ja Beggsin matala bassottelu lisäävät modernin säväyksen “Storytelleriin”.

Laulajina albumilla on mukana Antimatterin Mick Moss ja Marillionin Steve Hogarth. Mossin laulama “Astral Architecture” on yksi albumin kohokohdista, ja on jännää kuulla miehen ääntä hieman erilaisessa ympäristössä, sillä hänen pääbändinsä musiikki tapaa olla melko kitaravetoista, ja hänen äänensä täydentää Kolyadinin pianoa hyvin. Hogarthin osuus “Confluencessa” rajoittuu puheosuuteen, mutta “The Best of Days” on hyvä päätöskappale, ja hänen uniikit laulumelodiansa toimivat mukavasti musiikin päällä. Erilaisten laulajien hyödyntäminen myös saa huomaamaan, miten heidän lähestymistapansa eroavat toisistaan: Mossin hillitty tulkinta sulautuu musiikkiin, eikä hän yritä kiinnittää huomiota itseensä, kun taas Hogarthin voimallinen laulu on enemmän keskipisteessä, ja hän käyttää tilansa tehokkaasti.

Albumin sisällä kuullaan toistuvia teemoja, sillä “Kaleidoscope” (hatunnosto levy-yhtiölle?) tarjoaa nopeamman ja jazzahtavamman version “White Dawnin” kauniista päämelodiasta. “Eidolon” ja “Into the Void” (kyseessä ei ole Black Sabbath -cover) muodostavat samankaltaisen parin, jossa edellä mainittu toimii hiljaisempana johdantona jälkimmäiseen. Kaikki valinnat kappalelistassa eivät kuitenkaan toimi: “Constellation / The Bell” haiskahtaa täyderaidalta oopperalauluineen, kun taas “Echo / Sigh / Strand” ja “Penrose Stairs” omaavat samankaltaiset crescendo-lopetukset ja ovat vieläpä kappalejärjestyksessä peräkkäin, mikä saa albumin hieman puuroutumaan tässä vaiheessa.


Gleb Kolyadin on kiistatta lahjakas pianisti ja säveltäjä, mutta henkilökohtaisesti pidän enemmän vierailijoilla varustetuista raidoista ja lyhyistä ja rauhallisista kappaleista kuin intensiivisemmistä sävellyksistä, joissa on paljon nopeita pianojuoksutuksia. Vaikka uskon Venäjän virtuoosin olevan parhaimmillaan työskennellessään Semkinan kanssa pääprojektissaan, “Insightin” kaltaiset kappaleet ovat pakollinen lisäys jazzahtavaa materiaalia sisältävälle chillailusoittolistalleni.

Arvosana: 7½/10, 3½ tähteä

1. Insight
2. Astral Architecture
3. White Dawn
4. Kaleidoscope
5. Eidolon
6. Into the Void
7. The Room
8. Confluence
9. Constellation the Bell
10. Echo Sigh Strand
11. Penrose Stairs
12. Storyteller
13. The Best of Days

RHAPSODY w/ SCARLET AURA & BEAST IN BLACK @ Proxima, Warsaw, 06.03.2018


Rhapsody with Beast in Black and Scarlet Aura at Proxima in Warsaw, March 2018.
Photos by Maria Sawicka.

AMORPHIS – Tomi Koivusaari & Olli-Pekka Laine, Helsinki 2018 (English)


Amorphis presented their upcoming album, Queen of Time, to journalists at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki on February 24th, 2018. After the first round of listening, the band gave interviews, and we sat down with rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari and the recently rejoined bassist Olli-Pekka “Oppu” Laine for a chat about the making of the new album, Oppu’s return, and the guys’ other musical endeavors.


The album is done and was just presented to outside ears for the first time. As the legendary sports question goes, how do you feel right now?
Tomi: Well well… how would I put it? I’ve been inside this for so long that it feels like I know it inside-out. But it is always exciting when you realize that someone else will hear it and have an opinion on it as well. It is exciting!

Oppu: Same here – in a way, after the session you want to get some distance from the material, so now it’s good to listen to this record with fresh ears and get a new perspective on it. It’s good for yourself too, when you have a good reason for listening.

You worked with Jens Bogren for the second time. How did the process differ from Under the Red Cloud (2015)?
Tomi: Not much, except this time we knew what we were going to do and knew Jens’s habits. The first time, some things came as a surprise – not in a negative way, but as a surprise nonetheless – that certain pace and precision. Now you knew exactly what you were going into, which on the other hand made it a bit more relaxed… or maybe even. But the structure was the same as previously: you’d go and work on things from dawn ’til dusk. I don’t know, maybe it was easier for Jens as well, knowing what we’re like as players, although the bassist had changed. It was a pretty easy process.

Oppu: It’s a bit hard for me to say, for obvious reasons, but I was happy to notice that although it was a hectic session in a way… we had a week to record drums and you had to work all the time. Snoopy [Jan Rechberger, drums] had to play there all the time, and the others could of course go where they wanted when they had the chance. Then when it was time to play my own parts, I spent three days there in Örebro working on them. It truly was from dawn to dusk; in the best case you’d start at 7:30 in the morning and end sometime around 21:00. My fingers were practically bleeding, and I would play with the help of painkillers. I had little time, which got used pretty effectively.

That’s hard work!
Oppu: Yes, but it was good that you could get everything done in such a short period.

According to the press release, Jens had a strong vision for this album. Did this lead to any disagreements or did you trust his vision?
Tomi: There weren’t really disagreements – I feel like maybe last time Jens had more ideas for changes in the songs. It may be that we took them into account beforehand in a way… maybe. Something like “Jens will suggest that this should be faster anyway” and so on. There were some parts that did change, and certain arrangement ideas were done over. Then we knew that he had some visions for choirs and this kind of stuff, but we didn’t really have anything to say about those, because we didn’t know what they would sound like until we heard them. I did accept them though.

Oppu: Yeah, the songs were roughly in that form even before the sessions. Jens did put in a lot of work, but you shouldn’t think he did this all alone. [laughs] The songs and the arrangements were made by the band, and then we fixed them together with Jens. All these string arrangements and orchestrations are just spicing things up there. The songs can be executed even without them in a live situation.

It doesn’t go into Nightwish territory.
Oppu: No, it doesn’t.

Tomi: Mainly the sounds we normally might’ve played – and in the rehearsals did play – on keyboards were replaced with real ones.

Oppu: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve always had Human Voices [a keyboard patch -ed.] and strings in use since the 90s, but now they’re just actualized in a different way.

While introducing the album, Jens also mentioned that not all the pieces were in place yet by the time you hit the studio. What kind of shape were the songs in at that point?
Tomi: They were in the shape they usually are in. We came straight from the tour, so we had an intensive… I think we had a break of a week or two, and then we had a couple of weeks to check through the songs. We’d all heard them – we’d been exchanging demos, so little by little you’d managed to instill them in your head. I think it was maybe a couple of weeks before Jens came in – I’m not entirely sure.

Oppu: We had the last gig of the tour on a Saturday, and on the following Monday we started rehearsing.

Tomi: Right, it was like that – we didn’t have a break after all.

Oppu: At least I was surprised at how elaborate and mature the demos were already. Those songs were pretty much ready when we started rehearsing them. We also made some changes before giving them to Jens. Nowadays it’s possible to demo songs pretty elaborately at home, so they were in a pretty good shape.

Tomi: Yeah, they didn’t go through any major changes in the end. Of course the entity is always built from small details, so we did check those out, but they were basically such that had we rehearsed them for half a year, we would’ve had everything totally refined. Then Jens might’ve put the pieces in a new order, but now we kind of kept it as a sketch of sorts intentionally, so that in the studio we had time to refine it into the final form.

Oppu, you’re a sort of expat who rejoined the band after years of absence. What does it feel like to have the original foursome back together again?
Oppu: It does feel really good, there’s no denying it. It’s been fun and natural – right from the first show it felt like there was no forcing going on, although we played quite a lot of material that I hadn’t originally been involved in. But the band is the same and the guys are the same, so it’s natural that the material fits my playing pretty smoothly. It’s felt good and luckily I get to carry on. Hopefully for a long time!

How much have you followed Amorphis over the years after your initial departure and have the newer songs become familiar to you?
Oppu: I have followed them, and of course these songs that we’ve been playing at festivals and elsewhere have become familiar from the radio or somewhere. But I don’t really listen to any kind of metal or new music that much. I don’t really follow any bands, I just listen to jazz at home. [laughs] I haven’t listened to the records, but now I have discovered that it is pretty strong material, especially starting with Eclipse (2006). We’ve been playing stuff from then on, and I have liked it.

Have you got any new favorites after playing them live?
Oppu: Tough question, but I thought it was cool when at the very first shows we played Eclipse from start to finish. I think it’s a pretty strong entity, and it gave a good reason to delve into one full album. There are quite a few good songs, but then every record has its best moments. I don’t want to pick any individual songs, but there’s good material, and it’s been a pleasure to play it.

Speaking of Eclipse, in the official Amorphis biography it was mentioned that you guys recorded demos of some of the songs that ended up on the album with Pasi Koskinen on vocals before he left the band. Can you remember which ones they were?
Tomi: What was there? There was probably at least this… [laughs] I can’t remember the titles! What was the third song called again?

“Leaves Scar.”
Tomi: That’s the one! But they had different lyrics and totally different vocal ideas. It must’ve been that and… I don’t know, the brains filter out all the unessential information! [laughs] I can’t remember – we had tried out some songs, but we hadn’t gotten far into that process. Actually I don’t know if we even demoed them with Pasi – we may have mainly demoed those songs as songs that we would’ve started to look into next with Pasi, but then he left. We had songs ready, but I can’t remember if Pasi did any vocals.

We didn’t get to see the credits yet, so how much did you contribute to the writing of the new album?
Oppu: I did bring in material, but it was still in such a sketchy state that there was really no point in working on it that much.

So none made it in yet?
Oppu: Well, there’s one as a bonus track, but it’s like that for a reason. It may not have fit into that entity. I think this is a strong package now – we made the right song choices. But everyone does have the chance to bring in material. The album tracks were written by Esa [Holopainen, guitar] and Sande [Santeri Kallio, keyboards].

Tomi: Yeah, I didn’t get anything done this time either. Due to the situation in my personal life, it didn’t take off – no ideas came. Maybe again on the next record then… but it’s good that we’ve almost got too many songs, so it doesn’t matter even if you can’t always contribute.

And you’ve got a dozen records behind you as well.
Tomi: Well yeah, that too.

Since there are so many string and choir parts on the album, has the idea of an orchestral show been brought up yet?
Tomi: Sande can play some of those, so we can still perform a gig without anything, with the band only. But we have to think about it once we start looking at the songs. It would be pretty sweet to get some of the things in if they were played back as samples.

Oppu: It’s going to be a lot of work to make live arrangements when the gigs start. It remains to be seen what can be done. There are certainly some songs that we won’t be able to play live.

Tomi: Right… I believe they may all be playable, but then we can use… we never use backing tracks of the instruments we play ourselves, like having drums on there or something. It’s mainly for the special stuff. If there are female vocals, it’d be pretty crude if they got totally left out if you want to play that song.

I think it was track #4 (“The Golden Elk”) that included a solo played on an exotic string instrument. What is it called?
Tomi: Right, it was this udu… [laughs]

Oppu: Like this nylon string-like or -sounding thing. Some Croatian… or was it Greek?

Tomi: Oh well, it is some sort of string instrument.

Oppu: Somewhere from around Balkan anyway. Jens knew a musician who made an arrangement… or basically played a solo.

How is it going with Barren Earth? You have a new album (A Complex of Cages) coming out, but I assume you won’t have a lot of time for gigs, with the Amorphis album cycle starting soon.
Oppu: Well yeah, that is true. We’ll see when it’s a bit quieter on this front. Now we’re going to play two shows in Finland, and that’s it for now. As a lineup, it’s been difficult from the start – we’ve used substitutes, but now we have the sort of mentality in the band that we’d like to play with the original lineup, if we do play, which naturally makes things even more difficult. [laughs] But maybe it’s a supportable idea in itself. Then when the right moment arrives, I’m sure we’ll become active on the gig front.

What about Abhorrence? I’ve heard you guys have something new in the works as well.
Tomi: Yeah, we’re supposed to record an EP. We got over the threshold and [wrote] the first new songs in 27 years. You kind of had to get yourself in the mental state you were in as a 15-year-old. [laughs] But when we made it, it was surprisingly easy, or if not easy, then at least fun. At the moment we have two fully complete songs, and a lyrical concept actually exists for the next album already, but that’s going to be a bigger step. We decided that it’s good to start with this kind of EP.

As a little warmup.
Tomi: Yeah, and we can continue later if we’ve got time. The idea is that it’s supposed to be fun. Of course you don’t want to release anything lukewarm so that you can stand behind it. At least to us it’s a hell of a lot of fun to do some chainsawing after a long break.

Is it like a return to teenage years?
Tomi: [laughs] Maybe there’s more of a class reunion feeling, as you’re messing around with your childhood friends. The others don’t do this for a living, so I guess getting to play once in a while means a lot to them as well. Maybe nowadays old geezers’ jamming consists of death metal and blastbeats, while in the past it used to be some kind of blues jamming. You go chainsawing at the rehearsal room. [laughs] But we’ll see, yeah – we’ve got one gig coming up and we’ll play gigs sometime in the future if we feel like it. There are no bigger plans.

The last time, we interviewed Esa before the Juhlaviikot show. How did the Huvila gig go for you?
Tomi: It left a good feeling – it was very successful. It was an exciting place, because of course it’s a hometown event where you’d seen all kinds of spectacles before. But the atmosphere there was really good and I feel like we nailed it. Hopefully some day we’ll get to do something like that again. It was exactly the fact that it was something special that made it fun, having the show in two parts including acoustic stuff, guests, and other kinds of things we normally wouldn’t do.

It was certainly special from a viewer’s perspective as well! Now, Niclas [Etelävuori, bass] left the band a year ago and he’s got a new band called Flat Earth. Has he played any of their stuff to you guys yet?
Tomi: I guess he has played to some of us – I think our drummer Snoopy recorded their first demo. I haven’t bumped into him, but I don’t think we would’ve been ringing each other anyway. But I don’t see any problem – it would be nice to see him at some point and hear this band too.

Okay, our slot is coming to a close, so thanks for your time!
Tomi: Thanks!

Oppu: Thank you!

Photos: Miia Collander

AMORPHIS – Tomi Koivusaari & Olli-Pekka Laine, Helsinki 2018 (suomeksi)


Amorphis esitteli tulevan Queen of Time -albuminsa toimittajille Sonic Pump -studioilla Helsingissä 24. helmikuuta 2018. Ensimmäisen kuuntelukierroksen jälkeen bändi jakoi haastatteluja, ja Musicalypse pääsi jututtamaan komppikitaristi Tomi Koivusaarta ja hiljattain bändin riveihin palannutta basisti Olli-Pekka “Oppu” Lainetta tuoreen levyn teosta, Opun paluusta sekä miesten muiden bändien kuulumisista.


Levy on valmis ja juuri esitelty ensi kertaa ulkopuolisille korvapareille. Legendaarinen urheilukysymys: miltä nyt tuntuu?
Tomi: Tuota tuota… Mitenhän sitä sanoisi? Itse on ollut niin sisällä tuossa pitkään, että tuntuu että on se läpikotaisin itselleen tuttu. Mutta kyllä se aina jännää on siinä vaiheessa, kun tajuaa että joku muukin kuulee ja jollain muullakin on siitä jokin mielipide. Onhan se jännä!

Oppu: Sama juttu – tavallaan session jälkeen itse haluaa vähän ottaa etäisyyttä materiaaliin, niin nyt on hyvä uusin korvin kuunnella tätä levyä ja saada uutta perspektiiviä siihen. Tekee ihan hyvää itsellekin, että on hyvä syy kuunnella.

Työskentelitte Jens Bogrenin kanssa toista kertaa. Miten prosessi erosi Under the Red Cloudista (2015)?
Tomi: No ei oikeastaan muuten, paitsi että nyt tiedettiin, mitä oltiin lähdössä tekemään ja tiedettiin Jensin tavat. Ekalla kerralla jotkut asiat tuli yllätyksenä – ei mitenkään negatiivisena, mutta yllätyksenä kuitenkin – se tietty tahti ja tarkkuus. Nyt tiesi täysin, mihin lähdettiin, että toisaalta oli sen takia vähän rennompaa… ehkäpä, jopa. Mutta samanlainen kaava oli kuin aikaisemmassa työskentelytahdissa: siellä sitten mennään ja siellä hierotaan aamusta yöhön. En mä tiedä, ehkä Jensillekin oli sitten helpompaa toisaalta, että se tiesi, millaisia me ollaan soittajina, vaikka olikin basisti vaihtunut. Oli aika semmoinen iisi prosessi.

Oppu: Meikän on vähän vaikea sanoa sattuneista syistä, mutta ilolla vaan totesin, että vaikka se oli hektinen sessio sinänsä… Meillä oli viikko kun äänitettiin rumpuja ja siellä tehtiin töitä koko aika. Snoopy [Jan Rechberger, rummut] joutui olemaan koko ajan siellä soittamassa ja muut sai sitten toki lähteä sieltä minne halusi, kun tilaisuus koitti. Sitten kun tuli omat osuudet niin olin kolme päivää siellä Örebrossa tekemässä. Se oli kyllä sitten ihan aamusta iltaan; parhaassa tapauksessa puoli kahdeksalta aamulla aloitettiin ja sitten joskus yhdeksältä lopetettiin. Siellä oli ihan sormet suurin piirtein verillä, särkylääkkeen voimalla tuli soiteltua. Vielä kun oli lyhyt aika käytössä, niin se tuli aika tehokkaasti käytettyä.

Kunnon työntekoa.
Oppu: Kyllä. Mutta sinänsä hyvä, että pystyi noin lyhyellä aikavälillä tekemään kaiken valmiiksi.

Albumin lehdistötiedotteessa sanottiin, että Jensillä oli vahva visio levyn suhteen. Tuliko studiossa erimielisyyksiä vai luotitteko hänen näkemykseensä?
Tomi: Ei oikeastaan erimielisyyksiä – musta tuntuu, että aikaisemmalla kerralla Jensillä oli ehkä enemmän muutosideoita biiseihin. Voi olla, että meilläkin on vaikuttanut se, että me otettiin ne tavallaan etukäteen huomioon… ehkä. Jotkut että “Jens joka tapauksessa ehdottaa, että tämän pitäisi olla nopeampi” ja niin edespäin. Oli siellä joitain osia, jotka vaihtui, ja tiettyjä sovitusideoita pistettiin uusiksi. Sitten me tiedettiin, että sillä on jotain visioita just kuoroista ja tällaisista systeemeistä, mutta niihin meillä nyt ei ollut sillä tavalla mitään sanottavaa, koska eihän me tiedetty niitä visioita ennen kuin me kuultiin. Pystyin ne kyllä allekirjoittamaan.

Oppu: Kyllähän ne biisit aika pitkälle oli tuossa muodossa jo ennen sessioita. Jens teki kyllä ison työn siinä, mutta eihän sitä pidä kuitenkaan luulla, että se olisi yksin tätä tehnyt. [naurua] Kyllä ne biisit ja sovitukset on bändin tekemiä, ja sitten yhdessä Jensin kanssa korjailtiin niitä. Kaikki nämä jousisovitukset ja orkestraatiot on vaan mausteena siellä. Biisit pystytään toteuttamaan ilman niitäkin livetilanteessa.

Ei mene ihan miksikään Nightwish-meiningiksi.
Oppu: Ei se kyllä mene.

Tomi: Lähinnä sellaiset, mitkä normaalisti oltaisiin ehkä toteutettu – ja ollaan treenivaiheessa toteutettukin – kiippareilla nyt vaan tavallaan korvattiin sitten oikeilla.

Oppu: Joo, näin on. Meillähän on aina ollut Human Voicet ja jouset käytössä 90-luvulta lähtien, mutta nyt ne vaan toteutetaan toisella tavalla.

Jens mainitsi myös esipuheessaan, että kaikki palikat eivät olleet vielä paikoillaan, kun menitte studioon. Kuinka hyvällä mallilla biisit olivat?
Tomi: Oli ne sellaisella mallilla kuin ne yleensäkin on. Me tultiin suoraan rundilta, että meillä oli sellainen intensiivinen… olisiko meillä ollut joku viikko taukoa ja sitten meillä oli pari viikkoa, että meidän piti tsekata biisit. Oltiin me kaikki kuultu ne – me oltiin vaihdeltu demoja, niin pikkuhiljaa oli saanut niitä iskostettua kaaliin. Mun mielestä se oli ehkä pari viikkoa ennen kuin Jens tuli – en nyt ole ihan varma.

Oppu: Meillä oli lauantaina kiertueen viimeinen keikka, niin maanantaina aloitettiin treenaamaan.

Tomi: Niin, näin se oli – ei meillä ollutkaan taukoa.

Oppu: Mä olin ainakin itse yllättynyt, miten pitkälle vietyjä ja kypsiä ne demot oli jo. Ne biisit oli kyllä aika valmiita siinä vaiheessa jo, kun niitä alettiin treenaamaan. Ja kyllähän mekin tehtiin niihin jotain muutoksia ennen kuin Jensille laitettiin. Nykyään on mahdollista demottaa kotona aika pitkälle noita ralleja, niin kyllä ne aika hyvällä mallilla oli.

Tomi: Joo, ei niihin mitään major muutoksia sitten loppupeleissä tullut. Ainahan pikkujutuista rakentuu sitten se kokonaisuus, että kyllä siellä niitä tsekattiin, mutta ne oli lähinnä semmoisia, että jos me oltaisiin treenattu niitä puoli vuotta, niin me oltaisiin hiottu kaikki jo viimeisen päälle. Sitten Jens olisi pistänyt ehkä palikat uuteen järjestykseen, mutta nyt me tavallaan jätettiin se semmoiseksi raakileeksi tarkoituksellakin, että me ehdittiin kyllä hieroa siinä studiovaiheessa sitten siihen lopulliseen muotoon.

Oppu, liityit bändiin uudelleen eräänlaisena paluumuuttajana. Miltä tuntuu, kun alkuperäinen nelikko on taas kasassa vuosien tauon jälkeen?
Oppu: Kyllä se tuntuu tosi hyvältä, ei käy kiistäminen. On ollut hauskaa ja luonnollista – heti ekasta keikasta lähtien oikeastaan tuntui siltä, ettei ollut mitään väkisinväännön makua siinä, vaikka soitettiin aika paljon materiaalia, mikä ei ole mun alkuperäistä matskua. Mutta bändi on sama ja tyypit on samoja, niin kyllä se on luonnollista, että se materiaalikin aika sulavasti menee oman soiton kanssa yksiin. Hyvältä on tuntunut ja onneksi pääsee jatkamaan. Toivottavasti pitkään!

Kuinka ahkerasti olet seurannut Amorphista tässä vuosien varrella ja ovatko uudemmat biisit tulleet tutuiksi?
Oppu: Kyllä mä olen seurannut, ja tietenkin nämä biisit, mitä me ollaan festareilla soitettu ja muualla on tulleet tutuiksi jostain radiosta. Mutta en mä itsekään oikeastaan mitään metallimusaa tai uutta musaa kuuntele hirveästi. Mä en oikeastaan seuraa mitään bändejä, kuuntelen vaan jazzia kotona. [naurua] En mä nyt ole sillä lailla diggaillut levyjä, mutta nyt sitten tässä tämän myötä olen todennut, että se on kyllä vahvaa materiaalia, varsinkin Eclipsestä (2006) lähtien. Siitä eteenpäin me ollaan niitä oikeastaan soitettu ja olen kyllä tykännyt.

Onko keikkojen myötä noussut esiin joitain suosikkeja?
Oppu: Vaikea kysymys, mutta se oli mun mielestä kivaa, kun ihan ekoilla keikoilla soitettiin Eclipse alusta loppuun. Mun mielestä siinä on aika vahva kokonaisuus, ja siinä oli hyvää syy syventyä yhteen levykokonaisuuteen. Kyllä siellä on aika paljon hyviä biisejä, mutta sitten on kuitenkin joka levyllä ne parhaat hetkensä. En halua nostaa mitään yksittäisiä biisejä, mutta siellä on kuitenkin hyvää matskua, ja niitä on ollut ilo soittaa.

Eclipsestä saakin aasinsillan seuraavaan kysymykseen: virallisessa Amorphis-kirjassa mainittiin, että olitte demottaneet joitain kyseisen levyn biisejä jo Pasi Koskisen laulamina. Muistuuko mieleen, mistä kappaleista oli kyse?
Tomi: Mitähän siellä nyt olisi ollut? Oli siellä varmaan ainakin tämä… [naurua] En muista nimiä! Siis mikäs tämä kolmas biisi nyt oli?

“Leaves Scar”.
Tomi: Just! Mutta siis niissähän oli eri sanat ja ihan eri lauluideat. Olisiko se ollut ja… En tiedä, aivot tyhjentää nykyään kaiken sellaisen epäoleellisen tiedon. [naurua] En muista – kyllä jotain biisejä oltiin kokeiltu, muttei varsinaisesti oltu kovin pitkälle päästy siinä prosessissa. Itse asiassa en tiedä, demotettiinko edes Pasin kanssa – olisiko ollut lähinnä, että demotettiin niitä biisejä biiseinä, että mitä oltaisiin alettu katsomaan seuraavaksi Pasin kanssa, mutta sitten Pasi lähti. Niitä biisejä oli valmiina, mutten muista tekikö Pasi lauluja.

Emme päässeet näkemään kredittejä, joten kuinka paljon itse osallistuitte uuden levyn sävellysprosessiin?
Oppu: Itse toin kyllä materiaalia, mutta ne oli niin raakileita vielä, ettei ollut tavallaan syytä lähteä niitä työstämään kauheasti.

Eivät kerenneet mukaan vielä?
Oppu: No kyllä siellä on bonusbiisinä yksi, mutta se on ihan syystäkin. Se ei ehkä tuohon kokonaisuuteen sopinut. Mun mielestä tämä on nyt vahva paketti – ihan oikeat biisivalinnat tuli tehtyä. Mutta kaikilla on mahdollisuus tuoda materiaalia kyllä. Nämä levybiisit on Esan [Holopainen, kitara] ja Sanden [Santeri Kallio, kosketinsoittimet] käsialaa.

Tomi: Joo, mäkään en saanut mitään aikaiseksi tällä kertaa. Henkilökohtaisen elämäntilanteen takia ei lähtenyt, ei tullut idiksiä. Ehkä ensi levylle sitten taas… Mutta se on hyvä, siis niitä biisejähän riittää meillä liiaksikin asti, ettei haittaa vaikkei aina pääse talkoisiin mukaan.

Ja levyjähän on takanakin jo tusinan verran.
Tomi: No joo, sekin vielä.

Onko kerennyt herätä ideaa jonkinlaisesta orkesterikeikasta, kun levyllä on mukana jousi- ja kuoro-osuuksia?
Tomi: Osanhan niistä pystyy Sande soittamaan, että kyllä me pystytään edelleen soittamaan keikka ilman mitään, pelkällä bändillä. Mutta pitää miettiä, kun aletaan katsoa noita biisejä. Kyllä osa jutuista olisi ihan makee saada mukaan, jos ne ajaa sampleina sieltä.

Oppu: Se on iso työ nyt tehdä keikkasovituksia, kun keikat alkaa. Se jää nähtäväksi, mitä pystytään tekemään. Kyllä siellä on varmaan sellaisiakin biisejä, mitä ei pysty livenä soittamaan.

Tomi: Niin… Uskon, että niitä kaikkia ehkä pystyy, mutta sittenhän voi käyttää… Eihän me koskaan käytetä mitään taustajuttuja niistä soittimista, mitä me itse soitetaan, että sieltä tulisi kannut tai jotain. Se on lähinnä semmoisia spessuhommia… Jos siellä on naislaulua, niin on se vähän karua, jos se jää kokonaan pois jos sen biisin haluaa soittaa.

Muistaakseni neljännellä raidalla (“The Golden Elk”) oli tällainen eksoottisella kielisoittimella soitettu soolo? Mikä instrumentti mahtaa olla kyseessä?
Tomi: Niin, se oli tämä udu… [naurua]

Oppu: Siis tämä joku nylonkielisen tapainen tai -kuuloinen. Joku kroatialainen… vai oliko se kreikkalainen?

Tomi: No mutta joku kielisoitin se on.

Oppu: Jostain Balkanin suunnista kuitenkin. Jens tunsi jonkun muusikon, joka teki sovituksen… tai soitti soolon lähinnä.

Mitä Barren Earthille kuuluu? Uutta levyä on tulossa, mutta ilmeisesti keikoille ei ole pahemmin aikaa Amorphiksen syklin alkaessa pian.
Oppu: No joo, se on totta kyllä. Katsotaan sitten, kun on vähän hiljaisempaa tällä rintamalla. Nyt me soitetaan kaksi keikkaa Suomessa ja se on tällä erää siinä. Se on kokoonpanona ollut vaikea alusta lähtien – tuuraajia on käytetty, mutta nyt meillä on sellainen mieliala bändissä, että me haluttaisiin tehdä ihan alkuperäisellä kokoonpanolla, jos tehdään, mikä tekee asiasta luonnollisesti vielä vaikeampaa. [naurua] Mutta ehkä se on kannatettava ajatus sinänsä. Sitten kun sopiva hetki koittaa, niin kyllä me varmaan aktivoidutaan keikkarintamalla.

Entä Abhorrence? Kuulemma teilläkin on uutta materiaalia tekeillä.
Tomi: Joo, meidän pitäisi äänittää EP. Päästiin sen kynnyksen yli, että [tehtiin] ensimmäiset uudet biisit 27 vuoteen. Piti tavallaan saada itsensä siihen mentaaliseen tilaan, mitä on ollut 15-vuotiaana. [naurua] Mutta sitten kun se onnistui, niin se oli yllättävän helppoa, tai jos ei helppoa, niin hauskaa ainakin. Meillä on nyt kaksi täysin valmista biisiä, ja sanoituksellinen konsepti on olemassa jo oikeastaan seuraavaan levyynkin, mutta se on sitten isompi askel. Päätettiin, että tällainen EP on hyvä aloittaa.

Pientä alkulämmittelyä.
Tomi: Niin, ja jatkaa sitten joskus, jos on aikaa. Sen idea on, että se on hauskaa. Tietenkään ei halua mitään huttua julkaista, että pystyy seisomaan sen takana. On se meistä ainakin hemmetin hauskaa sahata pitkästä aikaa.

Onko tämä eräänlainen paluu teini-ikään?
Tomi: [naurua] Ehkä enemmän tämmöinen luokkakokousfiilis, kuitenkin lapsuuden kavereiden kanssa puuhaillaan. Muut ei ammatikseen tee tätä, niin ehkä heillekin antaa aika paljon, että pääsee välillä vähän soittelemaan. Nykyaikana ehkä semmoinen vanhojen ukkojen jami on death metalia ja blastbeatia, kun joskus se oli jotain bluesjamittelua. Mennään sahaamaan kämpälle. [naurua] Mutta saa nähdä joo, on meillä yksi keikka tulossa ja tehdään joskus tulevaisuudessa keikkoja, jos siltä tuntuu. Ei ole mitään sen enempää suunnitelmia.

Viimeksi haastattelimme Esaa sivuillemme ennen keikkaanne Helsingin Juhlaviikoilla. Millaiset tunnelmat tuosta Huvila-teltan vedosta jäi?
Tomi: Hyvät fiiliksethän siitä jäi, sehän oli oikein onnistunut. Jännä paikka, kun tietenkin kotikaupungin tapahtuma, missä on käynyt katsomassa aikaisemmin kaiken maailman spektaakkeleita. Mutta oli siellä oikein hyvä tunnelma ja musta meni ihan nappiin. Toivottavasti joskus vielä pääsisi tekemään tuommoisen. Just se oli siinä hauska, että se oli tämmöistä spesiaalia, kun siinä oli kahdessa osassa akustista, vierailijoita ja muuta tämmöistä, mitä ei normaalisti tee.

Kieltämättä katsojankin näkökulmasta veto oli aika mieleenpainuva! Niclas [Etelävuori, basso] erosi bändistä vuosi sitten, ja nyt hänellä on Flat Earth -niminen bändi. Onko hän esitellyt teille uusia biisejään?
Tomi: On kai joillekin – rumpalimme Snoopy äänitti mun mielestä niiden ekan demon. Mä en oo törmännyt, mutta eipä tuossa nyt varmaan muutenkaan olisi tullut soiteltua. Mutta en näe mitään ongelmaa – olisi ihan mukava nähdä häntäkin jossain välissä ja kuulla myös tätä bändiä.

Slottimme alkaa näköjään olla lopuillaan, joten kiitos ajastanne!
Tomi: Juu, kiitoksia kiitoksia!

Oppu: Kiitos!

Kuvat: Miia Collander

AMORPHIS: Queen of Time listening session @ Sonic Pump Studios, Helsinki, 24.02.2018


Amorphis have been featured on our site on numerous occasions before, but February 24th, 2018, was a very special day to write about, as Musicalypse had been invited to the listening session of the Finnish metal veterans’ 13th studio album, Queen of Time. The preceding record, Under the Red Cloud (2015), had been well-received by all of us, so naturally we were excited to hear where the band would go musically on its successor.

Lue suomeksi TÄÄLTÄ!
Interview with Tomi Koivusaari and Olli-Pekka Laine coming soon!


We arrived at the Sonic Pump Studios a dozen or so minutes before the scheduled 15:00 beginning. Having admired the gold discs and framed photos on the walls and caffeinating ourselves sufficiently, we sat down in the room where the album playback was to take place. The event began with lead guitarist Esa Holopainen and producer Jens Bogren giving a little introductory speech. Bogren teased Holopainen for not looking excited enough – “I am excited, but I’m Finnish!” the guitarist said in his own defense. Bogren also proclaimed that we would see a lot of names in the credits once the album comes out, as they had worked with musicians from Turkey, an Israeli choir, as well as “a drunk Pakistani flutist.” Finally, the long-awaited moment arrived and the ‘play’ button was pressed.

A track-by-track breakdown based on my notes follows below:

1. The Bee
A synth intro accompanied by ethereal female vocals leads us into the world of Queen of Time. The delayed guitar riff reminds me a bit of “The Way”, but the backing instrumentation is much more intense here. The growled oriental verses are typical heavy Amorphis, but there’s also some very gentle singing from Tomi Joutsen in the song. Nice start!

2. Message in the Amber
The Police wrote “Message in a Bottle”, but Amorphis relies on amber instead. The folky riff and the calm verses where Joutsen sings in two octaves lead me to believe that this song might even become a single like previous track #2s, such as “House of Sleep” and “Silver Bride”, but suddenly the growled chorus kicks in and I’m proved utterly wrong. The song takes unexpected turns, but that’s a positive thing.

3. Daughter of Hate
Prog time! Over the course of just one song, Amorphis offers us a 7/8 riff, a chorus with fierce black metal vocals, a saxophone solo, and a warm, jammy middle section where lyricist Pekka Kainulainen recites a poem in Finnish, among other things – to say there’s a lot going on here would be an understatement. A very likely favorite for myself, and perhaps for many other fans as well.

4. The Golden Elk
Tinkling synths and wordless female vocals open the tune, which also boasts a catchy riff and a big chorus. In the middle there are strings building up the drama, as well as a solo played on an exotic string instrument. As an extra curiosity, the album title is namedropped a few times in the lyrics. I have a feeling this is going to be another popular song among listeners.

5. Wrong Direction
The riff at the beginning recalls “Reformation” from 2011’s The Beginning of Times, and there are some big percussions accentuating the sound. “I should’ve understood / I should’ve seen it coming,” Joutsen sings in the infectious chorus, and in the fascinating middle section his voice has been run through a Vocoder or a similar robotic effect. There’s only a bit of growling at the end, and the massive outro reminds me of “Nemo” by Nightwish. Mark my words: this will be a single!

6. Heart of the Giant
A fragile guitar melody gives off a feeling of lonely melancholy, before giving way to a riff with a pace that makes me think of “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper; that is, until the drums come in and I realize I’ve been hearing the rhythm wrong in my head. What makes this song stand out is the chorus, where Joutsen growls in a very rhythmic, punishing manner, and at the end he’s backed by a choir to drive the point home even more emphatically. I could see this becoming a setlist staple!

7. We Accursed
There’s a bit of an “Escape” vibe on this one, and to be honest, it comes across as a bit of a filler, at least in comparison with the previous songs. I feel like more clean singing would fit this kind of tune better, as it’s not that dark or intense. That said, there’s an intricate folk riff that recurs multiple times in the latter half, and Santeri Kallio’s impressive keyboard solo is something to look out for as well.

8. Grain of Sand
The song starts off with sitar and a guitar melody that reminds me of Finnish rautalanka music, but that doesn’t last long, as the rest of the track includes some of the most pummeling riffs on the whole album. The interesting chorus includes a trade-off between clean and growled vocals, which makes me wonder if there’s a Joutsen/Koivusaari duet to be expected in case it gets played live.

9. Amongst Stars
Speaking of duets, this is one, between Joutsen and Anneke van Giersbergen herself. When a singer as prolific as her makes lots of guest appearances, the danger of inflation is always present, but luckily the results speak for themselves, as this may just be the highlight of the entire album. Musically, this feels a bit brighter than most of the other songs, and the final climax is particularly splendid.

10. Pyres on the Coast
Tomi Joutsen’s growls in the first verse are some of the grittiest and harshest he’s ever let out – possibly something he learned from the Hallatar sessions? There’s a lot of variety in this song, which is probably why it didn’t totally manage to click with me yet, but the big ending riff, emphasized by an orchestra and church organ, is an apt conclusion for the album in all its grandness.

After a little break, we got to hear the bonus tracks as well:

11. As Mountains Crumble
Compared to the main album, this track has a more relaxed and sparse 70s vibe: waltz beat, harmonized guitars, clean strumming, Hammond organ… an enjoyable song, but it’s easy to see why it ended up on the cutting room floor.

12. Brother and Sister
The delay guitars give the verses an “Alone”/”Sky Is Mine” feel, the chorus is catchy, and Holopainen’s guitar solo is brilliant. A good tune, just like the previous one, but being rather straightforward and more in line with earlier Joutsen-era albums, I totally get why it didn’t fit in either.


My first impression was very positive, and I actually got a bit of a The Beginning of Times vibe, though not as much from the music itself (although I did namedrop a few tracks from that record above) as the approach of the album. TBoT aimed for cinematic and epic sounds with songs like “Crack in a Stone”, and it also featured symphonic keyboards, female vocals, and various extra instruments, but on Queen of Time, the epic elements have been pushed boldly to the foreground and the result is more focused, which makes the album feels like a significant step forward in the band’s evolution. The instantly recognizable Amorphis recipe is still in use, but it’s been spiced up quite a bit.

It’s impossible to tell how Queen of Time stacks up against the rest of the Amorphis discography based on just one listen, as it’s by far the most challenging and least accessible album of the Joutsen era. If there’s one Amorphis record that requires time to sink in properly, it’s this one – as Bogren warned us beforehand, there’s a lot to digest. There are both clean and growling vocals, and lots of layers in every song, as well as few simplistic tunes or immediate hits to be found; however, further listens will surely be rewarding and unveil a lot of previously missed details. In any case, it’s evident that the boost that Bogren gave the band on Under the Red Cloud wasn’t just a flash in the pan, as their collaboration continues to be fruitful!

Photos: Miia Collander

AMORPHIS: Queen of Time -ennakkokuuntelu @ Sonic Pump Studios, Helsinki, 24.02.2018


Amorphis on esiintynyt sivuillamme useaan otteeseen aiemmin, mutta 24. helmikuuta 2018 kirjoitettavaa löytyi erityistilaisuuden merkeissä, sillä Musicalypse oli kutsuttu mukaan suomimetallin veteraanien 13:nnen studioalbumin, Queen of Timen, ennakkokuunteluun. Edeltävä levy, Under the Red Cloud (2015), sai meiltä lämpimän vastaanoton, joten olimme luonnollisesti innokkaita kuulemaan, minne bändi suuntaisi musiikillisesti sen seuraajalla.

Read in English HERE!
Haastattelu Tomi Koivusaaren ja Olli-Pekka Laineen kanssa tulossa pian!


Saavuimme Sonic Pump -studioille kymmenisen minuuttia ennen kello kolmea, jolloin tilaisuuden oli määrä alkaa. Ihailtuamme seinillä roikkuneita kultalevyjä ja kehystettyjä kuvia ja tankattuamme kofeiinipitoisilla juomilla istahdimme huoneeseen, jossa levy soitettaisiin. Tapahtuma alkoi soolokitaristi Esa Holopaisen ja tuottaja Jens Bogrenin pienimuotoisella alustuksella. Bogren kiusoitteli Holopaista siitä, ettei tämä näyttänyt riittävän innokkaalta – “I am excited, but I’m Finnish,” kitaristi puolusteli itseään. Bogren ilmoitti myös, että albumin ilmestyessä sen tekijätiedoista löytyisi runsaasti nimiä, sillä he olivat työskennelleet turkkilaisten muusikoiden, israelilaisen kuoron ja “humalaisen pakistanilaisen huilistin” kanssa. Lopulta koitti kauan odotettu hetki, jolloin play-nappia painettiin.

Alla on muistiinpanoihini pohjautuva analyysi albumin jokaisesta raidasta:

1. The Bee
Eteerisellä naislaululla höystetty syntikkaintro johdattelee meidät ajan kuningattaren maailmaan. Delay-kitarariffi muistuttaa hieman “The Wayta”, mutta tässä instrumentit soivat taustalla paljon ponnekkaampina. Muristut itämaiset säkeistöt ovat tyypillistä raskaampaa Amorphista, mutta Tomi Joutsenelta kuullaan myös hempeämpää laulantaa. Hieno aloitus!

2. Message in the Amber
The Police kirjoitti pullopostia, mutta Amorphis luottaa meripihkaan. Folkahtava riffi ja rauhalliset säkeistöt, joissa Tomi Joutsen laulaa kahdessa eri oktaavissa, saavat minut odottamaan biisistä sinkkua “House of Sleepin” ja “Silver Briden” kaltaisten kakkosraitojen tapaan, mutta yhtäkkiä ilmoille kajahtaa öristy kertosäe, ja luuloni osoittautuvat täysin vääriksi. Biisissä kuullaan odottamattomia käännöksiä, mutta tämä on ainoastaan positiivinen asia.

3. Daughter of Hate
Progeaika! Yhden biisin aikana Amorphis onnistuu tarjoilemaan 7/8-riffin, raa’alla black metal -kärinällä varustetun kertosäkeen, saksofonisoolon ja lämpimästi jammailevan väliosan, jossa sanoittaja Pekka Kainulainen lausuu runoa suomeksi, ynnä muuta – olisi vähättelyä sanoa, että biisissä tapahtuu paljon. Tämä tulee varmasti olemaan yksi suosikeista itselleni – ja miksei muillekin.

4. The Golden Elk
Helisevät syntikat ja sanaton naislaulu avaavat kappaleen, joka omaa myös tarttuvan riffin ja ison kertosäkeen. Puolivälissä jouset kasvattelevat draamaa ja kuullaan eksoottisella kielisoittimella soitettu soolo. Ekstrakuriositeettina mainittakoon, että levyn otsikko esiintyy muutamaan otteeseen sanoituksissa. Uskoisin, että tästäkin kappaleesta muodostuu suosittu kuulijoiden keskuudessa.

5. Wrong Direction
Alun riffi muistuttaa “Reformationia” The Beginning of Timesilta (2011), ja mukana on isoja perkussioita korostamassa soundia. “I should’ve understood / I should’ve seen it coming,” Joutsen laulaa tarttuvassa kertosäkeessä, ja kiehtovassa väliosassa hänen äänensä on ajettu vocoderin tai vastaavan robottimaisen efektin läpi. Ainoastaan lopussa on hieman murahtelua, ja iso outro tuo mieleen Nightwishin “Nemon”. Takuuvarma sinkkubiisi!

6. Heart of the Giant
Hauras kitaramelodia hehkuu yksinäistä melankoliaa ennen kuin se tekee tilaa riffille, joka muistuttaa poljennoltaan Alice Cooperin “School’s Outia”, kunnes rummut tulevat mukaan ja tajuan kuulleeni rytmin väärin päässäni. Biisin saa erottumaan joukosta sen kertosäe, jossa Joutsen murahtelee rytmikkäästi ja rankaisevasti. Lopussa hän saa vielä taustatukea kuorolta viedäkseen sanoman perille entistä painokkaammin. Tästä saattaa helposti tulla keikkojen vakiobiisi!

7. We Accursed
Kappaleessa on pientä “Escape”-vibaa, ja rehellisesti sanottuna siinä on hieman täyteraidan makua, ainakin edellisiin biiseihin verrattuna. Omaan makuuni tällaisessa rallissa voisi olla enemmänkin puhdasta laulua, sillä se ei ole kovinkaan synkkä tai painostava. Biisistä löytyy kuitenkin kulmikas folk-riffi, joka toistuu useaan otteeseen loppupuolella, ja Santeri Kallion vaikuttavaa kosketinsooloa kannattaa myös pitää silmällä.

8. Grain of Sand
Biisi alkaa sitarilla ja rautalankamaisella kitaramelodialla, mutta tätä ei jatku pitkään, sillä luvassa on myös koko levyn hakkaavinta riffittelyä. Mielenkiintoisessa kertosäkeessä puhdas laulu ja örinä vuorottelevat, mikä saa minut pohtimaan, onko odotettavissa Joutsenen ja Koivusaaren duetointia, mikäli biisi päätyy livesoittoon.

9. Amongst Stars
Duetoista puheen ollen, tässä sellainen nyt olisi, solisteinaan Joutsen sekä itse Anneke van Giersbergen. Inflaation vaara on aina ilmassa, kun näin tuottelias laulaja tekee paljon vierailuja, mutta onneksi tulokset puhuvat puolestaan, sillä kyseessä saattaa olla jopa koko albumin kirkkain helmi. Musiikillisesti kappale on hieman useimpia biisejä valoisampi, ja lopun kliimaksi on erityisen suurenmoinen.

10. Pyres on the Coast
Tomi Joutsenen örinät ensimmäisessä säkeistössä lukeutuvat hänen räkäisiimpinsä ja raaimpiinsa – kenties hän hyödyntää Hallattaren sessioissa oppimiaan kikkoja? Biisissä on paljon vaihtelua, mikä lienee syynä sille, ettei kappale täysin auennut minulle vielä. Lopun riffi, jota vahvistavat orkesteri ja kirkkourut, on kuitenkin asiallinen päätös levylle kaikessa komeudessaan.

Pienen tauon jälkeen saimme kuulla vielä bonusraidat:

11. As Mountains Crumble
Itse pääalbumiin verrattuna tällä raidalla on hieman rennompi ja hillitympi 70-luvun tunnelma: löytyy niin valssikomppia, kitarastemmoja ja puhdasta rämpytystä kuin Hammond-urkuja… Biisi on sinänsä miellyttävä, mutta on helppo nähdä, miksi se päätyi leikkaushuoneen lattialle.

12. Brother and Sister
Delay-kitarat tuovat säkeistöihin “Alonen” ja “Sky Is Minen” henkeä, kertosäe on tarttuva ja Holopaisen kitarasoolo upea. Hyvä biisi, mutta aivan kuten edellisen kohdalla, on ihan ymmärrettävää miksei tämä mahtunut mukaan, sillä se on tyyliltään melko suoraviivainen ja enemmän aiempien Joutsenen kanssa tehtyjen levyjen linjoilla.


Ensivaikutelmani oli hyvin positiivinen, ja kuulin albumissa itse asiassa jotain samaa kuin The Beginning of Timesissa; tosin en niinkään itse musiikissa (vaikka mainitsinkin yllä pari kappaletta kyseiseltä tuotokselta) vaan levyn lähestymistavassa. TBoT kurkotteli elokuvallisen ja eeppisen ilmaisun puoleen “Crack in a Stonen” kaltaisilla biiseillä, ja mukana oli niin ikään sinfonisia koskettimia, naislaulua ja erinäisiä ylimääräisiä soittimia, mutta Queen of Timella eeppiset elementit on nostettu rohkeasti etualalle ja lopputulos on keskittyneempi, minkä ansiosta albumi tuntuu merkittävältä askeleelta eteenpäin bändin kehityskaaressa. Välittömästi tunnistettava Amorphis-resepti on yhä käytössä, mutta sitä on maustettu reilulla kädellä.

On mahdotonta sanoa, kuinka Queen of Time pärjää vertailussa Amorphiksen muulle tuotannolle vain yhden kuuntelun perusteella, sillä käsillä on Joutsenen aikaisista levyistä haastavin ja vähiten helposti pureskeltava. Jos jokin Amorphiksen levyistä tarvitsee aikaa avautuakseen kunnolla, niin se on tämä – kuten Bogren varoitti etukäteen, levyssä on paljon sisäistettävää. Jokaisesta biisistä löytyy niin puhdasta kuin öristyä laulua ja moninaisia kerroksia, eikä kovin monia simppeleitä ralleja tai välittömiä hittejä ole löydettävissä, mutta myöhemmät kuuntelut tulevat varmasti olemaan palkitsevia ja paljastamaan huomioimatta jääneitä yksityiskohtia. Joka tapauksessa on kuitenkin selvää, ettei Bogrenin bändille Under the Red Cloudilla antama piristysruiske jäänyt yhden levyn ihmeeksi, vaan yhteistyö jatkuu hedelmällisenä.

Kuvat: Miia Collander

(2018) The Mutual Admiration Society


Artist: Sterling Ball, John Ferraro, Jim Cox
Album: The Mutual Admiration Society
Released: 19.01.2018
Label: Mascot Label Group


Mascot Label Group is a wonderful record label in the sense that they keep us listening to new things. One of the most recent additions to their roster is a supergroup of sorts called the Mutual Admiration Society, put together by Sterling Ball, John Ferraro, and Jim Cox, in a collaboration that is partly covers and partly original material.

I grew up on country and classic rock, so there’s a definite weakness for guitar rock inside me. When I saw that John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Steve Vai would be on this album, I had to give it a listen. What’s more, John Petrucci was doing a Disney medley? Well that just sounded like a great deal of fun.

Listen along on Spotify:


The album starts out incredibly funky with “Payday Song”, which sounds like familiar funky 90s guitar style rock. It’s a creative song, executed with style and flare, and ultimately starts the album off very well. The groovy classic guitar sound continues with “In the Crowd”, featuring Steve Morse, whom most of you probably know from Deep Purple. This laid-back track has the ambiance of classic rock like the Rolling Stones and is rather stylishly executed.

“Checkin’ Up on My Baby”, originally by Sonny Boy Williamson and lasting a mere 1:55 in length in its original incarnation, has been classed up spectacularly in this album’s bluesy rendition, and now lasts a worthy 3:46. Steve Lukather, of Toto fame, appears in the version of “Baby Please Don’t Go” by the Delta Blues. I will say that many of the songs covered on this album were good old tracks, but in pretty much every case, this one in particular, the improvements in production quality really help bring the songs into the modern world, and the guitarists have made them their own, resulting in pretty vast improvements (at least by my standards). “Baby Please Don’t Go” moves from a gritty old blues song into a delightful, upbeat, organ and guitar piece that’ll definitely get your feet tapping.

While the album does center largely around guitars, “Treat Her Right” gives a great deal of attention to the organs as well, which allows for a nice change-up in feel. I’m not familiar with most of these artists by name, but one instantly recognizable song was the cover of “Sugar Shack” done by Steve Vai. Even knowing as little of Vai as I do, his sound comes out clearly and concisely, and it really sounds like he’s having fun with what he’s doing.

The album turns sharply into a less rock, more country sound with “Memphis” aka “Memphis, Tennessee”, and continues with “Cryin’ Time” (Ray Charles), which interestingly wasn’t exactly a country song in its original incarnation, but with Albert Lee‘s influence, manages to work really nicely and sound very authentically like a 90s country song (and that steel guitar and piano don’t hurt the vibe either).

Another big funky hit on the album, which nicely combines the poppy sounds of the original with the country guitars that dominate a great deal of this album, is the cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, complete with a… banjo (I think?) breakdown about three quarters of the way through. Lots of fun, this one!

The “Disney Medley” was really cool, and a bit of a shock to me at the same time. On one hand, John Petrucci is fantastic, no surprise there. However, the songs in the medley are all ancient, with nothing (at least nothing I recognized) earlier than Cinderella (which, for reference, is from the 50s): “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, “Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah”, and “It’s a Small World.” So, on one hand, I applaud the choice of unusual or uncommon songs, but on the other hand… really? Those ones? Nothing from the Disney Renaissance, for example? The best Disney songs? So, in that sense, I was a little bit disappointed.

Perhaps my very favorite song on the album is Albert Lee on “Hey Good Lookin'”, which was done originally by Hank Williams (Sr). To be fair, my dad used to play guitar and sing that song in our living room growing up, so I have an innate fondness for it. However, honestly, once I found the original song, well… those 2-minute country songs from the 50s were pretty slow and low-quality in production, and this upbeat version, while lacking the vocals, is exactly what this classic needed – better guitar work, a bit faster speed, clean and clear production, and a lot more style.

“Strip Mall Gourmet” is one of the funkiest songs on the album, far more jazzy than country in style, with Jay Graydon (who has won Grammies for rhythm & blues music) playing this time around. It has those elevator music drums and a gentle, relaxing vibe all around, that is, until it picks up and gets nice and showy around halfway through. There’s a definite 70s/80s hippy music influence in there as well. A warm welcome back to the organ too!

And lastly, the album concludes with “Heartbroke”, which picks the energy up a little, returning one last time to the country regions of guitar sound. It’s a pretty mellow track, and perhaps one of the least interesting ones on the whole. It’s a bit of a weak ending to the album as such, but that’s the worst complaint about it.


Overall, this is definitely a really fun, funky album that anyone who just likes to listen to good guitar (and organ) playing will surely have no trouble enjoying. Extra pleasure will certainly come if you like country music in any way.

Rating: 9/10, 4.5 stars

1. Payday Song
2. In the Crowd (ft. Steve Morse)
3. Checkin’ Up on My Baby
4. Baby Please Don’t Go (ft. Steve Lukather)
5. Treat Her Right
6. Sugar Shack (ft. Steve Vai)
7. Memphis
8. Cryin’ Time (ft. Albert Lee)
9. I Want You Back
10. Disney Medley (ft. John Petrucci)
11. Hey Good Lookin’ (ft. Albert Lee)
12. Strip Mall Gourmet (ft. Jay Graydon)
13. Heartbroke

(2018) Shiraz Lane: Carnival Days


Artist: Shiraz Lane
Album: Carnival Days
Release: 23.02.2018
Label: Frontiers Music


The young bucks from Shiraz Lane have been hard at work, and after a mere 2 years, have already released their sophomore album, Carnival Days. Alas, Musicalypse was meant to have this album at the end of 2017 so we’d have lots of time to digest it, but some technical difficulties delayed its delivery to us, so we sadly only received it just now… after its release.

I’ve got a soft spot for these guys. Their first album had a ton of potential in it, and they’re really fun to watch live. As well, after doing an interview or two with them, I learned that they’re really nice guys with a lot of drive and passion. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this album for a while.

Listen along on Spotify here:


The album starts off rather funkily with what I can only refer to as a ‘nice little ditty’, the eponymous “Carnival Days”, which shows off the groovy side of the band. It’s a fun song, has great energy to start off the album, and a great chorus that can easily be sung along to – a natural live track. Keeping the energy up but heading a bit more into the hard rock area, is “The Crown”, and I can instantly see Hannes Kett (vocals) rocking out on stage to this in my mind.

Full-force ahead, we go to “Harder to Breathe”, which was the first single released from the album last year. It’s very much that, a great, fun radio hit song, without being too cheesy to be taken seriously. Showing off their versatility, they take their youthful energy in yet another direction with “Tidal Wave”, with dynamics all over the place.

“Gotta Be Real” slows the album down a bit at least, giving the listener a well-needed break, but doesn’t slow down fully into ballad territory. Gotta love those big choruses and Kett’s very gentle, sweet voice, along with the chill bits of soloing. I also have to say that I like the line, “Aim for the horizon” – a nice change from “aim for the stars” or other cliché lines that are overused. It evokes the feeling of moving forward, sunniness, and positivity, without feeling overused. Creative bonus points here.

It then seems really appropriate that “People Like Us” feels very much like a Shiraz Lane song. I mean, Shiraz Lane covers a lot of the hard rock spectrum, but if I was to pick a song from this album that really just sounds like them, it’d be this one. It’s got a bit of GN’R funk, with the uplifting anthem sound that they’re so good at. What I like about these guys is that they’re great at writing radio hits, but my personal favorite songs are always the deeper, less obvious tracks (for example, “House of Cards” was easily my favorite on their first album).

They slow things down again with “Shangri-La”, an appropriately titled song for these hippy-ish guys who have such a hopeful outlook. It’s such a pleasant, enjoyable song, with everything working towards the good vibe that it creates. “War of Mine” is one of those songs that has a solid groove – good energy, but not a flail-around-dancing song like the earlier ones. On the first few listens it didn’t quite click, but after a while it picked up and began to fill its spot – it has a bit of a slow burn compared to most of the rest of the album. “Shot of Life”, on the other hand, has a nice and somewhat subtle eastern influence (I’m thinking Indian?) in the opening sound and kicks the energy level back up to the party level. It almost feels like they could’ve ended the album here, it’s such a high-powered song and it leaves a nice taste in the mouth, so to speak.

However, there are two more songs to go: the true ballad from the album, “Hope”, and the longest track, “Reincarnation.” “Hope” is one of those songs that’s really nice to listen to, with its gentle guitar work and calm, soothing vocals, and I suspect it’d just get better with lyrical input. The dynamic build-up at the end is subtle but quite nice. “Reincarnation”, rather than going for the high-energy ‘big bang’ outro, opts for a more anthem-like style once more. Again, they seem to be working with a very positive outlook on everything, and ultimately, it’s a nice, hopeful song to close out with.


Overall, the album definitely feels like a mature step forward for these young guys, and is definitely going to be a good album for the upcoming summer. Let’s hope these guys will be at some festivals so we can all make the most of this new material.

Rating: 9/10, 4.5 stars

1. Carnival Days
2. The Crown
3. Harder to Breathe
4. Tidal Wave
5. Gotta Be Real
6. People Like Us
7. Shangri-La
8. War of Mine
9. Shot of Life
10. Hope
11. Reincarnation

MYRKUR w/ PÄIVI HIRVONEN @ Konepajan Bruno, Helsinki, 10.02.2018


Myrkur with Päivi Hirvonen at Konepajan Bruno in Helsinki, February 2018.
Photos by Marco Manzi.
Read the gig report HERE.

MYRKUR w/ PÄIVI HIRVONEN – Konepajan Bruno, Helsinki, 10.02.2018


A few years ago, Myrkur caused quite a stir in the black metal community. A project conceived of by a 20-something Danish runway model, Amalie Brunn, her ambient, folk-infused style seemingly caught on as her two albums, M and Mareridt, have both been well-received by large audiences. They came to the seldomly used venue, Konepajan Bruno, in Helsinki as part of the Folkesange Tour, which unlike her latest releases, were focused on folk music from Scandinavia, performed entirely live and acoustically.

Check out the full gallery HERE!


By conventional wisdom, one would imagine it to be a stretch for many metalheads to be interested in a full-on acoustic folk evening. However, a crowd consisting of mostly black metal fans did show up and, as implied by the aforementioned queue, were indeed anxious. Likewise, I was eager for just about anything Bruun would bring, especially having missed my chance to see Myrkur live at Tuska Open Air in 2016.

The ambiance in the room had been very subdued as Päivi Hirvonen came out to warm up the stage; it was just her with a violin. Her sound was very Finnish folk but the delivery was somewhat metal inspired. There was a lot of very deliberate dissonance in her chord choices. Indeed, the sound was very quiet but it wasn’t unclear, so perhaps I’m just too used to wearing earplugs to concerts.

Her first song, “Viinanpiru”, appeared to be of the evils of alcohol. It started out so slow and whispered that I almost didn’t realize the show had started. It quickly escalated as the playing and vocals both grew more intense. When she went for those high notes, she really brought it.

She then introduced herself in very broken English, in the vein of all those famous race car drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen. She played her second song on a traditional Finnish instrument, the jouhikko, a string instrument one plays with a bow. She said it’s quite difficult to keep in tune but that she would try anyway. The song was called “Enkö Mä Saisi Laulella?” [Am I Not Allowed to Sing?]. It was a much more dulcet, somber piece. Much like the first song, it also had a more intense section near the end.

She took up the violin again for the third song, which seemed more like an intermission than anything else. She went ahead and fiddled a little ditty, which gradually phased into another more powerful moment. At this point, the pattern of these songs had begun to emerge. It was called “Ruskatanssi”, which she herself translated as “The Dance of the Autumn Leaves.” This was then followed by her last song, “Ragnarök”, which is Norse mythology’s Armageddon. She prefaced it as being about what is left when everything is gone. It was once again performed with the jouhikko. Like many of the other songs, it had few to no lyrics per se, but relied on mood and melody.

Päivi Hirvonen was definitely interesting to see. She wasn’t the kind of artist I’d usually go out of my way for, so I’m glad I got to see it. The audience was noticeably enthused as they cheered more and more frantically after each song, and Hirvonen’s mighty high notes took everyone’s breath away.


As Myrkur came on stage, the crowd erupted into thunderous applause. She and her crew all took their places with the lady herself on the piano at the back of the stage. The guitarist sat on the right and with two backup singers to the left.

Myrkur said that they came to play some of their own songs as well as some traditional folk songs. The second one was a Swedish tune (I didn’t catch the name). She also said, “There will be a lot of tuning of instruments, as they are alive and do what they want,” (which is true, by the way). This was followed by a Norwegian folk song. They really got to showcase their three-part harmonies here. Their sound was very ethereal and authentic as the instruments were acoustic and live.

Päivi Hirvonen was then welcomed back to the stage. They said they’d never played together before so it was an experiment. Hirvonen played her jouhikko as Bruun took center stage with a shaman drum. She remained in this place for a few songs.

As they tuned up for the next traditional song, the guitarist said his tuning was, “Good enough for folk” – they all chuckled. It was a very short song, after which Bruun took up her nyckelharpa, which is another traditional string instrument with a bow; they played an original song, “Himlen Blev Sort.” The nyckelharpa’s haunting, almost grating sound gave the performance more of an edge even though the song itself was sort of a ballad.

The vocals ranged from cute and somber to glass shattering screeches depending on the song. All three singers were consistently flawless throughout the set. The powerful vocals seemed to impress the audience as much as they did myself, as they always garnered a lot of cheers.

After a while, as they prepared to do a Scottish ballad, the mic gave a huge feedback which Bruun responded to with a sly, “Guess the mic is on.” It fit the laid-back attitude of the evening like a glove. A folksy night should have a folksy feel. No one expected it to be absolutely immaculate anyway.

The venue itself was very cold, as it was an old industrial building, often used to host events. On the other hand, the chilly air was more than appropriate for these Nordic songs of woe and loss. The final song was about the death of a little girl. They painted a picture of barren landscapes of snowy tundra. One almost wished to see one’s breath hang in the air.

As cold as it was in the hall, it was nothing compared to how cold the ending was. They finished the sad child-death track only to get up, bow, and then exit the stage. The applause was huge but it felt very abrupt and sudden.


Going into this show, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have a good relationship with black metal but Scandinavian folk music isn’t something I’d normally rush out to see. Though I would’ve very much liked to see more of Myrkur’s own material, I could appreciate the artistry of this unique experience. Even the opening act, which had been completely unknown to me, was a rousing success. This was something different and it surely opened up some horizons for many of us in the audience. Myrkur will surely come back to do more black metal in the future and I’ll be looking forward to it. In the meantime, this had been a great appetizer.

Photos: Marco Manzi

MISS MAY I w/ CURRENTS, VOID OF VISION, & FIT FOR A KING @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 10.02.2018


Miss May I with Currents, Void Of Vision and Fit For A King at Tavastia, Helsinki, 2018.
Photos by Janne Puronen.

BEAST IN BLACK w/ OCEANHOARSE @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 10.02.2018


Beast in Black with Oceanhoarse at Nosturi, 2018.
Photos by Miia Collander.

PAIN w/ FEAR OF DOMINATION @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 03.02.2018


Pain with Fear of Domination at Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki 2018.
Photos by Marco Manzi.
Gig report HERE!

PAIN w/ FEAR OF DOMINATION – Virgin Oil, Helsinki, 03.02.2018


Swedish Pain returned to Finland for a mini tour of four gigs with Finnish Fear of Domination as the opening act. Musicalypse attended the final show of this tour at the Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on February 3rd, 2018, to experience an evening filled with industrial metal.

You can see the full gallery HERE!
Or listen along to the set on Spotify:

When I heard Pain would be back in Finland, my first thoughts were, “Really, so soon?” The last time Pain toured in Finland was in November 2016, right after releasing the band’s 8th album, Coming Home. Even though Pain could be considered one of the more frequent visitors when it comes to touring in Finland, I was still surprised – but in a positive way.

In my personal experience, tours between albums – in other words, when there has been some time since the release of the latest album, are usually the most interesting. The artist doesn’t have to promote the new material which means there will be more room for old goodies and maybe some other surprises. Thus, I was eager to attend the gig with high hopes for a diverse setlist.


Before I would find out if my expectations would be met, I was stuck outside in a long line, enjoying the Finnish winter. I always tend to forget that since the ticket sales and cloakroom are right next to each other right by the entrance, the line outside Virgin Oil is usually quite long. So, if you are planning to attend an event in Virgin Oil, remember to put on enough clothing and be there on time.

Once I got in, there was still one thing standing (or rather performing) between me and Pain: Fear of Domination. Fear of Domination seems to be on the rise (unless I am now jinxing it by saying this aloud). The venues are getting bigger, and following this tour, the band is heading to the Baltics with Amaranthe. Their growing popularity could be seen in Virgin Oil as well, which was packed already when the band started their set. The crowd was obviously there for both of the bands instead of just the headliner.

After starting a fulltime job and feeling about 100 years older, I’ve had a bad habit of sticking to my old favorites instead of looking for new music. My savior has been concerts with opening acts that have allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and out into the scary, real world – bands that I haven’t heard from.

Well, the case isn’t quite as I described when it comes to Fear of Domination, since I had at least heard their name, and even had time to listen to a couple of their songs during a coffee break at work. Some of you might think I am a bad reporter for not doing my background research, but I actually enjoy witnessing an artist with fresh ears and eyes – hearing the songs for the first time as they are performed live gives me a more honest picture of their skill.

Enough excuses though, and back to the gig itself. Fear of Domination was great. Energetic. Surprising. Fun. Refreshing breeze of air. And why’s that? First of all, the two vocalists, Saku Solin and Sara Strömmer, have an excellent chemistry on stage. Actually, I would want to dedicate a few words particularly to Strömmer and her voice. It was such a joy to hear her sing. She has a wide vocal range and can master different styles (growling, clean, and I think everything in between). I obviously am no expert, but listening to someone who hits the right notes, masters different styles, etc., is probably one of the most pleasant things in the world.

To avoid this review being just an open love letter to Sara Strömmer, I feel obliged to say a few words about the whole band. The group was obviously having fun on stage and making the most of the smallish space they had on stage. Also, the crowd were excited and I saw some singing along. So, safe to say I wasn’t the only one enjoying the performance. Only one thing had me puzzled during the gig: what’s the deal with the two drummers?

I have a history of complaining about the sound in Virgin Oil (don’t we all?), but this time I had to take my words back. This was the first time when the upstairs were open as well. As Fear of Domination began their set, I was standing on the floor in front of the stage and cursing the sounds in my head. In order to see better, I climbed to the stair landing – and a whole new world opened before my eyes. Or more like ears.

The sounds were instantly better once I got up, and I could finally make better sense of the melodies and lyrics, something that I hadn’t experienced before in Virgin Oil. So, looks like I should ditch my usual place in the future as well and give the venue some slack.

01. Primordial
02. The Last Call
03. Adrenaline
04. El Toro
05. II
06. Paperdoll
07. Deus Ex Machina
08. The Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang cover)


Still euphoric after Fear of Domination I remained in my new favorite spot waiting for Pain to start. It was great to be able to glance over the crowd and get a better feeling for the atmosphere. A cheerful murmur filled the air and as the starting time drew near, the crowd started calling the band to the stage.

Accompanied by the Requiem for a Dream intro, Peter Tägtgren and the rest of the band arrived on time (yay!), and started the gig with “Dancing with the Dead” and “Monkey Business.” The third on the setlist was “Black Knight Satellite” from Coming Home, and I have to confess I was surprised at how well that particular song worked out live, since the album as a whole didn’t quite tick the right boxes for me.

I could keep on listing the songs heard during the gig, but those of you who are interested in that kind of things can scroll down to see them. I was content with the setlist; it had songs from all the albums apart from Pain, and had a great mix of faster and slower songs. In short, it had the diversity I had hoped for.

During the second half of the gig Tägtgren said something noteworthy: he stated that he hadn’t had this much fun for a long time. This really caught my ear since I had been a tad worried that Tägtgren was growing tired of music, since there were 5 years between Coming Home and You Only Live Twice (for me over 3 years between albums is a long time if the artist can otherwise be considered active). And even though I had enjoyed the last show at Nosturi, I remember thinking afterwards that Tägtgren maybe wasn’t giving it his all.

This time around, I can believe that he meant every word – the venue was packed and the crowd truly seemed to enjoy every second of the gig. It was great to see that those who were sitting on the tables on the second floor at the beginning of the gig were standing up as the gig ended. It was just like a big party: people with wide smiles, singing along, some moshing, some jumping. Everyone in the venue just seemed to have a really good time.

And what would Pain’s gig be without their guitarist Greger Andersson climbing somewhere? This time it was in front of us standing on the stair landing, during the last song of the encore, “Shut Your Mouth.” I am not sure what was he standing on, but it looked steady enough for him to keep playing and giving high fives to the audience as the song ended. And maybe luckily for the crowd standing in front of the stage, this time he didn’t decide to jump down as he did back in Nosturi.

After the gig I had plenty of time to digest the experience as I was standing in line for the cloak room for the next 15 minutes or so. I had been pleasantly surprised by Fear of Domination, and combining that with the amazing show Pain had delivered, the only possible conclusion was that the night has been a success in every way. Except for the queueing.


Next time Peter Tägtgren is in Finland will probably be with his other band, Hypocrisy, as they are working on a new album. So this might have been a farewell to Finnish Painheads for now. Lets just hope the next Pain album won’t take 5 years to make.

01. Dancing with the Dead
02. Monkey Business
03. Black Knight Satellite
04. Suicide Machine
05. The Great Pretender
06. Dirty Woman
07. Just Hate Me
08. Zombie Slam
09. Same Old Song
10. Call Me
11. End of the Line
12. Nailed to the Ground
13. Coming Home
14. On and On

15. You Only Live Twice
16. Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
17. Shut Your Mouth

Photos: Marco Manzi



Continuing on after their Hope 10th anniversary tour, Swallow the Sun stopped by for a gig in Helsinki with their compatriots Red Moon Architect and Sleep of Monsters. Since it’s not that long from their last similar gig with exactly the same artists, there is a report up from our reporter Lene from the Hope tour here. Regardless of that, a fresh pair of eyes and ears are always welcome, so we caught their performance in Korjaamo, Helsinki, on January 26th, 2018.

I love Swallow the Sun, there’s zero doubt about that. Something about the album name, The Morning Never Came, is absolutely perfect to my ears, yet Emerald Forest and the Blackbird and New Moon are in eternal competition for their best album. There is catharsis in the absolute crushing despair of the lyrics and the dark stories, combined with the top notch clean/growl axis of their vocalist, Mikko Kotamäki, without leaving out the instrumental/compositional skill and talent. Speaking to me on an almost primordial level, StS is one of those bands to listen to, when you absolutely need to feel like utter crap before being able to feel good again. Thus crapsack expectations set, it was time to find a comfy place in Korjaamo.

Photos and gallery to be added soon.


Kicking us off was Red Moon Architect, which in an anticipated fashion, plays dark and slow. Right off the bat, Korjaamo worked superbly for this orchestra, with the growling vocals of Ville Rutanen sounding very clean – if that makes any sense – and the mixing superb, probably owing to the earlier time on tour and opportunities to dial in on the settings. Nothing was too loud, yet everything was clearly audible, so hats off to the sound guy behind the desk. A minor complaint has to be raised, however, towards the mixing of Anni Viljanen – the clean vocalist for RMA – since her voice overpowered a lot of the music. Perhaps a stylistic choice, but since their albums have her mixed into – rather than over – the songs, it seemed somewhat out of place, but as mentioned, it was a minimal issue. Her voice was brought to justice in the end of the song “Betrayed” from their Fall album, which was haunting to the edge of being mesmerizing, combining masterfully traits from lighting, ambiance, and mixing, creating a ghostly AV-scape worthy of Poe. It might be somewhat unorthodox to praise a doom metal band for a good stage performance, but the minimal movement on stage – if one doesn’t count all the headbanging – befits the group, and their drummer, Saku Moilanen – seemingly lost in his own world while playing and feeling the music – did bring a smile to my face. Red Moon Architect was solid melodic doom metal, definitely worth getting into for their polished vision of their music.


Sleep of Monsters, the second challenger of the evening, was much more of a motley crew; provided I have my basic adding-up right, I counted nine performers on stage, which is quite the crowd, but luckily the Korjaamo stage had plenty of room to fit everyone comfortably. Struggling to adequately compare their style to anything else, SoM sounds unique. On record, something akin to occult/Goth rock with catchy choruses and fine vocal work, yet in live situations, they took on a smidgen of post-rock due to the sheer number of instruments and singers on stage, painting a vivid color in the venue. “Golden Bough” from II – Poison Garden was absolutely fantastic live, making an extremely good use of the two singers’ voices, the richness thus making for a beautiful duet. Much more talkative with the crowd than their predecessor, lead singer Ike Vil was at home on stage and interacting with the audience, cracking jokes and giving thanks to his bandmates. Hard-pressed to think of anything more to say about them, I will say this: they’re damn good at what they do, and what they do is catchy, dark, and extravagant.


Swallow the Sun now well and properly warmed up, it was time for the five members to take their places on stage. Expecting nothing less than perfection on their mixing part, it was very much just that. As said before, Korjaamo’s space (along with a competent sound guy) made for great sound, with not a single instrument underrepresented in the case of StS, and the vocals crisp and the performance well-rehearsed. The drumming by Juuso Raatikainen was like clockwork, with the snare snappy and bass drum punchy. The only criticism I found in the performance is the lackluster usage of lights, which illuminated the whole stage. Being unconvinced of the effectiveness of a fully-lit doom metal band on stage is something of an understatement, when it would work so much better if dimly lit. Being a secondary issue at best, along with it being an extremely subjective opinion, there’s really not anything else to complain about. Swallow the Sun is a long-running band with tons of experience, both on-stage and off. Their audio has been worked up into perfection along the years, along with the overall feel of their performance, mincing no words between songs, simply thanking the audience for participating in their show. Boasting songs like “Empires of Loneliness” from Songs from the North III, “New Moon” and “These Woods Breathe Evil” from New Moon, and “Deadly Nightshade” from The Morning Never Came in their setlist for the evening, there really was no need to thank us, we’d be better off thanking you.


Personally, I feel like it takes a special kind of person to compose and perform doom metal. The depths where the music, stories, and lyrics take you probably can’t be just put onto paper without any accompanying feeling. The extreme hopelessness given thought, then form, and finally performed on records and to audiences to ease that. I’d just like to buy everyone of these people a beer or twenty and sit in silence for a while since, y’know, alcohol is technically a solution, right?

SONATA ARCTICA w/ DARK SARAH @ The Circus, Helsinki, 24.01.2018


Sonata Arctica’s Ninth Hour World Tour in Finland, 2018, with Dark Sarah as opener.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig report from Tampere in English here tomorrow.
Lue raportti Tampereelta suomeksi huomenna täällä.

SONATA ARCTICA w/ DARK SARAH – Pakkahuone, Tampere, 21.01.2018 (English)


Sonata Arctica’s tour in support of The Ninth Hour (2016) ended last fall and the next album isn’t on the horizon yet, but the Kemi guys decided to pull out something special for the Finnish fans and perform the 5-song stalker series known as the Caleb Saga on The Winter Chapter Tour. Musicalypse caught the melodic metallers, along with the support band Dark Sarah, on the chilly evening of January 21st, 2018, at Pakkahuone in Tampere (photos from The Circus in Helsinki on Jan 24th).

Check out the full gallery from Helsinki HERE!
Lue suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ!
Listen to the setlists here (note: missing Dark Sarah’s latest single, “Trespasser”):

I haven’t managed to catch Sonata Arctica live since the final show of the Pariah’s Child tour 2½ years ago – either they haven’t come by close enough or I’ve been somewhere else. Luckily our schedules finally met, because missing out on a full performance of the Caleb Saga would’ve been a real bummer, particularly after not getting to see the band play “The Power of One” on last year’s tour.


The night was opened by Dark Sarah, a symphonic metal act fronted by ex-Amberian Dawn singer Heidi Parviainen that had already gathered a sizeable audience at the venue. To be honest, I didn’t really have big expectations for the band, because since I got into other styles of metal and rock after the Nightwish phase I had in my teens, I’ve mostly steered clear of music with classical vocals and big orchestrations. The 45-minute set started off pretty well though, as Parviainen’s vocals stayed at reasonable heights and her enunciation was clear right from the start. “Hunting the Dreamer” caught me off-guard with its partially Finnish lyrics, and Erkka Korhonen (Raskasta Joulua/Northern Kings) delivered a cool guitar solo.

However, it wasn’t until Parviainen introduced ex-Charon vocalist JP Leppäluoto on male vocals that things truly got rolling, both musically and in terms of audience excitement. Leppäluoto had the crowd in the palm of his hand, thanks to his charismatic and commanding presence, and it almost felt like people had arrived early just to see him. His rich baritone meshed nicely with Parviainen’s soprano voice, and they had a good chemistry on stage. Dark Sarah demonstrated a varied mix of sounds, from the traditional shred riffing of “Evil Roots” to the theatrics of “Dance with the Dragon”, and there were even some slightly doomy moments. It was cool that the guitars weren’t merely chugging along in the background (*cough* modern Nightwish *cough*), and the music was played with a heavier touch than most bands in the genre – there was even a quick blastbeat on “Ash Grove”. The only thing that slightly bugged me was that they had no keyboardist on stage, relying heavily on piped-in orchestrations instead, although to be fair, even bands with keyboardists tend to do that. While Dark Sarah isn’t the kind of stuff I’d listen to at home, they put on a great show and are undoubtedly above average in their category of music.

1. Breath
2. Island in the Mist
3. Hunting the Dreamer
4. Trespasser
5. Evil Roots
6. Dance with the Dragon
7. Ash Grove
8. Silver Tree
9. Aquarium


After half an hour of waiting, Sonata Arctica finally made their presence known, starting with “Shitload of Money”, which was accompanied by bursts of fog; a new element in the band’s live show for me. “Shitload” isn’t known as a favorite among SA fans (yours truly included), so it was far from a conventional opener, and to make things weirder, it was played as an abridged version where about a minute of the song was cut out. Maybe even the members thought the song was overly long and repetitive? There was also a moment of unintentional comedy when Tony Kakko messed up a few lines in the beginning while the taped backing vocals were naturally spot on, which provided an amusing collision.

Unlike “Shitload of Money”, “Paid in Full” and “Black Sheep” are tried-and-true staples that went over well as expected. The latter even included a cool 3-way unison between Elias Viljanen, Henrik Klingenberg, and Pasi Kauppinen on guitar, keyboards, and bass, respectively. I noticed that Kakko was skipping some high notes and singing the most challenging parts an octave lower, but not having any recent Sonata gig experiences to compare the performance with, I attributed this to Father Time finally starting to catch up with him. However, we got an explanation soon afterwards: while introducing “FullMoon”, Kakko stated that his voice was “in shambles” and asked the crowd to sing the intro for him. People obliged, and there was another participatory moment when the band stopped playing before each ‘runaway’ in the chorus, letting the crowd take over.

Finally it was time for the Caleb saga, which Kakko said they’d play in a “chronological order”, but apparently this referred to the order the songs were recorded in and not the storyline. Either way, “The End of This Chapter” had been on my personal bucketlist of Sonata songs I’d love to experience live for years, so hearing it at last was a special moment. The live versions on Songs of Silence (2002) and For the Sake of Revenge (2006) have never totally satisfied my appetite, because the beautiful piano outro was left out on both, but this time it was played, and Viljanen even got an extra guitar solo to boot. I surely hope it won’t take the band another 12 years to dust off this gem again!

“Don’t Say a Word” had been the closing song at all the Sonata shows I’d seen up until now, so it was refreshing to hear it in the middle without the Vodka ending for once. It also brought more balance into the set, because the rest of the songs in the saga aren’t as energetic or straightforward. “Caleb” got a deserved comeback, and so did “Juliet”, but the latter in particular was somewhat hindered by Kakko’s illness, since it includes so many screams that he had to tone down to preserve his voice. “Till Death’s Done Us Apart” finished this portion of the show nicely, as it’s still my favorite from The Ninth Hour. At the very end, Kakko whispered “to be continued in the next issue”, possibly hinting at another sequel on the next album. We shall see if this turns out to be true…

After five songs played back-to-back with no interrupting speeches in between, Kakko started talking about “White Pearl, Black Oceans” and how the band wrote a sequel for it on the latest album. When he asked, “How about we play those two songs too?”, he got a resounding yes from the audience. I’ve seen Sonata play the first “WPBO” a couple of times live already, but as one of the band’s best compositions, the story of the lighthouse keeper never gets old. While the sequel is good enough and provided a nice closure, hearing it right after the original was mildly unflattering – it’s just hard to live up to such an immortal classic.

After the audience had been treated to this couple of epics, the band members left the stage, with the exception of Kakko, who sat down and stayed to chat with the crowd, leaving out the traditional encore break. He said it was time to get back to normal order, and Sonata sure did, as “Tallulah” was up next. I think I actually heard someone in the crowd moan “no!” when the familiar piano intro started – though the reaction was amusing, it is a bit of a shame that so many quality ballads often get neglected in favor of “Tallulah”, because it’s the most famous one. However, after a big chunk of complex material, conceding to the mainstream fans was acceptable. This was followed by “The Wolves Die Young” and Kakko’s now-traditional speech thanking the fans for keeping live music alive. Since “Don’t Say a Word” had already been played, “Life” had the honor of closing the show with the Vodka outro tacked on to the end. Ending with a new(ish) tune wasn’t a great idea though, as I saw multiple people walking out when it was announced, and it took the crowd a while to get on board with the “la-la-la” singalong. I appreciate the band’s effort at shaking things up, but maybe “The Cage” would’ve been a more apt choice for the occasion.


Although Tony Kakko’s voice had succumbed to the freezing Finnish weather and wasn’t up to par as usual, it didn’t stop him from giving an energized performance, and the rest of the band was in good spirits as well, probably helped by the appreciative audience. The show was close to sold out, so clearly the guys had been missed in Tampere. The snare drum sound was quite tinny at first (triggering a déjà vu from the last time I saw the guys at Pakkahuone) and Viljanen’s guitar briefly went mute once, but it was good to hear the band members actually singing backing vocals for once instead of being drowned out completely by the backing tracks. Although I didn’t agree with every song pick, Sonata Arctica’s show had a good general structure: warming up with a bunch of singles and hits, offering a big dose of epic material, and rounding things off with a few more crowd-pleasers. The absence of the annoyingly repetitive “I Have a Right” was a breath of fresh air, and it was a pleasure to get a set with such a strong focus on storytelling-oriented, progressive songs, because so many of those are among the band’s best works. Although the Sonata sound has morphed in various ways over time, having some lyrical continuity on the albums is a nice thing, because it makes theme shows like these possible. If the band ever decides to play the “Wildfire” trilogy in full or perform all the wolf songs in one show, count me in!

Intro (Can-Can [“The Gallop” – Jacques Offenbach])
1. Shitload of Money
2. Paid in Full
3. Black Sheep
4. FullMoon
5. The End of This Chapter
6. Don’t Say a Word
7. Caleb
8. Juliet
9. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans
11. White Pearl, Black Oceans pt. II: By the Grace of the Ocean
12. Tallulah
13. The Wolves Die Young
14. Life (with Vodka outro)

Photos: Miia Collander

SONATA ARCTICA w/ DARK SARAH – Pakkahuone, Tampere, 21.01.2018 (suomeksi)


Sonata Arctican The Ninth Houria (2016) promonnut kiertue päättyi viime syksynä, eikä uutta albumia ole vielä horisontissa, mutta Kemin pojat päättivät tarjota suomalaisille faneilleen jotain ainutlaatuista ja soittaa Caleb-saagana tunnetun viiden kappaleen stalkkerisarjan kokonaisuudessaan The Winter Chapter Tourilla. Musicalypse tarkasti melometallistien ja lämppäribändi Dark Sarahin soittokunnon tammikuun 21. päivän koleana iltana Tampereen Pakkahuoneella.


Katso koko galleria TÄÄLTÄ!
Read in English HERE!
Kuuntele settilistat tästä (huom! ei sisällä Dark Sarahin “Trespasseria”):

En ole onnistunut bongaamaan Sonata Arcticaa livenä sitten 2½ vuotta sitten soitetun Pariah’s Child -kiertueen päätöskeikan – joko bändi ei ole keikkaillut riittävän lähellä tai olen itse ollut jossain muualla. Onneksi aikataulumme sopivat vihdoin yhteen, sillä Caleb-saagan esityksen missaaminen olisi ollut kurjaa, varsinkin kun en päässyt kuulemaan “The Power of Onea” livenä viime vuoden kiertueella.


Illan avasi entisen Amberian Dawn -solisti Heidi Parviaisen luotsaama sinfoninen metalliyhtye Amberian Dawn. Rehellisesti sanottuna en odottanut bändiltä mitään suuria, sillä teinivuosieni Nightwish-vaiheen jälkeen polkuni johti muiden genrejen pariin, enkä ole sittemmin juurikaan innostunut klassista laulua ja isoja orkesterisovituksia sisältävästä musiikista. 45-minuuttinen setti alkoi kuitenkin melko hyvin, sillä Parviaisen laulu pysyi järjellisissä korkeuksissa ja sanoista sai kohtuullisesti selvää. “Hunting the Dreamerin” suomeksi lauletut osuudet tulivat puun takaa, ja Raskasta Joulua/Northern Kings -mies Erkka Korhonen luritteli kitarallaan menemään mukavasti.

Niin bändi kuin yleisö pääsivät kuitenkin kunnolla vauhtiin vasta Parviaisen esitellessä ex-Charon-laulaja JP Leppäluodon. Mies kietoi yleisön pikkusormensa ympärille karismallaan ja käskevällä olemuksellaan, ja tuntui melkein siltä kuin ihmiset olisivat saapuneet paikalle ajoissa vain nähdäkseen hänet. Hänen täyteläinen baritoninsa soi hienosti yhteen Parviaisen sopraanoäänen kanssa, ja kaksikon välillä oli mainio kemia. Dark Sarah esitteli monenlaisia tyylejä, jotka vaihtelivat “Evil Rootsin” perinteisestä tiluriffittelystä “Dance with the Dragonin” teatraalisuuteen, ja olipa ajoittain mukana viitteitä doomahtavaan suuntaan. Oli miellyttävää, etteivät kitarat vain jynkyttäneet taustalla (*köh* moderni Nightwish *köh*), ja musiikki soi kovakätisemmällä otteella kuin useimpien saman genren bändien – kuultiinpahan “Ash Grovessa” jopa lyhyt blastbeat-osuus. Ainoa hieman häiritsevä seikka oli se, ettei lavalla ollut kosketinsoittajaa, vaan bändi luotti täysin taustanauhalta tulleeseen orkesteriin, vaikka reiluuden nimissä täytyy huomauttaa, että monet kiipparistilla varustetutkin bändit joutuvat turvautumaan nauhojen apuun. Vaikka Dark Sarahin musiikki ei ole sellaista, jota kuuntelisin kotioloissa, ryhmä osoittautui päteväksi lavabändiksi ja on epäilemättä keskivertoa parempi omassa musiikillisessa lokerossaan.


1. Breath
2. Island in the Mist
3. Hunting the Dreamer
4. Trespasser
5. Evil Roots
6. Dance with the Dragon
7. Ash Grove
8. Silver Tree
9. Aquarium


Puolen tunnin odotuksen jälkeen Sonata Arctica astui vihdoin lavalle ja käynnisti “Shitload of Moneyn” savupurkausten saattelemana, mikä oli uusi elementti bändin show’ssa itselleni. “Shitloadia” ei varsinaisesti tunneta SA-fanien (itseni mukaanlukien) suosikkina, joten kyseessä ei ollut se tavallisin avausbiisi. Vielä oudomman vedosta teki se, että kappale soitettiin lyhennettynä versiona, josta oli leikattu vajaa minuutti pois. Kenties itse bändiläisetkin pitivät rallia turhan pitkänä ja yksitoikkoisena? Heti alussa oli myös tarjolla tahatonta komiikkaa, kun Tony Kakko sekoili sanojen kanssa nauhalta tulleiden taustalaulujen ollessa luonnollisesti kohdillaan, minkä seurauksena oli hupaisa yhteentörmäys.

Toisin kuin “Shitload of Money”, “Paid in Full” ja “Black Sheep” ovat takuuvarmoja vakioviisuja, jotka menivät odotetusti hyvin yleisölle läpi. Jälkimmäisessä kuultiin jopa kolmen soittimen unisono Elias Viljasen kitaran, Henrik Klingenbergin koskettimien ja Pasi Kauppisen basson välillä. Huomasin Kakon välttelevän joitain korkeita nuotteja ja laulavan haastavimmat osuudet oktaavia alempaa, mutta koska edellisestä Sonata-keikastani oli jo vierähtänyt pari vuotta eikä minulla täten ollut tuoreempaa vertailukohdetta esitykselle, pistin asian ikääntymisen piikkiin. Selitys kuultiin kuitenkin hyvin pian: “FullMoonia” alustaessaan Kakko kertoi äänensä olevan “muroilla” ja pyysi yleisöä laulamaan intron puolestaan. Väki teki työtä käskettyä, ja myöhemmin luvassa oli toinen osallistava hetki, kun bändi lopetti soittamisen ennen jokaista “run away” -kohtaa kertosäkeessä ja antoi yleisön hoitaa homman.

Vihdoin ja viimein päästiin käsiksi Caleb-saagaan, jonka Kakko ilmoitti bändin soittavan “kronologisessa järjestyksessä”, mutta ilmeisesti tällä viitattiin kappaleiden julkaisujärjestykseen itse tarinan sijaan. “The End of This Chapter” oli ollut jo vuosia henkilökohtaisella toivomuslistallani Sonata-biiseistä, jotka haluaisin kokea livenä, joten sen kuuleminen oli erityinen hetki. Songs of Silencen (2002) ja For the Sake of Revengen (2006) liveversiot eivät ole koskaan täysin tyydyttäneet minua, sillä studioversion nättiä pianolopetusta ei kuulla kummassakaan, mutta tällä kertaa se soitettiin ja Viljanen sai vieläpä ylimääräisen kitarasoolon. Ei voi kuin toivoa, ettei tällaisen timantin seuraavaa esitystä tarvitse odottaa kahtatoista vuotta!

“Don’t Say a Word” oli tähän asti toiminut päätöksenä jokaiselle näkemälleni Sonata-keikalle, joten oli virkistävää kuulla se kerrankin puolivälissä ilman Vodka-lopetusta. Se myös tasapainotti settiä, sillä saagan muut osat eivät ole yhtä energisiä tai suoraviivaisia. “Caleb” sai ansaitun paluun, kuten myös “Juliet”, mutta varsinkin jälkimmäistä hieman varjosti Kakon sairaus, sillä hän joutui jarruttelemaan biisin lukuisissa huutokohdissa säilyttääkseen äänensä. “Till Death’s Done Us Apart” paketoi tämän osuuden keikasta mallikkaasti, sillä kyseessä on yhä suosikkini The Ninth Hourilta. “Jatkuu ensi numerossa,” Kakko kuiskasi lopuksi, viitaten mahdollisesti seuraavalta levyltä löytyvään jatko-osaan. Se, toteutuuko tämä, jäänee nähtäväksi…

Viiden peräkkäin ilman välispiikkejä soitetun kappaleen jälkeen Kakko alkoi puhua “White Pearl, Black Oceansista” ja sen tuoreimmalta levyltä löytyvästä jatko-osasta. “Mitä jos soitettaisiin vielä nekin putkeen?” mies kysyi ja sai ylivoimaisesti myöntävän vastauksen. Olen kuullut “WPBO:n” jo pari kertaa livenä, mutta yhtenä bändin parhaista sävellyksistä tämä majakanvartijan tarina ei koskaan vanhene. Vaikka jatko-osakin on ihan hyvä ja tarjosi mukavan päätöksen, sen kuuleminen heti alkuperäisen perään ei ollut hirveän imartelevaa, sillä kuolemattoman klassikon asettamaa rimaa on vaikea ylittää.

Kun yleisölle oli tarjoiltu pari eeposta, bändin jäsenet lähtivät lavalta lukuun ottamatta Kakkoa, joka istahti alas ja jäi rupattelemaan, jättäen perinteisen encorea edeltävän tauon pois. Hänen mukaansa oli aika palata normaaliin päiväjärjestykseen, ja näin tehtiinkin, sillä seuraavana oli vuorossa “Tallulah”. Olin kuulevinani jonkun voihkaisevan pettyneenä “eih” tutun pianointron alkaessa – vaikka reaktio olikin huvittava, on sääli että “Tallulah” päätyy niin usein settiin monien laatuballadien kustannuksella tunnettuudensa takia. Toisaalta monen monimutkaisen teoksen jälkeen myönnytykset valtavirran faneille olivat ihan hyväksyttäviä. Tämän jälkeen kuultiin “The Wolves Die Young” ja Kakon perinteiseksi muodostunut kiitospuhe faneille elävän musiikin hengissä pitämisestä. Koska “Don’t Say a Word” oli kuultu jo, “Life” sai kunnian päättää keikan pakollisella Vodka-hassuttelulla höystettynä. Uude(hko)lla viisulla lopettaminen ei tosin ollut mahtava idea, sillä monet alkoivat poistumaan biisin käynnistyessä, ja yleisöllä kesti vähän aikaa lämmetä “la la laa”-yhteislaululle. Yritys hyvä kymmenen bändin osalta, mutta ehkä “The Cage” olisi ollut tilanteeseen sopivampi valinta.


Vaikka Tony Kakon ääni olikin antanut periksi Suomen hyytävälle säälle eikä ollut ihan parhaassa terässä, tämä ei estänyt häntä pistämästä energiaansa peliin. Myös muu bändi oli hyvällä tuulella, todennäköisesti arvostavan yleisön ansiosta. Keikka oli lähes loppuunmyyty, joten poikia oli selvästi kaivattu Nääsvillessä. Virvelisoundi oli alkukeikasta ihmeellistä kuminaa (kuin déjà vuna edellisestä Sonata-keikastani Pakkahuoneella) ja Viljasen kitarasta katosi ääni hetkellisesti, mutta oli hyvä kerrankin kuulla bändin jäsenten oikeasti laulavan stemmoja taustanauhojen alle hautautumisen sijaan. Vaikka ihan kaikki biisivalinnat eivät menneet mielestäni nappiin, Sonata Arctican keikalla oli hyvä draaman kaari: ensin lämmittelyä muutaman sinkkubiisin ja hitin merkeissä, iso annos eeppistä materiaalia setin runkona ja lopuksi päälle vielä pari yleisöä miellyttävää biisiä. Ankean junnaavan “I Have a Rightin” puuttuminen kokonaan oli helpotus, ja oli hienoa kuulla vahvasti tarinankerrontaan ja progeiluun taipuvaisiin biiseihin keskittynyt setti, sillä monet niistä kuuluvat bändin upeimpiin teoksiin. Vaikka Sonata-soundi on muovaantunut monin tavoin vuosien mittaan, pieni lyyrinen jatkumo albumien välillä on kiva juttu, sillä se mahdollistaa tällaiset teemakeikat. Jos bändi päättää joskus soittaa koko “Wildfire”-trilogian tai kaikki susibiisit yhdessä setissä, aion olla paikalla!

Intro (Can Can)
1. Shitload of Money
2. Paid in Full
3. Black Sheep
4. FullMoon
5. The End of This Chapter
6. Don’t Say a Word
7. Caleb
8. Juliet
9. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans
11. White Pearl, Black Oceans pt. II: By the Grace of the Ocean
12. Tallulah
13. The Wolves Die Young
14. Life (+ Vodka-outro)

Kuvat (Helsinki): Miia Collander

METAL CRANE FESTIVAL – Nosturi, Helsinki, 19-20.01.2018 (English)


The Tampere-based Nem Agency is on a righteous path. Their artist roster is full of prominent names from Finland as well as abroad, and for example, their Metallihelvetti festival in Viikinsaari, Tampere, has already cemented their place in the Finnish festival summer season. Nem’s latest creation, Metal Crane Festival, held for the first time this year, caters to the needs of a mid-sized club festival, but as a specialty, the event took place in Helsinki and Jyväskylä simultaneously: the bands that took the stage in Helsinki on Friday performed in Jyväskylä on Saturday, and vice versa.

Helsinki’s Friday lineup consisted of Kalmah and Catamenia, both being long-distance runners from Oulu; Brymir, a folk/death metal act originally from Sipoo; and a more recent melodic death styled contender, Among the Prey from Jyväskylä. On Saturday, Nosturi hosted Harakiri for the Sky, a rising black metal act from Austria, the Tampere-based ‘samurai metal’ group Whispered, Bloodred Hourglass from Mikkeli, and The Hypothesis, originally from Kouvola. Originally, the Helsinki event was to be held in Nosturi’s downstairs bar, but since pre-sale tickets were sold out several weeks before the festival, the festival was understandably moved to the upstairs main stage.

Lue suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ!
Full gallery HERE.


Day 1
I arrived at Nosturi with little time to spare, as Among the Prey was set to kick things off only 15 minutes later. Fortunately there was no queue at the door, but consequentially, as the band began their set at 20:20, only twenty or maybe thirty people were present upstairs. The band, all of them being experienced players, didn’t seem to mind and went through with their 30-minute set with a good amount of intensity. They weren’t at all familiar to me beforehand, and I probably wouldn’t listen to their stuff at home, but the band’s metalcore-ish melodic death metal set the mood nicely for things to come. I still believe that Among the Prey did themselves a bit of a disservice by playing a cover, Lamb of God’s “Ruin”, as their last track, as it seemed to be their only familiar tune with the audience. However, bonus points go to the drummer, Atte “Anzelmosm” Palokangas’ ever-so-bushy and curly hair!

Brymir clearly intrigued the audience – at 21:10 the space between the stage and mixing booth was practically full. The band has played their symphonic folk/melo-death hybrid for over 10 years, but as the brothers Joona and Janne Björkroth have primarily garnered their fame in Battle Beast, Brymir has had to function as their second band. Janne wasn’t present on Friday at all, so their orchestrations were played from a backing track in full, and a friend of mine told me that seeing Joona on guitar has become increasingly rare. Despite the difficulties with members, the show was a blast – the last time I’ve seen Brymir live was over a year ago when they were warming up Ne Obliviscaris, but the progress has been huge in such a small time. Their bassist, Jarkko Niemi, was hilarious with his range of facial expressions, vocalist Viktor Gullichsen his usual cheerful self, and drummer Patrik Fält as inhumanly precise with his playing as always. As a nice surprise, Fält had picked “Unconquerable” from the debut album to be included in the set – I haven’t heard it in a while. A new song played mid-set, “Ride On, Spirit!”, sounded like a natural continuance to Slayer of Gods. Even if the orchestrations seemed to be too loud at times, the sounds were excellent throughout and the band seemed to be familiar with Nosturi’s lighting tech – it was a good-sounding and looking show! All-in-all, Brymir has everything they need to go far with the concept. I just wish that the brothers Björkroth would stop playing that power metal thing…

Third up was Catamenia from Oulu. Despite the fact that they’ve recorded nine full-length albums and three compilations for Massacre Records over the course of 20+ years, I was pretty sure that I hadn’t, at least knowingly, heard a single track from them before this show. The set was kicked off with a couple of slower tunes, and the band’s melodic black metal – which was mixed almost disturbingly sharp in treble – didn’t quite catch me at first. The set got considerably better as it went on and the band changed languages to Finnish for older songs in the end. Throughout the show, the second guitarist, Sauli Jauhiainen, looked like he’d rather be anywhere else and played his parts with a blank stare towards his fretboard. Vocalist Juha-Matti Perttunen made little to no contact with the audience, and the keyboard player, Jussi Sauvola, had to take care of asking the audience to participate. Perttunen sang his low growling parts convincingly, but his more black metal-ish high screams sounded like he’d only used his throat – I hope his vocal cords had juice left on the following night as well. I hate to say this, but in my books, Catamenia had to settle for last place – there were too many things out of place. I might have been in the minority though, as most of the audience seemed to enjoy the show and a bunch of the band’s long-time fans were clearly present.

Kalmah had the honor of wrapping up the Friday evening. Not too many bands from the halcyon days of Finnish melodeath are left, as Norther called it quits several years ago and Children of Bodom’s discography has been obsolete for a decade, but fortunately Kalmah still goes on – there’s even a new record coming up! Their long career shows on stage in the form of an almost obscene confidence – I wonder if Kalmah has ever delivered a bad show. From the opening track, Seventh Swampsony’s “Pikemaster”, to the usual closer, “Hades”, the band played their songs with ease, and at times, faster than the album versions. Kalmah’s back catalog has produced many live staples like “For the Revolution”, “The Black Waltz”, or “Heroes to Us”, but they’ve usually done some digging as well, and as a fan of their The Black Waltz album, I was immensely satisfied to hear “Defeat” and “Bitter Metallic Side” live for the first time in what seemed like an eternity – they probably haven’t been played since the album’s release tour in 2006. Even “Dance of the Water” was played from their debut, Swamplord – nice! Could you scour through They Will Return and Swampsong next, please? In addition to their musical prowess, an integral part of a Kalmah show are the vocalist Pekka Kokko’s abysmally bad and, at the same time, ingenious jokes, and he didn’t let us down this time either. If there’s something negative to be said, their sounds ranged from moderately good to downright horrible at times, but since I know their songs by heart, it didn’t bother me. A very successful Friday indeed!


Day 2
I had managed to misread Saturday’s timetables and arriving at Nosturi went to the last minute – as I got in to the coatroom, The Hypothesis had already started with their set upstairs. As with last night, frustratingly few people had already found their way to Nosturi for the first band, but I have to say that if the scarce audience was still a bit stiff from last night, so was the band. Compared to the last The Hypothesis show I’ve seen, the vocalist Arttu Seppälä seemed a bit absent and got mixed up with his speeches a couple of times. He also went backstage every time a song had an instrumental section and didn’t seem to really connect with the audience. His growls were on point, though. One might call The Hypothesis’ mid-tempo melo-death as bit dull, but I strongly disagree – the band’s material is full of catchy hooks here and there, and their guitar patterns are pretty complicated, but guitarist duo Asko Sartanen and Juuso Turkki played them with ease. The brand new single, “Illusion Now”, introduced a more dynamic The Hypothesis sound, and its guitar parts had a nice Omnium Gatherum -type of feel to them. The band’s drummer, Rolf Pilve, who has played in about a thousand different bands, including Stratovarius, couldn’t participate on this night, but his stand-in, Antti Rantavuo from Crimson Sun, filled his spot admirably. In the end, even with the slight stiffness, The Hypothesis played a good show and hopefully attracted a bunch of new listeners.

Like Brymir, the Mikkeli-based Bloodred Hourglass has worked towards success for over a decade already. Their debut album, Lifebound, didn’t appeal to me at all, but something mystical has happened afterwards, since their sophomore Where the Oceans Burn and the recent Heal both proved to be top-notch modern metal records. The front of the stage was absolutely packed as BRHG took the stage, and while I’m not a fan of the band per se, I don’t think that anyone present can deny the sheer quality of the show. The band was on fire throughout the set and the audience shouted and clapped without singer Jarkko Koukonen having to ask for it. Speaking of Koukonen – he’s an exceptionally good vocalist with a strong voice, and his experience in performing clearly shows in his stage presence. BRHG also performed with a stand-in member, as guitarist Lauri Silvonen couldn’t attend the band’s four-gig run as warm-up for Harakiri for the Sky. However, help was found near – his brother Eero filled in. The band apparently had had time for only one rehearsal, but one couldn’t have noticed. The setlist was naturally inclined towards Heal’s material, but tracks like “Times We Had” or “The Last of Us” are well worth playing. Representatives of BRHG’s record label had flown from Germany to see the show, and I might imagine them being in awe, as it was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Their development from the first shows I’ve seen in Mikkeli’s Jurassic Rock has been immense. If you have the chance, go and see the band!

If BRHG was great, Whispered managed to be just a tad greater. I’ve said this many times, but it wouldn’t hurt to repeat myself: Whispered has been ready to conquer the world for a long time – now it’s only a matter of their label’s commitment to the cause. The band’s set, familiarly beginning with “Strike!” from their latest album, Metsutan – Songs from the Void, flattened the audience with even more force than usual. Jussi Kallava stepped down from the drummer’s seat before the band’s latest European tour, but his replacement, Ukri Suvilehto, is a world-class player. He blasted through the songs with considerably higher tempos compared to the band’s records, and especially the closing track “Bloodred Shores of Enoshima” was borderline technical death metal. It’s also great that Whispered hasn’t forgotten their debut album, Thousand Swords, because while the quality difference compared to the second album, Shogunate Macabre, is rather steep, the album’s title track fit the set nicely. Still, it’s a shame that Shogunate Macabre’s “Jikininki” has been dropped from their usual set. Overall, Whispered’s show was lethal enough to make me think that Wintersun must’ve been in real trouble with these guys during their tour together.

As the festival’s final act, the only foreign band, Harakiri for the Sky, took the stage. I first found out about them after their second album, Aokigahara, making me an instant fan. I actually took a head start in seeing them live this week, in Tampere on Thursday, so the band’s Nosturi show didn’t offer any surprises, but compared to the Tampere show, the atmosphere was ten times better – the Tampere audience was pretty quiet and the show’s lighting was one of the dullest ever. If there’s something that I disagree on with the band, it is the need to open their set with “Calling the Rain” from their third album, III: Trauma, as the song is slightly too slow and long to be played first. From “Funeral Dreams” onward, the set was expectantly crushing. The band’s total lack of contact with the audience and especially vocalist J.J.’s indifferent performing style created some funky contrast with the previous bands, and when I had to take a bathroom break mid-song, this one gentleman approached me and asked if I’d seen the band before, and why J.J. was “so messed up.” I didn’t want to be rude and ask him if this was his first black metal show. The band came on stage, played nearly an hour and a half of their best material and left – perfect! After last summer’s Finnish shows, the band’s drummer had apparently changed, which was only a good thing, as the previous drummer dropped tempo well over 20 beats per minute on every blastbeat section – on this night the songs were kept together flawlessly. “Jhator”, the Aokigahara masterpiece, concluded Harakiri’s main set before a short backstage break and “My Bones to the Sea” was the evening’s final song. As a whole, I enjoyed the show to its fullest, but a good deal of the audience seemed to disagree, as almost half of the people present had made their way downstairs or home before the end. If black metal categorically divides people, Harakiri for the Sky seems to serve an excellent example of this.

Metal Crane Festival 2018 was a really successful event already on its first run-through. The lineup was such a relevant combination of older and newer bands, and the 25€ 2-day tickets were practically a steal. By moving the festival to Nosturi’s upstairs would’ve allowed for removal of the age limit, but since lately the amount of minors attending shows has been really small, I believe not separating the bar area was the right way to go. What’s really ingenious was the idea of switching lineups between Helsinki and Jyväskylä, as Finland is a country of long distances, and it’s not nearly as big of a deal to travel from Oulu to Jyväskylä to see a show as it would to Helsinki. The only negative remark goes once again to Nosturi’s bar pricing – the prices were once again raised, and 7,50€ for a can of Lapin Kulta is beginning to be ridiculously expensive. As of the writing of this report, the festival had already announced its return next year, so one can enjoy quality music next January as well. We’ll see you then!

Photos: Miia Collander

METAL CRANE FESTIVAL 2018 – Nosturi, Helsinki, 19-20.01.2018 (suomeksi)


Tamperelainen ohjelmatoimisto Nem Agency on hyvällä asialla. Artistirosteri pullistelee metallin tämänhetkisiä kärkinimiä kotimaasta sekä ulkomailta, minkä lisäksi esimerkiksi Viikinsaaressa elokuussa järjestettävän Saarihelvetti-festivaalin voidaan sanoa jo vakiinnuttaneen paikkansa suomalaisessa festarikesässä vain muutaman vuoden jälkeen. Myöskin Nemin masinoima, tänä vuonna ensimmäistä kertaa järjestetty Metal Crane Festival vastaa yleisön tarpeeseen keskikokoisesta klubifestivaalista, mutta erikoisuutena festari tapahtui samanaikaisesti Helsingissä ja Jyväskylässä niin, että Helsingissä perjantai-iltana esiintyneet bändit nousivat lauantaina lavalle Jyväskylässä ja päinvastoin.

Helsingissä perjantain ohjelmaan kuuluivat pohjoisen pitkän linjan tekijät Kalmah ja Catamenia, Sipoon folk/death-jyrä Brymir sekä jyväskyläläinen tuoreempi melodeath-tapaus Among the Prey. Lauantaina Nosturin lavan puolestaan valloittivat kovassa nousussa oleva itävaltalainen black metal –akti Harakiri for the Sky osana neljän keikan Suomen-kiertuettaan, Tampereen samuraimetalliretkue Whispered, Mikkelistä ponnistava Bloodred Hourglass sekä alun perin kouvolalainen The Hypothesis. Alun perin Metal Crane Festivalin piti Helsingin päässä tapahtua vain Nosturin alakerrassa, mutta ennakkoliput myytiin loppuun useampi viikko ennen h-hetkeä, joten tapahtuma päätettiin täysin aiheellisesti siirtää yläkertaan.

Read in English HERE!
Galleria TÄÄLLÄ.


Nosturille siirtyminen meni hieman viime tippaan, sillä päästyäni paikalle Among the Preyn soittoaikaan oli matkaa vain vartin verran. Ovella ei kuitenkaan onneksi ollut laisinkaan jonoa, mutta tämän seurauksena yläkerrassa oli bändin noustessa lavalle kello 20:20 vain pari-kolmekymmentä ihmistä paikalla. Tekijämiehistä koostuva bändi ei kuitenkaan antanut asian häiritä vaan paukutti puolituntisen settinsä hyvällä intensiteetillä. Allekirjoittaneelle Among the Prey oli ennakkoon täysin tuntematon, enkä välttämättä kuuntelisi bändin tuotantoa kotioloissa, mutta livenä bändin metalcorensekainen melodeath toimi mainiona aloituksena illalle. Bändi tosin teki itselleen pienimuotoisen karhunpalveluksen soittamalla viimeiseksi Lamb of Godin ”Ruinin”, joka oli keikan mittaan mukavasti kasvaneelle yleisöllekin selkeästi ainoa etukäteen tuttu biisi. Erityispisteet rumpali Atte ”Anzelmosm” Palokankaan aina yhtä tuuheille hiuksille!

Brymir selkeästi kiinnosti helsinkiläisyleisöä – yhdeksältä illalla lavan ja mikseripöydän väli oli pakattu lähes täyteen porukkaa. Bändi on veivannut folkahtavaa sinfonista melodeathiaan jo yli kymmenen vuotta, mutta on joutunut jäämään jäsenistönsä kirjoissa hieman kakkosbändin asemaan, sillä veljespari Joona ja Janne Björkroth ovat viime aikoina hankkineet mainetta pääasiallisesti Battle Beastin riveissä. Jannea ei paikalla nähty perjantaina laisinkaan orkestraatioiden tullessa kokonaisuudessaan taustanauhalta, ja kaverini tiesi kertoa, että Joonan näkeminen kitarassakin on nykypäivänä harvinaisuus. Miehistöongelmista huolimatta keikka oli täysosuma – näin Brymirin viimeksi Ne Obliviscarisin lämppärinä reilu vuosi sitten, ja tuntui että niistäkin ajoista oli menty hurjasti eteenpäin. Bändin basisti Jarkko Niemi oli ilmeikäs showmies, vokalisti Viktor Gullichsen totutun hyväntuulinen itsensä ja rumpali Patrik Fält yhtä epäinhimillisen tarkka soitossaan kuin aina. Mukavana yllätyksenä mies oli valikoinut settiin debyyttilevy Breathe Fire into the Sunin (2011) avausraita ”Unconquerablen”, jota ei ole livenä hetkiseen kuultu. Puolivälissä soitettu uusi kappale ”Ride On, Spirit!” kuulosti varsin mainiolta jatkolta Slayer of Gods -levylle (2016). Soundit olivat läpi keikan priimaa, minkä lisäksi bändi oli selkeästi Nosturin valomiehelle ennalta tuttu: hyvältä näytti ja kuulosti, mitä nyt orkestraatiot olivat ajoittain hiukan turhan pinnassa. Kaiken kaikkiaan Brymirillä olisi kaikki mahdollisuudet mennä pitkälle konseptillaan. Lopettaisivatpa ne Björkrothit vaan sen power metalin soittamisen…

Kolmantena vuorossa oli oululainen Catamenia. Harvinaista kyllä, en ollut ainakaan tietoisesti onnistunut kuulemaan tämän yli 20 vuotta saksalaiselle Massacre Recordsille levyttäneen, yhdeksän pitkäsoittoa ja kolme kokoelmaa julkaisseen bändin ensimmäistäkään kappaletta aiemmin. Liikkeelle lähdettiin parilla hitaammalla kappaleella, eikä bändin turhan repiväksi miksattu melodinen black metal tempaissut saman tien mukaansa. Setti kuitenkin parani selkeästi keikan edetessä, ja loppupuolella soitettiinkin vanhempia suomenkielisiä biisejä. Kakkoskitaristi Sauli Jauhiainen näytti läpi keikan siltä, että olisi mieluummin ollut missä tahansa muualla, sillä mies soitti osuutensa täysin ilmeettömästi ja otelautaansa tuijotellen. Vokalisti Juha-Matti Perttunen otti kontaktia yleisöön vähänlaisesti, ja synisti Jussi Sauvola hoiti suurimman osan yleisön huudattamisesta. Perttusen matalat murinavokaalit lähtivät vakuuttavasti, mutta blackmetallisemmat rääkynät kuulostivat aivan siltä kuin ne olisi tehty täysin kurkulla – toivottavasti äänihuulissa riitti tehoa vielä lauantain Jyväskylän-keikallakin. Catamenialle lankesikin valitettavasti illan jumbon palkinto, sillä kokonaisuus jäi vaisuksi. Yleisö kuitenkin selkeästi piti näkemästään ja paikalla oli selkeästi paljon bändin pitkäaikaisia faneja, joten olin tässä todennäköisesti vähemmistössä – olisi varmaan pitänyt pyöritellä levyjä ennakkoon.

Perjantai-illan sai kunniakkaasti päättää Catamenian tavoin Oulussa majapaikkaansa pitävä Kalmah. Suomalaisen melodeathin kulta-ajoista ei ole enää kovin montaa bändiä jäljellä Northerin lopetettua ja Children of Bodomin oltua täysin jonninjoutavaa huttua jo useamman levyn ajan, mutta Kalmah jaksaa onneksi porskuttaa – kohta on kuulemma tulossa taas uutta levyäkin! Pitkä ura näkyy lavalla miltei hävyttömänä itsevarmuutena: onkohan bändi urallaan soittanut ainuttakaan huonoa keikkaa? Biisit lähtivät setin avanneesta, tuoreimman Seventh Swamphonyn (2013) ”Pikemasterista” aina debyyttilevyn hittibiisi ”Hadekseen” asti totutun vaivattomasti ja paikoitellen levyversioita nopeammin. Vuosien varrella keikkavakioiksi muodostuneiden ”For the Revolutionin”, ”The Black Waltzin” tai ”Heroes to Usin” lisäksi bändi on aina nostanut harvemmin kuultua materiaalia mukaan settiin, ja tällä kerralla nimenomaan The Black Waltzin (2006) suurena fanina lämmitti mieltä kuulla sen avauskaksikko ”Defeat” sekä ”Bitter Metallic Side” livenä ensimmäistä kertaa sitten levyn julkaisukiertueen. Debyytiltäkin soitettiin ”Dance of the Water” – kova! Seuraavaksi sitten vaan kaivelemaan They Will Returnia (2002) ja Swampsongia (2003), joohan? Musiikillisen annin lisäksi Kalmah-keikkoihin kuuluvat olennaisena osana vokalisti Pekka Kokon umpisurkean nerokkaat välispiikkivitsit, joissa oltiin tälläkin kertaa asian ytimessä (piña coladaa – piha kolataan). Catamenian Perttunen plagioi tietämättään Kokkoa hetkeä aiemmin kommentoidessaan Etelä-Suomen hiihtokelejä, sillä Kokko heitti käytännössä samaa herjaa vuosi sitten Kalmahin lämpätessä Thyrfingiä. Jos jotain negatiivista keikasta pitää löytää, Kalmahin soundit olivat paikoitellen aikamoista puuroa. Onneksi biisit osasi kuitenkin ulkoa. Kaiken kaikkiaan erittäin onnistunut perjantai!


Lauantaina meinasi tulla oikeasti kiire paikalle, sillä olin onnistunut lukemaan päivän aikatauluja väärin, ja paikalle ehdittiin päivän ensimmäisenä esiintyneen The Hypothesisin jo veivatessa ensimmäistä kappalettaan. Eilispäivän tapaan paikalle oli ehtinyt harmillisen vähän kuulijoita, mutta täytyy sanoa että jos yleisö oli edellisillasta vielä hieman kohmeessa, niin oli bändikin. Edelliseen nähtyyn Hypothesis-keikkaan verrattuna vokalisti Antti Seppälä vaikutti hieman poissaolevalta ja heitteli samoja välispiikkejä useampaan otteeseen. Mies myös hävisi lavalta kaikissa pidemmissä instrumentaalikohdissa eikä muutenkaan juuri ottanut kontaktia yleisöön. Murinavokaalit kuitenkin lähtivät vakuuttavasti. Joku voisi väittää The Hypothesisin keskitempoista melodeathia tylsäksi, mutta olen eri mieltä: biiseihin on ujutettu mukavasti pieniä koukkuja ja koukeroisia kitarakuvioita, jotka kepittäjäkaksikko Asko Sartanen – Juuso Turkki toisti vakuuttavasti myös livenä. Vastikään julkaistu ”Illusion Now” –sinkku esitteli aiempaa dynaamisemman bändin, joka toi kitaraosuuksillaan paikoitellen mieleen Omnium Gatherumin. Bändin vakituinen rumpali, noin tuhannessa bändissä soittava Rolf Pilve ei ollut päässyt keikalle, mahdollisesti eräänkin Stratovariuksen aiheuttamien kiireiden vuoksi, mutta Crimson Sun -kannuttaja Antti Rantavuo paikkasi miestä ammattitaitoisesti. Lievästä jäisyydestä huolimatta The Hypothesis kuitenkin selvisi keikasta kunnialla ja jäi toivottavasti keikan aikana kasvaneen yleisön mieliin.

Mikkeliläinen Bloodred Hourglass on edellisillan Brymirin tapaan tehnyt töitä jo päälle vuosikymmenen ajan. Debyyttilevy Lifebound (2012) ei kolahtanut oikein mistään kohtaa, mutta soitto- ja sävellystaidoille tapahtui jotain mystistä tämän jälkeen, sillä kakkoslevy Where the Oceans Burn (2015) sekä tuore Heal (2017) ovat todella kovatasoisia moderneja metallilevyjä. Yleisötila oli pakkautunut ääriään myöten täyteen bändin astuessa lavalle, ja vaikken varsinaisesti bändin fani olekaan, keikan kovatasoisuutta on tuskin kenenkään paikalla olleen mahdollista kiistää. Bändi oli alusta loppuun tulessa, ja yleisö huusi ja taputti minkä ehti ilman että vokalisti Jarkko Koukosen tarvitsi sitä pyytää. Koukonen on sanalla sanoen älyttömän kova ja vahvaääninen vokalisti, minkä lisäksi pitkä esiintymiskokemus näkyy lavapresenssissä. Myös BRHG esiintyi tuuraajamiehistöllä, sillä kitaristi Lauri Silvonen ei ollut päässyt mukaan kiertueelle lämppäämään Harakiri for the Skyta, mutta apu löytyi läheltä: hänen veljensä Eero tuurasi miestä kitaran varressa. Treenejä oltiin kuulemma ehditty pitää vain yhdet, mutta näyttihän tuo sujuvan! Settilista pohjasi luonnollisesti Healin materiaaliin, ja kyllähän vaikkapa ”Times We Hadia” tai ”The Last of Usia” kelpaa esitelläkin. Paikalla oli levy-yhtiön edustajia Saksasta, ja voisin kuvitella vakuuttuneisuuden määrän olevan tapissa, sillä keikka oli yksi parhaita pitkään aikaan näkemiäni. BRHG on kehittynyt huimasti ensimmäisistä nähdyistä Jurassic Rock –keikoista kotikaupungissaan. Kannattaa mennä katsomaan!

Jos BRHG oli kova, Whispered onnistui olemaan vielä piirun verran kovempi. Olen sanonut tämän monesti, mutta sanotaan se taas kerran: Whispered on ollut jo pitkään täysin valmis valloittamaan maailman, nyt se on vain taustajoukkojen omistautuneisuudesta kiinni. Uusimman Metsutan – Songs from the Void -levyn biisillä ”Strike!” tuttuun tapaan alkanut setti lanasi yleisön matalaksi tavallistakin tehokkaammin, sillä hiljattain bändistä pois jääneen rumpali Jussi Kallavan bändin viimeisimmällä Euroopan-rundilla korvannut Ukri Suvilehto on maailmanluokan tekijä. Tempot olivat läpi setin levyversioita nopeammat, ja varsinkin setin päättänyt ”Bloodred Shores of Enoshima” jyräsi eteenpäin kuin mikäkin tekninen death metal –biisi. On hienoa, että bändi kehtaa edelleen soittaa ensimmäisen Thousand Swords -levynsä (2010) materiaalia, sillä sävellysten tasoero kakkoslevy Shogunate Macabreen (2014) on melko hurja. Levyn nimibiisi kuitenkin solahti uudempien rallien sekaan mukavasti. Shogunate Macabren ”Jikininkin” tiputtaminen keikkasetistä pois tosin harmittaa. Kaiken kaikkiaan keikka oli sen verran murhaava paketti, että Wintersun on varmasti ollut täysin helisemässä näiden jätkien kanssa viime kiertueella. Vielä kun saman saisi taottua vaikkapa Etelä-Amerikan hevikansan kollektiiviseen kalloon.

Lauantain päätösaktina Nosturin otti haltuun festivaalin ainoa ulkomaanvieras, itävaltalainen Harakiri for the Sky. Bändi osui tutkaan kakkoslevynsä Aokigaharan (2014) aikoihin, ja levy teki kerrasta fanin. Kävin väijymässä miesten livekuntoa jo pari päivää aikaisemmin Tampereella, joten keikka ei tarjonnut suuria yllätyksiä, joskin meininkin oli kertaluokkaa parempi Nosturissa – Tampereen yleisö oli laiskanpuoleista ja valot kuin nuorisotalon bändi-illassa. Ainoa asia, josta olen bändin kanssa eri mieltä, on tarve aloittaa setti kolmoslevy III: Trauman (2016) aloituskappaleella ”Calling the Rain”, sillä biisi on vähän turhan hidas ja pitkä soitettavaksi heti kärkeen. Toisena soitetusta ”Funeral Dreamsista” eteenpäin jälki olikin sitten tasaisen tappavaa. Harakirien totaalinen yleisökontaktin puute ja varsinkin vokalisti J.J:n välinpitämätön esiintymistyyli loi hauskaa kontrastia aiempiin bändeihin nähden, ja kesken keikan vessassa käydessäni eräs herrasmies tuli kyselemään, olinko nähnyt bändin aiemmin ja miksi vokalisti on ”niin sekaisin”. En kehdannut todeta, että mies ei ole tainnut käydä kovin paljoa black metal –keikoilla. Bändi tuli lavalle, soitti lähemmäs puolitoista tuntia parasta tarjontaansa ja poistui – täydellistä! Edelliskesän keikkojen jälkeen bändin rumpali oli ilmeisesti vaihtunut, mikä on yksinomaan hyvä asia, sillä edellinen soittaja tiputti kappaleiden tempoa vähintään parillakymmenellä iskulla aina kun piti soittaa blastbeat-kohta – tänä iltana pakka pysyi täydellisesti kasassa. Setti päätettiin Aokigaharan ”Jhator”-mestariteoksella, jonka jälkeen hetken hengähtämisen jälkeen bändi palasi vielä lavalle soittamaan ”My Bones to the Sean”. Kokonaisuutena nautin täysin siemauksin, mutta osa yleisöstä tuntui olevan eri mieltä, sillä väkimäärästä oli sulanut keikan aikana alakertaan tai kokonaan pois paikalta lähemmäs puolet. Jos black metal jakaa kategorisesti mielipiteitä, Harakiri for the Sky on ilmeisesti tästä malliesimerkki.

Metal Crane Festival vuosimallia 2018 oli heti ensimmäisellä kerralla todella onnistunut tapahtuma. Bändikattaus oli sangen relevantti yhdistelmä vanhempia ja tuoreempia orkestereita, ja 25 euron hintaiset kahden päivän liput olivat käytännössä puoli-ilmaisia. Tapahtuman siirtäminen Nosturin yläkertaan olisi periaatteessa sallinut ikärajan poistamisen, mutta mielestäni päätös pitää K18-leima ovessa oli oikea, sillä viime aikoina Nosturin keikoilla aidattu kalja-alue on kattanut lähes koko yleisötilan, mikä kertoo alaikäisten vähäisestä määrästä. Tapa vaihtaa bändikattausta kahden kaupungin välillä päittäin on yksinkertaisesti nerokas, sillä Suomi on pitkien välimatkojen maa, eikä vaikkapa Oulusta ole yhtään niin kirpaisevaa lähteä Jyväskylään kuin Helsinkiin keikalle. Ainut miinus menee tälläkin kertaa Nosturin baarin tarjonnalle, sillä hintoja oli taas korotettu, ja 7,50 euroa puolen litran Lappari-tölkistä alkaa olla jo oikeasti kipurajoilla. Tätä kirjoittaessa festivaalin jatkosta oli jo tiedotettu, joten laatumusiikista pääsee nauttimaan myös ensi tammikuussa. Nähdään silloin!

Kuvat: Miia Collander

METAL CRANE FESTIVAL @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 19-20.01.2018


Metal Crane Festival at Nosturi, Helsinki 2018.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig report coming tomorrow.
Keikka-arvio tulossa huomenna.



A group of smaller bands from the former municipality of Nastola did something of a comeback two-stop mini-tour in Finland in the beginning of 2018. They stopped first in Helsinki’s Semifinal and went on to Lahti, where it was held in the small (apparently legendary) club of Torvi. Being music lovers of all bands, big or small, it only felt fitting for us to catch the latter show on January 20th and report on it.


The (self-proclaimed) specialist that I am in up-and-coming artists and/or relative unknowns, this trio certainly piqued my interest; research into them revealed long histories, lengthy hiatuses, and only the bare necessities with which to work. Punk/stoner/grunge being the promised styles of music in the promotional flyer, my expectations were set. At least this time I had a good excuse for not being familiar with the bands. Admittedly, I also managed to arrive about halfway through the first band’s set, so my evening’s experience was not 100%. Finding my spot near the stage and with a clear view of the performers, the evening was well underway when I managed to settle in.


Fleshdance was supposedly the punk part of the hype, yet styling themselves as ‘nasty hardcore,’ but seeing as there’s some overlap between these two genres, we’ll move along. Established way back in 1991 and later disbanded during the same decade, only to reform in 2006 and playing their last (known to me) gig in 2009, this troupe has had their share of lengthy pauses. The venue – legendary as it might be – didn’t translate well into FD’s overall sound. Every now and again there was a recognizable snippet of a riff, or a familiar vocal part of a song, but generally it was extremely hard to make out any discernible or memorable sections. With fair certainty they did play “Jäätölömies” from their Macht Frei album (the only one available on Spotify), which had a nice groove to it and, as of the more memorable songs of their limited discography, was rather enjoyable. Due to the scant amount of space on stage, the live show of theirs was pretty much as energetic as it allowed them to be and thus was kind of wasted on a punk/hardcore band.


Kamel – describing themselves as, ‘Desert rock from Nastola’ – was the second troupe to climb on the stage. The ensemble’s performance had a somewhat macho air about it – which worked in their favor – and their songs were a lot more thoughtful and introspective, which was a welcome change of pace from the former. The drums struck pleasingly hard and loud throughout the small venue and there was a sense of danger in the air; something akin to being in a spaghetti western mixed with a Nordic sense of despair was the feeling I got from listening to these guys. The bass reverberating throughout most of their gig and enveloping the space, it seemed to have a positive effect on the concert-goers, as there was much more movement in the club and on stage as well, the musicians seemingly enjoying the controlled chaos. The lead singer, Toni Koskipuro, seemed to have an outstanding amount of control over his voice and the feeling, the color, it gives to the music and was thoroughly enjoyable for that. The band left the stage to a massive wall of bass that left a deep impression from their performance. Listening to Kamel after the fact, they easily transcend the meager milieu of Torvi and thus I hope that they grow a bit bigger than they are right now.


Laughing Sam’s Dolphin was the grunge-section, which did deliver on their promise. Being a venerable band formed in the, ‘late 80s, early 90s,’ to quote their Facebook page, their latest (and only, as far as I know) publication was on a C-cassette, but their songs are on Youtube (link at the end of the article). To make a somewhat reductive analogy, they sounded like a trashier Alice in Chains, which as a shorthand works to describe their overall feel. Their performance was energetic, constrained by the confines of the cramped quarters, clearly cheerful of their comeback. Despite some technical difficulties, their enthusiasm for the reunion shows was clearly evident.


On the whole, this small-timer evening was a fun jaunt, all things considered. Personally, I find the courage to reform a band after almost a decade (or two decades for LSD) to be extremely noteworthy and admirable. The bands brought their own soundscapes out on this evening. If they have a chance to fine-tune their live-sets and put out some more material, I can see any of them becoming more popular. Kamel, to my ear, was the most polished out of the three and I’d really, really like to hear some more desert rock. I’d rock out to it while driving the desert bus.


Fleshdance Spotify-link:
LSD’s (and their singer’s Youtube):

INFECTED MUSHROOM @ The Circus, Helsinki, 19.01.2018


Infected Mushroom at The Circus, Helsinki, 2018.
Photos by Janne Puronen.

LACUNA COIL – 02 Forum, London, 19.01.2017


One of the best-known Italian metal bands around, Lacuna Coil, recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. To celebrate the event, they put on a special one-night show at 02 Forum in Kentish Town, London. It’s been a while since we’ve been to an event in London, so this seemed like the ideal time to check out another show there.

Listen to the set on Spotify here:

The last time I saw Lacuna Coil live, was in Finland. They played at Nosturi back in February 2010. As stated in our review, Marco Zelatti, the bassist, was unable to play that show. As well as the band played, and they really played their arses off, his absence was notable. That was 7 years ago and as much as I have always loved this band, as sometimes happens, I had drifted away from keeping tabs on them. So tonight was bound to be full of songs that I wasn’t familiar with.

And so it was that I found myself on the balcony at the Forum in Kentish Town looking down at a white curtain with the Lacuna Coil logo projected on it, and I was full of anticipation. Looking out at the people, I could see flags from all over the world, some of whom had started off “ONE-NINE-TEEN!” chants. At 20:21, the house lights went out and the audience erupted.

The intro track was a synthesized circus melody that slowly gave way to what sounded like a ghostly child singing. A horror soundtrack that almost reminded me of White Zombie but with shades of Blade Runner. A stilt walker appeared on stage dressed like a satanic goat, and shortly after the show began in earnest.

The first track, “A Current Obsession”, began not as an explosion of a band tearing on to the stage ready to rip our heads off. It crept along as something more sinister and setting the mood for what was to come. The stage was a somewhat bare affair, but carefully planned with a wide drum riser and steps either side. The backdrop to this was half a circus t


ent, with the words “THE 119 SHOW” picked out in lights. Set the stage, and let the performances do the talking.

Prior to “Blood, Tears, Dust”, we saw some dancers coming onstage in spangly leotards and massive curly white wigs. Being from a newer album, Delirium (2016), this was one of the tracks that I wasn’t familiar with. But it was a winner for me as soon as I heard it. Andrea Ferro (vocals) does a different type of screaming that I haven’t heard from him before – less of a low growl and more of a hardcore type of sound.

The next song brought me my first goosebump


s of the evening: “Swamped” is one of my favorites from the time when I was a much more avid follower of the band and they absolutely ripped it. Having enjoyed all of the songs so far (but really only knowing “My Wings”), this is where the concert really took off for me personally. I started to feel elevated by the music and not just the balcony!

After this song, we got the first full welcome from the Cristina Scabbia (vocals), commenting on all the flags she could see in the audience. People really had come from far and wide: Russia, Brazil, Italy. Zelatti wandered over to her while she was talking and whispered in her ear. There was also an Australian flag in the crowd! It would be nice to believe that they had traveled all that way to see the show, so I won’t question that too much!


After “Veins of Glass”, we got another thank you from Scabbia and some more props were wheeled onto the stage. This was another song that was new to me, but I warmed to it immediately and the performance given by the circus performers really added to it. There were four large picture frames with white cloths on them and people waving their arms through gaps as if they were paintings coming to life, like tormented souls trying to escape the canvas. At the end they closed in around the two singers.

What came as a complete surprise to me, was when they played “Hyperfast” – I got those goosebumps again. I might be wrong, but I have the feeling this is one of those songs that they’ve not played before. I was very happy to hear that.


Another great performance piece was “Heaven’s a Lie.” Before the song began, a white silk sheet (and what looked like a rope) were unrolled from the rafters. As the song began, a couple of dancers appeared and started climbing up them to perform a depiction of heaven and hell. One of the winged figures was dressed in white and the other in red. Then I noticed that the rope was in fact a tail!

The main set was rounded out by “Senzafine”, “Closer”, “Comalies”, and “Our Truth”  – all explosive crowd favorites.

The next part of the show was very special: the curtain dropped again and we were witness to more carnival dancing while they set it up. When the curtain came up again, there was another curtain in front of the circus tent and a grand piano was wheeled on stage. I couldn’t quite see who was playing it, but it may have been Ferro. When Scabbia returned to the stage, she was attached to a hoist and lifted up almost to the lighting truss, with a train that filled the entire stage. There she sung two songs, “Falling” and “Wide Awake”, beautifully rearranged as piano pieces, accompanied by dancers and a black winged fallen angel to one side. In my opinion, Scabbia stole the show during this segment. The whole crowd seemed to be transfixed.

The show was eventually rounded out by the obligatory (and highly energizing) cover of “Enjoy the Silence” and the opening track to Broken Crown Halo (2014), “Nothing Stands in Our Way.” It was certainly a high point to end the show on. The light show and performances of the circus troupe really added to the atmosphere of the event. Even though I wasn’t in the optimum spot for perfect audio, the sound was mostly great, but I have to admit that up on the balcony I found it difficult to catch the lyrics to the songs I wasn’t so familiar with.


With twenty-five songs over the course of the evening, I feel thoroughly inspired to catch up on the albums I have missed over the last 7 years. And so, with the smell of gunpowder in our noses and the hilarious (if surprising) strains of Madonna’s Abba remix ringing in our ears, we made our way out of the auditorium and to the Forum’s upstairs bar for a final drink.

The night didn’t end there, though. I was lucky enough to be able to hang round at the end for the after party. After some time, the band came into the bar and began talking and hanging out with people. Here they offered people cake and Andrea Ferro poured champagne for the attended friends and fans. Unusually for me, feeling a little starstruck I decided not to approach the band members directly as I didn’t want to appear like a crazy fanboy. But as I collected my celebratory glass of bubbly from Mr. Ferro, he offered his hand to shake and I said, in my best Italian, “Grazzi mille!” His face lit up as he quietly responded with “Prego!” and a very genuine and appreciative smile. I have to say that was the perfect way to end a wonderful evening.

1. Intro/ A Current Obsession
2. 1:19
3. My Wings
4. End of Time
5. Blood, Tears, Dust
6. Swamped
7. The Army Inside
8. Veins of Glass
9. One Cold Day
10. The House of Shame
11. When a Dead Man Walks
12. Tight Rope
13. Soul into Hades
14. Hyperfast
15. I Like It
16. Heaven’s a Lie
17. Senzafine
18. Closer
19. Comalies
20. Our Truth
21. Falling (piano)
22. Wide Awake (piano)

23. I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)
24. Enjoy the Silence [Depeche Mode cover]
25. Nothing Stands in our Way

Text: Marc Taylor | Photos: Chiaki Nozu

Connoisseur’s Corner


January is a slow time of year for live shows. Without any gigs for us to think on, the mind tends to drift elsewhere. Most recently I was sitting in my house, casually sipping an alcoholic beverage and listening to music, when I began to find parallels between those two very things. There is a lot of nuance to difference genres of music/metal, much in the same way as there are a lot of nuances in different alcoholic beverages. So, I decided to match up some different boozes with metal genres.


Beer – Death Metal
It’s not for everyone, and even if you do like it, it might’ve taken you a while to build up a taste for it, but once you develop that taste, there’s no turning back. It’ll be an easy go-to genre for you to return to any time you want to drink or listen to something. Some of it’s as basic and watered down as it comes, but there’s always something new to try.

Examples: Children of Bodom; Karhu

Coolers – Pop Metal
In the same way coolers introduce people to alcohol, pop metal helps pave the way toward metal in general, if you’re transitioning from listening to pop, rock, or other genres. They rarely offers anything revolutionary, and is often not even considered all that technically good. Hell, it’s way to sweet for most people to really enjoy. But it serves a purpose and opens doors.

Examples: HIM; Smirnoff Ice

Wine – Progressive Metal
The most complex bouquet of styles and flavors come together to make something incredible, but if you are lazy, sloppy, or cheap, made for the masses and without any true passion, you’re just a disgusting mess.

Examples: Leprous, Haken; Jacob’s Creek, Torres

Tequila – Power Metal
Best consumed in great quantities in your youth, you may not notice the nuances of the really good stuff until you’re older and take the time to take it in slower and experience all it has to offer. It’s also one of the most likely to mess you up really bad, either drinking or headbanging.

Examples: Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica; Jose Cuervo, 1800

Whisky – Black/Extreme Metal
To many, it’s just horrible shrieking/burning, but those who develop the taste and appreciation for it have a deeper understanding of the subtleties of what they’re experiencing.

Examples: Batushka; Highland Park

Rum – Viking/Pagan/Folk Metal
It’s been around a long time and there’s a lot of great variety within the genre, and while there are always newcomers and those who push the limits and try new things, it’s not always a great success, and as a whole, few have done anything truly earthshattering with the genre since its inception. Still, it’s always warm and welcoming when you go back to old favorites.

Examples: Whispered, Turisas; The Kraken, Captain Morgan

Vodka – Rock
A classic, easy to get into, and something pretty much everyone can enjoy at some point or another, even if it’s not your favorite. It’s also really easy to mix with other things.

Examples: Alice Cooper; Russian Standard … pop-rock, rock-metal; vodka/juice, vodka/soda

Gin – Female-Fronted Metal
When it’s good, it’s incredible. It’s always evolving and new things are coming out every few years that are surprisingly fresh, they are daring to push the limits and add new elements, the classics are still fantastic, but when you’re shit, you’re just fucking awful.

Examples: Within Temptation, Arch Enemy; Hendricks, Napue

Cocktails – Blended Genres (esim: extreme melodic alternative Viking pop metal)
When it’s done right, you make sweet, delicious magic, but when done wrong or overdone, it’s just a heinous mess that’s too sweet, too strong, or just plan boring.

Examples: Ember Falls; Long Island Iced Tea


So, what do you think? Are there any terrible mismatches? Do you have any more pairings I’ve missed out on? If so, leave a comment! Otherwise, we hope you’re enjoying the start of 2018!

Disclaimer: only examples of good or decent stuff up there – I’ve left the crap bands and drinks up to your imagination.

SVARTFEST II – Klubi, Tampere 06.01.2018


Some of you may be familiar with Svart Records, a Finnish record label that was founded in 2009. SvartFest, then, is the mini-tour of Svart Records (svart meaning ‘black’ in Swedish), which was organized for the second time ever in January 2018 with three domestic groups taking part: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Spiritus Mortis, and Seremonia. The first stop of their tour was in Gong, Turku, and the second we managed to catch was held in Klubi, Tampere on the 6th.


Psychedelic/ambient rock being a bit of an underserved niche, it was pretty hard to resist the call of this particular mini-festival. Being hugely into anything ambient, I think the best quality music or an artist can exhibit is the ability to make people feel. Need something for that cyberpunk night? Tune in to Hol Baumann or H.U.V.A Network and feel the shadows run through you. Want to feel like utter crap on a gloomy evening? Pop in Guilt Machine’s On This Perfect Day or Archive’s Axiom. Craving punching out a bear? While not an ambient band at all, Manowar should provide the testosterone needed. Also please don’t actually do this; you will be mauled to death… but I digress. The point being, ambience and mood can make or break a band, especially in live situations; as such, it is one of the most important things I pay attention to when in a live situation.


Setting the initial mood was left to Seremonia, a psych-rock band which has a pretty good aesthetic sense involving psychedelic imagery and dark lyrical themes, such as nature’s wrath, luciferianism, and other such things. The appeal of such cult-like scenery was mostly lost on stage, sadly. The sound was pretty mushy most of the time and the songs – being from the psych-side of the moon – were hard to follow as a casual listener. However, the drummer, Erno Taipale, never showed any of that, easily following along and showing his mastery of the songs and the style of their music. The maracas wielded by the lead singer, Noora Federley, also seemed very superficial, not making a significant impact on anything except keeping tempo and being a prop, sound-wise unsurprisingly unimpactful. The show on stage was very anemic with minimal movement, but with effective use of stillness and occasional moments of good lighting. It was like watching the cousin of hippie rock who drinks irresponsibly and worships the Devil; and that’s exactly how it should be. Seremonia seems like an unpolished club band, which would benefit greatly from an intimate space (kind of like Klubi), lighting, better mixing, and smoke. If they ever polish that, I think they could become a great live band.


Spiritus Mortis, the artist formerly known as Rigor Mortis, was comparatively a much more straightforward affair. Hailed as supposedly the first doom metal band from Finland, established all the way back in 1987, their tunes were simultaneously hypnotizing and coma-inducing, probably better categorized as stoner metal in this modern day and age. Labeling aside, the music very heavily evoked Black Sabbath in my mind, so everything sounded very familiar and thus could I get into the groove of things much more easily. Smoke deployment on stage was done much better for them, which fit perfectly for this quintet; the air was thick and slowly drifting along to the slow tempo, the voice of their new lead singer, Kimmo Perämäki, clearly pierced through the music and made its mark on the listener. Much simpler to understand – and thus appreciate – Spiritus Mortis was a solid atmospheric performance by these venerable doombringers.


Jess and the Ancient Ones was now set to close out the evening with a somewhat similar stylistic choice as Seremonia, focusing on the psychedelic part of rock’n’roll. As the band started playing, there was an extremely alluring scent, yet with no discernible source. Instantly noticeable was the much more rehearsed and energetic performance by the artists, with frontwoman Jess in particular being very enjoyable to watch as she swayed along to the music and beat the tambourine on her hips to the beat. Surprisingly enough, the tambourine seemed to have an actual, audible effect on the music, not simply being a prop in her hands. Along with supreme microphone technique and a stunning voice, Jess truly deserves her namesake in the troupe. Yussuf, their drummer, also seemed to have a ton of fun, looking extremely satisfied at being behind his kit and playing in front of a crowd. Sounding somewhat like a 60s/70s California rock’n’roll band, it vividly brought to mind Hollywood movies and Americana in general, yet there was something lurking beneath the shallow understanding of the casual listener. The emphasis was very much on the performance and the atmosphere, rather than interaction with the audience; they held their only speech of the evening until after the last song before the encore.


Focusing on a pretty niche audience, Seremonia and Jess and the Ancient Ones do a very good job at catering to them, the latter being more polished and high-profile than the former, yet I feel there’s a ton of untapped potential in Seremonia. Spiritus Mortis also recently had a roster change in their new singer (aforementioned Kimmo Perämäki), so I’m hoping for at least a burst of activity on their part. If there’s a SvartFest III with these same bands, I would definitely try to catch them again, with the hopes that my nitpicks would’ve been addressed, thus validating my existence giving their audience more bang for their buck. Ambience is a powerful tool for making a performance stand out, if used well… now crank it up to eleven!

HIM w/ JIMSONWEED – Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, 29.12.2017 (suomeksi)


Vuoden 2017 tavoin love metalin lähettiläiden, HIMin, ura tuli tiensä päähän hiljattain. Vitsikkäästi nimetyn Bang & Whimper -jäähyväiskiertueen viimeinen osuus luonnollisesti soitettiin koto-Suomessa, ja se koostui viidestä keikasta vuoden lopussa. Kolmanneksi viimeinen keikka oli Seinäjoen Rytmikorjaamolla 29. joulukuuta, ja Musicalypse oli paikalla seuraamassa Ville Valon ja kumppanien viimeistä vierailua lakeuksille.

Kuuntele settilistat tästä (huom! ei sisällä Jimsonweedin Invisible Planin kappaleita tai HIMin “Rebel Yell” -coveria, joita ei löydy Spotifysta):

En ole koskaan ollut varsinainen HIM-fani, joten ilmoitus bändin hajoamisesta yllätti minut, vaikka se olikin järkeenkäypä – sydänsuruista ja toistensa käsivarsille kuolevista rakastavaisista ei voi tehdä määräänsä enempää särökitaralla varustettuja kappaleita muuttumatta parodiaksi itsestään, ja bändin kultakausi oli muutenkin päättynyt jo vuosikymmentä aiemmin. Vaikka kaimani herra Valon laulumaneerit ja tekstit ovat monesti makuuni melko korneja, hänellä löytyy korvaa loistaville koukuille, mikä on johtanut lukemattomien hittien julkaisuun, eikä bändin vaikutusta yhtenä Suomen suurimmista musiikkivientitoivoista voida liioitella. Saadessani mahdollisuuden nähdä HIM ensimmäistä ja viimeistä kertaa päätin tarttua siihen.


Illan avasi stoner-kvartetti Jimsonweed, jonka historiaan ja materiaaliin olin tutustunut jo ennen kuin se julkistettiin lämmittelijäksi, joten tiesin mitä odottaa musiikillisesti. Keulahahmo Suho Superstar kuulemma teki vaikutuksen nuoreen Ville Valoon (joka soitti jopa bassoa yhtyeen riveissä hetken aikaa) Helsingin 90-luvun rokkipiireissä, ja HIM lämmitteli Jimsonweedia yhdellä ensimmäisistä keikoistaan, joten arvelen entisten oppipoikien halunneen nostaa hattua heitä inspiroineelle ryhmälle viimeisen kerran.

Jimsonweedin setti keskittyi luonnollisesti vuonna 2016 julkaistuun – ja 14 vuotta aiemmin nauhoitettuun – Ghosts of Kopliin, mutta mukana oli myös poimintoja Invisible Plan -debyytiltä (1996). Kohokohta oli “Any of These Days”, jonka lopussa basistilta kuultiin jopa hieman tappingia. Suho Superstarilla vaikutti olevan joitain ongelmia mikrofoninsa kanssa, josta lähti välillä rapinaa tai kiertoääntä, ja ajoittain häntä oli vaikea kuulla, varsinkin korkeissa falsettikohdissa. Yleisön kotikaupunkien tiedustelua lukuun ottamatta hän pitkälti keskittyi enemmän jorailemaan kuin ottamaan kontaktia yleisöön, mutta muu bändi paikkasi tätä jonkin verran. Varsinkin kitaristi Sami Yli-Sirniö, jonka soitosta olen nauttinut Barren Earthin levyillä, ilmeili alinomaa, ja kovaa takonut rumpali yritti saada yleisöä taputtamaan mukana, vaikkei tämä ollut helppo tehtävä, sillä ihmiset odottivat selvästi illan pääateriaa ja kuuntelivat Jimsonweedia vain kohteliaisuudesta. Vierailevana muusikkona kosketinsoittimissa bändillä oli tuttu kasvo, Amorphiksen Santeri Kallio. Hän soitti noin joka toisessa kappaleessa, istuen pienen kioskinsa takana ja laajentaen bändin soundipalettia perusrockin ulkopuolelle. Jimsonweed soitti sulavan louhivaa rockiaan kaiken kaikkiaan hyvin, mutta rakkausmetallinnälkäisen yleisön edessä soittaminen ei ollut sille soveliain mahdollinen paikka, joten toivon bongaavani bändin joskus omalla keikallaan.


1. Starting to Grow
2. Dust and Blood
3. Any of These Days
4. Before the Beginning
5. Dark Sun
6. Built to Blow
7. Bride
8. Behind the Eyes of Blue
9. Soulful of Power


Jimsonweedin setin jälkeen HIMin valmistelut alkoivat ja iso metallinen Heartagram paljastettiin, mikä muistutti minua KISSin keikkojen isosta logosta. Tarkkaillessani ihmisiä ympärilläni yllätyin paikalle ilmaantuneiden miesten lukumäärästä, koska koulussa ollessani HIM oli stereotyyppisesti tyttöjen bändi, joten olin alitajuntaisesti odottanut 80-90 prosentin yleisöstä olevan naisia. Miehiä oli kuitenkin kohtalaisesti, enkä usko kaikkien olleen vain tyttöystäviensä tai vaimojensa seuralaisina. On ihan terveellistä, että ennakkoluulot joutuvat murskatuiksi silloin tällöin! Oletukseni siitä, että ulkomailta asti olisi tullut kovan luokan faneja, osoittautui kuitenkin oikeaksi, sillä jonottaessa saattoi kuulla jutustelua englanniksi ja bongata kansainvälistä porukkaa. Harvat suomalaisbändit voivat edes uneksia näin omistautuneesta kuulijakunnasta, ja oli selvää, että monet tulevat kaipaamaan tätä bändiä.

HIM nousi lavalle The Everlyn Brothersin “Bye Bye Loven” tahdittamana. Pipopäinen keulahahmo Ville Valo tervehti Seinäjoen väkeä ja “Buried Alive by Love” kajahti soimaan. Parin edellisen keikan arvioiden mukaan Valo oli ollut hieman flunssainen, mutta kun hän päätti kappaleen vertahyytävällä huudolla, arvelin hänen selviytyvän illasta kunnialla, oli flunssaa tai ei. Settilista oli käytännössä hittikimara, sillä 21:stä biisistä 17 kuultiin kokoelmalta XX – Two Decades of Love Metal (2012). Tämä oli viisas valinta, koska arvelen ainakin osan yleisöstä olleen joko kaltaisiani satunnaisia kuulijoita, jotka eivät olleet aiemmin nähneet HIMpuloita elävänä tai vanhoja faneja, jotka olivat jääneet pois kelkasta jossain vaiheessa ja olivat nyt verestämässä muistojaan viimeisen kerran. Jokainen täyspitkä albumi oli kutenkin edustettuna setissä, ja tarjoilipa HIM myös harvinaisena herkkuna “Stigmata Diabolin” debyytti-ep:ltä 666 Ways to Love: Prologue (1996). “Wings of a Butterflyn” ja “Join Men” kaltaiset isoimmat hitit saivat odotetusti aikaan riemukkaimmat kiljaisut ja äänekkäimmät yhteislaulut, mutta henkilökohtainen suosikkini oli reipas “Heartkiller”-veto. Kenties se, että hieman tuoreempana biisinä sitä ei oltu vielä soitettu tuhatta kertaa teki siitä bändillekin mielenkiintoisemman? Ainut hämmentävä valinta setissä oli cover Billy Idolin “Rebel Yellistä” – miksi uhrata aikaa lainabiisille (pakollisen “Wicked Gamen” lisäksi), kun levyjä löytyy omasta takaa kahdeksan kappaletta? “Right Here in My Arms” on muutenkin melko billyidolmainen kappale ja oli jo soitettu hieman aikaisemmin.

Ville Valo harjoitti melkoista lauluakrobatiaa äärilaidasta toiseen – “Gone with the Sinin” aikana hän kävi hetkellisesti oktaavia alempana, aivan kuin alkuperäinen versio ei olisi ollut jo riittävän matala, mutta jo seuraavassa biisissä, “Soul on Firessa”, hän huusi kuin viimeistä päivää. Jos miehen äänenkäyttö oli pätevää, samaa ei voinut sanoa hänen mikkitekniikastaan, sillä hän piti sitä monesti joko liian lähellä tai kaukana suustaan, mikä johti epätasaiseen lauluvolyymiin. Basisti Mikko “Mige” Paananen oli lavalla bändin energisin jäsen, mutta Mikko “Linde” Lindströmin kitaransoitto kiinnitti soittajista huomioni parhaiten. Keihäsmies soitti hienon pidennetyn soolon “Wicked Gamessa” Valon ollessa pois lavalta, ja hänen otelautatyöskentelynsä oli vaikuttava myös “Your Sweet 666:ssa” ja “The Kiss of Dawnissa”. Yksi silmiin- ja korviinpistävä seikka oli taustalaulujen puute – olin nähnyt videoita, joissa muut HIMin jäsenet laulavat stemmoja, mutta tällä kertaa Valo lauloi täysin yksinään. Kyllästyivätkö muut laulamiseen vai eikö kiertuebudjettiin mahtunut enempää mikrofoneja?

Soundit olivat kelvolliset suurimmalta osin; ainoastaan “Tears on Tape” kärsi pahasta laimeudesta Lindströmin kitaran alhaisen äänenvoimakkuuden vuoksi. Peukkua ansaitsee erityisesti Paanasen bassosoundi, joka oli jyrisevä, mutta erottuva ja yksi parhaista keikoilla kuulemistani. Lavalla soundipolitiikka ei ollut kai ihan yhtä ruusuinen, sillä ikuisena perfektionistina Valo jakoi äänimiehelle ohjeita niin sanallisesti kuin käsillä viittilöiden. Valo ei kuitenkaan ollut känkkäränkkätuulella, vaan siirrettyään joitain laatikoita sivuun lavalla hän tuntui pääsevän oikeaan mielentilaan. Hän vitsaili loppuunmyydyn Rytmikorjaamon “ihanan huonosta” ilmanvaihdosta, ja ennen “The Funeral of Heartsia” hän kiitti faneja vuosien varrella antamastaan tuesta. Illan päättäneen doom-iskelmä “When Love and Death Embracen” loppupuolella hän asteli takavasemmalle, jättäen bändikaverinsa soittamaan biisin loppuun keskenään.


HIMin ammattitaitoinen esitys ja vahva kappalevalikoima takasivat sen, että bändin jäähyväiskeikka faneille Seinäjoella oli vertauskuvallisesti lähempänä paukahdusta kuin kitinää. Samalla kuitenkin pystyi aistimaan, että viisikon kirkkain intohimon liekki oli jo hiipunut, ja suurimmalta osin keikka vaikutti olevan kuin yksi viimeisistä työpäivistä ennen eläkkeelle pääsyä: bändi oli rennolla tuulella ja tietoinen lähestyvästä vapaudesta, muttei antanut enää ihan sataprosenttista panostaan. Voi olla, että bändi säästeli voimiaan viimeistä kotikenttäkeikkaa varten Helsingin Tavastialla, mutta HIM onnistui joka tapauksessa ylittämään odotukseni, joita Jäähallin-keikan kriittiset arviot olivat laskeneet. Lepää rauhassa, His Infernal Majesty – kenties tiemme risteävät vielä jonain päivänä jollakin paluukiertueeseen lukeutuvalla festarilla?

Intro (The Everly Brothers – Bye Bye Love)
1. Buried Alive by Love
2. Heartache Every Moment
3. Your Sweet 666
4. The Kiss of Dawn
5. The Sacrament
6. Tears on Tape
7. Wings of a Butterfly
8. Gone with the Sin
9. Soul on Fire
10. Wicked Game (Chris Isaak -cover)
11. Killing Loneliness
12. Poison Girl
13. Bleed Well
14. Heartkiller
15. Join Me
16. Stigmata Diaboli
17. In Joy and Sorrow
18. Right Here in My Arms
19. The Funeral of Hearts

20. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol -cover)
21. When Love and Death Embrace


Kuvat: Lene L.

HIM w/ JIMSONWEED – Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, 29.12.2017 (English)


As 2017 drew to a close, so did the career of HIM, the ambassadors of love metal. The final leg of the jokingly titled farewell tour, Bang & Whimper, naturally took place in their native Finland, consisting of five dates at the very end of 2017. The third last show was played at Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, on the 29th of December, and Musicalypse went to see how Ville Valo and co.’s last visit to Southern Ostrobothnia would go.

Listen to the setlists here (note: missing the songs from Jimsonweed’s Invisible Plan, which isn’t on Spotify, and HIM’s “Rebel Yell” cover):

I’ve never been an actual HIM fan, so their breakup announcement took me by surprise, but it also made sense – you can only write so many songs about heartbreak and lovers dying in each other’s arms with distorted guitars until you turn into a parody of yourself, and the band’s biggest heyday had been over a decade ago anyway. Although I often find my namesake Mr. Valo’s vocal mannerisms and lyrics rather corny, he’s got a knack for great hooks that has led to the release of a myriad of hits, and the group’s impact as one of the biggest musical exports from Finland can’t be overstated. When the opportunity to see HIM for the first and last time arose, I decided to take it.


The night was opened by the stoner quartet Jimsonweed. I’d been reading up on the band’s history and checking out their material even before they were announced as the support act, so I knew what to expect musically. Reportedly, frontman Suho Superstar left an impact on a young Ville Valo (who even briefly played bass in the band) in the Helsinki rock scene in the 90s, and one of HIM’s earliest gigs was played as a support act to Jimsonweed. I guess the former apprentices wanted to give one last tip of the hat to the group that inspired them.

Having released their sophomore effort, Ghosts of Kopli, in 2016 – 14 years after it was recorded – Jimsonweed naturally focused on this release, but there were also songs from the Invisible Plan (1996) debut in the set. The highlight was “Any of These Days”, at the end of which the bassist even did some tapping. Suho Superstar seemed to have some problems with his mic, as there were crackles and feedback noises coming out of it occasionally, and at times it was hard to hear him, particularly the higher falsetto notes. Apart from asking which cities people had come from, he was more focused on his dancelike moves than communicating with the audience, but the rest of the band made up for it. Guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö – whose playing I’ve enjoyed on Barren Earth’s albums – in particular was making lots of goofy faces while delivering his licks, and the hard-hitting drummer tried to get the crowd to clap along at one point, although this wasn’t an easy job, given that people were clearly waiting for the main course and merely listening to Jimsonweed out of politeness. As a guest musician, the band had a familiar face: Santeri Kallio of Amorphis on keyboards. He would play on every other song or so, sitting behind his tiny setup and expanding the band’s sound beyond bare-bones rock. All-in-all, Jimsonweed played their brand of crunchy yet loose rock well enough, but performing in front of a love metal -hungry crowd wasn’t the ideal setting for them, so I hope I’ll catch these guys at a show of their own someday.

1. Starting to Grow
2. Dust and Blood
3. Any of These Days
4. Before the Beginning
5. Dark Sun
6. Built to Blow
7. Bride
8. Behind the Eyes of Blue
9. Soulful of Power


After Jimsonweed’s set, the preparations for HIM began and a huge metallic Heartagram was unveiled, which reminded me of the big logo at KISS’s concerts. While observing the people around me, I was surprised at the number of male audience members, because when I was in school, HIM was stereotypically a band for girls, so I’d subconsciously expected 80-90% to be women. However, there were plenty of guys, and I doubt all of them were just accompanying their girlfriends or wives. It’s healthy to get your preconceptions crushed every now and then! My prediction that foreign diehard fans would be attending the gig was correct though, as you could hear people speaking English and spot people of different nationalities while queueing inside. Few Finnish bands could even dream of such a dedicated (or big) fanbase, and you could tell that this group will be missed by many.

HIM hit the stage with “Bye Bye Love” by The Everlyn Brothers playing in the background. The beanie-headed frontman Ville Valo greeted the crowd, and then “Buried Alive by Love” kicked off the set. According to reviews of the previous couple of shows, Valo had been under the weather, but when he ended the song with a blood-curdling scream, my first thought was: “Cold or no cold, I think he can handle this!” The setlist was essentially a hit cavalcade, as 17 out of the 21 songs could be found on the compilation XX – Two Decades of Love Metal (2012). This was a wise choice, as I suspect that at least a portion of the crowd were either casual listeners like myself who had never seen HIM in the flesh or old-school fans who had lost track of the band along the way and had come to see them one last time for nostalgia’s sake. Anyway, every full-length album was represented in the set, and HIM also threw a bone to the diehards with “Stigmata Diaboli” from the debut EP, 666 Ways to Love: Prologue (1996). As expected, the biggest hits like “Wings of a Butterfly” and “Join Me” received the loudest squeals and roused the loudest sing-alongs, but my personal favorite was the zealous rendition of “Heartkiller.” Maybe the fact that as a newer tune it hadn’t been played a thousand times before like the earliest stuff made it more exciting to the band? The only confusing pick in the set was a cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” – why sacrifice a slot to someone else’s song (besides the obligatory “Wicked Game”) on your final tour when you’ve got eight albums of your own? Besides, “Right Here in My Arms” is a pretty Billy Idol-sounding song anyway and had been played a little earlier.

Ville Valo pulled off a lot of vocal acrobatics from one extreme to another – during “Gone with the Sin” he briefly went an octave lower, as if the original crooning wasn’t low enough, yet in the very next song, “Soul on Fire”, he was screaming like a banshee. If the man’s use of his vocal range was accomplished, the same couldn’t be said for his mic technique, as he would sometimes hold it either really close or really far from his mouth, which resulted in an inconsistent vocal volume. Bassist Mikko “Mige” Paananen was the most energetic band member on stage, but it was Mikko “Linde” Lindström’s guitar playing that got most of my attention out of the instrumentalists – the axeman played a cool extended solo on “Wicked Game” while Valo left the stage, and his fretboard work was impressive on “Your Sweet 666” and “The Kiss of Dawn” as well. One glaring detail was the lack of backing vocals – I’d seen live videos of HIM where some members were contributing harmonies, but this time Valo was on his own vocally. Did the others get sick of singing or didn’t the tour budget allow multiple microphones?

The sound mix was fairly good for the most part, the only offender being “Tears on Tape”, which sounded rather limp due to the low volume of Lindström’s guitar. A special thumbs up goes to Paananen’s bass tone, which was rumbling yet defined, and one of the best I’ve heard in a concert. On stage, things must’ve been different, as ever-the-perfectionist Valo gave the sound guy cues to turn things up or down, either verbally or through gestures. Valo wasn’t cranky though, and after moving some boxes aside on stage about a third of the way into the set, he seemed to get into the right mindset. He cracked jokes about the lack of air conditioning in the sold out venue, and before “The Funeral of Hearts” he thanked the fans for their support over the years. Towards the end of the closing doom schlager, “When Love and Death Embrace”, he exited the stage, leaving his bandmates to finish the song by themselves.


HIM’s professional, rock-solid performance and strong selection of songs guaranteed that the band’s farewell to fans in Seinäjoki was more of a bang than a whimper. However, at the same time, you could sense in a way that the fivepiece’s brightest spark of passion had faded already, and for the most part the show came across as one of the last days at work before retirement – the band was relaxed, well aware of the incoming freedom, but not giving it 100% anymore. While they may have been saving their biggest efforts for the final hometown gig at Helsinki’s Tavastia, HIM nevertheless exceeded my expectations, which had been lowered by the critical reviews of the Ice Hall show. Rest in peace, His Infernal Majesty – who knows, maybe our paths will cross on a reunion tour at a festival someday?

Intro (Bye Bye Love by The Everly Brothers)
1. Buried Alive by Love
2. Heartache Every Moment
3. Your Sweet 666
4. The Kiss of Dawn
5. The Sacrament
6. Tears on Tape
7. Wings of a Butterfly
8. Gone with the Sin
9. Soul on Fire
10. Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)
11. Killing Loneliness
12. Poison Girl
13. Bleed Well
14. Heartkiller
15. Join Me
16. Stigmata Diaboli
17. In Joy and Sorrow
18. Right Here in My Arms
19. The Funeral of Hearts

20. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
21. When Love and Death Embrace


Photos: Lene L.

2017 in Metal


Another year, and another big pile o’ great and not-so-great music passes us by yet again! 2017 was a rather diverse year musically, with a lot of big hits and a few strange misses. Let’s get right to it then, shall we?


AW: I have to tie this year, but I’m almost uncertain as to whether I should. It’s almost unfair to include Ayreon in the running for these awards because no one can really compete on their scale. How does one vocalist compare to Floor Jansen, Hansi Kursch, Marco Hietala, Anneke van Giersbergen, Jonas Renkse, and so many more combined? How do the standard ten (give or take) songs compare to a four act opus with an incredible, heart-wrenching story? Even on a purely musical level, Ayreon’s band are top-notch. So as such, The Source is the obvious choice. However, there is a band who released an album that I enjoyed so thoroughly that I wanted them to win in spite of how amazing Ayreon is. It wasn’t better, objectively speaking, but it’s an album I can listen to in any mood and enjoy it, and it’s also an album I’ve listened to about a billion times without getting sick of it, and both of these are things that The Source cannot do. As such, I’m almost inclined to give Ember Falls’ debut, Welcome to Ember Falls, the award alone. However, objectivity requires me to tie them, for they both win on entirely different merits.

WK: Much to my disappointment, no instant 10/10 classics were released this year, but the closest one ended up being Amber Galactic by The Night Flight Orchestra. Compared to my favorite albums from previous years (by Fates Warning and Steven Wilson), this is like the polar opposite, being fairly straightforward and no-nonsense classic hard rock, but it’s done so well and with such infectious passion that you can’t help but feel good listening to it. Another great thing about the record is that for once the right track was delegated to bonus track status: “Just Another Night” is a pretty repetitive tune and doesn’t measure up to the songs on the main album, which is all killer, no filler.

LL: The first of a few mentions to come, this one goes to Crimfall’s return album, Amain. It’s been a fairly nice year album-wise, and Ember Falls managed to hold this title for a good while in my books, and Hallatar and CyHra came in as worthy contenders towards the end of the year. But Crimfall more than just managed to meet my expectations with their long-waited follow-up for Writ of Sword – it also raised the bar for their next efforts (and others, too). Even for someone familiar with Crimfall’s music, Amain offered wonderful surprises and, once again, took the listener on a journey to a whole another place and time. Oftentimes one of the core issues with any sort of cinematic, heavily orchestrated metal album is that it sounds too pompous, pretentious, or just plain ridiculous; however, while Crimfall’s sound is big, it isn’t stuffy or too polished; quite the contrary. Amain has the needed roughness to make it sound real. These are stories you can believe, regardless of whether you want to or not.


AW: I hemmed and hawed over this for a great deal of time, but ultimately decided that I had to give it to “The Day that the World Breaks Down” by Ayreon. The 13-minute song is an incredible opener to both an album and a story, with twists and turns that I can’t deny loving. Lucassen has a knack for taking vocalists that I either love (like Hansi Kursch), I don’t know (like Michael Eriksen), or that I didn’t much care for in their own band (like Russell Allen), and making me love them passionately (see Russell Allen’s part around 8:50 in the song for reference). This song does that and so much more. Be prepared to hear more about it below, certainly. Quick note though – if I stop being objective and you want to know my personal favorite song of the year, it’s “Falling Rain” by Ember Falls.

WK: This is a tough one, but I have to go with “The Exorcist” by Daniel Cavanagh, which left the best first impression and mesmerized me right from the start. Anathema’s The Optimist unfortunately didn’t have big emotional songs like “Ariel”, “Internal Landscapes”, or “Dreaming Light” that I’m used to hearing from them, but luckily Cavanagh more than made up for it on his own. Some of his greatest songs, such as “Inner Silence” and “One Last Goodbye”, have been written about his late mother, and “The Exorcist” – another addition to this series – is not far behind them, as the emotion is palpable. It also made me appreciate Cavanagh’s singing talents more, as I’d always thought of him more as a guitarist and songwriter than a vocalist.

LL: I continue with Crimfall – it certainly isn’t hard to name my favorite song this year. ”Until Falls the Rain” has almost all things imaginable I could want from a song, and it has them with style. It sums and wraps up Amain with a huge-ass boom, after which it’s pretty understandable to want to take another spin. This gem of a song has easily made its way towards the top of my all-time favorite songs listing, and I don’t mind that one bit.


AW: Man, the contenders came out this year! Crimfall released their first album in over half a decade, Eluveitie released the long-awaited followup to Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion, Ensiferum changed things up a bit with Two Paths, and Wintersun bridged the gap between Time albums with The Forest Seasons. Several of those disappointed me though, with one standing out easily as a great album with little to complain about, and that is Evocation II: Pantheon. This gorgeous bit of acoustic Celtic mythology is excellent to listen to actively or in the background, and the cover artwork is truly gorgeous.

WK: Folk metal still doesn’t tickle my fancy – pass.

LL: A thought that has crossed my mind a few times before is that the terms high-key and low-key folk should be established; it’s not fair to compare something like Ensiferum to Wolfheart and vice versa, even if their music stem from same kind of sources. While Two Paths was quite alright, I will still grant the title of best folk album to Tyhjyys: it channels quite effortlessly the things I look for in a folk album, and you won’t find too many weak moments in there. Tuomas Saukkonen and his gang didn’t re-invent the wheel, but they did quite a fine album.


AW: I rarely have something unusual to offer to this category. My standard picks are usually well-known bands like Nightwish. However, this year I picked up on a group that’s been raising steam lately: Kobra and the Lotus. It doesn’t hurt that they’re from my home country, but while their first few albums didn’t manage to capture my attention, they started to get recommended to me repeatedly towards the end of the year. I finally put on their latest album, Prevail I, for a listen and found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Kobra Paige has got a wonderful voice and the music was refreshingly heavy considering the female vocalist. Considering how much Jamo enjoyed their live show, I’ll have to put them on my list of bands to look out for in the future.

WK: Like last year, there’s not a whole lot of competition in this category in my books, so the title goes hands down to Hurricanes and Halos by Avatarium. The Swedes built up on the strength of The Girl with the Raven Mask (2015) and managed to hit a sweet spot between hard rock and doom metal on this release. I thought Jennie-Ann Smith was a great singer before already, but amazingly enough, she keeps raising the bar even higher on each album. However, I have to give a shout-out to the self-titled debut by The Dark Element – the collaboration between Anette Olzon and Jani Liimatainen – as it’s loaded with catchy tunes. I heard it fairly recently for the first time, so obviously I’m less familiar with it than the Avatarium album – if I’d got my hands on it a little earlier, it might be my #1 here.

LL: I could have named Crimfall’s Amain for this one, too, but I felt like shedding light on not one but two Finnish-singing female-fronted bands that have delighted me this year. Too often the more punk and rugged female-fronted bands are left in bit of a shade by their more melodic (and sometimes more orchestrated) contemporaries, but Huora’s Hukutaan paskaan and Ikinä’s Samoista soluista have been a fresh breeze of beer-smelling air with their uncompromising styles. While Ikinä blends together metal, rock, and the legacy of groups like PMMP and Tiktak, Huora trusts in the more traditional punk aesthetic, and both have a knack for lyrics that hit the spot within the 20-something age range, whether the topic is personal struggles, societal issues, or just good old partying. We don’t need more goody two-shoes bands.


AW: Well, it’s hard to pick here, but I think pretty much anything off The Source would yet again fit the bill. Pretty much every song on that album is epic in its own magical and majestic way. I won’t specify. If you listened to the album, you understand. Honorable mention to “Clear the Way” by Iced Earth though – they haven’t nailed an epic like that in years, if not decades.

WK: This has got to be “Graves” by Caligula’s Horse – as an album, In Contact is a bit of a mixed bag, but when it’s great, it is freaking great, and this song is a good example of that. What can I say? There are dynamic shifts, diverse vocals, great soloing, and cool extra instrumentation in the form of a saxophone solo, all over the course of a journey of 15½ minutes.

LL: A no-brainer from me again, this title was made to fit “Until Falls the Rain.” As I said earlier, Crimfall has a certain sovereignty in creating cinematic landscapes with their music, and on “Until Falls the Rain” Jakke Viitala and his troupe have taken this to its peak. From the hasty voices speaking in the beginning to rousing choruses and finally fading off to rain, it’s quite a ride in a little less than 8 minutes. I’ve been in awe of Helena Haaparanta’s vocal skills for years, and her singing in the chorus especially still gives me chills on almost every listen.


AW: I actually struggled to think of a slow song or ballad this year that really moved me. I think I’ll have to go with my personal favorite track from CyHra’s debut album, “Inside a Lullaby.” The piano melodies are gorgeous and Jake E.’s vocals are passionate and very diverse. It’s a lovely song with great dynamics that frequently gives me chills. If “Light Me Up” by Kobra and the Lotus is slow enough to be considered a ballad, I’ll consider this a tie too. That song has a lot of strength and beauty to it.

WK: While Steven Wilson’s To the Bone is a poppier affair than his previous solo efforts, he hasn’t stopped writing songs that hit you right in the feels. “Refuge” – as the title implies – is written from a Syrian refugee’s perspective, and both the music and the lyrics are charged with emotion, painting a picture of an ascetic life in the Calais camp. The steady buildup works to its advantage, and it’s such a powerful moment when Wilson sings “It’s not a crime” and Mark Feltham’s harmonica solo enters the scene like a desperate cry for help. Let’s face it, this meme isn’t totally baseless…

LL: There weren’t many slow songs to choose from on the albums that stuck with me throughout the year. The slow songs were rare and few, and all of them felt, well, a little meh. But then came CyHra with ”Closure” – a good old traditional metal ballad that has just the right amount of almost country-like cheese, but cheese you could actually relate to  what’s more to hope for? It reminds me wonderfully of some of the cheesy stuff I encountered (and shamelessly listened on repeat if needed) in my early teens, so in part it might win just for the sake of half-ironic teenage nostalgia. But really, it’s a great song.


AW: It’s hard to pick between songs on The Source, and you knew it was going to come from that album, let’s not lie. There are a few that could fit the bill of chilling songs: “Sea of Machines”, “Condemned to Live”, “Deathcry of a Race”, and “The Source Will Flow” are all solid contenders, but there is one that stands out beyond them all: “March of the Machines.” As I said in the review, that song is nightmarish, and in the full context of the album, it’s straight-up terrifying. I usually try to pick this one based on more of an emotional stirring, but in this case, I couldn’t not pick this haunting piece of art.

WK: As Mariusz Duda told me, “Crumbling Teeth and the Owl Eyes” by Lunatic Soul is about nightmares, which makes it a very appropriate song here. I like how it shifts between melancholy and a creepier vibe, and the out-of-tune keyboards in the middle add a unique flavor. You can also interpret the lyrics either as an innocent wish to be without worries like a child or as something much more disturbing.

LL: If I’m completely honest, ”Until Falls the Rain” marks easily the highest percentage of times it gave me chills when listening, but this would really get boring if I continued babbling about how much I like it, right? So I wanted to bring up another song that managed to give me goosebumbs, ”My Mistake” by Hallatar. The contrast between Tomi Joutsen’s and Heike Langhans’ voices, and between the soothing verses and harsh choruses, especially paired with the ethereally beautiful video made to the song, make a whole different kind of chilling than Crimfall does.


AW: Without a doubt, there’s usually one song every year that hypes me up like no other. This year, I’m actually talking about Ember Falls’ very own “Falling Rain”, which never fails to improve my mood or get me dancing at their shows, regardless of my inclination to rock out. It’s by far my favorite song of the year, as I mentioned, and deserves this spot for the joy it brings me.

WK: I could pick almost any song by The Night Flight Orchestra, but I guess “Domino” takes the cake. As I mentioned in my review, the “Africa” (Toto) vibe just shines through, and that’s what makes it so much fun to listen to, along with the epic chorus and the appropriate keyboard sounds.

LL: Simply judging by what has ended up as synonyms for an upcoming party during the year, I present you “Bileet” by Ikinä and “Kotibileet” by Huora. Easy lyrics that talk about partying is a foolproof concept, especially if you can just shout them along, but Huora takes this one by the length of a gerbil – if you understand Finnish, take a spin and have a laugh.


AW: I don’t think I heard any covers this year, so I’ll pass on this one.

WK: I was having a hard time with this category until I came across Doom Side of the Moon, the metal reimagination of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd. I could name the whole thing, given that it essentially is one big piece of music, but out of the individual tracks I think the dynamic between the contemplative verses and the commanding tone of the chorus in “Us and Them” was handled most successfully. The original is one of my personal Floyd favorites to boot anyway.

LL: For once, there was a real surplus of great covers throughout the year, from humppa-fied version of Nightwish’s “Elan”, “Elanto”, by Eläkeläiset, to Crimfall covering some Rambo soundtrack, and Delain’s guitarist Timo Somers paying tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington with his “One More Light” cover. My pick, however, came in as a surprise contender and took the race in the last quarter, when I happened to catch Apulanta’s Toni Wirtanen blowing up Sanni’s “Soita mua” into a full-fledged nu-metal song on prime-time TV. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it now?


AW: Usually a tough one for me, this year it was easy, as well as unusual in that I’m picking a bass-line. Yes, you guessed it, “The Day that the World Breaks Down” returns once again, for the bass-laden riff that starts around 8:20 and lasts nearly a minute as Russell Allen joins in, then continues on a bit later. Incidentally, that whole part is one of my favorite parts of any song possibly ever, and sometimes I put it on just to listen to those couple minutes.

WK: This one belongs to Cyhra’s “Karma”, no doubt about it! When I first heard those classic In Flames-style guitar harmonies, my first thought was “Hell yeah, Jesper Strömblad is back!” Euge Valovirta’s melodic solo in the same song is splendid as well. The rest of the album didn’t totally live up to my expectations, as the riffing is not as impressive on the other songs, but now that Valovirta is an official member, I hope the next album will have a more even balance between guitars and pop elements.

LL: This is always a difficult category for me, as I tend to pay more attention to vocal melodies and whole songs, so I admit my defeat and leave this one blank.


AW: The only instrumental I can think of this year was “Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)” by Iced Earth, and while I think it has some of Iced Earth’s best riffing in ages, the weird native chanting kind of throws it off for me. If you want to count it by default, by all means, otherwise I’ll pass on this category.

WK: Drift by Tuesday the Sky is a fully instrumental album, so it’s easy to pick something off of it. “It Comes in Waves” remains my favorite track on the record: Kevin Moore’s Rhodes playing, Jim Matheos’ tasty guitar leads, and the relaxed vibe is a combination that makes the tune irresistable.

LL: Wolfheart’s “Shores of Lake Simpele” might not be the most creative effort as far as instrumentals go, but you have to admit it’s a good one. It’s a damn good intro, too; three and some minutes doesn’t feel too long, if you pace it with some shouts (those don’t count as singing, shush) that are even more in place at shows.


AW: I haven’t been all that stoked on Iced Earth in recent years. Damn, if I think about it, the last album of their that I straight-up loved was Horror Show back in 2001 – no wonder I was so thrilled with Incorruptible! I was never really into the Ripper Owens -era music and Matt Barlow’s comeback didn’t do much for me, likely relating more to the material than his performance. When Stu Block arrived, I had high hopes for Dystopia but past the first two songs, I can’t name anything off the album, and I really didn’t think much of Plagues of Babylon. With that in mind, there’s no doubt that Incorruptible was, even though it took a while to open itself up to me, a hugely positive surprise on the whole! Also, bonus points to Battle Beast for putting out an album I didn’t hate!

WK: While Daniel Cavanagh’s solo album Monochrome came out of nowhere, I knew I’d probably at least like it – just like Anathema’s latest albums – and I did. However, last year Haken’s Affinity was my choice in this category as an album by a band that finally clicked with me, and this time I’ll pick The Assassination of Julius Caesar by Ulver for the same reason. I’d tried getting into Ulver before, but their music mostly went over my head until they released the aforementioned album, which has more hooks and an 80s synth pop vibe that I enjoy. No offense to Martin Gore and co., but I’d dare say that this is the best Depeche Mode album of the year!

LL: Frankly, I expected nothing from Ensiferum’s Two Paths and wasn’t even sure I was going to listen to it in the first place, after One Man Army was so far below the bar. By the time it came out I had heard so much praise I was simply too curious to pass it, and didn’t regret the decision. It doesn’t surpass their best efforts, but definitely deserves to be taken into rotation, and gives some hope for Ensiferum raising their album game back to its former level.


AW: I’ll have to return to Kobra and the Lotus for this one. While they’re not exactly new to the scene, having put out their first album earlier this decade, they’re only just starting to become known in these parts and I hope to see them gather more fame. Their latest album, Prevail I, was truly fantastic without a single miss on its track list, and it seems to get better the more I listen to it.

WK: While The Night Flight Orchestra have already put out three albums, it seems to me that Amber Galactic is the first to garner a lot of attention (thanks to Nuclear Blast) and I’m not the only one who discovered them this year. I also ended up buying their previous two records, which aren’t too shabby either!

LL: One Desire is a band I was extremely skeptical about at first, and remained so after hearing their autotune-laced debut album, but somehow lured their way into my brain’s earworm folder thanks to their show at Sauna Classic. The song material isn’t bad – it doesn’t offer anything radically new to its genre of 80s flavored hard rock, but it certainly gets stuck in your head, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at various festivals next summer.


AW: Hmm, there were a lot of mediocre albums this year, but truly forgettable? Oddly enough, I might have to give this to The Forest Seasons by Wintersun. While I can’t say that I didn’t like the album, in the end there was just honestly not much to bring me back to it. I like “Loneliness (Winter)”, but apart from that, I don’t really have much to say for or against it. I mostly just forget it exists, in spite of all the hype.

WK: As a reviewer who’s willing to take a chance and check out releases by previously unfamiliar bands, you’re bound to come across some mediocre stuff. In my case, the most apt example of an album that went in one ear and out the other is Motherblood by Grave Pleasures. Nothing on the record is downright bad, but almost all the songs follow such a similar formula that everything becomes a gray, indistinguishable mass, and there are no big highlights to sweep you back in.

LL: For some reason this has been a year with quite a few albums I had thought I would listen a lot before they got out, but ended up not really listening them at all – examples include Brother Firetribe’s Sunbound, Ayreon’s The Source, and Humppa of Finland by Eläkeläiset, among others. This year, my nomination doesn’t go to an album that would necessarily be the most boring, per se, but one I literally forgot existed for most of year: Dance Panique by Turmion Kätilöt.


AW: This was a tough call for me, because there were a handful of albums that almost lived up to their mark, but didn’t quite. First of all, I had a certain set of expectations for The Forest Seasons by Wintersun, which in hindsight were probably a bit unrealistic. On the flipside, Ensiferum’s Two Paths managed to be a pretty great accomplishment musically, but was completely ruined by the bad clean vocals. Of those, I’d have to pick Ensiferum. While Wintersun’s album just wasn’t what I expected, Two Paths could have been really good if they hadn’t chosen to use the backing vocalists in the lead in half the songs, ultimately ruining them with their lack of cadence and tune. Especially contrasted to the alternative versions, it’s clear that it could’ve been a great album but isn’t.

WK: Well, this is easy! Paradise Lost have had a surprisingly consistent career despite having gone through numerous stylistic facelifts for almost 30 years, but Medusa is one of the low points of the band’s 15-album discography. It feels like the Yorkshire lads are more concerned with sounding heavy and raw than writing memorable songs nowadays, but I hope they’ll get over this midlife crisis and re-emerge with a stronger record in a few years.

LL: As this category usually has reflected the height of my expectations towards certain bands, I thought it to be fair to exclude those, especially because those albums still grow on me with time. My final pick for this obviously didn’t, and Brother Firetribe’s Sunbound has the questionable honor to man this category after already appearing in another not-so-positive category above.


AW: It seems as though last year we opened this up to deaths (not just members leaving bands), in which case I’ll have to mention Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington of Soundgarden and Linkin Park respectively. Their deaths seemed to go hand-in-hand in a way, and told a tragic tale of depression and the music industry, leaving many heartbroken for being unable to give back the strength that their music had given to their fans. But in agreement with Wille and Lene, if we’re being traditional here, the Amorphis split with Niclas Etelävuori was a bit sad to hear about, and though I’ve never been big on the HIM train, they are certainly an icon and it’s a bit sad to say farewell.

WK: Out of deaths, the most shocking one to me was Chris Cornell. I’d only been a sort of casual Soundgarden fan beforehand, but I thought he had one of the best voices in rock, and suicide is one of the most tragic ways to go anyway. Since then I’ve then delved more closely into the Soundgarden discography, as well as the excellent Temple of the Dog album that Cornell made with the Pearl Jam guys in the early 90s – what a talent and loss! As for splits and departures, it was sad to hear Niclas Etelävuori quit Amorphis over management disagreements – it’s no fun when non-musical factors come into play and affect the lineup. On the positive side, he (apparently) remained friends with the band, and Amo found a good ‘new’ member in original bassist Olli-Pekka “Oppu” Laine.

LL: I second (or third?) Amy’s and Wille’s words on Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, and move on to the splits and break-ups. Truth be told, I’ve had more ‘end of childhood/youth’ moments than probably would fit the criteria, but somehow those moments still tend to show up every now and then. To me, Vesa Ranta retiring from playing drums this fall was definitely one of them; you know those few musicians you’re just used to being there and doing music, so you don’t really expect them to retire? Followed by a sudden, ”Oh, oh right,” when they do. Nevertheless, as Ranta’s work has inspired me as a photographer ever since I started myself, I’m happy to see what he’ll come up with in that field.

There’s also another worthy mention that falls under the category of ‘end of youth.’ By the time this post comes out, HIM will have almost wrapped up their over 2-decade-long career, and I’ll have seen the last we’ll all see of them at Rytmikorjaamo with Wille. It’s always an unsettling feeling when a band you’ve grown up with calls it quits, and even when it is the right decision made at – probably – the right moment… you’ll still miss them. Whether it’s remembering how they were when you first got into them, or just the memories attached to the music, it’s worth reminiscing, I’d say.


AW: Recommend me something? I had a hard enough time thinking of splits, so I can’t really come up with replacements either.

WK: As I mentioned above, Olli-Pekka Laine rejoined Amorphis, so the original lineup (rounded out by Tomi Joutsen and Santeri Kallio) is back together. I haven’t seen the new incarnation live yet, but that’ll probably change next year!

LL: Nothing new to add here, just humming in agreement with Wille’s words above.


AW: A tie this year! Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons may have been a bit of a let-down thematically, but perhaps it was all the more so because it didn’t live up to its gorgeous cover art. The beautiful colors, the tranquil scene, the flares of light peeking through the trees, the images in the wood on the border… it’s a gorgeous piece of work with which I’d gladly adorn my wall given the right opportunity. It’s merely a shame that the themes on the album didn’t match the quality of its art.

As well, Eluveitie’s Evocation II: Pantheon is one of the only albums I even know about that has packed so much meaning into one design. You can read about the meaning in the interview Maria did with Chrigel Glanzmann here, but suffice to say that every line on that cover serves some purpose and you can tell that a great deal of thought and effort was put into it. And through all of that, the cover also manages to be really gorgeous. I expect to see this in a lot of tattoos in the future. I even considered one myself.

Runners up for me include CyHra’s Letters to Myself, VUUR’s Cities, and Ensiferum’s Two Paths. There was a lot of nice art this year.

WK: I have to say I like the art for Lost in the Ghost Light by Tim Bowness. It’s a good representation of the record’s concept, and I enjoy how evocative and detailed it is, thanks to all the fictional rock band memorabilia. Even before you’ve heard a single note of the music, it makes you curious about the contents, and that’s a sign of a successful album cover.

LL: Heck, this was a surprisingly tough pick this year. I felt quite drawn to (pun intended) traditional or traditional looking mediums with album covers this year, like Crimfall’s Amain, No Stars Upon the Bridge by Hallatar, and Ajattara’s Lupaus to name a couple. All of them pay justice to the album itself, so this would be more or less a toss-up if I tried to choose between them. So no winner from me in this category this year, but three honorary mentions.


AW: It breaks my heart to say this, but I might have to give this one to Ember Fall’s debut. As much as I really adore that album and want to give them all the awards, this is not one that I had hoped to give. The color was a bold choice and it matches the visual themes from the music video for “COE” nicely, as well as some of their merch. However, I’m not sure I really ‘get’ the album art, if I’m being honest. I know the band has a sort of dystopian theme, and likely they were touching on that, but it isn’t all that visually pleasing to me. (Granted, if I listened to Avatarium, I’d give their latest this award. Hideous cover, yikes.)

WK: If the Tim Bowness album had the most fitting cover possible, then The Dark Element’s debut unfortunately is the opposite: not only is it visually unappealing, but it also looks more suited for a B-horror film poster than a pop metal album. Whoever made the artwork clearly hadn’t listened to the record, given how far-removed from the music it is aesthetically. A dishonorable mention goes out to Steven Wilson’s To the Bone – it doesn’t look horrible, but I find both the concept and the execution cheesy. Sorry Steve, but you’re not photogenic enough to show up on album covers, especially with no shirt on!

LL: Compared to two previous Turmion Kätilöt albums, Dance Panique’s cover art is a setback in both style and quality. I loved the kitschy disco aesthetic they had going on with Diskovibrator and Technodiktator, so the weirdly dark Photoshop work just didn’t do it for me. Another strong contender for this category was The Dark Element’s debut of same name; like, what is that even?


AW: There were always going to be two contenders for this slot this year: Ayreon Universe in Tilburg and the Devin Townsend Project in Plovdiv. I had expected it to be a close call between these two, but in the end, even DTP couldn’t touch on the sheer insanity and magnitude of the Ayreon show. As well, while Ocean Machine was phenomenal to hear in an ancient Roman theater, the orchestra might as well have not been there for how well it could be heard. Ayreon Universe, however, boasted a veritable cornucopia of the best vocalists around, performing some of the best songs I know. Any time Arjen Lucassen rallies his guest vocalists to perform, it’s pure gold. Really, again, how do you top that?

WK: Even without counting, I’m fairly sure I didn’t attend as many shows as last year, so picking the best one is therefore easier as well: Riverside’s gig in Tampere had a great, warm vibe, and I was positively surprised by Lion Shepherd as the support band. Seeing the Polish progsters with smiles on their faces after the darkest phase in their career gave you hope that all obstacles in life can be overcome, and the interesting rearrangements gave some songs a second life (pun intended). Thinking of Michał Łapaj’s constant grinning still makes me chuckle to myself! Honorable mentions go to CMX’s once-in-a-lifetime Talvikuningas show, Apulanta’s entertaining spectacle, and Dream Theater’s nostalgic Images and Words celebration.

LL: This is an absolute no-brainer, I would’ve picked Insomnium’s festival ending show at Nummirock’s main stage right off the bat just seconds after they had finished it, even with the rest of the festival season still ahead of me. I’ve repeated this for half a year now – if there’s ever a right moment for pouring rain and bone-chilling cold at any gig, it was during “The Gale” in Nummijärvi. And this statement will stand into the unforeseeable future. Apart from the atmospheric elements provided by nature and midsummer, there likely would have not been a better way to call it a night than with Insomnium; through the 10 and some years I’ve listened to them, this was easily one, if not the very best of the shows I’ve seen them playing. The mammoth piece of art that is Winter’s Gate has translated to live shows almost surprisingly well, and at least I had no complaints about the rest of the set either. But what really made the night was the way the songs were performed. I’ve never seen a bad show from Insomnium, but this time Niilo Sevänen in particular seemed to have found an extra gear somewhere and cranked it all the way up, leaving me and my company at awe. If it wasn’t clear before, these guys are certainly shaping up for big stages.


AW: I didn’t come across any of these this year, so this is a pass.

WK: I went to see Black Sabbath’s The End of the End in a cinema in September and later bought the DVD to watch the whole thing without any interview clips interrupting the show. It’s a good documentary of the final(?) concert by the band that wrote the rulebook of metal: Ozzy Osbourne is in good shape (I know overdubbing is a thing, but he didn’t sound much worse when I saw them on the same tour, so I doubt a vast amount of doctoring was needed), Tony Iommi’s riffs sound as thunderous as they should, and it brought back nice memories of last year’s Monsters of Rock performance in Helsinki. Some of the fast cuts are annoying (I thought this early 00s fad had died a deserved death already), and I’m still not fond of the way Tommy Clufetos whacks his drums as if he’s cutting wood, but my overall impression is positive, and the Angelic Sessions recordings are a welcome bonus. To be honest, I liked David Gilmour’s Live at Pompeii a bit more when I saw it on the cinema screen, but since this is supposed to be a metal list and I haven’t watched the actual DVD anyway, I’ll let Sabbath have this.

LL: Unlike previous years of writing these, I managed to see not one but two new live DVDs this year, I’m actually impressed with myself! But as two is quite a small sample, I won’t make a final pick between them, especially because I liked them for different reasons. When considering live albums, Delain’s Live at Paradiso was easily one of the best I’ve ever heard, but as a DVD it sadly didn’t meet the expectations after seeing the show it was filmed at. On the other hand, Dimmu Borgir’s latest, Forces of the Northern Night, which featured an actual symphony orchestra and choir, was a good example of technical prowess, but even though I enjoyed it, I don’t feel emotionally inclined to watch it from time and time again.


AW: I don’t often watch enough music videos in a year to find something very inspiring to put here. However, this year had one video that was strange and beautiful and so, so, so appropriate to the lyrics that I knew about 30 seconds in that it would get this award. “Six Days” was not a song that I particularly liked when I reviewed Cellar Darling’s album, due to the way Anna Murphy sings in it. However, after hearing the lyrics and seeing this video, I finally understand the beauty of this song, and it’s making me think that I need to re-listen to the whole album with the lyrics so that I might better appreciate it. At very least it worked extremely well for this song, and that’s a powerful thing.

WK: Steven Wilson has usually been my go-to artist for music videos, but unfortunately just like the album cover, the videos from To the Bone all feature him, and the results are ‘meh’ at best. No video struck me as particularly amazing this year, but I’m going with “Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth” by The Mute Gods, because it has the most interesting concept, and the guy signing the lyrics is a funny little extra:

LL: Usually this category follows the pattern of, ‘first I watch only a handful of vids during the whole year and then something by Vesa Ranta wins’; however, this year proved to be an exception to the rule. Of course, there was something by Vesa Ranta in my top three in the form of Hallatar’s “My Mistake”, as usual, accompanied by Ajattara’s “Ave Satana” and Crimfall’s “Until Falls the Rain.” All of these three are drastically different from each other in style and mood, so in a way it could have been a tough pick, but in the end not so much, judging by how I grinned from ear to ear when I first saw my winning choice. It’s engaging, epic without looking ridiculous, and manages to keep it together from beginning to end, which often are problems in the videos of this genre. So, “Until Falls the Rain” takes the first place one more time in an impressive manner.


AW: There was one new band that I discovered this year that has a little something that could take them a long way: Lost in Grey. Their debut wasn’t earth-shattering, but their song-writing was really top-notch and the quality of the music and (most of) the vocals are really fantastic. I think these guys have something really good going on and I’m looking forward to hearing more material from them in the future, and perhaps catching a live show when I get the chance.

WK: It feels funny to name a group of middle-aged musicians the one with most potential, but I feel that Sons of Apollo didn’t totally manage to capitalize on their talents on their debut yet. I hope next time they’ll spend more time on songwriting and let Jeff Scott Soto and Bumblefoot loose… and Derek Sherinian will stop talking crap about Dream Theater on social media, haha.

LL: As a surprise to myself, when I thought of potential bands for this category, the one that rose above all others wasn’t a domestic newcomer comprised of eager youngsters, but a new project of seasoned musicians from ‘across the smaller pond,’ as we like to say about Sweden in here. I wasn’t much more than a little curious about CyHra when I first heard of the project, but I was wowed by their debut album from the first spin; you know those bands that feel like you’ve found a missing piece to complete the big picture of bands you listen? Here you have one.



AW: So another year has passed us by. I can’t say this year really astounded me a whole lot on the whole, but there were a few gems in there that more than made up for the lacks in other departments. While the albums were not too diverse on the scale from kinda dull to pretty good, the live shows this year turned out to be more memorable. Ayreon returned to absolutely crush my mind, I got to experience the Devin Townsend Project in an ancient Roman theater, CyHra’s debut gig made their good debut album even better, Ember falls still manages to impress me after seeing them about a thousand times, and the festivals didn’t let me down either. Nevertheless, I’ve got my ears open and hopes high for 2018!

WK: Unfortunately 2017 was kind of underwhelming for me musically, especially when compared to the previous 2 years. Few releases truly wowed me – not many newcomers entered the game with strong debuts, and some of my old favorites either sorely disappointed me (Paradise Lost), left me with mixed feelings (Anathema), or put out a fairly solid but slightly flawed album (Steven Wilson). Interestingly enough, the liveliest and most enjoyable albums came from solo- and side-projects, namely The Night Flight Orchestra, Lunatic Soul, and Daniel Cavanagh – clearly the freedom to branch out beyond your established main band is something many professional musicians cherish. Anyway, as you can see, many of my picks in this post can’t really be considered (pure) metal, as a combined result of my changing tastes and the lack of interesting new music in the genre this year, but I hope 2018 will be a more fruitful time for bands everywhere.

LL: All things considered, it wasn’t a bad year at all, music-wise. It wasn’t phenomenal, and there weren’t as many albums that would’ve really peaked from the steady flow of good and alright, but I wouldn’t call this a bad year. I feel that this was probably the reason why I felt like I had only listened to approximately three albums during the whole year, even though it was packed with all sorts of nice things. Good or even excellent debuts from S-tool, Ember Falls, One Desire, Hallatar, and CyHra, strong returns by Ajattara and Crimfall, and for example Bloodred Hourglass, Shade Empire, and Edge of Haze continued with strong efforts. Some albums I thought I’d listen to a ton got lost in the way, and I intend to pick them up while waiting for what 2018 has in store – new Arion, new Psychework, new Kamelot, most likely new Mokoma as well, so it’s looking quite good already. On live show front, 2017 was even better, and besides Insomnium being absolute amazeballs in Nummirock, I had a ton of fun all over the country. I feel it won’t get worse from that next year, anyway, so onward to new adventures!

HIM @ Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, 29.12.2017


HIM on their final tour at Rytmikorjaamo, 2017.
Photos by Lene L.
Gig report coming tomorrow!
Suomenkielinen keikkaraportti tulossa huomenna!


Staff Picks 2017


Another year has passed and we’ve been around, listening to new albums and checking out the live bands. But hibernation time is approaching once more, as the holidays are here and the shows cease to a temporary halt.

For the second year now, we want to leave you with a playlist of our staff favorite songs from the new albums – one song per album per staff member (so if you hear a few songs from the same album, you know it’ll be worth listening to).

Don’t forget to keep an eye open for our final blog of the year on December 31st – our 2017 Awards. You can read the past reports here: 201620152014

After that, we’ll see you next year when gig season starts up once more!

Happy holidays and have a great new year!


HARDCOREHARTAUS – Lucky Monkeys, Lappeenranta, 22.12.2017


New experiences can be fun, which is why breaking out of your comfort zone every now and again is a necessary evil. Thus, Musicalypse checked out the Hardcorehartaus event featuring Primal Spirit, Watch Your Back, and Scold LPR at Lucky Monkey’s, Lappeenranta, on December 22th.

Primal Spirit is a Russian hardcore band. This was the extent of my knowledge of them when I decided to go see them. Not at all familiar with the genre or the performers, enlargement of comfort zones was inevitable and most welcome. Settling in with a pair of friends in the downstairs of Lucky Monkeys, we waited for the bands to start playing for approximately 1½ hours, since there was no showtime available anywhere.


The first of the evening was Scold LPR, a local quartet founded in 2014 (according to their Bandcamp page) that sells their wares at the reasonable price of 666€, was as good as the space allowed them to be. Listening to the music after the fact, it’s pretty clear that they did the right choice by playing at eleven, rather than balancing out their act. The drumwork was awesome to watch and there was an audible feeling of genius every now and again. The drummer almost put on a solo performance, since a lot of the music and singing got drowned in noise. Regardless of that, the cellar was steadily getting more crowded, and a small mass of people was starting to gather.


Watch Your Back was the next home-brew in the line-up (founded in 2007) that really amped up the hardcore. Their live performance was much more energetic and rehearsed, their bassist jump-stomping with perfect timing to punctuate segments of their songs. Their idea of a moderate tempo was probably around 280 beats per minute, and it was glorious. There were zero questions about what kind of music these guys played, and they played it well. 110% pure hardcore and 0% messing around, this small-time band from Espoo showed what hardcore is about, and that was playing loud, having fun, and kicking some all the asses.


The meat of the evening, Primal Spirit from St. Petersburg, Russia, had its stage set and all warmed up. There were maybe 40-50 people in the downstairs portion of the bar, which was about as many as could fit comfortably, so the atmosphere was pretty dense. The very first thing I noticed was the extremely good sound of the bass drum, which was way clearer and snappier than before. The second thing was that the overall sound of the band was extremely good, transcending the mushed mixing and acoustic limitations of the bar, so their soundcheck had clearly been on point. Some half-assed criticism needs to be given to the vocals, since those weren’t audible some of the time (probably due to the mixing), but that is easily forgivable. Halfway through their set, I noticed my head subconsciously bobbing up and down, since the music was aggressively catchy and the performance mesmerizing. One wouldn’t think you could make a convincing mosh pit out of half a dozen individuals, but Primal Spirit somehow managed to pull it off with the extremely limited space and the small number of participants. No encouragement was asked for, nor was it necessary, as their music spoke louder than words could have. These guys deserve a bigger stage, a larger audience, and a chance to record an album with their brand of hardcore. If this band graces us with another gig, I’ll definitely be there to check them out again. They just played well, they played loud, and they had a lot of energy on stage.


Being numb to the ‘shock’ of aggressive and loud music, it is sometimes hard to get into the groove of some gigs. Repetitive, rough riffs and deafening drums sound like an ideal way to wake someone up from torpor, but to a long-time listener of metal such as myself, it seems boring if done ad nauseam. The three groups present at this gathering were all individually good enough to jolt me awake, but Primal Spirit most out of all of them. My companions on this venture (not into metal, or -core at all) also said that everything exceeded their expectations and they managed to actually enjoy themselves. That is worth high praise, and I’ll definitely check these guys out once they return.

METALORGY XMAS – Nosturi, Helsinki, 16.12.2017


MetalOrgy was first organized back in 2008, when the vocalist from Fear of Domination (now also second vocalist of Turmion Kätilöt) Saku Solin, along with his bandmates, wanted the chance to play on a big stage. He took a risk which paid off hugely and gave birth to a yearly occurrence in the Finnish metal scene – namely this one – with this year’s participants being Turmion Kätilöt, Fear of Domination, Ruoska, and King Satan.


Industrial metal has been popular for some years now, but personally I’ve never gotten that into it. I remember the huge boom of Rammstein’s popularity during the 2000’s and with that popularity came the imitators. Some of those bands have probably played for as long as Rammstein, but the boon to industrial metal’s popularity that they brought cannot be understated.


The first of the evening was a relative unknown for me, King Satan. Some buzz has been about them for some months, yet this buzz being on the internet, it was always either the best thing or the worst thing that ever existed. The conclusion for this buzz was an echoing ‘ehhhhh’, since it was decent, but nothing special. Industrial metal with strong beats and catchy synths, alongside a rough vocalist and an extremely energetic performance by their keyboardist/vocalist Katherine “Kate” Boss, who was easily the most active part of their performance. The amount of space on stage was extremely small, due to the number of drum kits on stage (there were four, if I counted right), so drummer Sir Changa McKenna was forced to play sideways. Playing sideways was pretty fun to watch, since it made it easier to follow his footwork and cymbal craft. The buzz about King Satan was kind of a letdown, but they played solid industrial and they only have their debut album out, so I expect to see them again in the upcoming years.


Next up was Ruoska, an old classic act from Juva, Eastern Finland, which until now had been on hiatus for almost a decade. Being the blast from the past as they were, a lot of nostalgia was present for their time on stage and the band’s word of the day was ‘machismo’. Donning sleeveless leather vests, the band was 110% ready to man out on stage. The frontman/vocalist Patrik Mennander didn’t seem to have the greatest condition on stage, but since this was a gig after a long hiatus, it is very understandable. Rocking out with old classics like “Veriura” (from their 2005 album Radium) and “Alasin” from Amortem (2006), Ruoska showcased to all the youngsters what it was like to pioneer during the 00s. The machismo in their show manifested by showing who’s boss to their water bottles. Emptying the contents on his head, spraying it on the audience, and finally throwing the water bottle into the mass, there was a certain confusion I felt regarding what water bottles had done to him in the past. I counted seven bottles that were ritually spilled of their contents and discarded afterwards, like some extremely low-key black metal shock show. Ruoska was definitely full of nostalgia, but the overbearing testosterone wasn’t to my liking.


Following that were the MetalOrgy founders, Fear of Domination, who recently (and not so recently) have undergone some additions to their line-up. First was Sara Strömmer for second vocalist, and during the evening they made official their addition of a secondary percussionist, Miikki Kunttu.

At this point, being veterans of the scene, FoD has a pretty good idea on how to occupy the stage, even with such an unwieldy number of members one stage. Donning their usual UV face paint, this shock metal troupe delivered a faster-paced experience than their predecessors. Strömmer at least seemed to be having a blast on stage and Solin’s microphone seemed to be having issues at some points during their slot (maybe he was saving up his voice for the Kätilöt show after this one), but he remained active and mobile despite all that. Wearing kilts, the vocalist duo dominated the stage and seemed to enjoy doing that. Also being one of the few bands that utilize a keytarist, FoD is instantly promoted two tiers higher than their music would let them. Their occasional effective use of ambience also does wonders for the depth of their sound. Personally I’m unconvinced about the addition of a second drummer – stage-diving expert though he is said to be – but it remains to be seen what the band can do with such a line-up. Our paths will inevitably cross again, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on them in any case.


The one to close out the evening was Turmion Kätilöt, a long-running industrial giant and fan-favorite among domestic fans of the genre. They too had their share of line-up changes (recent and comparatively ancient), firstly where their guitarist had emergency surgery and was replaced by Joonas Pulkkinen from Black Light Discipline, adapting the stage name of JonAss for the occasion. Secondly, Spellgoth leaving the band earlier this year, replaced by the aforementioned Saku Solin (stage-named Shag-U), but that is all old news at this point in time. Impressions about the band being still the same as ever, it is a relief to hear that Shag-U’s voice and presence on stage at least don’t make the band any worse. There isn’t a whole lot to say about TK’s live performance, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Being the crowd-pleasers that they are, they’ve adopted a very laid-back attitude towards their speeches in their intervals, often joking around with double entendres… some subtle, others not so much. Having a ton of hit songs as well, Kätilöt didn’t waste much of their set with filler songs.


In conclusion, MetalOrgy is a fine few-stop tour for kindling love for the industrial scene. If not for the bands, then at least the fandom. I had quite a few pleasant conversations with people attending the festival and having fun with friends is always a worthy investment of time. Personally I feel that, at this point, the boom of industrial metal has come and gone a long time ago, so the only thing to be done is that the music has to reinvent itself or get together as a more tightly-knit community. From what I’m seeing, the community option has been taken and I enjoy seeing that. Next up is the formation of a township whose chief exports are metal and industry.

Photos: Janne Puronen

METALORGY XMAS @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 16.12.2017


MetalOrgy Xmas at Nosturi, Helsinki, 2017.
Photos by Janne Puronen.

ELUVEITIE w/ SILENT CIRCUS @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 15.12.2017


Eluveitie with Silent Circus at Nosturi, Helsinki, 2017.
Photos by Janne Puronen.
Gig report HERE!

ELUVEITIE w/ Silent Circus – Nosturi, Helsinki 15.12.2017


Eluveitie released their latest album, Evocation II: Pantheon, in mid-to-late 2017 and have been on tour ever since. They graced Finland with two stops – the first one being in Jyväskylä – and we checked out the latter gig at Nosturi, Helsinki, on the 15th of December.

Check out the full gallery HERE!


Eluveitie has been a favorite with a lot of festivals and festival-goers – including those in Finland – but I’ve never had the inclination to catch a full gig before this one, since in the past my knowledge and interest towards folk metal has never been very high, but since the discovery of bands such as Nine Treasures and Tengger Cavalry, it has been fully piqued.


Due to some scheduling conflicts, I arrived a bit late after the warm-up act had already started, but still managed to catch around two thirds of the set. Silent Circus was an interesting choice for opener, since at a glance it holds none of what makes Eluveitie popular. It sounds very trendy with an extremely contemporary sound and production. Technically the band was perfect: their mixing was superb with nothing too loud or too low, mid-song rises of bass used to punctuate particular segments, and the microphone technique used by their lead vocalist, Peter Haller, was absolutely fantastic, yet there was nothing particularly exciting or interesting going on. By emphasizing technical perfection over ambience and – for lack of a better word – soul, it felt like they lost something on stage. Listening to their albums after their set seems to confirm that particular gut feeling. Somehow everything was only skin-deep, from the way the smoke was deployed to how they tried to organize a wall of death, which was comically undersized due to a lack of enthusiasm in the audience. Silent Circus all-in-all feels like one of those bands that some corporate suit wants to make money out of; putting together a group of individuals based on their CVs and hoping for an acceptable return of investment; this particular gut feeling, however, I’d like to be wrong about.


Eluveitie, on the other hand, managed to pull in one hell of a crowd that was visibly/audibly more into this particular nonet. It would seem hard to fit nine people on stage with a billion different instruments, but with rehearsed ease everyone fit into their spot on stage. Starting off with “Your Gaulish War” from Spirit (2006), this juggernaut of folk metal was underway. Instantly noticeable was the much rougher sound, probably because balancing nine performers and a whole lot of instruments is nigh-on impossible. Comparatively more unpolished than their predecessor, but transcending mere technicalities, Eluveitie’s music was more of a delight to listen to. Ambience being the word of the day, Eluveitie could surely use some. The lack of smoke and atmosphere during “Artio” (from Evocation II) was profoundly mystifying, and the atrociously tone-deaf light show didn’t help matters much. These secondary annoyances aside, there really wasn’t much to complain about the show. The music was uniquely their own and the performers entertaining, all of those weird traditional instruments playing their tunes and the venue easily on-board with little to no encouragement from the band itself.


In conclusion, I’m having a hell of a time trying to think of things to say about Eluveitie. It’s definitely not my type of music, but I cannot deny that their live sets are damn good. The secondary and tertiary issue nitpicks aside, they are extremely solid live performers with an interesting historical niche theme. My final and pettiest nitpick of the evening is the point where frontman Chrigel Glanzmann called “Epona” (again from Evocation II) a pagan gospel. Gospel – according to – is the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, thus being fundamentally incompatible with paganism. You’ll have to figure out another, more kickass word for pagan sermons, Mr. Glanzmann.

1. Your Gaulish War
2. King
3. Nil
4. Omnos
5. Neverland
6. Lvgvs
7. Catvrix
8. Artio
9. Epona
10. Thousandfold
11. The Call of the Mountains
12. A Rose for Epona
13. Kingdom Come Undone
14. Tegernakô
15. Alesia
(Drum Solo)
16. Havoc
17. Helvetios

18. Inis Mona

Photos: Janne Puronen

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Janne Ollikainen (Invisible Enemy, Random Fly, Acore), 2017


You may not be familiar with Janne Ollikainen, but he plays drums in as many as 3 different bands: progressive power/thrash metal posse Invisible Enemy (who released their debut album, Diversity, in August), heavy rock group Random Fly, and the female-fronted act aCore. Without further ado, let’s give the man the opportunity to talk about his picks for Playlist of My Life:


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Really hard to remember any particular song. It must have been some lullaby song that my mother’s been singing… or then something from Agents or Rauli Badding Somerjoki which my father used to listen a lot.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Propably the original Pokémon theme song! Oh, the nostalgia…

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Children of Bodom – “Bodom Beach Terror”. I started playing drums in high school and I remember listening to this song and wondering if I could ever learn to play it.

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Rammstein – “Feuer Frei”. I was a 12-year old kid when my friend borrowed me their album Mutter and told about that song, so I immediately checked it out first. That totally hit me! And it still does…

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Beast in Black – “Blind and Frozen”.

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Not really sure, what’s count as a ”guilty pleasure song,” because I listen to so many different kinds of music.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Nightwish – Once was the first album that I got really excited about. I remember standing in a record store and trying to choose between NW’s Once and and Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits.

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Sugizo – “Synchronicity”.

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
While driving I listen to tons of music from side to side. When the volume starts to turn up it’s most likely because of something straightforward, melodic, maybe with some 80’s vibes in it. Just to mention one: Brother Firetribe – “Heart Full of Fire”.

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Kamelot – “House on a Hill”, X Japan – “Art of Life”, Nightwish – “Dead Boy’s Poem”.


Watch the music video for “Worthless Heart” by Invisible Enemy here:

Or listen to the Diversity album on Spotify:

Random Fly’s Scum EP can be heard here:

Photo: Invisible Enemy promotional photos 2017

RASKASTA JOULUA @ Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, 09.12.2017


The annual Raskasta Joulua [Heavy Christmas] show at Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, 2017.
Photos by Jana Blomqvist.

15 Songs About Finland, from Finland


Finland is celebrating its first 100 years of independence on the 6th of December, 2017, and as most of our staff is either from or living in Finland right now, we decided to put together a list of songs that, to us, tell something about Finland. Whether they’re specifically about the country or just something that reminds us of some aspect of the people, nature, or whatever it may be, here’s a glimpse into what our Finland looks like in 15 songs.


Turisas – Täällä Pohjantähden alla

Starting with a pick from our editor-in-chief, here we have Turisas’ rendition of “Täällä Pohjantähden alla”, a song written by Petri Laaksonen with lyrics by Turkka Mali, which the battle metal troupe has covered now and then on stage. Here’s Amy’s view on the song: ”I’ve never been particularly interested in the Finnish anthem, and to me, that song is how I see Finland (my Finnish anthem, if you will), and this rendition is very powerful and shows a lot of local love from the band.”


Amorphis – My Kantele

Amorphis is, without a doubt, one of those pioneering Finnish metal bands that have paved the way for later generations and influenced the birth of the entire subgenre of folk metal. Since the 90s, Amorphis have brought the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, out to the world with their lyrics, but the ones in the song we picked are not from Kalevala, but its ”sister”, Kanteletar, which is a collection of Finnish folk poetry. ”My Kantele” specifically tells about the birth of the kantele (Finland’s national instrument), ”out of hard days” and ”endless woes.” Our wordsmith, Wille, had a story to share regarding the song: “A year ago I had a couple of exchange students over for an international dinner. After we’d finished eating, I played them a few Finnish songs on my acoustic guitar, and “My Kantele” was one of them. To me this song just embodies Finnishness so well, even though the lyrics are in English.”


Kiuas – The Spirit of Ukko

Our photographer Lene explains her pick: ”For most of my life, I’ve been fascinated (and somewhat amused) by stories of how stubborn Finns defied the new religion brought to them by Swedes from the west and went on with their old habits and gods after the crusaders had left – after washing away their baptism in a nearby lake. Somehow the old religion and its worship has survived until this day, in one form or another, and Kiuas brought their own modern and spirited flavor to the celebration of the old pantheon.”


The next three songs show the Finnish relationship with northern nature in three different ways – from the tranquil and beautiful to the grim and harsh. Finland is the first country in the world to have an official flag day for nature, and it’s been an endless source of inspiration to artists all across the board ever since the golden age of Finnish painters in late 19th century until today.

Swallow the Sun – Songs from the North

As our journalist Kalle put it, ”I can’t think of a band that reminds me of Finland better than StS.” There would be no shortage on what to showcase from them, but this acoustic piece from the album of the same name made the cut with its soothing verses and soaring, Finnish-sung choruses.

Eternal Tears of Sorrow – River Flows Frozen

Our photographer Janne picked “River Flows Frozen”, saying, ”I’ve always liked the song ever since I listened to it years ago when wandering in the woods during the winter.” That, more or less, sums up something essential about the Finnish relationship with nature.

Wintersun – Land of Snow and Sorrow

Editor-in-chief Amy talks about her other choice for the list: ”It seems very fueled by local thoughts and feelings, and while grim on the surface, reflects a lot of the beauty as well. Isn’t that a perfect way to describe Finland too?”


Sentenced – No One There, Excuse Me While I Kill Myself/Suicider

Finland is known for its traditionally long winters, which is a natural result of the country being located up in the north. One mental defense mechanism against the dark and cold is humor, which in Finland tends to be quite dry and sometimes dark. Sentenced tended to write about suicide and depression, and in some songs the grim and morbid humor was taken to its extreme – the most famous examples are “The Suicider” and “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself”, which the band played as a medley at their final show, which was captured on the live release Buried Alive (2006). “No One There”, on the other hand, represents the more serious and melancholy side of Sentenced, and the emotional music video featuring an old couple is worth watching for the feels.


Suamenlejjona – Keppana viimeinen

Moving from one typical kind of Finnish humor to another, Kalle picked a song by Suamenlejjona that reminds him of when he was growing up, and incidentally, reminds some of the rest of our staff of Nummirock. Kalle explains further: ”The whole band has this vibe of authenticity surrounding it, even though it is just a joke.” Combining the stereotypes of Finns’ love for hockey, beer, and metal, Suamenlejjona is loved both for and without irony.


Popeda – Kersantti Karoliina

Finland has been a progressive nation when it comes to gender equality: it was among the first to give women the right to vote and be candidates in parliamentary elections, and in 2000 Tarja Halonen became one of the first female presidents in the world. In the 1990s women were permitted to serve in the Finnish military, and Popeda wrote about the subject in the song “Kersantti Karoliina” (Sergeant Karoliina). While the tune is rather tongue-in-cheek, it reminds us of a turning point in Finnish society. Our photographer Miia reminisced on the topic as follows: “I used to say I’d serve in the army if women were allowed in there. After 2 years it was possible, but I didn’t go!”


Stam1na – Vapaa maa

Continuing with the contemporary themes, Miia also picked Stam1na’s “Vapaa maa” (Free Country). Stam1na has made their brand of modern, quirky, Finnish-sung metal into a phenomenon that reaches all kinds of audiences within Finland and has steadily made its way outside Finland as well. “Vapaa maa” is a good example of vocalist-guitarist Antti Hyyrynen’s skill of cooking up insightful, machine gun-paced lyrics with varying societal messages.


CMX – Discoinferno

The term “luova hulluus” (creative madness) is well-known in Finland and refers to thinking outside the box, sometimes quite radically so. This is certainly familiar to Finns, as demonstrated by the fact that the wife-carrying and mobile phone throwing world championships are held in our country. In the field of music a good example of this crazy creativity is the not-so-easily categorized band CMX with their eclectic range of influences. Their song “Discoinferno” combines industrial sounds, a guitar riff that consists of all the 12 notes in the chromatic scale played up and down, and a lyric written in the Kalevala meter, which is a form of trochaic tetrameter used in Finnish folk poetry and the eponymous national epic. Just listen if you don’t believe!


Sonata Arctica – Black Sheep

Finland has a rich tradition of literature, although not many writers besides Mika Waltari are famous abroad. Their influence, however, occasionally raises its head even in heavier music, an example of this being “Black Sheep” by Sonata Arctica, which is inspired by the novel The Howling Miller (1981) by Arto Paasilinna.


Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus – Lumessakahlaajat, Psychework – Bullet With My Name

Even though the independence had been gained over 20 years earlier, it was at stake for some time when most of Europe was in the middle of World War II and Finland fought the Winter War and the Continuation War against Soviet Union. While the common narrative on Finnish independence is quite heavily influenced by stories of war heroes and miraculous victories, some bands have told stories that step a little away from that glorified history – stories of refugees and close calls.


Mokoma – Sydänjuuret

Almost a cliché in a list like this, Mokoma’s “Sydänjuuret” from the 2010 album of the same name is essentially a song from and about Finland, sung in Finnish. It’s made its way into the hearts of fans with ease, and at Independence Day shows in particular the sing-alongs are quite something.


The Finlandia hymn

There is probably not a more proper way to wrap this list up than Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia hymn. Originally composed as part of a patriotic symphonic poem in a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire and later worked into a stand-alone piece, it is one of the most important national songs in Finland. It’s also been covered by numerous Finnish bands, from Stone to Nightwish, and most recently by Frosttide. This rendition by the YL Male Voice Choir is one of the most loved versions, and with it, we wish the independent Finland many happy returns and peaceful centuries to come.


Text: Lene L. and Wille Karttunen

(2017) DOOM SIDE OF THE MOON: Doom Side of the Moon (English)


Artist: Doom Side of the Moon
Album: Doom Side of the Moon
Released: 08.12.2017
Label: Music Theories Recordings


One of the most iconic works in the canon of popular music, The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd has been covered in its entirety by other musicians in numerous styles, including reggae, a cappella, and bluegrass. The Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt is the latest musician to give a nod to the classic, in the form of a release called Doom Side of the Moon, which will see the light of day in Europe on the 8th of December. As the title implies, doom/stoner metal is the name of the game, and Shutt has assembled a lineup featuring his Sword bandmates Bryan Richie (bass) and Santiago Vela III (drums), as well as vocalist Alex Marrero, keyboardist Joe Cornetti, and saxophonist Jason Frey for the project. According to Shutt, the idea behind the album came to him while he was stoned and wanted to hear a metal version of “Time.” Could this be just another horrible brainfart conceived under the influence or a stroke of genius?


Reviewing a cover of an album you have a deep affinity for can be hard, as it’s easy to get protective and dislike every little change, but despite being a big fan of Pink Floyd’s classic 70s opuses, I went in with an open mind. Luckily the variety of Doom Side of the Moon is a positive surprise, as Shutt and co. don’t simply play the songs in a slower tempo and with more distortion. For example, “Breathe” is an acoustic piece here, and the transition from it into the noisy “On the Run” is remarkable. The saxophone and the retro vocal effects serve as a nice link to the original album, and the cowbell on the hard rocking rendition of “Money” is a nice touch.

Floyd’s music is popular among stoners, just like stoner rock and metal (duh!), so the genre change on the album isn’t a giant leap in that sense. On top of that, Roger Waters’ musings on war, greed, insanity, and the inevitability of death translate quite nicely into metal. This can be heard best in the industrialized “Brain Damage”, on which the demented, half-spoken vocal delivery reeks of Marilyn Manson and the theme of madness has been captured successfully. My favorite version is “Us and Them”, the verse arpeggios of which have been changed quite creatively, and the dynamics of the song have been amplified.

The album isn’t without its flaws, though: “Any Color You Like” [sic] is rather aimless, the abrupt ending of “The Great Gig in the Sky” pulls the rug out from under you and makes the version come across as unfinished, and the hockey organ in the middle of “Money” is pretty corny. Besides, the use of interview samples and sound effects was one of the things that made The Dark Side a revolutionary record in its day, but sadly none of them have been recreated on Doom Side, which makes some sections sound a little too bare-bones and vacant. These aren’t major dealbreakers though, and the flow of the music is almost as good as on the original, without too many unnecessary breaks.


Doom Side of the Moon is a well-done tribute to one of the greatest albums of all time: imaginative and different enough to justify its existence while managing to maintain the spirit of the original in a fascinating way. To be honest, I can’t see myself specifically reaching for it instead of the Floyd album, but I applaud Kyle Shutt for his effort and recommend the record to anyone who’s into this style of metal, even if they haven’t heard (gasp!) The Dark Side of the Moon before.

Rating: 8/10, 4 stars

1. Speak to Me
2. Breathe (In the Air)
3. On the Run
4. Time
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
6. Money
7. Us and Them
8. Any Color You Like
9. Brain Damage
10. Eclipse

(2017) DOOM SIDE OF THE MOON: Doom Side of the Moon (suomeksi)


Artisti: Doom Side of the Moon
Albumi: Doom Side of the Moon
Julkaisupäivä: 08.12.2017
Levy-yhtiö: Music Theories Recordings


Pink Floydin The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) on yhtenä populaarimusiikin kaanonin ikonisimmista teoksista ollut monenlaisessa cover-käsittelyssä – esimerkkityyleinä mainittakoon reggae, a cappella ja bluegrass. The Swordin kitaristi Kyle Shutt on viimeisin muusikko, joka on antanut hyväksyvän nyökkäyksensä albumille, julkaisemalla Doom Side of the Moonin, joka näkee päivänvalon Euroopassa 8. joulukuuta. Kuten otsikko antaa ymmärtää, doom/stoner metal on homman nimi, ja Shutt on koonnut projektia varten kokoonpanon, johon kuuluvat hänen Sword-bänditoveriensa Bryan Richien (basso) ja Santiago Vela III:n (rummut) lisäksi laulaja Alex Marrero, kosketinsoittaja Joe Cornetti ja saksofonisti Jason Frey. Shuttin mukaan hän sai idean levystä ollessaan pilvessä ja halutessaan kuulla metalliversion “Timesta”. Onko siis kyseessä vain yksi päihteiden vaikutuksesta syntynyt hirveä aivopieru vai neronleimaus?


Suuresti rakastamansa albumin cover-version arvosteleminen voi olla hankalaa, sillä on helppoa heittäytyä suojelevaiseksi ja inhota pienimpiäkin muutoksia, mutta Pink Floydin 70-luvun klassikoiden fanittamisestani huolimatta päätin kuunnella levyn avoimin mielin. Onneksi Doom Side of the Moonin vaihtelevuus on mieluisa yllätys, sillä Shutt ja kumppanit eivät tyydy vain soittamaan biisejä läpi hitaammalla tempolla ja lisäsäröllä. Esimerkiksi “Breathe” on tässä yhteydessä akustinen veto, ja siirtymä meluisaan “On the Runiin” on aikamoinen. Saksofoni ja retrohenkiset lauluefektit toimivat mukavana linkkinä alkuperäiseen albumiin, ja lehmänkello on hauska mauste kovalla kädellä rokkaavassa “Moneyssa”.

Floydin musiikki on suosittua pössyttelijöiden keskuudessa aivan kuten stoner rock ja -metal (yllätys yllätys!), joten albumin genreloikka ei ole tässä mielessä niin valtava harppaus. Lisäksi Roger Watersin mietteet sodasta, ahneudesta, mielisairaudesta ja kuoleman väistämättömyydestä soveltuvat oikein mukavasti metalliin. Tämä kuuluu parhaiten teollistuneessa “Brain Damagessa”, jolla vinksahtaneet, puoliksi puhutut lauluosuudet haiskahtavat Marilyn Mansonilta ja hulluuden teemasta on saatu kiinni onnistuneesti. Suosikkiversioni on “Us and Them”, jonka säkeistöjen arpeggioita on muutettu luovasti ja dynamiikkaa on vahvistettu.

Levyllä on kuitenkin heikkoutensa: “Any Color You Like” (sic) haahuilee päämäärättömästi, “The Great Gig in the Skyn” äkillinen loppu vetää maton jalkojen alta ja saa versioinnin vaikuttamaan keskeneräiseltä, ja “Moneyn” väliosan lätkäurut ovat melko kornit. Kaiken kukkuraksi haastattelupätkät ja ääniefektit, jotka osittain tekivät The Dark Sidesta vallankumouksellisen levyn aikanaan, loistavat poissaolollaan, eikä mitään niistä olla lähdetty tekemään uudestaan Doom Sidella, mikä tekee joistain osioista turhan riisutun ja onton kuuloisia. Levy ei kuitenkaan kaadu näihin seikkoihin, ja onneksi kappaleet soljuvat yhteen lähes yhtä saumattomasti kuin alkuperäisteoksessa, ilman turhia taukoja.


Doom Side of the Moon on hyvin toteutettu kunnianosoitus yhdelle kaikkien aikojen parhaista albumeista: riittävän mielikuvituksekas ja erilainen oikeuttaakseen olemassaolonsa, onnistuen kuitenkin samalla säilyttämään alkuperäislevyn hengen kiehtovalla tavalla. Rehellisesti sanottuna en usko koskaan haluavani kuunnella sitä erityisesti Floydin albumin sijaan, mutta nostan hattua Kyle Shuttille hänen vaivannäöstään ja suosittelen levyä jokaiselle, joka on tämäntyyppiseen metalliin päin kallellaan, vaikka The Dark Side of the Moonia ei syystä tai toisesta olisikaan kuullut.


Arvosana: 8/10, 4 tähteä

1. Speak to Me
2. Breathe (In the Air)
3. On the Run
4. Time
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
6. Money
7. Us and Them
8. Any Color You Like
9. Brain Damage
10. Eclipse

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Konsta Vehkala (Psychework, Psykoanalyysi, LOJOHH)


Konsta Vehkala might not be the first name to pop up when thinking of Finnish drummers, but he certainly has his hands full with several bands and genres, from melodic metal outfit Psychework to hardcore punk troupe Psykoanalyysi, to alternative rock band LOJOHH and Gian and Scars of Solitude (as rhythm guitarist) in the past. Along with release of Psychework’s new single, “Siege”, we asked Konsta what the playlist of his life looks like:


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Status Quo – “Going Downtown Tonight”

My dad has been a huge fan of Status Quo for as long as I can remember, so when I was a little child he played their songs to me all the time and from what I’ve heard, I loved this track the most. I guess he purposely ‘trained’ me to become a Quo fan too, because later I started to listen them more and I became sort of a fan as well. I don’t know if it was the trucks in the music video or that synth riff in the beginning why I liked the song.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Rammstein – “Links 2-3-4”

It was this song that got me into Rammstein. I think I was 11 when I saw the music video of this song and the massive wall of guitars; the simple and effective drum beat and Till Lindemann’s low voice was something I had never heard before, and the video was awesome as well. I then asked my dad to find more songs by Rammstein for me. Then a few days later he gave me a CD-R full of Rammstein which was pretty much the best thing ever. I still remember the day when I walked to school after listening to the song for the first time with good speakers and loud volume – it felt like something had changed in me.

I can’t express enough how much Rammstein and especially the album Mutter has influenced me in pretty much everything I do and how much it has formed my taste in music!

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Skinny Puppy – “Worlock”

During my high school years I had my most ‘electronic period’ in music. I listened to a lot of industrial, EBM, synthpop, and other electronic stuff and not that much metal, though grindcore came into the picture during that time. This song was kind of my anthem at the time and Skinny Puppy is still one of my favorite bands.

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Linkin Park – “In the End” / Slipknot – “My Plague”

I think Linkin Park, and numetal in general, are somehow responsible for getting me into metal. At the age when I started to understand something about music, numetal was at its high point and I was listening to Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, etc. that kind of stuff. Then I went deeper, found heavier stuff through my friends, and here we are.

Another remarkable track would be ”My Plague” by Slipknot. I remember when I was around 11 when I discovered this song with an old friend of mine, until one day he came to me and told me seriously that ”Man, we can’t listen to this anymore. There were 666 signs and pentagrams on the stage in their video!” We were terrified. And as we know, Slipknot is satanic as hell. This felt kind of forbidden and exciting, so I borrowed ”Iowa” from a local library and started listening to it. I think Slipknot was the gateway to the more extreme metal.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Priest – “History in Black”

This and their other singles from their upcoming debut album have been on heavy rotation lately over here. It’s a synthpop/electronic/somewhat industrial-ish band formed by ex-members of Ghost. Really good stuff, I’m really looking forward to their debut album which comes out later this month.

Other songs that are worth mentioning here would be ”Time” by Wintersun, ”Where’s the Revolution?” by Depeche Mode, and”Spit it Out” by IAMX.

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Kent – “Om du var här”

I don’t really think anything as ‘guilty pleasures’ or something that I wouldn’t be allowed to listen to because I don’t really care if something is kind of ‘banned stuff’ or something like that. I picked this because it would probably be something that people wouldn’t guess that I like. Kent has some good sad pop tunes and this is one of those.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Carcass – “Choice Cuts”

I can’t really remember what it was exactly. I think the best of album Choice Cuts by Carcass was one of the first albums I bought with my own money. I was 14 or something. It was one of my first touches to grindcore too. I remember that I had heard only one newer track by Carcass and it was kind of a shock when the album kicked off with their earlier material. The first actual CDs that I got were probably Smurffit vol. 1 and a dance hits compilation CD when I was a kid; I guess that was really exciting stuff back then…

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Nine Inch Nails – “The Great Below”

Nine Inch Nails’s The Fragile would be my perfect soundtrack for cold and rainy autumn and winter nights. One of my favorite albums ever as well. It was hard to pick just one song from it so I picked up this just for the overall feeling of the track. This is also one of the less recognized tracks by NIN that I think needs more attention. I could imagine myself curling up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and listening to it with good headphones while it’s raining and dark outside.

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Ministry – “Just One Fix”

I actually drive around quite a lot just for fun, mostly just to listen to music at full volume. Therefore there are plenty of options for this, but my list wouldn’t be anything without posting a track by Ministry, so let it be this! The main (and the only) riff of this song just never gets old and it’s meant to be listened at maximum volume. Anything from Rammstein would fit into this category too.

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Ghost – “Monstrance Clock”

I’d love to hear a choir singing this song at my funeral, just listen to the ending of the song with the choir and church organ. That would be my kind of funeral! Great track by a great band. This would give a nice little twist for the party.


Listen “Siege” from Psychework here:

Photo: Psychework promotional photos 2017

STRATOVARIUS – Tavastia, Helsinki, 24.11.2017


2017 has been a slightly quiet time for Stratovarius, but towards the end of the year they did a five-stop mini-tour in Finland, and we were fortunate enough to catch the show at Tavastia, Helsinki, on November 24th. Due to a scheduling conflict, regular bassist Lauri Porra was unavailable to play on this occasion, so Jari Kainulainen, the band’s former bassist, filled Porra’s and his own shoes, which made the gig special in a way.

Growing up listening to Stratovarius, along with their similar contemporaries Sonata Arctica, Rhapsody, Iron Savior, and Gamma Ray, my love for cheese, fantasy, and sci-fi was never higher. A hugely nostalgic band from early teens and one of my personal first introductions to the world of metal – power or otherwise – Stratovarius was a must-see.

Check out the full gallery HERE!
Jam along to the setlist, with the exception of “Eternity” (the third song):


Apparently a lot of people had the same nostalgic pull as me, since Tavastia was surprisingly crowded for a band with no warm-up act and a somewhat underwhelming domestic reputation. I noticed many younger concert-goers as well, so it seems Stratovarius has already ensnared acquainted the next generation of metalheads, and if that’s the case, welcome victims friends. Balcony and beer – being the tried and true modus operandi – was the plan for the night and the ideal vantage point.


The intro kicked off around 21:30, the music being equally reminiscent of Hollywood orchestral soundtracks and Nightwish synthesizers, and the cheese was already palpable. Starting off with the somewhat typical ‘instrumentalists on stage, vocalist rushing onto the stage at the last second’ type of opening, “Forever Free” from their Visions (1997) album, was the opener and apparently the fear of no warm-up was unfounded. The crowd was already electrified and energetic during the first song and a lot of fists were raised. This was partly due to Timo Kotipelto and his vigorous performance: he was mounting the stage monitors, tossing the microphone between his hands, and overall being a fun performer to watch and listen to, except on the occasions when he was standing still at the mic stand. The presence of Kainulainen is not to be understated either, since he easily towered over his former bandmates and apparently was having a blast being under the spotlights again. There were some points during the set when the audio, either from Kotipelto’s or the mixing desk’s side, was too low and as such wasn’t heard in the audience (at least upstairs), but these minor technical difficulties aside, Stratovarius showed everyone their professionalism on stage.

Timo Kotipelto’s speeches were fun to listen to, being a combination of rehearsed showmanship and boyish charm. Teasing their replacement bassist about his Norwegianness and scolding fans trying to take a peek at the setlist, he seemed at home on stage and interacting with the crowd. Saving the crowd-pleasers for the latter half, the ensemble reminded everyone with “Speed of Light” from Episode why the Finnish word “tiluttelu” was first born, somewhat akin to the word “shredding”, but less serious. Let’s call it “tiluting.” Making eclairs without tools would probably be possible judging by the quickness of their playing. Quoting the frontman himself, the song, “was over before it kind of even began.” Unloading “The Kiss of Judas”, “Black Diamond”, and “Hunting High and Low” during their encore, like Roman emperors, the band judged the worthiness of the audience with a show of thumbs. The thumbs remained stubbornly horizontal though, so the audience were spared sentence for their efforts at least. The show thus over, it was time to head home and reflect on the evening.


Stratovarius, with their long career and impressive discography, is a line-up with heaps of experience, but still lacks that X factor. Functional, with hit songs to spare, but boring. In a scene where a certain sense of danger and rebellion should be ever-present, Stratovarius sadly lacks this. Though Kotipelto is a good leader for the band with charm and an apparent readiness for words and the rest of the band are masterful with their instruments, they however don’t possess that certain edge that gives metal its allure, the pull of something primal and sinister. Nonetheless, Stratovarius serves as an excellent jumping-off point for the wonderful soundscape of the metal scene, with its friendly rivalries and arguments on what constitutes which genre. Welcome neophytes, pick your poison.

1. Forever Free
2. Shine in the Dark
3. Eternity
4. My Eternal Dream
5. Distant Skies
6. Speed of Light
7. Season of Change
8. SOS
9. Against the Wind
10. Unbreakable

11. The Kiss of Judas
12. Black Diamond
13. Hunting High and Low

Photos: Miia Collander

STRATOVARIUS @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 24.11.2017


Stratovarius at Tavastia, Helsinki, 2017.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig report HERE!

SWALLOW THE SUN: Hope 10th Anniversary Tour w/ RED MOON ARCHITECT & SLEEP OF MONSTERS – Lutakko, Jyväskylä, 24.11.2017


The Finnish giants of death/doom, Swallow the Sun, took their 2007 gem Hope on the road in the bleak November to celebrate the album’s first full decade with Finnish audiences. As they were skipping Tampere and Helsinki, and touring a handful of smaller towns along with Turku and Oulu, Lene L. made the trip to the band’s hometown of Jyväskylä with high expectations and suitable excitement.

So, first things first, Hope is – more or less – my all-time favourite Swallow the Sun album. New Moon tried to rival it for a while, and I have a soft spot for the first two albums, but Hope is a piece of work I connected with in an instant. I didn’t even have a clear reason for picking it as a favorite during this decade I’ve spent with it, so as much of a gig report, this is also a chance to reflect on why I’m still so fond of Hope. And as StS are usually at their best in a club environment, this time also with a hometown advantage on their side, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a memorable show.


Speaking of chances, a Friday evening in Jyväskylä offered one for checking out bands I was familiar with by name alone. In Red Moon Architect’s case I had a vague idea of what to expect, though, and at 20:30 (sharp) the band climbed on stage and proved my idea just about right. Playing an atmospheric brand of death/doom, they seem to take it easy with the genre’s characteristics, and while they didn’t offer anything radically new, I made a mental note to look them up, for a few reasons. Where Ville Rutanen’s growls fit the style like a glove, Anni Viljanen’s clean vocals left me curious from time to time – her voice is quite an interesting one for the genre, judging by one show alone, almost not fitting because of something I can’t really put my finger on. It might have something to do with the thoughts I had during the song she handled the vocal duties alone; she can sound powerful, almost commanding at times, but it’s almost like she’s trying to cover that up with a more delicate air. The latter would, admittedly, fit along nicely with the genre’s standards, but personally I’d prefer the former. All-in-all, especially with the nicely haunting ending of “Betrayed” and the last song, “Rising Tide”, as a whole, I liked what Red Moon Architect had going on and likely will sneak a look at them again on some later occasion.


Next up we were in for a surprise, as Sleep of Monsters wasn’t exactly what we had expected based on the two other bands: instead of another dose of doom aesthetics, we got a set of good ol’ rock ’n’ roll laced with a hefty handful of Goth. I was immediately caught by the lead singer’s voice, which sounded oddly familiar – it reminded me of someone, and I just couldn’t figure out who exactly. Eventually, I was so bothered by the familiarity that I had to google the band, and lo and behold, the singer is none other than Ike Vil of Babylon Whores! Now that this was solved, I could really focus on the music – they were a refreshing choice in between the death/doom acts and worked as a nice pick-me-up. They were entertaining and fun, but not too cheery to ruin the mood, staying true to their self-defined genre labels of Victorian post-punk and adult occult rock. Definitely another band to look up later – I thoroughly enjoyed their Goth extravaganza. Fans of Ghost might also find this one appealing; at least I found some similar kind of vibes in Sleep of Monsters’ repertoire, but then again I’m no expert in things regarding Ghost.


The anticipated stirring started right around the moment the curtains were drawn in front of the stage for the set change, and when 15ish minutes later, the DJ’s choice of the moment faded out into Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away” (a fine pick for an intro, I might add), the stage front was delightfully packed. I won’t lie, it was quite a kid-on-a-Christmas-morning kind of moment, and by the time “Hope” reached its first chorus, at latest, it was clear this was going to be a good night.

Now, I’ve rarely been to these anniversary – or any other kind of – shows where a certain album is played in total, and I’m not certain if I even should do that more often, since now each time has been special in more ways than one. Much like Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate, Hope is without a doubt one of those albums that deserves to be played in its entirety at least once – or a few times – during the band’s career. It’s a whole, seamless entity as much as the sum of its parts, without being a clear-cut concept album or needing to be one, and it wouldn’t really be a stretch to say that it’s one of the cornerstones in its niche in Finland. At the very least, it’s an important milestone on the band’s road.

But what really makes Hope such a significant piece in Swallow the Sun’s discography? I made a short round asking my friends who were at the anniversary show for their opinions on the matter, and it seems to be an album that particularly struck a chord on an emotional level and raised the bar on quality. I can easily agree on these points – it’s extremely expressive, and at least in my opinion, the album where Swallow the Sun found their sound. The elements on The Morning Never Came (2003) and Ghosts of Loss (2005) were combined with a sort of otherworldly poise and an exact, dynamic delivery. It’s a richly nuanced and mature work from a band that knows what it’s doing, to the point, and has only bettered its run after it.

The serene yet dynamic nature has translated itself seamlessly into live shows, as Swallow the Sun is still both fierce and poised on stage, doing what they do without additional accessories. It’s always impressive to see how such a minimalistic performance is still as expressive as the ones by more extroverted contemporaries – there always seems to be a lot of room for articulating their presence on stage (even one as small as Lutakko’s). Mikko Kotamäki rarely moves around, but the way he utters some lines will stick in your head to haunt you the next week – like how “I wait for your arrival” in “Too Cold for Tears” rolls out, or the harrowing pre-chorus in “Hope” while his bandmates raise a storm around him. Take a look at mastermind Juha Raivio, for example: his playing is quite literally punishing the guitar, and where he can accentuate a gesture, he will. And while the band’s performance normally won’t falter due to conditions, they do deserve an audience that’s up for more than just standing around and nodding along, and once again Lutakko showed its best sides in this. Both as an observer and a regular member of the audience, I’ve noticed that at StS shows the atmosphere is ruled by the crowd surprisingly much: the band will do their part, but if the audience doesn’t, it’s like missing the other participant in a discussion.

In any case, there’s no real need for extravaganza – you have your basic blue, red, and white lights with the occasional strobe and smoke, and not much talking aside from a simple thank you or song announcement now and then (even if this time there wasn’t much need for that before the encore). And it didn’t feel rushed, either, even though there weren’t many breaks between songs. But then again, Hope does clock at 57 minutes just on its own, so if you like your encores a little longer, it probably suits you just fine.

A lengthy encore is exactly what we got, kicking it off with “Rooms and Shadows” and adding fuel to the fire with “These Woods Breathe Evil.” After “Falling World” and still one more song from New Moon – the title track – me and my company jokingly wondered if they’d play the whole New Moon as well, just for the kicks, which we quite honestly wouldn’t have minded. And by the look of it, neither would the rest of the audience, so perhaps in a couple of years? (Hint, hint.) This time, however, we called it a night with “Deadly Nightshade” and “The Morning Never Came”, and I’m not the one to say no to old stuff and rarities.


As a whole, the evening was definitely worth the trip: two new bands to look up, and as predicted, a near-impeccable rendition of my all-time favorite Swallow the Sun album, with a generous and even – actually not joking here – lively encore as a cherry on top. The sound was great, and the band in their prime – on a related note, it’s nice to see Raivio back on stage with them. The last time I saw StS in a club environment the crowd left some room for improvement, but I have to cut some slack for the Tampere audience – Songs from the North was quite a massive thing to explore in a couple of short months, while the already familiar Hope offers quite a bunch of ‘bangers,’ as kids these days call them. But context aside, even if the Jyväskylä show might not fall into the category of ‘absolutely perfect,’ if I could change only one thing, I would’ve hoped for a sold-out show. That’s pretty much it.

1. Hope
2. These Hours of Despair
3. The Justice of Suffering
4. Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2)
5. Too Cold For Tears
6. The Empty Skies
7. No Light, No Hope
8. Doomed to Walk the Earth

9. Rooms and Shadows
10. These Woods Breathe Evil
11. Falling World
12. New Moon
13. Deadly Nightshade
14. The Morning Never Came

SOILWORK w/ IKINÄ – Tavastia, Helsinki, 18.11.2017


Soilwork is no stranger to Finnish soil, having been here a whopping three times this year already: opening for Kreator, on Radio Rock Risteily XXI, and of course, at Tuska Open Air. However, it’s been a while since a proper headlining show, and I think personally, the last time I saw them in a club was in Tampere in 2013. So, it was time to put on our moshing boots and prepare to sweat, as we headed to Tavastia on November 18th to see what the Swedes had to offer this time around.

Check out the full gallery HERE!
And listen along with the setlist on Spotify here:

The first band of the night was, actually, a band called Chronus, whom I had never heard of and alas, I showed up only at the end of their set, just barely catching their last song and not really getting enough to form an opinion. Perhaps next time.

Ikinä was our first of the night, as such. I’ve heard rather mixed reviews of these guys and gals, with most people saying that they have a metric ton of potential, but haven’t quite hit it in full just yet. Frankly, that was about the long and short of my thoughts on them too. Their stage presence is a lot of fun. It reminded me of PMMP in their prime, but with more input from the rest of the band and far heavier music. I don’t know their music well, but I’ve been told that they write great lyrics, but I can’t speak for them. The only song I knew beforehand was “Magic Mike”, so when they came out playing “Kylmääkin kylmempää”, I had thought one of the girls was growling, but figured it must have been a sound issue because it stopped quite quickly. Then as the song progressed I realized that, in fact, Katariina Sorsa (if I’ve got the right one) was actually growling just a bit. So the heavier music style was a surprise, but certainly not a bad one.

The performance was energetic and fun, but definitely needs a bit of fine tuning. The phantom pointed out that Samuli Suokas (guitar) was constantly playing to the sound tech and not to the crowd. As well, while both ladies were fantastic singers on their own, there was a strange issue when they were singing together (an issue that the phantom mentioned is also present on their album) – they seem to almost cancel each other out. I’m not sure if they’re not harmonizing well or what the problem is, but somehow the power of their vocals fades out and goes totally flat when they sing together. It was an unusual effect, and one I hope that they can figure out and fix for the future.

Another positive factor was that the band wasn’t completely spotlighting the female vocalists – bassist/vocalist Lauri Hämäläinen had his share of fun at the mic between songs, telling the crowd that this was a hostile takeover. They played one new song, which I believe was “Turbounelmii”, and it was by far the best song of the night. All-in-all, I enjoyed their set and wouldn’t say no to seeing them again, but they definitely still have some practice to do before they go from good to great. There was a fellow on stage taking videos during their set – I wonder if/where we’ll be seeing that footage in the future?

Soilwork was scheduled to take the stage at the oddly specific time of 21:10, and an acoustic intro played until Björn “Speed” Strid came in growling to “The Living Infinite pt. II.” One thing that had been curious about this show to me was that it was held at Tavastia. Of course, the venues seem quite full this time of year so maybe everywhere else was already booked, but Soilwork’s last DVD was filmed at The Circus, so that’s a fairly sizable difference, and while Tavastia was packed, it didn’t seem sold-out. The enthusiasm these guys bring out from the crowd even from the start is incredible though. By “Like the Average Stalker”, a mere three songs in, there was already a big pit in the middle of the floor that didn’t really ever go away once it started.

Despite the fact that I listen to Soilwork rather seldomly, I think Strid is becoming one of my favorite Gothenburg vocalists. His growl is melodic and powerful, while his singing voice is deep and strong. He can be doing either and I consistently love it. This night was no exception – his vocals were on point, and to my delight – considering issues with sound at both Tuskas they’ve last played and the Kreator gig – the sound quality in general was very well balanced, and the band sounded fantastic. David Andersson (guitar) took center stage for a few solos, shaking his head and really immersing himself into the music. Sylvain Coudret was also nailing his guitar parts, Sven Karlsson made keyboarding look as easy as breathing, while the rhythm section never missed a beat. To express how good this was, the phantom had thought they were playing to a backing track, until he realized that it was actually Markus Wibom (bass) and Bastian Thusgaard (drums) playing with flawless accuracy.


The only jumping pit was to “Nerve”, and afterwards Strid announced that this was a special night, that it was the end of their touring cycle, and that this set was a bit special: “We wanted to do some songs we haven’t done before, so we have a new set to keep it interesting. I guess you guys are okay with that? You’d better be!” he shouted, before they played “The Akuma Afterglow” – a song I don’t think I’ve ever heard before, but had some awesome melodic parts that made me want to listen to it again later. The majority of the set seemed to be based off The Living Infinite (2013), but there were gems here and there from most of their other albums, including “Drowning with Silence”, and Atte informs me that “As the Sleeper Awakes” is from Sworn to a Great Divide, which wasn’t very well received following Stabbing the Drama. “Distortion Sleep” was dedicated, as always, to the ladies in the crowd, and Strid mentioned that he expected the audience to be wasted… it was Saturday, after all. “Let this River Flow” is a personal favorite and equally beautiful live as it is on the album (though my hopeless wish for a surprise appearance from Floor Jansen again did not come true). There was a long wait full of chanting following “The Ride Majestic” before they came back for two more songs, “As We Speak” and “Stabbing the Drama” – I was a little disappointed that they dropped “Follow the Hollow” because I had been saving myself up for its inevitable pit, but alas, I guess that was one of the ones they swapped out to try some new songs – a bold move and I certainly have to respect it. That just means I’ll have to come back again, I suppose!

I’ll throw another shout-out to the fellowship of Finnish pits here quickly too – I’m a small female, and the men around me are always looking out for me, even if it’s not necessary. The brotherhood in there is always fantastic – guys are smashing each other around, but also helping each other up, and half of the time they were just locked with their arms around one another in a line or a circle, loving the music and the fellowship. Finnish pits are definitely the best. Also, props to the enthusiastic young buck who body-checked me across the pit when I was moshing in the middle, in spite of being a girl – I appreciate being treated as an equal.


So, Soilwork was the first band to lure me out of my cave since Ensiferum in September, and even though I don’t consider them one of my favorites (for some reason), I was definitely glad to have gone. Ikinä proved to be interesting, and Soilwork put on perhaps the best show of theirs that I’ve seen yet. Even with unfamiliar songs, I enjoyed every second of it. Soilwork loves Finland and Finland very clearly loves them back. If you’re looking for a solid performance from a great band, these guys certainly won’t let you down!

1. The Living Infinite II
2. Rise Above the Sentiment
3. Like the Average Stalker
4. Nerve
5. Bastard Chain
6. The Akuma Afterglow
7. Long Live the Misanthrope
8. Drowning with Silence
9. Distortion Sleep
10. As the Sleeper Awakes
11. Parasite Blues
12. Let this River Flow
13. The Phantom
14. The Ride Majestic

15. As We Speak
16. Stabbing the Drama

Photos: Janne Puronen

SOILWORK w/ CHRONUS & IKINÄ @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 18.11.2017


Soilwork with Chronus and Ikinä at Tavastia, Helsinki, 2017.
Photos by Janne Puronen.

SPARZANZA w/ DOOM UNIT @ Elmun Baari, Helsinki, 17.11.2017


Sparzanza with Doom Unit, Elmun Baari, November 2017.
Photos by Miia Collander.

ANATHEMA – Daniel Cavanagh, Tampere 2017


Daniel “Danny” Cavanagh is a creative man who has released two albums this year: the story-based The Optimist with his main band, Anathema, and his first proper solo album, Monochrome. Musicalypse caught up with Cavanagh on the tour bus before Anathema’s show at Klubi in Tampere, and the tired yet friendly man discussed the current tour, the aforementioned releases, and social media, in addition to talking frankly about the downsides of life on the road.


How is the tour going so far?
It’s been good, enjoyable actually – no complaints.

You’ve been touring with Alcest – they’re more black metal-oriented, but I feel their music goes well along with yours. What do you think of them?
Well, the last song they play is really nice – it’s called “Délivrance”, and it’s quite gorgeous, so anybody who can write that must be quite good.

I remember you guys were talking about playing The Optimist from start to finish on this tour, but you’ve only been playing about half of it. Is that something you still want to do in the future?
Yeah, we will [do it] next year probably.

Was there any reason why you haven’t done it yet?
It’s just kind of good to mix things up, you know what I mean? It’s good to mix songs from different albums; that’s the only reason. I’m sure we will eventually.

John Douglas [drums, percussion] had to leave the tour in the middle, so when will he be back on the road?
On the next tour – he’ll be back then.

Did you guys have to make a lot of adjustments to your performance, now that you’re playing as a five-piece?
Well, Daniel [Cardoso, drums] had to lend John’s style. He had to learn the more simple style that John plays – the more primal style of John. Daniel’s natural thing is to be technical and busy as a drummer, and John isn’t like that. He kind of had to learn that stuff, but it didn’t take him long. But that was the only adjustment really.

So you didn’t have to drop any specific songs?
No, we could play any of them. Some songs don’t feel right to play unless John plays them, you know what I mean? Because it’s his style and his material. He wrote “Universal” – we did it for a couple of gigs after he left, but I said, “It doesn’t feel right.” Not only for the style, but because it just didn’t feel right. But he also wrote some of the biggest songs on the new album and we still play them – we play three of his songs from the new album on this tour… or two.

Do you still get lots of requests for really old songs? Are people shouting for “Sleepless”?
Not many, you might get one. You might get one guy, usually a drunk guy will do it. It just becomes a joke in the end. We’ve had some good jokes about it, like Vinnie [vocalist/guitarist Vincent Cavanagh] said in America, “You realize that’s like me going to your work and shouting at you to do what you did 20 years ago?” And he said, “What do you do?” [The guy] says, “I work at IT.” I said [in a growly voice], “Windows 95!” [laughter] And everybody laughed.

So people seem to accept that you’re playing the new stuff?
It’s been a long time – I mean, anybody who’s still complaining… is stupid. [laughs] But it’s not usually complaints – it’s said half as a joke, it seems to me these days. You get people complaining online, but that doesn’t matter. People always complain online.

That’s true! Now The Optimist is a sequel to A Fine Day to Exit (2001). How has that album aged for you? I think it’s one of your most underrated.
Yeah, I think you’re right, I think it is one of the most underrated. I enjoyed the re-release that happened in 2015, because I changed the running order and put the intro back on, and it was remastered as well. It made more sense musically to me then. To be honest, it probably should’ve happened in the beginning, but you know…

Better late than never?
Yeah, absolutely. I’d waited a long time to do that – years. I was really happy to get the opportunity. It was put out as, I think, a 4-disc edition called Fine Days.

I’ve got that.
Yeah, it’s on that. It’s different from the original. “Pressure” is like track… 5, I think? Or 4. But that’s okay, you know what I mean? It’s a shame to have made such a big mistake at a crucial time, but you know…

I think “Release” is more natural as the first proper song.
Yeah, it is. And that would never happen now, you know what I mean? A mistake like that would never happen now. I mean, we could’ve done… there’s always some debate about running orders. Actually on the last album, I changed the running order at the very last minute, ’cause Vinnie and the producer thought that “Leaving it Behind” should open the album. I wasn’t sure about that at first, but after I did a version of the album and lived with it for a bit, I realized it could be right. Then eventually we thankfully had the time and the money to go back in and fix it, so I did that, and also the record label very supportively said, “It’s got to be right,” and they agreed also, so it worked.

You played some of the songs on the new album live last year on tour. Is that something you want to do in the future as well?
Probably… it worked. It did work, it was good. You make demos as close as you can and then tour for a couple of weeks. I enjoyed that, it was a good tour. That tour and this one have been very pleasant for me. Not so much the South American tour, because the flying schedule was horrible. But the tour bus is great.

Didn’t Vinnie lose his voice?
In South America?

Yeah, didn’t you play one show without him?
Oh yeah, he got a pretty bad flu. It was terrible – poor guy.

What was it like to step in for him and sing?
It was good. I’ll tell you, that was the gig… if he was gonna miss one gig, that was the one. It was in a pretty crappy venue, and [there was] a pretty weird audience. But I enjoyed it – I like singing. The biggest difference [between] the band and the solo stuff that I do is that I get the chance to sing the stuff. Because I write the lyrics as well, and the vocal melodies. The sound of the band is with Vinnie singing, but I like singing. [It’s] a different style.

I think you also premiered some songs that didn’t end up on the album. Do you think you’ll release those later, maybe on an EP?
I could do them as a solo piece on a solo album. I think there was only one that didn’t end up on the album – all the rest did, one of them didn’t. It was only ’cause we toured it and listened back to it and realized the reaction wasn’t very good. We listened back to it on YouTube and it didn’t sound great, and everyone just preferred not to finish that one. I forget the name of that one – “Bricks”… I think it’s called “Bricks”, yeah. Also, the song “The Optimist” – the piano riff in that song only happened because we toured. If we’d never toured the album, that might never have happened, and that’s one of the best riffs on the record. So yeah, in answer to the question, we probably will do that again.

You just put out your first proper solo album of original material [Monochrome]. Were these songs that you’d had lying around for years or did they come together within a short period of time?
Almost all of them have been around for at least 10 years, just sitting around. I mean, the last one’s an improvisational thing, but the rest were all around for absolutely ages – 10, 15, 20 years or so.

Just waiting for the right time…
Yeah, they were just sitting there, you know? I just thought [they] could just sit there on a hard drive or I could do something with it – that was it. That is the only real reason I did it, and to stay busy. A side effect is that I like singing. That’s it, there was no other plan – no other reason to do it, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like a big need to get away from the band, ’cause I have a lot of fun with the group in the studio. I enjoy it – I have a lot of laughs, especially with John. I laugh a lot with him.

Why was it released now? Did it just feel like the right moment?
I recorded it in 2015, ’cause I was going into Parr Street Studios to make the songs for the Pledge campaign called Memory and Meaning. I was in the studio and I had free time. I just thought, “I’ll do something.” It was going to originally be instrumental piano, and then it grew, and then it became song songs, and then it became… not just piano, but other stuff as well. It just grew like that.

There are Celtic influences on “Dawn” and some classical piano on “The Silent Flight of the Raven Winged Hours.” When you wrote those, did you already know they were not going to be for Anathema?
No, the band could’ve done them, particularly “Silent Flight” would’ve been great. But the thing about it is, it wouldn’t have been like that if the band had [done] it. Vincent probably would’ve tried to pick apart the whole thing. And one advantage is being able to do things without having endless discussions about how it’s supposed to be. Usually that’s okay, ’cause it makes songs better, and often Vinnie spots things that would make them better. It could’ve made these songs better, but I just like the simplicity of the way it’s done. It was easy, really easy, and “Silent Flight” and “The Exorcist” could’ve easily been good enough for the band, but I’m glad I did them like that.

I like how the album is a bit more stripped down.
Yeah, I mean there might be some rock songs next time, but the band always has the first refusal, because I don’t wanna weaken the band’s position. I don’t wanna suddenly start writing collaborations or solo albums – stuff the band should’ve done. That’s always a bit of a difficulty, but if there’s anything the band doesn’t feel like doing, then I’ll do it.

You’ve been playing “The Exorcist” at some gigs on this tour. Will you do it tonight?
Probably not tonight, but I’ll do it again before the end. I’m a bit tired today to be honest – I felt a bit sick today. So yeah, it’ll probably be a low key gig tonight, I think.

You lived in Norway for quite a while. Did coming back to England make you see things you hadn’t noticed before?
In the years before I left Liverpool, I always wanted to leave Liverpool, and then when I went back, because I’d done it, I was able to just enjoy Liverpool for what it was. I noticed that, but apart from that – no. I’ve got good memories of all those places – I also lived a couple of months in Germany. I love Germany, so… I’ve got good memories of them: London, Liverpool, Oslo, Germany. I’ve got good memories of all of it.

You’ve been to a lot of places.
Yeah, but I’ve only lived in those places.

I’ve noticed that you’ve been more active on Twitter lately, for the past year or so.
That was after Brexit, mostly political stuff. I’ve stopped doing that now, because you can’t change anybody’s opinion on Twitter. If you ever argue with someone, they just become more entrenched in their beliefs, and it’s very difficult online, especially on Twitter, to rationally change somebody’s mind, so I just stopped trying.

There’s only so much you can say in 140 characters.
Yeah, even if you got more characters, it doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t really change anything, that’s the problem with online activities. It’s like an echo chamber, I think.

Did the changing state of the world make you feel like you had to say something?
It was Brexit really – Brexit and the state of the Labour Party in the UK, because we need the Labour Party, and we need them to win lots of elections and make positive changes. I just don’t think they’re capable of it, even now though the election results were surprisingly good. It won’t happen, and it disappoints me. Also arguing with those people, you may as well argue with religious fundamentalists. They won’t change anything.

You have Anneke van Giersbergen singing on the new album, and you’ve played some duo gigs together in the past. Do you think you’ll do more in the future?
Yeah, I’m sure we will eventually, but she’s really busy at the moment, and so am I.

She’s got a new band and everything…
Yeah. I haven’t even got plans to tour this solo album, because this tour is so long. I haven’t got the energy right now to think about touring solo. I mean, if the money was really good I would, because you’ve gotta pay the rent. It would take a lot for me to do it right now, ’cause I’m so tired, as you can see.

I hope I’ll get to see you two someday.
We’ve played in here – me and Anneke – in this venue. It was several years ago now.

It’s been a while. Finally, what’s next for Anathema – more touring?
Yeah, Australia after this, and Turkey, but I can’t really think about that until it’s ready to happen because it’s exhausting thinking about it. Especially flying to Australia – it’s so far away. I just wish I had a teleport device that could just teleport me straight there and straight back. That’d be the best thing, ’cause it’s hard to do – the flying is hard. This is easy – I mean, it’s tiring, but it’s much much easier. Like when there’s interviews, then I could have 10 minutes lying down on my bed before the next one starts.

The jetlag must be awful.
It’s not that, it’s the waiting around in airports, staying at hotels, and waking up early. It’s horrible. I can handle jetlag, it’s the rest of it I can’t handle. Especially getting up early, going to an airport – you have to leave the hotel 3-4 hours before your flight, and you have to fucking get on the thing and then wait for it to take off. Oh my god, I absolutely despise doing that – I hate it. It’s the one side of this job I hate. I don’t hate anything else, but I hate that. I’m sick of it.

Hopefully they’ll invent that teleportation machine some day…
Yeah, otherwise I’m gonna have to retire when I’m 60. It’s just the life that I have to live. It sucks, it’s the way it is. I should get a stand-in guitarist and just stay in bed. [laughs] That’s a joke by the way, readers. [laughs] Don’t send your demo tapes!

So you won’t become a Brian Wilson [The Beach Boys] type of figure?
Writing and staying at home? I like touring, it’s just that I don’t like. I like actually playing the gig, and it’s quite nice meeting people. It’s good to be hanging around with the guys and stuff like that – you have a laugh. But my favorite thing is recording albums, you know? But I like playing the actual gigs, I just don’t like anything else. But like I said, if there’s a way you wanna do it, this is the way to do it. I’d have my own bus for just me and my entourage, and I’d have this [turned] into a big bedroom. I’d have a shower and that… and a personal assistant and everything. If I could I’d do all of that.

That’d be pretty luxurious.
Very luxurious, but it’s not actually gonna happen.

You’re only on stage for 2 hours and people don’t see the rest of it, like the preparations.
Yeah. Well, you know, most people have a misconception about what it’s really like. If anybody like you came on this tour for 2 weeks, you’d be absolutely wiped out: bags on your eyes and spots of all kinds. [laughs]

Well, those were all the questions I had.