A huge collection of 3400+ free website templates, WP themes and more http://jartheme.com/ at the biggest community-driven free web design site.

KORSO ROCK FESTIVAL – Korso, Vantaa, 15-17.07.2016

0

The existence of Korso Rock Festival only very recently made its way onto our radar, a mere handful of days before the event itself. With a rather unfamiliar line-up, we thought maybe we wouldn’t bother, but when Volymian, a promising new band from southern Finland, and Blind Channel, whom you know we’ve been kind of into lately turned up on the Friday roster, we figured it’d be worth our while to wander over and see if this festival was worth a few hours of our evening, or more!

 

I confess to having been pretty skeptical about this festival. These guys have a slogan that is essentially asking if Ankkarock (a festival once held in Korso) could be revived. First of all, I was confused by that because they’re not calling themselves Ankkarock, nor are they hosting the event in Ankkarock’s old location. As well, even though they boasted free entry, their own website didn’t have the line-up listed until a day or two before the festival itself, and if there was a timetable on the site, I never found it. Instead, you had to look on the Facebook event page (of which there were two, incidentally) in, of all places, the photo gallery. As such, I felt that no matter how cheap or free your tickets are, very few people will go to a festival if they don’t know the line-up.

With this in mind, the aforementioned bands still appealed to me enough to grab a new junior photographer and go have a peek, at least for that first day. The evening was dark and gloomy with a foreboding grey sky, but hey, it’s rained at every other festival I’ve attended this summer and it hasn’t killed me… yet!

 

We arrived in Korso with a bit of time to find the venue and have a look around. Okay, the venue was not hard to find, which is the first point in its favor. The festival was located hardly 100 m from the Korso train station, which was delightfully convenient. It didn’t offer much other than a place to get food and drinks, and a few places to sit, but there were two small stages to allow for smooth change-overs, one of which was hosting an unknown band called Damage Limit as I arrived. I didn’t get a chance to watch them, but from what I managed to hear, they didn’t seem too bad.

Volymian
Volymian

The festival area was quite small as a whole and not a lot of people were there. Volymian started their short, 40-minute set around 21:00, with a nice intro song that may be from a movie score or something (I approve). As they started playing, I briefly got the impression that the music was a lot more alternative in style than I had originally noticed on listening to their debut album, though Markku Tuikka’s vocals are still rather power metal-y. And while on the subject of Tuikka, he was sounding quite nice on this night. The mix was a bit jumbled in places, but if you wandered around the crowd, it didn’t take long to find a decent balance. The second song, “Damnation of Love,” was the first song of note, with a quite decent, if short, keyboard-guitar solo duel part. It turned out that this was the band’s second gig ever, so it was cool to see a handful of very enthusiastic fans in the small crowd. Tuikka is clearly the most experienced performer of the group (after all, the guy is in or has been in quite a few bands, Status Minor and The Ragged Saints to name a few), as he lacked the stiffness or nervousness the others had, which of course is natural if this was their second time on a stage. Fear not – they loosened up a bit towards the end and started to rock out a bit more. “Inside Out” had some pretty good energy and has a lot of potential as a live track, and I liked the heavy intro to “Under a Million Stars.” I might have even enjoyed the songs live a bit more than on the album. This is perhaps the ‘youngest’ band I’ve ever covered (experience-wise), and I think that if these guys keep at it, they’ve got some potential and could work very nicely in a club setting someday.

Setlist:
1. Breathe
2. Damnation of Love
3. Ring
4. Inside Out
5. Under a Million Stars
6. Maze of Madness
7. Indifferent
8. Line of Fire

 

Both bands we watched were on the main stage, though we heard a great deal of Bad Apples’ set on the second stage, a Guns N’ Roses cover band that had filled Elisa Järvelä’s empty timeslot, complete with cheesy wigs – one of the guys had the signature Slash look, top hat and all. Their music was quite good, though I’d be lying if I thought the singer did a good job of Axl Rose’s vocals. Though to be fair, Rose’s shoes aren’t the easiest to fill.

Blind Channel
Blind Channel

It was worth sticking around to see Blind Channel though! I’m not going to lie, these guys are quickly becoming one of my favorite live acts. This was a tiny festival with a tiny crowd, and there was only a handful of people (other than their group of huge fans who follow them everywhere), yet as their show progressed, people of all ages were drawn in (my favorite was a lady dancing in the crowd who had to be at least in her 80s). I suspect even passer-bys from the street might have come through the gates to see what was happening because their music has such great party energy. And they didn’t skimp on the effort – even in such a small-scale event, they gave it their all! “Unforgiving” got things off to a good start. It’s rare to see a band and a crowd jumping in such perfect synchronization. I also learned that during, I believe, “Hold on to Hopeless,” you should put your right hand (specifically) in the air, though I have yet to learn why (other than it just feels good to put a hand in the air). A song called “Bullet (With Your Name on It)” might be the perfect song to describe what exactly ‘violent pop’ is, because it is poppy, but it’s also very loud and heavy. You’ll have to hear it for yourself, but it’s a good tune! And I’m not gonna lie, probably half the reason I showed up to this festival was so I could hear “Deja FU” live (and yes, that’s Deja F-U!, not a typo of ‘deja vu’). It needs a little practice still, but with that in mind, it was still everything I hoped it would be – energetic, fun, and oh so easy to party to! Nico Moilanen just fucking NAILED the fast rapping part, which I found really impressive considering they haven’t been performing it for very long. Another song called “Enemy for Me” is great for letting out some anger, and of course, “Darker than Black” was a highlight. People young and old were dancing and ‘moshing’ (three people is not much of a pit, but at least they were doing their best) and you can’t blame them – it’s hard to stay still when listening to this music. Their encore was their cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t,” which I am not ashamed to say is way better than the original. They closed out by throwing a couple shirts into the crowd and coming into the photo pit to have a little meet ‘n’ greet as “Backstreet’s Back” played. Apart from the setting (a gloomy night with mediocre lighting), it was a great (if short) show.

Blind Channel
Blind Channel

Seriously – I need an album from these guys so I can listen to this stuff at home. I need to listen to it at the gym. I need it for parties and to wake me up when I need to be up early. They sound like so many bands I like, yet the combination makes them so different at the same time. So lucky me, the boys announced that their album is coming out on October 1st, 2016, and there will be an album release party at Virgin Oil – so save the date! This is going to be a show you don’t want to miss!

Setlist:
1. Unforgiving
2. Hold on to Hopeless
3. Pitfall
4. Alcatraz
5. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
6. Deja FU
7. Enemy for Me
8. Darker Than Black

Encore:
9. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)

 

We had originally been quite undecided about whether or not we’d come back again over the rest of the weekend. Ikinä was tempting on Saturday, but not enough so to tempt me into skipping my sauna hour, but a windy yet warm Sunday was a perfect opportunity to peel my hindquarters off the couch to come see Crimson Sun again. I had only watched part of their show at Tuska, so this time I wanted to see the full set.

First of all, something seemed to have happened because they were meant to play at 17:00, but the rockabilly possibly-Hurriganes cover band, Road Runners, playing before them had started about 40 minutes late (I was told) and finished up at 16:50; since the main stage had already been taken down, Crimson Sun had to wait for the other band to clear the stage before setting up and doing their sound check. Naturally, that doesn’t happen in 10 minutes. There was no rush with sound limitations at that time of day though and they took the time to do things right.

Crimson Sun
Crimson Sun

To show up at 16:45 to see a band and end up waiting about an hour and a half was a bit discouraging, but as soon as these guys stepped on stage, I did not regret my decision to leave my house on this lazy Sunday. They got off to a great start with “The Storm” and even though the sound was again a bit sub-par, I was almost a bit glad that the keyboards were a bit louder because I was able to better appreciate how cool Miikka Hujanen’s sound is. I also really began to appreciate the grit in Sini Seppälä’s voice. She sings beautifully, but she has some harshness in there that adds another layer of depth to her vocals, and I love it. I’m always so impressed when small people have huge voices, and alongside that, she’s full of smiles and enthusiasm, making her a wonderful front all around.

Crimson Sun
Crimson Sun

I also like how their music occasionally reminds me of other music without sounding like a rip-off. “Eye of the Beholder,” for example, had what sounded to me like a bit of something I couldn’t place (possibly Scar Symmetry) with a hint of Soilwork – two sounds you wouldn’t necessarily expect to blend well, but do! Other highlights included “Portrait of a Ghost,” which has a great keyboard/guitar part, and the powerful closer, “Memories Burning.”

I saw many people walking by and pausing to listen, so I wondered if the removal of the main entrance (which had been by the aforementioned closed main stage) had prevented some people from coming in, since the new entrance was in the bar area. There weren’t very many people watching, but the performance didn’t remotely suffer from it as everyone on stage gave it a lot of energy, with Joni Junnila (guitar) and Jukka Jauhiainen (bass) rocking out and showing what that glorious hair can do. And their effort was rewarded. We weren’t the only ones to come out just to see them as there was a handful of people who were there singing along and cheering after every song.

Coming into this set, I was tired, cranky, hungry, and impatient from the long wait for Crimson Sun’s set to start, so it speaks worlds about their performance that I immediately forgot all of that and was completely absorbed in their music from start to finish. I have to say, if you enjoyed their album, you should really check out one of their gigs. Their music translates beautifully into a stage setting and completely comes to life. It will be worth your while!

Crimson Sun
Crimson Sun

Setlist:
1. The Storm
2. Eye of the Beholder
3. Clockwork Heart
4. Towards the Light
5. Awaken
6. The Herald
7. Portrait of a Ghost
8. Enter the Silence
9. The Spark
10. Memories Burning

 

So do I think Korso Rock can revive the Ankkarock spirit? Well, there is potential but they’re not there just yet. That said, the two days we spent there turned out to be surprisingly fun and totally worth our while. There was good music, good atmosphere, and good opportunities to see some bands that are on the rise! And Friday’s Radio City announcers were pleasant and seemed quite entertaining (though I confess I didn’t catch much of what they were saying in Finnish). While Sunday felt a bit disorganized and they need to generally get their lineup out there sooner, the three bands we watched were certainly worth checking out, so as a whole, the festival felt like a success. They had a decent overall turnout and at least we had fun, so who knows, we might just come back next year!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Miia Collander

KORSO ROCK FESTIVAL @ Korso, Vantaa, 15-17.07.2016

0
Crimson Sun

Korso Rock Festival in Vantaa, 2016.
Photos by Miia Collander.

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Antti Pasonen (From Grotto), 2016

0

From Grotto is a four piece, Helsinki-based psychedelic rock band, influenced by ambient, jazz, trance, funk, prog, and other genres. They released their first demo in late 2015 and have been playing a few gigs here and there since then, with more to come! This week we have the playlist of guitarist Antti Pasonen’s life!

More From Grotto over here!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Queen – “A Kind of Magic”; the sound of this song and album somehow strongly reminds me of my early childhood. My dad was and still is an enthusiastic music fan and I think Queen was quite often spinning on the player during those years.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Leevi and the Leavings – “Elämä ikkunan takana.” As a child I had a portable CD-player, and Leevi’s Keskiviikko -collection album was my absolute favorite. It sounds quite depressing, but it’s not!

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Metallica – “Battery”; first steps into the world of metal music. Loved the aggression, and the speed!

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Kingston Wall – II. This record introduced me to psychedelic rock, and is still quite a big influence. Best Finnish band e-v-e-r! (so far) 😉

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Kaleidobolt – “Rocket to the Moon”; great stuff from Kaleidobolt’s first album released last year. I saw them the first time playing live few months ago and the show was intense!

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Paramore – “Misery Business”… heh! I can’t be very ashamed of anything I listen to. Though, somehow this still feels a bit nasty… can’t figure out why!

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Bomfunk MC’s – In Stereo; oh boy… “Freestyler”!

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Bo Hansson – “Första vandringen” and the rest of the album Sagan Om Ringen – a record sailing through the world of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hansson went to a summer cottage located somewhere in the islands near Stockholm and spent the whole winter of 1970 there composing and recording this masterpiece. Strongly recommended if you like dreamy stuff!

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Crosstown Traffic”; My dear summertime car is not a rocket, but a steady ride. And funky as hell!

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Black Sabbath – “Planet Caravan.”

MONSTERS OF ROCK – Kaisaniemen puisto, Helsinki, 07.07.2016 (English)

0

Last year the godfathers of metal, Black Sabbath, announced that their 2016 tour would be their last. In Finland, a mini-festival called Monsters of Rock was built around Sabbath’s final visit to Helsinki. Besides the main attraction itself and the farewell tour’s regular support band, Rival Sons, the Finnish fans got to check out Opeth and Amorphis live in Kaisaniemi. For me, the thought of seeing Black Sabbath for the first and last time was attractive in itself, but when two other great bands were announced for the event, even the slightest considerations of skipping the show vanished immediately.

You can listen to the setlists of all four bands here:

There were quite a lot of people waiting to get into the venue outside the gates before they were opened at 16:30. I was amused by the Christians who were preaching the word of Jesus in the nearby street – I don’t know whether they had picked the occasion because of the headliner band’s reputation or the big audience, but either way they were never going to be very successful at converting metalheads. After getting in, I visited both of the merch stands in the hopes of getting a copy of Black Sabbath’s The End CD, which was only available at the shows, but unfortunately only signed copies were left and they cost 90€. Luckily my disappointment didn’t last too long, as the fun was about to begin.

Amorphis
Amorphis

Amorphis is no stranger to opening for legends, having supported Metallica in 2012 and Iron Maiden in 2013. While the setlist offered nothing new for me and was just a condensed version of the one they played last year in Tampere, Amorphis made a bold and surprising move by squeezing in five songs from last year’s Under the Red Cloud and ignored Tales from the Thousand Lakes and Eclipse completely. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, as new songs like “Bad Blood” were received the best. However, the audience was still warming up and didn’t really participate in the chanting during “Death of a King.” This makes me doubt that even “House of Sleep” would’ve roused people into a huge sing-along, so maybe its omission was for the best. It was a pity that the wind affected the sound so much, leaving the rhythm guitar and keyboards almost inaudible at times and turning the double kicks in “The Four Wise Ones” into a muddy mess. Despite these little aural shortcomings, Amorphis played professionally and confidently as always, though Tomi Joutsen’s Black Sabbath T-shirt was an acknowledgement that they weren’t the festival’s main attraction. The only hint of nervousness could be detected in “Hopeless Days,” during which Joutsen sang the last two verses with the same lyrics – he made up for it by rocking his tambourine during the middle eight though. “My Kantele” was slightly anticlimactic as the closer without ending with the 2010 remake, but on the other hand, “Black Winter Day” might’ve been an inappropriate song to play on a July evening.

Rival Sons
Rival Sons

A little before Rival Sons hit the stage, it started raining – not heavily, but enough to make you want to put on your raincoat if you had one. However, the weather didn’t stop people from moving and clapping their hands to the Californian group’s Zeppelin-style brand of hard rock. I found the appearance of keyboardist Todd Örgen-Brooks a little amusing, because he looked like the long lost cousin of Kie von Hertzen who had joined ZZ Top. Unfortunately, despite his aggressive playing, the keyboards were the underdog in the mix, though the sound was clearer and more balanced than during Amorphis’ set. I was rather unfamiliar with Rival Sons’ material, having listened to just a few songs before the show, but I was positively surprised with the band’s energetic performance. The song “Torture” in the middle of the set won me over with its infectious groove and cool extended jamming. I’m curious to hear what a club show by these guys would sound like because their music really comes alive in concert.

Opeth
Opeth

The rain stopped – almost magically – at the end of Rival Sons’ set, so Opeth didn’t have to play in less-than-ideal weather. The Swedish proggers kicked off their set with two songs from the latest couple of albums before moving on to their death metal material. Opeth’s music was a great fit for the occasion, as the newer songs were quite 70s-influenced, while the old song picks were dissonant in the vein of Black Sabbath’s more evil tunes. Once again the sound was far from perfect: during the first two songs, Martin Mendez’s bass was unnecessarily loud and during the fast sections of “Heir Apparent,” the double bass drumming drowned everything else, just like with Amorphis. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s humor was more self-deprecating than at Opeth’s headlining shows, clearly due to the support band status – he joked that his band was “just another commercial break before the main feature.” An hour of Opeth is never enough, but the advantage of a short set was that the energy level remained high throughout – my ears may have been lying, but at least “The Grand Conjuration” and “Deliverance” didn’t sound as plodding as usual. Luckily Finnish fans won’t have to wait for a headlining gig for too long, as Åkerfeldt promised Opeth would return to Helsinki after the release of their upcoming album, Sorceress, to play at “the big hall,” the name of which he couldn’t remember.

Finally at 21:15, it was time for the band everyone had waited for. Black Sabbath’s show started with an intro video, the audio of which boomed massively even through our earplugs. After that, the legends made their entrance and started with their title song, arguably the first heavy metal song ever written. Ozzy Osbourne’s timing was slightly off when he started singing, but I was positively surprised at how well he managed to stay in key. When the song’s faster second half started, the pious and ritualistic atmosphere changed completely: the audience went wild and people in the first few rows started jumping, encouraged by Osbourne.

After the devilishly great start, things got psychedelic with “Fairies Wear Boots,” which was enhanced by trippy effects on the huge video screens. Unfortunately it also marked a change for the worse for Ozzy, who sang the song in a totally different key than the one his bandmates were playing in. His pitch problems continued with “After Forever,” but luckily he got back on track just in time for my favorite song, “Into the Void,” which the band absolutely nailed. How could anybody not headbang to Tony Iommi’s monster riffs on this classic? Ozzy handled the fast-paced vocals with grace, and the a cappella verses of “War Pigs” didn’t sound bad either, although I’d expected them to be challenging for him. “War Pigs” also gave the audience a chance to sing along, as did “Iron Man” later on in the set.

Ozzy made the audience of 20,000 people clap and wave their hands on numerous occasions during the night – whether you like his voice or not, you can’t deny that he’s an excellent frontman who knows how to wrap even the biggest crowd around his little finger. Geezer Butler had a short but sweet bass solo spot before launching into “N.I.B.,” and his instrument was the leading one on the rarely played “Hand of Doom” as well. A fellow spectator later pointed out that Butler had messed up at the end of “Dirty Women,” but I didn’t notice anything, probably because Tony Iommi was playing a solo at that point. Speaking of Iommi, his playing showed no signs of the cancer he’s been battling in recent years – he truly is the Iron Man! During the band introduction, Osbourne said Iommi’s name three times and he got the loudest applause, so his importance regarding the birth of heavy metal and status as the heart and soul of Black Sabbath wasn’t lost on anyone. The weak link of the line-up was drummer Tommy Clufetos, whose style I found too heavy-handed for 70s Sabbath. The man was a good player at the wrong gig because he simply lacks Bill Ward’s jazzy touch. His drum solo following the instrumental “Rat Salad” wasn’t particularly imaginative, but it served its purpose as a break for the founding members.

After the main set had come to an end with “Children of the Grave,” Ozzy had barely left the stage when he already asked the fans to scream for one more song. A few “Paranoid” (the equivalent of “Freebird” for Finnish concertgoers) shouts had already been heard before that, so it wasn’t hard to guess which song would be the encore. “Paranoid” was the correct way to end the show and made the crowd ecstatic, though by that point of the night Ozzy wasn’t in his best form anymore. The band left the stage while “Zeitgeist” from their (apparently) final studio album, 13 (2013), was playing. While the 14-song setlist was satisfying and I know songs from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) and Sabotage (1975) might’ve been too difficult for Ozzy to sing, it would’ve been nice to hear at least one cut from 13 actually played by the band in order to have the farewell album represented in the farewell set. I’m just nitpicking though, because Sabbath put on a great show – at no point did I think I was watching a bunch of washed-up musicians past their prime. If this truly is the last Black Sabbath tour, they’re stopping while they still can pull it off live.

During his last speech before Black Sabbath, MC Jone Nikula had blamed the festival visitors for not using their brains while lining up for the bar areas (or at least the one closest to the stage) and toilets. I can’t comment on these issues myself, as I had a half-liter water bottle and some chocolate with me and managed to control my bladder so that I didn’t need to visit those areas. However, I’d like to criticize the jerks who tried to push their way to the front during Black Sabbath’s set. I know this behavior tends to happen at concerts, but it’s especially annoying at big events like these and unfair to those who have waited for hours. If you don’t have the patience to listen to all the bands, then you should suck it up and settle for the spot you have, even if the view isn’t great.

All-in-all, I was very happy with the first Finnish edition of Monsters of Rock – the weather was fairly good and the number of bands and the set lengths left me satisfied. If the festival is held again next year and Ritchie Blackmore decides to play more rock shows, maybe Rainbow could be the headliner, as they were in Germany this summer?

Text: Ville Karttunen | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Amy Wiseman

MONSTERS OF ROCK – Kaisaniemen puisto, Helsinki, 07.07.2016 (suomeksi)

0

Viime vuonna metallin kummisedät, Black Sabbath, ilmoittivat vuoden 2016 kiertueensa jäävän yhtyeen viimeiseksi. Suomessa Sabbathin viimeisen Helsingin-vierailun ympärille rakennettiin Monsters of Rock -niminen festivaali. Pääesiintyjän ja jäähyväiskiertueen vakiolämmittelijä Rival Sonsin lisäksi suomalaisfanit pääsivät todistamaan Opethia ja Amorphista livenä Kaisaniemessä. Itselleni jo ajatus Black Sabbathin näkemisestä ensimmäisen ja viimeisen kerran oli houkutteleva, mutta kun kahden muunkin mahtavan bändin ilmoitettiin esiintyvän tapahtumassa, pienimmätkin ajatukset keikan skippaamisesta katosivat välittömästi.

Voit kuunnella kaikkien neljän bändin settilistat tästä:

Porttien ulkopuolella oli jo ennen niiden avaamista 16:30 paljon jonottajia. Oli huvittavaa nähdä Jeesuksen sanaa saarnanneita kristittyjä läheisellä kadulla – en tiedä, olivatko he valinneet ajankohdan pääesiintyjän maineen vuoksi vai yksinkertaisesti ison väkijoukon takia, mutta joka tapauksessa hevarit eivät olleet käännytettäviä helpoimmasta päästä. Alueelle päästyäni vierailin kummankin oheistuotekojun luona, toiveenani saada käsiini Black Sabbathin The End -CD, jota myytiin ainoastaan keikoilla, mutta valitettavasti jäljellä oli enää nimmaroituja levyjä, jotka maksoivat 90 €. Onneksi pettymykseni ei kestänyt kauaa, sillä hauskanpito oli juuri alkamassa.

Amorphis
Amorphis

Legendojen keikkojen avausbändinä soittaminen ei ole mitään uutta Amorphikselle, joka on esiintynyt vuonna 2012 Metallican ja vuonna 2013 Iron Maidenin lämmittelijänä. Vaikka bändin settilistassa ei ollut minulle mitään uutta, vaan kyseessä oli lyhennetty versio viimevuotisesta Tampereen-setistä, Amorphis teki rohkean ja yllättävän ratkaisun mahduttaessaan mukaan viisi kappaletta viime vuoden Under the Red Cloudilta ja jättäessään Tales from the Thousand Lakesin (1994) ja Eclipsen (2006) tyystin paitsioon. Yleisö ei näyttänyt kuitenkaan ottavan nokkiinsa, sillä uudet biisit kuten “Bad Blood” saivat lämpimimmän vastaanoton. Pientä kankeutta oli silti yhä ilmassa, sillä yleisö ei juurikaan lähtenyt mukaan “Death of a Kingin” huudatuksiin. Tämän vuoksi en usko, että edes “House of Sleep” olisi saanut aikaan suurta yhteislaulua, joten kenties sen jättäminen pois oli parhaaksi. Oli harmi, että tuuli vaikutti äänenlaatuun niin paljon, että rytmikitara ja kosketinsoittimet olivat välillä käytännössä äänettömiä ja “The Four Wise Onesin” tuplabasarit puuroutuivat. Näistä äänellisistä vastoinkäymisistä huolimatta Amorphis soitti ammattimaisesti ja varmasti kuten aina, vaikka Tomi Joutsenen Black Sabbath -paita oli muistutus siitä, kuka pääesiintyjä olikaan. Jännittämistä oli havaittavissa ainoastaan “Hopeless Daysissa”, jonka kaksi jälkimmäistä säkeistöä Joutsen lauloi samoilla sanoilla. Hän kuitenkin kompensoi pientä mokaansa rokkaamalla tambuuriininsa kera biisin väliosassa. “My Kantele” oli päätöskappaleena lievä antikliimaksi ilman vuoden 2010 uusioversion lopetusta, mutta toisaalta “Black Winter Day” olisi mahtanut olla sopimaton kappale heinäkuisena iltana.

Rival Sons
Rival Sons

Hieman ennen Rival Sonsin lavalle nousua alkoi sataa – ei kaatamalla, mutta sen verran että päälleen halusi laittaa sadetakin, jos sellainen oli. Sää ei kuitenkaan pysäyttänyt ihmisiä liikkumasta ja taputtamasta käsiään kalifornialaisryhmän Zeppelin-tyylisen hard rockin tahtiin. Kosketinsoittaja Todd Örgen-Brooksin olemus oli hieman huvittava, sillä mies oli kuin Kie von Hertzenin kadonnut serkku, joka oli liittynyt ZZ Topiin. Valitettavasti hänen raivokkaasta soitostaan huolimatta kosketinsoittimet olivat miksauksessa altavastaajana, vaikka muuten soundi olikin selkeämpi ja tasapainoisempi kuin Amorphiksella. Rival Sonsin materiaali oli minulle melko tuntematonta, sillä olin kuunnellut vain pari kappaletta ennen keikkaa, mutta bändi yllätti minut positiivisesti energisellä esityksellään. Setin puolivälissä kuultu “Torture” tempasi mukaansa tarttuvalla groovellaan ja siisteine pitkine jamitteluineen. Olisi mielenkiintoista kuulla klubikeikka näiltä hepuilta, sillä heidän musiikkinsa herää todella henkiin konsertissa.

Opeth
Opeth

Sade loppui lähes maagisesti juuri Rival Sonsin lopetellessa, joten Opethin ei tarvinnut soittaa ei-niin-ihanteellisessa säässä. Ruotsalaiset progeilijat potkaisivat settinsä käyntiin kahdella biisillä parilta uusimmalta levyltä ennen siirtymistä death metal -materiaalinsa pariin. Opethin musiikki sopi hyvin tapahtuman henkeen, koska uudemmat kappaleet olivat hyvin 70-luvun henkisiä, kun taas vanhemmat poiminnat riitasointuisia Black Sabbathin häijyimpien kappaleiden hengessä. Soundit olivat kuitenkin jälleen kaukana täydellisistä: ensimmäisten kahden biisin ajan Martin Mendezin basso oli tolkuttoman lujalla, ja “Heir Apparentin” nopeissa kohdissa tuplabasarit hautasivat alleen kaiken aivan kuten Amorphiksen aikana. Mikael Åkerfeldtin huumori oli tavallista itseironisempaa, selvästi lämppäristatuksen vuoksi – mies vitsaili bändinsä olevan vain yksi mainoskatko ennen pääesitystä. Tunti Opethia ei ole koskaan tarpeeksi, mutta lyhyen setin etuna oli se, että energiataso pysyi korkeana alusta loppuun – voi olla, että korvani valehtelivat, mutta ainakaan “The Grand Conjuration” ja “Deliverance” eivät kuulostaneet ihan yhtä laahaavilta kuin yleensä. Onneksi suomalaisfanien ei tarvitse odottaa bändin omaa keikkaa kovin pitkään, sillä Åkerfeldt lupasi, että Opeth palaa Helsinkin tulevan Sorceress -albuminsa julkaisun jälkeen soittamaan “isossa hallissa”, jonka nimeä hän ei muistanut.

21:15 koitti vihdoin aika bändille, jota kaikki olivat odottaneet. Black Sabbathin keikka alkoi introvideolla, jonka ääniraita jytisi massiivisesti korvatulppienkin läpi. Sen jälkeen legendat astuivat estradille ja aloittivat nimikkokappaleellaan, joka on kenties ensimmäinen koskaan kirjoitettu metallibiisi. Ozzy Osbournen ajoitus ei ollut ihan kohdillaan, kun hän aloitti laulamisen, mutta olin positiivisesti yllättynyt siitä, miten hyvin hän pysyi vireessä. Kun kappaleen nopeampi jälkipuolisko lähti käyntiin, harras ja rituaalinen tunnelma muuttui täysin: yleisö villiintyi ja eturiveissä alkoi Osbournen yllyttämänä pomppiminen.

Pirullisen hyvän aloituksen jälkeen meno äityi psykedeeliseksi “Fairies Wear Bootsilla”, jonka tunnelmaa vahvistivat värikkäät efektit isoilla ruuduilla. Valitettavasti Ozzyn suoritus heikkeni saman tien, ja mies lauloi kappaleen täysin eri sävellajissa kuin bändikaverinsa. Hänen vireongelmansa jatkuivat “After Foreverissa”, mutta onneksi hän palasi raiteilleen juuri sopivasti ennen suosikkibiisiäni “Into the Void”, jonka bändi soitti erittäin onnistuneesti. Kuinka kukaan voisi olla heiluttamatta päätään Tony Iommin hirmuriffien tahtiin tätä klassikkoa kuunnellessaan? Ozzy hoiti vikkelät lauluosuudet kunnialla, eivätkä “War Pigsin” a cappella -säkeistötkään olleet pahan kuuloisia, vaikka olin odottanut niiden olevan hänelle haastavia. “War Pigs” antoi yleisölle myös tilaisuuden laulaa mukana, kuten “Iron Man” hieman myöhemmin.

Ozzy sai 20 000 -päisen yleisön taputtamaan ja heiluttamaan käsiään lukuisia kertoja illan aikana – oli miehen äänestä sitten mitä mieltä tahansa, hän on erinomainen keulahahmo, joka saa kiedottua suurenkin yleisön pikkusormensa ympärille. Geezer Butler soitti lyhyen mutta tyylikkään bassosoolon ennen “N.I.B.:iä”, ja hänen instrumenttinsa oli kantavana elementtinä myös harvoin soitetussa “Hand of Doomissa”. Eräs toinen katsoja huomautti jälkeenpäin, että Butler sekosi “Dirty Womenin” lopussa, mutta itse en huomannut mitään, todennäköisesti siksi, että Tony Iommi soitti juuri sooloa. Iommista puheen ollen, hänen soitossaan ei ollut merkkiäkään viime vuosien syöpätaistelusta – hän on todellakin rautainen mies! Bändiesittelyn aikana Osbourne sanoi Iommin nimen kolmesti ja mies sai suurimmat aplodit, joten hänen merkityksensä metallimusiikin synnylle ja roolinsa Black Sabbathin sydämenä ja sieluna ei jäänyt epäselväksi kenellekään. Kokoonpanon heikoin lenkki oli Tommy Clufetos, jonka tyyli oli mielestäni liian kovakätinen 70-luvun Sabbathia varten. Mies on hyvä soittaja, mutta väärässä pestissä, koska häneltä puuttuu Bill Wardin jazzahtava ote. Hänen rumpusoolonsa instrumentaalibiisi “Rat Saladin” perässä ei ollut järin mielikuvituksellinen, mutta palveli tarkoitustaan taukona perustajajäsenille.

Pääsetin tultua päätökseensä “Children of the Graven” myötä Ozzy ei ehtinyt edes poistua lavalta, kun hän jo pyysi faneja huutamaan “one more song”. Pari “Paranoid”-huutoa oli jo kaikunut ilmoille, eikä ollut vaikea arvata, mikä kappale olisi encorena. “Paranoid” oli oikea lopetus keikalle, ja ihmiset olivat haltioissaan, vaikkei Ozzyn ääni ollut enää tuossa vaiheessa iltaa parhaassa kunnossa. Bändi lähti lavalta (ilmeisesti) viimeiseksi jäävältä studioalbumiltaan 13 (2013) tutun “Zeitgeist”-kappaleen soidessa. Vaikka 14:n biisin settilista olikin miellyttävä, ja Sabbath Bloody Sabbathin (1973) ja Sabotagen (1975) kappaleet olisivat saattaneet olla liian haastavia Ozzylle, olisi ollut mukava kuulla edes yksi biisi 13:lta bändin oikeasti soittamana, jotta jäähyväisalbumi olisi ollut edustettuna jäähyväissetissä. En halua kuitenkaan nipottaa, koska Sabbath soitti hienon keikan, eikä missään vaiheessa tuntunut siltä kuin olisin katsellut kulahtaneita vanhoja miehiä, joiden parhaat päivät olivat jo takanapäin. Jos tämä todella on Black Sabbathin viimeinen kiertue, bändi lopettaa osatessaan vielä soittaa kunnolla livenä.

Ennen viimeistä juontoaan ennen Black Sabbathia Jone Nikula syytti festarikävijöitä järjenkäytön puutteesta anniskelualueille (tai ainakin lavaa lähinnä olleelle) ja vessoihin jonottaessa. En osaa itse ottaa kantaa tähän asiaan, koska olin ottanut mukaan puolen litran vesipullon ja hieman suklaata, ja sain pidettyä rakkoni hallinnassa, joten kyseisillä alueilla ei tarvinnut vierailla. Haluaisin kuitenkin antaa kritiikkiä niille törpöille, jotka yrittivät rynniä eteenpäin Black Sabbathin setin aikana. Tiedän, että tätä tapahtuu yleensäkin keikoilla, mutta se on erityisen ärsyttävää tällaisissa isoissa tapahtumissa ja epäreilua niitä kohtaan, jotka ovat odottaneet paikalla tuntikausia. Jos kärsivällisyys ei riitä kuuntelemaan kaikkia bändejä, pitäisi tyytyä kohtaloonsa ja paikkaansa, vaikka näkymät eivät olisikaan niin hyvät.

Olin kaiken kaikkiaan hyvin tyytyväinen Suomen ensimmäiseen Monsters of Rockiin: sää oli melko hyvä ja bändien määrä sekä settien pituudet saivat olon kylläiseksi. Jos festivaali järjestetään jälleen ensi vuonna ja Ritchie Blackmore päättää jatkaa rock-keikkojen soittamista, kenties Rainbow voisi olla pääesiintyjänä kuten tänä kesänä Saksassa?

Teksti: Ville Karttunen | Kuvat: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Lene L.

MONSTERS OF ROCK: AMORPHIS, RIVAL SONS, OPETH @ Kaisaniemenpuisto, Helsinki, 07.07.2016

0

Monsters of Rock 2016 @ Kaisaniemenpuisto, Helsinki, ft. Amorphis, Rival Sons, and Opeth.
Unfortunately, only major medias were given permission to photograph Black Sabbath, so we do not have photos of them.
Photos by Jana Blomqvist.

(2016) Witherscape: The Northern Sanctuary (English)

0

Artist: Witherscape
Album: The Northern Sanctuary
Released: 22.07.2016
Label: Century Media

 

Progressive death metal duo Witherscape’s debut album, The Inheritance (2013), was my introduction to the wonderful world of the multi-talented Dan Swanö, whose projects I’ve been following ever since then. After 3 years, he and partner in crime Ragnar Widerberg return with another concept album. The main character of The Northern Sanctuary is “the man in white,” who has bought the estate where the events of The Inheritance took place. He rents out rooms in the house to other people, but things start to go awry when the man is possessed by the evil entity haunting the place.

In the promo bio, Swanö name-checks “Dead for a Day,” “Astrid Falls,” and “The Math of the Myth” from the debut as the songs whose direction he wanted to explore further while adding in new elements. This comment isn’t baseless, as the melodicism of those songs has clearly paved the way for a lot of the material on The Northern Sanctuary, and the role of keyboards is stronger this time around. I don’t mind though, as the aforementioned three tunes were among my favorites from the debut.

The opening pair, “Wake of Infinity” and “In the Eyes of Idols,” sums up the Witherscape sound fairly well: besides tight riffing, haunting chords, and double bass drumming, there’s room for clean guitar bits, rocking solos, and sing-along choruses. “Rapture Ballet” starts off in a ‘Rush meets death metal’ style, reminiscent of Swanö’s solo album, Moontower (1998), before moving on to an Opeth-y triplet section. “The Examiner,” on the other hand, is a beautifully melancholic tune for the most part and has an anthemic chorus that is a guaranteed earworm. A special mention has got to be given to Swanö’s performance behind the mic – plenty of melodic death metal vocalists know how to growl like a demon and sing like an angel, but few of them handle raspy rock singing as skilfully as Swanö does.

“Marionette” is a Nightingale-sounding track, but the AOR synth strings in its chorus are contrasted by growling. The combination sounds tacky on paper, but it works brilliantly. The song concludes with a glorious solo that you can imagine Widerberg playing on a mountaintop while the sun is setting – simply epic! The heaviest song is the fast “Divinity,” which is followed by the slower “God of Ruin.” The ambitious 14-minute title-track is the album’s culmination point that includes both the prettiest and the heaviest parts of the album, as well as a short Gothic bit with whispered vocals in vein of Nightingale’s The Breathing Shadow (1995). Long songs can be risky – sometimes either too repetitive or chaotic – but Witherscape manages to craft an adventurous yet cohesive musical journey. “Vila i frid” is a piano outro that closes the album in a similar fashion as the title-track did on The Inheritance.

Although I’m a fan of melodies and there are no weak points on the album, I feel like it would benefit from having another aggressive and riff-oriented track, especially since Swanö’s growling voice is in such fine shape. That said, this is just a minor complaint, and it’s possible that the storyline simply doesn’t warrant more songs in that style – one of the downsides of listening to an advance promo is that you don’t get to read the lyrics. Either way, The Northern Sanctuary is a continuation of Dan Swanö’s creative renaissance and far from a sophomore slump for Witherscape. Hopefully the dynamic duo will extend the saga into a trilogy!

Rating: 8½/10, 4½ stars

Tracklist:
1. Wake of Infinity
2. In the Eyes of Idols
3. Rapture Ballet
4. The Examiner
5. Marionette
6. Divinity
7. God of Ruin
8. The Northern Sanctuary
9. Vila i frid

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Witherscape The Northern Sanctuary promotional photos, 2016

(2016) Witherscape: The Northern Sanctuary (suomeksi)

0

Artisti: Witherscape
Albumi: The Northern Sanctuary
Julkaistu: 22.07.2016
Levy-yhtiö: Century Media

Progressiivisen death metal -duo Witherscapen debyyttialbumi The Inheritance (2013) oli ensikosketukseni monilahjakkuus Dan Swanön ihmeelliseen maailmaan, ja olen seurannut miehen projekteja siitä lähtien. Kolmen vuoden jälkeen hän ja rikoskumppani Ragnar Widerberg palaavat uuden konseptialbumin kera. The Northern Sanctuaryn päähenkilö on “the man in white”, joka on ostanut kartanon, joka toimi The Inheritancen tapahtumapaikkana. Hän vuokraa talon huoneita ulkopuolisille, mutta asiat alkavat mennä hullusti, kun mies joutuu paikassa asuvan pahan hengen riivaamaksi.

Promon mukana tulevassa biografiassa Swanö nimeää “Dead for a Dayn”, “Astrid Fallsin” ja “The Math of the Mythin” kappaleiksi debyytiltä, joiden tyyliä hän halusi jatkaa, tuoden samalla mukaan uusia elementtejä. Kommentti ei ole perätön, sillä kyseisten biisien melodisuus on selvästi viitoittanut tietä suurelle osalle The Northern Sanctuaryn materiaalista, ja koskettimien osuus on vahvempi tällä kertaa. Tämä ei haittaa minua, sillä edellämainitut rallit olivat suosikkejani esikoisella.

Avauskaksikko “Wake of Infinity” ja “In the Eyes of Idols” tiivistää Witherscapen tyylin hyvin: tiukan riffittelyn, aavemaisten sointujen ja tuplabasarien ohella löytyy tilaa säröttömälle kitaroinnille, rokkaaville sooloille ja yhteislaulukertosäkeille. “Rapture Ballet” yhdistelee aluksi Rushia death metaliin Swanön sooloalbumin Moontower (1998) hengessä ennen kuin siirrytään opethmaiseen trioliosioon. “The Examiner” on sen sijaan suurimmalta osin kauniin melankolinen kappale, jonka tarttuva kertosäe on takuuvarma korvamato. Swanön suoritus mikrofonin takana ansaitsee erikoismaininnan – lukuisat melodisen death metalin solistit osaavat ärjyä kuin demonit ja laulaa kuin enkelit, mutta harvat hoitavat raspisen rock-laulannan yhtä mallikkaasti kuin Swanö.

“Marionette” on nightingalemainen veto, mutta kertosäkeen AOR-syntikkajouset saavat vastapainokseen örinää. Yhdistelmä kuulostaa tökeröltä paperilla, mutta toimii hienosti. Biisi päättyy upeaan sooloon, jota Widerbergin voi kuvitella soittavan vuoren huipulla aurinkon laskiessa – eeppistä menoa! Raskain kappale on nopea “Divinity”, jota seuraa hitaampi “God of Ruin”. Kunnianhimoinen 14-minuuttinen nimiraita on albumin kulminaatiopiste, joka sisältää niin levyn kauneimmat kuin raskaimmat kohdat, sekä lyhyen goottimaisen kohdan, joka kuiskailuineen tuo mieleen Nightingale-albumin The Breathing Shadow (1995). Pitkät kappaleet voivat olla riskaabeleja – joko liian yksitoikkoisia tai kaoottisia – mutta Witherscape onnistuu luomaan uskaliaan mutta eheän musiikillisen matkan. “Vila i frid” on piano-outro, joka päättää levyn samaan tapaan kuin debyytin nimiraita.

Vaikka olen melodioiden ystävä, eikä levyllä ole heikkoja kohtia, mielestäni mukaan olisi mahtunut vielä yksi aggressiivinen ja riffivetoinen kappale, varsinkin kun Swanön murinat ovat sen verran kovia. Tämä on kuitenkin vain pieni kritiikin poikanen, ja on mahdollista että juoni ei kaivannut enempää sen tyylisiä kappaleita – yksi ennakkopromon kuuntelun varjopuolista on se, ettei pääse lukemaan sanoituksia. Joka tapauksessa The Northern Sanctuary jatkaa Dan Swanön luovaa renessanssia, eikä Witherscapen toinen tuleminen jää missään nimessä vaisuksi. Toivottavasti tämä dynaaminen duo täydentää tarinaa trilogiaksi!

Arvosana: 8½/10, 4½ tähteä

Kappalelista:
1. Wake of Infinity
2. In the Eyes of Idols
3. Rapture Ballet
4. The Examiner
5. Marionette
6. Divinity
7. God of Ruin
8. The Northern Sanctuary
9. Vila i frid

Teksti: Ville Karttunen | Kuvat: Witherscape The Northern Sanctuary promotional photos, 2016

KATATONIA – Niklas & Daniel, Tuska Open Air, 2016

0

Following the release of their new album, The Fall of Hearts, Katatonia has been on the road playing some summer festivals to help get the word out. They stopped by Tuska Open Air for the first time since 2011, and before the show we were given a few moments to talk to Niklas Sandin [bass] and Daniel Moilanen [drums] about the new album and their time at the festival!

 

How is everything with Roger [Öjersson, guitar] and the band chemistry now that you’ve all played a few gigs together?
Niklas: I think it’s really good. He’s a perfect fit and a wonderful guitar player and he has wonderful weird humor as well, which fits with the rest of the gang. It was a perfect fit from the start.

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Katatonia interview 2A lot has been said about the progressive direction of The Fall of Hearts, but it’s also more guitar-driven as well. Was this intentional, or did it turn out that way naturally?
Daniel: I think it turned out that way, since they felt more free to create whatever they wanted. With Roger in the band, obviously there’s a lot more room for solos and leads. It’s more guitar-driven, but not intentionally.

Niklas: I think maybe in the past we would not have had a song beginning with guitar solo. I think that was quite shocking even for me. “Fucking hell, that’s a pretty long guitar solo opening a song. This is new!”

The bonus track “Vakaren” was sung in Swedish – what inspired you guys to have a song in your native language?
Daniel: I think that’s a question for Jonas. Also, I think he felt that with this album he could do it. I think he’s been [fiddling] with some stuff like that in the past, but I think he felt that this Katatonia album was a perfect fit for that song.

Niklas: Yeah, and it’s not the first time that there’s been an electronic song on an album and I think also it’s just one of those songs that fits more to have in Swedish than in English. The words transpire better. Like for the Finnish bands. There are so many bands just singing in Finnish because it works better that way. It makes more sense.

What are your personal favorite songs off the new album?
Niklas: I’m sticking with “Last Song Before the Fade.” I think that’s really, really nice and strong, and also one of the first that I heard in pre-production mode.

Daniel: For me it’s “Residual.” I think that was the first I heard. Also “Last Song.” It’s a strong track with good drumming.

Niklas: And of course the cover! [laughter]

Daniel: Yeah, the cover is great!

Niklas: Judas Priest!

Daniel: Exactly!

“Pale Flag” would be a really cool acoustic song to hear live – do you guys have any plans to do another acoustic tour in the future?
Daniel: Not plans, but we are not excluding it. We’re not turning it down.

Niklas: Yeah, exactly. I think there were already a few plans for doing something like that straight after the last one we did, where we recorded that Sanctitude live DVD, but after that I haven’t heard any concrete plans. Just a little bit of talking about it and of course it would be a cool idea to do it.

Some of your albums have been released quite a few years apart from each other. Is this a coincidence or do you think there is some magic in working over a great deal of time?
Niklas: I don’t know… I think all Katatonia albums are magic! [laughter]

Daniel: So do I.

Niklas: Even the bad ones. No, I’m just joking. Well, I think it’s just that this band is more about letting the music come to you than trying to push something out just to go on tour and keep the band rolling. It has to be faithful and true to the music, and not something you just write in order to get on the road. I know a couple of bands doing that. They are just like, “Okay, now we are going to write a record and it needs to be in this time.” Then they just do it and then they go on tour and then there’s three good songs on the album. Katatonia is always about delivering a whole record that’s true and that fans like.

I think it shows. At least what I can tell from your music, your albums are quite consistently good throughout. It’s not hard to listen to the whole thing. The album quality is consistent.
Niklas: [laughs] Yeah, I don’t think there are too many fillers.

A lot of bands are playing full albums at festivals lately. Did you guys at all consider doing The Great Cold Distance or was it just too soon after The Fall of Hearts came out to bother with it?
Niklas: I think that you should promote the new album more and now there’s the anniversary for The Great Cold Distance and of course you have to celebrate that as well and it’s a really good album and it makes sense to play it from front-to-back, but you can’t promote that while you’re promoting a new album. It makes it confusing and if we would go out and do live festivals just playing that, it would be a little bit weird for people that might want to hear some new stuff as well.

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Katatonia interview 3It might be a little bit early to ask this, but what can we expect in the sets from the upcoming club shows? Are you going to be playing mostly new stuff, a balance of everything, or just a couple favorite new tracks? Or do you have any idea at this point?
Daniel: We are not exactly sure what we are playing from the new album yet. We’re still trying stuff out. I think with ten albums there’s going to be a lot of old stuff as well. A good mixture, of course, but there’s going to be a lot of old surprises.

Niklas: We’re going to keep the setlist – like the roster of songs – bigger this time, so we can pick and choose a little bit from concert to concert. We’ve been a little bit lazy regarding that in the past, having two setlists that we have been balancing back and forth [between] while being on quite a long tour, but now we’re aiming to be more flexible and that makes it more fun for us to play live as well, because two setlists gets boring after 2 weeks and if you have another 5 weeks… well, that says it all. We want to keep it fresh for ourselves and for the fans. I think it’s more interesting that way.

That’s good – if people come to more than one show, they get something special every time.
Niklas: Exactly. It’s not going to be like seeing the same Friends rerun on TV for 5 weeks. That’s not too cool.

Daniel: But [the shows are] still fun!

Niklas: Still fun, yeah! It’s the amount of alcohol that decides. [laughter]

This is the oldschool question, so I’m not sure if either of you will know the answer to this because it’s from before your time, but in song 12 from Brave Murder Day, there’s a bird chirping in the last clean guitar part just over 6 minutes into the song. Do either of you know how that ended up in there?
Daniel: That’s some hardcore detailing! But… no. I could lie, but I’d prefer not to.

Niklas: We can make up some story about them recording in some really nice meadow with birds chirping. An early summer morning.

Daniel: Early summer. May.

Niklas: Let’s stick to that.

Daniel: Yep.

Is everyone in the band still finding enough time to work on their side projects and things like that?
Niklas: Well, there is some time to work on side projects. For example, I have Lik, which is a death metal project, just as the other boys have their slightly bigger Bloodbath band [laughter] on their hands, which they also find time for beside Katatonia. Of course, that’s a little bit more time consuming and has to fit with Martin Axenrot from Opeth, for example, and nowadays Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost. There is some time, but now it’s going to be focusing on Katatonia, promoting the new album, and playing as many shows as possible.

As we’re getting close to the end then, how do you guys like Tuska as a festival? How does it compare to the other places you’ve played?
Niklas: I think it’s great. It’s nice to see how it’s evolving into this bigger and better organization. Now actually I’ve walked around because I’ve been here since Friday, marinating myself before today’s gig. I walked around and checked out the whole festival area. There’s actually some pieces of grass where you can sit! Otherwise here in Suvilahti it’s all about concrete and nowhere to escape if it rains or if there’s a really burning sun. So now the second stage, the Helsinki stage, is quite a cool addition. I really like it. There’s nice people, and of course, I love the Finns!

Daniel: I haven’t played Tuska before, so this is my first time. This far I’m loving it!

Niklas: And 5 years since last time; it raised enough hunger to come back.

That’s all of my questions then – do you have any final comments to any readers?
Daniel: Buy the album, support the scene! [laughter]

Niklas: Yes, and nyt vasta alkaa maistumaan! [laughter]
[translation: “only now is it starting to taste good” though he means that he’s finally feeling like he wants to drink]

Thanks then, and have a great gig!

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Katatonia interview 4Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Eliza Rask

NUMMIROCK: Camping Special

0

When talking about Nummirock, there’s one thing that’s evident right away: Nummirock’s campsite is an institution in itself. A mystical, fabled one to those who have never set a foot there, and something that makes the veteran Nummi-goer’s gaze glaze over while they babble on about the magical wonderland that is the campsite. It might seem even a bit over-glorified – is there really such a place, or is it all drunken hallucination? Yes, and, well… yes to that too.

2016.06.25 Festival extras (16) @ NummirockBut really, what is the essence of Nummirock camping? With visitors from Ireland to India, from Austria to Australia, and every part of Finland, you’d think there are as many opinions on this as there are Nummi campers. To commemorate the 30 years of Nummirock and the existence of this dear post-apocalyptic tent village, we decided to ask this and more from fellow campers in order to bring you a glimpse of what it’s all about (and to make the waiting-for-next-year a bit easier for us). Hop on to our camp safari!

A special thank you and a tip of hat goes to the Tykittelijämiehet group [Groovy Dudes] and Bönthöleiri [Liquor Camp], whom we had the opportunity to bother with our cameras during the weekend, and you can spot them in some places we don’t have photos of the wonderful people we’ve interviewed. And don’t forget to check out an epic video from 2014 at the end of the post!

 

2016.06.24 Festival extras (16) @ NummirockOur first victim here, Hannele, is a long-term Nummi-camper, with 2016 marking her 9th year in Nummirock. She and her campmates, along many others, also worked as volunteers in Nummi: earning your ticket by volunteering has been a long tradition in the Finnish festival scene, and Nummirock is no exception.

So, what makes you come back here every year?
Good atmosphere, friends, and good bands are a bonus. Stam1na, Turmion Kätilöt, Mokoma, and Bodom this year especially. Also Forever One on the first evening.

Does your camp have a name?
We are Leidileiri [Lady camp]. We’ve had only women here for quite a few years, but now we’ve had Aleksi here for some years as well.

Aleksi: I can also be a lady!

2016.06.24 Festival extras (09) @ NummirockDo you have any other theme here?
Eeva digs holes nearly every year, but I guess nothing else. We always have good and smart things [to talk about].

Why is Nummi worth coming to?
This is the best festival in Finland.

 

2016.06.25 Festival extras (12) @ NummirockWe met a few other active Nummi-goers, Jussi, Joni, and Jarmo hanging out in their camp early on Saturday eve, and dropped by for a quick chat. One could describe their camp as a somewhat traditional Nummi camp, with all the essentials – tents, grill, some chairs, and tarps to keep the rain away from the hangout area.

Does your camp have a name?
Jussi: We had quite a few suggestions for it, what was it-
Joni: There were actually quite a lot of suggestions.
Jussi: Like, Homo-leiri, as in short from words hyvä meno [good atmosphere, spirit, or action] but we didn’t find the other O from anywhere, it just appeared, and then there was Meno and Meinink Guaranteed –
Joni: And Mustic Berries.
Jussi: And Mustic Berries! Or was it Mysteriis Dom Mustic Berries, or Mustic Berries Dom Sathanas? And all kinds of stuff like that, but we’re still working on it, if we’d have a banner next year, as it’s our 8th here.

Well, the next question would’ve been, “How many times have you been to Nummi before,” but you just answered that, so 7 years this year. Is your camp always in the same place?
Jussi: Yeah, it is – late. As in wherever we can fit in when we arrive, which is late, so it’s every year in that same spot.
Joni: Well it’s in Nummi every year, so it’s in the same place.
Jussi: And on the forest side.

What’s the best thing in your camp?
Joni: Beer.
Jussi: Booze. No, Jaloviina, and actually Hot Headz habanero chips, and the shockingly low quality of jokes.
Joni: Shitty company is the best.
Jussi: Really, I wouldn’t go to any other camp 2016.06.25 Festival extras (11) @ Nummirockbecause there would probably be better company, that’d ruin the whole Nummi!

What’s the most essential thing in Nummi camping?
Both: Brotherhood… metal brotherhood [laughter].
Jussi: It’s the people who come to hug you while drunk because you have a black shirt, y’know. But yeah, it’s a really great atmosphere here because everyone’s friends with everyone. There’s no sense of community like this at any other festival.

 

2016.06.25 Festival extras (21) @ NummirockHeidi and Mikko have had one of the most memorable and likely one of the most photographed camps for a few years, with its cute little playhouse, zombie garden gnomes, post box, and a sign that wishes everyone “tedious, grim, cold, dark, and a very sad Christmas,” so of course we wanted to ask them some questions as well!

Does your camp have a name?
Heidi: It’s Hevonkuusi [the closest translation might be “buttfuck nowhere”].

I remember seeing you guys here for several years now; is your camp always in the same place?
Heidi: Yeah, approximately, pretty much.

How many times have you been to Nummi?
Heidi: This is my sixth year.
Mikko: Fifth for me.

2016.06.25 Festival extras (20) @ NummirockWhat’s the best thing in your camp?
Heidi: Playhouse! And the fact that there’s a real bed, too. No matter what’s raining from the sky, the playhouse surely will endure it better than a tent.

What’s the most essential thing in Nummi camping?
Mikko: I like this overall atmosphere; it’s good around here.
Heidi: Yeah, quite a laid-back atmosphere.
Mikko: You can walk to a camp and you’re instantly welcome.
Heidi: Yeah, everyone’s friends with each other.

 

2015.06.20 Camp decorations @ NummirockIf you’ve never been to Nummirock before, you’ve likely learned a thing or two already from this, and our previous Nummi reports. Oftentimes camps are built in approximately the same place as the last year(s) and you can learn to navigate the area by some of the traditional big camps fairly quickly – they usually have large banners with camp names on them and it’s easy to direct friends to your whereabouts with those. Decorating always helps you recognize the right 2016.06.25 Festival extras (30) @ Nummirockcamp too! And there’s no limit on the kind of decorations – from huge hockey player faces, band and country flags, pennant strings, empty beer cans and booze bottles, and all kinds of lights to life-size northern pike and skeleton decorations, you name it!

There’s also an eternal, albeit friendly, debate on whether the forest- or shore-side of the camping area is the right side to camp in. Of the Musicalypse staff, all of us are accustomed to the forest-side and likely would not change 2016.06.24 Festival extras (17) @ Nummirockour preference on the matter, but we do pay visits to our friends and acquaintances on yonder shore-side. We assume that picking either of the sides has mostly to do with tradition; when you come to Nummi for the first time, your more experienced friends are likely to tell you what part of the area you should come to, or take you and your tent as part of their camp. We rarely see people changing from one side to another – perhaps moving around the same area, though – so while our theory on this is still in the works, we strongly assume it has a lot to do with that.

 

2016.06.25 Festival extras (23) @ NummirockOther than elaborate camp structures, dressing up is another ongoing Nummi tradition. Lovely ladies Noora and Noora extend their camp theme further than just the camp itself, as they’ve dressed as nurses and give out traditional Finnish Christmas cookies to fellow Nummi-goers.

Does your camp have a name?
Festaripiparileiri [“Festival Cookie Camp”; pipari = gingerbread, also a slang word for pussy].

Is your camp always in the same place?
This is our second year in this same spot, and the third year of sharing pipari.

How many times have you been to Nummi?
Fourth for me, and third for my friend here.

What’s the best thing in your camp?
The best thing is that people come to visit us here, very frequently so.
[voice from the background] And we are very grateful!

What’s the most essential thing in Nummi camping?
The community spirit and that you can go to any camp here.

2016.06.25 Festival extras (24) @ NummirockNummirock is a place for sometimes extremely dark and bizarre humor, and one of the camps that has developed itself a somewhat legendary reputation in a short period of time is the Auschwitz camp. And now, before you hasten to judge, get offended, or fly a Neo-Nazi flag here, we assure you, despite its grim name, this camp is all contrary to its infamous namesake. With its high gates and other ambitious constructions, it looks impressive from afar, and we’ve heard rumors of them having fridges and other modern-world conveniences, and we’ve certainly heard their techno playlists. After wondering if the place was really as magnificent as we’ve been told, we decided to get some inside info from the founders of the camp, Janne and Matti, and to see for ourselves what the buzz was about.

2016.06.25 Festival extras (26) @ NummirockHow long ago did you get the idea to start this camp?
Matti: We built this thing 4 years ago for the first time, in 2013 – I don’t know what drunken idea it was, like “Hey, let’s dig a ginormous pit, and build a command tent there!” And then some foxholes to the side of the road. The idea has evolved a bit over the years; nowadays there’s inverted funnel systems and all. You can burn stuff when it’s cold – 2013 was warm but 2014 was fucking cold, so after that we decided we need some heating in the tent. We tried a kind of oven thing, but that backfired, as all the smoke just got inside of the tent and you couldn’t stay there – so it sort of worked, but not for the warming purpose. After that we tried this inverted funnel and it works way better. And then some dumb-nut decided that [they] could buy an aggregate, so we wired the place, and there’s a fridge and stuff now. We forgot the PA systems in two waves, so we called the last one who was arriving, if they could find at least something, and they found some real proper ones!2016.06.25 Festival extras (28) @ Nummirock

It surely sounds like they did! How many times have you guys been to Nummi now?
Matti: This is my fourth year.
Janne: Eleventh.

What’s the best thing in your camp, if you can pick just one thing?
Janne: It’s the best! The best in whole Nummirock, as you can see.

2016.06.25 Festival extras (27) @ NummirockWe’ve mostly gotten the same answer to this question from everyone, but what’s the most essential thing in Nummirock camping?
Janne: Eeehmmm… constructions.
Matti: Yeah, the way it stands out among other festivals is that you can build stuff and not be just like, “There’s a tent, I put a tarp on it, ain’t that nice?” You read in the news that, “Look at the best camping hacks in Provinssi!” and there’s a tent with a tarp on it. Are they for real?

After doing some rounds taking part in both the dance party and chilling by the campfire, as well as asking some of the same questions from the casual Auschwitz campers, we can’t but agree that the laid-back people in and visiting the camp, and the effort of building yourself likely the coolest headquarters around, surely makes this camp one of the best in Nummi.

 

2016.06.24 Festival extras (15) @ NummirockSo we’ve heard it from the returning members of the Nummi community, but how about the first-timers? We were glad to catch Veera, who was celebrating her first Nummijärvi juhannus this time, to ask how the weekend had been so far.

What got you to come here?
Mostly that a lot of friends were coming and that it’d be fun to go with them.

Are there any bands that interest you in particular?
I was probably most interested in seeing Ajattara, and Amorphis is also always fairly interesting, even though you see them at every festival. I’ll go to see Mokoma too, and Turmion Kätilöt was absolutely awesome, even though I haven’t listened them before.

2016.06.22 Festival extras (02) @ NummirockHas the festival met your expectations?
Pretty well – I didn’t have a lot of expectations, but this is pretty much what I had been promised.

What’s the “thing” in Nummi – why is it worth the visit?
This atmosphere in camping is cool – there’s a community spirit and you can go to talk with everyone. I will come back next year.

 

Along with companionship in general, midsummer is also commonly a celebration of love, be it between friends and family, significant others, newfound companions, or just anyone in general. We found two true Nummi lovebirds, Jani and Susanna: Jani had proposed Susanna on stage during the Sentenced cover band, Forever One’s, set!

2016.06.22 Festival extras (07) @ NummirockYou just got engaged on stage there – how did that happen?
Jani: My lady here said she doesn’t want a boring proposal, so I thought, “Well fuck, now that we’re in Nummi, let’s get rad for real then.” Thought I’d get things arranged so that I can get on stage to propose my lady. That’s how it took off.

So the arrangements were easy to make?
Jani: Surprisingly easy. Didn’t need to talk to people much. The guys from Forever One were really well on board with the thing.

How did you feel getting a proposal like this?
Susanna: Well, it was a positive shock, like, what’s going on here, and when Jani climbed there on stage I was like, “Oh hell no, here it is now.” Like I said out there, let’s not keep the audience in suspense, of course I’ll say yes. And it was absolutely awesome, wasn’t it?

It sure was, and we wish all the best to the happy couple, and everyone else who have found love, friends, and made some unforgettable memories like this in Nummirock over the years!

 

2016.06.25 Festival extras (07) @ Nummirock

 

 

Interviews: Lene L., Eliza Rask | Text & translations: Lene L. | Photos: Eliza Rask, Lene L. | Camping video: Eliza Rask | Ed: Amy Wiseman

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Joel Alex (Shiraz Lane), 2016

0

Nothing warms the heart more than seeing the youth of today bringing back real rock n’ roll! We wouldn’t exactly call Shiraz Lane newcomers per say, as they’ve already done their fair share of touring, but with their debut album (and a damn fine album at that) released in 2016, they’re fresh on the scene and ready to take over the world! Here is the playlist of bassist Joel Alex’s life!

 

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
The first one that really caught my attention and not being nonsense kids music would probably be “F-F-F-Falling” by The Rasmus

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
HIM – “Wings of a Butterfly”

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” takes me back to great teenage-parties

2015.09.05 Shiraz Lane gig (12)4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
HIM and KISS without a doubt

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
“Could Have Been Me,” a great song by a great UK band called The Struts is on a daily repeat in my head

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Katy Perry

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
HIM – Dark Light

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
I could do that with one of the greatest songs on earth and that would be “Estranged” by Guns N’ Roses

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing,” always when coming back from longer gig trips

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Oh fuck… Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” would be epic if we’d find Freddie to do it live

CRIMSON SUN – Jukka/Joni/Sini, Tuska Open Air 2016

0

Ever since MetalOrgy earlier this year, we’ve found ourselves growing more and more intrigued by Crimson Sun! This modern melodic metal group released a fantastic debut album, Towards the Light, to rave reviews, and has been swiftly gaining steam ever since! Thrilled by the opportunity to check them out at Tuska Open Air this year, we grabbed Jukka, Joni, and Sini to ask them a few questions about how things are going in the band!

 

I’m really glad that I got to talk to you guys after your gig, because it’s always more interesting to ask – how do you think the gig today went?
Sini: I enjoyed it and it was great to see that there was such a big crowd and I think the people liked it. They had their fists in the air.

Jukka: Usually if you play a gig [in a club], the changeover times are a bit… you have to do everything in a hurry, but today everything went perfectly thanks to the Tuska folks and everyone who made it happen. Also, 5 minutes before the show you could hear the echo from the hall because no one was there.

I came a little bit before you guys started because I got the start time wrong and I was thinking, “Wow, there’s no one here.” Then as soon as the show started, it was like a tidal wave of people washing in!
Joni: It went really well. We all enjoyed it.

Sini: It was one of our best gigs so far.

Jukka: Definitely.

Had any of you guys been to Tuska before?
Sini: A couple of times, yeah.

Jukka: I played a show last year with my other band, Red Moon Architect, and then I think we’ve been here once or twice just as civilians.

Joni: I went to my first Tuska when I was 15 years old in 2004, alone. I saw some frightening things and started growing long hair.

Who have been your favorite performances so far, if you’ve been watching them?
Jukka: I think yesterday we saw Behemoth and Avantasia. Those are the only two shows we’ve seen.

Sini: We came here a bit late, so we got to see only Behemoth and Avantasia, but I think Behemoth was great. I haven’t seen them before and I think the show was really great.

Jukka: A really visual show.

Have you guys done anything else in the festival area other than looking at the shows? Have you checked out anything else around here?
Joni: Drinking beer! [laughter]

Jukka: Probably that.

How’s the beer selection?
Jukka: Really good! And today it’s even better because it’s free!

Is there any show that you’re still looking forward to seeing?
Sini: Ghost!

Joni: Yeah, Ghost!

Jukka: There’s something weird about that band. I think I saw Ghost for the first time in Sonisphere Festival held in Kalasatama and I hadn’t heard it before and I was like, “What’s happening? There’s guys playing oldschool music and waving some scented basket.” I didn’t like it then, but I think everyone in the band listened to the Meliora album and they said that it was really good. But I remembered what I had seen at Sonisphere and I thought, “I’m not going to listen to it,” but 2 months ago I gave in and…

It grows on you like a parasite.
All: Yeah! [laughter]

Jukka: So yeah, Ghost, definitely. Also tomorrow, Katatonia and Gojira!

 

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Crimson Sun interview 2

You often hear about the struggle that up-and-coming bands go through – what’s entering the music scene been like for you guys, having been around for such a long time?
Jukka: I think we’ve been around for a decade. We just been making small demos and we have this, always when you’re 15 years old, you’re into power metal and you do that, but now we found Sini and the band grew a hell of a lot bigger. I think somehow we found the sound that we want to do, thanks to this girl here. [gestures to Sini]

You guys formed in 2001 – what’s the story so far? What has brought you to where you are with this current line-up?
Joni: We began as a Megadeth cover band with a male singer and two guitars. Then some members left the band and we thought that it would be cool to play with keyboards and some faster music, so a friend of ours came to play keyboards and then we began to do this power metal thing.

Jukka: A lot of member changes. Joni and I are probably the first two members of the band, and then we found Antti on the drums and then came Miikka and we found Sini. Funny story actually – I don’t know if luck had anything to do with it, but I was at a party held for my workplace and then we went to this karaoke bar and Sini was singing karaoke and I was like, “Fuck, that girl is really good at singing.” I went over with the power of ten pints of beer and gave her an email address and she replied and now we’ve played the best show of our lives so far!

Do you think you guys are currently in your strongest incarnation right now, or is there any element from the past that you wish you still had with you?
Joni: No, I don’t think so.

Jukka: No, I think we’re the strongest now.

Sini: And growing stronger!

Joni: This line-up brings the best of all individuals, so I think we’ve found our place.

As you said, you’ve been around for 10-15 years – how do you think your live performance has changed, other than the obvious style changes? How do you think being on stage has changed over the years?
Sini: I have been in the band for like 3 years now and my first show ever in a band was back in 2013, I think. If I compare to that and what I’m doing now, I think I’m becoming better all the time and I’m learning.

Jukka: You really learn… let’s say 5 years ago, 10 years ago, you used to focus on what you’re playing and you were a bit stressed out. You went to the show and you were a bit frightened of the live performance. Nowadays, when you have that kind of crowd in front of you, it gives you so much energy that you just take it all in and fucking explode!

Joni: It’s way more relaxed nowadays. You can see the playing is relaxed and you’re headbanging more and not focusing so much on the play, because you’re okay with it.

Jukka: Also, when you see some random folks singing the lyrics and getting really into it, that’s awesome.

Sini: It’s the best!

What was the process of making your debut album like? Did you write collectively or was there one mastermind?
Joni: Actually, Jukka and I just decided that now it’s time to make the debut album, so we began writing and composing things very intently.

Jukka: For the first time we felt that the band was ready, once we found Sini. Everything came into place. We dug up a few old songs that didn’t even make it the EP, so we redid a few of them and then we made new songs.

Joni: We wrote plenty of songs and then we worked together with our producer, Saku Moilanen, and then we went to his studio and arranged things even better.

Jukka: Yeah, it’s really good to have a producer to tell you what is shit and what is good. So it’s really important to have a good producer.

Are there any themes that you’re interested in lyrically? Are there any stories on the album?
Sini: It’s a fun fact that we all write lyrics in the band, so there are always different stories behind the songs. They’re not linked together because there are different writers behind them, but every song has its own story. It can be from our personal lives.

Joni: Miikka likes science, so he usually writes some lyrics about some scientific things.

Jukka: I don’t write a diary – I write songs.

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Crimson Sun interview 3

 

You have a music video for “Awaken” now, which seems to be footage from everywhere. Where was all the footage from and how did the video get made?
Jukka: We’ve been collecting footage I think for over a year. If we went to a show, we had a GoPro with us and filmed something and we’ve also filmed performances at clubs in festivals. Then just goofing around in the rehearsal space.

What are each of your best memories of being in a band so far?
Sini: I think it’s when we went to Gdansk, Poland. It was a holiday last August or September. It was just a holiday and I think it was good to just hang around with bandmates.

Jukka: Not involving music in the vacation.

No stress or deadlines.
Jukka: No, and you remember how… usually if you play in a band and everyone is a phenomenal musician and they blow galaxies up with their playing, but they’re douchebags, so then you don’t get along. It’s really important to get along with everyone. The whole thing really works.

Sini: The chemistry is really important.

Jukka: Really important.

Joni: Yeah, I think it’s important to be friends with each other rather than co-workers, because it shows in the live shows.

Jukka: I want to say that I think one of the best memories was right there, 2 hours ago. It feels unreal. It hasn’t settled in quite yet.

2016.07.03 04 Tuska Crimson Sun interview 4This one’s for Sini now – how has it been, being a girl in the metal scene? Do you ever have any issues with that?
Sini: I don’t have any problems with that, but I think sometimes I don’t know what to think about how everybody’s talking about “female-fronted metal”… it doesn’t matter if a singer is a male or female. Or someone might just not like metal bands if they have a girl as a singer, but I don’t care. We just do our thing and I think if the music is good, it doesn’t matter if the singer is a male or a female.

I think that’s probably the right attitude. So what can we expect from you guys in the next year or so? What’s on your plate?
Jukka: The second album is definitely on the plate. We’ve actually booked some time in the studio in September. We’re probably going to make a few demo songs and try to nail a bigger recording deal with those songs. Or then if no one likes it and we don’t get a bigger deal, we’re going to release an EP and then the full album a year from now.

Joni: New stuff, yeah. And hopefully new shows.

Awesome! What are your goals/what are you most excited for in the future?
Jukka: I don’t know if excited, but frightened about the second album. The first album was so good that it’s pretty hard to go into the studio again. Joni and I have this thing where you always have to top the last album.

Joni: Yeah, if you don’t have any better stuff then go home and make some better stuff, rather than going to the studio and recording some shit.

Jukka: The debut album had so many great reviews, so it set the bar really high. We have to top that.

Joni: We’ve got something new and I think it’s going to be good.

Jukka: 8-string guitars!

Joni: Yeah! Lower tuning, so probably a bit heavier.

Sini: That’s true! I have to say that I’m looking forward to gigs abroad, touring in Europe or something like that. I’m really excited if that day comes next year or the year after that!

Well, that’s all my questions! Do you have any last words for anyone who might be reading this?
Jukka: Thanks for reading this! [laughter]

Joni: Thanks to everybody who came to our show here in Tuska.

Jukka: And listens to our music and like our music… basically thanks to everyone. For half a year we’ve began to recognize that there are really some random guys liking our stuff and coming to chat with us and it’s really awesome to get feedback.

Sini: Stay tuned for new gigs and new stuff coming up!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Eliza Rask

TUSKA OPEN AIR – Suvilahti, Helsinki, 01-03.07.2016

0

Juhannus (re: Nummirock) has come and gone, which means it’s high time for Tuska Open Air once again! In case you didn’t notice, we did a special feature this year about Helsinki’s best and biggest metal festival since this was officially our 10th year covering the event! Regardless of whether or not you like the bands, Tuska is an undeniably fun experience for people of all races, genders, ages, and the like! The festival hit Suvilahti this year on July 1-3th and we were excited to see a good number of these bands!

Here are the links to the galleries for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, as well as the Festival Extras!

 

Pre-Festival

Tuska-Kiska
Tuska-Kiska

The Tuska-Kiska was back up this year, with plenty of meet ‘n’ greets, RadioRock interviews, and strange events to lure the crowd in. It was nice to see them selling some discounted leftover merchandise from the previous year, as you could snag a shirt or other bit of paraphernalia if you had missed out in 2015. We press couldn’t get our media wristbands, unfortunately, but the regular and VIP crowd could pick up their wristbands to save some time at the actual festival gates. The only event we actually caught at the kiosk was the Musta Jooga (black yoga), which was, at least as long as I stayed to watch, a disappointment. The crowd was big and eccentric, which was pretty cool, but from what I know of (Ashtanga) yoga, all these guys were doing was stretching in public. Either this was a different style of yoga from what I am used to, or they totally half-assed it. I vote next year they have a Black Crossfit session instead!

 

Day 1
2016.07.03 04 Tuska festival extras (49)As much as I like South Park, Tuska is by far the festival I look most forward to each year. This year was particularly busy as we decided to catch a couple of bands for interviews as well as simply covering more bands in general. We arrived at the Suvilahti gates fairly early and were pleased to see that the VIP/press line wasn’t too long and was moving fairly smoothly along. I’ll admit that things worked better a few years ago (2012 or 2013) when the medias had their own entrance off the main road to keep things extremely quick, but it’s not the end of the world.

We got our passes and wandered past Cattle Decapitation on the main stage, who are worlds away from a style I like, though our own Atte Valtonen is a fan and was happy with their show, barring the fact that the wind was blowing their sound around a bit. Instead, we decided to catch the first band on the indoor club stage – Frosttide! I’ve known about these guys for years but have never actually had the opportunity to catch one of their shows, which is a real shame. It was incredible to see how many people had showed up already to catch this Jyväskylä-based folk band. They are on the Mäenpää-era Ensiferum or maybe Wintersun’s original album spectrum of the folk scale, so I definitely see the appeal and understand why people came out of their houses already at 14:00 to be there. Though I haven’t quite gotten into these guys on my own, I was very impressed with some of the melodies I was hearing and though the club stage isn’t the most flattering venue, I left their show with the distinct impress that I should give them another listen sometime ASAP! And serious props for covering “One Night in Bangkok” and playing it live! Even though these guys don’t lean toward my favorite folk style, there’s a lot of skill and technique in their music and I’ll be keeping an eye open for their shows in the future!

Delain
Delain

One of the bands I was most excited about going into the festival opened up the Helsinki tent stage at 14:55: Delain. I find it hard to believe that this was their first-ever show in Finland because, to my knowledge, they have a rather strong following here. How they’ve never played a club here, even as an opening act, is totally beyond my comprehension. First of all, these guys look good on stage! Charlotte Wessels is an excellent front, with a nice amount of energy, and moves in a far less girlie manner than, say, Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), yet less hardcore than Floor Jansen (Nightwish, Re-Vamp). She has her own style and she makes it work for her! I also discovered why exactly everyone is madly in love with Merel Bechtold (guitar). She is the cutest thing and she totally rocks! I was big into these guys a few years ago and then my interest in them faded. As of this show, it has completely returned because songs like “Suckerpunch” and “Army of Dolls” confirmed that I need to give their last couple of albums another chance! Unfortunately – and this was a bit of a running theme over the weekend – but the crowd still seemed to be a bit asleep still, because when they called for some jumping, they didn’t get as much of a response as I thought they deserved. Still, I hope these guys get back here on the tour for their upcoming album because I’m dying to see them in a club!

While we were watching Delain in the tent, Atte was in Kattilahalli (the club stage) checking out Whorion. He reported that the sound quality was still pretty weak, but that their set was great. What was even better was that there were clearly a lot of newcomers present amongst the many fans!

Swallow the Sun
Swallow the Sun

Next up on the main stage was the first of Swallow the Sun‘s three sets that spanned the weekend. While the ambience for the show was sub-par, considering the sun was shining and StS is clearly at their best on a cloudy or rainy day, I chilled and listened to their set from the burger point in the bigger bar area and enjoyed it immensely. I haven’t actually listened to Songs from the North at all, but like the last two bands, the show was enjoyable enough that I thought it might be a good idea to give it a try. I might have to wait for autumn though, in the company of a warm blanket and a hot beverage. It was a shame their set wasn’t during some of the rain on Saturday or Sunday because that would’ve made the picture perfect. Also, +10 points to them for having a custom Tuska Songs of the North gig shirt that I pretty much had to have. Anyone who’s a sucker for special edition merch like me knows what a treat it is to see stuff like that! And also – who was the other singer?

Cain's Offering
Cain’s Offering

Cain’s Offering was another big event, since this was their first-ever gig in Finland and third-ever gig in general (the other two taking place in Japan), which, like with Delain, I found extremely hard to believe. I think I’ve heard that Timo Kotipelto and Jami Liimatainen play acoustic gigs together with relative frequency, but I didn’t actually know that the band as a whole did not. It’s always a delight to see Jens Johansson (keyboards) performing, since that man is a legend, and I enjoy Kotipelto’s vocals a lot more with these guys than with Stratovarius for reasons unknown. As well, it’s lovely to see Liimatainen performing – he writes wonderful music (arguably better than the Sonata guys these days), but it’s particularly nice to get to see him rocking out with an electric guitar in hand. The mix, unfortunately, was pretty bad no matter where you were standing, but the fans didn’t seem to mind. For me, “A Night to Forget” was the highlight of that show – it’s great music with great lyrics. Kotipelto and Liimatainen have really great chemistry together on stage as well, with little shred moments that almost seem like a conversation – “So Jani, what’s going on over here?” “Well, my fingers seem to be out of control.” “And how are you dealing with this?” “I suspect that I’ll manage.”

Lordi
Lordi

One of the… let’s call it more “questionable” bands of the weekend, Lordi, was next up on the main stage. This was a band the crowd either seemed to love or hate, but with the awesome Arockalypse Tour castle props on stage and a red confetti canon, you can’t hate them too much. They’re so goofy and fun and their music may be a bit generic but it’s catchy and has a good groove. And, since I’ve been complaining a lot about the mix in some of the other gigs, it’s worth mentioning that their sound quality was glorious. Since I doubt I’d ever bother with these guys in a club, I was actually quite pleased to see their set. It included a few songs that they haven’t played in nearly 10 years, like “Pet the Destroyer” and “Rock the Hell Outta You,” and naturally closed out with “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” Their show might not have been for everyone, but I actually enjoyed myself quite a lot.

Many of my gang were hyped up to a Spinal Tap -level 11 for Kvelertak‘s show, but the response after the fact was actually quite varied. From the back of the tent, my little group was largely unimpressed with the stage performance and we bailed out after just a few songs to go get a drink. This may be because it’s an unfamiliar band to me, but the crowd was quite dead and I couldn’t see a pit at all. However, a few of my friends popped out after they wrapped things up and they looked like they had come out of a bear pit and had massive glowing smiles and claimed that it was epic in there, so perhaps we were just watching from the wrong place. I’ll have to take their word for it since they’re probably better judges than I am since they actually know the music, but for the casual observer, it was a bit dull. On the other hand, the music had some pretty awesome classic old-school hard rock riffs, which was a neat thing to hear in this heavy mosh-style music.

Testament
Testament

I admit that I don’t have much to say about Testament‘s show. It had some decent pits and good playing, but I don’t have much else to comment on it other than that. I do enjoy watching them perform though, I have to say. Their style is not for me so I don’t listen to it at home, but they put on a pretty good show and they’re a great festival band. As far as I could tell from my limited experience, they held the standard once again. Going on at the same time, I was told that I had missed out on a great performance by Man with a Mission, a group of Japanese guys in wolf masks who have a really bizarre origin story and play some high-energy party music that is liable to put a smile on your face. Maybe next time!

Having only recently heard of some of the Battle Beast drama, we decided to check out Anton Kabanen’s new band, Beast in Black. I have basically two things to say about these guys. The first is that they sound just like Battle Beast with a male vocalist, because that’s essentially what they are, and they almost exclusively played Battle Beast covers in their set. The second is that I liked their music and their sound far more than I like Battle Beast. I couldn’t exactly say why, but their show annoyed me far less than Battle Beast’s shows do. It was interesting and who knows what will happen with these guys in the future, but they were worth a moment’s watch before the allure of Behemoth took me away.

Behemoth
Behemoth

The Polish black metal legends ended the first night on the tent stage, playing a very satisfying show. Behemoth is one of the most visually incredible bands and they made the tent setting work for them with some epic pyros and lighting. Tuska was promised The Satanist Show, though as I don’t casually listen to these guys, I didn’t know what that meant. However, when they started their set with “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel,” and moved on to “Furor Divinus,” the first two tracks off 2014’s The Satanist, I started to wonder… Then they followed it up with “Messe Noir,” so my suspicions were confirmed: they were playing the album in its entirety! Their music isn’t necessarily up my alley so I can’t say much about the nuances of the set, but I always find myself enjoying their performances at festivals and it’s really hard to ignore them because they have such a commanding presence. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that they were called back for an encore twice at a festival of all places.

Closing out the night with an incredible 2-hour set (thank you, City of Helsinki, for allowing the bands to play until midnight!) was Avantasia, also playing their first-ever gig in Finland! Most fans had been expecting a mini-version of their show, so there was a lot of shock and awe when it soon became clear that we were getting a full Wacken-level performance! Mastermind Tobias Sammet had a full flock of amazing vocalists/guests with him, including Ronnie Atkins, Michael Kiske, Bob Catley, Jørn Lande, Eric Marten, Amanda Somerville, and Herbie Langhans. It’s one thing to hear a single great singer belting it out, but when you hear so many of them harmonizing together… it’s magic. I was particularly excited to see Lande, as he comes here in his guest slots so seldomly. I’m a huge fan of his voice and singing style and he did not disappoint live! Sammet professed his love for Helsinki and enthusiasm to bring Avantasia to these parts, as he spends a great deal of time here. I’m not the biggest fan of power metal, but I have to say that this was some seriously good stuff – even my more hardcore heavy metal friends stuck around and enjoyed themselves, which certainly says something. The backdrops/stage props were great, the lighting was phenomenal in the darkening sky, and the performance was extremely strong as a whole, with fantastic chemistry and interaction on stage. They showed a great deal of appreciation for the audience and Sammet said he had no idea what to expect bringing this project to Finland, but was amazed by the crowd’s response. The final track, “Sign of the Cross,” that featured all of the vocalists was totally epic and a perfect way to end the first night and leave us wanting more on Saturday!

Avantasia
Avantasia

 

Day 2

Crimson Sun
Crimson Sun

The second day promised more good weather (LIES!) and great music, and we started our day off in the club stage again with Crimson Sun – a band that I’ve known of and been looking forward to seeing live for a while now! These guys did not disappoint either. Though the stage mix was again quite poor, Sini Seppälä is a petite badass on stage with a strong voice and commanding presence. Their years of practice were evident too, as the guys did a great job of both playing and having a good time. It was truly a shame the mix wasn’t doing them justice – I’d love to see these guys in Nosturi, for example. They’ve got a great sound and I expect big things from these guys in the future!

Turmion Kätilöt
Turmion Kätilöt

It was hard to miss Turmion Kätilöt on the Radio Rock stage because there was an epic, loud party going on in the crowd, complete with EMP merch balls bouncing in the air. It’s impossible not to dance at a TK festival show – and the crowd was amply doing so! Their set was still heavy on the new material since this was part of the Diskovibratour, which was okay by me. I was told that their version of “Pimeyden morsian” was an updated 2016 version, though I can’t say I know the song or knew the difference. They played plenty of fan favorites alongside the new stuff, such as “Teurastaja” and “Tirehtööri,” and closed up with “Lataa ja varmista.”

We had to duck out to do an interview with Crimson Sun and largely missed Omnium Gatherum and Obscura, though we did already catch the former at both Tampere Metal Meeting and Nummirock, so perhaps you’ll forgive us.

Thunderstone
Thunderstone

We’re still not sick of seeing Thunderstone back on stage, and after the technical difficulties of South Park, I was really looking forward to seeing them in a proper live format. Unfortunately, the wonderful and charismatic Titus Hjelm had fallen drastically ill earlier in the day and couldn’t make it to the show. He was replaced by the Sonic Pump Studios intern, Tuomas Yli-Jäskäri (Tracedawn), who learned the bass lines as fast as possible to take his place in the show. We lost out on his ever-amusing stage banter, but such is life and we wish him a speedy recovery! Nevertheless, Thunderstone still managed to play a top-notch show without him, and I heard whispers that Pasi Rantanen may be the new Kotipelto when it comes to best power metal voice in Finland. I’d certainly give him my vote! They played the same set as before so we had no new surprises, but I’m not sick of the new tracks just yet. Atte Palokangas kept up his incredible visual flair behind the drum kit and Nino and Jukka undoubtedly kept up the high-quality solos that they’re known for. This was definitely a big improvement over South park and if Titus had been there, I bet it would’ve been their best show so far this year!

Jess and the Ancient Ones
Jess and the Ancient Ones

When 20:00 rolled in, we were forced to divide our time between Jess and the Ancient Ones and Anthrax, which was really quite a shame, but spent most of it in the Kattilahalli. We went first to the club stage and found a huge crowd present to check out this unique brand of resurrected psychedelic rock from Kuopio. I really dig their music, which a friend aptly likened to The Doors with a female vocalist. I can’t deny that I love how they’ve nailed that fantastic old 70s harpsichord sound. Vocalist Jess worked some serious magic over the crowd and their set was a nice change of pace for an otherwise heavy festival.

From what I heard from the others, Anthrax’s set was quite good and there was some crazy energy in the crowd. No one’s sick of them playing Tuska just yet, it seems! I was only able to catch the end of their set, but they looked like they were killing it up there.

Stam1na
Stam1na

A spontaneous on-and-off downpour decided to greet the unsuspecting crowd as Anthrax closed up shop and Stam1na‘s every-Finnish-festival-ever set began, so if you weren’t in the tent when the thrashers finished up, you were lucky if you got a spot in the tent/could see the stage at all). I had been enjoying the rain, so I was not so fortunate, and as such, can’t speak about the stage show other than that it seemed very lively and that they’re still rockin’ the orange. Their setlist was longer than South Park‘s but shorter than Nummi’s with no encore this time around, unfortunately, and was still strangely missing some classics like “Viisi laukausta päähään,” and the others Essi mentioned in the Nummi report. However, it’s nice that they’ve been changing the set at least a little bit so that it’s not a clone-gig every time you see them at a festival. They’re great performers, so it’d be a true shame if they let things get stale and it’s nice to see that they’re not slipping down that slope.

That left us with Ghost! I’m going to come right out and say that I have never really “gotten” Ghost. I like their music just fine, but I can’t say I have ever really understood why they’re such a big thing all of a sudden. Their music is more ambient and relaxing than something to hype me up and they need the right atmosphere for their gigs to be good – clubs and open air night shows are great but their visual show was super dull opening for Iron Maiden 3 years back in broad daylight. Besides, costumes and satanism aren’t anything new, right? They’re a good band, I just didn’t see how they got to magically be headlining after such a short time in the spotlight. Well, lesson learned. Maybe it was because of the epic downpour that plagued the crowd, but the near-complete cloud cover and moisture in the air made for the perfect gloom and likely helped to thicken their stage fog to create the most incredible, eerie atmosphere. Their music too seemed to have something more to it in this context, as I found myself both rocking out and dancing along without intending to. I didn’t think I’d care or enjoy this set, but it turned out to be nearly impossible for me to pry myself away to go check out the afterparty at Virgin Oil. Well done, Ghost, you proved your point!

Ghost
Ghost
Ember Falls
Ember Falls

So why did I bail on a perfectly excellent gig? I wanted another chance to see Ember Falls. I enjoyed their set at South Park so much that I decided to take the opportunity to see them again. First things first: a massive thumbs down to the organizers. I’m not sure if this was Tuska’s fault or Virgin Oil’s or whose, but why on earth would you schedule an afterparty to start 30 minutes before the festival ends in a venue that takes 20 minutes minimum to reach from the festival area? These guys got royally screwed because everyone was still watching Ghost when their show started, and by the time Ghost ended and people began arriving to the center, their set was pretty much done (and it probably excluded many fans from buying afterparty tickets, so it’s a lose-lose situation). To their credit though, even though there were probably fifty people at best in the venue, they still gave it their all and performed very energetically. They were plagued by Virgin Oil’s impossible-to-prevent sound quality problems (Thomas Grove on vocals and OneOfHaze on synth were tougher to make out than the others) but certainly didn’t suffer the way Arion and Entwine did last month. I’m getting more and more excited for their album because the songs they’ve been playing are really good… and I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so! There were a few hardcore fans up front rocking out during the show and one guy was even in a replica of Calu’s outfit with some black and red facepaint to show his support. There was a mini-mosh pit for a song called “End of Fear” and everyone that was standing went totally ballistic for “Shut Down with Me,” and you can’t blame them… though I confess that they’re still fine-tuning it as a live song and it had come out much better at South Park.

I had hoped to stick long enough to see Fear of Domination’s set, but the band in between, One Morning Left, didn’t interest me and I was straight-up exhausted. We had to be at Suvilahti bright and early the next day, so I decided to call it a night.

2016.07.03 04 Tuska festival extras (38)

 

Day 3

Hatebreed
Hatebreed

Time flies when you’re having a blast! We had to be at the festival area at a depressing 13:00 to do our interview with Niklas and Daniel of Katatonia, and fortunately the rain held off until we were done. We went to snooze a while in the VIP area but were promptly chased inside by the appearance of the predicted downpour and stayed inside to wait it out until about 16:00.

With that in mind, Hatebreed was our first stop of the day. I had a bit of a mixed reaction to their show. On one hand, the songs were full of energy and the crowd was quite receptive to it – there were clearly some hardcore fans out there that were excited to see them, though they weren’t getting too crazy yet… with the exception of a few who were jumping around in the rain puddles. However, the stage performance was surprisingly dull for a metalcore/thrash band. There was very little beyond a bit of headbanging and the guys weren’t moving around much on stage. That feels a bit wrong in a heavy set like this. Also, a minor note to Jamey Jasta – it’s pronounced “toosk-ah,” not “tusk-ah.” Otherwise their set was quite fine. They paid some tribute to Lemmy and expressed their appreciation to the crowd for braving the storm to come see them. They also celebrated one of their album’s anniversaries (I had assumed Supremacy, but a friend thought he heard Jasta mention a 12-year anniversary, so maybe it was The Rise of Brutality) by playing a few extra tracks from it. Fortunately the crowd’s energy grew throughout the show, making it an overall decent set and worth watching.

Diablo
Diablo

Next up was Diablo, which was far improved by watching from a closer distance this time around. They had some pretty decent tracks on a rather varied set, with a surprisingly large number of tracks from 2015’s Silvër Horizon, starting the gig off with “The Call” and “Isolation,” with hits like “Living Dead Superstar,” “Icaros,” and “The Preacher” being left to the dedicated fans who stuck it out until the end. Some friends who really love this band said it wasn’t their best show, suggesting that maybe Rainer Nygård was a bit out of tune. For me, not knowing the music, I can’t say I was overly engaged, but that might just be because I don’t know them very well.

Gojira
Gojira

Gojira was second last on the main stage, coming all the way over from France for the event. Like Diablo, I’m not familiar with them or their music, but they had some nice marching beats and a good, heavy vibe. They recently released an album, Magma, so in a 12-song or so set, I was surprised that they only played three new tracks. Overall I’d say it was pretty chill, not overly exciting per say, but worth listening to at very least from the bar area.

Katatonia
Katatonia

We neared the end when Katatonia closed out the tent stage for the weekend. I really love this band, especially live, but if you don’t know the music I can imagine that it’s hard to get into. They were perfect in the tent and the misty, rainy day only added to the right feeling (again, Swallow the Sun, you had to be indoors on Sunday…). They opened with “July” and only teased us with, I believe, three songs from The Fall of Hearts – “Serein,” “Serac,” and the one in particular I had been waiting for, “Old Hearts Fall,” which was pretty much everything I dreamed it would be! “My Twin” was sounding really fresh live, not a clone of its album version, reminding me that it’s been far too long since I’ve seen these guys. You wouldn’t think that a doom metal band could get you into a good party/dance mood, but Katatonia proves that preconception incorrect every time. I really enjoyed their set and can’t wait for their club show coming up in November!

The last notes of Katatonia’s set unfortunately meant that we were down to the last band of the event – it was time for Children of Bodom to close out the main stage. I can’t say I was overly hyped about this show on a personal level, admittedly thinking that Tuska could do better headliner-wise. However, my huge-Bodom-fan friend’s enthusiasm burned right through me and by the time they were on stage I was roaring and ready to go. The sky had cleared up, leaving a big muddy puddle right near the stage that became host to perhaps one of the wet ‘n’ wildest moshpits I’ve ever partaken in (and nearly a week later, my boots have still not dried out). I’ll just come out and say it – it was a perfect show. The playing was tight and energetic, that pit was glorious and fun, and the crowd was fucking crazy! Daniel Freyberg seems to have found his place with them and was shredding along with Laiho like he had always been there, even if he wasn’t so bold on stage as the others. Also, we got a guest appearance from a rather common guest star this summer, as Netta Skog (Ensiferum) joined them on stage for “Lake Bodom,” which is always a treat… even if I admittedly couldn’t hear her contribution over all the MOSHING happening all around me. The fireballs coming from stage just added more sweet, sweaty heat to the crowd, who made their best attempts to crowdsurf but were quickly shut down. They played a few new songs, like “Morrigan” (which I was stoked to hear), “I Hate,” and “I Worship Chaos,” and closed out the set with three covers: CCR, The Ramones, and Stan Jones, none of which are my favorite covers of theirs, but were fun nevertheless… particularly because they included a stage choir of familiar faces (I saw Ana and Joel from Shiraz Lane at least) and Skog came back once again! I confess that I’m not much of a Bodom enabler, but this was still an awesome finish to an incredible weekend! A tip of the hat and a round of applause to these guys!

Children of Bodom
Children of Bodom

 

The Festival Area
2016.07.03 04 Tuska festival extras (52)So now that you’ve heard about the bands, what about Suvilahti’s set-up? The main stage was, as per usual, totally great. I wasn’t sure about the decision to put a tent on the second stage, and the mix in there backs up my hesitation to celebrate it, though when the rain started you could let it slide thanks to the convenience. The club stage was the same as ever – mediocre sound quality but an otherwise decent place to watch the smaller gigs. I heard word of the fourth stage, Solmusali, though it was tucked away near the VIP in a forgettable location – it annoyed me a bit that the events on that stage were in such small print on the program because I forgot about them completely, and I would’ve liked to watch Swallow the Sun’s set on Saturday.

I didn’t manage to get a drink at the Tuska Libre cocktail bar, but the Viinitie/Cham Pain wine bar was a cool addition and an improvement over the weak-ass haunted house thing they had there last year, I think. The Luvil black clothing washing machine area seems comical, though perhaps someday I’ll bite my tongue when someone pukes on me, and it likely comes in handy while some people make use of the free sauna! (Suck it, 20€ for an hour at Tampere Metal Meeting!) The selection of drinks just gets bigger every year though, from the Valhalla (gross) stall, Jaloviina stall, Tuska Libre, moving drink carts, and regular bars, so you’re always liable to find something you want to drink!

2016.07.03 04 Tuska festival extras (13)I’m also not sure what the appeal to the VIP area is because the inside, while a nice respite from the rain, was poorly ventilated and hot, and offered nothing but shorter drink/food queues and pinball machines, while the outside was nothing but a nice place to sit (when it wasn’t raining) and decent bathroom. I hope the Black Dining (which I have yet to experience) vouchers and merch bags were worth it because otherwise it doesn’t seem worth the cost. You can’t even see any of the stages from the VIP area.

The food selection was quite good again. The burger joint in the bar area has tasty burgers, even if 10€ is perhaps a tad much – it’s a shame they’re only available in the bar area because anyone under 18 would need a guardian to fetch them dinner and the line-up was often pretty long there. The highlight restaurant of the event though was by far Fafa’s Smokehouse, which had absolutely amazing burgers, (pulled?) beef or pulled pork, or a meat plate, all of which were amazing and very filling. They cost a bit more but they kept you from needing anything else to eat for the rest of the festival. Of course, there was also the muikku (fried vendace) and questionable paellas too, if you wanted to save a few bucks.

Overall, I have faith that Eeka Mäkynen is doing a great job with Tuska and will continue to build it into an even more iconic event with more things to experience!

 

So, as always, our tenth time at Tuska was phenomenal, if not one of the best Tuska experiences yet! We had a decent selection of bands, many of whom were playing their first Finnish gigs, as well as some classics who shook off the dust and proved that they haven’t gotten stale. The festival area continues to grow and impress, more or less, and though there could still be some fine-tuning, all of the reasons that fans and bands alike love Tuska remain steady and as such, I’ll be happy to be back again next year! See you at the end of June 2017!

2016.07.03 04 Tuska festival extras (20)Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Eliza Rask
Tuska-Kiska photo: Amy Wiseman

TUSKA OPEN AIR – Day 3 @ Suvilahti, Helsinki, 03.07.2016

0

Tuska Open Air Day 3 @ Suvilahti.
Photos by Eliza Rask.

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Joakim Jokela (SalmonSnake), 2016

0

It’s hard to exactly pinpoint what SalmonSnake’s sound is, but “Some really funny fucked up shit” comes pretty close. Our next life playlist comes from this funky and strange band’s guitar player, Joakim Jokela. Here is the playlist of his life!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Queen – “Radio Gaga”

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Dimmu Borgir – “Mourning Palace”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Camel – “Rgayader”

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Dr. Dre – “The Next Episode”

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up”

SalmonSnake Joakim Jokela7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Rise and Curry from the Taximan

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
“Alone in Kyoto”

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Keiko Matsui – “Soul Quest”

TUSKA OPEN AIR – Day 2 @ Suvilahti, Helsinki, 02.07.2016

0
Ghost

Tuska Open Air Day 2 @ Suvilahti.
Photos by Eliza Rask.

TUSKA OPEN AIR – Day 1 @ Suvilahti, Helsinki, 01.07.2016

0
Avantasia

Tuska Open Air Day 1 at Suvilahti.
Photos by Eliza Rask.

TUSKA OPEN AIR – Festival Extras @ Suvilahti, Helsinki, 01-03.07.2016

0

Crowd, etc, at Tuska Open Air 2016.
Photos by Eliza Rask.

ALCYONA SKY w/ SIMULACRUM – On the Rocks, Helsinki, 30.6.2016

0

On the last day of June, the most peculiar combination of bands climbed on On the Rocks’ club stage, as Ben Varon’s (Amoral) grunge side project, Alcyona Sky, was paired up with the torchbearer of Finnish Dream Theater-ish prog, Simulacrum. As these two bands couldn’t really be musically further away from each other, I was wondering how many people would show up. Also, the date proposed a significant challenge, since Iron Maiden had had their show in Hämeenlinna only a day before, Tuska festival was to begin on the following day, as well as the Tuska Heatseeker event, featuring Lost Society, Shiraz Lane, and Santa Cruz, being held on the same day. At least the tickets were modestly priced at 8€, plus the usual 3€ coatroom fee. The weeknight gigs in On the Rocks have been awfully quiet lately, and sadly, this Thursday seemed no different at first – as I got in about 10 minutes to 22:00, only a handful of people had found their way to the downstairs club.

Simulacrum begun their set a few minutes past 22:00 with “Embrace the Animal Within” off their newer album, Sky Divided, released only last year. The first thing that struck me was that the singer, Niklas Broman, had an accompanying singer on stage. The band continued on with “Deep in the Trenches,” also from Sky Divided. At the end of the song, Broman introduced his accomplice as Erik Kraemer, the official second singer of Simulacrum. As the band put it in the words of Yngwie Malmsteen: more is more!

To show off the new talent, Broman left the stage and gave room for Kraemer to sing the following “Battle Within,” off their debut album, The Master and the Simulacrum, by himself. Kraemer pulled the song off nicely with his softer voice. The singers changed places for the heaviest song on Sky Divided, “The Abomination,” up next. Broman and Kraemer sung together the two final songs on the set, “Sky Divided” and “Enter Hyperion,” before giving way for Alcyona Sky. The band received a decent applause when compared to the number of attendees, albeit some of them having been their close firends.

Simulacrum is such a great band. I saw them live for the first time in 2010, when they were opening for Status Minor, and while clearly being young and bit shy, already at that time everyone in the band boasted incredible talent. Six years later, the talent is obviously still there, but the guys have also gained a tremendous amount of confidence. Niklas Broman is probably the only human being living in Turku (or Finland Proper in general) with a sense of humor, throwing hilarious interlude speeches containing everything from ironically emphasizing their own material to warning the audience not to catch an headache because “The Abomination” just is such a heavy song. Unfortunately, Broman didn’t come up with any new jokes about bassist Olli Hakala’s Chapman Stick this time. Bottom line: if you want your progressive metal on the more progressive side, go check this band out. There are not many metal acts in Finland with this much talent or courage to do things as pedantically.

 

After a short load-out-load-in period, the crowd had maybe doubled in size, but one still couldn’t speak of more than fifty people present. I got the notion that Alcyona Sky was ready to take the stage a bit late, since there seemed to be something wrong with the bass amp as well as the bassist’s pedal board – Helko, On the Rocks’ mixer, and some third guy fiddled around with flashlights a good 10 minutes before everything seemed to be in order.

On with the show: one could say that Alcyona Sky is a supergroup – besides the founding member and guitarist of Amoral, Ben Varon, the band consists of For the Imperium’s bassist, Jyri Helko, Ancara’s drummer, Rale Tiiainen, and Denigrate’s singer, Mikko Huvinen. The members’ experience showed in their stage presence, even when the band itself is fairly young. Huvinen played his acoustic guitar parts and sung the vocals almost phlegmatically, which provided a nice contrast to his strong presence, while Helko, after taking a little while to get warmed up, moved around and banged his long dreadlocks as if he were on a For the Imperium gig. At times, Tiiainen hit his drums so hard that I worried that he would break his drum heads. This didn’t happen, but on the second-to-last song, he actually managed to break his main crash cymbal stand in half, forcing him to continue with only the other crash. For some time I wondered why a keyboard was set up on stage with no one playing, but my questions were answered when Amoral’s other guitarist, Masi Hukari, climbed on stage to do the synth parts for “The Leap.”

Since the band hasn’t yet released any physical records, it’s hard to name most of the songs they played, but besides “The Leap,” the other song I had listened prior to the gig was the final song of the set, “Long Time Coming.” Although I don’t like grunge in normal conditions, I managed to enjoy Alcyona Sky’s set nevertheless; there’s something in Varon’s way to write songs that I’ve always liked, even if I haven’t been enjoying the latest Amoral albums as much as the first three. Maybe Alcyona Sky is something Varon should have booted up several years ago? After all, he has said in an interview that for the longest time he thought that everything he makes, he wants to release under Amoral’s name.

Although the combination of grunge and progressive metal was a bit odd, I still enjoyed my time with Simulacrum and Alcyona Sky. The admission certainly wasn’t expensive, so I can only imagine why people aren’t interested in live music, as the street bar of On the Rocks had a lot of customers enjoying their beers when I left the club. I guess it’s so much more familiar to chug down those 6½€ Karjala pints listening to those same fifty rock classics on the playlist. Hopefully someone got something out of Simulacrum’s set, as their audience was so scarce that one could almost call the show a paid rehearsal. On the positive side, the downstairs club still has the student discount in effect: 1½€ off the price of the tap beverages is probably the most generous discount that I’ve ever come across in a bar. It’s also great that these smaller gigs are even arranged these days. On the Rocks: don’t you go changin’ for nobody!

Text: Atte Valtonen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

IRON MAIDEN w/ GUESTS – Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto, Hämeenlinna, 29.06.2016

0

To me, Iron Maiden is akin to a dear old ex-partner. Someone that I once loved very dearly and even after our passionate affair fizzled out, we remain extremely close friends. Iron Maiden was my first love in metal music and even though I hardly listen to them with the fervency I once did, I have this unyielding loyalty to them because they helped make me into who I am today. As such, even if their shows are a bit expensive or in a whole other city, I find the idea of not going to be… impossible to imagine. Their Book of Souls World Tour came through the Kantolan tapahtumapuisto (Kantola Event Park) in Hämeenlinna on June 29th, 2016, with guest bands The Raven Age, Stratovarius, Amon Amarth, and Sabaton, so I had to be there to see how the new material sounded live!

Listen along with the setlist if you like (complete other than The Raven Age’s set):

I hadn’t been to the Kantolan tapahtumapuisto before, so this was a new experience for me. We drove up early and managed to have a good look around once the gates opened. First of all, a few bars were set up outside the event area in the old buildings, which was pretty cool. If you didn’t want to head into the (one time entry only) area, you could sit outside and listen to the music from a distance with a cold one in hand. They also had a big Iron Maiden merch booth outside – couldn’t afford the price of admission? Not to worry, you can still get your hands on a shirt or flag, or whatever!

The event area itself is pretty huge. They had a massive food court, a huge bar, what I presumed to be a VIP area, a stand for wheelchair access, and so many toilets that you didn’t have to queue at all. There was plenty of grassy area to lay down and chill, and they had speakers in the back so you were sure to hear everything even if you weren’t up near the stage. And, to add one more level of coolness, they were selling The Trooper beer on tap!

 

2016.06.29 01 The Raven Age @ Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto
The Raven Age

The day started out with a band I hadn’t heard of before – The Raven Age. In support of their families, Iron Maiden once again brought their offspring on tour. This time around it was Steve Harris’ son, George Harris, playing guitar in this band. They had a bit of a traditional alternative metal sound (not unlike Five Finger Death Punch) and a pretty nice, if standard sound overall. They weren’t the most energetic band on stage, likely focusing more on playing well than showmanship, which is natural of a band of that stature at such a big event. The singer was very appreciative of the crowd, and gave one speech to get the crowd to put their hands up, but in good humor, said not to bother with lighters or cell phones because it wasn’t dark out, and introduced the song that I believe was called “Salem’s Fate.” Of all the Iron Maiden offspring bands I’ve seen (in this I include Lauren Harris and Steve Harris: British Lion), this band undoubtedly had the most potential.

 

Stratovarius
Stratovarius

Next up was good ol’ Stratovarius! If you know me, you know that I think this band is made up of a pile of talented people but doesn’t overly appeal to me all that much due to the supreme master of power metal vocals, Timo Kotipelto. This set seemed to be a best-of gig, likely to show off their strengths to the crowd who wasn’t present for their sake. They had a tough spot to fill, following the unfamiliar band but precluding the bigger bands, so it was perhaps to their favor to play the hits like “Eagleheart,” “Black Diamond,” and “Hunting High and Low,” even if that might be a bit boring for fans who see them regularly. Unfortunately, this was a big important gig and Mathias Kupiainen had some sound problems with his guitar that the sound techs were either unaware of or unable to correct. It was a nice set for casual listeners like myself certainly, especially with the inclusion of a nice little bass solo in “Hunting High and Low.”

 

Amon Amarth
Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth was the mid-day band and the only viking metal group in the line-up. I haven’t seen these guys since I lived in Canada thanks to what I consider excessively expensive ticket prices in these parts, so it was great to get a chance to see them for the first time in maybe 8 years. They started things off with “The Pursuit of Vikings” and “As Loke Falls” and I was admittedly a bit disappointed by their backdrop, until it dropped to reveal the Jomsviking artwork when they played “First Kill.” It then turned out that they had many backdrops that were revealed throughout their set, which was pretty cool for an opener. They were the first band I noticed actually making use of Maiden’s epic lighting set-up, though it was unfortunately completely wasted due to the afternoon sun. I was also a little disappointed that they didn’t have their current viking ship stage prop, but it’s understandable considering they weren’t headlining this gig and it’s probably a hassle to transport and set up. To vocalist Johan Hegg’s credit, I’ve never seen a Swedish person try to speak so much Finnish in a gig, so props to him! I was really glad to hear “Guardians of Asgaard,” but quite sad to see that they dropped “Valhalla Awaits Me” – I hope it’s still in their regular longer sets when they headline shows because it’s a great track. Of course, we did still get the traditional Amon Amarth drinking horn toast accompanied by “Raise Your Horns,” and man, have they upgraded to some cool elaborately carved drinking horns these days! Finally, as the music for the always excellent “Twilight of the Thunder God” began, Hegg appeared with a big fake warhammer, which was good for a laugh. Overall they played a nice, teenage nostalgia -inducing set, with a decent mix of hits and new stuff contained in a mere nine songs. I hope to see them come through Helsinki while they’re touring the new album someday soon!

 

Sabaton
Sabaton

Anyone sick of Sabaton yet? Yeah, us neither. Though I dare them to start a gig with something other than the de facto “Ghost Division” opener one of these days. Their set and stage performance, while always full of great energy and good music, is actually getting a little repetitive after so many successive views. How many Sabaton traditions did we see in one short gig? Joakim Brodén mentioning his goosebumps from the crowd’s enthusiasm and that he talks too much – check! The crowd chanting raucously to “Swedish Pagans” – check! At least two Finland-themed songs (this time “Soldier of Three Armies” and “Talvisota”) – check! Clap-clap-hey in “Carolus Rex” (sung in English) – check! Brodén getting his own guitar to help rock out in “Resist and Bite” – check! Basically, it was a standard show, from the set of hits to the matching white camo pants. I really enjoy Hannes van Dahl’s playing, though it was brought to my attention that he’s got a rather strange set-up: there were two bass drums, but instead of having a mic on both and kicking both with a pedal, only the right one had a mic and van Dahl used a double pedal. It was also a bit of a shame that they left their tank behind, likely for the same reason I suspected Amon Amarth left their Viking ship behind, though they did bring some of the mortars to keep up the atmosphere. The Swedish warriors were also the first to bring out the pyros for us to bring a little more kick into their show. It was noteworthy that they played the new release, “The Lost Battalion,” though perhaps they’re not comfortable with it enough yet because the stage energy took a nose-dive during that song. They got some laughs afterward when Chris Rörland asked if we wanted another new song and then began singing “Wind of Change” (Scorpions) and proved that he can’t whistle on command. They ended the set with “Primo Victoria,” though left out “Metal Crüe” this time around. It was an okay show, but there was certainly nothing new (other than the new song).

 

"The Trooper"
“The Trooper”

Enough of the opening bands though – I know why you’re really here! The crowd began getting properly loud as the 21:00 hour drew near. You could feel the electric buzz of excitement when their 1995 UFO cover, “Doctor Doctor,” started playing and the crowd began singing along. Iron Maiden kicked things off with the two starting tracks from The Book of Souls – “If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light.” Unfortunately, some big, obnoxious young guys began smashing their way up to the front, which was pretty uncool. It was sad to note right away that the sound problems continued – I can’t speak for the rest of the park, but if you were right up front, you probably didn’t hear a single high note from Bruce Dickinson throughout the show because the mic cut out every time, and again stayed this way for the entire gig.

So what do you expect from an Iron Maiden show? First of all, on an album release tour, you have to throw the dice and bet on which classics you’re going to hear. On this night, we were fortunate to hear “Children of the Damned,” “The Trooper,” “Powerslave,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Fear of the Dark,” and “Iron Maiden” in the main set. I might be alone in this, but I’d be really okay if they dropped out “The Trooper” and even “Hallowed be Thy Name” in favor for something else. They’re classics and definite crowd hits for sure – you haven’t seen a crowd roar until you’ve seen a “The Trooper” roar – but they’re also songs that I’ve personally heard so many times in my life that I don’t get all that much of a thrill from either of them anymore, particularly “The Trooper.” As for new music, we got a fair bit more than I expected. After the aforementioned two songs, we got to hear “Tears of a Clown” (naturally dedicated to Robin Williams), “The Red and the Black,” “Death and Glory,” and “The Book of Souls” (a story of the fall of a civilization and the hopes that history does not repeat itself) – a nice set of some of the best of their new tracks. I admit to some serious disappointment that “Empire of the Clouds” wasn’t included in this set. I understand that it would be a pain to drag a keyboard around for Bruce for the one song, and having a backing track is unspeakable, and it’s a long song that would take up the space of two other songs… but I imagine if they’re not playing it on this album tour, we may never hear it live, and that’s truly a shame.

2016.06.29 05 Iron Maiden @ Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto (2)
“The Book of Souls”

Dickinson himself was clearly not even remotely restricted by his brush with cancer, and if anything, perhaps has a new love of life as a result because in all the times I’ve seen them, he’s been energetic, but never this lively or straight-up goofy. During “Tears of a Clown” he was chasing his bandmates around on stage with a fire extinguisher (and at one point cracked up laughing so hard that he couldn’t sing), and for “Death and Glory” he had a stuffed orangutan around is neck that he proceeded to torment Adrian Smith with (“climb like a monkey,” and so on). At first we thought it might’ve been laundry day at Maiden HQ because he spent about half of the set in a back hoodie, but when the army jacket and Union Jack flags came out for “The Trooper,” we were reassured. For “Powerslave” he had a shiny luchador mask and jumped around like a gleeful child, and for “Hallowed Be Thy Name” he had a dramatized entrance with a noose. He also had a mad scientist jacket and gloves for “The Book of Souls”… but we’ll get to that.

The other thing you have to love in Iron Maiden’s gigs is the quality of the stage show. First of all, the props were incredible. I loved the Mayan style, ancient ropes, and overall jungle ruins -look of the whole thing. Their light set-up was phenomenal and they had flames and fog coming from everywhere, including an urn at the top center of stage that Bruce appeared behind as the show started. There’s no Iron Maiden gig without at least five backdrops, and I lost count at some point because they changed every two songs or so, blending a few classics in with a lot of the incredible new artwork. I’ll say it again – The Book of Souls‘ artwork is the best they’ve had since Derek Riggs. And the other requirement? At least one Eddie! The newest incarnation was the cover art version, and Bruce, in his mad scientist attire, managed to rip his heart out and taunt him with it, and Janick Gers at other times was dashing in and out from between his feet. I could feel myself getting even more hyped up when it showed up on stage. The same happened when the big inflatable Eddie slowly began to rise from behind the stage props, covered in tiny mechanical-looking devices that turned out to be small fireworks! So cool! We also got the big inflatable goat-headed devil during the first encore track, “Number of the Beast!”

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden

The guys on stage continue to play exceptionally well, keeping to their standards. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (guitars) are the laid-back solo artists and rockers (the latter consistently running out of picks because he kept throwing them to the crowd), while Janick Gers (guitars) is the showman, throwing his guitar all over the place. Nicko McBrain manages to still be one of the top drummers in this worldwide scene, flawlessly keeping time, and Steve Harris (bass) continues to prove why he’s a legend with his unique style! Together, they form one tight package that played songs new and old with equal passion and skill. Dickinson also mentioned that McBrain had also recently had a birthday, but since he doesn’t like to use the word “old,” he now refers to them as “legacy.” He also mentioned the “legacy” crowd, wondering who had been Maiden fans when “Children of the Damned” came out, and who hadn’t even been born yet (and wondered how many children may have, in fact, been conceived to that song). But back to McBrain’s recent birthday – it was actually really cool to hear the chants of “Nicko, Nicko!” come from way at the back of the stadium and wash forward up to the front like a tidal wave.

After “Iron Maiden” closed out the main set and we had heard “Number of the Beast,” Bruce Dickinson pointed out the fan clubs that have been following them around (they had their own shirts for Finland) and a few flags from people who had traveled great distances to see them, and expressed his sincere gratitude for people of all ages, races, genders, etc coming together from all over the world to see them play. In tribute, they dedicated “Blood Brothers” to the crowd. They then closed out the night with “Wasted Years” and left the stage to the now-traditional Monty Python track, “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life.”

 

This is one band you seriously should check out at least once in your life even if you’re not a fan. Even if classic metal like Maiden isn’t up your alley, it’s impossible to leave one of their gigs without being at least a little bit impressed. Dickinson has twice the energy and showmanship of men half his age and vocal range, and the rest of the band are tenured professors at the Metal Academy of Being Straight-Up Fucking Awesome. A big congratulations to these guys for getting their gold record backstage before the show, as they definitely earned it. The new material was even better in a live scenario and the energy was the best I’ve seen from them. Age be damned, these guys are still at the top of their game, and if you haven’t seen their live show yet… GET ON IT!

 

Setlist:
Intro (tape): Doctor Doctor (UFO cover)
1. If Eternity Should Fail
2. Speed of Light
3. Children of the Damned
4. Tears of a Clown
5. The Red and the Black
6. The Trooper
7. Powerslave
8. Death or Glory
9. The Book of Souls
10. Hallowed Be Thy Name
11. Fear of the Dark
12. Iron Maiden

Encore:
13. The Number of the Beast
14. Blood Brothers
15. Wasted Years
Outro (tape): Always Look at the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python)

Text: Amy Wiseman
(Sorry, no photo pass for this gig – I hope the crowd shots are better than nothing!)

NUMMIROCK – Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, 23-25.06.2016

0

For us, as well as many others, the countdown for Nummirock 2016 started as soon as Nummirock 2015 ended. All the more special, this year marked the 30th time the festival was arranged, and to celebrate the milestone, the first bands performed already on Wednesday evening – but that, of course, didn’t mean some troopers didn’t arrive a week, or even a month beforehand! Because, let’s face it, a common problem with Nummirock is that one night and two days are just not enough, and with the already long wait behind us, we feel deeply sorry – for ourselves, mainly – for not making it to Nummijärvi until Thursday. But, without further ado, let’s hear it from Essi, Lene, and Atte: was the 30th Nummirock once again worth the visit?

Don’t forget to check out the galleries from Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

 

Thursday
We got to start our Nummi-weekend with a rematch from a couple weeks back by checking out Blind Channel and seeing what’s new in their neck of the woods. The Relaamo tent with its merch booth, home-cooked food, battery charging spots, and cozy sofas was back in the same place as last year, as well as the various food carts and jewelry and clothing booths. The most significant difference was that unlike last year, the booze area by the shore was continued from the FOH booth all the way to reach the 3rd stage, which had gone through a name change since last time.

2016.06.23 01 Blind Channel (01) @ Nummirock
Blind Channel

Lene: “The newest sweethearts of every teenage metalhead, Blind Channel, had the honor of kicking things off at the newly named Kaaos stage. As some might remember, it was the same stage (albeit in a different area) where the bunch played 2 years back that earned them the opportunity to perform at Wacken Open Air, which guitarist Joel Hokka mentioned in his speech right away, stating it was an honor to be back playing at Nummirock. A lot has changed since then – I recall being a little bit skeptical back then, wondering if the band would even exist a few years later, and I’m rarely so glad to be proved wrong. In 2016, the violent pop troop looks and sounds all the better and wilder and does not apologize for their existence. Rather, they flip the bird to all metal purists while rocking pyrotechnics, going “gangsta,” and blasting a Backstreet Boys outro like it’s no big deal. It goes without saying that Blind Channel is one of my favorite live bands right now, especially the way the latest singles, “Deja Fu” and “Darker Than Black,” translate live makes me want to both dance and headbang my heart out every time. The only real downside I can think of was the change in festival area; you could only get to the front of the stage from the booze area and I bet that prevented some of the band’s most enthusiastic audience from enjoying the gig at front of the stage. Nevertheless, Blind Channel delivered an even better show for way fewer people at Nummirock than they did a week before at South Park, and that’s a more than excellent way to start our midsummer party.”

2016.06.23 02 Turmion Katilot (06) @ Nummirock
Turmion kätilöt w/ Netta Skog

The dance party continued with our second band of the day: Turmion kätilöt were ready and willing to rock our world on the Inferno stage, and the combination of Nummirock and Kätilöt never fails to entertain. It also seems to be something the Nummi-crowd is always looking forward to, and that certainly was the case on Thursday as well – the queues at the gates right before the show went nearly all the way to the camping area, a sight you usually see only before the headliners. The audience was treated with a heavy set of songs from latest album, Diskovibrator, dressed with a handful of older crowd pleasers like “Teurastaja,” “Tirehtööri,” and “Suolainen kapteeni.” “Hyvissä höyryissä,” “Vastanaineet,” and “Pyhä maa” also got an accordion glazing by the one and only Netta Skog (Ensiferum) joining the band on stage, which, naturally, led to a few accordion-related jokes – as you might know, “hanuri” in Finnish means both accordion and ass. Having gone through surgery a few weeks earlier didn’t slow MC Raaka Pee down much, and he even joked about having to take his medicine shot a few songs in, telling the audience that it was a “heroine injection sponsored by Barathrum,” and wondering if having to take your medicine mid-show means you’re entering your golden years. We would respectfully beg to differ on that last note, judging by the show on Nummijärvi’s shore!

2016.06.23 03 Fleshgod Apocalypse (07) @ Nummirock
Fleshgod Apocalypse

Essi: “My Nummirock started on Thursday evening with a new acquaintance. The Italian Fleshgod Apocalypse seems to be a rare sight on Finnish stages and this year marked their first time in Nummirock. This death metal band released their newest album, King, last February and has been on tour ever since. While waiting for the gig to begin I took note that there were plenty of Fleshgod Apocalypse shirts in the crowd. The front of the stage was soon packed while other members of the audience stayed back like me, observing and waiting calmly for whatever was lying ahead. Once the gig started I was surprised to see five men and a woman dressed in what looked like 18th century clothes. Was I going to hear chamber music played with electric guitars? Who was that lady wearing a mask? Why hadn’t I heard about this band before? Almost all of my questions were soon answered. Fleshgod Apocalypse did not perform heavy chamber music (why isn’t that a thing though?) and the lady was in fact an opera singer doing amazing backing vocals. The crowd was enjoying themselves from the very first moment, as was I. Metal with some symphonic background tracks and a dramatic stage appearance first gave me a tiny Nightwish vibe but obviously Fleshgod Apocalypse was nothing like them. The band really has its own thing going on, something I cannot but appreciate.”

2016.06.23 04 Altaria (22) @ Nummirock
Altaria

Lene: “Since this year was an impressive anniversary, Nummirock brought in a few acts from all across the past three decades, including two special shows from local bands, who are larger-than-life to some, one might add. We were lucky to catch the first of these; Pietarsaari-based Altaria was one of those power metal bands that crafted the soundscape of my teenage years, and since I never had the opportunity to see them before Nummi, there was no way I would miss their very last show. Funnily enough, I realized a few tracks in that I actually knew sadly few of their songs (namely “Prophet of Pestilence”, “Fire & Ice,” and a couple others), being a rather casual listener, so the purpose of witnessing the gig might have been mainly for the sake of nostalgia. That, of course, didn’t stop me from enjoying the show one bit; all vocalists – from Johan Mattjus and Jouni Nikula to Taage Laiho and Marco Luponero – appeared on stage one after another and finished the show together, giving the audience a great chance to marvel at the selection of top-notch power metal vocals. The whole band spent their last time playing together with joyous spirit and shenanigans, smiling through all of it, and I guarantee they weren’t the only ones after we saw them off with Accept’s “Balls to the Wall” as an encore. Fare thee well, and onward to new adventures!”

2016.06.23 05 Stratovarius (06) @ Nummirock
Stratovarius

The grand old flagship of Finnish power metal, Stratovarius, ended the day on the Inferno stage, proving to be worth checking out every once in a while even if you don’t feel like it. It really shouldn’t be a surprise to see how much people still love them, but admittedly, we really were not prepared to see such a loud and enthusiastic crowd at their show – all the singalongs were nothing short of epic! For the fans of oldschool Strato, the setlist offered some 90’s gems like “S.O.S.” and “Speed of Light,” and “Black Diamond” never fails to get the audience going. It could be considered a bit odd for a short festival set, but Stratovarius might be one of those bands that are more or less justified to have solos – even short ones – from all bands members, and we just have to live with it. Not that we’d complain – it’s always nice to give a moment of glory to everyone in the band. Singer Timo Kotipelto was visibly thrilled to be back in Nummi with the band and liked to return to the topic of their last visit (2004) in his speeches throughout the set, telling for instance that the last time they were playing there, Jens [Johansson, keyboards] was still looking for his shoes when the intro was playing. Good-humored jokes, all the classics needed for a small nostalgia trip in perfect harmony with newer material, and the magnificent audience guaranteed good times and left wide smiles plastered on our faces when we headed off to see the last band of the evening.

2016.06.23 06 Wolfheart (01) @ NummirockLene: “There’s a running joke that if you’ve seen one of Tuomas Saukkonen’s bands, you’ve seen them all. We can see where this stems from, as his bands tend not to be on the liveliest visual end of the scale, but after Wolfheart’s magnificent sophomore album, Shadow World, came out last year, I decided it was time to catch them live. As I had guessed, there was not much movement on stage, but the show was still visually interesting with flames, well coordinated outfits, and cool back- and side-drops – the overall feeling was very Vikingy, as the band logo was adorned with wolf motifs and what looked like a version of the ægishjálmur [“helm of awe”]. And amusingly enough, in case you’ve watched History Channel’s Vikings series, you might’ve noticed that Tuomas Saukkonen actually bears a striking resemblance to one Ragnar Lothbrok these days. As another neat visual note, the lights were coordinated with the albums – songs from Winterborn had a cold color scheme, whereas Shadow World’s tracks were adorned with mainly red shades. Music-wise you got exactly what you bargained for as the band delivered their set flawlessly. Out of my favorites from Shadow World, “Aeon of Cold,” wasn’t quite as impressive live I had hoped, likely because of the rhythm being a bit tricky for the late-night audience, but the tranquil C-part certainly made up for it, as did “Zero Gravity” towards the end of the set. The latter was definitely the highlight of the show, as the band bettered their run as they went on. With the Finnish parts on “Veri” sending chills down our spines, Wolfheart ended the day one on a high note with high hopes for Friday!”

 

Friday
After surviving the first night at Nummirock and actually managing to get some sleep, it was time for the first full day of festival goodness. The sun was shining and all the memories of the past 2 year’s freezing midsummer weather were wiped away. Our day was kicked off by Omnium Gatherum, a Finnish melodic death metal band who were actually celebrating their 20th birthday this year.

2016.06.24 01 Omnium Gatherum (17) @ Nummirock
Omnium Gatherum

Essi: “For me, Omnium Gatherum belongs to that group of bands I know I should have listened to a long time ago but never really got around to it. This was my chance to fix the situation and I took it gladly. Even though it might have been a bit early (13:45 to be precise) the crowd was ample and ready to mosh from the very beginning. Omnium Gatherum released their newest album, Grey Heavens, in February, and plenty of new songs were heard throughout the Nummirock set, such as the recent video single, “Frontiers.” Omnium Gatherum delivered a solid festival act with their energetic performance, and, in Lene’s words, it was worth risking sunstroke to hear “Ego” live before we took off to see the first main-stage band of the day.”

2016.06.24 02 Diablo (03) @ Nummirock
Diablo

Essi: “I would like to mention that one of the most eagerly-awaited acts of Friday was Diablo, who had an amazing comeback at last year’s Nummirock. This time the band performed in broad daylight but that did not affect the overall performance or the atmosphere in the audience. Being the first band on the main-stage, Diablo set the bar for anyone else who followed. I had to admit that it was somewhat enchanting to see and hear the audience shouting “perkele” in between the songs – a sight that made Diablo’s frontman, Rainer Nygård, gaze at the audience with a smile on his face. Even though the band took a long break, the second year in a row at Nummirock proved that the audience of this midsummer festival will always have a place in their hearts for Diablo.”

2016.06.24 03 Equilibrium (10) @ Nummirock
Equilibrium

Atte: “When it comes to live performances, I doubt that I’ve ever anticipated anything quite as much as Equilibrium on the Inferno stage. They were the only reason I embarked on a festival trip to Metalcamp in 2009, later to hear that there had been some kind of a mess-up between their management and the festival, causing Metalcamp to pull their name out of the roster only a few weeks after I’d already paid for the tickets, flights, and such. Last winter, my girlfriend and I already started saving up to fly to Germany just to see them live and we both completely lost our shit when we heard that Equilibrium was coming to Nummirock this year. At half past four, the band climbed on stage, and it’s pretty hard to objectively scrutinize anything that followed during the next hour. The audience was wild from start to finish, the band played marvelously, and the setlist, while leaning towards their latest masterpiece, Erdentempel, was rock-solid. I’m ready to call the inclusion of the video game Skyrim‘s theme song to their setlist a cheesy move, since they needn’t have done it to make the audience eat out of their hands, but one can’t complain as the audience was clearly filled with fans of both Equilibrium and Skyrim. Nevertheless, the greatest thing about the show for me wasn’t the fact that I finally got to see one of my favorite bands live, but rather the faces of the band as they were clearly stunned by the audience’s warm welcome. Think about it: you land in the airport in Helsinki, travel almost 350 kilometers to the middle of nowhere to do a show at a festival that you (probably) know nothing about, as well as don’t know what to expect. To see the whole band having the time of their lives on stage makes me wonder why Equilibrium hasn’t been to Finland before. Please come again and please do it as soon as possible! This was the best Nummirock show from any band in my 8 years of attendance, period!”

Next up on the main stage was Amorphis, whose last time in Nummirock was in 2011. The 5-year gap sounds surprisingly long considering that Amorphis is a rather frequent visitor of several other Finnish music festivals. Their newest album, Under the Red Cloud, received many excellent reviews, one of which was from our own Ville Karttunen.

2016.06.24 04 Amorphis (02) @ Nummirock
Amorphis

Essi: “Even though I am not one of the most enthusiastic fans of Amorphis, I have enjoyed their last few albums and find that they never under-perform while on stage. This was the case in Nummirock as well. The gig started with “Under the Red Cloud” and “Sacrifice,” both from the newest album. With bands like Amorphis, they always have a great deal of material to choose from. This time the band took a trip down the memory lane back to 1994 playing “Drowned Maid” from Tales From the Thousand Lakes. Even with a versatile setlist like this, the audience did not seem to get all that excited about the gig. Only “House of Sleep” seemed to wake the crowd up a bit with its singalong chorus. It was a pity, since I thought the gig itself was good and the band would have deserved a better reaction from the audience.”

2016.06.24 05 Dragonforce (04) @ Nummirock
Dragonforce

Atte: “DragonForce up next on the Inferno stage was a blast, as always. Deeply loathed by some, greatly loved by others, the London-based power metal group clearly fails to deliver a mediocre show. The guitarists, Herman Li and Sam Totman, shredded through their solos with loud grins on their faces, while the drummer, Gee Anzalone, blasted away behind the kit as furiously as his predecessor, Dave Mackintosh, used to. The singer, Mark Hudson, who replaced ZP Theart in 2011, has clearly cemented his position in the band, delivering the vocal lines impeccably as a charismatic frontman. The band’s setlist in Nummirock featured surprisingly few songs from their latest album, Maximum Overload, since only “Three Hammers” and “Symphony of the Night” were performed – “The Game” would have been a nice addition. I personally rank their 2012 effort, The Power Within, in the top spot in DragonForce’s discography and was thrilled to hear “Holding On,” “Wings of Liberty,” as well as “Cry Thunder.” If only the band would make “Fallen World” a staple in their live set… The set ended with their most famous song, “Through the Fire and Flames.” The song is probably a mixed blessing for the band, since, while being a great song, it will always be the one the audience expects to hear after being featured in Guitar Hero.”

2016.06.24 06 Dark Tranquillity (15) @ Nummirock
Dark Tranquillity

Essi: “Whenever you go to see a metal gig and you spot the vocalist smiling between the songs you can tell the band probably is not Finnish. Well, stereotypes aside, it would have not taken me long to realize Dark Tranquillity came from Sweden if I hadn’t known it already. The band is one of the representatives of the famous Gothenburg sound and you can really recognize it. I had not really paid attention to Dark Tranquillity before. For me, the Gothenburg sound is of course good and easy to listen to, but I never really got into those bands like In Flames and At the Gates, or Dark Tranquillity for that matter. I still might not be a huge fan of it, but when it came to the gig in Nummirock, the band was entertaining, energetic, and gave a good live performance. The audience seemed to agree with my thoughts. Even though the front row might not have been packed with the most loyal fans, there was still some singing along with the songs. After the gig I decided to add Dark Tranquillity to the list of bands I should listen to in the future – time will show if that will happen anytime soon.”

2016.06.24 08 Marduk (08) @ Nummirock
Marduk

Atte: “Before Mayhem was set loose on the main stage, one of Sweden’s most prominent black metal acts, Marduk, committed an hour-long assault on the Inferno stage. Having seen the band only once before, their set was just as anticipated as Mayhem’s. I haven’t been listening to black metal as much as I probably could have over the last few years, and the fact backfired as Marduk’s setlist leaned towards their latest album, Frontschwein, which I’ve just haven’t managed to listen through even once. Otherwise the set was delightfully diverse, featuring material from almost every studio album. My personal favorite, 2003’s World Funeral, was represented with “Cloven Hoof” and “To the Death’s Head True” (no “With Satan and Victorious Weapons” or “Night of the Long Knives” – boo!). Performance-wise, the band was as strong and angry as I remembered from last time with Mortuus screaming his vocals with a fervor to which many Finnish black metal vocalists could take note.”

2016.06.24 09 Mayhem (09) @ Nummirock
Mayhem

Essi: “The last act on the main stage on Friday was the legendary Norwegian black metal band, Mayhem. I am not a friend of black metal, and my thoughts about this band before the gig were “so this is the group where everyone was killing each other back in the days.” Even though the band’s history has been less vivid lately, I’ve still got my prejudices. I felt as if I was an observer from the outside trying to understand a foreign culture. There was scary-ass smoke creeping down from the stage, church bells ringing, and dramatic red lights. At first I could not even tell if there was anyone on stage because of the lights. Also, the players were wearing black capes. Needless to say, music-wise I did not really enjoy the performance. What I did kind of enjoy was the realization that the metal scene is much more versatile than people usually think; for someone who doesn’t care for heavier music it might all sound like shouting and senseless noise, but for friends of metal there is something for everyone – and that’s the beauty of it. In festivals like Nummirock you can concentrate on one big music genre but still have plenty of different subgenres.”

2016.06.24 10 Ajattara (10) @ Nummirock
Ajattara

Lene: “If there was one show I had anticipated from the day it was announced, it was the official return of Finnish black metal legends, Ajattara. Judging by the audience that was packed in front of the Kaaos stage a few minutes before the clock hit 01:15, I was most certainly not the only one, which led to the one thing I questioned about their whole show: why on earth they were playing on the Kaaos stage, out of all possible options? Thanks to the fences on the right that were separating the booze area from other parts of festival area, the bars on left, and the FOH booth being closer to the stage than the Inferno or main stage, the tiny space in front of the stage was more than crowded. But while I keep on wondering about this, I will state that Ajattara is still a 100% captivating live band after their 5-year break. True to their ways, the crowd (and photographers) got their first share of blood in the very first minutes of the show and the band members looked like they had been bathing in it, showering blood on the audience with every flip of their hair – not that they would’ve minded one bit. Lead singer, Ruoja, still has one of the most dominating stage presences I’ve ever seen and his distinctive nasal and rattling growls work up the perfect grim, scalding outcome for the dark trochaic-meter lyrics. With the setlist, the eager audience was offered a balanced cross-section of the band’s repertoire, starting with “Ilon päivä” and ending the hour-long set (which felt like the blink of an eye) to “Kunnes taivas meidät erottaa,” with a cavalcade of classics from “Antakaa elää” to “Naaras” in between. Frankly, I could wax poetry all day and night about the murky world of death, sex, and ruthlessness Ajattara brews into their music, but I’ll settle with just voicing the remark that the combination of the darkest hour of the nightless night, the tangy smell of blood and smoke, and the hexing sound of Finnish-sung black metal might just touch the untamed, earthly part of human nature in a way most folk and pagan metal bands could only dream of. Summing up our midsummer eve, we were more than happy to welcome Ajattara back from the dead like they were never gone.”

 

Saturday

2016.06.25 01 Martti Servo & Napander (05) @ Nummirock
Martti Servo & Napander

One might say nothing screams metal less than the Finnish Martti Servo & Napander. Then again, one of the greatest things about Nummirock is that everyone and everything is laid back – why not their music then as well? Martti Servo & Napander play iskelmä [schlager] music, and played themselves to the hearts of the metal people on that Saturday. Or are you telling me listening to songs like “Ufo tarjosi kaakaon” [UFO offered a hot chocolate] or “Hyvältä näyttää” [Looking good] would not make your day? There was dancing, there was letkajenkka (it’s a Finnish thing, look it up) – and of course, since it was a metal festival, there was a moshpit. Because why not? Also, it was not the first time the main stage’s first act of Saturday was something other than metal. Last year it was Steve ’N’ Seagulls, a few years back Eläkeläiset, and Martti Servo & Napander was a great addition to this group. We cannot wait to hear what the festival has in store for next year!

2016.06.25 02 Stam1na (01) @ Nummirock
Stam1na

Essi: “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Sakara Tour where Stam1na, Mokoma, and Diablo gathered together for a 3-gig tour, after Stam1na had released their latest album, Elokuutio. Nummirock was my chance to hear the new songs live and I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store. The band had faced a bit of a misfortune since the vocalist Antti “Hyrde” Hyyrynen announced at the beginning of the gig that he had been a bit ill lately. He could still perform the songs but you could notice that he was a bit weary and wasn’t able to give it his all. With that in mind, Stam1na delivered a solid festival set. What was interesting was that the setlist seemed to differ from what I had been accustomed to with Stam1na. There was no “Viisi laukausta päähän,” “Lääke,” or “Muuri.” Instead, the band played songs like “Elokuutio,” “Luova hulluus,” “Panzerfaust,” and “Ristiriita.” The newest album was obviously on display but the band had decided to skip “Kuudet raamit,” the first single from Elokuutio. I was a bit disappointed about this choice, but it did not ruin the overall feeling.”

2016.06.25 03 Trivium (05) @ Nummirock
Trivium

Essi: “My only real experience with Trivium was listening to their album, The Crusade, back in my early metal days. Apart from that album, I never really had any interest in them. So prior to their Nummirock gig, I didn’t have any expectations one way or another. I didn’t really even know if they were in the “it-club.” You know, one of those artists who haven’t lost their charm or fanbase over the years. I did spot some Trivium shirts in the audience and a few minutes before the gig, the front of Nummirock’s main stage was almost surprisingly packed. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had really missed something for not listening more to this band. My original plan was to stay for the beginning of the gig to see how the crowd acted and how the overall atmosphere was, but I ended up staying through the whole gig all the way to the encore. The guys on stage were energetic, having fun and enjoying themselves, and the audience was no different. Guitarist and vocalist Matt Heafy took contact with the audience and encouraged them to mosh and move almost between every single song, and the people obeyed. Even though Trivium’s music did not give me chills, I really enjoyed their live presence and ability to move and excite the audience through the whole set.”

As usual, we spent a lion’s share of the weekend wandering back and forth between the Inferno stage on the shore and the green main-stage seeing bands, but luckily we had the time to sample the selection of food offered in Nummirock. You really won’t want to live the whole weekend on the grilled sausage and chips you bring to your camps, so even a small range of alternatives start to sound swell come Saturday afternoon at the latest. We still have to try the home-cooked food in Relaamo some upcoming year, and Asian food at any festival can seem like an unpleasant idea after a couple days of scorching sun, but we can and want to give you one excellent recommendation in Nummirock: the Black Dahlia Burger. Hand on heart, we swear it will be the best 10€ you’ll ever spend on a vegan, halloumi, or pork chop burger, and while we don’t know how or why the hell these guys are not in every place ever, we know that there is festival food that is so good it can make you cry. We’ve also never seen anyone looking at another person the way they look at BDB’s burgers, and that is undoubtedly the look of purest love.

2016.06.25 04 Mokoma (08) @ Nummirock
Mokoma

Lene: “As the evening was drawing close to its end, one of Nummirock’s acknowledged veterans, Mokoma, started their set, being the last band to play on the Inferno stage this year. There’s not much that hasn’t been said about their gigs before and I know I’m repeating myself and a plethora of others by saying that there’s definitely a reason or two that people love to go see their gigs time after time. They are always a solid pick, especially in Nummi, and even if the setlist was again quite a standard Mokoma summer festival set for the most part, one has to admit that even the “safe” choices are entertaining – if sauna-fresh guys drying their hair wearing only shorts and towels doesn’t say it, I don’t know what does. One of the highlights, however, was bringing in a rarity – it’s been a good while since they’ve played their Finnish rendition of Death’s “Open Casket,” “Avoin hauta,” and it was nice to see how thrilled the audience was to hear it. And on the topic of audience, Mokoma likely had one of the best in Nummi this year, delightfully loud and lively (even though the pit didn’t quite get wind beneath its wings, it seemed). What I really like at Mokoma’s gigs these days is definitely the audience; you can see someone go dead serious, shout, and then sing and smile the next second – I wouldn’t exaggerate much if I said it’s one of my favorite sights in the world. With the mandatory nu-metal jumping to “Pohja on nähty,” we headed off towards the main-stage and the last band on Saturday.”

2016.06.25 05 Children of Bodom (03) @ Nummirock
Children of Bodom

Essi: “And where to start with it? The last time Children of Bodom played on the shore of Nummijärvi was in 2013 and I got to enjoy the gig from the front row. In 2016, the band was back once again as the main act of Saturday and I took my familiar spot leaning against the fence. The crowd was plentiful, the night was getting darker, and once the band came on stage you just knew it was going to be great. And it was. Children of Bodom gave the Nummi audience what they wanted. Something old like “Lake Bodom,” or newer from their latest album, I Worship Chaos, and finally something blue like “Hate Me” from Follow the Reaper. Something borrowed was missing even though it would have been great to hear the band play their “Black Winter Day” cover, originally by Amorphis (which they recorded as a bonus song for I Worship Chaos). Well, you can’t have everything. Usually the special surprises on the setlist seem to be limited to club gigs but Children of Bodom proved me wrong in this. I cannot remember the last time I heard them playing “Children of Decadence,” but the biggest surprise was hearing “Trashed, Lost & Strungout” from Are You Dead Yet? The band apparently played the song live a couple of times after releasing the aforementioned album but took it off the setlist, stating that it just did not work that well live. The guys proved themselves wrong even though keyboardist Janne Wirman said later that he might have missed a couple of notes. I bet the audience did not even notice. Another special thing about the gig was that it was the first time the band’s newest member, guitarist Daniel Freyberg (Naildown, ex-Norther) performed with the band in Finland. It seemed like Freyberg was staying a bit in the background, not really interacting with the audience. He’s been with the band for only around 6 months so there’s hope that this will change.

Though my praise stems from 10 years of being a big fan of Bodom, I was not the only one who got enthusiastic over the Saturday’s main act. Words like “one of the best gigs ever” and “top 3 of this festival” were heard. So, to sum it up, if you were not in Nummirock to see this gig, I feel sorry for you. And if you were in Nummirock but did not see this gig, you should be ashamed.”

2016.06.25 05 Children of Bodom (09) @ Nummirock
Children of Bodom

 

You hear people stating every now and then that it doesn’t really matter who’s playing at Nummi, because you will be there regardless. While that is partially true, we couldn’t help thinking that it would have been nice and rather appropriate to commemorate the 30th year of Nummirock with something a little bit more special than a few bands from over the years and mentioning the landmark in the official merch. The few nice activities that were packed into the weekend, like the mölkky tournament on the beach, weren’t advertised until (nearly) the last minute on Facebook, and likely everyone who’s been to Nummirock knows that the network connections in the middle of the woods are somewhat feeble at best. Compared to last year when there was Steve ’N’ Seagulls playing on the back of a pick-up truck in the camping area, Whorion’s grill party, and Diablo serving communion, for instance, the absence of specialties felt even more evident. We wholeheartedly agree that the addition of a 4th day was an excellent idea, especially after people had been wishing for it so devoutly, but perhaps adding one bigger name among the local bands would’ve made it more worthwhile? The craft beer and whisky bar by the beach was also a nice touch, if not a little bit out of place, since, well… we all know what the camps are for.

And before you take this as complaining, we assure you, we had the greatest of times on the shores of Nummijärvi, as always – and that’s right in the core of the “problem.” You get what you bargain for in Nummi every year, regardless of weather, bands, or pretty much anything, but as we said, that’s what you get every year; when the festival you love rounds another decade, wouldn’t you want to make the occasion a bit more extraordinary? And it likely wouldn’t have required much – a few tweaks here and there, no need to turn the whole festival area over and make it a theme park, but something to go with the notorious Nummi spirit. There’s always room for improvement, even with institutions as old as Nummirock. But after all, it’s the people who make Nummi and with the festival hosting a record-breaking 40,000 visitors this year, not to mention the sun gracing us with its presence, it’s extremely, impossibly hard not to be happy having spent the midsummer in Nummijärvi once again. Congratulations on the 30 excellent years, and here’s to 30 more to come!

2016.06.24 Festival extras (02) @ Nummirock

 

Text: Essi Nummi, Lene L., Atte Valtonen | Photos: Eliza Rask, Lene L. | Ed: Amy Wiseman

NUMMIROCK – Festival Extras @ Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, 22-25.06.2016

0

Festival extras from Nummirock 2016.
Photos by Eliza Rask and Lene L.

NUMMIROCK – Day 3 @ Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, 25.06.2016

0

Day 3 of Nummirock 2016.
Photos by Eliza Rask.

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Netta Skog (ex-Turisas, Ensiferum), 2016

0
Netta Skog with Ensiferum, Nosturi 2015 Photo by Marco Manzi

Netta Skog certainly needs no introduction. Before she was known as the accordionist in Turisas, but these days she can be seen on stage with Ensiferum as a permanent replacement for keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen. And if that’s not cool enough, she won the 2015 World Championships in the digital accordion category! Here is the playlist of this very talented girl’s life!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
I have no idea. Seriously. Maybe some Finnish songs my dad played with the piano. Probably.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Trivium – “This World Can’t Tear us Apart” – Loved this one since the first listening. Still love it.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Imogen Heap – “Hide and Seek”
The Killers – “On Top”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Nightwish – “Dead to the World” – In 2006 I won the Golden Accordion competition in Finland (the best entertaining accordion player in Finland) with this song!

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Biffy Clyro – “Many of Horror”

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Calvin Harris – “Summer”

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Spice Girls – Spice … Hey c’mon, I am from the 90’s. Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys were THE THING back then and I still definitely sing their songs at the karaoke bar! Hell yeah!

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Def Leppard – “Hysteria” – Just love. Pure love, Ah!

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Children of Bodom – “Living Dead Beat”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Stam1na – “Viimeinen Atlantis”
Pink Floyd – “High Hopes”

NUMMIROCK – Day 2 @ Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, 24.06.2016

0

Day 2 of Nummirock 2016.
Photos by Lene L. and Eliza Rask.

NUMMIROCK – Day 1 @ Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, 23.06.2016

0

Day 1 of Nummirock 2016.
Photos by Lene L. and Eliza Rask.

(2016) Fates Warning: Theories of Flight (English)

0

Artist: Fates Warning
Album: Theories of Flight
Release: 01.07.2016
Label: Inside Out

Progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning started enriching my record collection around the time their previous album, Darkness in a Different Light (2013), came out. After I’d become better acquainted with the rest of their discography, I came to the conclusion that it was a very solid comeback after a 9-year recording hiatus, but not all of the songs were exactly stellar, and it felt like the band was still clearing the cobwebs in preparation for something even greater. This brings us to the present, where the release of the 12th FW record, Theories of Flight, is upon us.

One of the first things that pops out while listening to the album for the first time is how many hooks there are. Some of the tunes are the catchiest the band has written since Inside Out (1994), but there’s enough complexity and layers in the music to give it balance and depth. This recipe is so successful that you find yourself listening to the album over and over again, almost to the point of addiction. The whole record feels like a synthesis of the best parts of every Ray Alder-era release without feeling like a retread.

The opener, “From the Rooftops,” is quite representative of the album’s sound and a good way to kick things off, but also my least favorite track. It’s a slightly surprising choice for the first single, given that there are even stronger and more accessible songs. “Seven Stars” is the spiritual successor of “Point of View,” as it creates a slightly similar vibe and is just as anthem-like, albeit slower. “SOS” is a melodically strong yet slightly mysterious piece with a powerful mantra (“sink or swim”) by Ray Alder in the middle. This song just screams to be played live!

Fans of Fates Warning’s introspective side will probably find the album’s 10-minute centerpiece “The Light and Shade of Things” most enjoyable, while the intensity of “White Flag” and “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen” should please those looking for heaviness. “White Flag” is hands down the best song on the album for me, including a great lyrical message of persistence (“No surrender, don’t give up / Never carry that white flag”) and impressive guest solos by long-time on/off member Frank Aresti and current touring guitarist Michael Abdow. Another highlight is the epic “The Ghosts of Home,” which deals with guitarist/songwriter Jim Matheos’ childhood experiences of having to move constantly. The music accompanies the topic brilliantly, beginning atypically in a major key before getting faster and heavier, but also including a beautifully wistful slower section. The title-track is an instrumental with spoken word samples that recalls “Disconnected Part 2,” though it is less ambient-tinged and ends the album quite abruptly.

The musicianship on the album is first-class as always: bassist Joey Vera and drummer Bobby Jarzombek are a monstrous rhythm section, and Jim Matheos weaves fascinating riffs that come to the foreground when you’re listening on your headphones and can clearly make out what the guitars are doing in each channel. The real MVP here, however, is Ray Alder: the man has lost some of his upper range over the years, but he’s learned to make the most out of what he still has left. I’ve always preferred his more mature voice on the later albums to his youthful wailing, and on Theories of Flight he’s outdone himself once more. Alder’s passionate and powerful singing is the cherry on the top of an already delicious cake.

Theories of Flight is an excellent album-of-the-year candidate that has everything a Fates Warning fan could ask for. It’s undoubtedly one of the milestones of the band’s long career and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Parallels (1991), A Pleasant Shade of Gray (1997), and Disconnected (2000).

Rating: 10/10, 5 stars

Tracklist:
1. From the Rooftops
2. Seven Stars
3. SOS
4. The Light and Shade of Things
5. White Flag
6. Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen
7. The Ghosts of Home
8. Theories of Flight

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

(2016) Fates Warning: Theories of Flight (suomeksi)

0

Artisti: Fates Warning
Albumi: Theories of Flight
Julkaistu
: 01.07.2016
Levy-yhtiö: Inside Out

Progressiivisen metallin pioneeri Fates Warning alkoi rikastaa levykokoelmaani edellisen albuminsa Darkness in a Different Light (2013) julkaisun aikoihin. Tutustuttuani paremmin bändin muuhun tuotantoon tulin siihen tulokseen, että albumi oli hyvin toimiva paluu 9 vuoden levytystauon jälkeen, mutta kaikki kappaleet eivät olleet varsinaisesti loistavia, ja tuntui siltä, että bändi oli lämmittelemässä jotain vielä parempaa varten. Tämä tuo meidät nykyhetkeen, jossa 12:nnen FW-levyn Theories of Flight julkaisu on käsillä.

Yksi ensimmäisistä mieleen pomppaavista asioista albumia ensi kertaa kuunnellessa on se, kuinka paljon koukkuja kappaleissa on. Jotkin biisit ovat bändin tarttuvimpia sitten Inside Outin (1994), mutta musiikissa on riittävästi monimutkaisuutta ja kerroksia antamaan tasapainoa ja syvyyttä. Tämä resepti on niin toimiva, että albumia huomaa kuuntelevansa yhä uudelleen lähes riippuvuuteen saakka. Koko levy on kuin synteesi jokaisen Ray Alderin aikakauden julkaisun parhaista puolista, tuntumatta kuitenkaan vanhan toistolta.

Avausraita “From the Rooftops” edustaa melko hyvin albumin tyyliä ja on hyvä alku, mutta myös mielestäni vähiten hyvä kappale. Se on hieman yllättävä valinta ensisingleksi, sillä levyllä on vahvempia ja helpommin lähestyttäviä kappaleita. “Seven Stars” on “Point of Viewin” henkinen seuraaja, koska siinä on samanhenkinen tunnelma ja niin ikään tarttuva kertosäe, vaikka kappale on hieman hitaampi. “SOS” on melodisesti vahva ja hieman salaperäinen tekele, jonka väliosassa on Ray Alderin voimallinen mantra (“sink or swim”). Tämä kappale vaatii tulla soitetuksi livenä!

Fates Warningin introspektiivisemmän puolen ystävät todennäköisesti nauttivat eniten 10-minuuttisesta “The Light and Shade of Thingsistä”, kun taas “White Flagin” ja “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seenin” intensiteetin luulisi tyydyttävän raskaamman tavaran perään haikailevia. “White Flag” on itselleni ehdottomasti levyn paras kappale, jossa on sinnikkyyteen kannustava sanoma (“No surrender, don’t give up / Never carry that white flag”), ja vierailijoina toimivat pitkäaikainen on/off-jäsen Frank Aresti ja nykyinen kiertuekitaristi Michael Abdow soittavat vaikuttavat soolot. Toinen kohokohta on eeppinen “The Ghosts of Home”, joka kertoo kitaristi-lauluntekijä Jim Matheosin lapsuudesta, jolloin hän joutui jatkuvasti muuttamaan paikasta toiseen. Musiikki säestää aihetta upeasti, alkamalla epätyypillisesti duurissa ennen nopeammaksi ja raskaammaksi muuttumista, mutta sisältäen myös haikean hitaamman osuuden. Levyn nimikappale on puhesampleja sisältävä instrumentaali, joka tuo mieleen “Disconnected Part 2:n”, muttei ole yhtä ambientmainen ja päättää albumin hieman äkillisesti.

Soitto levyllä on tuttuun tapaan ensiluokkaista: basisti Joey Vera ja rumpali Bobby Jarzombek muodostavat hurjan rytmisektion, ja Jim Matheos kutoo kiehtovia riffejä, jotka pääsevät oikeuksiinsa kuulokkeilla kuunnellessa, jolloin on helpompi erottaa mitä kitarat soittavat kummassakin kanavassa. Todelliseen huippusuoritukseen yltää kuitenkin Ray Alder: mies on menettänyt äänensä yläpäätä vuosien varrella, mutta hän on oppinut hyödyntämään jäljellä olevaa äänialaansa. Olen aina pitänyt hänen kypsemmästä laulannastaan myöhemmillä levyillä enemmän kuin alkuaikojen kiekumisesta, ja Theories of Flightilla hän on jälleen ylittänyt itsensä. Alderin tunteikas ja vahva laulu on kirsikka jo ennestään herkullisen kakun päällä.

Theories of Flight on erinomainen ehdokas vuoden parhaaksi albumiksi, jolta löytyy kaikkea mitä Fates Warning -fani voi yhtyeeltä toivoa. Se on epäilemättä yksi bändin pitkän uran merkkipaaluista ja ansaitsee tulla mainituksi samassa lauseessa kuin Parallels (1991), A Pleasant Shade of Gray (1997) ja Disconnected (2000).

Arvosana: 10/10, 5 tähteä

Kappalelista:

  1. From the Rooftops
  2. Seven Stars
  3. SOS
  4. The Light and Shade of Things
  5. White Flag
  6. Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen
  7. The Ghosts of Home
  8. Theories of Flight

Teksti: Ville Karttunen

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Sini Seppälä (Crimson Sun), 2016

0

If you haven’t heard of Crimson Sun, we suggest you hop over to Spotify or YouTube to check out their debut album from 2015, Towards the Light. This up-and-coming Finnish band is scooping up fans like an overpowered vacuum in Finland and if you get a chance to check them out, we highly recommend you take it! Today we’ve got the playlist of their singer’s life: Sini Seppälä!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Pretty hard to remember the very first one, but one of them has
certainly been Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising.” CCR and
John Fogerty are one of my dad’s favorites he has been listening to as
long as I can remember. The guitar riff of the song echoes all the way
from my childhood.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
I have to say Nightwish – “Sleeping Sun”; the intro still gives me
goosebumps.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
One song that strongly reminds me of my teenage years is definitely
Children of Bodom – “Trashed, Lost & Strungout”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre
you play in)
It’s hard to go with just one band or song so I’ll say Nightwish,
Lordi, and Children of Bodom.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Ghost – “He Is”

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Well, I have this playlist on Spotify: Greatest dance hits of the 90’s..

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you
were really excited to own
Lordi – Get Heavy was an album I was excited to own as I was really
fascinated by the band back in the days.

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Sentenced – “End of the Road”

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Danko Jones – “Full of Regret”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Halestorm – “Rockshow”

TAMPERE METAL MEETING – Ratinanniemi, Tampere, 17-18.06.2016 (suomeksi)

0

Suurten, perinteisten suomalaisten kesäfestivaalien siirtäessä esiintyjärosteriaan yhä enemmän EDM:n ja hiphopin suuntaan, oli mukava kuulla alkuvuodesta uutisia kokonaan uuden metallifestivaalin, Tampere Metal Meetingin, järjestämisestä. Mm. Incantation Agencyn sekä Tampereen YO-talon yhteistuotantona syntynyt kaksipäiväinen tapahtuma juhlittiin kesäkuun 17. ja 18. päivänä, musiikkitarjonnan yhdistellessä tunnettua ja vähemmän tunnettua metallimusiikkia sen eri alalajeista. Metal Meetingin bändikattaus oli itselleni jo etukäteen kovasti odotettu, sillä mukana oli Kalmahin ja Finntrollin kaltaisia teiniaikojen suosikkeja, Whisperedin tyyppisiä jyrkässä nousukiidossa olevia ajankohtaisia nimiä, yhdistettynä suurelle yleisölle tuntemattomiin Deströyer 666:een sekä Demilichiin, joiden kaikki aikaisemmat keikat olen onnistunut missaamaan.

 

Perjantai
2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (5)Auton nokka kääntyi perjantaina keskipäivän aikoihin Tampereen suuntaan, ja paikalle saavuttiin pari tuntia myöhemmin. Edeltävänä viikonloppuna Eteläpuistossa melskattu Radio City South Park oltiin juhlittu suurimmaksi osaksi tyypillisessä suomalaisessa kesäsäässä, sateessa, eikä tämäkään viikonloppu näyttänyt merkkejä paremmasta – päivä käynnistyi kevyessä tihkusateessa.

Saavuin porteille juuri perjantain ensimmäisen orkesterin, pari vuotta sitten paluun tehneen Convulsen, setin alettua. Meno tapahtuma-alueella vaikutti rauhalliselta, ja Convulse räimikin vajaan kolmen vartin settinsä kakkoslavalla kohtuullisen vähälukuiselle yleisölle. Itselleni Convulse oli tuttu vain nimeltä, mutta pidin bändin groovaavasta vanhan liiton death metalista, jossa tehtiin selvää pesäeroa 90-luvun vanhan materiaalin sekä comebackin jälkeen ilmestyneiden kahden kokopitkän välillä.

Puoli neljältä oli aika korkata päälava, kun paikallinen melodeath-lupaus Whispered nousi lauteille. Olen ollut bändin fani jo monta vuotta, ja odotin tuoreen Metsutan – Songs of the Void -levyn biisien kuulemista livenä. Setti lähti käyntiin Metsutanin avauskaksikolla “Chi no Odori” – “Strike!”. Bändi oli vedossa, kuten aina, mutta täysin luokaton lavaääni esti keikasta nauttimisen kohtuullisen tehokkaasti. “Strike!”:n aikana lavalta ei kuulunut juuri muuta ääntä kuin rummut sekä vokalisti Jouni Valjakan kitara, eikä tilanne käytännössä seuraavan kolmen vartin aikana muuttunut miksikään – bassoa ei kuulunut laisinkaan, ja kitaroistakin tuntui tulevan ääntä ainoastaan toisesta kerrallaan. Liekö Lars Ulrich ollut mikseripöydän takana? Harmittaa jätkien puolesta, Metal Meetingin keikka oli nimittäin kesän ainoita. Keväisessä levyarviossa toivomani “Tsukiakarikin” oli setissä…

2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (3)Mikkelin lahja heavy metalille, Lord Fist, oli vuorossa Whisperedin jälkeen. Nuorehkoon ikäänsä nähden olen ehtinyt todistaa bändin live-esiintymisiä jo monta kertaa, ja taas kerran Fist oli aivan liekeissä tarjoillen tamperelaisyleisölle tiukan puolen tunnin annoksen kitaraharmonioita, vokalisti Perttu Koivusen vibratoa sekä viipyilevää lavaesiintymistä. Fist on ehtinyt kiertää maamme keikkalavoja jo useamman vuoden, ja kokemus näkyy selkeästi esiintymisessä. Harmi, että bändin Paras Biisi™, ensimmäisen demon “Super Sailor”, ei tällä kertaa mukaan mahtunut, mutta “Green Eyleen” ja “Who Wants to Live Forever” paikkasivat tilanteen, ja Wordless Wisdom -12-tuumaisen mainio “Headless Riderkin” oli tehnyt paluun settiin!

Lord Fistin keikka ehti ilmeisesti livahtaa vähän pitkäksi, sillä “Lord of the Nightin” loputtua Karhulan totocore-partio Omnium Gatherum oli jo täydessä vauhdissa päälavalla. OG:nkin tekemisiä on tullut tiukasti seurattua jo lähemmäs kymmenen vuoden ajan, ja ai että kun vaan paranee vanhetessaan. Setti potkaistiin käyntiin uutuuslevy Grey Heavensin aloituskaksikolla “The Pit” – “Skyline”, ja yleisö oli alusta asti täysillä mukana. OG on takuuvarmaa viihdettä: vokalisti Jukka Pelkonen on Suomen viihdyttävimpiä lavaesiintyjiä, joka ei todellakaan ota asioita turhan vakavasti vaan jutustelee kevyesti niitä näitä lauluosuuksiensa lomassa. Jarmo Pikan tilalla rumpupallilla jo hetkisen viihtyneen Demigodin Tuomo Latvalan soitto on hienoa seurattavaa – mies ei tee yhtään turhaa liikettä ja koristelee kappaleita kekseliäästi. OG:n setin aikana tosin tuli ensimmäistä kertaa tunne, että slotit voisivat olla pidempiäkin; kolme varttia oli mielestäni ehdottomasti bändille liian vähän.

Omnium Gatherumin jälkeen nälkä pääsi yllättämään, ja koska OG:n jälkeen aloittaneen Baptismin tuotantoa en juuri tunne, suuntasimmekin hetkiseksi pois festarialueelta. Ne pari biisiä, jotka seurasimme, olivat peruslaadukasta Suomi-blackmetalia. Takaisin ehdimme Baptismin jälkeen päälavalla aloittaneen The Man-Eating Treen setin puolivälissä, ja tyydyimmekin seuraamaan setin lopun kaljateltan tuntumasta. The Man-Eating Tree on ollut itselleni aina pienoinen väliinputoaja, jonka olen livenä aiemminkin nähnyt, mutta josta en vain löydä tarpeeksi koukkuja jotta bändi olisi löytänyt tiensä vakituisempaan kuunteluun. Uusimman, viime vuonna julkaistun In the Absence of Light -levyn kappaleet tosin kuulostivat paljon pirteämmiltä kuin aiempien levyjen tuotanto. Ehkä The Man-Eating Treellekin täytyy jossain vaiheessa suoda toinen mahdollisuus.

Circle
Circle

Töiden takia paikalle roimasti myöhässä saapunut kuvaajamme saapui juuri parahiksi paikalle dokumentoimaan perjantain ehdottoman tapauksen, porilaisen kulttibändi Circlen. Vuodesta 1991 kasassa ollut Porin eksentrikkokaksikko Mika Rättö – Jussi Lehtisalon luotsaama, päälle 50 pitkäsoittoa ja livejulkaisua tehtaillut bändi on jollain uskomattomalla tavalla onnistunut viuhumaan täysin ohi omasta tutkasta, ja tämän keikan jälkeen voin vain ihmetellä, miksi. Kauhtuneisiin verkkareihin ja spandexeihin pukeutunut kuusikko oli jotain, jota on vaikea kuvailla. Biisit koostuivat junnaavista stoner-riffeistä ja Mika Rätön jakomielisestä synansoitosta sekä laulusta, minkä lisäksi lavalla tapahtui jatkuvasti kaikennäköistä ulkomusiikillista oheistoimintaa. Uskaltakaapas missata Tuskan-keikka kahden viikon päästä! Olin viihdyttynyt. Circlen setin alussa myös aurinkokin alkoi viimein paistaa!

Moonsorrow
Moonsorrow

Ilta jatkui ja panokset kovenivat: toiseksi viimeisen päälavaslotin täytti Suomen kovin bändi, Moonsorrow. Bändi tuskin tässä vaiheessa maailmaa enää esittelyjä kaipaa, joten mennään itse asiaan: keikka oli taas kerran hävyttömän hyvä, joskin Whisperediä piinanneet miksausongelmat tekivät paluun – tällä kertaa koko bändi kyllä soi, mutta volyymipotikka oli unohtunut pihinä-asentoon. Moonsorrowin kerrostalon kokoisen pakanametallin täytyisi tulla PA:sta pihalle spinaltapmaisesti yhdellätoista eikä kolmosella, ja festivaalin Facebook-seinälle ehtikin ilmaantua asiasta pari välitöntä palautetta. Onneksi Moonsorrowille oli kuitenkin varattu tarpeeksi soittoaikaa, ja keikka olikin tunnin ja vartin mitassaan juuri passeli festariveto. Settilista noudatteli keväisen Jumalten Aika -levyn julkkarikeikan settiä, jossa uudet kappaleet sujahtivat vaivatta vanhojen klassikoiden sekaan.

Demilich
Demilich

Perjantain viimeinen bändi kakkoslavalla oli kulttimainetta nauttiva kuopiolainen Demilich. Antti Bomanin luotsaama death metal -orkesteri on ehditty kuopata jo useampaan otteeseen, mutta edelleen bändi kiertää kohtuullisen aktiivisesti lavoja. Bändin ainoa kokopitkä Nespithe on jäänyt harmillisen vähälle kuuntelulle, sillä Demilichin äkkiväärä dödis toimi aivan satanolla. Boman oli ehtinyt selkeästi hetkisen marinoida itseään viereisestä kojusta saatavalla pienpanimo-oluella, mutta esiintymiseen tällä ei ollut mitään vaikutusta. Välispiikeissäkin oli mainioita heittoja, ja vajaan tunnin mittainen setti hujahti siivillä.

Insomnium
Insomnium

Perjantain pääesiintyjän titteli meni tällä kertaa Joensuun suuruudelle, Insomniumille. Bändi juhli 10-vuotista kolmoslevyään Above the Weeping Worldia soittaen leijonanosan levyn kappaleista. Levy oli julkaisuvuotenaan allekirjoittaen kuunnelluimpia levyjä, joten nostalgiapärinä oli vahvasti läsnä. Bändin kakkoskitaristi Markus Vanhala ahkeroi taas kerran tuplat, olihan mies lavalla jo Omnium Gatherumin kanssa. Kamalan tarkkoja yksityiskohtia keikasta ei ylhäällä ole – hiukset heiluivat “Mortal Sharen”, “Change of Heartin”, “The Killjoyn”, “Last Statementin” ja “Devoid of Caringin” tahdissa sen verran voimakkaasti, että seuraavana aamuna niska ei juuri mihinkään suuntaan kääntynytkään. Insomniumin livekeikat on tullut viime vuosina ohitettua aika kepeästi, mutta Ratinanniemessä bändi onnistui taas muistuttamaan siitä, miksi se on ollut jo pitkään maamme menestyneimpiä metalliakteja. Toimi!

 

Lauantai

Ranger
Ranger

Lauantaiaamupäivä valkeni Tampereella huolestuttavan harmaana, ja säätiedotus lupaili neljäksi tunniksi ukkosta ja sadetta. Yöllä satoi aika paljonkin, mutta aamulla keli oli sentään “vain” pilvinen. Eilinen painoi vielä koko kropassa, joten päivän pari ensimmäistä esiintyjää, paikallinen death metal -akti Worthless sekä viime vuoden Nummirockissa vakuuttanut Sentenced-tribuutti Forever One livahtivat auttamatta ohi.

Päivän ensimmäinen bändi, jota ehdimme todistamaan, oli helsinkiläinen speed metal -lupaus Ranger. Lord Fistin tavoin Circlen Rätön ja Lehtisalon Ektro Recordsille levyttävä Ranger on ollut viime aikoina kovassa nosteessa, eikä syyttä – bändin musiikki jyrää eteenpäin sata lasissa ja homma on viimeisen päälle 80-lukuun kallellaan, rumpali Miko Sipilän puuttuvista resokalvoista vokalisti Dimi Pontiacin viiksiin asti. Kotona en Rangeria ole juurikaan kuunnellut, mutta livenä toimii aina!

Jess and the Ancient Ones
Jess and the Ancient Ones

Kuopiolainen Jess and the Ancient Ones oli etukäteen ajateltuna Metal Meetingin jonkinlainen outolintu edustaen kattauksen kepeintä laitaa. Bändin okkulttirock ei ole jotenkin ikinä kolahtanut allekirjoittaneeseen, mutta JatAO kuitenkin sopi aurinkoiseen (kyllä, ukkosesta ei tietoakaan) lauantai-iltapäivään kuin nenä päähän! Vokalisti Jess oli äärimmäisen karismaattinen esiintyjä, jonka katse porautui katsojan sisimpään, minkä lisäksi naisen laulusoundi on todella upea. Bändi soitti tiukasti yhteen, ja basisti Jake Luomajoelta sujuu selkeästi edeltävän päivän Demilichin dödiskoukeroiden lisäksi myös groovaavampi bassottelu. Eniten tuli silti äimisteltyä kitaristi Corpsen nykyolemusta; mies on sulattanut elopainostaan ainakin kolmekymmentä kiloa viimeisimpään nähtyyn Deathchain-keikkaan verrattuna. Kaiken kaikkiaan JatAO onnistui olemaan niin kova, että tuore Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes -levy lienee pakko ottaa tarkempaan kuunteluun!

Barathrum
Barathrum

Jess and the Ancient Onesin räväkästä okkulttirockista siirryttiinkin sitten kertaheitolla tummanpuhuvampiin tunnelmiin, kun black metal -legenda Barathrum otti kakkoslavan haltuun. Henkilökohtaisesti en ole ikinä syttynyt bändin musiikista, mutta yleisöstä päätellen taisin olla vähemmistössä. Epätavallisesti kahdella basistilla varustettu bändi soitti tiukasti yhteen, vaikka jokaisen kisakunto oli varmasti parin promillen paremmalla puolella. Vokalisti Demonos Sova oli oma tuttu itsensä huojuessaan lavalla kainalosauvan kanssa ja näyttäen siltä, että voisi minä hetkenä hyvänsä kaatua suorilta jaloilta lavan lattialle. Ja rock-asenne muka olisi jo kadonnut maailmasta tyystin? Ei Sovan vahtivuorolla. Turvallisesti “Legions of Perkeleeseen”, “Last Days in Heaveniin” ja “Saatanaan” päättynyt setti sisälsi uuttakin materiaalia.

Kalmah
Kalmah

Seuraavana päälavalla vuorossa ollut Kalmah oli ehkä kuitenkin allekirjoittaneelle festivaalin odotetuin esiintyjä. Siinä missä muut suomalaiset melodeath-suuruudet, kuten Children of Bodom, ovat menettäneet relevanttiutensa jo vuosia sitten, Kalmah jaksaa viihdyttää edelleen. Bändi kaahasi biisinsä setin avausralli “Hook the Monsterin” ensimmäisistä tahdeista de facto -lopetus “Hadesiin” asti paikoitellen selkeästi levyversioita nopeammin, ja rumpali Janne Kusmin oli vaihtanut paikoitellen kompeissaan bassorumpujen trioli-iskut kuudestoistaosiin. Nykyään todella harvakseltaan Suomessa keikkaileva Kalmah oli silminnähden iloinen saamastaan vastaanotosta, vaikka vokalisti Pekka Kokko kovasti yrittikin välispiikeissään vitsailla siitä, että pitää soittaa vielä pari biisiä. Kokonaisuudessaan en ymmärrä, miksi bändi ei tee kotimaassaan enempää keikkoja. Yleisöä varmasti riittää täälläkin.

Nocturnus A.D.
Nocturnus A.D.

Toistaiseksi Metal Meeting oli sujunut pelkästään kotimaisin voimin, mutta seitsemältä lauantai-iltana oli aika laskea lavalle tapahtuman ensimmäinen ulkomaan-vieras, yhdysvaltalainen death metal -pioneeri Nocturnus A.D. Tässä vaiheessa allekirjoittaneen namedroppailu-taidot loppuivat kesken, joten täytyi turvautua Internetin tarjontaan. Nocturnus on alun perin perustettu jo vuonna 1987, mutta vuonna 1992 bändin perustaja Mike Browning potkittiin pihalle omasta bändistään. Nyt lavalle noussut A.D -versio on Browningin vuonna 2013 kokoama reformibändi. Bändin materiaalia yhtään millään tavalla tuntemattomana keikan seuraaminen oli yllättävän virkistävää. Ensimmäinen huomio kiinnittyi kokoonpanoon; havahduin vasta ensimmäisen kappaleen loppupuolella siihen, että rumpali Browning hoiti itse myös vokaaliosuudet. Synistin käyttö tekniseen death metaliin kallellaan olevassa räimeessä oli myös kohtuullisen epätavallista. Kimurantin dödiksen ystävänä pidin keikasta loppujen lopuksi aika paljon, vaikka en biisejä tuntenutkaan.

Finntroll
Finntroll

Toiseksi viimeisenä päälavalla oli vuorossa suomalaisen peikkometallin sanansaattaja Finntroll. Edellisestä ‘Troll-keikasta on aikaa jo monta vuotta eikä bändin viimeisimmästä tuotannosta ole mitään hajua, joten oli mukava huomata settilistan painottuvan tuttuihin vanhempiin biiseihin. “Slaget vid Blodsjälvin” ja “Nattföddin” kaltaiset klassikot nostivat tunnelman saman tien kattoon, ja Nifelvind-levyn avausraita “Solsagan” nyt toimii aina. Taas kerran olisin kyllä halunnut käydä keskustelemassa miksaajan kanssa: vokalisti Vrethin mikrofoni tuntui olevan puolet ajasta pimeänä, kun taas kiipparisti Virran potikat olivat välillä niin kaakossa ettei lavalta muuta kuulunutkaan. Rumpali Heikki Saaren (MörkÖ) soitto oli onneksi juuri niin kellontarkkaa kuin pitääkin olla.

Finntrollin keikan aikana kävi myös asia, joka kuumottaa jokaista festarijärjestäjää eniten: “Jaktens Tidin” ensimmäisen säkeistön aikana jotain pamahti ja päälavan PA mykistyi täysin. Bändi hämmentyi, yleisö hämmentyi ja mikserikoppi panikoi, mutta tilanteesta onneksi selvittiin noin 10 minuutin odottelun jälkeen säikähdyksellä. Bändin setti tästä tietenkin hieman supistui, joten tilannetta paikattiin soittamalla se pakollinen “Trollhammaren”, minkä jälkeen setti paketoitiin “Under Bergets Rotilla”. Kunnialla loppuun asti vedetty juttu!

Deströyer 666
Deströyer 666

Kakkoslavan viimeisenä bändinä sai kunnian toimia Australian black/speed -hybridi Deströyer 666. Bändi ei ole kovin montaa kertaa Suomessa käynyt, mutta olen jotenkin onnistunut missaamaan nekin vähät keikat. Keväällä ilmestynyt Wildfire-levy oli todella kova, joten tätä keikkaa oli odotettu, ja onneksi tällä kertaa pääsin bändin livekeikkaa todistamaan… ja olihan D666 nyt aivan hävyttömän tiukka livenä setin painottuessa vanhempiin Phoenix Rising– sekä Cold Steel… For an Iron Age –levyihin, ja kuultiinpa Lemmyn muistoa kunnioittaen “Iron Fist” –coverikin! Jos setistä jotain purnattavaa pitää löytää, niin Defiance-levy oli jätetty täysin paitsioon, mutta toisaalta niin kauan kuin “I Am the Wargod” ja “Satanic Speed Metal” ovat mukana, niin ei sovi valittaa. Miehet valittelivat kovasti kylmyyttä, mutta eihän keikan aikana edes satanut vettä!

Tiamat
Tiamat

Pahoittelen jo etukäteen, että raportti päättyy antiklimaattisesti, mutta niin tuntui päättyvän Tampere Metal Meetingkin. Tapahtuman pääesiintyjäksi oli kiinnitetty ruotsalainen Tiamat, joka ainakin nimenä kiinnosti etukäteen kovasti, mutta kun keikka lähti käyntiin, allekirjoittaneella oli täysi työ pitää mielenkiintoa yllä. Aikoinaan death metal -bändinä aloittanut Tiamat oli mukana muovaamassa ruotsalaista dödissoundia, mutta vaihtoi musiikkityyliään 90-luvun puolivälissä johonkin doom metalin ja goottirokin välimaastoon. Pimenevässä ja synkässä lauantai-illassa bändin materiaalin olisi luullut toimivan varsin mainiosti, mutta itselleni keikka jäi todella valjuksi. En tiedä alkoiko väsymys painaa muutakin festarikansaa, mutta väkeä katosi tapahtuma-alueelta suurin mitoin vielä Tiamatin keikan ollessa käynnissä. Edellisen illan Insomnium-keikkaa seurasi valehtelematta kaksinkertainen määrä ihmisiä verrattuna Tiamatiin. Lopulta oli pakko tunnustaa tosiasiat ja lähteä itsekin narikan kautta kohti lähintä ruokapaikkaa.

 

Yleistä festivaalista
2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (1)Ulkomusiikilliset asiat festivaaleilla ovat usein lähes yhtä tärkeitä kuin musiikillisetkin, joten oli ilo huomata miten paljon asioita Tampere Metal Meetingissä oltiin saatu kerralla kohdalleen. Tapahtuman sijainti oli loistava: Tampereen keskustorilta käveli festarialueen portille vain viisi minuuttia. Portilla ei missään vaiheessa ollut tungosta sekä narikka ja rannekkeenvaihto toimivat. Alkuun ajattelin bajamajoja olleen melko vähän – ehkä 30-40 kappaletta – mutta jonottaa ei kuitenkaan tarvinnut. Bajamajavyöhyke tosin sijaitsi ainoastaan sisäänkäynnin läheisyydessä, joten kalja-alueelta joutui poistumaan vessareissulle. Ensimmäisenä päivänä paikalle ei oltu ilmeisesti saatu erillisiä kusilaareja, mutta toiselle päivälle vessa-alue oltiin järjestelty uudelleen ja paikalle tuodut pisuaarit olivat niin tuoreita, että porattujen reikien muoviroskat vielä uivat laareissa.

Kuulun itse porukkaan, joka kuluttaa äärimmäisen vähän festivaalin ruokakojujen tarjontaa, mutta sen verran mitä ohi kulkiessani panin merkille, tarjontaa tuntui kysyntään nähden olevan sopivasti. Hervannan Varjobaarilla oli oma hampurilaiskoju, jonka 10 euron hintainen Varjoburger oli mainion kokoinen ja makuinen. Muuten löytyi perinteisempää pyttäri/frittimuikku -osastoa. Levy- ja paitamyyntiäkin oli, joskaan näiden kojujen edessä ei liiemmin tungosta missään vaiheessa näkynyt.

2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (4)Metal Meetingin juomatarjonta noudatteli nykyfestareiden linjaa, jossa olut on kallista ja siitä pitää maksaa pantti, jonka saat takaisin palauttaessasi juomatölkin. Seitsemän euron hintainen Foster’s on vähän jyrkän hintainen janonsammuttaja, mutta onneksi vieressä oli Hopping Breweriesin pienpanimotuotekoju, josta sai APAa ja IPAa “vain” euron kalliimmalla. Tuote oli ilmeisesti tehnyt kauppansa hyvin, sillä lauantaina loppuillasta myytiin jo eioota. Kaiken kaikkiaan juomamyynti toimi todella jouhevasti, eikä jonoja kertynyt laisinkaan. Parasta kalja-alueessa oli sen asettelu, jossa myynti toimi keskeltä, ja alue ulottui molempien lavojen eturiviin asti – alue oli pituussuunnassa halkaistu tavallaan kahtia. Todella toimiva järjestely, tätä lisää muihinkin tapahtumiin!

 

Kaiken kaikkiaan Tampere Metal Meeting oli todella hyvin toimiva metallifestivaali, ja tervetullut lisäys Suomen raskaamman musiikin kesätarjontaan bändikattauksen tasapainotellessa kevyemmän ja raskaamman, tunnetun ja tuntemattomamman metallin välillä. Myös etukäteen pahalta näyttäneet säätiedotukset osoittautuivat (onneksi) suurimmaksi osaksi epätarkoiksi. Launtaille luvatusta myräkästä ei näkynyt jälkeäkään, ja ainoa varsinainen sadekuuro taisi osua Finntrollin keikan alkuun, kestäen ainoastaan parin kappaleen ajan. Väkeä Metal Meeting tuntui houkutelleen tarpeeksi, ja heti festivaalin päättymisen jälkeen Facebookista löytyikin jo ensi vuoden juhlien ajankohta. Voin jo tässä vaiheessa nähdä itseni hyvin paikalla myös tuolloin!

Teksti: Atte Valtonen | Kuvat: Jukka Rahkonen | Ed: Lene L.

TAMPERE METAL MEETING – Ratinanniemi, Tampere, 17-18.06.2016 (English)

0

As the large traditional Finnish summer festivals are leaning more and more towards EDM and hip-hop, it was a pleasure to hear news of the arrangement of a completely new metal festival, Tampere Metal Meeting. The event, produced by Incancation Agency and Tampere’s YO-talo to name a few, was held at Ratinanniemi on the 17th and 18th of June with a line-up combining prominent and more obscure metal acts from a variety of sub-genres. With teenage favorites (Kalmah and Finntroll), topical ladder-climbers (Whispered), as well as more underground names (Deströyer 666, Demilich), the line-up made TMM a highly anticipated festival for yours truly!

 

Friday
2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (5)Our journey from Helsinki began around noon on Friday and we arrived in Tampere about 2 hours later. The weather forecast had predicted clouds and light rain, and as with Radio City South Park, which was celebrated in typical Finnish summer weather a week earlier, the predictions were unfortunately true. We arrived at the gates just after the first act, Nokia-based Convulse, had begun their set on the second stage. Looking at the festival area from the press booth queue, everything seemed quiet and tranquil as Convulse played their set to a scarce audience. The band wasn’t that familiar to me, but once we got inside, I enjoyed their groovy old-school death metal. Convulse’s newer songs, which were made after their comeback a few years ago, have a whole different vibe compared to their old 90’s material.

At half past three it was time to head to battle, as the promising local melodic death metal band, Whispered, took the main stage. I’ve been a fan of the band for several years, and looked forward to hearing songs from the new album, Metsutan – Songs of the Void. Whispered begun their set with the new album’s opening pair, “Chi no Odori” and “Strike!”, but while the band was perfectly on point, the completely abysmal stage mix made enjoying of the gig pretty impossible. During “Strike!” the only thing you could remotely hear was the drums and singer Jouni Valjakka’s guitar, and things didn’t get any better over the course of their 45-minute set – the bass was inaudible the whole time and the guitars only seemed to be working one at a time. Perhaps Lars Ulrich had jumped behind the mix booth? A total bummer for the guys, because the Metal Meeting set was their only summer festival gig this year. They had even included the new album’s gem, “Tsukiakari,” to their set.

2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (3)Mikkeli’s gift to the world of heavy metal, Lord Fist, was up after Whispered. Contrary to the band’s young age, I’ve managed to see them play numerous times already, and once again Fist was in their element, serving a hefty 30-minutes of guitar harmonies and vocalist Perttu Koivunen’s intentional close-but-no-cigar -singing. Lord Fist has had time to tour Finland for a couple of years now, and the acquired experience can clearly be seen in their stage presence. Too bad that their Greatest Song™, “Super Sailor,” off their first demo, Spark for the Night, hadn’t fit in the set this time, but “Green Eyleen” as well as “Who Wants to Live Forever” were executed marvelously. It was also nice to hear “Headless Rider” off their 12-inch Wordless Wisdom of Lord Fist after a long time!

I didn’t manage to check if Lord Fist had exceeded their stage time, or if Omnium Gatherum started their set earlier than they were meant to, but at the end of Fist’s last song, OG was already in action on the main stage. I’ve been following Omnium Gatherum’s work for almost 10 years now and I have to say that everything they do is always better than the last time. Like Whispered, OG kicked off their set with the two first tracks, “The Pit” and “Skyline,” off their latest album, Grey Heavens, and the audience was in flames from the beginning. OG is a guaranteed hit: vocalist Jukka Pelkonen is one of the most entertaining people out there, not at all taking things seriously but instead chatting with the audience in between his vocal parts. Tuomo Latvala, who has been substituting for Jarmo Pikka on the drummer’s stool for some time now, is an amazing drummer – the man doesn’t do a single unnecessary move while playing but still manages to bring a whole new feel to the band’s songs with inventive fills. During Omnium Gatherum’s set I felt for the first time that the band’s time-slot could’ve be longer – 45 minutes of quality melo-death is not enough!

After OG it was Baptism’s turn, and since I wasn’t familiar with their black metal, we felt it was convenient to do a dinner break outside the festival area. We watched a couple of songs, which left us with a feeling of well-executed Finnish black metal: nothing special, but very good nonetheless. When we got back, The Man-Eating Tree was about halfway through their set. The Man-Eating Tree has always been one of those bands that never have really appealed to me, and I’ve found it condescending that they are always advertised with the fact that their drummer, Vesa Ranta, played in Sentenced. Having seen the band live before, we settled to watch the rest of the set next to the beer tent. In retrospect, the songs of their latest effort, In the Absence of Light, sounded way better than the material of the first two albums – maybe I’ll have to give them an another chance someday.

Circle
Circle

Because of work-related misfortunes, our photographer didn’t arrive until before Friday’s undisputed cult act, Circle. The Pori-based [insert fitting term here]-rock enigma has been around since 1991 and their two masterminds, Mika Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo, have produced over fifty studio and live albums. Circle has been one of those bands that I’ve known about for years but never have had the time to get into, and after their set I feel ashamed not having done that. The band climbed on stage dressed in worn and torn jogging or spandex pants and blasted an hour of music that’s really hard to put into words. The songs consisted of hypnotic guitar riffs and Rättö’s utterly insane singing and keyboards, and for the whole time there seemed to be some completely non-related side action going on. If you were at Tuska, I hope you didn’t dare miss Circle’s set! I was thoroughly entertained. An added bonus was that the sun finally starting to shine during the gig!

2016.06.17 02 Moonsorrow @ Tampere Metal Meeting (2)
Moonsorrow

The stakes got higher and higher as the evening continued, as Moonsorrow – Finland’s greatest band – filled the second-to-last main stage slot. At this point the band probably doesn’t require any introduction, so let’s get to the point: once again, the gig was AWESOME. Unfortunately, the mixing problems that plagued Whispered’s set returned, and while the whole band was distinguishable, someone clearly had forgotten to turn the master volume way up – Moonsorrow’s pagan metal in its skyscraper-sized enormity needs a Spinal Tap-ish setting of 11, not 3! But there is no bad without something good, as Moonsorrow was blessed with an hour and 15 minutes of showtime, which is a perfect festival length for their songs. The band released their latest album, Jumalten Aika, this spring, and Metal Meeting’s setlist followed the set of the album’s release party, mixing old and new effortlessly.

Demilich
Demilich

Friday’s last band on the second stage was Kuopio-based death metal cult classic, Demilich. Led by Antti Boman, the band has been buried a couple of times already, but still they occasionally tour and that’s great. Demilich’s only full-length, Nespithe, isn’t as familiar to me as I probably would like it to be, since the band’s complex death metal worked like a charm. Boman clearly had had the time to enjoy the products of the nearby craft beer tent, but even while being visibly hammered, his growls and guitar work were unaffected – that’s some professionalism right there! His interlude speeches were hilarious, and combined with the band’s strong material, their hour-long set felt horribly short. Go see Demilich before they REALLY call it quits!

Insomnium
Insomnium

Finally, the headlining act’s title was bestowed upon Insomnium. The renowned Joensuu-based melo-death act is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their classic third album, Above the Weeping World, playing most of the tracks off that album. On its release year, the record was one of the most-listened albums for me, so the nostalgia effect was strongly present. Insomnium’s second guitarist, Markus Vanhala, worked once again a double shift since he had already played with Omnium Gatherum earlier. The most accurate details from the band’s set were lost on me – I was too busy moshing along with “Mortal Share,” “Change of Heart,” “The Killjoy,” “Last Statement,” and “Devoid of Caring,” among others. Of course, all the jamming backfired the following morning when my neck was so stiff that it didn’t really move in any direction. I’ve been attending Insomnium’s live gigs pretty lightly over the last few years, but at Ratinanniemi the band managed to remind me of the things that make them one of the most successful metal acts in our country.

 

Saturday

Ranger
Ranger

Saturday morning in Tampere was unsettlingly gray and the forecast didn’t look too good either – there was supposed to be four straight hours of thunderstorm in the afternoon. It had rained considerably overnight, but when we headed off towards Ratinanniemi, the weather was fortunately “only” cloudy. With the burden of Friday still in our shoulders, we had no choice but to skip the first two acts of the day: the local death metal act, Worthless, as well as the surprise hit of last year’s Nummirock, Forever One plays Sentenced.

The first band that we made it to see was Helsinki-based speed metal squad, Ranger. Recording for Rättö’s and Lehtisalo’s (Circle) Ektro Records along with Lord Fist, Ranger has had a considerable amount of wind beneath their wings over the last few years, and not without reason! The band rumbled full speed ahead on the second stage and from drummer Miko Sipilä’s missing resonance drum heads to bassist/vocalist Dimi Pontiac’s mustache, the whole thing REEKS of the 80’s. Ranger is not one those bands that I would listen to at home, but they work very well on stage!

Jess and the Ancient Ones
Jess and the Ancient Ones

Prior to the festival, I thought that Kuopio-based Jess and the Ancient Ones were the divergent of Tampere Metal Meeting, representing the lightest side of the festival’s line-up. The band’s occult rock has never been that appealing to me, but little did it matter: the predicted thunderstorm was nowhere to be seen and the sun shone down upon Ratinanniemi as JatAO let loose an excellent performance, fitting the festival like a glove. The vocalist, Jess, was an incredibly charismatic frontwoman with her intense gaze and marvelous singing voice, while the bassist, Jake Luomajoki, nailed his groovy bass lines on top of previous evening’s complexities with Demilich. The most perplexing thing was still the guitarist Thomas Corpse’s current state: he has lost at least 30 kilograms when compared to the last Deathchain gig that I’ve seen. All-in-all, JatAO managed to be so good that I might have to dig into their brand new Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes -album!

Barathrum
Barathrum

The transition from JatAO’s crisp occult rock to Barathrum was quite steep. I’ve never personally been a fan of the music of this legendary Finnish black metal act but I believe I was representing a small minority when looking at the audience. The band, unusually equipped with two bassists instead of one, played a tight set, even if everyone on stage was visibly shitfaced. The vocalist, Demonos Sova, was in his usual state: he supported himself with a crutch and looked like he could drop dead to the stage floor at any minute. And some people have the guts to claim that rock ’n’ roll has disappeared from the world? Not while Sova’s still standing. The set, while ending almost safely with “Legions of Perkele,” “Last Day in Heaven,” and “Saatana,” also featured new material from the upcoming album.

Kalmah
Kalmah

Next up was something really nostalgic and highly anticipated when Kalmah took the stage. While some other Finnish melo-death factions (*coughChildrenofBodomcough*) have become obsolete in the past several years, Kalmah still has something that makes them so charming. The band sped through their songs from the first beats of the set’s opener, “Hook the Monster,” to the de facto ending of “Hades” with considerably faster tempos than on their records, and drummer Janne Kusmin had changed the triplets into sixteenth-notes on his bass drum patterns. Kalmah does gigs in their home country very scarcely these days and probably because of this, the band seemed visibly impressed by the audience’s response, even if vocalist Pekka Kokko tried to joke about being bummed about having to play more songs. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Kalmah doesn’t tour in Finland more frequently. I would go to see them again right away should an opportunity present itself.

Nocturnus A.D.
Nocturnus A.D.

Up until this point, all the bands in Metal Meeting had been Finnish, so it was high time to have something from abroad. When the clock turned 19:00, Nocturnus A.D. from the United States climbed on the second stage. This was also the point where yours truly’s bank of namedropping had officially emptied, but fortunately the internet revealed that the original Nocturnus was founded in 1987, but in 1992, the founding member Mike Browning was kicked out of his own band. The Nocturnus A.D we saw is some kind of a reformed Nocturnus, playing the old material. Being utterly oblivious to the band’s material, watching the gig was actually very refreshing. The first point of attention was that, at first, I couldn’t see which member was singing, until I realized that it was the drummer, the aforementioned Mike Browning, using a Madonna mic. Incorporating keyboards into a technical death metal sound was also something one doesn’t see every day. As a fan of complex death metal, I enjoyed the gig a lot, even if I didn’t know a single song.

Finntroll
Finntroll

The second to last band to take the main stage was our own messenger of trollish metal, Finntroll. It’d been several years since I had last seen them live, and I haven’t been paying attention to their latest work that much, so the first thing to feel good about was noticing that their set leaned towards their older material. The audience loved classics like “Slaget vid Blodsjälv” and “Nattfödd,” and the opening track from Nifelvind, “Solsagan,” works every time. Once again, I would have loved to go and slap the mixer in the face, since vocalist Vreth’s mic was almost inaudible half the time, while at times, keyboardist Virta’s volumes were so high that it made the whole band sound just plain stupid. Fortunately drummer MörkÖ’s playing, as well as the mix, were perfect as usual.

When Finntroll got halfway through the first verse of “Jaktens Tid,” the worst nightmare of every sound technician came true as something broke down and the stage blacked out completely. The band, as well as the audience, were left confused while the mixing booth panicked, but the staff managed to fix the equipment in about 10 minutes. Of course, Finntroll had to tighten their set, so “Jaktens Tid” was left behind and the band jumped straight into the mandatory “Trollhammaren,” and the crowd went nuts. The set was wrapped up with “Under Bergets Rot” – what a nice conclusion!

Deströyer 666
Deströyer 666

The Australian black/speed metal hybrid, Deströyer 666, had the honor of wrapping up the second stage. The band hasn’t been to Finland that many times before, but I’ve still managed to miss all their previous shows. Their latest album, Wildfire, released in the spring of this year, was immensely strong, so the Metal Meeting show was a highly anticipated one for me. The band didn’t let the audience down: the performance was incredibly good. The setlist weighed towards their older Phoenix Rising and Cold Steel… For an Iron Age albums, and they even threw in “Iron Fist” by Motörhead to honor the memory of Lemmy Kilminster. If you had to dig up something to whine about, their 2009 masterpiece, Defiance, was left out of the set completely, but since “I am the Wargod” and “Satanic Speed Metal” were included, one just can’t complain. Being more accustomed to warmer climates, the Aussies lamented the chilly weather, but hey, it didn’t even rain!

Tiamat
Tiamat

This might be a bit of an anticlimactic conclusion for the report, but it felt a bit anticlimactic in general for the Metal Meeting when Swedish Tiamat climbed on the main stage as the final band of the festival. This legendary band – who started off as a death metal act and shifted towards Gothic rock and later to doom metal – was an interesting announcement, but when the Swedes kicked off their set, I had to put an enormous amount of effort toward keeping myself engaged. You would have thought that the band’s material would have worked marvelously in the darkening Saturday night, but I didn’t manage to get anything out of the show. I don’t know if fatigue started to take hold of the audience or what, but people started to move out of the festival area when Tiamat was still in the middle of their set. I kid you not, Insomnium had at least twice as many fans watching their performance on the previous night. Eventually we had to face the facts and start our retreat towards the nearest food joint.

 

Festival Notes
2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (1)Food and drinks, as well as other non-musical aspects, always play as big of a role in the festival atmosphere as the line-up, so it was a pleasure to notice on how many of these aspects Tampere Metal Meeting had nailed on the first time. The location was perfect, as one had to walk a mere 5 minutes from Keskustori to reach the festival gates. There was no hassle at the entrance at any point and the coatroom as well as the bracelet exchange worked smoothly. At first I thought that the thirty or forty mobile bathrooms weren’t enough for the crowd, but the bathroom area wasn’t too packed at any point. On Friday, there were no urinals present, but on Saturday the area was reorganized and the provided urinals were clearly brand new. However, the bathroom area was placed next to the entrance, so unfortunately one had to leave the beer garden to take a leak.

Usually I don’t consume festival food that much, but based on what I observed, the selection seemed to be quite good. Hervanta’s Varjobaari had their own stall and sold Varjoburgers for 10€, which was a nice deal. Otherwise, the food selection was on the more traditional side of sausage hash and fried vendace – standard Finnish festival grub. The merchandise, record shop, and tattoo and piercings stalls were present as usual.

2016.06.17-18 TMM crowd (4)Tampere Metal Meeting’s drink stalls followed the present trend of expensive beer with an extra charge of 1€, which you get back when returning the empty can or bottle to the stall. A 0.44 liter Fosters for 7€ was a bit steep, but fortunately the local Hopping Brewsters brewery had their own craft beer stall, selling tasty Pale Ales for only a euro more. Apparently the crowd had enjoyed their products, since at least the IPA was already sold out during Nocturnus A.D. All-in-all, the beer garden functioned nicely and the queues weren’t longer than a few minutes. The best thing about the beer area was that it spanned from the front row of the main stage to the front row of the second stage, while the dispenser was in the middle. A great choice and a welcome feature for other festivals as well!

 

In conclusion, Tampere Metal Meeting was an exceptionally well-functioning metal event and a nice addition to the selection of heavier summer festivals with its line-up covering the full range of light to heavy, as well as more and less known metal acts. Nature was also on the organization’s side as the foul weather forecasts for the weekend turned out to be largely false for the most part. The thunderstorm predicted for Saturday afternoon vanished into thin air, and the only actual moment of rainfall hit between Nocturnus A.D and Finntroll, lasting just a moment. The festival seemed to have attracted a nice-sized crowd, and shortly after Tiamat’s performance, Facebook already had an event for next year’s Metal Meeting. At this point, I can already imagine being there again next June!

 

Text: Atte Valtonen | Photos: Jukka Rahkonen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

TUSKA OPEN AIR: Finland’s Favorite Metal Festival

0
Tuska logos, 2006-2015

Tuska Open Air is one of the major summer metal festivals held annually in Finland, and is a summer must for metalheads new and old alike. Musicalypse is proud to announce that 2016 is our 10th consecutive year covering this festival, and as such, we’d like to give you some history on the festival, as well as some thoughts from long-time attendees, both concert-goers and bands alike.

 

TUSKA: NOW & THEN
You can learn about most of Tuska’s history from their website, but to get an idea of what the festival is like, where it came from, and what it’s becoming, I decided to swing by the Finnish Metal Events headquarters to have a chat with the current CEO/promoter, Eeka Mäkynen (formerly of Nosturi), to learn more about what Tuska is all about!

You’re a pretty well-known name in the Finnish music scene. How did you end up joining the Tuska team?
They called me. That’s all it was. I worked 10 years as the program manager at Nosturi. Of course, these days 10 years in one place is a long journey itself, so I thought what the hell? [Juhani] Merimaa called me – he’s one of the owners of the company – and said they need a new CEO here. “We need somebody here to hold on”; that was the line they said and I thought, “That sounds cool.”

Do you know how the original founding fathers [Tony Taleva & Pasi Kuokkanen] came up with the idea for Tuska? Where did the idea to have this festival come from?
There was nothing like [Tuska] at that time. [Those guys] were in the middle of the scene. They were the heavy metal scene of Helsinki. Nobody did big heavy metal events at that time. It was 19 years ago, it was a long time! If you think about what’s happened in 19 years, the world was different. There were hardly any clubs in Helsinki at that time. Hardly any metal shows. If you compare to the times now, I think this Friday there are probably thirty different live events in Helsinki held in twenty live music clubs around the city. The scene is different.

How many people were at the very first Tuska? The capacity now is seven hundred, so was it sold out?
Approximately, but I think there were two floors then. Then they’d have Semifinal as the second stage. But yeah, it was sold out.

How did Tuska move already the second year from Tavastia to an open air festival? Was it just due to the number of people showing interest? How did things differ back then?
There was so much interest in the festival. Tavastia was sold out so they put it up to the next level, then to the VR Makasiinit. Those were interesting places. It was a wild place, how the whole system worked there.

Actually, next year is going to be the 20th anniversary, so we’ve started thinking about how to celebrate the whole thing. We’re going to do a 20th anniversary book about Tuska, and that’s going to be full of pictures and anecdotes from over the years. The Makasiinit days, and Jone [Nikula], who’s still one of the hosts of Tuska, he and Wallu Valpio, there’s a picture where they’re naked on the stage introducing the bands. Of course, those guys were a bit famous at the time but now Jone is one of the faces of the metal scene. He’s everywhere, and he was introducing the bands naked. That kind of thing. There are a lot of fun stories in there. I think the whole concept was a bit more dangerous at the time, thinking of the black metal scene when there were bands like Barathrum, you don’t know what the hell’s going to happen on stage. They were on stage saying things that you couldn’t say now, like, “Pedophilia!” and everyone’s like, “Yeah, cool!” Those were wild times in the scene and at Tuska festival.

What is involved in organizing a festival? When do you start preparation for the next festival? How early does it start and how do you select the bands?
Usually we’ve got some bands in already [for the next year] when the festival is on in June-July. I would do it so that we would release the next year’s program already on the spot and start to sell tickets at the festival area, but unfortunately usually we don’t have the headliners locked in at that time. It depends, but usually not.

The timetable goes that after the festival – we’ve got a really good questionnaire at the festival – and I go through everything that we gather, info on the festival, how people react to different kinds of things, what they want more of, what they like, what kind of bands they like, I go through all of that. Jouni [Markkanen] is the promoter [who picks the bands for the festival] and has been ever since like the second Tuska. Jouni starts to get more offers in autumn, and the high season for looking for headliners is usually October-November. That’s when you’re locking the names in. Early autumn/late summer is the time when bands are doing their tours for the next year and then he’s picking up the bands.

Then time-wise, I’m starting to contact the cooperators, sponsors, and stuff in autumn and the end of the year. Then the start of the year is the time when we start to do marketing and start to plan things with our cooperators. We start to do that all the way from spring until the festival. Then looking at the map and all that, that goes all the way from autumn to spring. Now [April] we’ve got the map at the point where we know what kind of things we’ll have. We’ll do changes this year – there’s going to be a tent on the second stage. There’s going to be a fourth stage this year. There’s going to be speeches and interviews and stuff, so you can go in between bands and see [what’s going on].

So things are happening behind the scenes all the time. Of course we’ve got a new tent, we’ve got a new stage, I’m looking at new companies and cooperators with that, and basically the buzz is all year round in different areas. Then the production in the last 3 months is just that. This is the time now that we need to lock everything in and who’s coming where and who will pick them up from the airport, how many hosts we need, what we need for the backstage, what kind of gear the bands are touring with, stuff like that. Then there’s the license with Helsinki City and the security guys, that all happens 3 months before the festival. We really start to work on that and the conversations with the bands, the things they need and things that need to be changed. The last 3 months is that, plus marketing.

Do you tend to try and book certain genres more on some years than others? For example, in 2014 there was more heavy/black metal. Does that happen on purpose or is it accidental?
It’s both, because if you book Emperor as one of the headliners, then you need to have more than just Emperor, you need to book bands that give the whole experience for you. The same thing, if you just book Gojira and you don’t have anything like that, it’s not worth having Gojira there. You need to have the whole package. So that’s how it basically goes. If you get a power metal band, you need to have a couple of them. Jouni is always making sure that every year there is some thrash metal, every year there is some black metal, every year there is some power metal, etc. This year he’s been saying many times that we need to have some melodic heavy metal there. Of course you’ve got the big names, and then you start to work from there.
We’ve been thinking a lot, should we do genre days, like speed metal/thrash day and that sort of thing, but Tuska is a 3-day experience. It’s really hard to get bands on certain days. Usually you just need to say that these are the dates, are you available? Or then the bands say, “We’re available on that day,” and we’re not the ones to decide. And like I said, it’s a 3-day experience. Of course it’s better for us that people stay! The answer is yes and no.

How and why did Tuska move from Kaisaniemi to Suvilahti? There’s been a few rumors that the move was due to the sound restrictions in the center – is that true, or is it more size related?
We have the same license at Suvilahti – 22:00; that wasn’t the reason. There were two reasons. The main reason was that it was sold out already in February. Tuska needed more space. If you have a park limited to 11,000 people per day and it’s sold out a couple of months before the festival, you need to have a bigger area. Suvilahti came in as a new place with the capacity of 20,000 per day there, which is approximately what Flow Festival sells. So it was a bigger venue on one hand.

The second was that Helsinki City said that Kaisaniemi Park was going to be under construction. There were going to be some progressions there, so that was the second reason. Basically, Helsinki City wanted us to move there because Suvilahti was a new event place.

Is there any difference in organization between the two venues, other than structurally? Is it easier or more difficult to set things up at Suvilahti?
We are missing some things, as is the audience, at Suvilahti. At the park you’ve got the grass and trees and there are a lot of places to hang out. At Suvilahti there are a lot of good things though. You’ve got infrastructure there. If you go there, you can have all of your electricity from the walls, just plugged in, rather than have the generators and motors going on. So Suvilahti is much easier to do the show’s infrastructure. You’ve got a lot of places you can rent, like let’s say you want a third or fourth stage like we now have, you can also rent the hall and everything. It’s easier to do there. But in a way, what we are missing is the greener side of things.

In last year’s questionnaire I put out a thing about this because I was wondering if we should move back to Kaisaniemi and 80% of Tuska customers last year said Suvilahti is the perfect place for the festival. We’ve been there 5 years now, so moving now would be a good choice. But people are starting to see it as a Suvilahti festival, so we are glad to stay there. It feels good and our customers, the Tuska people, like it.

There have been some rumors that Tuska might eventually move up to Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto in Hämeenlinna – is there any truth to that?
We say a lot of things just to get things going. On the license for the noise limit, that’s really sucked ass for ages in Helsinki. We’ve been fighting that as long as Tuska has been around. A couple of CEOs before me, Stuba Nikula, who is now the head of culture in Helsinki, he was the one who led the charge on the noise limit thing, that this needs to change. On Fridays and Saturdays we had a license until 22:00. That’s madness in Finland’s capital. If you go to Hämeenlinna you can stay easily until 00:00 or have the license until 02:00. In different cities it’s like that. So we’ve been saying this, that fucking hell, we’re going to move from Helsinki if nothing happens.

In the end, after all of these conversations for ages, this year we’ll have a license for 00:00! On Friday and Saturday, this year Tuska’s going to be until 00:00. Or, the noise limit is until 00:00 so we’re open until 01:00, but the bands need to stop at 00:00. We’re really happy about this. It means really big changes for the whole experience of the festival. You can stay 4 hours longer at the festival area. Of course economically it’s a big thing for us too – we can sell beer to people for a couple of hours longer. On the Friday night, everything usually ends and you go to the nearest restaurant. It’s a big thing for us and it’s really nice of the city to try this. We’re hoping that this will be a yearly thing – it’s just a one-off now – so they’re trying to see what the influence is. The weekend festivals now have longer licenses. They’re trying to rethink the whole thing on noise limits, so we’re happy about the situation now.

Moving outside of Helsinki was just teasing that something had to happen with the noise limit or we would say bye-bye to Helsinki.

You’ve been having some interesting special guests – last year you guys had the Strong Scene Collective, which was fantastic. How did that go over and do you think you’ll do more things like that in the future?
The idea of Tuska is always that if something happens, we have to be [snaps] really fast and react immediately. Let’s see what happens this year. That [Strong Scene Collective] was in the papers I think 2 days before we released it, that we’d have the whole thing. It went really fast. When Lordi was on Eurovision and YLE said in what, 2008 or so, that they were not going to buy the bomb or pyrotechnics for Lordi, so Tuska went in immediately and made a phone-call, “We’re going to buy the bomb for Lordi.” In the end, there were a couple of other festivals like Sauna Open Air that were in also, to buy the pyros for Lordi. I think it’s really important that you’re focused and living in the moment and taking up what’s happening and reacting to those things.

So Tuska, as we were saying before, is a pretty exclusively rock/metal festival, but last year there was Atomirotta, which is more hip-hop. I don’t know much about him, but how did he end up on the roster of a metal festival?
Rane Raitsikka [Atomirotta] is more rock n’ roll than many metalheads together. He’s a cornerstone of rock n’ roll, so I think Rane Raisikka was playing with Lama, one of the bands that debuted the year before [2013], so that was a thing.

That makes sense. There have been a few others here and there, like Huoratron, that don’t necessarily quite seem like metal bands. Do you still consider yourselves an exclusively rock/metal festival or will you be opening the doors more to some borderline genres?
No, we’re still metal and we want to keep it that way. The festival is loyal to the customers and the customers are loyal to the festival. 64% of our customers say every year that they’re going to come back the next year, which is quite nice. So of course it’s something that we hold onto. But of course, we might have one band [like that] out of forty-five. It was funny looking at the reactions there. Of course everyone says, “I’m not going to watch that,” and they went to the beer area but just on the fence, so they can say, “I’m not watching the band,” but it was still a curiosity. After the show, the band said it was a win because in the end people were dancing and having fun there.

Lordi is playing this year and there are a lot of people who will say, “What the fuck?” but in the end we’re looking at the thing when we released it and it’s a retro show and they’ll do the Eurovision thing and all that, and everybody’s saying on Facebook that it’s reasonable that Lordi’s there. He’s a cornerstone too in his own genre. You’re not buying the ticket for Lordi, but when you come to see some band, you’ll think, “That’s cool, I can see the Lordi show there too.” I think that Lordi is our Atomirotta this year – sort of a borderline case in a way. And we’ll have all the old decorations! The old castle thing. That’s in storage somewhere in Rovaniemi and the band said they’ve still got the decoration from that tour, let’s bring it in, so that’ll be there!

What do you think is in store for Tuska in the future? Do you guys have any goals or do you just want to keep it going strong?
I have goals to have a few more people coming in. I’m aiming for 10,000 per day – 30,000 – I think that would be nice. Last year we had 25,000 so we’re aiming for a bit more. I think 30,000 for 3 days would be the best for Suvilahti, for the location.
We mentioned changes last year in the food. We had this “black dining” concept that had better food – not fine dining but a bit better food, like 20€ – that was sold out for the whole festival. We also had the sauna there and the Tuska Libre area where you could just hang out and listen to bands and go to sauna. We’re going to have the fourth stage this year with interviews and interesting people. I want to have a fifth stage and bring something weird there, so you can come to the festival and get surprised. That’s the thing that I’m aiming for. Of course, there’s the strong lineup, the strong attitude from Tuska, but these days people want the experience to be more than just the bands, you need to find something more, and I’m really happy to work on that. I’ve been in festivals all my life and I’ve been Roskilde-festival for 14 years now and I just love that festival. Every time you go there you get surprised, you’re like, “Wow, this is nice!” That kind of thing.

In Tuska we’re doing it step-by-step to get there. We don’t want to change the whole concept. Now it’s just food and all that, but Helsingin Sanomat did a review last year and said, “This is like metal Flow,” and I thought that was nice, because Flow is everything else than music now in a way, that concept. So we are getting the experience to become more now.

 

TUSKA FOR THE FANS
Tuska is more than just a festival where people get drunk and listen to music. For myself, it’s my weekend where I allow myself to let go and get crazy. It’s also a time when I get to reconnect with friends from out-of-town, or even just people that I don’t get to see particularly often. But don’t listen to me, 2016 will only be my 5th anniversary at a festival that’s 18 years old. That’s why we got in touch with some people who have been going to Tuska even longer (even longer than I’ve lived in Finland, in some cases)!

Milena Multaharju, 29
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
I’ve been going to Tuska since 2009, so seven Tuskas so far and I’m adamant in keeping it up.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
The fact that the lineup was a killer: Gojira, Neurosis, Immortal, and My Dying Bride to mention just a few – and the fact it was conveniently in my new hometown!

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
By now it’s become a kind of a habit that is very hard to break. The lineup is one thing – some people complain about some bands playing there almost every year, but for me it describes the nature of the festival pretty well: a big bunch of friends getting together year after year to enjoy good music and maybe some booze as well… that’s pretty much it, it would just feel weird NOT to go to Tuska!

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
My answer to the previous question pretty much covers this as well: it’s so easy to go to year after year, meeting up with friends you don’t see so often, seeing your favorite bands play, making new musical discoveries, enjoying the perfect Tuska weather…

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
I think what sets it apart from other festivals, from my point of view, is the easiness: I don’t have to worry about arranging the trips to the festival and back, don’t need to worry about the accommodation etc., all I have to do is to go there and enjoy the party! Also, since it’s already a well-established event, things tend to work smoothly within the festival area and having been there year after year, it easy to move there; of course, going to some new festival, the Alice in Wonderland sensation is part of the charm, but Tuska feels like going to a friend’s place where you already know where the bathroom is!

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
There are plenty of fond memories, but I think one of the best is from 2014, when I was there with my sister and it actually rained most of the Sunday, yet everyone was having such a good time moshing and headbanging to Orphaned Land, Satyricon, and Emperor in their raincoats!

 

mika ringman by kenneth lehtinenMika Ringman, age 31
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
My first Tuska was at 2009 and I’ve been in every Tuska since then.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
Well, a couple of my friends from my old hometown were going and they informed me about it at around noon on the first day of the festival. I was broke, so I used some connections to get in.

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
The people. The second time I came in 2010, it was the culture of drinking your own drinks on the lawn while watching bands. Oh yeah, this was the last year that you could do that. After that I was already serious about photography so I have been coming back to shoot the gigs and see other photographers.

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
The atmosphere, the incredibly well-run organization, and the bands. It’s so awesome to be with like-minded people at a festival that does not have any hiccups because of the great organizers who know what they’re doing. Also, every year there has been at least one band that I seriously dig. And the security crew is fucking awesome! We the photographers work in the photo pit, which incidentally is the place where the security guys also work. The foreman, Esko, for example, has become a person I always look forward to seeing each year. We shoot the shit and laugh at things while waiting for permission to enter the pit. They also are concerned about our safety and the safety of our gear!

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
Well as I said before, Tuska is a well-oiled machine. Everything from a press/VIP point of view have been working great. No hassle, no jumping through hoops. At some festivals, the media have to stand in line with other festival-goers to get inside from the main gate. It’s not an ego question, it’s a question of schedules. One festival I am not going to name made most of the media miss the first band’s photo-op by not having a press entrance. Small things like this make Tuska a great festival to come back to each year.

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
Ah… There are so many.

One special memory goes back to 2009 or 2010 when Sabaton was a rising band and they had a signing session at the EMP booth. The line was long and there were still a lot of people in line when the official signing time had ended. Their PR person came to tell the band that they’d have to wrap things up because the media is waiting for interviews. The band looked at each other and jumped over the table into the crowd and they ran from their PR person to make sure every single fan got a signature and a selfie to go with it. I remember the PR manager looking rather unimpressed.

 

Tuska 2014 Inka KarenInka Koivuniemi, age 29
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
This year will be my lucky 13th year attending!

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
The very first time I wanted to go because of the bands, and because all the cool, older heavy guys were always saying that all the badasses go to Tuska, so I wanted to be a badass as well!

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
It’s the atmosphere of the festival. And of course the awesome music, but it doesn’t matter if there would only be a few bands I’d like to see during the whole weekend. Heck, even if there wouldn’t be one single band I’d want to see, I’d probably still go!

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
The atmosphere, definitely. It feels like home, like you’re having a huge picnic with a bunch of same-minded people and awesome metal music. You can make a new friend while standing in the beer line. Nobody looks at you funny because of the way you dress, because they dress the same way! Also many of my friends from all around Finland come to Tuska, so it’s good to meet them at the festivals as well.

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
It’s clean! Tuska has always been a very clean and tidy festival, there’s no trash or clutter anywhere, the WCs are kept clean too. Also, I have never ever seen anyone fight at Tuska. And people seem to look out for each other, even the ones they don’t know. I’ve always had a very safe feeling at Tuska. Also the food is great!

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
I would have more if I hadn’t been so drunk every time, haha! Can’t think of anything particularly, but what I do remember from every Tuska I’ve been in is laughter. Smiling people, sunshine, happy screams, and indeed, lots and lots of laughter and joy.

 

Tuska 2015 Jari Rantanen by Marco ManziJari Rantanen, age 30
How long have you been going to Tuska/how many years have you been to Tuska?
I’ve been going to Tuska since 2001 and if I remember right, I’ve been there every year since then.

What brought you to Tuska the first time?
I decided to go there because of metal. And of course because it was so easy to get there when I was living in Helsinki.

What has brought you back to the festival year after year?
It has became a tradition for me to go to Tuska. It is a metal festival in the heart of Helsinki and many of my friends go there too. And there are good bands every year.

What is your favorite thing about Tuska as a festival?
Atmosphere, nice people, and location, although the old location in Kaisaniemi was better.

How does Tuska compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
Tuska like many other heavy metal festivals, is a festival where everybody is having fun and there are no fights and that kind of thing. Also, the music is focused mainly on metal. Bands stop playing much earlier than in many other festivals.

Do you have any fond memories of Tuska you’d like to share?
Hah memories… what memories? I have been so drunk every time =D But yes, the best memory is probably last year when I was king for a day and got on the stage with Amorphis.

How did you become the Day King last year, and did you enjoy the experience?
That was a Radio Rock contest that I won. There was a king for every day of Tuska and I won the honor to be the king for Saturday. In that contest, they asked people to share a Tuska memory or story to explain why you would be a good king. I don’t remember anymore what I wrote but I sent a nice picture of me at Tuska and won. I really enjoyed that experience! It was nice to have a entourage of my friends and it was also nice to meet lots of people who wanted to have a picture with me =)

 

TUSKA FOR THE ARTISTS
When you think about a festival, you can’t just think about the people who watch. These events are big for the performers as well. In the last 10 years, there have been so many bands that we’ve reviewed and photographed on more than one occasion, so we got in touch with a few of them and asked them some questions about their feelings about Tuska. Here are their thoughts:

Tuska 2011 AnnekeAnneke van Giersbergen (The Devin Townsend Project, The Sirens)
What’s it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is a very special festival. Unlike most other festivals it’s near the city center, which is awesome. The organization and the people who work there are super relaxed and they make us feel very much at home.

How does it compare to other festivals you’ve played at?
I think especially compared to mainstream festivals, Tuska’s crowd is great. As an artist you can walk around, watch other bands, and people will always treat you with love and respect. No hassle, no awkwardness, fantastic!

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
I have very fond memories of my gig with Devin Townsend. He was on fire that day for sure! I love playing shows with him and his band. That day I also got to hang out with my dear friend Simone Simons [Epica]. She did my make-up for the show 🙂 The last time I was there with The Sirens, we watched the Opeth and Alice Cooper shows after we did our gig. Both were really great!

Tuska 2015 AnnekeHow have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
I’m returning more and more to my heavy music roots, which makes it even more fun to play at Tuska. I have played Tuska as a guest singer with Devin and as a member of the The Sirens project – I would love to return one day with my own band!

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Looks like I am having fun 🙂

 

Tuska 2010 InsomniumNiilo Sevänen (Insomnium)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is a very special festival for us and it’s always great to play there. First we played at the after-show clubs and now we’ve been on the main stage, so it’s been a long way.

How does it compare to other festivals?
It’s special that it’s in the middle of Helsinki city. Most festivals are somewhere on countryside.

Tuska 2012 InsomniumDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
A lot. Well, for example one time our crew members decided to prank us and come to the meet and greet line. They were the last ones in the queue and we saw them coming so we decided to give something back and told the security that those guys are not allowed near us. So the guards didn’t let them come any closer. Practical jokes.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
First couple of times we played at the after-show clubs and I think I didn’t even see the actual festival area. Now we’ve played at the festival site already maybe four times and last time was on the main stage. Of course a lot has happened in the last 10 years and we’ve become a lot bigger band also.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
It seems that I’ve been enjoying myself in Tuska 🙂

 

Tuska 2006 Sonata ArcticaHenrik Klingenberg (Sonata Arctica)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
We’ve played at Tuska quite a few times and I really like the festival a lot. Everything works and since it’s in Finland, you always meet a lot of friends there.

How does it compare to other festivals?
A lot of festivals are situated outside of cities or downright in the middle of nowhere, so that’s definitely one of the things that stands out with Tuska, since it’s more or less in the city.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Check below 😉

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
That’s a hard one, I think a lot has changed; the first time for me at Tuska was over 10 years ago so too much has happened since then. I guess the biggest thing that’s changed is that we’re a lot older now…

Tuska 2012 Sonata ArcticaDo you have any comments on the photos provided?
The year of the red pants 😉 I remember that Tony got a lot of feedback for those pants, not all positive, but he stood by his decision and went with it anyway. I heard that there’s even a Facebook group called Tony Kakko’s pants or something like that…

Tuska 2012: I remember this show very well. We played in Austria the night before and arrived in Helsinki at 06:00 in the morning. Our plan was to go to sleep at the hotel and be fresh and ready for the show at 18:00. What happened then was that all our luggage was left behind when we had a connecting flight so instead of going to rest, we spent the day calling local music shops and friends etc. to borrow gear for the show. We didn’t even have our stage clothes so Tony had to go shopping, otherwise it would have been shorts and a bright green t-shirt for him. Nevertheless we managed to scrape together enough instruments to do the show and I guess it went really well considering the circumstances. This kind of thing where everything got lost hasn’t happened before or since and we’re really happy if it stays that way.

 

Tuska 2007 TurisasMathias Nygård (Turisas)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
It’s a great festival to play. Everything runs like clockwork and artists are well taken care of. It being a home-turf-show for us, it’s of course always a little bit more personal, as there are so many friends in the audience.

How does it compare to other festivals?
The big difference is that Tuska is not in the middle of some muddy field in the countryside, but in downtown Helsinki. Can’t think of many other metal festivals like that. So instead of all the campground madness, you have bars and after-parties to attend.

Tuska 2011 TurisasDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Playing Tuska was one of our first real big festival performances just after the release of Battle Metal in 2004. Everyone was super nervous before the show. However, I think the best memories (or lack of…) are from the years we haven’t played, but just been there as a visitor. It’s always a great party.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
We’ve basically gone from newcomers to a fairly established act. Sometimes I miss having the advantage of surprise on our side, like our first performance in 2004. Nowadays everyone at Tuska would know us and what we are about. Or so they think… haha.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Not really.

 

Tuska 2009 Stam1naEmil “Hippi” Lähteenmäki & Pekka “Pexi” Olkkonen (Stam1na)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Emil: Always nice. The festival and all the arrangements relating to it are top-notch – catering, the technical side of things, etc. That makes it real easy for you to climb on to the stage in front of a huge metal audience.

Pexi: It’s really satisfying ‘cause it’s the biggest metal festival in Finland and everybody is there to celebrate metal music. It’s also a great chance to see some of our favorite bands.

How does it compare to other festivals?
Emil: We rarely get to play in a festival in Helsinki since there are not many festivals that suit us and of course it’s great to be able to play outside gigs in our capital. Also, it is a festival tailored for a mainly metal audience, which makes it possible to interact with more genre-dedicated fans and non-fans than normally. And bands also; in our free time we have the opportunity to catch up with metal acts you wouldn’t see elsewhere.

Tuska 2006 Stam1naDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Emil: One of my best. We don’t always take our image as seriously as most other metal bands might and that eventually led to us painting grossly exaggerated corpse paint for ourselves in Tuska 2009. The picture of Kaikka is from that gig. I also, for some reason, was dressed in only pink women’s underwear. That time I was a bit scared walking onstage, to see how the occasionally rather serious metal fans would react to that. The gig went well and a picture of me got published on a national tabloid’s website.

Pexi: Sure. I used to go there as a visitor before we got to play there the first time, I believe in 2005 when our first album came out. We actually got to play on all of the stages over the years when the festival was in the park in Kaisaniemi. The black metal paint thing we did is probably my favorite memory as well. The least fond memory is the time when some idiot threw a bottle on stage with hit our drummer and we stopped the gig right there. That kind of behavior cannot be understood or tolerated.

2013.06.29 04 Stam1na @ Tuska (2)How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Pexi: Over the years the location has changed, obviously, and before that we played every year on a bigger stage than before as our fan base got bigger.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Pexi: The picture of me is probably from 2006 when we were Saturday’s first act on the main stage. I remember the excitement ‘cause we hadn’t played on the main stage before. I also remember the crowd pouring in during the show and the sun was shining – what a great day!

 

Tuska 2010 DevinDevin Townsend (The Devin Townsend Project)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska is one of the best and most well organized festivals I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with at the level in which they operate. They do it right and the vibe of the show reflects that.

How does it compare to other festivals?
It stands on its own in many ways, the environment in Finland and the people make it a very pleasant experience on a personal level, yet in comparison to other festivals of its size, its easiest to compare it in the sense of how well organized it is and how good the food was =)

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Tuska festival took a huge chance on me, allowing me to perform the first Ziltoid album in its entirety while the DTP was unproven as an entity at that point. I will always have a soft spot for them as a result.

How have things changed for you (as a band) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Tuska 2011 DevinIt evolved in basically all ways, to be honest. Bigger, better, and more defined. The intention remains and the personal has solidified into a good band, but ultimately, like all things in my musical world, it has simply evolved to the next level of what it always was.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
At this point, when we had played Tuska the first time, I hadn’t moved into the ‘suit wearing’ phase, and the second time I had. Its nice to see photos from the past sometimes, it gives you a reference point to how things have evolved.

 

Tuska 2007 StratovariusTimo Kotipelto (Stratovarius)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Tuska has always been a very nice festival to play at! Especially [because of] the central location in Helsinki. Quite easy for the fans to take the train from all over Finland and go to the festival site. Same goes with bands. Close to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

Of course by now we know the promoter and the people working behind Tuska. Super nice guys! For us Tuska has always been one of the best festivals to play at. And also somehow super difficult as most of the ”home gigs” always are 🙂

Tuska 2013 StratovariusHow does it compare to other festivals?
Tuska is basically only about metal, from extreme to hard rock. Metal fans can see all kinds of metal. There are never any fights among the fans; only brotherly beer drinking partying! I think the biggest difference to most metal festivals is that Tuska in located in the heart of the city! Period. Even with the new location it still is in the center.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Lots of good memories from the gigs and some hazy memories from the after-show parties 🙂

There have always been a lot of people watching us and we are proud to have been in the line-up so many times!

Tuska 2015 StratovariusHow have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
Well, Tuska changed their location. And we have changed our line-up 🙂 Otherwise the feeling is still the same! Always a pleasure and a privilege to play there!

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Nice pics! They are quite small so I can’t really tell the details. But I guess two are from the last year and one is probably from 2005?

I recognize the bass player and the singer 🙂

[ed: the photos are from 2007, 2013, and 2015 respectively]

 

Tuska 2009 EpicaIsaac Delahaye (Epica)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
Summer festivals are always a great change from the club shows and tours we’re doing the rest of the year. There’s something special about them. You get to hang with friends in other bands; people you haven’t seen since the festival season the year before. Stuff like that.

And if you’re playing in a country which is the home base of countless great bands, it kinda feels like playing in front of a metal connoisseur audience so to speak. A little more pressure on our shoulders!

How does it compare to other festivals?
It’s a lot smaller than the festivals we have in our region. Wacken, Hellfest, Graspop, they are all huge with a million bands playing. Tuska is more intimate but still has a wide variety of bands. Seems like they only go for bands which are still relevant today, and less for bands which are only headlining festivals cause they’ve been around for five decades. More puristic, which I like.

Tuska 2011 EpicaDo you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve played Tuska, but I remember everyone talking about this small band playing indoor early afternoon. They were awesome and put on a great show. They’d become the next big thing. That band happened to be Ghost.

Other than that we probably hung with some friends backstage and got drunk. That’s what we did back in those days 😉

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
We played the festival at a time when Epica was a little lost. We toured so much on the Design Your Universe album and struggled with the deadline for the follow-up album. Looking back at that period we were on a roller-coaster and didn’t take the time to breathe and get our stuff together. We just went on recording a new album and went back on the road immediately. It wasn’t until Simone got pregnant years later that we stopped playing for a while. This gave us some time to reflect on what was next, to change some things we took for granted and to record -what I think is- our best album to date, The Quantum Enigma. This record, and all the changes that came with it, made the band bigger and really put Epica on the map once and for all. With a new album to be released this fall I can assure you we learned from our past and made another great metal album of which I’m extremely proud. Right now we’re setting up everything for the release of the album and the tours to follow, and it looks like there are exciting times ahead for us!

Tuska 2006 TarotDo you have any comments on the photos provided?
Hm… comments… 🙂 Ehm, they are live pictures, and ehm… that’s it 😀

 

Zachary Hietala (Tarot)
What is it like playing at Tuska?
We’ve been there so many times and it’s always been fun indeed.

How does it compare to other festivals?
Tuska is only pure metal festival in Finland and it’s atmosphere is unique.

Do you have any fond memories/interesting experiences from Tuska?
Tuska 2010 TarotWhen Marco did this TV competition, Clash of the Choirs in spring 2010, we got bigger production in the following Tuska. We got his choir on stage and it was so superb to play the whole set with them.

How have things changed for you (as a band/artist) between the years you’ve played at Tuska?
In early years it was a little indoor festival, now it’s one of the biggest outdoor festivals here.

Do you have any comments on the photos provided?
Tuska 2011 TarotBrother on stage 🙂 Ok this chromium-plated German war helmet was bit too much to some, but we have had humor on stage always, so it was ok.

 

CONCLUSION
So what can we say about Tuska? Not only is it an incredible event that is beloved by both fans and artists alike, it’s clear that the makers really and truly care about what they’re doing and the people they’re doing it for. Tuska is the kind of event that brings people back year after year, not just because of the great music, but because of the experience that the festival provides – great food, great atmosphere, and great company!

Musicalypse is proud to have covered Tuska for 10 years and we wish the festival an early happy 20th anniversary for next year. We’re glad you’ve let us in to cover things, and hope to continue following Tuska Open Air for another 10 years to come!

 

Text: Amy Wiseman

Tuska Reviews:
2006 (Deutsch), 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015

Tuska Galleries:
2008, 2013 Day 1, 2013 Day 2, 2013 Day 3, 2014, 2015 Day 1, 2015 Day 2, 2015 Day 3

Photos:
Cornelia Wickel: Tuska 2006, 2007, 2012
Jana Blomqvist: Tuska 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Sanni Pasuri: Tuska 2013
Mika Ringman: Tuska 2014
Maija Lahtinen: Tuska 2015
Kenneth Lehtinen: photo of Mika Ringman
Marco Manzi: Day King photo of Jari Rantanen w/ Tomi Joutsen
Amy Wiseman: all other photos

BLIND CHANNEL – Niko/Joel, South Park 2016

0

The violent pop revolution has begun and leading the charge are Finland’s own Blind Channel! These energetic young guys from Oulu aren’t just sweeping the nation and wiping the floor with the competition in the local music contests, but they’ve conquered the Baltics as well. After their recent tour opening for Simple Plan, we got a chance to speak with them at South Park -festivaali in Tampere to discuss their victories, their music, and the future. Even though they’ve only had a few short years behind them, these guys had plenty of great stories to share!

 

To start with, congratulations on your very solid start in the music business. You guys have already won the 2014 Wacken Metal Battle and YleX’s “Stage haltuun” [Taking the Stage] – how does it all feel?
Niko: It feels really great, winning those competitions. I think it helped our career really much.

What was it like being at Wacken? Had either of you ever been there before?
Niko: No, I think none of us had been.

Joel: It was a dream come true for 10-year-old boys, being on the big stage with tons of people. It was crazy all the time.

Niko: Yeah, both Wacken and the Sziget Festival in Hungary, we thought it was a taste of something that we’re aiming for.

You’ve also done a couple of shows with Machinae Supremacy and Simple Plan – what were those experiences like?
Niko: Those were really great – most recently Simple Plan, but also Enter Shikari in Helsinki. It’s been really great. It’s also a huge opportunity to perform to a wider audience.

Joel: A few more fans.

I can see you guys going hand-in-hand with Simple Plan, because your styles fit together nicely, but what was it like at a Machinae Supremacy show, considering they’ve got their own SID-metal genre? Was the crowd into it or were they a bit confused?
Niko: It’s definitely a different scene, and I think with Simple Plan, Enter Shikari, and Machinae Supremacy… the audience wasn’t that into us [at Machinae Supremacy’s show] compared to Enter Shikari’s audience or Simple Plan’s audience. It was a bit different but I think it was cool too.

You’ve been playing quite a few shows lately – have there been any crazy mishaps, Spinal Tap moments, or band pranks?
Niko: There have been too many [laughter]. Actually, at every show we have played there has been something happening, like “oh shit!” It’s kind of dirty. I don’t know how much I can tell you. Let’s just say that when something’s happening, it usually has something to do with Joel or Joonas. The guitarists are the ones who make the stories.

Do you remember when and where your first gig as Blind Channel was, and what it was like?
Joel: October 2013. We were playing a headlining show in our hometown with all of our friends in the audience.

Niko: It was called 45 Special. It’s actually a great story. It wasn’t supposed to be a headlining show. We were supposed to be supporting an Estonian band called Defrage, but the same day in the evening, they called us that their bass player had been drunk driving into the wall of a police station [laughter] and he was in jail. They were like, “I don’t think we can perform tonight.” We were like, “Okay, we’ll be headliners.” Then we got this other Oulu band called Facelift to support us and we were the headliners, so it was kind of lucky! We were like, “First gig ever and we’ll be the supporting act!” and all of a sudden we’re headliner. It just got crazy!

Do you think your live performance has changed much since then, and if so, how?
Niko: I think we are more confident. We do this crazy jumping and running around, and when we did that in the beginning we were out of control, but now I think we’re in control of those actions.

You’re doing it on purpose.
Niko: Yeah! We’re doing it on purpose. Because, when we went on stage, it was like we’d go there and then when we’d come back from the stage, we’re like, “What have we done?” We’d have to think back to what happened [laughs].

Go look on YouTube.
Niko: Yeah! Just like that. Now I think we’re confident and we can live in the moment and see what we’re doing on stage. I think it’s a bit more professional than in the beginning. But when we watched Simple Plan perform, we saw that we can get much more professional in the future [laughter]. Like in 20 years, but I think we’re getting there.

In another interview, I think Joel said that you guys prefer to build your success on your own, so competitions like “Uuden musiikin kilpailu” wouldn’t work for bands like you. However, since then you’ve done a few different competitions and contests and you’ve done really, really well in them – do you have any further comments on the original statement?
Joel: I can say that I was wrong. Actually, the main reason for our success right now is those competitions, so I was stupid.

Niko: It was in the beginning, but I remember we all thought that competitions are not our thing, but in the Wacken Metal Battle competition, it was all metal bands. One of our friends said, “You should go,” and we said, “We’re a violent pop band.” “I’m a rapper. Everyone’s going to laugh at us!” but then it was like… social pressure? [laughs] We were like, “We have to do this!” It turns out that’s why we won the competition. Then in the other Taking the Stage (Stage haltuun) competition, we really didn’t even know that we were participating. Our guitarist, Joonas, secretly put us in the competition [laughter]. Then came the audience voting and we were like, “Oh fuck, we’re in the voting and we cannot lose!”

Joel: Yeah, we cannot lose!

Niko: Since we’re in a competition, we cannot lose this, so we had to go all the way and it turned out quite well. We have never really been like, “Let’s go to competitions and we’ll become a big band!” That’s not the way we think.

Joel: Yeah.

2016.06.11 01 Joel Hokka, Niko Moilanen (Blind Channel)So this is your first time playing at South Park -festivaali – how do you like the festival?
Niko: I think it’s a really cool festival. Kind of like the weather [laughs]. The weather is like, the sun is shining and it’s raining…

Joel: I think this is a metal or rock festival, so we are kind of weird a band here because we’re playing pop stuff.

Niko: And I’m rapping! But I actually like it when I’m in the middle of a rock festival and I start rapping. There are a few – like two people – who are like, “Cool!” and the other ones are like, “What the fuuuck?” [laughter], but I think that’s kind of nice.

How did you [Joel] and Tuomas [Thomas Grove, Ember Falls] get the idea to guest star in each other’s hit singles on stage?
Joel: We were drunk after the On the Rocks show in Helsinki and I got the idea and then I actually forgot it, and then I got a Facebook message from Tuomas and he was like, “Hey, do you remember this?” and I was like, “… I don’t remember, but let’s do it!” Two days after that we made it, so it was really cool.

Niko: Yeah, it was kind of a quick decision, but we talked about… what was it?

Joel: The mini-tour in Finland.

Niko: It was us, Ember Falls, and Black Crows Break the Silence, and we were on tour and there were got into the featuring thing.

Have you been watching any of the other bands here, and if so, who has impressed you the most?
Joel: I’m waiting for Bullet for My Valentine. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager. It’s really cool to see the band playing live.

Niko: I have to comment that, when I said that I’m going to an interview, I was told that I have to say, “Arion is the best band in the fucking world!”

I saw Lassi Vääränen [Arion] earlier – did he tell you to say that?
Niko: Yeah, they’re our label mates and they’re great guys! But Shiraz Lane played after us on the same stage. I really like Shiraz Lane. They are such great guys, they’re good friends of ours. It might just be the moment, but I really like the singer, Hannes [Kett]. I think he’s such a talented singer. And I really like Shiraz Lane. I think they’re an amazing band and have a bright future ahead of them.

2016.06.11 05 Joel Hokka (Blind Channel)Let’s talk music now! How did the band form and how do you all know each other?
Niko: It’s weird for this to come from me, but I was the last person to join the band. We’ve all been in the same school.

Joel: High school in Oulu.

Niko: A music high school in Oulu, where we are from. But we didn’t know each other when we were there. Olli is in the same class or same age group as Joel and Joonas, and they had a history of rivalry, competing with each other and were in different musical projects all the time, competing with each other, but what I understand is that they got over that rivalry and they put up a band together, and then Joel and Joonas started this band and Olli and Tommi, our bass player and our drummer, came from [Joel’s] past bands. You’ve known them from other music…

Joel: Yeah, I know them, and then you came in from the party.

Niko: I was the last to join the posse. Our drummer, Tommi, and our guitarist, Joonas, crashed a high school party I was attending. They literally crashed there. They were like, “WHAT’S UP EVERYONE!” and we were like, “Holy shit, somebody get those guys out!” We were drunk and partying and then they put an Enter Shikari song on the radio and I was like, “Holy shit, this is good, I love Enter Shikari too!” and they were like, “We’re putting up a band!”

Joel: So here we are!

Niko: They said, “You should come to our practice,” and I was like, “Well, one practice. I’ll come there and check this thing out.” That’s how it started!

So how did you come up with the name, Blind Channel?
Joel: We had many ideas, and it was the best idea. We had a rule that the band name had to sound like the band’s music, so I think Blind Channel sounds like our music.

Niko: Yeah, we wanted something organic and something mechanic – “blind” and “channel,” and we had many names. It was me who came up with the Blind Channel idea-

Joel: Yeah.

Niko: -but the crazy thing is that we had a long list of names and I don’t think we had even decided. We thought, “Blind Channel sounds kind of cool,” and 2 minutes after that we had a Facebook page called Blind Channel [laughs]. It was a spontaneous decision. I think it’s cool and it kind of describes our music. There are also some deeper controversial meanings, like nowadays everyone’s spending so much time staring at blind channels, so it’s kind of self-ironic, giving something real to stare at, the blind channel. Something like that.

How did your musical style become “violent pop” and how did you come up with that term?
Joel: Niko was the one who came up with that term.

Niko: What was it? We had to describe our music in an interview outside of Finland. The first abroad interviews we had. They were like, “Describe your music,” and it just came out, “Violent pop,” and then Joel did the hashtag thing. The first song we released was called “Save Me” and then we released the song called “More than You.” When it was released, Joel put on a hashtag.

Joel: #violentpoprevolution

Niko: I think many people were into the violent pop thing, and the violent pop revolution make me like, “Holy shit, this could be a thing!” It’s not just a random interview line like, “Our music is like violent pop,” but it’s a thing. We’ve been living up to that.

I like that you essentially made up your own genre. It helps you stand out from the masses.
Niko: It’s self-powering also. It’s like, [we’re] going to decide what violent pop sounds like. We can do really heavy songs and really poppy songs and it’s violent pop!

Do you have any themes that you’re interested lyrically, or messages you’d like to share with the world?
Niko: From the beginning, it’s been human struggle. We don’t write a lot of really happy songs [laughter]. Then I think, it’d also be great to be political and controversial about real things. I think that’s great about what Shiraz Lane is doing. Something like that, but I guess we have to figure out our own way to do that. Right now they’re very personal. I mostly write the lyrics, but I would never release lyrics that weren’t approved by the others. But, human struggle.

Joel: Emotions.

Niko: Dark emotions that everyone goes through. That’s kind of a theme we’ve had so far.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a band so far at this point? Or have you really had any?
Joel: I can’t say anything, because everything has gone like a movie. We’ve had some small struggles but everything has gone step-after-step and now…

Niko: Yeah, there haven’t been any really big challenges. I think, like every band, we’ve had good times and bad times and things go up and down-

Joel: What are the bad times? Tell me!

Niko: Not really bad times, but there are times when a lot of things are happening and there are times when you just have to wait and work hard. But they’re not really ‘bad’ times. I think a real challenge was the competition for YleX radio station! Blind Channel’s new single, “Darker than Black,” or Shiraz Lane’s “Wake Up” – which one is going to the radio playlist. That was a challenge! It was super exciting!

Joel: That was really crazy. We needed all our friends to vote for us.

Niko: Fortunately we had a lot of friends to do that.

Joel: We won!

Niko: It was just a day or two, but it was a challenge!

Joel: We didn’t sleep.

Niko: It was super exciting.

You’ve got an upcoming debut album in the works, and from what I’ve heard all of the songs are finished. Do you actually have a release date or an estimated release date at this point?
Niko: We don’t have a date, but we can say next fall, before the end of the year.

You’ve had Jonas Olssen on board as producer – what was it like working with him?
Joel: He’s a crazy musical genius.

Niko: He’s a super professional, very talented guy, and I think we learned a lot from him and we really hope to work with him in the future. He’s an amazing guy. He’s funny and when you’re working on an album in the studio, you do long days, like 12 hours, but with him it feels like 2 hours, so I think he’s really good at his job.

And you’ve also had Jens Bogren, who has worked with some seriously legendary bands (Opeth, Katatonia, Amorphis) – how did you get in touch with him and get him mixing your album?
Joel: It was Joonas who booked him.

Niko: We never actually met Jens. We just sent emails to Joonas and Joonas sent them to Jens. But we were super excited when we heard Jens Bogren was on board!

How would you describe the album to someone who’s never heard you guys? What would you say about it?
Niko: It’s fucking amazing! [laughter]

Joel: Very revolutionary.

Niko: Yeah, I think that’s what we’re trying to be. Revolutionary. And there are multiple different genres mixed together, like violent pop. There are easy songs, but also hard and heavy songs. I think there’s a theme that goes through the album, so you can hear Blind Channel in every song. I think we did fine with the album.

2016.06.11 02 Joel Hokka, Niko Moilanen (Blind Channel)To close up, here are a couple of random questions: First off, what’s the last band you’ve listened to?
Niko: Twenty-One Pilots!

Joel: This is very bad – Simple Plan. I started to listen to them after the tour because I can’t get over it. I’m dreaming about the shows all the time.

What’s the last album you bought?
Joel: I don’t remember.

Niko: We’re living in Spotify times!

What would be the ultimate festival line-up for you? Who would you like to see in a festival?
Niko: I already answered this today! My two favorite bands, Twenty One Pilots and Enter Shikari, who we supported. They are my all-time favorite bands. And Justin Bieber of course!

Joel: Metallica, Bring Me the Horizon, and Blink 182 [laughs]. Something like that.

Niko: I can’t believe neither of us said Linkin Park.

Joel: Nah, we saw it already.

Niko: We saw Linkin Park around a year ago.

Have you guys had any really unusual fan encounters?
Niko: We have really great fans who are traveling with us. At this point, there is a posse that travels with us. Every gig we play, we see them in the front row. That’s just amazing. That’s a sign that you did something right.

Joel: We got this poster with pictures from our shows.

Niko: They had made us a poster. Like a fan thing. It was really great.

Last question then – apart from the release of your album, what are you guys most excited about in the next year or so?
Joel: I would like to be on tour in Europe, supporting bigger bands and playing festivals outside Finland. That’s my dream, to get outside of this little country.

Niko: This experience touring with Simple Plan was too amazing, but something like that. I think when the album comes out next fall, it’s going to be a game-changer for us.

Joel: We hope!

Niko: Yeah. I think we’re really going to do that. We’ve always been aiming for abroad, outside Finland, but I think now we’re doing it even more when the album comes out, so I can’t wait to tour. Not only in Europe, but in Asia. Holy shit, let’s go to the States! Wherever!

Joel: Outside Finland.

I think you guys will do really well in Japan.
Niko: Oh, Japan would be…

Joel: I’d love that.

That’s all of my questions. Do you have any last comments to anyone who might be reading this?
Niko: Rock on! The album’s coming out next fall!

Joel: Rock on and see you on tour!

Thanks guys, and best of luck with everything that’s coming up!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.

 

Festival Season: Ticket Sale Scams and How to Avoid Them

0

It’s festival season and many people out there will be selling concert and festival tickets for a discount because they aren’t able to get to the festival/show, and they’d rather sell a 125€ for 100€ than lose their money altogether. However, this is a common way for scammers to steal your money as well, so it’s wise to think things through carefully before you buy tickets from anyone online (particularly trade sites like Tori.fi and Huuto.net).

To help avoid getting ripped off, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Search for sales, don’t post requests!
    Scammers tend not to post their own advertisements (most of the time, not always), but they will reply to posts that go up for someone searching for tickets, regardless of whether the show is sold out or not. They will give you a fake story to make it sound legitimate too – you’re looking for one ticket, they might have two, the show is in Tampere but they’re in Rovaniemi and can’t make the trip down – they want it to be believable so you don’t question it. They are often quite quick on the draw too because they’re searching for people all the time, so if you put up an advertisement searching for a ticket and they respond in 30 minutes or less, that’s a red flag.
  2. Buy paper tickets, not .pdf!
    Scammers will rarely offer you a paper ticket, usually saying they will transfer a .pdf ticket to you via email; .pdf tickets are already questionable because if the person does have one, they could sell it to many people and you can’t be certain you’re getting the only copy, and it becomes a matter of who arrives at the venue first as to who gets to use it. If they have a paper ticket, there’s less of a chance of scam. Likewise, if you’re buying tickets from a retailer to a show that you’re not 100% sure you can go to, it’s better to buy a paper ticket than a .pdf so that people will trust you more if you have to sell it.
  3. Speak to them on the phone!
    Scammers use pre-paid phones and will use them to text you. As such, if someone texts you with an offer, call them back and discuss things in person. Scammers will never answer the phone.
  4. Arrange a false meeting!
    If you have the time to do this before the show (as in, if it’s still a day or two before the show), arrange a false meeting with the person. If they claim to be in Oulu with a ticket to a show in Helsinki, say that you happen to be there at the moment too, and could buy it off them in person. If they’re willing to meet you to pass over the ticket, you can tell them that you were just checking to see if they were real and not a scammer, and chances are they won’t hold it against you. If they’re a scammer though, they’ll make excuses. Better safe than sorry, right?
  5. Ask for proof of purchase!
    If the person selling you a ticket can’t prove they have one, well, don’t buy it! Scammers don’t post photos of their tickets because they don’t have them. You don’t need to see the bar code to know it’s real, just a photo of the ticket with the date and venue. Then, once you do have the proof photo, do a quick Google search to make sure the photo in question doesn’t match any other photos that could have easily been snagged online.
  6. Purchase in person!
    To be fair, we can never really be certain of what we’re getting when we buy used tickets, so if at all possible, buy your tickets in a way that you ensure that you’ll be meeting the person face-to-face and you can double-check that the ticket is authentic and the dates and venue are correct.

 

The Gentleman’s Rule
Let’s say you’re living in Turku and have a ticket to Tuska, and someone in Helsinki wants to buy it, but neither of you is going to be in the same city at any point before the festival. I propose a gentleman’s rule in that, if you’re mailing a ticket, the buyer pays half and sends some proof (screenshot or whatever), the sellers sends the ticket, and the buyer pays the other half. Usually it just goes that the buyer puts their faith in the seller, but that’s not entirely fair. This rule allows both parties to take a more equal risk with one another.

 

It’s great to help people out by taking their tickets off their hands, and it’s a good way to save a bit of money, particularly with festivals, but be sure that you think things through before making a commitment to buying a ticket from someone who lives out of town. Safe purchases, and see you at the shows!

SHIRAZ LANE – Hannes/Miki, South Park 2016

0

Last September, we got to meet Hannes Kett and Miki Kalske of Shiraz Lane before they opened the stage for Santa Cruz. Back then, they were excited and maybe a little shy/nervous, but it was clear they had a story to tell (pun intended). Some 9 months later at South Park -festivaali, we got the chance to talk to them again, and what a difference! These guys have grown in both confidence and, believe it or not, enthusiasm! The music world seemed to have treated them well, and we were glad to get another chance to speak with them during one of the first summer festivals of the season!

 

Nice to see you again! What do you guys think of South Park?
Miki: Awesome!

Hannes: Awesome! Actually, we came here yesterday with Joel to check out the feeling and the vibe here and it’s been great so far. We checked out Santa Cruz and Lost Society and they rock every time we see them.

Miki: Lost Society are fucking awesome.

Have you been watching the other bands here, other than those two?
Hannes: I’m sad I missed Lost Society, because they’re great guys and a fucking awesome band.

Miki: We watched Blind Channel.

Hannes: We watched Blind Channel doing some interviews and actually we’re going to go see our friends’ gig, Reckless Love. I love “Child of the Sun.” It’s a new song. I love it.

Who has been your favorite performance so far?
Hannes: Lost Society.

Miki: Shiraz Lane. [laughter]

Hannes: Those guys were okay. I think the singer sucks though. [laughter] Like Mickey Mouse on helium.

How does South Park compare to the other festivals you guys have played at, since you guys have been all over the place?
Hannes: This is the first festival of the summer for us, but…

Miki: Alll-in-all, I think I love it because the stages are near each other, so one gig stops, the other one starts, so the crowd just goes from one stage to the other. It’s awesome.

Hannes: It’s quite well-organized here. There’s always something happening somewhere.

2016.06.11 01 Hannes Kett, Miki Kalske (Shiraz Lane)It’s been 9 months since we last spoke to you and now you have an album behind you – a really phenomenal debut no less – how does it feel?
Hannes: Awesome!

Miki: Awesome!

Hannes: We love it! I’m glad to hear our fans love it as well. I haven’t heard any negativity at all.

What have you been doing now that the album has been out for a few months?
Hannes: Playing, rehearsing, writing new songs, playing gigs.

Miki: Actually, we did a Finnish tour with Reckless Love in May, the whole month. Before that we were in Italy and we did our album release gig in Tavastia, which was our own headlining gig there, so that was kind of cool and really special for us. Touring, rehearsing, making new songs, basic stuff.

Hannes: Hanging around with the guys playing NHL.

Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? What was it like being in the studio?
Hannes: A lot of fun. We were in Hämeenlinna. We recorded the drums there. The guys were playing along with Ana…

Miki: To get that “live” vibe.

Hannes: Then I sang on “Bleeding” and “Same Old Blues” just to get the bluesy vibe.

Miki: After that, we recorded separately the guitars and bass and string instruments and everything like that. And the vocals.

Hannes: I really enjoyed recording the vocals, because Ben Varon (Amoral), our producer and good friend… I love Michael Jackson, he loves Michael Jackson, so when I had some harmonies, he was like, “Oh yeah, MJ would love that!” So we had a lot of fun. It felt really natural to just fool around and find the right things for every song.

Well, you just answered my question about what it’s like working with Ben Varon!
Hannes: I think I speak for the whole band that he was awesome.

Miki: He was more of a friend.

Hannes: More of a friend than a producer. He was professional and did the producing part, but he was like one of the guys. He helped me with the lyrics.

Miki: Of course, if we disagreed on something we had a debate about it, but if we made up our mind about something then we just pushed our vision through, because that’s what we want to do. It’s our album!

Hannes: We had a song called “The Cure” and we rewrote it and it became “For Crying Out Loud” and at first he told us that the song sucks-

Miki: It’s a huge mistake!

Hannes: “A huge mistake guys! All the kick is gone.” We just told him, “Fuck off, this is an awesome song! We’re gonna do this and you better record it!” [laughter]

Miki: But after a while, [it grew on him] and he understood what it was all about.

Was this your first time working with a release deadline?
Miki: Kind of a ‘real’ release deadline. Before, with the EP we had our own deadline on it, but not that we have to have all the material done for a certain date. This was the first time that somebody else, like a record company, was saying that we need to have all the material at this time. Actually, the last studio day, we had 12 hours-

Hannes: It as 17 hours, actually. Of those 17 hours we recorded the rest of the backing vocals, so we recorded all the backing vocals in one day. It was actually one of the best days of my life, because everything worked. After 8 hours and ten cups of coffee, the guys went home and me and Ben still had a lot to record, so Joel went upstairs to sleep and I just screamed some stuff and sang everything I wanted to sing. Then when he woke up, we were ready 5 minutes before that. So he woke up for his workplace at the time. [laughs]

Miki: In my opinion, it’s never too good to do things in a rush, but sometimes you have to have a deadline to make things happen.

“House of Cards” is probably my favorite song off the new album. What are your personal favorite songs?
Miki: “Mama’s Boy.”

Hannes: I love them all. I think “Same Old Blues” or “Bleeding” because those songs are very personal. It’s a hard question; it depends on the day, because all the songs have a different mood, different color to them. Right now, I’d say “Begging for Mercy” or “Make Love Not War” because I’m happy. Tomorrow I’m going to be hungover so I’m gonna say “Bleeding.” But I love them all. I’m actually really glad to hear that you loved “House of Cards” because we had some fans that were like, “This is too rough, this isn’t Shiraz Lane,” and we were like, “… Yes it is. Get used to it.”

I like that about your style. I was noticing during the gig that you have a little bit of everything in there – a little bit of reggae, a little bit of 80s new wave.
Miki: I think that’s the soul of the music and the gig, if you can combine different genres and make it your own.

Hannes: South Park is a metal festival. It was really nice to hear, when the reggae started, they were like, “What the fuck?” and 50 seconds later they were dancing.

You guys released several popular songs, then you played some festivals, toured all over, you landed a label, you released an album – what has been the coolest or most mind-boggling moment of it all so far?
Hannes: I think meeting the guys. Really, none of us would be here without each other. I feel blessed to have met all these guys.

Miki: Maybe the most meaningful moment for me has been our debut album’s release gig at Tavastia, because everything kind of came together.

Hannes: The set was, what, 90 minutes?

Miki: Yeah.

Hannes: 90 minutes and we got to have special effects and I got to change clothes many times.

Miki: It was the first time you realize that you actually have the album out, we have all the merch, we have the backdrop for the first time, it’s our gig, we’re the only band playing at Tavastia, which is a legendary place for every band to play. That was it for me and for us.

Hannes: Yeah. My answer was a bit too girlie, but I love these guys. They’re my family.

There’s been a noticeable trend lately that started around the time of Reckless Love and followed with Santa Cruz, and now there’s you guys and it’s a bit of a glam rock/hair metal revival in Finland. What’s more is that you all seem to have your own unique styles in spite of being under the same general genre umbrella. Why do you think this style is so popular in Finland right now?
Hannes: I think it started in Scandinavia with Crashdïet back in like 2004-2005. They were the first glam or hair metal band…

Miki: To revive the act…

Hannes: And to actually be on a big label.

Miki: And somewhat popular. I don’t think it’s so much about the genre but…

Hannes: Is it the attitude?

Miki: The attitude and the authenticity of the music. You can hear it’s real and if you mean what you play and what you say.

Hannes: The difference between us is that we’re all about peace, love, and harmony, and Santa Cruz has their party rock going on, and Reckless Love has…

Miki: Santa Cruz has attitude rock, and Reckless Love is kind of like “merry metal” as they call it. That works great for them!

Hannes: I think it’s cool. Finland is such a… how can I put this? It’s a smaller country and maybe because of that, the Finns don’t really think it’s possible to have many rock bands. That’s why we’re aiming to go abroad.

Miki: And the more rock bands in Finland, the better for everybody. I don’t know if we answered the question.

Do you have any thoughts on why these nostalgic genres are so big these days? Your style is one example and Blues Pills from Sweden with their 70s psychedelic rock is another.
Hannes: I love that band! I think it’s kind of easy to answer, because nowadays the mainstream is all about autotune and all about… many rock bands use autotune as well, but I think the nostalgic style like Blues Pills and us, I think we differ from the mainstream because we’re really authentic and I think we sound more raw live. It doesn’t suck the way many bands suck nowadays because they’re just doing the studio magic thing.

Miki: In a lot of playing it really separates bands, if you are only a studio band or being produced by some kind of label, you can sound good on a record, but when you play live, you probably sound like shit if you really can’t play.

Hannes: Then again, nowadays it’s all about backing tracks and all that shit. Hopefully people understand what is live and what is not. I know that in my life performance, I use more distortion than I use in the studio because I’m so excited. But back to the question! I think it’s a counter-reaction to what the mainstream is all about.

Miki: Indeed! Well said!

2016.06.11 02 Hannes Kett, Miki Kalske (Shiraz Lane)Last time we spoke, I asked you guys some random questions, and I thought I’d throw them out there again to see how things have changed. What’s the last band you’ve listened to (not including the ones at the festival)?
Hannes: The last band I listened to was… I think I was listening to Haloo Helsinki today. No, John Farnham! I’ve got one song from my childhood I just found. I knew the melodies, but at the time – I think I was like 5 years old – I had no idea what English is all about. I just remembered the melody, and then I found the song last week, “You’re the Voice.” It’s all about “you’re the voice / try and understand it.” I found that song and I had a super-mega-flashback and I was like, “Holy shiiiaaaat!” I’ve been listening to that song.

Miki: The last band or artist I listened to was Johnny Cash.

Hannes: Nice, good choice! Was that John Farnham [who sang “You’re the Voice”]? “You’re the voice / try to understand it!” I think it’s one of the only songs… well, nowadays in the mainstream, its all about “woo-oh” this and “woo-oh” that, without actually having any good lyrics, but back in the day, they had great lyrics, like “You’re the Voice,” but they had the “woo-oh” thing going on. Like Toto’s “Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Miki: The “woo-oh” thing isn’t necessarily bad if you use it right.

Hannes: It isn’t bad, but nowadays I think most of the time it fucking sucks because they just do it because it’s easy.

Miki: And it doesn’t really have a good melody, it just sounds like filler. It’s not the melody.

Hannes: John Farnham, in that song, there’s “woo-oh” and I love it! [laughter]

What’s the last album you bought – last time you [Hannes] said it was your EP, so was it your album this time?
Hannes: Actually, I don’t own our album yet!

Miki: The last album I bought was Uriah Heep’s collection album from a flea market.

Hannes: The last album I bought was… on cassette tape, Toto’s The Seventh One. I bought it from my baby brother! I’m a good big brother because I teach him about good music.

That’s how I got into hard rock/heavy metal, was through my big brothers.
Miki: That’s actually how I got into hard rock.

Hannes: And I got into power metal. I love Edguy! That’s like the first band… Teräsbetoni from Finland – I love Jarkko Ahola; fucking great vocalist – and Edguy, Tobias Sammet. The lyrics and all the melodies – I love that. My big brother showed me that.

Miki: So cheers to every big brother in the world! [laughter]

Are you going to watch Avantasia at Tuska?
Hannes: Yeah, I’m gonna see it!

Miki: I like Edguy as well but I haven’t heard much Avantasia.

Hannes: We’re going to play some live covers. I think we’re going to go with “Lavatory Love Machine.”

Miki: Yeah, that’s a great fucking song.

Hannes: Then again, there’s so many songs I’d like to do! I had this one comment that some people hated me because I’m so positive all the time. I’m just smiling and goofing around all the time. Then I heard one of my friends, he hates Tobias Sammet because he’s over-the-top positive. I’m like [snaps fingers] “Do you hate me?” and he’s like, “No?” He fucking hates me. [laughter] But back to the questions!

What’s the goofiest song that you’re into right now that you just want to play on repeat?
Miki: A goofy song that we’re into, at least me and Hannes, is Mighty 44. “Push It!” It’s kind of techno-y with a little bit of a rock vibe.

Hannes: Peter Andre! “Mysterious Girl”! That’s one of my all-time favorites.

Miki: He sounds just like Michael Jackson.

Hannes: He does! He used to do Michael Jackson covers. Then there’s one song that I played to the guys – you [Miki] weren’t there for it yesterday, but we were at the rehearsal space and we had some beer and it’s a band called Lapinlahden Linnut – it’s a Finnish band, kind of a comedy band – a song called “Perse” [ass]. They’ve got a great groove, and I’m like [singing] “Peeerseeee.” [laughs]

Miki: And of course… it’s not always kind of goofy, but Eppu Normaali.

Hannes: There’s so many goofy songs!

They having an anniversary show in August – are you guys going?
Hannes: We’re gonna go!

Miki: I’ve never actually seen Eppu Normaali play live.

Hannes: Me neither.

Last time you hadn’t had any particularly strange encounters with fans – has that changed yet or are they still pretty chill?
Hannes: There was this one kid. I was walking down the street looking like shit, as I do, and she kept staring at me. I was like, “What’s wrong? I’ve got long hair… [valley girl voice] deal with it!” Then after 2 hours she followed me home to where my girlfriend lives and she was outside waiting for me, and I went out with the dog, and she was like, “Hey, are you Hannes Kett?” I’m seriously looking like shit and I’m like, “Yeaah?” like please don’t take any pictures, please don’t. She was like, “Can I take a picture with you?” I was like, “…Yeah, all right.” I’ve got the dog screaming, “I’ve gotta take a shit!” I think that was the weirdest, but at the same time it was a real compliment. Actually, she said to me, “Thank you, this was the best day ever!” I’m like, “Wow,” and I thanked her because of course it was awesome.

Miki: Those moments seem weird to you, like what’s happening, but if they can really make an impact or a good feeling to another person, a good vibe, why not?

Hannes: It was awesome. I think she told me she is 12 years old and she’s the only one who loves rock in her class and she got a boom box to play our music. She loves the album. And she told me that she plays the drums and Ana is awesome. I’m like, “Fuck yeah he’s awesome!”

I’m down to my last question then!
Both: Noooo! [laughter]

It’s really great to see how amazingly well things are going for you guys – what’s in store for the future now that your album’s out?
Miki: Festival gigs in the summer. The next one is going to be the Tuska Heatseeker on the 30th.

Hannes: With Lost Society and Santa Cruz. Be sure to be there!

Miki: We’re going to do Ilosaarirock and Kuopio Rock Cock.

Hannes: And Sotkamon Syke.

Miki: Rock of Idea.

Hannes: I’m actually waiting for Kupio Rock Cock because Whitesnake’s going to be there, and I want to shake hands with one of my idols, David Coverdale. I want to have a glass of red wine with him. That would be fucking awesome! Like meeting Michael Jackson.

Miki: He’s a fucking legend.

Hannes: I wanna be like that one day. We’ve got fans in South America. I’ve got some guys loving my vocals and started singing because of me. I’m like, “Holy shit,” and some girls love my lyrics and they’re like, “‘Story to Tell’ helped me,” and I’m like, “Holy shit!” So I think I’m getting there. One day I’m going to be the old guy.

Miki: When I get old, I want to be like David Coverdale-ish, because he’s a gentleman. He’s fucking cool even though he’s 70 years old.

Hannes: He’s a real gentleman. I want to be like that. There’s nothing wrong with being kind. This is a fun fact: I’ve heard that many of my friends and many of our fans think I’m flirting with them all the time because I’m kind. My kindness is overwhelming? But yeah, I want to be like David Coverdale.

You’ll have all the 20-some-year-old young bands a few decades from now really excited to have a glass of wine with you!
Hannes: I’ll be like, “Let’s drink the whole fucking bottle!”

Well thanks again so much guys! Do you have any last words for the readers?
Hannes: Send us messages, stalk us!

Miki: Listen to our album and try to find a different inspiration!

Hannes: Spread the message of peace, love, and harmony. You can do it!

Great! Thanks again and best of luck!

2016.06.11 04 Hannes Kett, Miki Kalske (Shiraz Lane)Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.

EMBER FALLS – Full band, South Park 2016

0

Tampere-based Ember Falls started out under the name of Mekanism in 2010, formed by brothers Jussi “Jay V” and Kalle “Calu” Laakso (guitars) and Mikko “OneOfHaze” McMenamin (formerly bass, later synth), and completed the troupe with drummer Jussi “Ace” Saurio. Three promising EPs and a couple music videos later, the band parted ways with their lead singer and after the current vocalist, Tuomas “Thomas Grove” Välimaa, joined the band in 2014, the guys decided to go for something bigger and better than their already catchy metalcore-infused rock. And so, Ember Falls was born! The first single and music video under the new name, “Shut Down With Me,” sparked quite a bit of attention in Finnish music medias right after the release with its high-end quality and the disturbingly, unapologetically catchy brand of modern metal. The best was yet to come roughly half a year later, when the band signed a worldwide recording deal with Spinefarm and Universal, and a publishing deal with Ranka Kustannus. Meanwhile, the group has grown into a six-piece with the addition of bassist Olli “Oswald” Heino, the debut album is on its way, and the band did a small tour in Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary in May before hitting the Finnish summer festival stages.

Even though the local media has covered Ember Falls’ deeds and doings quite well, the band has managed to be somewhat outside of radar for the rest of the world, so we gladly jumped at the opportunity to fill the void with an in-depth interview after their set in South Park festival, Tampere.

 

Congratulations on flying start you guys have had with the new band name. How was the tour abroad?
Thomas Grove (TG): Thank you! It was great [laughs]. It was an epic trip.

Oswald (O): A lot of things happened that we are not going to mention here. Also, a lot of things happened that we’re going to talk about here, because it was great!

TG: We met some new people and it was nice to play to people that came to see us. It was awesome.

Did you have any Spinal Tap stories from the road or any wild adventures that you’re actually willing to share?
Calu (C): There’s nothing else! In Slovakia we were called the Finnish Mayhem by the locals, so that’s what happened.

OneOfHaze (OH): If you want all the specifics, you should read our manager’s Facebook page, because he has all the gory details there! [laughter]

TG: But there’s not an English version yet.

O: Basically, to sum it up, we had a gig in Frankie’s Club in Nitra and we went there the day before and the next day when we went there for the gig, we told them that we were here before and they said, “Yes, we heard.”

Ace (A): Hey, what’s going on?

Welcome!
A: Who are these guys?

O: Our drummer, Ace, just joined the party.

A: Just joined the band! [laughter] 15 minutes after the gig.

2016.06.10 04 Ace, OneOfHaze (Ember Falls)You guys have now signed a worldwide recording deal with Spinefarm/Universal after you released your music video for the single, “Shut Down with Me,” by yourselves – how did that happen? Were there any other record companies you considered?
C: There were actually two of them.

OH: We had Ranka Kustannus interested and Spinefarm.

A: Mighty Music from Denmark also.

C: Actually, in the end, we got both Ranka Kustannus and Spinefarm. Riku Pääkkönen from Ranka Kustannus came in to ask our producer; [he is now our publisher].

OH: So we are now working with him as well. He’s a great dude. He knows a lot of stuff about the music industry. He was the one who founded Spinefarm.

A: He’s one of the toughest guys on the planet!

The music video for “Shut Down with Me” is really visually stunning and it’s particularly cool considering you made it without the help of a record label. Could you shed some light on the making of the video?
TG: First of all, Kalle here had to take a student loan – almost 3000€ – so we could go and film the thing with green screens and professional photographers and filmers.

C: We had to ask a lot of friends for help. Actually, Tuomas’ sister came with her friends and stuff like that, and also make-up artists that Mikko knew.

OH: My cousin and his friend.

TG: A lot of friends came to help us and it was a busy day when we filmed it.

OH: Juho Peltari was the main man, really. He did an awesome job.

TG: He’s basically the director and editor of the music video.

C: The answer is: with a lot of help. That’s how we made it.

You guys have a very distinct visual style with your stage outfits, your promo material, and things like that. Do you think the visual aspect is a thing bands need to pay more attention to these days?
A: We just like make-up. [laughter] That’s the primary reason.

TG: We like to look pretty!

C: I think the shows would be a lot more whole… many people go on stage and they are wearing T-shirts and stuff like that. I don’t think it works. I actually think people should pay more attention-

Jay V (JV): For some bands it works, but not for us.

C: I think the shows should be more whole.

OH: For us, it’s not just about the music. We’re trying to create a whole world. A fantasy world.

Do you have separate stage personas from your actual selves, or are they more or less the same?
C: Isn’t it always like that?

TG: We go to the stage and we are performing. Of course it comes from yourself. You can’t pretend to be something you are not, so basically it’s…

An extension of yourself?
JV: Yeah, exactly.

Speaking of your visual style, we heard that there was a little bit of drama with Fireal. Are you willing to tell the story behind that?
TG: [laughter] I don’t think there’s much to talk about. We were accused of stealing another band’s identity, visual style… intellectual property.

C: And that’s been dealt with. It’s in the past.

TG: Basically, it was a false accusation.

O: We consider it a misunderstanding.

C: And we made our peace with the person.

2016.06.10 09 Calu, Thomas Grove (Ember Falls)Let’s talk about your music then! How would you describe your style to someone who has never heard your music before?
TG: Melodic rock metal.

C: That’s boring.

OH?: We have quite of electronic influences. Also pop.

C: And metal.

OH: And an industrial style.

C: So to sum it up, what can we say?

A: Post-industrial pop-rock-metal!

C: With new-wave! [laughter]

Where did the name, Ember Falls, come from?
A: From a list of 500 names, basically.

OH: It was kind of a combination of me and Ace’s suggestions. When we got the name, it was instant. We had the idea that it’s going to be this city or world and there’s going to be a whole story around the name.

A: I actually disliked the name at first.

OH: We have a screenshot somewhere.

C: The name got integrated into a story we are going to do in the future. We are doing it right now, gradually. Ember Falls is the place in the dystopian future we are going to bring to the table.

So it’s a musical story or a concept album, or are you actually writing a story?
TG: Maybe someday. I don’t know. The next album won’t be a whole album based on the Ember Falls thing, but…

A: Maybe the second album. It would be cool.

O: The dystopian theme is still there in the album. It’s important.

OH: We would like to bring more ideas of the story to the people. We haven’t done it yet, but it’s like we’re going to do graphic content, maybe a game or short stories.

C: We have a lot of plans but very little time.

Does your logo have a meaning related to that?
TG: It could be [a falling ember]. It could be a watching eye. I think it’s supposed to be a thing where people can think what they want to.

OH: Maybe the name, Ember Falls, it’s more like the falls like a city with a waterfall. It’s not just an ember falling, like many people take it that way.

You have your first album in the making – how good of an impression does “Shut Down with Me” give the listeners of what is to come?
TG: I think “Shut Down with Me” is a song that represents our strengths in a lot of ways, but not all the songs are going to be like that. I think we have so many musical influences within the band that it’s inevitable that there are going to be different kinds of songs on the album.

Do you have an official release date yet, or is it still uncertain?
TG: Not quite.

How about an expected timeframe?
A: Sometime in the next year or distant future.

TG: Early next year, I think.

The lyrics for “Shut Down with Me” seem to have a societal message to them – do you have any lyrical themes that you feel really strongly about?
TG: Personally I enjoy very emotional lyrics, like “Shut Down with Me” has a message. I enjoy lyrics with content, basically. Emotional or political or anything.

Do you ever worry that your catchy, accessible sound will get you shit from the hardcore metal crowd, or do you think that bands like Bullet for My Valentine and Amaranthe have opened the doors to poppier metal? Do you think the metal scene is getting less exclusionary these days?
C: I actually hope so. At least for myself, I’d like to have a really hardcore metal song on the album as well. We haven’t talked about it too much yet, but I hope it will happen. I think Jay V would also have something to say about this! [laughter]

JV: Yeah!

C: He agrees with me!

JV: I agree!

TG: But it’s not something we’re trying to force. We try to do good songs that sound good to us. If somebody hates it, then hate it!

JV: Doesn’t matter.

OH: We don’t care what people think. Of course, we care what our fans think. I think a lot of people, when they hear our songs, they don’t think, “Okay fuck, they are pop,” but they hear good metal or rock songs.

TG: I think we are trying to go to the perfect middle ground, where both worlds meet.

C: Yeah, the pop influences are in the vocal melodies in a way that you don’t really see them.

O: Yeah, we’re just trying to do good songwriting. A lot of metal can have screams and double-bass, but they don’t have good songs.

TG: It can be awesome but it can also be very boring.

C: Actually, me and Jay V have grown up with Children of Bodom and bands like that, so death metal kind of stuff, so sometimes when I hear a song that has a really pop vibe, I might like it really much, but then I feel a bit sick. [laughter]

TG: I like it but I’m dying inside.

2016.06.10 08 Jay V (Ember Falls)You guys have some miles behind you already with the old band, Mekanism, and now the new one as well. How did everything get started?
OH: Jay V was kind of the founding father.

JV: With Pyry.

OH: With our old singer and me as well. It was me and Jay V and our old singer, Pyry Laakso. It was the three of us, then Jay V asked Kalle to join us as the second guitarist at that time. Later on, what happened next? I asked Ace to be our drummer. We had a couple of other drummers in our auditions but Ace was better than all of them, of course.

C: Baddest motherfucker around.

OH: I had actually played in a band with Ace before.

A: One gig, which went really terribly.

OH: It was an awful gig. Then later on, when we changed our name to Ember Falls, I changed my instrument to the synths and we started to look for a new bass player and Olli joined in. And of course, when we changed to Ember Falls, that was the time when we switched the lead singer as well, so Tuomas stepped up and he replaced our old singer.

TG: I think some people might call it the end of an era, but I’d call it a fresh start for us and it worked out better than expected because we got the record deal.

OH: The band we were before all the changes, I think that was a different band. Ember Falls is a new line-up, new music, everything.

You mostly answered my next question there – how’s the energy and band chemistry now as compared to before?
C: We went on a European tour before, so it’s actually really good. There was only one bitch-slap in the band on the entire tour. No one got hurt.

OH: Ace actually really deserved that one.

A: I had it coming.

C: Actually, I think Ace thanked Tuomas after the slap.

A: It was really called for.

C: He really needed one. So the chemistry is actually really good.

Do the guys of you who were in Mekanism remember your first gig?
A: What was our first gig?

OH: I think it was Hervanta. [laughter]

JV: Varjobaari!

C: Actually, I have to tell this story. Storytime! The place there as this huge column right in front of the stage!

OH: So you cannot see the artists.

C: There’s the stage, and there’s a huge column right in front of it, so I just can’t understand the place. And of course it sounded horrible and all the people were the drunken locals. That was a long time ago [laughs]. But yeah, we remember it!

How does the first gig as Ember Falls compare to the first gig as Mekanism?
C: What was our first gig as Ember Falls?

O: I think it was at Merirock.

TG: It was quite great!

OH: Actually, after the gig we signed Tuomas to be our permanent singer, because he was on trial.

TG: Were we Ember Falls? We were Mekanism still.

O: But we were thinking about changing the name that at that time already.

C: It was really great. We had a party. We were at sea.

OH: That was a great time. We had a bus full people fans going with us from Tampere to Merirock. I think we had forty fans joining us, driving with us, drinking with us.

O: And we kind of had a solo battle with Mikko, because Mikko stepped down from the bass and started playing the synths and this was the first gig I was playing the bass in, so it was a battle.

C: We had a drunken bus trip and the bus microphone, at the front of the bus, I actually sang “My Heart Will Go On” in the bus microphone, during our way there! [laughter]

TG: You can only imagine the journey back.

If you guys could collaborate with someone – another vocalist, musician, producer, mixer – who would you want to work with?
OH: We’re actually working with a guy who we can’t disclose at the moment, but he’s one of the guys.

JV: We are also working with Jacob Hansen and that’s quite awesome!

C: Yeah!

OH: Jacob Hansen is an awesome producer and mixing engineer. He did the “Shut Down with Me” mixing for us, but now we are trying to do some actual producing with him.

C: The entire album is going to be mixed by him.

OH: He’s an awesome guy.

Apart from the new album, of course, what does the future hold for you guys and what are you most excited about?
JV: Hopefully touring after that!

TG: Yeah, we have a big tour probably coming next year. We are planning on a month-long tour in Europe with a big artist and I think that’s something we are all looking forward to.

C: Although the week was already terrifying! [laughter]

TG: One week was terrifying. Imagine a month!

OH: Yeah! I don’t want to imagine it.

O: But I think the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to is when we’re going to release the album, people are going to know more than just one song, because we just have this one single and it’s always better if you have-

TG: We have these great gigs and people are coming to them, but they don’t know the songs and it’s frustrating in a way.

Are all of the songs you guys played today going to be on the album, or is that undecided?
C: Probably, yeah. We are still developing the album, but yeah.

That’s all of my questions. Do you have any closing comments for any English-speaking fans?
TG: Thank you!

JV: Thank you for listening!

TG & C: Chaos reigns!

2016.06.10 05 OneOfHaze, Calu (Ember Falls)Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.

SOUTH PARK – Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 10-11.06.2016

0

It’s been three years and South Park -festivaali has earned it’s place on the Finnish festival front. The 2-day festival in Tampere has been bringing in big name bands from the start, like Skid Row and Def Leppard, but 2016 steered the show away from the nearly all hard rock line-ups of the first two years, and brought in equally big name bands, Slayer and Bullet for My Valentine, to headline. The festival took over Eteläpuisto (South Park) in Tampere on the 10th and 11th of June, and since Musicalypse has been going since the festival started up in 2014, we certainly couldn’t stop now!

Be sure to have a look at the full festival galleries from Day 1, Day 2, and of course, the festival extras!

2016.06.11 Festival Extras (06) @ South ParkDay 1
First of all, it was nice to see that they had an app this year – the bigger festivals have had them a while now, and for the concert-goers, it’s much easier to keep an eye on the bands you want to see when there are a few notifications popping up now and then and you have a schedule in hand that won’t get soaked in the inevitable rain.

The festival area was set up in essentially the same place as last year, with the food court and signing booths in the same locations, though the merchandise had shuffled around. This year, to go along with the bungee jumping, there was also a slingshot station, which offered a nice alternative to people who’d rather go up than down. The weather changed from sunny and warm to rainy and grey at the blink of an eye the entire time, but that’s never stopped anyone from enjoying themselves in the past!

2016.06.10 01 Ember Falls (04) @ South Park
Ember Falls

We arrived just in time to catch the end of Battle Beast‘s set, unfortunately missing Santa Cruz after the change in schedule. I’ve never been on the same wavelength as Battle Beast, and while I have always felt that Noora Louhimo makes them far more bearable after Nitte Valo left in 2012, their style has just never appealed to me. However, to their credit, if you like bands like W.A.S.P. I could definitely see you getting a kick out of their show.

The first bit of excitement on Friday came pretty early for me though, as I got the chance to see Ember Falls live for the first time! I’ve been interested in these guys since the release of the “Shut Down with Me” music video and have been waiting impatiently to hear more of their music and see what they’re like on stage. The festival was running late already by this point, as the guys were on stage doing a few finishing touches on the soundcheck before starting things up.

Jay V, Ember Falls
Jay V, Ember Falls

The first thought to run through my mind was, ‘I appreciate bands with a unique visual style.’ It’s not a thing I’d call ‘necessary,’ per say, but it adds a little bit of something extra to the show, which is always nice, and these guys have a really cool style. It was also cool to see how many people came out to watch them play, considering they don’t even have an album out yet. It looks like I wasn’t the only one dying to hear more songs and see “Shut Down with Me” live! Their performance was enthusiastic and I’d say akin to a well-made table that’s not quite done. The craftsmanship is quality, but a few screws need to be tightened up before it’s just right.

As for the music itself, the third song gave the bass player, Oswald, a little time in the spotlight, which I always appreciate (bass players are the unsung heroes of music most of the time, after all). The fourth song had some really classic 80s pop synth in it, and the sixth track, “Freedom,” was a very nice ballad that quickly gained my approval. They closed their set with “Shut Down with Me,” naturally, and brought a special guest on stage for the occasion: Joel Hokka of Blind Channel, who was on our list of bands to check out on Saturday! I definitely see why people compare Ember Falls to Amaranthe, but I wouldn’t say that they sound the same. In fact, I think these guys have better sound. Thomas Grove (vocals) has a hint of David Draiman (Disturbed) in there, which is kind of awesome. Overall, Ember Falls proved to have a unique blend of metal, rock, electronic pop, and so much more. I’m really enthusiastic to follow them and see where their music takes them!

And, before I move on, a big round of applause for Mr. Mika Tyni who was running the lights for their set – the tent stage is a fickle mistress, but he nailed it. These guys were looking amazing under those lights!

Amorphis
Amorphis

Our next stop was Amorphis on the main stage, and though we were watching from under a cloud, it was certainly more of a rainy grey than red. Earlier in the day I realized that I haven’t actually seen Amorphis since Under the Red Cloud was released, which got me really excited for this set. The gig started, to my pleasure, with a few new songs, including “Under the Red Cloud” and “Sacrifice.” Unfortunately, they were having some sound issues and the former started with no sound at all from Tomi Joutsen. They got him going quickly though, but he looked pretty frustrated for the first few songs. This could have been disastrous to their performance, but they came back from the problems a few songs later and put on a really nice show. A good percentage of the material was new, which is getting me really pumped up for their Under the Red Cloud show in August! The highlight for me was “Death of a King,” because that song is just wonderful, and now I know it’s equally great live!

We unfortunately missed Lost Society‘s set, as we had to run off to do an interview with Ember Falls, however, from where we were standing it sounded like they were putting on a great show, and we could feel their energy bursting out of the tent stage!

Triptykon
Triptykon

Triptykon was the blackest metal of the weekend, and to their credit, they also had some of the best T-shirt designs at the merch booth! Since black metal is not really for us, we decided to get some dinner while they were playing. I kept one ear turned toward the stage and was pleased to note that they had some very nice melodies mixed in with all the black metal traditions. While it’s still not likely to be something I’ll likely ever put on to listen to at home, I can’t say I was sorry for the chance to hear them on stage.

2016.06.11 Festival Extras (01) @ South ParkThe food this year was largely the same as last year, though the vegetarian option at the falafel stand was (to my knowledge) a nice new addition. Poppamies again seemed to dominate the space with their burger and rib stations, and I was pleased to note that the gourmet hot dog stand had also returned.

Stam1na
Stam1na

Of course, if you’re at a festival and Stam1na is playing, there’s really no excuse to miss their set. Still sporting the convict orange overalls from the Sakara Tour, there were no visual oddities in this show (such as wetsuits or corpse paint), but that doesn’t stop them from putting on a mighty fine show, and the crowd returned their enthusiasm by going absolutely ballistic! They played several songs from Elokuutio, including, for the first time live, “Pala palalta”! Unfortunately, their gig was cut short due to the whole festival running quite behind by this point in time.

Headlining Day 1 was no less than the legendary Slayer. Like black metal, I’m also not a big fan of thrash, but Slayer is such a classic that if they play a festival, you watch! The festival was, by this point, running really late and Slayer didn’t get going until 15 minutes after their designated start time even though Stam1na’s set was cut short. As part of the Repentless tour promoting the album of the same name from last year, their set appropriately began with “Delusions of Savior” and kicked straight into “Repentless.”

2016.06.10 05 Slayer (10) @ South Park
Slayer

I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed their show. I’ve tried my hardest to get into “Raining Blood,” but I’ve just never liked it. However, Tom Araya’s voice was quite pleasant and overall, they were much easier to listen to than I expected. At first I worried that the fact I was enjoying it meant they’ve lost their heavy touch, but then it got LOUD! I could see the appeal to hopping in their pit right away. Araya greeted the crowd a few times, saying that after over 30 years, they should be thanking the crowd and not the other way around. For “Mandatory Suicide” he spoke about loving your country and being willing to defend it. The lighting was very well done and the performance was tight, if a little basic. By that I mean that they didn’t have as impressive a command of the stage as other bands in their genre. We were getting pretty tired, however, so we decided to stay long enough to hear a classic, and I got my wish when they played “Seasons in the Abyss,” which is the closest thing to a Slayer song I like, so it was a nice way for me to end the night. Word on the street is they kept going for five more songs after that, including “Raining Blood,” naturally, and ended the set with “Angel of Death.”

The festival was off to a great start, and there were even more bands to look forward to coming up on Saturday!

Slayer
Slayer
2016.06.11 01 Thunderstone (07) @ South Park
Thunderstone

Day 2
We got down to the park at the equivalent of ‘bright and early’ for a festival, at the ripe afternoon hour of 14:00 to make sure we’d be in time to catch Thunderstone‘s set! At first I thought it would be a bit early in the day for them to get much of a crowd, but we weren’t the only ones who kept it together enough to be there to see them play – the crowd grew pretty big for their set! In tune with their Apocalypse Again release tour, they started things up with the intro mixed from “Barren Land” and got things going with “Veterans of the Apocalypse.”

2016.06.11 01 Thunderstone (01) @ South Park
Thunderstone

One thing that I absolutely adore about seeing these guys is that they are the perfect blend of chill old rockers who know their shit and complete goobers (we’re looking at you, Titus!) who mess around and make jokes. Nino Laurenne has been gloriously reunited with his lost guitar from the Canadian tour, and they were looking like they belong together. Titus Hjelm had some lovely and strange speeches, checking in to see how drunk everyone was/is, and told a tale of Thunderstone at Sauna Open Air years and years ago when he had a few “sauna beers” and decided dropping his pants on stage would be a good idea. Furthermore, they played all the best songs off the new album, like “The Path,” “Higher,” and “Through the Pain.” It’s like they read my mind, because they’ve kept my three favorites off the album for live tracks. Unfortunately, thanks to some sound problems, this wasn’t the best show I’ve seen of theirs – it seems like it was luck of the draw to have good monitor quality, etc, at this festival. Pasi Rantanen even had to swap his mic out at some point. I hope it goes a bit smoother at Tuska next month, because I’m convinced the later slot will suit them beautifully.

Blind Channel
Blind Channel

Next up was another band I’ve been dying to check out live since I discovered their first hit single, “Darker than Black”: Blind Channel! These guys clearly have a few dedicated fans already because there was some SCREAMING when they came on stage. I don’t mean cheering, I mean literally top-of-the-lungs shrieks. I can see why – the boys are some sweet-faced cuties and man, do they have the talent to connect with the crowd! It reminded me a bit of Bring Me the Horizon’s relationship between band and crowd – the band gives them a lot in a very personal way and the crowd eats it up! All I could think through their set was how big they were going to be. Niko Moilanen (vocals/rapping) in particular has this incredible boy-bandish charisma that will clearly lead to some serious swooning. I found a lot of pieces of a lot of other bands in their music – the rapping was a bit like Linkin Park, while the singing style was a bit like Story of the Year or Lostprophets, and so on. It was a good and unique blend. And, returning the favor from Friday, Thomas Grove (who was celebrating his birthday) joined them on stage for their big hit, the aforementioned “Darker than Black”! It was a really fun show and I expect that after their album comes out and with a few more shows under their belt to tighten those screws, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with!

Mokoma
Mokoma

It sometimes feels like you can’t have a summer festival without Mokoma, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen them so I was glad that they’re keeping up their streak of playing every festival every summer (more or less)! They came on stage to a very delightfully strange and unfamiliar intro track. They brought “Kuu saa valtansa auringolta” back onto the set (which had been missing during the Sakara Tour) and “Rautaa rinnoista” is a new live favorite of mine. “Hei hei heinäkuu” is always a summer must-have at festivals, complete with its reggae-funk interlude, and everyone in the crowd had to wave their hands back and forth to the music. I think they also likely win the ‘best singalongs’ award for this festival! It seems to have been a good year for them gig-wise, because they were sounding great and had some seriously impressive energy.

2016.06.11 Festival Extras (02) @ South ParkWe didn’t get too creative with mealtime on Day 2, but we did swing by some of the coffee shops. The first had chocolate muffins and some sort of roasted marshmallow tarts, but if that wasn’t up your alley, you could always go to Pyynikin munkki (sugared donut) – you can’t go wrong with that decision, as they’ve got the best hand-made donuts in town!

Shiraz Lane
Shiraz Lane

Shiraz Lane took over the tent stage next, kicking things off with their newest single, “Wake Up.” They’ve got an album under their belt since the last time we saw them, as well as a lot more experience, and it showed! I really enjoy watching these guys live because they have their own style – particularly Hannes Kett (vocals), and I mean that both visually and stylistically. The way he moves doesn’t remind me of anyone else, nor does the way he dresses. He’s really doing his own thing. I enjoy all of the influences you can hear in their music too – they’re a hard rock band, but there’s some funk and reggae in there too. They’re not afraid to play around with genre styles, and I appreciate the boldness. Of course, “Mental Slavery” was also a highlight, and Hannes brought his bloodstained straight-jacket shirt out for the occasion. The set ended with a bubble machine, and I left the tent feeling like these are a special group. They’re a more serious band thank the party rock of Santa Cruz, and while I love that, I feel like this sort of music with a message stays a bit more memorable in the long term.

Again, unfortunately, we had to skip Powerwolf and Reckless Love due to interviews with Shiraz Lane and Blind Channel, which is a true shame because Reckless Love is always a good time and I recall catching the end of Powerwolf’s set at Tuska 2014 and really enjoying them. However, we just don’t have the power to split ourselves into two so we can be in several places at once. We could hear both of them playing from a distance though and, like Lost Society on Friday, from what we could hear, we were missing out.

Soilwork
Soilwork

Nearing the end, Soilwork was the second-last to play on the main stage. Since they haven’t brought The Tour Majestic through Finland just yet (and they’ve yet to announce a headlining show for their new album), I was really excited to see them. Regardless of the fact that I wasn’t overly impressed with The Ride Majestic, I nevertheless can’t get enough of these guys live. Björn “Speed” Strid’s voice is just so pleasing, no matter what he’s doing with it. The schedule was running much more smoothly today and they took the stage right on time and played a few of my favorites, like “Let this River Flow,” “Follow the Hollow,” and “Stabbing the Drama.” Even though I was pretty exhausted at this point, I had to run out and join the crowd for a few songs, and was truly lamenting the fact that I have a messed up foot and couldn’t go in their moshpit because it was the best I had seen all weekend (note: I wasn’t paying attention to Slayer’s crowd, but I didn’t note anything epic going on from a distance). Strid joked about whether they or not the crowd was too wasted on jaloviina to get up on their toes and jump for a song they hadn’t played in about 10 years – “Overload” – and they proved that they were ready and willing. Again, I really like watching these guys perform because it’s equally easy to sit back and enjoy them with a beer as it is to go and freak the fuck out in the crowd with everyone else.

Exhaustion was starting to settle in (especially after Soilwork), so I decided to sit back and listen to Diablo from a distance. They had a new intro track and were sounding good, but I had to save myself for the last gig, instead promising myself I’d try and catch them at Tuska (where they’re playing late in the festival as well, oh dear).

Bullet for My Valentine
Bullet for My Valentine

At last, it was time to finish things up. Bullet for My Valentine was the last band of the weekend, and we finally got some pyrotechnics! They started things up with “V” and “No Way Out” and it started to immediately seem like these guys are a bit worn out from all the touring. Everyone except Jamie Mathias (bass), that is, who was the shining star of their performance. I wasn’t too familiar with him back when we saw them in November, but he’s really come into his place since then. His vocals are nothing short of fantastic and he’s still got plenty of energy to make up for what the other guys were lacking. They weren’t kidding when they said he was the perfect replacement bassist. Fortunately their sound didn’t suffer from lack of energy, and their playing was still excellent as a whole. Also, they happened to play all of my favorite new songs, including the starting track, “You Want a Battle, Here’s a War,” “Venom,” and “Raising Hell.” They also had classics like “The Last Fight” and “Scream, Aim, Fire,” complete with blazing pyros during the “fire” part of the heavy growling “SCREAM! AIM! FIRE!” bit of the song. The other highlight (besides Jamie Mathias’ entire performance) was the drum solo by Michael “Moose” Thomas, which had some energy in it still! They were perhaps a bit tired to be the final act, but their show reflected my feelings quite appropriately – the weekend had been full of great music and I was fucking tired!

 

So, all-in-all, South Park proved to be a fantastic weekend and definitely topped last year! I’m totally okay with the move away from being a hard rock -centered festival, and I’m thrilled to see them promoting fresh new bands like Ember Falls, Blind Channel, and Shiraz Lane. Their Facebook event is already up for next year, and chances are well be back again, rain or shine!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE: Pyry Hanski, (Less Than Three, Mörbid Vomit, Gloria Morti), 2016

0

Who is Pyry Hanski, you may ask? Well, you may know him from such bands as Less Than Three, Mörbid Vomit, and Gloria Morti. Haven’t heard of any of them? Then shame on you. If you were at Nummirock in 2014, you might have caught him on stage with Stam1na when Kaikka had injured his arm! We’re happy to share the playlist of this multi-talented guy’s life with you!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Damn, this is really hard one… I think it has probably been some song from the almighty Finnish children’s music band, Fröbelin Palikat!

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Well, really hard to remember this one also. Maybe the “Leijonan Metsästys” or “Sutsisatsi” from the very same Fröbelin Palikat.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
I listened a lot to death and black metal back in the high school days. So if I would have to pick one song from both genres I would say Emperor’s “Inno A Satana” and Bloodbath’s “Ways to the Grave.”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Can’t remember the exact songs, but AC/DC and Iron Maiden was the first ones that I really fell in love with. Then came Children of Bodom and they rocked my world and changed my life! Alexi Laiho and Children of Bodom in general were probably the main reasons why I started to play guitar back in the day.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
It really depends on what I’ve been listening to. This morning I listened to Daft Punk, so their great song, “Aerodynamic,” is the most recent song that got stuck in my head.

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
I really like all those cheesy love songs like Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Yes, I’m very evil-tr00-kvlt metalhead! 😀

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
It must have been Iron Maiden’s Live at Donington. I remember that I didn’t listen and almost do anything else for weeks than just listen to it, it just blew my mind!

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
I have to say that the whole Shadows of the Sun album by Ulver, because it’s impossible to pick just one song from that perfect album. Ulver is the best band in the whole world!

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
It would most definitely be either Kyuss’s “Green Machine” or Entombed’s “Say it in Slugs!”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
This is easy one! It’s definitely going to be Black Sun Aeon’s “A Song for My Funeral.”

SOUTH PARK – Day 2 @ Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 11.06.2016

0

Day 2 of South Park -festival, 2016.
Photos by Lene L., Bullet for My Valentine photos by Outi Puhakka and Lene L.

(2016) Interviews

0

Interview shots, 2016!

SOUTH PARK – Day 1 @ Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 10.06.2016

0

Day 1 of South Park -festival, 2016.
Photos by Lene L.

(2016) Ayreon: The Theater Equation

0

Artist: Ayreon (Arjen Lucassen)
DVD: The Theater Equation
Release: 17.06.2016
Label: Inside Out Music

 

It is time! Ever since I made the trip to Rotterdam with a friend back in September 2015 to see The Theater Equation, I’ve been waiting for the release of the DVD so I can share it with pretty much everyone I know! Now it’s finally here! You may have read my rather in-depth review of the live show, so I’ll do my best to not repeat myself too much.

The DVD starts off with a dark screen and the cheers of the crowd, opening into “Day 1: Vigil.” I was immediately interested in some of the stylistic choices. The first parts of “Vigil” are portrayed with a shaky, fuzzy cam, reflecting Me [James Labrie]’s state of confusion and lack of clarity. It’s a nice touch. On the flipside, however, the video has the tendency to jump from camera angle to camera angle without a very smooth transition at times, creating a bit of a jarring effect now and then. I won’t fault them too much for the only-decent quality, however, because I don’t think this was a particularly high-budget recording.

The performance follows the album fairly closely, with the addition of a few reprises here and there. Marcella Bovio [Wife] and Jermain “Wudstick” van der Bogt [Best Friend] begin the show rather uncomfortable with what’s happening, almost not caring about the state of Me. Marcella Bovio is perfect from start to finish, with her astounding voice covering me with goosebumps over and over. I particularly like her in “Day 10: Memories,” as she looks so happy, in love, and amused during the proposal memory. Wudstick’s performance as Best Friend is, I must say, an improvement from the album. As much as I love Arjen Lucassen and his voice, Wudstick manages to play the part with a bit more power and emotion, making him preferable to Lucassen. It’s present at the beginning, as well as in “Day 19: Disclosure,” and he really makes the part his own.

The emotions come to life in “Day 2: Isolation,” starting with Anneke van Giersbergen as Fear on top of the wrecked car. The emotions swarm Me, pushing him around, overwhelming him. There’s a nice little interlude where me says, “I can’t hear! Why can’t I hear?” that I don’t recall from the album. I’m pleased that throughout the performance, the editors did a good job highlighting both the musicians during their solos, as well as the choir, who do a great job backing up Passion [Irene Jansen] and the others in the second song.

Before I move on, let’s talk about Anneke van Giersbergen. It’s no secret that I adore her. Some may not agree with me on this, but I truly think she was the ultimate replacement for Mikael Åkerfeldt. He has a sort of hollow, eerie ring to his voice on the album, and the ever-present haunting echoes of van Giersbergen’s voice, to me, are perhaps the only equivalent sound to that, even if they differ drastically on the surface. It’s true that the power of some of the songs, like “Day 6: Childhood,” suffer a bit from the lack of growls, but it’s possible this was more of an issue with the sound levels than the singing, as I recall the choir having covered the growls quite decently when I watched the show in person.

Who else were big highlights in the show? Immediately, Devon Graves as Agony, Magnus Ekwall as Pride, and Eric Clayton as Reason come to mind. I know I already said this in my review of the live performance, but seriously, these three just took over their characters and played them to perfection. Graves in particular shines in “Day 3: Pain,” naturally, and I’d say Ekwall and Clayton have their best moment in “Day 14: Pride” when they start to work together after facing off for so many songs, especially after their conflict in “Day 8: School.”

The Doctor [Peter Moltmaker] and the Nurse [Nienke Verboom] are a welcome addition to the cast, expanding on the story and making it more full. The choir, as well, have a few of their own parts, such as an added segment at the end of “Day 4: Mystery” and the “Reprise Pain 2” before “Day 11: Love.” I like as well that they weren’t choreographed, and were allowed to show their own feelings on the situation, much like an echoing of confused questions in a person’s mind. Their part after “Day 10: Memories,” however nice, does seem to be there just to provide cover for the stage changeover, as it doesn’t flow quite as nicely as on the album, with Reason’s part about letting the memories in going straight into “Day 11: Love” getting interrupted.

“Day 11: Love,” incidentally, is one of my favorites. I love that they brought the party scene to the stage, and I love the way the emotions hover on the higher level above the memory, throwing their thoughts into things. Labrie’s sulking at the side of the stage is perfect, as well as his interaction with Fear.

“Day 6: Childhood” has what I believe was another little addition at the end, when Love [Heather Findlay] sings an extra part that contrasts Me to his Father. Findlay is another all-star, in spite of her part feeling a little small as compared to some of the gentlemen. She sings so sweetly and has such great warmth and gentleness, that you can’t help but think of love when you watch her.

A few people had commented on the live review, noting that I hardly mentioned Irene Jansen at all. I had wondered why that was after the gig, because there is no question that her voice is a force to be reckoned with, and she is magnificent as Passion. I think perhaps the reason for that is, when you compare her to the likes of the decrepit and twisted Agony, the confident and obnoxious Pride, tender and gentle Love, and strong and steady Reason, she simply didn’t stand out. Of all the characters on stage, she was the most physically underwhelming, not putting much oomph into her presence, with perhaps the exception of “Day 11: Love,” though even there she tends to look a little awkward. Don’t get me wrong, she sings phenomenally, but her “acting” is the least present of everyone on the stage.

Another nice new addition is Mother [Anita ven der Hoeven], who makes an appearance first in “Day 6: Childhood,” and again in “Day 12: Trauma.” She wasn’t present enough on the album to require her own character, same as the Doctor and Nurse, but having her there visually adds something that would be otherwise lacking. The latter song, incidentally, is one of my favorites re-make wise, adding these wonderful harmonies between van Giersbergen/Graves and Mills/Jansen. Reason here is haunting in his part before Mother appears, withered away in a wheelchair. Van Giersbergen’s harmonies with the choir’s growls also work surprisingly well.

Mike Mills as Rage might be at his best in “Day 3: Pain,” and I’m still glad to note that Rage was far more integrated in the live performance. If I have one complaint about the show as a whole though, it’s that I just can’t get on board with Mills’ overall portrayal of Rage. He sings so wonderfully, but I feel like his best parts were the additions, like in “Day 15: Betrayal”, not the parts Devin Townsend wrote for Rage specifically, and those are the parts the viewer obviously looks most forward to. In particular, I have to come out and admit that I just didn’t like “Day 16: Loser,” which unfortunately is one of my favorite album tracks. In my mind, at the end of the song, Rage should fly out from off-stage and chased the Father away, who would have ideally been played by a separate character, the same as Mother. Having Mills portray both the Father and Rage at the same time just didn’t work for me. Also – and of course I have no idea if this was Mills’ interpretation or the director’s choice – I simply don’t like Rage’s stage presence. Rage appears more as the joker and doesn’t really have any anger most of the time, like in “Day 8: School,” though I hate saying it because he sings so well. Rage is goofy and over-exaggerated, rather than a force of fury, and it’s just not quite appropriate. However, the way he and Fear wither away at the end is a nice touch. And man, that guy does have some pipes. But in the grand scheme of things, perhaps taking out two growlers and not replacing either of them was a poor decision. Rage should have had a deeper voice and if I’m being picky, the ability to growl.

And one hell of a round of applause to James Labrie! He does a great job of this part, looking both worn out and angry, but coming back and showing, well… all of the emotions that the other characters play. Perhaps my favorite part of his is in “Day 14: Pride,” when he just wails out his lines, such as, “I really love her / I’m not a heartless man!” The “LET! ME! OUT!” at the end of “Day 18: Realization” is another glorious moment for him. He clearly worked his ass off on this part and it shows. He is the shining star of this whole thing.

There’s a few more things to mention as the show draws to an end. First of all, “Day 18: Realization” is just heartbreaking. Labrie’s face as Best Friend and Wife confess is perfect, and my heart breaks every time Bovio sings, “My sweet love / my heart belongs to you / but I was lonely and the need for passion grew / you were never here and even when you were / most of my words would go unheard.” The dynamics in this song are earth-shattering, especially when Love and Passion join in and it’s like an electrical current through my skin.

“Day 19: Disclosure” follows as the breath before the storm that is the final crescendo in “Day 20: Confrontation”! I get chills and tears in my eyes every time. The latter is one hell of a song to sing, let along perform, and these guys own the whole thing. One thing I particularly love about this is that, while Fear and Rage die out, Pain remains. He’s not going anywhere, because life will always have pain, it’s just a matter of accepting it and learning to deal with it, which is a lesson Me hadn’t learned at the start of the show. Labrie wanders around the stage, uncovering all of the difficult memories he had covered up earlier, making his decision final. When he has his last words with Fear and says, “Look at me… I’m alive,” and the whole thing begins to build up, I get choked up every time.

As much as I love the somewhat hilarious finale with Arjen Lucassen coming out of the pod, I have to say that I dislike the video editing on it – it shows far too much of the backside of the pod and its construction (the wooden parts, etc), thus more or less ruining the illusion of the Forever. Of course in the stage setting it didn’t matter because you couldn’t see it, but I personally wouldn’t have used the shots from behind quite so much. However, the viewer is quite easily distracted by Lucassen’s wonderful shiny silver outfit as he emerges shortly afterwards!

 

Overall, this show really deserved the DVD. In fact, I wish it had a better budget because it was such a rare opportunity and would have deserved a better quality video. Ultimately, the final product is still quite incredible and worth watching. And I don’t mean half-watching while playing Solitaire on your phone either. Invite your friends over, have some snacks ready, and sit down prepared to watch with your full attention, because it’s gripping, captivating, and so very emotional. Even the weaker and weirder performances don’t hold the show back as a whole. The Human Equation was nothing short of a masterpiece, and if you like the album, The Theater Equation is a must-see and must-have!

 

Tracklist:
Act I
1. Day 1: Vigil
2. Day 2: Isolation
3. Day 3: Pain
4. Day 4: Mystery
5. Day 5: Voices
6. Reprise: Pain 1
7. Day 6: Childhood
8. Day 7: Hope
9. Day 8: School
10. Reprise: Childhood
11. Day 9: Playground
12. Day 10: Memories
13. Reprise: Pain 2
14. Day 11: Love

Act II
15. Day 12: Trauma
16. Day 13: Sign
17. Day 14: Pride
18. Reprise: Vigil
19. Day 15: Betrayal
20. Reprise: School
21. Day 16: Loser
22. Day 17: Accident?
23. Reprise: Pain 3
24. Day 18: Realization
25. Reprise: Trauma
26. Day 19: Disclosure
27. Day 20: Confrontation
28. Dream Sequencer System Offline

Text: Amy Wiseman

WITHERSCAPE – Dan Swanö, 2016 (suomeksi)

0

Jos Ruotsin metalliskenessä on yksi todellinen monitoimimies, se on Dan Swanö. Hän on tullut tunnetuksi multi-instrumentalistina ja lukuisien bändien ja projektien – mm. Edge of Sanity, Nightingale ja Bloodbath – jäsenenä sekä tuottajana ja miksaajana, jonka ansioluettelosta löytyy Opethin, Katatonian ja Omnium Gatherumin kaltaisten nimien levyjä. Swanön viimeisin projekti on progressiivinen death metal -duo Witherscape, jossa hän on mukana rumpalina, kosketinsoittajana ja laulajana Ragnar Widerbergin soittaessa kitaraa ja bassoa. Heidän toinen albuminsa The Northern Sanctuary julkaistaan 22. heinäkuuta Century Median kautta, joten tartuimme tilaisuuteen jutella Danin kanssa levystä ja hänen muista töistään.

Voitko kertoa meille mitä voimme odottaa The Northern Sanctuaryltä – onko sen ja The Inheritancen välillä suuria eroja?

Soundi on tällä kertaa hieman eeppisempi. Rankka on rankkaa, pehmeä pehmeämpää ja useimpien kappaleiden sovitukset ovat perinteisempiä, mutta eeppinen nimikappale ei sitten tunne rajoja lainkaan 🙂

The Northern Sanctuary jatkaa siitä, mihin The Inheritancen tarina jäi. Olet aiemminkin julkaissut moniosaisia konseptilevysarjoja, kuten Edge of Sanityn Crimson -levykaksikon ja Nightingalen The Breathing Shadow -saagan. Nautitko tällaisten jatkumollisten levyjen teosta ja pidätkö konseptialbumia inspiroivana muotona?

Joo, tykkään täysillä ääniraidan teosta cooliin tarinaan. Totta kai siinäkin on jotain erityistä, kun löytää teeman, joka sopii vain lyhyeen tekstiin, mutten ole siinä yhtä hyvä kuin keksiessä isoja juonia, jotka vievät muutaman albumin verran päättyäkseen!

Sinä ja Ragnar asutte eri maissa, mutta Facebook-sivullanne on runsaasti kuvia teistä työstämässä albumia yhdessä. Sävellättekö ja äänitättekö kaiken kasvotusten vai kuuluuko mukaan myös tiedostojen vaihtoa?

Olen ollut Ragnarin osuuksia äänitettäessä hänen vierellään varmistamassa, että kaikki on huippuluokkaa. Useimmat riffit äänitetään, kun hän on juuri kerennyt soittaa niitä ensi kertaa, mutta Ragzilla on outo kyky tehdä riffistä omansa ja soittaa se kuin hän olisi jammaillut sitä vuosien ajan vain 10 minuuttia sen jälkeen, kun hän on soittanut sen ensimmäisen kerran. Aavemaista ja hyvin, hyvin hyödyllistä 🙂 Ensimmäisen albumin sävelsimme kasvotusten osissa, ja joitain juttuja sävellettiin kotona ja tuotiin sitten treenikämpälle. Mutta koska asumme nyt eri maissa, treenit ovat mennyttä aikaa ja sävellämme omillamme, ja minä laitan tavaran yhteen ja varmistan, että se kuulostaa siltä kuin olisimme hikoilleet treenikämpällä vuosien ajan!

Ovatko kappaleet yleensä 50/50-tuotoksia vai tuleeko yhdeltä jäseneltä enemmän ideoita kuin toiselta?

Ennen vanhaan tuo oli suunnitelma, ja paria kappaletta lukuun ottamatta ensimmäinen albumi oli pitkälti 50/50-juttu, mutta sittemmin Ragnarilla on ollut toinen bändi, joka tarvitsee hänen parhaita metalliriffejään [Shadowquest]. Koska jouduin aloittamaan tämän albumin säveltämisen hyvin aikaisin, sillä kappaleiden täytyy maata hetken aikaa käyttämättöminä, jotta niiden kestävyydestä voi olla varma, tällä kertaa hän sävelsi yhden kokonaisen raidan ja joitain nimibiisin kaikkein parhaimmista palasista.

Tiedän, ettet ole järin innostunut kiertämisestä, mutta onko mitään mahdollisuutta, että voisimme nähdä Witherscapen lavalla tulevaisuudessa?

Ei. Valitettavasti. Witherscape on vain ja ainoastaan studioprojekti. Tykkään luoda musiikkiani täysin vapaana rajoituksista nykyään, ja jatkuva livetoimivuuden pohtiminen on helvetin rajoittavaa. Päätettyäni, ettei keikkoja tulisi, mahdollisuudet ovat olleet loputtomia! Viime kädessä olen täällä musiikin vuoksi, enkä niinkään live-esiintymisten!

Rajoitettu painos sisältää dynaamisemman miksauksen albumista bonusmateriaalina, aivan kuten debyyttinne ja Nightingalen Retribution (2014). Mikä on äänittäjänä ja miksaajana mielipiteesi volyymisodan tilasta vuonna 2016, nyt kun YouTube ja Spotifyn kaltaiset striimauspalvelut käyttävät volyymin normalisointia, jonka seurauksena kaikki musiikki soi samankaltaisella voimakkuudella, riippumatta alkuperäisen masteroinnin äänekkyydestä?

Toivon, että maailma pikkuhiljaa tajuaisi, että volyymisota on tyhmin musiikille tapahtunut asia sitten rapin ja hip hopin. Kun toistaa kappaleen, jota on limitoitu järjettömästi äänekkyyden takaamiseksi ohjelman 10 dB hiljentämänä ja perään kappaleen, jossa ei ole juurikaan limitointia soitettuna samalla äänenvoimakkuudella… sitä tajuaa, miten paljon vahinkoa joillekin nykypäivänä julkaistuille albumeille tehdään. On oma lukunsa, että radio limitoi musiikkia, jotta se kantautuisi kauemmas, mutta se, että kaikki dynamiikka tapetaan vain jotta jonkun tyhmän lenkkeilijän ei tarvitse säätää äänenvoimakkuutta satunnaisessa mixtapessaan… se on silkkaa typeryyttä. Käyttäkää jotain MP3 Gainin kaltaista ohjelmaa ja laskekaa kaikki tiedostonne samalle tasolle… älkää puskeko matalia äänekkäiden tasolle. Äänenvoimakkuudensäädin on olemassa hyvästä syystä! Tukekaa jälleen sotaa, volyymisotaa! Hell yeah!

Lähiaikoina olet miksannut Insomniumin tulevaa albumia Winter’s Gate. Millaista oli työskennellä toisen bändin 40-minuuttisen yhden kappaleen albumin parissa, kun olet itse julkaissut kaksi sellaista levyä (Crimson (1996) ja Crimson II (2003))?

Pidän juuri taukoa sen miksauksesta. Siinä on vielä paljon tehtävää. Kokemus on melko hengästyttävä, koska se on niin vitun eeppinen ja täysin erilainen kuin perinteisen rakenteen mukainen kappale, kuten asiaan kuuluu. Joudun siis keskittymään ihan eri tasolla kuin perinteisen death metal -albumin kanssa, mutta se on helvetinmoinen albumi ja näin ollen lisäponnistuksen arvoinen… Luvassa on varsinaista herkkua, ehdottomasti iso merkintä 1-raitaisten albumien kirjassa!

Puhutaan hieman Nightingalesta: ottaen huomioon, kuinka tarttuvaa ja helposti lähestyttävää materiaalinne on, olisiko bändi mielestäsi voinut kasvaa isommaksi, jos levy-yhtiön tukea ja keikkoja olisi ollut enemmän?

Todennäköisesti. Jos näet, miten jotkin bändit soittivat yhtenä viikkona 10:lle ja ison MTV-hitin saatuaan tuhansille seuraavalla keikalla… Se olisi voinut tapahtua. Hienosta materiaalista ei ole puutetta, muttemme kai koskaan saa tietää! Olen saavuttanut niin monia mahtavia asioita Nightingalen musiikin kautta, joista mahtavin on vaimoni tapaaminen musiikkimme takia, ja olemme keikkailleet maissa, joissa en olisi muuten päässyt käymään ehkä koskaan. Minulle nykytilanne on hyvä sellaisenaan, ja olen oppinut ystäviltäni musiikkibisneksessä, että saavuttaakseen niin kestävän menestyksen, jotta musiikilla oikeasti tienaa, täytyy paiskia uskomattomasti töitä, eikä se elämäntapa sovi minulle. Pidän enemmän kotona studiossani oleskelusta perheeni kanssa 🙂

Sooloalbumistasi Moontower (1999) on muodostunut vuosien varrella kulttiklassikko, mutta valitettavasti sitä on erittäin vaikea löytää internetistä. Onko mahdollista, että se – tai Edge of Sanityn ja Nightingalen albumit – voitaisiin julkaista uudelleen CD:nä ja/tai vinyylinä vai onko asia kokonaan Black Markin käsissä?

Itse asiassa olen tehnyt vinyylimasterit (parempi kuin ei mitään) sekä Moontowerista että Nightfall Overturesta. Black Mark on tällä hetkellä vaikeassa tilanteessa, mutta toivon asioiden järjestyvän, jotta ne julkaistaan!

Vielä lopuksi, onko sinulla työn alla mitään muita projekteja Witherscapen ja miksaus- ja masterointitöiden ohella?

Olen muuttamassa uuteen taloon perheeni kanssa ja pistämässä pystyyn uuden miksaus/masterointihuoneen ja erillisen sävellys/äänityshuoneen. Se on aikamoinen projekti ja pääni pyörii kaikista hoidettavista asioista. Musiikillisesti aion perehtyä säveltämiseni synkempään puoleen tulevaa julkaisua varten. Ei ole vielä kovin selvää, mitä siitä tulee, mutta aion tehdä siitä bruuuutaalia 🙂

Teksti: Ville Karttunen

WITHERSCAPE – Dan Swanö, 2016 (English)

0

If there’s one person in the Swedish metal scene that is truly a man for all seasons, it’s Dan Swanö. Not only has he become known as a multi-instrumentalist and member of various bands and projects – Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, and Bloodbath to name a few – he’s also a prolific producer and mixing engineer whose CV includes albums by the likes of Opeth, Katatonia, and Omnium Gatherum. Swanö’s latest project is the progressive death metal duo, Witherscape, which features him on drums, keyboards, and vocals, while Ragnar Widerberg handles guitars and bass. Their sophomore album, The Northern Sanctuary, will be released on July 22th, 2016, through Century Media, so we took the opportunity to talk to Dan about the record and his other endeavors.

 

Can you tell us what to expect from The Northern Sanctuary – are there any big differences between it and The Inheritance (2013)?
The sound is a bit more epic this time around. The hard is hard, the soft is softer, and most of the songs have more of traditional arrangement, and then the epic title track knows no boundaries at all 🙂

The Northern Sanctuary picks up where the story of The Inheritance left off. You’ve released multi-part concept album series in the past, namely the Crimson duology by Edge of Sanity and The Breathing Shadow saga by Nightingale. Do you enjoy making records with this sense of continuity and find the medium of concept album inspiring?
Yeah. I totally dig making a soundtrack to a cool story. There’s of course also something special about finding a theme that will only work for a short lyric, but I am not as good at finding those as I am to dream up big story lines that takes a few albums to finish off!

You and Ragnar live in different countries, but on your Facebook page there are a lot of photos of the two of you working on the album together. Do you write and record everything face-to-face or is some file exchanging involved?
For all Ragnar’s parts, I have been there by his side making sure everything is top notch. Most of the riffs are recorded only after he’s played them for the first time, but Ragz has an uncanny way of making a riff his own and playing it like he’s been jamming on it for years, only 10 minutes after playing it for the first time. Spooky and very, very useful 🙂 The first album was written face-to-face, in parts, and some of the stuff was written at home and then brought to the rehearsal room. But since we now live countries apart, rehearsals are a thing of the past and we write separately and I but the stuff together and make sure it will sound as if we’d been sweating the stuff out in the rehearsal room for years!

Are the songs generally 50/50 efforts or does one member contribute more ideas than the other?
In the old times that was the plan, and with the exception of a few songs on the first album, it was pretty much a 50/50 thing. But since then, Ragnar has another band in need of his best metal riffs [Shadowquest] and since I needed to start writing this album really early, because the songs must lie around doing nothing for a while, to make sure they stand the test of time… and this time around he contributed with one full track and some of the very best pieces for the title track.

I know you’re not overly keen on touring, but is there any chance we might get to see Witherscape on stage in the future?
No. Sorry. Witherscape is strictly studio. I like to create my music completely free of restrictions these days, and having to think about “how do we do this live?” all the time limits the hell out of me, and once I decided that live was a no-go, the possibilities are endless! In the end… the music is what I am here for; the live performances, not so much!

The limited edition includes a more dynamic mix of the album as bonus material, just like the debut and Nightingale’s Retribution (2014) did. As an audio engineer, what do you think the state of the loudness war is in 2016, now that YouTube and streaming services like Spotify use loudness normalization, which results in all the music being played at a similar volume, no matter how loud or quiet the original master is?
I am hoping that the world will slowly come to realize that the loudness war is the most stupid thing to happen to music since rap and hip-hop. Once you play back a song that has been limited to death, to be loud, lowered 10 dB by your software, to be followed by a song that doesn’t have any strong limiting to it, played at the same volume… you get it how much damage is done to some albums released today. It’s one thing that the radios are limiting stuff for the music to be “thrown” longer in the air, but to kill all dynamics so some stupid jogger doesn’t have to be adjusting the volume in their random mix tape… that is just stupid. Then use something like MP3 Gain software and lower all your files to the same level… not push the low ones up to the level of the loud. There’s a fucking volume control for a reason! Support the war again the loudness war! Hell yeah!

Lately you’ve been mixing Insomnium’s upcoming album, Winter’s Gate. What was it like to work on a 40-minute one-song album by another band when you’ve released two records like that yourself (Crimson (1996) and Crimson II (2003))?
I just have a break from mixing it. Still have lots to do on it. It’s a rather exhausting experience because it is so fucking epic and different from traditional song structure, all the time, which it should be. So I have to really focus on yet another level than for a traditional death metal album… but it’s a hell of an album, so it’s worth the extra mile… you are all in for a real treat. Definitely a huge entry in the book of one-track albums!

Let’s talk about Nightingale a little bit: considering how catchy and accessible your material is, do you think the band could’ve grown bigger with more label backing and gigs?
Most likely. If you see how some bands that went from playing to ten people 1 week and after having a big MTV hit playing to thousands the next gig… it could have happened. There’s no shortage of awesome material. But we will never know, will we! I have reached so many awesome things through the music of Nightingale, the most awesome is meeting my wife because of our music, and then there’s been shows in countries I might never have had the chance to visit otherwise. For me, it’s good as it is, and I have learned through my friends in the music business that you have to work so incredibly hard to achieve lasting success to the point that you’re actually making money from your music and I am not cut out for that lifestyle. I like it better at home in my studio with my family 🙂

Your solo album, Moontower (1999), has become a cult classic over the years, but sadly it’s really hard to find copies of it on the internet. Is there a chance it – or Edge of Sanity and Nightingale albums – might get reissued on CD and/or vinyl or is this totally up to Black Mark?
I have actually prepared vinyl masters (better than nothing) for both Moontower and Nightfall Overture, but Black Mark are going through a rough patch at the moment, but I am always hoping that things will get to a point where they will be released!

Finally, besides Witherscape and your mixing and mastering jobs, are you working on any other projects at the moment?
Moving to a house with my family and set up a new mix/master room and a separate writing/recording room. That is quite the project and my head is spinning from all the things that need to be taken care of. Musically, I will look into the darker side of my writing for a future release. It’s not really clear what it will be yet… but I plan to make it bruuuutal 🙂

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

SOUTH PARK – Festival Extras @ Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 10-11.06.2016

0

Festival extras from South Park 2016.
Photos by Lene L.

(2016) Katatonia: The Fall of Hearts (English)

0

Artist: Katatonia
Album: The Fall of Hearts
Released: 20.05.2016
Label: Peaceville

 

Some 4 years have passed since the release of Katatonia’s last full-length album, Dead End Kings (2012). The band has mainly remained in people’s consciousness with various other releases, such as live DVDs and remixes of previous albums. However, now the time has come for new, original songs from the Swedish purveyors of melancholy, as The Fall of Hearts has finally hit record store shelves.

Dead End Kings ended up becoming my second favorite Katatonia album, right behind 1996’s classic Brave Murder Day, and it felt like the band had perfected the sound they’d been developing since The Great Cold Distance (2006). Therefore it was interesting to see where they’d go next – would Katatonia fall into the same trap as Amorphis had until last year’s Under the Red Cloud, releasing decent but rather unsurprising albums in the same vein as before, or experiment with something new? Luckily the Swedes have avoided stagnation by taking the latter path.

The Fall of Hearts dives full-on into the world of progressive rock and metal that Katatonia has flirted with on its previous albums. A few of the songs are the band’s longest in 20 years and even slightly reminiscent of the debut album, Dance of December Souls (1993), in the way they’ve been structured. The record takes the extremes in Katatonia’s music further apart than ever before: the heavier songs are more technical and complex, while the mellow songs are more subdued. Though Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström still write the material, some of this pushing of boundaries can probably be attributed to the band’s recent line-up changes, as well as the acoustic experimentation of Dethroned and Uncrowned (2013) and the tour that followed it. New drummer Daniel Moilanen’s playing ranges from the aggressive double kicks of “The Night Subscriber” to the subtlety of “Residual,” while the other newcomer, Roger Öjersson, lets his fingers dance on the fretboard in form of three solos. Katatonia has never exactly been a guitar solo band, but his contributions work well in the context of the songs and the new sound.

Though The Fall of Hearts is a step in a new direction, it’s also a natural follow-up to Dead End Kings. The aforementioned solos are a continuation of the shred of “Lethean,” and the piano melodies on “Last Song Before the Fade” and “Shifts” have the same jazzy feel as “Leech” did. Overall, the album is slightly more guitar-driven and includes less keyboards and electronics than the last two records, probably due to the absence of collaborator Frank Default. Jonas Renkse has also gone outside his lyrical comfort zone, offering some of his most striking lines ever in songs like “Sanction”: “There’s a flight to Medellin / 12 hours of drinking gin.” My personal favorite songs on the album are the Opeth-y and epic “Serac” and the up-tempo “The Night Subscriber.” Other songs worth a mention are the folky ballad “Pale Flag” and “Passer,” which includes creepy piano sounds that would make Trent Reznor smile.

Unfortunately change also comes with sacrifice, and what Katatonia has gained in variety and freshness, it has lost in memorability. Even after multiple listens it’s difficult to remember the melodies and riffs of some songs, and only the choruses of “Old Heart Falls” and “Last Song Before the Fade” match the catchiness of earlier songs like “The Racing Heart” and “Deliberation.” On top of that, the album feels a little overwhelming because of its 70-minute length and suffers from some pacing problems. “Takeover” is a good song, but doesn’t really feel like an opener, and “Decima” is a bit of a buzzkill as a ballad coming off the heels of “Old Heart Falls,” which isn’t that heavy of a song either. I would’ve made “Passer” the opening track, because its intro solo would give the album an exploding start, and “Serac” rises to such heights in its ending that it would make a great closer. However, one has to admit that some good tracklist choices have been made, and at times the flow is great: for example, the transition from “The Night Subscriber” to “Pale Flag” is virtually seamless and works perfectly.

The Fall of Hearts is an intriguing and enjoyable album that has all the required ingredients to become a Katatonia classic, but it’s a little too angular and introverted for its own good. The album is like that mysterious acquaintance at school or work that you get along with well, but never get to know on a deeper level despite your best efforts, because they prefer to keep their distance. Perhaps late spring simply isn’t the best time for listening to Katatonia and the album will open up more easily in the fall – only time will tell…

Rating: 7/10, 3½ stars

Tracklist:
01. Takeover
02. Serein
03. Old Heart Falls
04. Decima
05. Sanction
06. Residual
08. Serac
09. Last Song Before the Fade
10. Shifts
11. The Night Subscriber
12. Pale Flag
13. Passer

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

(2016) Katatonia: The Fall of Hearts (suomeksi)

0

Artisti: Katatonia
Albumi: The Fall of Hearts
Julkaistu: 20.05.2016
Levy-yhtiö: Peaceville

Noin neljä vuotta on vierähtänyt Katatonian edellisen täyspitkän Dead End Kingsin (2012) julkaisusta. Yhtye on pysynyt ihmisten tietoisuudessa lähinnä moninaisten muiden julkaisujen, kuten live-DVD:iden ja uudelleenmiksattujen levyjen voimin. Nyt on kuitenkin tullut aika kuulla ruotsalaisten melankolian sanansaattajien uusia kappaleita, sillä The Fall of Hearts on vihdoin ilmestynyt levykauppojen hyllyille.

Dead End Kings päätyi kakkossuosikikseni Katatonian tuotannossa heti klassikkolevy Brave Murder Dayn (1996) perään, ja tuntui että yhtye oli hionut huippuunsa tyylin, jota se oli kehittänyt The Great Cold Distancesta (2006) alkaen. Niinpä oli mielenkiintoista nähdä, minne yhtye suuntaisi seuraavaksi – vajoaisiko Katatonia samaan ansaan kuin Amorphis viimevuotiseen Under the Red Cloudiin saakka, julkaisten kelvollisia mutta melko yllätyksettömiä levyjä, vai kokeilisiko se jotain uutta? Onneksi ruotsalaiset ovat välttäneet paikoilleen jämähtämisen valitsemalla jälkimmäisen tien.

The Fall of Hearts sukeltaa täydellä teholla progressiivisen rockin ja metallin maailmaan, jonka kanssa Katatonia on flirttaillut edellisillä levyillään. Muutamat kappaleet ovat yhtyeen pisimpiä 20 vuoteen ja tuovat rakenteillaan mieleen jopa debyyttialbumi Dance of December Soulsin (1993). Levy vie Katatonian musiikin ääripäät kauemmas toisistaan kuin koskaan aikaisemmin: raskaat kappaleet ovat teknisempiä ja monimutkaisempia, kun taas rauhalliset kappaleet ovat hillitympiä. Vaikka Jonas Renkse ja Anders Nyström ovat edelleen vastuussa materiaalin säveltämisestä, osaltaan rajojen rikkomiseen ovat todennäköisesti vaikuttaneet yhtyeen äskettäiset kokoonpanomuutokset sekä Dethroned and Uncrownedin (2013) akustinen kokeellisuus ja sitä seurannut kiertue. Uuden rumpalin Daniel Moilasen soitto vaihtelee “The Night Subscriberin” aggressiivisista tuplabasareista “Residualin” hienovaraisuuteen, kun taas toinen tulokas Roger Öjersson antaa sormiensa tanssahdella otelaudalla kolmen soolon verran. Katatonia ei ole koskaan ollut varsinainen kitarasoolobändi, mutta hänen osuutensa toimivat biisien ja uuden tyylin viitekehyksissä hienosti.

Vaikka The Fall of Hearts on askel uuteen suuntaan, se on myös luonnollista jatkumoa Dead End Kingsille. Edellämainitut soolot jatkavat “Letheanin” tilulinjaa, ja “Last Song Before the Faden” ja “Shiftsin” pianomelodioissa on samanlainen jazzahtava tunnelma kuin “Leechissä”. Kokonaisuudessaan albumi on hieman kitaravetoisempi ja sisältää vähemmän kosketinsoittimia ja koneita kuin pari edellistä levyä, todennäköisesti yhteistyökumppani Frank Defaultin poissaolon vuoksi. Jonas Renkse on myös mennyt tekstittäjänä mukavuusalueensa ulkopuolelle ja kirjoittanut joitakin uransa silmiinpistävimpiä rivejä, kuten vaikkapa “Sanctionissa”: “There’s a flight to Medellin / 12 hours of drinking gin”. Henkilökohtaiset suosikkikappaleeni albumilla ovat opethmainen ja eeppinen “Serac” ja nopeatempoinen “The Night Subscriber”. Muita maininnan arvoisia kappaleita ovat folkahtava balladi “Pale Flag” ja “Passer”, jossa kuullaan karmivaa pianoa, joka saisi Trent Reznorin hymyilemään.

Valitettavasti muutosten mukana tulee uhrauksia, ja sen mitä Katatonia on saavuttanut monipuolisuudessa ja tuoreudessa, se on menettänyt mieleenpainuvuudessa. Useiden kuuntelujenkin jälkeen on vaikea muistaa joidenkin kappaleiden melodioita ja riffejä, ja ainoastaan “Old Heart Fallsin” ja “Last Song Before the Faden” kertosäkeet yltävät “The Racing Heartin” ja “Deliberationin” kaltaisten aiempien kappaleiden tarttuvuuteen. Tämän lisäksi albumi tuntuu hieman ylipaisutetulta 70 minuutin kestonsa vuoksi ja kärsii rytmitysongelmista. “Takeover” on hyvä kappale, muttei tunnu avausbiisiltä, ja “Decima” on pienoinen tunnelmantappaja balladina heti “Old Heart Fallsin” perään sijoitettuna, sillä jälkimmäinenkään ei ole järin raskas kappale. Itse olisin tehnyt “Passerista” avausraidan, koska sen introsoolo antaisi albumille räjähtävän alun, ja “Serac” nousee sellaisiin korkeuksiin lopetuksessaan, että se toimisi hienosti päätösbiisinä. Täytyy kuitenkin myöntää, että hyviäkin kappalelistavalintoja on tehty ja ajoittain levyn kulku on erinomainen: esimerkiksi siirtymä “The Night Subscriberista” “Pale Flagiin” on käytännössä saumaton ja toimii täydellisesti.

The Fall of Hearts on mielenkiintoinen ja miellyttävä albumi, jossa on kaikki tarvittavat Katatonia-klassikon ainekset, mutta se on hieman liian kulmikas ja sisäänpäinkääntynyt. Levy on kuin salaperäinen tuttava koulussa tai töissä, jonka kanssa tulet sujuvasti toimeen, mutta jota et yrityksistäsi huolimatta opi tuntemaan syvällisemmin, koska hän haluaa ottaa etäisyyttä. Kenties loppukevät ei yksinkertaisesti ole parasta aikaa Katatonian kuuntelulle ja albumi avautuu helpommin syksyllä – vain aika näyttää…

Arvosana: 7/10, 3½ tähteä

Kappalelista:

  1. Takeover
  2. Serein
  3. Old Heart Falls
  4. Decima
  5. Sanction
  6. Residual
  7. Serac
  8. Last Song Before the Fade
  9. Shifts
  10. The Night Subscriber
  11. Pale Flag
  12. Passer

Teksti: Ville Karttunen

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE: Nicolas Kivilinna, 2016

0
Photo by Tiia-Mari Tervaharju

If pleasant folky Finnish music of the likes of Jaakko Teppo tickle your fancy, you might just enjoy the lovely acoustic sounds of Finnish-Canadian musician, Nicolas Kivilinna. His popular local act is often found in Tampere, and here we have the playlist of his life for you!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Mozart’s “Alleluiah”

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
The Beatles – “She Loves You”

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Regarding metal: everything Ronnie James Dio did
Regarding my style: the same as in question 2 – The Beatles’ “She Loves You” changed my life and no matter how far I explore, I always ultimately return to that band

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Some gypsy theme played by an old man on the accordion in the London metro

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Of late, Michael Jackson’s Bad album. But I’m not that guilty about it…

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
My first was either The Beatles’s Let it Be or Nirvana’s compilation album, Nirvana

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Tom Waits – “All the World is Green”

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Hullujussi – “Bulvania Boogie”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
It would be great to compile a ten hour playlist and make everybody listen to all the oddball and on-the-fringe stuff that I never got them to listen to when I was alive.

Photo by Kyösti Karila
Photo by Kyösti Karila

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE: Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon, Stream of Passion, The Gentle Storm), 2016

0
Arjen Lucassen w/ Anneke van Giersbergen @Nosturi, 2015 Photo by Marco Manzi

There are a lot of legendary female vocalists that come out of the Netherlands, but what about the legendary men? The first name that popped into our mind was none other than Arjen Lucassen, the mastermind behind Ayreon, the creator of Stream of Passion, and one of the founders of The Gentle Storm (among others)! We got in touch with him and he shared the playlist of his life with us!

1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
“El Paso” by Marty Robbins. My father played it all the time. I recently covered (well, butchered) it; you can find it on YouTube.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
“A Day in the Life” by the Beatles. I was 7. Still the best song ever.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
“You Really Got Me” by Van Halen. The only rock song they had in the Jukebox that was filled with terrible disco crap. I put it there!

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
The theme song of True Blood, just because I’m re-watching the series right now. I’m gonna do real bad things with you 🙂

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
“Yes Sir I Can Boogie” by Baccara. It’s so incredibly bad… that I have to hear it over and over again!

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I bought it together with my neighbor friend in the late sixties. Yes.. I’m that old.

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Definitely Gary Jules’ “Mad World,” such a wonderful song and interpretation.

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Any Rammstein track! I guess “Mein Herz Brennt.”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Monty Python – “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life.” I had a great life, so that should be celebrated.

(2014) Machinae Supremacy: Phantom Shadow (album story teaser)

0

Artist: Machinae Supremacy
Album: Phantom Shadow
Released: 22.08.2014
Label: Spinefarm/self-released

 

It’s May 2016 and Phantom Shadow came out in August 2014, so you may be wondering why I am writing a review of this album nearly 2 years after its release, and if I’m just doing it for fun, why am I not backdating it and sticking it in the archive where it belongs? The reasons behind my madness are twofold: the first is that I never really understood this album the first hundred times I listened to it, so it has taken nearly 2 years for me to get the full feel of it. The second is that this post is a little album story teaser for our special feature that’s coming out in August where we will reveal the full story behind Phantom Shadow!

Phantom Shadow was always a really good album. A really good album. Then theories began to develop about the story and it became a great album. But, after learning the real story, it has ascended to an unbelievable album, if totally convoluted. This album deserves a review more than half of the albums I’ve reviewed, so better late than never, right?

At this point, so as not to spoil the surprise, I’m only going to hint at what’s going on here. You’ll just have to wait for our special feature to hear the full story! [Convoluted spoilers/teasers ahead]

 

1. I Wasn’t Made for the World I Left Behind
This spoken-word introduction is a rather eerie and wonderful start to the album. It has everything you want in the beginning of a story – mystery and intrigue – the things it takes to lure you in and make you want to turn the page, or in this case, listen further.

2. The Villain of This Story
How fucking cool is this song? Seriously! If “I Wasn’t Made for the World I Left Behind” is a perfect intro, this is the perfect starting track. Telling the story of Skye (front and center on the album art) and her awakening and disorientation (as a killer without a purpose) after a 10-year cryogenic sleep, this song’s high energy and fantastic SID riffs make it a picture-perfect MaSu song and sets the album off to a great start.

3. Perf