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The Taylor Davis Collection (2012-2015)

London 2016, photo by Maria Sawicka

“Who is Taylor Davis?” you might be wondering, looking at the title of this blog. The short answer to that, is that Taylor Davis is a violinist who found a devoted following on YouTube playing covers of movie, anime, and particularly game music. The long answer can be found in her vlogs on her YouTube channel, as she’ll explain it far better than I could.

I discovered Taylor Davis some 4-odd years ago when I came across this video on YouTube during the peak of my Skyrim craze:

I adored this song, played it all the time, and then for some time completely forgot that Taylor Davis existed. A while later, it struck me when hearing this song that I should go and see what else she has been doing in recent years. What I found was a treasure trove of unbelievable violin adaptations of pretty much most of my favorite songs or soundtracks. Seriously, this girl is me, just on an alternate timeline where I liked playing violin more than I did. You might’ve read my review of Score’s gaming music symphony from early 2016, so it should be no surprise that I absolutely love this kind of music, and my history of many years of playing the violin makes me appreciate this particular instrument more than the average person. Not only has Davis played some of my absolute favorite anime themes, she’s played my favorite songs from some of my favorite games, and even some of my favorite songs from movie scores. It was getting weirdly uncanny.

So I wanted to write about her music to share it with you. Unlike Lindsey Stirling, Davis hasn’t broken quite so well into the Nordic market, and I was quite devastated to hear that her shows in Stockholm and Gothenburg were cancelled – I was so excited to be able to go and see her play, but now chances are I won’t be able to get over to another country to see her show. Maria will be able to see her again in Poland, but chances are that I won’t be able to get to one of her shows to write a review for you. So instead, to express my adoration and appreciation of her music, I’m going to write up a few of her albums (everything except the Christmas music, because I loathe Christmas music).

Listen along to some of Davis’ music on Spotify:

And here are the album reviews:

01. Gaming Fantasy – read HERE!

02. Game On: 2 Player Mode – read HERE!

03. Legendary Movie Music – read HERE!

04. Melodies of Hyrule: Music from The Legend of Zelda – read HERE!

05. The Anime and Game Collection – read HERE!

06. Taylor Davis – read HERE!


So that’s it for my collection of Taylor Davis reviews. Keep an eye open for her upcoming album, Odyssey, out on October 28th, 2016. You can have a look at the video for “Wilderness” already! I don’t know about you, but if she has this many great albums already, I’m pretty sure that Odyssey won’t disappoint!

Davis’ upcoming album is now available for preorder on her Pledge campaign page. You can hear the first single here:

(2012) Wintersun: Time I


Artist: Wintersun
Album: Time I
Released: 19.10.2012
Label: Nuclear Blast


When Finns think about Guns N’ Roses and the concurrent legend of Chinese Democracy (and the 15 or so years put into making that album), they are often reminded of one of their own local bands, Wintersun, and the similarly long 12 years that followed the band’s self-titled debut. Band founder, Jari Mäenpää, left his previous band, Ensiferum, back in 2004 due to clashes in the bands’ schedules, so followers hoped that the sequel to their guitar-oriented first album would be a few short years away thanks to the extra time the band had. However, that was not the case. It was October 2012 before the band finally released Time I, and though that is a disturbingly long time, very few people seemed to be disappointed with the end result.

Hear the album over here:


I can’t say that I was a fan of Wintersun’s debut. While one can’t deny that the guitarwork in that album is top-notch, the speedy style of music never particularly appealed to me. As such, I wasn’t one of those people who was waiting impatiently for Wintersun’s next album. In fact, I didn’t really care one way or another about it. So when this album came out, I was pretty much floored by the style and quality of music. Surely, there were some minor complaints about the mixing, though I personally do not have the ear to hear those flaws that some people have pointed out.

Ultimately, this album, with its three long epics and two instrumentals ended up being something that I had no idea was missing from my life. The oriental influence is easily one of its strongest points. The gentle opener, “When Time Fades Away” sounds like a snowy winter scene in Japan (perhaps), and I will give particular points to Kai Hahto‘s drumming style, which sounds very authentic in relation to the influence. The build-up in the intro track is just phenomenal, and the way it so seamlessly blends into the second track, “Sons of Winter and Stars”, is perfect. I have to appreciate the way the latter carries on – “When Time Fades Away” set the bar high for the first track, and “Sons of Winter and Stars” does not disappoint. This song has more or less everything I want in music – strong backing keyboard sounds and symphonics by Mäenpää, impressive use of guitar by Mäenpää and Teemu Mäntysaari, as well as bass by Jukka Koskinen, and drums that are not lazy or slow. Jari Mäenpää’s vocals as well manage to do the trick, particularly in his growls, though I daresay I wasn’t sure if he could sing, and he clearly can. Mäntysaari and Koskinen are no slouches in the background, as the vocals as a whole sound very nice. There are many nuances to this music, and every time you listen you might catch a little bit more from it, which I certainly appreciate.

“The Land of Snow and Sorrow” continues this cold and ambient style… not quite as much energy but still with very powerful backing symphonics. I have to say, I was truly surprised by this album because there isn’t really a single guitar solo, which I had suspected was Mäenpää’s ‘thing’ – he and Mäntysaari are certainly excellent guitarists, so it was amazing to me to hear more detail and effort put into melodies than riffs on this album. I can’t say it disappointed me in any way. This song is followed by the second short instrumental, “Darkness and Frost”, which has some lovely guitarwork that I would very much like to hear in an acoustic setting someday. It also has more of those oriental drums and a lot of lovely backing symphonics.

Lyrically the album is melancholy and beautiful, without being outright depressing, reflecting more the cold, dark beauty of winter than the often-depressing Finnish take on winter. For example; the sound of the whole thing fits perfectly into a clear day with a fresh snowfall, and I particularly enjoy listening to it when I spend an occasional afternoon in the middle of nowhere in the winter, walking through the fresh, untouched snow. The long intro to “Time” works again perfectly coming out of “Darkness and Frost” and the final song on the album feels somehow conclusive and epic all in one. Lyrically it feels as though it is winding down, so I wonder how it will work if one was to listen to it directly into its eventual successor.


So when it comes to the sequel to this album, which I have had a taste of in Wintersun’s live performances and am very enthusiastic about, I have a few words to say. For one, I don’t particularly care about the personal aspect of the debate between Wintersun and Nuclear Blast. I believe the label has put a great deal of money into the band and not gotten the albums they were promised. I also believe that a band shouldn’t release material until they are satisfied with it. I don’t particularly care when this album comes out or whose fault it is that it’s taking so long. As long as I get to hear it eventually and as long as it lives up to Time I‘s incredible legacy, I’ll be happy. Wintersun is not the only band in the world who writes good music, and there is plenty to look forward to in the meantime.

And as such, I’ll happily give this album a full score of 10/10 and I’ll sit back and enjoy some other music while I wait for Time II.

1. When Time Fades Away
2. Sons of Winter and Stars
3. Land of Snow and Sorrow
4. Darkness and Frost
5. Time

2013.06.28 03 Wintersun @ Tuska (7)
Wintersun @ Tuska 2013

Text: Amy Wiseman

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Maja Shining (Forever Still), 2016


Forever Still is one of Nuclear Blast’s latest acquisitions, having just announced their collaboration at the end of August, 2016. The band is comprised of diverse vocalist Maja Shining and multi-instrumentalist Mikkel Haastrup; we’ve already had a chance to listen to and review their debut, Tied Down, and can’t deny that these guys have some serious potential. Here is the playlist of Maja’s life!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
“Brahms Lullaby.” My grandparents had this music box, from when I was a baby, where you could pull a string and this tune would play without the words. This led me to write the first lyrics I’ve ever written and I still remember them to this day.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
“Our Farewell” by Within Temptation. I heard it on a Celtic Circle CD when I was 13 and I just thought it was so beautifully sad.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” or anything punk rock reminds me of those years. Everyone was listening to numetal and emo music at that time!

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
I’ve never heard a band and thought, “I wanna do THAT,” but growing up and getting into metal music I really loved Slipknot’s mix of heavy meets melodic and Corey Taylor’s versatile vocals – “Duality” was definitely one of my favorites.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
“Push the Sky Away” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
I have nothing that I’m ashamed of listening to, it’s all about broadening your horizons. Something unexpected though might be Melanie Martinez, because I’ve been obsessing over the dark visuals and concepts in her music videos.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Nightwish’s Wishmaster when I was 14. I still have it, but I doubt the songs will still play, after the abuse I put it through in my teens.

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Tori Amos – “Winter.” Particularly the version from Live at Montreux 1991/1992.

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Limp Bizkit – “Rollin’.” Doesn’t need much explanation, does it?

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Julie Christmas’ rendition of “If You Go Away” originally by Jacques Brel (“Ne me quitte pas”).


Check out their music video for “Miss Madness” here:

Or watch the first three parts of their album trailer here:


And here:

Tied Down will be released via Nuclear Blast Records on October 21st, 2016. Catch them on tour with Lacuna Coil in Europe this fall!

NE OBLIVISCARIS w/ ODDLAND & BRYMIR – Nosturi, Helsinki, 12.10.2016 (English)


The fans of extreme metal rubbed their eyes last year, when Tuska festival announced that they had added Ne Obliviscaris, hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to their line-up. The band, founded in 2003, had popped up on extreme metal fans’ collective radar in 2012 after the release of their stellar debut album, Portal of I, combining elements from various metal genres and using two vocalists, one of them also playing violin. The sheer distance between Australia and pretty much the rest of the world forced Ne Obliviscaris to only tour in Asia after the debut’s release, but after the release of the sophomore album, Citadel, the band announced that they would do a crowdfunding campaign to enable them to embark on a world tour. The fans responded: in only 2 days, the initial target of 40,000 AUD was capped, and the final result landed the band with almost 90,000 AUD to spend – the largest amount of money collected through Kickstarter in Australian history.

The Tuska show during the resulting tour was a huge success. I myself thought that, considering the circumstances, I wasn’t going to see the band live ever again, but boy was I wrong – Ne Obliviscaris returned to Finland as a support act for Cradle of Filth in the fall of 2015. The Nosturi show was packed, as a huge number of people had come only to see Ne Obliviscaris, resulting in a massive queue outside the venue, resulting in a lot of people (myself included) missing half of their set. Overwhelmed by the audience’s response, the band promised to return to Finland, and they kept their promise only a year after it was made, as Ne Obliviscaris played a headlining show in Nosturi, supported by Finland’s own Oddland and Brymir.

Full gallery HERE!
Lue suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ!


2016-10-12-1-oddland-nosturi-jp-7Being held on a Wednesday, the event started pretty early, as Oddland’s showtime was marked as 19:30. As I arrived at Nosturi about 10 minutes before, there was already a 15 meter queue outside, but when I got to the top floor, the venue was still pretty quiet. What a shame, I thought; I’ve been a fan of the band ever since I saw their winning Suomi Metal Star performance in 2011’s Helsinki Metal Meeting (RIP), which landed them a record deal with Century Media. The debut, The Threachery of Senses, a brilliant mix of djent and other progressive influences, receiving praise from media and fans alike. However, the label didn’t promote the band at all and eventually Oddland parted ways with Century Media. The band took their sweet time with preparing their second full-length, Origin, which was released through Sensory Records in September of this year.

Oddland begun their 30-minute set on time with “Flooding Light” off the debut album. The vocalist, Sakari Ojanen, had problems with his guitar, as he had to run behind his guitar rig to fix the cabling every time he didn’t have to be in front of the microphone. The problem was apparently fixed by the time they continued with “Thanatos”, the second single off Origin, and I wished that the problems would have ended there, but no. During “Hidden”, their backing track apparently decided to cut out mid-song, instantly throwing the drummer, Ville Viitanen, off balance, and the song got really messed up. I almost thought that they would have to start the song over, but they decided to take a minute to grab a hold of the track and finish the song. The bassist, Joni Palmroth, handled the situation brilliantly with a joke about prog musicians and what happens when they lose the backing track from their ear monitors: mistakes, that’s what you get! The rest of the show went off without a hitch, but I sincerely felt bad for the band’s bad luck, since this would have been a great opportunity to attract new fans. Not that the situation was too profitable to begin with – Oddland’s material is hugely different when compared to the two following bands. Hopefully the audience, which steadily grew in numbers as the show progressed, got the hang of Oddland. I enjoyed it as always – please come again, and soon!

2016-10-12-1-oddland-nosturi-jp-15Oddland’s setlist:
1. Flooding Light
2. Thanatos
3. Hidden
4. Skylines
5. Unknown
6. Will


2016-10-12-2-brymir-nosturi-jp-18Second up was Brymir. The 10-year old Sipoo-based symphonic metal group has released two full-length albums, with the sophomore effort, Slayer of Gods, coming out only this year. While having absorbed their primary influences from folk metal bands like Ensiferum, the band’s material takes a more Keep of Kalessin-ish approach on tempos and guitar riffing. The introduction of their present drummer, Patrik Fält of Feastem fame, really made the rest of the band step it up a notch when compared to the first time I saw the band live years ago in Nummirock. Jarkko Niemi (bass, vocals) asked the audience “DO YOU HAVE HATE?!” followed by an awkward silence, until someone shouted from the back “…NO!”

While the band’s show was great, performance and mixing-wise, I have to say a few words about the stage lighting. The light table was operated by two of (probably) the band’s friends, who constantly tried to utilize everything attached to the stage’s ceiling beams. While I agree that Brymir’s material has a lot going on at any given point, the lighting was just too chaotic and over the top. It’s about contrast, guys! The show must have been challenging to shoot from the photopit, since there was a constant barrage of strobes and moving backlights, but the front spots weren’t used at all. Nosturi’s own light technician seemed really stressed about the situation, pacing back and forth in the mixing booth and clearly wanting to tell the guys not to destroy the table.

All-in-all, Brymir, with the lead of the charismatic vocalist, Viktor Gullichsen, pulled off an entertaining show, and the band hopefully made themselves a bunch of new fans – Brymir’s material holds up against much more well-known and older acts. Too bad though, that the setlist didn’t include a single song off their debut album, Breathe Fire to the Sun.

2016-10-12-2-brymir-nosturi-jp-20Brymir’s setlist:
1. Risen
2. The Black Hammer
3. Stormsoul
4. Thus I Became Kronos
5. Slayer of Gods
6. The Rain
7. For Those Who Died


2016-10-12-3-ne-obliviscaris-nosturi-jp-3By the time Brymir finished their set, Nosturi was already packed with fans impatiently waiting for Ne Obliviscaris to take the stage. There were a notable number of Ne Obliviscaris T-shirts to be seen, including the ones you could only get via backing the band in their crowdfunding. At 21:30 sharp, the stage curtains were pulled aside and total awesomeness ensued. Starting off with Citadel’s “Devour Me, Colossus Pt. I – Blackholes”, the band had barely reached the first more mellow part of the song, when practically everyone was shoving their fists in the air. The last two times Ne Obliviscaris has been in Finland, their time on stage has been very limited, forcing them to cut out small parts of their songs, but this time as a headlining act, the next song, “Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise”, was played in full; the lead guitarist, Benjamin Baret, and the violinist/vocalist, Tim Charles, played the beautiful outro as a duet after the rest of the band had gone backstage for a brief rest.

2016-10-12-3-ne-obliviscaris-nosturi-jp-24After the first two songs, Charles introduced the band and noted the crowdfunded T-shirts in the audience, thanking everyone for their continued support. For the next song, my prayers were answered, as the band kicked off the debut album’s killer, “Xenoflux.” The serene part near the end is one of the best passages in metal since Opeth’s Deliverance – you know what I mean. Next up was “Painters of the Tempest Pt. II – Triptych Lux”, which in turn contains three movements. Last time in Nosturi, Ne Obliviscaris only had time for the last one, “Curator”, but this time the band fortunately had time for “Creator” and ”Cynosure” as well. Again, in the end of “Curator”, the rest of the band retreated backstage, as Baret and Charles also played “Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb”, the third part of “Painters of the Tempest.” Now that’s something I’ve never seen before: a flamenco guitar solo played on an 8-string guitar!

Before the last song in the main set, Charles again took his time to wholeheartedly thank the Finnish fans and mentioned that, to make this headlining show possible, the band had joined Patreon, a service for fans to directly channel funds to culture creators, addressing the issue of bands having to resort to the help of their fanbase, because record labels don’t have the resources other than promotion these days. “Pyrrhic” had the honor to be the final song in the main set, but the audience immediately started to cheer the band back on stage to play the song that’s become the de factor closer of Ne Obliviscaris’ shows: “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope.” Everyone knew what to expect: as Charles played the first note of his violin intro to the song, the audience instantly started applauding. Eleven and a half minutes of blissful progressive metal later the show was over. Charles thanked the audience once again and promised that Ne Obliviscaris will hopefully return next year once they’ve finished their next album (receiving a thunderous applause for this). Everyone went backstage to get changed before descending to the coatroom hall to meet their fans beside the merchandise stand. As I was leaving, the whole area was packed, and I can imagine that those shirts must have sold quite well!



Ne Obliviscaris is a unique band – there’s nothing even remotely close to their blend of extreme metal and classical music anywhere else. All the mileage the band has racked up in the last few years also clearly shows in their stage presence with their synchronous headbanging and almost inhumanly precise playing – it would be absolutely pointless for the band to ever record a live album, since it would sound exactly like their studio albums. The harsh vocalist, Xenoyr, and Charles are also wildly different performers, as the former has an immensely ominous appearance, while the latter is the most sympathetic gentleman having the time of his life on stage.

There’s no reason why Ne Obliviscaris couldn’t be a self-sustained success in the future, because already they’ve proven themselves able to get international recognition purely on their musical prowess, not because of furious marketing on the internet. Godspeed, and welcome again!

Ne Obliviscaris’ setlist:
1. Devour Me, Colossus, Pt. I – Blackholes
2. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
3. Xenoflux
4. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. II – Triptych Lux (Creator/Cynosure/Curator)
5. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. III – Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
6. Pyrrhic

7. And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Text: Atte Valtonen | Photos: Janne Puronen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

NE OBLIVISCARIS w/ ODDLAND & BRYMIR – Nosturi, Helsinki, 12.10.2016 (suomeksi)


Äärimetallin ystävät hieraisivat viime vuonna silmiään, kun Tuska-festivaali kiinnitti ohjelmistoonsa australialaisen Ne Obliviscarisin. Vuonna 2003 perustettu, kahden vokalistin ääniä hyödyntävä bändi nousi äärimetalliväen kollektiiviselle tutkalle vuoden 2012 loistavalla debyyttialbumillaan Portal of I, jossa yhdisteltiin äärimmäisen sulavasti metallin eri tyylisuuntia ja klassista viulua. Valtava välimatka Australian ja oikeastaan koko muun maailman välillä pakotti Ne Obliviscarisin kiertämään kotimaansa lisäksi ainoastaan Aasiassa, mutta kakkoslevynsä Citadelin (2014) julkaisun jälkeen bändi ilmoitti keräävänsä rahaa maailmankiertueen mahdollistamiseen yhteisörajoituskampanjalla. Tavoitteena oli saada kokoon 40 000 Australian dollaria, mutta bändin fanien valtavan panostuksen turvin tavoite rikkoutui vain kahdessa päivässä, ja lopullinen summa kohosi lähemmäs 90 000:een – suurimpaan rahamäärään Australian Kickstarter-historiassa.

Kerätyillä rahoilla Ne Obliviscaris pääsi myös Tuskaan asti, ja keikka oli loistava. Ajattelin tuon viikonlopun jälkeen, etten tulisi bändiä enää toiste näkemään, mutta mitäpä vielä – Cradle of Filth nappasi bändin lämmittelijäkseen syksyn Euroopan-kiertueelleen, joka rantautui myös Helsingin Nosturiin. Paikka oli bändille liian pieni, sillä kaikki pelkästään Ne Obliviscarisia katsomaan tulleet – allekirjoittanut mukaanlukien – eivät ehtineet edes sisälle asti keikan alkuun mennessä. Vaikuttuneena saamastaan vastaanotosta bändi lupasi palata Suomeen, ja nyt kahta vuotta myöhemmin lupaus pidettiin, kun Ne Obliviscaris soitti Nosturissa illan pääesiintyjänä kotimaisten Brymirin sekä Oddlandin tukemina.

Kuvagalleria TÄÄLLÄ!
Read in English HERE!


2016-10-12-1-oddland-nosturi-jp-7Koska keikkailta osui keskelle viikkoa, esiintymisajat olivat kohtuullisen aikaiset, ja Oddlandin showtime oli jo puoli kahdeksalta. Nosturille saapuessani pihalla oli jo noin 15-metrinen jono, mutta sisälle päästyäni ja portaat yläkertaan kiivettyäni lavan edustan yleisö oli tyypillisen vähälukuinen. Ehdottomasti harmi: olen ollut Oddlandin djentahtavan progemetallin fani siitä asti, kun näin bändin vuoden 2011 Helsinki Metal Meetingissä (RIP) Suomi Metal Star –kilpailun voittoesiintymisen, jonka ansiosta bändi sai levydiilin Century Median kanssa. Vuonna 2012 The Treachery of Senses-debyyttiä suitsuttivat metallimediat sekä asianharrastajat, mutta Oddland ei saanut tarvittavaa vetoapua levy-yhtiöltään, mikä johtikin osapuolten teiden eroamiseen. Kakkoslevyä kypsyteltiin kaikessa rauhassa, sillä yhdysvaltalaisen Sensory Recordsin kautta julkaistu Origin saateltiin maailmaan vasta noin kuukausi sitten.

Oddland aloitti puolituntisen settinsä debyyttilevyn ”Flooding Light” –biisillä, joka soitettiin läpi käytännössä vain yhdellä kitaralla – kitaristilaulaja Sakari Ojasen soittopeli temppuili, minkä takia mies joutui juoksemaan kitararäkkinsä taakse korjailemaan piuhoituksia aina kun laulamiselta jäi aikaa. Toisena soitetun Origin-levyn kakkossinkku ”Thanatosin” alkuun mennessä ongelma ilmeisesti saatiin korjattua, mutta epäonni ei loppunut siihen – kolmosbiisi ”Hiddenin” alkupuolella bändin taustanauha ilmeisesti päätti katketa kesken soiton, minkä johdosta rumpali Ville Viitasen komppi meni saman tien täysin mutkalle, muun bändin seuratessa perässä. Ajattelin jo että biisi pitäisi varmaan aloittaa alusta, mutta bändi päätti hetkisen aikaa keräillä itseään, ja kun taustanauha saatiin taas toimimaan, homma jatkui mallikkaasti. Basisti Jori Palmroth vitsailikin kappaleen jälkeen klassiseen Kummeli-sketsiin viitaten, että virheitähän siinä käy, kun progebändiltä häviää taustanauha korvamonitoreista. Loppukeikka sujui ongelmitta, mutta jätkien huono onni harmitti, sillä tämä olisi ollut hyvä paikka hankkia uusia faneja tilanteessa, jossa ensimmäisen bändin materiaali on äärimmäisen erityyppistä kahteen seuraavaan nähden. Toivottavasti keikan mittaan hyvää vauhtia kasvanut yleisö sai Oddlandin ”jutusta” kiinni. Äkkiä vain uutta keikkaa perään, paikalle tullaan kyllä!

2016-10-12-1-oddland-nosturi-jp-15Oddlandin setti:
1. Flooding Light
2. Thanatos
3. Hidden
4. Skylines
5. Unknown
6. Will


2016-10-12-2-brymir-nosturi-jp-18Noin puoli yhdeksältä oli vuorossa sipoolainen sinfonista metallia paiskiva Brymir. Tänä vuonna 10-vuotispäiviään viettävä on ehtinyt julkaista kaksi kokopitkää, joista uudempi, Slayer of Gods, saapui levykauppoihin tänä keväänä. Musiikillisesti liikutaan hyvin pitkälle sekoituksessa, jonka saa, jos heittää Ensiferumin folk metal –vaikutteet sekä vaikkapa Keep of Kalessinin tempot ja riffittelyn tehosekoittimeen. Bändin nykyisen, Feastemistäkin tutun Patrik Fältin, liittyminen bändiin kolme vuotta sitten on selkeästi tehnyt meiningille hyvää verraten vuosia sitten Nummirockissa ensimmäiseen näkemääni Brymir-keikkaan, sillä bändi kaahasi settinsä läpi kunnioitettavalla voimalla. Yleisö ei ainakaan aluksi ollut täysin samoilla aaltopituuksilla: kahden ensimmäisen kappaleen, ”Risenin” sekä ”The Black Hammerin”, jälkeen basisti Jarkko Niemi kysyi yleisöltä ”ONKS TEIL VIHAA?!”, jota seurasi ensin pienen hetken vaivaantunut hiljaisuus, kunnes joku huusi takarivistä ”…EI!”

Brymirin lavashow sekä –ääni olivat todella kohdillaan, mutta en voi olla sanomatta paria sanaa valoista. Valopöydän ääressä teki töitä pari bändin ystävää, joiden pyrkimys ilmeisesti oli käyttää kaikkia mahdollisia lavarakenteisiin kiinnitettyjä valonlähteitä samaan aikaan. Vaikka Brymirin materiaalissa onkin paljon liikkuvia osia, mentiin valojen kanssa tällä kertaa vähän yli. Jätkät, kontrasti! Keikan valokuvaaminen on varmasti ollut haasteellista, sillä etuvaloja ei käytetty ollenkaan, mutta samaan aikaan vastavalo oli jatkuvaa stroboilla ja liikkuvilla valokeiloilla pommitusta. Nosturin oma valomies oli keikan aikana mielenkiintoista seurattavaa: mies yritti istua paikallaan, nousi ylös, meni hengittelemään valopöydän kavereiden niskaan, meni takaisin paikalleen, päivitteli tilannetta Nosturin äänimiehelle, sekä näytti jatkuvasti siltä kuin olisi halunnut sanoa miehille ”älkää hajottako sitä pöytää”.

Kokonaisuutena Brymir kuitenkin soitti karismaattisen vokalisti Viktor Gullichsenin johdolla viihdyttävän keikan, ja todennäköisesti voitti puolelleen tukun uusia faneja – biiseistä ei ainakaan pitäisi jäädä kiinni, sillä bändin materiaali kestää vertailun kertaluokkaa suurempiin ja kokeneempiin kilpakumppaneihinsakin verrattuna. Harmi tosin, ettei settilistassa ollut ensimmäistäkään debyyttilevy Breathe Fire to the Sunin kappaletta.

2016-10-12-2-brymir-nosturi-jp-20Brymirin setti:
1. Risen
2. The Black Hammer
3. Stormsoul
4. Thus I Became Kronos
5. Slayer of Gods
6. The Rain
7. For Those Who Died


2016-10-12-3-ne-obliviscaris-nosturi-jp-3Brymirin lopetettua Nosturi oli jo täynnä kärsimättömiä faneja odottamassa H-hetkeä – yleisön seassa näkyi paljon Ne Obliviscaris –paitoja, myös mallia jota sai ainoastaan osallistumalla bändin Kickstarter-kampanjaan. Tasan puoli yhdeksältä lavan verhot vedettiin syrjään, ja parhauttahan siitä seurasi. Keikka aloitettiin Citadel-levyn “Devour Me, Colossus Pt. I – Blackholes” –kappaleella, ja bändi ehti tuskin ensimmäiseen suvantokohtaan asti, kun käytännössä jokainen yleisössä pui nyrkkiä biisin tahtiin. Aikaisemmilla Suomen-keikoilla Ne Obliviscarisin soittoslotit ovat olleet rajoitettuja, mikä on paikoitellen johtanut kappaleiden lyhentämiseen, mutta tällä kertaa pääesiintyjänä ollessaan bändillä oli aikaa soittaa seuraavana vuorossa ollut ”Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise” kokonaisuudessaan – muun bändin vetäytyessä lavan taakse hengähtämään, liidikitaristi Benjamin Baret sekä viulisti-vokalisti Tim Charles jäivät soittamaan kappaleen kauniin outron duettona.

2016-10-12-3-ne-obliviscaris-nosturi-jp-24Esitellessään bändin Charles pani myös merkille yleisössä näkyneet joukkorahoitus-T-paidat ja kiitti yleisöä saamastaan tuesta, jota ilman he eivät olisi alun perinkään päässeet Suomeen esiintymään. Sitten saatiinkin vastaus rukouksiin, kun vuorossa oli henkilökohtainen suosikki, debyyttilevyn ässäraita ”Xenoflux”. Kappaleen loppupuolen suvantokohta on yksi hienoimpia osioita metallimusiikissa sitten Opethin “Deliverancen” – kyllä te tiedätte mitä tarkoitan. Seuraavana saatiin kuulla Citadelin ”Painters of the Tempest” –trilogian kakkososa ”Triptych Lux”, joka sekin sisältää kolme osaa. Lämmitellessään Cradle of Filthiä bändillä oli aikaa soittaa ainoastaan päätösosa ”Curator”, mutta tällä kertaa oli onneksi aikaa myös ”Creatorille” sekä ”Cynosurelle”. Yleisökin sai hetken hengähdystauon, kun ”Curatorin” lopuksi muu bändi vetäytyi taasen lavan taakse päästäen Baretin ja Charlesin loistamaan ”Tempest”-trilogian päätösosassa ”Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb”. Enpä olekaan ennen kuullut flamenkokitarasooloa soitettavan kahdeksankielisellä!

Ennen setin viimeistä kappaletta Charles käytti taas hetken kiittääkseen sydämensä pohjasta suomalaista fanikuntaa sekä kertoi, että tätäkään keikkaa ei oltaisi voitu tehdä ilman rahoituspalvelu Patreonin kautta saatua fanien taloudellista tukea. Hän otti samalla kantaa nykytilanteeseen, jossa bändien täytyy turvautua faneihinsa – vaikka levy-yhtiöt tarjoavatkin näkyvyyttä, kulujen kattaminen levy-yhtiön toimesta on nykyään yhä harvemmille bändeille suotu etuoikeus. ”Pyrrhic” sai kunnian olla varsinaisen setin viimeinen kappale, mutta heti biisin lopuksi yleisö alkoi vaatia bändiä takaisin lavalle soittamaan Ne Obliviscarisin keikkojen de facto -lopetuskappaleeksi muodostununeen ”And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscopen”. Kaikki kyllä tiesivät mitä odottaa: yleisö alkoi osoittaa suosiotaan samalla sekunnilla, kun kappaleen ensimmäinen nuotti lähti Charlesin viulusta.

Yhdentoista ja puolen minuutin progemetallihuikeuden jälkeen keikka oli ohi, ja Charles kiitti yleisöä vielä kerran ja lupasi bändin palaavan Suomeen ensi vuonna seuraavan levyn julkaisun jälkeen, saaden raikuvat aplodit. Bändi vetäytyi bäkkärille hetkeksi siistiytymään ennen alakerran paitamyyntipisteelle siirtymistä. Narikalle päästyäni bändin ympärillä kävi kova kuhina, ja voisin kuvitella, että fanipaidat vaihtoivat omistajaa hyvällä prosentilla.



Ne Obliviscaris on ainutlaatuinen bändi – yksikään toinen metalliakti ei ole lähelläkään bändin tapaa yhdistellä äärimetallielementtejä ja klassista musiikkia. Viimeisen parin vuoden aikana matkatut kilometrit näkyvät bändin lavapresenssissä täydellisen synkronisena headbangingina ja miltei naurettavan tarkkana yhteissoittona. En tiedä, olisiko Ne Obliviscarisin ikinä järkeä nauhoittaa livelevyä, sillä se kuulostaisi vain täysin samalta kuin studioalbumit. Bändin kaksi vokalistia, rääkylaulaja Xenoyr sekä Charles, ovat myös hurjan erilaisia esiintyjiä: Xenoyr on todella uhkaavan oloinen, kun taas Charles on äärimmäisen sympaattinen herrasmies, ja lavalla ollessaan näyttää nauttivan olostaan täysin rinnoin.

Ei ole mitään syytä, miksei Ne Obliviscaris ei voisi olla tulevaisuudessa täysin omavarainen menestystarina, sillä jo nyt bändi on pystynyt hankkimaan kansainvälistä suosiota yksinomaan musiikillisten ansioidensa avulla, ei yltiöpäisellä somemarkkinoinnilla. Onnea jatkoon ja tervetuloa uudestaan Suomeen!

Ne Obliviscarisin setti:
1. Devour Me, Colossus, Pt. I – Blackholes
2. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
3. Xenoflux
4. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. II – Triptych Lux (Creator/Cynosure/Curator)
5. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. III – Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
6. Pyrrhic

7. And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Texti: Atte Valtonen | Kuvat: Janne Puronen | Ed: Ville Karttunen

NE OBLIVISCARIS w/ ODDLAND & BRYMIR @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 12.10.2016


Ne Obliviscaris with Oddland and Brymir at Nosturi, 2016.
Photos by Janne Puronen.
Gig report in English HERE.
Keikka-arvio suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ.

INSOMNIUM w/ PRESSURE POINTS & SWALLOW THE SUN – The Circus, Helsinki, 08.10.2016


Topping the Finnish charts on the week of its release, Insomnium’s experimental new album, Winter’s Gate, has certainly caught the attention of the music world, as well as Musicalypse! Not only did the band promise to play the entire 40 minute one-song album from start to finish, but there would be a second 40-minute set to follow. With Pressure Points and Swallow the Sun also on the roster, it was only natural for us to be there to see what we assumed would be very few opportunities to hear “Winter’s Gate” in its entirety. We also swung by earlier in the night to have a short chat with Niilo Sevänen about the album, book, and its tour.

Full gallery HERE!


2016-10-08-01-pressure-points-the-circus-jb-6Pressure Points was a new name for me, but if we were going to be in town for an interview already, I thought it might be worthwhile to check these guys out. I had a listen through their sophomore album from last year, False Lights, and thought it was pretty decent, so I was happy to show up and see their set. For the first of three bands, these guys brought in a fairly impressive crowd already. It seemed as though they’re still physically trying to find their rhythm on stage – it’s a bit of an issue with prog in general, as a lot of the music is quite technical, so either the stage show suffers as the band members focus on playing well, or the show is dull but the playing is good (Dream Theater tends to have a bit of the latter going on, for example). These guys did their best to move about, but ultimately the performance aspect took a backseat to getting the music right. Keyboardist Veli-Matti Kyllönen had a rather mellow and relaxing voice, almost hard to hear at times, but it was quite pleasing. I had joked to my companions that their set was going to be only three songs long, only for one of the guys from the band to make the same joke a few minutes later… only it wasn’t a joke. Their set actually was just three songs long, each of them around 10 minutes in length. As a whole, I enjoyed their show, but much like a lot of progressive music, I prefer to listen to it at home than live. These guys might benefit from an overcast festival setting though!


2016-10-08-02-swallow-the-sun-sts-the-circus-jb-21Once Pressure Points had cleared away their instruments, it was time for Swallow the Sun to take the stage, and for the second half of the venue to open up to accommodate all the people coming in. It’s been a good long while since I’ve watched Swallow the Sun in a scenario other than me watching with half an eye at a festival, so I was immediately impressed by the number of people who slowly trickled on stage to their long intro track – two vocalists, two acoustic guitarists, keyboards, bass, and drums. I recalled seeing the second vocalist at Tuska this year, but not knowing who he was there either. They mentioned his name tonight – Jaani Peuhu [Iconcrash] – and I have to say that I enjoyed his contribution to the show. Though he didn’t sing during every song, he was, I believe, present for the new tracks from Songs from the North, and they benefited nicely from the harmonizing. Of all of the people on the stage, I was saddened to see that Juha Raivio was not among them. I wondered if he is still mourning the recent tragic loss of Aleah Stanbridge. His replacement, whose name I didn’t catch, did a nice job of filling his shoes, though there was a little hint of something missing without Raivio on stage.

2016-10-08-02-swallow-the-sun-sts-the-circus-jb-25As much as I enjoyed and maybe even prefer the newer songs with live acoustic guitars, it was nice to hear something that featured Mikko Kotamäki growling a bit later on, as he has a rather strong voice. In one of the songs, there was a very prolonged deep growling scream that I truly appreciated, and I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t sure which song it was from. I would also like to give a shout out to Juuso Raatikainen on drums – he’s doing very well, considering he is following in the footsteps of Pasi Pasanen and Kai Hahto.

Overall, these guys played a very pleasing set that made me wonder how it is that I’ve lost touch with their music. I’ll be listening through the three discs of Songs from the North in the very near future, I’m sure.

StS setlist:
1. The Heart of a Cold White Land
2. Pray for the Winds to Come
3. Songs from the North
4. Autumn Fire
5. 10 Silver Bullets
6. Rooms and Shadows
7. Hate, Lead the Way!
9. New Moon
10. Descending Winters


2016-10-08-03-insomnium-the-circus-jb-10With that, it was time for Insomnium to start their event! My very first thought that followed the rush of adrenaline and excitement, was that I might’ve preferred to see this song in a setting like Kulttuuritalo or Tampere-talo. A seated venue would’ve allowed people to see the performance from no matter where they were, and to hear the show with balanced sound. I had the misfortune of having two yappy guys behind me who would not shut up – I couldn’t imagine how you could possibly be speaking so much during the 40-minute-long song. “Winter’s Gate” is, I assume, a one-tour-in-a-lifetime show, and having people behind me shout-talking was distracting and irritating.

That said, I was very impressed by the band’s performance. It takes a great deal of stamina to play for 40 minutes without a proper break. They had a strong start with a lot of headbanging and energy, but didn’t come across as nervous – I suppose the Turku show on the previous night had proved to them that they could definitely pull it off. They truly did not disappoint. Part of me wanted to watch the show, but I kept finding myself with my eyes closed, swaying back and forth, lost in the story and the music. It would have been nice for them to have a live keyboardist or someone on synths for this show to ease up the burden of staying in perfect time with he backing track (not that they had any trouble with it – it just allows more freedom) – I know they have had Aleksi Munter of Swallow the Sun playing with them in live shows (2009-2010 -era), and I was just a tad disappointed that he hadn’t been a part of this show, especially considering he did the keyboard compositions for the album.

2016-10-08-03-insomnium-the-circus-jb-17Visually, I was torn. The fog cannons were great in the moments they were used, but I would consider the lighting as a whole to be a failure. I suspect that whoever was in charge was going for cold, ambient, and ominous, but mostly it was just blue and dark, making it hard to see the band at times, and the attempt at ambience had failed. I have seen some brilliant ambient lighting in my day that would have really benefited this show, but that was just not the case. There was one moment, however, which I think was around the 15:55 mark of the song give or take, when the music just gets evil and the lights changed and the fog cannons blasted up – it was massive and perfect, and it saddened me a bit that there was only one moment of properly appropriate lighting during the whole song.

2016-10-08-03-insomnium-the-circus-jb-14However, as a whole I think the entirety of the “Winter’s Gate” performance was a great success, and I’m very happy to have gotten to experience it; that was perhaps the shortest 40 minutes of my life – you would think a song that long might drag on, but it felt like maybe 15-20 minutes at most. After the song ended, I was surprised that the band didn’t even take a proper break; “The Gale” started up quite soon after the fade-out (both of which I suppose allowed them a few minutes’ rest) and then they returned for “Mortal Share.”

The rest of the show didn’t waste much breath on chit-chat, with the only “speech” being Niilo Sevänen’s moment to thank the audience for being a part of this tour and refer them to the merch booth mid-way through the second half of the show. Rather, they just played, and played their hearts out. As my friend put it, “this is a professional band on stage.” While you might take that to mean that they are a bit serious, Markus Vanhala (guitar) interacts a great deal on a goofy and personal level with people in the crowd, so I wouldn’t say that’s the case. But they do come across as a band with a lot of practice who are comfortable with one another on stage and who know their music through-and-through.

2016-10-08-03-insomnium-the-circus-jb-12They left the stage after “The Promethean Song” but came back to play “The Killjoy” and “Weighed Down with Sorrow” as encores. I headed towards the exit during the latter and wondered if there had been a pit at some point – a large open space had appeared in the center of the venue, though no one was in it as I was heading towards the back.


Ultimately, as per usual, Insomnium proved to be a rock solid band who, in spite of the visual setback, put on an extremely memorable show thanks to the material they had written. I would go so far as to say that Winter’s Gate has certainly elevated this band to another level, and if you get the opportunity to catch one of the last few shows on this tour, do not hesitate to grab a ticket – you may never get another chance to hear all of Winter’s Gate in its full and proper epic form after this!


Setlist pt.1:
1. Winter’s Gate

Setlist pt.2:
2. The Gale
3. Mortal Share
4. Drawn to Black
5. Where the Last Wave Broke
6. While We Sleep
7. Last Statement
8. Change of Heart
9. The Promethean Song

10. The Killjoy
11. Weighed Down with Sorrow

2016-10-08-03-insomnium-the-circus-jb-13Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist


INSOMNIUM w/ PRESSURE POINTS & SWALLOW THE SUN @ The Circus, Helsinki, 08.10.2016


Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate release show in Helsinki, 2016.
Photos by Jana Blomqvist.
Gig report HERE!

INSOMNIUM – Niilo Sevänen, Helsinki 2016


Approximately 9 years ago, Niilo Sevänen wrote a short folklore/fantasy story called Winter’s Gate, which went on to get published and win a few awards. Now, in 2016, Winter’s Gate inspired an album by Sevänen’s band, Insomnium, that has elevated them to a new level and landed them at #1 on the Finnish charts on the week of its release. With their first gig already behind them, we thought we should grab a few minutes of Sevänen’s time to ask him about his feelings on the album and its success.


First of all, how did it feel to do something that was so different from any other Insomnium album, or most albums for that matter?
It’s been interesting and a bit challenging of course, but those were the reasons why we wanted to do it in the first place – to try something different. We’ve done normal albums six times already, so it was about time to try something a bit different. Actually, it all went pretty smoothly and naturally, without forcing anything. We just started making stuff with the idea that, let’s see how long it will be. It will be an EP or a full album, let’s see. Everything went pretty smoothly.

So you just went with the flow, seeing where the music took you?

2016-10-08-niilo-sevanen-insomnium-the-circus-8Has this album inspired you guys at all to venture even further away from the musical ‘normal’ or do you think the next step will be a return to form?
It’s hard to say, but if I would take a guess now, the next album will be more of a ‘normal’ album with several songs. But let’s see. I’m sure that we are even more confident now to try new things.

You were the original author of the short story – what inspired you to write the story? Where did the idea come from?
It’s already been like 9 years; I don’t fully remember what I was thinking back then, but I think I had a couple of themes that I wanted to connect. Without spoiling anything from the story, there was a historical background – Vikings, historical stuff, and then some fantasy elements, and I wanted to combine them and… it just happened. But I wrote it for a competition. That was the original reason.

What was it like to read the audiobook? Was it fun or was it weird?
Yeah… I was nervous – I’m not an actor, so I didn’t know what it was going to sound like, but it went pretty easily. I read it once through and then the sound engineer said, “Let’s take the first two chapters [again]. You were a bit nervous in the beginning.” Then I read them again and it was okay. It’s good enough.

At least for me, I enjoyed the reading, particularly with your slight Finnish accent – as a native English speaker, even though there weren’t any Vikings in Finland, it still feels more authentic than if it was read, for example, in an American accent by someone else.
Yeah, it doesn’t fit the story. I agree, I did it on purpose [laughs].

2016-10-08-niilo-sevanen-insomnium-the-circus-6Now that the album is out, how does it feel to have topped the Finnish charts during the release week? Were you expecting that sort of a response?
Of course we were hoping, because the previous album was #2, so naturally we hoped that, okay, maybe we can now be #1. Beforehand we checked what other albums were coming out that week and do we have any chance. If some big popstar in Finland would release something, then we wouldn’t have any chance, but luckily we were #1. Of course, doing that with this kind of very special release feels even better. Naturally we are very happy about it.

Do you feel as though you really successfully captured the whole story, or was it tricky to fit the whole thing into one song?
You have to kind of make an adaptation of the story to transform it, the ‘dramatic arc’, the language of music first, then the lyrics… of course I had to erase the story a bit. I would say that in the story there are three narrators, three perspectives on what happened, and the lyrics are kind of the fourth perspective. It kind of gives maybe some additional information on what happened, especially the Asbjörn character and what he’s thinking, so it’s kind of a fourth perspective on the whole thing. They go together, the story and the lyrics.

Was there anything that you felt had to be cut to make it work, or was it pretty satisfactory as a whole?
Well, not every scene from the story could be put in the song. I don’t think it matters. It’s a different kind of adaptation, but right from the start I decided that this three-narrator tactic won’t work in lyrics, so it’s more from the perspective of one character, more of a general view.

2016-10-08-niilo-sevanen-insomnium-the-circus-4Would you say the lyrics are more like an omnipotent narrator who is watching the scene, as opposed to the characters themselves?
I think it’s mostly written from Asbjörn’s view, but there are some times where it takes this higher perspective, like a general narrator, seeing everything. Especially in the end.

The idea was, according to your album trailers, that you wanted from the beginning to make it into one long song – was there any point when you were thinking that maybe you should break it into a couple songs, or was it just one song the whole time?
I think we were pretty sure all the time that we want to make one track. Of course when it was ready, we heard from iTunes and Spotify that they can’t release it like that. It has to be cut into pieces. We had to make a compromise that in Spotify and iTunes it will be it separated into seven tracks and better then than if it wouldn’t be there at all. Those are important mediums. But yeah, from the beginning the idea was to make one track and see how we can make it work.

Now that it is broken up a bit, is it weird to think that some people might be listening to one part of the song without the rest of it?
Yeah, it’s kind of ‘wrong’ of course, because in one review it was said very nicely that, if you read a book or watch a movie, you don’t start from the middle. You take it as a whole. That’s how this is meant to be. Of course I understand if some people have some favorite part and they only want to listen to it and they find it convenient to do it like that, I don’t mind. People can enjoy it as they want, but it’s meant to be a whole thing.

2016-10-08-niilo-sevanen-insomnium-the-circus-5After this tour, do you have any plans to integrate Winter’s Gate into future shows, or is it just too hard to find a way? It’s hard to say, but of course it’s a 40 minute song, so on future tours, like with the next album, it’s hard to see us playing the whole thing. Maybe some parts, I don’t know yet. Let’s see what happens, but at least for this tour we naturally have to play it all. The fans expect to see it and hear it.

Now that you’ve played it once through in Turku, how did it feel to play for 40 minutes without a break?
I think we were just relieved that we survived and it went well [laughs] and we were of course happy. Then we played some older songs. The first part of the set is Winter’s Gate and then we played 40 minutes of older stuff. It was really relaxed, playing the old songs. We had a good time and it was a very good show and I’m pretty sure we will have a good show here tonight in Helsinki.

My last question then is, as the author of the story, did you consider the story to be ‘real’ or did you intend it to be metaphorical in any way, for example, Vikings freezing over the winter?
It’s not a metaphor. It’s a historical fantasy hybrid story and it’s not written to be a metaphor for something else.

So it’s meant to be a proper fantasy tale.
Yes, that’s how I wrote it.

Great, that is all of my questions. Thank you for your time and have a great show!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

ENTWINE w/ RED ELEVEN – Tavastia, Helsinki, 06.10.2016


It’s been nearly a year since Entwine had their Chaotic Nation release gig in Lahti, but they’ve been doing enough local shows since then that they’ve managed to stay fresh in our minds. However, these guys were shockingly absent from the summer festivals, so it felt like a necessity to head over to Tavastia on October 6th, 2016, to see how the music holds up a year after the album was released. As well, they were accompanied by Red Eleven, who popped onto our radar during John Smith Festival this summer, so all-in-all it was a good opportunity to check out an old favorite and a new potential in the same go.

Full gallery HERE!


2016-10-06-01-red-eleven-tavastia-mc-2Arriving at Tavastia, there was a rather reasonable handful of people already present to see the opener, Red Eleven, whom I was not familiar with. The mix was better closer to the sound booth, so I stepped back so I could see the stage front-and-center to watch a bit of their set. I tend to have a hard time appreciating bands that I’m unfamiliar with, but this was one of those rare moments where I was very happy to have showed up in time to catch a warm-up set. Vocalist Tony Kaikkonen has a lot of power and versatility to sing clean, a bit grungy (think Alice in Chains), and even to throw some growls in here and there. Ex-Swallow the Sun drummer Pasi Pasanen also proved to be a strong element in their music, keeping an appropriately energetic pace throughout their set. As well, Teemu Liekkala (guitar) harmonized very nicely in many songs with Kaikkonen. Under their own fancy backing lights in the shape of an ’11’, the band had a very nice, professional gig, and I would be happy to get the chance to see them again sometime after familiarizing myself with their music.


2016-10-06-02-entwine-tavastia-mc-2With the stage changeover complete, it was Entwine’s turn. When the red lights hit the stage, their ominous intro track began to play and Aksu Hanttu was the first to be seen, taking his place at the drum stand. They started things off with “Saint of Sorrow”, the standard starter song from the shows that have promoted Chaotic Nation. There were still a few mixing errors that needed to be sorted out before everything was crystal clear, but it didn’t take more than a song or two for them to get things up to snuff, and by the end of “End of Silence”, things were more or less in order.

If I’m comparing to the last show at Virgin Oil, I would say that the performance was stronger on this night. It was just a little bit tighter, in a bit better tune, with a bit more comfort, and naturally, far far better sound quality. The show had everything that you would expect from Entwine, from Mika Tauriainen spraying water, to Hanttu’s unique flare on the drum kit. It also turned out that Jaani Kähkönen has been absent this entire tour, with Tomi Luoma (Machinae Supremacy) having been his substitute in all the gigs for the Chaotic Nation shows.

2016-10-06-02-entwine-tavastia-mc-17After the first two songs, Tauriainen greeted the crowd, joked around in a weird voice, and ultimately had to ask Tom Mikkola (guitar) to see his setlist because he couldn’t remember what came next, before announcing “Out of You.” What I really enjoyed about this show was how laid-back the performance was. Luoma did the solos and shred with ease, the interaction on stage was goofy and comfortable, and the singing was strong but Tauriainen didn’t hesitate to have fun and play around with the vocals – the show seemed meant to be a good time, not to be perfect, and I mean that in a good way. These guys don’t take themselves too seriously, as seen when Hanttu stood up and, to the beat of his drum, chugged some Jägermeister. As well, the blend of nostalgia from older songs like “Chameleon Halo”, “Bitter Sweet”, or “Fatal Design” feel great mixed in with the mature newer songs – and they’ve still got some of the best material from Chaotic Nation in their shows, as you can see from the setlist below.

2016-10-06-02-entwine-tavastia-mc-19When they closed the set out with “As We Arise”, the band was raucously called back and Tauriainen couldn’t contain his cheeky grin when the audience screamed when the first notes of “Break Me” began to play. Equally enthusiastic screaming followed when “Surrender” began to play next, and they naturally finished the night with the ever-popular first release from the latest album, “Plastic World.”


Before the show, I had a chance to speak to Tauriainen for a moment about the year since the release of Chaotic Nation, and I was sad to learn that things had been “weird” and that the future of the band was uncertain. It could be seen, for example, in the absence of Kähkönen, as well as in their lack of summer festival gigs. Though it certainly wasn’t a discussion about how this was the end for Entwine, it does seem as though these guys might need some extra encouragement to keep on with music. While I would hate to see a band call it quits after such a strong comeback album, I also can’t deny that Chaotic Nation would be a great album to go out on (not unlike Kiuas and Lustdriven). However, I for one would like to encourage these guys to search once more for the magic before letting Entwine go for good. They’ve got a great thing going and it would be hard to say goodbye.


1. Saint of Sorrow
2. End of Silence
3. Out of You
4. Chameleon Halo
5. Bleeding for the Cure
6. Bitter Sweet
7. Twisted
8. Frozen by the Sun
9. Fortune Falls
10. The Evil Lives in the Shadows
11. Fatal Design
12. Strife
13. Revolt for Redemption
14. Lost, but Still Alive
15. As We Arise

16. Break Me
17. Surrender
18. Plastic World

2016-10-06-02-entwine-tavastia-mc-18Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Miia Collander

ENTWINE w/ RED ELEVEN @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 06.10.2016


Entwine with guests, Red Eleven, at Tavastia, Helsinki 2016.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig report HERE!

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Jan-Erik Kari (Fear of Domination), 2016


Founded in 2006, Fear of Domination is known for their heavy blend of shock/industrial metal, painted faces, and strong performances. With three or so albums under their belt already, the band released Atlas in the late spring of 2016. We’re a bit behind on the release, but we’re happy to now share the playlist of guitarist Jan-Erik Kari’s life for you!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
I can’t remember any certain one song but it has to be something from Metallica or David Bowie since my big brother and big sister used to listen to them a lot when I was little.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
“Nothing Else Matters” from Metallica was the first but Wintersun’s “Death and the Healing” really hit me. An old and dear friend of mine introduced me to the song when I was having a rough time back then. It still gives me goosebumps.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Raptori definitely! It played a lot in those junior discos. Fun, catchy, and not-so-serious. It is still fun to listen to them and I (and many others of my age) remember tons of their lyrics.

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
There are actually four bands that got me into rock and metal. My ‘personal BIG4’ consists of Metallica, Stratovarius, Klamydia, and AC/DC. They were all equally part of teaching me the ‘dark arts of rock ’n roll’. Big thanks to my big brother for the conversion.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Because Archer. No further explanation needed. LANAAAAAA!

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
I don’t really have any guilty pleasure songs or bands since I openly listen to anything from Steen1 to Behemoth, from Ke$ha to Motörhead, and from Topi Sorsakoski to Parov Stelar. Anything goes and my friends keep being surprised of my playlists.
But for the sake of the question, let’s say Little Big, the Russian equivalent of Die Antwoord.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Believe it or not but it was Before the Storm by Darude. Still got it in my shelf…

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
The piano version of “Crucify My Heart” from Lullacry. I just love it…

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Any song from Motörhead works the magic but “Ace of Spades” is my choice!

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
“Lintu” by Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus. That song can really make a grown man cry.


Listen to Atlas on Spotify:

Or check out the single, “Adrenaline,” on YouTube:

EMBER FALLS @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016


Ember Falls opening for Blind Channel during their Revolutions release gig, fall 2016. So many photos that it needed its own gallery.
Photos by Jana Blomqvist.
Official gig gallery HERE!
Gig report HERE!
Behind the scenes report HERE!

(2016) John Wesley: a way you’ll never be


Artist: John Wesley
Album: a way you’ll never be
Release: 7.10.2016
Label: InsideOut


John Wesley is known to most prog fans as a sideman, having worked as Marillion’s guitar tech, Fish’s songwriting partner and guitarist, and most famously as Porcupine Tree’s live guitarist and backing vocalist. However, throughout the years he’s had his own solo career as well, and a way you’ll never be (the lack of capitalization is an intentional stylistic choice) is already his seventh full-length studio album. Wesley’s great playing and unique singing voice impressed me on Porcupine Tree’s live DVDs and convinced me to check out his previous solo album, Disconnect (2014), when it came out. The record hasn’t exactly been in constant rotation, but I’ve found myself revisiting various songs occasionally, such as “Mary Will” and “How Goes the War,” thanks to the great guitarwork and melodies on them.

Listen along here:

On a way you’ll never be, only Wesley himself, drummer Mark Prator, and backing vocalist Geri X – who makes an appearance on the title-track – are left of the Disconnect line-up. They’re joined by bassist Sean Malone of Cynic fame, whose rumbling bass reinforces the sound with a booming low end. Like its predecessor, the album presents guitar-driven alternative rock with a progressive edge, but the songwriting on a way you’ll never be is perhaps a little more complex.

Opener and lead single “by the light of a sun” combines catchiness with interesting rhythms, and the second single “to outrun the light” includes some clever key changes. The guitarwork on “sun.a.rose” is slightly reminiscent of Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder” at times, and the song has got some cool effect-laden vocal harmonies. The up-tempo “the revolutionist” shines in the riff department, while the focus on the instrumental track “unsafe space” is soloing. The most interesting and varied song is “nada,” which ranges from acoustic arpeggios to heavy wah-wah riffing and frenetic drum fills.

Wesley’s playing is tasteful and never veers into shredding-for-the-sake-of-shredding Yngwie Malmsteen territory. He’s also got a knack for good riffs and vocal lines, and the songwriting is more consistent than on Disconnect. However, the weakness of a way you’ll never be lies in its lack of dynamics. Wesley’s voice stays in the same mid-range register for the most part, and almost all of the songs are on the rocking side, which makes the album rather fatiguing to listen to in one sitting. The only ballad is “the silence in coffee,” and even that one is played on electric guitars with some distortion. It’d be great to hear more of Wesley’s acoustic playing and the falsetto that he made good use of on various Porcupine Tree live recordings. If the music calmed down just a bit more often, a way you’ll never be would be more compelling to listen to and go back to.

Rating: 7/10, 3½ stars

01. by the light of a sun
02. a way you’ll never be
03. to outrun the light
04. the revolutionist
05. nada
06. the silence in coffee
07. unsafe space
08. sun.a.rose
09. epic
10. pointless endeavors

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

(2016) Interviews


Interview shots, 2016!

(2016) Forever Still: Tied Down


Artist: Forever Still
Album: Tied Down
Release: 21.10.2016
Label: Nuclear Blast


Who are Forever Still, you may be asking yourselves. This Danish duo came onto our radar after we were poking around to find out who Nuclear Blast was showing interest in these days, so for you newcomers, the band consists of Maja Shining (vocals) and Mikkel Haastrup (instruments), and at this point we can say that you’ll hear a lot of influence from a ton of bands you like in their music. Their debut is concept album about, “the journey of an individual being held down by their depression before a spark of hope appears and recovery starts setting in,” [Maja Shining, 3rd album trailer], a concept that many people will surely relate to and even find comfort in.


“Scars” is a strong, hard-hitting introduction to the album that puts all of their strengths on display, from Maja’s gentle vocals, hard rock strength, and full on growling screams, to the comprehensive way in which they put their songs together. “Once Upon a Time” brings me back to a time when Evanescence was considered a decent band, only I can take this song far more seriously than most of Evanescence’s music. They seem to have noticed what worked for Evanescence and what was worth leaving behind. I love the powerful build-ups in this track, the hefty lyrics, as well the strong chorus. There’s also a hint of Karmacode -era Lacuna Coil (2006) in here as well, which I’m all for.

Check out the video for “Scars” here:

I dig the keyboard intro to “Miss Madness,” even if it isn’t a groundbreaking riff. This song has a very distinct early Charlotte Wessels feel in the vocals, and I feel as though Maja is going to be a vocalist to keep an eye on. We’ve no shortage of cute female singers these days, but we are still missing singers who can cover a range of styles at all, let alone covering so many styles already on three tracks. This song has a familiar groove that’s a little more hard rock than original Delain, which I find quite pleasing. With the slower overall beat to the song, it’s a decent single, but I might’ve personally chosen a more energetic track that sounds a bit less like other bands to share before the offical release, though with “Scars” also out, this can be forgiven.

Check out the music video here:

“Awake the Fire” has a fairly different vocal sound from “Miss Madness” and may have worked well as a single. “Breathe In” gets going with a very impressive shout that I’d love to see if Maja can replicate live, then mellows into some casual rock with some nice bass lines and decent riffing that mix well together, along with a strong chorus that would make for some good singalongs. We also get some more of that hardcore growling that’s helping my affection for this band grow. “I just breathe in and… SCREAM!” Love that. This song is surprisingly short, at under 3 minutes, though it doesn’t feel as short as it is when you listen to it. I’m not sure how familiar anyone is with a band called Nemesea from the Netherlands, but I get a bit of a feel of their sound in a few of these songs as well.

“Save Me” is the token slow-down at track six, and in spite of some solid build-ups, manages to keep a rather mellow pace throughout. I could use a little less hard rock guitars and a bit more beauty in this track to bring out its full potential, but there’s nothing offensive to the ear in here. “Your Light” is a casual pick-up after the slower track, but doesn’t go full-power back into things, rather taking it easy and building things up to a chill but upbeat chorus. Not something that would get a crowd jumping around, but definitely something that’d get you swaying in front of the stage.

The muted vocals in “Alone” are a nice change to the start of the song, and this feels like a darker path than some of the other songs, bringing out those lyrics about anxiety, helplessness, and depression and making them stand out and hit harder. I really enjoy the intro to “Break the Glass” and immediately this song reminds me of a nice blend of older Lacuna Coil with a hint of Evanescence again. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album, with it’s nice musical progressions and somewhat nostalgic feeling. The album closes up shop with the reasonably heavy-starting title track, “Tied Down,” which has relaxed hard rock pacing and feels like a nice conclusion to the whole album.


Overall, Tied Down feels like a strong combination of a lot of things that I’ve already heard. While I can’t say the sound is strictly original and thus might say that their promotional material is a tad overstated, I do feel as though these guys have figured out what to pick out from certain bands, such as the aforementioned Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Nemesea, and Delain, and managed to make a good blend out of it. The music is solid and emotional across the board without experimenting too much, and steers more to the hard rock crowds rather than the straight-up metal, preferring rock riffs to metal melodies, but this nevertheless makes for an appealing debut album. If I have one complaint, it’s simply the generic song titles – there are very few songs on this list that don’t share a name with about a hundred other songs. In a moment of total irony, I had decided “Once Upon a Nightmare” was the only original-sounding name, only to learn a week or two ago that Epica’s latest album also has a song with, I kid you not, the exact same name. However, Maja Shining’s diverse vocals alone make this a band that I’m interested in hearing more from in the future, and I’d like to see how this music translates to the stage. Even more than that, once their debut is out and they’ve toured it sufficiently, I’m really curious to see where their sophomore effort takes them! I’ll be waiting!

Score: 8/10, four stars.

1. Scars
2. Once Upon a Nightmare
3. Miss Madness
4. Awake the Fire
5. Breathe in
6. Save Me
7. Your Light
8. Alone
9. Break the Glass
10. Tied Down

Text: Amy Wiseman

CRIMSON SUN @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 01.10.2016


A second specialized gallery from Crimson Sun’s opening set at Nosturi in October 2016.
Photos by Janne Puronen.
Gig report in English HERE!
Keikka-arvio suomeksi HERE!
Gallery ft. Cain’s Offering HERE!

CAIN’S OFFERING w/ CRIMSON SUN – Nosturi, Helsinki, 1.10.2016 (English)


For the larger audiences, guitarist Jani Liimatainen is probably most known for his work in one of the most well-known Finnish metal bands, Sonata Arctica, though his time with them ended in 2007. The split between him and the rest of the band happened under pretty shady circumstances, resulting in Liimatainen’s short withdrawal from the limelight. However, in 2009, the power metal supergroup, Cain’s Offering, which was founded by Liimatainen a year before, released its debut album, Gather the Faithful. The debut, recorded by Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), Jukka Koskinen (Norther), Mikko Härkin (ex-Sonata Arctica), and the old friend and Paul Di’Anno live band mate of Liimatainen’s, Jani “Hurtsi” Hurula, instantly claimed a spot in the frontline of Finnish power metal. In comparison to the (at that time) latest Sonata record, Unia, which felt really distant and directionless, Gather the Faithful was a delightfully traditional power metal record conceived with utmost professionalism.

After the debut’s release, save Liimatainen’s occasional mentions, Cain’s Offering seemed to wither away quickly with no information regarding the band’s future, until an official Facebook page popped up in 2014, featuring Liimatainen’s updates on the writing process of a new Cain’s Offering album. The sophomore album, Stormcrow, was released in May last year, but the band kept its audience waiting for their first live performances until this summer. After two shows in Japan, Cain’s Offering performed their first show in Finland on Tuska festival’s Helsinki Stage with new members Jonas Kuhlberg (ex-myGRAIN) and Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), replacing Koskinen and Härkin, respectively. While the show was great, all its power was lost thanks to the abysmal stage sound. Fortunately, Kotipelto announced that Cain’s Offering would play a couple of club shows in the fall, so we headed to Nosturi on October 1st, 2016, to check the band out in a more intimate setting!

Full gallery HERE!
Lue suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ!


2016-10-01-01-crimson-sun-nosturi-6The local warm-up act, Hamina-based Crimson Sun, has recently climbed the ladder towards the top tier of Finnish metal bands, and for good reason – the band’s 2015 debut album, Towards the Light, was a skillfully crafted package of melodic metal and the album clearly has found its audience afterwards – compared to the band’s last Nosturi show in MetalOrgy last February, the crowd had multiplied in numbers. Crimson Sun was granted a mere 30 minutes of showtime, but during the six songs they played it became evident that the band had again progressed: they performed better, vocalist Sini Seppälä hit all her notes in near perfect tune, and the rest of the band seemed to play in a far more relaxed manner than before. The bassist, Jukka Jauhiainen, utilized a large fan to blow his near-meter-long hair in all directions, looking amazing on stage. Unfortunately the stage sound hadn’t changed for the better since winter – the tom and snare drums started to be on point during the last song, “Memories Burning,” and at times the guitar and bass felt pretty raw. Nevertheless, the audience once again liked what they had seen, and there seemed to be a fair number of first-timers present. Seppälä mentioned that the band is writing new material for the second album – bring it on, and fast!

Crimson Sun’s set:
1. The Storm
2. Clockwork Heart
3. Towards the Light
4. Awaken
5. The Spark
6. Memories Burning


2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-10After the intermission, which surely felt a lot longer than 30 minutes, Cain’s Offering finally took the stage using the interlude song, “I Am Legion,” from Stormcrow to set the stage, and once the title track started playing, the audience instantly went nuts. My immediate thoughts were that the band had clearly stressed about the reception they would get beforehand, since Jani Liimatainen’s fingers were visibly shaky during “Stormcrow” and “The Best of Times,” which played right after. Only after Timo Kotipelto first spoke to the audience and thanked them for coming to see “this new band” that they had, did Liimatainen seem to relax. Kotipelto introduced the band one member at a time between songs, joking to Jens Johansson that he wasn’t going to introduce the Swede at all, but had to relent once the audience started chanting his first name – hardly anyone can deny Johansson’s impact on the history of Finnish power metal.

On a general level, the show was incredibly awesome. All of the members of Cain’s Offering are seasoned professionals and having collaborated with each other on numerous occasions over the years clearly showed in their performance. The band had their own sound technician and equipment, providing excellent stage output throughout – a special mention to Kuhlberg’s extra dirty bass sound! Kotipelto’s interlude speeches were as corny as always, which he blamed on Liimatainen, since they’ve had so many acoustic duo shows lately. As a funny detail, I noticed that the whole band was dressed pretty much identically compared to the Tuska gig, with Liimatainen rocking his “Greetings from Kotka” –tank top and Hurula in his super corny flame beanie – the only thing missing was a pair of mirrored Mojaves. Hurula, while moderately unknown to the masses, is an excellent drummer and the band’s backbone with his hard-hitting double bass beats, which he’s surely played a couple of times in his life – the man’s calves are about as thick as the average bodybuilder’s thighs!

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-12The setlist was weighed towards Stormcrow’s material, since Gather the Faithful was only featured via “More than Friends,” “Oceans of Regret,” “Thorn in My Side,” and “Stolen Waters,” of which “Thorn in My Side” was a surprising choice – I would have expected the opener, “My Queen of Winter,” or the excellent ballad, “Into the Blue,” to have found their way onto the set. The grand surprise, however, was that when the band went backstage after playing “On the Shore” as the final song of the main set, they returned to kick off the encore with “My Selene,” a Sonata Arctica song that Liimatainen wrote for their 2004 album, Reckoning Night. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve heard the song live once before when performed by Sonata during the Reckoning Night tour, but I could be wrong. It was a wonderful choice, since the song is one of the best tracks on that album, and Liimatainen was clearly stylistically on point 12 years ago already! In a sense, the band themselves diminished the power of their last song of the evening, “I Will Build You a Rome”; while being an excellent track, it surely didn’t manage to do anything to further the good mood after the brief surge of nostalgia that “My Selene” created.

Age-wise, the audience was evidently on the more mature side, which Nosturi had taken into account by expanding the bar area all the way to the photopit, enabling fans to drink beer in the front row, while the area designated for minors was shrunk to a small strip on the left side of the stage. Cain’s Offering truly gave the celebrating crowd a run for their money. Power metal still has fans domestically and especially outside the borders of our country, so let’s hope that the next Cain’s Offering album will be released sooner than 6 years from now. There are no additional shows expected in the near future as of now, so you should have been present in Nosturi, especially if you missed the Tuska gig!

Cain’s Offering’s set:
1. I Am Legion (intro)
2. Stormcrow
3. The Best of Times
4. More Than Friends
5. A Night to Forget
6. Constellation of Tears
7. Thorn in My Side
8. Too Tired to Run
9. Stolen Waters
10. My Heart Beats for No One
11. Oceans of Regret
12. Antemortem
13. On the Shore

14. My Selene (Sonata Arctica cover)
15. I Will Build You a Rome

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-14Text: Atte Valtonen | Photos: Miia Collander | Ed: Amy Wiseman

CAIN’S OFFERING w/ CRIMSON SUN – Nosturi, Helsinki, 1.10.2016 (suomeksi)


Kitaristi Jani Liimatainen on suurelle yleisölle todennäköisesti eniten tuttu kotimaamme tunnetuimpiin metalliorkestereihin lukeutuvasta Sonata Arcticasta, josta mies sai kenkää vuonna 2007. Epäselvissä olosuhteissa tapahtunut välirikko Liimataisen ja muun bändin välillä sai miehen viettämään jonkin aikaa hiljaiseloa, joka rikottiin vuonna 2009, kun Liimataisen edeltävänä vuonna perustama superkokoonpano Cain’s Offering julkaisi debyyttilevynsä Gather the Faithful. Liimataisen lisäksi Stratovarius-vokalisti Timo Kotipellon, Norther-basisti Jukka Koskisen, myös Sonata Arcticassa muinoin vaikuttaneen synisti Mikko Härkinin sekä Liimataisen vanhan kemiläisen ystävän ja Paul Di’Anno-aikaisen bänditoveri Jani ”Hurtsi” Hurulan muodostaman kokoonpanon levy ampaisi saman tien kotimaisen power metalin kärkikastiin, ja oli esimerkiksi Sonatan tuolloin viimeisimpään, etäiseksi jääneeseen Unia-levyyn verrattuna ihastuttavan perinteistä ja rautaisella ammattitaidolla toteutettua musiikkia.

Debyytin julkaisun jälkeen Cain’s Offeringista ei Liimataisen satunnaisia mainintoja lukuunottamatta kuulunut pitkään aikaan mitään, kunnes toissavuonna Facebookiin perustettiin bändin virallinen sivu, jonne Liimatainen alkoi kirjoittaa uuden levyn kirjoitusprosessista. Kakkoslevy Stormcrow ilmestyi viime vuoden toukokuussa, mutta bändin ensimmäisiä live-esiintymisiä saatiin odottaa tämän vuoden kesään asti. Koskisen korvanneen entisen myGRAIN-basisti Jonas Kuhlbergin sekä Kotipellon pitkäaikaisen Stratovarius-bänditoverin Jens Johanssonin vahvistama Cain’s Offering heitti vaatimattomasti ensimmäisen Suomen-keikkansa Tuskan Helsinki Stagella kahden Japanin-esiintymisen jälkeen. Keikan tehot hukkuivat täysin umpisurkeisiin lavasoundeihin, mutta fanien onneksi Kotipelto ilmoitti Cain’s Offeringin soittavan pari klubikeikkaa syksymmällä. Toinen keikoista osui Helsingin Nosturiin 1. lokakuuta, ja paikallehan sitä oli päästävä!

Kuvagalleria TÄÄLLÄ!
Read in English HERE!


2016-10-01-01-crimson-sun-nosturi-6Cain’s Offeringin lämmittelijäksi valikoitunut, Haminasta kotoisin oleva Crimson Sun on tehnyt viime aikoina kovaa nousua kohti kotimaan metallibändien kärkikastia, eikä suotta. Bändin viime vuonna julkaistu debyytti Towards the Light oli taidokkaasti sävellettyä melodista metallia, joka selkeästi on löytänyt kuulijakuntansa tämän vuoden aikana – keväiseen MetalOrgyjen Nosturin-keikkaan nähden yleisömäärä oli moninkertaistunut. Harmillisen lyhyen, vain 30-minuuttisen ja kuuden kappaleen mittaisen lämppärikeikan vetäissyt Crimson Sun oli tällä kertaa vielä parempi kuin keväällä: yhteissoitto oli tiukempaa, vokalisti Sini Seppälä lauloi täydellisesti nuottiin ja muun bändin esiintyminenkin oli huomattavasti rennomman oloista. Basisti Jukka Jauhiainen oli lähemmäs metrin mittaisine hiuksineen näyttävä ilmestys lavalla: miehen naamalle puhaltanut tuulikone oli ilmeisesti jatkuvasti täydellä teholla, puhaltaen hiuksia joka suuntaan. Valitettavasti lavasoundi ei ollut parantunut keväästä; en tiedä, kuka keikan tällä kertaa miksasi, mutta rummut alkoivat virvelin ja tomien puolesta olla kohdallaan vasta viimeisenä soitetun ”Memories Burningin” aikana, ja osan ajasta kielisoittimet kuulostivat täysin miksaamattomilta. Yleisö kuitenkin piti selvästi näkemästään, ja paikalla taisi olla paljon bändin ensi kertaa nähneitä. Nyt vaan sitä keikan aikana mainittua uutta materiaalia pian pihalle, niin saadaan homma oikeasti isolleen!

Crimson Sunin setti:
1. The Storm
2. Clockwork Heart
3. Towards the Light
4. Awaken
5. The Spark
6. Memories Burning


2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-10Ikuisuudelta tuntuneen puolituntisen roudaustauon jälkeen Cain’s Offering nousi viimein lavalle Stormcrow’n välisoiton ”I Am Legion” saattelemana, ja kun levyn nimiraita pärähti soimaan, yleisö oli saman tien täysillä mukana. Lavalla keikkaa oltiin selkeästi jännitetty etukäteen – ainakin Jani Liimataisen kädet vapisivat aluksi selkeästi, mutta toisena soitetusta ”The Best of Timesista” eteenpäin mies uskalsi rentoutua, ja Timo Kotipelto kiittikin vilpittömästi yleisöä, joka oli saapunut katsomaan sankoin joukoin tätä ”uutta bändiä”. Mies esitteli muun bändin vähän kerrassaan biisien välillä, vitsaillen viimeisenä vuorossa olevan Jens Johanssonin kohdalla, ettei hän aikoisi miestä esitellä laisinkaan, mutta joutui myöntymään yleisön ”Jens! Jens!”-huutojen myötä – tuskin miehen panosta kotimaisen power metalin historiassa voi kukaan kiistää.

Yleisellä tasolla keikka oli hävyttömän kova. Bändin kaikki jäsenet ovat pitkän linjan ammattilaisia, jotka ovat myös tahoillaan soittaneet pitkään yhdessä, ja se näkyi. Soundit olivat kerrankin todella hyvin kohdallaan, olihan bändillä mukana oma miksaaja ja laitteisto, minkä lisäksi Jonas Kuhlbergin bassosoundi oli juuri niin ryönäinen kuin pitääkin. Kotipellon lavaspiikit ovat aina olleet korniudessaan viihdyttäviä, eikä tälläkään kertaa tarvinnut pettyä miehen spiikatessa ennen ”Stolen Watersin” alkua, ettei biisi kerro siitä jätkästä, joka varastaa lavan kaljaa, vaan lavan vettä. Hauskana yksityiskohtana koko bändi näytti käytännössä täysin samalta kuin kesän Tuskan-keikalla: Liimataisella oli päällään sama Terveisiä Kotkasta –wifebeater, ja rumpali Hurulalla sama liekkipipo – nopeat lasit vain puuttuivat. Suurelle yleisölle tuntematon Hurula oli muutenkin bändin selkäranka tanakkoine tuplabasarijuoksutuksineen, joita on varmasti tullut soitettua kerta jos toinenkin – miehen pohkeet ovat paksummat kuin keskivertobodarin reidet!

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-12Settilista painottui tuoreemman Stormcrow-levyn materiaaliin, sillä debyytti Gather the Faithfulilta mukaan pääsivät ainoastaan ”More Than Friends”, ”Oceans of Regret”, ”Thorn in My Side” sekä jo mainittu ”Stolen Waters”, joista varsinkin toiseksi viimeinen oli valintana yllättävä – olisin olettanut levyn avausraita ”My Queen of Winterin” tai loistavan balladin ”Into the Bluen” olevan mukana setissä. Keikan ylivoimaisesti suurin yllätys kuitenkin koettiin varsinaisen setin viimeisenä soitetun ”On the Shoren” jälkeen, kun bändi palasi lavalle ja polkaisi käyntiin Liimataisen Sonata Arctican vuoden 2004 Reckoning Night -levylle säveltämän ”My Selenen”. Allekirjoittaneella on voimakkaasti sellainen fiilis, että biisi on kuultu kerran livenä Reckoning Nightin julkaisukiertueella, mutta voin kyllä olla väärässäkin. Loistava veto, onhan biisi hyvä ja tyylillisesti Liimatainen on ollut jo reilut 12 vuotta sitten asian ytimessä! Tavallaan bändi teki itselleen karhunpalveluksen, sillä vaikka uuden levyn hitti ”I Will Build You a Rome” onkin loistava power-ralli, ei se keikan päättäjänä enää niin puhutellut edellisen nostalgiaryöpyn jälkeen.

Yleisö oli selkeästi varttuneemmasta päästä, mikä näkyikin hienosti Nosturin anniskelualueen laajennuksessa niin, että törppö kädessä pääsi eturiviin asti, siinä missä alaikäisille oli varattu vain pieni kaistale lavan vasemmasta reunasta. Cain’s Offering viihdyttikin juhlakansaa vajaalla puolitoistatuntisellaan koko rahan edestä. Power metalille löytyy edelleen Suomessa ja varsinkin Suomen ulkopuolella kysyntää, joten toivotaan ettei seuraavaa levyä jouduta odottamaan kuutta vuotta. Lisää keikkojakaan ei ilmeisesti ole näillä näkymin tiedossa, joten varsinkin jos Tuskan-veto sattui jäämään väliin, olisi kannattanut olla paikalla!

Cain’s Offeringin setti:
1. I Am Legion (intro)
2. Stormcrow
3. The Best of Times
4. More Than Friends
5. A Night to Forget
6. Constellation of Tears
7. Thorn in My Side
8. Too Tired to Run
9. Stolen Waters
10. My Heart Beats for No One
11. Oceans of Regret
12. Antemortem
13. On the Shore

14. My Selene (Sonata Arctica cover)
15. I Will Build You a Rome

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-14Teksti: Atte Valtonen | Kuvat: Miia Collander | Ed: Ville Karttunen

CAINS OFFERING w/ CRIMSON SUN @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 01.10.2016


Cain’s Offering with Crimson Sun at Nosturi, 2016.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig report HERE!
Keikka-arvio TÄÄLLÄ!

BLIND CHANNEL: Behind the Scenes at the Revolutions CD Release Show @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016


Okay, maybe it’s time for Musicalypse to take a break from covering Blind Channel shows… but come on, what fun would that be? This young band from Oulu is off to a hot start and we’re really curious to follow them and see what happens in the future! Their long-awaited debut album, Revolutions, is finally out and they celebrated with a gig at Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on October 1st, 2016, and we’re pretty sure this is the start of something great. As such, we headed over to VOC right as the guys were arriving to have a look at the full adventure – arrival, setting up, sound check, and of course, what goes on backstage before a gig!

The gig review can be seen over HERE!
And the full gallery is up HERE!


The band arrived at Virgin Oil shortly before 17:00 and immediately began unpacking. There was a ton to do to get ready, especially since their management had put everything they had into this show to make it great. There were new banner stands to assemble for the first time, a backdrop to hang, fog cannons to set up, LED lights to attach to the drum stand, and of course, the instruments to get ready. It was over an hour before the guys were done getting everything put together.

2016-10-01-blind-channel-backstage-voc-sound-check-10As the band was getting everything ready, Ember Falls and Rust N’ Rage began to slowly trickle into the venue as well to unload their own gear. Once Blind Channel’s stage was prepped, it was time to get the instruments ready to go. Starting, as always, with Tommi Lalli on drums, through Olli Matela on bass, Joonas Porko on guitar, Joel Hokka‘s guitars and vocals, and of course, Niko Moilanen on vocals as well, they one-by-one tested everything out, and then did a couple play-throughs of “My Revolution” and a few others to try and get the sound in good balance. I’m not sure who their sound tech was, but I will commend him on doing a decent job – Virgin Oil’s roundish shape makes for weird echoes and the sound quality is often very poor there, but in spite of this, the music was more or less in decent shape by the end of the sound check – nice work!

When they were done, the other opening bands started up their own sound checks and the BC guys ordered their dinner. It was only 19:00 or 20:00 by this point, so now it was just a matter of having some food and killing some time before the show got underway. The doors opened and there was a slow trickle of patrons into the bar, so after dinner, the back headed backstage to start getting prepared for the show.

While mom and dad might worry that the backstage of a concert is a land of drugs and debauchery (hide your daughters!), it seems as though many musicians these days, Blind Channel and Ember Falls among them, are more interested in putting on a good show than getting pissed drunk and fooling around with strangers. Most of what we saw was casual conversation, with a little bit of goofing off – of course, what’s a gig without some fun?

That said, a picture is worth a thousand words, so to truly give you an idea of what went on on the night of the Revolutions album release gig, it is best to just let you see for yourselves! Here are our backstage photos from Virgin Oil Co.!

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

BLIND CHANNEL w/ EMBER FALLS: Revolutions Release Show – Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016


How often do you get the chance to witness history in the making? Particularly when it comes to music, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the feeling that it’s all been done already and that there may never be another true classic. So much new music sounds like every other band you’ve ever heard, with an altered tune or slightly different lyrics.

Blind Channel only appeared on our radar about half a year ago when I saw the video for “Darker than Black”, and I was hooked immediately. Shortly afterward, we had the opportunity to check out their show at South Park and got a quick interview with Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka. It was immediately evident that this band is made up of equal parts raw talent and an incredible work ethic.

Since that first gig, I’ve made no secret of my enthusiasm for these guys, and went on to see them again at Korso Rock and Edge:Nordic, and gladly gave their debut album a 9.5/10. New bands are often hit-or-miss, and though it does happen, I rarely find new music that I think is so unique and well-made. Accompanied by consistently strong live performances, Blind Channel has, in half a year, proved themselves to truly be a force to be reckoned with!

Revolutions was officially released on October 1st, 2016, and the band celebrated the occasion by kicking off their Finnish album tour with a CD release gig, accompanied by frequent collaborators, Ember Falls, as well as Rust N’ Rage, at the Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki. Musicalypse was there in full force to see history in the making.

Full gallery HERE!
Backstage footage coming soon!


The night’s schedule offered three bands, with Rust N’ Rage starting things off at around 20:30. Unfortunately, the night was off to a slow start, as this band was rather forgettable. The stage show was nothing noteworthy, nor was the music particularly striking or catchy. They have the visual aspect of 80s glam/hard rock going on, but they don’t have that same “it” factor that has gotten Reckless Love and Santa Cruz so much attention. While they all seemed competent enough with their instruments, I can’t say there was much to impress from their time on stage.

Rust n’ Rage


2016-10-01-02-ember-falls-01-virgin-oil-er-3The opener’s set ran a bit long, but Ember Falls took the stage as soon as they were able. Much like Blind Channel, you might know by now that we’re rather fond of Ember Falls, having picked them up at the same time and same place as the BC guys. Why do we like them? They have the full package – great music, a consistent visual style, and strong live performances. On this night, they came on stage to some sort of awesome electronic movie score type music (I’ll have to ask if that’s their own track or if they’ve borrowed it from somewhere), and then kicked things off with “The Cost of Doing Business”, which really is a great track. From there on, I immediately knew that this was going to be one of their best shows yet. It says something about a band when they start their show and there are maybe four people standing, and by halfway through the first song, they’ve got a floor full of people dancing and rocking out.

2016-10-01-02-ember-falls-01-virgin-oil-er-6The mix was far better than you usually hear at Virgin Oil, though it was unfortunate that the keyboards weren’t quite as audible as the rest, and the drums were a bit on the loud side. Can’t really complain about the latter though, because damn, Ace was playing well! Drums are a largely underappreciated aspect of music, and he is extremely good at what he does. Actually, to give credit where credit is due, everyone was really giving it their all – Thomas Grove on vocals was hitting the tricky notes and Calu was putting full power into his growls and guitars. Jay V was doing his solos like it was second nature, and even though Oswald’s bass playing was relaxed, he wasn’t taking it easy – he even hopped off the stage during the third song to rock out a bit with the people in the crowd. Every band has their on and off nights, and these guys were definitely on tonight; though I suspect it doesn’t hurt anyone’s energy levels when they get to celebrate their friends’ milestone.

With a shorter set, the speeches were kept to a minimum, though they did poke a little fun at Joonas Porko (Blind Channel’s guitarist), and naturally had to congratulate their friends on the release of their debut and thank them for being included. Every time I see one of their shows, I take a little bit more home with me. I really enjoy “COE” and there was one couple dancing a bit to “Freedom” (okay, maybe that was me). Actually, at this point in time, the Mekanism song is the weakest in their set, so when their album comes out and they’re playing 100% Ember Falls material… it’s only going to get better. Naturally, they ended things with “Shut Down with Me”, and it was one of the best live versions of this song I’ve heard – at least the best since South Park! Grove jumped down into the crowd towards the end to mosh with everyone for a while as well. I really can’t wait for their own album release show – it’s going to be another night that you won’t want to miss!

Ember Falls
Ember Falls

1. The Cost of Doing Business
2. Enemy You Need
3. Falling Rain
4. Freedom
5. Rising Tide
6. Of Letting Go
7. COE
8. Shut Down With Me


2016-10-01-03-blind-channel-01-virgin-oil-er-4With that, Ember Falls took the stage apart as quickly as they could so Blind Channel could start their party. They came on stage with an explosive start, complete with fog cannons (something I’ve never seen at Virgin Oil) to play “My Revolution” – a solid opening track and one of my favorite non-singles from the new album. I began to think that it must be a fun challenge to rearrange an album so that you’re playing all of the songs, but not in the same order as they are in the album; if you want “Darker than Black” to be the encore, what will you use as the closer before the encore, and what will you start with? Albums are often arranged already to have the songs in the optimal play order, so how do you take it apart and put it back together when it’s already just right? Well, however they decided, they did well with it! If there was one flaw in the play order – and I’m being very loose with the term “flaw” here – it was the positioning of the song “Pitfall” in the set. On the album, it’s the fourth track and a good breather, especially after three hard-hitters and before another high-energy track, “Deja FU.” Coming in at track four in the live set, after “Hold on to Hopeless” (another somewhat chill song)… well, I’m not exactly complaining because the song was still great, but it didn’t quite have the same effect as on the album. But let’s be honest, if this was the worst they could do… they’re doing pretty fucking well!

2016-10-01-03-blind-channel-01-virgin-oil-er-10“Deja FU” has been getting better and better the more they practice it, and continues to be a personal favorite. “Hold on to Hopeless”, another great non-single track, really took off and soared in a live scenario – the guys brought that song to life properly! And just for fun, Niko Moilanen borrowed an audience member’s hat for the rapping parts in “Bullet (With Your Name on It)”, and he wore a white mask for the new single, “Enemy for Me.” I was surprised to find out that they hadn’t played “What’s Wrong” live before – as a slow song by a band with a sea of young girls in their fanbase, you’d think that would be a staple. It’s a good track, so it wouldn’t hurt them to bring it back again, I’m sure. As well, “Another Sun” had its live debut on this night, to my immense pleasure. That song has a rather relaxed power that really worked well on stage. I was happy that it stayed in a towards-the-end slot, as it was in a perfect place on the album, and stayed actually in the third-to-last (pre-encore) slot for this show as well.

2016-10-01-03-blind-channel-01-virgin-oil-er-6If we’re talking about quality of live performances, Blind Channel have already set their own bar pretty high. It’s tough to compare one great show to another, though on this occasion they were clearly giving it 100% or more, if you consider that possible. Moilanen was bouncing and happy, while Joel Hokka was singing his heart out every time he took the mic. Joonas Porko was energetic and enthusiastic on the guitar, and Olli Matela (bass) and Tommi Lalli (drums) couldn’t have done a better of keeping the rhythm upbeat and lively.

“Don’t” was moved up from encore to closer for this night, as the guys had something new and special in mind for the encore. They left the stage, only to return a short while later, no longer clad in black, but now in white. I got a little nostalgia there because it reminded me of the Backstreet Boys! They then played “Save Me” and “Calling Out” – two of their songs that pre-date the album, which were a special treat for their really die-hard fans. As well, Moilanen brought out a bottle of champagne to spray on the crowd as an act of celebration.

2016-10-01-03-blind-channel-01-virgin-oil-er-17They closed out the night with “Darker than Black” – finally putting that song in the encore position where it belongs – and took a photo with the crowd before taking their bows and heading off stage. It was truly a memorable night and a ton of fun. If you weren’t able to make it, we hope you were able to watch the show on Facebook where it was streaming. For me, I think this is easily another nomination of best show of the year!

1. My Revolution
2. Deja FU
3. Hold on to Hopeless
4. Pitfall
5. Unforgiving
6. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
7. What’s Wrong
8. Another Sun
9. Enemy for Me
10. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)

11. Save Me
12. Calling Out
13. Darker than Black


At this point you might wonder why I’ve declared this show to be history in the making. Well, as I said before, it’s hard to watch music and not think that you’ve heard it all already. But as I’ve said in the album review, these guys are managing to put so many genres together that shouldn’t work, but somehow do. I can hear influences from Bring Me the Horizon, Linkin Park, Backstreet Boys, Twenty-One Pilots, and much, much more… and yet you could never possibly say, “Oh, Blind Channel! Yeah, they sound a lot like [insert band name here]!” Even though some of the influences are clear, these guys just don’t sound like anyone else. That’s a rare and beautiful thing these days, and if these guys keep up what they’re doing, if they continue writing songs with this much heart and performing with this much soul, I see huge things for them in the future. We’re very happy to have had the opportunity to see these guys from the beginning and can’t wait to find out where their music takes them!

Blind Channel

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Eliza Rask; further gallery photos by Jana Blomqvist

BLIND CHANNEL w/ RUST N’ RAGE & EMBER FALLS @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016


Blind Channel’s Revolutions CD release gig, Virgin Oil Co., 2016.
Photos by Eliza Rask & Jana Blomqvist [05.10 second gallery set to be added later].
Gig review soon!

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Spellgoth (Horna, Slave’s Mask, Turmion Kätilöt, etc), 2016


The name Spellgoth may bring several bands to mind. This Finnish fellow from Savo can be found in many bands, from Turmion Kätilöt and Horna to Baptism and Slave’s Mask, all the way over to Trollheim’s Grott and Black Death Ritual! With that many bands under his belt, we felt it was only fitting to get the playlist of his life for you!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
“Harakka huttua keittää” (Finnish trad)

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
“Natassja in Eternal Sleep” by Darkthrone

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
“Mother North” by Satyricon

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
GnR/Nirvana/Metallica trio

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Some song by Kaija Koo which I just happened to hear

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Not really guilty pleasures as I have nothing to hide but I think Peaches could be one.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Sepultura’s Arise and Beneath the Remains LPs

13.02 04 Turmion Kätilöt (6)8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Any song by Chelsea Wolfe

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Canned Heat: “On the Road Again”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Spiritual Front: “Jesus Died in Las Vegas”


If you’d like to have a look at Spellgoth on stage, we have a few photo galleries of Turmion Kätilot, which can be found here: Diskovibrator release gig, Metalorgy 2016, Nummirock 2016, Tuska 2016, & Sotkamon Syke 2016

Or check out the full Hengen Tulet album by Horna on YouTube:

MAURON MAIDEN – On the Rocks, Helsinki, 30.09.2016


As Iron Maiden’s classic album, Somewhere in Time, turns 30 years old, local tribute act Mauron Maiden put together a special evening to celebrate. As the sole performers of the evening, Mauron Maiden promised to play the 80’s classic in its entirety along with some other beloved Iron Maiden tracks at On the Rocks on September 30th. Fronted by 2012 The Voice star Mikko Herranen, Mauron Maiden tour extremely seldomly, therefore making this a doubly special event. Based entirely on a handful of videos on Youtube however, I found myself excited to see them tackle the pivotal record. I’ve seen my share of lackluster tribute bands and at least I could trust Herranen to be professional.


I was actually very anxious to see this show. Somewhere in Time was my very first Iron Maiden studio album way back in the day, so obviously I view it as one of their definitive works. It was the next logical step from Powerslave but without the orchestral lavishness of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. On the other hand, as a huge Iron Maiden fan I found myself worried about whether or not Herranen’s English pronunciation was up to the task. Most Finnish singers are notorious for their cluelessness in this field. This is something that can really spoil a show for me, especially in a case like this, where I know the material like the back of my own hand.

The promise of a celebrity-led Iron Maiden tribute drew in a decent crowd of long-haired folks. The place wasn’t full per se, but it was by no means a failure, even for a Friday night. The 30th anniversary show seemed to attract a predominantly over-30 male audience who were likewise over themselves. On the Rocks has been named the best rock bar in Helsinki on multiple occasions and does largely cater to this demographic in general, and shows like this are no exception. Regardless, there was a lingering air of excitement as the people were clearly determined to hear this album specifically. In passing I heard people share their enthusiasm to hear songs like “Alexander the Great”, “Sea of Madness”, and “Stranger in a Strange Land” played live.

A hush fell over the crowd as the iconic first notes of “Caught Somewhere in Time” sounded off. My first gut reaction was that they hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into nailing the exact guitar sound of SiT but perhaps that wasn’t necessary. Herranen, the man of the hour, took the stage in a confident stride to thunderous applause and began to rapidly scream out the lyrics in his trademark raspy voice. Right away it seemed as though he was unsure of the words – nearly every line had a half-second delay before he seemed confident that he was in the right place.

This would become a constant annoyance throughout the set. The vocals were often comprised of either the wrong line or some garbled nonsense in an attempt to mask the fumbles. By the time the set had reached “Stranger in a Strange Land”, even the drunkest audience members could tell that the SiT songs had not been rehearsed to their full potential. Herranen would not only forget what to sing, but also when – the ultimate sin for a vocalist. ”I’m not applauding that,” I heard a fellow patron say. Regrettably, I had to agree. These songs may have been some of my all-time favorites but this half-baked portrayal was not doing them justice.

Herranen’s voice isn’t generally the smoothest around and he has a habit (especially with Maiden songs) to simply go as loud as possible when he can’t match the Bruce Dickinson-range required to pull off something like “Sea of Madness” or “Deja Vu.” In all fairness, I’d probably have done something similar myself had I been in his shoes, but this ended up sounding like karaoke. He did attempt to garner sympathy by mentioning that he had a cold; that may excuse some of the vocal problems but doesn’t quite explain the fact that the lyrics hadn’t been memorized. This crowd had gathered to see a professional performance, which the band simply failed to deliver. Despite all of that, the crowd wanted to support the band. The banter between songs was geeky and awkward but all of that was instantly forgiven any time a new song came on. Everyone was obviously just too invested in hearing some Maiden, no matter how rough of a ride it was.

The wait paid off in the end though, as Mauron Maiden had prepared an impressive six encore songs, starting with “Moonchild” and even including a monster like “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” These were clearly far more rehearsed, as Herranen did a much better job in both remembering and pronouncing the words. The band themselves got to show off their skills with the difficult time changes in “Alexander the Great” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I only picked up on one or two minor goofs where one guitar came into a section too early or too late. Overall the guitars worked well together, but played mostly in unison instead of properly harmonizing. Apart from Herranen, the band stood perfectly in place, only ever swaying with their upper bodies (as is of course tradition for Finnish bands), so that’s a definite point to Herranen’s credit.

At the end of the night I did feel like I had a good time and from what I could surmise of the audience, people felt quite satisfied. It may not have been the most meticulous execution, but for the masses who crave Maiden at all times, the thirst had been sated, and it was a long set that included a lot of songs rarely heard live. And… at least it wasn’t Coverslave.

1. Caught Somewhere in Time
2. Wasted Years
3. Sea of Madness
4. Heaven Can Wait
5. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
6. Stranger in a Strange Land
7. Deja Vu
8. Alexander the Great

9. Moonchild
10. 2 Minutes to Midnight
11. Can I Play With Madness
12. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
13. Number of the Beast
14. Iron Maiden

Text: Vincent Parkkonen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

POETS OF THE FALL – Jäähalli (Ice Hall) Black Box, Helsinki, 30.09.2016


Poets of the Fall have been around since 2003, and even though they’ve been releasing albums fairly regularly (the last being Jealous Gods in 2014), when mentioning their name, the usual response was, “Oh, are they still around? I thought they haven’t put out an album in 5 years or so.” An odd reaction, considering they haven’t had a break of more than 2 years in their release schedule since their first album came out in 2005, wouldn’t you say? With the release of Clearview on the very same day, we headed down to Live Nation’s Black Box at Jäähalli on September 30th, 2016, to check out what the album release show had to offer.

Full gallery HERE!


I confess that I actually had never heard of this band before we started upgrading the site back in the spring, at which point I came across a gallery of them at Tavastia in 2010 and an interview with Marko Saaresto around the time of the release of Twilight Theater (2010). Though we were both quite tired from the previous day’s events with Nightwish, Jana [photos] had mentioned how much she liked these guys, so I was happy to accompany her to check out the gig.

2016-09-30-poets-of-the-fall-jaahalli-black-box-22I arrived at Jäähalli just in time to catch the melodic instrumental opening track from the entrance, and made my way into the black box in time to hear “Drama for Life” as the opening track. Before I get into that, I’ll quickly mention how much I like the chess knight design they have for Clearview – it’s simple but looks cool and the banners featuring it set a nice stage for the night. There was a quite decent-sized crowd, with people of all ages and walks of life present and immediately, the sound quality and lighting were fantastic. I’m not sure how many people the black box can host, but it seems like a perfect step up from The Circus size-wise and I wish it wasn’t (I presume) exclusive to Live Nation shows, as I can think of a few non-LN bands who would benefit from a better quality venue than Kaapelitehdas or a bigger venue than The Circus (Bring Me the Horizon, Within Temptation, and Manowar to name a few).

The band, visually, was not quite what I was expecting – bassist Jani Snellman had a mowhawk and Marko Saaresto on vocals had a rather unusal punk/metal tailcoat, with spiky studs and whatnot. On listening to the music, I decided that Saaresto’s coat was a tad extravagant – it looked a little bit hardcore against the music they were playing. I had been expecting rather casual-preppy guys on stage, after all. Though I suppose I should say that Jari Salminen (drums) was the true visual wild card, with his long hair, stylish thick glasses, and white collared shirt with a tie.

2016-09-30-poets-of-the-fall-jaahalli-black-box-23As for the show, the band played very nicely. I was pleased to see a tight performance on all fronts, with just the right amount of energy – they weren’t pushing it too hard and being overly enthusiastic (which would have distracted from their music), nor were they total slugs on stage. They had a decent amount of movement and interaction with one another, and I was amused to see Salminen constantly and enthusiastically tossing his head to the side – was it because his hair was in his face or was it just how he moves to the beat, I wonder? Saaresto is still able to hit the high notes in songs like “Daze” – he has to focus and keep good control to pull them off, so they’re not as carefree as his regular vocals, but it’s nevertheless impressive that he can still rock such high notes. As well, the band was very smiley and comfortable on stage. I’m not sure when their last gigs were, but it seemed as though they were happy to be performing again.

Saaresto wasn’t much for chitchat or speeches between songs, though they did take a break about mid-way through the show so he could take off his coat and talk a bit about the new album and how it was a thrill to be playing their first headlining show at Jäähalli. I was actually quite surprised to hear him announce a few of the song names in English throughout the night as well – it seems as though they expected a few of the people in the crowd to be non-Finns and were helping to make them feel included. It’s a small thing, but I know many people appreciate it (especially considering what a tricky language Finnish is to learn). Of course, Saaresto also humbly thanked the audience for being there and making it happen.

2016-09-30-poets-of-the-fall-jaahalli-black-box-37There was a short two-song acoustic set in the middle – a common feature in gigs these days, but nevertheless a nice addition to break things up. Even though I didn’t know any of the songs, I can name a few personal favorites from the night, like “Dreaming Wide Awake”, the two big hits, “Carnival of Rust” and “War”, as well as the new track, “Once Upon a Playground Rainy”, even if the former felt like it turned into “Sweet Home Alabama” right before the end.

I was actually quite surprised to learn that the show was over when “Carnival of Rust” played and the band left the stage – it was only 22:05! For having played thirteen songs, the set was very short. They of course played a few songs in the encore – “War”, “Lift”, and “Children of the Sun” (with Saaresto in a hat, because why not?), but as a whole I was really happy about this. I’m used to hearing fewer or the same number of songs from metal bands in an hour-and-a-half or longer slot, plus encore… well, on a busy night, it was great to hear a good selection of tunes and feel so satisfied without it taking all night long and getting totally exhausted by the end.


So, Poets of the Fall may get a great deal of scoffing from fans of heavier music, but that really just comes down to a matter of taste. When it comes to their live performance, they are no slouches. Being completely unfamiliar with their music, I found myself happy to move to the music, and the whole package – sound, lights, song selection – was quite satisfying, and the new songs seemed at home with the rest of the material as well.

2016-09-30-poets-of-the-fall-jaahalli-black-box-40If you’re thinking of hitting up one of the shows on the Clearview Tour this year, you probably won’t leave disappointed. At least Jana said that of the seven or so times she’s seen them, this was by far the best performance. Whether this is a guilty pleasure for you, or just a straight up, unashamed pleasure, chances are this tour will live up to your expectations!

1. Drama for Life
2. Daze
3. The Child in Me (live debut)
4. Dreaming Wide Awake
5. Diamonds for Tears
6. The Game (live debut)
7. Stay
8. Someone Special
9. Sleep
10. Running Out of Time
11. Once Upon a Playground Rainy (live debut)
12. Locking Up the Sun
13. Carnival of Rust

14. War
15. Lift
16. Children of the Sun (live debut)

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

POETS OF THE FALL @ Jäähalli (Ice Hall) Black Box, Helsinki, 30.09.2016


Poets of the Fall’s Clearview Tour, Helsinki 2016.
Photos by Jana Blomqvist.
Review HERE!

NIGHTWISH – Floor Jansen, Helsinki 2016


With Vehicle of Spirit coming out at the end of this year, Tuomas Holopainen, Marco Hietala, and Floor Jansen traveled to Helsinki on September 29th to promote the upcoming DVD to the Finnish medias, of which we are one. After the screening, we were given the opportunity to chat with Floor about the DVD, life as Nightwish’s vocalist, and a few other personal experiences.

More photos HERE!


Well, we’ve just watched the new DVD, Vehicle of Spirit – how do you like it compared to Showtime, Storytime?
There are a couple of years between these two shows. These were our own shows, unlike a festival… of course that is also ‘our’ show, but this is our stage, our setup, everything. I don’t want to really compare too much, because I think it’s nice that both DVDs [show] a different kind of work, a different kind of vibe, a different moment in our history. This is a documentation of this world tour, so we have two shows and [quite a bit of] footage from other places as well, which is also really different from the concept of Showtime, Storytime. That had a show, but it also had a large story part with hours of documentary. This is only live footage, so it’s really different.

2016-09-29-nightwish-pre-viewing-kalevalastudio-3What’s your favorite moment from the DVD, or do you have a favorite memory from either of the shows?
For me, one of the highlights from the Tampere show was doing “Sleeping Sun” out on that catwalk that we had into the audience. It was really scary. I had the most… challenging shoes [laughs]. They’re awesome! Just like every woman, you want to wear something that’s really great but it’s really not practical, especially when you have to go down a slope and it’s slippery. A song such as “Sleeping Sun” is only beautiful when it’s sang perfectly. You can’t be off with it. The dynamics, everything needs to be there, and to do that while walking on a catwalk in the midst of 23,000 people was a challenge [laughs] but I was very happy with how it turned out.

For the Wembley show, I think the moment that Richard Dawkins spoke and when he had that little break at the end, “Where endless forms most beautiful… … … and most wonderful…” I remember how nervous I was! “Is he forgetting his words? What’s happening now?” Then he continued and then the reaction from the audience, which we now saw on film, got to see even more than when I was standing there. It was breathtaking. When I watched it at home for the first time, I had tears rolling down my face, like man! And the reaction that came from the audience! People with tears on their face and having their hands like this [see photo] listening to him. It was unbelievably cool that they felt what we felt, what we hoped we could share.

On the Endless Forms Most Beautiful Tour, you’ve had quite minimalistic stage props as compared to, for example, the giant organ prop from Imaginaerum or the boat from Dark Passion Play. Who designs the props and how did they end up a bit more simple this time around?
We come up with a lot of ideas ourselves. I think a lot of physical things on stage got replaced with screens and the setup of the screens, which I can tell you are not minimalistic [laughs]. Also, in Tampere we had these big lights that came down during the show. In general with lights we’ve done way more, so the setup in a sense is really not more minimalistic, it’s more advanced but in another way. We do have our stage props. There is a big thing built around Tuomas’ stand, and a special setup for Troy, Marco has his tree thing, and so do I. So I don’t see it as less in a sense like that.

2016-09-29-nightwish-pre-viewing-kalevalastudio-4I know that Nightwish has a break planned after the next couple of shows in Asia for about a year. What are the band’s plans after the break? Will you just be heading back to the studio?
We have plans but we’re not going to tell anybody. We have something really special coming up and I’ve seen some interpretations of interviews we’ve done on the subject where we say, “We won’t do anything in 2017, then we’ll do something special but we’re not saying anything until 2018.” People do write, “We think they’re going to go into the studio or 2017,” or not even think, they just write as if it’s the truth, and I’m like… we didn’t say that. We actually are going to take a whole year off in order to charge the batteries to their full max; a band like Nightwish simply deserves it. After 20 years non-stop, I don’t think it’s that weird. But! Then there’s something happening that we can’t tell yet, or won’t tell. All I can say is that I think it’s very special and people will really like it.

Are you and any of the other guys thinking at all about working on your other projects, like Brother Firetribe or Tarot or ReVamp?
I know that Emppu will spend time with Brother Firetribe and I think Kaitsu is considering, or can do some stuff with Wintersun. He’ll do teaching. Marco is working on a solo album, and so is Troy. I realized that having a band such as Nightwish… it isn’t very easy to have a second band. I’ve been doubting what to do with ReVamp, because my Dutch band deserves as much attention as any other band, but it’s been hard to have that and I’m going to be a mom, so it’s very difficult to do that full-force. So I decided to let ReVamp go. So for me, it will be mainly focusing on having a baby and being a mom. But, in 2008 I wrote a rock album with a Norwegian guitar player, Jorn Viggo Lovstad, from Pagan’s Mind. For both of us, different music, and we never were able to release it. So, without too intense planning, we do have the ambition to work on this when time allows it.

Regarding the Nightwish material, which song is most challenging for you to sing?
I can’t really say that one song in particular is more challenging than others. There are parts in songs that don’t come as naturally. For instance, “Amaranthe” for me, in the beginning was more challenging because it has this poppy vibe that I’m not used to, really, so in that sense it’s more challenging. “Sleeping Sun” is challenging for the reason mentioned before. It really needs to be exactly correct. Not too operatic, not too light, building up the dynamics… that’s a challenge. Of course, the high notes in “Ghost Love Score” are a challenge. So it’s more parts of songs.

Did you have to learn any new vocal techniques to sing any of Nightwish’s songs, or did your skill set already have it covered?
They did, but there are – especially more in the lighter and softer singing – I discovered… not new techniques, but I never used it that much. To really play with that was something I rarely did before.

2016-09-29-nightwish-pre-viewing-kalevalastudio-7Of the older Nightwish songs, is there anything that you haven’t sang live yet that you’d like to?
[laughs] Many, many! There are a lot [of songs] in the back catalogue that we can’t play in one show, just because we have eight albums to choose from. This has been the Endless Forms Most Beautiful World Tour, so you focus on the material from the new album, but there are songs like “The End of All Hope” – I always thought it was such a rush. I’m terrible with names, but “Gethsemane”, and so on and so forth.

You’ve been loaning your voice to a lot of other bands’ projects lately – do you have any particular favorites from those that really stood out?
No, but I recently joined with Evergrey, a Swedish band, whom I’ve listened to since I was a teen. My husband-to-be used to drum in Evergrey, so when I moved to Sweden, I got to meet the singer and again actually we knew each other from back in the day, but not really like this. When he asked me to sing on the album, that felt very special because it’s out of friendship, but also out of a long love for that band, so I thought that was super cool. But apart from one or two projects, everything I’ve done, I’ve done with my full heart, because I really like the bands, so I only do things that I like nowadays.

You’ve been traveling a great deal – what are some of your favorite places that you’ve visited, and is there anywhere that you haven’t been yet that you’d like to see?
New for me on this world tour was China. I didn’t think I would like it somehow. There are a few things about the Chinese ways of doing things that don’t really match with my view of the world – fair enough – but I really, really liked it. People were so awesome and the food was fantastic and everything was really… it was a big surprise for me.

I am a big fan of Japan. I think it’s fantastic. I love Canada. Especially Vancouver, as a city. It has this fantastic park and nice areas.

Places where I haven’t been… I’ve been to Brazil now many times, but I’ve never seen the Amazon. I would really, really love to see that. I’ve been to Australia now a few times, but I’ve never seen anything more than the cities. I didn’t make it into the outback. And on a private bucket list I would love to see Iceland.

2016-09-29-nightwish-pre-viewing-kalevalastudio-12On a similar line of thought, what’s the best new food that you’ve tried on tour?
We had catering traveling with us – very fancy – and they made this seitan. I’m vegetarian, so it’s sometimes challenging [to find something] to eat that actually tastes nice. It’s not that difficult, but apparently it’s very difficult for catering services. The amount of dull food I sometimes need to eat just because there’s no dead animal involved… but they managed to make the most amazing vegetarian dishes. Even though my body didn’t always approve, I loved the taste of it immensely.

We heard that you’re a fan of the Kalevala – have you read it?
I’ve read some of the stuff. I got introduced to it mainly through the jewelry brand, actually. I joined in on this project for children where one of the Kalevala stories is told. They are lovely tales.


Are there any parts that are particularly memorable, or that you particularly like?
I’m not that familiar with it. The one that I did was the story of Leminkainen. That was beautiful. It’s dark, but it’s often dark, the Kalevala.

Lastly, I noticed that on the last ReVamp album, Wild Card, you managed to get Devin Townsend to sing on “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia”, and he’s somewhat notorious for not liking to sing in other people’s projects – how did you meet him and how did you convince him to sing in that song?
Yeah! God, we met somewhere backstage, at a festival I think. I approached him with that question and he said, “Indeed, I usually don’t do this. It depends on the material and I want to be able to write the stuff I’m going to sing.” “Cool!” So I sent him the instrumental and the song again with my ideas for the vocals on it, with all freedom for him to do whatever he wanted, but then he got super busy and I was afraid he was then not going to do it. Eventually he was like, “I really like what you wrote, so I’ll sing what you wrote,” which is unique indeed, I know! And then of course he gave it the Devin Townsend sauce that made it sound just like him. It’s not 100% copy, but of course it is my lyrics and it is the basic melody that I wrote and it was a massive honor because he’s doing [something] with his voice that I try to do in ReVamp as well, and the massive diversity and to have a voice like that coming in with mine was a dream come true.

That’s a fantastic story! That’s all of my questions. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

2016-09-29-nightwish-pre-viewing-kalevalastudio-6Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

NIGHTWISH: Vehicle of Spirit screening @ Kalevalastudio, Helsinki, 29.09.2016


Nightwish is one hell of a band these days, now that they have their strongest line-up yet, so it’s no small wonder why they are so highly sought and so seldomly found by journalists in Finland. However, when it comes to promotion, these guys are sure to make time when they have a new release coming out. Now, with Vehicle of Spirit on the way, we had a long-awaited chance to meet the Goddess of Heavy Metal herself, Floor Jansen, and have a look at the live footage from Wembley’s SSE Arena.

Be sure to read our interview with Floor Jansen HERE! And see some more photos HERE!


We arrived at the designated location in Helsinki center around 14:10, where the Finnish medias were gathering around, and greeted the managers and other press representatives. Everyone was smiling and looking calm and collected, as though they were confident that we would be satisfied with what we were soon to see.

When everyone had gathered, we piled into a taxi and headed to the rustic KalevalaStudio in Maunula. We were told that this was less of a recording studio, and more of a mixing site, particularly for videos. The room with the mixing console had several seats set up, and we left our bags on some seats in the center, where someone had mentioned that the sound quality was best. Marco Hietala and Floor Jansen were present to watch the show with us, with Tuomas Holopainen promising to show up after the viewing for his interviews with some of the other medias. In the kitchen, one of the band’s managers handed each of us a drink and offered some snacks before the show got started. At around 15:00, Marco Hietala stood up and introduced the Wembley show to us (in Finnish), and then the camera rolled.


My first thought was that the visuals were incredible, though the studio screen was not optimized for viewing – I’m sure it’ll be out on Blu-Ray and I recommend paying the extra few bucks for it. As well, the sound mixing (and studio sound system) were unbelievable. Everything was in perfect balance, with one exception that I’ll get to in a moment. In fact, about 30 seconds in I was already wishing that The Theater Equation had had this sort of recording and mixing quality.

The DVD opened with “Shudder Before the Beautiful”, which had a very strong electronic keyboard presence that sounded quite different on the album. The pyrotechnics could have started a bit earlier on, as the song is dynamic enough to allow it, but fortunately it did have some fog cannons, sparks, and flares toward the end. That said, we expect that the Ratina show‘s visuals will be even more astounding than Wembley’s – the bigger venue and open-air setting, along with the bigger stage and catwalk, allowed for even more to be done with the lights and pyros.

“Yours is an Empty Hope” has always been my least favorite song off Endless Forms Most Beautiful, but on this viewing we happened to notice that the growling vocals were a bit louder than they were on the album – if you read the review, you might have noticed that I was wondering who had been growling faintly in the background of the chorus. Well, my question was answered – it was Ms. Jansen herself! Good lord, it gave me chills! We weren’t 100% certain that it was her at first, but she confirmed it afterwards after the interview. It’s a shame that the growling vocals still weren’t as loud as they could’ve been, but Jansen expressed some appreciation that we had noticed and liked it. This was already one of Jana’s favorite songs from Endless Forms, but at least for me, I suddenly found myself totally blown away by my least-favorite song from that album.

“Storytime” has progressed so nicely with Jansen on vocals nowadays that I almost feel as though it’s one of her songs. Troy Donockley got to live out a dream he’s had since he was 9 years old by saying, “Good evening Wembley,” before “My Walden” and appreciation for him was shown in return via a crowd shot of a few audience members holding a big sign that read, “We love Troy’s massive pipe.” Again, referring back to my review of Endless Forms, I was glad to finally learn that it was actually Mr. Donockley who did the vocals at the beginning of “My Walden” (as well as the weird caveman sounds in “The Greatest Show on Earth that I had always assumed were on a backing track).

Floor Jansen watching the show

I hadn’t wanted to spoil the show for myself by looking at the tracklist beforehand, so when they started playing “While Your Lips are Still Red,” I was completely blown away. I have been quoted many times calling that one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and as it wasn’t a ‘proper’ Nightwish song, I never expected to hear it live, and even if I was so lucky, I wouldn’t have expected Jansen to be singing backing vocals as well. The harmonizing was just gorgeous. At this point, it was hard to believe the show could do anything else to possibly please me more. Then they went on to play “7 Days to the Wolves”, a personal favorite from that era, which undoubtedly benefited from the addition of Donockley’s mandolin, and “The Poet and the Pendulum” a bit later, the latter being the top Anette Olzon -era song I had wanted to hear Jansen sing. Also, it was great to see Kai Hahto get a moment in the spotlight when he was giving a short heavy drumming intro to “Weak Fantasy.”

“Nemo” was a nice inclusion, and I again dig the addition of the pipes, as well as the face-off between Emppu Vuorinen [guitar] and Donockley in the solo. It was also fun to see Hietala whistling during “Stargazers” – a bit of whimsical fun that really shows how much they enjoy being on stage together. And it goes without saying, but “Ghost Love Score” was breathtaking.

Of course, because this was the Endless Forms Most Beautiful Tour, the show ended with “The Greatest Show on Earth”, which I admit still isn’t quite as fantastic in the indoor setting as it was outside, but I had no idea that there was a guest appearance by Richard Dawkins himself, delivering the final, beautiful lines. It gave me a chill right up my spine – I can only imagine what it was like to be there in person. As a special treat, Hietala then let us watch the same song again from the Ratina show while the interviews got started. I will again say that Ratina was visually far superior, and as a result, the whole thing felt far grander and more moving, though it didn’t have the extra bonus of having Richard Dawkins there. I’d be lying if I said the firework show, as seen from the crowd and the drone cam, did not make up for it in some way.

You might wonder how this performance compares to the one in Showtime, Storytime, and while I agree that it’s a hard thing to compare because these are two different places in time for the band, I think the performance as a whole was much tighter. At the time of the last DVD, Jansen was still quite new to the band, but now it’s easy to see that she has found her place with them and they’ve gotten into a good rhythm while performing.


I will confess that I was already going to pre-order this DVD from the moment I found out the Ratina show would be included, but if I had had any doubt about my previous decision, it would’ve been already wash away a mere two songs in. Seeing songs like “While Your Lips are Still Red” and “The Poet and the Pendulum” included in this show make it undoubtedly worth watching. The performance is vivid and full of life, the band is strong and full of love for their music and the audience, and the overall quality of the DVD is fantastic. I definitely recommend it. Though I haven’t seen the full Ratina show or the extensive extras they’ve promised to include, I will still willingly give this package a full score based on what I’ve seen already!

Wembley Tracklist:
1. Shudder Before the Beautiful
2. Yours is an Empty Hope
3. Everdream
4. Storytime
5. My Walden
6. While Your Lips are Still Red
7. Élan
8. Weak Fantasy
9. 7 Days to the Wolves
10. Alpenglow
11. The Poet and the Pendulum
12. Nemo
13. I Want My Tears Back
14. Stargazers
15. Ghost Love Score
16. Last Ride of the Day
17. The Greatest Show on Earth (with special guest Richard Dawkins)

After the show was over, we headed to a nearby pub for a drink to wait for our interview, passing the time chatting with the manager and the other waiting media reps who proved to be excellent company. At 18:30, we headed back inside to have a chat with Floor Jansen – we’ll have the specifics up for you soon!


Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist


MOKOMA w/ IKINÄ – Tavastia, Helsinki, 24.09.2016


When you’ve seen a band uncountable times on stage like I have with Mokoma, at some point you are bound to wonder whether the artist can offer anything you haven’t seen or heard before, apart from totally new songs of course. Accompanied by this rather unpleasant thought I arrived at Tavastia in Helsinki on September the 24th, hoping that this night would take my doubts away.

Full gallery HERE!


My mind was so wrapped up in thoughts of seeing Mokoma that it wasn’t until the day of the gig that I realized there would be an opening act as well. The warm up band was IKINÄ, the newest member of the Sakara Records family. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that plenty of people had arrived already at 20:00 to see them.

If you’ve lived to see the dominion of PMMP in the Finnish pop/rock scene, you would not be surprised to see that the resemblance was strong when two female vocalists climbed on Tavastia’s stage with the rest of the band. Soon after, I was shown that the comparison was unjust. If there was something similar between PMMP and IKINÄ, it was the energy that filled the venue from the very start. Otherwise, the opening act showed that they had found their own sound and style.

As a proud choir girl, it is always great to hear two singers singing different parts together. The two vocalists definitely gave IKINÄ’s songs that something special that made them stick in your head. Also, I have nothing but respect for Katariina Sorsa and Tuuli Paju for being able to sing both clean vocals as well as growling parts with strength and attitude.

IKINÄ describes their music as something between pop, rock, and punk. Confusing, some might think, but then again, are there really any bands nowadays who would be content with just one genre? I found myself enjoying the combination. Clean vocals, poppish melodies… and suddenly growling and shredding and heavy drumming. You felt like moshing and dancing, which for me is a good sign.

To summarize, IKINÄ was a pleasant surprise. The band looked comfortable on stage, the speeches got a good response from the audience, and the performance was simultaneously relaxed and energetic. Time will only tell how much potential the band actually has, but based on what I saw at Tavastia, we might hear from IKINÄ again soon enough.


2016-09-24-mokoma-tavastia-mc-1After the youngsters had shown what they were made of, it was time to see if the old gaffers could match them. Juxtapositions aside, it had been a while since I had seen Mokoma, and I had really missed them.

The last time I saw Mokoma was in earlier in the spring, and a rather special occasion. I attended the launch for their music video, ”Mutta minulta puuttuisi rakkaus” in Iivana, Helsinki. The reason for this peculiar venue was that the video was shot and directed by designer Paola Suhonen. Along with seeing the video, Mokoma had performed a few songs.

2016-09-24-mokoma-tavastia-mc-11I didn’t expect to see anything quite as extraordinary in Tavastia, but I was in high spirits and waiting for some good singalong songs to come. I don’t know how many tickets had been sold but the venue looked close to sold out. I managed to get a spot next to the wall with a nice view of the stage. For the next 1.5 hours, I sang my lungs out, wrecked my neck by moshing, and in between had a wide smile on my face.

Just a couple of days before the gig, the band had announced that they would be releasing a new acoustic album, Laulurovio, in November. Since my enthusiasm for Mokoma had truly kicked off after hearing their first acoustic album, Varjopuoli (2011), I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Unfortunately, no acoustic tracks were heard during the course of the evening. However, Marko Annala did hint that some of the songs heard during the gig had found their way onto the acoustic album.

2016-09-24-mokoma-tavastia-mc-9Even though I did not get exactly what I wanted, it doesn’t mean that I left Tavastia disappointed; the evening was just as good as you would expect from Mokoma. ”Sinä Riität”, ”Sydänjuuret”, the aforementioned ”Mutta minulta puuttuisi rakkaus”, ”Uhkakuva 6”… Plenty of material from their newest Elävien Kirjoihin album, but there were also blasts from the past like ”Koiruoho” and “Pahaa verta”. And even though the autumn nights are getting darker, there was a place for the summery ”Hei hei heinäkuu”, which is guaranteed to get the audience waving their hands and singing along.

The band was seemingly happy on stage, giving their all to the audience, as usual. The magic of live music was strongly present, especially when Tavastia is full of people shouting “Auttakaa!” [help] from the chorus of “Sinne missä aamu sarastaa”.

Mokoma might not have offered anything new, but then again, sometimes all you need is an old friend, on whom you can always rely… and Mokoma is one of those friends.

1. Sinä riität
2. Ihmisenpyörä
3. Sydänjuuret
4. Lunnaat
5. Sirppi
6. Pahaa verta
7. Mutta minulta puuttuisi rakkaus
8. Säästä sanasi
9. Uhkakuva 6
10. Irvikuva
11. Koiruoho
12. Hei hei heinäkuu
13. Kuollut, kuolleempi, kuollein
14. Pohja on nähty

15. Itken silmät päästäni
16. Rautaa rinnoista
17. Sinne missä aamu sarastaa

2016-09-24-mokoma-tavastia-mc-15Text: Essi Nummi | Photos: Miia Collander | Ed: Amy Wiseman

MOKOMA @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 24.09.2016


Mokoma at Tavastia, fall 2016.
Photos by Miia Collander.
Gig review HERE.



Battlelore, one of Finland’s most under-appreciated local acts, released six albums between 2002-2011 before retreating, taking a hiatus of unspecified length. Some time ago, the band announced two live shows, one in Turku on September 23rd and the other in Helsinki on September 24th, for the first time in over 4 years. The Lappeenranta-based metal act has always been hugely popular in central Europe, but has, for some reason, eluded the Finnish audience, which has always seemed a bit odd to me considering the number of Finnish folk metal bands and their overall domestic success.

My old home town has produced a number of successful metal bands, of which I’ve always regarded Battlelore to be one of the best, so it was pretty self-explanatory to attend at least one of the two shows.


Arriving at the venue, GONG2 (previously Turku’s Klubi), I was running a bit late, but I still had some time to check the venue out nevertheless. Klubi used to be a shady live venue with dark wall paint and beer stains, but the place was renovated along with the name change. The walls were painted white and a bunch of black umbrellas were inserted to hang from the ceiling to dim the lighting. My local friends, who hadn’t been there for a while, commented that the space felt a lot bigger than before because of the paint job. Also, I can’t remember if this was the case with Klubi but the cloakroom was placed right next to the band area, which seemed to confuse some of the concert-goers.

After I steered away from the cloakroom and grabbed a beer, the first band of the evening, Whispered from Tampere, had already started their show. I’ve written about these guys a few times already, and nothing’s changed since the last time I saw them live: Whispered’s melodic death metal was as effective as ever. The band has been quite popular for a few years now, so it wasn’t a surprise that the venue was already quite packed – from what I heard from my friends, opening acts usually only attract a few dozen people. Whispered gave us a nice performance and created some spontaneous mosh pit action in the front of the stage, and it was pretty clear that people had come to see all three bands. The setlist was – due to the limited timeframe – mostly comprised of Whispered’s music video tracks, but the band managed to surprise me completely, as they finished off with the new album’s epic 11-minute closing track, “Bloodred Shores of Enoshima.” NOICE!


The evening’s second act, Kivimetsän Druidi, has been around since 2002. The band showed up on my radar in 2006 when they released the EP, Mustan Valtikan Aika, attracting considerable attention from folk metal fans and, along with the EP The New Chapter next year, landing them a record deal with Century Media in 2008. Being from Kouvola, which is less than 100 kilometers from Lappeenranta, enabled the band to perform relatively frequently in Lappeenranta at that time, but for some reason I haven’t seen a single one of their shows.

I can’t say that I’m too familiar with Kivimetsän Druidi’s material, but the show was great! The band relies heavily on the dynamics between the guitarist Joni Koskinen’s growls and vocalist Leeni-Maria Hovila’s classical voice, with lengthy experience clearly showing in both members’ performances. The bassist, Simo Lehtonen, puffed up the audience between songs, while the rest of the band concentrated on playing. A word on the band’s drummer, Atte Marttinen, though – impressive precision and strength right there! The setlist featured a few tracks from the band’s latest EP, The Lost Captains, and was concluded with (arguably) the band’s most well-known song, “Jäässä Varttunut,” off their debut album, Shadowheart.


Time for the main act! Kivimetsän Druidi had attracted a hefty audience, as the band space was almost full when Battlelore started their show. The group climbed on stage and kicked off with “Fangorn,” dating all the way back to their debut album from 2002, Where the Shadows Lie. Didn’t see that coming – I’ve only heard the song live in 2006, when Battlelore played at Imatra’s Rock to the River festival! The Last Alliance’s opener, “Third Immortal,” followed, before the harsh vocalist, Tomi Mykkänen, introduced the band in his thick Karelian accent.

The show continued on with the debut album’s “Khazad-Dûm pt. 1” and “Kärmessurma” from their latest effort, Doombound, and it was delightful to notice that Battlelore was still as vibrant live as they were before the hiatus. The band dropped hits one after another: “House of Heroes,” “Sons of Riddermark,” “We Are the Legions”… they even did “Moontower” and “The Star of High Hope,” the two last songs off The Last Alliance. Before the last song in the set, Mykkänen asked – maybe a bit shyly – to come to the T-shirt sales booth and say hello after the show. Battlelore concluded their main set with “Journey to Undying Lands” off Where the Shadows Lie and climbed off the stage only to instantly be cheered back. The band gave the audience the choice between Sword’s Song’s killer track, “Buccaneer’s Inn,” and Third Age of the Sun’s opener, “Storm of the Blades,” of which the audience (of course) cheered for “Buccaneer’s Inn.” Sadly, this was the last song of the evening, as Battlelore thanked the audience afterwards and went backstage.

Battlelore is a great band with a long history – the seven current members have been together since 2004 with loads of hit material, and it’s a shame that during their prime they didn’t receive the kind of promotion from their record label or media that they musically should have. Their concept is far richer than some of their domestic competitors with the lyrical themes based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; Doombound even being a concept album based on Tolkien’s tale of Túrin Turambar, which in turn is based on Kullervo, a character from the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. Of course, Battlelore is not the only metal band to base all of part of their work on Tolkien, with Germany’s Blind Guardian and Austria’s Summoning to name a few, but there’s no denial of the brilliant work of Battlelore’s primus motor, guitarist Jyri Vahvanen. I sincerely hope that the band will continue on after this brief comeback.


As a whole, the night was a great success, as all three bands had great performances, the renovated venue worked nicely, and a pint of beer was moderately priced at €4.50. The stage was small and its lighting wasn’t as extravagant as one would’ve expected, but it served the audience just fine. As said, the bands had a T-shirt sales stand in the back corner of the band space, and hopefully sales were good. Maybe the only surprising thing about the evening was the absence of Battlelore’s third (and somewhat of a breakthrough) album, Third Age of the Sun, in the setlist – songs like “Gwaith-i-Mírdain” or “Touch of Green and Gold” would have been wonderful additions to the already great setlist.

1. Fangorn
2. Third Immortal
3. Khazad-Dûm pt. 1
4. Kärmessurma
5. House of Heroes
6. Olden Gods
7. Sons of Riddermark
8. Moontower
9. We are the Legions
10. The Star of High Hope
11. Last of the Lords
12. Journey to Undying Lands

13. Buccaneer’s Inn

Text: Atte Valtonen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

(2016) Epica: The Holographic Principle


Artist: Epica
Album: The Holographic Principle
Release: 30.09.2016
Label: Nuclear Blast


There can be no denying that Epica has a huge fanbase, nor that they deserve it. With their bombastic sound, strong vocalists, talented instrumentalists, and complex song construction, there is no wonder that these guys are as popular as they are. The Holographic Principle, the title of their latest album, relates to “… a property of string theories and a supposed property of quantum gravity that states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region—preferably a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon.” [Thanks, Wikipedia!] It seems that science is a popular theme in the metal scene these days, no?

Disclaimer: This album became available to me only a few short days before the release, so there was no time for me to do a proper, comprehensive review. However, Epica has always intrigued me without ever truly blowing my mind the way they have for many, many others, and in spite of not considering myself a big fan, I have always been very impressed by their songwriting and live performances, and they have been growing on me in the years since Design Your Universe (2009). I always give their new albums a few runs to see if anything sticks, and so I wanted to give this one a listen as well. However, with this in mind, I won’t be granting this album an ‘official’ score because I only had the chance to listen to it once and didn’t get a chance to let it grow on me. Don’t worry though – I have plenty to say.

Hear the album in full here:


1. Eidola
One thing I’ve always liked about Epica is their ability to write fantastic intro songs, if/when they choose to do so. “Eidola” is one of such songs, sounding like exactly the kind of kickass movie score that I want to hear in an intro. It starts off with that movie trailer note, repeating. You know, the ‘evil note’ that was overused in Inception? It lightens up to some light and pretty Gothic-type music with some haunting and creepy child-like vocals, and then builds up very nicely with the regular choir. That choir sounds very typically Epica. Off to a good start!

2. Edge of the Blade
The transition between “Eidola” and “Edge of the Blade” is unfortunately not particularly smooth. This is the one song I’d heard once or twice beforehand and it has one aspect of Epica songs that I don’t like, followed by pretty much everything I do like. That thing that I don’t like is that they do too much too soon. You’ve probably heard this song, and the thing I’m referring to is the extremely dynamic music coupled with epic choirs right off the bat. To me, this has always been overwhelming when it happens so immediately. If this song had followed a more gentle build-up, or had left the choirs to the end, I would give this song a full score, because I like everything else about it, including the strong performance by Mark Jansen on growls, and particularly Simon Simons, who I have always appreciated but not always found to be used to her potential, often overusing the operatics or under-using her regular vocals. When that choir returns after 4 minutes have passed, it’s in the perfect place and that would have been enough. I just wish it hadn’t been included at the beginning.

Check out the music video here:

3. A Phantasmic Parade
“A Phantasmic Parade” has… not exactly a tip-toeing intro, but however you would describe it, I like it. I wondered immediately if there was a guest vocalist harmonizing with Simons in this track, or if both voices belonged to the same person. I wasn’t able to learn more from the promotional material, so I guess I’ll have to wait to find out after the album is released. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a harmony that sounds like two different people (that are likely the same person) and I’m quite fascinated by it. This is a very strong, energetic song, and it’s unique. I like when Epica gets epic (bad joke not intended) and this song is impressing me without overwhelming me, even though there is a lot going on. It rides the edge of being too much without quite going over it.

4. Universal Death Squad
You’ve probably heard this one before, but I hadn’t. “Universal Death Squad” starts out with a beautiful, gentle string and piano intro that is extremely reminiscent to the Avatar: The Legend of Korra ending credits music (check it out here), but immediately picks up and gets heavy and twisted. There’s a definite Oriental influence in this song, which I like, but on this occasion I do think there’s a bit too much going on – it starts gentle and then kicks off just a bit too hard before finding its rhythm. I think the oldschool Epica fans will be okay with it though, because we’re also seeing the higher side of Simons’ vocals on this one. Someone is again harmonizing with Simons in this song, though on this occasion I’m fairly certain she’s doing her own backing vocals. Jansen again shows his strength as a vocalist – this is beauty and the beast singing at its finest. As well, nice soloing, whichever guitarist that was!

Lyric video here:

5. Divide and Conquer
“Divide and Conquer” as a nice build-up at the beginning, which sounds very movie/game score-y again, particularly with the shots fired and shouting voices in the beginning. I would love to see these guys contribute to a soundtrack someday, as they really know how to write this sort of adrenaline-rush instrumental music. It takes a totally different turn just after the 1 minute mark though, ceasing the score sound almost immediately and switching back to heavy metal, with Jansen and Simons trading vocals with ease. I might have kept the intro to this song separate as an interlude, because it feels quite different from the song itself. The mellow drum beat that accompanies the slower chorus might, in other scenarios, be considered dull, but in this setting it actually works well as a breather in yet another strong, dynamic, and energetic song. If there’s an eastern influence in this one, I’d associate it a bit with traditional Egyptian sounds, though I couldn’t say for sure. We also get one of those verbal collages of what sounds like news clips toward the end. With this one clocking in at over 7 minutes, it could be time for a breather any minute now…

6. Beyond the Matrix
Nope, not yet. “Beyond the Matrix” is certainly slower, but still very upbeat, again with the choirs opening the song. You know, when they do that, I think the reason it feels overwhelming to me is because every song feels like the climax of a dramatic arc. This song is no exception. Parts of it feel like the grand apex of a great story, or the epic finale of a stage show, and then blend fairly seamlessly into the rest of the song. This has a truly beautiful interlude nearly 4 minutes in, which is a welcome change of pace, and moves smoothly into a growling segment by Jansen and a very progressive bit of riffing. Very, very, very strong close to this one.

7. Once Upon a Nightmare
The violin parts and ominous without being creepy intro to “Once Upon a Nightmare” immediately appeal to me. The prolonged slow intro to this is perfect, giving me the break I needed. The gentle build up feels vaguely like it might have been written by Howard Shore and again gives the impression of score-writing mastery. The singing begins after 2 minutes and I’m again somewhat wishing the intro had been an instrumental interlude, though this one has far less of a stylistic change than “Divide and Conquer.” This track is the ballad that I had been waiting for, and ballads have always, in my opinion, been one of Epica’s strong suits. However, these guys can’t leave things simple, because this song too builds up to a grand and epic climax with choirs and guitars and I feel like I am seeing some heavenly light breaking through… something dark? Gloomy ruins, a devastating war… could be anything. Okay, this song is great, but these guys have had this entire album cranked up to full power for seven songs straight, and these are long songs, often well over 6 minutes in length. This song didn’t need to go power epic in the end, not that it suffers for it, but the album as a whole could’ve used a proper break at this point.

8. The Cosmic Algorithm
“The Cosmic Algorithm” has a bit of an oldschool Epica feel to me when it kicks off – heavy beat and operatic choirs, perhaps more so than any other song so far. It’s a good thing that Isaac Delahaye and Mark Jansen know their way around their instruments, because the guitars certainly keep things lively and from stagnating. Also, I’m not sure if it’s Coen Janssen or the whole group or who writes their orchestrations, but they held nothing back on this album. I’ll give some props to Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums for… well, I don’t know what the technical term is, but the fast runs. The drumming is immaculate. Fans of heavier or older Epica may like this one quite a lot.

9. Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
The next track has a rather creepy intro, reminding me of some sort of sci-fi horror music, interrupted by heavy drums and guitars. When the song officially blasts off, it becomes one of the heaviest and darkest things from Epica that has ever registered on my radar. Some of Jansen’s most brutal vocals on the album are heard in this track, reaching nearly into black metal sounds. Some three quarters of the way through it almost gets a hint of a haunted house vibe. Pretty diverse overall.

10. Dancing in a Hurricane
We get another all-new folk influence here, with a distinct Middle Eastern flavor. This song feels quite different to the rest of the album so far, as there’s still a lot going on, but it’s taking its time and not going overboard in the beginning. I actually really enjoy the music (I won’t try to label it for fear of sounding culturally ignorant), but this is definitely the wild card on the album and easily one of my immediate favorites. Of course, it is still an Epica song, so it continues building up and begins its apex nearly halfway through. I don’t have the lyrics, but I’m suspecting some form of political commentary in here. I don’t know if this song needs the full metal symphonics and operatics that it eventually turns into, as they all do, because I was appreciating this song for its originality and authentic eastern feel. This was one of the most original and folky things I’ve heard Epica do, but it ultimately becomes just like every other Epica song in the end. I’m undecided on how I feel about it, because it’s still probably one of my favorites on the album, and sounding like every other Epica song isn’t exactly an insult.

11. Tear Down Your Walls
“Tear Down Your Walls” at track eleven brings us near to the end, and this song immediately gets my attention by quickly heading into a marching beat, which I am notorious for loving. Yet another song that has a ton going on, we hear many different levels of Simons’ vocals. At this point, I’m running out of things to say without repeating myself. Nice track – very powerful. Let’s move on.

12. The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality
Monk chants or gospel choirs? Tough to be sure which the opening vocals to the title track are leaning towards. This is the album’s epic, in spite of the fact that you could call nearly every song on this album an epic. However, I suspect we’re going to get a more drawn out piece of art here, and the piano and strings do not disappoint. I might have stronger positive feelings for Epica if they didn’t use choirs so much. I mean, 4.5 minutes through this song, we already reach a point that musically feels like the finale and closing scene, but then we just move on to some solos and the song continues. More awesome score-type music, more hard-hitting heavy metal, more awesome symphonics… a straight-up prog part that goes full-on Dream Theater toward the end that I’m totally into, and then eventually closes out rather abruptly with zero fade-out. Epic indeed.


And so, like many Epica albums in the past, I enjoyed this album thoroughly on listening to it, but it’s so epic and vast and grand that I find myself, once again, feeling somewhat overwhelmed by it. I actually had a mild physical sense of anxiety throughout, though not in a bad way. It’s a crazy bombastic album and really strong on all fronts – vocally, instrumentally, everything. Truly, for a band called ‘Epica’, they are living up to the promises their name implies.

However, while every song manages to be extremely dynamic in its own way, with every song turned up to 11 or higher, the album as a whole doesn’t feel dynamic – it is consistently and unchangingly at 11. I’d love to see these guys turn it down to 8 or 9 sometime and instead of pumping everything into every song (“Martyr of the Free Word” from Design Your Universe is a good example of what I mean), put some things into one song and other things into another song. It seems like they have a formula with which they write their music – one that is tried and true. I would have been interested to know what themes the album covers lyrically, and as well, I’m curious which tracks they’ll pick for the live shows, though unfortunately I won’t be able to catch their upcoming Helsinki gig.

Overall, for the people who are into this sort of massive powerful super-music, I think you’ll likely be very happy with the album, and I would be doing the band a disservice if I awarded this anything lower than a 9/10, because the construction of every song is incredible. I mean, come on, I wrote that much after listening to it once? If I had reviewed this properly it would’ve been so long no one would have wanted to read it. That said, don’t put too much thought into my score because I only listened through once.

1. Eidola
2. Edge of the Blade
3. A Phantasmic Parade
4. Universal Death Squad
5. Divide and Conquer
6. Beyond the Matrix
7. Once Upon a Nightmare
8. The Cosmic Algorithm
9. Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
10. Dancing in a Hurricane
11. Tear Down Your Walls
12. The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Epica The Holographic Principle promotional photos, 2016, by Tim Tronckoe

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE: Niko Moilanen & Joonas Porko (Blind Channel), 2016

Blind Channel @ Nummirock 2016

Faster than the speed of light, Blind Channel is rising to the top! These clever young fellows from Oulu have proven themselves quite quickly to be smart song-writers and fantastic performers. With their debut album, Revolutions, and its release gig coming out in a few short days, we got both Niko Moilanen (vocals) and Joonas Porko (guitar) in here to give us the playlist of their lives!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Niko: Linkin Park feat. Jay-Z – “Numb/Encore.” I remember this exact song because as a kid I listened to the radio a lot and this song was playing on every goddamn channel. I especially fell in love with the intro sample. It’s funny that I started listening to Linkin Park many years later.

Joonas: Dingo – “Autiotalo.” Dingo was maybe the most popular boy band in Finland back in the nineties. Somehow I ended up listening this song from the tape my parents owned. I remember I really loved that chorus, oh boy!

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Niko: Five for Fighting – “World.” Five for Fighting was the first artist I remember fan-boying [over] and this was the song that got my attention. I think I heard the song on a TV show and looked it up.

Joonas: Celine Dion – “My Heart Will Go On.” Titanic is perhaps the best movie ever made. After the movie I immediately fell in love with this song (HA!) but I’m not ashamed of it because it’s still one of the best songs I know.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Niko: Kemmuru – “Kobehärkä.” In high school all my friends were rappers who wrote lines in Finnish and I produced beats for them so I kinda had to listen to Finnish rap music. I still like this particular song though.

Joonas: My Chemical Romance – “Welcome to the Black Parade.” This song was released when I was 12 or 13 years old but still that song reminds me of my high school years when I played this song with my friends. Waiting for their comeback 😉

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Niko: Enter Shikari – “Arguing with Thermometers.” No doubt about it. The first time I heard this song I remember laughing at it and showing it to all my friends. I remember thinking, “No one can mix genres like that.” Then I slowly started to get into it. As of today, Enter Shikari is one of my all-time favorite bands.

Joonas: In Flames – “Swim.” This was the hardest question because I could have named many other songs and bands like Black Sabbath, Children of Bodom, Linkin Park etc. But when we talk about my final steps into metal music it was that catchy and melodic riff in this song that turned me into a metalhead.

Joonas Porko
Joonas Porko

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Niko: Twenty One Pilots – “Heathens.” Talking about my favorite bands, this is the other one. I’ve been a fan of this duo for so many years now and I think this year they released their best song yet. It’s stuck in my head and I just love it.

Joonas: Hank Solo – “Söpö.” Well… this is a song from a talented Finnish pop-producer who just wanted to do “an extreme pop song.” It has almost every goddamn element you can add when you’re doing a mainstream pop song – and that’s confusing! I’m not really sure what I should think about this song but it has played repeatedly in my head for the whole week… catchy?

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Niko: Natasha Bedingfield – “Pocketful of Sunshine.” In high school I had a crush on Emma Stone. In a film called Easy A she’s jamming to this tune and it’s been my guilty pleasure jam ever since. The crush is far gone though. Trust me. I heard she’s dating Spiderman.

Joonas: Backstreet Boys – “I Want it That Way.” This is my all-time karaoke favorite. I’ve always told my friends that this is just a joke hahaha… BUT this song is just simply awesome!

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Niko: Paramore – Riot! My emo phase. Paramore was and still is a big deal for me.

Joonas: The Rasmus – Into. The best Finnish rock band ever. Period.

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Niko: Coldplay – “Everglow.” This song from Coldplay’s latest album has this beautiful piano and touching lyrics. Definitely the song to listen while drinking hot beverage. And crying.

Joonas: Coldplay – “A Sky Full of Stars.” Same band – different songs! This song is huge but somehow I also find it relaxing.

9. The Album to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Niko & Joonas: Blind Channel – Revolutions 😉 Let’s not get too specific. The album is gonna blow your mind.

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Niko: AC/DC – “Highway to Hell.” People should know where you are.

Joonas: Bob Marley – “No Woman No Cry.” I’m the kind of person who thinks that the worse thing in the world is if my friends and family have to grieve because of me. Of course death is the natural part of life but at my funeral I would like people to remember me of my positive way of life. Shit just got deep…!


2016.06.11 02 Blind Channel (10) @ South Park
Niko Moilanen

And, since we’re celebrating the release of their debut album next week, the boys collectively put together a playlist for you! Here are the songs they recommend:

1. Bring Me the Horizon – “Throne”
2. Linkin Park – “In the End”
3. Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
4. Twenty One Pilots – “Car Radio”
5. Bring Me the Horizon – “Avalanche”
6. Disco Ensemble – “Black Euro”
7. Ed Sheeran – “Nina”
8. Muse – “Psycho”
9. Backstreet Boys – “Everybody”
10. Ember Falls – “Shut Down With Me”


We have an interview with Niko and Joel from South Park 2016 over: here!

Check out any of our many live reviews of Blind Channel from South Park 2016, Nummirock 2016, Korso Rock 2016, or Edge Nordic 2016!

Here’s the music video from their recent single, “Deja FU”:

Or the music video for “Darker than Black”:

Revolutions will be released on October 1st, 2016, via an album release gig at Helsinki’s Virgin Oil Co.!

(2016) Sonata Arctica: The Ninth Hour


Artist: Sonata Arctica
Album: The Ninth Hour
Release: 07.10.2016
Label: Nuclear Blast


When mentioned to a crowd, Sonata Arctica is liable to elicit a variety of reactions, but it’s hard to deny that they are an icon in the Finnish metal scene, regardless of your opinion. With Pariah’s Child (2014) already 2 years behind them and after a successful experiment with acoustic shows just this summer, it’s about time for some new material!

Be sure to check out our interview with Henrik (and Tony) over HERE.

And listen to the album now on Spotify:

Amy: I had a rather unusual introduction to Sonata Arctica, as I first discovered them via Reckoning Night (2004) and then immediately went out and bought their then-newest album, Unia (2007). I came in at the end of their ‘old era’ and the beginning of the new one, so those were the two albums that painted the most vivid picture of their sound for me. As such, I had a rather different image of what SA was than most – I wasn’t around for the evolution from 1999’s Ecliptica through to Winterheart’s Guild in 2003, but rather, had a mixture of the end of one style and the beginning of another. I was pretty pleased with The Days of Grays (2009), while I never fully got on board with Silence (2001) or Stones Grow Her Name (2012). This might explain why I wanted to like Pariah’s Child but honestly never really got into it – the foundation of my love for SA was not built on their earlier stuff. So when The Ninth Hour was announced, I was curious to see what direction these guys would take and if I would be a fan or if I would remain somewhat indifferent. What exactly does the ‘natural progression’ from Pariah’s Child sound like?

Ville: The beautifully twisted Unia was my introduction to Sonata Arctica in 2008, since it was the newest album at the time. I bought the band’s whole back catalog soon after and have continued to follow them, but Unia remains unsurpassed in my books. I do enjoy the early power metal releases, but like Amy, I never yearned for a return to that sound because I wasn’t around when they came out, and hence I’ve been more open to the band’s stylistic shifts. For me, Reckoning Night through The Days of Grays was Sonata Arctica’s creative peak, but since then we’ve been treated to the disappointingly simplistic Stones Grow Her Name and the slightly mishmashed Pariah’s Child. That said, what sets Sonata apart from the other big names in Finnish metal is that they never make the same album twice, and that’s what makes it fun to follow them, even if the experiments don’t always turn out well. The band has been fairly tight-lipped about the musical direction of The Ninth Hour, so it was interesting to hear the album with no clear idea of what to expect.


1. Closer to an Animal
Ville: “Closer to an Animal” reminded me of “Paid in Full” on first listen, which isn’t a bad thing. However, I still find the chorus rather anticlimactic, and this lack of catchiness combined with the 5½-minute length makes the song a weird choice for single. Sonata’s lead singles have often been among the weakest songs on their respective albums though, so throwing all hope away based on one song would be premature and foolish.

Amy: This isn’t the hard-hitting catchy tune that you might expect from a Sonata single (thinking back to “Flag in the Ground” or “Don’t Say a Word”), but I think it’s a fair parallel to the first single from Pariah’s Child, “The Wolves Die Young.” I suspect that this is part of that environmentalist-themed music that we were promised. While this is a nice enough song, I agree that it’s a bit overly long considering it’s not all that catchy, and it makes me miss the days of the kickass Sonata starting tracks, like “Misplaced” and “In Black and White.”

Here’s the lyric video:

2. Life
Amy: You can’t have a Sonata Arctica album without some rather goofy lyrics, and we already get a taste of that in “Life” with the rather blunt: “Life is better alive / It’s a dumb thing to say but the fact won’t wane away…” It’s a bit of a silly lyric but it does have a point – you get a better experience out of your existence if you actually ‘live’ your life. On the other hand, I believe that if you have to point out the flaws in your words, you’re not saying it as well as you could be. I can actually contrast this song rather easily to “I Have a Right” – they’re both nice songs with good meanings. However, I think this song, with its catchy ‘lala-la’ part  is a far superior track both musically and lyrically, and I would be extremely happy to see it replace the former in their live shows. This earworm is going to be stuck in my head for a good long while.

Ville: I bet the Finnish fans will find the paraphrased Matti Nykänen quote in the chorus amusing… This one is much more of a single than “Closer to an Animal” and I can already imagine crowds singing along to the ‘lala-la’ part. It’s also great to hear clean arpeggios by Elias Viljanen in the first verse, because on most non-ballad Sonata tunes lately he’s been chugging power chords or there’s been no guitar at all in the verses. I only wish the song didn’t end with a fadeout, because a proper ending would fit this kind of anthem so much better.

The music video can be found here:

3. Fairytale
Ville: “Fairytale” includes a great vocal performance by Tony Kakko and some nice heaviness. In the promo bio, Kakko states that he considers the US presidential election to be, “an endless chest of unbelievable wonders.” Therefore it’s fairly clear what he’s singing about in lines such as “The chosen one may dig my grave / For the nation of brave,” though there seem to be environmental themes in the mix as well. Musically this song reminds me of some of the deeper cuts from Winterheart’s Guild (2003), such as “Champagne Bath” and in particular “Silver Tongue” because of the triplet rhythm. By the way, when was the last time we heard harpsichord on a Sonata Arctica album?

Amy: I haven’t quite gotten a good enough grasp on this song yet to give it a full breakdown, other than the fact that it has some pretty pointed lyrics about humanity’s current state. Musically it’s quite okay, with some prominent harpsichord lines from Henrik Klingenberg and a more straight-up power metal feel.

4. We Are What We Are
Amy: I really like the Uilleann pipe intro to this song, which is the first part of a few things that make this song feel like it was influenced a great deal by Endless Forms Most Beautiful and Troy Donockley’s work with Nightwish (think songs like “My Walden”). This pretty, gentle song has some rather harsh words about mankind and the way we treat the world. At first you might hear it and think that, “Hey, they lied when said they weren’t preaching with their environmental message,” thanks to lines like: “We could save our world / We should love our earth / It takes care of our loved ones…” However, if you keep in mind the backing vocals, which keep repeating, “But we are what we are,” it spins an entirely different light on the meaning; instead of preaching what we should do, it becomes sad about what we don’t do. As well, that last line also got me thinking – at first I thought that, okay, of course mankind can’t live without nature and we should leave behind a viable world to take care of our children in the future, but then I realized that it also means that when people we love die, they go back to the earth. “It takes care of our loved ones.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Ville: Despite the blunt title, this ballad is very thought-provoking lyrically. It sounds like Nightwish indeed, because of the aforementioned Uilleann pipes, but I also get a bit of a “Letter to Dana” vibe from the sad melody. Sonata Arctica’s ballads on the last few albums have been nothing to write home about, but “We Are What We Are” is their best in years.

5. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
Ville: The stalker saga songs are some of my favorite Sonata Arctica compositions, and this chapter is no exception, as it’s definitely the best song on this album. Its theatricality and mood swings recall “Juliet,” which ties it nicely to the series. The recurring melody that’s first heard in the intro is hauntingly beautiful, while the keyboard outro is evil and creepy as hell.

Amy: There is something so specifically ‘Caleb’ about this song. There’s some quality to the composition of many of the songs from this series that is very present in this; among them, Tony Kakko’s singing style, and the presence of a certain type of drama in the music, sort of like what you’d expect in a stage performance. I think it’s a nice addition to the story and it makes me want to give the whole thing a re-listen so I can hear it all in context. We suspect that this falls between “Caleb” (Unia) and “The End of This Chapter” (Silence), from when the characters were still in love… at least at the beginning.

6. Among the Shooting Stars
Amy: This makes me think we’ve got a new teenage romance series starting! This is a love song telling the tale of a romance between a werewolf and a human, complete with lyrics like: “Save me / If you will not save me then you need to slay me.” I do love when Sonata busts out the drama. Overall, I like the song, but I think it could’ve gone a little further on all fronts, so it’s a nice song, but not an amazing one.

Ville: I’ve got mixed feelings about this one: I love the melodies and the idea of representing the werewolf’s point of view in the lyrics (at least partially), but the song ends pretty suddenly at just 4 minutes, and I feel like it could’ve been fleshed out a lot more instrumentally. There’s a lot of potential in here for sure!

7. Rise a Night
Ville: The harpsichord is back again, and so is the double bass drumming. “Rise a Night” is not a potential challenger for “Victoria’s Secret” or “San Sebastian,” but I’m sure the long solo duel between Klingenberg and Viljanen will make power metal fans around the world smile. Somehow this song sounds very compressed compared to the rest of the album on my headphones, but that’s probably due to the music itself not being very dynamic.

Amy: This feels immediately like a proper oldschool Sonata Arctica power metal song, with the speedy rhythm and… I want to call it neoclassical harpsichord sound? So, for fans of that era that I mentioned that I wasn’t really a part of, you’ll probably love this song. However, I prefer my Sonata a bit more dynamic and with a bit more varied beat throughout, so this isn’t so much up my alley. Props for a decent throwback to the old days though!

8. Fly, Navigate, Communicate
Ville: This is a weird one – the vocal melodies are rather simple, and the synths somehow remind me of 80s groups like Tears for Fears, but the guitars and drums are rhythmic and aggressive. Kakko’s high note in the first chorus and the scream after the bridge are impressive, and the solos are explosive. I wasn’t sold on the simplistic chorus at first, but I dig it now. I’ve always enjoyed Sonata’s experimental side, so this song is right up my alley.

Amy: Agreed on this being a weird one. At times I like it and at other times I find it dull; seems to depend on my mood. It is at least host to probably the most impressive vocal scream I’ve ever heard Kakko whip out. I’m hoping they’ll leave this off the live set – I suspect that it’ll start dragging on the way “I Have a Right” did. In spite of the fact that the song does pick up towards the end, it isn’t one of my favorites, but I will admit that I really dig the tinkling percussion in this one and I’ll say it has the potential to grow on you.

9. Candle Lawns
Amy: The first time I heard “Candle Lawns,” I thought, “Holy shit, it’s ‘Tallulah’ 2.0!” There is a serious familiarity to the opening riff that continues throughout the song and there is… please don’t hate me, but I swear there is a hint of “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne, which I’m going to go out on a limb and assume wasn’t intentional. You’ll hear what I’m talking about, I’m sure. It’s not cheesy in the way “Tallulah” was though, thanks to the sad lyrics about a man dying in a war at his best friend’s side and asking him to give his purple heart on to his son. It’s a rather lovely song as a whole – sweet, nostalgic music mixed well with melancholy lyrics without being bleak or depressing. As well, it’s kind of funny that the lyrics get more complicated as the lives of the characters do. Coincidence? (…probably)

Ville: “Candle Lawns” is indeed the new “Tallulah,” though the story of two childhood friends is more touching than the slightly cheesy relationship drama of the latter. “I found a girl and you bought a car” is a pretty clunky line, but apart from that I have no complaints, though I think “We Are What We Are” is the stronger ballad on this album.

10. White Pearl, Black Oceans part II: By the Grace of the Ocean
Amy: Before I say my piece, full disclosure – I was never a part of the big WPBO fanclub. I like it, but I’ve never taken the time to get to know it well enough to fall in love with it. However, this new one is one of what I would call SA’s most mature compositions to date. It’s got a good arc to it, goes full-on Nightwish in the middle, and has a smooth, gentle exit that matches its smooth, gentle intro to the sound of the waves. Sonata has tried to do long epics in the past, which I have never found to be particularly successful (sorry, “Deathaura”), but now they have finally succeeded. The song is beautiful, powerful, passionate, and memorable. I really like it a lot.

Ville: Sequels to popular stories are always risky, and Operation: Mindcrime II (2006) by Queensrÿche is a prime example of one that should’ve been left undone. However, I thought the sequels to “Wildfire” on Sonata’s Stones Grow Her Name were among the few great songs off that album, so Kakko surely knows how to continue a story. I prefer the darker tone and the wider variety of the original “White Pearl, Black Oceans,” but the second part has got some great melodies and solos – Viljanen’s reminds me of John Petrucci’s [Dream Theater] playing. It’s also a much more successful attempt at creating an epic than last album’s lackluster “Larger than Life.” In other words: not the greatest long Sonata song ever, but a worthy sequel that receives my seal of approval.

11. On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)
Amy: This is the second SA album to have go full-circle, with the final track being a throwback to the first song (the last, of course, being The Days of Grays). However, I can’t quite get into this song and neither can I place exactly what’s keeping me from liking it more than I do. It is an outro, through and through, and a decent closer to the album, but like “Rise a Night for Ville,” this song seems weirdly loud when I listen to it compared to the rest of the album.

Ville: I like how this song starts off as a ballad reprise of “Closer to an Animal,” but then goes in a different direction. There’s a drum loop, and though the full band never joins in, there are some restrained guitar chugs at the end, while Kakko keeps asking “am I the only human here?” As a stand-alone song this may not be anything special, but it adds continuity to the album.


Amy: This album feels like the bridge between the two Sonata eras that never was. While it is lacking in catchy hit tunes and may not catch your attention on first listen, the album feels more mature and serious than a great deal of Sonata’s old material, while still maintaining a necessary level of fun and energy. It would’ve been nice to have a couple more heavy-hitters like “Don’t Say a Word” on here, but to be frank, it’s just nice to have a Sonata Arctica album again that’s easy to praise.

While it’s not quite a 9/10, I think it deserves better than an 8/10 because it’s more than just a generic good album – I give it an 8.5/10.

Ville: While a few songs don’t live up to the potential they show and “Till Death’s Done Us Apart” is the only instant classic, the album is very consistent and you can comfortably listen to it from start to finish without skipping anything. I’m relieved that nothing on it is cringeworthy like the low points of the previous two records. For these reasons I consider The Ninth Hour a return to form for Sonata Arctica and give it an 8/10.

1. Closer to an Animal
2. Life
3. Fairytale
4. We Are What We Are
5. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
6. Among the Shooting Stars
7. Rise a Night
8. Fly, Navigate, Communicate
9. Candle Lawns
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans pt. II: By the Grace of the Ocean
11. On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)

Sonata Arctica @ Tuska 2012
Sonata Arctica @ Tuska 2012

Text: Amy Wiseman, Ville Karttunen

(2016) Opeth: Sorceress


Artist: Opeth
Album: Sorceress
Released: 30.09.2016
Label: Nuclear Blast


Opeth’s recent releases have been rather polarizing in the metal community. I had no problem at all with the stylistic change on Heritage (2011), and in fact I thought it was a logical move after Watershed (2008), which already was a clear step away from the traditional Opeth sound. However, while I still love Heritage, its follow-up, Pale Communion (2014), hasn’t aged as well, and I rarely feel the need to revisit it. Somehow PC felt a little safe after the adventurous and quirky Heritage, or at least about as safe as a non-death metal Opeth album can be.

Listen now on Spotify:

Just two years after the previous album, Opeth delivers their 12th studio opus at the end of September. Since the album is rather varied musically, I feel the best way to review it is to give a track-by-track breakdown:

1. Persephone
A gentle semi-acoustic intro that reminds me a bit of “Marrow of the Earth” and includes a woman speaking at the end. Two of my favorite Opeth albums – My Arms, Your Hearse (1998) and Heritage – begin with intro tracks as well, so the formula works well to my ears.

2. Sorceress
The title-track and the first single starts off with a fusion jazz-sounding intro until a drop-tuned chugging riff kicks in and the song enters sludgy stoner metal territory. I love how dirty and raw the song sounds, and Mikael Åkerfeldt’s vocals remind me of the late Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) at times. The melodic outro is nice and the last chord sounds huge. Though I’ve listened to the tune quite a few times since it was released, I’m still not bored of it.

3. The Wilde Flowers
The vocal melody in the verses with the heavy rhythm sounds familiar from somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on it. The tune manages to sound ominous yet catchy at the same time. After Fredrik Åkesson’s wild guitar solo and the final chorus there’s a mellow part, which gets gradually louder and leads into an intense and twisted outro. Probably the most typical Opeth song on the album, but very good nonetheless.

4. Will o the Wisp
The folky vibe of the second single is a continuation of last album’s “River,” but “Will o the Wisp” has more of the classic Opeth melancholy. Åkerfeldt’s vocal performance is powerful, there are great harmonies, and the solo at the end is tasty, though it ends a little early because of the fade-out.

5. Chrysalis
“Chrysalis” is the polar opposite of “Will o the Wisp”: a fast and heavy rock song. The riffing and the strong role of the Hammond organ evoke “The Baying of the Hounds,” and the vocal melody is on the upper end of Åkerfeldt’s range. There’s also a cool solo duel between Åkesson and keyboardist Joakim Svalberg in the middle. The song calms down at the end and fades out repeating the mantra “leave it all behind you,” but I can’t recall many Opeth songs that remain up-tempo and energetic for 5 minutes like this one does. A definite standout track that has to be played live!

6. Sorceress 2
Despite its title, “Sorceress 2” has nothing to do with “Sorceress” musically. Steven Wilson’s influence is all over this acoustic piece: the shifting between minor and major keys sounds like something Porcupine Tree would do, and Åkerfeldt’s falsetto delivery is quite Wilson-esque. I can also hear echoes of “Coil” and Storm Corrosion. The song is atypically light for an Opeth ballad, but it works.

7. The Seventh Sojourn
A mostly instrumental track with percussion, strings, and an oriental vibe – vocals don’t come in until the very end and they are rather quiet. Though you can hear that this is Opeth, the song has a soundtrack feel that the band has never really explored before. For me this is the weak point of the album, because I feel its potential wasn’t used to the fullest. It would work better either as a short interlude or the first part of a longer piece.

8. Strange Brew
The longest and most complex song on the album starts off atmospheric, but after a couple of minutes it goes into a fusion jazz section and then one of the heaviest moments on the album, where Åkerfeldt’s raspy vocals alternate with a chugging riff. My favorite part is the bit after the solos, where the vocal line mimics the bluesy guitar melody. Those who found the songs on Heritage too chaotic may be turned off by this one, but I love how cohesive it is despite going into numerous different places.

9. A Fleeting Glance
Another folky intro leads into a verse with nothing but harpsichord and falsetto vocals. Once the full band kicks in there’s a nice groove, and later on a heavy riff makes a couple of appearances. I wouldn’t call this a filler, but it’s definitely the least essential non-instrumental track besides “The Seventh Sojourn.”

10. Era
The piano intro may make you expect a ballad-y track, but when the full band kicks in, “Era” settles into a fast-paced hard rock flow that wouldn’t be out of place on a Foo Fighters record. The chorus melody is pretty infectious, and Martin Axenrot gets to let loose on the drums. I could imagine Opeth finding new fans if this tune was released as a single and rock radio channels took it into their rotation.

11. Persephone (Slight Return)
The title is slightly misleading since this is basically a reprise of the piano intro of “Era.” I’m not sure it needed to be a track of its own, especially when it’s not even a minute long, but I guess the band wanted to bookend the album with two instrumentals. Either way, it’s a nice little cool-down after the rocking “Era,” and the female voice from “Persephone” makes another appearance, closing the circle.


What’s striking about Sorceress is how accessible and relatively straightforward most of the album is, at least on Opeth’s scale. However, there’s enough experimentation and intensity to keep the album from being “Opeth lite,” and the variety between the songs keeps things interesting. Calling this a metal record would be a stretch, but there are more heavy and energetic moments on Sorceress than on its two predecessors. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s melodic vocals are also more diverse than ever before, since there’s both more falsetto and raspy rock singing. The mastering is a little less dynamic and the production is maybe a touch more modern than on the previous two albums, but the record still sounds warm and has a strong vintage aura. I’d give the album a 9 if “The Seventh Sojourn” wasn’t there to break the otherwise great flow in the middle, but as is Sorceress is worth an 8.

Rating: 8/10, 4 stars

1. Persephone
2. Sorceress
3. The Wilde Flowers
4. Will o the Wisp
5. Chrysalis
6. Sorceress 2
7. The Seventh Sojourn
8. Strange Brew
9. A Fleeting Glance
10. Era
11. Persephone (Slight Return)

Opeth @ Monsters of Rock 2016
Opeth @ Monsters of Rock 2016

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Rainer “Raikku” Tuomikanto (Ajattara, Grave Pleasures, Æther, etc), 2016

Ajattara, Nummirock 2016

If you’re looking for Finnish drummers with some experience, look no further than Rainer “Raikku” Tuomikanto. His past CV includes bands like Kiuas, and Shining, among others, while his current CV has him actively working with acts well-known and brand new alike, such as Ajattara, Causemos, and Æther. With a history like that, how could we not get the playlist of his life for you?

(2016) Insomnium: Winter’s Gate


Artist: Insomnium
Album: Winter’s Gate
Release: 23.09.2016
Label: Century Media


These days, Insomnium is one of those bands that hardly needs to be introduced to metal audiences. Ever since their debut in 2002, this Finnish melodic death metal quad has made steady progress towards bigger stages, and now, by the time they are releasing their 7th full-length album, they are again taking one giant step forward, and not with just any old easy-listening melodeath record.

Hear the full epic here:

When the band announced the details for Winter’s Gate, my initial thought was that now there’s a thing that’s custom-made for me, from top to bottom – a concept album about vikings, complete with a novella to go with it, and music by Insomnium? Why, hell yes, this is definitely an opportunity to bring out the overused ”shut up and take my money” -meme. Admittedly, I’ve always been a sucker for concept albums and am fascinated by how songs carry the story. At best, it’s like a perfect soundtrack for a movie inside your head – a visual, cinematic experience – while at worst they can be nothing more than a justification for an overly long collection of mediocre songs.

Insomnium certainly jumps into the deep end with Winter’s Gate, not only by doing a concept album, but one 40-minute song of a concept album. They’re not exactly one of those bands who re-invent the wheel on every full-length album – and really, if the wheel’s not broken, why bother? Yet there is so much to Winter’s Gate that I’m not even sure what to begin with: it’s a rare and almost nerve-wracking opportunity to get to describe something as well-rounded as this.


Music-wise, there’s an evident leap back towards the older Candlelight Records -era Insomnium, as well as vibes and sounds you’ve heard on the latter albums, especially its predecessor, Shadows of the Dying Sun (2014). There are also loads and loads of things that have not yet been heard on an Insomnium album, though it sounds exactly like Insomnium from start to finish. With fresh ears, you’ll pick up likenesses to Amon Amarth, a bit of Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis-like keyboards, but whatever possible influences you might hear, you’ll soon forget it as it blends into the richly nuanced stream of music. And when an album starts with an instant and curious ‘well, I didn’t expect this’ –reaction, it does promise you a lot, doesn’t it?

And as such, the story rolls on and sets the stage during the first 12 intense minutes, taking swift turns and moving on from one character and mood to another, until slowing down to an anticipating, stirring calmness. Starting out strong and without hesitation, the music shifts onto a more tentative foot, while the story grows and sheds more light on the characters and their pasts and motives. There’s definitely something nasty drawing closer, and that’s not just the winter on your doorstep. With a calm interlude and the first steps of impending doom, the final battle is unleashed in front of us in all its frozen, terrible beauty. After the all-consuming terror, there’s still a faint hint of light… a whisper and a promise of new hope. And that, my friends, is one well-told story in a very limited amount of time via death metal album. It’s also the blackest, most progressive, doomiest Insomnium album yet, as you’ve already heard everyone and their grandmother saying, and for once a marketing pitch like that actually sells what it says on the label. Don’t get fooled, though – instead of exhaustingly stuffy and hefty, it’s airy and organic-sounding as whole, remaining fresh even in the heaviest parts.

To be clear, it’s not as much of a full-blown, sold-in-an-instant kind of perfect album, rather than it’s one that grows on you and endures very heavy-duty consumption. On the first listen, it might not be easy to catch a proper key moment or a culmination point, but you’ll surely pick up things you like. ‘Flow’ is a word I’m keen on using with Winter’s Gate; it near-perfectly describes what’s going on there – the whole thing moves on so seamlessly and effortlessly that it would be pretty foolish to break it into separate tracks. Albeit I grew a little impatient with some of the more elaborate slow-downs and progressive parts during the first spins, the big picture settled into its place while reading the story as it went on.

Now, I couldn’t really talk about Winter’s Gate without talking about the novella as well. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to fully get into and appreciate the story without seeing the lyrics, but with each listening I was drawn deeper and deeper into the sheer atmosphere and feeling, unlike most concept albums that, even at their best, are ‘just’ stories. It’s a strange and weirdly exhilarating experience to realize that what you thought of as the best of the best is something that can be exceeded in aspects besides technical ones. It doesn’t take any value away from other great concept albums though; rather, it adds to the grand scale of concept albums. When it comes to Niilo Sevänen’s writing, his words paint a world that is easy to see in spite of the limited space in which a short story takes place; the image is crisp where needed but blurry enough around the edges to let your imagination fill in the gaps. The story is good in itself, but the album lifts it to a whole other level – it may or may not be a thing the novella has needed all along to make it truly stand out and complete it. On a related note, I also recommend listening to the audio book that Sevänen himself had read for the special edition of the album, if you have the chance.

Regarding the live adaptation, 40 minutes might not be too much for a show, but it’s easy to imagine that playing the whole thing in one go won’t work. Nevertheless, I’m eager to see how they’ll translate the album live – it would be a shame if they didn’t at least try. And as far as contemplating the concept of a one-song-album, I truly feel there would be a wonderful niche for more. It likely won’t be the first thought to cross your mind, but at least in this case, having only one lengthy song feels extremely refreshing, and it’s astonishing how well it works in most situations, be it a meditation nap while heavy rain drums the roof, or running intervals. There’s always a shortage of excellent all-round albums, but my favorite way to listen Winter’s Gate might still be sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea, just enjoying it.


To finally sum it up: without bias of any sort, Insomnium has left me in awe and excited to see what’s next. They have created an album that takes you by surprise, draws you into its world for nearly three quarters of an hour, gives you chills, and keeps you wanting to return, time and time again. In other words, considering this is an album that was described as a ‘thing in between actual albums’, they’ve shown what they are really capable of and created something that deserves to be called a work of art. Winter’s Gate stands bold, ruthless, and beautiful, as the harsh winter itself.

I had a hard time figuring out the right scoring for it – for a good while I felt like it lacked something that would have made it ‘perfect’ and worthy of a full score, but frankly speaking, in the end it’s just as good as it could get. Only one or two other albums that have been released this year have even briefly grazed the bar Insomnium has set, so I have no reason to hesitate in naming this as my pick for album of the year. So, sit back, put your headphones on, and prepare for what may be the fastest 40 minutes of your life.

Rating: 10/10, 5 stars

1. Winter’s Gate

Text: Lene L. | Ed: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Insomnium Winter’s Gate promotional photos, 2016

(2016) Blind Channel: Revolutions


Artist: Blind Channel
Album: Revolutions
Released: 01.10.2016
Label: Ranka Kustannus


Blind Channel, in the span of a few months, has quickly become one of my favorite live acts. How painful is it then that they haven’t actually had an album for me to listen to all summer, especially when this music is perfect for sunny days (okay, we haven’t had many of those this summer, but still)? October 1st, 2016, is the official release date of Revolutions, but I can’t deny my excitement when I got my hands on an advance copy of the album so I could start enjoying it right away! I expected a few of these songs to be familiar from Spotify and their live shows, all of which suggested that this was going to be a great album.

Check out the album here:

The album sounded promising already on paper – Jonas Olsson did the production and Jens Bogren was on mixing duty. The latter has come onto our radar fairly frequently in recent days, with one of his most recent and well-appreciated projects (at least around Musicalypse HQ) being Amorphis’ Under the Red Cloud. But what about the songs themselves?

01. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
The album starts out with “Bullet (With Your Name on It)”, with it’s Oriental-sounding tinking noises in the beginning. They act a bit like an intro, which reminds me a little of Meteora by Linkin Park’s intro. It’s a pretty high-energy track and a good place to start things off – I could see it being a good song to get a live show going with too. It’s got a little bit of that angry energy without actually sounding like an angry song: “You are not my friend!” This song is a good introduction to their sound as it has a lot of the aspects that make ‘violent pop’ with vocalist Niko Moilanen‘s rapping seamlessly blending into heavier parts of the song, mixed in with some catchy pop singalong choruses – it works very well. 5/5

02. Darker than Black
“Darker than Black” was the first song I had heard from the band via it’s simplistic but nevertheless excellent music video. I was hooked the second I heard the “whoa-oa-ao!” part. This was actually the song that got me into their music, because it’s catchy and it reminds me of a lot of things I used to love in my youth without actually sounding like any of them. You also get a really good impression of Joel Hokka‘s gentler vocals as well. The two vocalists harmonize perfectly together, creating a phenomenal blend, and the way they trade off in the C-part work so well to build things up to another round of that chorus. And who can’t sing along with that? 5/5

Here’s the music video:

03. Enemy for Me
The newest pre-release single, “Enemy for Me,” is the actual angry song on the album, in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of some of Bullet for My Valentine’s songs, not in sound but in feeling – think “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War)”. There are some pleasantly raw lyrics in this one, not least of which is the obvious shouting part: “You fucking controller / The way you control her / This shit isn’t over / ‘Til I say it’s over” and “That’s right motherfucker / I know where you live!” I’d be curious to know what this song is about because it seems rather personal. 5/5

04. Pitfall
“Pitfall” is a slow-groove song, as much as a band like this can be considered ‘slow’ – it’s not as energetic as some others, but it has a nice flow and a smooth, laid-back vibe, which is occasionally pumped up with some rapping bits to good effect. If I was to put it on a playlist with another song, it’d definitely go alongside Santa Cruz’s latest single, “Skydiving Without a Parachute,” as it has a similar flow. I had a harder time deciding about this song than some of the others, but it does have this sort of relaxed, heavy riff to it that’s pretty cool, and a really short, chill solo that I can certainly appreciate. It’s also in the optimal place for a change-up at this point in the album, with the first three songs being total hard-hitters. 4/5

05. Deja FU
The first time I heard “Deja FU”, my thought process was something like, “What the fuck is this? How many genres can you cram into one song? I have no idea what is happening here… why can’t I stop listening to this?” That remains fairly true to this day. This song makes no sense on paper – it has aspects of pop, rock, hip-hop, metal/metalcore, and more. It shouldn’t work. I almost doesn’t. Except it does. I can’t explain it, but it’s great. “I know it wasn’t smart / But it was fun” is a great line too, though in spite of listening to this song like an addict getting their fix since it came out, I still couldn’t tell you what it’s about lyrically. Also, it has a fun music video, which I believe is made up from live footage from when they opened for Simple Plan on their Baltic Tour. This is a great party song and a great live track as well – and it has one of those perfect clap-along music-free interludes towards the end! This is the most experimental song on the album, so if you can get into it, you’ll likely be able to get into the rest. 5/5

Here’s another music video:

06. Hold on to Hopeless
“Hold on to Hopeless” starts off with high energy and then slows down, maintaining a medium-level average of hype throughout and manages to linger in your mind even after it’s over. This is one of the poppier tracks on the album, but I like the way Moilanen throws little rap bits in so sneakily that you almost don’t notice it. This is one of those songs that I imagine girls screaming for during live shows. The lyrics seem to be about how harsh the world is, so let’s be there for each other: “We’ve found something that changes everything.” 4.5/5

07. What’s Wrong
“What’s Wrong” is the slowest track on the album, and while it doesn’t reach boy-band levels of slow, this is a song where I can imagine hands in the air and maybe a few lighters up there too. It has those very alluring lyrics that I imagine young people will latch onto and remember affectionately no matter how old they get. One might refer to this song as the ‘moisturizer’ on the album as such. The track has good melodies and doesn’t get boring, which is always a risk with these high-energy bands. I have to appreciate the way they add screams into a slow song and make it work, much in the way The Used has done (though I can’t say they sound anything like The Used). Again, Moilanen and Hokka’s dual vocals add another layer of depth to the mix, along with the somewhat echo-y guitar sounds. 5/5

08. My Revolution
This is the high-energy track that follows the slow song. It’s in exactly the right place on the album to pick you up after the break from “What’s Wrong”. At this point I’m finding it a little bit hard to write about the songs individually because they all have a lot of the same elements, yet they don’t all sound the same. This one has a fair bit of that quick-singing that’s almost rapping, and a catchy but a bit heavy chorus. They just seem to have gotten everything right with this song. 5/5

09. Another Sun
This sort of style reminds me of some things that I can’t quite place. Maybe there’s a hint of 2000s -era AFI blended in with some things I like from Bring Me the Horizon’s last album, and more. Moilanen and Hokka’s alternating styles of singing are again a highlight. It’s a bit different from the other songs on the album, but at this point it’s good to have another small change-up to keep things fresh. In fact, this song parallels “Blasphemy” on BMtH’s last album in both style (though this one is a fair bit faster) and album position, and that was one of my favorite songs on that album, so these guys have definitely done well with it. The song has that sort of feeling like, “we’re wrapping things up soon, but don’t worry, it’s still going to be good!” 5/5

10. Unforgiving
I recognized this track from the band’s Spotify library, and have listened to it a few times already as such. Since you might know this track already, it’s familiar ground to start wrapping things up with. However, it still maintains the album’s energy without getting lazy towards then end. Catchy music can get repetitive, but this sort of music manages to stay fresh throughout, so even if I can’t say much about it individually at this point, it’s still a really good track. 4.5/5

Yet another music video:

11. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)
The final track is a cover of Ed Sheeran’s song that these guys have unquestionably made their own and nailed it in the process. This earworm was stuck in my head for about a week after listening to it maybe twice. It’s heavier, faster, fresher, and catchier than the original. I think it’s been improved on in every possible way, though I will admit that I am not a fan of Ed Sheeran. However, I like when a mediocre song is made great with a bit of a makeover by a different band. They’ve taken this song and implemented everything that makes Blind Channel ‘Blind Channel’ and that makes it a perfect closing cover for the album. 4.5/5

And the last music video:


I feel like I want to call this album ‘nostalgia for times to come.’ It gives me all those great feelings from my youth, but these songs aren’t associated with any moments in time. With that in mind, it only makes sense that I am going to have some great times to this music in the future and someday I’ll be listening to this album and reflecting fondly on them. Perhaps the lyrics are aimed at a more teenager-aged crowd than me, so I might not be connecting quite as well to the music as I would have been when I was 15, but I’m 100% certain that if I had found these guys at that age they would’ve been one of my favorite bands.

Blind Channel definitely have their own style and even if they’re using the same pattern in every song, they’re keeping it fresh. The guitars and drums aren’t lazy or mechanical like in some pop music, which sets this album above so many other bands. As well, the flow of their songs goes very smoothly as it moves from part to part, which is why songs like “Deja FU” work even if they seem like they shouldn’t. And the construction of movement is fast and fluid, even if the songs aren’t always fast. I do think the album could’ve been longer, as it only clocks in at just under 39 minutes, but if that was the case, it would need another song or two, as the songs shouldn’t be made any longer than they are – they’d get bogged down or over-full. As it stands, I’m quite satisfied with the songs and their length as they are.

This is exactly the sort of music you want to have playing in parties or outside at the beach in the summer. And this music translates incredibly well into their live performances, making for memorable shows, so you can’t go wrong there either. And from a handful of 20-somethings who write all their own music no less. To be honest, my mind is a little bit blown here.

9.5/10, 5 stars, and a contender for album of the year.


Track list:
1. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
2. Darker than Black
3. Enemy for Me
4. Pitfall
5. Deja FU
6. Hold on to Hopeless
7. What’s Wrong
8. My Revolution
9. Another Sun
10. Unforgiving
11. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)

Blind Channel Revolutions 2016 promo photo
Blind Channel album release promo 2016

Text: Amy Wiseman

SONATA ARCTICA – Tony & Henrik, Helsinki 2016


Sonata Arctica is one of Finland’s biggest metal exports, which is understandable, considering they have their own unique and diverse sound. With their tenth studio album coming out (or ninth if you don’t include the remake of Ecliptica) in a few short months, we decided to take the opportunity to have a chat with Tony Kakko (vocals) and Henrik Klingenberg (keyboards) about their current style, returning themes, and the weird world of social media.

More photos HERE!


2016.09.09 sonata-arctica-tony-kakko-henrik-klingenberg-21First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Tony: Of course.

Sonata Arctica did an acoustic tour this summer – how did you decide that this was the time to do it and do you think you might ever do it again?
Henrik: Well, I think that we didn’t come up with anything else reasonable to do. The thing was, we did festivals already a year ago with Pariah’s Child and it felt like we wanted to present something new this summer, but we didn’t have a new album out, so we thought, okay let’s give it a shot and do some acoustic stuff. Because previously, sometimes on our tours we have had acoustic segments in the shows, and now we just decided to go full on and see what happens and it turned out really well, so I’m sure we’ll do this in the future at some point. But right now we’re just aiming on getting a new album out and playing new songs.

You guys have such a vast discography with so many different eras of your own sound. How do you decide which songs get included in the live sets and which songs/albums get left out?
Tony: There are certain songs that you kind of need to play, the ones that you choose as singles, and those form the frame. Then you try finding songs that are live-friendly, first of all. There are some songs that necessarily – at least on some of our albums – there are songs that… it’s not impossible really, but they’re not really nice to do live. There are so many layers of things that it would be a task for me to even choose the lead vocal line because there are so many things happening. And every harmony is important, like Unia

Henrik: It got out of hand [laughs].

Tony: Yeah, it got a little bit out of hand, but I learned from that.

Henrik: It’s a hit-and-miss game. Of course we try. Now we had early on the Pariah’s Child world tour and we were doing the re-recording of Ecliptica, we had about thirty to thirty-five songs that you have to play and we tried to switch them up and now we tried to leave some of that stuff out so as not to repeat ourselves too much. So we have some stuff that we think at least that we have to do…

Tony: I think this is definitely the biggest renewal of set we’ve had in…

Henrik: A few years, at least. So it’s going to be interesting to see if it works or not. But it’s really difficult and the more albums you make, the harder it gets. I mean, it’s easy picking some songs from the new album, but as for the rest, with the exception of “Fullmoon” and “Don’t Say a Word”…

Tony: Yeah, trying to build this kind of ‘greatest hits’ kind of thing and then add some special songs for those who are bigger fans and might appreciate you playing this [obscure] song that nobody has heard live ever, and then this is rare. It’s a treat, somehow.

Do you think any of the fan picks from Satama Open Air will stay on the setlist?
Tony: “Power of One” will stay.

2016.09.09 sonata-arctica-tony-kakko-henrik-klingenberg-10Unfortunately, at this point in our interview, a journalist’s worst nightmare came true and the recording device decided to shut itself off. Fortunately, Henrik was willing to redo the interview with us from this point onward.

Pariah’s Child felt like a stylistic throwback to your first few albums – was this an intentional move for you guys, or did it just kind of happen that way? Do you think that The Ninth Hour then will be another throwback to that era, or will it touch on a different era, such as the Unia era?
It was a bit of both I guess. We talked a lot about what Sonata Arctica is and what it should be during the making of our book, and somehow this might have reflected in the music on Pariah’s Child. As far as The Ninth Hour goes, I think it’s more like a continuation from Pariah’s Child, as opposed to being something totally new or a big leap toward something.

How representative of the new album is the first single?
I think it set the tone of the album and is a good start but I wouldn’t say that it really represents the album as a whole… but as said, it works as a starting point for this new album.

Do you think the album is ‘traditional’ Sonata Arctica, or is it more experimental?
Well, I wouldn’t really know what it considered to be ‘traditional’ Sonata Arctica these days – is it the power metal that we started out with, the progressive style that we introduced with Unia or something else? I’d say that it’s definitely not experimental and you can hear influences from all of the previous albums on it.

2016.09.09 sonata-arctica-tony-kakko-henrik-klingenberg-23Word on the street is that you’re continuing Caleb’s murder saga, and you’re also doing a follow up to “White Pearl, Black Oceans.” How did you decide to revisit these two stories, considering that both of the narrators/protagonists are dead?
Yeah, the Caleb saga is something Tony’s been visiting on several albums: “Juliet” from The Days of Grays being the latest. As far as WPBO part 2, it was indeed interesting to continue the story, somehow Tony managed to revive the main characters. Musically speaking, it was a bit of a task to make the song since it’s a very long track and we needed to make sure that it was a worthy sequel to the first part, which has became quite important for a lot of people, including ourselves. There’s been tons of fan fiction and movie ideas and whatnot created around the story of the first WPBO.

If you ever decide that the story is finally over, would you ever consider playing the full Caleb story in chronological order?
We’ve been toying with the idea of doing that at some point. There’s already quite a few songs in that saga it so would be a special show kinda thing, since there wouldn’t be too much time to play other songs. We’ve also thought about the idea of playing both WPBO’s back to back at some point.

We’ve had a few discussions at Musicalypse about how a man who’s been with the same woman for so many years can write so many songs about heartbreak and dysfunctional relationships – do you have any comments on that?
Haha, well I won’t comment on that [laughs]. Tony does, however, have a very vivid imagination.

Apart from these two stories, are there any other topics or subjects that you’re willing to discuss from the album? Are there any subjects that you think are important that you’ve included in your music this time around?
A couple of songs deal with the issue of environmental awareness, which of course connects with the title of the album. However they’re more observations than trying to preach or telling people how to live their lives. There’s of course love stories on the album as well, in different forms and shapes.

Were there any subjects you would’ve liked to include that didn’t make the cut?
I don’t think so; the way we work is that when we have enough songs for the album, that’s about it. We don’t have tons of songs in storage waiting to be recorded or something.

2016.09.09 sonata-arctica-tony-kakko-henrik-klingenberg-20Lastly, you both have these rather odd social media followings or fan groups, Tony Kakko’s Pants on Facebook being one, and The Keytar Adventures on Instagram being the other. Do you have any thoughts on these sort of quirky groups?
The Keytar Adventures was something that kinda happened and I just found out afterwards about it. These days I even have a pretty clear idea about who’s doing it [laughs]. It all started at our show in Tampere last year where, for some reason, I smashed my keytar at the end of the show. I then gave it as a gift to a dear friend of mine and apparently he’s been lending it out every once in a while for this thing… I find it hilarious. The Tony Kakko’s pants thing is quite old I guess… well that’s what you get from wearing weird pants [laughs].

Are the pants still around?
I think Tony still has them somewhere… and they might even do a comeback someday. Things like these have a tendency to pop up. Let’s wait and see…

Thank you again so much for your time (twice around) and best of luck with the new album release!

For the rest of our interview photos, you could head over HERE.

You can check out the lyric video for their new single, “Closer to an Animal” here:

Or have a look at their album trailer (3 parts) below:

The Ninth Hour will be released on October 7th, 2016, by Nuclear Blast Records.

Text: Amy Wiseman

EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL – Nosturi, Helsinki, 09-10.09.2016


In 2016, The Damager Agency decided to host a festival in both Helsinki (Finland) and Bergen (Norway) to showcase both established electronic metal/metalcore bands, as well as to bring some up-and-coming bands into the spotlight. With an impressive six bands playing each day, this festival promised to offer a variety of interesting music to all sorts of metal and pop fans alike. On September 9th and 10th, 2016, Musicalypse sent our troops, both veterans and trainees, down to Nosturi to check out what EDGE:Nordic had to offer!

Full gallery HERE!
Backstage photos HERE!

Day 1
Atte: I got to Nosturi about 10 minutes before the showtime of the first act, Assemble the Chariots. The Helsinki-based extreme metal group was probably the only band on the first evening that I actually wanted to see after scrutinizing the line-up solely on technical prowess, and were easily one of the most talented as well. There was a bit of a hold-up at the door, since the doorman didn’t seem to have a separate press list on hand and had to confirm the situation through his radio. When I got to the cloakroom, Assemble the Chariots had just begun their 30-minute set.

Assemble the Chariots
Assemble the Chariots

I jumped up the stairs to the stage floor, arriving about halfway through the Chariots’ first song. The venue was practically empty at the time, with maybe thirty or forty people in the front row, while the bar area was almost deserted. The first thing I noticed was the absence of the band’s second guitarist, Niklas Turunen, reducing the band to a four-piece. Even with Turunen missing, the band nicely filled the room with their high-speed metal, relying heavily on orchestrations in their overall sound. The show didn’t go through flawlessly, as vocalist Kristo Sundström apparently got confused with the setlist and started singing a different song than the rest of the band in the beginning of the third track on their set, clearly knocking him off balance for a second. He quickly apologized for his hiccup and let the band finish the verse, caught up on the bridge, and apologized a second time during the chorus.

The half an hour went by quickly, and for the most part the show was great. The guitarist Kevin Apostol’s subtle head-nodding when playing somehow reminded me of Sound Explosion Band’s bassist, Kari Hulkkonen. Sundström’s vocals were immensely powerful, while the drummer, Sami Mäntylä, kept the package together nicely. On the minus side, the stage sound was pretty raw, and the drums could have used a lot more volume; most of the time the bass drums were almost inaudible, eating up the impact of the music that relies on fast drum patterns. I don’t know if there was something wrong with Sundström’s in-ear monitors as well, because he constantly had to plug them in his ears and then take them out, as if he couldn’t hear himself either way. And considering Assemble the Chariots’ early showtime, the venue being pretty empty didn’t actually come as a surprise, but it was still disappointing. Assemble the Chariots pulled off a decent performance that should have been seen by more people.


Atte: The second band, Atlas, took the stage after a 15-minute intermission. The band, hailing from Nokia, was totally unknown to me beforehand, but I cannot say that I got too much out of their 30-minute performance. Atlas’ music is something between djent and metalcore, but while their songs weren’t that bad, the delivery suffered from technical difficulties, as it felt as though both their guitarists constantly had to go and check their amps and pedal-boards. During the first song the second guitar was mute for a good while. The band had some kind of a backing track for the bass guitars, but the track could have had a lot more volume to it, as Atlas’ songs sounded, at times, really thin without a strong bottom end. Time to go bassist-shopping, guys!

Don’t get me wrong – despite the problems, the band’s show was decent. The vocalist, Patrik Nuorteva, couldn’t keep still for a second and spent a fair amount of time in the photo pit with his microphone, though I have to say that I found his habit of bashing his microphone with his hand utterly unenjoyable; with all the hiccups with the guitarists’ gear, every time I heard the popping noise from the microphone, I thought that something had broken down for real. Speaking of guitarists, both Tuomas Kurikka and Aleksi Viinikka played their parts without a hitch, and the drummer, Aku Karjalainen, had a really nice touch in his playing and was something I could have watched for a longer period of time.

Funeral for the Masses
Funeral for the Masses

Atte: The third act of the evening by far the most confusing for me: Funeral for the Masses, hailing from Oulu, played a hefty 30-minute set, but I couldn’t figure out what it was that prevented me from getting the hang of their music. I hadn’t heard any of FFtM’s songs before, and actually missed their performance at this year’s Nummirock, but somehow the element of surprise still wasn’t present for me. The band’s songs weren’t in any way bad, ranging style-wise from death metal to metalcore and thrash; FFtM had a lot going on in their output, and the band is clearly full of talented musicians. At times, I felt that maybe the band tried to be too much at the same time, preventing them from going 100% forward – as a death metal fan, I found the most death-ish parts of their songs to be the most enjoyable. On the other hand, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good stage sound with music like FFtM, as the band was the second one during the evening with almost inaudible bass drums, which ate away a big chunk of the impact. In the end, FFtM clearly are determined to put on a good show and I have to give extra points for the band’s visual appearance: everyone was dressed in similar uniforms with the creative FFtM logo on the chest. Good design right there!

Blind Channel
Blind Channel

Amy: Blind Channel marked the halfway point of the night, giving us yet another violent pop gig. The kicked things off with “Unforgiving” from their upcoming release, Revolutions. That must be a fairly well-known song now, as it’s been out for a while, but it’s a good place to kick things off, especially if they’re still keeping some secrets for their upcoming album release gig on October 1st. “Hold on to Hopeless” was up next, and I was surprised to find even some of the more hardcore-looking members of the crowd moshing and dancing away. Of course, the most enthusiastic fans were the BC Squad (the band’s street team) who had been in the front row from the get-go, but that is to be expected. BC kept the set going with more sneak peaks from their debut, with “My Revolution” and “Pitfall”. The latter is a bit more of a chill live song, and the bass was so loud I could feel it at the back of the venue – looks like the sound crew wasn’t afraid to crank it up anymore. “Bullet (With Your Name on It)” made its live debut in this show, which I was pretty happy about – it’s hard to pick favorites of their upcoming release, but this is a pretty catchy song and translates very well into their live performance. “Deja FU” had a nice slow-sung intro, and “Enemy for Me” got pretty much the whole floor jumping, as well as a three-man circle pit. “Darker than Black” got another huge cheer and a mini-mosh pit (five people this time), and they closed out their set with the usual cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t”, with its hard rock classics intro. I’d prefer if they’d swap that out for “Darker than Black” or “Deja FU”, just because I think it’s an inferior song and it’s best to lure the crowd back with your own material. Overall, great set – they’re not yet getting creative with the album material in their live shows yet (apart from the intros), but they had some of the best energy of the night. Even though they can be a bit tentative in their stage interaction with each other (trying not to knock each other over and whatnot), they still put on a really lively and energetic performance that will likely just get better and better every time we see them.

One Morning Left
One Morning Left

Amy: Next up was One Morning Left. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to watch this band, and bear with me because I had never heard of them before. I rather enjoyed some of their music, while other songs genuinely confused me. Or I would even go so far as to say many parts of most songs were enjoyable, and then took turns towards the straight-up weird. They played some sort of a remix of the Ghostbusters theme, which was bizarre and incomprehensible, while the song that followed was a pretty decent slice of metalcore. Likewise for “Kings and Queens,” which I had found on Spotify prior to the gig and hoped to hear. There were a ton of catchy beats in there, mixed in occasionally awkwardly and occasionally to good effect with some heavy bits. Their singers were all over the place, from growls to melodic boy-band style singing, all the way up to goofy full-on falsetto. As far as drummers go, Niko Hyttinen was a one-man show of his own, and I could’ve been perfectly entertained watching him wailing away and making crazy faces without the rest of it. They had a couple of scantily-clad ladies on the stage dancing with them for a few songs, and just in case the stage wasn’t crowded enough, they had a special guest singer (I didn’t catch who he was but he sang at least in the first song) who donned a pig costume and joined the girls on stage. Mika “Miksu” Lahti (vocals) was not afraid to get down into the photopit in one song, to both sing and just… make weird noises. Leevi Luoto (clean vocals, guitar), on the other hand, was one of those guys that you can’t tell if he’s drunk or just ‘like that’ on stage. Then there were water guns… it just got weirder and weirder as the set went on. You certainly couldn’t say that the crowd didn’t appreciate it though, as there was more moshing and jumping around more during this set than all the prior sets combined.

We Butter the Bread with Butter
We Butter the Bread with Butter

Amy: At 23:29, the curtains opened one more time to an electronic voice introducing the last band of the night, We Butter the Bread with Butter. Considering the band is German, we were rather interested in the fact that this prerecorded intro was in Finnish, telling the crowd that if someone didn’t have a beer, they should do something about it immediately. When the show got going, the first thought to pass through my mind was… why is the bass player the only one with corpse paint? I had only heard a few songs from this band before, so the first song surprised me with its heaviness. The crowd had largely vanished between the end of the last set and the beginning of WBtBwB’s, but evidently they had all just gone for a drink or smoke, because the floor filled back up once the first song was over. The crowd gave the band some encouragement when they took a moment to introduce themselves, shouting “wunderbar!” much to Paul Bartzsch’s (vocals) amusement. The band asked who might like some older songs, and I’m fairly certain every hand on the floor went up, and was quickly followed by arms in the air clapping and jumping, and a moshpit shortly afterward. The crowd proved to be very responsive, squatting down on the floor on command, putting their hands in the air to clap, and then all jumping up at once. The set seemed to offer a bit of everything, from the more electronic-based stuff, to some songs songs that, as Bartzsch said, were for the headbangers in the crowd. I can’t say I know this band at all, nor that it’s even a style that I listen to, but I feel like I can appreciate it after this show and I think I actually liked it better live. However, they still have the weirdest band name I’ve ever heard.

So that was it for the first night of this metalcore-infused little festival. It was time for some sleep afterwards, because there was another big day to come!


Day 2


Atte: The second day of EDGE:Nordic kicked off at the same time as Friday, with the first band, Æther, starting their set at 18:30 sharp. Æther was formed back in 2014, but this was their first live performance. The previous evening had been horrifyingly quiet for the first three bands, and once I got up to the band area, today was no different, if not even worse – there was a total of eight people in the front of the stage, with an equal number in the bar. Just before starting their first song, the drummer, Rainer “Raikku” Tuomikanto, ironically shouted out to the other guys that “it’s nice to get a good rehearsal space for a change!” This wasn’t completely unjustified, as the band played through their 30 minute set of four songs to maybe the most scarce audience I’ve ever seen in Nosturi.

A word on Æther’s music: excellent stuff! Tuomikanto is one of the most prominent drummers in our country, and with his experience and Iiro Illman on guitar (also having featured in plenty of metal acts through the years), I wouldn’t have expected anything else. Æther’s guitar work reminded me a lot of The Ocean, while some polyrhythmic parts were almost Tesseract-ish in style. The band themselves define their style as groove metal – as someone who resents Pantera, I feel that this is almost an understatement. The band’s bassist, Samuli Pekkarinen, had a brilliant groove in his playing, and it’s always nice to see someone playing bass in a metal band without using a pick. The only setback was the singer Saku Poikonen’s voice. While nailing his growling parts, he had considerable difficulties keeping in tune during clean vocal parts – maybe he couldn’t hear himself over the band because of bad monitoring. Nevertheless, Æther’s performance was great and left a craving for more. Apart from the 30 second teaser video the band has on YouTube, no songs have yet been released, so the band is definitely worth a check-out when they do more shows!

Horror Dance Squad
Horror Dance Squad

Atte: As John Cleese puts it: and now for something completely different. After a 15 minute intermission, Horror Dance Squad climbed on Nosturi’s stage. Hailing from Tallinn, Estonia, the band have already performed in Wacken Open Air after winning this year’s Estonia Wacken Metal Battle competition, but this was the first time they were performing in Finland. Equipped with two vocalists, Horror Dance Squad pulled off a really energetic 30 minutes of modern metal, and the small audience didn’t slow them down one bit; after their first song, Ian Karell threw his mic around his shoulders and shouted without amplification to the audience that he liked the intimate feeling, easily reaching everyone in the quiet Nosturi. Their last song, “Elevate,” was meant to speak about treating each other well, and the band gave a big thank you to the few who showed up to see them, as well as Toni Törrönen [The Damager] for bringing them over for the show. I cannot say that I’m musically intrigued by this style of metal, but Horror Dance Squad was a great band to watch: the gained experience clearly showed in the band’s performance, and it’s easy to believe that they picked up a few new fans. Both bands of the evening so far could have benefited a lot from larger audiences, but what can you do?


Atte: Next band up was Khroma, an alternative metal band from Helsinki, and – let’s say it up front – the only band in the evening’s line-up that I’ve listened to before the event. Their debut album, Collapse from 2014, was a brilliant mix of metal and electronic ambient themes, and this year’s Stasis carried on the concept with a bit more straightforward approach. Khroma has done numerous Europe tours, so once again I anticipated a quality live performance. The first thing that has to be said aloud, is that it was downright criminal to allow the band play for only 30 minutes, as only six songs were heard. The stage speeches were kept to a minimum as well. The debut album was featured with two tracks, “Collapse” and “The Martyr Acts,” while Stasis’ picks were “A Simple Lie,” “Brace Yourself,” “The Push,” and “Machinal”. The last time I saw Khroma perform, they had three guitarists on stage, but this time only one, resulting in their sound being bit lighter than usual – not that one can actually describe the band’s sound as light in any way. Also this wasn’t an easy show for a photographer to shoot, as the band separated themselves from the audience by not using front spotlights at all. The vocalist, Riku Rinta-Seppälä, also performed with his curly hair covering his face most of the time. Once again, Khroma delivered a killer performance, thanking the (still awfully small) audience for showing up.

Ember Falls
Ember Falls

Amy: Ember Falls was up next, and I’m please to say that I’m starting to slowly get more and more familiar with their songs, which is no mean task considering they’ve only released one song. They got things started with “Cost of Doing Business,” and followed it up with “Falling Rain.” The crowd was still largely missing for the first two songs, but a not-too-slow trickle started to bring people up from the ground level. These guys were the first overtly electronic/melodic band of the day, which I appreciated. It was a good time to take a break from the metalcore for a while. Thomas Grove (vocals) promised a bit of new and old, before they got into “End of Fear” – the only song left from Mekanism [the band’s original line-up/name] on their setlist. “Freedom” is their token slow song, which I’m growing rather fond of, which has a nice keyboard-assisted guitar solo. Grove followed it up by asking the crowd if they are familiar with Amaranthe, and then discussed their upcoming debut album and how they recently met with Jake Lundberg, who helped out with the production, if I understood correctly. “COE” was up next, which has a strong electronic sound and similar high energy to their single, and I can imagine it becoming a fan-favorite at live shows to come. “Rising Tide” managed to get hands clapping and up in the air. As per usual, they closed things out with “Shut Down with Me,” the aforementioned single, and though I enjoyed the set, I can’t say it was their best performance of the year, as it had a couple minor sound bugs here and there (guitars cutting out, raspy sound quality on Calu’s (vocals, guitar) mic, etc). However, it was still a a good show and a nice change-up in sound from the rest of the bands – a perfect refresher before the last two bands.


Amy: It was a little bit past their start time when Adept took the stage, with the full crowd finally making its appearance, chanting “Adept, Adept” over and over. I was actually fairly impressed with their music considering I’d never heard them before, and I often have a hard time enjoying music I don’t know. They were one of the heavier bands of the day, yet they had some nice backing tracks in some songs that created a decent balance between the heavy and gentle. Vocalist Robert Ljung claimed that Nosturi is one of his favorite venues in Europe, as there are always a lot of drunk Finns, before dedicating the song “Secrets” to the guys from Eskimo Callboy. It was nice to see that there were enough people for a proper moshpit at this point of the night. Ljung also mentioned that after this show, Jerry Repo, who supposedly lives in Finland, is leaving the band (apparently to drink more), and he was asked to say something in Finnish, to which he said, “Nähdään myöhemmin, alligaattori,” [see you later, alligator] in a rather thick Swedish accent. The next song had every hand in the air and every foot off the ground, jumping around. This might’ve also been the first time in ages that I’ve seen any sort of wall of death at Nosturi. Ljung claimed he would be at his favorite bar in Finland after the show, the only one he hasn’t been kicked out of/banned from: Bäkkäri. No points for taste, but I’d have been interested to know if they could actually be found there after the show. He then asked for the biggest circle pit of the night, which he was given. “Sound the Alarm” is apparently about heartbreak, which also proved to be a good song to jump all over to. Overall, these guys had a lot of energy and a pretty overall great connection with the crowd.

Eskimo Callboy
Eskimo Callboy

Amy: Skrillex played as an intro track to introduce Eskimo Callboy, which I daresay we were not expecting. This was followed by another musical/industrial intro track to welcome an impressive six people to the stage. These guys have two active vocalists at all times – Sebastian “Sushi” Biesler and Kevin Ratajczak – and I was fairly impressed with their ability not to trip all over each other all the time. It was likewise interesting to see how frequently they sang together – far more often than most bands with dual-vocalists. Their music was the energetic kick in the pants that was well-needed after five other bands had been on stage already and the hour was growing late. There were a lot of aspects to their music that I liked, such as the blending of heavy and gentle sounds. It was only recently brought to my attention that these guys had never played in Finland before, so it was nice to see a very enthusiastic crowd yet again, with lots of energy leftover after Adept’s set. Their second song had a lot of fun electronic sound and pretty insane party energy and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tapping along with the music most of the time. “We are the Mess” got a huge scream from the crowd after the band announced it and the crowd became a rolling ocean of jumping and moshing – the band seemed very impressed by the response they were getting. While I wouldn’t call these guys exactly the same in sound, I slowly got the feeling that they would be a perfect opening band for Turmion Kätilöt – we’ve seen them a ton of times this summer and there is a very similar energy that comes from both of these bands. Interesting coincidence that they both have two vocals-exclusive band members, no? They weren’t lying when they said it would be a good party, before prepping the crowd for a wall of death, and even declared “Party at the Horror House” to be a drinking song, and one of the vocalists nearly got himself sucked into the crowd when he crawled on the barrier. I had played these guys a few times on Spotify before the festival and found myself only partially engaged, though after seeing them live, I certainly think I wouldn’t mind watching them again sometime. Bring them back for a summer festival perhaps, Finland?


And with the conclusion of their set, EDGE:Nordic was also over. While I can’t say for sure, it seems that metal isn’t totally dead yet. It’s the young people who are experimenting that tend to get into metalcore and industrial -style bands like this, and it was a shame to see so few people in the crowd for the starting bands on both days, though it was at least encouraging that the latter half of both days showed that there’s still some love left for this kind of music somewhere. It was really sad to notice that this little festival received almost no attention from any of the local medias. While they did their utmost to promote themselves, bigger magazines like Rumba/Inferno and Imperiumi did next to nothing to get the word out and none of them came as medias to check it out. If we are worried about metal slowly dying out in this country, these are exactly the type of festivals we need to get people interested in new music. However, if we don’t get the word out, the decline may be inevitable. We’d strongly encourage music lovers to get out and check out some new live music more often – festivals like Edge:Nordic can really be a blast if you like trying new things.

2016-09-09-edge-nordic-extras-1-er-2And don’t forget! If you can find yourselves in any of our photos on Facebook, be sure to tag yourselves, like the photo and Musicalypse, and share the photo – you could win a prize pack of photos from the gig!

Text: Amy Wiseman, Atte Valtonen | Photos: Eliza Rask

EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL: Backstage at Nosturi, 09-10.09.2016


When EDGE:Nordic 2016 hit Helsinki, we had pretty much the run of Nosturi. While we were a bit busy watching the bands, we did poke our heads backstage from time to time and caught a few bands going about their business. So here are a few photos to give you an idea of what happens behind the scenes!

Festival gallery HERE!

Photos by Eliza Rask.

ENSIFERUM @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 10.09.2016


Ensiferum at Tavastia, 2016.
Photos by Miia Collander.

(2016) Kansas: The Prelude Implicit


Artist: Kansas
Album: The Prelude Implicit
Released: 23.09.2016
Label: Inside Out


Kansas has never been a massive name in Finland, and I’ve only heard ”Carry On Wayward Son” on the radio once or twice. However, the band’s prog rock associations and seeing the documentary Miracles Out of Nowhere earlier this year convinced me to check their first five albums out. While the quality of these classic records is a little inconsistent to my ears, the band’s overall sound, with strong vocal harmonies, rocking songs, and creative use of violin is appealing. After the 1970s, Kansas’ popularity slowly declined, and the band hasn’t released new material since 2000. However, that changes with The Prelude Implicit, which is the first Kansas studio release to feature new members Ronnie Platt (lead vocals, keyboards), David Manion (keyboards), and Zak Rizvi (guitar).

Hear the album in full as you read:

The album opener, “With This Heart,” is a good choice for first single, as it includes a nice piano melody and showcases Ronnie Platt’s vocal range pretty well. The tone of his voice is slightly reminiscent of his predecessor Steve Walsh’s, which makes him a good replacement. A lot of the material is very vocal-oriented, but the middle section of the 8-minute track “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen” and the violin-driven instrumental closer “Section 60” put the focus on the instruments. My personal highlights on the album are the acoustic and melancholic ballad “Refugee,” the hard-hitting “Camouflage,” and the upbeat “Summer.” Unfortunately, most of the remaining tunes blend into each other and feel formulaic because of the similar radio-friendly mid-tempo rock vibe, making it a little difficult to remember which melody comes from which song. “Visibility Zero” and “Rhythm in the Spirit” in particular are like musical siblings with their hard rock riffing, and while “The Unsung Heroes” is more melodic in vein of “With this Heart”; it’s got a similar tempo to the aforementioned two songs, which makes the first half of the album rather samey and homogeneous. Things get more interesting in the latter half, but the shaky start hurts the album’s pacing and it never completely recovers from it.

Due to the modern production, which includes the occasional use of electronic drum loops, and the absence of both Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren, who used to be the band’s main songwriters back in the day, it’s hard to compare The Prelude Implicit to the classic Kansas stuff. You can definitely hear some of the band’s original spirit in the music, and the musicianship, performances, and production are all rock solid, but the most crucial aspect of all – the material – is rather sterile and lukewarm at times. A few more energetic and up-tempo tunes would give the album balance and shake off the feeling that the band is holding back and playing it safe. To be fair, the remaining founding members, Rich Williams (lead guitar) and Phil Ehart (drums) aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore, and very few artists – Rush being the only exception I can think of – release remarkable material over 40 years into their careers, but I’m sure that musicians of this caliber are capable of more adventurous and exciting music, especially when there are clear glimpses of it on this album. Who knows, maybe The Prelude Implicit works better for the longtime Kansas listeners who have been around to experience all the different phases of the band’s career, and perhaps they’ll see it as a great comeback and return to form?

Rating: 6/10, 3 stars

1. With this Heart
2. Visibility Zero
3. The Unsung Heroes
4. Rhythm in the Spirit
5. Refugee
6. The Voyage of Eight Eighteen
7. Camouflage
8. Summer
9. Crowded Isolation
10. Section 60

Text: Ville Karttunen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

EDGE:NORDIC @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 09-10.09.2016


Edge Nordic at Nosturi, 2016.
Photos by Eliza Rask & Janne Puronen. Photos by Miia Collander to be added later.
Festival review HERE!
Backstage photos HERE!

(2016) Psychework: The Dragon’s Year


Artist: Psychework
Album: The Dragon’s Year
Released: 02.09.2016
Label: Ranka Kustannus


There has been a lot of excitement buzzing around about the new Psychework album, because it marks the official comeback of the much-beloved Antony Parviainen [ex-Machine Men, Raskasta Joulua], as well as J-V Hintikka [ex-Machine Men, Red Eleven]. I can’t say I’ve ever really listened to Machine Men, nor was I overly excited about Psychework based on the snippets and singles, but I nevertheless was curious to see what sort of album Parviainen’s experiences and inspirations would produce, particularly after hearing how much Lene enjoyed their debut live performance. September 2nd, 2016, marked the digital release, with the physical album out on September 9th, 2016.

Listen along here:


To be perfectly honest, while I enjoy this sort of music well enough, it’s not something I would consider to be ‘my style’ of metal. However, on turning this album on, I was immediately surprised. “Hand on Heart” is a really good starter song and it seems illness has not stripped Parviainen of his ability to sing. It feels like classic heavy metal with a bit of a symphonic, perhaps even neoclassical twist, nicely mixing a bit of a heavy march with some proper melodies. With some church organ sounds and a nice solo, the song proves that Parviainen did indeed try to create some dramatic arcs in the music from the get-go.

“Bullet with My Name” was the second familiar song, as I believe it was the other track that was released early on as a teaser. While I find perhaps the vocal line to be a bit duller than its predecessor, the song makes up for it with its strong symphonics, perfect singalong part, and powerful dynamics otherwise. “Tide”, the shortest song on the album at just under 4 minutes, brings the energy up to a new level with its fun guitar solo intro and super catchy vocal lines. Every time I hear the song, I wonder if it’s some sort of nod to Tuomas Holopainen or Nightwish in general – ‘dark passion play’ is a rather specific phrase that is also the name of a Nightwish album. I’d be curious to know why Parviainen used it in particular. In all honesty, I find it a little distracting because of that. Apart from this, it’s a quite energetic song, showing a lower level of depth to Parviainen’s vocals and a lot of really delightful input from the keys and some more classic heavy metal guitar sound, such as the solo.

“Keep the Flame” feels somehow less like a song to me and more like I’m being sung a story. It’s got darkness in the beginning, but as the song’s dramatic arc continues, it reaches a hopeful, light point, somewhat akin to that feeling in certain movies where someone ascends to heaven. It doesn’t forget that it is a metal song though, and continues onward with a guitar solo. “Barricades Won’t Fall” is a textbook ballad with its lovely keyboard melodies and the wonderful inclusion of violin to accompany said keyboards. Parviainen’s voice is almost a tad harsh against the gentle instruments and maybe should’ve been turned down just a touch. However, when the full band kicks in, that’s where this song really begins to soar. There is a hint of ominousness in this song which creates several layers that leave you with a song that you’ll hear in different ways every time you listen to it. It closes again with the beautiful harmonizing between the piano and violin, and I have to say that this is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Drums, drums in the deep! “Vale of Tears” is up next and feels particularly heavy in its place following “Barricades Won’t Fall.” Parviainen has often been compared to Bruce Dickinson [Iron Maiden], but it wasn’t until I heard this album that I really noticed it, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you certainly will in this track. I can hear many eras of Dickinson’s voice in Parviainen’s sound, though he’s far from a straight-up rip-off. He just has that same sort of sound and style. I’d go so far as to say that Parviainen is a bit more… nasal, perhaps? There is something that is clearly different between the two vocalists that I can’t place. However, what’s really interesting about this is that both of them have developed a bit of a strained sound in recent years that they didn’t have back in the day. This song has some of the catchiest riffs and best energy on the album.

The drama gets cranked up a notch when “Tear of the Phoenix” starts up. If you want a real stage-performance style song with some fierce dynamics, this is for you. Somehow songs like this seem to require strong keyboard melodies – have you ever heard a truly excellent epic song without keyboards? If so, I’d love to know what it is. We are also graced with a choir in this one, so we are getting drama in full force. And if you think of the songs individually with their dramatic arcs, you may find that the album itself seems to have one, with “Tear of the Phoenix” as the climax and “The Dragon’s Year” as the finale. The final track has a dark, beautiful keyboard intro and some of the heaviest double-kick on the album. Parviainen’s Dickinson-esque vocals truly show their power in this conclusion to the ‘story’ and the album leaves you with an overall satisfied feeling.


Overall opinions then. First off, if you were expecting this to be a revival of Machine Men, shame on you. If they were going to do what Machine Men did, they likely would have just called the band ‘Machine Men’ and continued where they left off. So if this is what you were hoping for, prepare to be disappointed.

Now, with that out of the way, I will confess that this album is pretty great. Strong salutes to Otto Närhi‘s [keyboards] presence throughout this album, as the keys added a lot to the otherwise classic heavy metal sound. As well, further props to Hintikka’s touch of classic metal that is ever-present in the guitar solos. Musically, this album is technically wonderful and beautifully constructed. You can feel how personal it is and the symphonics and dramatic arcs turn this into a unique and cleverly crafted piece. It isn’t without its flaws though, but my complaints are largely minor in nature (relating to lyrics or technicalities that come from being an English native), and are quite easily overlooked. I suspect that if you heard any of the teasers for this album and if you weren’t expecting Machine Men 2.0, you are going to be very satisfied with this as a whole.

I’ve had a very hard time scoring this, because I think it is a really good album, but it’s not my style. I’m going to give it 8/10, but if this style suits you, you might give it a higher score than that – even a potential full score; depends on your enthusiasm.


Track list:
1. Hand on Heart
2. Bullet with My Name
3. Tide
4. Keep the Flame
5. Barricades Won’t Fall
6. Vale of Tears
7. Tear of the Phoenix
8. The Dragon’s Year

2016.01.15 Psychework 35
Psychework @ Lutakko, 2016

Text: Amy Wiseman

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Olli “Saakeli” Suvanto (Kaunis Kuolematon, End of Aeon, Tomb of Finland), 2016


You may recall that a while ago we received a playlist from Sara Strömmer of End of Aeon. Their male vocalist, Olli Suvanto, or Saakeli by his stage moniker, happens to be part of not one, but two rising Finnish metal acts: Kaunis Kuolematon and Tomb of Finland. With a wide range of styles from Kaunis Kuolematon’s heavy doom riffs and End of Aeon’s more ethereal sound to Tomb of Finland’s blackened death metal, we’re excited to present the playlist of his life!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
The first song I can recall was probably a song by Deep Purple. I really don’t know the track’s name, but it had really cool organ solo. Later on, I’ve grown to hate every synth solo in existence except for that one. Solos are for guitars, period. Sorry!

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Oh, I remember when I discovered The Offspring. “The Meaning of Life” from the Ixnay on the Hombre really rocked, and KISS was something amazing as well. Not so long after that my cousin played some Emperor to me and the damage was done.

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Definitely something from Cradle of Filth. Could be “Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids” from Cruelty and the Beast album, or “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow.” Still gives me the chills.

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Emperor and Cradle of Filth share the position here. CoF was the main influence for me to start growling and/or composing music. I still get some weird vibes from that band! [Intense laughter] For now I’m focused on more atmospheric and heavier/electronic/classical music to get inspired. Swallow the Sun also may have kicked me towards the deep grave of doom where I stand with my bandmates.

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Every opening track on the Insomnium albums, and probably the entire Shadows of the Dying Sun by them. The new album by Kaunis Kuolematon, hopefully coming out later this year. Check our Facebook page for updates!

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Hmm. A hard question, because I cannot really see any point for music to be held in a higher or lower position, or maybe I really just don’t care. Maybe something I’ve made myself! Still, probably Anathema’s We’re Here Because We’re Here or U2.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. I remember it as if it was yesterday when I was in the TopTen section of the (now bankrupt) Anttila department store, and asked the clerk for some good church burning music [intense laughter], and he sold me that album. I was probably 6 years old!

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Let’s turn that hot beverage into cold one, shall we? This is something that gives a nice mental image of a guy swallowed by couch cushions and depression simultaneously: “Into the Black Light” by Ghost Brigade.

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Really depends on my mood and the recent discoveries. Usually I torture myself with some of my own weird riffs and curl up on the couch and try to suffocate on cushions.

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
This is something I’ve shared only with my close ones.


Saakeli is currently working on the sophomore Kaunis Kuolematon album. Be sure to check out the band’s Facebook page for updates and studio diary videos!

End of Aeon LIVE w/ Distress of Ruin:
16.9.2016 Blackpool, Järvenpää
24.9.2016 Semifinal, Helsinki

Check out Kaunis Kuolematon’s “En Ole Mitään”:

End of Aeon – Through Infant Eyes:

Tomb of Finland – The Autumn Rain (Lyric video):

EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL – Who is We Butter the Bread with Butter (WBTBWB)?


Edge Nordic festival is coming up this September and we wanted to introduce you to a few of the bands that will be playing in Helsinki and/or Bergen! Next up is We Butter the Bread with Butter from Germany!


1. First off, tell us a bit about yourselves?
We are We Butter the Bread with Butter: Germany’s most modern metalcore band since Tokio Hotel. Deep lyrics meet funny metal riffs compared with a serious stage design, performed by four dudes straight outta Berlin. Everything everyone has ever waited for.

2. For anyone who hasn’t heard your music before, can tell us a little bit about your sound?
Our sound is something between ABBA and Rammstein. German journalists insinuate that we are playing famous nursery rhymes, but if you ask me, I’ve never heard of any nursery rhymes called „Exorzist“ or „Zombiebitch“. But of course we aren’t that serious. Modern metalcore is all about fun. If we could change the world with our music someday, we definitely would!

3. Have you ever played in Finland before? If so, what’s your best/worst memory there? If not, is there anything you’re interested in or excited about in playing there?
Yes, we played Tuska Festival and been there on tour with Caliban. We’re glad to come back!

Our worst experience was that the door of our nightliner froze and we couldn’t close it so we had to drive with an opened door through the night and everyone got sick for the rest of the tour. On the other hand, we had great shows in Finland with a powerful crowd and amazing atmosphere. Awesome landscape and courteous people.

We love to visit other countries and learn about them. Maybe Finland could be some kind of role model for other countries. Except beer prices!

4. How familiar are you with the other bands at Edge Nordic? Will you be seeing any bands you’ve never seen before, and if so, who are you most excited to see?
We are good friends with Eskimo Callboy and played many shows with them. Khroma have been very often to Germany and we’re glad to meet them again. Some of the other bands are known by name but we’re always excited to see new bands in other countries. Especially where metal is accepted by most of the people (and reindeer ;-p)

5. What do you think of this style of festival, with two locations in two countries?
We have never played the same festival in two different countries but it sounds like fun. If it is the same like „Rock am Ring“ and „Rock im Park“ in Germany, it will be a lot of fun for all of us. Crowd, crew, and bands!

6. Do you have any words for potential viewers about the upcoming shows?
Prepare yourself for fun and some great breakdowns. Our singer won’t shave until the show, so maybe you’ll see only some flying hair on stage.

We’re ready when you are! Perkele 🙂


For details from Nosturi, click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Helsinki), click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Bergen), click HERE!
For tickets to the Helsinki event, click HERE!
For tickets to the Bergen event, click HERE!

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Robert Leksis (Volymian), 2016


Volymian, in case the name is new to you, formed in 2008, with the goal of performing “groovy, heavy rock music”  that would inspire good times, both at home and on stage! Its current incarnation released an album in the spring of 2016 via Maple Metal Records, and they also have three self-published EPs under their belt. This week’s playlist comes courtesy of their keyboardist, Robert Leksis!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
Probably some lullaby my mom used to sing to me but if we are talking about hit songs: Hanson – “MMMBop.” My sister was a huge Hanson fan and she always played these from a tape. Spice Girls – “Spice Up Your Life.” She also loved the Spice Girls (so did I)

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
I used to love these two songs when I was a kid: Fastball – “The Way” and Eiffel 65 – “Blue.” Nowadays it’s definitely Sonata Arctica – “White Pearl Black Oceans”

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Bullet For My Valentine – “Tears Don’t Fall”
In Flames – “Only for the Weak”
Linkin Park – “What I’ve Done”

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Gee… There are so many songs from Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, and COB that I could put here, but the best memories I get from these two: Children of Bodom – “Triple Corpse Hammerblow,” Stratovarius – “Eagleheart”

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Bring Me the Horizon – “Happy Song”

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive”

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
The first album I was really excited to own was Darude – Sandstorm. I got it as a Christmas present! I bought Children of Bodom – Hatebreeder because of the song “Downfall.” I used to listen to it repeatedly.

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

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Avenged Sevenfold – “Bat Country”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Avenged Sevenfold – “Fiction”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Lacrimosa”


Check out their debut album on Spotify!

Or have a look at the music video for “Line of Fire” over here:

AMORAL w/ HUMAVOID – On the Rocks, Helsinki, 01.09.2016 (English)


A lot has happened in the course of Helsinki-based Amoral’s career. Their first three albums, Wound Creations (2004), Decrowning (2005), and Reptile Ride (2007), were rock-solid melodic death metal efforts with hit songs from start to finish, and with Reptile Ride, the band ascended to the front row of younger domestic metal bands. A shift in the musical style granted a large international fan base for Amoral, but – maybe a bit needlessly in retrospect – infuriated their older fans. In the year 2014 the attenders of Amoral’s gig at Tuska experienced something astounding, when the singer of those first three records, Niko Kalliojärvi, joined the band on stage for the set’s final songs. Last year, the band announced that Kalliojärvi had returned to the band as a second vocalist as well as a third guitarist. Amoral’s seventh album, In Sequence, released last spring, nodded musically toward the old times, but in the end of July, the band surprisingly decided to call it quits next year.


Amoral will play their last show in the Tavastia club on the 5th of January, 2017, but before that, the band announced that they will perform a bunch of special ‘old school’ gigs, playing songs exclusively from the first three albums. I used to listen to those records a lot 10 years ago, so it was pretty much a necessity to attend the first gig of the tour at On the Rocks. I admit that, along with others inclined to the older stuff, I also lost interest in Amoral after their fourth record, Show Your Colors, so beforehand it was especially nice to hear that the band’s line-up for the tour wouldn’t include Kalliojärvi’s still-active successor, Ari Koivunen.

I arrived at On the Rocks about 30 minutes before the first band on the evening, Kalliojärvi’s other act, Humavoid. Weekday events in Rocks have been horribly quiet lately, so it was pleasant to notice that the venue was already nicely crowded. As a band, Humavoid wasn’t that familiar to me beforehand, but they snatched the Album of the Week mention in Imperiumi.net last December with their EP, Glass, and their performance managed to surprise me completely with its variance and maturity. The band’s material could best be described as heavily djent-inclined modern metal, utilizing polyrhythmics, at times heavily dissonant piano melodies, and the contrasts of keyboardist-vocalist Suvimarja Halmetoja’s clean and guitarist-vocalist Kalliojärvi’s harsh vocals. Performance-wise, the bassist, Jan From, played his parts on his own corner of the stage, whereas Halmetoja and Kalliojärvi had considerable problems on staying on the stage at all; Kalliojärvi’s mic stand was in danger of falling to the audience numerous times as he moshed away and Halmetoja was so over the place that he collided with Kalliojärvi more than once. To explain, Halmetoja played a keytar instead of a traditional keyboard. Never have I seen that monstrosity of an instrument actually being an integral part of a live performance before – big ups!

Humavoid just released a video single, “Coma Horizon,” and judging from the shouts from the audience, quite a few attenders had already checked the video out. The band even wrapped the show with an immensely personalized Devin Townsend cover! All-in-all, the show was a really energetic and promising showcasing of Humavoid’s skills as players as well as composers, and the band had a decently-sized audience from start to finish. Even if their genre is not exactly your cup of tea, you should go check out Humavoid live – Niko Kalliojärvi is hilarious in his interval speeches!

Check out Humavoid’s latest single, ”Coma Horizon”:

Next up: the main monkey business. After a 15-minute load-out-and-in intermission, Amoral took the stage as a five-piece, welcomed with their usual intro tape. The band started off with “Nervasion” from Reptile Ride, and the next hour and a half was sheer melodeath awesomeness. Party like it’s 2007! It was as if the last 9 years hadn’t happened at all! Continuing on, the band delivered “Drug of Choice” from Decrowning and the Reptile Ride hit, “Mute,” with zero effort, even if surely none of these three songs have been played live in recent years. Kalliojärvi was visibly stoked at having the chance to perform the songs again after such a long time, while guitarist and primus motor, Ben Varon, and bassist, Pekka Johansson, both performed like real showmen. The (sort of) most recent member in the band, second guitarist, Masi Hukari, nailed his predecessor, Silver Ots’, solos nicely, even varying them at times. However, the biggest virtuoso in Amoral is still the man behind the drum kit; Finland’s own Gene Hoglan: Juhana Karlsson, who was as precise and hard-hitting as ever.

Amoral’s setlist was a brilliant mix of self-explanatory tracks and surprises, and as always when attending a show by one of your old favorite bands, it was way too short. For the first half of the set, the band visited their debut, Wound Creations, with “Distract” and “Other Flesh,” and they even played “Metamorphosis,” a song from their first demo and later on the Japanese version of the debut. The sophomore album, Decrowning, was the most-featured album with a total of five tracks: in addition to “Drug of Choice,” the set included “Lacrimal Gland,” a song almost never played live according to the band, as well as “Denial 101,” the personal favorite of yours truly, “Showdown,” and the closer song, “Bleeder.” Reptile Ride’s “Snake Skin Saddle” and the opener “Leave Your Dead Behind” were played, the latter also being the obvious final song on the set. The album’s instrumental track, “Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Fun,” was used as the outro tape.

Sadly, there were no encores; as an old fan of Amoral I would have loved to hear debut album tracks like “Silent Renewal,” “The Last Round,” or even “Nothing Daunted.” I also had kind of anticipated beforehand that Decrowning’s title track would have been in the set, and “Tiebreaker” would have been an awesome addition as well, but none of this really matters because “Other Flesh” was included; I once went to see Amoral in Kouvola’s Rytmi-Katti in 2007, where the song had to be left out because the substituting bassist, Erkki Silvennoinen, wasn’t familiar with the song…

As the night drew to a close and it was time to go home, I was conflicted for a reason. The show was awesome, and I don’t remember seeing the same kind of ecstasy – on stage as well as in the audience – at any Rocks gig in a long time, but it’s a total bummer that this show was something probably none of us can experience again. I don’t believe that the guys in the band feel any less bewildered: Kalliojärvi returning to Amoral was definitely a shot in the arm for the band, but apparently the timetables of the members of a six-piece band overlapped constantly, preventing Amoral from going full speed ahead. Still, I can’t help thinking that the promising new rise ended before it even got the chance.

Nevertheless, the decision has been made and at this point I would like to thank Amoral for producing three astounding melodic death metal records over the course of 2004-2007, as well as giving me the opportunity to, at least for a little while, feel 18 years old once again. I don’t think I can pass up on the farewell show in Tavastia next January!


Setlist (non-exact order):
1. Nervasion
2. Drug of Choice
3. Mute
4. Distract
5. Metamorphosis
6. Lacrimal Gland
7. Other Flesh
8. Snake Skin Saddle
9. Denial 101
10. Showdown
11. Bleeder
12. Leave Your Dead Behind
Apocalyptic Sci-fi Fun (outro)

Text: Atte Valtonen | Ed: Amy Wiseman

AMORAL w/ HUMAVOID – On the Rocks, Helsinki, 01.09.2016 (suomeksi)


Helsinkiläisbändi Amoralin uralle on mahtunut juonenkäännettä juonenkäänteen perään. Amoralin ensimmäiset kolme levyä, Wound Creations (2004), Decrowning (2005) sekä Reptile Ride (2007) olivat väkivahvoja modernin death metalin kittikimaroita, ja Reptile Ride nostikin yhtyeen nuoren polven kotimaisten metalliorkesterien kärkikastiin. Musiikkityylin vaihtaminen kolmannen levyn jälkeen nosti yhtyeen tunnettuuden uudelle tasolle kansainvälisesti, mutta raivostutti – jälkeenpäin ehkä hieman tarpeettomasti – vanhat fanit. Vuonna 2014 bändin Tuskan-keikalla koettiin hienoja hetkiä, kun Amoralin nousukiitoaikojen vokalisti Niko Kalliojärvi nousi keikan lopussa lavalle viimeisten kappaleiden ajaksi. Viime vuonna Kalliojärven kerrottiin liittyneen takaisin bändiin toiseksi vokalistiksi ja kolmoskitaristiksi. Keväällä julkaistun seitsemännen levyn, In Sequencen, materiaali tuntui olevan taas kallellaan hieman enemmän alkuaikojen suuntaan, mutta heinäkuun lopussa Amoral ilmoitti yllättäen lopettavansa toimintansa ensi vuonna.


Amoral soittaa viimeisen keikkansa Tavastialla 5. tammikuuta 2017, mutta ennen sitä bändi ilmoitti soittavansa kourallisen ”vanhaa paskaa” –keikkoja, joilla tarjoillaan materiaalia kolmelta ensimmäiseltä levyltä. Amoralin kolme ekaa olivat allekirjoittaneella kovassa kulutuksessa kymmenisen vuotta sitten, joten keikkasarjan ensimmäiselle etapille On the Rocksissa oli pakko päästä paikalle. Myönnän muiden vanhan materiaalin ystävien tapaan kadottaneeni mielenkiinnon yhtyeen tekemisiin neloslevy Show Your Colorsin jälkeen, joten erityisesti ennakkoon ilahdutti tieto keikkakokoonpanon koostuvan Reptile Ride –aikaisesta Amoralista ilman Show Your Colorsilla mukaan hypännyttä Ari Koivusta.

Saavuin paikalle puolisen tuntia ennen illan lämmittelyaktia, Kalliojärven toista kokoonpanoa, Humavoidia. Jo hetkisen aikaa Rocksin arkikeikat ovat olleet kammottavan hiljaisia, mutta tällä kertaa oli mukava huomata, että jo puoli yhdeksältä paikalle oli saapunut mukavan kokoinen väkijoukko. Aiemmin vain nimenä tuttu Humavoid nappasi viime joulukuussa viikon levyn tittelin Imperiumissa Glass-EP:llään, ja Humavoidin 45-minuuttinen rykäisy yllättikin täysin monipuolisuudellaan ja kypsyydellään. Bändin materiaali on voimakkaasti djentiin kallellaan olevaa modernia metallia, jossa yhdistyvät polyrytmiikka, paikoitellen voimakkaastikin dissonoivat pianomelodiat sekä kiipparisti-vokalisti Suvimarja Halmetojan puhtaat sekä kitaristi-vokalisti Kalliojärven murisevat lauluäänet. Basisti Jan From soitti osuutensa omalla kulmallaan lavaa kohtuullisen rauhallisesti, toisin kuin Halmetoja ja Kalliojärvi, joilla kummallakin oli täysi työ pysyä lavan päällä; välillä Kalliojärven mikkiständi meinasi lentää yleisön sekaan miehen moshatessa, kun taas Halmetoja meinasi kaatua lavalla törmäillessään Kalliojärveen – hän nimittäin soitti synat keytarilla. En muista nähneeni keikkaa, jolla tuo soittimen irvikuvana yleisesti pidetty soitin olisi sopinut näin luontevasti lavalle. Pisteet!

Humavoid julkaisi 30.8 ”Coma Horizon” –nimisen singlen sekä musiikkivideon, ja yleisön huutelusta päätellen moni oli jo käynyt videon katsastamassakin. Setti rullasi mukavasti eteenpäin, ja vetivätpä loppuun vielä harvinaisen omankuuloisensa Devin Townsend -coverinkin! Kaiken kaikkiaan keikka oli Humavoidilta todella energinen ja lupaava näyttö yhtyeen soitto- ja varsinkin sävellystaidoista. Yhtye selkeästi kiinnosti yleisöäkin: jo keikan alkupuolella paikalle oli saapunut sankoin joukoin väkeä. Menkää ihmeessä katsomaan, jos ei muuten niin ainakin Kalliojärven hulvattomien välispiikkien vuoksi!

Katso Humavoidin uusin video ”Coma Horizon” tästä:

Ja sitten itse asiaan: vartin roudaustauon jälkeen viisimiehinen Amoral nousi lavalle tutun intronauhansa saattelemana. Reptile Ride –levyn kakkosraita ”Nervasion” pärähti käyntiin, ja seuraavat vajaat puolitoista tuntia olivat modernin melodödiksen juhlaa. Party like it’s 2007! Oli aivan kuin viimeistä vuotta ei olisi kulunut lainkaan – “Nervasionin” jälkeen soitetut ”Drug of Choice” Decrowningilta sekä Reptile Riden hitti ”Mute” lähtivät bändiltä edelleen täysin vaivattomasti, vaikka kaikkien kolmen kappaleen edellisestä live-esityksestä oli varmuudella useampi vuosi aikaa. Kalliojärvi oli mikrofonin varressa silminnähden haltioissaan päästessään esittämään vanhoja biisejä pitkän tauon jälkeen, ja kitaristi/primus motor Ben Varon sekä basisti Pekka Johansson esiintyivät molemmat tottunein showmiehen elkein. Bändin tavallaan tuorein jäsen, kakkoskitaristi Masi Hukari otelautataiteili edeltäjänsä Silver Otsin soolot taidokkaasti ja paikoitellen hienosti varioiden, mutta bändin suurin virtuoosi istui edelleen rumpusetin takana; Suomen oma Gene Hoglan, Juhana Karlsson, tuskin tekee Kummelin Musacornerin progemuusikoiden tapaan elämässäänkään virheitä, musiikissa niitä ei ainakaan esiintynyt ensimmäistäkään.

Keikan settilista oli loistava sekoitus itsestäänselvää sekä todellisia yllätyksiä, sekä kuten aina suosikkibändien keikoilla, aivan liian lyhyt. Keikan alkupuolella käytiin kääntymässä ensimmäisellä levyllä, Wound Creationsilla, ”Distractin” sekä ”Other Fleshin” muodossa, joiden välissä käytiin jopa ensimmäisellä demolla asti, kun tuskin kovin montaa kertaa ikinä soitettu, debyyttilevyn Japani-painokselle bonukseksi päätynyt ”Metamorphosis” päästettiin ilmoille. Kakkoslevy Decrowning oli eniten edustettuna, kun ”Drug of Choicen” lisäksi settiin olivat päätyneet bändin omien sanojensa mukaan tuskin ikinä livenä soitettu ”Lacrimal Gland”, ”Denial 101”, allekirjoittaneen ehdoton suosikki ”Showdown” sekä lopetusraita ”Bleeder”. Reptile Rideltä soitettiin ”Nervasionin” ja ”Muten” lisäksi ”Snake Skin Saddle” sekä avausraita ”Leave Your Dead Behind”, johon keikka myös itseoikeutetusti loppui. Reptile Riden instrumentaali ”Apocalyptic Sci-fi Fun” pääsi mukaan outronauhana.

Encorea ei herunut, mikä oli totta kai harmi; vanhana fanina olisin totta kai halunnut kuulla ensimmäiseltä levyltä esimerkiksi ”Silent Renewalin”, ”The Last Roundin” tai jopa ”Nothing Dauntedin”. Jollain tavalla olisin odottanut myös Decrowningin nimiraidan olevan mukana, ja ”Tiebreaker” olisi myös ollut loistava lisä settiin. Millään tällä ei silti oikeastaan ole mitään merkitystä, sillä ”Other Flesh” kuitenkin oli mukana – kävin katsomassa Amoralia vuonna 2007 Kouvolan Rytmi-Katissa, jossa biisi jäi soittamatta, koska tuonaikaisen basistin Erkki Silvennoisen korvannut tuuraaja ei vielä osannut sitä..

Kotiinlähdön koittaessa fiilis oli syystäkin ristiriitainen. Keikka oli loistava, enkä muista hetkiseen nähneeni millään Rocksin keikalla samanlaista hurmosta lavalla ja yleisössä, mutta samaan aikaan harmittaa, ettei tätä todennäköisesti ole enää ikinä mahdollista kokea uudestaan. Amoralin jäsenillä tuskin on yhtään sen seesteisempää: Niko Kalliojärven paluu bändiin oli selkeä piristysruiske, mutta ilmeisesti kuusijäsenisen yhtyeen jäsenten aikataulut olivat jatkuvasti niin päällekkäiset, ettei eteenpäin oltaisi voitu mennä täydellä teholla. Silti en voi ajattelematta, että lupaavan oloinen uusi nousu tyssää lopettamisen vuoksi lähtötelineisiin.

Päätös on kuitenkin tehty, minkä vuoksi tässä vaiheessa kiitän Amoralia siitä, että vuosina 2004-2007 Suomessa tehtiin kolme niin törkeän kovaa melodeath-levyä, sekä siitä, että sain olla tänä iltana taas hetkisen aikaa 18-vuotias. Eiköhän me vielä nähdä Tavastialla ensi tammikuussa!

Amoralin setti (todennäköisesti ei ihan järjestyksessä):
1. Nervasion
2. Drug of Choice
3. Mute
4. Distract
5. Metamorphosis
6. Lacrimal Gland
7. Other Flesh
8. Snake Skin Saddle
9. Denial 101
10. Showdown
11. Bleeder
12. Leave Your Dead Behind
Apocalyptic Sci-fi Fun (outro)

Teksti: Atte Valtonen | Ed: Ville Karttunen



Edge Nordic festival is coming up this September and we wanted to introduce you to a few of the bands that will be playing in Helsinki and/or Bergen! Next up is Aether from Helsinki!


1. First off, tell us a bit about yourselves?
Put together in 2014. The name is Æther, written with the æ grapheme instead of an ‘a’ and an ‘e’. It is based on medieval science on light and gravity. It’s the ever-present field that connects all things, the non-physical force behind all physical phenomena.

2. For anyone who hasn’t heard your music before, can tell us a little bit about your sound?
Our sound is a smooth blend of polyrhythmics and Tarantino-style melody themes, modern meets noir so to speak.

3. Have you ever played in Finland before? If so, what’s your best/worst memory there? If not, is there anything you’re interested in or excited about in playing there?
No previous history playing in Finland with this band. We expect nothing.

4. How familiar are you with the other bands at Edge Nordic? Will you be seeing any bands you’ve never seen before, and if so, who are you most excited to see?
Not familiar with any of those bands, not particularly excited to see a certain band, although it will be interesting to see what kind of solutions other bands of the genre have incorporated in their sound.

5. What do you think of this style of festival, with two locations in two countries?
Things evolve, glad to see you on board!

6. Do you have any words for potential viewers about the upcoming shows?
Expect to see five uptight and awkward guys tuning their instruments… No, we aim for a combination of laid-back, melody-driven and partially rhythm-based groove with a smooth knit-together theme around it. Everything is still basically a rough diamond at this point, but as the band grows older, it’ll be a more solid performance with a clear, solid theme. But we’ve got nothing to prove, letting the music speak for itself.


For details from Nosturi, click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Helsinki), click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Bergen), click HERE!
For tickets to the Helsinki event, click HERE!
For tickets to the Bergen event, click HERE!

PSYCHEWORK – Antony Parviainen, Jyväskylä 2016


The early 2000s introduced a plethora of excellent metal acts to the whole of Finland, including Suolahti-based Machine Men, who served their Iron Maiden -esque heavy metal with Gothic appearances and a rocking attitude for over a decade. A few years after they called it quits, two of the Machine Men returned to the scene of the crime together – guitarist J-V Hintikka, who had kept himself busy with a number of bands, and singer Antony Parviainen, who’s toured with the Raskasta joulua ensemble for quite a few winters. Along with musicians from bands such as Swallow the Sun, Trauma Field, and Beyond the Dream, these Finnish metal veterans brought a new musical endeavor, Psychework, into daylight in November 2015. Bold, symphonic, dark, and ambitious from the first snippets of songs, we predicted that this was a band that would sweep the melodic metal audience off their feet, and the first show of the year only confirmed those hunches.

Now, over half a year since their first gig, at the peak of releasing their debut album, The Dragon’s Year, Psychework is still a well-kept secret for the most part, so naturally we wanted to know more. Lene L. met frontman Antony Parviainen on August 3rd, 2016, to talk about what’s waiting for us between the album covers, how the band was formed, and what the years have changed in being a musician – or have they?

More photos HERE!


It’s a bright and sunny early August day in Jyväskylä, when we meet with singer Antony Parviainen at Lutakko club, so we decide to sit outside the venue for the interview while the rest of the band is rehearsing inside their practice space. Politely, he apologizes for being a couple minutes late, and answers my questions thoughtfully.

2016.08.03 02 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)So, you guys have had a couple gigs now, a couple coming up, and an album coming out in the beginning of September. What feelings come immediately to mind when you think about all of this?
Feelings that come to mind… well, of course regarding the album release, this has been in the works for quite some time now. The album’s been ready for a pretty long time and the songs have been ready for quite a while, so it’s maybe not a new album for us, per se. We have most of the songs for the second album done already – or well, whether or not they’ll be on the second album, I don’t know about that, but quantity-wise there’s that much done. But we’re anticipating it – it’s going to be great to see people’s reactions, what are they expecting, are they expecting anything, what kinds of stuff they’re expecting, and… well, those two songs we’ve released don’t entirely express what the whole album’s going to be like in the end.

As you mentioned, this has been a long time in the making – how have you managed to keep everything a secret, so as not to let any extra snippets of songs or other information leak onto the internet, like videos from gigs and so?
Well we’ve had only two gigs so far, the first here at Lutakko in January and one festival gig last month. There’s been surprisingly few of those around the web, really. And if someone has filmed something, they’ve come to ask me if it’s okay to put that up, and I’ve said that it’s not, that you can upload this and this song if you want to. But it’s great that people have been asking permission first.

2016.08.03 03 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)I was there at your first show as well, and the reception from the audience there already was quite stunning, taking into account that you only had one song out at that time. Has the enthusiasm from people surprised you at any point?
Well yeah… Lutakko did surprise me and probably the whole band, when you don’t expect anything and you have done this for so damn long – this album and the songs, been practicing really long, there were hell of a lot of line-up changes – there were probably eight different bassists! And then we had to have a stand-in drummer for the first gig and that resulted in a hassle, like, “Oh hell no, now we have to start practicing these songs with a new drummer.” Those songs had been played for a light-year at the rehearsal space and from our own opinion they went quite okay, but then you had to start from zero again with a new guy. There have been some phases like this; the group’s been changing like socks, but it’s all right, the burn for doing things with the band is strong, so you do everything you can for it. And… right, to answer the question, yes, it did surprise me. I didn’t really expect anything special from it. My expectation was just that we could do it soundly from start to finish, and from my opinion – at least from band’s part – that expectation was fulfilled really well. But yeah, it was a nice surprise.

As you said, you’ve had quite a few line-up changes now already; how did you find all the pieces to this current puzzle?
Well, hmmm… like I mentioned earlier, there have been a lot of different guys we’ve had trying out for different instruments, and when it doesn’t quite work out, you have to look for a new one. And then when you come across a suitable one, they’ll stay in the band, showing with their actions that they’re worth keeping in the spot. So there, little by little, this current combination was found.

Some of you guys have other bands and projects besides Psychework – for instance, drummer Juuso Raatikainen plays in Swallow the Sun as well – so how do you divide time between them? Is Psychework the first priority?
For the rest of us it is. Of course it can’t be for Juuso; we’ve had two gigs and Swallow the Sun has had two thousand, so for his part, his priority is quite clear. But it’s worked so far and we’ll see how it’ll go in the future.


Building a sound for The Dragon’s Year

While we talk, Antony takes his time to answer, calm and reflective, with an additional friendly chuckle and smile now and then. It would be easy to think that he’s somewhat reserved, but at the same time he comes off frank and honest about how things were shaped, for both the first album and the band itself. He chooses his words carefully, but does not dodge shedding light on the very personal background for the lyrics on The Dragon’s Year.

2016.08.03 05 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)You’re responsible for the lyrics, but who has the main responsibility when it comes to composing? Does everyone contribute to the song-writing process?
For this album, the starting point for most songs was me writing the lyrics, or a text with a general idea, and then I did vocal melodies and strummed a melody with an acoustic guitar. Then I gave J-V [Hintikka, guitars] the draft I had grunted on my iPhone, which sounded extremely bad, but he managed to get the idea from there really well, and of course I explained what the song was about, that it needs this kind of feeling and so on. So J-V and I are responsible for all of the songs on the first album. Most of them were made like this, first with the text from me, but I think there are one or two songs that were started by J-V, based on riffs.

What kinds of things do you draw lyrical inspiration from?
On this first album they mainly deal with a kind of… dark phase in my life, one that took place a bit over 3 years ago. I had leukemia and it stems from there, that hospitalized life and how I’m struggling to return to the living. Most of it tells about that. It kind of just went like that. It wasn’t a plan that, ‘now I’ll write all my stories about this and then we’ll do an album,’ rather than that it was sort of… diary-like, trying to put that in to a lyrical form, whatever comes to mind.

What are the things that make a song a ‘Psychework’ song then? Is there anything like that yet?
Well, we’ve tried a bit to achieve a kind of theatricality there, that there’s a clear drama arc within the song, and some rumble, a good vocal melody, those kinds of things. Maybe… well, yeah, I guess it’s there. I can’t say it more precisely just yet. A little bit of theatricality and… color. Moods.

Are there some things – musically – you wouldn’t do, or directions you wouldn’t take?
I guess there’s a lot of directions [chuckles], but if we talk about heavy music style, rock style, leaving out all the rap and blues and that kind of stuff, and staying inside a more narrow area, I guess traditional 80’s style heavy rock is a thing we won’t go for. We probably wouldn’t start dishing out the sports news theme kind of synths and stuff like that.

2016.08.03 04 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)You mentioned the lyrical subjects, but does the album have a common thread musically?
We did strive for getting the drama arc for the whole album like that as well, in a way that at first it is more straightforward, showing a little bit in the beginning – in the first song – what kind of moods and themes there are going to be on this album, and it grows darker towards the end. There’s some quiet waters, a serene chapter in between, with some beautiful piano and cello tunes, and from there it gets more grim bit-by-bit, going very dark at the end.

What album, artist, or genre have you most recently gotten really excited about?
Like, really, properly excited? I’m quite omnivorous with music in that sense that if there’s a good melody, a good vocal melody, basically anything goes, but gotten really excited… Probably Kamelot and Evergrey, their latest albums.


“There’s always the same spark in it.”

It’s been roughly 20 years since Machine Men started out, so I was curious to hear how Antony views the changes that have happened since those days, both in making music and being a musician. In equal measures of passion, ambition, and fondness towards music, with a healthy dose of realism, he perks up while talking about what’s in it that makes him tick – it’s easy to see what an important part music plays in his life, something a lot of us can likely relate to.

2016.08.03 06 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)If we delve into the past a little bit, Machine Men has been buried for a few years now, and with them you had the chance to do your thing for over a decade at the time – how have things changed from the times you started out with Machine Men, generally in the music scene or for yourself?
Well, now we have loads of debt [laughs], day jobs, and so on, so it has changed quite fundamentally. Back then we still lived in mom’s and dad’s place, practiced every day; there wasn’t really anything else but the band, everything went by the band’s terms, the whole life, back then… it’s changed, of course, but not making music, the burning for it hasn’t remotely changed. But well… when you’re a younger lad and perhaps have more vigor and such, being more blue-eyed and a little dumber, even, things are quite different. At least inside your own head.

What about things with record companies and such – has working with them changed over the years?
Yeah, of course. The times are different – records aren’t selling as well, the record companies are having a hard time, and there’s a limit to everything. More difficult, that’s what it is.

Are there things that have stayed the same from those times as well?
It’s that burn for making music, and when you’re up there on stage, that feeling of succeeding there, something like that you don’t… the good feeling that you get on stage, that’s still the same, there’s no feeling like that anywhere else. You can’t get that from any other place. There’s always the same spark in it.

My next question would’ve been about what drives you forward as a musician, but that was already quite a good answer to that as well. Is there anything more to add?
Well yeah, the burn to make music and perform it, writing songs and writing stories, that’s the definite point and purpose of it all of course. And well, gigs are a big part of it, but naturally, in touring there are an awful lot of bad things too, ones that I don’t like at all, and for that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with music, but… that burn, that’s the thing, that and believing in yourself – that some day I will get something more.

Is there something that was left to achieve with Machine Men that you’d like to do with Psychework now, or are there things that you’d like to achieve as a musician in general?
Well for instance, creating more diverse songs, building those moods and drama arcs more, writing better stories, and those kinds of things. That’s what I’ve been trying to start to do with this new band. Of course there was a lot left to achieve, but we did do a lot of things, albums, and a lot of good gigs with Machine Men as well, but musically it is perhaps more important that I do my own thing with this new band now.

2016.08.03 07 Antony Parviainen (Psychework)What are you looking forward to with Psychework most, from the rest of the year after the album’s release?
What I look forward to is naturally a continuum, that there’s going to be another album, that we get a good drive going on there as a band, more gigs under our belt, and more confidence in that. That continuum fascinates me quite a lot – that is, to me this is not just a project like, ‘Let’s make this one album because I had things to say and see later what we’ll do’; this is certainly the main thing and we’ll do it with full force from the heart and the soul, like we did with Machine Men back in the day. This is only my second band in this lifetime, the second real band, and that’s why I haven’t bothered to set them up when there has been nothing more to give.

When you do something, you do it well, right?
Yeah, and one can do cover gigs in between, if there’s a hunger for gigs. But I like to set up these real bands only every 20 years, so maybe this is the last one then.


Text & photos: Lene L. | Ed: Amy Wiseman

EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL 2016: Timetable & Exclusive Photo Giveaway!


If you follow Musicalypse at all, you might have noticed that we’ve been pretty excited about the Edge Nordic mini-festival at Nosturi that’s coming up on September 9th-10th. If you’re thinking about going, we have a little something special for you!

A handful of Musicalypse’ photographers are going to be lurking around Nosturi on both days, taking photos of both the show and the crowd. We’ll be putting these photos on Facebook – if you find yourself in one of our crowd shots, tag yourself, like the photo and Musicalypse, and share the photo, and we’ll put your name in a draw to win a print of each band playing at the festival, or up to 12 of your favorite live shots from the show, plus the shot of you! We’ll even throw in a few choice shots from backstage as well.

As well, the timetable for the bands is now online – you can check it out above or have a look on the official website!

We hope to see you there, and remember – smile for the photographers!

– Musicalypse

More on Nosturi HERE!

Tuska crowd, 2016
Tuska crowd, 2016

AMORPHIS: AN EVENING WITH FRIENDS – Huvila-teltta (Helsingin Juhlaviikot), Helsinki, 27.08.2016


Amorphis has been pretty much dominating the Finnish live music scene this whole summer. As August drew to a close, Helsinki celebrated the annual multi-arts festival, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (Helsinki Party-Weeks), and on the 27th of August, Amorphis took over the Huvila-teltta stage once more to offer something completely new: two 1-hour sets, with the second featuring Under the Red Cloud in its entirety. What’s more, they had advertised Anneke van Giersbergen as a special guest for the event. Musicalypse showed up early to grab Anneke and Esa Holopainen for a quick interview and then stuck around to catch the sold-out gig itself.


2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (9)

Amy: We’ve seen no shortage of Amorphis this summer, but what made this festival special was the length and content – the first set promised some classic Amorphis with a bit of improvisation, while the second set was a complete play-through of Under the Red Cloud. For me, this was the main draw, while Ville was also excited to hear what the first set would have in store.

First of all, the venue. Huvila-teltta (Huvila-tent) is, to my knowledge, set up exclusively for the Juhlaviikot events, and it was great. There was an open space for the crowd to stand if they wanted to, and an auditorium-like set of ascending seats for those who didn’t want to stand. As well, at the back there was more room for people to stand up, in case the front was too crowded. Everyone could see the stage, and the sound quality was fantastic. This was the first time in ages I didn’t wear earplugs – it was loud to be sure, but not so loud that it gave me tinnitus afterwards, and the overall sound quality was incredibly smooth and well-balanced throughout the show. I’m not certain if this had anything to do with the tent or what, but it was a breath of fresh air.

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (7)Ville: The press release for the show had led me to believe the first set would be fully improvised – naïve, I know! – but “Enigma” was a good mood-setter and indication of what the first set would be like: familiar songs played with slightly different flavors and extra bits, courtesy of the guests. The biggest shocker of the night was already the second song, the title-track off Far from the Sun (2003), which was played for the first time in over 10 years. I never would’ve expected Amorphis to pull anything from that album out of the vault, given how unhappy the band members are with it. While FftS is easily the lowest point in Amorphis’ otherwise solid discography, the title-track is one of the few songs I like from that record, and it certainly gained new life with this performance.

The acoustic set continued with “Silent Waters,” which I didn’t recognize at first due to the more guitar-driven arrangement, and ended with “My Kantele,” which culminated in a great jouhikko [traditional Finnish bowed lyre] solo by Pekko Käppi. I’ve heard at least three different versions of “My Kantele” live, but never the fully acoustic one, so it was nice to finally experience it. These acoustic arrangements with extra instruments were so well done that it would’ve been pleasure to hear more of them, but I was just happy to hear any at all, as I’d missed out on the band’s concert hall tour 4 years earlier. Tomi Joutsen also admitted he doesn’t feel completely at home while performing unplugged, because it makes him feel naked.

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (4)While saxophonist/flutist Sakari Kukko left the stage and Tomi Koivusaari and Esa Holopainen switched to electric guitars, Niclas Etelävuori played a heavily effected bass intro, which led to “Silver Bride.” After that, Kukko came back and it was time for a double punch of my personal favorite Amorphis songs, when “Sampo” and “Alone” were performed. This was a magical moment, because I hadn’t heard either song live in a while, and both were extended with instrumental bits that allowed Käppi and particularly Kukko to shine. “The Wanderer” was up next, and while it’s not a bad song, it felt like an underwhelming pick after the streak of greatness that had preceded it, especially because it was performed without any guests. Joutsen even mistakenly introduced it as the first single off the latest album, though he admitted he wasn’t totally sure, blaming years of headbanging for destroying his brain cells. However, the first set was wrapped up perfectly when Anneke van Giersbergen was introduced to a rapturous applause, joining Joutsen for a gorgeous duet on “Her Alone.” Their voices melded well together and I wish the band would’ve played one more song with her, or at least had her join in on “The Wanderer” already.

Amy: I have nothing to add – that pretty much covered it! The first set took an hour and then the crowd was given the opportunity to step out and get some fresh air, visit the toilet, or grab a drink or some food for the next hour. Juhlaviikot had offered a variety of tickets, several of which had a small meal included. Meals could also be bought without a ticket as well. The food was fairly expensive compared to most festivals with a price tag of 12,50€, and though the food was certainly fancier than you’ll get at say, Maailma Kylässä -festivaali (World Village festival), it still felt overpriced for what you were getting – I’d have been okay with paying 10€ for the plate of food. Regardless, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to eat and drink something, as we still had another hour and some to go.

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (6)Ville: Meanwhile in the tent, Amorphis’ lyricist, Pekka Kainulainen, showed up on stage dressed up like a sort of shaman. Most of the audience seemed to be back already, though the actual music hadn’t continued yet, taking heed of Tomi Joutsen’s praise of Kainulainen’s poetry performance, which he said people wouldn’t want to miss out on. Kainulainen’s costume didn’t allow him to use a microphone, so his speech was pre-recorded. He read bits of his original Finnish poems, which the lyrics of Under the Red Cloud were based on – I recognized lines and verses from at least seven songs. It was cool to hear them recited in their original form by the man who wrote them, and the nature imagery on the screen was a beautiful companion.

Amy: And then it was time for Under the Red Cloud. As much as I enjoyed the first set, this was the set that really got me going. One small detail that’s worth mentioning immediately is that the had a different UtRC-themed image in the background for every song, many of which I saw on T-shirts in the crowd, though some of them were either new or just never-before-seen for myself.

The first three songs from UtRC are already familiar from their recent touring and plentiful summer shows, but “The Skull” was the first of several live debuts of the night. While still a good track, “The Skull” is not one of my favorites from the album and it’s quite understandable why it’s been left off the sets from the UtRC tour. However, in the context of the full album being played live, this track was now in exactly the right place and it was nice to get a chance to hear it at least this once.

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (5)Of course, it’s clear by now that I love “Death of a King” with a near-unreasonable fervency, but I also began to appreciate “Sacrifice” a lot more as a fun live song, as this was the first time this summer I’ve really let myself go and rocked out properly at an Amorphis show. While the song is more of a ‘radio hit’, it’s got a good groove to dance to and great energy in a live context. By the time we hit “Dark Path” and “Enemy at the Gate,” I began to really appreciate how diverse Tomi Joutsen’s growls are for the first time. Of course he sings wonderfully with his clean vocals, but he has both the Alexi Laiho -style screamy growls, the standard death metal growls, as well as the black metal growls, and made very efficient use of all of them throughout the second set.

“Tree of Ages” and “White Night” were both played for the first time this night, and unlike with “The Skull,” these were two songs that I thought could have easily been included in the set, had they been so inclined, with the latter left out for obvious reasons. Tomi Joutsen mentioned that they had asked Aleah Stanbridge, who did the female vocals on the album, to join them on stage for this song, and she had agreed, but “fate decided otherwise,” as unfortunately, she has since passed away. As such, the screen in the back showed the first image that was not related to the UtRC album art style, but rather an image of her face as the song was dedicated to her memory. I confess that I wished that van Giersbergen had sang her parts, as I think she would have done a beautiful job of that song, but I also understand that Stanbridge has passed away only very recently, and perhaps they felt it was inappropriate to ‘replace’ her, so to speak, so soon. Whatever the reason, or whoever’s reason it was to leave the song be and play the backing track, I respect it, even if I would’ve liked to hear van Giersbergen’s take on the song.

The show then ended with Joutsen bringing van Giersbergen back for one more song: “House of Sleep.” This was perhaps my favorite version of the song I’ve ever heard, perhaps simply because van Giersbergen’s voice added something so new and fresh to a classic. And not only that, but Käppi and Kukko also returned for this song, adding another aspect of novelty into the mix. For what they suggested to have been very little time practicing together, they did a very nice job of tying the whole thing together and creating something fun and novel for the event.

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (2)Ville: It’s no secret that I’m a fan of full album sets, and Under the Red Cloud was no exception in that regard. While I started to see some flaws in the previous two Amorphis albums after a year had passed since their release, UtRC still holds up extremely well, and hearing it performed front to back only strengthened the notion that it’s one of Amorphis’ greatest achievements. Songs like “Bad Blood” and “Death of a King” lifted the energy levels successfully just like at Pakkahuone and Monsters of Rock, and this time it was great to hear a venue full of people chanting “Death! Of! A king!” in one voice. The highlights, though, were the songs that I hadn’t heard live yet, especially “Dark Path,” during which Joutsen commanded everyone to headbang, and “White Night,” which was a moving tribute to Aleah Stanbridge. “House of Sleep” ended the night on a high note, with all the guests on stage again. Van Giersbergen harmonized beautifully with Joutsen on the chorus, and we can only hope she’ll work with the band again in the future.


2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (8)Amy: Ultimately, this show proved to be the best Amorphis show I’ve seen all summer. Everything was fun and fresh, even if it might’ve been a bit sloppy at times. I couldn’t say how many times I’ve heard metal music with a saxophone, but it worked! My only complaint would be that van Giersbergen was only present for two songs. She’s such a talented vocalist, so I’m sure they could’ve snuck her into a few more songs (not just referring to “White Night”), but alas, we can’t always have everything we want. I’ve got a few shows on my list of nominees for ‘gig of the year’, and I think I’ll be adding this to the list for one reason: prior to this show, I didn’t really consider myself a ‘fan’ of Amorphis per say, in spite of loving UtRC and liking many other songs, as well as having seen them live about a million times and enjoying it every time. This show made me go back and listen through their earlier albums with new appreciation and afterwards, I can say with confidence that I consider myself a fan of Amorphis.

Ville: How many Finnish metal bands could perform with a jouhikko and wind instruments and make it work? Amorphis is arguably the only group in this country that can successfully juggle between metal festivals and culture events like this. The atmosphere in the tent was unbelievably warm and joyous, and you could tell everyone in there was a fan. The reception clearly pushed the band to give everything ithey had, and Joutsen was evidently thrilled by the audience’s reaction. I wish the bass volume would’ve been turned down just a notch, and the sound was a little chaotic at a few points due to there being so many instruments playing at the same time, but 99% of the time the guests truly enhanced the concert. Hopefully the experience of playing slightly extended versions of songs in the first half will inspire the band members to jam and improvise a little more during conventional shows as well, because they certainly are capable of it. I find it hard to believe Amorphis could ever top this show, but I’m sure the band still has a trick or two up its sleeve…


Setlist 1:
1. Enigma
2. Far from the Sun
3. Silent Waters
4. My Kantele
5. Silver Bride
6. Sampo
7. Alone
8. The Wanderer
9. Her Alone (ft. Anneke van Giersbergen)

Setlist 2:
1. Under the Red Cloud
2. The Four Wise Ones
3. Bad Blood
4. The Skull
5. Death of a King
6. Sacrifice
7. Dark Path
8. Enemy at the Gates
9. Tree of Ages
10. White Night

11. House of Sleep (ft. Anneke van Giersbergen)

2016.08.27 Amorphis @ Huvila-teltta, Helsingin Juhlaviikot (10)Text: Amy Wiseman, Ville Karttunen | Photos: Petri Anttila, kindly provided by Helsingin Juhlaviikot

ESA HOLOPAINEN & ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – Huvila-teltta (Helsingin Juhlaviikot), Helsinki, 27.08.2016


With all of Amorphisshows this summer, we felt rather ashamed that we hadn’t done a single interview with them… ever. So when the ‘An Evening with Friends’ show was announced with Anneke van Giersbergen as a guest, we thought it was only fitting that we try and catch them together! Here is our interview from the Helsingin Juhlaviikot (Helsinki Party-Weeks) festival, featuring Esa Holopainen and Anneke van Giersbergen!

More photos HERE!


2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (5)First of all, how did the acoustic gig from a couple of days ago go?
Anneke: Very good. Actually, because I was here just like… a week ago [laughs]. Only a couple of months [ago] and when Jouni [Markkanen] said we can do a gig before the big Amorphis gig, I said, “Well yeah, but I’ve just been here and who’s going to come over?” Then it was sold out in a few days. I was so happy. It was really nice. Really, really, really friendly crowds, as always. And I had Esa join me, so it was super special.

Was that gig originally meant to be just you, or was Esa planning to play with you the whole time?
Anneke: It was kind of my gig, but then we said… Because we are going to play together today.

Esa: Why not?

Anneke: Yeah! [laughs]

So where did the idea for this special Under the Red Cloud show come from?
Esa: It actually came from the cultural people in Helsinki. Lauri Porra, one of the guys who’s a musician himself, he’s working there… he asked if Amorphis would be interested to do some kind of production here, and then we just started to think about what kind of production. We wanted to play the new album as a whole and then think about doing another set with guests. That was then, when Anneke was in Helsinki last time playing the show in Semifinal.

Anneke: Actually, yeah!

Esa: Then we talked about if she’d be interested.

Anneke: And of course I said yes within one second.

Esa: That was great! And then Sakari [Kukko] who is playing flute and saxophone, we’ve been working with him on many albums and he’s been touring with us with some acoustic stuff. And Pekko Käppi, we didn’t know him before. Well, we knew that he plays the jouhikko [traditional Finnish bowed lyre]. It’s a traditional Finnish instrument and it sounds super cool. We definitely wanted to include him. And we didn’t have any idea how it would work for Amorphis’ music, but now that we heard him playing… actually for the first time yesterday.

Anneke: Really?

Esa: Yeah! It sounded really nice.

Anneke: It sounded like he’s done it all the time. It’s great.

Esa: He’s got a little bit of a different approach to that instrument. It’s electric and he runs it through distorted pedals and whatever, so it sounds a bit modern. Like us! [laughter] Not!

2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (21)Well, you’ve basically answered my next question right there. Now Anneke, we did an interview with you before your last show at Semifinal, and at that point you mentioned that you are a big fan of Under the Red Cloud. How did you guys end up deciding to collaborate for this particular show?
Anneke: The thing is, I’m not even singing a song off that album, but we just came together, like Esa said, when we were at the gig and I asked Esa to come over and see the show as a friend, and so we went to dinner and we met with Jouni, the manager, and then probably they came up with the idea to ask me.

Esa: Yep.

Anneke: And usually that’s how it goes. You meet up and you always see each other everywhere and spontaneous stuff happens.

Esa: Yeah, that’s how it happened. Somehow it felt like, “Hey, why not?”

So you’re not singing the Under the Red Cloud songs tonight?
Anneke: Nope. But I love the album. I play it all the time.

It was one of Musicalypse’s collective favorite album of 2015.
Esa: Wow, really?

2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (11)Absolutely! And what is your [Esa] opinion on the album now that it’s been out for nearly a year and you’ve been rehearsing the whole thing for this show?
Esa: I still think it’s a kind of fresh album, even though we’ve played a lot of shows with it and we’re still going to do quite a lot of shows. We don’t have any plans for the next album for a year now or something. The tour still, in a way, continues. Yeah, what can I say? I really love to play the songs live and now it’s really nice that we have a chance to play a couple songs that we haven’t played before at this show. So probably some of those tracks we’ll take for the setlist, but it’s great. Great fun! I guess every musician knows that you have your old classics, and when you do those it’s like, ‘yeaah’… but then it’s more fun when you play the new stuff and see that people enjoy it.

You guys have been playing so many shows this summer – have you been using them as an opportunity to practice for this show, or have you been sticking with a set Under the Red Cloud -tour setlist?
Esa: Yeah, no. Usually what we do is… well, we don’t rehearse that much. If we go on tour or festivals we do a couple different sets and we add a bit. Now we had to rehearse for this show, those tracks that we haven’t played before and some of the older tracks we haven’t played for a long time.

What are your expectations for the improvised part of the show? Is it scary at all, or exciting…?
Esa: I think it’s both. You have to have a structure that you follow, but I think it’s always good if you have a little danger in the air [laughs] and you don’t know what’s going to happen. And when you improvise something or improvising happens, when it’s very natural, it moves very naturally to another part, then it’s great. But there’s also danger. You can collapse the whole song by improvising too much. Or if the other guys are not following what you do all the way.

It’ll be interesting if nothing else!
Esa: Yeah.

2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (17)Does this collaboration between you open the doors for a potential official album collaboration in the future?
Esa: Of course. [laughter]

Anneke: Well, we played together and it went really well, and usually when something is going well and it feels good, you say, “Let’s do something real together.” Now it was also a little bit spontaneous, and then we WhatsApped, “Can you do this song? Okay, can you do that song?” and then we rehearsed for 3 milliseconds, and we did the two songs. But when that goes well, it calls for ‘let’s do something serious.’ But you never know when it’s going to happen because it’s always busy. But I’d love to. At least play live together.

Esa: Sure, yeah!

Anneke: Because that’s also relatively easy. “Are you in town?” “Yes.” “Okay, then we’ll join each other.”

Esa: Yeah, I think probably when we’ll start to do the next album, we will call you. [laughter] You never know.


2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (6)Now, Elegy is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but you guys are play a tour for the 10th anniversary of Eclipse instead. Was there any specific reason you picked Eclipse over Elegy?
Esa: Not really, no. We actually did Eclipse once in Savonlinna in the opera festival a couple years ago and it worked out really, really nicely. We thought about doing Elegy as well, but we might do that later. [laughs] But this time I think it felt right to do… we wanted to do Eclipse and include a few of the songs from Skyforger and Silent Waters that we haven’t played for a long time. To have a little bit more of a special set.

Have you seen much of an increase in your popularity in Europe – for example, in the number of people coming to shows – since you’ve toured with Nightwish?
Esa: I think it helps in some territories quite a lot, like I think we brought a few more people in the UK. Probably in the Germany area as well. I think overall it for sure was a good thing to do. It helps. But it’s hard to tell. I didn’t do a count. [laughs]

What was it like to open for Black Sabbath at Monsters of Rock?
Esa: That was great. It’s one of those little things you can be happy about when you retire someday. “Oh, I did that.”

Anneke: Tell your kids.

Esa: Yeah. It was a great experience. Of course, opening for bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica and Iron Maiden, it’s a task, because people usually go there to watch the main band. But it was great feedback and a great experience.

You guys have quite a list of classic metal bands that you’ve opened for now, which is pretty cool.
Esa: It’s a great personal thing to remember. I don’t know if it helps anything, but at least you can say, [goofy voice] “Hey, I opened for Black Sabbath!” [laughter] Pretty cool, huh?

Anneke: It’s pretty cool because you grow up with that stuff, you know?

Esa: That’s the thing probably. It’s more than just opening for the big names. Usually those guys are your personal heroes and the music that you grew up with.

Did you get to meet any of them backstage?
Esa: Sabbath guys, no. I met [James] Hetfield when we opened for Metallica. The Maiden guys we met briefly. Sabbath guys, no. They were too old. [laughter]


2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (26)For you, Anneke, are you and Kari Rueslåtten and Liv Kristine planning on doing any more shows together, or are The Sirens officially finished now?
Anneke: No, that project is all done now. We knew it was going to have a beginning and an end. We should’ve done the Nightwish festival [in Jämsä]. That should’ve been our last show together but that didn’t happen because of organizational reasons. But yeah, everybody’s going their own way. I myself, personally, feel that I have so many projects going on that it’s too much, and I’m working on an album and I want to commit myself totally to that, so everything else is now on the back-burner. So The Sirens are done. But I have great, great memories. I’m really fond of what we did.

What’s your favorite song off Transcendence?
Anneke: I’m not sure yet, because I just got the album and I downloaded it, because Devin sent it to me, and I didn’t hear everything properly yet. I played it a few times in the car and then you can’t really tell. Of course, I love, love, love everything he does, you know. There’s a few songs that I’m on that I’m really proud to be on, because they are really, really cool songs, but again he’s so melodic and he’s so honest and he’s so heavy at the same time. I love it. It’s a lot of good energy. So I’m over the moon and I’m going to sing a few of those songs at the festival… what’s it called… Prog Power USA! So I’m going to sing with Devin a couple of those for the first time. It’s going to be good!

Any chance you’ll be doing any shows on the Transcendence Tour?
Anneke: I don’t know. Maybe! Because he’s coming to Holland and it’s usually the same thing. “Are you in town?” Or not. Maybe I’ll just go watch. We never really make a big plan. Also, because I’m touring and doing everything. I’d love to do a tour with my band and Devin… I’ll sing for him whenever he wants. That would be smashing, really, to get our bands together.

I’m still waiting for the acoustic Anneke-Devin tour. That’s on my bucket list of things to see before I die.
Anneke: Yeah, me too! [laughter]

Well, thank you both so much for your time, and have a great show!
Esa: Thank you.

2016.08.27 Esa Holopainen & Anneke van Giersbergen @ Huvilateltta (24)Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Devin Townsend (Devin Townsend Project, Ocean Machine, Casualties of Cool), 2016


Devin Townsend is a man who needs no introduction. This Canadian heavy metal superhero has been around the block, singing with Steve Vai, setting new standards for heavy with Strapping Young Lad, taking progressive sounds to another level with Ocean Machine, imbuing country music with haunted sounds via Casualties of Cool, and teaching the world the importance of coffee with the help of Ziltoid the Omniscient! The Devin Townsend Project is releasing a new album, Transcendence, on September 2nd, so naturally we had to get a playlist from the man himself for the occasion! Here is the playlist of Devin Townsend’s life!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
I don’t know the name, but my mother had a steel music box that would play a classical piece. It was in a minor key and was haunting as it wound down…

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
“I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins… there were many before, but that’s the one that got my blood pumping first I think =)

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
“Run Runaway” by Slade. That song blew my mind as an early teen.

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
If I am being honest, either Motörhead or Judas Priest. I think Metallica may have been equally as influential, but that came a bit later

5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
“Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig)” by Parry Gripp

[Ed: we felt this required some explanation…]

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
I feel no guilt about my listening. Bring on the Eiffel 65 and Aqua!

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
The original motion picture soundtrack from Star Wars

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
“Exile” by Enya

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
“Backbone” by Gojira

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Happy Birthday!

2015.03.22 Dev gig JB (12)
DTP @ The Circus, 2015.03.22, image by Jana Blomqvist

EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL – Who is Eskimo Callboy?


Edge Nordic festival is coming up this September and we wanted to introduce you to a few of the bands that will be playing in Helsinki and/or Bergen! First up is Eskimo Callboy from Germany!


1. First off, tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hey, we’re Eskimo Callboy from Germany. We’re a group of six and we all live in a town called Castrop-Rauxel which is located in the western part of Germany. We started this band in 2010, and since then enjoy the fuck out of any minute on tour!

2. For anyone who hasn’t heard your music before, can tell us a little bit about your sound?
That’s pretty hard to say since we don’t set limits to our songwriting. There are a lot of hard parts including screams and breakdowns, but we also like singalong choruses with a lot of electronic elements. I think we’re somewhere in between Behemoth and Backstreet Boys.

3. Have you ever played in Finland before? If so, what’s your best/worst memory there? If not, is there anything you’re interested in or excited about in playing there?
No, we’ve never played in Finland before. But that’s the exact reason we’re so excited for this festival. We love to travel new countries and meet new people.

So we’ve had these Russian tours before, and we drank as many different vodka brands as possible. But we know the vodka game is strong in Finland, too. So, there’s some precious liquids to examine.

Also, we love saunas! There’s nothing better than relaxing in a sauna with your boys after a hard day on tour. Maybe we can make that happen in Finland, since they’re popular for their saunas.

4. How familiar are you with the other bands at Edge Nordic? Will you be seeing any bands you’ve never seen before, and if so, who are you most excited to see?
Of course, we know the guys in WBTBWB. They’re from Germany too and we also took them with us on one of our former tours. Great guys. And we also know the guys in Adept from several festivals we played together. To me, this sounds like we already have a good party squad for a festival.

But we’re always pleased to meet new bands in general. I personally would like to check out Lacuna Coil’s show [ed: in Bergen]. Not my exact type of music, but some bands you just have to see when you get the chance to. No excuse.

5. What do you think of this style of festival, with two locations in two countries?
I think this is a great idea. We’ve played some festivals before with a good diversified line up. And then it happened many times that people from other countries wrote us messages like, “What a cool festival, wish I could be there”… and now it’s possible. For at least two countries. A lot of people that love music and festivals are willing to travel and accept long journeys to see their favorite bands. And [Edge Nordic] just made it a bit more comfortable for them. Good work!

6. Do you have any words for potential viewers about the upcoming shows?
I’m pretty sure, the people will have a great time at this festival. We can’t wait to play our show. One of the last summer festivals for us this year, and I’m sure we’re gonna take this chance to have a great party on stage again. So come see us live, even if you’ve never heard about us before.


For details from Nosturi, click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Helsinki), click HERE!
For details on Facebook (Bergen), click HERE!
For tickets to the Helsinki event, click HERE!
For tickets to the Bergen event, click HERE!

PLAYLIST OF MY LIFE – Felipe Muñoz (Frosttide), 2016

Frosttide promo photo 2015

Melodic folk metal act Frosttide has been around since 2009. Known for sharing the stage with other Finnish folk/Viking legends like Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Turisas, and Wintersun, these guys are a worthy act if you’re into that Jari Mäenpää type of shred with that classic folk sound for which Finland is so well known. With two albums under their belt as of 2015, these guys are on our list of bands to keep an eye on. Here is the playlist of keyboardist Felipe Muñoz’ life!


1. The first song you remember hearing as a child
I would say Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” My father used to play The Wall on the radio while we were driving through the desert in northern Chile. The atmosphere of the song is amazing and has one of my favorite guitar solos in it. Brings back great memories.

2. The first song you can recall ever really and truly loving
Nightwish – “Ghost Love Score.” I did not listen much to the band in the early 2000s, but when I saw the performance of this song in the End of an Era DVD back in 2006, I became a fan. Since then Nightwish has been a huge influence musically. Love their work, especially that track!

3. A song that you loved as a teenager/reminds you of high school
Children of Bodom – “You’re Better Off Dead.” Actually, the whole Hate Crew Deathroll album! Good times!

4. The song or band that got you into metal music (or the current genre you play in)
Sonata Arctica’s “Fullmoon.” I already listened to Metallica, Megadeth, and Iron Maiden back in the days, but when my brother gave me the album Ecliptica in 2001, I was completely sold! I did not know that keyboards could have such a big role in a metal band! This song got me into Finnish metal, playing keyboards, wanting move to Finland and to be in a metal band.

Felipe Muñoz Frosttide Promo Picture5. The most recent song to get stuck in your head
Devin Townsend – “Failure.” Looking forward to the new album!

6. Your guilty pleasure song/band
Bon Jovi – their whole discography.

7. The first album you bought with your own money/the first album you were really excited to own
Sonata Arctica – Songs of Silence Live in Tokyo, 2001. Was so excited to hear a live album from them. So I got it when it was released. I practiced playing along to this album so many times (I still do) that I ended up learning the entire setlist!

8. A song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage
Symphony X – “Paradise Lost.” Although Strapping Young Lad – “Shitstorm” is also a great tune to relax and enjoy my afternoon tea =)

9. A song to blast at full volume while you’re on the road
Deep Purple – “Burn”

10. The song you’d most like to be played at your funeral
Sentenced – “End of the Road”


From left to right: Jovi, Pearl, Edge, Skye, Soren, Agnes (below), Sara (above)

When I spoke to Robert Stjärnström and the guys from Machinae Supremacy last year, I had asked if they’ve ever told the actual story behind Phantom Shadow before. They had, but only once, and not in writing. We agreed to release the story together as a special feature and have been working on it slowly and surely ever since.

Before now, Musicalypse has shared a fan theory about the story, an album review with story teasers, but at last, on the 2-year anniversary of Phantom Shadow, we now have the full story briefly summarized and ready to be read!


The story from Phantom Shadow was written back in the 2003-era by Robert Stjärnström and Daniel Öhrling (formerly Johansson), though the larger universe/setting was also created by Jonas Rörling (MaSu guitars). To be specific though, the story from Phantom Shadow was written before that larger universe was created and explored.


Before we introduce the story, here is the cast of Phantom Shadow, not all of whom appear on the album art.

Skye's cryochamber
Skye’s cryochamber

Ariana Skye: The main character. Skye underwent an experimental procedure by the Syndicate to make her extremely powerful, but lost part of her soul in the process and became a killing machine, too powerful and uncontrolled to be useful. At the start of the story, she awakens from a 10-year cryogenic sleep.
Soren Berg (aka the Bearded Man): An extremely intelligent, charismatic, and manipulative scientist; the head of a special projects unit at a Europol R&D facility that did some ventures into black ops, and Skye’s mentor.
Edge: If Skye was a prototype, Edge is the modern, perfected version. He is arrogant and believes he is working for the greater good. Unlike Skye’s raw, unhinged power, his is clean, focused, and contained.
Agnes: A small-scale investigator and activist that Skye has been sent to protect.
Jovi: A small-scale investigator and activist that Skye has been sent to protect.
Sara: One of three super-intelligent beings created and, due to their psychic powers, consequently forgotten by the Corporation (formerly the Syndicate). Sara appears to be about 9 years old and can invade the minds of others and alter their wishes, desires, and core beliefs.
Jake: One of three super-intelligent beings created and forgotten by the Corporation. Jake appears to be about 30 years old.
Ruben: One of three super-intelligent beings created and forgotten by the Corporation. Ruben appears to be about 80 years old.
Reyn: An underground street fighter and former activist.
Danika: Reyn’s younger sister.
Pearl: Pearl is part of the same R&D department as Soren, only from a separate line of research. She has been shadowing the heroes ever since Skye woke up, keeping an eye on them and reporting back to Soren. Though she does not have raw power like Skye or Edge, she is highly agile, seductive, and stealthy. She and Edge have a romance on the side, where they agree not to discuss their work since they are on opposite sides.
Phantoms: The technology used to create Skye and Edge was not without its kinks, nor was it used in moderation. Those who underwent the procedure were stripped of their humanity and made into fierce, feral killing machines, but with no capacity for control or reason – they are indiscriminate killing machines.


The soul is, albeit debatable even among the scholars of this universe, the thing that is being manipulated to evoke the powers that Skye, Edge, the Dominion, and even the Phantoms possess. The view of the scientists who perfected the method and the technology is that before they were able to create such perfect specimens as Edge, the process actually damaged the soul (the “life force” as was the agreed-upon name of the energy they manipulated). In the case of the Phantoms, the soul was more or less destroyed completely.


Sara, Jack, and Ruben were created by the same people who turned Skye into a super soldier. While the experiments on Skye gave her super physical powers, another division was experimenting on mental powers. A year before Phantom Shadow, they succeed in creating three very powerful individuals, the Dominion. They are all different but extremely powerful: Sara, a little girl, Jack, a young man, and Ruben, an elderly man. Together, they rule from a sealed-off part of the Citadel known as the Hall of Shadows, and their creators don’t even know they exist anymore; anyone who sees them or speaks to them forgets about it immediately afterward. The Corporation that formed from the Syndicate after their creation believes that they are controlling most of Europe, but they do not see the hand that guides their actions.


Before Phantom Shadow starts, Soren Berg was the head of a special projects unit at a Europol R&D facility that did some ventures into black ops, and found Skye as a part of an opposing force. Skye is a super-soldier and borderline sociopath and after capturing her, Sorren manages to gain her trust and loyalty with his manipulative charisma. He has never encountered a super-soldier like her before, which makes him curious about her origin in this “Syndicate.” Instead of keeping her in a lab, he puts her in the field, but she’s volatile, unpredictable, and just a bit too violent/murderous, getting lost in it and killing too much. Soren’s superiors, a committee of ministers, order the project to be shut down: “all assets terminated.” He puts her into cryosleep, and the story begins.


You know the backstory now, so let’s get into the songs themselves!

MaSu SE Skye Villain1. I Wasn’t Meant for the World I Left Behind
Ariana Skye was put to sleep by her mentor, Soren Berg. She put her trust in him, but wasn’t really certain if she’d ever wake up again.

2. The Villain of this Story
Skye wakes up alone in an abandoned factory after 10 years have passed, completely disoriented. Without Soren, she has “no cause,” and no idea why she is awake. “I kill, that’s all I know,” she thinks, as she now has no idea what to do… at first. She soon finds her clothes and a key, as well as a box with her name on it. Now she knows where to go: a safehouse in the same city located in a loft above an old fire station.

There she collects herself – showers, dyes her cryo-bleached white hair, watches the news, and catches up on the last 10 years that she’s missed. She soon finds a hidden weapons cache that was clearly left for her, as it was sealed with a code that she guesses on the first try. A trail of breadcrumbs seems to appear, but she soon notices someone at the door and she escapes via the balcony’s fire escape.

3. Perfect Dark
The two who have appeared at the loft, like Skye, don’t seem to be at home, looking around and investigating things, and like Skye, they had a key. Eventually they go to bed and Skye bides her time from across the street, looking on from outside. In the the middle of the night, SWAT-like special ops forces arrive and invade the fire station. Skye suspects that the young man and woman are important, so she annihilates the special forces in the excessively violent way that she does. Her purpose becomes clear to her: she is meant to look after these two – Jovi and Agnes. Soren brought them to the same place at the same time, and seeing how helpless they are compared to her, she knows that he must want her to look after them. As a guard, she is able to be herself (incredibly violent), but they see the carnage she caused and wonder who/what she is. She assures them that they are safe with her, because she is following orders (from Soren): “You have nothing to fear from me / I will never harm you / I will always do what He wants me to.” She says that she doesn’t need to come with them, but they have seen what she can do and would they prefer to go on alone and unprotected? They agree to let Skye join them.

After the events of “Perfect Dark,” Jovi, Agnes, and Skye head off to look for Soren at an underground Europol facility. When they arrive, they find that all of the personnel have been massacred, with Joanna’s body amongst them, and emerge to find themselves surrounded by enemies. Here, Edge makes his first appearance. In a blaze of gunfire, Skye clears a path and they escape in the ensuing chaos. They manage to bring one thing with them from the facility: an AI component of the system there, known only as Deity. Before they disconnected Deity to bring it with them, it reveals that what was once the Syndicate is now a huge corporation: legal and respectable on the surface, but corrupt in the core… and they have just been awarded a contract to manage the entirety of the privatized European police force. Not only is a crime syndicate now masquerading as a real corporation, but they’re managing the police force – they are everywhere and above the law.

Agnes and Jovi are revealed to be activists – small-time investigators who have followed leads trying to expose this corruption. Strange things have been happening, like politicians changing their minds on key issues overnight. They aren’t sure why Soren wants to protect them – they’re not even sure if they’ve ever met him. They don’t know where to go, so they decide to follow one of their freshest leads, which takes them to the home of one of the politicians outside the city.

In the autumnal forest outside that house, as they’re leaving, Skye stops in her tracks and tells Jovi and Agnes to keep going, and Edge appears behind her. Edge calls them terrorists, saying that Skye killed a bunch of cops and is one of Europe’s most wanted. Her reaction is akin to, “I’m famous, how keen!” and they trade hateful, spite-filled words until they both feel they’re done talking. They have a showdown with guns and fists, and Edge underestimates her as he doesn’t know what she is – he’s too cocky during their battle and can’t overcome her power and raw, murderous, conscienceless edge. Skye shoots him in the head and the bullet knocks him out. Thinking he is dead, she follows the others.

4. Europa
During the battle, Agnes and Jovi had run through the forest back to the car. After Skye’s battle with Edge, shit has just gotten real for them – people are starting to die right in front of their eyes. Not only were they almost gunned down by a fleet of cops in the city, but they were followed. It has become evident that that 1) they will be pursued relentlessly, and 2) their protector is capable of anything.

Back at the house, the politician’s daughter goes to look at Edge’s lifeless body. She has her phone, calling the emergency hotline as she approaches him. He gets up and, startling her, takes the phone from her just as it connects. “What’s your emergency?” the operator asks. “I need a ride.” Of note, he had gotten lucky. He may be a super-soldier, but a shot to the head could still have killed him.

5. Throne of Games
A moment of backstory: Agnes explains to Skye that they have been recruiting their group of activists via gaming networks.

6. Meanwhile (in the Hall of Shadows)
Sara returns to the Hall of Shadows (the Citadel’s closed off area that Sara, Jake, and Ruben occupy) and contemplates what is happening. She is used to knowing almost everything through her contact with other people’s minds… “If she beat him, she must surely be powerful. But why have we never seen her before?” Sara is smart though, and realizes that perhaps Skye isn’t a new player, but perhaps from before her time.

7. Phantom Battle
The protagonists investigate a number of strange, energy-related occurrences at a power plant. They are beginning to realize that the corporation is building something. Sara is intrigued by this new player (Skye) and has lured them into an ambush. As they exit the plant, they are greeted by five or so phantoms. They all run, but Skye knows what the phantoms are – she has seen them before; they are the failed version of what she is. She taunts them to draw their attention and instructs the others to run. The phantoms are equally as powerful as Skye, albeit without focus, and she knows that they have no chance of escaping, but maybe she can give the others enough time. However, something strange happens – the phantoms behave as though they are following a single will. Phantoms are essentially mindless beasts… “So, who is in control? / Who could ever wield such a weapon?”

Jovi and Agnes run for their lives as Skye battles with the phantoms. They run into the street and the corporation’s enforcers open fire on them. They are separated on opposite sides of a road with gunfire pinning them in place. Agnes cries out from fear but looks at Jovi… he shakes his head, mouthing “don’t,” but she runs for it anyways. She is immediately gunned down and taken away.

Meanwhile, Skye is beaten within an inch of her life, but is thrown through a brick wall down onto an underpass and lands in the back of a flat bed truck and is carried away, half dead.

8. Captured (Sara’s Theme)
Agnes wakes up and finds herself alone, with Sara.

9. Renegades
Some time later, Jovi and Skye have regrouped and, feeling distressed at the loss of Agnes, decide to go find a former ally who used to be an activist like them – a street fighter named Reyn. Naturally, they find him in an underground fighting ring in an abandoned construction site, just as he is emerging victorious from a match. The referee holds up the arm of the victor and Jovi nods to Skye, who produces a wry grin. The ref asks who among them is man enough to challenge the champion, and Skye jumps in from the second floor of the construction area. At first, Reyn looks at her with disbelief, but he can tell by the look in her eye that she’s dead serious, so he raises his fists and accepts the challenge from a serious opponent.

On the side of the ring, Reyn’s little sister, Danika, is very apprehensive and then she spots Jovi on the far side, obviously recognizing him. Skye wins the fight, naturally, but Reyn is surprisingly good and holds his own for a good duration, even though he’s only a regular person. As he lays on the ring floor trying to get up, Danika gets in the ring with this pissy little punk bitch look like she’s gonna break Skye’s knees, but then Jovi intervenes, “You don’t want that kind of hurt.” When Reyn sees Jovi, he’s confused, until he realizes Jovi’s with Skye. “You… ugh… who is this bitch?” After Jovi explains what Skye is, Reyn complains that the fight wasn’t fair. Skye counters that there is no such thing.

Jovi explains to Reyn and Danika that things have changed since they were part of the group – back then it was child’s play, but now people are dying. It’s no longer about glory and adventure, it’s serious. Reyn had always been a fighter, but he got tired of the cause and taking everything so seriously, so he took off. But Agnes always meant a lot to him, so when he finds out that she was lost and no one has been able to recover her or her body, that settles it for him. He wants back in, and demands they do whatever it takes to find Agnes.

10. Beyond Good and Evil
This piece is told at the same time by Skye and Reyn. While Skye’s version is more literal – “I have been asleep for so long” – Reyn’s talks about how he had ignored what was going on and quit the cause. Both of them are top-notch fighters that don’t need weapons to dominate, brought back by former allies – Jovi for Reyn and Soren for Skye – and both of them have found some resolution to fight, some desire for meaning in their lives. They will show the world what they are made of!

11. The Second One
There aren’t too many secrets here; it’s rather straightforward, taking place after Reyn’s recruitment. Skye thrives on murder, but if she’s going to fight, she might as well fight for a worthwhile cause. She’s done with being a tool and has chosen a side for herself, and she’ll certainly get the blood she needs to satisfy her urges.

The main thing of note in this song is that Soren Berg finally makes his appearance. The last bit, “And now that you are here with me again / Where do we go? / I failed you, I lost one of them / I’m so so sorry / But you left me all alone…” is her talking to Soren, being sorry for failing him, but also being unhappy that she woke up alone and without him. This is the first seed of discontent in Skye and Soren’s relationship.

12. Redemption Was Never Really My Thing
This is, of course, the conversation between Skye and Soren.

13. The Bigger They Are (the Harder They Fall)
Soren has joined the story now for two reasons. The first is that he knows where Agnes is, and the second (which he does not share with the group) is that he knows how to defeat the Dominion. The group travels to the facility to rescue Agnes, unsure if she was even still alive, and then they see her… but no, she’s been altered: “They have turned you into what I [Skye] used to be / (No,) more a Phantom than the old me, really / And you have come to fight with me? / I wish this would not be / I wish it wasn’t up to me to end you…” It is telling about Skye’s personality and conscience that she is still willing to fight Agnes in that condition. However, she doesn’t get the chance, as Soren immediately shoots Agnes in the head.

Jovi runs to Agnes’ body in tears, and Skye looks at Soren. She realizes now that this was what Soren wanted to happen the whole time. Skye realizes the truth… Soren is no longer her wise mentor that she would do anything for. Soren’s men come in and recover Agnes’ body. Jovi is in a state of overwhelming distress and disbelief… maybe they’ll save her somehow? Some of them are obviously medics… and they take her away. Skye stands there, looking at Jovi. They’ve both lost something, but Skye’s loss was a different kind, something only she knows.

At the private hospital where they have taken Agnes, Skye and Jovi are told that Agnes is brain-dead and there is nothing that can be done. Soren tells them to prepare the interface and Deity (remember that AI they recovered between “Perfect Dark” and “Europa”?). Skye just stands there, staring at him, as though seeing something that hadn’t been there before.

At this point, Soren explains to the others about the Dominion, and that he has a way to defeat them. He explains their origins and powers, though he has never seen them himself, just traces and the effects of their influence. When he realized that mind control was involved, he decided to disappear with some of his best people to find a way to defeat them. They can’t be faced directly – they’ll always see you coming and be able to stop you. This is what is behind the curtain of the Corporation that owns Europe: an unseen, unbeatable, near-omnipotent, and powerful force. But he knows how to beat them – with an AI. An AI is not a mind, so thus, the Dominion has no power over it.

14. Versus
Now that they have Agnes’ body, super-soldierized and taken at the time of death, they will give Deity a body and put an end to the Dominion. As the song begins, we see Skye’s perspective on this whole thing. She will fight because the enemy needs to be defeated, but she no longer feels morally inferior to Soren. His manipulation, she feels, is far more poisonous than her own warped sense of morals. Jovi and Skye were the distraction, the target, while he schemed in secret. While Skye hasn’t got much in the sense of a conscience, her understanding of things is simple and straightforward. It’s brutal, but not devious.

Soren, on the other hand, is proud of her… part of his plan was to put her in a place where she doesn’t need him anymore and he succeeded. She found her own purpose and guiding light and “grew up” in a sense.

The chorus then refers to the final fight, the assault on the Citadel and the Hall of Shadows. Deity’s mission is to find and eliminate Jack, Sara, and Ruben, while the others clear her way by taking on the enforcers and everyone else in the Citadel. Naturally, there are phantoms waiting.

At this point, Pearl is with them, as she was Soren’s right-hand-man (so to speak), keeping an eye on the group while he was away. Jack shows up and kills Soren, but since Deity is with him, she is able to avenge him by taking out Jack. Next they run into the very not-dead Edge. Pearl tells Deity, Skye, and Jovi to keep going – she’ll stay behind and take care of him. Edge and Pearl say a few words to each other across a hall, leap toward each other with killing intent, and then the scene cuts back to the others.

Skye, Jovi, and Deity soon encounter another group of phantoms. Skye, once again, steps in and tells Jovi and Deity to go on, and she’ll take care of them. It’s a similar occurrence as seen in “Phantom Battle” – she does what she can but she’s losing. That’s when Edge reappears. He sees Skye fighting with the phantoms and he seems to know now which side is good and which side is not, though we don’t know the outcome of his battle with Pearl. They win, but…

15. Mortal Wound (Skye’s Requiem)
Skye is mortally wounded.

*Interlude – The God Machine*
At this point it’s worth mentioning what exactly the God Machine is – that thing they knew the corporation was building back in “Phantom Battle.” The story checks in from the perspective of the Dominion from time to time, and one thing they are working towards is a new type of modification device that will take their powers beyond what anyone could imagine. They would be indistinguishable from gods, though the machine would destroy the Citadel and more in the process.

Now, the God Machine is on, like a big portal surrounded by morbid looking machinerypower surges, pillars and wires, and steel frame supports. Jovi and Deity find Sara at the machine. Deity leaps at Sara, who proves to be surprisingly quick for a little girl. Sara avoids her strikes and runs into another room, and as Deity follows she is surrounded by phantoms. She is thrown through the room and breaks a load-bearing wall, causing the doorway between the God Machine’s chamber and that area to crumble and get blocked by rubble. Deity, Sara, and whatever fate they share, are gone. Jovi runs back to find Skye but finds her dead on the floor, surrounded by dead phantoms. Edge is nowhere to be seen. The building is shaking, cracking, and starting to fall apart. Jovi is out of options. He returns to the God Machine…

16. Hubnester Rising
The God Machine can’t be stopped or turned off, and there’s no way Jovi will make it out in time. He believes that all of his friends are dead, and there are probably still enemies behind him if he was to choose to run for it. However, the portal is there, calling out to him… it wants someone to fulfill the purpose of its creation. Jovi realizes that he wants to know what awaits beyond. The phantoms are coming into the room, no longer controlled, just fierce and feral, but somewhat cautious because of the quakes and bits of the building collapsing around them. Seeing himself surrounded by enemies just solidifies his resolution (“Gather all who remain here / This will be an epic display…”). Jovi steps into the God Machine.

And in the background, Ruben stands, looking onward, with just a hint of a smile. Throughout the story, he’s been the old mind, the person who cares about the past, history, and other things, while Sara only cared about the future and Jack rarely had anything to say, letting his actions speak for him. Sara, a child, has no real past, so she didn’t care about it. Ruben has nothing but the past, and didn’t envision much of a future before he gained his powers. He never really cared about the power or the things the group wanted, at least not in the same way Sara and Jack had. He was thrown in with them because of the situation; they were together because of what was done to them, and the power they all shared, and not for any other reason. When things turned and a different outcome was emerging, and with no companions to drive him forward or spark his curiosity, he realized that he was okay to let it all go. He didn’t have the will to go on. Now we see him simply standing amidst the chaos, letting Jovi take his place – he’s okay with it. He’s ready to let his story end here.

From an outside perspective, we see the Citadel crack and beams of light burst out from it, as if cutting it into millions of pieces. The building explodes in a concussion of light and sound. From below, on the street, Sara is looking up at it… she’s bloodied and beaten, but there she is. We close in on her eyes as debris falls from the sky.



Edge and Pearl” (Overworld, 2008)
As you may have figured out from the album art, Edge and Pearl have a romance going on, but they’re on opposite sides of the battle, with Edge being on the side of the corporation and Pearl being from Soren’s department. When they meet, it’s “only for tonight” – they agree not to talk about their work and just be with one another, but each secretly thinks that the other is a tool being used for evil. This song is largely inner monologue between the two characters, directed at one another.

“Nemesis” (Origin, 2002)
The connection between these two songs is largely musical in nature (like “Indiscriminate Murder is Counterproductive” and “The Second One”), but it also relates to Skye at the present time in the story, as well as Skye’s former self. The “single voice that vanished in the crowd” would be Skye before she had any powers. Now, murder and violence make her feel good and significant and powerful: “Be powerful, stand fast and proud.”

“Hubnester Inferno” (Fury, 2007)
This is a song about being so smart/knowing so much that all of the thoughts in your head won’t let you pretend that the world is okay. We’ve obviously referring to Jovi here, who has gained superhuman powers and intelligence, and it’s so powerful that he is ultimately overwhelmed. But… let’s not get into that, because this the prologue to the next story.

“Oki Kuma’s Adventure” (Redeemer, 2006)
Hubnester is referred to in this song, but “Oki Kuma’s Adventure” takes place about 1000 years after “Hubnester Rising” and this Hubnester is a ship named after Jovi. It does (in the Japanese part) reference Jovi’s later adventures, which is how the ship got its name. We won’t get into Oki Kuma though because that’s a story for another time and another album.

“Tempus Fugit” (Deus Ex Machina, 2004)
This song was originally written from the perspective of another unnamed character in the Phantom Shadow story, but the story as a whole ultimately changed since this song came out. So, while it is technically related, it is unspecified at the moment and may or may not get reworked into the universe.


The MaSu universe has a few more characters that we seem to be missing here. So who is Joanna?

Original draft of Skye & Joanna
Original draft of Skye & Joanna

We don’t really seem to know much about Joanna and she’s not on the album cover, but there have been some hints that suggest that she and Jovi knew each other. Since we now know that Joanna is dead by the beginning of Phantom Shadow, this means that she must have been around… before?

This whole story actually begins before Phantom Shadow starts, as you can tell from the backstory and prologue. This also explains why Soren was looking out for Jovi and Agnes. Soren and Joanna were the original characters in what I’ll just refer to as the prequel story. Joanna, Jovi, and Agnes broke into a warehouse that was under Soren’s control (the same warehouse that hosted Skye’s cryochamber). Soren erased Jovi and Agnes’ memories of this once they were captured, but soon realized that he was unable to do that with Joanna. She seemed to be immune to the process.

Joanna was a troubled teenager with a lot of skeletons in her closet, doomed to be unable to function in society but clearly with some unusual skills. Soren took her in and from that point started to keep an eye on Jovi and his friends as well, perhaps to keep them close or because they might be useful in the future…

Joanna proved to have singularly unique skills in terms of combat and perception. She was just an ordinary human of course, but fast, exact, and somehow it seemed as if her ghosts guided her in both combat and other tasks. For example, she might get bothered by something like a memory or hallucination that would cause her to act in a certain way, resulting in an inexplicable number of “coincidences” that helped her complete a mission or get out of a tough situation.

She was useless with firearms though, so as an experiment, Soren had her try out some melee weapons and a sword became one of her favorites. In a committee hearing with the Council of Ministers, he explained that this was no game. A stealth operative who doesn’t leave bullet casings or any hard evidence is a unique asset for certain operations. “Surely she must be outmatched by multiple foes with firearms,” they pressed, but Soren smiled and said that they don’t understand – if they could see how fast she was, and how precise her attacks were, they would not risk aiming a gun at her.

However, as you now know, Joanna is unfortunately killed in the attack on Soren’s facility that immediately precedes the awakening of Skye in the beginning of Phantom Shadow.

Haven’t I told you enough already? I think you’ll just have to wait and see…


All right, so at this point you’ve probably got some questions. What happened to Reyn and Danika? How did the Dominion take over? Why did Jovi and Agnes go to the safehouse and why were they attacked there?

There are a lot of unanswered questions, but remember – this was not the story, this was the story behind the album, not the story itself. If you really want to know the whole story… well, show your enthusiasm and interest and maybe, just maybe, someday it will become a real novel. Who knows?


Text: Amy Wiseman & Robert Stjärnström | Story & Images: Robert Stjärnström