At the end of November, one could experience somewhat of a spectacle in the attic of Korjaamo, as the British doom metal unit, 40 Watt Sun, arrived to Finland on November 26th, to celebrate the release of their sophomore album, Wider than the Sky, released only a couple of weeks ago. The frontman, Patrick Walker, is best known for his previous band, Warning, which produced two genre classics in the course of its 15-year career, The Strength to Dream (1999) and Watching From a Distance (2006), before disbanding in 2009. Since then, Walker has been making music under the 40 Watt Sun name, but hasn’t hurried with the release schedule, since the debut album, The Inside Room, was released 5 years ago, but good things come to those who wait: Wider than the Sky, released on vinyl through our own Svart Records, is an excellent doom metal record.
Lue suomeksi TÄÄLLÄ!
Gretel’s Moonlight Motel, hailing from Kouvola, had the honor to serve as the opening act for the evening. The band originally started out as the solo project of the frontlady, Gretel Kivioja, but has since grown to a five-piece and has been climbing up the ladder by playing shows with a variety of Finnish bands, even though they only have one digital EP, I Am the Night (listenable on Soundcloud). I only knew the band by name beforehand, but I really have to start eyeballing their progress from now on: Gretel’s Moonlight Motel played a hefty 45-minute set of garage-smelling rock with an impressive atmosphere. The band’s performance was somewhat static but confident; only the keyboardist, Niko, swung around constantly behind his vintage organ, while the stringed instrumentalists pretty much held their own spots on stage. The singer-guitarist Gretel herself was something one could have watched for a longer period of time; her dwelling performance and playing was delightful to witness.
As a venue, the attic was a bit harsh for the band, since the stage sound was delivered to the audience using only two speakers, making the sound a bit cluttered at times. The lights were kept to a minimum with no front spotlights, which was a nice move, creating an additional space between the band and the audience. By the middle of Gretel’s Moonlight Motel’s set, probably over a half of the venue’s capacity had filled up. If there’s not a physical release out by some Finnish independent label from these guys by the end of next year, there’s gotta be something wrong with the world.
After Gretel’s Moonlight Motel, a moderately long break of 45 minutes ensued, and it was nice to sip through a couple of beers in a slower pace than usual. At the beginning of the break, the venue was already almost at capacity; the gig might have been sold out from the door by the end of the evening. At 23:00 sharp, Patrick Walker, William Spong, and Christian Leitch, also from Warning, climbed on stage, the set was kicked off with “Beyond You”, the second track from the new album, and for the next hour to hour and a half, the atmosphere was as devout as in an advent service, as everyone in the audience stopped to listen to 40 Watt Sun’s draggingly slow but burstingly beautiful music, conveyed by Patrick Walker’s wailing voice.
Twenty minutes – that is ”Beyond You” and ”Another Room” – later, Walker wholeheartedly thanked the audience for showing up and started changing guitars from his electric to an electro-acoustic, but the change took a bit longer than expected, since the guitar’s 9V battery had apparently died and swollen inside the trunk, leading to a 5-minute struggle to replace the battery with a new one. Walker didn’t stress himself out, but instead said to the mic, “Trust me, this’ll be worth it!” in his delightful British accent. At any other metal show, someone from the audience would have been annoyed enough to start shouting something stupid at the stage, but tonight absolutely nobody was in a rush. Eventually, Walker and the tech guy got the situation sorted out, and the band got to start out the closing track off the new album, “Marazion.” After the following “A Thousand Miles” and “Craven Road”, the band went backstage, but returned to the audience’s thunderous applause to play two songs from the debut album, and “Carry Me Home” and “Restless” concluded the set marvelously.
In the end, 40 Watt Sun played ”only” seven tracks, but the set was well over an hour in length. As the band played, any sense of time was blurred completely. The atmosphere was incredibly intimate for the whole set, as the venue was full of – clearly – long-term fans and doom metal enthusiasts. Korjaamo’s attic was a perfect venue for the band’s performance, since the combination of guitar, bass, and drums doesn’t require a complicated mix; compared to Gretel’s Moonlight Motel, the stage volumes were probably a bit lower. Visually, the set was really barren – only static spotlights were used, and the looped video clips projected to the backdrop were monotonic, but added a lot of depth.
When painting, 40 Watt Sun only used the different shades of gray, but they did it with immense style, bringing a lot of color and light to the fall full of drizzle and darkness. A wonderful evening, all in all.
1. Beyond You
2. Another Room
4. A Thousand Miles
5. Craven Road
6. Carry Me Home