If you’ve heard of “the Backstreet Boys of Sweden,” you’re familiar with Dead by April. This pop metalcore band from next door last released an album in 2017 and now was the first chance in a long while to hear their music live in Finland. They played two shows over Easter weekend with special guests Blind Channel and further support from My Favorite Nemesis and Ember Falls, so we went to check them out at Nosturi on April 20th, 2019.
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You can find the setlist for all bands of the night (save My Favorite Nemesis) on Spotify:
We arrived at the venue at 20:45, just in time to drop off our coats and get upstairs for the start of Ember Falls’ set (unfortunately too late to catch any of MFN’s set). It’s been a tragically long time since these Tampere guys have played a show in Helsinki, but it seems they’ve been over to Copenhagen to record some new music, so we had high hopes for their set.
The band was perhaps a bit rough off the bat as they started out with “COE,” but quickly warmed up within the first or second track, and the crowd followed along willingly. Ember Falls are better known in Tampere, so it was nice to see that Nosturi had a nicely sized audience who were more than happy to put their hands up. They were a treat to watch, with comfortable style and a lot of energy. These guys have had low-energy nights in the past, but this was definitely not one of them. They all looked cool and comfortable on stage, and the playing was really tight throughout. Jay V’s guitar solos were metal as hell, and Ace’s drumming remains one of my favorite parts of their music. Really, they were all doing a great job – I can’t highlight one band member over another. It seems their live break has given them time to practice up and it’s showing. Notably missing from the stage, however, was Mikko McMenamin (keyboards), who I’m fairly certain I saw in the audience.
Along with classics like “Cost of Doing Business,” “Rising Tide,” and “The Lamb Lies Down in Sacrifice, we were given two new songs: “Heart Shaped Black Scar” and “Divine.” The former was very radio-friendly but also a bit HIM-like during the clean parts. Our party was evenly split on their opinion of this one. “Divine,” on the other hand, was universally approved for it’s nice melodies and heavy guitars.
I was really excited that “Falling Rain” hasn’t been left off the set, since it’s one of my favorites; and of course Ember Falls closed out the set with “Shut Down with Me.” The whole audience knew their famous single and everyone had their hands up for it. It’s nice to see that these guys have tightened up their live performances and their best hit is no longer the sloppiest song in their show. After hearing the new songs, I really can’t wait for some new releases from these guys! It’s bands like this that keep me interested in metal, the older and grumpier I get.
Ember Falls Setlist:
2. Rising Tide
3. One More Time
4. Heart Shaped Black Scar
6. The Cost of Doing Business
7. Falling Rain
8. The Lamb Lies Down in Sacrifice
9. Shut Down with Me
Blind Channel took over the stage at 21:45 – the last time we saw them would have been the album release gig for Blood Brothers in May 2018. As the stage changed over, I was immediately baffled and excited by the variety of the crowd. Along with the regulars – aka teenage girls and girls in their 20s – there were also what appeared to be Finnish frat boys/preppy guys who screamed out-of-tune at the top of their lungs throughout the show, rockers and their non-rocker girlfriends/boyfriends, a handful of people a fair bit older than BC’s target age group, and one older couple that I had to assume were the drunk parents of one of the band members due to the sheer enthusiasm. It was a shockingly diverse crowd and everyone was really into the music.
They opened up their show with “Enemy for Me” and then brought out the Blind Channel flag for “Alone Against All” – a nice youth anthem that has really grown on me since it came out. The bounced pretty evenly between their debut album and last year’s follow-up, and towards the end they included the newer single, “Timebomb.”
I have noticed that the Blood Brothers album didn’t include all of the singles that Blind Channel had released in between the two albums and I wondered if BC actually releases more radio-friendly, poppier singles just to keep the interest, the radio play, and the streams up. They did stick to more of their poppier songs during this show, though heavier classics like “Bullet (With Your Name on It)” and “Deja FU” couldn’t be left out.
One of my favorites of the night was “Giants,” which has such great theatrical sound and really had an awesome energy and got the crowd swaying. On the flipside of this, I found the crowd reaction to “I.D.F.U.” to be a bit lackluster. I’ve never really liked that song and I wondered if I’m not the only one who thinks they have better songs to include in their live set.
They closed out their main set with “Darker than Black,” and then did a quick encore of another newer single, “Over My Dead Body,” and finished up with “Wolfpack.” They’re still using “Backstreet’s Back” as their stage-exit outro, which is a bold move and I love it.
Once again, Blind Channel put on a solid show. They have reached a point where they have a lot of songs to pick from for their setlists, and it seems at this point they’re sticking with the current hits. I’m wondering, if they keep releasing music at this rate, if every show might have the potential to have new music, keeping fans (like us) coming back time and time again just to see what they’ll play next. I’m really pleased to see their steady increase in popularity and I can’t wait for the time to come for these guys to headline The Circus! Maybe the next album release show? Well either way, we plan to be there!
Blind Channel’s Setlist:
1. Enemy for Me
2. Alone Against All
3. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
4. Sharks Love Blood
5. Deja FU
6. My Heart is a Hurricane
10. Darker than Black
11. Over My Dead Body
Outro: Backstreet’s Back
The final band of the night was on stage right around 23:00. The openers and special guests had clearly gotten the crowd warmed up as the sold-out venue finally filled up to capacity. Unfortunately, unless you were a dedicated fan, you might have had a bit of trouble seeing the stage (or getting a drink, if that’s your thing). Navigating the crowd in a sold-out venue is never fun, and it seemed as though everyone who bought a ticket had shown up.
To be perfectly honest, I suspect that the DbA fans had a lot more fun during this show than I did. Compared to Ember Falls and Blind Channel, I found the stage performance of these guys to be rather mid-level energy-wise. I had also tried to familiarize myself with their music beforehand but hadn’t found it much to my taste. This was much the same during the live show. Where did the issue lie? Well, if you’re a metalcore band, too much polish and production doesn’t work in your favor; it needed some more grit and some more heavy elements. The songs were poppy, fun, and energetic, but also lacked any hooks to make me want to sing along. Take the song “Warrior” for example. I find that song completely unconvincing, as it lacks any real fierceness or warrior soul, so to speak. It leaves the impression of more of a pop band than a metalcore band.
That said, the audience certainly seemed to eat up what they were hearing, so if it didn’t work for me, I might’ve been in the minority of the night. The setlist seemed to almost evenly cover their full four-album discography, with surprisingly few songs overall from the newest album, which I suspect was a nice treat for longstanding fans.
On the whole, this was a really fun night, and if you wanted to hop out for a gig during your Easter weekend, this was the place to be! I remain a huge fan of Ember Falls and Blind Channel, and while I wasn’t convinced by Dead by April, it seemed that the rest of the audience was. If you’re a fan, I’d encourage you to go see any/all of the bands that played on this night.
Dead by April’s Setlist:
2. Angels of Clarity
3. Freeze Frame
5. Hold On
6. Two Faced
7. What Can I Say
10. Playing with Fire
11. Crying Over You
13. Losing You
Photos: Janne Puronen