Valurauta 2018 is a student-organized event hosted by the Helsingin Tekniikan Opiskelijat (HKO Oy). The event took place on March 14th at The Circus in Helsinki, and featured three Finnish bands: Everfrost, a symphonic power metal band that are relatively new to the scene; Astralion, a melodic power metal band founded in 2011; and Edge of Haze, an indie metal band from Espoo.
You can listen to Everfrost’s setlist on Spotify here:
Right as I entered the venue, I noticed a lot of people in blue overalls, as engineering students are wont to do. This was first and foremost their party after all, though tickets were available to all. There was also a smattering of middle-aged people, perhaps there in order to see one of the bands. The event was hosted by a DJ – he spent the night in his booth playing Radio Rock playlists from a few years ago. He did successfully manage to prompt the crowd to move closer to the front row before the first act was announced. Also worth noting, was that the bar had special prices for the occasion – beer was only €4.50, which was a welcome change of pace.
Everfrost took the stage first at 21:30 and proudly started with “The Lonesome Prince” from their 2015 debut. Unfortunately, the sound was ridiculously lousy with low-end. I could make out the vocals and some of the sharper synth sounds but otherwise it was a total wash. It was too bad though, since the song itself was such an energetic and catchy opener. They were dressed in matching black shirts with blue collars, reminding me a bit of anime-style school uniforms that were tailored shortly prior to this event. The second song, “Appetite for Candlelight”, had the same sound problems as they went straight into it. By the third song, they had had enough time to fix it enough that it didn’t ruin the experience.
Before the new single, “Cold Night Remedy”, singer Mikael Salo wanted to give props to their lead guitarist, Markus Laito, as he had come from hospital that morning but came to rock with them anyway. That sounded cool regardless of the issue, and he did a great job of performing all things considered. After that came an intro, for which the band briefly left the stage. The song to follow was “Hemlock” and its follow-up, “Silver Nights, Golden Dreams”, which were some of the heaviest tracks from their set.
At this point, Salo said they’d decided to play a metal version of Ke$ha’s “Die Young.” They even did the cheesy move where they taught the audience to shout the two title lines from the chorus. It didn’t ring any bells for me but the crowd seemed to know it. Whatever it was, Salo’s hard rock swagger carried it. [ed: I was at the show as well; it took me a moment to realize that I remembered the song – I’m not a fan of Ke$ha but “Die Young” was the only song of hers that I had liked for a time, and I agree with the band – this song needed a good metal cover, and these guys delivered!]
They then introduced Sami Korpikoski [Blackment] to come in and sing the growls in “Clockwork Wilderness.” His mic was a bit quiet for the first few lines but once it came out clearer, he was a really strong. The female vocals in the chorus came from a backing track, however; there was a bit of sloppiness between the two live singers and the unforgiving machine. The performance nevertheless earned them an encore. They closed the show with “Three Tier Terror” and it was interesting to see how they fared on a big stage like this. They didn’t disappoint. They used every inch of it and chewed up half the scenery. I hope to see them continue to blossom.
Astralion’s intro (around 23:00ish) was a triumphant heavy metal promenade in the vein of Ides of March. As they came on stage, the lighting became a strobe mess. I’m not usually very critical of lighting choices but this one was so eclectic it hurt my eyes. They also had trouble with that excessive low-end. Otherwise it was clear that the band represented an old school, optimistic heavy metal sound.
The lead singer, Ian E. Highhill, had a distinctly Ian Gillan-esque delivery with just a smidge of Rob Halford and Michael Kiske. The bass player, Dr. K. Lundell, complimented his vocals in a lower register throughout the show. The lead singer loved to get a reaction from the audience, which he got by doing little Simon says-ish singalongs. They were cliché as hell, but they remained effective. No one had more fun than the two guitarists, Hank J. Newman and Manuel Martinez. They took every opportunity to come together and unleash some sweet harmonized shredding.
The third song, “Black Adder”, was introduced as a song about past love, which made me want to shift through the lyrics in search for references to the old British comedy of the same name. Following that was a song called “Be Careful What You Wish For.” It, as well as the next song, was a power metal anthem with quite a few great sections, as well as a good chorus. Following that was a song called “The Outlaw”, which was filled with blast-beats and some of the heaviest parts of the whole night. I got the impression that they’d designed the vocals to be about as high as the singer was capable of going. It was obviously difficult to live up to the recording, but he did a good job nonetheless.
The next song was “At the Edge of the World”, which the singer shepherded with a chant of “ole ole ole ole, Astralion, Astralion.” It was more cute and fun than anything, though did perhaps come across as a bit arrogant. The song itself had an 80s arena rock feel. The played-back synths brought Sammy Hagar to mind. This was then followed by “The Ghosts of Sahara”, which was a more modern heavy metal song with a desert feel. Following that was a song clearly designed to be a crowd favorite: “We All Made Metal.” It seemed to be another song that would be nearly impossible to sing live convincingly, but the man did an exceedingly professional job.
Next on stage would have been Edge of Haze, but sadly it was well past midnight on a Wednesday night and I had to turn in for the night. Students are generally more free to stay out that late, but unfortunately I do not count myself among them. For a night with three bands, the doors should have opened earlier than 21:00. The bands I did see, however, were very impressive. Everfrost I’d seen once before in a far smaller venue, but they really rose to the occasion. Astralion was obviously a more seasoned group. They showed intense prowess and I’ll be keeping an eye on them as well from here on out. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to catch Edge of Haze at a later date. These are definitely three bands to keep an eye on.
1. The Lonesome Prince
2. Appetite for Candlelight
3. The Glades and the Cradle
4. Cold Night Remedy
6. Silver Nights, Golden Dreams
7. Die Young (Ke$ha cover)
8. Clockwork Wilderness
9. Three Tier Terror