Cornelia Wickel, Anna Grivas, Sandy Mahrer, Markus Seibel, Fabio Sgarlato
OOOPS we did it again - we managed to get the STALKER crew following the tracks of a high profile band package that set out to a „Forging Europe“ mission. Their tour-set off show in Helsinki was a big success, as you can find out here - also check the photo gallery here. So what would happen if different people in different countries check out the Finns Amorphis, Before The Dawn and Amoral? Who likes them, who doesn´t, where, and why?
Well, just read on and find out...
Seifenfabrik Graz, AUT, 18.10.2009
For the second time I attended a Metal concert at Seifenfabrik Graz, and although I find the location quite good, I worried about the sound, remembering the Paganfest desaster. But to say it right away, this time it was different.
Vojo-Concerts (www.vojo-concerts.com) managed to get the most powerful package in the genre of Melodic Metal to Graz, namely the Finns Folk/Death/Progressive Rockers AMOPRHIS on their „Forging Europe 2009“ Tour, plus as extra treat their kinsmen that are bound to become more famous in the future: AMORAL and Jack-of-all-trades Tuomas Saukkonen´s main band BEFORE THE DAWN.
More band photos here The openers AMORAL , twice I had the pleasure already, were off to a rough start, as expected. Most visitors were just arriving, the sound was still to be improved, and at the bar outside you could still smoke. Those reasons were tough competition in the beginning and at the end of the set of those likable Finns. Their new style mic of technical Death Metal, Powermetal and classical Heavy-Rock did not quite the trick to keep the audience interested. The whole set seems to incoherent, although the songs as such have high quality.
More band photos here Another picturen then with BEFORE THE DAWN . Positively surprised I have to say that the guys – who I have encountered first at TUSKA Festival 2008 – have already gathered quite a following in Austria, mainly females, so it seems. Therefore the otherwise rather shy Finns played their show in a very good mood and impressed the crowd. Their set, mainly from the last album „Soundscape Of Silence“, was very convincing also live, therefore the hall remained full. Powerful riffs, Tuomas mighty growls paired with the emotional clean voice of Basser Lars and a constantly grinning drummer added the special appeal to the Melodic Dark Metal of this quartet.
More bandphotos here After those reactions it might be good that those lads will be welcomed in Austria again soon – so let´s keep the fingers crossed.
The Headliner of this evening left nothing to be desired. AMORPHIS started their set with „Silver Bride“ from the new „Skyforger“ album and ended with the classic „My Kantele“.
More band photos here In between they played a show in superior style, consisting of the most recent material but also containing some pearls from the pretty long band history: „Towards and Against“(Silent Waters 07), „The Smoke“, „Majestic Beast“(Skyforger 09), “Silent Waters” (SW), das legendäre “Against Widows” (Elegy 1996), “From the Heaven of my Heart”, “Sky is Mine” (SF) and the fantastic “Black Winter Day” (1995) caused enthusiastic reactions, as well as “Sign From The North Side” (The Karelian Isthmus 1993) and “House of Sleep” (Eclipse 06).
The fact that the band around singer Tomi Joutsen rather impressed with their routine than with their spontaneity should not be marked as a disadvantage. The show was appealing, as well as the sound – and surely there could have been a bit more, but so they say: “It´s a hard work for a poor squirrel!” (Bernd Krumböck, rating: 8)
Z-7, Pratteln, Switzerland, 22.10.2009
Today´s evening at Z 7 is marked by the Finnish flag with three bands from the North. The Forging Europe Tour presents three of the best bands from Finland, old stagers as well as newcomers, and many Swiss fans welcome all of them.
More band photos here This band has already been at Z7, back then still with their old vocalist and a bit tougher sound. I was curious how fans would react to the new singer Ari Koivunen. Worries that they might not like him were unfounded, it seemed that people not even noticed the change in Amoral. Perhaps the reason is that Idols-winner Ari is not known in our region. The still not that big audience warmed up to the band, so that in the end they all were in good spirits.
Before The Dawn
More band photos here Those guys are not really know in our country, still Mr. Saukkonen & Co found their way directly into hearts & ears of the audience. Their mixture between Tuomas´ Growls and Lars´ clean vocals convinces the audience right away. The mood becomes more and more enthusiastic, and slowly the hall is filling up, reaching the sold-out point punctually for the main act.
More band photos here After long minutes of waiting the guys who are the focus point of this evening finally enter the stage. Some ladies might gasp, because Tomi Joutsen does not wear a shirt, and the cheers become shrill screeching. With his usual charme and depth and a heart-warming trusty look Tomi performs the songs to the audience and brings a bit of Kalevala into the halls of the Z 7. As described in this saga, the Sampo is an icon of well-being, and nobody really knows what it really is until this very day. But I think on that very evening we found the answer – the Sampo are the songs by the band Amorphis. And it´s clear that all of the audience sings along with „House of Sleep“ and „Silent Waters“. And when Tomi Joutsen announces the last song, everybody listens and then give it all once more, demanding loudly another set of encores, they really wanted to get another hour with their favorite band - but then it´s time to say a little bit melancholic goodbye. (Sandy Mahrer, rating 8)
JUZ, Andernach (Germany) 23.10.2009
Finns love sauna, yes they do! And since they love it so much, they obviously plan to convert every venue they´re playing at, into a sauna. Well...or something like that. At least everybody present at the Amorphis/ Before The Dawn / Amoral gig at JUZ in Andernach, Germany felt like being in a sauna - the only problem was: the possibility to jump into a cold lake afterwards was missing.
Ok, jokes aside, I arrived just in time to catch Amoral, who had just started with their set, when I entered the venue, which was already well filled. It has been ages - in other words 4 or 5 years - since I had been there the last time and I had thus no idea whatsoever on what to expect - lightwise and audiencewise. I was positively surprised with both.
More band photos here This was the first time seeing Amoral with their new vocalist Ari Koivunen (Finnish Idol winner ), after the departure of former vocalist Niko Kalliojärvi and I was quite unsure, what to think of the new direction the Finns were heading to, after listening to the current album "Show Your Colors". In a way, Ari´s voice fits perfectly and makes the whole mixture much more melodic, on the other hand some drive and action was simply missing - everybody, who has ever seen Amoral before, knows how crazy Niko was jumping around on stage while shouting at the top of his lungs. In a way this impression was proved true at the gig. While I entered, they were playing "Gave Up Easy" followed by "Shade Of Grey" from their latest album "Show Your Colors". Hope for older song material was being destroyed, the further the setlist continued... Focus was clearly put on the new album and some songs from the 2007 predecessor "Reptile Ride". I don´t know, whether this can actually be called good or bad, since it would´ve been interesting for sure, to hear Ari´s interpretation of the older material, containing lots of growling, but then again, it was maybe good to hear the stuff, that fitted his voice probably much better than growling.
More band photos here However, they were putting up a good show, trying to warm up the audience - which worked fine - audience and venue were warming up indeed! Still, while the music sounded definitely better than expected, Ari seemed kinda reserved and not that spontaneous on stage - maybe I´m still comparing them too much to when they were playing with Niko, but being a bit more outgoing wouldn´t have been wrong for sure. The audience reacted mostly positive on the songs and started being more active towards the end of the set, that was finished with "Sex N´Satan".
Before The Dawn entered stage after a pretty short changeover (wish it would always go that fast!) and were welcomed warmly (yes, we always get back to temperature related stuff it seems). From the beginning on, it was pretty clear, that a part of the audience was there, specially for BTD, who started into their set with "Unbreakable", followed by the wonderful "Faithless" from the 2007 album "Deadlight".
More band photos here The whole band seemed to be in a pretty good mood, especially drummer Atte Palokangas, wo was smiling constantly from one ear to another - guess I´ve rarely seen a musician on stage, who had such a broad smile on his face all the time. In contrast to Amoral, who preferred to concentrate on their last two albums, Before The Dawn were mixing their setlist quite well. Thus you could hear songs from the latest album, back to the very first album "My Darkness". After about two thirds of the setlist, that was accompanied by lots of headbanging and clapping, the band went off stage, except for fronter Tuomas and bassist/clean vocalist Lars, who started a very nice version of "My Room", that surely sent some shivers down everybody´s spine. Towards the end of the song, the others returned on stage and finished the song alltogether. When Lars announced, that there´d be only two songs left, the audience started whistling and screaming, clearly showing, that they could as well have continued much longer.
More band photos here On his announcement "So, hope you´re all prepared for Amorphis!", he of course got applause and screaming, but also some guys screaming "Before The Daaawn!!" at the top of their lungs, which was commented with a grinning "No worries guys, we´re still here and have two songs left!". Those two songs left were "The Black" from "4:17am" and the wonderful "Deadsong" which made people sing along. While I had already enjoyed their gig at Summer Breeze Open Air back in August, I have to say, that this gig was even better. An indoor gig surely fitted the band more, creating a more intense atmosphere, than a gig outdoor in bright sunlight at 1pm in the afternoon.
Short changeover again, which seemed to be much longer though, since everybody was awaiting Amorphis eagerly. So far they had never disappointed me and Tomi still proves to be the perfect fronter for this band. It was warm, yes and to escape a sweaty shirt, Tomi just entered the stage topless and kicked of with "Silver Bride". From song one on the audience was totally into it, singing along and headbanging.
More band photos here The following "Sampo" and "Towards And Against" surely didn´t make it any easier to hold still for taking pics in the photo pit, but somehow I managed to. Like BTD before, Amorphis presented a well mixed setlist, containing songs, that surely pleased everybody present. And once again, you had a band in great mood on stage and an audience in probably even better mood going totally crazy. Those guys had been waiting for this band, that´s for sure! Thus it was no wonder, that Tomi didn´t really have to ask for clapping or singing along, they just did it. Sure thing, that a song like "Black Winter Day" had to be in the setlist as well (a song I had for example missed at Summer Breeze - if I remember correctly, that is). After that the band went of stage, but it was of course a sure thing, that they simply couldn´t leave just like this without giving an encore. The encore once again consisted of three songs, "Sign From The North Side" being the first. Not only being the first encore song, but also a song from the very first album "The Karelian Isthmus", thus welcomed with joy from oldschool fans.
More band photos here Tomi was headbanging that hard, that he recognized, a short part of this dreadlocks had obviously fallen off, leading to a short "Oh, seems I´m getting bald!". On that you could even hear some "Nooo!" in the audience and see one uberly crazy fan in the first row, screaming and reaching out his hands for the dreadlock. The vocalist looked kinda puzzled at first, but then gave him the "trophy" with a grin on his face. After this oldschool stuff, it was time for one last big sing-a-long track "House Of Sleep" - once again a song, that managed to send shivers down my spine, since nearly everybody seemed to sing the refrain, that loud, that it was even louder than Tomi at times. "My Kantele" was then really closing a wonderful Finnish evening.
More band photos here This package was definitely one of those, you can call great. The bands fitted together perfectly, the allover mood seemed to be very relaxed and friendly and that could be seen during the gigs. Another proof for being a good package was the constantly filled venue. No band had to play in front of only a few people. It was just varying between full and really packed. Thumbs up for this and let´s hope we´ll see more of those tour packages in the near future! (Cornelia Wickel, rating: 9)
Essen, Turock, 7.11.2009 With AMORAL, BEFORE THE DAWN and AMORPHIS we have a fine melo-death package from finland this evening playing in Essen. About 400 People will have a great time there.
By now you can see little groups in front of the stage incited from shouter Ari Koivunen, jumping like a rubber ball while shouting at the audience and also his band colleagues. I like that, like many others, so AMORAL can see this Gig as a big success.
The second band, BEFORE THE DAWN. I remember from the last SummerBreeze-Festival, where they drew the crowd on the afternoon with their hymnic Melo-Death Metal.
Same Situation this evening. Although the refrains like in „Deadsong“ have a Pop-touch, it´s fun to sing along with them. You can see some propellerheads on the faster „The Black“. With „Soundscape Of Silence“ they finish the regular set. After a bonus song they leave the stage with a big applause.
Are here people who didn´t ever see AMORPHIS live? In the last 2 years they were pretty active and raised dust with some dubious actions. You either love or hate them. Fact is that their Melo Death from the first and second generation is highly frequented. Frantic Drumparts, nearly monotone guitar riffs with slow changes between accords and a psychotic nagging singer in person of Tomi Joutsen raise up a drastic atmosphere. That´s my third encounter with AMORPHIS in the last 2 years. AMORPHIS come back after the set and play 2 bonus tracks, after that they leave this stage for a second time. (Markus Seibel, transl. Fabio Sgarlato)
Amorphis 11.12.2009, Tavastia, Helsinki
After their Europe Tour Amorphis returned to Finland and grant their fans with two gigs a special treat right before Xmas. They open the show with Silver Bride, and a cheerful Tomi Joutsen on stage raises the expectation of a special live experience. The club is packed, echoing the lyrics, because even those otherwise so shy Finns sing along loudly, especially with Silent Waters, Black Winter Day and House of Sleep. The sound is better than ever, and the band radiates a calm confidence, it seems they are happy to be back home. As a surprise they also perform the song Skyforger (to be seen here on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2UzyUndVf0 )
Amorphis end the show with My Kantele and a bitter-sweet feeling, because the concert could have lasted 2 hours longer. A great band, and who wants to see them again soon has to come to the Metal Meeting in Helsinki in February. (Sandy Mahrer, rating 9)
Towards & Against
(Smithereens) / The Smoke
From The Heaven of My Heart
Sky Is Mine
(M & M) / Black Winter Day
(Karelia) / Sign from the North Side
House of Sleep
Cornelia Wickel, Bernd Krumböck, Sandy Mahrer, Markus Seibel