International Metal Meeting (IMM)- METAL HEART HELSINKI
Just imagine, leather, studs and motorbikes as essential accessory for Barbie & Ken, grandmom puts a picture of Lemmy on her bedside table, XTV broadcasts „Headbanger´s Favorites“ 24/7 and babies enjoy snugging their „Iron Maiden-Eddie“ or „Lordi“ plush monsters... a parallel universe with Metal as part of every day mainstream culture.
The Baltic Region has partly realized this vision, learned about 50 International Metal Meeting participants in the Sonic Pump Studios on the eve of Metal Expo. Sergejs Kustovs („Gothic Production“ Lettland) and Ahto-Lembit Lehtmets („Nailboard Records“ Estland) had a very entertaining way of describing chances and problems of the exploding Metal scene in former Sovjet „colonies“. Between presentations the journalists, promoters and scene-insiders from Europe and Overseas had a chance to exchange information or meet good old friends. (KW)
Friday, 17 Feb 2006
Finnish Metal Expo (FME) - Day 1
Despite chilling cold (about minus 10 degrees) a massive number of Metal Fans formed a seemingly endless queue in front of Kaapelitehdas-entrance. Therefore I wasn't the only one missing Ajattara, the openers of Metal Expo 2006. (KW)
Luckily there were three of us and although it was way too early to get in the right sinister Ajattara-mood, Pasi Koskinen and his guys were able to get the crowd in motion. It was still too cold and too early to make the audience sweat, but it got pretty warm. Ajattara played one evil highlight like “Naaras” after the other and in a twinkle of an eye the show was over again. If it would have been up to the audience, it would have been longer. (SA)
Finally inside everything turned out bigger, more beautiful and better organized than at the debut last year, as the promoters were prepared for the enormous boom and had doubled exhibition area and infrastructure (nutrition and errrr opposite-purpose places). Many enjoyed free tee and coffee at the Ilosaarirock stand, an ingenious idea especially on Friday. Quickly the bags were filled with promo-CDs, magazines, shirts, posters and other candy (literally); Sue magazine and Nosturi club offered table soccer for pastime. (KW)
Verjnuarmu The band from Savo with the hardly pronounceable name drew attention especially with their Horror B movie outfit, but singer Puijon Perkele reminded only optically of King Diamond. His rough and clean-vocal style avoided the falsetto range, which nicely goes with the band's mid-tempo Heavy Metal concerning themes of storm, passion and “viikatemies” (the reaper)! (KW)
Many used the pauses between the live-program for Hevikaraoke on the balcony, and quite a number of Karaoke vocalists gained as much applause as the bands on stage.
Their second stand offered the company's pilot-program with four Iron Maiden tracks, not only for singing along but also playing one guitar- or bass line. During the second day some more people took their chance with the strings... (KW)
Comparing Pain Confessor with In Flames might be a little bit unfair, as those young Finns sound much more heavy than the typical Gothenburgh Sound. Slow Death Metal, much more melody than other Finnish Acts, combined with an energetic show – simply great! (KW)
Swallow The Sun
Swallow The Sun Manager, guitarist and band-mastermind Juha Raivio seemed a bit pale before the show. But the reason wasn't only their almost-headliner status and drawing attention of international journalists: as the band's bus driver he still had to overcome the shock of a minor accident on arrival. Nothing of that could be seen on stage later, the band from Jyväskylä appeared smooth and tight. Only front man Mikko Kotamäki acted more shyly than usual and rather focused on his rough parts. If you find Opeth too boring and the old Amorphis too brutal – this is the right band for you! Wonderful melancholic tunes and raw power in slow motion – Swallow the Sun truly deserved the audience's enthusiasm. „Through her silver body“, my favorite track from their debut „The morning never came“, ended the show, unfortunately in a shortened version. (KW)
The masters of melodic metal from Sweden are having the honour to play as one of the few non-Finnish bands on the FME, and the hall was trembling. The cable factory was almost bursting, and singer Tom Englund has the crowd ”under control” from the first minute on, animates to sing along and repeat, parts the crowd for singing contests and everyone is visibly having a good time. Under his long black leather coat he wears a ”Hellsinki” shirt, what gets him additional bonus points from the audience. Actually here nothing can be noticed of the general old Swedish - Finnish brawl, music just unites. And the music is just great here. Melancholic, heavy and dark sound, with athmospheric keyboards and thunderous double-bass drums. A great gig, and of course the guys from Sweden won’t get away without an encore. From the mood and the crowd Evergreay are the actual headliners of the evening. Hopefully see you again soon! (MK)
Teräsbetoni unfortunately had to cancel on short notice, as singer Jarkko Ahola got ill, and so Timo Kotipelto and his guys, just having returned from tour, have immediately come to stand in. The soundcheck of the instruments seems to take forever, but with some delay they finally start, and Timo assures us, that heaven will definitely spit fire tonight (ed: Teräsbetoni hit Taivas Lyö Tulta = Heaven spits fire). The waiting was worth it, we get to see first class powermetal. But firstly, with the beginning of each song, really EVERY band member h his at least 5 minute solo, while the rest of the band is going for a coffee backstage? This proves clearly, that those virtuosi undoubtedly master their instruments, but this unfortunately is quite lengthy, and during this time they could have rather played few more songs. Nevertheless the unfortunately quite reduced crowd infront of stage is in good mood, and during songs like ”Wating For The Dawn”, ”Take Me Away” or the Stratovarius hit ”Hunting High And Low” they loudly sing along. Finally, so to say as ”replacement” Timo plays a short version of ”Taivas Lyö Tulta”, what is honoured with roaring applause. There is no encore, but I have the impression, that no one really minds, as today was a normal working day, and tiredness and alcohol show their effect. Well, then hush hush, hurry home everyone, to get back with new strenght for day 2! (MK)
No chance to catch any breath, local heroes Ensiferum enter the stage to present us their Viking Metal at it’s finest! As usual, with batlle-paint and without shirts. The guys have just released their new EP Dragonheads, which was sold out at the Spinefarm booth. Of course we get to hear something out of it. Proud, as Finns are of their traditions, ”Dragonheads” contains a song on the Finnish national Epos ”Kalevala” as well as a Finnish medley. The crowds likes it a lot, but even more they like the obviously most famous hit of the bunch ”Lai Lai Hei”, and sings along every single word. Later this year Ensiferum will release their 3rd album – promising times to come! (MK)
Finnish Metal Awards
At the FME also the Finnish Metal Awards were held, and amongst others Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho got awarded as the best guitarplayer, or Stam1na as newcomer of the year. But Sentenced clearly were tonight’s winners, getting 3 awards: album of the year, cover art of the year (both for their ”Funeral Album”), and band of the year.
Here an overview of all awards:
Best band - Sentenced
Best album - Sentenced
Beste festival / Konzert - Tuska Open Ari Metal Festival
Best singer - Antti Hyyrynen / Stam1na
Best guitarplayer - Alexi Laiho / COB
Best host - Teemu Suominen / Radio City
Best cover-artwork - Sentenced
Best homepage - Mokoma
Newcomer of the year -Stam1na
Hamara-price - Sauna Open Air Metal Festival
Rautatanki, Metal-deed of the year – the settlement amongst the Nightwish members.
Well, one can not really call it a settlement... the price was given in form of a stick, and a paper, which both, Marko and Jukka had to sign. Surely as symbol of all the dirty wash. Quite a sense of humor. (MK)
Saturday, 18 Feb 2006
Finnish Metal Expo (FME) - Day 2
I was honestly surprised, how many fans were on their feet already at 14:30 h to see Waltari. Certainly because the weird Finnish Metal veterans had not been playing live very often in recent days. At Metal Expo they displayed all their skills and their musical variety. Just a „Best Of“ their own huge hit repertoire is enough for that, extending from old Disco-style „Far Away“ up to speed-thrashy „New York“. Frontman Kärtsi, covered in red war-paint, hardly stood still on stage and animated fans to sing along and bang their heads. (KW)
Winterborn attracted the Power Metal fans, with Teemu Koskelas strong and clear voice. A song like „Wildheart“ seems exactly what you need for sipping beer, tapping the rhythm and enjoying yourself. Still they could not exceed Waltari's audience reception, which might also be caused by technical problems that took away some momentum. (KW)
Also Saturday Children of Bodom Drummer Jaska Raatikainen found nothing better to do than hanging out with his pals at Special FX (they created the new COB stage show), answering hundreds of fan questions or giving autographs.
His bandcolleagues Alexi Laiho, Roope Latvala und Henkka T. Blacksmith had been in official mission on Friday already (Acoustic Guitar clinic). Saturday's drum clinic with Jarkko Lepistö and Kalle Torniainen was in comparison not half as crowded, so I could at least have a glimpse on Musamaailma-stage. The 69 Eyes drummer Jussi and singer Jyrki were to be seen in the crowd, and Nightwish-mastermind Tuomas Holopainen drew much more fans in a queue for autographs than Meshuggah-drummer Thomas Haake. (KW)
Bloodpit from Tampere played straight rough Glamrock, and their ear candy material could easily be played on any European radio show. The band acted in proper style like Rock'n'Roll Superstars on stage. Especially singer Matthau Mikojan with his Johnny Depp-pirate outfit attracted lewd looks of female fans. (KW)
When Naildown entered stage, the venue was already as full as on previous day. If Children of Bodom ever retire, those guys could definitely fill the gap. And they are already on the best way to develop their own unique style, e.g. with clean vocal parts. No wonder they kicked ass. (KW)
SiNking had won last year's band competition, but never appeared as inexperienced newcomer act. They could even be a candidate for the succession of Pantera: violent, agressive riffs combined with a melodic chorus – cool mixture! (KW)
Another of the few outlandish bands playing at the FME are ANJ, who give us a taste of solit Russian Heavy Metal, and also a great part ot the first rows seems to consist of a bunch of followers from Russia – surprisingly many of them female. But no wonder, guitarplayer Oleg Izotov is really a feast for the eyes. But not only that, just like all his other bandmates he masters his instrument, even one handed, and the music doesn’t give any reasons for complaints. As far as I can hear it, the songs are mainly in Russian, but as is generally known, music knows no borders. Just in November ANJ have recorded a track with the German icon Udo Dirkschneider. We can surely expect a lot to come of this band. (MK)
45 Degree Woman
The first band that I see, where the drummer is located at the front of the stage. But who determins, who has to be where on stage? Here we have rather calm sounds, bluesy and psychedelic instead of pounding metal. The band themselves calls their style ”Country Metal”. Their debut ”How To Handle The Pain” will be after long awaiting out end of March. Who likes it, just likes it, it’s something for lovers of psychedelic sounds... (MK)
For Amorphis it is today the release gig for the new album ”Eclipse” as well as the babtism of fire with the new singer. Who was visibly nervous. Totally unnecessary to my opinion, as Amorphis are today definitely the ”heroes of the day”, and the most expected performance. Already some while before the gig ”Amorphis, Amorphis!!”- chants are to be heard, and the entire hall is burstingly full, up to the very least tiny corner! Tomi Joutsen is a great singer, and his voice fits perfectly to the Amorphis sound. A totally successful gig, with a load of new as well as old songs, from House Of Sleep over The Way, The Day up to Agains Widows. But unfortunately no Black Winter Day, for which I especially had been hoping.
So Amorphis’ story of success continues one step further, and I’m already looking forward to the upcoming tour. (MK)
UDO Although it had been a long day for me, too, I still didn't want to miss the German Metal Dinosaurs. Udo Dirkschneider had been with Accept an unsurpassable Headliner at last Tuska. And frankly, also UDO offered such a great show that I had to stay until the very last note! A special effect light show rewarded fans with stamina. The crowds had cleared a bit, and some looked pretty wasted already (not only because of exhaustion...), yet the audience sang along with every UDO highlight (e.g. „Holy“ „Man and Machine“ „Thunderball“). Surely Accept-classics like „Princess of the Dawn“ motivated to spend last powers at 2 o'clock in the morning. The loud enthusiastic singing with the Beethoven-part at „Metal Heart“ seemed endless, and the final climax was the encore „Balls to the Wall“ with the Lordi vocalist as surprise guest. Great great great, I'm looking forward to next year! (KW)