Finnish, summer does not only offer idyllic lakes and mosquitos, but also the dilemma "which festival", every weekend. While Provinssirock happened in mid-Finland, we picked Myötätuulirock in Hakunila, Vantaa, not far from Helsinki, which offers a cosy atmosphere to enjoy, provided that the weather is OK.
Friday June 17, 2011 The weather forecast was less than promising, but at least this day should be rather dry, well, so far. About half an hour before festival start, the queue was impressive, still gates opened only when the band began to play. Slightly strange procedure happened also last year and cannot be explained, it just upsets fans. Perhaps organizers should consider to grant access a bit earlier, because it must be strange for the band, too, playing for a practically empty festival area.
Moonsorrow As also the press is not prevented from queuing up, we reach the stage around the 3rd song – but no problem, you can take photos from the audience still pretty easily. Moonsorrow present themselves as usual, covered in blood rather than clothes. Ville Sorvali and his gang warm up the audience, and slowly also the alcohol area is filling up. In Finland the bar is strictly separated in order to keep youngsters off, but another new law just causes confusion. Nowadays also smokers need to keep in a certain specified space if they want to have a cigarette.
More photos here! Just like those tents at the other end of the festival area. How ridiculous, and I am a non-smoker. (SM)
More photos here! Metsatöll This band from Estonia fits the opening bill perfectly with their rather easy-going Pagan Metal, spiced up with rustic instrumentation. Some accessories, like the keyboard- pardon, the Kantele-stand would even look nice in a living room. At first the songs are a bit too simple for my taste, just like children songs, but when the Folk quartet pulls off those heavy Slayer riffs, the party can get started. Their recent CD Äio had convinced me already, so naturally I liked those live songs best, e.g. "Vägi ja võim" or "Roju". Brutal sound – nice. By the way, now I know what they meant with"stink drum" mentioned on the CD cover (see photo gallery). (KW)
More photos here! Korpiklaani Somehow this band is simply better in their home country than on those numerous Paganfest Tours and the like. This band manages to put some life into the most tired Metal crowd with their Humppa songs. Surely songs like "Vodka" and others with an alcoholic drink in the title are part of the program. Jonne, Jarkko and Kalle wear a broad smile on stage, whereas two others, Juho and Jaakko, play Mr.Cool and don´t even show the slightest hint of a smile. Towards the end of the gig Jaakko and Jonne light cigarettes on stage. A statement versus the new smoking law? Maybe, we don´t know. (SM)
Although I have seen that band many times, I was blown away when I suddenly heard a pretty respectless Folk-Pagan-Verson of Motörhead´s "Iron Fist" – this band is always fun! (KW)
More photos here! Turmion Kätilöt Their Industrial Metal distinguishes this band from the rest of the billing, and who knows Turmion Kätilöt will also know that they are always good for – rather adult – surprises. This time the guys kept their show pretty clean and most of their clothes on. Yet their comedy-comments had some spicy content, which I could not quite understand due to the heavy slang – but I could pick up words describing forms of sexual intercourse and the body parts involved.
More photos here! I also did not quite understand why Ronnie (7) – who has many years of experience in his “Metal Festival Mascot” job already – was put on stage, but it was cute to see how evil rockers treat a child tenderly. Not so tender of course the TK best-of program, with hits like "Verta ja Liha" (blood and flesh), and finally MC Raaka Pee and Spellgoth also “let the moon shine” and pulled pants down to the very “still covered” limit. Great inspiring gig – and 99% of the audience felt the same, as it was louder, crazier and more crowded in front of the stage than during the Korpiklaani show. (KW)
More photos here! Bullet Bullet have been around for several years, but I only recently heard of them when they played in Switzerland. Those Swedes have a good reputation, therefore my expectations were high. A big mistake, as I had to find out quickly. Although they play a good Hardrock-Sound, it became a bit dull after a couple of songs, and the screeching of singer Hell Hofer annoyed me. Their stageshow is pretty cool, but Hell does not address the audience too much. Perhaps he was too nervous. The band needs some fine-tuning, originality and diversity, but I guess they will turn out fine. (SM)
More photos here! Protest The Hero I wasn´t the only person who was curious about the Canadians, who also had the longest changeover this evening. Unfortunately, because I even didn´t like beer any more (always a bad sign), and during the Bullet gig the humidity had reached a pretty high level... and the powerful wind even ripped off the banners on stage, so a courageous crew member entertained the audience with his dangerous stunt to fix the problem.
The waiting was worth it, though, because “utter madness” is the best way to describe what happened next.
More photos here! Singer Rody Walker jumped from the stage in the middle of the song, hugged the audience and drove some photographers crazy before he was pulled on stage again. He can sing, too, and pretty well, the whole range from clean to growl, but he talked a bit too much for my taste – in comparison even Kiuas-Asim seems laid-back and silent...
More photos here! Their congenial mix of Death Metal, Grind, Punk, Jazz, Prog and a musical version of mathematics/geometry might be slightly rough on the ear, but the band pulls it off with so much fun so that you are simply captivated. When about half of the show was played, the rain got stronger, therefore we walked towards the bus stop – from where the gig could be followed, too, and under waterproof conditions. (KW)
Ensiferum As soon as we had reached the bus stop, the clouds poured down what they had. As Ensiferum nowadays is part of every Pagantour or Heidenfest, like Korpiklaani, everybody should know already about their show – four Finns in Kilts, and a lady at the keyboard who almost completely disappear in dry ice fog. (SM)
Saturday June 18, 2011 As suspected, Finnish weather knocked us out, and we could only choose which day rather to spend at home, testing flue remedies, and we picked the Saturday. Therefore here another STALKER who takes over, Tina Solda:
(here you can check Tina´s MTR photo gallery )
When I arrived on Saturday, Profane Omen just started to entertain the three-row audience with "God In A Bottle". Three rows and a spacious pit, that is, because the most energetic fans had decided to put the excessive space to good use and warm themselves up in the process.
The third song, "Predator", was dedicated to the merch guy, who obviously didn´t make the business of his life that day. I hope from the bottom of my heart that after two cold and rainy instances, next year´s Myötätuulirock will finally be sunny and warm again. Everyone involved in this perfectly sized, well organized and likeable festival would deserve better weather and larger audiences, particularly bands like Profane Omen who always give their best regardless of how many people are witnessing the show. The "new-old" (as singer Jules Näveri joked, referring to this summer´s reissue of Inherit the Void) "Left To Disintegrate" was followed by a really new song, "Feed On The Wasted", the interesting structure of which - including clean vocal parts, a cool slow shuffle rhythm in the beginning and a climactic finale - promises a lot for the forthcoming album. On the lighter side, Profane Omen also played a Finnish cover version of Backyard Babies´ "Welcome To Hell", incorporating a snippet of the Irwin Goodman´s "Ei tippa tapa", the mother of all Finnish drinking songs.
Drinking was on my agenda at this point, too, all the more since the beer area was roofed and it had started to rain again, massively. But even the rainclouds were intimidated into surrender by the natural force that took command next: the voice of Nitte Valo.
Battle Beast´s unique vocalist has rightfully been referred to as Finland´s answer to former Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider, but her range of styles goes far beyond high-pitched power metal. She could probably even do a HIM song, although apparently being no relation to Ville. Anyway, as soon as Nitte started to sing, the rain stopped for the rest of the day, and even the sun came out for a while. More power to her. The set included "Death On The Battlefield", "Cyberspace", "Victory" and of course "Show Me How To Die", which actually began with an unaccompanied guitar solo. These guys aren´t afraid of clichés, simply because they don´t need to be afraid of anything.
Last night during Ensiferum I got so fed up with the pouring rain that I left before the end, but now I got proper compensation in the form of Brymir. It was the first time for me to see them live, but if I can help it, it won´t be the last.
An awesome band who has just released its first album and is living proof that folk metal still has fresh and fascinating new acts to offer. "A Free Man´s Path" was a clear sing-along favorite, even though there were still far more people in the beer area than in front of the stage. After the video track "Retribution" and the title track of the album, "Breathe Fire To The Sun" (the beautiful intro of which deserves special mentioning), the set was supposed to end, but on popular demand the guys played an encore. It seemed to be picked spontaneously after a short on-stage discussion and was announced as the first thing Brymir had ever written: "Battle For Pagan Might", a very Ensiferum-style tune. It not only finished off my favorite gig of the weekend but also the E string of Jarkko Niemi´s bass - a rare feat.
Judging from their two albums, symphonic folk metallers Crimfall should have fit right in after Brymir. Their songs are really good, particularly the debut was an instant winner, and they have an awesome singer in Helena Haaparanta. But all too soon it became clear that this is a studio band, not a live act. With more of the music - including some of the vocals, it seemed - being playback than performed by the musicians on stage, the whole show remained strangely lifeless. I almost felt like watching a movie with professionally styled actors and a well-written soundtrack. Very well written in fact, but executed far better on record than on stage.
With Finntroll, on the other hand, you know in advance what to expect and you´re guaranteed to get it. The only surprise for me was the absence of Trollhorn a.k.a. Henri Sorvali; he hadn´t been with Moonsorrow the day before either, but them I have seen without him before whereas in Finntroll he had always been present at the many gigs I had seen in the past. And Mathias now did part of his stage announcements in Finnish, which I appreciated, since my Swedish is practically non-existent. Finntroll seemed to draw the largest crowd of the day and played quite a few older songs, including "Nattfödd","Midnattens Vidunder" and "Försvinn Du Som Lyser". The biggest hit "Trollhammeren", however, wasn´t played, no matter how many times someone in the crowd screamed for it.
Since I had to leave a bit too early to see MUSTASCH, the last band of the day for me was Sparzanza, also from Sweden. Actually the whole festival had a strong focus on our neighbors from across the Gulf of Bothnia, although, ironically, local heroes Finntroll were the only combo that actually sang in Swedish. As for Sparzanza, I actually wish the singer had spoken his native language so I wouldn´t have been annoyed by his blurbs. Nope, I neither think guns are cool nor do I have a fascination with serial killers. Otherwise the show was professional and the songs were good, although I wish Radio Rock would finally show this band some mercy and not play all of their stuff to death...(TS)
Sunday June 19, 2011 Thanks to some pills we are on the way to the festival even earlier than planned, yet still not early enough for the Finns FM2000 who started playing already at 13.15 h and play Finnish Metal-Punk – not our cup of tea.
More photos here! Kiuas We both are curious about the new Kiuas line-up. Ilja had left the band in January and was replaced with Asim. Also Markku and Atte left, therefore the whole band had to calm down and re-shape with a new line-up and three new band members, vocalist Asim, Rainer on drums and Jari on keyboards – the majority of the band was changed. I think they still need some more concerts to introduce Asim as the new singer, especially if you got used to Ilja´s voice. The new front man could not convince me, perhaps because he tried too hard to be cool and talked a bit too much, which I didn´t like. Better stay calm and breathe deeply, than spitting out another "Fuck you" – that might do the trick next time. (SM)
More photos here! MyGrain was one of the bands that dragged my out of my sick bed. And well, it was worth it. This act had already convinced me with their latest CD, and in my opinion they pulled off one of the best gigs of this day. Obviously the crowd shared my opinion, there was a huge mosh pit... Fronter Tommy turned out to be a fine and very likeable singer also live, he handled growls, screeches and clean vocals skillfully – listening to the CD I often wondered if this is indeed only ONE dude I hear singing here.... In my opinion he could use his distinctive clean voice more often, it reminds me a bit of Sentenced. Thus it turned out that I liked the new material better, e.g. Clockwork Apocalypse, Dust Devils And Cosmic Storms or the "videobiisi" (= Video-track, which you can also see at VIDEOSTALKER) "Of Immortal Aeons" , than older stuff like “Plastic”, which was also performed. Keep an eye (and both ears) on this band, those guys and the girl are indeed worth it. (KW)
More photos here! Rytmihäriö There are Finnish bands you can only either love or hate, and Rytmihäriö belong for me and Klaudia to the latter category. (SM)
A mix of Punk, HC and Grind – and not my cup of tea at all. Still Finnish fans cheered and slam-danced until they dropped, in the pouring rain. (KW)
More photos here! Mokoma Mokoma are a constant factor at Finnish summer festivals, they seem to be everywhere and bag all available Finnish Metal Awards together with their colleagues Stam1na. Their fellow countrymen/women just never get enough of them, and it seems they made a wise decision back then, when they formed their own label when nobody in the industry was interested in their Finnish Thrash Metal. Many awards and sales records crown their hard work. On stage they obviously enjoy when they can inspire their audience – also on this day. Ignoring the heavy rain, the crowd remains in front of the stage and cheers to the band. (SM)
More photos here! Pain I bet that Peter Tägtgren had wished for better conditions to present his new album You Only Live Twice. Grim looks accompanied those tough Industrial Metal sounds that the Swedes slammed into the excited audience – it seemed that 100% of the people in the area had gathered in front of the stage. The rain could not be charmed away – the fans neither. They continued cheering and singing along, no matter what, and Tägtgren pushed his guys through a tight program, almost without comments in between, as if he tried to put in as many hits as possible into those 60 min playtime. Finally, you heard "Shut Your Mouth" – but nobody in the audience took it literally, on the contrary, the crowed screamed for Pain on top of their lungs. Hats off, that´s enthusiasm to be admired, especially if the weather is that bad. (KW)
More photos here! Soilwork Miss Myötätuulirock 2011 Katri Lausala entered the stage to announce the last festival band: SOILWORK! Those guys from Helsingborg seem to be very popular in Finland, because we had heard the statement “I´m here just for Soilwork!” very often. Enduring the rain and the meagre 12C° in the last couple of hours was absolutely worth it. Although singer Björn wasn´t at his best – his voice seemed to have suffered a bit, too – the band offered one of their legendary great gigs. Personally I would have preferred much more of the older stuff, which I like better, but naturally they focused the program on their new songs. (SM)
More photos here! Unfortunately MTR had once again bad luck weather-wise; in previous years this had lasted only 1 day. MTR has a certain appeal that outshines bigger festivals. Some details could be improved, e.g. opening the doors earlier, or shorter change-overs. And a more diverse line-up like in those early years – more of those national or international bands that don´t play all the other summer festivals, too – would be nice. This could perhaps attract more audience, too.
Rating: Sandy 7, Tina Weather 2, Festival 9, Klaudia 7, so altogether
Sandy Mahrer (SM), Tina Solda (TS), Klaudia Weber (KW)