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MTR is a reasonably small event, considering that it´s organized very near of the capital city. Even though the name of this festival translates to “favorable-wind-rock”, the entire two days went under straight burning sun. The program run smooth and fun, before every new band would start, the presenters run a competition for the audience with exciting prizes, like backstage passes for example. Because a more famous and bigger Provinssirock stole most of the music fans away from Helsinki at the same weekend, MTR wasn´t too badly crowded. Nonetheless, it still attracted some foreign attention, as many tourists chose Vantaa to enjoy some quality Finnish Metal. The area of the local sport´s field was neatly laid out with two large bars, one VIP area, numerous merchandise booths and even some smaller children´s playground (!!!at a Metalfest!!!) And of course no big summer event in Finland can go without a few colorful hot air balloons to brighten up the sky view.
Day 1 (17th June 2006).
The festival opener was slightly disappointing, as their works sound a lot more solid on the CDs than live, except perhaps for track “Unchained” towards the end, as the band warmed up a bit. Altaria is very typical Power Metal of a very average quality and low stage-enthusiasm. Perhaps it would make an ok support act, but for an individual performance they´re lacking some serious drive and something else heavy, what a memorable Metal musician should have.
Very traditional and much loved Finnish vintage-styled rockers were received quite enthusiastically by their listeners, but surprisingly started with a rather slow and easy opening song, later going into a more upbeat second track. A lovely “Kuolleen Miehen Kupletti” was really the highlight of the Finns´ performance, fitting their own style just right. However, on the whole not the kind of band to set the mood for a rock-festival, somewhat too quiet, steady and repetitive.
Another band that plays at almost every festival this season (which explains the same stage outfits at every show) and perhaps due to such an intense schedule, the guys´ playing became so relaxed with a lot of freestyling and improvisation. This way a heavier version of “Little Angel” and an absolutely stunning truly Gothic beauty “Four Seasons Rush” were breathtaking, well accompanied by the smoke-effects blown from the stage into the charmed audience. Lauri´s growling as the back-vocals became stronger and more confident, something I hope they´ll keep for the future. Live Charon are always rocking their hardest, but at that evening in particular it was just something electrifying, especially fragile Pasi (guitars) going at it like there´s no tomorrow! JP´s microphone couldn´t take this much energy and gave up at the start of the last song, but nothing can spoil a great show and the singer easily jumped into the front rows and sung the last track along with the crowd.
The grandfathers of Finnish Heavy Metal scene still rule today, as they ever did. This year the Hietala brothers and Co celebrated their 20 year anniversary with a major re-release and a lengthy Finnish tour. The audience´s reaction was great during the entire set, but the favorites remain “Wings of Darkness” and “I Rule” so powerfully sung by always cheerful and joking Marco. At the third song Tommi "Tuple" Salmela, now having become band´s official keyboarder, suddenly jumped forward to sing as well, so the atmosphere within the band on stage was just as warm and friendly as between the band and all it´s long-time listners since the past decades.
Frontman Tomi´s inhuman growling is shocking! It´s just so astonishing how much “animal” noise can a human person produce, yet at the same time remaining so charismatic and hypnotizing on stage. This band´s strength can be compared perhaps with something what Koяn drives its listeners with – unusual customized-mike and endless dreadlocks, which in every band´s case established their immediately recognizable image. The atmosphere on stage, as well as in front of it, was electrifying – from the first song to the last. It pleases both ear and eye to see just how professional those musicians are, so any of their live shows are very high musical value. At least the front 2/3rds of the audience were totally wild in unison with roaring Tomi, who definitely has breathed in new life into this fantastic band and in all its listeners.
For the Metal listeners on that day this was definitely the headliner of the event. Opening with “Hunting High and Low”, which lyrics even the less familiar listeners (are there still such people left in Finland?!) know by heart, had as much audience ecstasy as usually the favorite band´s last song. With one single move of Kotipelto´s hand the entire festival floor went hyper and loud in cheers of support! All the favorite songs like “Forever”, “Kiss of Judas” and a very touching ballad “The Land Of Ice and Snows” were among what seemed, a very short performance, as always with an excellent show. Timo Tolkki is fortunately back in good health and honored his fans with great and honest performance. The most recent addition to those Power Metal virtuosos, bassist Lauri Porra, also gave all he had and the hour-long-concert felt like one blink of an eye. With the first riffs the fans recognized the immortal “Black Diamond”, meaning the classic closing song of every Stratovarius concert – what a great shame that it was the only appearance the band made this summer and at such small event.
The 69 Eyes
For those who came to listen to quality music the festival ended at the previous band, but the others who came for pure entertainment on Saturday evening the fun begun with The 69 Eyes. The band has not only totally spoiled their dress-sense with excessive unnecessary accessories and absurd unfitting haircuts, but also completely lost all orientation of what music scene they belong to. Jyrki69, screaming “Lost Boys-motherf*ckers!” and improvising an awful growling along with some bizarre Native African dance, looked just plain ridiculous and not rocking at all, no matter what the singer pretended. The musicians in their leather X-ray-skeleton outfits, somewhat of a Misfits copycat (the appearance anyway), were pure ruins of what was once a beautiful dark Gothic band. Their older beauties like “The Chair” and “Gothic Girl” were played faster (supposedly heavier?..) and sung obviously different and false to the original. The Eyes tried hard to sound and overall seem a lot younger, cooler and obviously more American than they really are; which is very sad of course, seeing the Finns becoming one absolutely tasteless caricature on themselves – Rockstar posers with no individuality, left alone cheap mainstream tunes: “Gothic for the masses” by definition cannot be any good.
Day 2 (18th June 2006):
Hot-hot-hot and I don´t mean just the cute boybands scheduled for the day, but the merciless Finnish midsummer sun. Ladies were fainting all over the place, although only partly because of the weather… Having the young band members walking freely among the crowd caused a lot of chaotic fans movement, trying to follow their idols, while other bands were still playing at the main stage. If you´re able to take certain rock music not so seriously and just enjoy the sight, this was a good day overall, otherwise some artists, as well as their numerous fans were quite annoying at times.
End Of You One of the recent newcomers onto the Finnish dark scene and a very promising one; at least live they sound fresh and serious enough, especially among the other performers of the day. It was difficult, though, to create the right mood to appreciate their “machine driven melancholic rock”, as the cruel sun was burning all the dark-dressed listeners. Anyway, frontman Jami Pietilä did an excellent job and judging by the audience´ reactions, surely secured himself and the band a good place in few more Gothic hearts.
A newcomer to Finnish boyband/Glam scene, who seems to be enjoying this title very much, as well as all the attention and fanatical screaming that comes along with it. The younger festival goers especially were waiting breathlessly for this act to start, putting up their “Julian I love you!” banners. Music-wise, the Lovex-boys don´t even attempt to hide where their ´inspiration´ comes from, like the singing manner and microphone handling. All are accurately ´borrowed´ from their older Love Metal colleagues from a famous band. Very surprising was to hear the Lovex version of Bon Jovi´s “Runaway”, but unfortunately the young musician-boys who were obviously born a bit later after the original was released, could not pull this classic off as well… Nonetheless, this kind of band can do nothing wrong to upset the ladies, and already the next song “Guardian Angel” was well sung along with full power and all hands up: not bad for a band who´s less than a year old.
Poets Of The Fall
The band, who´s recently won a famous Finnish music award for both “Best Newcomer 2005” and “Best Debut Alum 2005” is now enjoying a lot of media and fan attention. To my surprise, the Poets sounded unexpectedly hard and confident, despite what their gentle name suggests. Their music is what´s often called ´easy listening´ – melodic and catchy in places. Of course, the audience loves its heroes and so were supporting singer´s every move, whilst he was enthusiastically running along the stage
Compared to their other colleagues, they stood out significantly because of longer playing experience and more consistent sound. This quintet is another cause of raised ladies´ heartbeat, but since the frontman´s recent minor image change, would´ve been nicer of the band to take better care of their overall stage appearance at least. Now Uniklubi proudly has two full albums, so the setlist also had more variety. A fun surprise: when the singer spontanuosly left the stage for a brief break, the guitarist took the initiative to sing a heavy “White Wedding” to stun everyone with not only quite decent playing skills, but also a good sense of humor.
Beautifully setup stage, decorated as a spooky haunted house, generously stuffed with a variety of explosives and fireworks - the look of this alone drove the audience wild even before the band appeared. Children with masks are no longer a freaky sight, but more a regular Finnish family weekend activity: have a picnic and watch the Lordi show. An impressive firemen and security crew gathering near the stage didn´t put anyone off. The setlist was not too long, but all the classics already (“Could You Love a Monsterman?”, “Bloodred Sandman”, “The Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead”) were sung – by the audience louder than by the artist… Lack of heavy riffs were then generously compensated by the firework popguns and sparkling Bengal explosions, rhythmically shot during the complete first two songs. At the end of victorious “Hard Rock Hallelujah” to remind everyone that despite everything else, Lordi is still classified as ´Glam-Rock´ (will always remain a mystery to me!), the monsters showered the ecstatic crowd with two huge shots of pink and yellow confetti – needless to comment how happy the kids on parents´ shoulders were.
The festival is definitely a very good value for money, on the first day anyway, as 25 Euro for such an outstanding band package is practically a free giveaway! Because all artists are local and well known, there was no need of a separate signing session, instead of which most bands (except Lordi, thank God!) came freely into the audience, met and posed with all the happy fans. What on the other hand could´ve been organised better is the provision of some resting places, as being in that kind of warm weather for almost 12 hours not many could tolerate well. Although there were a few festival busses offered during some late hours after the closing, still it was not easy to organize a way back to the city center, so this can be better thought through next time. Taxi lines were immense and rather thick forest surroundings made the return back home more challenging for less sober festival goers.