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If Hobbits ever thought of organizing a Metal festival in the Shire it would be precisely the Pellavarock, miniature, cozy and with as much nature as possible! Lammi just couldn´t be a better place for it, so beautiful and simply fantasy-like! It was almost grotesque how bizarre the Heavy-Metallers looked playing among such a clear sky, bluest lake, greenest trees and brightest sunshine. This is an idyllic illustration of the Finnish countryside´s beauty, coming from the busy city you´ll get drunk from this clean crispy air alone, even though it was allowed to bring your own stronger beverages.
Just about 1800 visitors made up the audience to celebrate the festival´s 10th anniversary, pretty crowded but at most shows you could easily move around and through the crowd, as the general atmosphere was so friendly and easygoing. Last year the music theme was more Folk/Heavy-Metal oriented but this year it got heavier, more serious and darker. Most bands were local and as in the previous year there was one foreign guest from Sweden.
KILL THE ROMANCE
Nobody likes to be the first to play, yet those romance killers were so genuinely and utterly glad to be on that stage that their positivism immediately won the audience over! And who says that Metal must be moody and angry?! The singer Ville Hovi was smiling so brightly and cheerfully to eclipse any North-American toothpaste commercial and this again gave this band so much charisma and light (I´m not sure that´s the image they were going for, but it definitely worked well!)
The young Metallers were very talkative with their audience, although eager inquiries to play something from Pantera were denied, as Ville said, “Hippies like us don´t do Metal!” and immediately continued with the heavy show. The romance was killed with hard melodic Speed Metal and, what seemed to me, periodically slipping into Nu-Metal. By the 6th track even the rows at the far back were actively applauding and whistling for more, what else can a young band wish for?! The debut showed much potential for the future!
The singer Tuomo Saikkonen came on stage with a very satisfied and appeased face, with his hair still dripping wet, clearly from a good swim in the lake behind the stages, which put the front man in an excellent rocking mood! (Later on, as more drinks were consumed, a few other musicians were spotted in that same lake, not surprising at all!) Being in such a good mood the band went on straight for 40 minutes of compromise-less, aggressive and straight-masculine Metal. The Machete is a side project of the famous guitarist and bassist from Mokoma, so the musical background, playing techniques and stage attitude were clear: rough, heavy and energetic to rule the crowd!
BEFORE THE DAWN
Not to a good start, as solving technical difficulties cut a noticeable amount of band´s set time, so forced the quartet to play their already heavy songs even heavier and faster to compensate for the time loss. Nonetheless, the band´s Norwegian frontman communicated well with the audience and contributed his everything to make the show worth waiting for! Before the Dawn is a band with many faces, as every band-member is complete different from the other, so each one has definitely very diverse influences on the music and adds its uniqueness to both the sound and the visual image.
One of the definite headliners of the event: The retro-heroes returned (after a lengthy pause) with as much energy and Rock´n´Roll spirit, as their earlier shows had! It was very touching to see the most devoted fans in the nearest rows to the stage, wearing all the same wild-80s outfits (tight animal skin tops, vacuum jeans, wild hair and glittery accessories) as before, to resemble the atmosphere exactly as when the band was starting!
SWALLOW THE SUN
…how are they doing it - that with this stunning Doom´s first chords the time stops; the first seconds of Mikko´s magnificent growling make everything swirl, blur and fade, casting all in band´s sight into deep slow-motion. The air stands still, people´s movements freeze and all there exists are the musicians on stage crafting their magic. One track slowly flows into the next, absolutely hypnotizing all that is alive within its reach. The sun was not swallowed, but slowly slain, incredibly sensually; one tiny particle at a time, feeling the crushed ashes falling through your fingers, as the sextet played this sun´s last lullaby…
The synchronized headbanging, all in a unisonous motion and all so devoted, astonishingly sexy and expressive with their eyes closed, yet so silent and hopeless. I´ve only missed the famous piano introduction to “Through Her Silvery Body”…
…when the last song came to an end, Mikko mumbled shy “Kiitos” and left the stage. The spell was broken, the surroundings awoke and shook off the enchantment´s remainings, only leaving you wondering where exactly were you the past 50 minutes?!...
Surprise act: THE VOMIT FULL OF MAGGOTS
The unannounced performance of a “Death-Metal a cappella duet” (Aleksi Munter, of Swallow the Sun, and Teijo Hakkola, their sound engineer) took everyone off-guard and consequently shocked all into continuous laughter and pure astonishment. Teijo performing a rhythmic “umz-umz” with an active gesticulation and Aleksi impressively growling along; when it comes to anything musical the Finnish minds are endlessly creative with no limits! Unfortunately the duet has only two pieces in their pretty unique repertoire so far, but it can be said with confidence that the audience is eagerly awaiting for the Vomit´s comeback with more a cappella Maggots - by then surely the Finns will even come up with the right head banging to accompany their new art!
In preview of the forthcoming new CD this autumn, the Swedes came to give the hungry Haunted fans a taste of their new record. From those Swedish Heavy-masters I and some other people in the audience have honestly expected something different, rougher and somehow rawer. The Haunted is not exactly of my taste, so it is quite difficult for me to objectively review their performance.
The general feeling I had from them is that every song was alike. Even though the area before the stage was totally full and extremely supportive of the gig, the band seemed to be playing with not much feeling or electricity that did entice me or impress me enough. Their captive public in the other had a great energy, headbanging and screaming during the whole concert, trying to get closer to the front – surely this indicates the quality of the Haunted and that the fans were most definitely satisfied. Even members of the other bands could be seen coming from the backstage area to the front to see the headliners.
CONCLUSION: A day out from the city and all things busy, hectic and drunk (as bad as it can get in Helsinki anyway), the Saturday in Lammi was pure paradise, even though some bands weren´t exactly of my taste and I just wish the weather was less hot, but what else to criticize I simply don´t know!
Pellavarock has also attracted a very diverse audience, which I´ve not seen even at bigger festivals in more central locations this summer. There were Goths of many sorts and more creatively dressed Metallers than what I´m used it in Finnish Metal scene, so on the whole, very “colorful” and fruity festival in every way!
This year even transportation issue was organized by the local bus company, offering a very cheap (5 euro) ride from Hämeenlinna straight to the festival grounds perfectly on time for the beginning act. “Metal-party” busses were full, so make sure to reserve the places in advance.