The festivals´ busiest season ceased out some months ago and the next best thing to look forward to was naturally the Spinefeast. Finland´s talent factory Spinefarm ruled Nosturi for two nights, 10 bands and full house by the second night.
The feast took off easy, going into pure wilderness towards the end. An impressive queue long before the opening hour (20.00), as always and “sold-out” signs all over the Nosturi lobby. You should really secure your tickets on time if you are serious to be there and this event surely not to be missed – well proved by very many international attendants this year!
This time Spinefeast progressed and went “high-tech”, so the whole event was broadcast online (http://www.neoarena.fi). On the other hand, because of those special arrangements, photography became much more challenging and was possible only from the audience most of the time. Later the issue was simplified, but still, throughout the Feast our photographers had to work in near to battlefield extreme conditions!
Photo: Julia Sheremetyeva
Friday: Newborns What was suppose to be a feast, on the first day turned out more like a snack that tasted ok, but did not trigger the appetite for the main course. The first day was introducing mainly the freshly signed bands and giving them a chance to win over new fans, showing themselves as worthy Spinefarm recruits. Planned or not, but the peak of the crowd came to the 3rd band, but noticeably dropped by the 4th act and almost disappeared by the headliner. In-between sets the place looked even emptier - where all the underage metallers vanished we can only quess, at least hopefully the merchandise stalls at the first floor made some good profit…
Malummeh This kind of aggressive and angry teenagers´ band is very disturbing. This music seems to be a product of difficult childhood and many unsolved inner conflicts. Manner of expression is passionately vicious – the youngsters are deliberately working very hard on earning themselves this pissed-off image. Army camouflage-wear and kilos of chains are irreplaceable attributes for such metal genre.
Malummeh´s sound is very rigid fast – committing suicide by headbanging.
Photo: Julia Sheremetyeva
Frequency of words-per-minute and overall style of expression is like a brutally growled dying wish, trying to express everything there is left to say after a thorny lifetime, in only remaining three to four minutes. The opener was one nerve-wracking performance, urging you to drink a few straight shots afterwards to calm down.
Noumena What a beautiful name and a wonderful surprise on the whole! Even before hearing their music, this gentle melodious name captured me and guessing it being heavy-growling material, intrigued me even more. Intuition did not fail!
What was Spinefarm waiting for before signing them earlier?! Noumena is a jewel, although still needing a good advice on band´s image (this must be a separate chapter in “Young Band´s Guide” that wearing own merchandise on stage is not cool!) and headbanging can be improved as well (must actually be banging rhythmically in tact with the riffs and not like you just climbed out of the swimming pool, shaking the water out), but even with all that, this is very impressive young band with promising potential. Remembering now Spinefeast´04 when Kiuas came on stage so fresh, innocent and unknown, soon to be among the most demanded bands for its generation, I am feeling Noumena is on that same path right now. The singer Antti Haapanen is very artistic and his whole presence on stage and beyond was very powerful and extremely expressive. In addition to their natural personal charisma, very well built melodies, heavy musical patterns and deep vocals in various forms, from clean to very rough, all the components for the metal success formula are clearly there.
With guest appearances from Hanna Leinonen and Tuomas Tuominen on backing vocals for a very touching ballad “Slain Memories” – love at first sound immediately! If not at first sight for you then at the following track for sure – observing the crowd during this act, being distracted from their drinks and fixing their eyes and ears wholly on the stage. And given how relatively empty the place was and how unknown the band is, eager applauds for encore actually tell something about how charming Noumena is!
Kalmah The genre that has the most followers within Finnish borders – melodic death players can never go wrong if studied well from examples of Alexi Laiho and Petri Lindroos. Since Kalmah is quite a rarity to catch live, this one performance was very much awaited.
By all means, this was the most worn merchandise of the day – various Kalmah shirts and badges were flashing anywhere your head turned. Even though some were disappointed with Marco Sneck´s replacement on the keyboards, yet still tonight Kalmah was the favorite above all. And note, this northern band not being well known in Helsinki, attracted so much support and attention - it would make the headliner jealous. Soon Mr. Lindroos himself was spotted among the front-liners headbanging away! No surprise then at the end Kalmah was the only act of the night who was screamed “we-want-more!” for.
Nine Spinefarm has not only acquired some very promising new talents this year, but also expanded they all-seeing-metal-eye abroad to the left and signed this Swedish band.
Photo: Julia Sheremetyeva
Being the 3rd act in this stream of growling-death aggression was becoming a little too much already. This was an overload of very similar styles, even though perhaps any other day Nine would make a great live band. The frontman Benjamin obviously has found himself in this performing act, he is very vivid and active on stage, communicative with the audience, always having something to say between the tracks. Creating their own stage setup with a form of speaker´s step, where the singer climbed now and then to really make his message heard. Only when Nine finally promised the last song, it seemed like another two were played afterwards. Somehow it felt like a really long show… Finally when leaving the stage, the band enthusiastically promised to be back there soon again: whether you want it or not, Nine will not be kept quiet.
Swallow the Sun They seemed to have been always casting magic upon their listeners, but this year the miracles fell onto them in return! New record deal with Finland´s most respectful and proficient label, great sponsorship deal with again, Finland´s leading alternative clothing brand Backstreet (www.backstreet.fi), new album “Hope” to unquestionably be this winter´s most wanted release – the boys have been good and well-behaved to deserve this much reward within a few months and it is not even near Christmas yet! What they did not deserve is almost empty Nosturi by the time of their set´s start. How could this festival be sold-out and yet about 30 people in front of the stage and almost no one upstairs?! Even though the band commented later how unwell prepared they were, only having a couple of rehearsals beforehand, it was not noticeable at all.
Professional and emotionally involved as ever, the Sun was so much enjoyed by their already devoted listeners, as well as seriously impressing the new ones. Mikko´s new sexy bondage look also reinforces the strong impression StS makes anyway, but now it is absolute with the visual along with the hearable.
Among the classics – “Through Her Silvery Body” and “Descending Winters”, along with new beauties – “No Light, No Hope”, “Don´t Fall Asleep” and “Justice of Suffering” – music to cure broken hearts, to inspire hope and create comfort – even better that most people have gone, so the atmosphere felt more intimate one-on-one with the music, with the spirit. 60 minutes evaporated in no time and the band left as quietly as they have appeared. A few random ´swa-llow-the-sun´ shouts and they materialized again as if out of nowhere, like a smoke, played much-beloved “Deadly Nightshade” and this time closed the night…
Saturday 2: A-Z of Finnish heartbreakers. If only Ville Valo and Jonne Aaron could have made it tonight, the line-up would have been a dream-come-true! Otherwise there was everyone to please the eyes, raise heartbeats and cause some serious screaming among the prevailing female audience: dark goth with purring-cat-alike vocals Jami (End of You), hot metaller dancing a.k.a. rodeo, JP (Charon), mischievous and seductive Johnny-Depp double Mika (Entwine), smiling hyper-cheerful blondie Emppu (Brother Firetribe) – Nosturi was The Place to be on that Saturday night!
Collarbone The theme of the night I understood, but this one act did not make much sense among the rest. What sounds like an emo-alternative rock from sunny US beach, was very unusual (inappropriate?) among the local ´darkness´ and thus confusing for the audience. Collarbone has its fans, so at least some youngsters enjoyed this very American-influenced band, young and very showy.
This would definitely work with younger indecisive listeners, but for some reason while this band was on I just could not get Bam Margera´s image out of my head. (Perhaps too much prejudice against western Mtv.) One good track worth listening is “Seafarer´s Song” – it is fast and sets the drive, doing the warm-up job just right! Only why do beginner bands like so much to wear their own merchandise during their own performances?! Very un-cool, really.
End Of You What else other than delicious can something be, if it goes by the name Yummy! Actually, it is “Jami”, but in Finnish it is pronounced precisely “yummy” (no kidding).
Many foreign fans came especially to see this act and so were beyond all excitement with band´s appearance on stage. It was the 2nd set for the night, but already then the audience was packed and euphoric screams of cheer and anticipation were deafening.
Trademark strict pinstripe suit (but strangely only one black glove on the singer´s right hand) and deep vocals, naturally or not, but with this kind of deep meowing feel to it, passionate expression and very spiritual (oriental-meditation-atmospheric) melodies – End Of You can be confidently said have developed their recognizable individuality in the little time they are present in Finnish dark scene. Although a bit boring at times, I am unsure I could listen to their complete album, but as a live act, Yummy proves worthy of his tasty name.
Entwine To be honest, at some point I was losing faith in this band, remembering their earlier days and then seeing the new style and image was disappointing. Perhaps Mika Tauriainen has also realized something, as he appears to be back to his darker looks (thank you, dear Johnny Depp, for inspiration!), remaining stylish as always.
This year he did not risk jumping into the audience, as he has done this when headlining the Feast two years ago. Nonetheless, his trademark dance is still up to scratch, only less bottled vodka on stage and a bit more charming behavior, giving those girls something to sigh about. To spice up this cuteness-sweetness, young raising star Jules Näveri (Profane Omen, Misery Inc.) jumped on stage to contribute some rough growling to “Twisted” – original and very memorable act!
In very rapid 30 minutes Entwine managed to play all their up-beat tracks from all four albums and even if you might not have heard them often, or never at all – magically you have found yourself singing along to all the lyrics – one band you can immediately relate to!
Brother Firetribe Caricature artists would have had an endless source of inspiration from this act! With never closing smile Emppu Vuorinen alone is a walking lucky charm, and now being accompanied by a few just as joyful metal fellows, this jolly bunch is your year´s supply of positive hormones! Not surprisingly, Emppu´s own new creation is also unofficially known as joke-metal, drove a lot of attention for very obvious reasons … Now Emppu can join a glam-punk orchestra - at this stage his single blink of an eye and the crowd went ecstatic nuts!
Who would not love to be Emppu at that moment?! And so he was, showing off all his brand tricks and moves, enjoying the attention, by all means being the main entertainment for the night, unfortunate for the rest of the band, it was all about the smiley-blondie in that set. Especially the singer looked like he was not exactly thrilled about the situation, but what is there to do?!...
Charon If years ago JP was not luckily adopted by his current band-mates into now so popular Suomi-act, he would surely have made himself a priceless career on go-go dancing! The guy has all the plastics, moves and uncontrollable drive to handle the “pole” (microphone stand) and pass the energy into the packed audience before him! The next thing would have been for already sweaty hyped-up singer to take his tie of and swing it over his head, like a helicopterrrr… rrrr… The energy was immense and Nosturi was in heat to steam the windows – so hot that a couple of ladies in the back got triggered into quite an extensive bitch-fight right there on the floor among the anxious crowd!
Of course guys could not have been happier to see all the anger and rough actions, hair-pulling and spanking, but unfortunately the reason for the fight appeared on time to end the round and return the excited eyes back onto the main stage…
The band itself was as eclectic to play all the favorites, smartly leaving out the cliché “Little Angel” aside, surely a noticed and a respected gesture by their longer-term listeners. Even so, with this much excitement rush JP has pushed it a bit too far and the night´s version of “Ride On Tears” suffered from too much effort to sound fast and too fast, but being one of the very few flaws the band ever makes live, can be forgiven. JP was the only artist who actually made the audience as part of the band, he jumped into the front rows and the closing song was done actually together with the audience – although the forest of female hands have swallowed the singer completely, everyone ended the Feast satisfied and alive!
Conclusion: Sadly, such long-awaited weekend ended too fast and what felt like, very early. One minute you were banging away to Charon and the next - lights were on, killing your eyes and forcing you out of the building. This really ruined a lot of the atmosphere. Taxis were almost impossible to catch at that time, so a lot of hot metallers were roaming the way from Nosturi… Now this was the end of Finnish festivals for this year.
The first day being below average, because of poor attendance and audience´s indifference, and the second day being way over the top, because of excessive attendance and audience hyper-excitement, on the whole the Feast was a success!
On our behalf, we thank all the organizers and colleagues for a very enjoyable event, great music, as always and all the assistance, with photography especially – made our job much easier!