The Blanko´s second album, Into The Silence, was released on the same day as the album release party was held in Virgin Oil in Helsinki. The band´s unique style of "modern retro rock" has acquired a loyal fan base, even if I would gladly see the band attract bigger crowds. They´d deserve it.
And perhaps with the fierce rocking they´re doing on this second album they will start getting full audiences. The album release party´s venue is a medium sized club stage smack in the middle of Helsinki, so the settings are certainly good.
The supporting act, Cherry and the Vipers, is a retro number in its own way. Their setlist takes me back to the Finnish rock and punk rock world of the 80´s. The lyrics, sung in Finnish, are full of love and rebellious attitude and the female vocalist, Cherry (Kirsi Ylijoki) looks and sounds the part of a punk rock chick. The thing to notice about this band, in relation to The Blanko, however, is the drummer. Eicca Toppinen, the cellist of Apocalyptica fame, has left his bow backstage and taken a pair of drumsticks into good use.
The Blanko steps on stage in front of an excitedly buzzing crowd. They start out with force - but perhaps just a tiny bit nervous and therefore more restrained? I´m so used to seeing them reaching such high energy levels right from the beginning of a set that I can´t help but wonder if the album release jitters got to them for a while. Which is more than understandable and certainly didn´t affect the whole gig. The playing is impeccable as always, the vocalist, Pauli Hauta-aho, is just a bit more still than usually. For a while.
Towards the end of the gig the band seems to relax and the audience gets to enjoy new and old songs for over 1,5 hours - the band is clearly enjoying what they´re doing. The familiar Blanko energy flows freely and it´s certainly awesome to hear the new material now that the album is already familiar to me. The band has included some of the songs from this new album on their previous gigs as well, but now there´s a real connection to them.
One of the highlights of the gig for me is when Eicca Toppinen steps on the stage with his cello during Krazy Heart. It´s cool to see a featuring artist perform with the three Blanko guys, and the cello fits the song excellently. The Blanko really doesn´t need an extra energy boost, but having Eicca bring his talent to the mix resulted in a furiously fantastic performance of a song that has quickly become my favorite on the album.
All in all, the album release party of Into The Silence is a great start for what will most likely be a busy autumn for The Blanko. Not that many tour dates are announced yet as I write this, but if and when they are, be sure you´ll catch one of the gigs. You won´t regret it. These guys will modernly retro rock your socks off.