Finnish Metal Expo…that annual wet dream for metalheads in Finland and in other countries too it seems. So many non-finns contacted me before FME and also you could notice a vast variety of nations in this years FME. This years FME was held again in Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki and the event took place on 18th – 20th February. The tickets for saturday were already sold out in advance and I think friday turned sold-out also cause it was PACKED! That ment over 5000 metalheads enjoying good music and good company during 2 days. Well the event itself started already on thursday 18th from Nosturi but the actual FME started on friday 19th.
This years bandroster was quite impressive. They had bands like Korpiklaani, Amorphis, Satyricon, Hypocrisy, Insomniun, Swallow The Sun, Apocalyptica and Sonata Arctica. On top of that there were clinics and interviews of Lauri Porra (Stratovarius), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot etc.), Alexi Laiho (COB) to name a few.
There was also a section for sellers and it included festival organizers, labels, merchandisers and record shops so you were able to update your metalgear in every way possible! The only bad thing about the seller-section was that it was all the time too crowded. You basically weren’t able to stop and see stuff without someone pushing you in the back but then again considering the structure of Kaapelitehdas…this was the only way to go.
So…metalheads…good metalmusic and Finland…so what about the refreshments? Surely there had to be a place to buy at least beer right? Guess how many others wanted to pour some cold beer to their sore throats as well? God dammit! The problem wasn’t the waiting in line, in fact that part was very quick but the facilities…again too crowded. Well drinking is a social event and nobody felt lonely But just like the sellers-area it would have been impossible to have drinking areas where you would’ve had space enough too. So although those things didn’t work very well, it was organized as good as possible considering the facilities.
Just as Finnish Metal Expo is an annual event, so is Finnish Metal Awards where people choose the best metalacts of the year. And this year was no different. Below are the winners and categories from this years Finnish Metal Awards
Band of the year: Insomnium
Record of the year: Insomnium
Vocalist of the year: Tomi Joutsen, Amorphis
Musician of the year: Alexi Laiho
Cover art of the year: Skyforger, Amorphis (Travis Smith)
New comer of the year: FM2000
Demo band of the year: Ghoul Patrol
I didn’t manage to see every band playing but the ones I did surely impressed me a lot. Well I focused more on bands that I hadn’t seen before and those included Insomnium, Hypocrisy, Satyricon, Swallow The Sun and Leverage. Well I saw Leverage years ago in Myötätuulirock but it seems a lot has happened since.
Leverage played on the small “Musamaailma”-stage and the space was very small in general. In this case it was a good thing cause the atmosphere was excellent. Leverage was welcomed on stage by Rony Österlund, probably the youngest true metalhead in Finland! That adorable kid is known all around Finland for his addiction to good music. Hopefully I am able to do an interview of Rony one of these days And if I am, you can read his interview from these blogs of course.
It’s nice to see a change in a band during 3 years cause I think it was 2008 when I saw Leverage in Myötätuulirock and quite frankly, they weren’t all that good back then. I am still not a fan of their type of music but I tend to measure a band also through their live performance and I was very impressed by it. Their songs are also better these days than it was years ago and Pekka Heino…that man can really sing! He is probably known better from Brother Firetribe but when a person is blessed with a voice like his…it’s awesome to listen no matter what the band is. And one other thing I noticed, his stagepersonality is so much more better these days. Leverage was a very positive gig for me I must admit.
Hypocrisy…although finnish metal is in my veins and rules my world I do like bands outside of Finland too. In fact I have lots of bands I love that aren’t from Finland. Hypocrisy is one of them. God bless Spotify cause I have been able to get acquainted to their older material through Spotify…I might even purchase the premium Spotify at some point cause I am in all honesty starting to get pissed off by “Jonathan and Roberta from Spotify” But how was Hypocrisy in FME then? Hypocrisy is a new band for me to be honest. I knew of course Peter Tägtgren by name and by his work in Pain but I didn’t remember hearing Hypocrisy much although they are an old band already. Well Spotify helped me with this problem and I was able to listen to their albums. Should it be called melodic death metal? Whatever It’s fucking awesome! I am still in the middle of going through their older material but the albums I’ve listened “A Taste Of Extreme Divinity”, “Virus” and “The Arrival” were excellent albums. And my friends keep on telling me that the best albums are the older ones so I think I am in for a treat by going them through.
Hypocrisy played a 60-minute set in FME so it naturally included mostly songs from their new album. I was fine by it since it was the album I knew best. I was very impressed how Peter Tägtgren handled the vocals…although his style is very grim he is still able to give it depth…and those low notes…the man sounds like the satan himself! Those are easy to do on an album but when you master them live it says something about the man and his skills. Hypocrisy drummer Horgh (also known from Immortal) had some problems on some songs but overall he handled things like a pro. I am not one of those guys that goes to concerts just to hear musicians play notes wrong and then bash them about it. That is just so überdumb. Overall the gig was excellent. Sound was better than average yet not perfect. I thought it was the hall but there were other bands that sounded more clear so maybe they had some issues getting their sound right. But you were still able to separate the instruments and it wasn’t just noisepourage so what the hell really Besides it’s always nice to hear a swede complementing finnish audience!
Satyricon…now there is a band I knew nothing about except they are from norway and of course play black metal. But I did hear something else too…that they have an awesome drummer and since drums are my favourite instrument, I looked forward to their gig. And it was so weird watching a gig not knowing any of the songs But I did pay mostly attention on the drummer Frost…what is he? A human cyborg? A machine perhaps? Nobody plays like that! It was insane and I was telling my wife in every chance I got just how freakish I thought his playing was. It wasn’t just that his blastbeat was out of this world but he was extremely technical as well. So it was extreme speed with extreme talent.
But the thing that made this particular gig interesting was the fact that I had never heard Satyricon before. And no matter what anyone say, it is difficult to make new fans just through shows cause the songs always tend to get lost with the audience, venue and sound etc. But Satyricon had an extremely good sound, so clear yet the drums sounded like thunder so it was easy to pick up even nyances from the songs. And even my wife who isn’t a fan of black metal liked it. But to me it was Frost who made the show worth it…I still can’t believe how someone can play so god damn well…horns up!
Insomnium was Band of the Year and their “Across The Dark” was Album of the Year in Finnish Metal Awards this year. And Insomnium was also the sole reason for me being in Finnish Metal Expo. Well them and Hypocrisy but mainly Insomnium. What pissed me off really was the fact that they were only given 30 minutes to perform…how can you do that with an awesome band like Insomnium? Well trying to put that aside I was enjoying the concert. They mostly played songs from their praised “Across The Dark“-album which I in fact reviewed sometime ago. Read it here.
After the Insomnium gig was the Finnish Metal Awards where like like stated above, won 2 categories so it was very nice to seem them recognized. I have always said that Insomnium has never been appreciated the way they would deserve. But hopefully things are changing. For sure they have been more popular outside of Finland than in Finland but it really seems to be changing here as well and that is welcomed. People were really into them in Finnish Metal Awards and although they just played 30 minutes it seems people considered getting their moneys worth. At least I did. They played some songs from “Across The Dark” that featured Jules Näveri from Profane Omen in the album and I silently wished to see Jules singing those clean parts in FME too…but no. But the surprise was positive to hear the other guitarist handing the clean parts cause he did them very well.
Swallow the Sun…oh boy this one was difficult. There was one question going through my mind throughout the saturday…how will Swallow The Sun sound live? I mean the band is simply awesome but they are also in a way this moody and slow and I wasn’t quite sure how it would fit the crowd especially since there were bands like Survivors Zero, Winterborn, Insomnium, Apocalyptica and Sonata Arctica on saturday too. Each of them presented genres that were popular and I wasn’t sure how this doomish thing would work…but hey…people absolutely loved it. There were some people who left during the gig but perhaps they were some Sonata Arctica fans and since they didn’t get high and loud the decided to leave. It was their loss. I loved the stage presence of vocalist Mikko Kotamäki. He wasn’t jumping around or anything…he stood there and did his thing. And after each song he just said with a very low voice “Kiitoksia” (thank you). I think it was supercool They played songs from their latest album “New Moon” (of course) but they also included one of my alltime favourites to their setlist. That being of course “Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror pt.2)” from “Hope” -album.
One nice surprise on the Swallow The Sun gig was the guest artist Aleah who came on stage to sing a song “Lights on the Lake (Horror Pt. III)” with Mikko Kotamäki. It was pure perfection to hear her angelic voice with Mikko’s hellish growling and it suited the atmospere perfectly.
All in all the gig of Swallow The Sun was very atmospheric. I wasn’t familiar with all their songs unfortunately but even the ones I didn’t recognize sounded very good…hmm…maybe I will open Spotify and interact with Roberta and Jonathan a bit and perhaps I can listen to some tunes of Swallow The Sun every now and then
But my fears of how Swallow The Sun would work live was rubbish cause the entire show was simply awesome. And it won’t be the last StS gig I will attend…that’s a promise!