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Helsinki Metal Meeting 2010

Global warming??? You rather considered the coming of a new Ice Age when the sixth Helsinki Metal Meeting (former Finnish Metal Expo) took place, at -15 degrees temperatures outside… Still, once again it was a success, 5000 people visited the Cable Factory Helsinki, and Saturday was sold out – but let´s start from the beginning…

Interactive photo gallery at the bottom

Everything started already on Thursday Feb 18, 2010 after the “Industry Day”, a Metal media & makers´conference at Nosturi-Club Helsinki, with a Kick-Off-Party.
The 80s Metal act Armour was missed due to harsh temperatures outside we felt reluctant to meet after our Finntroll interview (coming soon), but check them out yourselves here:

Barren Earth
can be labelled a Finnish All-Star-Project because of Sami Yli-Sirniö, Kreator and Waltari guitarist, or Basser Olli-Pekka Laine and Keyboarder Kasper Mårtenson (Ex-Amorphis, Ex-Mannhai) in the line-up. The debut “Curse Of The Red River”, to be released soon, has already been praised by Metal press. Live their sound mix of Melodic Death, 70s Prog and Finnish Melancholy, plus some Doom and Folk worked pretty well. Compared with his main band singer Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow The Sun) even put on an ecstatic-excessive stage show – well, IN COMPARISON… cool act, keep an eye on them:

The chanting long before the show said it all, which band the audience really longed for:

went on tour right after this show, but no stress signs, the Trolls pulled off a perfect show. Vreth has grown into the role of a front man, impressing with voice and presence, thus making up for what might be lacking in body mass index (in comparison with earlier front men). The only the previous day released album “Nifelvind” was present in the program e.g. with the title track, but classics from “Jaktens Tid” or the previous CD “Ur Jordens Djup” were not missing either. Great show, a band you have fun watching – so check them out when they play in your town (see STALKER tour dates or (KW)

Friday Feb 19, 2010

A Songwriting-Workshop
on main stage is a somewhat unusual beginning for the HMM.
Tuomas Saukkonen, git, (e.g. Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon) and Kai Hahto, drums, (Swallow The Sun, Wintersun, Ex-Rotten Sound) – both being crowned next day as “Musicians of the Year” ranks 2 and 3 – jammed together for the first time, in front of an audience, and spontaneously reacting to people´s suggestions. Well, only professionals like those 2 can set the cue “Juna” (train) to music (showing traces of humour, Tuomas wanted to know if passenger or freight train) and create a pretty cool song in 30 min, complete with (totally improvised) growl lyrics… those two should indeed join forces for a project! (, (KW)

Not much time to check out Rage My Bitch from Kouvola on the small Musamaailma stage – somehow a pity, because their Metal-Core-sounding two-vocalist ear candy was quite appealing. Check them out:

In the area you found the usual “suspects” present with stands – festivals, musical instrument manufacturers, merchandisers, media and bands surrounded by Metal fans who came to test equipment, join raffles or gather autographs and give-aways.

… and some visual candy could be discovered outside the main area, too. (KW)

Those Finnish Humppa guys are always worth to watch in action, just seeing Jonne´s mike stand is something. Obviously a reindeer had to let its life for it. With their hymns for the Kalevala gods and drinking rhymes they got the audience going, and their cheers also made the guys on stage happy. (SM)

After the crazy guys of Korpiklaani normality was restored again. Kiana from Hyvinkää, Finland proved that there are still not enough melodic Death Metal bands in Finland who with their well-tried formula of rough verse, catchy chorus, and romantic lyrics continue to try to jump on the long gone bandwagon. There was really nothing exciting to see let alone to hear here. Next one, please! (KG)

Lauri Porra Bass clinc
The master of the Bass guitar gave an audience on Musamaailma stage. Lauri Porra, member of Stratovarius and descendant of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, pulled the strings and revealed secrets of his instrument. In Finnish only, though, yet despite not understanding the language it was fun to watch, how charming, patient and with a touch of humour he answered questions from the audience and gave demonstratios. Great show. (SM)

With [Amatory] from Russia it got a lit more turbulent again. With a lot of energy and cataclysmic bass sounds from the boxes the guys swept over the whole venue or at least almost all expo goers out of the same because suddenly everyone had gone somewhere else. But actually, there was, at least musically, no reason to do so as the quite melodic post-punk, hardcore sounds, Refused could be mentioned here, managed to capture my attention for the entire 30 minutes playing time. (KG)

Doom Unit
Here another severe case of deceit because Doom Unit as one might assume reading the band´s name don´t play any kind of doom AT ALL but, and that´s even worse, run-of-the-mill radio rock. Funnily, the band had won a contest with the Finnish radio station, and now get this, named Radio Rock last year and with it acquired the licence to play tonight. Be it as it may, perfectly good 30 minutes were properly wasted. (KG)

V For Violence
Only judged by name and appearance, those guys must be a top act. But unfortunately also music is part of a band. Their so-called Goth-Core gathered some fans, but I´m definitely not one of them. Some parts are nice to listen to, still for me this act is a Deathstars-Copy. No band for people who like melodies – their only motto seems to be: Chaos! (SM)

Swedish Death, literally – the guys around front pig Peter Tägtgren battled with all they had and won over the hall within seconds. Finns love Swedes, sometimes, provided they are not playing ice hockey against them. One of the few bands that pull off Blast beats as well as groove, e.g. “Fire In The Sky”… my ears like Peter Tätgren´s other project Pain a bit more, still that show was great, and Finnish Death fans celebrated those guys like kings anyway. Especially when a soon upcoming album was announced. (KW)

With some delay this Black Metal icon entered stage, declaring “The Age Of Nero” and had the walls shake & rattle! Right from the start they defused rumours of a break-up and even announced more shows in Finland in summer. As brutal as the sound was the show, and fronter Satyr divides the opinions, some find him mind-blowing and honest, for me he felt sort-of pretentious and arrogant – but luckily tastes differ…

Otherwise nothing to complain about – without mercy or pauses to relax the Norwegians bombarded their fans, and according the reactions of the latter this band was one of the most favored at this year´s HMM. (KW)

It´s difficult to say which of the co-headliners received louder cheers, and due to the delay we could not enjoy the show in full length. Mixed emotions about that, because the sound was everything but clear, Tomi Joutsen´s Clean Vocals even sounded slightly off sometimes. Old stuff like “Against Widows” were put into a lengthy Medley, and among the all time faves we received e.g. “The Smoke”, “Into Hiding” plus surprisingly the rarely played and “Exile of the Sons Of Uisliu”.

Amazing, after a series of brilliant gigs, to see a not-that-brilliant gig, well, sound-wise, and those flaws were easily made up by the guys´ sunny natures and audience interaction. This band should be awarded even twice the following day… (KW)

Samstag 20.2.2010

Live Metal Brunch
Despite being still tired from the previous night we have to check out the novelty Live Metal Brunch in the most popular record store in town, where a 3 course menue is offered. As the starter we receive the „acoustic“ version of Finnish war-gods Sotajumala, who present their new album.

As main dish some new songs of Suburban Tribe are offered, and charismatic singer Ville Tuomi brings back life spirits to the most hangover-ish attendant of that show. (photo: Sonja Kappes)

As the dessert the Fresh Act The Man Eating Tree, which might be quite interesting to many of you, is offered, as it is the new band of Ex-Sentenced Drummer Vesa Ranta. Those 5 songs give an impression of their upcoming album, and it´s clear that it will raise attention. Those emotional songs, occasionally reminding of old Sentenced times, go straight at your heart. They play with passion that is rarely seen, and you can hear that clearly. (SM)

Turmion Kätilöt

First there was a sense of disappointment, because singer Spellgoth has never been THAT fully dressed when entering stage, as far as I remember. Well, he should not STAY dressed all the time… otherwise this Industrial-Metal act from Kuopio took the crowd over with the first riffs of “Verta ja Liha” (blood and flesh). MC Raaka Pee didn´t really need those “Kuopio sucks, Helsinki rocks” chants, the audience enjoyed shouting and cheering along during the whole gig. And there should be a new album out later this year… ( (KW)

Then it was time again for the sleepless and their head bang-approved, premium melo metal. Despite the fact that Insomnium are at the moment of the best Finnish bands (shortly after the gig they got two Finnish Metal awards), the guys only had 30 minutes to play, what a shame because the house was full and everyone was fully into it. Beautiful but way too short. (KG)

As suspected, this Drummer Competition on Musamaailma-Stage turned out to be an insider event, therefore it wasn´t as full as during clinics or live events. A jury evaluated 3min soli of newcomer-drummers. For non-drummers as exciting as watching paint dry… (KW)

Esa Holopainen & Tomi Koivusaari
from Amorphis answer the questions of Radio Rock host Jone Nikula and the pretty big audience. Unfortunately everything is in Finnish,totally ignoring the international guests. Some of Tomi´s jokes can be understood, therefore it was still kind of interesting. (SM)

Finnish Metal Awards
Amorphis received two awards, one in the category “Best Singer” (ahead of Petri Lindroos, Ensiferum, and Stam1nas Antti Hyyrynen) – Tomi Joutsen was not present, but “the other Tomi” in the band (guitarist Koivusaari) and Band-Boss Esa Holopainen received his trophy, and later another one for “Best Cover” (“Skyforger”, by Travis Smith. The mentioned CD only missed narrowly the award for “Best Album” …

… that one was taken Insomnium for “Across The Dark“, and also this band had to come on stage again, to receive the award for “Band of the Year”, ahead of e.g. Ensiferum. Demo-Band of the Year: “Ghoul Patrol”, Newcomer of the Year: “FM2000”.

The award for “Musician of the Year” was received by Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom) personally. (KW)

Survivors Zero
This band sticks out like a rusty nail – this is what bassist and ex-Finntroll Tapio Wilska says about his new band and he´s right. Be it the brutal death metal sounds far from the ususal Finnish melancholy or guest musicians in underwear – you definitely will be entertained brilliantly. On this night absolutely no survivors were left behind and that´s the way it should be. (KG)

A special honour for Leverage, they are introduced by 6 year old Metal-youngster Rony, who is a real celebrity in Finland and really hightened the spirits of the crowd just by his presence. The band was quite surprised that there were many many more people than the expected „handful of fans“, the room was packed. They opened with Wolf & the Moon and got the crowd going. Although they were supposed to play only 30 min, they gave 45 min of their heaviest songs in the repertoire. With this gig they surely won more fans. (SM)

Swallow The Sun 
I appreciated the fact that those guys played one of my faves “Into The Gloomy Light” after I survived the battle in the photo pit… they started with “These Woods Breathe Evil”, the opener of their new album “New Moon”. The “new guy” Kai Hahto managed to destroy the snare drum, yet not during his brutal blast beats – it was during the rather calm “Don´t Fall Asleep” … his rather ornate style is definitely a reason to listen more closely to the drums during live-gigs.

The big audience was another sign that STS are now among the real big bands in Finland, and the fact that only a few notes of “The Giant” were enough to have the crowd cheer. For “Lights On THe Lake” guest vocalist Aleah appeared in person on stage, and “Swallow” rounded up a great show – simply a great band you enjoy watching again and again – so if they happen to drop by during the Katatonia tour, go and check them out! (see STALKER tourdates or (KW)

Like before at Siba-Fest the focus was on Metallica covers, e.g. Seek and Destroy, yet the world´s heaviest Cello ensemble also performed softly, e.g. a brand new song where drummer Mikko Sirén played contrabass for the first time live. Guest vocalist was once again Tipe Johnson for “I´m not Jesus”, “Life Burns” and “I don´t care”, inspiring the crowd.

My concerns that the sound might be not THAT good turned out to be unfounded. Sepultura´s “Refuse Resist” or “Inquisition Symphony” performed by this Metal band with unusual instruments is always an experience – no wonder the audience went nuts, and the hall was crowded to overflowing.. (KW)

How Sonata Arctica and their pyro show fared – we did not wait to chek it out personally, for organisational reasons… like some others we tried to catch the last bus home. It´s not always an advantage to be a Finnish festival´s ultimate headliner… According to fan reports the band didn´t seem tired despite the late hour, and the hall remained packed until the end at 2.30 am. The setlist contained rather recent material (“Flag In The Ground”, “The Last Amazing Grays” and “Juliet” from the current Album), various singles “Paid In Full” and “Don´t Say A Word” and classics like “Full Moon”, there was a huge pyro show, and the famous “Vodka”-Song to round up the show. (KW)

Autors / photographers: Kathleen Gransalke (KG), Sandy Mahrer (SM), Klaudia Weber (KW)

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Sandy Mahrer

Fresh Act editor, reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Pop-Rock etc. Less Death, Black, Grind Core