Spinefeast at Sea Festival 2012, January 19th and 20th
Band Photo: Swallow The Sun (?)
Tis the season apparently for metal cruises, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Spinefeast at Sea cruise from Helsinki, to Tallin last Thursday and Friday! The cruise was organized by Spinefarm Records, and with perfect timing as the label was celebrating its 20th birthday this year.
Here in Finland, these cruises to Tallin, Estonia are known for being somewhat of a booze cruise, and almost every Finn has been on one of these journeys to either Stockholm, Tallin, or St. Petersburg. The tax free alcohol and overall party mood are always a safe bet for a good time and I for one can’t think of a better accompaniment to my inexpensive alcohol consumption then to have a solid 20 hours of metal oriented fun! Aboard the ship, called The Baltic Princess, were opportunities for drinking, dancing, metal karaoke and of course an exciting and diverse lineup of 8 bands.
First up as we departed from Helsinki was Profane Omen. This is the perfect band to start off the journey; these guys were as passionate performers as ever and are always a pleasure to see live. Highlights of the performance included “Predators” off of the latest release “Destroy!” Though the audience was small, everyone who showed up for this set was enthusiastic to see the Lahti based band. The technically challenging riffs were as flawless as ever, and Jules Näveri draws in the audience with his energy and throaty growls.
Next up to play was Swedish/Danish power metal band Amaranthe. I had not honestly heard of these guys before, and they were a true delight to see! Armed with three talented vocalists, Amaranthe was quick to draw in a large crowd. It is not often the I get to see female fronted bands, and Elize was a performer in every sense of the word. Too often are musicians quick to take themselves too seriously and lose a sense of fun while on stage; but this is certainly not the case with Amaranthe (or with any other bands I saw these two days luckily). The operatic clean vocals of Elize and Jake were in perfect contrast to the symphonic instrumentations and growls that layered throughout every song.
Viikate was third on the list for the night, and came highly recommended to me. Formed in Kouvula, Finland in 1996; these guys have become known for their traditional lyrics. They sing entirely in Finnish, and seem to draw more inspiration from rocky riffs and smooth clean vocals rather than the heavier, darker metal genres. They had a shorter set then I would have liked but this did not deter them from giving a flawless performance.
Following Viikate was Dragonforce and Shining, but I chose to go see a rather unique performance instead: in the quieter Martini Bar of the Baltic Princess, was the performance of heavy metal lounge classics by Sami Hinkka, Jukka-Pekka Miettinen, and Henri Sorvali. I personally think this should become a regular occurrence, because seeing metal musicians who typically look rather fierce on stage dressed in classy suits with with full lounge instrumentation is a rather fun change in routine. The laid back performance included an enthusiastic maraca solo by Kai Hahto and all who showed up had a great time. The culmination of the set was a performance of “Hail and Kill” where the audience joined in and was rather put on the spot as they were required to sing along.
Last on the list for the night were Norwegian Black Metal legends, Mayhem. Though the performance was not accompanied by the usual bloody animal heads, the ambience these men have become known for was not forgotten. Every time I seen Mayhem, the experience is completely hypnotic. The small stage, combined with the large crowd pressed against my refuge in the photo pit made for a tense environment that was only emphasized by the smoke filled dimly lit stage, spattered with fake blood. Attila’s vocals have never ceased to be stirring, and his theatrical demeanor still manages one to make me question if I’m truly witnessing something demonic, and not just an artistic performance. Though Necrobutcher was supposedly exorcised this past fall, I thankfully see no evidence of the effects of that, and am quite happy to say these guys are as black as ever.
After a night of traditional booze cruise antics, combined with little sleep I was well prepared for the noon time performance of Finnish-Swedish band Bob Malmström! Check the band's website here. The self proclaimed “Borgarcore” (think bourgeoisie) band, is just the thing to get one excited and ready to go for day two of Spinefeast. How these guys managed to perform this early after a night on the Baltic Princess I will never understand. This band is known for combining metal with a capitalistic message, and armed with wine and quite classy attire they quite get that message across. How serious they are, I’m honestly not quite sure. Their debut album “Tala Svenska Eller Dö” (Speak Swedish or Die according to google translate.) was released last year through Spinefarm. Highly orginal, Bob Malmström plays hardcore, combined with a message that propagates the rich Finnish Swedish population in Finland. They are thoroughly fun to be in the audience for and ultimately manage to be quite thought provoking. Well done!
Closing the cruise, was one of my personal favorites. Finnish Metal Band Swallow the Sun was last on the list for the day and highly anticipated. The set featured a solid mix of material, including the latest release “Cathedral Walls.”
This song moves one to tears with the depth of emotion, ranging from rage to sorrow. It’s not often then metal can be described as beautiful perhaps, but Swallow the Sun has managed to make just that. Melodic guitar and lilting keyboard lines combined with Mikko Kotamäki’s distinct vocals make for an intoxicating mix. “These Woods Breathe Evil,” had the audience headbanging along with the band, and the usual flawless yet moving drumming by Kai Hahto adds to the heavy atmosphere of the music. The haunting set left me eager to hear the latest album "Emerald Forest And The Blackbird" which is set to be released next month.
Spinefeast at Sea was a blast, and I for one am already looking forward to the next one. Thanks to everyone who made these two days memorable! Photos to be uploaded soon!
Rachel Pappila has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal and folk music fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here or at liliumphotography.com.
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