Finnish Metal Expo 2012 and Finnish Metal Awards: Helsinki, Finland
Band Photo: Edguy (?)
After being in Finland for a full year now, I once again was able to attend the annual Finnish Metal Expo in Helsinki. A good omen for the weekend was the fact that for the first time in weeks, the weather was not so freezing that my fingers would be tempted to fall off.
Perhaps a difference from last year, that I had noticed immediately was the fact the exhibition itself had shrunk a bit. Less guests, and less retail stands of course means smaller crowds and I wondered just what that would mean for the rather exciting lineup this year, which featured Swallow the Sun, ICS Vortex, Turisas and many more!
The opening band of the weekend was German melodic death medal band Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. It is unusual to see a death metal band smiling through their set, but through the whole performance they maintained this air of being absolutely thrilled to be in Helsinki. Though the crowd turnout was a little small for the first band, this did not deter the musicians from giving each song their all. From waving a massive flag to having an audience member afloat on a raft in the crowd, this was a performance of epic proportions!
I left to explore the venue for a while during the next set. Everyone who’s anyone in this business had a booth, from Inferno Magazine and Tuska to the good folks at Inverse Records.
My personal favorite stand of the weekend was the Fireball Whiskey set up in the main bar.
Carnalation had an unfortunate cancellation due to illness, so next up for me was Soen. While Soen did in fact put on a great show, my personal opinion was that they sounded just a bit too much like Tool. Another thing that tweaked me just a tiny bit was that their stage scenery brought to mind a Wolves in the Throne Room back drop. This made it hard to appreciate the music as something unique. But I will say they were technically good, and played for an enthusiastic audience. I think listeners should judge Soen for themselves, and fans of bands like Tool may in fact fall in love with these guys.
On the smaller stage was Finland’s own Axegressor. Their latest album “Next” was released last year through Dethrone Music. These guys did not lack for energy and they certainly put a ton of effort into their performance. Audience interaction was high, and though their antics of spitting water into the photo pit was a bit irritating, I give them immense credit for being entertainers. While in fact being rather young as a band (their debut album “Command” was only released six years ago) they are enthusiastic and charismatic artists! Their latest album “Next” was released last year through Dethrone Music.
Finally the moment I had been waiting for since the bands were announced last fall: ICS Vortex. There are not many artists who have as diverse a career as Simen Hestnaes, from singing in Dimmu Borgir to being the Arcturus front man he has proven again and again that his voice can fit almost anywhere. Getting to see him onstage, performing his own music was a great experience. His debut album “Stormseeker” made up the set, and I was surprised to see many audience members singing along! He is a vibrant and charismatic frontman, and gives the air of being down to earth enough to laugh with the audience. His voice has only improved over the years, and he sings with ease, making one forget that he is still in fact only human.
Swallow the Sun was up next, and after having seen them many times already, I am proud to say it’s still as exciting every time. I personally felt that they should have been playing the bigger stage, as the room itself was really crowded for their set. The environment they created was mysterious, lovely and dark, and featured material from their latest release “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”. Mikko Kotämäki is a rare vocalist that can truly master those deep growls and yet pull off the smoothest cleans the next minute; while Aleksi Munter’s keyboard playing is intricate and adds depth and contrast to every song. Swallow the Sun has a perfect lineup of extremely talented musicians and I fully expect to be cheering them on at next years Finnish Metal Awards. These guys put on a flawless show as always!
Second to last band of the night was Paradise Lost. This was another band I had not heard anything from, and I was very impressed with their set. Beyond being very photogenic, they managed to create this very intricate air wth their music, which itself was very melodic while still staying within the realms of doom metal.
Last up were the headliners of the night, German power metal band Edguy. All in all these guys had the most unique stage presence of any of the bands! With colorful stage lighting, and musicians that seem to take pride in putting on a show (as shown by the colorful clownish backdrop) it was impossible to not enjoy this set. While power metal is really not my thing, I did stay for the whole show. The audience clearly had been waiting with bated breath all day, as it seemed as if the occupants of the coveted front row could not get close enough to the band. Edguy closed the night on a high note, and left all with a sense of excitement for day two of Finnish Metal Expo. View photos here!
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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