October 19, 2022 was a night of otherworldly music at Olympia in Tampere, Finland. Jonathan Hultén (formerly of Tribulation) opened the night with a highly anticipated show. His music and live performance is truly a work of art, and it is easy to believe his artistic abilities span many mediums. “Dark Folk” would be the most generic way to describe his music, though it is hard to label as there are so many unique elements. Hearing the music live was completely different on its own, almost as if just listening to the album was not meant to be the full experience. The sound, accompanied by Hultén‘s presence, aesthetic and stage decor made for an inimitable performance. There was a constant stream of nature/bird sounds in the background between songs that gave off a sense I had never experienced at a club gig, playing tricks with the mind as to where exactly you were standing. Hultén‘s presence was typically quite stoic, almost meditative, which enhanced his every movement and facial expression, giving them so much more meaning and power. At times it felt he was performing his own personal ritual. My only complaint was that it was too short! I could stand there and watch for hours more.
Hällas continued the night with quite a special performance in a very different way. They quite authentically give off a 70’s prog rock vibe. They have nailed everything from the sound to the shiny space boots. It truly felt like a shift in space and time to experienced their music live. Although it is easy to see where they get their inspiration, they do it justice!
Melancholy Mass 2022: Red Moon Architect, Kaunis Kuolematon, Marianas Rest, October Tide and Swallow the Sun at Olympia in Tampere, FI
What better way to welcome the beautiful gloom of Autumn than with the masters of melancholy and doom? Friday, September 23, 2022 was the Autumnal Equinox and Melancholy Mass hit the stage in Tampere, Finland.
Marianas Rest opened the mini festival with their usual presence that is almost viscerally tragic. Melancholic with a touch of extreme.
Red Moon Architect continued with their huge sound and amazing stage presence, probably the heaviest sound of the night balanced with the delicate vocals of Anni Viljanen.
The night continued with Kaunis Kuolematon endulging the audience in their own brand of melancholic metal. The contrast between Olli and Mikko’s vocals never ceases to bring chills and a unique feeling of strength and powerlessness.
October Tide blew me away. They were the only band on the bill that I had not seen before and I truly hope they make their way back soon. They added a raw heavy twist to the mix, still doom as hell but some got under your skin in a deeper and dirtier way than the other bands. Love their stage presence too, Alexander has a snarky dgaf attitude that keeps things light but heavy at the same time, i.e. (to the audience) “Are you happy?” -audience cheers- “why are you happy? We’re trying to make you sad.”
And the highlight of the evening, Swallow the Sun. I can never praise this band enough. They are always a pleasure to watch and shoot, even when their performance is a little off, it makes it all the more of a unique experience, as each show of theirs is.
Saarihelvetti 2022 was full of top notch music. A perfect omnium gatherum (yes it is a word! n. a collection of miscellaneous people or things. Merriam-Webster.com. 2022) of genres ranging from fresh new black metal to popish metal core to headlining raw industrial metal. Although the weather was epic as well (in a not so enjoyable way), festival goers were almost able to overlook the constant rain as they enjoyed the first restriction free Saarihelvetti in 3 years. Although the festival was able to slither between the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, there were still inevitable lineup changes and restrictions which made the festival a bit more difficult to navigate. This year we were finally free!
Evanescence played at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland this past June. They had also planned to play Rock in the City Helsinki but the festival was unfortunately canceled. Thankfully they were still able to play the brand new arena with supporting acts, Brittish rockers Tigress and home country stars Cyan Kicks. It was great to see so many people show up on a Sunday evening to support these three kick ass bands. Specially Evanescence, who don’t come to Finland often. My personal history with the band dates back almost 20 years, running into Amy in 2004 and being invited to watch a soundcheck for a gig in Florida during their debut album tour. Nostalgia and deep admiration for her and her journey in music, as well as her music’s imperative role in my own life made the gig that much more special on a personal level, but I could tell I was not alone in these feelings looking around the venue. I was also a bit surprised but grateful to see many younger attendees! Although the lineup of the band had changed (and very recently at that, only a week prior to the gig welcoming Emma Anzai to the family after Jen Majura stepped down), their cohesive stage presence was unforgettable. I also commend Amy and her ability to connect with the crowd, even a stadium gig, on a level that makes it seem like we were watching at an intimate club gig.
Cyan Kicks performed a gig beyond expectation, they definitely earned their place as an opening act! It was surprising to hear it was their first stadium gig, a they ruled the stage and captured the entire place with their energy like old pros!
Tigress made a good name for themselves, although I felt their style of music and presence would have shined much brighter in different atmosphere. That said, I look forward to seeing them progress and grow!
Photo Report: Nummirock 22-25.6.2022 in Kauhajoki, Finland Photography by Serena Solomon
Ah, to be back on the shores of Nummijärvi! Back at our midsummer home! How liberating and comforting it was to be back to normal, back to Nummirock, no restrictions, just festival life as we know it (plus a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer). I have to say though, the atmosphere was a bit more chill than I remembered, whether it was the two years break taking its toll or the simple fact that we were all two years older. Mostly, the crowd and camp grounds were back to their normal crazy selves, but maybe it was the stamina that was tuned down a few notches, or the fact that there seemed to be significantly less attendees than in past years. Either way, it had no affect on the quality of the festival! The weather stayed on the better side of “typical Finnish midsummer weather”, even a bit too much at times. The first time in my memory that the main stage crowd had to be sprayed down by security to keep cool! The festival staff took good care of the artists, attendees, media and staff.
Wednesday provided an extended “pre-party”. As previous years usually kept to the Klubi stage with a few bands, this year the Inferno stage was also open, and included a special performance from the future of music, a local band camp. Highlights from Wednesday included Rytmihäiriö setting the crowd off into their four day spin, mosh pits during Vorna, and the first Estonian band to perform at Nummi in 30 years, Metsätöll, closing out the evening!
WEDNSDAY 22.6: Rytmihäiriö, Memoremains, Ember Falls, Vorna and Metsätöll
Thursday kicked off with Kaunis Kuolematon on a more melancholic note, but maybe a good decision for those of us who celebrated being back at Nummi extra hard the night before. But not to stay somber for too long! Inferno and Main stages were opened by legends! Kiuas and Korpiklaani filled up the 18+ areas as if prohibition just ended. Other highlights from Thursday included Rotting Christ blasting the Inferno stage during a firey sunset, Alien Weaponry giving one of the most memorable Main stage performances I have ever witnessed, and Chamber of Unlight closing the evening with a noteworthy night cap of modern black metal at its finest.
THURSDAY 23.6: Kaunis Kuolematon, Kiuas, Korpiklaani, Carach Angren, At the Gates, Rotting Christ, Crimson Sun, Alien Weaponry, Mimorium and Chamber of Unlight
Friday’s lineup was back to back “can’t miss that” bands. Fear of Domination opened the day with their undeniable dance party that took the conga lines all the way to the main stage for Ensiferum. Dawn of Solace gave us a mid-day cool down, but not for long before Borknagar played a highly anticipated set. Other highlights were Mgła, probably the most anticipated gig of the entire festival for me personally, which went beyond expectation, even more so with the imagery of their blacked out faces against the deep orange of the sunset. Gorgoroth and their spectacle of pure black metal aesthetics. That was really cool to see on the main stage. And last but not least And Oceans closing the evening against a dramatic evening sky.
FRIDAY 24.6: Fear of Domination, Where’s My Bible, Dawn of Solace, Borknagar, Diablo, Mgła, Gorgoroth and And Oceans
Saturday brought the tiny humans back to the festival grounds, mini-metal heads in the making came with their families to see the world famous Hevisaurus, enjoy balloons, rides, and cotton candy, joining in conga lines and flexing their little devil horns! There was a bit of a scheduling fuckup as Sepultura had travel issues, so the beauties from Tampere Burlesque went on earlier than expected to fill the space. Unfortunately many didn’t get the memo in time and missed their first set. Otherwise, highlights from Saturday included a hefty helping of folk metal from Brother of Metal, legends Sepultura and Hammerfall saturating the main stage with all the international music we’ve missed out on these past few years, Turmion Kätilöt giving us some comfort food and a proper closing of the Inferno stage and Apocalyptica as the grand finale. They never fail to impress and seemed as if they also did not want to end the show and would have continued playing all through the night!
SATURDAY 25.6: Hevisaurus, Brothers of Metal, Sepultura, Hammerfall, Turmion Kätilöt and Apocalyptica
As impressive as the lineup for this years Nummirock was, with headlining bands that don’t come to Finland often, the Main stage crowds seemed to be much smaller than previous years. I hope with all my heart this is only due to people being hesitant to commit to attending a festival after so many canceled and postponed gigs, and the next few years will bring things back up to the speed it was going before the world collapsed. Until next year!
The intro guitars remind a bit of old HIM distortion, but then silence comes and Lauri’s voices is accompanied but strings…. and aside from being reminiscent of all the collaborations with Apocalyptica, my mind went straight to one of my all time favorite songs of theirs dating back to the album Into, “Last Waltz”. But as the song flows on, there are also heavy vibes from their album Black Roses and those words, “black roses” are even entwined in the lyrics. The song is a bit fragmented in my opinion, stops and starts, heavy distorted guitars that fall off abruptly into the delicate gothic victorian strings. I like all the elements and am really happy to hear the whole band again (after the last few albums that seemed to drag Lauri’s solo electronic pop album out and out). That dark gothy vibe that drew many of us in and held fast through at least three albums (not to mention the similarity of the music video to the US verison of In The Shadows video…. the one that personally started me on this journey)… but also this newish raw, heavy, almost metal sound that you can hear in fits and start (also here and therein their Eurovision single “Jezebel”). I feel like the band has new life blown into them, and I am very eager to see what else is coming!