Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Tarot / Charon

Friday, March 5, 2004
Tavastia Club, Helsinki Finland

Review and live pictures by Arto Lehtinen 

Putting two leading Finnish metal names, namely Tarot and Charon, on the same line-up guaranteed a good crowd for the local rock club Tavastia. It was kind of interesting, as well as fun, to pay attention to the audience as 70% of the attendance consisted of females more or less. To be honest, it isn't an unexpected surprise because Charon, and above all the character of the band's frontman, appears to attract to women. Whereas Tarot has less of this this character factor, instead they rely on their metallic approach.

Anyway, before Charon was allowed to get on the stage the good old Finnish legendary heavy metal combo Tarot kicked the night off by delivering a lesson in traditional old school heavy metal. They conquered the whole place and the floor was entirely packed.

After the opening intro, the five piece went on by doing "I Rule" from their Suffer OUR Pleasure album, followed by previous album material "Undead Son". "Undead Son" especially sounded damn great with sharp playing and sound.

Even though the set list had mainly been based on the material off from the albums released during the 90's, the older material had been added including the classic and everlasting all time favourite "Wings Of Darkness", causing a ballistic reaction in the audience.

But on the other hand, besides these mandatory songs, the set list definitely included a few surprises as the keyboard (or whatever programmer) player took over the mic and after a few absolutely nonsense words went on by doing the old Blue Oyster Cult cover "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars" and the cover tunes followed with "Kill The King" and "Stand Up And Shout" cut the air. Actually picking up so many cover tunes was, from my point of view, kind of a waste since the band itself has a large catalog of own classic material which could have been added to the set list. For example, the video tune "Pyre Of Gods" had been dismissed, but the audience appeared to be spellbound by those cover songs after all. 

Criticizing the band's stage performance is pointless in this case as the keyboard/program instruments took up a big part of the stage. As well, vocalist, Marko Hietala, hardly moves that far from the microphone whereas his brother Zachary Hietala is demanded to focus on the guitar playing...and the drummer, well he actually deserves the extra mention about the damn hard and tight playing style, it is amazing how his drums won't get destroyed by his powerful slamming. Although the band's stage performance isn't their strongest factor, the stuff still crushes…


If the frontline and floor seemed totally packed for Tarot, well when Charon hit the stage, the atmosphere in the front turned more damn tight and hotter than hell. Trying to reach to the front line in hopes of taking reasonable pics could be forgotten entirely.

As for Charon, well despite my personal skeptical prejudice towards Charon, I didn't have any expectations in advance. I was just curious to find out how this once highly hyped band, in the wake of the immense success of HIM, would be able to match Tarot's outstanding performance. Charon has always been linked to the same category of romantic/love/gothic/ whatever metal it is now or can be named here. But those associations and comparisons were definitely gone as the band rocked hard on the stage and the front man definitely enjoyed having such an enthusiastic audience raging through the whole set! The rest of the band, for obvious reasons, stayed more in the background. The known tunes such as "Little Angel", "Bitter Joy" and others got a warm reception from the mostly female oriented audience.

Both bands at this gig were extremely strong during this night and it is quite impossible to name which of them was superior. In general, it was an enjoyable night to witness two of the leading names on the Finnish metal map!