LEVERAGE (02:15pm; main stage)
Luxi: Since Violent Storm cancelled their gig at Sauna at the very last minute, Finland´s melodic heavy rock act Leverage got an opportunity to replace their slot on the main stage (lucky fellows). The band recorded their excellent debut album last year, entitled TIDES, and since then the band has been gaining more and more ground for themselves – not only in Finland, but elsewhere as well. I have never managed to see this band in a live action, so I was pretty excited to find out how this talented bunch would deliver their ´80s tinged hard rock/heavy metal for an almost empty venue (it was only 2:15pm in the early afternoon, so it was pretty understandable after all).
Despite the lack of a crowd, Leverage hit the main stage in such a secure way like they could have been doing this for the last 20 years or so. They looked so self-confident and like ´being home´ there onstage, enjoying all the attention they got from a small, but still upliftingly supportive audience. 6 out of the 10 tracks (inc. radio´s so-called ´big hit songs´ “Superstition” and “Follow Down That River”) were heard off the band´s excellent debut album TIDES, one non-album track “Fifteen Years”, plus they also played a new song, titled “Stormchild”, which will be included to the band´s upcoming, yet-untitled 2nd album. I cannot remember that much about the song any more, but I can still remember it was welcomed warmly by the enthusiastic crowd…and that´s always a promising sign of good material to come, isn´t it?
Thank you, Leverage. Everything in the band reeks from a true professionalism and sheer entertainment.
Marching to War
Follow Down That River
Ari Koivunen (03:15; small stage)
Luxi: ´The Finnish Idols -winner´ Ari Koivunen (Note: The guy has stated in public in Finland that he HATES to be remembered from that singing competition, by the way), along with his tour line-up, had managed to gather a reasonable amount of people around the small stage when they started their set. I guess it should be told for starters, since this young guy won the Idols -competition, he has gone through quite a baptism of fire; recording his debut solo album, entitled FUEL FOR THE FIRE and making several festival tours during the on-going summer. My own curiosity level about Ari was basically to find out whether Ari has learnt more within the past months how to become a front man and entertainer as that´s what he should prove to be in the first place for winning the Finnish Idols competition this year.
After Ari had done a couple of songs with his band (that was actually fairly good altogether), it was easily observed from him, he still looked like he hadn´t learnt his lesson about becoming a true leader of his band. When he stood there on the stage – at least trying to deliver the songs off his debut record the best he could, he just gave an impression like he wanted to get out from the stage as soon as possible – staying as much in the shadows of his other band mates whenever he could. His voice was only occasionally on a decent level (a radio hit “Hear My Call” went even surprisingly good from him), but for the most part of the gig, his voice wasn´t strong enough and broke way too much so that he overall could have had a chance to leave a good impression from himself.
Ari still has a long way to go if he wants people will remember his name even next year. Unfortunately Ari looks and sounds a very green as both performer and entertainer, which is a shame as that´s what he gets paid for. Now let´s unleash Niko next though. His words may be heavier and way nastier than that recently puked out stinky poop in our pants when you woke up from your own bed – half-naked, alone and and didn´t be quite sure how many shots of whiskey exactly you drank last night… ;o)
Niko: Ok, and then… What can be said about this year’s winner of “The Idols” contest in Finland? First off, this guy has got a great voice, but sometimes a great voice just is not enough. His debut album came out relatively quickly, almost straight after he won that particular contest – probably a bit too quick. There are few reasons why I could not ever support this kind of shit…
The whole idea of the contest is based upon the fact that record companies at least try to get easy money, fast and preferably, plenty of it. It’s like a fast and meaty meal on a silver plate. Everything’s ready; you get a bunch of promising kids working for you, and they all sing well and get a couple of good selling albums out because everybody’s already seen them on TV. Record companies don’t have to waste their time for searching ideal artists for them. No, they are just waiting that artists are coming up for them.
Those so-called ´artists´ never have to take care of their so-called ´careers´. They mostly don’t have ‘em in the true sense of the word. Well, ok – some of the few have even real careers, but it’s not an excuse. They just pop out from somewhere and gain their fame and success real fast – faster than they ever could imagine. From my point of view, it’s not so fair for the artists who have been doing the same thing for over 10 years or more. Ok, they get a REAL fanbase, but these ´Idols heroes´ get spotted from TV and radio and all this attention makes them known everywhere and if they get enough lucky, probably even wealthy after a while. Some may say that they´ve got some skills – that may be true, so don´t millions of other people from all around the globe have them, too? Are their faces shown on TV? No. Could they ever have a chance to become every media´s own favorite and spoiled puppies? Nope, I don´t think so.
My third point is crucial. Do these ´stars´ write their own songs just like for example our heroes Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, or even Children of Bodom? No, they don’t. Think about this for a while, how hard it is for these REAL artists to write their own material, perform live on the stage and do it on and on year after year. Sitting on a tour bus millions of miles and playing in front of thousands of people and then travel to next city… and next and next and so on.
And then some lucky Idols -bastard comes up and says: “Hey, I just won the contest, let’s make an album, everybody’s seen me on TV, they know me, it must be a hit…and by the way, somebody has to do songs for me, I can sing but that’s it – you got it?” Does this all sound just way too…´easy´?
Next time when you’re seriously thinking of buying some Idols-shitskies´ records, take a break and think again where you invest your hard-earned pennies for. Why don’t you give your money for REAL artists instead?
About Ari´s gig itself, it was at best just ´ok´. Really nothing spectacular but I could watch the gig rather than getting banged in bushs nearby when your ass is bleeding and you’re dying in shame as a proud straight guy. Hmm… or let me think again. On the other hand, they say it’s really cool to explore new things out from yourself…
Don’t get me wrong, like I already said earlier, this guy has a very good voice and he’ll probably be an appreciated artist within the next 10 years or so (20 kilos more – with a beard, stronger and more trained voice and some more experience), if he just was capable of continuing his career that long. Also, what can be said about a guy who’s scared of the audience and their reactions? He is just not experienced enough, not yet. If he can do this for a couple of years more, I think he’ll become a great entertainer, I’m sure about that. But nevertheless, he’ll surely be an entertainer – and NOT an artist as long as somebody does his songs, somebody who’s skilled enough for doing nice songs for someone to be performed. So, there my dear friends, lays a real difference between an entertainer and an artist. As for his album´s concerned, one can also hear from the album´s songs that everything’s made up so fast that people didn’t have time or patience to find out the proper process what’s needed to make strong songs in order to get a decent sounding album released. Let´s take an example in comparison to Ari Koivunen. When Leverage played on the main stage, one could hear it easily that they had songs that fall in a whole different category compared to Ari Koivunen. Leverage have been doing their own thing for years unlike Ari Koivunen who´s been doing his thing just for a couple of months with a help of his record company and songwriters that helped him to get an album full of songs. So, there´s a big difference there as far as being an entertainer and a real artist/songwriter is concerned.
Somebody said that you can’t judge a book by just looking at the cover. I have to say, I think it’s true to a certain extent. For the end of this rant, here´s a little quote from The Haunted´s first, self-titled album:
“… just a wait `til your days are done, work your fingers to the bone…“ (The Haunted – “Undead”)
(“Man, I simply love your Henry Rollins type of philosophy… I really do!” -Luxi)
Swallow the Sun (05:15; small stage)
Niko: There I was standing in a melting pot; it was hot, sultry hot. My skin was burning and it was nearly too hard to breath. I was waiting to see Swallow the Sun next; this Finnish ´Legion of Doom´ to start their set. First I got guided into the band´s forthcoming set by an instrumental intro called “Love Theme of Laura Palmer” from the Twin Peaks soundtrack. It worked out as a fine intro before the band itself marched on the stage.
We got “Descending Winters” for starters; I was personally expecting to hear “The Giant” first to start their set as the band that particular song first in the aftershow party at Tulliklubi last year. I was one of those people who were thinking that band could be at their best when playing in dark clubs. Afterwards I had to confess that I was partly wrong. Namely Swallow the Sun´s show was a pretty good one. Of course, the best possible outcome for a Swallow the Sun gig is a club atmosphere but this was a good hit to my nose to prove me wrong. Swallow the Sun can sound pretty impressive at an outdoor festival as well. “Out of This Gloomy Light” from their first album, THE MORNING NEVER CAME was next in turn. There was also a female vocalist in Swallow the Sun´s live line-up. Her vocal parts fit and supported surprisingly well the songs, kind of taking band´s music out of this certain doomy mould.
After “Out of This Gloomy Light”, it was time take a more serious look at Swallow the Sun’s latest album, HOPE. “Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt.2)” came next and it got followed by “Too Cold for Tears” and a somewhat bouncing song, “These Hours of Despair”. In the end of the band´s set Swalow the Sun performed exhaustive “Doomed to Walk The Earth” and “Swallow (Horror Pt.1)”, a cut from Swallow the Sun’s debut album. When the whole fun was over, I was pretty much gasping for air (as said, the hot weather was killing us).
Swallow the Sun has definitely its own style, you could say it’s a sort of mix of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride if you want to judge the band shortly. However, the truth is that Swallow the Sun are great with what they do. Also, Swallow the Sun offer lots of aggressive elements through their music unlike those two doom legends from England mentioned earlier. Mostly Swallow the Sun deliver their stuff in the heaviest and doomiest form. When you hear the band´s music, it’s like you get nearly physically hit when these doomsters are on the run. You don’t have to play fast to be credible…
Swallow the Sun was playing about 45 to 50 minutes, and for me it just looked that they just got themselves warmed up. The show was over way too soon. For all those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I urge you to check out this ´doomed diamond´ from Finland immediately. And hey… I also mean it!
Intro: Twin Peaks
Out of This Gloomy Light
Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt.2)
Too Cold for Tears / These Hours of Despair
Doomed to Walk the Earth / Swallow (Horror Pt.1)
Outro: Twin Peaks
DARK TRANQUILLITY (06:00pm; main stage)
Luxi: The true pioneers of the famous (both in good and in bad) Gothenburg sound, Dark Tranquillity, were without doubts, one of the festival´s most anticipated bands at Sauna this year. These Swedes latest album, FICTION, has only been gaining very flattering reviews from all over the world, and according the amount of people that had arrived around and near by the main stage, it could fairly be said there were a few dozens of legions of Dark Tranquillity fans in the audience.
Ever since the moment a song called “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)” rang out from the massive PA system, followed by “The Lesser Faith”, “The Treason Wall” and so on, it became evident very soon, Dark Tranquillity have lots of fans in Finland. People were exceptionally supportive toward these Swedes; screaming, sing-alonging, headbanging and showing devil´s horns together with the band, so talk about a great feast of metal in Dark Tranquillity´s case. D.T.´s set was naturally heavily based on the band´s latest work FICTION, off which they played 5 songs all in all. And why not? The album contains so many so-called ´ace tracks´ so it was obviously a wise decision from them to include that many new songs into their set. However, I wouldn´t have minded a bit if they had also tried to throw us at least a couple of ´surprises´ off their older albums. I mean, they should consider taking some songs off both SKYDANCER and THE GALLERY back to their live set again; “Punish My Heaven” was of course a nice surprise from them, but it quite didn´t satisfy my hungriness completely for the stuff from their older days.
Dark Tranquillity were positively fit for a king from every possible angle; the interaction between them and the crowd couldn´t hardly become any better than it was at Sauna 2007.
A very enjoyable show from Dark Tranquillity all in all. If they come near by your area, just be sure to catch them live, too.
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
The Lesser Faith
The Treason Wall
The Wonders at Your Feet
Blind at Heart
Inside the Particle Storm
The Endless Feed
Punish My Heaven
The New Build
HEAVEN AND HELL (08:00pm; main stage)
Luxi: When one reporter asked from Tony Iommi in Finland on Saturday 9th of May ´07: “What´s the main difference between Ronnie and Ozzy?” He replied: “Well, one of them is mad and one is not…”. I guess everyone can easily figure out what Tony meant by his spontaneous reply.
The true grand old men of heavy metal, Heaven & Hell, were absolutely one of the most anticipated bands at Sauna this year – if not the most anticipated band. The each member of H&H simply reeks of such a charisma that it’s very hard to not feel respect and admiration toward each of them. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice all living icons that have inspired and influenced many generations of metal fans for more than 3 decades already and seeing them together under this Heaven & Hell moniker for the first time, was surely one of those ´I-do-not-wanna-miss-this-experience´ type of experiences, no doubts.
As soon as the familiar intro, “E5150” off Sab´s MOB RULES album, started crawling out from the speakers, the massive crowd went totally crazy ´til the first song, “The Mob Rules”, set the audience on fire – metaphorically speaking, of course. “Children of the Sea” off the same album followed soon, so even at this point of the concert it could said, we were all witnessing the very best performance that has ever been seen in the entire history of the Sauna Open Air Metal festival. Heaven & Hell´s show was simply radiating all things of ultimate and pure nostalgia – at least it did just that for some of us who have born in late ´60s or early ´70s when we all were abandoning our childhood´s toys, started growing our hairs desperately and becoming familiar with the excellency of such Dio-era Sabbath albums (nothing against Ozzy-era albums; most of them are truly brilliant as well) as HEAVEN AND HELL, MOB RULES and DEHUMANIZER. And talking about the Sab´s Dio-era, when Heaven & Hell performed a brand-new song called “Shadow of the Wind” at Sauna, which was pleasingly somewhat epic and heavy tune, one starts easily demanding another Black Sabbath album that would be the band´s 4th album having Dio´s strong vocals in it. Let´s keep our fingers crossed it will come eventually though…
Nonetheless, speaking of the so-called definite highlights in Heaven & Hell´s set, there were actually many of them – just like hearing these legends playing always so spine-chilling epic tracks as “The Sign of the Southern Cross”, “Falling off the Edge of the World” and naturally “Heaven & Hell” that they had lengthened to nearly a 20-minute long epos. Also, hearing “Die Young” live for the first time in my life, made their show even more surreal for me; it´s definitely one of the best (yet even a bit underrated song, I think) songs Ronnie has ever recorded with Black Sabbath. As a sort of the ultimate crown of H&H´s performance, “Neon Knights” was a perfect song for encore to end one of the most memorable live shows that I have been privileged to witness during my entire life. Ronnie, Tony, Geezer and Vinnie truly stole the whole event – and they did it with style, so much charisma and pure elegancy. And who dares to claim that being modest makes you beautiful? C´mon… Now just fuck that shit!
Niko: The gates have been opened… Guys and girls attention! It’s NOW the time…What we were going to see next, was basically Black Sabbath on the stage. Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Vinnie Appice behind the drum patterns featuring Geezer Butler on bass and Tony Iommi on guitar. Heaven & Hell was one of those so-called ´once-in-a-lifetime´ opportunities to witness a really unique line-up playing on the stage. For me personally, Heaven & Hell was definitely amongst the very best sets at Sauna Open Air 2007. Just not a slightest doubt about it my dear brothers and sisters!
About the performance itself overall: You simply couldn´t measure the true value of Heaven & Hell´s performance mainly because it was so damn good. When you’re about to hear a line-up like this, there´s always so much memorabilia going on in your mind. I’d really like to point out that besides Megadeth, Heaven And Hell’s show was perfect. Both Butler´s and Iommi´s stage charisma is huge – and yes, they are altogether phenomenal musicians, too. Those two gentlemen were just incredible, and after the band had finished their set, I was simply wondering afterwards several minutes what the hell I just saw and heard…
Like always, Ronnie James Dio’s voice was something phenomenal. Could you consider yourself singing on the same level as 65 years old? Ronnie´s voice is still sounding the same like it’s been sounding for, (hmm!) how many decades already? Well, just think about it seriously how Ronnie has managed to keep his voice in a great shape over many decades. Last but not least Appice was a true animal behind his drum set. I really don’t like to know how hard he was beating the drum arsenal, but he was surely beating the shit out of his drum kit for sure.
It’s really hard to say anything else, but Heaven & Hell´s performance gave us all we wanted to hear from them in the first place. Such evergreen classics as “The Mob Rules”, “Children of the Sea”, “I” and always so majestically moving “Sign of the Southern Cross”, were just some of the highlights of their show. After they finished “Voodoo”, Vinnie Appice had to show to all of us why he´s considered such a talented drummer. Like one of my friend stated: “What’s really the point of playing a drum solo? I think this is a really good break for me to go to pee…”. Luckily Appice´s drum solo did not bore all of us to death – not me anyway. Appice´s performance was somewhat entertaining nonetheless.
“Falling the Edge of the World” which was truly something… And what could be said about a man who’s in his mid sixties and sings a song like “Die Young”? Maybe some of you could sense irony on some level that has been logged in the song title?
The last two Sab´s classic songs, “Heaven and Hell” and “Neon Knights” that were – concluded Heaven & Hell´s brilliant performance in an unforgettable way. I can only say that I was feeling really relaxed and pleased after their superb set. I got a chance to see the last remaining giants who still exist from the era of mammoth heavy rock bands. I mean, bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple (ok, some might say that Purple’s still doing gigs, but it’s still not the same like they once used to be back in the day) and Black Sabbath. These three bands are like the very core of the heavy rock where everything once started and evaluated from – and I really think all of us should respect and appreciate these three bands for how they have influenced and been an inspiration for many bands over many decades – and not just only for metal bands.
There were a lot of older people in the crowd, too; people who were still young when HEAVEN AND HELL was released. I think it was easily sensed that there was certain, special excitement in the air before the band entered the stage. During H&H´s show, people sang all the songs as a giant choir, and Dio was thanking the crowd for several times. Undoubtedly he was also sensing that people were holding this special moment in their hearts. Of course there was a few exceptions out there in the audience; a young beautiful 19-20 year-old-girl (at least I have to assume she was about that age, she couldn’t be any older – no way) was dancing wildly through the whole set, singing enthusiastically every song, moving her body up and down. She was sweating under this exceptionally hard heat and I could easily see her breast moving – up and down, while she was breathing… Jesus, do I have a hard-on? A-hem Luxi, I really think we should heavily consider having something real cold to drink. So, how about a beer? (“Yep, a cold beer sounds fine to me… and a canful of ice water with a pocketful of rocks right into your pants, my friend” -Luxi comments sarcastically)
The Mob Rules
Children of the Sea
The Sign of the Southern Cross
Falling off the Edge of the World
Shadow of the Wind
Heaven And Hell
Stating the obvious fact the 4th Sauna Open Air Metal Festival in order in 2007 wouldn´t have had the best band line-up on the bill thus far, would be simply an understatement. The festival also reached its attendance record by its 22,000 visitors within three, sunny days, so obviously that will bring along a new challenge for the organizers of the festival when they start booking bands for the next year´s happening. As I should believe, some certain records are made to be broken.
Last but not least, we wanna sincerely thank everyone involved who made this great event possible. Our greatful thumbs up for each and everyone one of you for the excellent arrangements that something like this can be arranged in Tampere, Finland. C-ya my dear fellow metallers next year at the same place again. Keep it heavy & metal!!
Yours both in gloomy doom and in burning darkness,
Luxi “Legionary-of-Doom I” Lahtinen
Niko “Legionary-of-Doom II” Karppinen
The official Sauna Open Air homepage