Article and pictures by Marko Syrjala and Arto Lehtinen
The Russian Oldschool hit the stage after the German apocalyptic raiders. Even though the monicker was flagged as old school, but this old school was heavily into the AOR direction. It was funny to see when a frontman with the tight white pants and white jacket, who was running on the stage and tried to act like one of those AOR legends from the past. However Old School definitely sounded older than old school, which the young audience seemed not to bother about that much.
Steve Digiorgio is known for being in several bands and on outstanding albums. His new and current band is a more Swedish based progressive metallers named Soen. The band is basically the brainchild of the former Opeth/Amon Amarth drummer. The four piece’s debut gig got plagued by unexpected technical problems. However Soen managed to struggle them over and managed to get the sounds in the balance. Soen’s stuff could be described as a mix of Opeth and above all Tool.
The Finnish thrashers from the Finnish west coast Axegressor is known for being the ultimate brutal live bands. Especially the frontman’s never-ending restless and hyperactive performance was nothing, but sweating merciless. The band’s neck-breaking thrash assault could have caused a more ballistic reaction in the audience, but unfortunately the crowd mostly stared at the band. Axegressor’s tight and well-played thrash sounded energetic and brutal.
ICS Vortex was another band doing a debut gig at the Finnish Metal Expo. The former Dimmu Borgir, and current member of a few activate bands such as Arcturus, got on the stage to present a musical world of his own. The audience was definitely aware of the man’s previous achievements. The concrete hall was kind of packed. But as for the debut gig of ICS Vortex, if the sounds were horrible or distorted or the catacomb of the hall ruined the whole set by ICS. To be honest the band’s sounds were extremely low making the band sound like some band previously not having played together or ever been on the stage. ICS Vortex has to be witnessed again in a much better place where the sounds make justify for ICS Vortex.
British metallers Paradise Lost have always enjoyed a great success in Finland. The band has been regular visitors here since early 90’s when band had released its gothic/doom albums GOTHIC and SHADES OD GOD. Later on band enjoyed worldwide success with metal classics ICON and DRACONIAN TIMES before going into completely different style with experimental ONE SECOND (1997) album which bravely combined bands earlier style with modern sounds. The evolution kept on going and band went even more experimental direction with HOST and BELIEVE IN NOTHING which both had very little to do with metal at all. At this point band was really lost. Old fans had rejected the bands new sound and cleaned up outlook and on the other hand, larger audience didn’t find the band because of its past. It was time to change, once again, and band did well with their 2002 album SYMBOL OF LIFE where the bands metallic roots started to resurface. The album was a big step for the right direction and with the following albums PARADISE LOST, IN REQUIEM and DEATH DIVIDES US – DEATH UNITES US. The band has now re-gained their place at the top of metal/gothic world.
The Metal Expo show opened up with gloomy DEATH DIVIDES US – DEATH UNITES US track “The Rise of The Denial” followed by modern sounding “Erased” (SYMBOL OF LIFE) and the early days gothic/heavy classic “Pity of Sadness” (SHADES OF GOD). The opening trio of songs was a perfect example of what kind of band Paradise Lost are nowadays. The band is now an extremely versatile unit which is able to smoothly change the one style to another entity without any loss. Vocalist Nick Holmes’s is not the most active performer, but the man does have a convincing stage presence which does not leave much to be desired. His vocals, which sometimes have been criticized too weak, were now really strong without any problems during the whole 70 minute set. Well, this was one off show so we’ll see how things will go on when there’s a string of shows to do in line but this was a strong performance from start to finish. Guitarist Aaron Aedy was his usual himself. The bald head kept his energy level high through the show. The rhythm section: bassist Steve Edmundson and bands latest addition drummer Adrian Erlandson did a solid job but stayed more in the background whereas Greg McIntosh was like a reborn on stage. Maybe it’s the role as a lead vocalist for his new project Vallenfyre but something has definitely changed there and for good. The man was now raging across the stage, posing for photographers and even smiling during the show.
The set list was a typical “Best of” but it did work well in an event like Metal Expo where most of the people just recognize the biggest hits. Older crowd pleasers like “Forever Failure” and “As I Die” worked out really well whereas newer material like “Requiem” and the forthcoming TRAGIC IDOL album track “Honesty In Death”, which was now performed live for the first time, now reached some new listeners and potential first day buyers. So at first glance, the new track did sound something like a combination of ICON and DEATH UNITES US – DEATH DIVIDED US albums, so that’s a promising sign here. “Say Just Words” might be Paradise Lost’s biggest hit to date but it was also the very last song of the 12 song set. No encores, no thanks just good night and that was it.
All in all this was the best Paradise Lost performance I have witnessed in years. The band is now in top form in every level. Of course, nothing can beat the ICON tour when Paradise Lost was supporting Sepultura in House of Culture in 1993 (Sepultura was touring for CHAOS A.D. album) but as a whole this performance goes directly in TOP 3 Paradise Lost performances in Finland. I would prefer to say, welcome back!!
The Rise of Denial
Pity the Sadness
Honesty in Death (live premiere)
As I Die
Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us
Say Just Words
German metalers Edguy returned last year in limelight with brilliant new album AGE OF THE JOKER, their first release since AGE OF TINNITYS (2008). Although Edguy did a successful tour supporting The Scorpions in 2010, they have been lately more or less on hiatus because of vocalist Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia "project". The return has been a great success as the new album gave band their highest chart position ever in Germany and Sweden, just to name few countries here.
The Edguy show opened up with a pair of new album tracks. “Nobody’s Hero” and “Arcane’s Guild” worked out fine but it was the third song “Tears of the Mandrake” which really awakened the crowd. The album MANDRAKE is still bands biggest and best known album in Finland and this was evident. Edguy has always been known about their cheerful attitude and humorous lyrics. Songs titles like “Lavatory Love Machine” and “Robin Hood” would not fit for everyone but those are perfect for Edguy’s concept. Edguy is a democratic five piece band but there’s no doubt who’s the leader of the gang. Although guitarist duo Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer took their place on the spotlight every then and now, it’s Sammet who’ commanding the stage the way he wants to whereas the rest of the guys stay willingly on the background. Tobias might not be the world’s best singer, but as a front man he’s on top league and he knows how to entertain people.
This show was Edguy’s first performance in Finland since 2006 when they played in Nummirock Festival in Kauhajoki and regarding the great number of interested faces on the audience it does seem that there’s still a plenty of demand for the Germans. A lot of bands are operating on power metal area, especially German ones, but Edguy was really entertaining, musically professional and they were fun to watch, is there anything more you can ask from them?
The Arcane Guild
Tears of a Mandrake
Rock of Cashel
Lavatory Love Machine
Ministry of Saints
Vain Glory Opera
King of Fools
Do some of you still remember the Finnish metal/rock singer Ari Koivunen winning the Idols contest a few years ago?! As it is known he jumped from the soon to sink solo career to a frontman’s shoes in Amoral a couple of years ago. Amoral made the radical change from the technical death metal to the more poppish hard rock approach. Of course fans cursed the band to hell and promised to torch the albums to the dust. Well Obviously all the fans haven’t escaped or the five piece has gained a few new ones. The band offered the solid gig with the routine gig.
The Italian extreme metallers Fleshgod Apocalypse finally made to Finland. The Italian death metal mongers unleashed a total deadly delivering in the front of manic crowd . The frontman’s deadly growling sounded tremendous great, but the clean vocal parts were total pointless in the brutal approach of the uncompromising death metal. As a matter of fact the band should give up the clean parts. However the group sounded brutal and looked weird.
Turisas came and conquered the whole Finnish Metal Expo. The forest trolls of battle metal literally won most of the categories by being the band of the year, having the album of the year, the best vocalist title and finally the best album art. Turisas have taken Finland by storm with highly visual and bombastic live shows. The show at FME provided Turisas was in the real vicious strike. Even though members have and gone within the past few years, but the main man Warlord has soldiered on to reach the ultimate success with the battle metal. However the band’s pagan troll metal encouraged the audience ultimate go beserk and insane, they truly live up to the passionate show of Turisas.