CAIN’S OFFERING w/ CRIMSON SUN – Nosturi, Helsinki, 1.10.2016 (English)

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For the larger audiences, guitarist Jani Liimatainen is probably most known for his work in one of the most well-known Finnish metal bands, Sonata Arctica, though his time with them ended in 2007. The split between him and the rest of the band happened under pretty shady circumstances, resulting in Liimatainen’s short withdrawal from the limelight. However, in 2009, the power metal supergroup, Cain’s Offering, which was founded by Liimatainen a year before, released its debut album, Gather the Faithful. The debut, recorded by Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), Jukka Koskinen (Norther), Mikko Härkin (ex-Sonata Arctica), and the old friend and Paul Di’Anno live band mate of Liimatainen’s, Jani “Hurtsi” Hurula, instantly claimed a spot in the frontline of Finnish power metal. In comparison to the (at that time) latest Sonata record, Unia, which felt really distant and directionless, Gather the Faithful was a delightfully traditional power metal record conceived with utmost professionalism.

After the debut’s release, save Liimatainen’s occasional mentions, Cain’s Offering seemed to wither away quickly with no information regarding the band’s future, until an official Facebook page popped up in 2014, featuring Liimatainen’s updates on the writing process of a new Cain’s Offering album. The sophomore album, Stormcrow, was released in May last year, but the band kept its audience waiting for their first live performances until this summer. After two shows in Japan, Cain’s Offering performed their first show in Finland on Tuska festival’s Helsinki Stage with new members Jonas Kuhlberg (ex-myGRAIN) and Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), replacing Koskinen and Härkin, respectively. While the show was great, all its power was lost thanks to the abysmal stage sound. Fortunately, Kotipelto announced that Cain’s Offering would play a couple of club shows in the fall, so we headed to Nosturi on October 1st, 2016, to check the band out in a more intimate setting!

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2016-10-01-01-crimson-sun-nosturi-6The local warm-up act, Hamina-based Crimson Sun, has recently climbed the ladder towards the top tier of Finnish metal bands, and for good reason – the band’s 2015 debut album, Towards the Light, was a skillfully crafted package of melodic metal and the album clearly has found its audience afterwards – compared to the band’s last Nosturi show in MetalOrgy last February, the crowd had multiplied in numbers. Crimson Sun was granted a mere 30 minutes of showtime, but during the six songs they played it became evident that the band had again progressed: they performed better, vocalist Sini Seppälä hit all her notes in near perfect tune, and the rest of the band seemed to play in a far more relaxed manner than before. The bassist, Jukka Jauhiainen, utilized a large fan to blow his near-meter-long hair in all directions, looking amazing on stage. Unfortunately the stage sound hadn’t changed for the better since winter – the tom and snare drums started to be on point during the last song, “Memories Burning,” and at times the guitar and bass felt pretty raw. Nevertheless, the audience once again liked what they had seen, and there seemed to be a fair number of first-timers present. Seppälä mentioned that the band is writing new material for the second album – bring it on, and fast!

Crimson Sun’s set:
1. The Storm
2. Clockwork Heart
3. Towards the Light
4. Awaken
5. The Spark
6. Memories Burning


2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-10After the intermission, which surely felt a lot longer than 30 minutes, Cain’s Offering finally took the stage using the interlude song, “I Am Legion,” from Stormcrow to set the stage, and once the title track started playing, the audience instantly went nuts. My immediate thoughts were that the band had clearly stressed about the reception they would get beforehand, since Jani Liimatainen’s fingers were visibly shaky during “Stormcrow” and “The Best of Times,” which played right after. Only after Timo Kotipelto first spoke to the audience and thanked them for coming to see “this new band” that they had, did Liimatainen seem to relax. Kotipelto introduced the band one member at a time between songs, joking to Jens Johansson that he wasn’t going to introduce the Swede at all, but had to relent once the audience started chanting his first name – hardly anyone can deny Johansson’s impact on the history of Finnish power metal.

On a general level, the show was incredibly awesome. All of the members of Cain’s Offering are seasoned professionals and having collaborated with each other on numerous occasions over the years clearly showed in their performance. The band had their own sound technician and equipment, providing excellent stage output throughout – a special mention to Kuhlberg’s extra dirty bass sound! Kotipelto’s interlude speeches were as corny as always, which he blamed on Liimatainen, since they’ve had so many acoustic duo shows lately. As a funny detail, I noticed that the whole band was dressed pretty much identically compared to the Tuska gig, with Liimatainen rocking his “Greetings from Kotka” –tank top and Hurula in his super corny flame beanie – the only thing missing was a pair of mirrored Mojaves. Hurula, while moderately unknown to the masses, is an excellent drummer and the band’s backbone with his hard-hitting double bass beats, which he’s surely played a couple of times in his life – the man’s calves are about as thick as the average bodybuilder’s thighs!

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-12The setlist was weighed towards Stormcrow’s material, since Gather the Faithful was only featured via “More than Friends,” “Oceans of Regret,” “Thorn in My Side,” and “Stolen Waters,” of which “Thorn in My Side” was a surprising choice – I would have expected the opener, “My Queen of Winter,” or the excellent ballad, “Into the Blue,” to have found their way onto the set. The grand surprise, however, was that when the band went backstage after playing “On the Shore” as the final song of the main set, they returned to kick off the encore with “My Selene,” a Sonata Arctica song that Liimatainen wrote for their 2004 album, Reckoning Night. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve heard the song live once before when performed by Sonata during the Reckoning Night tour, but I could be wrong. It was a wonderful choice, since the song is one of the best tracks on that album, and Liimatainen was clearly stylistically on point 12 years ago already! In a sense, the band themselves diminished the power of their last song of the evening, “I Will Build You a Rome”; while being an excellent track, it surely didn’t manage to do anything to further the good mood after the brief surge of nostalgia that “My Selene” created.

Age-wise, the audience was evidently on the more mature side, which Nosturi had taken into account by expanding the bar area all the way to the photopit, enabling fans to drink beer in the front row, while the area designated for minors was shrunk to a small strip on the left side of the stage. Cain’s Offering truly gave the celebrating crowd a run for their money. Power metal still has fans domestically and especially outside the borders of our country, so let’s hope that the next Cain’s Offering album will be released sooner than 6 years from now. There are no additional shows expected in the near future as of now, so you should have been present in Nosturi, especially if you missed the Tuska gig!

Cain’s Offering’s set:
1. I Am Legion (intro)
2. Stormcrow
3. The Best of Times
4. More Than Friends
5. A Night to Forget
6. Constellation of Tears
7. Thorn in My Side
8. Too Tired to Run
9. Stolen Waters
10. My Heart Beats for No One
11. Oceans of Regret
12. Antemortem
13. On the Shore

14. My Selene (Sonata Arctica cover)
15. I Will Build You a Rome

2016-10-01-02-cains-offering-nosturi-14Photos: Miia Collander