The Helsinki Metal Meeting is also known as the Finnish Metal Expo. Call it all you want, but for 2 days in February it was the place to be for all heavy music lovers and industry people. The biggest disadvantage of FME is being held indoors in the heart of winter. As much as we miss that summer festival euphoria during the year, this winter was even more unbearable than before (-20 C at night). Yet nothing could stop us from going there, so we wrapped ourselves in furs, hopped on our polar bears, and rode to Kaapelitehdas (the Cable Factory) to join the crowd of 5000 invading the factory over these 2 days.
Originally the Helsinki Metal Meeting started on Thursday the 18th of February with the so-called Industry Day, when the music industry’s high-hats gather around the table in an attempt to solve the music world’s most sore subjects. However, as record sales are still going down, the printed media is about to print its own obituary, and bands like Tokio Hotel are still out there – it is clear that all the benevolent intentions reached their climax with the usual “beer for everyone!” After that, it was time to go to Nosturi, where the nobles got mixed with your mere mortals to watch Armour and Barren Earth warm the stage for Finntroll‘s fantastic, if a bit drunken, Nifelvind release gig to officially give a start to the winter’s biggest all-together boozing and headbanging hang-around!
That’s where we will drop the curtain to lift it up for you the next day – Friday, February 19th, at Kaapelitehdas and the first day of the grand Helsinki Metal Meeting. All the major labels, agencies, festivals, music-shops, venues, and magazines were presented at the exhibition area. People were going around with bags filled with cheap/free CDs and posters, which record labels were gratefully giving out from their booths. The lineup for the upcoming Tuska festival was announced that day and for now absolutely owned the rest. Let’s hope other festivals still have some aces up their sleeves.
The start of the show was unlawfully early with Tuomas Saukkonen and Kai Hahto‘s song clinic, followed by Korpiklaani’s 1-hour set on the main stage. With all the respect to the guys and the band, it was impossible for us to arrive that early. We managed to catch Amatory’s 30 minute set and survived about a third of it. I can see why they are so popular in Russia, but I can’t see what they can possibly have to offer Finland. At 19:30 there was the Marco Hietala Experience at Musamaailma stage. “Definitely worthy of checking out,” thought a great number of people who completely packed the small area. For anyone that didn’t speak Finnish, it wasn’t worth the time (unless you really just like to stare at Marco Hietala as much as possible). Yours truly had nothing else to do than get stuck at the King Foo Entertainment booth, expressing doubts about the quality of Nightwish condoms that seemed to be in high demand that evening.
The rest of the time was dedicated to bands-I-bet-you’ve-never-heard-of, the likes of Doom Unit, Rage My Bitch, and V for Violence. Check them out if you feel like listening to something new, yet I do not guarantee the quality. At 22:00 finally it was time for Hypocrisy to grace the main stage. Now we’re talking! Peter Tägtgren smashed, crashed, and mercilessly slayed the crowd. It was high-class, 5-star, pure death metal, the kind that leaves the taste of steel on your tongue. Hypocrisy don’t need any technical gimmickry in their performance – just the appropriate light for the atmosphere, the band, the mosh, and the music that leaves you scraping your brains off the wall.
Norwegian guests, Satyricon, couldn’t help being fashionably late. They’re probably the only black metal band that you can use the word “fashionable” with; just take one look at Satyr. But we don’t judge by the looks in the metal world, right? I managed to go through about ¼ of this notorious black metal performance and receded to the press area. Nothing negative towards the band, they are huge, but for me it’s a bit of an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. At the point when I started to dream of my nice cozy blanket came the grand finale of the first day: Amorphis. After seeing this band an endless number of times, they still manage to bring a huge smile of happiness on my face and blow me away with their music. They are never boring and always manage to take over the crowd. Unfortunately, due to the late hour, a lot of people had to leave to catch the last bus/train/tram home.
Saturday, February 20th, was day 2. As much as I wanted to see Turmion Kätilöt, who also started painfully early, I couldn’t make it. Judging by reports and pictures I have seen, the band shook the main stage and gained new fans among the people who hadn’t seen them before. If you also missed them, try to make up for it the next time. We arrived closer to the end of Insomnium’s 30 minute set and just in time to catch the Finnish Metal Awards. The results are as follows:
Band of the Year: Insomnium
Record of the Year: Insomnium – Across the Dark
Vocalist of the Year: Amorphis – Tomi Joutsen
Cover Art of the Year: Amorphis – Skyforger (by Travis Smith)
Newcomer of the Year: FM2000
Demo Band of the Year: Ghoul Patrol
Congratulations to the winners, though I would say that there are other bands in Finland than Amorphis and Insomnium whose achievements during the past year could’ve gotten more recognition. Once all the trophy-giveaway and “thank you mom/God/producer” -speeches were over, it was time for Survivors Zero to hit the stage. Now that’s a band I would recommend you to listen or even better – check out live – because they rule. With Wilska (ex- Finntroll) on bass and Tommi “Rotten” Virranta (ex-Deathchain) on vocals, they don’t really rediscover the wheel of death metal, they just grab your soul and shake it.
The next in line was the Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari of Amorphis interview, along with the Winterborn, Leverage, Swallow the Sun performances, and of course, the Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) interview. Not being able to speak Finnish, we can’t speak about the quality of the interview, but Laiho seemed fairly drunk – he wasn’t having the easiest time staying balanced on his stool.
Around 23:00 in the evening it was time for the Finnish cello-masters of Apocalyptica to go out on the main stage and make the audience realize once again that this band is one of a kind. There is no word in English language to fully explain the indescribable awesomeness that is Apocalyptica live. I guess whose ears like it more rough wouldn’t share my opinion, but those who can appreciate the true beauty of me-lo-dy surely know what I am talking about. No time or energy was left for Sonata Arctica, who was the last band to play, so I wish them well and hope you enjoyed their performance.
As we hopped our polar bears and rode home, the Helsinki Metal Meeting 2010 was over. We went through a proper warm up for the summer festivals and came out totally prepared. Now it’s only a matter of time and patience. Look out for FME 2011 and stay metal!
Text: Tanja Caciur | Photos: Jana Blomqvist