Musicalypse has been following Blind Channel since prior to their debut album, Revolutions, back in 2016 (see below). Even though most of us are a fair bit older than their target audience, the quality of music has never held them back from appealing to us, and their live shows are always so full of energy that it’s always been worth it to check them out. Their newest album’s titles is taken from their self-proclaimed genre, Violent Pop, and is released on March 6th, 2020.
The album opens with “Gun,” fulfilling Niko Moilanen‘s promise in our last interview that each album starter for (at least) the first three albums has a theme – the first album was “Bullet (With Your Name On It),” followed by “Trigger,” and now, of course, it culminates in the weapon itself. These have been some of the band’s most aggressive songs and “Gun” keeps up the tradition of a heavier, harsher intro with an almost djent-y vibe at times.
Many of the songs on this album have already been released as singles, so the next few tracks should be familiar to fans. “Over My Dead Body” was already released back in 2018, starting fast and hard but with gentler boy-band vocals in the verses. “Died Enough for You” is a bit emo lyrically and the hardest to get into as someone in their 30s but it nevertheless still makes an impact and likely makes a good connection in younger folk.
“Fever” is the newest release, which took a few listens to appreciate fully, but has a great catchy chorus and makes good use of the old adage, “cry me a river,” and will be really easy to groove along to live. “Timebomb” is another older single that features young Finnish songwriter and solo artist, Alex Mattson, though we’ve admittedly never been clear on what his influence is in the song. “Snake” featuring GG6 [aka Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson, Amaranthe] is a strong, harsh, and accusatory song about cheaters, full of anger coupled with excellent rhythms and really good rapping, some even done, surprisingly, by GG6 whilst growling.
High, choral vocals open “One of Us,” which is again one of the heavier, almost a touch thrashy, songs on the album, contrasting the choir style with a hint of drop beat and some of BC’s harshest vocals outside of what GG6 did in the previous track. “Enemies with Benefits” is already a clever wordplay that we’ve surprisingly never seen before, taking a slower tempo and including a lot of ambient sounds to create a really strong and modern atmosphere. “…drown ourselves in water under the bridge” is also another clever lyric that stood out on multiple listens.
The tempo picks up a bit again with “Love of Mine,” with a nice combination of heavy instruments and great electronic backing music. The harsher vocals in some of these songs adds a new layer that BC hasn’t tested out much prior to now but certainly works for them. “Feel Nothing” is a bit slower in tempo again, more melancholic but still powerful and emotive. The album feels to have burned out a lot of its anger at this point, now in a place that’s a bit more sad and jaded. The album ends with “Lanterns,” with the most straightforward hip-hop verses and an emotional feeling and works great as a closer. Lyrically it references the music industry and some of their experiences, like with Royal Republic (below). This track has a more positive outlook in the end, leaving the album on a nice note, but stops quite abruptly. It seems like there could have been more, but alas, all good things must come to an end, and this was a great closing song, like at the end of a movie.
If I have a real complaint about this album, it’s how short it is, clocking in at just over 35 minutes in total length. While the songs, as I already said, aren’t lyrically suited for someone in my personal life situation, the compositions and execution of the music are very strong across the board and the band is keeping up their style, blending genres expertly. Violent Pop may have the most rapping of all the albums so far, but balances this out with some of their heaviest sounds as well, making a complete package that works as an excellent next step for these guys. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing the release show at The Circus on April 25th, 2020!
Rating: 9/10, 4.5 stars
2. Over My Dead Body
3. Died Enough for You
5. Timebomb ft. Alex Mattson
6. Snake ft. GG6
7. One of Us
8. Enemies with Benefits
9. Love of Mine
10. Feel Nothing
Check out our past material from Blind Channel here:
2019 report: DEAD BY APRIL & BLIND CHANNEL w/ EMBER FALLS – Nosturi, Helsinki, 20.04.2019
2019 gallery: DEAD BY APRIL & BLIND CHANNEL w/ MY FAVOURITE NEMESIS & EMBER FALLS @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 20.04.2019
2019 festival: ROCKFEST – Hyvinkään Airport, Hyvinkää, 07-09.06.2019
2018 album release show report: BLIND CHANNEL w/ IKINÄ: Blood Brothers Release Show – Tavastia, Helsinki, 23.05.2018
2018 album release show gallery: BLIND CHANNEL w/ IKINÄ @ Tavastia, Helsinki, 23.05.2018
2018 interview: BLIND CHANNEL – Joel Hokka & Niko “Nc Enroe” Moilanen, Helsinki, 2018
2018 Blood Brothers review: (2018) Blind Channel: Blood Brothers
2018 festival: ROCKFEST – Lentokentta, Hyvinkää, 06-09.06.2018
2017 report (Eng, link inside to Fin): MACHINAE SUPREMACY w/ BLIND CHANNEL, ONE MORNING LEFT – Nosturi, Helsinki, 27.05.2017 (English)
2017 gallery: MACHINAE SUPREMACY w/ ONE MORNING LEFT & BLIND CHANNEL @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 27.05.2017
2017 report: AMARANTHE w/ BLIND CHANNEL & EMBER FALLS: Maximalism Tour – The Circus, Helsinki, 08.04.2017
2017 gallery: AMARANTHE w/ EMBER FALLS & BLIND CHANNEL: Maximalism Tour @ The Circus, Helsinki, 08.04.2017
2017 report: ROYAL REPUBLIC w/ BLIND CHANNEL – Nosturi, Helsinki, 04.02.2017
2017 gallery: ROYAL REPUBLIC w/ BLIND CHANNEL @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 04.02.2017
2016 album release show behind the scenes: BLIND CHANNEL: Behind the Scenes at the Revolutions CD Release Show @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016
2016 album release show report: BLIND CHANNEL w/ EMBER FALLS: Revolutions Release Show – Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016
2016 album release show gallery: BLIND CHANNEL w/ RUST N’ RAGE & EMBER FALLS @ Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, 01.10.2016
2016 Revolutions review: (2016) Blind Channel: Revolutions
2016 interview: BLIND CHANNEL – Niko & Joel; South Park, 2016
2016 festival report: SOUTH PARK – Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 10-11.06.2016
2016 festival gallery: SOUTH PARK – Day 2 @ Eteläpuisto, Tampere, 11.06.2016
2016 festival report: EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL – Nosturi, Helsinki, 09-10.09.2016
2016 festival gallery: EDGE:NORDIC @ Nosturi, Helsinki, 09-10.09.2016
2016 festival behind the scenes: EDGE:NORDIC FESTIVAL: Backstage at Nosturi, 09-10.09.2016
Check out the full gallery HERE!
Follow the full set as a playlist on Spotify:
The show began with a really heroic-sounding intro, “Atlas” (by Nick Phoenix & Thomas J. Bergersen) with a video of a robot browsing through Dream Theater‘s albums, selecting what (presumably was) the newest album. The show was divided into two acts, the first largely covering their newest material, and the second continues the 20th anniversary tour of Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. The videos continued on the screen throughout the show, telling the story much in the same way as the show back in 2014.
The first song, “Untethered Angel” is also the first song from the new album. The synth sound was very glimmery and James Labrie has a truly wonderful voice. It’s clear, piercing, and works really well with their style. Mike Mangini‘s drum kit is a huge focal point on the stage. It looks really over-the-top but is also a lot of fun.
“A Nightmare to Remember” had really heavy riffs and almost sounded like symphonic black metal, and was one of only two songs in the first act that wasn’t from the new album. There was a beautiful slow part with clear, soothing guitar lines, but then suddenly Jordan Rudess grabbed a keytar and came to the edge of the stage to rock. He had been hiding in the background before at his crazy swiveling robotic keyboard station, so it was fun to see him come out and fool around, especially considering how demanding their music is. Most of the time the band focuses solely on the performance, leaving Labrie to act as frontman, so this was an effective change of pace.
Since this was a Dream Theater show, the guitar and keyboard solos were mind-bogglingly technical and fast, and in true prog fashion, they could go on for ages. Mangini isn’t a showy performer though, relying purely on skill and doesn’t take things too far (even though he could). The crowd was semi-inactive, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dream Theater fans are more interested in enjoying the music and its nuances rather than going crazy.
“In the Presence of Enemies pt. 1” was the other song that wasn’t from Distance Over Time, with a crazy fast guitar part that reminded me of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” John Petrucci changed between wild, hard-edged metal riffing and soaring, emotional guitars with ease and… who doesn’t love Petrucci and Rudess’ overwhelming beards!
The first act ended with “Pale Blue Dot,” which had a crazy, sinister riff that made me feel like an apocalypse was on its way, with the keyboards adding heavily to the feeling of a coming horror. The skill shown by the band, as well as the complexity of the music can be a bit overwhelming at times, leaving a sort of numbness. Rather than picking two long, older songs, they could have played a few more shorter songs (like “Forsaken” if they wanted to play something from Systematic Chaos) to break up the pacing a bit more.
The first act ended here, which came as a surprise to us, as we didn’t know there was an intermission. This was nice, as it gave us that needed break, as well as time to go get a bit more wine. The second half of the show was Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory in its entirety. It’s a classic DT album and always good to hear. “Overture 1928” was a definite highlight with a vibe that brought airships to mind. The major keys are nice, giving it a positive vibe and makes the listener feel like they are on an adventure that is about to unfold.
“Fatal Tragedy” also caught our attention with its passion and pure heavy metal power. Rudess’ smiley keytar solos were again a definite highlight. These guys are such professionals at their craft, creating a mesmerizing act of flawless skill. The first proper slow song of the night was “Through Her Eyes,” quite a saccharine rock ballad but was a nice change of pace at this point in the show. “Home,” the first song from Act II of the album, also stood out with its awesome yearning chorus and middle-eastern vibe.
Having only seen Dream Theater twice (this time included), “Dance of Eternity” is still a definite favorite and brought a crazy grin to my face. It’s an epic track, an interesting composition that suits its name, and it appears to have elements from the other songs on the album. Petrucci and John Myung (bass) were unmoving sentinels of precision playing. “The Spirit Carries On” was another sugary 80s-style ballad, but again this worked to its advantage, breaking up all the intense progressive tracks and allowed the crowd a change of pace, even if the songs themselves are a bit too cheesy.
When the album wrapped up, the band was called back for one more longish track, “At Wit’s End” from the latest album. With that one last punch of progressive madness, the show was over.
At first I had wondered why there was no warm up act, but the reason was clear by the end: Dream Theater was their own warm-up act. The new material acted as a nice contrast to the old, with a few surprising inclusions from mid-older albums to shake things up. Of course, hearing Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory in its entirety was extremely cool and made for an interesting contrast against the first half of the show. While at first the progressive intensity became a bit numbing, the intermission helped reset our batteries and allowed for an enjoyable night all-in-all.
Intro – Atlas (Instrumental Alt) by Nick Phoenix & Thomas J. Bergersen
1. Untethered Angel
2. A Nightmare to Remember
4. Barstool Warrior
5. In the Presence of Enemies pt. 1
6. Pale Blue Dot
7. Metropolist pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Act I: Scene One: Regression
Act I: Scene Two: I. Overture 1928
Act I: Scene Two: II. Strange Déjà Vu
Act I: Scene Three: I. Through My Words
Act I: Scene Three: II. Fatal Tragedy
Act I: Scene Four: Beyond This Life
Act I: Scene Five: Through Her Eyes
Act II: Scene Six: Home
Act II: Scene Seven: I. The Dance of Eternity
Act II: Scene Seven: II. One Last Time
Act II: Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On
Act II: Scene Nine: Finally Free
8. At Wit’s End
Photos: Miia Collander]]>
Check out the full gallery HERE!
Listen along to the setlist as a playlist on Spotify:
We came to The Circus and found ourselves surprised by the overwhelmingly active crowd for a Tuesday night in Finland. We did miss the intro and first song, but fortunately made it in time for “Angus McFife,” everyone’s first Gloryhammer song. It was everything it should have been: silly and fun and just a bit more crazy and upbeat because it’s live. The band were all dressed up in their medieval space armor and in full character as Angus McFife and company. Thomas Winkler greeted “the land of lakes and woods and eternal darkness” and offered to take us to a land of mysteries and wonder with, “The Land of Unicorns.” Straight-up, these guys had one of the loudest and craziest crowds I’ve seen all year.
We’ve been hearing that the sound quality at The Circus has been a bit hit or miss recently, and Gloryhammer’s set was sadly a miss. There was a bit of synth, loud drums, and murky vocals, and you had to really strain your anus to hear any guitars. The quality of the band’s performance could be heard if you listened closely, so it was a shame that the venue didn’t reflect that.
It was Gloryhammer’s first time playing in our “beautiful city” but they claimed to have waited until they had written the best album ever, and then got the crowd to chant “hoots, hoots” for a minute or to introduce “The Hollywood Hootsman.” Winkler, throughout the night, explained that they are fueled by neutron stars, which are made of alcohol, introduced a random fellow from the crowd: Peter from Vancouver, Canada, talked about having invented sound in space, fought a goblin with a giant (glory?) hammer, and also asked how everyone got here and claimed that someone on stage came here in a flying submarine for “Hootsforce.” They went on to cast spells and offered us one last song about unicorns towards the end.
Gloryhammer had a fun and energetic stage presence, but after a while, all of their songs blended together a bit and they could use a bit more diversity in their overall sound before they really kick things up to the next level. These guys might be a bit too over-the-top silly for us, but nevertheless, we certainly wouldn’t pass them up at a festival, so just throwing it out there for the 2020 festival scene (hint, hint). As well, knowing that Zargothrax is played by Christopher Bowes regularly, it’s interesting to note that Michael Barber, their touring keyboardist, tends to stay back in the shadows.
Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath [intro]
1. The Siege of Dunkeld (In Hoots We Trust)
3. Angus McFife
4. The Land of Unicorns
5. Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress!
Also Sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss song) [interlude]
6. The Hollywood Hootsman
7. Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy
9. Masters of the Galaxy
10. Universe on Fire
11. The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee
The National Anthem Of Unst [outro]
The stage changeover seemed very swift and efficient, which we suspect had something to do with the German crew. Their stage props seemed big and heavy and we thought it seemed unrealistic that they get the sound and stage set for 21:00; however, at 20:59, the lights dimmed and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” played as an intro, so color us impressed! We relocated to behind the sound booth where we could see a bit more of the stage, though it was nice that they had such big risers as it made it easy for everyone to see the performers throughout the show.
The sound was more balanced as Powerwolf began, but remained somewhat murky on the whole. Fortunately the guitars were more audible this time around. The riffing feels very traditional old-German power metal in style, but their hint of black metal and funny lyrics make them into a fun event. We were again shocked at how many people were at the show, chanting and clapping raucously between each song. After the first song, they the audience us to celebrate the “holy metal-mas” with Powerwolf. They asked for a heavy metal army, and the crowd willingly enlisted right away.
Unlike the unfortunate case last weekend where the opener outshined the headliner, Powerwolf was able to match Gloryhammer point for point in every performance category. Dramatic speeches between songs, costumes and stage presence, energy and chemistry, technical performance… they had it all on top of generally better songs. We had been a bit disappointed by their setlist at RockFest, and they immediately seemed like they were trying to make it up to us with “Fire and Forgive” and “Incense & Iron.”
Much like at RockFest, keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel couldn’t stay still and appeared to take up part of the frontman mantle every time he wasn’t playing. They had the full crowd put their arms into a cross overhead for “Killers with the Cross” as yet another cross lit up in the backdrop. After they played the single, “Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend,” there was an overly long and very difficult singalong, followed by “Armata Strigoi,” where the crowd put the complicated singalong training to work. This was admittedly a bit tedious as it took a pretty long time. It was funny the first time, but the second time it just felt exhausting.
The crew took away the back-lit cross halfway or so through the show and the band announced that this was a special night as over 1000 people had come to the show, which was a record for them in the Finnish clubs. During the set, they only took one break to slow things down with “Where the Wild Wolves have Gone,” which was actually a nice change of pace to regain some energy as the show passed the 1-hour mark. “Blessed & Possessed” was another crowd-favorite, followed by the newest old single, so to speak: “Kiss of the Cobra King.”
Attila Dorn announced that they had two more songs left and got the crowd to properly roar for more, and getting the crowd to clap along with Schlegel, for “We Drink Your Blood.” The crowd chanted “Powerwolf” and Dorn dramatically sang, “Dear ladies and gentlemen, raise your metal fist in the air and let us thank heavy metal for making us what we are today,” and so on, praising the holy metalness, and then fully tripped over his tongue and fumbled his speech. Luckily, the crowd was fully on the band’s side and gave Dorn a laugh and big cheer. He then got back into it and they finished up the main set with “Lupus Dei.”
They came back for three more songs, “Sanctified by Dynamite,” “Coleus Sanctus,” and “Werewolves of Armenia.” There was a disappointing lack of “Sacred & Wild” in their set yet again, but admittedly, their songs all start to sound the same after a while as well, so if we missed out on one song, at least we heard similar material. The performance itself was also fantastically executed with precision and flare, so we can forgive the loss of one song.
Ozzy Osbourne – Mr. Crowley [tape]
Lupus Daemonis [intro]
1. Fire and Forgive
2. Army of the Night
3. Incense & Iron
4. Amen & Attack
5. Killers with the Cross
6. Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend
7. Armata Strigoi
9. Resurrection by Erection
10. Where the Wild Wolves have Gone
11. Blessed & Possessed
12. Kiss of the Cobra King
13. We Drink Your Blood
14. Lupus Dei
Wolves Against the World [outro]
I mentioned this already, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such an active and vocal crowd on a Tuesday. The Finnish audiences have been a bit lethargic the last few months, but the whole floor was alive with energy and roaring cheers all night long. Both bands delivered a fun and upbeat performance, and while neither band exactly sits at the pinnacle of song composition, the night was full of catchy music and more audience interaction than was strictly necessary. It seems these guys are wildly popular in Finland though, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them soon, and maybe in a bigger venue next time!
Photos: Marco Manzi]]>