Books Features

The job is yours, Joey – Overqualified by Joey Comeau

Joey Comeau is one of the Canadian, artsy souls behind the Internet phenomenon A Softer World, a comic where Emily Horne's photos are accompanied by the witty, poetic words of Joey. Besides A Softer World Joey has years of short story writing behind him, as well as all these job applications. And Overqualified is actually a collection of all those application letters to different companies within the US and Canada. Joey has written them, sent them, and no, he hasn't gotten a job. Yet. You may understand why as you read the book.

Instead of listing his positive and negative sides he lists memories, emotions and crazy ideas he wants to contribute with. The letters form a story of pure craziness which makes me laugh out loud, but it also forces me to sometimes put the book down to think about what I just read. Maybe wipe a tear off my cheek.


It doesn't matter that what Joey writes has nothing to do with me, he still certainly makes it seem like it. I have no girlfriend named Susan, no dead little brother named Adrian, and I don't even share Joey's fear of night swimming. But I recognize myself and I fall in love with the intimacy that I feel. I feel less alone in the hunt for whatever none of these jobs could give me.

I understand Joey's view of the world, how intimidating and wrong everything really is. I know there are no secret admirers anymore, and that Hallmark needs that new holiday. I know what it's like to be jealous of the strangest things, I know what it's like to write those text messages when I'm wasted. I understand the questions Joey seeks answers for, and I understand the changes he wants to make. If he ever gets those jobs that is.

This is a wonderful way to write a book. Joey really managed to create something new. No matter if you're facing a period of no work and a lot of applications, or if you just have a broken heart – Joey says it like it is.

And no, Joey, I wouldn't hire you, not for any of the jobs you wanted. But you are hired as my best friend and lover, no trial period, full pay. Can you start Monday?

Cover story Misc

Estonia’s soul singers

{mosimage}For a small country, it has a big voice – many thousands of them. While most nations measure their international prestige in sporting or economic terms, Estonia prides itself on its singing. 



he 25th Song Celebration (Laulupidu), titled “To breathe as one”, was held at Lauluväljak (Tallinn Song Festival Grounds) on 2-5 July and its importance to the Estonian psyche cannot be exaggerated. The last in 2004 attracted a crowd of over 200,000 plus 35,000 choral singers and 2,000 musicians raising their voices  in traditional and modern song. 

Fittingly, a statue of Gustav Ernesaks (1908-1993), 'the Father of the Festival', has looked down over the vast field since 2004 to the huge arched roof  under which the choirs perform. He was the event's head organiser and chief choirmaster for nearly 50 years as well as being a noted composer who put to music Mu isamaa on minu arm (My country is my love) the poem by Estonia’s pre-eminent female poet Lydia Koidula. 

“This song is very important for all Estonians, it’s the symbol of our freedom,” says Margot Holts, Lauluväljak’s Marketing Director. 

2009 marked the festival’s 140th anniversary and it has mushroomed in significance and size from its origins in the city of Tarttu, where a small  museum traces its history. Naturally, during Estonia's Russian and Soviet periods, it acted as a siren for the Estonian soul. So why was it allowed when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union from 1944 to1991? (The current TSFG was even built in 1959 although the then radical design was by Estonian architects Kotli and Sepmann

Blissful Ignorance

{mosimage}"The powers in  Moscow saw it as a cultural event only. They were so far removed that they didn’t realize it was so totemic for us,” explains Mall Oja of Tallinn’s Tourist Bureau.   

During occupation, it was held with red flag flying, while the throng defiantly sang for freedom. Before independence came in 1991, the last Soviet event attended by 300,000 in 1988 was dubbed ‘The singing revolution’. This and the subsequent one in 1992 exhaled pride and joy which was breathed in deeply by the entire nation.

Plucked young, matured carefully

Since 1934, the festival has been combined with the Dance Celebration (at nearby Kalev Stadium) that has now had its 18th edition. Over 50,000 choir and 20,000 dancing applications (from abroad too) were received, which were whittled down – only the best will do.  

Estonian choristry skims off the cream from an early age – mirroring the process of the sports world. Choristers from village to city join a major choir as young as five years old. The gifted are trialled, selected and trained at such elite bodies as the Estonian National Opera Boys’ Choir. 

{mosimage}Under the professional tutelage of ENOBC's Artistic Director Hirvo Surva and others, they are trained in breathing, singing and timing. Estonian choirs have received applause and awards abroad from the Llangollen Choir Competition and Hungary’s Cantemus Choral Festival among others. Singers and dancers this year came from North America, the Nordics, UK, Ukraine, Hungary and Russia. 

A typical participant was Feliks Mägus, Chairman of the Nordic Hotel s group who joined a choir aged 7 and then sang until he graduated, literally, to the Tarttu men's choir Akadeemiline Emajõgi. As he puts it “The Song Festival has always been a place to enjoy singing and to feel that all Estonians are as one nation.”   

But the sound and atmosphere created by 100,000 voices is unforgettable in the ten or so songs that are performed together en masse. “Our programme always includes difficult pieces which require balance and careful rehearsal,” comments Surva. “And we always start with Koit and finish with Mu isamaa on mu arm for the older generation.” 

Held every four years like the Olympics and other great sporting occasions, this mean that those who take part have an indelible experience. Although not everyone who wishes can attend in person, the volume and atmosphere produced by the ensemble when singing together means that their voices carry far beyond the sound limits and into the hearts and souls of absentees too. 

Interviews Music

Interview with Liv Kristine

FREE! Magazine is honored in publishing this interview (that appeared originally in our partner´s website  with this great artist, Liv Kristine, lead singer of the German band LEAVES EYES.  With her former band, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, Liv created a new style, a new concept in heavy metal that used to be called 'Beauty and the Beast', mixing her sweet voice with a man´s guttural and aggressive singing. What makes her so different? She was the first lead singer and not a background one. Until the band´s debut in 1994, there is no record of female leading singers on this specific style of doom metal.

LEAVES EYES is getting ready to release a new album, NJORD, produced by Liv´s husband and band partner Alexander Krull and here you will read everything about it besides knowing a little more about this great and admirable person, owner of huge culture, great ideas, intelligence and talent.I hope you enjoy it! Stay rock!  

You showed up to the world singing in the band Theatre of Tragedy in 1994 and created a new style that in those years was called "the Beauty and the Beast". You  were sharing your sweet vocals with the guttural and aggressive man´s voice of your band partner and was the first woman to do leading vocals and not only a background in this kind of band. It was a mix of heavy metal, death metal and classical elements with a lot of atmosphere and has influenced many other bands. What has inspired you to create this style?

I actually grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden, and later I discovered Paradise Lost, Anathema, Cathedral and Type O Negative, so I've kind of always been into metal. On the other hand, I learned to love Edvard Grieg, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Mozart from a very young age. I mainly formed Theatre of Tragedy with my ex-boyfriend back in 1994 to be able to combine classical music and metal. we were pretty amazed by the songs that came out ourselves, and suddenly European labels and fans opened up their eyes. I believe we were probably the first ones to do this kind of musical constellation, especially the beauty and the beast image and the set-up of contrasting elements in metal. Some yearsago I had a nice chat with Tuomas from Nightwish. He told me that Theatre of Tragedy was his inspiration for founding Nightwish – and that really touched my heart!

Liv Kristine

When did you realize that even though you´ve got a very sweet voice you could be a Metal singer?

Well, I sang along to Black Sabbath when I was a little girl, and I spent hours in front of the mirror with my hairbrush practicing, when the other kids were playing at the play ground. i was pretty sure at the age of seven that I would some day be singing in a metal band on big stages. That was the wish of my heart, and my wish was obviously heard!

What has attracted you to music?

Singing and composing is something I've done since I was five or six years old. I learned to sing before I talked properly. I am sure I got attracted to music inside my mothers belly, because siblings are able to hear inside their mother's womb. My son, Leon, was born only 3 hours after I had finished my vocal recordings for "Lovelorn", the Leaves' Eyes debut.Believe me, he knew these songs by heart even before he was born. This music has a very calming, dream-like and positive effect on him.

Unfortunately we cannot see a large number of women really working as musicians in the rock scene. What do you think about it? Did you suffer or still suffering prejudice?

Lita Ford and Joan Jet were probably the first women in metal who stood up against all those predicting, conservative complaints. They certainly opened up for us who came a few years later. However, after the release of the first Theatre of Tragedy album, some journalists were upset about my strong presence in the band's music ("Liv kristine should better
do backing vocals"). Anyway, the fans voted for the band to be the "band of the year" in a number of magazines, and that really made me happy. Rock attitude in music should be non-sexual! Today, I am very lucky; the men I am surrounded by (e.g. musicians, journalists, fans, crew) are wonderful guys. On one hand I am the "boss", we even compete each other doing push-ups on the tour bus or I beat them in running or swimming. On the other hand, at home in the studio I love to bake and cook for the guys, and I'm always there if someone needs to talk. They are like my family (they use to say "thanks, Mum").

If you could make a short brief talking about you career along these years, what would you say to us?

I would say that I've worked extremely hard, however, I've been very lucky. I've got a fantastic support from my fans and friends from the very first moment I entered a stage in public. This is the essential power that has kept me going on and loving music when times were extremely tough. One label even tried to make me stop singing and went to court to crush my personality and singing voice. After this, I've really learned to see how cruel the music business is. it's all about money. Some people obviously saw me as a nice and friendly, naive, young Norwegian blond with a huge dollar sign on my forehead. Nowadays I sing, write lyrics and compose only what comes from the heart, for my fans, friends, and for myself. Entering the charts is an enormous bonus, however, first of all I need to be in
balance with myself and feel good with what I'm doing.

“Tuomas from Nithwish told me that Theatre of Tragedy was his inspiration for forming his band. That really touched my heart!" – Liv Kristine –

Tell us some of the best and memorable moments of your career, some of your big hits!

The release of the first Theatre of Tragedy album, secondly, years later the recordings during my pregnancy and the release of "Lovelorn" (the Leaves' Eyes debut). Being nominated for the American Grammy with Cradle of Filth's duet "Nymphetamine" was one of the highlights, too.

Liv Kristine

What´s the daily routine of Liv Kristine the mother, the wife, the rockstar?

Well, my day starts with a cup of tea, and then I go for a run through the forest and pick up some fresh bread at the bakery shop on my way back. Then I wake up Alexander and Leon and we'll have breakfast together. I'll be busy in the studio until I pick up my son from school. Then I cook dinner for everybody and we spend the rest of the day together playing,
visiting friends, going for a swim or playing drums. Yes, the laundry and cleaning the house and the studio is part of my daily dues, of course. There is little time for shopping, actually. I sometimes do that on tour if I need to get away from tour life.

What advices would you give to those who intend to follow the same path you did?

Listen to your own heart and wishes! Listen to what you inner voice is telling you about whom to trust and whom to better keep a distance towards. But you should open up for advices, and consider them, if they come from honest and friendly people.

Which bands or solo artists do you admire most? (not necessary to be rock)

Ozzy, Madonna, Liza Gerrard, Enya, Dio, Devon Graves (Dead Soul Tribe) and Tarja.

I don´t know if you´ve got a play list but could you tell us your moment top 5?

Soundtrack to Madagascar 1 and 2, soundtrack to "Chocolat", the latest albums of Midnattsol and Lamb of God.

Jani Penttinen

Leaves Eyes is on studio now recording a new album. When will it be released? What can you tell us about it?

This album "Njord" (producer: my husband Alexander Krull) has a power to it that even is more intense than any previous production I've been part of. Technically, we constantly have new ideas and aims. We have our own studio and therefore we have the opportunity to specialize in technical tasks concerning album and DVD productions. "Njord" has even a more bombastic but delicate sound that "Vinland Saga", because techniques allows it. We recorded the classical parts in Minsk (Lingua Mortis, supervised by Victor Smolkski), we had a complete local choir (Al Dente) singing the choir parts, a special artist playing solos on special instruments like the uillean pipe and the whistle. The lyrics are written in eh…8 languages (English, middle-high German, old-English, Gaelic, Norwegian, Icelandic, French and one "self-made" fictional language)…I even sat down to study a bit French to be able to write one French lyric. Yes, "Njord" was an even more complicated recording process than the album before, but that is part of our work as artists and composers – always getting better!
Concerning the concept, I've used two main sources for my lyrics; northern mythology and the Viking's history. The lyrics mainly deal with characters from northern mythology (e.g. Njord, Fröya'sTheme, Nine Wave Maidens, Ragnarok,), or with places and historical happenings (e.g. Scarborough Fair, The Battle of Maldon, Emerald Island, Irish Rain, Les Champs de Lavande). This is why I found it necessary to deal with all these different languages. "Vinland Saga" is based on Leif Ericsson's discovery of America, even the EP, Legend Land, which followed soon thereafter. "Njord" has a much broader concept.

Summer is coming in Europe and the concerts season too! Will you go on a tour?

We'll have to consider if we tour Europe or America first. Anyway, a tour will come up in autumn, spring this year. Now I have already started the recordings of my solo album. which I want to finish first.

Please, leave a message to your fans!

Thank you ever so much for being with me through all these years!

The author wants to thank Liv Kristine for being so lovely and Ben Aichelburg of Napalm Records for intermediating this interview. We´re honored by your support.

For more interesting features and articles about metal, you can visit our partners`site at:

Interviews Music

Interview with Jan Kuehnemund of Vixen

In the rock scene, there are women who have really made history and it would be nice just to remember them a bit since media does it only when there is something to get and never takes it as just a matter of rock & roll.

Women and their bands that are part of the rock history? Girlschool, Doro, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Heart, L7, among others of course. All of them are important and unforgettable. We bring you a bit of this history, talking about a band that was worldwide famous in the 80's as the "hard rock queens", "the female Bon Jovi" in a time when, although it may seem a little out of date nowadays, it was REALLY a big thing. Our fireworks go to VIXEN and its "man", the wonderful woman who's been leading it and keeping the band alive, Jan Kuehnemund, band leader and guitarist of this 100% female rock representative Hard Rock band who's got to a stage and to a level only a very few women got in rock business when talking of an 100% female band.


You founded Vixen in the 80´s and very fast the band got to a level only a few women´s band got to. Nicknames such as the Hard Rock Queens, the Female Bon Jovi were adjectives all rock fans agreed to give you. Could you tell us a bit of what it has represented to you as a musician and as a woman? Was it more special, a better victory for the fact of being a “woman in a man´s world” according to society patterns?

Actually, I just wanted to mention that we worked very hard for quite a long time, before we got signed, and had any success. In the beginning, the original band from Minnesota played all around the USA for several years, then one by one 3 of the 4 original members left the band and were replaced, eventually ending in the lineup with Janet, Roxy, Share and me. Once that lineup got signed, things came together more quickly, and that’s the story most people know! When we started to have some success in the late 80’s and heard the band being called the “Female Bon Jovi”, etc., we were honored and thrilled!! It did feel like it was an accomplishment both as musicians and as women, playing rock & roll in a mostly (back then) man’s world. I don’t know if it was a better victory, but we were enjoying the ride, and doing what we loved doing, and we just happened to be women!

In the band´s official website I read a new album is coming out. What kind of changes can we expect for the coming album and what hasnt´s changed at all in the bands attitude and music? When is it going to be ready and debuted?

We learned a lot while recording Live & Learn, and we certainly hope to put all that we’ve learned into our next record!What has NOT changed, is our love & respect for each other, our vision for Vixen, and our love of music, and our attitude about wanting the band to progress, and make more records and continue writing and touring, and keep getting better and better at all of it! We don’t have a release date as of yet for the new record, but we will post updates on our website as we have them –

Have you ever stopped working with music? What have you done in your career and in your life besides Vixen?

No, I’ve never really stopped working in music! When Vixen broke up, I worked with a guy band, POULATION 361, for the first time in my life and I really enjoyed that, also!! I also worked with some other female friends and songwriters, and our band was called DRAWING DOWN THE MOON. We released a CD called Angel In My Dream.

What made you decide to go back with the band and how did you choose the new line-up?

My manager that I was working with in 2000, came to me and asked if I’d consider working with the old lineup again, even though we’d just been through a lawsuit and weren’t on the best of terms. I said yes, so then he asked the other girls if they’d consider working with me again, and Roxy & Janet said yes. Share had her band Bubble going and so she declined, so Janet, Roxy & I, along with bassist Pat Holloway did a “reunion” tour in 2001 called The Voices of Metal Tour with Vince Neil, Ratt and Slaughter. Part way through the tour, things on the road were not working out so well, as it was a really rough tour. So when I saw it all falling apart, I had to decide if I wanted to call it quits, or try to find new members to replace all 3, and finish out the tour. I chose the latter, and miraculously I found Jenna, Lynn & Kat, and we finished out that tour and we’ve been together and going strong ever since!! I truly feel that was a miracle!!

Can you remember your first gig? How old you were? Who were you playing with? How did you feel? What memories from this day you carry until now?

I can remember one of the first gigs for sure. It was at a roller rink, with the original members from MN, Cindy, Gayle & Laurie, and the audience age was from about 4 – 16 years old, and we were about 15 or 16 ourselves! We signed autographs at that show, so we felt really excited about that! Then when we were all done playing and our equipment was packed up, I called my dad, who was our very first roadie, to come pick us up! He had built a little trailer especially for us and our equipment, to haul us around town! I still carry all those great memories with me, to this day!


Unfortunately we cannot see a large number of women really working as musicians in the rock scene. Why do you think most of women don´t get attracted by rock ´n roll? What do you call rock attitude? Any example?

There are definitely more females in rock & roll today, as players/musicians than there were in the past. I think women ARE attracted by, and to rock & roll, in the role of playing it themselves, more and more every day. I think that is really great!! I would call a “rock attitude” a feeling, a vibe, a love of music and sometimes including the rock & roll “style” that goes with it. Examples that come to mind are: Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Pat Benatar, Ann & Nancy Wilson, to name just a few. Pure “rock attitude” – all of them!

“If somebody could write my biography, the title could be Vixen: A Little Girl’s Big Dream"”

What has attracted you?

The love of music – creating it, playing it, listening to it, living it, loving it!

Do you think a woman has a more difficult path to walk on and has to “prove” more than men to achieve goals?

I think it’s easier today because there are more proven successful female artists/musicians in rock. From past experience, yes, we did sometimes feel like we had to “prove” ourselves. There were times when we were asked if there were really guys behind the curtain on stage playing our parts!

Do you like to listen to your past stuff, watch pictures, read articles and interviews, do you listen to your own music a lot? Does it feel good?

I don’t listen to our old stuff very often, or read old interviews, etc., very often. But if I happen to hear or see one of our videos on VH1 or hear a song on satellite radio or something, I still do get excited and it makes me smile, and yes it feels good!

Among all your stuff, which one do you consider the best and why? And what has been the best moment for you so far? Why?

Edge of A Broken Heart is still one of our best songs, I think, because that song was our first single, and it put us on the charts and on MTV, and is the song people know us best for! One of my favorite and best moments and one of my best memories, is still, the night we heard our 1st album – “Vixen” – had gone gold!! We were in France on tour with the Scorpions, and we had the night off, and our manager called us at the hotel, to tell us our record had gone gold!!! I remember thinking and feeling that we, at this moment, had accomplished something big!! It was a feeling of – wow – we “did it” and it was like my original dream was coming true!

If you leave behind “Jan the rock star” for a moment, what do you have to say about and how would you describe “Jan, the regular woman” who goes shopping, does the laundry. Do you enjoy it?

Haha! Yes! I enjoy it! I love shopping, being at home, cleaning to my favourite CD’s, reading, going for a walk, just going about my day, etc… it’s certainly a lot different from being on the road, but I love both, and I like to have a balance between the two…

Tell us something you cannot spend a day without doing.

I cannot easily spend a day without drinking coffee!

You have a long career and probably a lot to tell. If somebody wrote your Biography, how would its name be?

Hmmm….maybe something like, Vixen: A Little Girl’s Big Dream

If you hadn´t become a musician, what do you think you would have been?

Wow, I’m not sure! I believe it would have been something that involves being creative, though…


Which other female rock stars do you admire? Is there any actual band with female members you like to listen to?

I admire Ann & Nancy Wilson, Pat Benatar, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, and many more…I like Evanescence!

I don´t know if you´ve got a play list but could you tell us your moment top 5?

1. FOO FIGHTERS (any of their CD’s)

2. I will be getting the new U2 record – No Line on the Horizon, I think it’s called. I just heardone of their new songs and loved it!

3. FUEL ( I still listen to their 1st 2 CD’s)


I need something else NEW to complete my top 5! 

Leave us a message!

Wow – that’s a tall order! ; )I would first like to say THANK YOU to all who have supported Vixen, back then, all through the years, and now!! We love you and thank you all for your very loyal support!!! : ) Follow your dreams, believe in miracles, believe in yourself, stay true to yourself, don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how tough it seems, try to smile even when you don’t feel like it, live each day to the fullest, tell your family and friends often – how much you love them, try to love even those you don’t really want to, forgive (it will make you feel better!), and at the end of every day, pause and think about as many things as you can, that you have to be grateful for! Much Love, Peace & Rock & Roll!! 

For more information about Vixen visit:

Read more articles from Maila Kaarina at:

Features Music

Iron Maiden: Flight 666

As a die-hard Maiden fan since the age of thirteen, it certainly is a thrill to see one of your favourite bands on the big screen in thunderous 5.1 surround sound. Yes, I’m talking about the new film Iron Maiden: Flight 666, which captures the band onstage, backstage, and everywhere in between, during the first leg of their 2008 Somewhere Back in Time Tour.

Flight 666

Released worldwide on the 21st of April, the documentary film chronicles probably the most logistically challenging undertaking in Rock history: outfitting a 757 aircraft (complete with Maiden logo) to fit the entire band, crew, and all their equipment; fly them to play 23 concerts, in 13 countries, on 5 continents (that’s 70,000 km or 50,000 frequent flier miles if you’re counting), and do this all within the span of 45 days. Oh … and I forgot to mention, the plane was flown by none other than Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson (who is a licensed airline pilot in his own right).

Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen, are the same team who made the fantastic 2005 documentary film: Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Considering the fact that Iron Maiden are well known for protecting their privacy and eschewing the typical trappings of celebrity, the filmmakers were given unprecedented access to the band on tour. We get to see affable drummer Nicko McBrain chatting (always with a slice of pizza!) with band mates on the bus moments after a show; the suffocating atmosphere brought on by mobs of fans in South America;  Bruce in the pilot’s seat flying “Ed Force One”; the famously brusque band manager Rod Smallwood asleep on the plane; a moment of crisis brought on by an innocuous golf ball.

In all, over 500 hours worth of film was taken by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen and then edited down to the movie’s final running time of 112 minutes. Of course, in addition to all the behind-the-scenes moments, we get to see the reason why Iron Maiden is renowned the world over: the band is a monster live act. The performance footage is mixed throughout the film and the band has never sounded better thanks to producer Kevin Shirley who mixed the sound for the film. Since the set list remained essentially the same, the filmmakers chose to show clips of the band playing one song from each city on the tour. Two songs are played in their entirety: “Aces High” and the perennial classic “Hallowed Be Thy Name” which is performed at the final show in Toronto, Canada, and closes the film. 

As much as Iron Maiden: Flight 666 is about the band, it is (even more so) a film about the fans. Across continents and cultures: India, Japan, Australia, Central & South America, the U.S., and Canada, we see the impassioned reactions of fans the world over. Watching the Colombian fans as they camp out for NINE days in a make-shift tent city before a show, leaves the viewer in awe of the devotion and loyalty shown by the band’s fans.  

Flight 666

I was actually at the Iron Maiden show in New Jersey in the U.S., so one personal highlight was to see some of the live performance from that particular show in the movie. I strained to see myself in the audience but trying to pick yourself out in a crowd of 20,000 can be a bit futile. I guess I could get myself a magnifying glass and wait for the DVD release! 

For a band that has made such an indelible impact on its fans around the world (and rock music in general), Iron Maiden is, astonishingly, not in the institution known as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Iron Maiden has never courted mainstream acceptance and that suits the band and its fans just fine. The band has made it on its own terms and without compromise. One particular moment in the film, I think, says it all: the camera zooms in on a Colombian fan who is overtaken by emotion and literally breaks into tears after capturing Nicko’s drum stick. This is what Iron Maiden means to its fans and no admission into an exclusionary club such as the R&R Hall of Fame can match that. 

The film is on extended release in digital theatres around the world including Bio Rex cinemas in Finland. 

Flight 666Trailer

Features Music

DAR – Dynamic Arts Records helping spread Finnish Metal to the world


{mosimage}Finnish Metal is undoubtedly worldwide respected and it´s surely not a fad. It didn´t happen out of the blue for no reason though, it is what it is for the extreme competence of the rock & metal bands that come from that tiny, isolated and cold country.




Doing the best you can on whatever you do, studying hard, researching and being extremely professional are cultural characteristics you see a lot in the entire Scandinavia and when the subject is Heavy Metal, let´s say that Finland and Sweden are at the top.

Dynamic Arts Records ( DAR ) – recording company from the city of Tampere – is a very respected company lead by people who really understand of rock & metal and help the scene be spread to the world. They´ve been doing a great job promoting their bands sending material and in this section Hard Blast will talk about 3 of these big metal promises.  


{mosimage}MASTERSTROKE – Melodic Power & Heavy Metal 

The band was formed in 2002 and has two albums released, Apocalypse (2006) and the great Sleep, released by DAR in 2007.You don´t need more than 30 seconds listening to realize what´s going on here – very good music, strong, powerful, with great melodies and guitar solos.The line-up is formed by Niko Rauhala ( v & g ), Janne Juutinen ( d ), Markus Kekoni ( g ), Jussi Kulomaa ( k ) and Marko Kolehmainen ( b ) and you can check them out on or on DAR homepage.

The album is composed by 10 tracks. Niko´s singing is different from what we are used to listening when the subject is melodic power metal, there aren´t very high notes. Vocals are melodic but heavy and it´s possible to feel a “Blaze Bailey´s atmosphere” in his tone but with a lot more power. Guitarist Markus also makes very different solos more focused on the melody than on the speed, which I consider a great advantage since in melodic power metal it´s usually more common to listen to very fast and exaggerated virtuous solos, .

The same happens to the keyboards, present 100% of the time showing great melodies and arrangements and not a 'keyboard X guitar duel'.Musicians who are able to play well saving notes, emphasizing melody to speed and paying attention to the musical environment of the work they want to show are very rare nowadays and I believe this is a great differential.

I recommend Masterstroke as one of the best bands I´ve heard recently. 


{mosimage}SILENTIUM – Goth/Dark Metal 

The band exists since 1995 and has a discography of 5 full-length albums and 3 singles. The most recent release, Amortean, came out in January of 2009 and have been getting great feedback from fans and press since then.The band´s career was full of ups and downs and line-up changes until 2003 but after this time the line-up was settled. Silentium is: Toni Lahtinen ( g ), Matti Aikio (b & groaning), Riina Rinkinen ( v ), Jari Ojala ( d ), Juha Lehtioksa ( g ), Sami Boman ( k ).

After signing with DAR in 2005 Silentium recorded Seducia, album of great success that could really make people pay attention to them. The most recent work, Amortean, shows very high quality female singing Goth Metal. Riina sings beautifully with a strong voice which does not follow the actual pattern of the ‘opera’ singing. She explores her natural tone and singing personality. Her voice is strong, deep and makes Silentium even more interesting.Songs are rich, full of keyboards and orchestral arrangements, there is a strong concern with climate and particularities that would make fans recognize their music right from the intro.

Drumming also deserves to be highlighted in Silentium´s work. Jari Ojala plays strong and fast being also a very creative drummer on his kickin´ arrangements. The album is very well produced it´s very musical having some 'taste' of pop that makes Riina´s voice fit even better on it. You could easily listen to them on the radio. Amortean shows melancholic and deep songs just as the style demands though. For those who enjoy heavy music with female singing, Silentium´s album is for sure a very good buy. Check them out at or go to DAR homepage to get more info. 





Angel Blake is the solo project of guitarist Marko Tervonen ( The Crown ) and besides himself it counts on the musicians Tobias Jansson ( v ), Anders Edlund ( g ), Örjan Wressel ( acoustic bass) and Janne Saarenpää ( d ).




Although Marko and Janne are Finns, the band is based in Sweden, where the other members are from. The album The Descended, released in 2008, shows what could be called 'real nordic metal' with all specific characteristics that make those who research about the style recognize the bands. I don´t mean it´s cliché cause it´s not. It´s particular, there is a specific personality when you listen to the base guitar with its fast palm mutting, the creative drumming and vocals that can vary from clean and high to groaning, always very strong and present.

It´s perfect music for head banging, air punching and stage diving. The kind of atmosphere that puts you really into a metal mood.It´s curious that bassist Örjan plays the acoustic bass giving a special sound to the lows of the songs making them even heavier and fuller of punch. Angel Blake is a band that surely deserves to be heard.

Check them out at and find the true Scandinavian metal into their heavy riffs.   



Concerts Music

You do not mess with Texas! – Radar´s gig at Semifinal – Helsinki.

{mosimage}Power to the music with (almost) no words. This evening we celebrate the post-metal/post-rock universe with a local offering and a more established name in a genre that many music critics have already defined as a dead branch. Despite its small dimensions, Semifinal is sold out for a show that is extremely anticipated by the crowd that has invaded the venue. 



The opening is performed by Radar, a Helsinki band which mixes Callisto’s True Nature Unfolds-period with the intricate sonic plots of Cult of Luna. Anguishing atmospheres are accompanied by desperate growls, while monolithic riffs destroy every attempt of resistance from the listeners: the five tracks are performed in thirty minutes of engaging music, most of it sampled from the latest album Remoras.

“We came straight from Texas”: these are the only words we’ll hear from This Will Destroy You during the whole show before the thanks at the end. The American quartet takes position on the stage and starts a performance in which melodies and distortions are tightly intertwined for the joy of the post-rock adulators. Every sonic layer is incorporated in an effective fashion, while taking time to let passages mature to their full potential, often lingering reflectively when necessary. While still crafting their tracks according to the post-rock formula, the band has replaced predictable and massive build-ups with dynamics enriched with different effects and sprinkles of electronic music.




The two guitarists provide an interesting opposite approach, mixing more ambient sounds with aggressive, razor-sharp riffs while drummer and bass player are backing them up with twists and injections of adrenaline. The end result is one hour of pure ecstasy for the devotees of elegantly complex music trajectories where both albums have a say in the show.    The sound goes off and the lights are on for the conclusion of a sonic experience that has accompanied, entertained and delighted the enthusiastic crowd. And we leave Semifinal with the hope in our hearts to cross again the path of the Texan band.


Photos by Alessandro Bonetti and Radar`s MySpace official site.

For more information about the band, you can visit:


Albums Music

U2 – No Line on the Horizon

{mosimage}The one thing that I find difficult when it comes to reviewing a new album is the fact that there’s usually not enough time to really make any proper judgments. Initial reviews of an album can feel rushed and just skim the surface of what only time spent living with that album can reveal. So here comes U2’s latest release, No Line on The Horizon, an album that almost demands repeated listening to fully appreciate its depth and nuance.


No Line on The Horizon is U2’s 12th studio release and catches the band at a bit of a crossroads. Trying to venture forth from the relative safety of their “back-to-basics” approach to song writing of their last two albums, the band is once again in search of a new sound while at the same time trying to retain the core of what makes them quintessentially U2. After scrapping their recording sessions with producer Rick Rubin (whose hands-off style probably didn’t fit well with their new experimental direction), the band enlisted the help of long-time collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. This new album – a product of the band’s jam sessions in Fez, Morocco with Eno and Lanois (who share co-writing credits) – chronicles their journey. For much of the album, the band has abandoned traditional song structures and have opted instead to create sonic landscapes and textures grounded by Adam Clayton’s tasteful but driving bass lines. The album mixes Rock, electronica, Jimmy Page-esque guitar riffs, and ambient music along with some Arabic influences thrown in for good measure.


There are more immediate and accessible songs (including the campy Get On Your Boots and Stand Up Comedy) thrust in the middle of No Line on the Horizon, but they almost serve as a counterpoint to the album’s more experimental side. These less accessible songs however, (which include Fez-Being Born, White as Snow, and Cedars of Lebanon), are really the heart of the album; drawing the listener in further each time they’re heard.


No Line on The Horizon is at times somber and contemplative (but never boring) with more than enough compelling moments to make it a journey well worth taking.


U2 will hit the road this year in support of the new album, playing 19 stadium dates in Europe (closest Finland show is Gothenburg, Sweden) followed by more dates in North America in the Fall.


Rating 4/5


Interviews Music

Interview with Jeff Loomis of Nevermore

Nevermore is an American metal band created in 1991 in Seattle, Washington. Since then, they’ve been on the road with seven albums and a legion of fans around the world, mainly in Europe. Jeff Loomis is the impressive guitarist and main songwriter for the band.He auditioned for Megadeth when he was 16 years old, was listed as one of the fastest guitarists of all times by “Guitar World”, has his own signature Loomis guitar by Schecter and will soon have his own signature distortion pedal. To top off the successful career, he just released his first and very inspiring solo album, Zero Order Phase, by Century Media. I had the pleasure of speaking with a laid back and funny Jeff Loomis and my interview with him can be read below.

In September of 2008 you released your first solo album, Zero Order Phase, was that something you always planned on doing?

It was an idea I had in mind for quite some time, it was just that there was never enough time to do it because of all the touring that we were doing with Nevermore. When the touring cycle ended for the "This Godless Endeavor" tour I knew we would have a lot of time off, so I called Neil Kernon, my producer, and we got the project going. I called my friend Mark Arrington, who actually played on our very first self titled CD, to play drums on it and he was more than happy to do it. One of the really cool things about recording this CD was that the majority of it was done right in my own house. We recorded the drums at a studio down the street, but everything else was done in my basement. This really made the whole project very relaxed without the feeling of being rushed like you would normally be in a real studio environment. I've been a fan of instrumental music for a very long time, so I’m finally glad I had the opportunity to show a different side of my playing to Nevermore fans and fans of experimental music.

Does the album reflect exactly everything you intended it to reflect when you first started the project?

I think it exceeded my expectations. I knew it was going to be very cool once I had made the initial demos, but once we started recording, things really started falling into the right place. I think it was just a matter of the right people being together at the right time for the whole project. I was really fortunate to be able to work with a lot of talented people that made this recording a reality. Neil was a big help with many of the arrangements and Mark was the glue that made everything cohesive and sound like one entire piece of flowing music. The entire CD is a big journey of different musical soundscapes (laughing), that may sound like a weird way of describing it but it's the best way to explain how it sounds, sonically speaking.

How has the response been so far? Nevermore has some very passionate fans, how has their reaction been to your album?

The response has been very, very good. Most of the reviews have been excellent and the fans seem to really like it. I think I’ve gained a bit of a new listening audience as well, which is really cool. To be honest I really just wanted to make this CD for myself, just to see if I could pull something like this off. I didn’t want to make a CD just to show off some fast guitar riffs. My intention was to make a CD of a wide array of different musical styles that incorporated many elements of my playing intertwined. I'm always playing very aggressive stuff with Nevermore, so it was cool to be able to experiment with different approaches to writing music on Zero Order Phase. I also know that the fans want a new Nevermore CD…we have been together as a band for 15 plus years, so taking a break from that was a very healthy thing for us to do. It will just make us come back stronger with new music and a fresh start. We are working on a new CD right now as a matter of fact! 


If you were to describe Zero Order Phase in three words, what would they be?

Relentless experimental “riffage”.

Do you normally listen to your own music at home, like when you're cooking or doing laundry?

After the final mix I listened to my solo CD quite a bit…but if I’m cooking or cleaning usually I’ll be listening to other stuff for whatever mood I’m in at the time. It could be Classical music or Cannibal Corpse!

In the end of last year Nevermore released the DVD The Year of the Voyager and you guys are already working on a new album, what else can the fans expect from the band in 2009?

Yes we are finally working on the new stuff. Yes it will be heavy and yes it will be very melodic too. The fans can expect a new CD and a world tour in the very near future. Our first show will be the “Wacken Festival” this summer in Germany. From there on out we hope to be on the road for a long time. I have about 7 songs written for the new CD. I can't give you any working titles yet, but I can guarantee it will be some of our best work yet.

I know that you were very moved by the guitar playing of legends like Jason Backer and Marty Friedman. Is there any new guitarist that blows your mind?

There is a guitar player from the UK by the name of Guthrie Govan who is just amazing. I really come from the old school of guitarists that I grew up with, such as Brian May, Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. These are players that really inspired me to play and stay in my room practicing hours a day. I love Fredrik and Martin from Meshuggah as well, these guys are doing some killer stuff that I love listening to. Jason and Marty are my all time favorite players. I got a chance to work with Marty last year in L.A., I played a guest solo on his new CD called Future Addict. He's an incredible musician and composer and a very nice person. It was a total honor to be able to spend some time with him and learn a few new things about his approach to guitar playing.

One of the coolest times was being on tour with the band Death" – Jeff Loomis –

What have you been listening to lately? What was the last album you bought?


I've been listening to this crazy band called The Faceless. They are kinda like a combination of Cannibal Corpse meets the Jazz guitarist Alan Holdsworth. It's strange but works so well together. I like Blotted Science too. I can't remember the last CD I bought! I think it was the new Soilwork CD, I’m a huge fan of those guys too and I'm very happy to hear that Peter Wichers is back in the band.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasure? Something that you only listen when you're alone, that you're not proud of listening to and would not tell your friends about.

I think that Natasha Bedingfield is cool…I saw a live concert of hers on TV and she has a really strong voice and has some catchy tunes too. I don't mind saying that at all. As a matter of fact, I have a close friend who likes Beyoncé! Oh, and I almost forgot that I’ve listened to ABBA a few times too. Cool production and great vocal harmonies. I think I got that from hanging out with many Swedish friends on past tours.

In your opinion, what were the most important moments in Nevermore's career?  Why?

Well, one of the coolest times was being on tour with the band Death. Being able to hang out with Chuck Schuldiner was a great experience. He had asked us to come out and tour with them in 95. I was really bummed out that I didn't get a chance to see him before he passed away. He wrote some great music and he was a genuine friend that I will never forget. We also got a chance to play the “Dynamo Festival” in Holland that same year in front of 150,000 plus people, it was an unreal time that I will never forget.

Do you get anxious/ nervous before a live performance? Have you ever performed under any bizarre circumstances? What were the most remarkable gigs of your career?

I still get nervous. I guess something would be wrong if I didn’t get nervous, it's just a natural thing. We've had to perform with the tour bus rolling into a gig just a few minutes before doors were open many times due to bad traveling weather. I don't know how our roadies and sound people pulled it off, but those were some of our best gigs! Aside from the “Dynamo Festival” I would say all the shows we do in Greece are just always great because the crowds are so loud…at times they are louder than the PA!!! And the now legendary “Wacken Festival” is always incredible. The one we will play this summer will be our 3rd appearance.

What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of? Is there something you would do differently if you could go back in time?

I am happy with the accomplishment of the longevity of the band. Many bands break up after just a few recordings. I've always felt most comfortable onstage with Nevermore and would not change anything or do anything different from the past. The way we have done things in the past has made us who we are today.

In the end of last year Guitar World put you as one of the 50 fastest guitarists of all time, having Born, from This Godless Endeavor, as your signature song. How does it feel to figure in the same list as Marty Friedman and Jason Becker? Would you pick Born as your signature song?

It is a great feeling to be up there with the names of some of the best guitarists as one of the fastest players. I didn't know what to think of that when I first saw it in the magazine…I always thought there were faster guitar players than me. I've always concentrated on playing with equal parts of speed and feel and everything in between when it comes to guitar playing. One of the tunes that really showcase some of my best playing would have to be The River Dragon from the Dead Heart in a Dead World D, a heavy tune with some cool lead sequences that are part of my signature style.

{mosimage}Did you always dream of becoming a "guitar god" and an influence to new players? Did you have a career plan B? Are your parents proud of you?

No, I never thought about it like that. I just always new I wanted to be the best I could be when it came down to good songwriting. I would rather be able to write a great piece of music than play a million miles an hour all the time. That can be a very limiting thing to a guitar player and can only take you so far. I never had a plan B either. I always knew what I wanted to do and just had a very concentrated mindset. If you put all of your work into something, it can happen for you if you don't give up. I was really lucky to have very supportive parents as well. They are both retired teachers, so they could have surely said to go to college and get a real career, but they always pushed me to do what I loved. Music is something that's been inside of me for a very long time and I never intend on doing anything else as far as a career goes. I don't know if it will always be Metal…I would love to write movie soundtracks one day, which would be a cool goal to shoot for in the near future.

I've been asking you everything that I ever wanted to know. Is there anything you would like me to ask you and I didn't?

Hmmmm…oh, you could have asked me if I plan to record more instrumental CD's. That answer would be yes, I signed for two more with Century Media. You could have asked me if I have any new gear coming out. That answer would be yes, I have a new distortion pedal I’m going to work on with a company that I can't mention yet. And, hmmmm, you could have asked me about my signature Loomis guitar model. It is still available through Schecter (laughing)!  

Now, to wrap this up, give me an inspirational quote, a few last words of wisdom…

Be an innovator and listen to ALL styles of music. There is much out there to be heard. Thanks for the awesome interview, I look forward to seeing everyone on tour real soon.

Photos by Stephanie Cabral and Karen Mason Blair

Concerts Music

The Canadian wolf howls in Suomi

{mosimage}The first wintery evening in Helsinki might have stopped the meeting of the indie-kids tonight at Tavastia but the call of Wolf Parade is too strong to resist. The Canadian band has never hidden its love for the Finnish capital being the third time in four years they play over here and the fans have repaid them with a sold-out show. 


The opening act is Joensuu 1685, an intriguing local band which plays psychedelic rock with shoegaze shades. With a debut album just released and the blessing of Wolf Parade (during the concert the Canadian quartet expresses the appreciation for them) the future looks bright. After a small break the North American group comes on stage without the sound manipulator Hadji Bakara busy pursuing his doctoral studies home. His absence is reflected in the live sound that looses a bit its noisy cut, one of the trademarks of the band.

After a slow start (despite the always splendid You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son) the four-piece finally fires all its potential with a handful of tracks from the previous album Apologies To The Queen Mary for the joy of an ecstatic audience. The voices of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug are alternated in a highly synchronized fashion while the bass of DeCaro and the drumming of Thompson are playing a very important role in building the sonic plots. {mosimage}The energetic potential released by Dan is devastating: during the set his possessed moves are going hand in hand with the accumulation of positive tension. In such an entertaining atmosphere the less immediate but otherwise fascinating tracks extracted from the recent At Mount Zoomer are making a very good impact.

After more than an hour of conversations with the audience, fulfilled requests and instrumental digressions it’s time for the encore that stirs the stalls around the stage. Outside the cold air is waiting but this time our hearts and legs have been warmed up by a sumptuous show. After three years from the previous excellent gig the Wolves have crafted another outstanding concert.


Photos by Alessandro Bonetti and Wold Parade`s MySpace official site.

Albums Music

Downstairs – Oh Father

{mosimage}Exploring different aspects of indie rock Downstairs have crafted the perfect serenade for noise-punk lovers.

Fugazi, At The Drive-In, …Trail Of Dead. Three main influences that have influenced tons of group playing noise-post-punk, the references that clearly emerge from the debut of Downstairs. Mixing the best of each band the Finnish quartet has crafted a very good album that travels at light-speed.Ten tracks for nearly 40 minutes, a killing cocktail of noise and melody assembled according to a not so canonical but very intriguing sonic scheme. Violent and abrasive without going over the top, Downstairs trap a primitive energy ready to explode at every moment.

Blending electronics, sharp riffs, desperate vocals and powerful drums, the four Finnish musicians prefer variegating the attacking front: there is a lot going on with sudden rhythm changes Shudder Shudder, derailing hits Pale Cannibals and crazy rides Peephole City.    An extremely solid effort for a group with clear potential and strong personality.

Rating 4/5.

Albums Music

Kastor – Lost Station

{mosimage}Another Helsinki indie wonder? Kastor is ready to invade the alternative rock world with elegance and a bag full of nice tricks.  

In an indie slowly growing domestic panorama it is always intriguing to meet bands which are consciously aware of their sound, steering and shaping it instead of letting it control them. Kastor belong to this category and their latest offering Lost Station proves it. 

After the 2005 mini-album debut Invisible Triumph the Helsinki quintet returns with eleven tracks that explore the different angles of music with shades of pop and alternative rock fascinations. Soft music plots interweave bracing sonic diagonals, while the ethereal voice of Matias Koponen moves deftly between elegant instrumental nets and occasional shakes made by guitar and drums: the combination of these three basic elements gives life to the best track: Lost Station. Other outstanding tracks are the marriage between rock and electronic music of Melody I Hear in Your Heartbeat which reminds of Mew, the epic melancholy of Something Beautiful and the enjoyable nostalgia of Stop Stop.  

Kastor might be a surprise for those ones still new with the band, definitely a confirmation for those ones have witnessed their live performances. Something more than a simple hope. A very solid album indeed.


Rating 4/5.

Concerts Music

The Three Shy Guys

The sun was still shining and warming up the night as I entered a little bit before eight to Helsingin kulttuuritalo on Monday 28.4.08. Time to see Death Vessel and Jose Gonzalez on live.  

{mosimage}The artists had requested that there’d be just seats, no standing in tonight’s concert. To open up the night was Death Vessel from New York, who is neotraditional folk/pop/root music was familiar to me from the album Stay Close (2005). This soft, naïve, soothing music, similar to the group Lavender Diamond had really gotten to me. To see him appear on stage with his long, almost black long hair down to his waist, well formed arms and a such a masculine air around him was quite not what I had been expecting as I had never seen a photo of him. From far a way he could easily have been mistaken for Patti Smith. Acoustic guitar and a rock pose. I felt a little bit confused, wondering first if there had been some last minute changes. But then his familiar voice filled the room as he opened up the night with the beautiful Deep in the Horchada with his high soprano voice sounding at times almost prepubescent.  

I later found out that Death Vessel was Joel Thibodeau, who was born in Berlin and was now living in Brooklyn, New York. He had toured with groups like Iron &Wine and Low. And now he was on tour around Europe with Jose Gonzalez. The gig in Helsinki was the 24th on their tour together and last one for him. He was returning to New York on the next day. His appearance on the stage was shy and the comments between the songs quiet and short, keeping the contact with the audience to the minimum. But as I expected from my earlier experience with his music, his voice was truly amazing, bringing happy and light folky tunes to the audience who was taking it all in! He did a cover of the song Dont laugh originally by the Louvin Brothers (an american roots duet, known for their song The Christian Life, that the Byrds recorded for their release Sweetheart of the Rodeo). He finished his too short set powerfully with the song Blowing Cave.    

After what seemed like a too long pause between the sets, the audience nervously waiting, finally at 21.10 the lights dim to receive the star of the night: Jose Gonzalez. The light showed as this shy young man behind his Spanish guitar entered onto the big stage, lit only by one spotlight creating an image of a moon rising behind him and soon the repetitive riffs and his hypnotizing voice filled the room. He started with Storm and continued with Hints from his first album Veneer (2003). He quietly passed from one song to another, his head down, hiding behind his guitar, trying to get enough courage. He continued with Stay in the shade and then playing songs from the new album In our Nature (2007) How Low, In our nature and The nest. He explained quietly the story of this song, how little children are making a nest, but they forget to make windows and doors, and how it goes from joy to the darkness. He has said that he likes to play with symbolism and wants to bring out the primitive aspects of human beings.  


5 years ago, this now 29-year old man was educating himself to become a researcher in biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg. He had been playing in some hardcore punk before starting as a solo artist. His interest in the Spanish guitar and the folk music come from his roots. His parents exiled from Argentina to Sweden  in 1978, the same year when he was born. At home they listened to Latin American classics like Silvio Rodriguez or João Gilberto.  In the next songs Remain and Down the line, Eric Bodin and Yukimi Nagamo joined to play the minimalist percussions, basic keyboard and to sing the backing up vocals. But there was no doubt that was the star of the night.

Between songs Jose Gonzalez made some small shy comments in Finnish, but most of the time he kept his head introvertidly down to the guitar, playing, as figures familiar from his album art passed behind him on a projection – a horse, pine trees moving on a track, a monkey, a guitar string vibrating, all with saturated colors creating a dreamlike atmosphere that hypnotized the audience. After one hour and a half and 16 great songs it was down to the last one, Teardrop, a cover of Massive Attack song. The audience requested more and was awarded with four more songs. The only song that he didn’t play was the one song that made him famous worldwide: Heartbeats and truth is that after the great performance we didn’t miss it either. 


And like that would not have been enough, then to finish off the night I headed to Kuudes Linja for the concert of Phosphorescent, the solo project of Matthew Houck, an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. To date, Houk has released three full-length albums under the Phosphorescent moniker: Pride (2007), Aw Come (2005), A Hundred Times or More (2003).  It was around midnight, when from the darkness emerged a figure behind his guitar sampling his voice on many different layers, with distorted guitar, cords and feedback creating a sonic wall to break with all that was before to begin from zero making space for his own melodies. With his shy voice and just the sound of his acoustic guitar he sang about love, relationships, dead hearts and hope. He recreated some of the songs from his last two albums, like I am a full grown man and Joe Tex, these goddamn taming blues are killing me . Like an anecdote to finish this concert he did a great cover of Dire Straits song So far away, that he had seen on the television in his hotel room the night before.  What more can you ask for a Monday night in Helsinki!!!  

Photos: Andrés Ahuir.  

Concerts Music

Drums and Guns

Days before the gig, the sun was shining in the capital, probably as a prelude to the great gig Low was going to perform in support of their latest album, Drums and Guns. It was a Saturday, and at the break of dawn it was already rainy and foggy. The gig was supposed to be beautiful, and charming, but also unavoidably sad and melancholic.



Rather than simply going through new material, Low played many old tracks. (Say whole it's almost impossible due to the vast of it). Upon listening to the new album you would expect more electronic tunes throughout the night, but they seemed to play more pop than ever, staying loyal to their roots and absolutely no one in the hall could complain. Low had an impressive start with, Death of a Sales Man! They touched the latest album with, In silence, in the third song.

They were getting bigger and bigger on stage.  It was amazing to see how only three people could fill such a huge place. Nothing else needed. Just Low. The feeling grew and grew while they were going through the night. Three people captivating hundreds of people.  It didn't matter much if Alan broke the strings of his guitar a couple of songs before the end their main performance. It was beautiful to see him and Mimi talking. They were both surprised to see how great the night was slowly turning into, and how many small things made the event even bigger.

After the obligatory first visit to the backstage they still came back to delight us with three more songs. They thought they were putting a perfect end to the night with, Sandanista. Nevertheless, going for a second time backstage, the people didn't agree, and wanted more!  So Alan, Mimi and Matt had to comeback, and thank God they did, because they likely played the best song of the night with Soon , and one they feels so intimate moments that remain deep in your body, where almost no one can reach. 

Then it was time to go, not sure with the sights up or down, but with shining sights nevertheless. A great gig that won't be mentioned anywhere, but one that will most certainly stay in everyone’s heart and mind. It was surely an amazing night, and one that made the difficult Finnish spring a little bit more bearable.


Photo: Andres Ahuir

Concerts Music

Good glamour

{mosimage}The fact that Good Charlotte lead guitar player Benji Madden arrived in Helsinki with his new girlfriend Paris Hilton nearly took the shine out the Good Charlotte concert scheduled for the evening. Each Paris’ movement in Helsinki was scrutinized by the flocks of local paparazzi, but unfortunately Good Charlotte's concert didn’t get equal amount of attention. 


Huge Helsinki Ice Hall was filled only by one-third. Hard to say why, but it is highly possible that in the country with a very strong heavy metal music scene Good Charlotte music was seen as being too pop. An older man behind me, who perhaps has seen the first Woodstock festival, was grumbling: “These guys play pseudo rock”.  Most of the audience at the Ice Hall consisted of 13-17 year old teenagers. Local warm-up band which showed up on stage at around 8 p.m. wasn’t impressive at all – the guys looked like a school band lost on the huge stage.


Fortunately, their performance lasted only half an hour. While Good Charlotte crew was doing their job tuning up the instruments the Finnish audience showed northern-ice-cold patience and even didn’t try to call for the band to come to the stage. Finally the lights grew dim and the intro was in the air: the sounds of a lullaby grew into thunderstorm-like rock. Flashing green lights helped to raise the audience impatience's and in seconds Good Charlotte guys were on stage. At the very moment it became clear that ear plugs were sold at the Ice Hall entrance not because of too loud music, but because of Good Charlotte fans’ vocal chords strength. When the band members were making their first moves on stage it seemed that the fans’ voice sound wave would destroy the whole building. 


Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden, who recently became a lucky parent of a wonderful daughter together with another US gossip column hero Nicole Richie, has grown a goatee, perhaps trying to look more mature and his identical twin brother Benji was hiding behind the black sunglasses. Interesting enough: did he try to hide the marks of fatigue or was it an attempt to look more like his new girlfriend, always hiding from the pain-in-the-neck photographers under huge dark eyeglasses? At the beginning of the concert Good Charlotte guys were quite stiff and despite the fact the musical performance was as brilliant as usually they really didn’t look to be in the mood. Only Good Charlotte bass player Paul Thomas was obviously having fun on stage. Towards the middle of the concert the brothers started communicating with the crowd.


They made a break between the songs and decided to tell everything they knew about Helsinki and Finland. Also Benji and Joel reminded that they got to know all that only due to the fact that they have good friends in Helsinki – Finnish rock band The 69 Eyes. After this short “commercial break” Good Charlotte kept on performing. They played nearly all songs from their last album Good Morning Revival. One of the songs was introduced quite ambiguously; Benji addressed the audience in quite a strict command tone: Keep your hands off my girl! Indeed, this song has to do a lot with Benji’s recent love affair. Song Where Would We Be was performed in an acoustic version so that everybody could enjoy Joel’s wonderful voice; but that was the only ballad played during the whole concert. All the rest of the time one hit was changed by another, Benji and Joel encouraged the audience to show their emotions, but there was no need in encouragements any more: the sea of hands was running high at the stage and everybody was singing together with Good Charlotte guys. The whole concert lasted for a little bit more than an hour. Right from the Ice Hall most of the band and crew members went to Helsinki night club LUX where Benji was dj-ing for about an hour. On Friday Good Charlotte left for Greece where they continue the tour.  

Photos by Jana Blomqvist.