by: Juuso Viljanen & Pekka Konttinen
Photos by: Juuso Viljanen & Pekka Konttinen All Rights Reserved
Nummirock is a midsummer metal festival in Kauhajoki in Western Finland. It’s about 170km northwest from Tampere and 60km southwest from Seinäjoki. Basically it’s in middle of nowhere. It’s a festival that has become a real tradition for many hardcore camping metalheads, and I think I understand why. Campsites are huge and loaded with tents, cars, huts and of course metalheads, some of them (well actually most of them) being drunk. There’s a great atmosphere among the campers and nothing can ruin the party. And when I say “nothing”, I really mean it. Not even a temperature below 0˚ or rain of hailstones. This is what I’d call a great spirit of heavy metal.
Day 1 (Friday 20.6.)
Nummirock started already at thursday night and most of the campers had arrived either on tuesday or wednesday, but since we both had our actual work to do at thursday we decided to arrive at noon on friday. We didn’t get to photo the first band because we had to go check-in to our hotel in center of Kauhajoki. By the way, we really recommed this one: Kauhajoen Krouvi. Nice hotel with comfortable rooms and great staff, a thousand thanks to them! There were four bands playing on thursday night: Kaunis Kuolematon, Speedtrap, Profane Omen and Deals Death and like I said we missed these. Sad but true.
First band for friday was Unborn Generation. They were also the first of four finalists of Wacken Metal Battle (will be called WMB from now on in this review) of Finland playing in Nummirock. Grindcore – death metal mixup was a great start for the day and band gathered quite a nice audience in front of the smallest of the stages. A proper metal show requires at least a small moshpit and they truly delivered that. Several times actually. Band played a brutal show and got me interested in them. Potential winner of Wacken Metal Battle in my humble opinion. After about 30minutes of fast headbanging it was time to move in front of another stage and start photoing the second band of the day.
Kuolemanlaakso (The Valley Of Death in english) published one of the best finnish metal albums so far this year. It’s called “Tulijoutsen” and it did debute the Finland’s album chart (#10 actually). Now they were performing in Nummirock and we got to photo and see them live. Superb!
Kuolemanlaakso’s death metal combined with doom metal would work much better indoors, in a smokey and dark club. But they did a great job on festival stage too. I really like their singer Mikko Kotamäki (also known from bands Swallow The Sun and Barren Earth, which he unfortunately already left). Their performance isn’t about running around the stage and headbanging their hair off, but they really don’t need that. Their music is enough to set the mood, plus running around really doesn’t suit to low-tempo death metal that much…. (JV)
Kuolemanlaakso left me a bag of mixed feelings. This was my first time to see or even hear about them and I wasn’t too impressed. It wasn’t their fault. I blame the time and the place. They definately need a dark club atmosphere around them. And after the fast-paced Unborn Generation it was even harder to keep the good flow going on. I would gladly see them again in more suitable environment. Luckily I knew that the next band would get the caravan back on the right track. (PK)
It was time to open the main stage with a great band, Medeia. We both have seen them live several times and we could tell that there’s a great show coming. And of course great music. Their previous vocalist Keijo Niinimaa had left the band earlier this year to focus on his other bands Morbid Evils and Rotten Sound and was replaced by a “Youtube celebrity” Frans Aalto, a.k.a. Finowa. This was their second show with new vocalist and I must say that I wasn’t too impressed by him. He did an ok job, but I guess I was expecting much more. Their show was a typical Medeia show: lots of headbanging, lot of running on stage, great songs and awesome playing. These guys, and of course a girl, are professional musicians and you can tell that just by watching them make a crowd go totally insane. (JV)
I’ve liked Frans since the first drum cover video he uploaded on YouTube. When he discovered that he can growl I knew that we’re going to see him with some great band in the future. And in my opinion he sounded good with Medeia. I’ll admit that he could have been better, but there’s a lot of time to fine-tune the style and performance during the oncoming years. (PK)
Second finalist of WMB to perform was Assemble The Chariots. Their genre (according to their Facebook page) is “majestic symphonic blackened death metal”. What to think about this? Well, you really should listen to them and start thinking: wow!
Assemble The Chariots gave the crowd a huge show. There’s no doubt that this band wouldn’t rock the Wacken if they won the finals. The results were given on saturday (keep reading and you’ll know who won this contest) and this would be my favorite of all the finalists. Unborn Generation did very good job, but Assemble The Chariots did a bit better with their show. (JV)
I enjoyed their show a lot. The vocalist especially sounded really brutal. They need to improve their live sound (guitars, I’m looking at you!), because when I listened them at home after the festival the songs were so much better with heavier and thicker sounds. The live soundscape was too light and thin. (PK)
Every metalhead must have heard the name Tuomas Saukkonen at some point. Or maybe some of his bands: Before The Dawn, The Final Harvest, Black Sun Aeon etc. Well, you all know that he has only one project nowadays: Wolfheart. And let me say, I think it’s the best one he’s ever had. Melodic death metal with just a slight hint of folk or even black metal with a soundscape of typical Finnish melancholy really works. Since this years Nummirock was rainy and cold as penguins anus Wolfheart was a great band to get there.
Since the band members are all true professionals you can expect a professional show. And just like Kuolemanlaakso’s show this wasn’t about running around the stage either. This was all about heavy metal tones that would make growd shiver and feel the winter that is coming (yes, in Finland we are very pessimistic about the seasons too).
A Finnish “thrash metal” band that keeps playing on almost every single festival in Finland: Mokoma. They were the second act on main stage, but didn’t give anything even close to Medeias performance a few hours earlier. It’s been 10 years since Mokoma released one of their best albums “Tämän Maailman Ruhtinaan Hovi” and to celebrate this they played songs from that album which they haven’t played that much, at least in last few years. Songs like “Hyinen Syli” and “Vade Retro, Satana” were awesome still after all these years. Mokomas style has changed from thrash metal to something more plain and typical metal with loads of songs that could be categorized as love songs. To be honest, I’m not too happy about this. Good routine show with a few nice surprise songs anyway. (JV)
After many years it was nice to see Mokoma live again. I’ve not been too keen with their recent albums. There are usually many great thrashy songs on the albums, but the “radio friendly songs” ruin the rest of it. Their live shows are always fun to watch. It is obvious that they really enjoy playing and getting up on the stage again and again. I was so happy to finally hear “Hyinen Syli” live. It is a greatly underrated song. I remember having a big smile on my face after the gig and that’s what Mokoma is good at: making me enjoy hearing and watching them. (PK)
And now we’re talking: real old school brutal death metal with blood and guts! Mörbid Vomit was right band to listen to after Mokomas softer tones. Nice grooving death metal with vocals straight from hell itself really got the audience into a serious mosh-pitting. It was a shame that they only had 45 minutes to play. I’d gladly listen them for two hours.
As you may know Iced Earth was supposed to play in Nummirock too, but they cancelled. I don’t know how many fans cried their eyes out because of this, but I think they got a proper replacement: Chrome Division. I’m not sure how many people would actually know this band if Shagrath (vocalist of Dimmu Borgir) wasn’t in it. We saw a few “Shagrath love” signs in the audience before the show, and surprise surprise they were all women that had those signs….sigh, women.
Chrome Division is pretty much what every single hardrock band was in the 80’s: cars, booze and women. Catchy guitar riffs, guitar hero solos with loads of wahwah, leather jackets and long hair. They made a proper festival act and audience seemed to enjoy them too. Norway didn’t let us down.
Another Finnish metal band that can be heard on almost every single festival in Finland during summer: Stam1na. It is understandable why they and Mokoma keep playing in so many festivals: they bring loads of fans there. Stam1na did also a routine show, with a slight exception: their own bass player Kaikka broke his right arm playing football (yes, this is actually possible) and they borrowed the Mörbid Vomits bass player.
Stam1na released their latest album “SLK” in february so obviously they played a lot of songs from that album. We didn’t have much time to watch the show, since we were supposed to meet up with the band that was going to play after Stam1na.
Finnish industrial/dance metal act Fear Of Domination can be recognized even from far away. Their make-up and hairstyles can be easily spotted and this really helped us, since we were supposed to have an interview with them before they hit the stage. And that’s what we did. The interview will be posted to Skullbangers website too, be sure to check it out!
This band really puts on a great show: pyrotechnics, painted faces and hair, extra people dancing on stage and of course great metal with dance music influences. And before the interview we got to know them a bit and they really are great guys who know how to have fun. We both actually got to photo them on stage too, which really was an awesome experience for us! Thanks for this, Fear Of Domination! (JV)
I didn’t have any idea of this band before the festival. I was greatly surprised that Finnish industrial scene is doing so well. They have great plans for the future and I’m looking forward to see them grow to a bigger stages. (PK)
Next up, an american deathcore band The Black Dahlia Murder. I saw them live in december in Tampere and I was expecting a great show. And that’s what they did. Vocalist Trevor Strnad has a great voice that must be heard live. It’s nothing like on the albums, it’s much better. They played on the Inferno Stage, which was the second biggest stage at festival, but I’d rather see them on the mainstage. Because they really need the space for all that moving they do. Great band and a great show. (JV)
TBDM was a fun band to watch and listen. They sound so much better live than on records. The almost freezing temperatures and piercing cold wind from the lake didn’t slow them down. They gave a energy-filled show and made me feel nice and warm on the inside. (PK)
Finally, the biggest highlight of the whole festival (at least for me and maybe to a hundreds of festival visitors), polish extreme metallists Behemoth. Intro begins, band comes on stage, Nergal has torches in his hands. Anticipation is growing. Torches fade out, Nergal steps forward, takes his guitar and begins the song “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”. That’s when I got the goosebumps of my life.
Photoing Behemoth was difficult, since their lights were pretty dark at start plus stage was very high. Nergal kept staring at press staff and the audience like he was going to kill us all, devour our souls and then piss on our bodies. Overall their show was mind-blowing and all my wishes of songs to play were fulfilled. Behemoth was the best band on the festival and me and Pekka would see them once more (more about this later in this review). It also needs to be said that the band ended their show in a pretty epic way. You know those horned masks they wear in the music video of “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”? They had those on, they played slow music and had a voice speaking of Satan himself. And that’s where they ended it. Perfect! (JV)
Behemoth was a great example of how you can make show look BIG only with music, some smoke and almost stationary lights. I couldn’t think of any better band to play in a Finnish midsummer night. It was epic! I still get chills from the soul-piercing and nightsleep ruining looks that Nergal gave to me. (PK)
Friday’s almost over. One more band to go. I don’t know how happy Sacrilegious Impalement was about playing on the smallest of the stages and right after Behemoth had stopped their own show. A huge part of the audience seemed to walk out after Behemoth, but true fans and hardcore festival audience stayed to watch this Finnish black metal band to give what they’ve got.
Well, that’s pretty much what it was: great Finnish black metal. They do pretty much all the things that hundreds of other black metal bands do too, but there is something in Sacrilegious Impalement that makes them a bit special. Maybe it’s the simplicity?
We we’re both quite exhausted after a long day so we decided to leave the festival area after 3 songs. We still had to drive to our hotel and take a quick sauna to get rid of the cold. There’s a whole new glorious day of metal festival still ahead of us.
Day 2 (Saturday 21.6.)
First thing in the morning was of course breakfast. And who did we have it with? Behemoth. It was a pleasant surprise to see them staying in the same hotel. We didn’t talk to them though. We were too scared. Plus we didn’t want to disturb the artists. They are always sensitive people, better leave them alone. (JV)
I was a bit saddened, because everyone in Behemoth were normal human beings after all. Last night it didn’t look and sound anywhere like it. (PK)
Weather was bit better than friday. It didn’t rain so much but it was still freezing cold. No more than +10º degrees. Sunshine warmed a bit, but I think we got about two hours of sun during the day, so not much help there…oh well, let’s get to the bands.
First band of the day was also one of the contestants of WMB: Blind Channel. According to the band they play ”violent pop
music”. You know what I think they play? They play something that is very very VERY close to Linkin Park. But nothing as good though. Band really seemed to enjoy playing and had fun, but I think this band really is at wrong festival. What if they win the contest and get to go to play in Wacken? With bands like Slayer, Motörhead, Carcass and King Diamond? God help us all….. (JV)
If I understood correcly, Blind Channel is a relatively new band. Not even a one year old (?). Still their songs sounded really top-notch. Is there some bigger force behind the band or are the guys really that talented? If the later then these guys have a great future with music ahead of them. Anyways, this band and their style wasn’t my cup of tea. (PK)
Next up was one of my personal highlights (once again) of the festival: Finnish industrial punk metal band Tuoni, who had just released a new album called ”Kuolonpyörä”. This album will be one of my favorite metal albums this year, that’s for sure so I was very keen to see them live. Band had a great energy and great sound. They didn’t talk too much between the songs, but focused on giving the audience a great show, which I think they truly delivered. Didn’t get to hear the great cover of The Prodigy’s song ”Breathe” that they’ve turned into ”Piina” on their album, because we had to move away from the freezing wind that blew right to the stage area. We didn’t want to die here. (JV)
Tuoni is a strange one to me. I’ve heard many songs from them, they have great musicans and good songs but still I’ve never quite got to enjoy them. This gig wasn’t bad either. Maybe I should listen them more? I must fix this ASAP! (PK)
A mainstage act which I didn’t quite understand: a Finnish stand-up comedian Ismo Leikola and his band. Okay, he’s a funny comedian, I give him that, but just like Blind Channel I really doubt if a metal festival is the right place for him to be. Especially on the main stage? Not much to say about this. And no photos to show you.
One more band to go in WMB contest, and they were up next. Countless Goodbyes is pretty much what you can expect from a band named like that: yes, it’s metalcore. With way too may bass drops. It’s an effect, not an instrument, for gods sake!! Please use it wisely or otherwise you’ll just end up using it so much that it won’t have any purpose later on.
Anyway, you can tell they have practised and played together a lot. They have skill and gave a good show. The only problem is that there’s about 234 590 836 other bands out there just like Countless Goodbyes. They need to add something to their show or music that really gives them a push to be better than everyone else. Otherwise they’ll just end up in a big pile of metalcore that no one cares to listen to because it’s all the same.
Poisonblack was formed after Sentenced split up. Even though there are members of Sentenced in this band they have decided not to play any Sentenced songs ever. These are two different projects and must not be mixed up anyhow together (this is what vocalist-guitarist Ville told Skullbanger on his interview at Tuska 2014). Poisonblacks show is pretty much like watching a Finnish football game: it’s definately something but there are other people out there doing the exactly same thing but only way much better. I was never a fan of Sentenced and I have to say the same about Poisonblack too. They have a very charismatic vocalist, I have to give ’em that, but their music really doesn’t get me in the mood. But the crowd didn’t agree with me. There was a huge load of people watching them and I think Poisonblack was one of the most anticipated bands of saturday. I hope fans enjoyed the show. (JV)
What I noticed by looking the audience is that the crowd mainly consists three types of fans: 1) guys who are/were Sentenced fans, 2) girls who are Poisonblack (Ville Laihiala) fans and 3) the mix of the two previous. I never cared for Sentenced and I dont care for Poisonblack. It is a decent rock-goth-metal-hybrid, but nothing special to me. (PK)
I’ve never heard Suicide Silence before the festival. Now that they were on the main stage I was afraid that I’ll be hearing boring metalcore songs about break ups and divorces and stuff. Well, I don’t really know what they were singing about, but I can tell that it wasn’t boring. Suicide Silence was one of the most positive surprises on the festival. They’re style is pretty basic deathcore/metalcore/modern death metal mixup but there is something that makes it very enjoyable. Plus the performance really adds much to it. Vocalist Eddie Hermidas voice is amazing. He can do everything from doom styled growling to high-pitched pig squeels with no problem at all. My relationship with them has only just begun. (JV)
I have pretty much the same feelings as Juuso does. This was a new band to me, eventough after the festival I found out that I had seen their music video with the late singer. I have to dig a bit deeper with this band. (PK)
The most glam band of this years Nummirock was definately Finnish band Santa Cruz. They’re still nothing like those real glam metal bands back in 80’s and 90’s, but quite close actually. Since I’ve never been a real fan of glam myself, I didn’t enjoy Santa Cruz either. They do perform well, they have very catchy songs and they know all the tricks they need to be glam, but still no vibes for me. But there’s definately a crowd for them too, because the front of the stage was filled with glam fans.
If you want an entertaining show with great music you should definately go to see a Turmion Kätilöt show. And it won’t matter if it’s a festival or club show. Just make sure you go and see it. And hopefully you understand finnish or otherwise you’ll miss all the jokes.
For some people Turmion Kätilöt is a total joke, because of their songs and also their outfits, but in my understanding they are serious and just want to have fun (this is what playing in a band pretty much is always about). They played songs from every album they’ve made and they play them well. They sound heavy and danceable at the same time, pretty much like Fear Of Domination yesterday. Great add to band list in Nummirock. Always enjoyable. (JV)
I’ve never cared for Turmion Kätilöt. But I’ve always enjoyed to see them performing live. Their songs are simple enough to remember from the previous gigs. The band plays them well and they always (based on what I’ve seen) give a good show. It is great to see the band to interract with the crowd and clearly the crowd enjoys it too. (PK)
I’ve never understood all the hype around W.A.S.P.. Okay, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been a fan of glam myself and I think I count W.A.S.P. as one of those bands. I know they have huge hit songs like ”Wild Child”, ”Blind In Texas”, ”Animal” and ”I Wanna Be Somebody”, but is it just because of those hits that they keep still going on? Apparently yes.
We didn’t watch the show any more than we actually had to. First three songs to get the pictures and then moving on. We went to get ourselves something to eat and then moving closer to other stage to get ready to photo some more.
The next band was interesting: samurai themed metal from Tampere, Finland. Whispered was the only band that had actual problems during the festival, since the power from stage was suddenly cut-off. But they handled the situation like real pros do: with humour. They talked with each other laughing and also talked with the audience asking questions and throwing in punch lines and stuff. And when they finally got the power back, all hell broke loose. It was a tsunami of fast, almost thrash kinda metal with samurai themed lyrics and japanese traditional instruments and melodies. And of course, a samurai themed band would be nothing without the painted faces and kimonos. Great and interesting theme. One of the best performers in Nummirock this year! Definately worth checking out!
From one sort of warriors to another. Turisas is propably the best known Finnish folk metal band there is. They don’t do too many shows in Finland nowadays since they’re on tour abroad pretty much all the time. There’s also another interesting point in their music: their albums don’t sound very good. I mean they have great songs, but the feeling and atmosphere can never be truly delivered through the speakers. It always requires live show, pyrotechnics, a little bit of theatre and a massive wall of sound that they make live. Once you see them live, you’ll always be waiting for another chance to see them again. Their show wasn’t a dissapointment this time either. Great songs like ”To Holmgard And Beyond”, ”Battle Metal” and ”Stand Up And Fight” are hundred percent sure hits everywhere they play and they raged the audience to put up huge moshpits and bang their heads. This is how real pros do it! One of the best shows on this festival! (JV)
I don’t own any Turisas albums and what I’ve listened from YouTube and Spotify they don’t sound that special. But everytime I see them live I become a big fan. They just need the live athmosphere and crowd to sing the songs with them. The songs come alive when played live. Turisas is a live band with an big L. An hour went by like a flash of a lightning. Oh, and finally I got to hear “Rasputin” live! Yay! (PK)
Yay for “Rasputin” from me too! (JV)
Last but not least, a Finnish thrash metal legend: Stone. They already split up in 1991 but they’ve been doing shows every now and then ever since. And what a show they will do! They sound just like they did at their golden age and at the time of their classic albums. They started their show with a classic song ”Get Stoned” with pyrotechnics and the whole audience was unleashed the very second. All that shouting and singing along was amazing to hear. I think it’s wonderful to see even todays youngsters singing along this band. That’s probably what their fathers have done before them.
You cannot underestimate Stones effect on thrash metal genre in Finland. Even though there were many thrash bands in Finland at the same time as Stone they did pretty much everything much more professionally and better. That’s how they’ve become legends in the eyes of a metal fan.
Great band to end the festival with. Too bad it was way too cold and we were way too tired to stay and watch it all (I know, this is totally unacceptable, sorry for that), so we packed our stuff after about a half of the setlist and drove to our hotel to get sleep. (JV)
The weather was a shame, because I wanted to see the whole gig. I was freezing at that point so we had to give up. I didn’t want to get a pneumonia. (PK)
Oh and before I forget, the winner of WMB contest is… (enter a drum roll here)… Blind Channel! I can’t say that we truely understand the decision. We thought there were better and much more METAL bands against them but we’re not the judges. Anyway, congratulations to Blind Channel and have a happy Wacken!
To sum up the Nummirock festival: neither of us have never been to Nummirock, but I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t hesitate about going there again if band announcements looks good, and weather forecasts too of course. Athmosphere was awesome (as usual in metal festivals in Finland) and the area is nice. The lake next to the festival area and the wind made it freezing to stand next to one of the stages, but no more minuses from me. (JV)
I’m a bit angry. Why hasn’t anyone told me that there’s a way to spend Juhannus with good music, great surroundings and fantastic people?! This is a festival where I want to return many times in the future. (PK)
There will be more photos coming up from both of us. Links will be posted later on Skullbanger.net!