CONCERT REVIEW: Nummirock 2016, Kauhajoki, Finland

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Report by: Samuli Keskitalo
Photos by: Samuli Keskitalo & Anneli Keski-Petäjä

It’s a midsummer party right now in Finland. For many metalheads that means Nummirock Festival in Kauhajoki, near the beautiful lake called Nummijärvi. Usually Nummirock has been for three days but this time there was an exception: Nummirock contained four days. It’s the festivals 30th Anniversary, and also the line-up was really good. International bands were for example Trivium, Dark Tranquillity, Marduk,
DragonForce, and the domestic acts were Stratovarius, Amorphis, Stam1na and so on. There weren’t any huge names but there were some very strong and very metallic bands in the line-up. The very first day was a kind of warm-up day which contained only a couple cover bands and a Sentenced tribute band Forever One. Unfortunately that very first day had to be skipped but Skullbanger Media visited there for those other three festival days.

THURSDAY

_DSC5999This day was the first real day. It contained acts like Stratovarius, Turmion Kätilöt, Blind
Channel and a few other names, and Stratovarius was the most anticipated one for me. The weather was a bit tricky on this day but after all was said and done, everything turned out fine because the rain was only momentary. Mörbid Vomit started at the Inferno Stage being the first act. A huge part of their setlist was taken from Doctrine Of Violence debut album. This band is from Lahti and it’s about death metal, and at least they are pretty well-known in the underground circles. I found them to be also good – maybe in next few years they can grow more and be the next thing to talk about in a death metal scene.

Blind Channel played electronic influenced pop metal for about 45 minutes. First of all, I have to give a big thumbs down to the guy who was responsible for their pyro technics – because it would be nice to know in advance if there is going to be pyros and not finding out by burning your hairs in the front of stage. The band’s music gave me no special feelings: some good parts here and there, maybe some good jumping parts also but not my cup of tea. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) from Backstreet Boys as an outro song closed up the setlist. See you next time? Maybe not.

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Early this year I was surprised at MetalOrgy 2016 by the very good show from Turmion Kätilöt. This time the setlist contained pretty much the same tracks as last time. This was _DSC6238the first time for them to be on the stage after the surgery which Petja Turunen (MC Raaka Pee) had to go through because of a bone necrosis. His recovery seems to be going fine and on schedule, at least when it comes to the show: he pulled off the show with his black humor like always along with the rest of the band.

The next two bands at the Kaaos Stage were Gloria Morti and Altaria. Gloria Morti was maybe the biggest surprise of the day. I listened to the Eryx record a long time ago but I had no clue about the band these days. Their playing and music went forward like a thousand big tanks! Altaria played their last show ever that day at Nummirock. It was a special set with all the ex-vocalists of Altaria performing. Unchain The Rain was the last song from them and it contained all those singers together on stage. Something special for that day even if there weren’t many people to see it.

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I did’t know much about Fleshgod Apocalypse before their announcement for Nummirock. I tried to listen to a couple of their last records and debut album as well but I have to say I _DSC6513did not turn into a fan. And their live performance did not convert me either. At least few pretty good songs came at the end of the show, and that was enough for me. Good points to the drummer Francesco Paoli – really talented and fast guy behind his drum kit!

Finnish power metallers Stratovarius started their set 00:15 o’clock at night. So it had already turned into a next day by DSC_0296now. It seemed like they were also a headlining act for a reason because they collected the biggest audience easily that day. Stratovarius has been visiting Nummirock many times during their career, and singer Timo Kotipelto shared some memories from their first visits at Nummirock – for example about 20 years ago when they started the set with the song Speed Of Light, and Jens was still looking for his shoes behind the stage when the rest of the band started to play after an intro tape. Well, this time it went a little better: ”Now he is on stage, not looking for his shoes”, and Speed Of Light was my highlight of the show.

FRIDAY

Welcome to the second day of Nummirock. Or third day if you want to count the warm-up day as a one. The weather was completely the opposite of the day before with the nice sunshine and warmness.

Do you like Omnium Gatherum? I have tried to listen to them numerous times during the last few years but seems like the new one, Grey Heavens, is the only album where I found DSC_0391immediately some good parts, for example the song Frontiers, it’s a really good one. Actually that was the only song why I went to see them so early that day. The main man of the band (Markus Vanhala) plays also in Insomnium, and for me that band works better. After the song Frontiers I was done with the show and I went to catch up with Diablo who was the first one to play at the Green Main Stage. Maybe I have seen them too many times during the last year because this time I had really no expectations or excitement about their show to come. I don’t mean the songs would be bad, not at all – but if you hear the same songs with the same show which doesn’t contain nothing special it might turn a little boring at some point. But of course it’s a pleasure to hear Raineri Nygård’s speeches – that is still a big part of Diablo shows.

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_DSC7310Equilibrium! Here today at Nummirock! Folk it up! Their show was a blast with the songs Was Lange Währt, Waldschrein, Karawane and few other cool ones. The people at Nummirock is always yearning for folk metal and now Equilibrium delivered it perfectly. The people was making circle pits, dancing allover and having a very good time. Also the band really enjoyed their time, also in the backstage area. I’m a really big fan of the latest record, Erdentempel, but I think I could now check the early ones also better – maybe I would turn to like them as much I do with the Erdentempel. There is also a new studio record coming up later this summer.

The next band at the Green Main Stage was Amorphis. Maybe it’s the same thing with me as with Diablo – but somehow I just like Amorphis shows nowadays more than before. And the reason is very simple: Under The Red Cloud record from last year. Tomi is always nice at the stage and sings very well with his grunt vocal sections as with the pure singing parts. The setlist didn’t contain any surprises but I’m completely fine with those new ones from the latest record. Keep it up!

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At the Inferno Stage they were about to start a real nintendo metal blast: DragonForce. _DSC7733Only sad thing is that they do not sound nearly the same as they do in the studio. It’s understandable – hard to take off your whammy bar from your guitar in the middle of a song and do those so called pacman sounds by rubbing the whammy bar against the guitar strings like Herman Li did in some cases in Inhuman Rampage record. The show contained a pretty amazing amount of energy: for example the guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li jumped allover, Gee Anzalone was a machine with the drums and one of my favorite musicians, Frédéric Leclercq (bass), was there like at home. Cool band with cool musicians, what else would you need from the metal band?

Dark Tranquillity had one hour and 15 minutes of stage time, and during it they played about 14 songs. 14 good songs, let me say. The Sience Of Noise DSC_0656was the first and Misery’s Crown the last one – in between there was for example The Mundane And The Magic, The Lesser Faith and The Silence In Between. Mikael Stanne (vocals) is a amazing guy in the front of band: his moves and singing is absolutely amazing, and he has good skills to take the audience with him to the show. Their show was in my top 3 shows at Nummirock this year. Like you might know already, there has been a few changes in the band: Martin Henriksson is no more a part of Dark Tranquillity, and Anders Iwers from Tiamat is now serving as a touring musician on the bass guitar.

Marduk and Mayhem played back to back, first Marduk on a bit smaller stage and then Mayhem at the Green Main Stage. I_DSC8343 would have changed those slots the other way around because I like Marduk much better in that style of music. Mayhem was maybe a bit lazy and, honestly, almost the whole set full of trigger sounds from the drums. Marduk were strong as always. Marduk was brutal, aggressive and fast but there was also a minor negative because some technical issues of Morgan’s guitar. Marduk’s setlist contained new stuff but old songs as well: Still Fucking Dead, Materialized In Stone, Wolves, The Blond Beast, Afrika and Frontschwein.

Ajattara was a black metal band which was alive from 1996 to 2012. In this act it was mostly all about a solo project of former Amorphis singer Pasi Koskinen, also known as Ruoja in that case. So the last announcement for this year’s line-up was a little bit special: Ajattara will be back – at least for one show. They played as a last act in the night, and obviously it was the right choice: the front area of the Kaaos Stage was fully loaded. Again a big negative for the guys who were responsible of the show: when Pasi Koskinen (vocals) came up to the stage he threw couple times a cup full of blood to the crowd. Maybe cool thing if you asked that from the fans in the front row – but photographers in the photo pit seemed to be very pissed off. Not cool at all to get blood to your clothes and to your camera lenses. The show was… well, it was just what I thought it would be: arrogant Pasi with his band played a bunch of semi-good and a few little boring songs. Verivalta and Kuolevan rukous were also played so it was enough for me.

SATURDAY

Last day to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Nummirock, and it started with a blasting DSC_0028grind gore attack by Rotten Sound. Unfortunately I checked it out only for a couple of songs but Rotten Sound is always Rotten Sound: fast, furious and… well, fast. I checked also Alfahanne, a little rock band from Sweden. A lot of people seem to talk about that band right now so I decided to check it out. Well, not for me… The sound was simple garage rock music and the vocals were in Swedish – one of the languages I can’t stand if you sing it with pure vocals or semi-pure.

Mokoma were at Nummirock also, and from 30 Nummirock festivals Mokoma has been there now for 12 times. The good part of Mokoma shows is that they always mix their setlists well: now the show started with the song Minä elän, and I think I haven’t heard this one for a long time. Other cool old songs came that night too, and Marko Annala (vocals) spoke about how they have been _DSC9552practicing the old stuff for the festivals this summer. Avoin hauta was one of those. Super good choice, I hope they keep it for later shows also. Stam1na played a bit earlier in the day at Green Main Stage. Their setlist contained Sananen lihasta and Arveton on arvoton which were nice. And Stam1na, as many others in that style of music, are maybe at their best when they play in intimate clubs – but I prefer they play at big stages: Sakara Tour 2016 Icehall Tour was a good example of this, and now also with stage time on the main stage of Nummirock. But how long will the neck of Kai-Pekka Kangasmäki last if he continues moshing at every show like he does?

Trivium were definitely in my top3 artists to check out at Nummirock. I listened a lot to their newest album before the festival, and have to say it’s their best and finest record so far – it works very well when Matt Heafy (vocals, guitar) sings only with pure vocals. Sad thing is, they only played the songs Silence In The Snow and Until The World Goes Cold from it. This record has so much potential even to play it DSC_1002through in it’s entirety. Matt Heafy was in a very good mood, and happy to play for the Finnish audience. I have to also say that points goes for Paolo Gregoletto (bass) and the new guy behind the drums Paul Wandtke. The well known producer Colin Richardson says that Paolo is absolutely one of the most talented musician he has ever worked with, and his style to play bass with fingers and also with a pick was amazingly fast when I watched his playing. In addition to the new record they played the songs like Watch The World Burn, Rain, In Waves and Down From The Sky.

Children Of Bodom have this year a few festival appearances in Finland. And one of those was at Nummirock. This was the very first show in Finland with the new guitarrist Daniel Freyberg, and I was very looking forward to it. But actually I missed his appearance a bit because the Green Main Stage at Nummirock was very high so Alexi Laiho was almost the only one who I was able to see near in the photo pit. Anyway, the show started with Follow The Reaper, followed by In Your Face, Morrigan and Sixpounder. Also the song Trashed, Lost & Strungout was played which according to Laiho was never played before in Finland. After that, Janne behind his keyboards spoke that maybe they have played it before but now it just went better… Big pyro effects was also part of the show when I Worship Chaos was played and Scream For Silence. Last song was Hate Crew Deathroll but after finishing it there was still time for few more songs. The band came back to the stage to play Children Of Decadence, Needled 24/7 and Downfall as the very last one. The show ended with some really nice fireworks.

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Nummirock 2016 finished on a good note. My top acts would be Trivium, Dark Tranquillity and maybe Marduk or Stratovarius. Weather conditions are always a question mark when the festival is outside but it’s something you can’t blame on the organizers. The festival also made their new visitor record which was 19 500 visitors. Nummirock Metal Festival has now been going for 30 years, and may there be another 30 years to come!

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