06 May 2015

Finland #1: Heavy metal music (a theme post)

This week there is a common theme in my blog posts. First I have this regular post today and in couple of days I will be publishing a Favourite Artists post related to this current blog post. And as the title tells, the theme of these posts is heavy metal music from Finland.

Wikipedia: Finland
Finland is kind of known for its heavy metal music. In the country itself schlagers and pop music are more popular, but heavy metal is the biggest export of Finnish music; Abroad it is the heavy metal bands that are the most famous out of Finland's music industry. I know many bands that tour all around the world, particularly in Europe, South America and Japan. So I think heavy metal music is the best fitting theme for the first feature posts about Finnish music.

First up is two songs from a group called Nightwish. If one had to be chose, I would say Nightwish is the most famous out of all of Finland's heavy metal bands, both in Finland and abroad. Nightwish is the third best selling band in the Finnish music (according to Wikipedia, and I have no idea who are the more selling ones) The group was formed already back in 1996. It makes symphonic metal music, which means that it combines heavy metal music with elements of classical music.

Nightwish's song Nemo could be their most famous song. The song was released in 2004 (I thought it was older since it feels like I have always known this song). Nemo charted number one in Finland, Hungary and Brazil, and it charted in top10 in many more countries. Like most of Nightwish's songs, Nemo was written by the band's keyboardist and  founder Tuomas Holopainen. It features as a singer the former member Tarja Turunen, who has made fame with her solo music too.

Nemo is my personal favourite from Nightwish. Like I said, I thought it was an older song, since I know it so well and have many memories related to it. I can not find a single thing from it, that I do not like. The music is brilliant: It is dramatic, mysterious and touching. Tarja's vocals are absolutely amazing. It is a very beautiful and touching song, that is very hard to compete with.

This other song from Nightwish is called Amaranth. There has been some drama happening within the band and in 2005 the original singer Tarja Turunen left Nightwish. She was then replaced by Anette Olzon, who sings in Amaranth. Anette has since then left the group and was replaced in 2013 by the new singer Floor Jansen. I am not familiar with the new material that Nightwish has done with this new singer, but I suppose I should listen to it since I like Nightwish's older music a lot.

Amaranth was released in 2007 and it was the second single to feature Anette Olzon (the first that I heard). The song was quite successful and I remember seeing it on Finnish MTV all the time. It charted well in Europe, including few number one spots. As an interesting fact, the music video was based on a painting called The Wounded Angel (1903) by a Finnish painter Hugo Simberg.

The song is amongst my top favourites from Nightwish. I can not describe exactly what, but something in the sound makes it interesting. The music is definitely my favourite part of this song, though I do like the vocals too. It is fairly dark song (heavy metal song is dark, surprise surprise), but somehow the music in parts sound a bit cheerful to me. I think it is this contrariety that makes me like this as much as I do.

Nemo is from Nightwish's 2004 album Once and Amaranth is from their 2007 album Dark Passion Play.

Moving onto a quite recognizable band: Lordi. I am not sure how many bands have as original looks as Lordi, but can not be that many. Lordi was formed in 1992, but rose to the success only ten years later with their debut single Would You Love A Monsterman?. Besides the great music they make, a big part of Lordi's fame is their outlook; The band members were monster outfits (that take one hour to put on, two to three hours for the lead singer Mr. Lordi) and they do not reveal their identities (though some papers have released some photos of them unmasked). Lordi is one of the best selling Finnish heavy metal bands and is also known as the first and so far only Finnish Eurovision Song Contest winners, which they won in 2006 with their song Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Would You Love A Monsterman? was released in 2002. And even though this song is actually hard rock, I wanted to feature this song. Lordi's music overall is still a combination of hard rock and heavy metal. The version above is the re-issue from 2006, though there really is not much of a difference between the versions.

The song was the first I heard from Lordi. Well, it would have been hard to avoid hearing it back in the day when it was released, since it made a quite big ruckus in Finland. Even though since then there has been many other Lordi songs that I love, none has been able to pass by Would You Love A Monterman? since it contains so much memories. I really love the song and it is very well done piece of hard rock. I also love how they bring their monster theme to the music too.

Oh, and as an interesting (or not so much interesting honestly) fact I need to mention that the groups origins are in the city where I was born and grew up (and now temporarily live again). There is actually a square named after the group, in the honor of their Eurovision victory, in the city center and it features the group's hand prints pressed in a cement.

Would You Love A Monsterman? can be found on Lordi's 2002 album Get Heavy.

Next up is Amorphis. For me this is a newer finding: even though I was familiar with the name, I only heard their music just recently. The band was formed in 1990 and in its lifetime it has made music in many metal genres, like progressive metal, gothic metal and folk metal. Many of the lyrics of their songs have got an inspiration from Kalevala, which is one of the main works of Finnish literature and a big part of Finland's national identity. Many heavy metal bands tend to have interesting, story-like lyrics, but having this kind of repeating theme is always interesting (to me, at least).

The song above is called Silent Waters. I do not know its exact genre, but its album featured melodic death metal, progressive metal and folk metal, according to Wikipedia that is. The song was released in 2007 as a single from an album of the same name. The album actually was based on a story from Kalevala (which I have not read, so unfortunately I can not go more deeper into this subject), so the lyrics of the song are part of that.

I find this song very mysterious and somehow deeply sad. The music is very touching and kind of magical. The singer's vocals add to this very brilliantly. Overall I find this song very touching and interesting. It sort of makes me sad, but in my opinion this is a good thing since it is a sign of a moving song.

The album Silent Waters was released in 2007.

And last up we have one more metal band: Teräsbetoni. The group has actually broken up already in 2011, but that should not stop anyone from enjoying their music. Teräsbetoni was formed in 2002 and Wikipedia describes their music as heavy metal, power metal and cock rock. For bigger audience the band is known from representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008. They did not do well in the contest, but the song Missä Miehet Ratsastaa was highly popular in Finland. Teräsbetoni makes music in Finnish.

I am not very familiar with the band's music and I personally did not like their Eurovision song, but I really like their debut single Taivas Lyö Tulta. This song was released in 2005 and it hit number one in Finnish charts. I remember the song being a big hit back in the day. It is a power metal song. The title means The Sky Strikes Down Fire and the lyrics are actually kind of majestic.

I find this song very dramatic. The singer's singing style is quite interesting, but it most certainly fits this kind of song. I love the drama of this song and find it overall quite interesting. Obviously understanding the lyrics is quite major part of me liking this song, but I find this an interesting song for those too, who do not understand Finnish language. It is music-wise too an interesting song, for metal fans at least.

Taivas Lyö Tulta was a single from Teräsbetoni's 2005 album Metalliteollisuus.

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