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FINNISH METAL EXPO 2006 17-18.2 Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, Finland
The old industrial halls saw the second round of FME this year, having grown quite a bit from last years event. This time over 5000 metal fans and workers in the business gathered there and were again treated with live bands, exhibitions from magazines, music organizations, music stores, record labels and such and could even grab some souvenirs from the many stands. This year the list of exhibitors had gotten some new blood, but some old parties were also present. From the huge list of sixty exhibitors present were at least; Musamaailma Oy, Nosturi, Ancara, Kingfoo Entertainment, Hellsinki Rock Shop, Imperiumi.net, Tuhma, Inferno and other magazines, festival organizers such as Sauna Open Air, Tuska, Nummirock, Ilosaarirock, record labels such as Spinefarm, Roadrunner, Firebox, Sakara, Dynamic Arts, fashion by Morticia, O.D.D Metal Wear, Joy Factory and Fanituote. A new section called Valssaamo offered various metal items, mostly based on cd's and DVD's.
Few of the stands were quite eye-catchers. Special FX presented a very familiar car and barrels in theirs, which have been visible in Children Of Bodom shows lately and Nummirock-festival workers were camping in their stand. If your stand wasn't all that impressive, you could always hire a musician for an autograph session. At least Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) and Tomas Haake (Meshuggah) were seen in DLX Music stand. Wilska (ex-Finntroll) was working in the Soundata stand, where metalheads had a chance to try off some equipment and show off their talents.
One of the things that didn't take place this year was the Hilselinko band contest. The International Metal Meeting changed its place from last year, and was arranged in Sonic Pump Studios already on Thursday this year, with people working for the music industry. So this year the participants had the chance to have even more fun on the actual event and meet more friends.
With some mishaps with the tickets, the lines were quite long on Friday when the doors opened. Standing in the freezing weather wasn't something one would expect, but once inside, the temperature got really hot. This year it was possible to buy either a ticket only to the exhibition area or to see the bands, when you were also able to enter the exhibitions. Few things had improved from last year, the food selection was somewhat better and smoking wasn't allowed at the stands area, which was good for the workers.
The first day of FME kicked off in the only stage in FME, the Radio City Stage with Ajattara, Verjnuarmu, Pain Confessor and Swallow The Sun. People arrived early to catch these bands, though the brightest stars were on stage later. While bands were playing, the Puristamo-section was having a metal karaoke, listening sessions from finnish bands, Amorphis included, who just recently released their latest, "Eclipse". Clinics were seen again too, and included artists such as Marco Hietala and Emppu Vuorinen (Nightwish), Euge Valovirta (Godsplague), Kuisma Aalto and Tuomo Saikkonen (Mokoma), Roope Latvala, Henkka T.Blacksmith and Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom) on Friday at least. And to no surprise, Nightwish and Bodom guys drew in most of the crowd.
The Finnish Metal Awards 2006 were given away later on. A jury selected the nominees beforehand on few categories, where metal fans named their favourites, but two categories were complitely chosen by the fans themselves. Matti Riekki and Teemu Suominen gave away the awards, with typically spiced up speaches for metal crowd. The now buried Sentenced snatched most of the awards, Sami Kukkohovi and Vesa Ranta were present to take home those from categories; best band, best album and best album cover art ("The Funeral Album"). The other awarded greats were; vocalist Antti Hyyrynen (Stam1ina), player Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom), newcomer of the year Stam1na, journalist Teemu Suominen (Radio City), webpages Mokoma, event Tuska Open Air Metal Festival. The Hamara-magazine award went to Sauna Open Air Metal Festival and Nightwish won the Rautakanki award from the Metal Deed Of The Year, based on the latest incident inside the band. Marco Hietala and Jukka Nevalainen collect ed the award, and in silence signed a mysterious paper on stage. Most of the award winners had humorous speaches or such, so the seremonies kept the crowd quite pleased from getting overly bored.
The stands were closed at eleven thirty, which meant the youngsters had trouble finding something to drink for themselves after that. The only places serving at these hours were the bars. Only two bands were playing anymore though. The night was still young at least for the older crowd, as there were still other things to do even when the bands finished. As the only foreign band on Friday, Evergrey played as the second last band. Finnish Teräsbetoni was supposed to be the headliner, but due to their singers illness, Kotipelto took their spot.
Having just visited Finland last summer in Tuska festival, Evergrey's show was fresh in minds and the FME crowd saw a show quite alike to that. Fanwise maybe not as passionate, but people still loved them and why not, the set was good and tight, even when it was shorter than last summer. The band doesn't have to worry about their songlists , since their catalogue is full of powerful tracks.
Selected setlist: Ambassador, Nosferatu, Blinded, More Than Ever, She Speaks To The Dead, Mark Of The Triangle, Recreation Day, A Touch Of Blessing, The Masterplan
When Timo Kotipelto took the stage with his band Kotipelto (Lauri Porra - bass, Janne Wirman - keys, Tuomas Väinölä - guitar and Mirka Rantanen - drums), the Evergrey guys walked to the bar right across the stage and watched the set from there. Somehow they managed to be left quite in peace and I decided to watch the last show from the second row. While Kotipelto is vocally close to what Ahola from Teräsbetoni has to offer, the replacement didn't attract most of the Teräsbetoni fans. The venue slowly calmed down, though Kotipelto and the guys played a fine show. Among his solo material, the band even did "Black Diamond" and "Hunting High And Low" from Stratovarius, with a joke bit of Teräsbetoni in between. The crowd saw some solos too, and those who've seen Porra going crazy on his bass, agree when I say no one should ever miss out his show, the solo was as impressive as always.
After the bands had played, the metal karaoke was still going strong upstairs till early morning hours. There wasn't much to brag home about, but at least the participants gave their best and the crowd enjoyed, or at least the masokists. One of the highlights was Nightwish's "Wish I Had An Angel", performed by Stalker-magazines female duet, one of them doing Marco's grunts, which was convincing enough and the crowd cheered. Another karaoke took place at the Puristamo section on both nights too.
The doors opened early on Saturday and the first bands seen were Waltari, Winterborn, Bloodpit and Naildown. After six o'clock the bands were the last years Hilselinko band contest winner Sinking, Anj (Russia), 45 Degree Woman, Amorphis, Ensiferum and last years Tuska festival visitor U.D.O. (Germany).
Saturday's clinics saw a drum clinic by Jarkko Lepistö (Eavesdrop, Acedia) and Mikko Kaakkuriniemi (Quintessence), members from Teräsbetoni, Show Virtuoso by Lauri Porra, Tuomas Väinölä (both in Kotipelto and Jonna's Problem) and Mikko Kaakkuriniemi. Porra got to play one of his own tracks from his latest solo album and the trio played two jams, added with solos. The extra surprise came in form of Timo Kotipelto, who performed "Reasons" with them. The stage and its place was the same as last year, and since the space was limited, the clinics were really crowded. The audience was mostly satisfied just watching the shows, so the musicians just played and explained facts about their instruments and all things musicwise along the way.
The young finns, Children Of Bodom-like Naildown played a very powerful set, which worked best for the youngsters at FME. It would be strange not seing these guys on bigger stages, when looking at the success COB has gained worldwide with their metal. After all, Naildown has melodies and hammers down similar riffs to those of COB, which are easily absorbed by metal fans. While sounding quite the growler, Daniel Freyberg's vocals will hopefully still develop for more deeper sound. The band is not all growling though, clear vocals play their own role and sound great too. The band performed with a new line-up at FME, which proved to work strong together with a right attitude.
One of the most expected shows must've been Amorphis. Releasing their brilliant "Eclipse" album recently, they introduced their new singer Tomi Joutsen for the FME crowd, who's been in the band for a while now. Since Pasi Koskinen did a fine job with the band earlier, fans have been speculating whether Joutsen is the right man to fill his shoes. The album already showed his talents, but a live show is something else. As "Two Moons" kicked off, the crowd went nuts and it was clear Joutsen was the right man to replace Koskinen. Joutsen fills the stage easily with his appearance from the rest, more calmer band, but this show proved to be one of the best from the band, who've played for bigger crowds than this. But the atmosphere is what matters and Amorphis was among the best bands of the day.
Selected setlist: Two Moons, The Way, Alone, The Castaway, Drowned Maid, Sign From The North Side, House Of Sleep, Leaves Scar, Born From Fire
Other things on Saturday were the O.D.D Metal Wear fashion show, listening sessions by Manitou, Spinefarm, Century Media and Dynamic Arts, not forgetting the karaokes. The exhibition stands were popular and at times it was hard to see what was on offer. So many things one could buy, but there were no discounts at sight. And it's not fun carrying bags around, when you can't even sit anywhere. Yep, the chairs were still missing from the expo. The promo cd's with finnish bands were popular though and easy to carry.
While waiting for the bands on stage, the bars seemed to drag people in. We spent some time at the Hima Bar and it was so crowded one had to carry drinks above their heads. We found COB's Jaska Raatikainen from there at least and together tried inventing new systems to drink from and carry around with you, and came up with some hilarious ones. People seemed to be on a really good mood wherever you looked and the Sali private bar was packed with musicians and those who attended the International Metal Meeting this year. Roope Latvala from COB was literally diving in for the served food, too bad we don't have a photo of that, and Tomas Haake was talking dirty, he obviously had drank a bit too much.
Finally at half past midnight, when many people were either too drunk or ready for bed, it was time for german metal pioneers. U.D.O. takes the stage with storm and confidence, eventhough the guys must've been a bit tired, hanging around from early hours and having a few drinks before the show. But none of that showed, the band is so professional, and while some people were on the verge of hitting back home, the thunderous show changed their minds fast. Even when seing the band just last year, true entertainer U.D.O. never does a dull show. And this one was spiced up with finnish Eurovision song contest winner Lordi (just their vocalist though) as surprise guest. He did "Balls To The Wall" with U.D.O., who wasn't short on costumes either, including a monk costume.
Setlist: Mission No. X, 24/7, Independence Day, Trip To Nowhere, The Bullet And The Bomb, Mean Streets, Heart Of Gold, Cry Soldier Cry, Guitar Solo (Igor Gianola), Princess Of A Dawn, Thunderball, Drum Solo, (Francesco Jovino), They Want War, Animal House, Man And Machine , Mad For Crazy, Encores: Holy, Metal Heart, Balls To The Wall
Another fine music-filled weekend with aching feet and nearly broken neck. The yearly FME gathers great bands for the event, since many of the expo attendees seemed very tired after U.D.O.'s show. Hopefully though we'll see some new bands next year, which haven't been in Finland for a while or ever. But till next year, keep the metal heart!
Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com