It was that time of the year again when the ice hockey arena and trade fair centre of Turku is taken over by thousands of young people. "Maata Näkyvissä" is an event aimed for the Christian youth of Finland, with big Christian bands as the main attraction. Since RockUnited.Com has covered the event for the last few years, we were kindly invited there again. Because of the day jobs and other things our visit to the festival was rather brief. We only took part in the main concert of Saturday, and saw the headliners Disciple and longtime Finnish Christian Rock favourites The Rain.

If you've read our previous reviews of the festival, you've read about THE RAIN. Last year they came out of their hiatus and played a well-recieved set on Sunday afternoon, but this year they were given a "premium slot" in the Saturday's main concert. They were a major draw apparently, as the floor level was closed long before their set and those who didn't get in had to find their places on the other sections of the hall. Even our photographer was denied an access to the floor level, and she had to get the press officer to escort her to the photo pit.

One of the special features of Maata Näkyvissä is the fact that no band gets to play a full-length set, even the headliners are limited to an hour or so. The Rain got 40 minutes, and they used it to play a "Greatest Hits and Requests" set that went down a storm. Despite being stuck behind his keyboards, main vocalist Sami has the audience eating out of his hand. His brother Tatsi (bass and vocals) adds visuality to the show by romping around the stage and headbanging. Drummer Pasi bashed his drums in the background in a rather visual way as well. Guitarist Jussi is slightly more reserved in his stage antics, but on the other hand, he's the spokesperson for the band and addressed the audience with his speech. In short, The Rain is a reliable, solid live band with plenty of strong songs.

Setlist included "Tulta", "Sotilas", "Kasvot", "Tuuli Kulkee", "Haloo" and few others.

The headliner of the festival was a band called DISCIPLE. Apparently they have been one of the most requested bands of the last few years, but I must confess that I had never even heard of them before they were announced as headliners. Maybe that says something about my limited knowledge of the Christian scene or maybe it says something of the isolated nature of it... Anyway, now that I've done my homework I know that the band has been around for twenty years and during that time they've sold a lot of albums, gotten several Christian Rock radio hits and have been won two Dove Awards. They've even crossed over to the mainstream media, with songs placed on TV commercials and shows. The wrestling world seems to have embraced their music, as their songs have been used in several Wrestling events.

Disciple played a hard-hitting set and most of the audience loved every second of it. There seemed to be less people watching them than The Rain, so maybe their metallic edge was a bit too extreme for some.

I really don't know what to make of the band, as they bounced from one style to another quite recklessly during their set. Some songs sounded like they were the Christian version of Linkin Park, others had a hardcore vibe to them... And inbetween they managed to sound like Skillet, not to mention a few other big bands of the last few years... maybe a bit contrived. Still, I liked some of their songs a lot, the more melodic ones such as "Dear X (You Don't Own Me) and "Invisible" were my favourites of their set. The more hardcore stuff... well, I have serious trouble accepting screaming as singing, let's just leave it at that.

The band's only original member, vocalist Kevin Young was a good frontman. He interracted well with the crowd and took advantage of the big stage. The other members of the band were more anonymous, bearded dudes straight from the nineties' grunge era.


O God, Save Us All
Game On
Watch It Burn
Draw the Line
The Ballad of St. Augustine
Battle Lines
Shot Heard 'Round the World
Once And For All
Dear X (You Don't Own Me)
Scars Remain
Rise Up

Big Bad Wolf

Now that we've been to a few "Maata Näkyvissä"-events, it seems the festival is starting to repeat itself, and one can almost count on the fact that some bands will perform each year - HB, The Rain, kls., Tera, Juha Tapio... of course there aren't that many Christian artists in Finland, but it seems like the musical line-up of the festival is based on certain artists being there year after year, with some newcomers sprinkled on top and one big international band as the headliner. Maybe it's time start bringing in a few additional bands from abroad - I'm sure there are several smaller Christian rock/pop/metal acts who'd jump at the chance of playing to an appreciative, big audience.

Review: Kimmo Toivonen
Photos: Mira Suutari-Toivonen