Ruisrock, the longest-running Finnish Rock Festival was held for the first time in 1970. Next year the festival will be celebrating its' 40th anniversary, but whether next year's event will top this year's we'll see. The record-breaking attendance number of 92000 people during the three days this year will be hard to beat. I have a feeling that it might happen though, because there'll be some big names on tour next summer and Ruisrock will probably snatch a few of them to their line-up.

For the last few years, the first day of Ruisrock has been more or less dedicated to more metallic sounds, and this year was no different. After picking up our passes from a hotel in downtown Turku, we headed to the beautiful Ruissalo. There was a continuous stream of people walking towards the festival area, and some of them seemed to be in a very "festive mood" indeed. I'm sure that some of the party'ers never saw a single band that day. To each their own I guess, I hope they had fun anyway.

The first band we heard was STONE, who were playing on the stage closest to the gate. The band has a bit of a legendary status here in Finland, them being the pioneers of Finnish Thrash. They even made some waves abroad, signing an international deal with Mechanic Records and getting some rave reviews. Nowadays some of the band members are more known for their other bands, namely Sub-Urban Tribe and Children Of Bodom, and probably that fact didn't do any harm to the attendance number of their gig. From what I could gather, they played their thrash with enthusiasm and energy. Not that I really paid much attention to them, as Thrash Metal and me just don't mix....

Swedish DEAD BY APRIL have a nice buzz surrounding them. Their MySpace page has been visited over a million times, and their debut album released in May went straight to number two on the Swedish album chart. The songs on their aforementioned MySpace page didn't sound too bad, so they were the first band marked as "one to check out" on my list. Now, having seen them live I can understand why they probably got a few record label execs very excited - they are a very marketable band with crossover potential. They're young and good-looking in a suitably dangerous way with all their tattoos and mohawks, and their music combines elements of metal and hardcore to pop hooks. It's not an unique concept but I haven't heard anyone do it so extremely - some of their songs have verses with brutal riffs and screamy vocals, yet the choruses are more along the lines of The Rasmus. Actually, some of the melodic stuff goes almost into the boyband territory!

I quite liked the band's melodic moments, yet grew tired of the constant screaming quite fast. I hope that they do too... The band did have a decent stage presence with vocalist/screamer Jimmie and vocalist/guitarist Pontus leading the pack. The most outrageous performer on stage wasn't a band member at all - it was the weird naked camera man who appeared on stage halfway through the set!


Another Swedish band was next on the agenda, a goth/death/industrial/glam hybrid called DEATHSTARS. Having only heard a few songs by them, I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew was that they'd be a rather visual band. and indeed they were. All dressed in black and all pale as ghosts, not to mention ready and willing to throw all kinds of traditional rock'n roll shapes. Vocalist Whiplasher Bernadotte looked like a gothic Michael Jackson, while the guitarist duo of Nightmare Industries (!) and Cat (?) had memorized the handbook of Rock'n Roll posing. In contrast to the more "glammy" guitarists, bass player Skinny was a more of a unhealthy, rock-zombie like figure with his dreadlocks. He also did the growling when needed.

The band's music was okay, very much like the 69 Eyes but with more industrial and metal elements. The "Helsinki Vampires" do have better hooks and more memorable songs though. Vocalist Whiplasher's style of introducing the songs was pretty cool, pure deadpan comedy. He played with the old Finland vs. Sweden rivalry, saying that the best thing about Finland is the fact that it's really close to Russia... The crowd didn't know what to make of it, so some cheered, some booed. And how do you introduce a slower song? "Boys, keep your girlfriends warm...Girls, take my phonenumber". Or something to that effect - forgive me if I didn't get it word by word.

Despite their unquestionable musical abilities, the music of CHILDREN OF BODOM has never appealed to me. I had never seen them live before, so given this opportunity, I thought I'd give 'em a go. But no, they didn't win me over, and the three songs we were allowed to take photos were more than enough of Bodom for me. I don't know, maybe with a different singer some of their songs would be ok, but I just can't handle Alexi Laiho's cookie monster vocals. Anyway, we did get a few good photos of them, so enjoy.

Straight from the photopit of the COB gig we ran to the other stage, where the english gentlemen of THE WILDHEARTS were about to start their show. They were introduced by Michael Monroe, the frontman of Hanoi Rocks and a Finnish rock icon. I haven't really followed the band's career, but they were pretty good, presenting us a good set of no-frills rock with some catchy choruses, well played and well sung. Vocalist/guitarist Ginger entertained the audience and seemed genuinely happy about the reception they got.

Even though I haven't really followed the band's career and don't have any albums by them, many of the songs sounded familiar. That was more than I expected, I was sure that I'd only recognize their biggest hit "I Wanna Go Where The People Go"! The band previewed a new song too, an uptempo rocker called "Jackson Whites" which promises good things for their next album "Chutzpah!", to be released in August.

Michael Monroe joined the band for a energetic rendition of MC5's "Kick Out The Jams", and managed to do his traditional "Ruisrock stage-climbing stunt" during the three minutes he was on stage. He really is one of a kind character, and the Finnish rock scene would be a lot more boring without him.

The DISTURBED have done good business in Finland, with their latest album "Indestructible" spending about 20 weeks in the Finnish Top 40. It was no surprise that their set was one of the most popular ones of the festival. Their radio hits "Land Of Confusion", "Stricken", "Inside The Fire" and "Indestructible" turned the Ruissalo beach into a big sing-along party, and even the regular album cuts seemed to be known by many.

I quite liked the band's set, even though some of the songs sounded a bit samey, partly thanks to aggressive vocals of David Draiman. He has a good, strong voice but he spiced up his vocals with the additional "Ah!'s" after several words. Well, I guessah it's his trademarkah!.

Visually the band's show was pretty uneventful, expect for the "intro", during which Draiman was wheeled to the stage in a straightjacket and a Hannibal Lecter-like mask. A dramatic opening, but after that the band relied on their songs only. Nothing wrong with that, since they do have a bunch of strong tunes.


Just Stop
Meaning of Life
Land of Confusion
Hell / Shout 2000 / Criminal / Deify
The Game
Inside the Fire
Ten Thousand Fists
Down With The Sickness

SLIPKNOT's set was anything but uneventful. They're one of the most visual bands around, looking like a freak show with those masks and revolving drumsets and whatsits. Our photographer Mira took photos of them from the photopit, and she came away from there with bewildered look on her face, saying that there was something going on in every corner of the stage, and she had to be really alert not to miss a lot of it. Her captures of the Slipknot Experience are below for you to see.

I was watching the show from afar, and if it hadn't been for the screen, I wouldn't have seen much anything at all. I did hear the music, and that really didn't appeal to me. The first few tracks sounded really chaotic to my ears, and only the band's early hit "Wait And Bleed" sounded like a real "song" with a structure and notion of melody in it. Ater a while, my ears had taken enough of battering and we decided to start heading home. I believe it was the band's recent hit "Sulfur" which stood out as another decent song among the rest of the songs we heard. On our way out, we stopped for a while to watch the band's great light show, which looked really cool even from outside of the festival area. Then it was goodbye and goodnight, and we had nice nightly bicycle ride ahead of us... which resulted in a colourful, cd-sized bruise for Mira, as she had a little accident.


Wait and Bleed
Get This
Before I Forget
The Blister Exists
Dead Memories
Left Behind

Spit It Out


Thanks to my work duties, Mira's accident, unfavourable weather and a rather uninteresting band selection we decided to skip Saturday's festivities. The line-up consisted mostly of big Finnish bands like Eppu Normaali, CMX and reformed Tehosekoitin and foreign indie rock, including Mew, Ladytron and Ruisrock-regulars The Sounds.


Sunday started with melodic metal for us, as STRATOVARIUS were the first band we saw. Their setlist was quite similar to that of Sauna Open Air a few weeks ago. The exclusion of the long and dragging "Visions" did make it a tighter one, and even "new boy" Matias Kupiainen seemed to interact with the other members more. A couple of months of gigs, and he might actually start singing background vocals to the microphone set up for him - now it's just there "in case".

The "Choir Wars" victory has turned Timo Kotipelto into a household name, and I'm pretty sure there were a few people to see him just out of curiousity. Hopefully his good performance made fans out of them. He does seem to ooze confidence these days, commanding a big festival crowd with ease.

The highlights of the set were again the anthemic opener "Hunting High And Low", "Kiss Of Judas" which sounded better than in Sauna, new album's rather cool "Higher We Go"
and the alredy classic "Black Diamond", which included a lengthy keyboard intro by Jens Johansson.

American rockers THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM were one of the new bands I had underlined in my timetable. They've been compared to Bruce Springsteen and The Clash, and indeed they sounded like they had taken influences equally from the down-to-earth US songwriters and the British blue collar rockers. Unpretentious songwriting, lyrics with storylines and some pretty good songs is how I'd sum them up.

The band's music went down quite well, even though I'm sure that most of the listeners were more or less unfamiliar with them. The number of Gaslight Anthem T-shirts among the crowd seemed to be growing during the day, so they must've left a lasting impression on many people.

Meanwhile on the Niittylava, Finnish band APULANTA started 15 minutes later than The Gaslight Anthem. Mira was more interested in them than TGA, so she went to photograph them while I stayed around and watched a few more Anthem songs. I eventually made my way to see Apulanta, and I have to hand it to them - they've got a massive catalogue of hits. From the rather humble beginnings as a small-scale punk band some 18 years ago the band has gone from strength to strength, and are now arguably one of the biggest bands in Finland. These days their music combines elements of metal, punk, alternative rock and pop into their very own brand of Finnish Rock.

Apulanta's vocalist Toni Wirtanen may not be a great singer, but he is an entertaining frontman and has a knack for writing catchy songs. That was proved easily, as they just played one hit after another, and the crowd sang the choruses religiously. Yep, their set was one of the better ones of the festival, shame that I missed the first few songs. I've previously overlooked them a bit, but now I might have to check out their back catalogue.


Paha Ihminen
Kaikki Sun Pelkosi
Ravistettava Ennen Käyttöä
Viisaus Ei Asu Meissä
Paska Meininki
Mitä Kuuluu
Vasten Mun Kasvojani
Pahempi Toistaan

...Silti Onnellinen
Koneeseen Kadonnut
Anna Mulle Piiskaa

Local heroes THE CRASH were playing their last ever show at Ruisrock, and they drew a lot of people to their "funeral". I've never cared for their brit-flavoured pop or vocalist Teemu Brunila's highpitched vocals, and I'm afraid their funeral didn't turn me into a fan either. Mira did snap a few photos of them, so do check them out below... and rest it peace, The Crash.


Pony Ride
Big Ass Love
Thorn in My Side
New York
Still Alive

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Lauren Caught My Eye

AMORPHIS and their progressive Kalevala-metal was something I was curious to check out. Having seen their gig, I still don't know what to make of it - every other song seemed to be enjoyable, melancholic metal while every other song was something way heavier, with growled vocals.

The band played well, and vocalist Tomi Joutsen seemed to be a charismatic frontman, but while I remember quite liking the more melodic songs of their set, the death metal songs of theirs I could've done without.

Majestic Beast
Towards & Against
From The Heaven Of My Heart
Silver Bride
House of Sleep
My Kantele


VOLBEAT from Denmark have a good following in Finland, and their set was one of the most anticipated ones of the festival. No wonder, as they've played about a dozen gigs here during the last two years, ranging from support slots and festivals to their own headlining shows. Their music is often dubbed as "Elvis Metal" in he Finnish press. To me it sounded more like straightforward classic rock played with a metal/hardcore edge, and I guess the "Elvis" comes from vocalist Michael Poulsen's singing style, which has some similarities to that of the "King". Not to mention his hairdo...

The band played a tight set, and attracted a huge crowd. I can easily see why they are so big in Finland - their kind of riff-driven, no-frills testosterone rock has been popular here for the last few years, and the fit nicely into the rock radio playlists between the metallicas and the ac/dcs. Good basic stuff and suitable festival material, but without songs that would get stuck in your head.

The biggest band of the festival was Sunday's headliner FAITH NO MORE. Getting them to Ruisrock was a real triumph for the organizers, and apparently it wouldn't have been possible if they hadn't sold out another show in Helsinki, which took place a couple of weeks earlier. The recently reformed group were proven that there's a lot of love for them in Finland, and thus they agreed to play in Turku.

Arguably the best dressed band of the festival, FNM walked to the stage nonchalantly, all wearing lightly-coloured suits. Thet kicked off with a smooth, lounge-like version of "Reunited", a song originally recorded by a soul duo called Peaches & Herb. If someone was waiting for a furious funk/metal/rock hybrid, they were in for a shock...

For the first few numbers, I thought that FNM were trying to avoid playing anything easily digestible, and out of the eight first songs, I think I recognized about two, "Evidence" and "Easy", the Commodores-cover. Otherwise it was less familiar album tracks, with the wild-eyed Mike Patton dominating the show. I don't know whether he is a madman or a genius or both, but he does put on a hell of a show. He had megaphones and some other gadgets on stage with which to alter his voice, but that was just a part of his performance. There's no denying that he can also sing like the best of them, when he wants to... The other members were overshadowed by the Patton Show, but I guess they don't mind - you don't ask a guy like that to "tone it down".

The biggest hits were saved to the second half of the show, namely "Midlife Crisis" and "Epic". Interestingly, the band chose to leave out hits like "Falling To Pieces" and "Digging The Grave", and play more covers, one from The Bee Gees (!) and another from Burt Bacharach's songbook. Weird... but that's what the band has always been, more or less...

During "Just A Man", the last song of the main set, Patton went into a lenghty exercise routine, doing push-ups and so on. When he was done, he just picked up the microphone and started singing again, as if nothing had happened. Not too shabby.


Land of Sunshine
Surprise! You're Dead!
Last Cup of Sorrow
Cuckoo for Caca
Ashes to Ashes
Midlife Crisis
I Started a Joke
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Be Aggressive
Just a Man

Chariots Of Fire/Stripsearch
Mark Bowen

This Guy's in Love with You
We Care a Lot

So, the final verdict on Ruisrock 2009... 92000 ticket buyers already proved that the line-up was a commercial success, and there were some special, memorable shows during the festival. To be honest, none of the bands in the line-up were among my favourites, but many of them were the kind of acts that I was curious to check out. That's the beauty of a festival like this - you'll have a chance to see bands you may have only read about, and wouldn't normally pay good money to see on their own gigs.

Next year it's the anniversary festival, and I guess we can expect a few big names. Let's see... Bon Jovi will be touring in Europe in 2010... Rammstein will have a new album and they'll be on tour, probably... maybe even Kiss? And I might repeat my wish of last year - Gotthard!


Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen and Kimmo Toivonen
(c) 2009 RockUnited.Com