Hoarsefest (On The Rocks, Helsinki) – 28/12/2019

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What do you do as a band when everyone within the team seems to be overflowing with energy? Why not start your own festival to finish an already full and exciting year with a big bang? That’s what Oceanhoarse seemed to go for with Hoarsefest. A one-night festival that includes five bands that represent the NWOFHM (New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal) as good as possible, four clinics by some of the top musicians within the local scene, giving away a damn guitar, and on top of that throw in a kick-ass all star jam…

Thy Row (***)

The band to kick off this exciting night was the hard rock outfit Thy Row. At the moment fronted by one of the busiest dudes in the Finnish music scene, Mikael Salo (Dyecrest, Everfrost, Metal De Facto, Northern Seer), you knew we’d be off to a great start. I checked some of their tracks out before and wasn’t too impressed, but this is one of those bands that just really flourish live. Mikael is quite the entertainer when he ends up on a stage and really lifts the energy of the whole band to a new height. Cool start of the night.

Thy Row-4

CLINIC: Asim Searah

One way to give the people more value for their money was getting some clinics going in the upstairs bar of On The Rocks. The first one was Asim Searah from Damnation Plan, but by many known as the live guitarist of Wintersun. And that’s what he came to show us: some of the most tricky guitar bits of Wintersun tracks that seem almost impossible to play correctly while just sitting down and focusing on playing. Makes you wonder how the hell he manages it while running around on a stage…

Clinic Asim Searah-4

Wake Up Frankie (***1/2)

Wake Up Frankie wasn’t a totally unfamiliar band for me since I caught them live at the last edition of Tuska. I have to say that they really impressed me this time around. The sound was simply better tonight and made the potential of this band more obvious. The groove of their modern version of metal kicks a lot of ass, and the energy of these guys was really up there. Another band to keep your eyes on for sure!

Wake Up Frankie-1

CLINIC: Juhani Mac Flinck

Second clinic of the day was still all about guitars, but this time around more tasty licks and grooves cranked out by Juhani Mac Flinck, guitarist of Dead Shape Figure and Misterer. Joking around a bunch (even though the jokes were totally lost on me since he was talking in Finnish) and his facial expressions while playing, made it for one hell of an entertaining clinic.

Clinic Juhani Mac Flinck-1

Dirt (****)

I think we can easily call Dirt the most popular band of the night. Shortly before they started their show, the venue downstairs filled up like it hadn’t yet before and to be honest, it wouldn’t get as packed again later on. These five guys are really going places. Their rock music is catchy in a rather pleasing and grungy way at the same time. A lot of their heavier songs really remind me of Alice In Chains, especially with Aleksi‘s vocals that are at times right on par with the legendary Layne Staley. Yet another Finnish band that is going to soar to great heights if they continue to produce the quality they bring to the table now.


CLINIC: Sara Strömmer

Next clinic of the night was a little showcase of what vocal coach Sara Strömmer (Fear of Domination) could possibly teach you. Despite it being in Finnish, I could understand that she was explaining some of the techniques, of which she eventually give real examples. Clean vocals, growls, screams,… nothing seems to phase her. Definitely someone you want as a teacher if you have certain ambitions in (extreme) singing!

Clinic Sara Strömmer-6

I Revolt (***1/2)

I saw these guys only a week earlier last time, but yet again I Revolt managed to impress me. Sadly the crowd was a bit less present and engaged than when I saw them at Nosturi, but luckily there were a handful of persistent fans keeping up a moshpit throughout the show. Vocalist Ville still looked pleased with what he saw, and was yet again raging through the set. Like I said before, they’re on the right track here, hopefully more people start to pick them up!

I Revolt-20

CLINIC: Antti Wirman

Last clinic of this edition of Hoarsefest before closing the whole night with a big bang was hosted by Antti Wirman, brother of Children of Bodom‘s keyboarist Janne and quite the shredder in Warmen and with a short stint in CoB as live guitarist. While he was playing his axe, you could see the skill and passion for the instrument, a true pleasure to see him at work.

Clinic Antti Wirman-5

Oceanhoarse (****)

At their own festival, of course Oceanhoarse had to be the headliner. Having seen them quite a few times by now, I know it’s always a pleasure to see them on a stage. No backtracks, real music and a couple of simple show elements that lift it to a higher level. Despite quite a part of the band having been considerably involved in how the night went, they went in with full force and immediately the energy was through the roof. With some of their fan favorites like ‘Fading Neons’, ‘Feed the Sirens’ and of course ‘The Oceanhoarse’, the crowd was feeding them some good energy pretty soon. After their mascot went backstage again and the last notes of ‘The Oceanhoarse’ were still vibrating through the room, they pulled a girl from the crowd on stage as the innocent hand pulling the ticket number to win the much coveted Jackson guitar (same one that Ben plays). What a great prize to give to those who support you!


Maze of Death
Fading Neons
The Intruder
Death Row Center
Feed the Sirens
The Oceanhoarse


All Star Jam (*****)

But all was not over and done yet after the great show by Oceanhoarse and guitar give-away! The band kept their usual cover songs for an additional part of the night where they invited artists from the other bands and clinics for a true All Star Jam and end with a real bang! With a slightly improvised feel, loads of camaraderie and love between equals in the local scene it was an absolute blast to see it all unfold.

All Star Jam-14

Slipknot‘s ‘Duality‘ with Kasperi Meriläinen (Wake Up Frankie) as second vocalist for some deep grunts was right on the money from the start. Joonas left his vocal duties for a bit when Aleksi Tiainen and Sebastian Frigren (DIRT) came on stage to respectively replace him on vocals and add another guitar. Not too much of a surprise that they ended up cranking out Alice In Chains‘Them Bones’ with the timbre of Aleksi‘s voice.

Time for some classic heavy metal now: Joonas came back and with him Mikael Salo (Thy Row) and Antti Wirman, delivering an impressive ‘Bark at the Moon’ from Ozzy Osbourne! Continuing this path, Juhani Flinck (Dead Shape Figure) and Sara Strömmer (Fear of Domination) joined the band for the Iron Maiden metal classic ‘Only the Good Die Young’. And lastly, to bring the house down completely, with Ville Jantunen (I Revolt) on 2nd vocals and Vesku Pääkkönen (Wake Up Frankie) on 2nd guitars kicked absolute ass with the groover ‘Cowboys From Hell’ from Pantera!

What a night, what a positive vibe and talented people all gathered on one stage! Those who were not here this night, missed out on something special. We’re looking forward to hopefully a second edition that goes even beyond this!

All Star Jam-40

For more pics of the night, go here.

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