Finland’s biggest rock festival continues to impress with some of the names they put on their line-up every year. On the other hand there are also a whoooole lot of bands that are returning for a 2nd or 3rd time in a row, which feels a bit lazy to us. But there is this year around again enough stuff to still get excited about attending Rockfest! How about the first proper Slipknot show in several years? Or Kiss playing their (supposedly) last show ever in Finland… So off we go again, diving into the madness that will be 3 days of festival at the tiny airport in Hyvinkää!
By the time we were all geared up and managed to get to the festival grounds, we were kind of late to catch first act of the day, Don Huonot. From what I heard in the distance, it sounded like some nice poppy rock music. Even though quite some Finnish people seemed excited to see the band, it didn’t feel to me like I missed out on much.
Santa Cruz (**)
The first show we actually got to from the beginning, was one from a band that has been causing a lot of discussions. The popular hard rock outfit Santa Cruz is left with basically only guitarist/vocalist Archie Cruz after the rest of the band left him and has been followed by a lot of drama. Archie gathered some new young musicians around him and now finally returned to the homeland to play a few shows. His young band mates really put in some good energy, but it didn’t take away from the fact that it just didn’t sound good to me. The music was grooving away, but Archie‘s vocals seemed really out of tune and out of breath and it somehow felt like the big Archie Cruz show instead of the band I used to like and that could absolutely destroy a Finnish stage. Hopefully they get their act together a bit better in the future!
The original organisation of Rockfest are from Estonia and it seems like they try to get a good band from their own country to the Finnish shores every edition. To our delight this time we got to see Goresoerd on the Kivi stage and they absolutely ripped the place to shreds with their death/groove metal! These guys might have been one of the harshest bands in the line-up this year. All the musicians went crazy and vocalist Eero brought some cool dance moves to the table. A really cool band to baptize the smallest stage of the festival.
Back on the main stage pop metal powerhouse Amaranthe took up shop with a fiery show that made plenty of people move to the beats. Always a good show from these guys, but we decided to explore more of the festival area while they were playing. Not too bad of a soundtrack for such endeavors.
The Perkele tent was starting to fill up quite nicely, making that stage feel close to a sauna due to the amount of people and the relentless sun beating on the canvas. That didn’t take away any of the fun for the fans of this rather theatrical power metal band. Powerwolf thrives in their dark religious theme and absolutely kick ass when they get on the stage. Every single band member seems on the top of their game and are running around like wildmen. Even the keyboard player came from behind his clavier to jump around on the stage! While metal is clearly religion for them and all of us, I can stomach only so much stereotypically happy and kitschy power metal. So I made an early exit and went to check out the next band.
On the Kivi stage the Danish progressive metal band Defecto was up next before the big headliner of the day. A rather unknown name for me, I was pleasantly surprised by a rather catchy sound that fitted perfectly in the golden glow of the last proper rays of sun before it completely faded away. Even though they didn’t have the biggest crowd in front of them due to Powerwolf still blowing up the Perkele tent, the band clearly had a lot of fun being able to play on a festival like this. If you want some relatively easy digestible metal that still is really well-written, I recommend you to check these guys out!
And then there it was, the time everyone at the festival had been looking forward to, from fans to musicians to people from the music industry. The return of one of metal’s modern mastodons to the stage. Slipknot is a band that is youth sentiment for many and almost religious for some. Many maggots were there, not wanting to miss out on the very first European shows by these 9 misfits in years. I saw people in self-made Slipknot overalls, the old Slipknot masks dusted off for the occasion and plenty of Slipknot shirts.
When the intro noise starts that everyone knows so well from their legendary album ‘Iowa‘, a beastly roar surfaced from the crowd. As soon as the first riffs of ‘People=Shit‘ get cranked out, the big curtain gets pulled up and reveals a massive stage production with the unholy 9 unleashing hell upon Finland! The band really is on top of their game straight from the start and sucks every person present into a frenzy.
On both sides of the stage there were the elevated drum barrel setups from Clown and the replacement for Chris from where they were flipping us the finger, hanged over the edges, screamed into the mic and beat the living shit out of the barrels. These are connected with the middle stage section with the regular drum set and on both sides Sid and Craig throwing their samples and scratching into the mix. And then more to the front, a small staircase down, you entered the battlefield of Corey, Mick, Jim and Alessandro
This amazing looking stagebuild made the show one of the most dynamic shows I’ve ever seen with members appearing on the complete other side of the stage seemingly out of nowhere to look for the company of one of the other guys and get into some mischief. The new masks are top as well, with Sid‘s definitely being at the top for being damn creepy.
The setlist had a nice mix of old and new with luckily not too many of their more soft tracks. The songs ‘All Out Life’ and ‘Unsainted‘ fit in perfectly with their other work and gave me more the feeling of the first time hearing songs from ‘Iowa‘ live than any other work they’ve produced since. Promising for the upcoming album! Sadly some songs were left out of course, with to me the biggest surprise in not playing their massive hit ‘Wait and Bleed‘! In any case this was a topnotch show by a band that still knows how to excite. Europe, are you ready for this?!
For those who hadn’t enough yet of heavy music, the organisation had 2 more bands planned to rock the night away. For those who are more into intricately written music with progressive and black influences, could turn towards the Perkele tent stage and get engulfed by the massively entrancing sound of Enslaved. These Norwegian pagans know how to take you away on a journey like no other. Magic!
Turmion Kätilöt (****)
On the other stage, Kivi, a whole other setting took place. A perfect band for those who wanted to party on after the maelstrom that was Slipknot: Turmion Kätilöt. These party animals are known for their solid shows and they really stepped up their game this time. They clearly wanted to bring an even more exciting show than usually. Pyro was present and the couple coming on stage doing the kind of piercing performances that makes many cringe really added an edge to the show. Finnish disko metal at the top of its game!
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