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!
Despite being rather tired after one and a half day of music madness, I managed to get to the festival area just in time to catch the first band of the day.
Rave The Reqviem (***)
The Swedish Rave The Reqviem plays a very infectious mix of melodic metal, pop and electronic music riddled with hooks. At times the combination of clean & harsh male vocals and clean female vocals remind me somewhat of their country mates of Amaranthe, though with a bit more of an edge to the music still. When they got on stage, they jokingly counted heads at the rather meager turn-up, but didn’t let that hinder them to kick off their show at full energy level. They quickly pulled quite some of the early arrivals towards the small stage they were occupying. A really nice way to get your festival day started, wouldn’t mind to see them again when they get to play in front of a bigger crowd that is there to see this band!
Within Temptation (***1/2)
To me personally, seeing a band like Within Temptation being scheduled to open the main stage at a festival seems rather weird at this point in their career. Especially since I’ve been listening to them from their “symphonic metal” era with in my country big hits like ‘Mother Earth‘ and ‘Ice Queen‘. With the recent couple of releases, they’ve wandered towards a more commercial sound that rather leans towards epic rock than metal. Their show was pretty decent and the new songs sound actually cool live. I still miss their older work quite a bit, with for instance ‘Ice Queen’ getting the acoustic treatment instead of being played in the original version. But hey, every band evolves in some way and it was still a damn solid show with great musicians and one of the most consistent vocalist in rock/metal there is!
One Morning Left (****)
Playing their only show of the Summer, a whole bunch of people gathered in the Prkl tent stage to have a good old metalcore party with One Morning Left. With these guys you’re sure of a couple of things: it’s going to be fun, loads of energy on stage and an absolute party! And that’s exactly what we got again at Rockfest. Every single member of the outfit threw themselves completely and one after the other catchy tune hit our eardrums, including of course their awesome cover of Michael Jackson‘s ‘Beat It‘ and that one party song with the flutes in ‘You’re Dead! Let’s Disco!‘. We’re always happy to see these guys!
Very surprising to me, was when they announced the UK band Chang for the line-up of 2019. The outfit seemingly hasn’t played shows yet outside their country and brings an eclectic mix of sounds. They’re young, wild, loud and unpredictable, which really reflects in their music. The girl fronting played the part of a cheeky and rather naughty character backed with the mix of noise rock played with a punky attitude and a catchy groove. This was for me most definitely one of the most surprising and interesting bands of the whole weekend, check them out… Be like Chang!
Dream Theater (***1/2)
Next up on the main stage was a show that many in Finland were looking forward to. The masters of prog Dream Theater took over the stage with their intricate music and rather impressive visuals on the screen behind them. One for one incredibly talented musicians and experienced performers, even I have to admit it was a damn solid show. Personally I’ve never been a fan of the band, but you can’t deny that they know how to play.
The next couple of bands are bands we’ve seen on the past editions of Rockfest and thus ended up skipping for some much deserved food and rest from the relentless heat. In the Prkl stage, Diablo crushed it with their groovy metal and on the Kivi stage people got a hefty dose of hardcore punk from the Finnish outfit Huora, announced to the whole festival area with blaring sirens!
In Flames (****)
Despite quite some of their later albums not being as satisfying as their ‘Come Clarity’ era, the Swedish melodic death metal outfit In Flames are still a force to behold live. Anders Fridén and his buddies usually kick ass on stage and their newer tracks don’t really stick out like a sore thumb between their older songs. They all seemed in the best mood and on a high energy level, until Anders somehow got fed up with how the security was behaving. A bit weird how he got so damn pissed off, but most of the crowd seem to find it rather hilarious. He also scored some bonus points when he congratulated the Finnish crowd with their recent victory as world champions in ice hockey. All in all, another cool show from true legends in the metal scene.
Up next were another 2 popular Finnish bands. On the Prkl stage the young lions from “violent pop” outfit Blind Channel took over the stage and turned up the heat. From pictures I saw, it looks like these guys are getting more and more into their groove and image of the boysband gimmick with one of the guys even wearing a fur coat in the blistering temperatures. They also premiered the track ‘Snake‘ at the festival, sadly without a guest appearance from GG6 (Amaranthe‘s Henrik).
On the Kivi stage we got yet another one of those great gigs by Finnish legends Mokoma. The writer of this report sadly missed both of the shows due to a combination of other duties (interview) and well, having seen these bands already quite a few times.
Time for the headliner of the day! The American metal/rock band Disturbed rose to fame already during the nu metal period and always has been a very popular act in their home country. It’s only during the recent years that they’ve started to seriously rise to fame in Europe and beyond. The monster hit that was their cover version of ‘The Sound of Silence‘ (originally by Simon & Garfunkel), pushed them into that headline position at many festivals.
On their latest release ‘Evolution‘, it seemed to me that they really wanted to try and evolve into a (rock) hit factory. Which only worked to a certain degree in my opinion. They had a couple of really good tracks on there, but tried here and there a bit to much to recreate the ‘Sound of Silence‘ success. When I saw Disturbed years ago at Graspop in Belgium, they left a lasting impression on me and I was a bit afraid that they might have lost some of its raw power from back then.
And those suspicions got kind of confirmed, sadly. They started with a cool intro video showing their rise to fame and the road they took to get there. Having seen quite some images from their old shows and the explosive energy that went along with them, I found the show at Rockfest a bit underwhelming. The stage production was as good as non existent where for a headliner you might expect at least a bit of pyro here and there. When they played their heavier songs, they still adequately brought them to live but somehow it didn’t feel as powerful as I remember from when I saw them earlier.
At a certain point they brought some bar stools on stage, they grabbed their acoustic guitars and brought someone in from the crew to join them into a series of sober and calm songs. I expected ‘The Sound of Silence‘ to pop up here already, but they played some of their other ballad-like songs. Kudos to David Draiman for his speech about battling addiction and depression in which he asked everyone in the crowd who has had or still has the same issues to raise their hand, to show that we’re not alone and to raise awareness/urge people to talk to each other and take care of each other. A much needed message in this world where we lose way too many people by these problems. My respect for them definitely rose a couple of notches!
Time for a good shot of energy and raw power! One of the “afterparty” bands at the festival was the Norwegian deathpunk outfit Turbonegro. Having been a fan of the band ever since I heard their ‘All My Friends Are Dead‘ featured in shows of the Jackass franchise, I was really looking forward to this. And they did not disappoint! Still heavily using the ‘Tom of Finland’ aesthetics, a tongue-in-cheek attitude and a high amount of energetic rock ‘n’ roll, they area sight to behold! Classics like ‘Get It On‘, ‘Wasted Again‘ and ‘I Got Erection‘ all passed by and the party went on without remorse! Turbonegro, you need to come back again soon!
At the Kivi stage there was a whole different thing going on with the samurai themed French crossover outfit Rise of the Northstar. A show I really wanted to see as well, but when 2 bands play at the exact same time, you sometimes have to make hard choices. Hopefully they come to the Finnish shores again sometime in the nearby future.
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