Finland is a massively interesting country concerning music. Basically any music, as there seems to be something in the water of the many lakes the country is home to, but especially in the more heavy side of the music scene there constantly seems to be something new brewing. Going from bands that are infusing an old school sound with new energy, bringing heavy metal back to the masses, to those who are not afraid of infusing their metal and rock with influences from pop, electronic music and more, creating a form of alternative rock/metal that is absolutely creative and fun to witness! With this there’s a selection of some albums we’ve come across during our adventures in 2021, with debut albums from young guns and possible breakthrough records from established names:
Luna Kills – not to be bitter, but it helps
(11/6 – independent)
Luna Kills is a relatively young rock band. While ‘not to be bitter, but it helps’ is their second full-length already, I was blissfully unaware of the outfit. Until social media posts started to point out upcoming new music with well-placed marketing campaigns and getting to have a chat with them (find the interview here), pointed me in the right direction. While with their older music they were moving in the realms of vintage rock, with this album they tried to find their own way and sound, and finding their own quite original sound they did! Stamped with the alternative rock tag, they managed to combine elements of their old sound with 90’s alt-rock, grunge and indie rock not only sound-wise but in everything surrounding the band from the aesthetics of the promo pics, merch to even a very 90’s looking album cover art. Put all of that together and you get a very attractive sum that makes Luna Kills stick out from many other contemporary acts, before even hearing a single note. And when you get to their tunes then, musically they absolutely killed it! The vocals from Lotta are sultry, extremely diverse and captivating. Add to that groovy riffs, electronic elements and the perfect addition of poppy touches, and this album will put its hooks in you immediately. ‘Honey Trap’ and ‘Liar Liar’, for instance, are some of the most catchy and fun songs we’ve heard in 2021! The band is already working on new music and we can’t wait to hear more! Highly recommended!
Blame Me! – The Invisible You
(11/6 – independent)
Blame Me! is another band we’ve discovered during 2021 when having a chat with some of its members (find the interview here). They released their debut full-length, ‘The Invisible You’, and while they’re also tagged as an alternative rock band, their influences have clearly a really wide range, finding elements from metal, rock, pop,… in emotional and at times epic sounding songs. There were moments while listening to the album that we had to double check that we were still listening to the same band, but in a good way, they really surprised us more than once every time we played the album. There are some really anthemic tracks to be found that will be more than likely shouted along to by the crowd at the top of their lungs. We love the little moments where you can hear more metal style drumming backing the rather poppy alt-rock setting and other little tidbits from several different genres infused just that right way. And their rendition of the t.A.T.u. hit ‘All The Things She Said’ as the album closer is a whole lot of fun, sticking quite much to the original while adding the right amount of Blame Me! sauce on top.
Cyan Kicks – Not Your Kind
(26/2 – Ranka Kustannus)
Cyan Kicks has now been around for almost 5 years and have quickly established themselves as incredibly creative and talented people. The music they produce might not be heavy enough for some metalheads and rockers, but the way they infuse extremely catchy anthem like melodies and pop/electronic elements with some kickass riffing, is absolutely mesmerizing. In 2021 they released their ‘Not Your Kind‘ EP where you can find some tracks that are in the mean time basically fan favorites like the rockin’ and soaring opening track ‘The Flood‘ that at times almost has a nu-metal sound and the earwurm of an electrorocker that is ‘Wish You Well‘. The EP is an absolute delight and we’re pretty sure big things are in the books for Cyan Kicks. They recently even tried to get elected to represent their country at this year’s Eurovision. With a second place right after the more established The Rasmus, it definitely has given them the extra attention they most definitely deserve in spades!
Khroma – Ex Nihilo
(10/9 – Inverse Records)
We discovered the pleasure that is Khroma when they were opening for the 3TEETH show in Helsinki in 2019 (find the report here). With their new album ‘Ex Nihilo‘ they took another leap in their sound, adding new layers and influences that might very well bring them to the attention of a whole lot more people than before. They still have a very dense and intense djenty metal sound comparable to for instance Meshuggah with a bunch of electronic elements added into the mix. But for this album they used more recognizable beats and tunes reminiscent of Prodigy, The Crystal Method or Pendulum and a hardcore style singing and screaming that borders rapping at times. Those electronic samples, that specific style of vocals and typical groove might make people who don’t know any better label them as a nu metal band, but they’re so much more. At times it feels like they come in the neighborhood of the intensity and madness that Code Orange brings forth time after time again, but somehow more accessible. We see great things for these guys and if you can catch them live, don’t hesitate, the wall of sound will blow you off your feet!
Oceanhoarse – Dead Reckoning
(20/8 – Noble Demon)
Oceanhoarse has been one of the proud bearers of the “New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal” flag for quite some years now. These guys take a clear inspiration from many big names like Ozzy, Pantera and so on, while giving their own modern spin to it all. They stand for a contemporary version of that old school attitude of no bars held, full-throttle heavy metal where all you hear on record is all you get live, doubling down on being able to play everything like they recorded it without the use of any backtrack at all. With their debut full-length ‘Dead Reckoning‘ they took that concept a step further even, where if you listen to the album from start to finish, you basically get the full experience of what you normally get when seeing them on stage. Except for seeing them of course… Tasty metal riffs galore, emotive vocals and simply excellent songwriting that brims of talent on the many songs that’ll get you amped up and ready to go, while there is also room for some instrumental interludes that gives the spotlight more to one instrument like you traditionally have the bass solo, drum solo and guitar solo moments during heavy metal gigs. It’s an absolute blast of an album and ones the gates to properly touring are back open, we think you can expect to see these performance beasts at a venue near you pretty soon!
Keoma – Hypothesis
(1/10 – independent)
The prog metal outfit Keoma was a wonderful discovery when they opened for the Crimson Sun release gig back in the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic shut everything down (find the report here). Their new album ‘Hypothesis‘ properly opens a new chapter for this band as it is the first full-length that features their new vocalist Katri. Adding her quite amazing vocal range to the music, going from angelic cleans to beastly harsh vocals, feels like it’s really lifting everything to new heights. The sci-fi inspired songs ebb and flow between atmospheric, meandering bits and crushing heaviness while at all times maintaining a certain level of intricacy and expertly written and played proggy music without veering into the djenty sound of some of the modern prog bands of late. They rather stick to a more “classic” metal sound enhanced by progressive twists and turns and plenty of epic, almost theatrical feeling moments. The overall sound and production value convinced us to a degree that we can easily see them compete with some of the big names in the scene, with heaps of potential to grow and capture plenty of hearts.
Fear of Domination – VI: Revelation
(10/12 – Out of Line Music / Ranka Kustannus)
Fear of Domination is definitely not a small fish anymore. In Finland they have a pretty huge collection of very dedicated fans and reel in quite big crowds everywhere they show up. The release of their latest album ‘VI: Revelation’ seems to have flown a bit under the radar, but this definitely feels like a milestone in the band’s career. Besides the obvious switch in looks of the whole band, now featuring personalized masks instead of their earlier painted faces, the music on this album somehow sounds and feels more mature. And while they still have that strong industrial note that at times is highly danceable, the tracks on this album could be considered as some of their heaviest and most experimental work to date, at times veering into the more extreme realms of their country mates of Turmion Kätilöt while maintaining that degree of catchiness we know them for. Opening track ‘Exitus‘ kicks in like a sledgehammer and tracks like the singles ‘Dive Into I’, ‘Rust‘ and ‘Amongst Gods‘ shows off that new harsh and simply epic vibe. And that tasty bass line opening up ‘Manifest‘… Once you get through the whole album, they still treat their longtime fans with a more typical dance tune heavy banger of a track with ‘They All Want Me to Die‘. Truly their best album to date that very well could mean a more international breakthrough for them!
Sapata – No Sun To Embrace
(19/2 – Last Day of the North)
This one was a really pleasant surprise quite early in the year. Only their 2nd full-length, ‘No Sun To Embrace’ put Sapata firmly on the radar of the doomsters under us. We all know that there are some topnotch doom inspired bands coming from Finland, but this is one to keep our eyes and ears on. Tracks like ‘Myriad‘, ‘Buried In Us‘ and ‘Last Juniper’ shows off their love for old school doom and classic heavy metal while vocalist Saara‘s vocals simply soar. While on tracks like ‘Seasons Shift Forward‘ and especially title track ‘No Sun To Embrace‘, they dial down the heaviness somewhat to veer into that kind of hypnotic and mesmerizing type of Gothic-tinged doom pop sound with an understated bombast. And hypnotic is really a word that fits the whole album throughout with Saara‘s gorgeous and soaring voice that perfectly flows with the doomy compositions. A hauntingly beautiful and dark piece of music that we simply couldn’t get enough of and we can only see great things for this band in the future. Fans of Roadburn Festival or its Finnish version Blowup Festival, pay heed!
Mercury Circle – Killing Moons
(8/10 – Noble Demon)
Continuing with a Gothic and doomy vibe, 2021 also meant the release of Mercury Circle‘s debut album ‘Killing Moons‘. After already getting a bit of a taste of what was to come with their pretty experimental EP ‘The Dawn of Vitriol’, the supergroup started by Jaani Peuhu (known from manning the keys with Swallow The Sun the past years), has members from Iconcrash, Sleep of Monsters, To/Die/For and Children of Bodom (as it’s Jaska Raatikainen new outlet for his drumming skills) and is ready to take over the world. On the full-length it seems they’ve dialed down the experimentation in favor of expertly crafted songs that sound fresh and familiar at the same time. In some of the tracks, I can’t help but to think of HIM, even though they never sound like a copy really. ‘Black Mirrors‘ is probably one of the most catchy tracks Finland has produced in the realms of Gothic-tinged rock. Don’t think that experimentation is completely out of the question though. We still get plenty of quirky electronic samples and sounds, unexpected soundscapes and your not so typical choices for this kind of music. Jaani‘s statement that he’s looking to create something called “new doom” is definitely still very much true. One standout track that I feel needs a mention still is the gorgeous Gothic rock track ‘Like Matches‘ in which a team-up of Jaani‘s voice with Ocean of Slumber‘s Cammie is simply a match made in heaven. Mercury Circle definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for a beautiful and dark piece of music that dares to take the unbeaten path in the veins of greats like HIM, look no further!
Plant My Bones – Stage 1.0 EP
(23/7 – Inverse Records)
The rock band Plant My Bones, formerly known as Wagtails, released the EP ‘Stage 1.0′, a first taste of their uncompromising new sound that is truly their musical vision and only theirs. The 5 tracks on this album brings clear inspirations of vintage prog rock that are enhanced by modern metal riffing and approach. The combination translates in a damn catchy whole that’ll make you feel like you want to bob around the room to the beats. Its hooks and melodies are nowhere hindered by the proggy approach, on the contrary. We feel this will be appreciated by both people who like something different and original in their music and those who are just looking for some catchy rock tunes to party to. If this EP left you wanting for more, in the mean time they already released the double single ‘Higher Phase Lifeforms And The Starlight Mission‘, find it right here!
St. Aurora – They All Remember EP
(28/5 – independent)
In the Spring of 2021, we met up with the alternative rockers of St. Aurora to chat about their debut EP ‘They All Remember‘ (find the interview here) and we were quite impressed with what they had to offer. A lot of their music is inspired by the bands that led the wave of emo music back in its heydays, like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, but at the same time by heavy metal bangers like Pantera and Avenged Sevenfold. Opening track ‘Falling (Just Another Way to Fly)’ is really a prime example of the sound you can expect from them with a modern twist on that all too familiar sound for those of us who were teenagers during the early 2000s. ‘Rejects of Society’ then again brings the absolutely perfect anthem for any angsty teens and others that feel like they don’t belong with a chorus that I could see the teenage me shout along to at the top of my lungs. But they’re not only about that, which they come to prove with the much more intimate title track ‘They All Remember’ for which vocalist Nile found inspiration in his worries about the future of his memory considering his family’s history. ‘Agree to Disagree’ then again is a bouncy more punk rock infused track with hints of Fall Out Boy or even Blink-182 and could very well be picked up now that pop punk seems to be on the rise again. We really believe there is a lot of potential here and looking at the size of the crowd that showed up at their very first live show, it seems we’re not the only ones thinking so…
Moon Shot – Confession
(22/10 – OMN Label Services)
When it was announced that members of Disco Ensemble, Children of Bodom and Lapko were getting together to form the supergroup Moon Shot, it immediately got a lot of people excited. When CoB disbanded, we wouldn’t have guessed that Henkka would pick up his bass to play this kind of music, but we’re really into it! And what they serve is a decent slab of emotive and modern sounding rock music riddled with hooks and soaring choruses. We feel that with the right TLC treatment and attention, they have the potential to grow out to be one of Finland’s biggest rock export products we’ve seen in a long time. Stadium rock stages, here we come! Tracks like ‘Agony Walk’ and ‘Marlboro Man’ are prime examples of this, while for instance ‘Caterpillar’ shows their more heavy side or take ‘Blood Looks Cool’ with a very Muse-esque kind of riff throughout. We can’t wait to catch them on a stage, because we expect them to be an even bigger riot live than on record. Make sure to check them out!