at Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, Finland, February 17-18, 2006

Last year fans experienced the first ever Finnish Metal Expo, a gathering of all sorts of Metal music folks and a showcase of talents from both old and new Finnish Metal bands, with a few international acts thrown in for good measure. Now a year later, the second even bigger Finnish Metal Expo was held at Kaapeli in freezing cold Helsinki. This year, following the success of last year, the event had grown in size and the set-up was a bit different.

The actual Expo part was separated from the concert area so that if you so desired, you could buy just the cheaper ticket to the Expo, which would have given you access to the display area and music clinics, but not to the actual concerts that were held alongside the Expo. If you got the concert tickets, you got access to both the shows and the Expo.

The purpose of the event, just like last year, was to make Finnish Metal more known and to give Metalheadz a chance to mingle and mix with the industry side of Metal music, and to bring them all closer together… or like one of the organizers said, “To just have a party, the Metal kind.” Whatever the reason that got you through the door, one thing was for sure: there was so much to see that there was no way you could see and experience it all in just two days.

The Expo part once again had all kinds of display booths, from record companies to Metal magazines, Metal-related clothing, instruments, festivals, and CD stores. At almost every stall, you could take part in competitions, and if not win, then at least you could help yourself to the free samples, which came in the form of candy to coffee to promo CDs, magazines, posters, and flyers. The younger Metalheads especially took advance of this, and were seen carrying bags full of posters of their new favorite bands.

This year the clinics, which had musicians from top Finnish Metal bands show their skills, were the most happening places to be. On Friday, Marco and Emppu from Nightwish entertained the crowd with their relaxed and jovial conversation, which saw them answer questions ranging from the models of their instruments to beard growing tips to the regularity of band practices. The young, Goth-looking girls in the audience, in particular, seemed to be interested in the personal details, while the boys were more interested in the technical details, like what kind of strings and plectrums the band uses. All questions were answered, and one girl even got a cappella birthday song from the musicians… and the guys did play one song accompaniment with a backing tape at the start of the session. The Nightwish session was followed by a guitar clinic with the Godsplague guitarist, who, in his own words, likes to mix Country music with Metal. This was not as crazy as it sounds. Lots of helpful tips on how to play those cool leads were given and the audience were also told to check out Frank Marino’s live recordings for more inspiration.

Friday’s clinic was closed with a session with Children of Bodom. Guitarists Alexi and Roope were mistakenly under the impression that this was to be a signing session, so sadly no playing was heard from them. Instead, the crowd got another Q&A session, which saw the band explain the kissing incident, the Jackson/Esp move, and speculate on their drinking habits, along with answering the usual instrument-related questions. The band was in no hurry, and seemed to be enjoying this special change to interact with their fans.

Saturday’s most anticipated show was the chance to experience the new lineup of Amorphis on their first gig on the home front. The hall was packed and the buzz was on long before the band hit the stage. Tomi Joutsen proved to be one hell of a singer who has managed to bring new life and energy to the band. To the delight of many, the band is taking a step back to their earlier roots, and the Death Metal-like growling, which Tomi does so well, is back in the band’s repertoire. This must be one of the least painful line-up changes in the history of music, since if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought that Joutsen has always been in the band… that’s how well he filled the boots left behind by the previous singer. Joutsen held the attention of the crowd so well that there was no time or need to speculate the differences of the former and present singers until way after the show was over, and still the sheer power and energy of Tomi Joutsen’s performance most likely forced you to admit that Amorphis is a much stronger unit now than in the past.

Next up was Ensiferum, who got the crowd moving, and even a small mosh pit appeared. Ensiferum’s mix of traditional music and Metal got plenty of heads banging and even more feet tapping. Due to the lateness of the evening, Udo and his merry men were left to play only to a handful of hopefuls, since the tired Expo crowd had left to catch the last busses home, or moved the party to the inner city bars. Shame really, since all those troopers tough enough to stay and watch the last band were given an entertaining show and a chance to see Udo wearing a monk’s outfit, sporting a whip in the kickass version of “Mean Street.” Plead to the organizers; can fans please have the schedule moved up a bit next year so that everyone can catch the last bus home!

If you came and saw this massive event, afterwards you were most likely tired, yet happy, carrying with you a few treasures found in the Expo, cursing the cold, while wondering how to get home from this remote location in the middle of the night. Glad you came? You bet.


  • Metal-Katie

    Katie was a reviewer and interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. She claims to have been born a Metalhead. At least she's been one as far as she can remember. She loves Metal music and she's ever so happy to see generation after another founding its charm. She's always interested in hearing new Metal bands and reading about them and their antics. She lives and breathes Metal, or at least her alter ego does.

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