Tag Archives: finnish bands

“Dark Light” by HIM

Artist: H.I.M.
Title: “Dark Light”
Label: Sire Records
Release Date: 9/27/2005
Genre: Gothic/Melodic Metal
Rating: 7/10

Finland’s H.I.M. certainly seem to be making a dent in the American music world and this is no surprise when one considers the overall appeal and quality of some of their songs. Thanks to the efforts of MTV’s Bam Marguera the bands logo or “Heartagram” is no longer a mysterious image as he showcases it regularly on his program “Viva LaBam”. Though the band has been around for some ten years it was only recently that the American listener was able to purchase their music domestically and now with the release of “Dark Light” this growing audience got to experience a brand new album on its actual release date. The last two albums that surfaced early this year in “Love Metal” and “Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights” were already a couple of years old yet despite this fact the concert appearances of the group sold out very quickly. As I listened to “Dark Light” I found it continuing along in the same fashion as “Love Metal” with a strong influence of “Razorblade Romance” (two records which I enjoy very much). Lead singer Ville Vallo has found a formula that works and while labeled “Love” or Gothic Metal” the whole of H.I.M music leans more towards that which was influenced by Eighties New Wave such as Billy Idol, Depeche Mode or The Cure. The Gothic label was most likely due to their names acronym of “His Infernal Majesty” as it held a sense of darkness to it as do most things Goth. The band seldom uses the log version and very simply goes by H.I.M. these days. This fact combined with the subject matter of love and death that continually play in the same yard during their music makes you conclude that this might have been the root cause of the label. However the more you listen to the band the more you will find that is it pure and simple good Melodic Hard Rock.
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“Nattfodd” by Finntroll

Artist: Finntroll
Title: “Nattfodd”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 4/20/2004
Genre: Pagan Folk Metal
Rating: 7/10

According to legend and the official Finntroll website the band was formed when two drunk members began jamming on some guitar riffs and traditional Finnish folk music. The mix of Dark Metal chords along with Hummpa music gave us the end result of FINNTROLL. I have to say that when I sat down to review something referred to as Pagan Folk Metal that I was not quite sure of what to expect. I also have to stress that I did not expect to like this CD in the least. Yet instead of tossing the music aside in disgust I found myself asking Friends if they had ever heard of such a thing and if not I quickly allowed them a listen. It is indeed quite unique and has a large appeal for those that find the influence of traditional ethnic music placed with slamming drums and guitars. On “Nattfodd” (which is translated into English as “Nightborn”) we get a sonically pleasing set of tracks that use the ethnic influences to excellence. The lineup of Wilska (vocals), Routa (guitar), Skrymer (guitar), Tundra (bass), B. Dominator (drims) and Trollhorn (keyboards) certainly ends up delivering some of the most interesting Metal I have heard in a long time. As I listened I was not sure if I was at some nightmare Folk concert or a crazy Metal performance as the piece crosses the line between the two very well. When you listen you will wonder if you should be queued to raise your drink up high or put it down to go slam in the Mosh pit. It is great when a band can bring about feelings like this as far too many groups are taking the safe route these days by churning out similar albums time and time again. The Metal buyer is fickle and needs to be impressed and convinced more than they used to be if they are to spend the cash.
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“Stratovarius” by Stratovarius

Artist: Stratovarius
Title: “Stratovarius”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 9/13/2005
Genre: Power Metal/Heavy Metal
Rating: 6.5/10

Stratovarius has long been considered one of the Forefathers when it comes to Power Metal and the genre as a whole. This Finnish super group has found much of their work respected and admired by fans of the form and other bands as well. The melodic power metal they delivered is often difficult to surpass and over time it has changed here and there yet never really lost the edge that was the nature of the band. Like all things that are together for a long time there does comes some drama and the band faced inner demons and turmoil. This led to the breakup and formation of other groups. Timo Kotipelto went on to a solo career and released “Coldness” on Century Media Records while guitarist Timo Tolkki briefly replaced him with a female singer who’s name I could not recall. Eventually ties were repaired and the band was back doing what they did best together. Their newest release simply entitled “Stratovarius” is the result of this reunion. The record is very good at best but will surprise the staunchest Stratovarius supporter for it leans a little more on the commercial edge. Catchy numbers but nothing that will bring you to a power metal daze. In one sense it is a good move to stray from the brand of Metal that they have long recorded. With so many bands coming out these days, people are sampling all different areas of the music. If one band remains the same for too long, their music might be considered too repetitive and the same old thing. The reunited lineup is Timo Tolkki (guitar), Timo Kotipelto (vocals), Jorg Michael (drums), Jari Kainulainen (bass) and Jens Johannson (keyboards).
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“Twelve Shots On The Rocks” (remastered/reissued) by Hanoi Rocks

Artist: Hanoi Rocks
Title: “Twelve Shots On The Rocks” (remastered/reissued)
Label: Liquor And Poker Music
Release Date: 1/27/2004
Genre: Rock & Roll
Rating: 8/10

Bare bones Rock & Roll is what it seems to have always been about with Mike Monroe and the boys in Hanoi Rocks. Even after an almost 15 year absence from a released record, Mike and company have returned with a tasty little piece of music. Originally released in late 2003 this edition features a better production with bonus tracks. I was a fan of these guys way back in a limited sense as I owned a Live cassette who’s name and location has been lost in Apartments gone by. Yet this release brought me back to the energetic time of Eighties big hair Rock & Roll. I enjoyed that. The CD called “12 Shots On The Rocks” is brought to us by Liquor & Poker Music (a division of Century Media Records) and has a full 17 numbers to absorb. I feel this makes it a worthwhile purchase in this day where many artists are hardly including anything for the money. Overall I enjoyed this piece but clearly there were a few standout tracks. Among the ones that instantly caught my attention are “Obscured”, “NYC” and “Delirious”. Something about those just hit the nail on the head in terms of the music that Hanoi provided. Finland had Monroe as a star long before the likes of Nightwish and Ville Vallo (HIM). Sadly, the tragic loss of drummer Razzle in the 80’s seemed to put a hold marker on the band’s climb and no more than the cult following they had kept on supporting them. Mainstream was never really treated to a very talented band.
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“Video Collection:1997-2003” by HIM

Artist: H.I.M.
Title: “The Video Collection: 1997-2003”
Label: Universal Records
Release Date: 12/7/2004
Genre: Gothic Rock
Rating: 7/10

In the United States H.I.M. seems to be an overnight sensation that just came to us early last year. In truth the group has had a far longer and more successful career in Europe for over 10 years. Most of their CD Releases were made available to us in 2004 and 2005 and among these pieces was also the DVD Collection of the bands videos. I have to inform readers that it was the video for “Join Me In Death” that first drew me to the music and this is the type of appeal that this band of Finns has over the listener. This is a perfect companion to the H.I.M. CD collection and almost a necessity since these videos will probably never be featured on MTV or VH1. To describe the music of H.I.M. to the inexperienced is quite simply to take a Rock vibe and mix with hints of Gothic and Dark overtones. The band has more in common with Billy Idol and Joy Division than other types of Finnish Metallers. Ville Vallo sings of love, loss, heartbreak and death in almost every song and while the material might seem utterly morose based on the titles you will find that the music breaks from the dismal nature and is very creative and catchy.
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