Up until the early seventies of 20th century, Finnish rock was mostly influenced by foreign influences. Rock music started in Finland during late fifties, just like everywhere else in the world, but the most of contemporary bands were just copies of the American while the most of hits were nothing else but Finnish translation of English words. At this point, the local rock stars didn’t just played translations but also performed tangos and some other music genres that were for the long time popular in Finland.
Among those who first started to write original lyrics in Finnish language were persons like Pekka Streng, Dave Lindholm, Hector and Juice Leskinen. Two last are very important, coz their influence can be clearly heard even today. The birth of Finnish rock music is almost congruent with progressive rock movement and during that time, among few ambitious bands in Finland, there were two the most prominent, Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam.
Most global trends affected the Finnish rock scene so Finland was actually a playground for punk rock, progressive rock, heavy metal, speed metal, etc. and it seems that Finnish spires of each trend are very interesting to the foreign audience while they are finding their ideals in David Bowie, The Beatles, Finnish literature and Slavic melancholy because of it this scene is with it’s sensibility maybe even closest to us.
During 70′s in Finland was formed the most American-seeming rock group, Hurriganes who enjoyed extremely popularity in Finland and also get through even in Sweden and via TV elsewhere in Europe.
The punk revolution in 70′s started when 13 years old Andy McCoy through his brother Ikke met Pete Malmi. It was the beginning of the first Finnish punk bandBRIARD that not only in 1977 recorded the first punk single in Finland ever titled “I really hate you/I want you back” but also ’till 1979 when the band separated played numerous concerts. Late 70′s brought also two remarkable bands, Eppu Normaali and Hassisen Kone although neither of them remained true to the musical ideas of punk. Eppu Normaali is today in Finland considered as institution and Hassisen Kone presented Ismo Alanko, one of the Finnish most imaginative songwriters ever. However, Eppu Normaali and Hassisen Kone were at the same time first bands that borrowed ideas and ideals from the recently born Finnish rock scene and they made their music under notable influence of The Ramones.
Talking about Finnish rock music of the 80′s there’s no way to bypass glam rock band HANOI ROCKS. This, as they were called, “shamelessly glam band”obtained unseen success in Finland and they are probably even today, more then 20 years later, internationally the most known and the most appreciated Finnish band. Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle died in a car crash in 1984 and soon after that the band departed. But, bands like Guns’n'Roses and Manic Street Preachers numerous times mentioned Hanoi Rocks as their biggest influence. Both the main persons of the band, composer Andy McCoy and singer Michael Monroe continued their very successful solo careers with different but always high levels of commercial and artistic success. Hanoi Rocks were exceptional band in the sense that they obtained immemorial success not only in Finland but also in the rest of the world and interesting is that they successfully continued their career after 20 years in 2004 and now still play European tour. Most of bands that during the years reached abroad, like Smack, Havana Black, Nights of Iguana or Gringos Locos weren’t hugely successful in homeland. Also some breakers of Finnish charts like Eppu Normaali and Juice Leskinen, had some interest for international scene.
First rock band formed during the 80′s was SMACK. Smack is formed in Helsinki in summer of 1982 and soon after that they conquered Finland. Smack was the band who didn’t, like other bands formed during the 80′s, believe in hair spray. They’re pure energy and their music is sharp rock’n'roll influenced by Iggy & Stooges, The Doors or MC5. Their first album “Smack On You” was released in Finland in 1984 and two years later it was possible to buy it in the United States.
During late 80′s speed metal became popular in Finland, as much as everywhere else. Almost overnight arised many Metallica copies and bands inspired by their music but it seems that the band called Stone was the only one that manages to sound interesting to foreign audience. Band visited even USA but nothing considerably happened. Perceptible European success during early 90′s obtained only dance band Darude, who was with it’s single “Sandstorm” the first band ever on third place of British single chart. Over the 90′s, despite of the fact that Finnish bands weren’t on the first places on the charts outside homeland significant number of metal band found their way. Amorphis, Apocalyptica, Sentenced, Stratovarius and Waltari are the most important and by the same time legendary Leningrad Cowboys toured the world and appeared in two full-length films.
The dream of Finnish music industry came true in 2000 when, as they call themselves, “love metal” band HIM with the album “Razorblade Romance” reached first place on German charts and later also in the rest of Europe.
Finnish bands continued this influence and in the beginning of 21st century suomi rock is penetrated in mainstream of European audience. The first Finnish bands that accepted these new measures were already mentioned bands Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam but in the 80′?s when they were playing they didn’t find international followers. But here are two exceptions, also mentioned Finnish glam rock band Hanoi Rocks and Havana Black. Like in the rest of Scandinavia in Finland is death metal and all it’s fractions very extended and today it consider bands as Kalmah, Apocalyptica, Nightwish, Stratovarius, Sentenced, Children of Bodom, Amorphis and Waltari.
Main source: Finnish Music Information Centre (FIMIC).
The beginning of music direction today also known as Gothenburg sound is pulling its roots from psychedelic rock, classical music and British rock of 1960′s. Gothenburg sound also called Scandinavian death metal considers Scandinavian origins death metal bands. The most dominant countries in development of this genre are Finland and Sweden and many bands that stumbled under this category are connected with melodic rock/metal that this genre characterizes with the sound different from other death metal fractions.
In early 1990′s this new death metal scene appeared in cities Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden from where it extended on Finnish and Norwegian bands. Swedish and Finnish bands, the mostly inspired by Bathory and other trash metal bands from the 80′s were more popular then Norwegian bands influenced by black metal who’s music includes keyboards and chaotic riffs. The first bands that introduced new, Gothenburg sound, were At The Gates, Dark Tranquility and In Flames.
In the middle of the 80′s and the beginning of the 90′s Finnish rock scene was miserable with good quality or generally Gothic bands. But in the late 80′s there evolved bands that in their songs talk with recognizable Finnish melancholy and darkness, interest for occult and supernatural. Beside Syysku i Musta Paraati, the first Finnsih band that developed its own caracteristic sound that isn’t based on Bauhaus or Joy Division music with lyrics in Finnsih is in 1984 formed band HAROLOTS OF BEYOND. But also, year 1987 is collar for development of Finnish Gothic scene. At that time are Anne Nurmi (today known as member of exceptional Swiss band Lacrimosa) and Jyrki Witch in town Tampere some 150 km north from Helsinki formed the band Noidat (Witches). Only a year later Jyrki Witch replaced Finnish lyrics with those on English. The band name was changed in TWO WITCHES and band became one of the first ever Finnish Gothic bands. Interesting is also that band established their own record label Darkland Records to promote Gothic and electronic music in their homeland. When in 1993 Anne Nurmi joined Tilo Wolff in Lacrimosa, Jyrki Witch continued with new band members. Their music inspired mostly with vampirism and sex and specific Gothic rock sound penetrated outside Finland’s borders very fast and it was, there is no doubt, influence for many bands formed later. Until 2002, when band after unhappy circumstances move to Berlin, they recorded nine albums, achieved incredible success not only in Europe but also in Japan and South America and opened the doors of success to the other Finnish bands. Jyrki Witch is also one of the most famous Gothic personalities in Finland. This year Two Witches released double CD compilation “Saints and Sinners” that includes some of their best songs, rarities, covers and demo materials. Click HERE to read exclusive interview with Jyrki Witch for Venia-Mag!
Beside Two Witches, characteristic Gothic sound in Finland today represents bands that are, unfortunately, not or not yet internationally successful like industrial/rock band Shade Factory, goth/pop band The Shadow Dance, atmospheric metal band As Divine Grace or synth-pop representatives Kinetic. Observed are also bands influenced by one of the oldest Scandinavian bands, Two Witches, like Angelica Kult, Ultranoir, Personal Deamons, Varjo or Suruaika.
In additional to those bands Finnish scene do recognitioned rock/metal bands that are, in most thoughts, breaking rules of Gothic music but in the same time they are in their music elements infallible part of the same one.
One of the bands characteristic for its sound and for that it influenced not only bands orientated to Gothenburg sound but also Gothic bands is Sentenced
SENTENCED is formed in 1989 in Oulu in northern Finland by guitar players Mika Tenkula, Sami Lopakka and drummer Vesa Ranta. Although their career in the beginning sailed on death metal waters, turned to intended level of Gothic sound they made on their fourth album “Down” (1996). Sentenced is one of those bands who’s music is inspired by Gothic music but it’s actually pretty far from Gothic metal genre, their work is always marked with dignity, emotional depth, personal dilemmas and melancholy and in the same time its one of the most known bands from Finland. That’s why the sadest thing is that Sentenced decided to lay their music career in the grave and forever close the book that will also further be source of inspiration for new bands.
THE 69 EYES are, in the last few years, one of the most influential and the most appreciated bands not only on the Gothic Rock fields but also on the fields of rock music. Although they gathered in the beginning of the 90′s of the 20th century and started as horror influenced glam garage band, 10 years later The 69 Eyes became Gothic Rock breakers of European charts and according to their words they “saved European Gothic scene by bringing back Rock’n'Roll for the black lipped generation”. But they saved even more because their music gathers audience from black metal fans to fans of pop music.
On their three albums, “Wasting The Dawn” (1999), “Blessed Be” (2000) and “Paris Kills” (2002) on which they introduced the term Gothn’Roll to the word, they are with the dark, catchy melodies and with the mixture of Gothic Rock and dancing club elements conquest not only concert scene but also festival and club scene all over Europe.After they finished “Blessed Be” European tour in October of 2001 and spent few months in studio, the band released single “Dance d’Amour” which is like intro into the forthcoming album “Paris Kills” immediately took the top of Finnish single charts. The album that followed is a masterpeace for band and producer Johnny Lee Michaels and it brings the sound that is mixture of guitar sound with 80′s keyboard sounds and classic melancholic melodies. In summer of 2002 band played European summer festivals tour and during Autumn European tour that included Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Finland.
In September of 2003 in Finland is released CD compilation named “Framed In Blood The Very Blessed Of The 69 Eyes” and DVD “Helsinki Vampires” that is since 2004 reachable also in the rest of Europe, including Croatia. Album “Devils” released in 2004 is the name of new chapter that band more then ever before brought to the stages all around the world and the same named tour extended from European to world because band will soon play on three festivals in Latin America. With “Devils” The 69 Eyes are back to their roots – rock’n'roll, horror movies and comics and the album very fast shear European charts.
When we talk about Gothic music in Finland we can’t pass byCHARON, one of the most perspective bands today that play goth rock under noticeable influence of it’s death metal past. Although formed in 1992 band needed five years to get the first contract with Emanzipation Productions. Their first album Sorrowburn is released in 1998. In 2000 is under Dutch label Diehard Records released album “Tearstained”. After tour they played with legendary Sentenced in spring of 2000 band signed for Spinefarm Records. Their third album “Downhearted” is released in 2002 and the song “Little Angel” that was released as single took 5th position on Finnish single charts in December 2001. This was the biggest bands commercial success until then. After the tour with two the most popular European symphonic metal bands, Nightwish and After Forever in 2002, Charon achieved two noticeable success on charts in 2003. Single “In Trust Of No One” reached first position while “Religious/Delicious” was highest ranked 8th. The both songs found their place on the next album “The Dying Daylights” released in autumn of 2003. Charon is recently released new album titled “Songs for the Sinners”.
One of the most interesting bands, very popular in South America, isTO/DIE/FOR. Band is coming from town Kouvola and pulling its roots from 1993 when they were called Mary-Ann. Their music then, some kind of street rock, was different from what theyre playing today. In 1997 Mary-Ann released the same named album produced by the band. A year later is released EP “Deeper Sin”. To/Die/For, new face of Mary-Ann, is signing with Spinefarm Records in 1999 and the same year is released album “All Eternity” that is mixture of Gothic, rock and metal. Album became very popular in Finland and thanks to that band played European tour with In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Sentenced in 2000. A year later band is coming on the top of Finnish Gothic metal scene with album “Epilogue” where To/Die/For cooperates with Marco Hietala (Sinergy, Nightwish) and Tanya (ex-Lullacry). In 2002 is released album “Jaded” that brings in a way different sound and the atmosphere of the 80′s. After some problems in the band singer Jape with some other band members is forming new band – Tiaga that is before entering studio changing in To/Die/For again, instead line-up is almost completely changed. The latest album “IV” is released in spring 2005.
One of the most influential bands that growth from Gothenburg sound and bordering with Gothic sound is ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW, death/black/gothic metal band from northern Finland. Band is officially formed in 1994 after band members separated from different metal projects. Their first album “Sinner’s Serenade” is released in 1997 under small label from Gothenburg in Sweden and the next albums are released under Spinefarm Records. After fourth album, “A Virgin And A Whore”, band announced brake up because band members wanted to try something different so they became parts of the bands For My Pain and Kalmah. But, after more then two years, in January of 2005 Eternal Tears Of Sorrow announced come back.
The band that is not possible and also not admissible pass by is HIM, today beside Hanoi Rocks, one of the most known bands from Finland that is with gathering in 1995 seriously started the question of new Gothic rock discovery. With their music concept that is described as “love metal” band created music that seriously flirt with mystic love songs and inspired lyrics that clearly making their music area. First EP “666 Ways To Love” HIM released in 1996 and achieved remarkable success on Scandinavian market. A year later the album “Greatest Lovesongs vol. 666″ brought cult status to the band what was helped by cover of song Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. Soon after band conquered Europe. Three years later, in 2000, HIM released album “Razorblade Romance” today considered as hit treasury. “Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights” is released in 2001 and as part of the same named tour HIM played also in Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb on 10th December 2001. Critics for their still actual album “Love Metal” said it’s harder than titan, soften than pure gold and faster than silver and that’s probably the best definition of HIM’s music. New album “Dark Light” is released on 26th September 2005.
One of the most specific bands not only in Finland but also elsewhere in the world is NIGHTWISH. Their music style is often described as epic metal, opera metal, symphonic metal or even Goth metal. Band is formed in 1996 in town Kitee in Finland and band describing their music as “melodic heavy metal with female vocals”. Although the most of the songs are written b frontman Tuomas Holopainen for bands success is also worth vocalist Tarja Turunen. She studied classical singing at Finnish Sibelius Academy and now studying opera singing in Germany. In the time when band was formed it was Tuomas’ experiment with keyboards, acoustic guitar and opera vocals. Band counted three members: Tuomas Holopainen, Tarja Turunen and Erno “Emppu” Vuorinen. Name Nightwish is derived frome one of the songs on their first acoustic demo (“Nightwish”, “The Forever Moments”, “Etiäinen”). In that time nobody, probably, thought in following years Nightwish will become one of the most noticed bands in the word and that they will, with their 5th album “Once” (2004), achieve the most perceived success in band?s history and play tour that will cover 150 concerts in all continent.
Just like Nightwish, there’s no other band in the world asAPOCALYPTICA, band today performed by four cello players and from recently drummer. Band’s speciality is classical music as heavy metal. Band started by playing Metallica and Sepultura covers but soon after that they started to do their own songs. During past ten years Apocalyptica proved that rock music has nothing to with instrument you play but with something you?re born with. Since 1996 when they released first album “Plays Metallica With Four Cellos” Apocalyptica developed their specific sound that is hard to put in any genre. Never before this band there were our classical educated cello players, and these are attended prestige Finnish Sibelius Academy, heavy metal fans who’re trying to put together at first sight not affiliated worlds of classical music and hard rock and they are in the same time appreciated in both surroundings. During their career band realized successful collaborations with musicians like Nina Hagen, Metallica, Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes), Linda Sunblad (Lambertta), Ville Valo and Lauri Ylonen, they supported Rammstein on “Reise, Reise 2005″ tour and played in 20 countries including Mexico, Russia and Japan. Although still mostly instrumental band, but with enough vocal presence to put more dramatics into their music when is necessary, Apocalyptica is creation of heavy hybrid style that led these guys all over Europe and further to South America. It seems that term for what they play is simple ? “cello rock” although the name Apocalyptica tells enough.
Gothic metal band that isn?t this genre typical representative because of its atmospheric music with many rock elements, ENTWINE, is formed in Finland in 1997. In December of same year band recorded first demo “Divine Infinity” that got very positive reactions and proclaimed band in one of the most perspective new comers. In 1999 they released first album “Divine Infinity” and after some changes in the band, in May of 2000 when new vocalist Mika Tauriainen came, Entwine finally found right way for their bittersweet melodies. Album “Gone” is released in 2001 and beside very positive critics it brought rewards for Entwine from all over the world and single “New Dawn” is from then part of some of the biggest European Gothic nights. Next album “Time of Despair” is released a year later and then band played tour with Theatre Of Tragedy and Ram-Zet.
In 2004 Entwine released album “diEversity” that showed band’s rock orientated side, they left behind some of Gothic elements with they experimented on previous albums although it presents Entwine sound as much as all their albums.
One of noticeable bands on Finnish Gothic scene, where they’re putting themselves, is LULLACRY. Band is coming from Helsinki and their first album “Sweet Desire” is released in 1998. “Be My God”, album released under well known label Spinefarm Records, is released in 2001 and thanks to German’s label Century Media band found themselves on European tour where they supported Edguy and also achieved noticeable success not only in German but also in Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and North America. In 2002 band left vocalist Tanya who?s soon replaced by the girl who?s name is almost identical ? Tanja. Soon after that band is released third album “Crucify My Heart”. They also played tour in North America together with Nightwish and new album “Vol. IV” is already out.
FOR MY PAIN is Gothic rock band formed in autumn of 1999 when Altti Veteläinen (Eternal Tears Of Sorrow) and Petri Sankala (Eternal Tears Of Sorrow) were planning to form the band that will play new gothic sound. They asked Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) and Lauri Tuohimaa (Emraze/Maple Cross) to join them and although the both were interested because of the obligations with their bands there was decided For My Pain will wait for a while. Few years later, when Eternal Tears Of Sorrow were falling apart and Nightwish was planning break because of Tarja’s studying in Germany, For My Pain started to work.
Band is released one album, “Fallen”, that brings 10 songs of Gothic/atmosphere metal characterized with dark melancholy combined with nice catchy melodies.
Important place on Finnish scene takes POISONBLACK formed by Sentenced?s frontman Ville Laihiala and few of his friends from Oulu in the end of 2000. Ville underlined Poisonblack isn’t just a project band because he putted his heart and soul in it. Although the band released only the album “Escapexstacy” under Century Media, where vocalist is Charon?s singer J.P. Leppäluoto, Poisonblack became one of the most noticeable bands on Finnish and also European scene. In the beginning of 2003 they played successful Century Media European tour with Moonspell, Lacuna Coil and Pasanger.
Ville Laihiala is announcing new album that will beside new vocalist, because he?ll sing this time, probably bring noticeable change in band’s music style.
The same year when Poisonblack appeared in Finland gathered also the band named LAB. Band’s most noticeable characteristic is voice of singer Ana. Lab?s music is described as Gothic rock and dramatic ballads. Some critics call them gothic alternative of Muse or Coldplay. Album “Devil Is A Girl” already brought band on Viva and Viva Plus programs and band played German tour with Xandria. This year Lab is released album “Where Heaven Ends” that is slow but sure opening the door to their bigger international affirmation.
PUNK AND ROCK’N'ROLL SCENE SHORTLY
Beside bands that are in Europe and wider prominent as leaders in Gothic and generally dark expression leading the wave of the same scene, in Finland are also very strong punk and rock’n'roll scenes, that are although they exists mostly as club scene prominent some bands that already found their way outside of Finland or just going out of their homeland.One of these bands isHYBRID CHILDREN. Formed in 1991, Hybrid Children are one of the most interesting punk rock bands that are coming from Finnish territory. First 7” EP they released under independent label Alternative Action Records in 1991 and a year later they signed for Poko Records’ sub-label Gaga Goodies. In spring of 1993 band is released first album “Bleed Baby Bleed” that was ranked 13th on Finnish album charts and rest of the year they spent playing in the clubs and at the festivals in their homeland. From then until their last album “Ghost Town Carnival” everything is, as they said, fogy and mostly black but they are sure they had a good time. From 1991 to 2005 Hybrid Children is released 5 albums and played many concerts at home and internationally.
Talking of rock direction, one of internationally most known and in Finland very appreciate bands from the fields of melodic rock music is in 1995 formed THE RASMUS. Everything begun when four 16 years old friends made conclusion that music scene in Finland needs change or at least some new band. Their first album “Peep” is very fast reached gold sale in Finland and made band members the rock stars with only 16. Soon after that they recorded second album “Playboys” that is also reached gold sale and brought Emma, Finnish Grammy, to the band. Third album “Hell of a Tester” includes song “Liquid” that music critics choose for Finnish single of the year 2000 and in 2001 album “Into” is reached double platen sale in Finland. With first single from the album “F-F-F-Falling” band is reached tops of the charts. “Into” is album that brought The Rasmus in Europe. “Dead Letters” is released in 2003 and very fast it reached top of the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Band is released the new album “Hide From The Sun” on 12th September.
In the middle of the 90′s in town Jyväskylä gathered PRIVATE LINE mostly influenced by bands W. A. S. P., Motley Crue and Hanoi Rocks. Private Line is loud as mix of the 80s sleazy and alternative punk from the beginning of the 90s and lately theyre pronounced as the band thats still coming. First EP they are released in 1998 and material named “Smooth Motions” is combination of hard rock influences and heavy rhythms. In 2001 Private Line is released promo CD with 5 songs that got positive response, especially internationally. In December of 2002 they are released mini CD “Six Songs of Hellcity Trendkill” that got high score in Finnish media dedicated to rock music also as in many international magazines and webzines and band played 40 concerts in Finland. Title of their first studio album is “21st Century Pirates”. Album tells everything about the band and their music, they put on it all elements they’re learned from their idols and also created band’s characteristic sound.
In 1997 in Tampere in Finland gathered band NEGATIVE, after Hanoi Rocks one of the most interesting bands of some kind glam expression. Guys from the band always liked bands like Guns’n'Roses, Hanoi Rocks, Motley Crue, Kiss, W. A. S. P. and Finnish rock/pop legend of the 80′s Dingo so nobody should be surprised with their noticeable fast brake outside Finland. In 2002 band is signed with Gbfam Records from Tampere and their first album “War of Love”, released the same year, reached gold sale in Finland and it was also released in other Scandinavian countries, Italy, Russia and Japan. Second album “Sweet & Deceitful” band is released in spring of 2004 and its produced by TT Oksala known by his work with HIM or The 69 Eyes. Except they played many concerts in Finland Negative already played in Japan. Band recorded distinct video for the song “Frozen To Lose It All” that will be release international single soon and there is following European tour that will beside Germany probably cover Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
In 1999 in Helsinki gathered one of generally the most interesting and the most energetic bands that you can see on European stages -SPIHA. Bend is formed by singer Henry Lee Rock, guitar player Deamon P. A. Volume and bass player Bomber and from the January of 1999 they regular play on Helsinki’ club scene. In 2002 band is signed with Rock Frequency Records and released first album “Egoreactor” that prominent bands biggest success so far, song “If I Ever Let You Go”. Year 2005, beside very successful singles “Icebreaker” and “Planet Horse”, brings new album “Spiritual Hallucination” that not only proves but also more define their place on Finnish rock scene and Spiha is also finnished their first European tour.
Although this sectional view of Finnish rock scene with some of their species represents only a part of everything that exist on clubs’, concerts’ and festival stages in the land of thousand lakes it’s adequate indicator of diversity and boundlessness in the freedom of artistic expression. Music culture, that is supported by more and more forceful music industry develops in one of the most influential in the world, will certainly in the next decades represents base of development of the whole European scene that more and more engrave to the productive ground of north Europe.
Ivy thanks to Jyrki Witch (Two Witches), Aarni (Harlots of Beyond), Jonne Aaron (Negative), Henry Lee Rock and Bomber (Spiha) for interviews. Special thanks to The 69 Eyes band members for interviews, co-operation and help with this text!
Text: Ivana Sataić (firstname.lastname@example.org)