Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Margarita Khartanovich
(Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
They say that Finnish summer is nice but short – last year it was on Tuesday. The weather conditions in Finland are really so severe that basically it is understandable why this country has the largest amount of metal bands per 1 million people in the world – 630, to be exact. For comparison, the number for the United States is 72. Isn’t it the best place on Earth for any metal band to be and play live? South Park festival based in Tampere, Finland, has been proving for the third year already that it is.
Despite the changeable weather and pouring rain, South Park attracted thousands of music lovers, which vindicated again how tough, dedicated, faithful and waterproof the Finnish branch of “metalhood” is. Even though the festival might be still of local significance, judging by the dominance of domestic bands presented and the audience with the Finns prevailing, it gives an impression of being universal, broad-scale and ambitious. Over the weekend you get a chance to immerse into the metal scene at all levels – you get the taste of metal music dinosaurs such as Slayer or Bullet for my Valentine and also get to know the local underground scene; on the same day you hear all sorts of metal genres from melodic metal and trash to speed metal and heavy rock.
Festival Day 1: Slayer (USA), Stam1na, Triptykon (SUI), Lost Society, Amorphis, Ember Falls, Battle Beast, Santa Cruz, Temple Balls
Festival Day 2: Bullet For My Valentine (UK), Diablo, Soilwork (SWE), Reckless Love, Powerwolf (GER), Shiraz Lane, Mokoma, Blind Channel, Thunderstone, I/O, Egokills
Not so long ago Metal Hammer called Tampere “the new home of heavy”, and you can totally feel it at South Park festival. Metal is so natural for the locals that no one seems to be bothered with hours of loud heavy music playing in the very city centre. You can even see people sitting down for a picnic next to the festival area or passing by the park on a boat pausing for sometime to listen to the music and wave to the festival goers. This kind of idyll can take you by surprise keeping in mind that you are still at a metal happening. However, this is just what the Finns got used to.
On the first day of the festival the most exciting bands to see were Lost Society, Amorphis, Ember Falls and, of course, Slayer. Lost Society play “Braindead Thrash Metal” (as they call it themselves) and tour with the likes of Children of Bodom. They are incredible live, and you should definitely check them out. Amorphis, a legendary heavy metal band, has been there for ages, since 1990, and they are one of the most respected bands in Finland. Last year they released their 12th studio album and toured with Nightwish and Arch Enemy. Ember Falls are young, fresh and extremely ambitious. Inside Tampere music scene they call them “next big thing” and have high hopes that these guys will break through. Their new single Shut Down With Me is masterfully produced indeed. So let’s live and see.
Slayer don’t need to be introduced. In their thirty-four years long career, they have established themselves as long-reigning titans of thrash. Whenever and wherever you hear them, they are unmistakably Slayer.
“We are here for music, we do this for the love of music”, shouts Tom Araya from the stage at South Park festival. “We love what we do. You guys come and enjoy what we do. We share love with each other. Dance with the dead in my dreams, Listen to their hallowed screams, The dead have taken my soul, Temptation’s lost all control… This is Dead Skin Mask!”
After a while Araya starts another long introduction of a song hinting to the recent events in the world:
“Do you love your country? Do you want to defend your country? Is it something you have to do? The next song is about exactly that. Do what you want to do. And no one can make you do it if you don’t want to. And what’s going on now in other parts of the world. Kids are being told to do that. Because if they don’t they die. That’s wrong right? It should be something that you want to do. This is Mandatory Suicide.”
The second day of the festival was really sunny and ended with a slightly puzzling and slightly tragic mosh pit during the set of Bullet for my Valentine. Among other bands we would like to highlight Powerwolf with their remarkable “holy metal mass” (these guys know how to throw an excellent show), Soilwork (melodic death metal band from Sweden with a very forceful and integral heavy sound) and Diablo (Finnish melodic death metal band founded back in 1995).
Matthew Tuck of Bullet for my Valentine said to us about Diablo music:
“It is what I used to listen when I was growing up. More testimony, really heavy. Metallica sound kind of band. It is a lot heavier, a lot more raw-sounding. That’s definitely what I would listen to and be more attracted to go and watch them live.”
As for Bullet for my Valentine themselves, they brought a terrific fireworks show to Tampere and a very diverse set with songs from all their 18 years long career. “Can we hear you shout?” asks Matt from the strange: “I gonna play this song and you gonna sing with me, guys, is that cool? It is called Poison. And it goes like this…”
First the audience looked a bit frozen and skeptical but after a while Bullet for my Valentine won them and there was something like a mosh pit formed to the right of the stage. Why “something like”? Well, it was to the taste of the Finns, with lots of personal space, clumsy dance moves and an awkward accident when bodyguards had to carry one guy from the mosh pit to the media area as he seemed unable to get up after falling to the ground. It didn’t look serious so we think that everything should be fine with him.
“I kinda like the festival experience”, reveals Matthew Tuck of Bullet for my Valentine during our conversation at South Park. “Because not everyone knows you or there for you. It’s an opportunity to go and show people what you are about. People want to hate you. It’s a challenge, com’on man show us some love. By the end of the set, the whole, the entire audience will put their arms in the air. It’s fucking… Especially men community they can be like booo… I find it quite cool that we come to these big festivals – it’s an opportunity to get more fans and show people what we are about and prove them wrong.”
As organizers have told us, South Park will be held again next year.