Finland’s very own WALTARI released their 14th studio album, “Global Rock,” in March 2020. Established in 1986, every effort of this band around red-haired frontman Kärtsy Hatakka is filled with crazy musical surprises. They’re the embodiment of “crossover” for me, as they always tried to create something new by combining all kinds of styles, and “Global Rock” makes no exception here. If you take a look at the variety between the catchy “Rare Species” (2004), the “Death Metal Symphony“ from 1996 (yes, they really mix it!), and “Big Bang” (1995) with electronic beats and a certain heaviness nevertheless, you can imagine a bit of the wide spectrum their music has to offer. In case you prefer your metal genres “clean,” this might not be for you, but if you are open to some Finnish metal madness, you could be on the right way here.
To celebrate “Global Rock” with their fans and friends worldwide, even during the pandemic, WALTARI announced a livestream album release party in cooperation with G Livelab for Saturday 11 July 2020. The show started with a female voice, singing “Welcome to My World,” which is the beginning of the song “Boots” and very fitting as introduction for a WALTARI concert. Kärtsy gave the fans a warm welcome with the words, “Let’s feel togetherness, everywhere in the internet. It’s me and you there, watch out the same space with the freedom of rock music,” while they played this groovy song about to “Keep on rockin.’”
“Postrock,” the first single from “Global Rock,” was next. It’s my favorite track on the new album, but unfortunately, the sound wasn’t that good at the beginning, so the song couldn’t develop its full power. After this, they switched to a short, pre-recorded fade-in with Kärtsy, talking about his inspiration for WALTARI’s music: “It’s about the heritage of rock music, the heritage of my life. Stay open-minded, be progressive, develop, never look back, always move on.” These short intermezzos were presented with each band member later on.
With the following “Get stamped,” they went back to their album, “Release Date” (2007). It has a great riff and as the sound grew better, the live experience could develop more and more. In the same turn, the lights went darker and made it difficult to see anything but the middle of the stage clearly. Fortunately, the cameras switched from one musician to another regularly. This was highly appreciated here, especially during the solos.
Some songs are strongly connected with memories, good or bad. “Atmosfear,“ from WALTARI’s 4th album “Big Bang,” is one that brings back great memories for me and this was the time to get excited. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one having a blast with it – the band was growing playful and fun as well.
During the next fade-in, keyboarder Jani Hölli spoke about his favorite songs to play live: “First, “So Fine,” as people always go crazy with us and second, “A Sign,” because it’s very challenging to play for me.” The setlist went on with those two songs, starting with “A Sign” (originally part of the album “Yeah!Yeah!Die!Die!-Death Metal Symphony in Deep C” from 1996). The insane combination of a full symphonic orchestra with death metal riffs and growls is awesome and, compared to the following “So Fine,” the contrast couldn’t be bigger. The mix of electronic beats, piano, singing girls, and cool riffs is always great fun and makes me want to dance. During the performance, they shared short snippets of the original video with Lappish people.
With “Skyline,” WALTARI offered another musical style: rap. It was a collaboration with Bomfunk MC’s rapper Raymond Ebanks (alias BOW), and can be found on “Global Rock.” Honestly, this is not a favorite here, so I was happy when things went heavier again with “Metal Soul” and “Orleans,” and the band had fun with these as well.
Kärtsy dedicated the next song, “Helsinki,” to the whole wide world. “Everybody sings their own home town.” Taken from the album, “Blood Sample” (2005), they mix Finnish and English lyrics, while melancholic parts alternate with groovy riffs. Then it was the turn for drummer Ville Vehviläinen to tell the audience his “Global Rock” favorite: ““Sick ’n’ Tired,” as we are all sick and tired. And the best song to play live is the last song of the setlist.”
For the last three songs, they joined forces with guitarist Jariot Lehtinen, who is the second band member from the beginning besides Kärtsy Hatakka. They performed the catchy “One Day” together, followed by the CURE cover, “A Forest.” Kärtsy announced it with “A tribute to CURE, and all the old heroes.” The WALTARI version is faster than the original and has its own special vibe.
Guitarist Antti Kolehmainen answered the question about his favorite song on “Global Rock” with “Beloved,” and this was also the last one for the evening.
Altogether, WALTARI’s virtual album release party was a very entertaining event. The performance was good and the skill of the guitar players was a definite highlight. The vocals occasionally became a bit thin in the higher scales, but overall Kärtsy delivered a strong show. The quality of sound and lights changed in between, but they always came back on track. The cameras mainly focused on the musician who deserved the spotlight at that moment and it was great to take a closer look at their playing. What I missed was the fan chat. Seeing the excitement of metalheads from all around the world and watching a show at the same time… it brings a special feeling during livestreams. The song selection was great, including some lovely time trips. The old and new tracks worked very well together and the band’s variety and creativity were perfectly represented in the setlist. Now it’s time to look forward to 2021, as they will celebrate 35 years of WALTARI, which might bring yet another musical surprise, and hopefully the chance to see these crazy Finns live on stage again.
Written by Katha
- Get Stamped
- A Sign
- So Fine
- Metal Soul
- One Day
- A Forest