Helsinki has fallen victim to endless autumn, where the usual Winter Wonderland has turned into a dreary, dark, and moody January. That’s why it’s always exciting when you get to go out on an otherwise dull Saturday night, especially when you know there’s going to be a party because two explosive live acts such as TEMPLE BALLS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES were scheduled at On The Rocks on 18 January 2020.
The first act of the evening was the promising hard rock act TEMPLE BALLS. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys perform as a support act to BATTLE BEAST two years ago, and more recently to SONATA ARCTICA. The band now had a chance to perform a longer set, consisting out of a lot of tracks from their latest studio effort “Untamed”. “Infinity” served as an energetic opener to the set, immediately showing us the worth of the hard rock act. As more people came to the floor to witness the relentless energy of the five-piece, the band continued with “Off The Grid”.
The band entered a groovier territory with the more emotional “Pauline,” showcasing the raw side of vocalist Arde Teronen‘s voice. The set continued in a similar way with “Ball And Chain,” and “Hoist The Colours”. My personal highlight of the set, however, was the epic “The End,” a song that has great melodies, a catchy chorus and makes a great live song. The audience, however, seemed to have chosen the next song “Let’s Get It On,” as the crowd’s favorite, especially since the song included an explosive solo and definitely showed the potential of all the members as musicians. TEMPLE BALLS ended their set with “Hell And Feelin’ Fine,” which may have been the most anticipated song of the set. It’s such an uplifting track that it surely leaves you in a good mood after such a dynamic performance.
The main act of the night, THE EMPIRE STRIKES, amazed a couple of our reporters with their latest studio effort “Charm”. Founded in 2012, THE EMPIRE STRIKES combines past, present, and future with a modern version of rock ‘n’ roll. I was told the band is a great, and energetic live band, so I had to be present to witness my socks getting rocked off.
The band started their set with “The Fix,” which definitely ensured an explosive beginning to what would be a very spirited performance. The whole band definitely was up to the task to entertain the audience as much as possible by showing off their persistent dynamic playing. Jumping, moving around, and just feeling the music while spacing out a little bit to the almost nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll sound of the band, is something that was often clear in their performance. This made it really easy to stay engaged with the show as songs such as “Blackheart,” and “Blinded By The Light” entranced the audience.
In my review of “Charm,” I mentioned that if these songs had been released decades ago, they could have been an instant hit to provide your grooviest dance moves to, and that is exactly what happened. There wasn’t a single soul in the venue who didn’t at least nod their heads to the beat of the songs. I saw a couple dancing vigorously to their tunes, and many were hopping around to the songs of the hard rock act. I personally found myself most excited by “Rainmaker,” which is perhaps one of my favorite tracks of the new album, and definitely made a great live song to move your hips to.
After building up such an energetic set, the band surprised me with the last song of the night, which was a slower song of their repertoire. A couple of people started to slow dance to it, however, I would have perhaps preferred the show to end on a more energetic note. The song, however, progressed soon in a slow burn, ending the night with a bang nonetheless. It definitely was a great evening filled with great hard rock music to hook you up with a lot of addictive energy. To those who believe that rock ‘n’ roll has died, if you want to see the genre reflourishing, then make sure to catch THE EMPIRE STRIKES when they hit your town!