18.1.2023 Rumahoy, Wind Rose, Gloryhammer, & Alestorm @ Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki

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If there was ever a quadruple clusterfuck of shenanigans coming to Helsinki’s House of Culture, it is the insane combination of ALESTORM with GLORYHAMMER, WIND ROSE, and RUMAHOY. This 2023 European Tour came to Kulttuuritalo on January 18th, 2023, so we were out the door bright and early to make sure we could see everyone!

I’ve come to believe that Chris Bowes was probably stranded on a desert island after some shenanigans and was rescued from near-starvation by Captain Yarrface in a dingy, so Bowes feels like he has to bring him everywhere he goes, forever, to repay the life debt, and this is why RUMAHOY exists, as a weird offshoot pirate band that Bowes also writes music for.

The venue seemed pretty full already by the time RUMAHOY took the stage, but it makes sense that Chris Bowes‘ offhand joke band pals act as the tour opener. Finns aren’t known for being especially outgoing, so we were impressed to see how many people had come to the venue early, dressed as pirates. Even if their lyrics are about as base and crass as they come, Captain Yarrface was a talkative showman, constantly babbling about the sea and setting the mood for the night to be very nautical and pirate-y. The music was loud, competently executed, and sounded exactly like you’d expect pirate metal to sound – like shanties with amps.

These guys are certainly not meant to be taken seriously, so as long as your sense of humor aligns with theirs, you might find some tunes in there that tickle you the right way and the live show carries this energy onwards. They seem really into the dramatics and theatrics, at least, so if they get bored of singing, at least they’ll still have a career as stage extras during ALESTORM‘s sets!

Well, based off the cheers from the crowd, those who don’t like their music were in a hefty minority because they pulled a pretty impressive audience, especially considering they were the first of four acts. They came down to take some photos with fans and sell merch after their set, with Captain Yarrface keeping up his kayfabe the whole time.

Rumahoy

Next on the bill was the band we were most interested to check out: WIND ROSE. Like with most people, these guys came onto our radar when we heard their cover of “Diggy Diggy Hole” in 2019. While we don’t know many of their songs, their sound has always been nice, so it was a good opportunity to see what they are like live.

If you want a band with a good gimmick and flamboyant visual style, WIND ROSE immediately bring that to the table. The drummer, most cleverly, was dressed in a way that he would not surely die of heatstroke, but the rest were in fairly thick boots and hefty furs – it takes commitment to be that hot on stage under the lights. Also, as a know fan of beards, this band were all sporting top-notch beards, so let’s give a shout-out where it’s deserved!

For not really knowing their material, the band played really well and the music had a lot of catchy choruses that got the crowd’s fists in the air and have great singalong potential… and frankly, we don’t know if the crowd were singing along, because the music was so loud, even with new earplugs in. They played two new songs from 2022’s “Warfront”: “Army of Stone” and “Together We Rise,” and otherwise played a few more of their bigger hits in their limited slot.

It would come as no surprise to me if WIND ROSE has a big fanbase in Finland, as I suspect that there are enough geeks in this country to really appreciate the shoutout to Yogscast via their cover of Diggy Diggy Hole in 2019. That meant that it was no surprise that this big Wednesday night at the House of Culture contained one of the most amped-up crowds I’ve seen in a while, especially when this track played. They even used the disco version of the cover as an outro to the show, making for a bit of a spectacle. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them back soon in a headlining show.

Wind Rose

GLORYHAMMER returned to Finland in full force with their new lineup at Tuska 2022 and though we missed the show because we were watching another set, we heard that they were working hard to earn back their crowd’s trust after some controversy. On this occasion, they came out to an uproarious crowd to perform “The Siege of Dunkeld,” “Gloryhammer,” “The Land of Unicorns,” and “Fly Away” right off the bat.

These guys have a new vocalist under the same name, so Angus McFife 2.0 (Sozos Michael) riled up the crowd between songs… of everyone on stage, he was doing the most work, as the rest of the band were – surprisingly, considering how active the crowd was – not really moving much at all. They teased the crowd about this being the last time they’d ever play here (before their next album comes out), then offered a new song. If there was any doubt about whether Finland loves these guys, “Hootsman” put it to rest, as every fist in the venue seemed to be in the air. During the equally popular “Angus McFife,” there erupted some sort of circle pit. If that wasn’t enough hits, they continued finished up with “Universe on Fire,” which managed to elicit a surprisingly sudden and intense mosh pit, and then “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” wrapped up their set.

Gloryhammer

Last but absolutely not least, ALESTORM was headlining this night of theme-band madness. Their recent pre-stage opener has been QUEEN‘s “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (though thankfully not in its entirety, since it was already a pretty dang long intro), giving the audience enough time to get their sustenance in order before the official start. Kulttuuritalo surprised us by having 5€ pizza breads, though it would’ve been nice if they had the option to heat them up.

ALESTORM opened up with classic “Keelhauled” and newer “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew,” and in the latter of these, Christopher Bowes included a shout-out to all of the opening acts. He then greeted the crowd before “Under Blackened Banners,” “The Sunk’n Norwegian,” and their eponymous “Alestorm.” A familiar face showed up to pound a full bottle of fucking wine before their cover of “Hangover”: a person listed regularly online as Phil Philp, but whom we assume is Captain Yarrface (as he is listed online as Luke Philp… presumably because they are philling Mr. Philp with wine?). They had another guest appearance from Captain Yarrface during “Tortuga” – I appreciate that they make use of their openers in their sets! People began slow dancing to “Nancy the Tavern Wench” and some fellow got to check “introduce ‘Shipwreck’ at an Alestorm show” off his bucket list.

The band wrapped up this very long show with “Shit Boat (No Fans),” but followed it with “Drink,” “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship,” and “Fucked with an Anchor” as encores. There were row pits, mosh pits, and the last track wrapped up the crowd’s insanity with a huge conga line that spanned the venue’s whole floor. As the show finished up, the crowd was a mass of heat and smells as they made their way out to collect their coats.

All-in-all, this was a weird night full of gimmicky bands, all of whom elicited nothing short of sheer insanity from the audience, who were astoundingly lit up for a Wednesday. It just goes to show that Finland seems to have a particular love of niche artists, and we’d really love to see more events like this in the future, where there are many artists, all of whom make a tight and logical package together. Shout-out to Napalm Records for keeping an eye on what’s geeky these days and supporting it!

Alestorm

Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Chrissy Hujanen

Setlist

  1. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions/Bohemian Rhapsody (intro)
  2. Keelhauled
  3. Pirate Metal Drinking Crew
  4. Under Blackened Banners
  5. The Sunk’n Norwegian
  6. Alestorm
  7. Cannonball
  8. Hangover (Taio Cruz cover ft. Phil Philp)
  9. Magellan’s Expedition
  10. Mexico
  11. Tortuga (ft. Captain Yarrface)
  12. Nancy the Tavern Wench
  13. Shipwrecked
  14. P.A.R.T.Y.
  15. Death Throes of the Terrorsquid
  16. Shit Boat (No Fans)
  17. Drink (encore)
  18. Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship
  19. Fucked with an Anchor