Finnish PSYCHEWORK released their second album, “Karelian Hills,“ at the end of April, and started a tour consisting of six shows around their homeland. Musicalypse decided to check out the show at Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on May 18th, 2018, to see how the new music stands out in a live scenario. Check out the full gallery here.
The evening was opened by THAUROROD, a Finnish symphonic power metal band founded in 2002. Despite their long career, this was my first encounter with them. Which doesn’t come as a big surprise as my music genre interests lay in other direction.
The crowd was still quite scarce as THAUROROD began their 45-minute set, but in this case, quality won over quantity. Both the band and the crowd were enjoying themselves. Warmth and positivity comes to mind when thinking about the overall atmosphere during THAUROROD‘s performance. Maybe that’s the magic of power metal.
When it comes to the band’s music, I was able to get a feeble grip of it. I enjoyed the music, and especially the vocalist Andi Kraviljaca’s voice and performance. It was also nice to hear some backstories for the songs especially when I wasn’t familiar with them. I have no doubt THAUROROD has built a solid fan base over the years, but for me, this evening was once again a reminder that power metal just doesn’t really fit me. But if you are into that genre, I suggest giving THAUROROD a go.
After THAUROROD‘s set more and more audience started to gather around in Virgin Oil. During THAUROROD the sound quality had been okay-ish, but I was still doubtful whether it would be better with PSYCHEWORK. Lately I have been forced to give Virgin Oil more credit as a venue, since last time I was there seeing FEAR OF DOMINATION and PAIN, I could actually hear the vocals properly. This time the upstairs were closed so I couldn’t take my favorite spot on the stair landing. Before the gig began, I found another place near the stage and wished for good mixing.
After a 30-minute wait, PSYCHEWORK started their set. As their intro, the band had chosen “Evakon laulu,” which was quite fitting, since “Karelian Hills” deals with WWII, from Leningrad’s siege to the Finnish strike forces. For those who are unfamiliar with “Evakon laulu,” it is a song about Finnish evacuees and their experiences about leaving their homes and building a new life far from home. As the last verse began and I was wiping away some tears, the band slowly emerged to the stage. Last to appear was Antony Parviainen, and the show begun with “Phantoms White” from the new album. After that followed “Bullet with My Name” and “Sky Keeps Raining.”
The focus was understandably on the new album. The new material worked well live, especially “Siege” which gives justice to Parviainen‘s vocal range. What inspires me the most in PSYCHEWORK is the way Parviainen really tells the story as he sings. Your attention is focused on the vocals and the atmosphere, the movements and expressions on stage. That, my folks, is the difference between just singing and actually performing a song.
When it comes to my fears of bad sound, they were soon brushed off. Both sounds and lights were great, and Virgin Oil’s stage with those weird statues and glittery drapes gave PSYCHEWORK a suitably theatrical setting for epic moments in their music.
As the finishing songs, the band played “Karelian Hills” and “Hand on Heart,” both epic pieces. Overall, I think the songs on the set were well-chosen. Only “Fire Still Burns” and “There Beyond” were left out from the newest album, which didn’t bother me since I tend to enjoy the faster songs. The fact that the band is on their second album was reflected in the playing time – the crowd got to enjoy the music only for an hour or so. However, I am certain PSYCHEWORK is here to stay, so in the future we will get to enjoy longer sets.
Virgin Oil could have hosted even a bigger crowd, but the place didn’t feel empty. In a way it almost felt fitting that the venue wasn’t quite full. I consider PSYCHEWORK to be still a bit of a hidden gem, and on Friday night only the enlightened got to enjoy the show.
Intro: Evakon laulu
1. Phantoms White
2. Bullet with My Name
3. Sky Keeps Raining
6. Fury and the Beast
7. Ghost Patrol
8. Karelian Hills (Encore)
9. Hand on Heart (Encore)
Written by Essi N.
Photos by Lene L.