If Tuska Festival is the festival everyone loves in town, Nummirock is the favorite of all metalheads who want to get out of the city for their midsummer festivities. Taking place at the traditional location at Kauhajoki, like many other festivals, Nummirock was put on hold for a few years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Well, festivalgoers rejoiced, for the campsite lit up again in 2022, with wild and crazy metalheads of all sorts joining for bands like METSATÖLL, ALIEN WEAPONRY, GORGOROTH, and APOCALYPTICA. The festival started already on Wednesday June 23rd, 2022, with METSATÖLL closing out the first night.
As if welcoming attendees back, the weather on arrival at the Nummijärvi campsite was questionable, with the sun shining brightly at times, while in other moments it drizzled a light rain. It was as if nothing had changed. The campsite was already packed fairly full by early Wednesday evening, with many of the big places already decked out in banners, animal furs, flags, skulls, spray paint, and the usual accoutrement.
The main stage was still closed on Wednesday, which meant that the artists were playing at the tent stage and the shoreside stage. The first up was the NUMMIROCK ENSEMBLE, but they were playing early enough that we were still setting up camp and missed figuring out exactly who/what they were. However, we did find our way out for RYTMIHÄIRIÖ, who were playing shoreside to a surprisingly big crowd (especially for a Wednesday afternoon). If you’re looking for a good band to kick off your festival week, these guys are a pretty solid choice, as they’re pretty much here just to make sure you drink your face off. These guys have been around, playing songs like “Olen kännissä,” since way back in the early ’90s, and their ability to scream and chug Gambina remains unmatched by any other band. Despite being one of the first bands of the entire weekend, all the quirky folks in costumes and bizarre outfits were in front of the beachside stage, cheering. Yet, the set was surprisingly good, as it included random aggressive thrashy screaming, but also some good stonery chugging parts that we haven’t made note of before. There’s always something new to see, it seems, and these guys will surely do the job of getting a Nummirock trip started.
MEMOREMAINS was up on the tent stage next, but we were only able to catch parts of their set from afar. The sound was quite good, but the music didn’t quite draw us in to watch, with one passing song sounding a fair bit like “Everdream” by NIGHTWISH. We did, however, find our way back to the venue for EMBER FALLS, who were also playing down by the water. Their set was unfortunately plagued by strange sound issues, and it was clear early on that their regular sound guy was not with them. Fortunately, the lights were great and it seems the band doesn’t need their backing tracks to sound good, which is something we couldn’t have attested to before this festival. In fact, if the bad sound made their music a little more gritty, it didn’t suffer from it, nor did it suffer from us being able to more clearly hear the guitar solos. As well, some vocal parts were harsh or murky in the mix, meaning there was a huge aural spotlight on how much Tuomas Välimaa has been practicing his high notes, which were flawless. The set began in the same manner as recent shows, with the first few songs off their new album, “Ruins,” but they changed things up and included a few more older tracks in their set, like “COE” and much to our surprise, “Shut Down With Me” was not the final track, but rather the penultimate song before “We Are Become Fire” finished things up. Luckily, when the music and performance are good, the sound quality doesn’t completely rob a set, so it was interesting to have a bit of a different perspective on their sound, even if the reasoning was a bummer.
Taking things easy is important on the first night of a 4-day festival, so we only caught one more act on the first night. Estonian METSATÖLL are one of those bands that all folk metal fans drool over, as it seems to be a fact commonly known that any instrument that Lauri Õunapuu touches creates nothing less than magic. This night was no different, as the band took the stage at the ripe hour of 1:30 in the morning, past “sunset,” creating a cool and ambient atmosphere for them to fill with all sorts of various shamanic sounds. Though we aren’t familiar with their music well enough to name any of the tracks they played, they certainly put on a vivid and memorable show – nothing short of what we’d expect based on their stellar live history!
The hour was late and there were 3 days to go still though, so it was time to retire to our tents and prepare for the days to come…