It has never been a secret that we are big fans of EMBER FALLS, especially after the release of their stellar sophomore album, “Ruins,” at the end of 2021. They were meant to play more support shows with MERTA, which were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, as was the original album release show scheduled for January 2022. Well, the third time’s the charm and we finally got to see EMBER FALLS play their new album at Olympia-kortteli in Tampere on April 9th, 2022, and boy what a show it was!
The opening bands were originally set to be IKINÄ and a band that was fully unfamiliar to me, EXTERNAL, though upon coming back to it, it seems they were replaced by DEAD END SCENE due to – you guessed it – the coronavirus. As we came up from the south for the show, we missed the first opener but managed to make it to the venue in time for IKINÄ‘s set. Having never been to Olympia-kortteli before, we were pleased to note that the notorious pillars were not as bad as they were rumored to be, and the gig space was actually quite nice. While the loss of Jack the Rooster as a venue is still pretty sad, it’s easy to see that EMBER FALLS is in need of a far bigger venue anyways – they’d have been packed to exploding at their old stomping ground.
There seemed to be a few setbacks in getting started, as IKINÄ were a few minutes late getting on stage, but they came out strong, with plenty of energy to spread. The first thing of note on stage was the absence the pale blonde head of Lauri Hämäläinen on guitar; it seems he left the band in early 2020, though his replacement, however, did a very nice job and was happy to keep up the heavy headbanging energy with the others.
The second track opened on a surprisingly thunderous low-end, while Katariina Sorsa showed off that she’s been practicing her growls. Afterwards, the singers took some time to greet the crowd. If you’ve seen these guys on stage before, it goes without saying that their music is full of twists and turns. The energy was pretty on point, but the ladies did seem a bit nervous – perhaps it was because of the long break in performing?
Our preference leaned towards the growlier songs, but there was certainly lots of variety throughout all of their material, taking your expectations and flipping them. They closed up the set with the old classic, “Magic Mike,” which has earned itself a nice nostalgic feel by now.
After IKINÄ wrapped up their set, the stage changeover got underway. Some technical hiccups still seemed to be happening, as the official show was about 15 minutes late to get started, but once the stage went dark, it was easy to forget anything and everything else. Having promised to play the entire album on this night, EMBER FALLS started with the intro and title track, “Ruins,” which works as an overture to the entire release. We were extremely impressed that the band actually took the stage during this song, rather than letting it play from the tape, including Tuomas Välimaa singing the lyrical parts. That’s a rather rare occurrence, from what I’ve seen in my many years of gig-going.
After the intro ended, they punched straight into “Divine”; it soon became clear that there were no fancy gimmicks or bells and whistles attached to this show. The plan was to play the album, start-to-finish, as-is. And boy did they ever! There’s no prog bullshit in this band, writing songs you could never recreate live… at 100% capacity and 100% effort, EMBER FALLS plowed straight through their material, creating as tight a performance as can possibly be. The songs sounded as well-practiced as if the band were on stage to record, flawlessly executing every note. I could have listened closely and gone song-by-song through the album again, but frankly, in the moment I just wanted to zone out and listen to the music without having my phone in hand to take notes. This was a show to shut off your devices and enjoy. You may notice that I didn’t even take any photos, per the lack of images in here. That’s exactly how invested I was in just being present.
We’ve heard quite a few of the new tracks live already, as there were so many singles, but it was great to get a chance to see some of the lesser-played or unplayed material. “Heart Shaped Black Scar” is an under-appreciated track and only appeared on setlists for a short while, for example, so that was really great to hear again for the first time in a few years. Also, as promised, “Broken” was massively epic, with great lighting and Tuomas starting the song alone – such drama! However, it was “Absinthe Children” – the song no one had heard live yet – that was the true killer. If it was a fantastic finish to the album, it was even better live, sending chills all up my spine.
Naturally, there was no way the party was over just because the album had been played, so they were called back to the stage for a few more songs. Having seen this band as much as humanly possible since 2015, it was really heartwarming to see them finally loosen up with the older material and play around with the tracks a bit. Of course, these guys seem to like to do things and do them right, but now that they have new material to focus on, it felt like they could have some fun with “COE” and “One More Time,” without feeling the need to stick exactly to the album. While I would’ve personally preferred “Falling Rain” (I get it, it wasn’t a single, so it was bound to drop from the setlist eventually) or “Rising Tide” over “One More Time” in the encore, that’s not even a complaint… I just wanted them to play the whole other album too. They closed up with their big hit, “Shut Down with Me,” complete with nailing the wail at the beginning, leaving us wanting more after they left the stage.
It’s been a long wait to hear “Ruins” celebrated properly live, but was it ever worth it! IKINÄ did a great job of warming up the stage, even brushing off a few hecklers like true professionals, and EMBER FALLS just straight-up killed it! If you missed the chance to check this show out last weekend, be sure to hit them up on tour with ARION, which starts this week. Surely, you won’t be disappointed!
- Heart Shaped Black Scar
- We Are Become Fire
- For All
- The World Is Burning
- The Wall
- Absinthe Children
- COE (encore)
- One More Time (encore)
- Shut Down with Me (encore)