If you can find a journalist who’s been following BLIND CHANNEL as long and closely as I have, I’d be very surprised. Releasing their debut in 2016 but having been around for some time prior, BLIND CHANNEL were one of the first “young bands” that I “adopted” as a journalist. 2015 was the era when I personally became more interested in up-and-coming artists than the established killers that already have the attention of the rest of the world’s medias. BLIND CHANNEL struck me from the first moment and now, around 6 years later, we just watched them perform in Eurovision and come in 6th (Finland’s best ranking in years). Today, I felt like looking back on my time following this band, to reflect on the beginning and how they’ve grown to today!
I first heard of BLIND CHANNEL back in 2015 when I had become acquainted with their then-manager and he invited me to a gig that they shared at On the Rocks in Helsinki (with EMBER FALLS). The band had already gained some traction since their inception in 2013, but unfortunately I hadn’t been able to make it at the time. When I was sent the music video for “Darker than Black,” however, I was vastly impressed with what I saw an heard from these… frankly, kids. They were still a bunch of teenagers from Oulu and I couldn’t believe how well they blended genres together. Knowing that they had won the Wacken Metal Battle in 2014, as well as YLEX’s “Stage haltuun” contest, and with one of my journalists strongly praising their show at Nummirock in 2015, they went straight to my list of bands to keep an eye on.
I think my first time seeing BLIND CHANNEL live was at South Park -festivaali in 2016. That was also the first time that I realized BLIND CHANNEL had “fans” already. Not fans like metal bands have… fans like boy bands have. These girls followed the band around everywhere they could (well, almost everywhere, considering most of them were also underage at the time) and screamed at their shows from the front row. Not cheered. Screamed. This show was also memorable because, over the span of 2 days, BLIND CHANNEL and my other new favorite up-and-coming band, EMBER FALLS, did a vocalist swap – Thomas Grove performed with BLIND CHANNEL during “Darker than Black” on Friday and Joel Hokka performed with EMBER FALLS for “Shut Down with Me” on Saturday. Both sets were absolutely lit up and I learned that these guys were also absolutely insane on stage.
South Park 2016 was also the first time I had the chance to interview the band. It was fun to get a chance to see what they were like as people and what goes on behind the music. They made a nice first impression on me and I was happy to continue supporting them as they continued on the path towards the release of their debut album. Published on October 1st, 2016 via Ranka Kustannus, “Revolutions“ fulfilled all of my high expectations for the band and I was loathe to find any fault with the album at all. The hosted their album release party at the Virgin Oil Co. with EMBER FALLS as one of the warm-ups and we had a blast doing all sorts of backstage shenanigans, including some behind the scenes interviews that, unfortunately, have never been released (we do plan on releasing them eventually though, for a special occasion). It was fun to see what goes on backstage and what kind of band they were off-stage.
Read more: “Revolutions” album review – Playlist of My Life – Blind Channel special edition – Blind Channel live @ Virgin Oil Co.
– Blind Channel & Ember Falls (behind the scenes) stage prep & soundcheck @ Virgin Oil Co. gallery – Blind Channel & Ember Falls (behind the scenes) backstage @ Virgin Oil Co. gallery
Before the release of “Revolutions,” the band had kicked off an era of touring and incredible opening slots. While we didn’t have the opportunity to see them outside Finland before or after their debut came out, we did catch quite a few of their local gigs. From opening for ROYAL REPUBLIC in February 2017 to sharing the stage with EMBER FALLS again while opening for AMARANTHE in April 2017, warming up for MACHINAE SUPREMACY in May 2017, there was no shortage of opportunities to see them on stage. What was incredibly evident was the work ethic these kids had in everything they did. Even on small stages – like the undeniably terrible yet fun free festival in Korso, Korso Rock – and regardless of how many people were in the stage or how enthusiastic the crowd might be, they always tried to bring their A-game. While some of my beloved bands showed exhaustion or disinterest in some shows at times, BLIND CHANNEL quickly became one of the most consistent and energetic live bands Finland had to offer.
Read more: Blind Channel live @ The Circus, opening for Royal Republic, live report – Blind Channel live @ The Circus, opening for Amaranthe, live report – Blind Channel live @ Nosturi, opening for Machinae Supremacy, live report
When 2018 rolled around, the band were ready to unleash another album on us! While “Blood Brothers” offered a lot poppy singles to the mainstream radios, the album maintained a pleasant degree of heaviness. Even though singles like “Sharks Love Blood” didn’t really work for me (“love you hard like sharks love blood” is both bad English and kind of a lame metaphor if you ask me), they managed to work in the context of the full album and ultimately, while every song wasn’t 100% killer, the band lived up to their first album and continued to build upon what they had already laid as a foundation. They had yet another fun album release party, this time with IKINÄ at Tavastia. This epic show featured guest appearances by Spaz Caroon (aka the younger Moilanen brother) and Johnny Parkkonen (who rose to fame with SANTA CRUZ). This, naturally, led to more live shows, including slots in the big local festivals like RockFest and Tuska Festival.
2019 wasn’t quite as hot and busy, giving the band time to get material ready for their third release, “Violent Pop,” which took its name from the band’s self-proclaimed genre (and associated hashtag, #violentpoprevolution). It was a bit of a change, feeling like a concept album about bad relationships/getting cheated on, so it wasn’t as generally easy to enjoy because I haven’t dealt with relationship troubles in years and years now, so it wasn’t as easy to connect to as someone who isn’t in their target age range. Furthermore, due to medical reasons I had been in Canada at the beginning of the year and never got the opportunity to do an interview for this album (something that I’m still a little salty about! It’s a hole in my coverage!), which could have helped me get to know the songs better. Despite being at a disadvantage when it came to subject matter and themes, I was still impressed with the overall poppy harshness of what the band had on offer. The band continued to uphold their impressive quality of energy and flare in this new album. They were set to have a release gig in April, but naturally, this was cancelled/postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to do an acoustic livestream in May 2020. This didn’t impress as much as I had hoped, as the band seemed to be showing an unusual level of nervousness. As of the time I write this, it remains the least impressive show that I’ve seen from BLIND CHANNEL. Despite my personally knowing that they could do better, at least the fans didn’t seem to mind as the stream’s chat was full of positive feedback.
What’s also been interesting about BLIND CHANNEL is that they’ve never given listeners a chance to forget about them. Between every release, they have a constant stream of music videos and singles – some of which are to promote their upcoming albums, but others are just there for fun and to keep awareness alive. However, I don’t have exclusive praise for BLIND CHANNEL. Their social media accounts have been a bit unprofessional at times (they seem to have some issues crediting photographers properly, for example) and sometimes they seem to get a little lost in what they think they should be versus what they are (as was seen in the live stream). As well, despite having a great deal of respect for the band’s new management, I was disappointed to learn that they had left behind the manager who had worked very hard to get them where they are. These guys are still very young (well into their 20s now) and they have had a very strong upwards trajectory for their whole career, which has just recently led them to sign with Century Media – that’s huge! Though from what I know of the band, none of them is the Archie Cruz -type (and man, they really seem like they are one big bromance of a band – hard to imagine these guys breaking up over petty squabbles), there’s always a huge risk of having ego overtake them because of their rapid success. Nothing is worse than a young white guy who thinks he knows everything, so I hope they don’t turn into one of those arrogant bands who think they’re better than everyone, or drink and party until they’re braindead (like some of the classic bands of the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll era).
That brings us to today! On Saturday May 22nd, 2021, BLIND CHANNEL was able to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision was cancelled in 2020 due to the aforementioned pandemic, but almost every band was able to make it to Rotterdam to put on a show this year. Eurovision is the time when I personally take off my objectivity/no-judgement gloves and allow myself to be an utter asshole and make fun of everyone… yet I had trouble finding anything to make fun of in their performance. Okay, the fact that they couldn’t flip the bird on Eurovision (despite being preceded by a band who literally had a woman dressed like a hand that was flipping off the crowd for half of their song) sucked, but they could have done something to help it stand out more, as painting their fingers made them less noticeable, as opposed to more noticeable as was the intent (maybe a green screen could’ve been cool?), but I can’t throw any shade onto their performance. They were as excited and enthusiastic and energetic as they’ve ever been. I do confess that I think “Dark Side” is objectively one of BLIND CHANNEL‘s worst songs (that doesn’t say much, because most of their songs are pure gold), yet they pulled through with astounding aplomb, coming in 6th place after an impressive number of votes from the viewers, which for a moment shot them right up to the top. Even though the so-called “professional judges” (who frankly… Switzerland? Really?) didn’t give them too much love, the viewers were the ones who really counted and they showed that BLIND CHANNEL have got something the people want. I think they did us proud!
So, cheers to you guys – Niko, Joel, Joonas, Olli, Aleksi, and Tommi! We at Tuonela can’t wait to see what the future looks like, but I’m betting that you guys are going to be the ones headlining now! I, for one, know that when the time comes for shows again, I’ll be right back there shielding my ears from your screaming fangirls as I get swept away in the storm of your energy!