Although COVID cases are rising in Finland, fully vaccinated metalheads are fortunately still able to attend certain gigs in Helsinki with no additional restrictions thanks to the COVID Pass. On Saturday, November 20th, 2021, the Estonian folk metal act, METSATÖLL, played at On the Rocks in Helsinki, as the last stop of their Finnish mini-tour. This was exciting, because the last time most people have seen METSATÖLL was at their impressive live stream concerts. Their mini-tour consisted of dates in Tampere and Turku before arriving in Helsinki. The openers for METSATÖLL were both local Finnish bands, VETTEN ÄPÄRÄT and VOIDFALLEN.
The first act of the night was VETTEN ÄPÄRÄT. You could guess it was going to be an interesting show even before it started, because the stage was set up with an altar covered with various bowls and candles. There were also vines wrapped around the altar, microphones, and drinking horns attached to the mics as well. VETTEN ÄPÄRÄT then walked on stage to the atmospheric music of the song “Juuret.” They began a ritual that included a faux animal sacrifice, in which they painted the members of each band with the blood of the (fake) animal. The singer, Sami Ferm, then brought the bowl of blood to then paint some of the willing members of the audience. This might not have been some audience members’ cup of tea, but many of them completely ate this up. I know that doing the ritual at the beginning of the show probably had some important significance, which I would love to hear more about from one of the band members, but it might have had a better effect if they had done it more towards the middle of the show, as I feel like they would have a bigger, more warmed up audience after a few songs. Either way, the ritual was very cool, as that does not happen at many shows! VETTEN ÄPÄRÄT started with a smaller audience, but people quickly came to the stage area after seeing how talented they were and how much fun everyone was having. They have only released one album, but it seems like they had lots of quality material to cover their entire 45 minute set. Overall, the energy and uniqueness VETTEN ÄPÄRÄT brought was the perfect way to get the audience warmed up for METSATÖLL.
The second act of the night was VOIDFALLEN. VOIDFALLEN is a relatively new Finnish melodic death metal band. They released an EP in 2019 and their first full length studio album came out just last month on October 8th, 2021. They came out on stage looking quite sharp, with matching black hoodies and cargo pants. They also were all wearing masks – similar SLIPKNOT or even Squid Game type masks, (not COVID masks). The first song was “Remnants of the Heart,” which they had great energy for, despite the bass player having a few technical issues. Singer Tommi Kangaskortet’s mask might also not have been snug enough, which required some adjusting throughout the performance. Most of the songs they played were from their new album, “The Atlas of Spiritual Apocalypse,” and they also played two songs from their 2019 EP, “The Sinners, the Plague and the Voidfallen.” They seemed to pull in a decent sized crowd with many of the audience members knowing the lyrics to the songs already. While VOIDFALLEN put on a solid performance, I can’t say they were the ideal opener for METSATÖLL, as their music and stage show are very different. Good thing most people don’t need warming up to enjoy METSATÖLL, because they can do that pretty quickly by themselves.
The headliners, METSATÖLL were up next. Judging from the large audience with METSATÖLL shirts on, everyone was very excited. They opened with “Katk Kutaariks,” which is the title track of their latest album. The audience was easily headbanging along with the band right away. They kept the energy up by jumping into “Kange Kui Raud” after the first song. This was the first real track where we got to really see the talents of multi-instrumentalist Lauri Õunapuu. The way Lauri can play so many different instruments and change from one to another so quickly is outstanding. The different traditional Estonian instruments used in their music really set them apart and make them something special.
After playing the first three songs from their most recent album, the next four were some older classics, “Kuu,” “Vaid Vaprust,” “Kivine maa,” and “Saaremaa Vägimees.” I would say those four songs played in a row was one of the many highlights of the evening, as everyone was dancing and chanting along, whether they spoke Estonian or not. Something that METSATÖLL did well was making the most out of a small stage while still managing to still have great presence despite the restricted space. When the stage got a little too small for them, Markus Teeäär and Lauri Õunapuu hopped off the stage and played in the middle of the crowd during a musical interlude. This event qualified for another highlight of the evening, as the audience went crazy for it. METSATÖLL then reminded the crowd that it was the 22nd anniversary of the album “Terast Mis Hangund Me Hinge,” which they celebrated by playing “Hundiraev.” The audience continued their good mood for the high energy “Lööme Mesti.” This song features Finnish verses, sung by KORPIKLAANI’s Jonne Järvelä on the album, and the crowd enjoyed the use of their own language. The band spoke Finnish the whole time, obviously comfortable with the neighboring language.
Their last song before the encore was “Metsaviha 2,” which is also from the “Terast Mis Hangund Me Hinge” album. They have played this song numerous times live and they never fail to disappoint, making it sound even better than it does on the album. As the evening drew to a close, their last song was “Lahinguväljal Näeme, Raisk!” which everyone enjoyed, doing one last singalong with the band. The show seemed to leave everyone in a good mood, as they got the fun time they were looking for. After the set, METSATÖLL stuck around to say hello to the fans and very happily took the time to chat, take pictures, and sign items with the audience members. The audience was very appreciative that METSATÖLL decided to do a little tour in Finland. One thing was certain to me as they head back to Estonia – they all definitely deserve the fancy buffet on the ferry ride home.
Written by Sarah de Wolf
Photos by Laureline Tilkin
3.Kange Kui Raud
12.Ballaad Punastest Paeltest
16.Lahinguväljal Näeme, Raisk!