Fans of the legendary musician/vocalist, infinitely talented person, and simply wonderful man – Marco Hietala – don’t necessary have to wait to see him in concert with his main bands, Nightwish and Tarot, whose gigs are so unfortunately rare in Finland. As a person with enormous creative potential, Marco can’t stay in the same place for long and takes part in various musical projects all the time. That’s why he can be seen a lot more often than his bandmates, at least on the Finnish stages. [ed 2021: we’re still looking for this gallery; check back soon for more photos! For now, enjoy the interview we did with Marco and its accompanying photoshoot!]
In some magical way, everything that Marco participates in is destined to succeed. Such was the case with a band that recently supplemented the long list of his achievements: SAPATTIVUOSI. This band has existed since 2001 and has already released two albums, however, before Marco Hietala took the place of their ex-vocalist, Hannu Paloniemi, SAPATTIVUOSI were a lot less well-known, even though they had achieved a certain degree of success.
SAPATTIVUOSI (which literally translates to “Sabbath year”) play cover songs of the legendary BLACK SABBATH, translated into Finnish. On the 1st of April, 2009, they released their third album, “Ihmisen merkki,” already with Marco on vocals. This album is dedicated to the era of Ronnie James Dio in BLACK SABBATH‘s history. Because of the album release, SAPATTIVUOSI managed to find some free time in Marco‘s tight schedule and went on a small tour around Finland.
April 17th, 2009, Tavastia, Helsinki. The announced show-time was 23:30. Half an hour before the show, by insensible degrees, the club was getting quite crowded. The public was rather diverse – except for the countless apparent Marco fans, there were also many people who were probably lured in by nostalgia and devotion to BLACK SABBATH‘s music.
At the set time, EAPATTIVUOSI arrived on stage. Marco came out the last with an innocent smile, as if he was just passing by and decided to check out what is going on in Tavastia. The crowd got steamed up in a moment, because you just can’t resist that guy’s insane charisma.
They started the show with the song “Laki 666,” which is the cover-version of “Mob Rules.” Right from the first song, it was obvious that if any member of BLACK SABBATH happened to be amongst the public this evening, they would be very proud. Maybe they would even wish that Marco had been the singer in their band.
With every song it became hotter and made you want to jump higher and applaud louder. To be honest, many people in the audience, including me, came to this concert only because of Marco, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see how harmoniously musicians blend in one band, how relaxed and, at the same time, enthralling their music sounds. It takes a lot more than one genius vocalist to reach such an effect. Marco enraptured everyone with his voice, made funny faces, rocked, and simply beamed, naturally outshining the other band members. He was smiling for the whole evening, so one could see the great pleasure he gets from performing.
During this gig, SAPATTIVUOSI destroyed any kind of prejudice that BLACK SABBATH‘s music should remain untouched. A mixture of talent and great music can never lose. The feeling of excitement was indescribable – unbelievable guitar solos banging against Tavastia‘s walls together with Marco‘s smashing vocals.
Sometime in the middle of the show, like a lull before the storm, Marco took an acoustic guitar and sang “Planeettakaravaani” (“Planet Caravan”) – a magical song that makes you feel as though you are flying. During this moment, only Marco and his guitar could be heard in the club. The atmosphere was so intense, I felt like holding my breath so as not to frighten away the enchantment. It was the right time to put your lighter in the air and start dreaming of innermost things.
However, the lull wasn’t long, so once everyone came back to their senses, it got hot again. Marco was giving out some kind of a breathtaking drive and made the public cheer and applaud more and more. Ozzy Osbourne might have torn bats apart, but Marco Hietala can do better than that. He doesn’t need any tricks to drive the public insane – his stage presence is more than enough for this.
However, all good things come to an end. After a short break and two more songs, SAPATTIVUOSI finished their performance with their latest single – “Pelon Lait” (“Neon Knights”). They made their first video with Marco for this song; it is also being actively played on Finnish radio stations. The guys couldn’t fully express their happiness and kept on thanking the audience, and the latter couldn’t be more grateful.
Maybe for some die-hard BLACK SABBATH fans, such a comparison would be unacceptable, but in my opinion, Marco could easily compete with Dio in vocals and stage performance. I hope that those who didn’t approve of the idea behind this band changed their opinion. The legendary bands remain legendary, but one can express their devotion to their music in different ways. SAPATTIVUOSI found an outstanding way to give their tribute and admiration to the legendary BLACK SABBATH, and for that the band truly deserves applause.
Written by Tanja Caciur
Photos by Jana Blomqvist
Interview with messier — “There’s only three of us, so we have to make it count and get the sound as big as we can.”