Tuonela Magazine’s annual staff picks: Jana’s edition

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2019 has come to an end. Whether this year has been a great success to you or a complete disaster, it’s undeniable that throughout these 365 days a lot of brilliant music was released. 2019 was one of the biggest years for metal in quite a while with a couple of long-promised new records that we have been looking forward to for years, such as TOOLRAMMSTEIN, and SLIPKNOT.

Tuonela Magazine‘s staff took a look at all the releases, and each member of the staff choose their favorite ones for each category. Today we’d like to introduce you to our reporter Jana De Boeck‘s list.

Note: As you can see we have a division within Finnish bands. Given our focus on young bands and rising stars, we also want to share several talents from the Finnish metal scene that have managed to capture our attention within the past year. We refer to these bands as local bands, even though some of these bands are growing incredibly fast. Think of them as the most promising acts the Finnish metal scene hosts.

Hi readers! I will happily share my annual favorites with you. Since I suck at ranking things (I can’t even decide which my number one favorite dessert is, don’t make me choose!), I decided it would be best for my own mental health (and probably yours) to alphabetically list everything, and simply highlight my top picks. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope you have fun reading which albums I played the life out of in 2019.

Top 10 international albums

This was a tough one for me. Don’t get me wrong; I love making lists, but there were a ton of great releases this year. Still, I had no way around TOOL’s “Fear Inoculum”, which eventually took home the gold medal for me. Not only because, like so many others, I have waited thirteen long years for this, and not only because “it’s TOOL, for heaven’s sake”. I have always loved the endlessly layered lyrics, their particular individual style, and of course Maynard James Keenan’s multi-faceted diamond of a voice. This album has all of that and then some. Every single instrument has its own highlights, that beautifully come together as a whole, which in its totality shines brighter than ever. I am positively psyched they are back.

  • Amon Amarth – Berserker
  • In Flames – I, The Mask
  • Leprous – Pitfalls
  • Myrath – Shehili
  • Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
  • Rammstein – Rammstein
  • Sabaton – The Great War
  • Fever 333 – Strength In Numb333rs
  • Tool – Fear Inoculum
  • While She Sleeps – SO WHAT?

Read more: Amon Amarth in Helsinki (Live report)| In Flames (Interview)|Leprous – Pitfalls (Review)|Leprous (Interview)|Leprous in Helsinki (Live report)|Myrath – Shehili (Review)|Myrath (Interview)|Opeth – In Cauda Venenum (Review)|Sabaton – The Great War (Review)|Sabaton (Interview)| Sabaton in Helsinki (Live report) | Tool – Fear Inoculum (Review)

Top 10 Finnish albums

I may have only discovered BRYMIR since this year (what a shame), but their latest release, “Wings Of Fire”, simply blew me away. This is a whole new dimension of heaviness for me. The epic choir choruses, the brutal riffs, the alternating vocals between pristine clean and darkly raw,… What more can a girl ask for? I am especially into the way BRYMIR combines that groovy heaviness with a melancholic melodicity, which turns it into beautiful chaos. There’s a certain atmosphere this record creates for me that truly inspires me. Oh, and I can confirm that the catchy choruses of “Ride On, Spirit” and “Chasing The Skyline” are indeed the bomb live.

  • Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings
  • Beast in Black – From Hell With Love
  • Bloodred Hourglass – Godsend
  • Brymir – Wings Of Fire
  • Children Of Bodom – Hexed
  • Hevisaurus – Bändikouluun!
  • Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave
  • Marko Hietala – Mustan Sydämen Rovio
  • Santa Cruz – Katharsis
  • Swallow the Sun – When a Shadow is Forced into the Light

Read more: Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings (Review) | Beast In Black – From Hell With Love (Review) | Beast In Black (Interview) | Bloodred Hourglass – Godsend (Review) | Bloodred Hourglass (Interview) |Brymir – Wings Of Fire (Review) | Brymir (Interview) |Children Of Bodom – Hexed (Review) | Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave (Review) | Insomnium (Interview) |Marko Hietala (Interview) | Swallow the Sun – When a Shadow is Forced into the Light (Review) | Swallow the Sun (Interview)

Top 10 local albums

Contrary to popular belief, I can be a very simple girl. A girl who’s a sucker for some good old-fashioned Hard Rock and that’s exactly what BLOCK BUSTER gave me. I found myself coming back to “Losing Gravity” after reviewing it, and it always put me in a good mood. It doesn’t matter if it were the electrical rhythms, the energetic vocals, or the catchy riffs; it could turn any bad day around. It’s hard to explain why I like this record so much, but isn’t there some beauty in simply liking something without having to justify it? I can dig the freedom in that.

  • Alase – Vastaus
  • Amanita Virosa – Original Plague
  • Block Buster – Losing Gravity
  • Chronoform – From The Void
  • Everfrost – Winterider
  • Excalion – Emotions
  • Ikinä – Millenniaalin itsehoito-opas epävarmaan aikuisuuteen
  • Metal De Facto – Imperium Romanum
  • The Empire Strikes – Charm
  • Wheel – Moving Backwards

Read more: Alase – Vastaus (Review) | Amanita Virosa – Original Plague (Review) | Block Buster – Losting Gravity (Review) |Block Buster (Interview) | Block Buster in Helsinki (Live report) | Chronoform – From The Void (Review) | Everfrost – Winderider (Review) | Everfrost (Interview) |Excalion – Emotions (Review) | Ikinä – Millenniaalin itsehoito-opas epävarmaan aikuisuuteen (Review) |Ikinä (Interview) |Metal De Facto – Imperium Romanum (Review) | Metal De Facto (Interview) |The Empire Strikes – Charm (Review) | The Empire Strikes (Interview) | Wheel – Moving Backwards (Review) | Wheel (Interview) | Wheel in Helsinki (Live report)

Top 3 Finnish EP

Some quick brainstorming led me to this list; I didn’t quite question this one so much as I did the others. Maybe because these EPs all managed to pleasantly surprise me, with THY ROW popping up as the most exhilarating newcomer. What I particularly like about this band, is how they have created their own unique sound out of an array of classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal influences. Many similar bands have tried and stumbled on this path, but THY ROW does it with a kind of grace that I haven’t heard often. That, and the vocals are a near punch in the gut when it comes to powerful.

  • Oceanhoarse – Voluntary Bends EP
  • RiESA – Paholaisen Musiikkia EP
  • Thy Row – Thy Row EP

Read more: Oceanhoarse – Voluntary Bends (Review) | Oceanhoarse (Interview) | RiESA – Paholaisen Musiikkia (Review) | RiESA (Interview) | Thy Row – Thy Row (Review) | Thy Row (Interview)

Best concert

2019 wasn’t that great of a year for me concert-wise, but I did catch a show of one of my favorite Metalcore bands, PARKWAY DRIVE, in my home country. They have grown a lot since I last saw them on Graspop Metal Meeting a couple of years ago, and their performance has gotten even bigger and better. The funny thing is, I always used to imagine how awesome it would be if they added some live strings on stage during songs like “Writings On The Wall” or “Chronos”. Well, guess what they did? Needless to say, I was ecstatic, so much so that I have already bought a ticket to see them live again next year.

  • Parkway Drive Reverence Tour @ Vorst Nationaal, Brussels
  • Graspop Metal Meeting 2019: Amon Amarth, Demons and Wizards, Disturbed, Gojira, Sabaton, The Fever 333, While She Sleeps, and many more!

Best Finnish live act

Amorphis. I haven’t seen that many Finnish bands live this year, but the ones I did see, rocked my world. So did AMORPHIS, a band I have been aching to see live ever since I heard their latest material, “Queen Of Time”. The audience in the Helsinki Ice Hall was on their feet right from the first notes of “The Bee”, and the band kept this up throughout the whole show. Tomi Joutsen switched effortlessly between brilliant cleans and dark, heavy growls, and even though the band was pretty static on stage, they created an atmosphere that really took me with them. I have to add that support acts THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, LEPROUS, and SOILWORK stole the show with top-notch performances as well. A very memorable night indeed, the perfect combination of all the things I love about the Metal scene.

Read more: Amorphis at Jäähalli, Helsinki (Live report)

5 best international songs

I chose “Born To Survive” by Tunisian Metal sensation MYRATH, and not only because it turned out to be my power song of 2019 (read: on repeat in the car to work, class, and scary social responsibilities). I am amazed by how much the band has grown since “Desert Call”, gaining well deserved international popularity. Their dedication is inspiring, and their style refreshing. I can’t help but love the folkloric Tunisian instruments infused brand of Metal they have created, and I am looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for them.

  • Amon Amarth – Raven’s Flight
  • In Flames – I Am Above
  • Myrath – Born To Survive
  • Sabaton – The Red Baron
  • While She Sleeps – HAUNT ME

Read more: Amon Amarth in Helsinki (Live report)| In Flames (Interview)|Myrath – Shehili (Review) | Myrath (Interview) | Sabaton – The Great War (Review) | Sabaton (Interview)

5 best domestic songs

I managed to sneak some bands in that I haven’t mentioned yet, but I always come back to my previously mentioned favorites. BLOODRED HOURGLASS is another band that made my jaw drop this year with their latest release, “Godsend”. “Waves Of Black” really kicks this record’s door in, with a grim theme dressed in heavy melodic riffs, dark and brutal vocals, and an undeniable catchiness. The track represents the signature sound BLOODRED HOURGLASS keeps up throughout the whole record, and I can’t recommend it enough.

  • Bloodred Hourglass – Waves Of Black
  • Brymir – Chasing The Skyline
  • Children Of Bodom – Unders Grass and Clover
  • Ember Falls – Divine
  • Beast in Black – Cry Out For A Hero

Read more: Bloodred Hourglass – Godsend (Review) | Bloodred Hourglass (Interview) |Brymir – Wings Of Fire (Review) | Brymir (Interview) |Children Of Bodom – Hexed (Review) |Ember Falls – Divine (Featured single) |Beast In Black – From Hell With Love (Review) | Beast In Black (Interview)

Best lyrics

Opeth – In Cauda Venenum. It wouldn’t be like me not to add a lyrics category, because it’s definitely one of the factors that influence whether I like or love a particular song. I have always admired OPETH’s lyrical depth, and they certainly didn’t disappoint with the latest album “In Cauda Venenum”, which has death as the overarching concept. To me, it felt like OPETH took us on a journey from life to beyond death, and this record deals with themes like the lack of empathy in society and the rise of chaos in this world. “The Garroter” is one of my favorites, and here is a snippet of the lyrics to prove my point:

Ulterior motive, the grinning face of leadership
A selfish wish to control a nation in his grip
Strong against weak and immobilized
Secular for fascist lies
The beautiful people look down from ruby vantage points
While in the gutter, starvation invites us to join
Barricades of wealthy youth
Protesting their inborn truth

Read more: Opeth – In Cauda Venenum (Review)

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