Tuonela Magazine’s Annual Staff Picks: Lassi’s edition


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 TOOL, RAMMSTEIN, 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 Lassi Saarinen‘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.

Top 10 International Albums

Being a person who hates to dance, KO KO MO‘s “Lemon Twins” manages to catch me in the mood to get up from the couch and uncontrollably wave my hands in the air. The duo’s unique sounding garage rock drains influences from blues and transforms them into killer riffs. The album is loaded with explosive energy and really challenges you to be something other than impressed.

  • KO KO MO – Lemon Twins
  • Rival Sons – Feral Roots
  • Frank Carter & The Rattle Snakes – End of Suffering
  • Blood Red Shoes – Get Tragic
  • HIDE – Hell Is Here
  • Refused – War Music
  • Mayhem – Daemon
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

Read more: Rival Sons in Helsinki (Live report) | Mayhem in Helsinki (Live report) | Refused in Helsinki (Live report) | Arno Bitschy & Warren Ellis (Interview)

Top 10 Finnish Albums

With the new album, ISMO ALANKO takes a step back to his more straightforward roots of rock but becomes possibly more relevant than ever. The more generic rock dances in a sweet balance with new, electric sounds and sweeps through the 34 minutes of brilliant music. On one track you are getting hints of psychedelia, but another hits you in the face with something closer to straightforward punk. Add a layer of Alanko‘s brilliant lyric-writing skills, and you’ve got an album that offers you something new to discover for hundreds of playthroughs to come.

  • Ismo Alanko – Minä haluaisin olla niin kuin Beethoven
  • Ville Valo & Agents – Ville Valo & Agents
  • Pekko Käppi & K.H.H.L – Väärä laulu
  • Litku Klemetti – Ding ding dong
  • Andy McCoy – 21st Century Rock
  • Medeia – Xenosis
  • Swallow The Sun – When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light
  • Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
  • Death Hawks – Psychic Harmony
  • Belzebubs – Pantheon Of The Nightside Gods

Read more: Litku Klemetti in Helsinki (Live report) | Medeia – Xenosis (Review) | Swallow The Sun – When a Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (Review) | Swallow The Sun (Interview) | Belzebubs (Interview)

Top 10 Local Albums

Turku-based AGNOSIA’s debut album takes you somewhere really dark and doesn’t let you see any sunlight for the next 15 minutes. The music itself is exceeding the frames set by time. AGNOSIA knows how to make post-punk and the influence from the ’80s is clearly there, but at the same time, they are sounding new and independent of anything else.

  • Agnosia – Sikiöasennossa
  • Mireplaner – A Mountain of Saola Hooves
  • Poison Whisky – Enter The Meatgrinder
  • Wheel – Moving Backwards
  • Kohti Tuhoa – Ihmisen Kasvot
  • Lapinpolthajat – Lauluja Suomesta
  • Tryer – Ei Kuole Koskaan
  • Pimeys – Delta
  • The Empire Strikes – Charm
  • Ursus Factory – Pinkki pilvi

Read more: Poison Whisky in Helsinki (Live report) | Wheel – Moving Backwards (Review) | Wheel (Interview) | Wheel in Helsinki (Live report) | The Empire Strikes – Charm (Review) | The Empire Strikes (Interview)

Top 3 Domestic EP

By making you almost feel uncomfortable, SITOI’s new EP catches your attention right from the beginning. The distorted and experimental noise background fits the lyrics perfectly, but it is not overflowing – everything essential is there, without any extra. The harsh lyrics are spoken out powerfully, taking you deep to see how SITOI experiences love. “Kyyhky” is a unique release, which keeps the tension up through the whole five songs. I recommend consuming it with headphones on while you’re walking down a street, preferably when it’s dark, cold and rainy.

  • SITOI – Kyyhky
  • Lapsuus – Lapsuus

Read more: Lapsuus in Helsinki (Live report)

Best concert

After over 20 years since their last visit in Finland, the pioneer of modern punk REFUSED came to play their last show of 2019 at The Circus 17th of December. The venue wasn’t sold out, but my mind definitely was blown out. The band wasn’t any less political than it was in its early days, and it didn’t compromise on the explosive energy a bit. By doing all that, REFUSED really managed to create a feeling of being together with all the people watching the show. The world right now is a messed up place, but that night I was leaving The Circus with hope.

Read more: Refused in Helsinki (Live report)

Best Finnish live act

HENRIK! – When you can see 9 members filling up a stage, you can already guess that it’s not going to be any ordinary show. It would be easy to end up in messy chaos with that lineup, but HENRIK! has taken control of that chaos and evolved into a very interesting live act. Versace Henrik was known for losing his clothes during the earlier gigs, but in the band’s current form there’s no need for that anymore. Each of their shows has something different than the others, providing a live act to be interested in every time they’re performing near you. It’s punk, it’s noise, it’s psychedelic, it’s HENRIK!

Read more: HENRIK! in Helsinki (Live report)

5 Best international songs

Heavily armed with rock ‘n roll, local band FIGHTS rises from Oslo to treat you with loud and angry music. “Asbestos High” is damn catchy and easily makes you feel like banging your head, this band just has the right attitude to deliver. The song has left me hungry for more FIGHTS, and I hope that the skandirock group would release their debut album next year!

  • Fights – Asbestos High
  • Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider
  • Queen Kwong – Oh Well
  • YUNGBLUD – braindead!
  • KO KO MO – Self Love Age

5 Best domestic songs

The amazing new album of Ismo Alanko for me is summed up in its 7th track “Transsioletettu tanssi”. The song has punk-like guitar playing in harmony with slightly experimental synth sounds. Add a surprisingly catchy chorus to take you away from the attention-catching verse, and you’ve got a song that I have just barely managed not to over listen.

  • Ismo Alanko – Transsioletettu tanssi
  • Litku Klemetti – Sinä tiedät sen
  • Heikki Kuula feat. Otto Grundström – Paska Osuu Tuulettimeen
  • Atomirotta – Piru olkapäällä
  • Andy McCoy – Undertow

Read more: Litku Klemetti in Helsinki (Live report)

5 Best local songs

For a band that’s pretty much under the radar, even without any social media presence, ACID VULTURES has released an interesting debut song on SoundCloud. The song evolves slowly, but surely, from a very calm atmosphere to something that could be described as landing straight to hell. It will remain for us to see whether the band will have a more active presence to share their music, or are they going to turn the mystical appearance to their strength.

  • Acid Vultures – From The Ashes Of The Old World
  • Torchia – Moon, Rise!
  • Likaiset Pikkarit – Läsnä
  • Poison Whisky – Ain’t Looking For Löve
  • Post Pulse – Darker Side of Mind

Read more: Torchia – Moon, Rise! (Featured single) | Poison Whisky in Helsinki (Live report)

10 best last-minute songs

Tell that you got an invitation to Independence Day Reception, unveil that the invitation was fake and release a song according to the theme. Heikki Kuula keeps maintaining the perfect relationship between rap and punk, throws the hilarious lyrics in and just entertains you for 3 minutes. A simple recipe with simple results: the song works and makes you feel good.

  • Heikki Kuula – Presidentti
  • Nobody – In the Arms of North
  • DENG – Liar
  • Sylosis – I Sever
  • Kolaus – Gesta-Pop
  • Pearl Jam – Angel
  • Me And That Man – Run with the Devil
  • Mokoma – Syyttävä sormi
  • SITOI – Sitruskoira

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