Tuonela Magazine’s recap on 2017 – editor’s pick


Not only did Tuonela Magazine get founded in 2017, because of the amazing amount of support from different angles and the magazine was able to grow more and more as the months passed by. The mark of 1000 readers has been reached a little while ago, in less than a year and the magazine will continue to grow more and more all because of you!
But of course 2017 wasn’t only the birth of Tuonela Magazine, it was also a great year of lots of metal news, concerts and albums in our Finnish scene. New releases include Battle Beast, Beast in Black, Ensiferum, Santa Cruz, Mors Principium Est, Wintersun  and many others. Let’s take a quick look some personal highlights in the Finnish rock and metal scene of 2017. Here is the editor’s pick and the magazine would be delighted to know about your personal preferences of this year as well, let us know in the comments!
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2017 had an amazing amount of Finnish albums released, all different genres within rock and metal. It is surprisingly difficult to pick just one album that stuck out this year. Instead, we will provide you a top 5, in no particular order:
Beast in Black – Berserker
Mors Principium Est – Embers of a Dying World
Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain
S-Tool – Tolerance 0
Santa Cruz – Bad Blood Rising
When Anton Kabanen parted ways with Battle Beast in 2015, we had no idea of the snowball effect it would cause. In the midst of Helsinki, Anton Kabanen founded a new heavy metal band, BEAST IN BLACK. By the end of 2015 the band already had two major gigs as an opening act for both Nightwish and Sabaton, without any debut album out. The album was completed in summer 2017 and brought to us by Nuclear Blast in November. Needless to say the album “Berserker” is a total winner, continuing in the style of Anton’s previously composed works and based upon the Berserk anime series. It’s because of this album and its success that we would like to dub BEAST IN BLACK as the BEST NEWCOMER of 2017 with a kickass album filled with what will only be called classics in some years. If you would like to check out more about how we received the album, you can read our review here and read our interview with Anton Kabanen and Kasperi Heikkinen here.
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2017 was a year with a lot of great concerts and moments, think of just recently the farewell concert of H.I.M. at Jäähalli for example, or Stratovarius in November at Tavastia. But our pick for BEST GIG in HELSINKI REGION goes to no one less than DRAGONFORCE. DragonForce has had quite a busy year, with the release of their new album “Reaching Into Infinity” that came out in May 2017, a tour soon followed. The news that DragonForce would take their tour to Helsinki as well, was great news. Unfortunately, there was a brief moment of despair where the concert might just get canceled because the venue – On The Rocks – have had a pipeline incident and because the venue had flooded and needed a lot of repair, it had to cancel the gig. Fortunately for its fans, DragonForce doesn’t cancel. LiveNation found a replacement in Semifinal, a small venue where mostly local bands get to play and DragonForce would play two gigs during the evening and a record of three gigs in total on one day. The stage was hardly existing, so needless to say the gig was super intimate and the interaction with fans was brought to an entire new level and it was clear the band enjoyed it as well. Hopefully this scenario shed some new light on bringing big bands to smaller, more intimate venues, because it’s certainly an amazing way to experience a band’s music and energy.
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As a magazine we always try to support local independent bands as much as we can. In the same spirit we receive a lot of EPs to review. Solely based on Finnish 2017 releases that were sent into our magazine, we were most surprised by EP “Life” of Blind Hen. BEST EP in the local scene goes thus to BLIND HEN, a relatively young band hailing from the South of Finland is definitely one of those bands with a very promising future ahead. The band, which has been founded in 2015, has a lineup consisting out of very talented musicians and some of them have been part of Embassy of Silence and Amberian Dawn. The four-piece have created a beautiful, heavy and psychedelic slab of progressive rock. If you want to read more about what we thought about the EP,  read our review here.
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We have had the possibility to meet and see a lot of local bands play shows and get the opportunity to get to know more about their music. Some names that come in mind of the occasions the magazine got to review some local bands and are definitely worth mentioning as well are eg. Winterthroned, Temple Balls and Block Buster. The band I have been surprised with the most in 2017 is Vile Caliber. The five piece from Helsinki plays modern hard rock, heavy metal and certainly have the greatest energy on stage. Vocalist Arti Waine hypes up the crowd like no one else can, with his energetic stage presence. With their music they can engage everyone to have a blast, even though some faces in the crowd might be first time visitors. Their most notable performance of 2017 was their gig at the finals of Emergenza Festival, where the band ended up third in the competition. BEST LOCAL LIVE ACT goes out to VILE CALIBER. Check out more about the band here.
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It was very tough to pick a single in this category as there have been so many good releases and singles that came out in 2017. But one that certainly stuck to my mind and which we would like to call the BEST SINGLE of 2017 is no other than “Harder To Breathe” by Shiraz Lane. The song got stuck in my head for a really long time and once in a while it still pops up. In early 2018 the second Shiraz Lane album “Carnival Days” will see the light. The first single and a kick ass music video “Harder To Breathe”, was already released in October and has surprised us in many many ways. The band has clearly become more mature and are going to surprise us with their album, it’s already something to look forward to for the next year.
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MOST HEARTBREAKING NEWS came from Finnish love metal band HIM. After a quarter of a century the band has decided to call it quits on their 25th anniversary and say goodbye to us in form of a farewell tour, one last time “Helldone”, 5 dates were announced in Finland, excluding a last headlining performance at Tuska Festival. The show at Tuska Festival was a success and the tour as well. Most dates were sold out instantly. Read more about HIM performing at Tuska Festival in our review here.
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Personally BEST INITIATIVES are the ones that try and put local bands on the map as well. There are several in Helsinki region that do that, most of them are festivals: Emergenza Festival and Tuska Torstai were the most interesting competitions around, offering many different local bands from all around Finland the stage in venues like Bar Loose and notorious Nosturi. Heavy Metal Heart is a festival that gives the opportunity to small local bands to perform amongst bigger names (eg. the amazing night with Winterthroned, Brymir & Korpiklaani ) And last but not least the organization Rockin’ Over The Borders that promote Nordic bands by organizing events over the borders in form of mini festivals.
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2017 can’t be mentioned without mentioning WINTERSUN who had the MOST SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN. In March the band opened up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in order to raise money for their own studio and to support their third album successful “The Forest Seasons”. The fanbase behind the band made it possible for the band to exceed their primary goal of raising €150000. The end result being €428310 in one month. Contributors of the campaign got “The Forest Seasons” package including previous Wintersun albums, instrumentals and isolated tracks of “Time 1.5” and “The Forests Seasons”. This campaign was also the second highest funded music campaign on Indiegogo of all time.
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There have been a lot of interesting releases in the local metal scene in Finland, with every new release also come music videos. In 2017 one video in particular caught attention by its psychedelic nature and artistic approach. Heavy metallers of Tyrantti released the music video of “Toteemi” in October. BEST MUSIC VIDEO in the local scene goes to TYRANTTI. Watch the video here.
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With tons of new material, music, releases of course there is also a bunch of great music videos out there worth mentioning, like “Way of the Warrior” of Ensiferum or “Blind and Frozen” of Beast In Black. Our pick of the BEST MUSIC VIDEO goes out to a music video that was recorded during a live performance at The Circus in Helsinki. Have you yet spotted yourself in the video? I’m talking about no other than “The Race” by ARCH ENEMY. Read more about what we experienced during the gig from here.
Because technically Arch Enemy is not a Finnish band, so when looking at the most interesting Finnish music videos of 2017, HALLATAR’s first music video “Mirrors” also deserves a place on this recap. Hallatar is the new project evolving around Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun), Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) and Gas Lipstick (ex-HIM). The song is part of the band’s debut album “No Stars upon the Bridge“. The album is based on the lyrics and poems of Aleah Starbridge. Watch the video below:
Yes, 2017 has been a very interesting musical year and it has been very difficult picking out a few moments to highlight, but we are sure about one thing. 2018 is going to rock the metal, blow our minds and going to be even more legendary. Happy New Year!

Article written by Laureline Tilkin-Franssens