What to expect at Dark River Festival 2021


Tuonela Magazine has been enjoying Dark River Festival since our first time there in 2019, even if the coronavirus pandemic prevented our journalists from attending last year. With vaccinations well under way now though, 2021 promises yet another great edition! Situated in Kotka, Dark River Festival is one of Finland’s coziest festivals, where anyone will feel at home instantly. Moreover, the festival has an eye for local talent. Read this festival special to see what acts are going to play and what to expect from their music.

Friday, August 13th


Hailing from Tampere, Finnish melancholic metal band VORNA first started as a melodic black/folk metal band, but later absorbed various influences from symphonic, atmospheric, and melodic metal. Now the band delivers a dark, melancholic sound, with lyrics sung in Finnish. The band’s third full-length studio album, “Sateet Palata Saavat,” was released in 2019 and to date is the most refined and ambitious album VORNA has ever released. (LT)

Marianas Rest

A Dark River Festival edition without MARIANS REST is almost unimaginable. Both the doom metal act and the festival share their roots in Kotka, especially considering the band recently got signed to Napalm Records for the release of their third full-length record, “Fata Morgana.” Surely the band is planning to play at least a couple of their latest songs, making this definitely a set to look forward to! (LT)

Damnation Plan

Finnish progressive melodic death metal act DAMNATION PLAN have been working hard on their next album. After the release of their previous studio effort, “Reality Illusion,” in 2017, the band parted ways with their growling vocalist Tommy Tuovinen, leaving clean singer Asim Searah to take over his parts during live shows. Earlier this year, Jukka Vehkamaa stepped aside as the band’s bass player and the band welcomed Jaakko Nikko into their ranks. The band’s first live appearance with their new bass player will be at Dark River Festival and, in short, will be a legendary moment in DAMNATION PLAN‘s history! (LT)


When Finnish melodic death metal act MYGRAIN decided to call it quits in 2015, who would have ever thought of them resurrecting the band in 2018? In fall 2018, the band released an EP, “III,” independently. While they claimed that they would only come back for the EP and a couple of shows, here we are. The band released a brand new studio effort, “V,” in 2020, which also sees the departure of keyboardist Eve Kojo. (LT)


If you’ve been attending Finnish festivals, you probably have heard of RYTMIHÄIRIÖ, a festival force that plays their own blend of hardcore, punk, and metal or as they call it surmacore (aka. “murdercore”). The band hailing from Helsinki has been around since the ’80s, but are still one of the most active players in the Finnish metal scene, proof of that is their seventh full-length studio album, “Gambinapsykoosi,” released in 2018. (LT)


In 2013, Finnish legendary metal act KIUAS called it quits. Founder and guitarist Mikko Salovaara, founded a new band from the ashes from KIUAS, named DAIMONIC. Needless to say, we were a bit surprised to hear the news that KIUAS would reform for a few shows and new material, but we’re all enthusiastic aboutit! If you’ve been a long-time fan or always wanted to see this band, definitely check them out, A it’s going to be a special show considering it’s their first time back on stage since 2013. (LT)


If you are familiar with Finnish melodic death metal, you sure as hell don’t need an introduction to KALMAH. In 2020 their debut album “Swamplord” celebrated its 20th anniversary and after a 7-year wait, the band released their latest album “Palo” in 2018. Both occasions seem like a way to fill up the setlist with both classics and new songs, so better train your neck muscles to withstand some heavy headbanging. (LT)


I say Finland, you say FINNTROLL, a metal act that is perhaps one of the most iconic folk metal bands the land of a thousand lakes has ever produced. Mixing in different styles such as folk metal, black metal, and even humppaFINNTROLL has been drifting between folky and blackened soundscapes since their inception. After the release of “Blodsvept” in 2013, they’ve been surprisingly quiet, but after a 7 year wait, the trolls finally released their latest album, “Vredesvävd.” If you, like us, have been waiting to see that material played live, you’ll get the chance at Dark River Festival. (LT)


Earlier this year, Swedish progressive metal act EVERGREY released their latest album “Escape of the Phoenix,” one of the best prog efforts of this year, which included some heavy, melancholic, and thought-provoking music that will surely be excellent live as well. The headlining slot means that EVERGREY will have a lot of time to include new songs to their setlist, some of them perhaps being played live for the first time. (LT)

Saturday, August 14th

Horizon Ignited

Saturday kicks off with newcomers HORIZON IGNITED. Formed in 2017, these guys play a blend of melodic death metal with metalcore influences. They released two singles (“Towards the Dying Lands” and “Reveries”) earlier this year, which have been the first taste of their upcoming sophomore album. While we’re still waiting for the release of this album, at least we can enjoy the band’s show at Dark River Festival, so let’s hope that they’ll play those excellent singles! (LT)


Have you ever heard of the genre northcore? Well, now you have, as this unique sound is what ATLAS have dubbed their music: a mix of heavy-hitting riffs paired with catchy melodies and immersive soundscapes. Being from Finland, it’s no surprise that the band draws inspiration from northern gloom and darkness, which give their music a melancholic sound. The band is joining the Danish progressive metal act VOLA on tour, but before all that, they are luckily making a stop at Dark River Festival for us to enjoy their music live! (LT)

True Cult Club

Ever wondered what the trvest of metal would sound like? Search no further, because TRUE CULT CLUB is here. This blend of rock and metal with poppy elements is surely one of the most refreshing new players on the field. With familiar faces from the scene such as Asim Searah (WINTERSUN, DAMNATION PLAN), Christian “Chrism” Pulkkinen (SIMULACRUM), Rolf Pilve (STRATOVARIUS), and Miro Varjus (CREINIUM), you’ll instantly forget about moshpits. Yet, with their smooth electronic sounds and heavy riffs, this band will give you a good workout instantly. (LT)


Since their inception in 2011, power metal act ARION have released three excelling albums, of which the latest Vultures Die Alone,” was released only recently. A new album means also a new setlist, which means that you perhaps get to see hit singles from their latest studio effort, such as “Bloodline,” “In The Name of Love,” or in case you like something heavier “I Love to Be Your Enemy.” And if you’re not familiar with their latest album, perhaps you can sing along to songs like “Unforgivable” and “At the Break of Dawn.” In short, there are many reasons to go check out ARION‘s show. (LT)

Mors Subita

Originally, MORS PRINCIPIUM EST was set to play at Dark River Festival, but due to a cancelation, MORS SUBITA to the rescue! MORS SUBITA (or “sudden death” in English) were formed in 2000, though their first album, “Human Waste Compression” was not released until 2011. Now, their most recent release, “Extinction Era,” has been released in 2020, surely they will be fired up to get back on the stage at Dark River Festival to share what they’ve been working on. (BW)

One Morning Left

Formed in 2008, ONE MORNING LEFT is a metalcore band who have coincidentally just released their new album, Hyperactive.” According to our reviewer, this is what you can expect from the band’s sound: chugging riffs, pummeling drums, screamed verses, sung choruses, breakdowns, and plenty of synth melodies to boot. If this sounds like a great setting for a moshpit to you, then be sure not to miss out on their show! (LT)

One Desire

Finnish melodic rock band ONE DESIRE released their self-titled debut in 2017, to critical acclaim from fans and critics alike. Their hit single “Hurt” gathered over 2 million views on Youtube and 3 million streams on Spotify, putting the melodic rock act on the map of rock fans alike. In 2020, they released their latest album, Midnight Empire,” which saw hit singles such as “Shadowman” see the light of day. Dark River Festival is an excellent excuse to play a couple of songs from this latest release, don’t you think? (LT)

Swallow the Sun

Finnish doom metal act SWALLOW THE SUN are surely no strangers to live performances, as throughout their 20ish-year career, they’ve played over eight hundred shows. Celebrating the first 20 years of their existence, the band recently released their very first live album, “20 Years of Gloom Beauty and Despair Live in Helsinki,” but for those who prefer the real thing over live albums, can watch the band’s show at Dark River Festival (LT)

Lost Society

The title of Finland’s newest and hottest thrash metal act easily goes to LOST SOCIETY. While fans may have been been divided on the melodic nature of No Absolution,” they prove their live chops time and time again, including perhaps the best livestreamed event that 2020 had to offer. It goes without saying that this is a set that you won’t want to miss! (BW)


Another excellent album that was released this year was definitely Portuguese Gothic metal act MOONSPELL‘s “Hermitage,” who started their noteworthy career in 1992 and have released twelve studio albums and two live albums thus far. Apart from a bunch of new songs, we hope that the band plays classics like “Opium,” “Mephisto,” and “Vampira.” One thing, however, is sure… MOONSPELL knows how to deliver a show with uttermost precision and they’ll definitely be the perfect closing act to a great festival weekend! (LT)

Read more: Dark River Festival 2019 live reportDark River Festival photo gallery