Documentary | Promised Land of Heavy Metal
Feb 19th 2011 Karl Sawaya What do you think?

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What more to say than a great kick-ass documentary that explores Metal music in Finland since its first appearance in this Scandinavian country. We get to see it from its very origins to being a highly praised music genre in this country nowadays. It is seen through the eyes of Kimmo Kuusniemi, who was the lead guitarist of the Finnish band Sarcofagus.

sarcofagus

Sarcofagus in the 70’s

He shows how metal was badly received at first in the 1970s, especially that there were very few metal bands in the country and the Finnish people were, well, not prepared for this music “yet”. After that era, he traveled to the UK to work as a movie director. 25 years later, he returns to Finland to produce this outstandingly informative documentary alongside director Tanja Karttunen. Kiimo was glad to see that they now have metal bars, pubs, shops, festivals, and most important of all, a huge fan base.

scenes

During his absence many bands arose who hit the international scene, such as Stratovarius, Norther, Amorphis, Thunderstone, HIM, Sonata Arctica, Korpiklaani, Turisas, Apocalyptica, Lordi … Needless to say that the latter won the Euro Vision Song Contest 2006, and were greeted by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen. I wish we had the same response from the government in our country.

Lordi-president

The president congratulating Lordi in Euro Vision Contest 2006

Even the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church has incorporated metal music into its masses, known as Metallimessu, or Metal Mass. Traditional hymns were modified to have a metal sound in them. This type of mass has been running on since 2006 in Finland across various cities. Obviously, band t-shirts are allowed in there. Surprisingly enough, the metal mass music album had topped charts upon its release.

priest

As Kiimo explores the Metal scene, he goes to the FME (Finnish Metal Export), a kind of get-together for music industries, managers, magazines, bands and of course, the loyal fans. He had the chance there to talk with many event promoters, pub owners, radio DJs, shop owners and people who kept the metal scene running for the past 25 years.

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In the last 30 minutes, we head to Tuska Open Air Festival, one of, if not The largest and most important metal festival in Finland. I was amazed by what sort of people went there, other than metalheads: families, as in babies and kids with their parents would be there; even a grandmother was there looking for a souvenir of her adventure! Clearly, this country has made it to the top of the Metal pyramid.

tuska

Tuska Open Air Festival

kids

Kiimo interviews there Marco Hietala (Tarot, Nightwish), Ville Vallo (HIM), Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage), Sister Wrath (Enochian Crescent), Dr. Titus Hjelm (Thunderstone), Cane and Jonne from Korpiklaani and Sven Kopperud (Dimmu Borgir) among others. The whole bunch of interviews is highly enlightening for any metalhead. Make sure to check the bonus section of the DVD, containing around 2h 40mins of interviews with international artists.

Kiimo’s final destination was at the Presidential Palace (Helsinki) in an interview with the President of Finland and her views on metal music, which were highly optimistic. There’s a part where she says “Our secret has always been education, education, and education, and music is one of them”. Lucky Finland I should say.

All in all, I’d recommend this documentary to metal fans of any genre. It’s fun, entertaining, and informative. Check the trailer below for more visuals:

More details are found on the official website.

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