Feb 282011

Spent one extended afternoon at the annual Finnish Metal Expo.

I aimed to see Sabaton, pick up a couple of records and have a good time in general.

The first goal was a clear success, the others less so.

Dreamshade was already on stage when we entered Kaapelitehdas. Their melodic death metal was a surprisingly effective introduction to the day, and sounded pleasant enough to warrant further investigation.

Which I attempted on the first of many breaks. With only one stage in use, the bands took a minimum of 30 minutes each for the gear changes. With a very limited set of shops (and even more limited set of food) there wasn’t really much to do. On previous visits there were plenty of recordstores attending with their booths filled to the brim. This time around the pickings were far more meager.

MyGrain continued in the same vein. Melodic death metal, with an energetic stage presence (the band took a pretty good grip on the gold medal in headbanging).

For the Imperium was an unorthodox combination of harcore, metal and weird stage presence. Didn’t convince me in the slightest, but seemed to be rather well accepted.

Triptykon was the first band I’d heard of before. It’s a rehashing of the venerable Celtic Frost, thrash metal with minimalistic activity on stage. The band grinded for an hour, the songs sounding the same to the layman. Same enough for me to miss even Circle of Tyrants amongst them – that was after all the very first metal song that I heard that dared to break from the common norm. In 1985 that song was pretty extreme.

Symfonia played their very first gig ever. Timo Tolkki’s new band had quite a shaky debut gig. The frontman himself seemed rather unstable, the songs never caught on fire, and the new vocalist (Andre Matos, originally from Angra) didn’t really fit in. Following an embarrassing round of stage speeches and ritualistic breaking of a guitar (carefully swapped in just before the act) the concert fizzled to a close. Rhapsody in Black didn’t sound bad at all, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the band’s next steps.

Sabaton on stage in Finnish Metal Expo 2011

Sabaton was the main event for a lot of attendees. The militaristic swedish power metallers played a pretty standard set, with sadly a couple of key songs (Final Solution for starters) swapped out. The band was in good form and enjoying the loud participation of the audience. Toward the end of the gig they broke the news that Sabaton would be playing in Ruisrock in the coming summer. Not a bad choice. Sabaton employed the biggest pyrotechnics I’ve seen thus far in Kaapelitehdas

The set list was as follows, left during Primo Vittoria to avoid the crush at the coat check.

Ghost Division
White Death
Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Attero Dominatu
The Price Of A Mile
Aces in Exile
Coat of Arms
Primo Victoria
Metal Medley

Ended up buying only one cd (and picked up a couple of freebies). Apart from the repetitive and prolonged breaks the festival entertaining enough.

Feb 272011

Kick-Ass posterKick-Ass was almost the worth of the hype it got from Empire. Almost, but not quite. This mixture of Kill Bill and Spiderman is both lesser and greater than the originals.

The differences to the original comic are more significant than usual in adaptations – the film crew altered the plot and characters rather severely.

The plot itself is simple: a powerless comic book fan attempts the life of a superhero. With tragic and comic consequences in varying doses, the story of Kick-Ass amuses and entertains for the two hours it takes to run its course. And it spreads the message of profanity and violence in such a fashion that controversy was inevitable. The character of Hit-Girl, a twelve year old combat machine is extreme enough in its improbability that several groups ended up protesting against the film – though the opposition was mostly on account of swearing, not the fact that the girl dispatches many many people during the course of the film.

Chloë Moretz is indeed the star of the show. While Aaron Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse both execute their costumed characters well, it’s her manic take on a well-groomed assassin that leaves the deepest impression. Nicholas Cage cruises through the role of “Big Daddy”, better than in most recent roles, but a lukewarm performance nonetheless.

As expected, a sequel is forthcoming. Probably as soon as Mark Millar (who confesses the plot has serious autobiographical overtones) is done with the corresponding comic.

Feb 272011

Here goes my guesses for the big X awards.

Film: King’s Speech. The Social Network’s structure is too complicated for the average academy member.

Director: David Fincher. But it’s a show of force from the director.

Actor: Colin Firth. Damaged historical persons are a giveaway.

Actress: Natalie Portman. Haven’t seen Black Swan yet, but a damaged artist is almost as good as stuttering royalty.

Supporting actor: Geoffrey Rush. Even better than Firth in King’s Speech.

Supporting actress: Pass. Have seen only Helena Bonham Carter cruising through her limited role, and that’s not a worthy performance.

Animated feature: Toy Story 3. Incidentally also that’s the best film of 2010 in general.

Cinematography: Inception.

Document: I’d love to root for Exit Through the Gift Shop, but Banksy’s too edgy for the Oscars.

Results tomorrow.