22 April 2009

Concerning Blacksmiths and Metal

Generally speaking, there are very few examples of Finnish music and cinema that appeal to me. There are probably many reasons for this. One is that, having an English father, I was exposed to a large variety of English (and American) music, literature and cinema from a young age. English is the language of music for me. It's not that I disrespect music sung in Finnish, it's just never been a part of my life, so it sounds wrong to me.

Another reason, which applies particularly to cinema, lies simply in my nature, the type of story and aesthetic that appeals to me. This isn't, at least in whole, a result of my heritage; I'm sure a lot of Finnish people, especially of younger generations, share similar tastes. I've always been mainly attracted to fantasy and science fiction, epic stories often of a highly visual nature, and we simply don't have the resources to make that kind of movies in this small country.

And this is obviously the part where we come to the exceptions to the rule. I just watched Jade Warrior for the second time, and I still think it is a brilliant movie, both in story and visual aesthetic, and not only in comparison to other Finnish movies. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Lordi movie Dark Floors, but of course that has so few specifically Finnish elements that I'm not sure it even counts as an example.

The story of my taste for Finnish music, on the other hand, is inseparably entangled with another story, the story of discovering metal music. I grew up listening mostly to 60's music, and others who carried on the tradition (like Tom Petty, whom I discovered through other artists who begun their career in the 60's). While I greatly enjoyed some harder rock, such as the Rolling Stones, and later Queen and AC/DC, I steered clear of metal music for a long time.

In the late 90's I discovered Japanese video games and through them the world of video game music. This also opened the door for electronic music in general. Then came The Black Mages, an album of music from the Final Fantasy games re-arranged as metal. It was a great album and together with the later Black Mages albums remains among my favourites. I came to the conclusion, that musically some forms of metal music had a great appeal for me. However, most of the non-game metal I heard was ruined by unappealing, even annoying singers, and an overall attitude that tended to be so over-the-top in its supposed darkness and wickedness that it ended up being ridiculous, and not in a good way. No offence to you metal afficionados out there, that's just how my taste is.

Fast forward to 2006. Our own Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest. I found their tongue-in-cheek humour and horror movie themes to be appealing in a way that the majority of heavier rock artists I'd heard had never been. It took a year or two to really get into it, but these days I'm a big fan.

Now, I recently saw a hilarious YouTube clip of misheard lyrics to Wishmaster by Nightwish. I happened to be in a mood for some suitably atmospheric heavier music, so I figured it was about time to get better acquainted with this domestic giant. And I discovered I enjoyed it greatly. Musically Nightwish is just the kind of metal I seem to enjoy, epic, often fast paced, yet atmospheric and emotional symphonic/power metal, not unlike The Black Mages and other Japanese video game music. The frequent fantasy themes are also right up my alley (although I must admit I haven't had a chance to really pay attention to much of the lyrical content yet).

It's curious that, video game music aside, the two examples of heavier music I've most enjoyed thus far are both Finnish. And just as curious that pretty much the only examples of Finnish music I enjoy represent the heavier side of rock.

To end this longish post, I should perhaps make the clarification that the fact that I've lately been painting my nails black does not stem from heavy metal or goth style, but rather from glam style and artists like The Ark.

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