Haris reviews the Finnish metal and punk rock bands, as Blind Channel embark on their UK headline tour post-Eurovision
As soon as I arrived at the Cathouse, I could see a massive queue running down Union Street. A plethora of dyed hair and black outfits made up the majority of the queue, and I could already feel the excitement of everyone waiting to see the show.
The majority of people had come to see the headlining band, Blind Channel, who have enjoyed a massive following since their appearance in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, most of the people I spoke to admitted to not knowing them prior to their Eurovision appearance. A few outliers existed though, as some crowd-goers fervently professed that they were there for the opening band, Lost Society, an established Finnish metal group. “Lost Society is the real headliner!” claimed one passionate supporter.
Suddenly, the lights go out and come back on in a menacing red glow. The crowd starts cheering as the drummer, Tapani Fagerström, enters the stage, while a dark seductive backing track in the vein of Marilyn Manson begins playing. Hitting the toms and kick a few times, the rest of the band joins them and the crowd goes insane. The energy is palpable as the lights begin flickering in white and red rapidly. The lead vocalist, Samy Elbanna, begins muttering the clean lyrics to commence the first song, ‘112’. A monstrous sustained scream sounds out before Samy lands on the chorus (“Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders…”) which is sung by a large portion of the crowd.
The drums consistently sound amazing, with some syncopated sections occasionally reminiscent of Lamb of God. Meanwhile, the bassist Mirko Lentinen perfectly complements the drums, as the treble-y bright sound of the bass fills the sonic space and cuts through the mix beautifully. The skill of the lead guitarist Arttu Lesonen becomes evident in the third song, ‘What Have I Done’, as he delivers a face-melter of a solo before the band erupts into the melodic chorus. A punishing breakdown follows the chorus and the crowd goes wild, with a mosh pit almost breaking out.
During the fifth song, ‘Riot’, Samy delivers some amazing Bruce Dickinson-like sustained notes. He then breaks into a heartfelt message which resonates with the crowd as is evident from the passionate cheers and clapping which ensues. Samy clarifies that everyone among the crowd on that night is part of his family and he loves them all. The crowd applauds and the drummer brilliantly begins blending a high-energy drum break with the claps, creating a rhythmic wall of sound which makes the entire venue feel like it’s vibrating. For the last song, Samy unexpectedly enters and walks through the crowd, only to arrive and triumphantly stand on the bar while delivering some amazing high-note shrieks. The crowd starts jumping upon Samy’s command and I can hardly believe that this is only the opening band. Lost Society thanks the crowd for showing up before leaving the stage.
Thanks to their energetic performance, the crowd is already warmed up by the time Blind Channel comes on. But it soon becomes clear that no warm-up had been necessary. The lights go dark and an old jazz-swing song called ‘The Saints Come Marching In’ begins playing as a precursor to ‘We Are No Saints’, the first song played by Blind Channel.
Suddenly, the entire band appears on stage and is extremely vivacious, with all band members jumping up and down. Even drummer Tommi Lalli is jumping and hyping up the crowd. Frontman lead vocalist Joel Hokka is yelling out “Jump! Jump!”, and the crowd obeys. The two vocalists, Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen, have distinct appearances as the former is blonde and the latter is wearing a black top hat and has black hair. They are both very energetic and complement each other by splicing their vocal lines together in a gorgeous blend of harmony and harshness. All band members (apart from Lalli) are moving around and standing on the monitors, as the crowd reciprocates and is constantly either jumping or dancing about.
During the second song, ‘Timebomb’, Hokka showcases his vocal versatility as he lets out an otherworldly low guttural growl and the crowd enthusiastically applauds. Hokka finishes the song with a high shriek, exclaiming ‘Glasgowww!’ and the crowd goes absolutely insane. For the fourth song, ‘Died Enough for You’, the crowd begins the classic Glasgow chant of “here we f**** go!” as the drummer commences a beautiful rhythmic section to accompany the crowd’s rhythmic anthem. The energy is amazing and both vocalists are hyping the crowd as the place gets louder than ever. Moilanen breaks into a rap section before the chorus arrives and a white light shines behind the band, endowing them with an ethereal saint-like appearance for a few brief moments.
The eighth song, ‘Autopsy’, offers us unprecedented brutality as the sound combines an industrial Nine Inch Nails-like instrumental with punishing metalcore breakdowns. After the second chorus finishes, Hokka orders the crowd to open up and a big circle is formed in the middle of the venue. Once the breakdown begins, a large mosh-pit ensues and the chaotic energy is indescribable. Thankfully, no one is hurt and everyone is in good spirits.
After the 10th song, ‘Glory for the Greedy’, the DJ Aleksi Kaunisvesi begins an exceptional rhythm section, utilising scratching and various electronic sounds. He produces an amazing and unpredictable syncopated drum-n-bass section which lights the crowd on fire and leaves everyone hungry for more. The band concludes with a screamo cover of Anastacia’s ‘Left Outside Alone’. The crowd sings along and the band incorporates metalcore elements of percussive rhythm guitar and syncopated fast drumming seamlessly.
Unsurprisingly, the crowd begins chanting “one more tune!”, and the band comes back on to deliver a cover of Linkin Park’s ‘In the End’. This was one of those concerts which showcases the high energy of a Glasgow crowd and allows the artists to be infected by that energy and perform to the highest of their ability. What an absolute belter.