Ten years of banging your head against the same wall, stumbling over the same old hurdles. That was the situation facing Finnish groove metal band Hammerhed as they were trying to make their mark over the past decade in their native land. Though Finland has long been known for having one of the strongest metal scenes in all of Europe, the glut of local bands and international acts has led to some infighting, backbiting and jadedness.
Hammerhed frontman Janne “Pena” Penttinen, a 20-year veteran of the Finnish metal scene, is among those who wish they could turn back the clock.
“When you constantly have everything, nothing is cool no more and people become too high on themselves and stop supporting the fellow metal head. You should have seen it in the late nineties, early 2000s. Totally different thing,” he tells the Taipei Times.
So what do you do when your own scene starts to implode? Well, you either let the bitterness consume you and turn into one among the moaning masses, or you start looking for ways to break out on your own. Hammerhed chose the latter, and last year set their sights on the Asian market, setting up a D.I.Y. mini-tour of Taiwan in April. They must have enjoyed themselves, because just a year later the band is back in Asia, this time hitting Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines in addition to playing Greater Tainan and Taipei for the second time. Coming over to Taiwan has become something of a rejuvenating experience for Hammerhed, says Penttinen.
“Taiwan’s heavy metal scene is unspoiled. There’s lots of good, honest enthusiasm and do-it-yourself atmosphere. Finland has peaked when it comes to metal,” Penttinen says.
This time around, Hammerhed will play Raw Noise Attack VI (第六屆猛烈爆音攻擊極端音樂會), a one-day festival in Taipei tomorrow night that includes five other bands — four from Taiwan and thrashers Terror Squad from Tokyo.
Raw Noise Attack was founded in 2008 by metal scene stalwarts Vic Chao (趙凡暐), and bassist/guitarist Po-wei Liao (廖伯威), both members of blackened thrash-punk band Bazooka. Raw Noise Attack began as a small gathering of local bands, but has expanded to bring in international heavyweights such as Birmingham, England grindcore progenitors Napalm Death. Chao hopes that the fest will help to push the Taiwanese scene away from global metal fads.
“Many years ago it was nu-metal, and now it’s metalcore,” Chao explains. “We are sick and tired of it. And it is a shame that most of the Taiwanese bands have this kind of awful taste. The desire of building up a scene and to rehabilitate and excite people’s taste and sense pushes us to do it. To construct a fest that is truly metal and cult.”
■ Hammerhed plays with Terror Squad, Revilement, No Order (無秩序), Bazooka and Stench of Lust tomorrow night at 7pm at Pipe Live House, 1 Siyuan Street, Taipei City (台北市思源街一號). Admission is NT$750 at the door or NT$600 in advance via Liberated Rhythms (解放之聲), 606-6, Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路606號之6).
The heaviness continues with a rare Monday show courtesy of Swiss folk/melodic death metal band Eluveitie, which will be making its first appearance in Taiwan. The band combines the blistering speed and melody of the early Gothenburg death metal sound first brought to prominence by bands such as At The Gates with the traditional folk stylings of western Europe.
This means you’re just as likely to hear a blazing guitar riff as you are to hear lead vocalist and band founder Chrigel Glanzmann pluck on a mandolin, provide backing on the tin whistle or drone away on the bagpipes. It all makes for an intriguing combination that has won Eluveitie a worldwide following.
On the band’s current world tour behind their latest studio album, Helvetios, Eluveitie has taken to the stage in over 40 countries on four continents, and has been on the road constantly since January of last year. It’s a grueling schedule, but one that the band embraces.
“Music means life to us,” says Glanzmann. “As long as we can have our instruments and play our music, life is good. We all are basically music junkies. We couldn’t imagine doing something else. So, there’s no reason to stop.”
■ Eluveitie plays with support from Silent Hell (獄無聲) on Monday at 7pm at Y17 (青少年育樂中心), 17, Renai Road Sec 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City (台北市中正區仁愛路一段17號). Tickets from NT$1,000 to NT$2,400, and group discounts are available. Advance tickets can be purchased at Rock Empire Music (搖滾帝國), 81 Tayou Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City (台北市松山區塔悠路81號).