For quite some time I had this misconception that from all Scandinavian countries Finland’s Prog scene could be described as weakest, but I’m glad that I was wrong. Finland is also a country that has most metal bands in the world per capita.
Take a look at the list below which includes 20 Prog bands that, in my opinion, represent the Finnish scene.
Wigwam is one of the first and oldest Progressive Rock bands coming from Finland, formed in 1968, and many agree that this band is the most important Finnish bands from the 1970s. There were two different Wigwam formations, even before the “comeback” lineup in the nineties: the original or “old” Wigwam of 1969-1974 and the “new” Wigwam of 1974-1977. The two were dramatically different, in terms of personnel and overall sound. The band recorded ten studio albums, three live albums, and they released numerous compilations and singles.
This Avant-Prog act has been active since 1997 and since then they released six studio albums. The band is known for their inclusion of unconventional instruments such cellos, melodica, trombone, trumpet, saxophones, etc. No guitars, not even a bass guitar, nor synths.
Callisto was founded in 2001, and they are a group of musicians which produces Post-Metal and spices it with additional influences. Their latest album Secret Youth was released in 2015 via Svart Records.
Formed in 1991, experimental rock act Circle went on to release over 20 studio albums and numerous live releases. Crazed art rock warriors playing with ear-exploding volume, Circle is definitely one of the must-hear Finnish bands.
Formed in 1990, Amorphis, started as a Doom Death Metal band, but over the years Helsinki-based group introduced many different elements to their music, most prominently Progressive Metal and Folk. With twelve studio albums, Amorphis are one of the most known Finnish bands. Elegy and Tuonela are considered as the classic albums from the band’s catalog, but the band showed their full potential on Far from the Sun, Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger.
The Chant is a seven-member Finnish band based in Vantaa and Helsinki formed back in 1990, although almost ten years would go by before matters really started developing for the band. 1999 was the key year, when core members Jussi Hämäläinen, Mari Jämbäck and Ilpo Paasela were joined by Kimmo Tukiainen, Markus Forsström and Roope Sivén to form a stable recording and performing unit. Following four demo releases, this 6 man strong band were ready with their official debut album Ghostlines in 2008. Two years later This Is the World We Know followed, and hot on the heels of the album release Pekka Loponen joined the band. The group’s latest record, New Haven, was released in 2014.
Elonkorjuu was formed in 1969 in the south-western Finnish town of Pori by the singer and guitarist Jukka Syrenius. The group put out two albums in the 1970s, and in 1978 after the release of their second album they disbanded. The band made their comeback in 2003, and the following year released a new album, Scumbag. Their most recent album is 2015′s Footprints.
Oranssi Pazuzu was formed in 2007 by Jun-His (vocals, guitar) and Ontto (bass guitar), who started jamming with Korjak (drums), and Evill (synthesizers, organ, effects) in order to travel into uncharted musical territories. Very soon Moit (guitar) completed the lineup and Oranssi Pazuzu, The Demon of the Wind with the Colour of Cosmic Energy, was born.
During it’s initial months the band wrote songs collectively, fusing together various influences from space rock to black metal, to capture different states of mental cosmos. The band’s mixture of Black Metal, Psychedelic Rock and Progressive Rock makes for a unique experience. In 2016, they released Värähtelijä.
Overhead is a Rock/Metal/Progressive band from Finland with a fresh and original sound. The band plays melodic and thematic music that varies from gentle ambient atmospheres via more traditional rock to heavier moments. Overhead released a few studio and live records. Their most recent studio instalment is 2012′s Of Sun and Moon.
Dark Buddha Rising
Dark Buddha Rising is a three-piece Finnish Heavy Psychedelic Progressive Rock outfit who this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. The band put out five studio albums to day, and they describe their work as the black arts of psychedelia.
Utopianisti is an experimental band from Tampere, Finland, led by composer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Markus Pajakkala. The band released their latest album Brutopianisti in January, which truly is one of the best albums to come out this year.
Progressive / Psychedelic Rockers Hidria Spacefolk started their journey in the late 1990s. Their music is loaded with textures and colours that leave most space rock bands sounding like a sample machine stuck in loop mode. It’s actually going somewhere: on all of their albums, the tracks evolve continuously, with the music occasionally returning to specific themes but with something new each time.
Musical collective Avarus was established in Tampere year 2001. The group was borne from fusion of bands The Anaksimandros and Pylon, gathering musicians also from groups like Killa, Munuaissumposium 1960 and Kemialliset Ystävät. They have had various personnel on their obscure releasesç The collective’s music is often described as part of “free folk” music movement, and their vast discography has studied dadaistic characteristics of noise rock, tribal primitivism, garage acid rock and autistic sonic experiments.
Kemialliset Ystävät is an ever changing group of free form pilots who have been sending murky audio clouds from their basement in Tampere, Finland to the people of the world since 1995. They work in short, spooling instrumentals, building layers of simple repetitive riffs into laminal mudcakes and weaving ghosts of noise songs into huge tunnels of drone. The band utilizes a wide spectrum of moldy acoustic instruments and almost broken electronics to create their joyful blasts but the recording studio in itself might be their single most important instrument.
CMX was founded in 1985 by A. W. Yrjänä (bass, vocals) and Pekka Kanniainen (drums), at first using the moniker Cloaca Maxima. The group went on to release 15 studio albums. The band creates expermintal, thought-provoking music. Their 1998 album Vainajala was produced by Faith No More‘s Billy Gould.
Moonsorrow are one of the most consistent bands in metal history. The band was formed in 1995, and since then they released seven albums. They’ve built their sound around elevating folk metal conventions to a scope rivalling Western classical music, and they’ve done managed to do so without skipping a single mark in their career. Everyone will have their favourites but the fact remains that the band’s reputation encourages high expectations. With each new album it’s expected that Moonsorrow will reinvent the folk metal template somehow, and that they’ll achieve that by means of an epic scope and masterful execution.
Barren Earth was formed in Helsinki in the autumn of 2007. This new ambitious, progressive death metal band was originally conceived in late 2006. With a head full of new, brutal, yet melodic songs, Olli-Pekka Laine (ex-Amorphis, Mannhai) asked drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow), to form a new progressive death metal group with him. Tarvonen, keyboardist Kasper Mårtenson (ex-Amorphis, Ben Granfelt Band) and Laine played in a prog-rock project called The Camel Gang (influenced by The James Gang and English prog-rock band Camel).
The music of Barren Earth combines elements of modern and traditional death metal, with ’70s prog rock and folk. Among the band’s influences are artists like Paradise Lost, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and also some pioneers of Finnish prog.
Von Hertzen Brothers
Brothers Mikko, Jonne and Kie Von Hertzen originally played in their own individual bands, each enjoying varying amounts of success before joining together as a family unit in the tour de force that is the Von Hertzen Brothers in 2000.
Since then the band has had three Number 1 albums and a Number 2 album domestically with Love Remains The Same (2008), Stars Aligned (2011), Nine Lives (2013) and New Day Rising (2015). This success has made them one of the most influential and important rock acts to of emerged from Finland in recent times.
One of the most known Prog-Power Metal bands from Finland, Stratovarius, was formed in 1984, and they released fifteen studio albums so far. The band’s blend of Symphonic Power Metal and Prog Metal is their trademark. The latest album entitled Eternal was released in 2015.
The biggest metal band from Finland, Nightwish, don’t need much introducing. Formed in 1996, their take on the metal genre includes blending together Folk, Gothic, Power and Progressive influences. The band released eight studio albums, the most recent being 2015′s Endless Forms Most Beautiful features Dutch singer Floor Jansen.